How Kristy Fercho became one of the most influential women in housing and the first African American Female President of a major mortgage company
“I would never let obstacles stop me. I have faced a lot of them, but I just see them as opportunities to do things better.”
Kristy Fercho has become one of the most influential women in the mortgage industry and a vital force in shaping the state of sustainable homeownership in America. She has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion and a frequent speaker on housing and women’s leadership. As the only African American Female president of a major mortgage company in the United States, Kristy has been a trailblazer for women and minorities in all industries.
Finding Meaning in the Mortgage Industry
Like most Americans, 9/11 was an eye-opening moment for Kristy. She was living and working in New York at the time, and after watching the world crash around her, she felt her priorities became clear. “I started contemplating the meaning of life, and what I was going to do now that the world was fundamentally different.”
As Director of Worldwide Human Resources for PepsiCo, she had built an impressive career and wanted to direct her experience toward something she felt was more meaningful. She was unfamiliar with the mortgage industry, but began exploring opportunities, including Fannie Mae, to work in a mission-driven company with large-scale influence. “I started researching companies that could incorporate my altruistic desire to give back with my workaholic DNA.” Within one month, a head-hunter Mae recruited her to join Fannie Mae as VP of Human Resources. In May of 2002, she jumped at the opportunity to help the head of the Single Family business design a strategy for adjusting to what they rightfully predicted would be big changes in the mortgage industry.
Kristy explained that she doesn’t believe in coincidences and thus felt the move was “divinely orchestrated.” Soon after starting at Fannie Mae, the industry hit the biggest refinance boom it has ever experienced. “[My supervisor] actually predicted the kind of big refinance boom that was going to happen in 2003, which is still to this day the largest origination year that mortgage has ever had.” Kristy had to learn the business quickly and design the organization to prepare for such substantial changes to come.
Responding to the financial crisis
In 2007, after five years in Human Resources, Kristy was moved to run the front line business in customer management where her work dramatically changed with the financial crisis. “It was an extraordinary time for us,” she explained. “Everything had to be reevaluated from the ground up.”
Kristy was an integral part of the team that was helping to rebuild America’s housing industry, and they were asking fundamental questions about housing policy and their role in the market. “What does sustainable homeownership really mean?” she recalls asking. “What are the credit standards that you need to be able to support this? What is the broader housing policy in Washington that we need to influence this? What’s the customer impact and relationship?”
In a time of crisis, where all elements of the industry were being entirely rebuilt, Kristy explains it was an “extraordinary time of learning.” As a new business leader in the industry, Kristy had the opportunity to see every aspect of the industry completely dissected. “Every decision we made, we really stripped down to the anatomy of that decision. And so it gave me insight into what all the components of a decision were… What’s the credit decision? What’s the consumer impact? What’s the market impact? What’s the broader economic impact?” Her leadership and expertise grew exponentially during this time. “As catastrophic as the time was, it was so foundational for my knowledge of the business and growth as a leader.”
The Business Case for Diversity and How to Do It
Communities of color, particularly Latinos and African Americans, were hit the hardest by the financial crisis. Currently, the African American homeownership rate is 30% lower than non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. Kristy has been relentless in advocating and initiating change to support these communities, and has done so through her newest venture with Flagstar Bank.
Kristy was asked to join Flagstar in 2017 as President of Mortgage, which has given her the opportunity to enact initiatives that support this mission. Many companies have diversity and inclusion plans or policies, but very few understand how to effect real change through them. Kristy and her team at Flagstar have paved the way in demonstrating how diversity and inclusion, when implemented strategically, can make a difference both to a company’s bottom line and in achieving equal access to building wealth through homeownership in America.
She explains that there are three components to diversity and inclusion: market, corporate, and individual.
The market component
The market component answers the question, “What is the business case for diversity and why is it important?” Kristy says the industry is aware of the demographic shift and market changes, but is not making sufficient changes to meet the shift. “By 2025, we’d look at the 17 million new first-time home buyers and 14 million of those will be people of color,” Kristy explained. “How are we going to address that with the demographics of the industry today? I think we’re going to be challenged to do that.”
After the financial crisis and systemic discrimination in the housing industry, communities of color are appropriately fearful of real estate professionals from outside their communities. “There is a fundamental lack of trust in these communities,” Kristy says, “So having people that look like the individuals they’re lending to and [coming from within]those communities as trusted advisors… that leads to sustainable homeownership.”
Kristy is passionate that the industry reflect these markets internally if they’re going to effectively reach them as consumers. “As an industry, we have to really think about the markets that we serve and make sure that we are representative of those markets… That’s why it’s important that we really start to make strides here to prepare for the kind of onslaught of new diverse homeowners that we know is coming.”
