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Hughes Marino Coaches: Powerful Coaching Stories That Inspire High-Performing Teams

By Jason & Shay Hughes

You don’t have to be a big sports fan to know that coaches have a huge impact on a team’s success. When it comes to the most winning teams in sports, oftentimes the coaches are just as revered by their fans as the star players. Whether in business or sports, we have many “coaching idols,” from Howard Schultz, the former chairman of Starbucks, to Nick Saban of University of Alabama fame. Our team knows we love elite coaches and enthusiastically share their legendary advice with our team regularly, as coaching is such an incredibly influential part of building a championship team.

As leaders of our company, we strive to have a positive, winning mindset, and are constantly on the lookout for inspiration, new ideas and concepts to share with our team and clients. Over the years, as we’ve added new team members and new offices, as well as established core values and HM-isms. We’ve also collected an inspiring crew of coaches that speak to our team, providing inspiration and motivation, both personally and professionally. We wanted to share a spotlight on three of our favorite long-time Hughes Marino coaches, including their inspiring life stories and unique coaching approaches, in hopes that you can take some of their wisdom and apply it to your own team.

Jesse Itzler

@jesseitzler | jesseitzler.com

Best-selling author, entrepreneur and business mogul Jesse Itzler didn’t always see a clear path to success in his own life, but he followed his passions with a relentlessness that ultimately led him there, which taught him the importance of the journey—and the challenges—along the way.

Jesse Itzler HM Team Speaking Event
Jesse Itzler speaks to the Hughes Marino team during a company anniversary event at our San Diego headquarters.

He spent years struggling to make it as a music artist, and even worked for years as a pool attendant, but never gave up on himself and his pursuit to make an impact on the world. Jesse’s commitment to pursuing big dreams ultimately led him to build and sell five companies, including Marquis Jet and Zico Coconut Water; spend a month living with a Navy SEAL on an intense training regimen and publish best-selling book Living with a SEAL about the experience; become a part owner of the Atlanta Hawks; and complete multiple endurance races, including Last Man Standing and 100-mile runs. Talk about an inspiring and impressive resume!

He’s not only focused on succeeding in business but maximizing his potential and living to the fullest in every aspect of his life. Jesse regularly celebrates being an involved father to his four kids, as well as a devoted husband to his wife, Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx.

His Approach

  1. Dream Big

In talks with businesses and people around the world, including our own team, Jesse encourages his listeners to “dream big,” using his own experiences as evidence that life can be driven by multiple big dreams, and achieved via many possible paths—even if unconventional! The key, he says, is to maintain a hungry mindset and “be audacious enough to try.”

  1. Aim to Be a Spiritual Billionaire

Another concept Jesse coined is the idea of striving to be a “spiritual billionaire,” which he learned from his father, who was never a billionaire in financial terms, but was the ultimate spiritual billionaire—the only currency that really matters in life. This was profoundly represented to Jesse when he was researching retirement homes for his mother after the passing of his father. The evaluation process didn’t include analysis of bank accounts, connections or social status, but was based on a retirement grading system of wellness, known as “SIPPS”—Social, Intellectual, Physical, Purposeful, and as Jesse emphasized, Spiritual. Jesse explains the value of being a spiritual billionaire is the ultimate multiplier in life. One can have billions of dollars in the bank, but if they don’t have anything else of value in their life, they ultimately have nothing. He encourages everyone to spend more time on the spiritual side of the equation, as that is the true multiplier of life.

  1. Put Your Soul It

Jesse also wholeheartedly believes that if you are going to do something, you have to put your whole soul into it, and “be where your feet are.” In other words, be present, focused, intentional, actively engaged and never take time for granted. He explains that you can’t outsource soul, and that if you aren’t going to put your soul into something—a business meeting, a new career, an athletic endeavor—then don’t waste your time, because the winning competition will put soul into their efforts, and you are only being a disservice to yourself. Jesse further explains that there is an energy to how you show up in life, in work, with your family, friends and colleagues, and they can tell when you pour your soul into it. That is something everyone can learn from!

  1. Choose a Word to Define Your Year

Each year, Jesse has a new word that serves as his focus. This year, that word is “relentless.” In many ways, it sums up his approach—live life to the fullest with a zest to squeeze as much out of every moment, every day and every opportunity with a passion and relentlessness that reflects Jesse’s inspiring approach to life. What’s your word for this year?

His Impact on Our Team

Jesse’s holistic approach to seizing life through personal, physical and professional pursuits dovetails perfectly with our company culture, and is a major reason why we have invited Jesse to speak with our team over the years. Our ultimate goal is for our teammates to live every aspect of their lives to their fullest—not just succeed in business—and Jesse’s high energy and inspiring stories leave us feeling supercharged whenever we hear from him.

