Adam Hergenrother: “Hold your team members accountable to the results”

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 […]

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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.

As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Hergenrother, Founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, which includes KW Vermont, KW Three Bridges, KW Premier Properties, Hergenrother Realty Group, BlackRock Construction, Adam Hergenrother Training, The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and Adam Hergenrother Foundation.

Adam has built a 1B dollars organization in less than ten years by creating a culture where personal growth and work-life integration come first.

Adam thrives on taking on physical challenges including Bikram yoga, hiking, Ironman races, white-water rafting, skiing, and more. He fuels his mind and spirit with 40 minutes a day of meditation and spends as much time as possible outdoors with his family and friends.

He believes all of this is simple, but not easy. Life is hard. Business building is hard. There are daily struggles to overcome. It’s about finding the gift in all of life’s experiences and understanding that you have the power to unleash joy!

Adam lives in South Burlington, Vermont, with his wife, Sarah, and three children, Sienna, Asher, and Madelyn.

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?

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 dollars investment. That was such a powerful lesson for me that within six months I made another 40,000 dollars 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 dollars 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 dollars 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 dollars 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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

There isn’t one big, huge, earth-shattering thing I can point to that makes our company stand out. It’s the little things that add up, compound, and create a culture that I’m really proud of.

Personal growth is a part of everything that we do. We work with our employees and independent contractors to map out their visions for their lives with our Future Self tool. We work on leading ourselves first so that we each show up to work as the most energized version of ourselves. We believe in work-life integration, rather than balance and encourage our team members to focus on the results of their position and division, rather than the time “at the office.” By focusing so intentionally on the personal and professional growth of our employees, they become the reason that other people want to join our company. They become the reason that their team members want to show up each day.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Let’s start by defining burnout, because I think there are a lot of misconceptions around that term. Burnout is defined as the mental or physical collapse caused by overwork or stress. The piece I want to focus on here, specifically, is stress. It doesn’t happen from the number of hours worked or even from the intensity of work. Burnout happens from prolonged stress for a few reasons:

  • When you are not growing
  • When you are out of alignment with your natural behavior
  • hen you are not having success for an extended period of time

First, make sure you have a clear understanding of your goals — personally and professionally. Who are you? What are your goals inside and outside of the office? What drives you every day? Are you taking on a new project and getting outside of your comfort zone? When people aren’t growing, they’re dying. If your start to feel stagnant or feel there is no room to grow, then it’s easier to burnout on the work you are doing every day. Make sure you have a clear growth plan for yourself and anyone else in your company and communicate that growth plan often.

Second, make sure you understand your natural behavioral style. Do you know how you respond to stress? Do you know what work environments you thrive in? Do you understand your communication style? If you answered “no” to even one of these questions, it’s time to do a deep dive into personalities and behaviors and do some inner work. Once you have a clear understanding of your natural behavior, you’ve got to ask yourself if you are in the right position at your company to achieve success. For example, if you have a High I personality (see DISC profile), and you are in a data entry position, with little people contact, that is a complete mismatch. Now, any intelligent individual can learn and perform a job, but that doesn’t mean they are going to be fulfilled. When someone’s doing the wrong job for their personality type, they are going to be stressed each day operating outside of their natural behavior, and if that goes on for too long, it can lead to burnout.

Again, burnout isn’t just about numbers of hours worked, but the result of time spent on projects, tasks, or in a job that is not the right fit. Matching natural behavioral styles with the behavior needed to thrive in a position is the cornerstone of our hiring practice. However, occasionally, mismatches occur. If you know yourself and your team members, you can spot this and avoid burnout by shifting staff or tweaking job descriptions. In my opinion, the fastest way to burnout is if people are in a company that they love, but a role they hate. And if your team isn’t aligned with the mission or vision of the company or their leader, then burnout will happen much, much faster. Make sure people are not only aligned with the right position for their behavior, but with where you and the company are going. Evaluate this regularly. What was a fit in year one of your company, may no longer be the right fit for you or your team member in year five.