The corporate component
The second component of diversity and inclusion, according to Kristy, is the corporate component. “In order for companies to be successful, they have to make sure they’re bringing diverse perspectives to the table.” According to McKinsey & Co., firms that employ diverse individuals are 15% more likely to outperform their counterparts. “With diversity comes greater innovation and improved business performance,” says Kristy. “So from a company standpoint, it’s really important.“
Kristy explains that successful diversity initiatives have buy-in from the very top. Flagstar’s CEO, Alessandro DiNello, took the Action Pledge in 2017, committing to making strides around diversity. “You have to have a leader that not only champions it, but believes that to his or her core.”
From their CEO’s commitment, Flagstar developed a diversity and inclusion strategic plan with five pillars, including product innovation, community connectivity, supplier diversity, talent acquisition, and talent engagement and development. From the plan, they assign specific responsibilities to ensure results. “We have leaders throughout the organization that lead each one of those pillars and drive to specific outcomes… [They} have specific goals and objectives that tie back to the overarching strategic plan.”
This step toward responsibility and action is often missing from corporate planning on diversity. The industry has made diversity and inclusion a big topic of conversation, which has driven greater awareness of the market dynamics and demographic shift throughout the industry. However, Kristy says, awareness is only the first step. “I think in order to be able to make that progress, we have to be deliberate about the actions we take and intentional about moving those actions forward.”
The individual component
“The final piece is the individual,” says Kristy. Companies may hire individuals from diverse backgrounds, but they often don’t establish a company culture that encourages authentic expression. No one wants to put on a mask before they come into work every day, Kristy explains. “We are all at our best when we can sit in our true and authentic self.”
“At Flagstar, we think of it as providing an opportunity to be the best that we can be and ensure that when people come to work, they understand the importance of being their best self. We want them to bring their whole self to work as that contributes to the greater good for the company. We want them to feel that their ideas are valued, their perspective is valued, and their contribution is not only expected but valued. If people feel like they can be authentic at work, that they can be comfortable and respected for who they are, then they’re more inclined to contribute and offer a different perspective, which then leads into the innovation and productivity that I talked about.”
When asked how she manages her team, Kristy says she focuses on creating an environment that will lead to her team’s success. “I really view my job as a leader is to remove obstacles so my team can actually perform.” Kristy provides ongoing coaching and feedback to encourage her team to perform at their best. “It’s about serving the team, which ultimately then allows them to serve the homeowner.”
Overcoming Obstacles in Leadership
Kristy has led her team and the mortgage industry through critical times, and she continues to drive the industry forward with leadership on diversity and inclusion and a mission for increasing sustainable homeownership in America.
As someone who is often the only woman or only person of color in a room of executives, Kristy says it hasn’t always been easy. “I’ve definitely had opposition – people who believed that I couldn’t or shouldn’t be in the roles that I was in.” However, she explains that her parents instilled in her a belief that she could do anything she wanted to do if she worked hard enough. This belief allowed her to see obstacles as opportunities, she says.
“So when I was confronted with barriers, I viewed them as problems to be solved. I would never let obstacles stop me. I just see them as opportunities to do things better, to craft solutions and to keep pushing until I achieved the goal I want to achieve. ”
Who put the “I” in team? Well, I did! Now before you start shouting that there is actually no “I” in team, let me walk you through my claim. The “I” is actually for inclusion, and trust me, if you don’t take an inclusive approach in your company or your culture isn’t fostering inclusion, you won’t have any of the other letters in TEAM either, because there won’t be one!
Inclusion and diversity have become huge buzz words in the workplace, and while they are closely related, they are quite different. Inclusion is the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success. As I write that, there is a part of me that makes me want to smack my head and say, “Well duh,” but as the old saying goes “common sense ain’t so common,” and I truly think that is what has happened when it comes to inclusion in the workplace. Maybe we have all thought for years that it makes so much sense that we didn’t have to put any work in to it. But listen to me all you beautiful, intelligent, and amazing mortgage professionals: we do!
It is our jobs as leaders in this industry to know on an individual basis how each person on our teams know he/she is part of a culture that celebrates inclusion. We have titles like CEO, COO, etc. But what about having a Chief Heart Officer? Someone that has the sole
responsibility of winning the hearts and minds of our employees. Who helps each of them, on an individual basis, find ways to be impactful and true contributors to your firm’s success, who
fosters and supports an environment where you recognize that someone is on the right bus, but not necessarily sitting in the right seat!
