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Inspired By The Pyramid of Success

By Shay Hughes

Hughes Marino is one of the fastest growing commercial real estate brokerage firms in the country. We specialize in representing companies in their real estate needs rather than professional landlords, and that hyper-focus and mitigation of the rampant conflict of interest inherent in firms that represent both landlords and tenants has spring boarded our national growth. Founded in 2011 in San Diego, we now have ten offices, including Orange County, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Dallas, Boston and Raleigh-Durham.

Nationally acclaimed for our outstanding culture (Fortune magazine ranked us #1 in the nation) and recognized for our beautiful, welcoming offices and hospitality-centered culture, we continue to draw top talent to our ranks.

This kind of success rarely happens by accident. It’s purposeful, built by high-performing teams and inspired by shared values. Such was the case with Hughes Marino, where our unique ethos had beginnings in a set of life practices created by one of the most winning college basketball coaches in history, UCLA’s legendary John Wooden.

Building a Strong Foundation

Coach Wooden drew up his “Pyramid of Success” in 1948 after spending decades determining the traits and characteristics of a successful person. He shared it with his players to instill in them a drive to excellence and it quickly went beyond the locker room. Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is now considered a classic framework for both individual and team success.

The first time I saw the Pyramid of Success was when my dad brought it home from his office. My dad, Shawn Holder, was then president of Chart House, the nationwide chain of upscale restaurants.

The Pyramid artwork hung in our house throughout my childhood. Of course, the words had already permeated the fabric of Chart House, which is what created the feeling of family and a high-performer mindset that the company was known for.

I remember how everyone at the restaurants respected each other, always strived to do their best and brought their enthusiasm and team spirit to work with them every day. As part of the Chart House family, I absorbed those same qualities, so when my dad brought the Pyramid home, it just made sense. He hung the framed print on our wall, and it became a backdrop for our lives, always reminding me to do the right thing and strive to be all of those qualities I looked at daily on the Pyramid.

So, when Jason and I started Hughes Marino, the Pyramid’s influence came through as a part of the company’s foundation.

I just didn’t realize how true that was until our first company retreat.

Synergy at an Off-Site Retreat

Early on in the evolution of Hughes Marino, we held our first off-site retreat at Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach, CA, to brainstorm ideas about how to make this new venture a success. One team member brought a “show & tell”—John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

He had been introduced to the poster by a coach. The winning mindset extolled in the Pyramid had taken hold, and helped him excel through college and into his personal and professional life, and thought it would be an inspirational model to share with the team at the retreat.

Of course, the minute I saw it I knew exactly what it was. Hearing his enthusiasm for these 25 traits I’d grown up with just reinforced the powerful impact those values can have on an organization, including the impact they would have while growing Hughes Marino.

Pyramid, The Next Generation

After we talked about the Pyramid at the retreat, Jason and I decided to ask our team members what their most important values for a successful life might be. The answers that came back were nothing short of astonishing, not only in their insight but in their similarities. In fact, many of the suggestions included the same words and phrases.

Using those responses—and keeping the Pyramid in mind as inspiration—we created our own guidelines for success, which have come to be known as Hughes Marino’s ten core values. They include things like “always do the right thing,” “embrace the family spirit,” “enjoy the journey” and “give generously to others.”

inspired by the pyramid of success hughes marino gym
The Pyramid of Success now has a place in our San Diego office’s gym.

Outlier or Innovator?

I understand that talking about generosity, joy and family spirit in a corporate environment may be too “warm and fuzzy” for most commercial real estate firms, but the proven value of doing so has become all too apparent to ignore. As I said, Hughes Marino has been celebrated again and again for our company culture.

In many cases, it’s our emphasis on the core values that draws top real estate advisors and talent to Hughes Marino nationally. It’s what enables us to provide such a high level of bespoke service to our clients.

The high-nurturing, high-performing principles that Wooden espoused to his championship teams is what drives the success of organizations of all types, whether it be a basketball team or a business, and that type of leadership is very often the difference maker when it comes to winning and delivering results.

SHAY’S MICRO-DOCUMENTARY: In case you missed it, our last issue of Work+Space featured the inspiring story of Shay’s family’s growing the Chart House restaurant chain, with her dad rising from a dishwasher, to driving to New England to open the first Chart House outside of California, to becoming the President of the NYSE public company. Shay documented this inspirational story as a three-part micro-documentary series, in which she details how her unique upbringing and her father’s leadership influenced the growth of Hughes Marino. For more, visit hughesmarino.com/shaysstory.

Shay Hughes is president & COO of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices across the nation. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-662-6635 or shay.hughes@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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