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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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What is the Number One Reason Your Employees Leave You?

What is the Number one reason why employee leave you

Have you ever hired someone who you thought was going to make a great employee—but it didn’t really turn out that way? Perhaps they showed great ambition at first, working diligently and growing quickly. But then, over time, they started to plateau until they abruptly left for a new job. Situations like this can leave those of us in leadership scratching our heads. How can people who seem so interested in our organizations when they’re hired suddenly lose interest and pursue other opportunities so quickly? What’s going on?

Well, we tend to look at our employees and wonder what they’re doing wrong in these cases. But, perhaps the problem isn’t them—perhaps it’s us. Think about what’s actually happening when people lose interest in their jobs. What once was new and exciting becomes the same old, everyday routine. Now, is it really any surprise that the best employees—the ones who want to learn and grow and challenge themselves—grow weary of doing the same job after a while? Boredom is often not, as we might suppose, a sign of laziness. Quite the opposite: boredom is often a sign of intelligence, passion, and drive.

Employees who really have ambition will look for better opportunities when their work is no longer challenging them or fueling their drive for success. Who’s really responsible for the turnover, then? Of course, it’s us. As leaders in the mortgage industry, we’ve got to be creative in keeping the work environment stimulating so that the best workers can thrive within it. Boredom is often the single greatest contributor to turnover. If the organization ceases to be a fun and interesting place to work, the best employees will go out looking for greener pastures and all that will remain are those who are content with complacency.

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Outsourcing: When Should You Ask for Help?

Outsourcing can be a controversial practice. Of course, when many people hear the term, they think of “offshoring,” or sending jobs overseas. We don’t really run into that much in the mortgage industry, but outsourcing can be trick in our line of work for a different reason. We make promises to customers and investors; hiring someone else to do part of our work for us is taking a risk. If they fail us, we fail our customers and investors. So, here’s the million dollar question: when is it worth taking the risk to outsource some part of our business?

When I first entered in the mortgage industry, I had no experience in business. My boss took a chance on me, though, and I actually ended up doing pretty well. I was a “people person,” and excelled at building relationships as a loan originator. However, I was really bad at math, and my boss was struggling with what to do about it.

Eventually, my boss was given a simple piece of advice that ended up saving my career: why don’t you hire him an assistant? Someone was brought on to work with me to pick up the slack in the areas where I was deficient—and the whole company was made better off for it. That’s the power of outsourcing: none of us can do everything well, but all of us can do something amazingly well. Outsourcing is about recognizing what we’re good at and recruiting others to help us with what we’re not.

So, when should you outsource work in your organization? When someone else can do it better. If you can find someone outside of your company who can perform a function that makes your organization stronger, then you are taking a greater risk by not hiring them. Sometimes, the best reason to outsource is precisely because your customers and investors are counting on you.

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The Importance of Smooth Transitions in the Business Process

When I meet with leaders in the mortgage industry, one of my core areas of focus revolves around improving business processes. I work in a hands-on environment for several days at a time, helping organizations clarify their processes, because I believe that there isn’t anything more important for developing the well-being of their employees, their businesses, and society at large. If you you want anything else to work correctly, you’ve got to get your processes right.

So, what is the most important thing to look for when you’re going about fixing your business processes? Well, I don’t know if any one thing is technically more important than any other, but I can tell you one area that often gets overlooked: the hand-off. Just like a hand-off and football can cause a fumble that dramatically alters the outcome of the game, a failed transition in the mortgage industry can send your organization into chaos. The importance of a smooth transition must never be underestimated.

In my workshops, I like to look at business processes as swimming lanes. In this visualization, each department is working within its own lane but, at a certain point, the work is passed onto a simmer in a another lane. It’s like a relay race. Each department’s individual efficiency is important. But, if the delivery from one apartment to another doesn’t go smoothly, it could unravel the entire race. So, remember, while each department may have it’s own lane, we’re all in the same pool. For any organization to succeed, its individual parts must come together as a whole. And the transition is the point when that actually happens. So, take advantage of your transitions and do everything you can to really make them count!

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The Storms of Change: Leading Through Transition

In the years I’ve spent consulting in the mortgage industry, one of the projects I’ve been involved with most often is helping organizations make the transition from broker to banker. In this process, organizations are worried about a great number of things. There are legal and regulatory issues, issues in growth strategy, profitability issues, and issues with recruiting and training. One thing that often gets overlooked, however, are the leadership capabilities of the organization. And I think this one also happens to be the most important.