One of my favorite people that I follow on LinkedIn is Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is a five time best-selling author, with one of his most recent books called Crushing It. This guy definitely is! I love his video posts or the snippets he shares when he does different speaking engagements.
He is candid, raw, and some may consider him a little abrasive, but he totally gets it! As a huge advocate for emotional intelligence in the workplace, I share his opinion that if we, as leaders, focused and fostered more emotional intelligence as a skill set, then there would be no limits to what our companies could achieve. I bring up Gary’s name because he is where I heard about the Chief Heart Officer. He actually has this position in his firm and it is second only to Gary himself. I love this idea! In a business where analytics and social media likes and shares have become the norm, wouldn’t it be awesome to be recognized as a top “Got heart” firm when they rate the top mortgage firms? How fun would it be to stand up and receive a crystal heart statue proclaiming YOU get it! YOU brought out the best in your people with a proactive inclusion approach! YOU made a difference in individual lives that contributed to you not only being a top heart company, but a top mortgage firm! Because this is the secret here folks: happy people, people who feel valued and included produce unparalleled results. So, when you invest in the heart, you invest in your top line and your bottom line.
I’ve recently moved into a completely different sector of the mortgage business. Lima One Capital is a firm lending money to real estate investors. You know all those great HGTV shows you’re addicted to like Fixer Upper or Flippin Chicago, etc. Those shows are my type of customers.
And, let me tell you, if you think lending to folks that are going to occupy the property is tough, wait until you are lending to folks that are making their living by way of these properties! High stress, demanding investors, and brokers in a lending environment known as “Hard Money”. But let me tell you, we have HEART in this business! Founded by two combat Marine Veterans, inclusion in their company comes in a natural way; an environment much like you would have to have in a Marine platoon. Without inclusion, successful missions don’t happen. Yes, we have bagel Mondays and a ping pong table in our break room, but that isn’t what makes our culture so great, though certainly a little more fun. It is a deeply embedded, start at the top mandate that we each, meaning every single one of us on the bus regardless of the seat, are contributors in big ways to the firm. We do this with our service vision (I actually carry a card with it on it with me as I travel). And while this vision certainly drives what we do with our customers, it also is what we do internally with each other. It is a perfect example of an inclusive environment.
If you’re willing to put it down on a card for every employee to have on their desk and if you have daily huddles with your teams to discuss the vision and how we impact that vision individually, you have your fingers on the pulse to inclusion. I have worked in the mortgage industry going on 30 years. I have worked for big lending firms, enormous consulting firms, and a small independent broker, but at this stage of my career I’m thrilled and proud to be part of company that values me, rewards me, and pushes me to ensure the vision of inclusion is a message not lost for the great teams I’m privileged to support.
If you don’t have this feeling – change it! Change it in your organization or change it in your situation and find a place where inclusion is a mandate and not just a buzz word.
Dana is a seasoned mortgage professional with more than 25 years of mortgage lending experience. She has a deep background in mortgage compliance and consulting in all channels of the mortgage business. Dana has been involved in numerous industry initiatives collaborating with the MBA and government agencies including HUD’s liaison program and MBA’s leaders program. She is a speaker/presenter at numerous mortgage industry events including NMI Mortgage Lender Roundtables for the last three years. Dana is actively involved with Habitat for Humanity in her local area of Montgomery County Texas and lives with her husband and daughter.
Have you ever found yourself saying statements like these?
“My job stinks because my boss is a jerk.”
“When my kids move out I’ll finally be able to…”
“I would exercise but I don’t have the time.”
“I am just not a lucky person.”
“If the economy were better I wouldn’t be in this financial mess.”
Surely you have. You’re human.
But the truth is, when you make statements like these you are BLAMING other people, things, and circumstances for your reality being the way it is. You are holding everyone and everything else responsible for YOUR outcomes, feelings, actions, reactions, and choices. And when you do that, you’re acting like, wait for it, a victim. Ouch.
If that wasn’t ugly enough, when you choose to play the victim, you’re literally GIVING YOUR POWER AWAY to the person or thing you hold responsible for your state of affairs. They don’t even ask for it. You just GIVE. IT. AWAY. Your power is way too valuable to give it away. And hopefully, it goes without saying that if you’re freely giving away your power like that, you’ll find you have less and less on hand to help you reach your professional goals. Oh, and with less power, your performance will suffer too. But you know this, right?
So, here’s something…You’re no victim. YOU are not a victim. Nope. Not you. You’re not a victim, unless of course you choose to be.
That’s right. In every moment of every day you can choose to either play the victim or the victor. In other words, you get to choose to give your power away or hold onto it.
Wanna hold onto it? Good choice.