And last, but not least, burnout can occur when an individual is failing over and over and over again. Okay, okay, yes, I am a proponent of failure and failing forward. But there comes a point where you are just banging your head against the wall, trying to get through, and nothing seems to be working. Failure like this, for a long time, with no clear wins can be exhausting, deflating, and can cause burnout. This is where you need to take a pause — rest, recover, and recharge. Do you need to step back and take a day off? Do you need some additional training? Do you need to be taken off the project or have someone else come in to help? Is it simply too much work for one person? Do you need help re-prioritizing or chunking down the project into bite-size pieces so that you can accomplish one small part and have a victory and then build upon that? Going too long without any success, no matter how small, is discouraging and stressful, which leads to burnout. Take a pause and get a small win that you can build on.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by really talented individuals from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. I knew I didn’t want to go down this path of building businesses alone and the only way I was going to have the reach and impact that I envisioned was by bringing more people into my world. There are so many that have helped shape me, our company and our culture to what it is today.

I am particularly grateful for Hallie Warner — my Force Multiplier. She has worked by my side for the past 10 years, first as a real estate marketing assistant, then as my Executive Assistant, and now as my Chief of Staff. But regardless of title, Hallie has always been there to just get stuff done — whether that was managing rental properties, delivering lasagna dinners to clients after closings, moving offices, setting up new companies, creating courses, managing social media, and much more. I bring the vision and Hallie follows-up and follows-through. We’ve definitely had our share of growing pains over the years, but we’ve learned a lot together by failing forward and never giving up. In fact, we have learned so much together, that we wrote a book about it — The Founder & The Force Multiplier: How Entrepreneurs & Executive Assistants Achieve More Together!

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

We all have 24 hours in a day. So why do some people accomplish so much more than others? It all comes down to really great time management skills and really great delegation. And for those numbers people out there, do the math. If you are earning 6-figures+ and doing administrative tasks or crunching sales numbers, projects that you could pay someone half your salary to do, why wouldn’t you? It would then free you up to go focus on more dollar producing activities to generate an even bigger return.

Numbers aside, the only way to truly build a business is through other people. Talented people. And talented individuals are not going to stay with you long if you hold on to projects and don’t let them do what they do best. Leaders want that too. Leaders should really only be focusing on a handful of high impact things. The rest — delegate! You and your organization will thank you for it.

Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

Entrepreneurs and small business owners know that they can’t succeed alone. Delegating and leveraging specific tasks and entire positions to new team members is the only way to truly build and scale a business. However, I’ve found through many of my coaching conversations that leaders are hesitate to delegate to team members because they don’t know what to delegate or how to train them on what they are trying to delegate. I also think that many leaders don’t think that they have the time to delegate, and they probably don’t. But if they just make the time, it will be a short-term investment for a long-term gain. I also think there is a fear of losing control over a project or task. If it’s delegated, than how can they be sure it’s done right? That is usually a sign of someone new to leadership who hasn’t learned to set clear expectations and accountability measures. When you do that — delegation becomes much easier. And finally, ego can often get in the way of delegating. Sometimes when an individual starts to really delegate, they begin to question their value, their identity, and they can feel their significance diminishing. Battling with the ego is always a challenge and therefore many people just choose not to.

In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

It all comes back to investing in yourself, your personal growth, and your leadership. Ultimately, you can either have excuses or results. All of the concerns I mentioned before can be easily mitigated with a solid plan, a model to follow, the commitment to increasing your leadership skills and growing your business through people, and staying consistent over time.

The most difficult thing to do is to work on yourself — learning to let go of an identity you created, letting go of needing to control the outcome of a situation, being centered and full of joy no matter what is happening on the outside. But I strongly believe that the next generation of leaders will be just as committed to their personal growth as they are to the bottom line. Pivoting to working on your inner growth will not stop challenges from happening, but will allow you to handle whatever challenge comes your way with clarity and conviction. And who doesn’t what that!?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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?

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.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Need nothing and enjoy everything. Let me explain… When I wake up every day, my starting position is that I’m okay with everything. That means that no matter what challenges show up at the office or with my family, it doesn’t affect who I am at the core. I’m me and I’m okay. When I start every day from this place, I’m able to simply go forth into the world and play and create in business and in life. I don’t need a certain income, a certain car or vacation, a certain relationship, or the people in my life to show up a certain way to be whole and complete inside. I already am whole and complete. So, I don’t need anything, but man, can I enjoy everything! You become a fierce competitor in business and the architect of your own life when you subscribe to this belief. That is what I am actively working on teaching to as many people as I can!

How can our readers further follow you online?

The best place to get access to our podcast, free training, book, and more is by visiting

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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