Ron Wolf Blog Series: Step #2 To Building A Winning Organization

Ron Wolf Blog Series: Step #2 To Building A Winning Organization


20181130 190629 300x146                     71A0EWJB5FL. SX303 BO1204203200  193x300

Recently, Cornerstone Development had the honor of hosting a private dinner event with former Green Bay Packers General Manager Ron Wolf.  At that event, Mr. Wolf was kind enough to share some excellent business insights which he detailed in his book, The Packer Way: Nine Stepping Stones to Building a Winning Organization.

The following is the second in a series of blogs where we will examine these stepping stones and how they relate to building success and improving our product within Cornerstone Development.


John Wahlen –   I think Ron is spot on that you need to hire high quality people. When you think of the great brands in the world like Ritz Carlton – when you check into one of their hotels everything is done with a high level of class. They have hired a high level of individual to service their customers and that’s a consistent aspect to their business approach.

If you want the brand and product to exude quality the only way you get there is if you hire high quality people. Mr. Wolf’s contention is that you need to be out front, be the ones who are trying to hire the best, so that the competition doesn’t. I totally agree with that.  I also agree with the notion that if you want to get the best you have to pay a little more. It’s really easy to step over a dollar to pick up a dime. But where do you really end up when you do that? Quality product goes hand-in-hand with quality people.

Cornerstone’s Approach

The first thing that we typically do is to put the word out on the street. We’ve had great success with word of mouth because people hear that Cornerstone is a really nice place to work and our vendor partners know what we’re like. Generally, you can find people by association, so that’s a place we like to go.

I like to interact with the general public. So, for sales people, I won’t kid you. If I’m out for dinner on a Saturday night and we’re getting good service, I pay special attention. Look, that waiter or waitress is willing to work on a weekend, work at night, to think on their feet, and to be customer-centric. I can train the real estate side but those other things you can’t always train. You can’t train ‘heart.’  You can get into the head and pick up how smart someone may be, but the heart is another story.

Position Examples

Let’s take Construction Manager, for example. You need somebody that’s sharp and understands the business. We’ll train some people up to that point, but we love to have born leaders and those that maybe have done it successfully elsewhere to come onto our team.

Another example: Sales Consultants. As I referenced earlier with the waiter-waitress analogy, sales consultants need to brim with positive energy because people will buy from people that they like and people will work with those that they like. So it’s very helpful to have those traits. We are looking to fill these two roles as we expand this year.

Relationships Are Key

We do like our people to take a short personality profile when they’re starting with us. While it’s just a one-page assessment, oftentimes you can establish relationships and understand how they view the world on that one page. We’d love for that to happen and we also like to have multiple interviews. We like people to shadow us. We’ve had a number of people sit in on our meetings and watch how we interact and see what it’s like to work at our firm.

Meanwhile, we’re watching them to see what they would be like. Are they engaged? They’re sitting here because they are interested so that’s a good start. We try to spend some quality time with them and, of course, we’re doing our homework on their references and their background because that’s critical, too.

Beating the competition

One of my favorite ways to do it is to go to trade shows like the Builders Expo. There can be folks at the Builders Expo that can fill roles for me. They may not actually be at competition. For example, somebody selling single-family homes have knowledge of new construction but at Cornerstone we are selling condominiums. Still, if they can sell the single-family homes, do they have the personality we look for? I love to shop for people at trade shows.

That’s a little harder with construction managers because they’re typically not at shows, but sometimes option or selection coordinators are there, as well as others that interface with the general public. I think I’m one step ahead of the competition by doing taking this approach toward prospecting.