In order to choose the victor role and hold onto your power, you must be willing to take some responsibility for things. After all, some responsibility must be yours. It’s YOUR reality we’re talking about here. See, once you realize that you own a chunk of the responsibility in any situation, you can then own your power and begin to realize the control you have over the situation. So, when we you’re ready to be a victor, here are the three areas on which you’ll want to focus.
Victims hold other people and things responsible for the way they feel. They relish in the opportunity to blame their misery, sadness, anger, etc. on others. This keeps them small and powerless. For example, Steve, a long-time bank employee, does this whenever he blames his boss for his frustrations at work. He says if his boss weren’t so demanding, he would be happier at work.
For Steve to step into the victor role, he would have to take full responsibility and ownership for the way he feels. Sure, his boss may be demanding, and he can’t control that. But he can control how he chooses to feel about his boss and his job. Steve could begin to take his power back by asking himself, “How do I deserve to feel?”
ACTIONS and REACTIONS Victims make no connection between their actions and reactions and their reality. On the flip side, victors understand how their actions and reactions play a part in their reality.
Karen, a department manager, chooses to play the victim when she gets frustrated that her employees never come to her when there’s a problem. She says that she is always “in the dark.” This frustration obviously keeps her from performing her best. To step into the victor role, Karen could try to identify the connection between her actions and reactions and her employees’ reluctance to come to her when there’s trouble. Karen could ask herself, “What might I have said or done to make my staff feel uncomfortable coming to me?” Hmmmm.
THE POWER OF CHOICE Victims believe and act as if they have no choice. Back to Steve. Again, he plays the victim when he says he is “stuck with this job” that makes him so miserable. Steve is obviously forgetting that he is a whole and resourceful being with this awesome super power to choose. The difference here is that victors recognize and exercise their power of choice. They don’t feel stuck. They know that they always have at least two choices. So, for Steve to step out of the victim role, he could ask himself, “What choices do I have?” It’s not until Steve recognizes and exercises his power of choice that he can take his power back and have more control over his reality.
So, all of this begs the question, who or what do you tend to blame for your reality, feelings, actions, or reactions? What choices are you not recognizing? Not making?
By holding everyone and everything else responsible for your life being the way it is, you are holding yourself back from reaching your full potential. You’re staying small.
And you are not small.
Stop acting like you are.
Take your power back and watch what happens. Watch yourself bloom, grow, and thrive. Watch yourself be your best self. You deserve that. You are a victor and a very powerful one at that.
Choose it. Own it. Be it.
Jennifer Powers, MCC is an international speaker, executive coach, author of the best-selling book “Oh, shift!,” and host of the fun and binge-worthy “Oh, shift!” podcast. Jennifer has coached hundreds of professionals and delivered powerful keynote addresses to over 250,000 people around the globe. For more information visit www.ohshift.com
It’s long been a personal theory of mine that women leaders who find success have a responsibility, no, a moral obligation, to blaze their path so bright it illuminates a trajectory for others to follow. If one of us figures out how to navigate the serpentine road to professional prosperity, it seems only right she leaves some knowledge-candles behind, a secret road map for career development we can all use. With beacons carefully placed, we’ll head in her enlightened direction because it’s been proven to hold promise. And though the journey before us will be filled with twists and turns, we’ll know there’s a way. She’s done it, so can we.
Even if it’s raining in Las Vegas, which it was this past March at the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention. Desert showers didn’t dampen the spirit of the event, or one of its featured breakout sessions, “Women Who Lead.” The panel discussion was moderated by Teresa Palacios Smith, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Multicultural Strategies at HSF Affiliates, and a global champion for workplace inclusion.
“As you come up the ladder,” she said, scanning a room packed with women leaders in the real estate industry, “it’s important to bring others with you.”
To echo Palacios Smith’s wise words, we must climb and send the ropes down, pull up a seat at the table, and then grab the chair in the corner so we can add a spot for a talented coworker with something to say. Supporting the success of women naturally brings collaboration to the board room and balance sheets; however, more crucially, it brings inherent inclusion into the framework of a company. When team members incubate an inclusive culture, through hiring and promoting, the organization can better mirror the diversity of the homebuyers it serves, whether it’s a brokerage or a large-scale lender. American homeownership has not one face or color. To really help everyone, we must adequately grasp the perspectives of all.
OK, that sounds nice, say the imaginary nodding heads, like some fun sing-along complete with marshmallows roasted over a warm, crackling fire on a summer night. But how can we turn the feel-good vibes of inclusion into actual, actionable solutions that will assuage inclusion-deficient companies?
