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What makes culture in your company ?

As the CEO of your company you may think ” Wow, I’m doing well. My company is ranked #1 in the XYZ market ” You did it. You built your success through your hustle and everyone is happy.
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The Breakfast Club was sharing their personal experiences in the work world this morning as I asked my daily blog question. What makes a truly successful company? We have all concluded that in order to build a successful environment for all, you must build a culture first.



David Lykken says that leaders should be intentional in every move they make. David thinks that sometimes he can be too open and honest but he’d rather be too open than have anyone feel unsure and insecure about their work environment.

Beth Ozenghar thinks that if you’re feeling tension when you walk into the room, it is happening because trust has been broken along the way somehow in the company. Something has been miscommunicated or even not communicated at all and assumptions have begun.

Scott Woll’s opinion is that culture comes from the top. CEO’s often assume that everyone knows what is going on because he told “Mary” to make sure everyone knows. Now Mary has taken what she got out of the message and has now told John to get the message out. Now John is “summing it up” for everyone and all of a sudden that water cooler is filled with whispers and side eyes!  Good CEOs will listen and see the employees. They cannot assume they understand you at every level. A good boss is involved. A good boss knows his company from top to bottom. That’s culture. There should be no assumption that your message is getting out properly.

Beth adds that it still boils down to trust. Bosses can make such a difference. CEO’s needs to have a staff that they can trust to relay the message properly. Trust can be broken so quickly by inefficient communication.

Trust Mortgage Lenders

My opinion (Stephanie Stevens) on this is that a lot of companies just want the hustle. Build your culture. Build your 9-5 family. You will probably be with them more than your actual family at times. Know them. Be the boss that walks into the room and says ” Hey did little Johnny win the big game?!” or ” Hey Mary I know your son wasn’t feeling well yesterday, did he make it to school?”

Yes, this may take time out of your hustle. Our Breakfast Club meets every morning. At first, I’ll admit, I thought “Oh goodness, I don’t have time for this. ” Now, I wish we did it on the weekends too! I make sure I grab a fresh cup of coffee and sit down without any distractions. I really want to know how Beth’s daughter is after her first dirt bike accident. I can’t wait to hear about Scott’s newest Grandchild and I love David’s funny stories! That takes up about 10 minutes and then we are on to business. Updates on clients. Are we prepared for an upcoming meeting and my “topic of the day”.

This is called building Culture in your business. We have built trust and security within our company through effective communication and we can help your company too!

Look around. Do you see your staff gathered at the water cooler? Do you feel tension when you walk into the room? Are your meetings quiet with arms crossed? Do you know who’s kid is in the spelling bee and who’s kid is home from school sick today? Here’s a little funny to make you smile today…..

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Motivational Monday

What-Are-You-Doing-Text-PicWhat are you doing? Where do you want to be? Is your mortgage company running at full capacity? Are you happy to be sitting at work today? Are you HAPPY it’s MONDAY?
If you’re not, you should be. No, seriously, you’re too old to be sitting at your desk reading this and counting the days to the weekend. You’re counting your life away. Why not change what you’re doing? Stop with the stinking thinking and actually do something about it!

That’s easy for anyone to say. There is nothing more annoying than that person that says ” Just be happy.” I’d often like to reply thanks, I never thought of that! Thanks! I’ll try that!”. I like to call that person Captain Obvious!


OK, seriously how do you change?

Well, let’s break it down for those in the mortgage industry.

First, Take a full assessment of your operational policies & procedures across all aspects of your business to ensure they meet the requirements of the agencies. When you have your business process flowing smoothly, it takes the stress out of a lot of other areas and off of a lot of other people.

Next, review your human resources department; Culture, Staffing Experience, P&Ps, Training, Metrics, and Behavior Assessment Review. A lot of times if culture isn’t properly formed within a company it can cause low morale, high staff turnover and even a drop in revenue.

