‘From Neighborhood Golf Course Guy to CEO’: Gino Blefari Shares 7 Steps to Success at RISMedia’s CEO Exchange

Sep 21, 2016 by

No matter who you are or where you come from, there are seven steps that can always lead you to success. No special connections and no entitlements necessary—just follow these steps consistently and reap the rewards.

This was the powerful message HSF Affiliates CEO Gino Blefari shared with the audience of some 250 power brokers and industry leaders during his opening address on Day 2 of RISMedia’s Real Estate CEO Exchange, held at the Harvard Club New York City last week.

Blefari developed the seven principles based on his personal journey to success. Relating the story of his modest upbringing in a working-class Italian family, Blefari shared how a nascent work ethic drove him to water lawns at the age of 15, put himself through San Jose State University by working at a local golf club, and then become the course superintendent and bar manager upon graduation.

Soon after taking a job in construction with the developer who bought the golf club to build homes, Blefari had what he described as a “defining moment.”

“I liked hard work, but it didn’t feel fulfilling,” said Blefari. “I had a defining moment when a brand new BMW drives up and a guy gets out all dressed up. He was the person selling the houses that we were building. I identified with his persona—the old ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’—and I signed up to get my real estate license.”

As a brand new agent, Blefari was surrounded by many veterans who knew a lot more about real estate than he did. But this did not deter him. “No one would out-work me, out-study me or out-prepare me.”

It was this drive and focus that helped launch Blefari’s storied real estate career, including his development of Contempo Real Estate, its sale to Realogy, his position with NRT, his founding of Intero Real Estate and finally, his current status as CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC.

“All of this happened along the way with no special connections and no entitlements,” he emphasized. “I went from neighborhood golf course guy to CEO.”

Blefari believes that the secret to his success—and anyone’s success in any field—is committing to following these seven principles:

  1. Play full out. “You’ve got to want it more than anything or anyone,” said Blefari. “If you’re interested in being good, do what’s convenient. If you’re committed to being successful, you do whatever it takes.”
  2. Have a good morning routine. “Start out with something positive in your head,” Belfari advised. “Your brain is in an alpha state in the morning and anything that goes in at that time tends to stay in your head all day.” That’s why Blefari never skips his morning MEDS: meditate, exercise, diet and sleep. “These are keystone habits that create small wins.”
  3. Be humble. Laugh, have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously, said Blefari. “Smugness comes from arrogance and arrogance leads to mediocrity. Pride comes before the fall.”
  4. Build a great team. “I love what I do because of who I work with,” said Blefari. While in basketball, we tend to think it’s all about the player who makes the basket; Blefari believes it’s all about the player who makes the assist. “It doesn’t matter who makes the basket, but who wins the game.”
  5. Provide extraordinary service. “Never compete on price because it’s the easiest thing to duplicate.”
  6. Blefari encourages everyone to read something about their field each day. “I listen to some type of book every day,” he said. “It helps you get new eyes—new eyes see old things in different ways.”
  7. Continuous improvement. “When you’re through changing, you’re through,” said Blefari. “A stationery position is the beginning of the end. If you cease to grow even a little, you start to get smaller.”

During his presentation, Blefari also emphasized the importance of having a well-defined management and leadership philosophy that challenges everyone to succeed and grow. “The challenge creates the muscle—mental, vocal and physical,” he explained.

Every profitable real estate firm also has a specific system in place for success, said Blefari, who outlined his four disciplines of execution for the CEO Exchange audience:

  • Focus on wildly important goals (WIGs). Blefari advises focusing on 2-3 WIGs at a time, and to create a distinct finish line for reaching each goal.
  • Act on the lead measures as opposed to lag measure. “We tend to focus on lag measures, such as how many sales we made last month. But you can’t do anything about that. Lead measures are predictive and influenceable—‘if you do this performance, you’ll get this result’,” he explained.
  • Keep a compelling scoreboard so that every person on the team clearly knows where they stand at all times. “If you can’t tell if you’re winning or losing within five seconds, it’s too complicated.”
  • Create a cadence of accountability. Blefari religiously hosts a once-per-week call where the team reports on accomplishments and challenges. “Have it the same time, the same day every week,” he advised.

Blefari closed out the session by encouraging the audience to stick with the seven principles for success—especially if there’s a market change—and to never lose touch with our roots.

“The most successful big companies never forget where they came from,” said Blefari. “They continue to act like a small company—nimble, fast moving, and with fire in the belly.”


read more Partners with Yelp to Bring Buyers More Neighborhood Information

Aug 3, 2016 by® recently announced the launch of Yelp local amenity information and® neighborhood trend data to help buyers get to know the community surrounding a potential new home.

Users can now view grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants, drug stores, gas stations, and insurance companies directly on the property listing map for all® for-sale homes. Map pins include the business’s Yelp star rating to help potential buyers get a better understanding of the amenities in the area.

“Deciding on a potential neighborhood is often the first step in the home buying process,” says Ryan O’Hara, chief executive officer for®. “With the help of Yelp, we’ve enhanced our local data to take the anxiety out of living in a new area. Buyers now know exactly how close the nearest grocery store or coffee shop is to a potential new home before they even attend a showing.”

Potential buyers can also now read up on the latest community statistics for more than 20,000 different cities on® Local. A deeper understanding of a neighborhood’s median list prices, time on market and price per square foot can help consumers have more informed discussions with their agent and make educated purchase decisions.