In October 2018, McKinsey published an overview of the current inclusion landscape by way of a detailed digital report, “Women in the Workplace.” With boldface type at the very top of the article, six authors collectively declared: “Progress on gender diversity at work has stalled. To achieve equality, companies must turn good intention into concrete action.”
The statement calls out a necessary turning point in the evolution of corporate diversity, a not-so-subtle shift from talking about inclusion to making it happen. Of course, hiring more women in managerial and senior-level positions would help. For the fourth consecutive year, McKinsey’s study showed women were underrepresented in upper-management roles, even accounting for natural attrition. In particular, companies surveyed suffered from what McKinsey labeled a “hollow middle,” explaining, “Women are less likely to be hired for manager-level positions, and they are far less likely to be promoted into them.” For every 100 men moved up to manager, only 79 women were promoted to a manager’s position. Including promotions and outside hiring, the study found men held 62 percent of manager-level positions while women only occupied 38 percent.
Beyond new hires and the internal promotion of smart, capable women, inclusion can be achieved in smaller, though no less impactful ways. Companies can provide promising female employees with a formal mentorship program, offer opportunities for education, networking and career expansion, and, measure, then reward, success along key company metrics.
There is one upside to a woman-manager-deficient, inclusion-stagnant state of the workplace. As corporate inclusion mires in coffee break conversation and unrealized dreams, entrepreneurship among women continues to rise. According to a 2018 story published by Inc., the number of women-owned firms in the U.S. has increased 114 percent over the past two decades. On the same hustle-focused note, a 2017 Business Insider article reported every day in the U.S., women start about 849 new businesses. Both publications speculate the surge of female entrepreneurship is a direct correlation to the pervasiveness of workplace microaggressions and discriminatory behavior still running rampant in large corporations across America. The coworker who assumes a female employee is more junior than she is, the vice president who jokes about weight gain after a pregnancy, these are the corporate characters sending women straight into the entrepreneurial ethers, to find a success detached from bureaucracy or the anachronism of a diversity-stale office space. In the end, the bad could become the good. A lack of inclusion might just be the very circumstance that’ll provide the necessary impetus for companies afraid of losing their female trailblazers to change inclusion of women in the workplace from a talking point to a pointed truth.
Melissa Kandel is the founder/CEO of little word studio, a boutique creative marketing agency servicing clients from high-growth tech startups to the largest residential real estate brokerage network in America. She also serves as the acting chief marketing officer for Earnnest, a digital platform for the transfer of funds from homebuyer to escrow holder. Melissa is a member of the Forbes Communications Council and Rebecca Minkoff’s Female Founder Collective.
There are many mortgage companies today that have created top-notch Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) platforms, and they all have a common goal: promote the ability for all employees to be the best versions of themselves and to be accepted for what makes them special. Guaranteed Rate is breaking industry ground with the creation of the Guaranteed Rate Organization of Women (GROW). The organization was born when Founder and CEO Victor Ciardelli saw the need to increase the number of female loan officers at the company. When he realized that only 24% of the top loan officers in the country were women, he supported the creation of a grassroots network, which has evolved into so much more.
While only being in existence for a short time, GROW has evolved into a truly unique network, one which is focused on changing the face of women in the mortgage industry. Led by Julia Borst, SVP Divisional Sales Manager, Dianne Crosby, Branch Manager and VP of Mortgage Lending, and Lizzie Garner, Executive Vice President, GROW harnesses the power of mentorship to help the women of Guaranteed Rate leverage their talents to excel and dominate within the mortgage industry. Beyond being a network for women who seek mentorship, GROW has expanded to include all women of Guaranteed Rate, not just women in sales positions.
With this expansion came the inclusion of a monthly webinar series, with topics that range from “Increasing Sales with Women Homebuyers” to “Know Your Worth—Take Command of Negotiations.” Every session is carefully curated by Borst, Crosby, Garner and the volunteers for GROW, with the sole purpose of giving women the tools to better advocate for themselves, their team members and their referral partners.
The Women Behind GROW
Julia Borst has become a driving force behind marketing and recruitment for GROW. Her previous industry experience equipped her to understand the value proposition for women at Guaranteed Rate and help attract the industry’s top female talent. She started her career in an entry level position for a homebuilder in 1997, which gave her a unique perspective. Over the last 20+ years, she has gone from someone learning the industry from the ground up to a top producer, a mortgage company owner and now leading a sales Division at Guaranteed Rate.