Lastly, don’t do it alone. Reach out to your staff. Have a company-wide meeting and see whats going on. You are probably not the only one that feels like things need to change.

If all that doesn’t work ( here comes the shameless plug) call TMS-Advisors. We’ll come in and shake it up for you and get you saying “THANK GOD ITS MONDAY”.

Seriously, Kick-Ass. Everyday.



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You’re in business for yourself, but not by yourself.

Pour your favorite morning beverage and join the Breakfast Club every morning, as we discuss the topic of the day. Join us as we talk, chat and provoke your thoughts on a new lending subject daily. So sit back in your chair around the virtual roundtable and share your thoughts with us.
In the mortgage industry, it is easy to replicate a lot of things. It’s a pretty cut and dry business with a lot of rules and regulations that have to be followed. If you’re a new mortgage company trying to be successful, you would want to follow the biggest and most reputable companies out there, read their startup story, feel inspired and follow them every step of the way. That should work right?!?!

Wait…why isn’t it working????

Well grab your morning liquid and join us…The Breakfast Club. Welcome to our virtual roundtable!
Here is our discussion today on what you can replicate and what you cannot from the most successful mortgage companies.
Beth’s opinion is that you can probably copy a process, but you’ll never be able to replicate someone’s talent. Her advice is to find your purpose and just go for it. You can’t take someone else’s mission and create your dream. Everybody’s why is unique and cannot be replicated.

Scott says that you can copy a system. Meaning how to use the processes like POS, LOS and accounting. What you can’t copy is their culture. Meaning, how you treat your clients and staff. Scott has coached many teams over the years and relates starting a mortgage business to playing a sport. When you’re playing an individual sport like wrestling you don’t have to conform to any technique or “share the ball” with anyone. That match is dependent on you and you only. Well, when you open your business you have created a team. You are no longer just one person doing it all. So you have to play that way. You have to conform to your team, BUT you have to bring out their talent within a team. That’s what a mortgage company should do. No business is ONE person. The skill comes from your team, and nobody can replicate that.

David’s words of wisdom are “Stop it all together.”He believes in people. The best leaders learn how to draw out the talent in their staff. They blame everyone else instead of investing in what they have. CEO’s will say “ Well if I only had a decent staff….that’s why XYZ Company is doing well. They have staff like we will never have.” Well, they have those employee’s because they have invested in their team. They have trained them. They have stayed late and worked through hard deals with them and taught them how to be what and who they are today. Teach them and then show them how to act on what they have learned.

Stephanie’s advice is pretty plain and simple. Listen. Don’t talk. Watch successful people. Look at their mannerisms. Watch how they deal with situations. Look at what systems they have put into place. Find out their why. Find out what drives them. You’re probably thinking “GREAT! Then copy everything they do and BAM! I have a multimillion dollar company?!?” Nope. Guess what? You cannot copy any of that. What you can do is ask YOURSELF those questions. Mannerism – Are you too hyper during client consultations and maybe you should be calm and listen? Dealing with situations – do you need to stop and work out a plan instead of flipping out? Why are YOU here? What motivates YOU to read an article like this?

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Great Leaders Come to Terms with Their Weaknesses

We’re all better at some things than we are at others. The greatest basketball player in history (perhaps up until recent years) fell far short of expectations when he tried his luck at baseball. Leaders in the business world are no different. We have some things that we’re really good at, and others that could use some improvement. So, what should we do about those weaknesses? Should we just ignore them, and focus exclusively on our strengths?

In the Bible, there is a story about a mighty man named Samson. His physical strength was unmatched by anyone in his day. However, his weaknesses allowed him to be lured into a situation in which his strength was taken from him. Samson never acknowledged his weaknesses, and they ended up getting the best of him. If you ignore your weaknesses, will they go away? I don’t think so. It didn’t work for Samson back then, and it won’t work for us today.

