Then & Now: 10-Year Transformation of a Founder & Force Multiplier

Last week, Hallie celebrated her 10-year anniversary of working by my side at Adam Hergenrother Companies. We have both grown a lot over the years in our leadership and have learned a tremendous amount about how to build and scale companies (hint: it’s about hiring the right people and then organizing them in the most efficient and effective way!).

We thought it would be fun to go back in time a little and share how our thinking, our habits, and our leadership has changed over the years. Remember, when building a business or hustling in your career, the days are long, but the years are short. Take time to reflect on how far you’ve come and above all, stay present and enjoy every moment!

FOUNDER’S THEN & NOW: ADAM

Then: I Need to Dress to Impress
Now: Dressing Simply Is a High-Performance Habit

When I first started my entrepreneurial journey in real estate I wore three-piece suits – complete with pocket squares. In Vermont. It was certainly one way to stand out! Over the past 10 years or so, I started peeling back the external layers, literally. First, I got rid of the pocket square, then the blazer. Next, I swapped dress pants for jeans and the custom button-down shirts for flannel shirts and vests. And now, each day I wear some combination of Allbirds, jeans, and a T-shirt (plus a hoodie if it’s a bit chilly!). Today, my work uniform is simple and easy. It cuts down on the number of decisions I have to make. The greats like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Gary Keller, and Mark Zuckerburg all swear by the work uniform and now I do too. Keep it simple.

Then: I Maximize My Lunch Break With a Workout
Now: I Maximize My Lunch Break With a Meditation

I’m still a fan of working in bursts. I usually have back to back meetings from 8:30am – 11:30am, then I take a break until about 1:30pm. From there I have another burst of meetings, interviews, or podcasts until 4pm. Years ago, I would leave the office to workout during the middle of the day. It was a great way to pause and re-energize for the next block of work ahead. As my life got more complex (several more businesses, a staff of 50+, three children, etc.) and as I embarked on my spiritual growth journey, I made some changes to how I recharged during the day. I still believe health and fitness is one of the most important things you can do to be a high performing individual. Now, I jump start my day with an early morning workout and have rearranged my 11:30am – 1:30pm block to include my second meditation of the day.

In the midst of a busy and high-pressure day, one of the hardest things to do is to stop and meditate. Sometimes just saying no to the external demands on my time and stopping is the meditation! That 20 minutes of quiet meditation is the exact opposite of the hard lifting sessions and HIIT workouts I did 10 years ago, but it’s exactly what I need now to recharge and recenter for my business.

Then: Clients Always Come First
Now: My Employees Come First

I was a sales guy for the first 5 years or so of my career. I spent the majority of my time working with clients and using my own efforts and energy to get the work done. I took calls on nights and weekends and did whatever had to be done to get my business off the ground – doorknocking, lead generating for new customers, hosting elaborate client events. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m an introvert. Constant client interaction was actually not my strength, but I was clear on my vision and did whatever it took in those early days.

Now, my employees and the agents who choose to partner with our company are really the “clients” I serve. I spend my time focused on their growth, making sure they have the necessary resources to do their job well, and give them clear direction to accomplish their goals. I focus on my team, so they can go focus on our clients.

Then: I Need to Make More Money to Reach My Goals
Now: I Need to Invest Money Wisely to Reach My Goals

In the early days of my career, money drove me. I thought if I reached a certain income level, then I “made it” (I had the lake house, the Porsche, the designer suits, and all the “things” that meant I was successful). Well, that belief was quickly adjusted a number of years ago when I bragged to my mom about how much money I had made that year, and she just said, “That’s great, honey. Can you pass the salad?” I realized in that 5-second exchange that no one cared. Money does not make the man. It’s what a person does with money that matters.

It was during that time in my life that I really started making my success about other people, rather than about myself. How could I invest in the most talented individuals and give them an opportunity to grow? How could I invest my money into the right system or product to give me leverage or a long-term strategic play? It actually was no longer about hitting a specific goal. As cliché as it sounds, it became about the journey of who I could become while operating in the business world. Today, I have let go of any attachment to money and simply use it as a tool to play in the external world.

Then: I Hustle All Week and Weekend
Now: I Only Work 4 Days a Week

Look, when you’re first building a business, you do whatever needs to be done. That means working around the clock, rolling your sleeves up and getting dirty. But it is not sustainable in the long-term, which is why you have to start surrounding yourself with great people. When you invest in a hire, you should get a return on that investment with both time and money. Are you seeing a pattern here? It’s all about people!