Borst believes the mortgage industry provides an incredible opportunity for women within all facets of the business and notes that women are “gifted” at building trust with both customers and colleagues. “It’s always about people,” she says. “If you care about someone and have their best interest at heart, you can do something special and grow a company the right way. I couldn’t be more proud of job growth and leadership opportunities created within the Division, especially in markets where Guaranteed Rate has provided economic growth within smaller communities.
“GROW is a wonderful opportunity to give a name and organization to the fundamental core values of what we have always believed in and how we lead daily. We are relentlessly focused on putting our customers first and working with the best of the best — all while championing the success of women in the industry. We are just getting started and have big goals as to what we want to accomplish and achieve together,” Borst says.
Dianne Crosby has been an originator for nearly 18 years and got into the mortgage business like most people—purely by accident. She originally went to law school with aspirations to be a lawyer, but after finishing school, she decided to go in a different direction. Instead, she went into sales and worked for a few legal research companies and publishers. It was then that she went through a major life change that resulted in her working for her sister, a mortgage broker. During her first year as her sister’s assistant, she learned everything she could about being an originator, and within a year, obtained her originator license and became an in-house lender for a real estate company. The rest, as they say, is history. Over the last 18 years, Crosby has emerged as one of the top loan originators in the country, and in 2018, ranked 23rd among all female originators (Scotsman’s Guide).
While Crosby has been a top originator for several years, she moved to Guaranteed Rate nearly three and a half years ago. She had heard about Guaranteed Rate through social circles, and decided to reach out to them. After meeting with James Elliott, Chief Retail Production Officer, she realized that it would be a great fit for her. After making the move, she noticed right away the competitive advantage Guaranteed Rate offered. The combination of its digital mortgage, marketing materials and business development tools allowed her to reach a wider array of clients. She was able to utilize the digital tools and expertise that her clients needed, and her business grew exponentially. Over the course of the last four years, she has garnered the trust and respect of originators across the country, and has won several top originator rewards, so it was no surprise that she wanted to be involved with GROW at the ground level.
Lizzie Garner first started in the banking business after a friend of hers suggested she entertain the thought of being a branch manager. As a former retail store manager, she knew that she already possessed the skills needed to be a successful branch manager, so she went for it. After a successful career in banking, she jumped from retail banking to the mortgage side of the house with Guaranteed Rate. When asked why she chose to work at Guaranteed Rate, she said, “While Guaranteed Rate has always been a leader in the industry, it was the personal drive to continuously evolve that ultimately made me jump at the opportunity to get involved and hit the ground running.”
Garner’s title with Guaranteed Rate is Executive Vice President, but her actual title might seem like it belongs in “Game of Thrones.” Garner has been with Guaranteed Rate for nearly seven years and is instrumental in developing training and tools that help new hires of the organization transition to the company in a quick and efficient manner. In addition, she is most often running point on a wide variety of company initiatives and projects, including M&A, change management and building out branch-lending offices. Garner is known as a ‘solutionist’, and she firmly believes that there are no bad ideas, no rocks that should go unturned and there is no task too big for her to accomplish. It is easy to see why building GROW came naturally to her.
“Fighting Unconscious Bias with Conscious Collaboration”
When Garner started to organize the foundation of GROW with the help of Julia and Dianne, she knew that the network needed to be impactful and pointed in its purpose of providing women with the tools they need to effectively advocate for themselves, know their worth and for the women in sales, increase their production volume. With these opportunities, GROW would become a vehicle for attracting top female originators in the country, in addition to ensuring current female employees have the support and mentoring needed to achieve their goals.
Unconscious bias is defined as prejudice or unsupported judgements in favor of or against one thing, person or group as compared to another, in a way that is usually considered unfair. To expand, the bias is almost always second nature, and most people are often unaware that they are unfairly assuming someone is a certain way based on superficial factors. The GROW network is meant to break the habit of displaying unconscious bias with collaboration that breaks down the silos of prejudice and presumption. In the male-dominated mortgage industry, GROW is making an effort to be inclusive, both within the company as a whole and through messaging, language and outreach.
As Crosby further explained, women all have unique backgrounds from what they’ve experienced. In the sense of unconscious bias, she says, “GROW is an opportunity for greater awareness; but, much more importantly, it’s an opportunity for community. By building community, you defeat unconscious bias because it loses power.”
In addition to having access to an organization like GROW, it is important for all employees to fight unconscious bias through their own actions and reactions to the viewpoints and perceptions of others. When asked how Garner has overcome the bias she has experienced in her career, she said, “While it can of course be trying to feel any perceived bias and a responsibility to shatter a glass ceiling that should never be present in the first place, I consider it my responsibility as a leader in the workplace to ensure our women are seen and heard through efforts like GROW, but also accountable for delivering best-of-the-best performance, in the same way I would expect from a male counterpart. I work hard internally to not allow other’s viewpoints and perceptions of gender in the workplace to dictate, define or limit my value in an organization.”