Jesse points the way forward—beginning with an unafraid mindset. He has shared with our team that after you set big goals, you need to declare that you will do them, unequivocally, whether it is running a marathon or securing a meaningful business win. We also like to incorporate fun goals to bring achievements throughout the year with our HM Mini Goals program. His insights have helped our team recognize how much further we can go if we lead with conviction and consistency.

As Jesse says, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.” In other words, even when we feel like there is nothing left, Jesse says “with the right mindset, you’ve still got 40% left in the tank!”

Mike Robbins

@mikedrobbins | mike-robbins.com

Before Mike Robbins became a world-renowned speaker, author and consultant for businesses including Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Deloitte, Coca-Cola and professional sports teams, he was a rising star on the baseball field, pitching in the College World Series for Stanford University after turning down the New York Yankees, who tried to draft him out of high school. After graduation, he played for the Kansas City Royals’ minor league team until an arm injury cut his baseball career short—but that didn’t impede his path to success. His baseball experience has informed his business advice and his coaching insights on supporting teammates, playing for one another and ignoring the naysayers, which helped propel the San Francisco Giants to multiple World Series wins.

Mike Robbins HM Team Speaking Event
Mike Robbins speaking to Hughes Marino’s team, clients and friends at our Orange County office.

From the pitcher’s mound, to sales and development roles at various internet startups, Mike saw firsthand what made an organization great, and the importance of a collaborative, focused team made up of unique individuals to drive an organization’s success. His focus is on building a team-oriented company culture—leading with emotional intelligence to not only drive stellar results, but create a place where everyone wants to contribute and be a part of a championship team.

In addition to his busy schedule of coaching some of the biggest companies and most successful sports teams around the world, Mike hosts a podcast and has authored five best-selling books, ranging on topics of appreciation, authenticity, self-compassion, professional development and culture. We were honored to be featured in two of Mike’s latest books, Bring Your Whole Self to Work and We’re All in This Together, where he shared our core values, leadership style and company culture.

Mike is also a devoted family man who lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two daughters.

His Approach

  1. Embrace Appreciation & Recognition

This was the focus of his very first book, and a common theme through all the discussions Mike leads with companies around the world. While appreciation and recognition may seem the same, they are two very distinct and important elements of a successful team. While we can recognize someone for executing on a job well done, appreciation is about recognizing people’s value versus what they do. More than anything else, people want to feel valued. The simple practice of sincere appreciation is easy to achieve, and it has the potential to dramatically affect the outcome of success for any business leader, team member or entire organization.

  1. High Bar, High Nurturance

Mike teaches that you can’t set a high bar of expectations without high nurturance—the two go hand-in-hand. Having a healthy dose of high expectations is, of course, important. No one set out to accomplish ambitious goals without a high bar being set, but what Mike so poignantly reminds us, supplying an equal amount of high nurturance to achieve those goals is indispensable in leading a team to greatness.

  1. Role vs. Job

As Mike explains it, we each have a different role, but we all share the same job—to help the team win. This is one of our favorite sayings at Hughes Marino. While our role includes our LinkedIn title and day-to-day tasks, our real job is to help the team succeed as a whole. This reinforces the fact that while everyone may have defined roles within a company, everyone should work together to achieve the same ultimate goal—to help the team thrive. This is a positive and powerful concept that encourages collaboration and teamwork, the key ingredients to any successful team.

  1. Be Authentic

As the focus of another one of Mike’s books, he outlines the critical importance of authenticity—as teamwork, culture and success cannot happen without authenticity at the root. Without authenticity and vulnerability, there’s little hope for a strong team environment, much less a strong, lasting company. While it can be hard to be our true selves at times, Mike explains that actively practicing being genuine and real in both our personal and professional lives leads to growth and deeper relationships with others in the process.

His Impact on Our Team

Mike Robbins is one of the most approachable and authentic speakers we’ve had join us—and that’s what makes him so effective as a coach. Mike was the first speaker invited to a Hughes Marino retreat, and the themes of his talks have played a major part in forming the award-winning culture that we have at our company today. It starts with gratitude and being authentic, two foundational principles of Mike’s practice. As leaders, we look for team members who are authentically caring and thoughtful, and who appreciate one another and all that we have to be grateful for. Since our first meeting with Mike 13 years ago, we’ve found countless ways to incorporate authenticity and appreciation into our day-to-day life and cultural traditions.

It’s a message we’ve taken to heart at Hughes Marino. At a company retreat over a decade ago, we decided it was time to turn our ideas about collaboration and culture building into a set of core values. It was a daunting, yet extremely rewarding task. Mike helped walk us through the process and introduced the final version to the team. These 10 core values have become the heart of the Hughes Marino approach: always do the right thing, deliver excellence in everything we do, enjoy the journey, embrace the family spirit, build lasting relationships based on trust, nurture your personal and professional life, pursue growth and learning, generously give to others, proactively communicate with everyone, and be authentic, grateful and humble.