Whether you are making the transition from broker to banker or some other major shift in your organization, times of change are when solid leadership is needed most. During these times, everything is in flux. The workforce begins to become unstable. Goals change. Processes begin to break down. The mission and values of the organization can start to evolve. If a strong leadership team is not in place during such changes, everything can quickly fall apart.

What major transition do you have coming up in your organization? It could be that you’re making the broker to banker transition. It could be you’re considering going through a merger or acquisition. It could even be that you’re launching an entirely new division or service line. Whatever it is, it’s important to ask yourself whether or not you have the right team in place to lead your organization through the change. Leading is easy when everything stays the same. The real challenges arise when the boat gets rocked and you have to navigate stormy waters. Take a good look at your leadership team. Do you have the right people that can steer the ship to come out smoothly on the other side of the storm?

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The Leader’s Log: How Do You Spend Your Time?

We’re all familiar with the idea of a captain’s log. The captain of a ship keeps detailed records of the tasks carried about by the crew in case there is any information that later needs to be retrieved. The log is the captain’s legacy—it serves as the story of his ship. In leadership, we keep a log too. Even if we don’t actually write anything down, the ticking clock writes the story of how we’ve led. How we spend our time, for better or for worse, is our leader’s log.

Here’s the important thing to remember: we all have the same twenty-four hours, one thousand four hundred and forty minutes, and eighty-six thousand four hundred seconds in a day. What sets us apart is how we use that time. This reality is like getting a huge deposit of money every day that must be spent by the day’s end. Two different people getting the same amount of money can come away with very different outcomes by the way they’ve spent it.

So, how can you make sure that you are making the most of the time you have? First, you’ve got to stop seeing yourself as a prisoner to time. No one can make you do anything without your consent. Manage your time–don’t let it manage you. Don’t tell yourself that you have to do x, y, or z; tell yourself that you’ve chosen to do those things. Once you take responsibility for your time, you can then work on investing it more wisely.

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What It Means to Lead by Example

I once saw a cartoon that really made me pause and think about what it means to be a leader. In the first frame, there is a man called “The Boss” sitting at his desk and pointing forward. The desk is sitting on top of a giant block, being pulled forward by three other people. In the second frame, we see the same three men pulling the large block, but there is one difference. There is no desk sitting on top of the block; instead, the man who had been at the desk is now out in front helping the workers pull the block forward. In this frame, the man is called “The Leader.”

In the mortgage industry, it’s very easy to get caught up in the “boss” mentality—sitting at our desk in the corner office and barking out orders. We may even feel sometimes like we’re entitled to such a position. We worked hard to get where we are, so why do it any other way? The simple answer: the success of our organizations depend on it.

People will only do the bare minimum for a “boss,” but they will willingly bend over backwards for a leader. And the difference between a leader and a boss is that the leader is willing to get his hands dirty. The boss says, “Go!” But the leader says, “Let’s go!” If you aren’t willing to get out in front of your people and show them how to get the job done, then they aren’t following you; they’re dragging you. Work with your people, and they will work with you. So, what approach are you taking in your organization?

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A Leader’s Worth is Proven Under Pressure

We all like a good underdog story. It’s not all that impressive to us when a person “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” becomes a success. When the odds are in your favor, of course you’re going to succeed. What really impresses us is the one who rises to a higher level with the odds stacked against him, the one who makes something of himself even though he comes from nothing, the one who defies expectations. That’s the kind of leader we cheer for.
The housing crisis and recession of the last decade was difficult for all of us involved in the mortgage industry—even more so the often excessive regulation that has followed. However, I think the challenging environment has done one good thing for us–it has separated the wheat from the chaff. It has turned us all into underdogs who must overcome overwhelming odds to become successful.
Pressure is the crucible in which truly great leaders emerge triumphantly. It puts our feet to the fire and tells us whether or not we really have what it takes. Those who don’t have what it takes will not be able to adapt and will falter under pressure. If you want to develop into a great leader, you’ve got to change how you deal with challenging situations. It’s easy to look good when everything is going according to plan, but how do you look when things go awry? Expose yourself to a little risk and take some chances–that’s really the only way to see if you’ve got what it takes.