Adam Hergenrother is a veteran CEO, and he has achieved a lot during his career as executive. In just under a decade, he has constructed an organization valued at $1 billion, because he never failed to dream big, and he never gave up. Currently, he runs Adem Hergenrother Companies as the CEO. He also founded the organization in 2010.
The Adam Hergenrother Companies are not Adam’s only venture. In 2011, he also founded the Hergenrother Realty Group, which he also runs as CEO. The year after that, Adam also became the co-owner and CEO of BlackRock Construction. He also became the owner of Hergenrother Realty Group at KW Vermont in 2010.
At his current position at Adam Hergenrother Companies, he matches the right talent with the best-fitting opportunities. He also connects “the community with resources, clients with realtors, investors with projects, and goals with training and education.” The organization specializes in “real estate, construction, development, consulting, and training.” Alongside all that, the organization also builds leaders and business all over the world.
Adam Hergenrother doesn’t follow the rules because he creates them. He has cultivated a culture of leadership in all his ventures, and that he has managed his companies with the belief that business should also enable personal growth. If you ask him, he has built the “company of the future.”
From 2016 to 2018, the Adam Hergenrother Companies have been named the Best Places to Work in Vermont.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Adam Hergenrother: Sure! My story starts when I was a teenager. I was hanging out with the wrong crowd, dabbling in drugs, smoking cigarettes heavily, and using food as a way to escape from life. I was more than 100 pounds overweight, failing classes, and driving a piece-of-crap car. In short, my self-worth was nonexistent. One day my dad found me like that in my room and said, “You have two choices. You can accept where you are or you can change.” That was the day I told myself “Screw it. No more.” And I decided to change.
One year later I was a hundred pounds lighter — physically, mentally, and emotionally. I had shed everything that wasn’t serving me, and I was no longer letting other people dictate who I should be. It was only a couple of years later when I got my first taste of business. I flipped a car with a friend and doubled my initial $500 investment. That was such a powerful lesson for me that within six months I made another $40,000 using the same strategy. I was hooked on business, so right out of college I got a great job. It wasn’t long, however, before I realized my relentless drive to create the biggest life possible would not happen if I was employed by someone else.
Real estate piqued my interest when I took that $40,000 from car flipping and invested it in a condo. I had to sell unexpectedly, and it was just enough of a taste of real estate to realize that it was a good match for my relentless drive. So in 2006, my then-girlfriend, and now beautiful wife, Sarah Ostiguy Hergenrother, and I started the Hergenrother-Ostiguy Group. Our slogan was, “Hard to pronounce, but easy to work with!” Those days were awesome. We borrowed $8,000 to start our business and in the first 30 days spent half of it going to an industry conference. It was the first time I learned that investing in yourself and your own education would provide the biggest return.
I then met Gary Keller at a private event in Austin. After about five minutes of listening to him speak, I was sold. I immediately came back to Vermont and opened a Keller Williams Realty market center. It would prove to be much more challenging than I thought, but I had chosen to step off the sidelines, and into the arena, and it was time to fight for the vision I had.
Fast forward and here we are 10 years later. I have built Keller Williams Vermont to one of the top real estate teams in the state, Hergenrother Realty Group the #4 real estate team in the nation, BlackRock Construction is dominate force in the development space, and Adam Hergenrother Companies is a $1 billion organization where personal growth and work-life integration come first.
Now, I spend my time leading these organizations, writing books, creating podcasts, speaking, and training, so I can teach others how to use business as a conduit for their personal growth. I believe business can show you how to find the gift in all of life’s experiences and help you discover who you are — a spiritual being having a temporary physical experience. Once you really understand that and apply it to your business and the rest of your life, you have the power to unleash joy in everything you do.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Adam Hergenrother: Yeah, there have been several really difficult times over the years. One of my first “hard times” was when I got fired from a cushy corporate gig when I was in my mid-twenties. That eventually led me to starting a career in real estate, so it was ultimately a good thing!
My next really difficult time came when I decided to leave the Re/Max brokerage I was working at to start my own Keller Williams Realty franchise. I had given my notice and communicated my plan with the owner and we had worked out a 30 day or so transition plan. And then the Thanksgiving holiday weekend arrived and I was suddenly told that that would be my last day, to get my things, and vacate the office. That was definitely not the plan! So, with nowhere to go, no agents or staff to assist, and a long weekend stretching in front of me… I got to work. Well, first, I had a long, long night of wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. But, like everything in life, I saw this as a challenge, an opportunity, a chance to see what I was really capable of. It was another moment when I realized that business is nothing more than a conduit for your personal growth.
Look, when you choose to step into the arena of life, you’re going to get dinged up a time or two. But that’s all part of the journey of business and life! I was clear on the vision I had for my life and I wasn’t going to let anyone else stop me from achieving that. When you are completely committed to what you want to create, then you don’t let any hard times, or excuses, or roadblocks stop you, you just keep going. So, that’s what I did!