It’s safe to say that Mike has left a profound impact on our team, and we are so grateful to have had him as a coach throughout the life of our business!

Joe Calloway


International Speakers Hall of Fame inductee and best-selling author Joe Calloway coached businesses for over 30 years, working with Fortune 100 and thousands of companies to help them create and sustain success—including our very own team at Hughes Marino.

Joe Calloway HM Speaking Event
Jason, Shay and Joe Calloway, author of The Leadership Mindset, which features Hughes Marino’s culture and core values.

As a business advisor, author and speaker, Joe Calloway’s messages focused on helping companies and their leaders become even better, by narrowing in on the details, overcoming challenges and embracing the notion to always keep moving forward. Joe has written eight influential books on business, earning praise from some of the most well-known publications in the world. In addition to writing books, he has spoken to an impressive roster of companies both within the United States and around the world, including Coca-Cola, IBM, Cadillac and American Express.

We were one of the companies honored to be featured in an entire chapter of Joe’s book, The Leadership Mindset, where he shared the connection between Hughes Marino’s culture and business success. In his book, he also shared insights from working with Chase Bank, Proctor & Gamble, as well as the companies noted above—and how mindset is an essential ingredient for the success of every business.

When he’s not hosting retreats to explore and discuss leadership and opportunity, Joe resides with his family in Nashville, TN.

His Approach

  1. Be So Good at the Basics That You’re Cutting Edge

Product quality, customer experience, delivery, culture, etc.—Joe encourages companies to study the basics in their business. Once they are identified, they must be fine-tuned and perfected so a company can WIN at the basics. While he notes that it is very hard to do, once accomplished, success is assured. So often, as business leaders, we find ourselves pulled toward new services in the belief that it will make us more competitive, or entertain ideas about how we might evolve to align with the latest trends and technology breakthroughs. Joe’s message is an essential reminder to stay laser-focused on what matters most. For FedEx—a company Joe worked with closely—it’s delivering packages to customers on time, when they said they would, consistently at the highest level. For Hughes Marino, it’s serving the global real estate needs of corporate tenants and buyers, with an unmatched level of quality representation and diligence.

It doesn’t mean we can’t innovate, but that all of our innovations are pointed at that clearly defined single purpose. For us, part of the innovation that has led us to be best-in-class in our industry is our specialization and focus on serving the needs of corporate tenants and buyers, those companies that occupy commercial real estate. That includes hiring people who are not only smart, savvy and understand the needs of our client business leaders, but who are collaborative team players, so we have one integrated, optimized team to serve every real estate need our clients encounter. We foster an environment of cultivating one unified team that delivers the highest caliber results for our clients, while also building a supportive and caring company culture that helps our clients feel welcomed and supported too.

  1. Define Your “One”

What is the path to business success? Joe says it lies in simplicity. Get clear on what it is you deliver to your clients, “be the best at what matters most,” and become so good at it that you outperform your competitors and ultimately become a “category of one.” His book, Becoming a Category of One, focuses on this very topic!

  1. Are You “Running to the Car?”

Joe refers to the story of Les Schwab, a tire company whose staff literally runs up to customers’ cars as they pull into the parking lot needing a tire repair. This signature act of service always caught people off guard, and demonstrated how dedicated they were to their customers. We love this concept of running to the car for our clients and for our internal teammates, and have challenged ourselves over the years to find ways we can exemplify this level of service. It’s a great question for business leaders to ask themselves: What is our company’s version of running to the car? How can we continue to provide innovative, proactive service to our team and clients?

His Impact on Our Team

One of the first times our company was introduced to Joe’s dynamic presentation was at a Hughes Marino company retreat over a decade ago. In an effort to define Hughes Marino’s “One,” Joe had everyone on the team submit words related to how we wanted our clients to feel. He collected 100 words, displayed them on a screen, and then had us narrow them down to just three core words. After much discussion and deliberation, we selected “informed,” “confident” and “appreciated.” Those three words have since become our company guideposts—and we refer back to them at every team meaning. From that day forward, we always think with the lens of making our clients—and our teammates—feel informed, confident and appreciated, and we’d like to think our clients appreciate these sentiments, too!

Through books like Be the Best at What Matters Most, Joe helped Hughes Marino define our true north value proposition—to identify the most essential service we offer to clients in clear terms. No matter how the industry or the market changes, we always bring our focus back to our core purpose and we don’t let ourselves become distracted by ideas that don’t serve that goal.

We hope you were inspired by the stories, concepts and impacts that these three incredible coaches have shared with our team, and we encourage you to read their books or follow them online for more wisdom.


Jason Hughes is founder of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company with offices across the nation. A pioneer in the field of tenant representation, Jason has exclusively represented tenants and buyers for more than 30 years. Contact Jason at 1-844-662-6635 or jason@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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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