The future of GROW
As GROW continues its expansion, the future of the network is as bright as ever. The mentorship program kicks off in July, with curriculum designed to not only help women be successful, but also to help them find the fire and passion that will be the foundation of everything they do. As more women become involved, the opportunities to expand outreach will follow, to include the possibility for regional chapters of GROW. There are many employees who work remotely, so having the ability to tap into the network from virtually anywhere is really what makes GROW special.
According to Crosby, “It is part of recognizing that, for all of us, we are trying to grow. We don’t always know how, and we aren’t in an industry that in general has been very much of a training industry. Yet, everyone wants to be successful, including the women of Guaranteed Rate. With GROW, we are creating this platform of strength through education and community. It starts with acknowledgement that we are many, we are diverse, and we are here to learn, give back and make great contributions in an industry that provides so much for each of us.”
Leora Ruzin is VP of Secondary Marketing for Guaranteed Rate, based in Chicago. She currently lives in Chicago with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
So, I am standing in the back of this sun filled room with an ocean view to die for on the 32nd floor of the Diplomat Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. It’s a cocktail reception for the AIME Association and Mat Ishbia & United Wholesale Mortgage are hosting. I am making my way around a room filled with both familiar and new faces. Someone whistles and silence ensues and here I bear witness to the words of an executive leader, Mat, speaking to the group, “Thank you for coming this evening, first and foremost…” Polite words of encouragement and then the hook only a leader of his caliber can say with such confidence, “This is YOUR time, the time of the broker!” I look around the room and everyone is hanging on his every word, clearly an admired man. People nod their heads in agreement, smiling and it ends with a raising of the glasses, mine included!
A few weeks earlier from the home offices of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching, I sat down with Mat via Zoom and his immediate staff and marketing. I told Mat he was being featured in an upcoming edition of Mortgage Women Magazine’s new column, Meet the MENtors where we feature nominated men who have had an impact on the placement and support of women in the mortgage industry. Melinda Wilner, the COO of United Wholesale Mortgage, and someone I was fortunate to meet and feature on the ‘Power Women with Class’ show over at Mortgage News Network nominated Mat for this issue.
During my interview with Mat, (transcribed below) I felt like I was talking to an old friend. It was comfortable, casual, and meaningful. I realized when doing this interview, I was speaking to an industry icon who will forever be imprinted into the mortgage industries history books and it sort of felt surreal. Mat was very humble and unassuming during the interview, which resonated with me personally as an industry professional.
I asked Melinda Wilner to put Mat Ishbia’s nomination into words and here’s what she had to say about him:
Melinda Wilner Interview
Christine: Why is Mat your mentor?
Melinda: I’ve been fortunate to have several great mentors in my life, including my husband and my father, as well as Mat Ishbia. It’s been an honor to work closely with Mat over the last 7 years. I have learned so much from him leading the charge at UWM. He has played a huge role in my growth, personally and professionally. It’s not often that one gets to work with such a passionate and driven leader and be a part of a company’s rapid growth.
A lot of people say they want to be amazing and be the best at something but fail to execute on what they need to do to get there. That is not the case with Mat. I’ve learned a lot about leadership from him as Mat is a fantastic leader – appreciative, supportive, encouraging, challenging (in a good way), courageous, and humble. Not to mention the fact that he understands and emphasizes the importance of creating a team environment and working toward a common vision.
What UWM has accomplished over the last several years is breathtaking, and with any great company or team, it all starts at the top. Mat has built a company and a culture of accountability, positivity and enthusiasm, and he makes it a safe place for ideas and trying new things. It’s a culture with a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality and where doing right by others, (team members, clients, and borrowers), is always the utmost priority.
I am truly a better person, inside and outside of work, for having the opportunity to work with Mat during my time at UWM. Some of my takeaways — if you want to accomplish something, figure out what you need to do and get it done; be accountable and reflect on what you could have done to have a better outcome (being a thumb-pointer, not a finger-pointer); never miss an opportunity to improve something that is broken, wrong, or could just be better; and to do your best to be a better spouse, parent, worker, and person every day.
Christine: What are his attributes as a leader?
Melinda: Mat is decisive and has fantastic instincts, but he also loves to be challenged by others who present a different perspective or a potentially better way of doing something. He fosters an atmosphere with a high amount of independence but is always there if needed and is a good collaborator and communicator. He is also passionate about giving the “why” behind decisions. Mat is honest and direct – he gives great feedback, and always has the best of intentions.