So, how do we deal with our weaknesses as leaders in the world today? Really, it all boils down to acknowledging that we have them and taking precautions given that understanding. For example, rather than tackling a project for which we aren’t equipped, coming to terms with our weaknesses may enable us to delegate that project to someone more qualified. The problem doesn’t occur when we have weaknesses; the problem occurs when we do have weaknesses but we fail to acknowledge them. Great leaders come to terms with their weaknesses, and the whole team is made better off for it.

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Can Working in the Mortgage Industry Give Us a Sense of Purpose?

Ask anyone why they do what they do and you will get a great deal of answers. The reasons people choose to work in the industries they do are multi-faceted. Some people go where there’s job security. Some people follow the money. Some people do what they find interesting. I do think, however, that all of us like to find meaning in our work. We want to believe that what we do serves some higher purpose.

I was once approached by an 85 year old man who asked for advice on starting a business. Surprised, I had asked him how much longer he thought he would live. He told me that he thought he would live until at least 90. When I asked him why, he said this: “Because I’ve got a 5 year business plan.”

Like any other industry, many of us in the mortgage industry approach the work as “just a job.” But, could it be more than that? Could it be something we never want to give up, because we see it as important work? Can working in the mortgage industry be a calling? Yes, I think it can.

Working in the mortgage industry can be meaningful work. We play a vital role of getting people into the homes in which they will raise families and build communities. If that isn’t something to aspire to, I don’t know what is. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with retiring. But try to look at your work in the industry such that, when you do retire, you look back on your career in recognition that you did a lot of good for a lot of people.

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Adapting in Difficult Times

In the last decade, the mortgage industry has experienced an enduring series of setbacks. The extent to which it has improved since the housing crisis is still up for debate. Heavy regulation has made it difficult for many organizations to remain competitive. Now, as we usher in a new Presidential administration, there is a great deal of uncertainty in the air. Is it going to get better, or is it going to get worse? What does a President Trump mean for the mortgage industry?

Throughout the financial crisis, the organizations who have remained competitive in the industry have been those who have proved to be the most adaptable. Organizations that get stuck in a set way of doing things become complacent and, when change inevitably occurs, they can’t quite react. On the other hand, the nimble organizations have been able to persevere through the crisis to come out stronger.

Like everyone else, I don’t know what’s going to happen in this administration. I’m not sure what the effects will be on the mortgage industry. I can’t predict the future. That being said, I feel confident in predicting the kinds of organizations that will withstand whatever changes we encounter. The organizations that are quick to adapt will be the only ones resilient enough to persevere through difficult times. When the smoke clears, those are the ones we will see still standing.

As leaders in the mortgage industry, we need to remain nimble. We need to be flexible–able to adapt quickly to whatever comes our way. I am confident the industry will remain strong, because I know we have a great deal of leaders who simply won’t give up no matter what comes their way…

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Competitors: A Threat or An Opportunity?

When I consult with leaders in the mortgage industry, one of the very first things I recommend is performing a SWOT analysis. Identifying one’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats provides a solid foundation on what a strategic plan can be built going forward. Knowing where we are enables us to see how might get where we want to go.

In the “threat” category, much of the discussion often falls around current and potential competitors. We operate in a very competitive industry, so it stands to reason that other companies serving the same customers might pose a threat to us. While it is generally true that the competition is a real threat, I also think–if we play our cards right–competitors can be an opportunity…

When the current CEO of Walmart took over, one of the first questions he was asked was how he plans to make more competitive with He didn’t say anything about his pricing strategy, product assortment, or promotion ideas. Instead, he said that he was having his entire board of directors read a biography on CEO Jeff Bezos. His plan we to learn from the competition.

In the mortgage industry, competitors pose a threat, but they also pose an opportunity for learning. Rather than ignoring or downplaying the competition, then, we should be thinking about what the competition is doing right. We should be asking why we consider them a threat. What gives them that edge over us? In understanding this, we might just be able to grasp what we need to outcompete them. Even competitors–the biggest threats of all–can turn out to be opportunities…