Now, I have a team of great leaders around me who allow me to work with extreme focus and structure for 4 days a week, with 3 unstructured days where I can write, think, read, and recharge with my family. And yes, the companies still continue to grow and thrive, even without me hustling 7 days a week.

FORCE MULTIPLIER’S THEN & NOW: HALLIE

Then: I Need to Learn Everything About Business
Now: I Need to Hire People Who Know More Than Me

For years, I poured over books and attended trainings to learn about human resources, transaction coordinators, organizational and operational best practices, real estate sales, public relations, leadership, non-profit management, marketing, and more. I was not necessarily a subject-matter expert, but I was certainly a generalist, which served me well as we were building the various companies. As we grew, I had to narrow my focus. After all, there is only so much input one person can take!

My mindset has now shifted from I must know it all and do it all, to who is the best person for this new project, new company, or new initiative? There is usually someone much better than me at a particular component of the organization that can help us scale faster and maximize our effectiveness. So, instead of learning everything I can about business, I focus my time on learning everything I can about leadership and hiring talent.

Then: I Am Always on and Available 
Now: I Strategically Disengage to Serve Others Better

Just like in the early stages of a company, in the early stages of my career, I hustled and hustled hard. Emails at 2am, strategic planning on a Sunday morning, fielding inquires at all hours of the day. I was inspired and fueled by the work I did, so why not do it all the time? Well, here’s the thing, always being on and available didn’t hurt my performance or my career (it didn’t even hurt my relationship), that’s why it was so hard to pause, stop, and disengage for a little while.

However, what I learned is that by actually stopping and disengaging for a little while I actually was even more effective than before. Win-win for an achiever like me! And yeah, it allowed me to more fully integrate my work and life from a holistic perspective. I still love working and now I just love strategically disengaging from time to time too.

Then: I Must Manage My Executives’s Entire Life
Now: I Need to Manage My Executives’s Life Less

This was a tough one for me. I like being an integral part of Adam’s life – his whole life. It helps me move quickly and make decisions with a clear understanding of all the moving parts and pieces of his life. However, as the companies and Adam’s role as CEO continued to grow, it became more and more difficult for me to handle his calendar, meeting prep, travel arrangements, and the day-to-day minutia of his busy life.

Enter an Executive Assistant. That was scary for me since I felt like I was losing my identity as Adam’s right hand. Turns out, I’m actually not that great at handling the small day-to-day details and the less I managed those aspects of Adam’s life, the more I was able to fully operate in my strength zone as Chief of Staff. Now, I leverage everything administrative and operational that I can to our EA, while I focus on future growth.

Then: I Need to Document Everything
Now: I Actually Need to Show Up & Be Present

I used to take notes on everything! But have you ever noticed that when you’re taking notes, you’re not actually present and able to fully contribute to a meeting? As you’re trying to capture what is being said, you miss the subtleties of the conversation, you miss the spaces where things aren’t being said, you miss the opportunity to share an idea or bring an issue to light that no one is bringing up. Sure, jot down a few action items, but stop transcribing. Use your technology for that. You can record the entire meeting on Zoom, Apple Dictation, or any other voice dictation or meeting recording software. If you need to go back and listen, you can.

Instead, sit at the table (my preferred spot is either to the right of my Principal, who always sits at the head of the table, or right in the middle of the group so I can communicate with and help facilitate conversations with team members on all sides). Then listen. Contribute. Make notes of any action items. And then follow-up. When I started to do this I made a much larger impact in my role and in the organization as a whole.

Then: If It’s Not Perfect, Then It’s Not Good Enough
Now: Done is Better Than Perfect

I’m a recovering perfectionist. Everything always had to be done by me, done perfectly, and done exactly the way I would handle it. I did not tolerate mistakes (especially if they were my own) and worked hard to guard against them at every turn (which is exhausting by the way)!

Fast forward to today, and it’s rare that I even capitalize my sentences when shooting emails back and forth with the team. Done (and done quickly) trumps perfection. I’m never going to be perfect. The project is never going to be perfect. And at the speed we move and iterate at necessitates a willingness to build the bike while we’re riding it. We’ll break down a few times. We’ll likely have to repaint a time or two. But we will get where we are going 10 times faster than our competition.

We have learned so much from working side-by-side for 10 years when it comes to growing our partnership, and our mission is to share those lessons to help other Founder & Force Multiplier pairs out there accelerate their own growth. If you haven’t yet grabbed your ticket to our upcoming online course where we cover the ins and outs of building a strong strategic partnership, make sure to save your spot! The Founder & The Force Multiplier Live Course starts November 4. Get your ticket here >>

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