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The Secrets to Living a Longer, Happier and More Productive Life

Never worry. If you're worrying, you're not working.
The Secrets to Living a Longer, Happier and More Productive Life
Image credit: Peter Hernandez
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A brain trust of high-level entrepreneurs
6 min read
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In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Peter Hernandez, president of brokerage, western region, at Douglas Elliman, a market leader in real estate. It was condensed by The Oracles.

1. Who was your biggest influence growing up?

I had several strong influences, from my swim coach and real estate mentors to my brother and father. My father taught me the invaluable lesson that your reputation is everything and should be protected above all else because it lives with you forever.

He also had a famous line, "Never worry." If you’re worrying, you’re not working. Many people waste energy worrying instead of focusing on the immediate problem and potential solutions -- which is much more beneficial.

2. What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?

I’m skilled at using discipline to maximize my life’s potential. Many people think discipline limits your choices, but it conversely gives you more freedom. When you're not disciplined, you're handicapped by bad habits and behaviors. Discipline gives you freedom from being broke, poor health and regret.

The science of human performance is about getting the most out of our gifts and attributes. I'm not the smartest, the best-looking or most successful guy on the planet -- but I get a lot out of what I have.

3. What are the core values that guide your business, and why did you pick them?

Personal growth is a crucial value of mine. I break down personal growth into growing physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally -- even intuitively. When you work on each of those areas a little bit every day, your whole life improves.

Also, in my experience, we all have more in the tank than we think. We let ourselves off the hook a lot, instead of pushing forward. Know that you can go harder. You’re capable of much more than you think. 

4. What book changed your mindset or life?

In his book Dare to Be 100, Walter M. Bortz describes the old paradigm of life: Go to school, work, retire and die. He proposes an alternative script: Learn, work and relax every day of your whole life. That’s the holistic mindset I now have.

Life spans are increasing tremendously. Some people reading this article might live to be 120. That changes how you plan and organize your life. I was recently talking to a young guy who said he wanted to retire in five years. I responded by asking what he was going to do for the next 80 years! The point is to live a balanced life and think of yourself as a life-worker.

5. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Take risks and do things sooner and faster. One of the great experiences I had was founding Teles Properties, growing that company and selling it to Douglas Elliman, where I now work as president of the western region.

I think so many people don't self-actualize. They don't do what they could or might want to do. So, I’d tell my younger self to go for it. Just get up, get out and do it.

6. How do you define great leadership?

Lead by example and with integrity. People need to know that you’ll do what you say. Don't take full credit for your success. Give credit to everyone who works with you, which empowers others to succeed.

Leadership is also about out-working everybody. It’s funny—so many people, especially the younger ones, say to me, "Now that you're President of the Western Region, you can get everyone to do everything for you.”

The opposite is true. I have to work harder than everybody in the company. That’s one of the responsibilities of being a leader: You’re willing to push yourself further and lead by example.

7. How do you hire top talent?

I look for attitude, mindset and people who are going to be supportive of the organization and its mission. That doesn't necessarily mean that new hires have to be "yes" people. I'm looking for people with intentions and objectives that are congruent with what we're trying to accomplish.

New hires need to have a tremendous work ethic and integrity. They should be detail-oriented and ambitious. They must be your Huckleberry -- the kind of person you can count on.

8. How do you prevent burnout?

You can't ignore that the body needs rest. Sometimes on the weekend, I'll just lie down for a second and wake up three hours later. If that happens, it’s what my body needed, and that's good.

I eat nutritious foods, and I exercise five to six days a week. I also have a morning and evening routine. I get up at 4:45 a.m. every morning, recite spiritual readings and affirmations, look at my day, and plan it.

I also travel somewhere every year. Travel is rejuvenating! This year, my wife and I celebrated 25 years together and visited Australia.

9. What would you like to be doing in three years?

I want to get more involved in charity and develop that part of myself. My wife and daughter support an organization that helps children with medical needs. They have gone on a few mission trips that I haven’t been able to join. It’s incredible just hearing about the excellent work the organization does around the world.

10. What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?

I'm in the business of managing and coaching. I help a lot of agents because I’ve been a real estate broker most of my career. I’d love people to say, "Peter was there for me and helped my career. I was able to actualize my personal growth because of our relationship.” If I’ve helped anyone like that, it would be enough for me.

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