O’Hara adds, “Adding an easy way for users to learn more about a specific community’s housing market helps us empower buyers on their journey to homeownership.”

For more information, visit


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How to Spot an Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

Oct 19, 2014 by

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7th Street Market, Charlotte
James Willamor/FlickrEstablishments such as funky coffee shops, Pilates studios and bars can be a clue that a neighborhood on the rise.

By Rebecca McClay

Savvy homebuyers know that to get the maximum return on their real estate investment, they need to find not only a neighborhood that’s hot, but one that’s getting hotter. How do you find those soon-to-be hot spots? Local price increases are the most obvious indicator that a neighborhood’s popularity is on the rise. But by the time prices skyrocket, it’s usually too late to beat the buyer wave and get the most bang for your buck.

Instead, if you’re looking for the next up-and-coming community, check out these helpful hints. For instance, keeping tabs on commercial development, home renovations and local crime are great ways to start scouting the next “it” neighborhood.

1. Look for Popular Commercial Projects: When you see neighborhoods with ample commercial projects under construction — think Chipotle, Whole Foods and Starbucks — you’re likely looking at an area on the rise. Think Pilates studios, funky bars and coffee shops. All of these venues are trendy staples these days and they hint at an upcoming wave of buyers.

After all, developers of popular brand-name businesses don’t take their money lightly. If a trendy retailer or eatery has chosen to set up shop in an area, it’s only after their experienced staff have thoroughly vetted the future economic return there.

So, the more “coming soon” signs in shop windows, the better potential there is for that neighborhood to be the next hot spot.

2. Mass Transit Expansion Draws Development: Especially in large cities or dense metro areas, another sure-fire clue to the next hot neighborhood is a mass transit expansion.

If a major city builds a brand-new metro or subway stop in a more run-down area, chances are that area won’t be run-down for long. Savvy real estate buyers snap up properties near new or upcoming mass transit areas while the prices still reflect the conditions of the current neighborhood.

In fact, nearly any property near a mass transit stop in large cities — new or not — is sure to eventually be in a hot neighborhood. That’s because cities have limited space, but growing demand as the population continues to expand.

3. Sporadic Renovations Signal Resurgence: Then there are renovations. A few newly remodeled homes amid blocks of older, shabbier homes are great indicators that the community is poised to enjoy an energetic turn-around.

Look for manicured and landscaped lawns, fresh exteriors like siding replacements and an overall polished look to a property. Fixtures such as new mailboxes, new fences or new doors are other great hints that a homebuyer has invested in a property and that many others will soon follow suit.

4. Declining Crime as a Clue to More Improvements: Finally, declining crime stats can also indicate an emerging neighborhood that’s in the process of shedding its gritty roots.

If a neighborhood is experiencing a crime reduction, homebuyers can assume city officials and residents are making a concerted effort to improve the quality of life there. And with improved quality of life comes more homebuyers and higher property values.

Especially in dense cities where properties are in increasing demand, if a crime-ridden area that has long deterred buyers is making improvements, tab it as an upcoming hot neighborhood.


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George Lopez Reportedly Buys in LA’s Los Feliz Neighborhood

Feb 15, 2014 by

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george lopez LA house

By Laura Vecsey

With a new show set to air March 6 on FX called “Saint George,” it’s good to know that comedian George Lopez has a heavenly place to chill out when he’s not on set. According to The Real Estalker, Lopez bought the $ 2.67 million home in the star-studded Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles back in September. The 4,100-square-foot Mediterranean has four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and is nestled in on a gardened lot that’s just about a third of an acre.

In addition to a lovely backyard pool and patio area, Lopez can enjoy grand city views from two-story windows, a wine room and a private master suite with a balcony. In a case of TV imitating real life, Lopez will be playing a divorced father in his new sitcom. In real life, Lopez had been in the market for a new home due to his own divorce from his now ex-wife, Ann, to whom Lopez signed over their shared home in 2011.

More from Zillow about celebrity real estate:
Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon List in Bel Air
Google Chief Eric Schmidt Buys Near Playboy Mansion
Chris Brown Lists Hollywood Hills Home

More from AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find homes for sale in your area.
Find homes for rent in your area.

See more celebrity real estate.


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Article: New CO Everywhere app marries local and social worlds in your neighborhood

Aug 30, 2013 by

onboard_co-appI’m moving tomorrow.

I’m telling you partially because everyone here is sick of my stories about painting and certificate of insurance forms, but mostly because one of our clients, CO Everywhere (formerly BlockAvenue), launched an app today that is going to make life in my new neighborhood much better.

In the months leading up to the move, I’ve jumped through the hurdles of becoming my own news aggregator for the evolving Court Square nabe: passively searching Google news feeds for news, scanning Yelp, and anxiously waiting for more opportunities to walk around and explore. The problem is, my new area is full of truly hidden gems – art galleries tucked away in unassuming industrial buildings and the like.

Breaking away from Manhattan’s Upper East Side grid (my idiom is “go to 2nd Ave for the food, 3rd for the bars, Lex for the groceries, and Park/Madison for the boutiques you can’t afford”) was going to be a challenge until I downloaded the CO Everywhere app.

Now I know where I’ll be playing pick-up soccer and taking a[…]

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