There have been a lot of other hard times over the years, from wondering if I would be able to make payroll that week, to making the wrong hires, to layoffs and lawsuits. But through it all, I persevered. Because what would the alternative have been? Giving up? Not going to happen.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Adam Hergenrother: Well, this one is really only funny in hindsight. I mean, you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself, right? So, I used to have this weekly YouTube series I did, called Mind Spark Mondays or something like that. Every week, I’d have a professional videographer create this perfectly edited content with graphics and music, so I could share a quick mindset tip or expound on an interesting business topic. I had on my suit and I was prepared with a script and a smile. And, I felt like a fraud. When I look back at those videos now, I think, who was that guy? The funniest part of the videos was actually the blooper reel — that was me. The guy who messed up his lines, made up a new word, and didn’t take himself too seriously. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I swapped that suit for a hoodie and that script for just showing up and serving the moment (and people) in front of me, that my businesses really started to take off.
What did I learn? I learned that everyone is craving authenticity and the best way I can support others to show up as they are and share their unique gifts with the world is to show up as my authentic self first and lead from the front. I learned that you don’t need expensive video production and a perfect script to make an impact on those around you. It’s about the vision, the message, how you make people feel, and how you can inspire them to step up, take action and grow in their own lives. That is what I strive to do every day as the leader of multiple organizations and in turn, I work with my employees and leaders to help them do the same for their teams.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
- Cast the vision. This is one of the most important thing a leader must do, every day (even better if it’s woven into every conversation or email). In order for you to delegate effectively, and for anyone else to follow, you need to know where you are going and why. Your team members need to buy into the vision and be clear on how they can specifically contribute. When you have that long-term, end result in mind, it’s time to get to work, delegating projects and tasks and positions to make it come to life. It all starts with the vision.
- Make the right hire. You can’t effectively delegate if you don’t have the right people to delegate to. And you’re certainly not going to be satisfied with the results if you have sub-par talent on your team. Years ago we made a hire and one of our leaders was still doing half of the work! Why? Because she was afraid to delegate as she could not trust that the work would get done. That was on us. We made the wrong hire and had to pay the price. Lesson learned. Since then, we have mastered the art of recruiting and hiring. We use an extensive vetting process that includes a behavior assessment, life story, group interview, and more. We make it our mission to match the right person with the right opportunity in our organization. When you hire the right person, delegation becomes much easier!
- Set clear expectations. Clarity is power. Team members need to know what you expect from them from day one. This goes for the big targets — like their monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals — all the way down to specific expectations around their schedule and communication. You can’t expect team members to show up and deliver the way you want them to if you haven’t clearly articulated those expectations first. Here’s an example: Let’s say you expect your new assistant to answer all emails on your behalf. Seems simple enough, right? And a huge time saver for you! Well, did you clearly outline your expectations for your emails? Did you share that you want everything to be replied to “on behalf of” you? Did you tell your assistant that you expect emails to be answered within 3 hours? Did you explain which emails you want to answer and which ones your assistant can? Exactly. You can’t expect to be satisfied with the results, if you aren’t clear about what you want in the first place.
- Hold your team members accountable to the results. Once you’ve clearly outlined your standards and expectations, you have to inspect what you expect. Make sure your team members know that you are going to be checking in regularly on where they are at with their goals and objectives. Weekly one-to-one meetings are a great place to start. The key here is to have a clear consequence for not hitting the target, otherwise, it’s just a suggestion. When you delegate a task or project and you’re not satisfied with what you are getting in return, you need to have a clear and actionable plan in place to either get that team member up to snuff, or to part ways with them. The only way you’ll be able to continue to delegate effectively is if you hold your employee accountable to the result.
- Don’t let go too soon. When you first make a hire or delegate a new task, your days don’t immediately get shorter. I know, I know. That’s not what you wanted to hear. You delegated because you wanted to stop doing the tasks that you hate (database management, anyone?) and to get time back in your day. But it doesn’t happen immediately. Too many new leaders are too eager to let go of the role or task. They end up dumping a bunch of tasks and projects on their team member’s desk without any context, resources, or training. But you need to give it some time and attention to really begin to feel the benefit of delegation. When you delegate something new, your days may get longer for a while. You’ll be slowing down, training, and answering questions — a lot of questions. And then after your team member goes home, you’ll have to catch up on your calls and emails and get your work done for the day. That’s okay. It’s temporary. If you want to be satisfied with the results of your delegation, then you have to take the time to set your team member up for success, and that means not letting go too soon.
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
Adam Hergenrother: Yeah, this is definitely a topic that comes up a lot. And it’s definitely false, for the most part. I’m going to remind you about something we talked about earlier — working our ourselves first so that we let go of the ego. If you are at all thinking about delegating something, it’s likely because either 1) you don’t like to do it, 2) it is not in your strength zone, 3) it is not the best use of your time (even if you like doing it!), or 4) some combination of the first three. The projects and responsibilities that fall into your strength zone and are in the top 20% of your role, yeah, sure, those you can probably do better than anyone else. In fact, you should be doing those better than anyone else! For me, that is casting the vision, organizing our team efficiently by providing clear direction, and removing roadblocks. Other than that, I delegate it! Because, there are people who can do those other roles and tasks much, much better than I can.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Adam Hergenrother: The best place to get access to our podcast, free training, book, and more is by visiting https://adamhergenrother.com.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!