Not a day goes by where Mat isn’t loaded with positivity, passion, and enthusiasm, all of which make UWM a great place to work each day. He shows appreciation, empathy, and builds relationships. He has a boundless supply of energy, which rubs off on team members and motivates them to work hard. Mat cares deeply about people, both the team members at UWM and our broker-partners, while setting everyone up for success. He is truly inspirational as a person, but also as a leader in all that he and UWM have accomplished.
Lastly, Mat works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. He is incredibly proactive in making sure UWM is a great place to work and that we deliver the absolute best product and service to our clients.
It’s easy to see why Mat is an inspiration to Melinda and I come to find out she is one amongst many women Mat Ishbia has managed, mentored, and elevated at UWM. I am certain that Melinda’s words of admiration are shared by all who work for Mat.
Sitting down with Mat I gathered some intel about the man behind UWM. Mat has been responsible for the growth of UWM to unfathomable heights. Over the course of his appointed tenure from his father’s initial foundation, Mat has led the company through its greatest growth period. Since Mat’s leadership (beginning in 2003), he took the company from 2.5-billion-dollars all the way to its current annualized volume of well over 40M, and is still rapidly growing. Mat has lead through difficult years, of course, like so many, and in 2009-2011 stepped back to reorganize, closing down the retail division in 2014, to which he proudly stated that, “We worked hard to not displace professionals,” and 100% of those retail team members moved into new positions. It is clear the culture he cherishes is evident in all his decisions. Easy to recap in short words, much harder to imagine all that it took to grow at that speed and stay upright.
I asked Mat what his father, Jeff Ishbia, thought of his leadership and the company’s growth under Mat’s direction and he admitted his dad has been “blown away”. Jeff Ishbia handed over the company to Mat with the advice, “Do what’s right and work with integrity,” and that is something Mat has taken quite seriously. The community culture for UWM employees is unrivaled in our industry. They have built an existence in a world wrought with instability and a stable and nurturing environment. Working for UWM is an experience, not just a job, led by a person they believe in and, moreover, trust.
Interview with Mat
Christine: What did Melinda do to earn your support?
Mat: Melinda started with the company in 2011 and we wouldn’t be where we are without her. She earns my support every single day. Her work ethic, her attitude, and her level of involvement with every detail are unmatched. Everything Melinda says she’s going to do, she does, and she always executes at a high level. One of Melinda’s greatest strengths is that she’s always in the weeds of our business. She doesn’t ever just take somebody’s word for something – she digs in and finds out answers. Melinda knows underwriting inside and out, but she also digs into other areas that are outside her comfort zone. Her mentality is, “I can learn that, I can figure it out, give me a chance.” She never says no to a challenge – she always figures out a way to do it.
Christine: What are Melinda’s biggest attributes?
Mat: There is not a better, more loyal, or intelligent person I could be surrounded by helping to lead this company. Melinda has great work ethic – she outworks everyone. She comes in early, she stays late, and while she’s here, she’s grinding. There’s not a detail missed or a stone unturned with her. Melinda has a “yes mentality” and a great sense of urgency, both of which are very important to me. She also moves fast. If an idea comes up and she thinks it’s something that could help us get better, she gets to work on it right away.
Christine: What made you decide in life that you wanted to become a leader and at what age did you know you would become one?
Mat: I think being a leader is something that’s earned over time. You earn it by doing the right things, executing the right way, working hard, and by treating people well. When I was younger, I figured out that I was really good at basketball. I took the mentality that I can choose to just be really good on my own, or I can help others as well. I can help them get better. It’s the same thing in business. Do you want to be a great individual contributor, or do you have the desire to pull other people along with you and help them be great? Once I saw an opportunity to impact others in a positive way, leadership seemed like the obvious choice. A lot of what I learned about leadership was from my college basketball coach, Tom Izzo. Seeing the way he did things made me realize I have that same skill set – that I can lead too. I looked at the things Coach Izzo did to make him a great leader and applied them to business.
Christine: As a leader, what are you looking for in professionals that tells you they have “it” or that they possess the talent necessary to succeed?
It’s all about heart, work ethic, and attitude. To me, those things are more important than talent or what they’ve done in the past. For me, the biggest question is, “Do they have the heart to succeed?” And by that, what I mean is, do they care? Do they want to get better? Do they work hard to get better? It’s all about attitude and work ethic. And the reason you have a great work ethic and a great attitude is because you care about something. If our people care about this company, they’re going to work really hard to be successful.
Christine: As a father, like all fathers, you have a desire no doubt to leave a legacy but moreover to lead the way in a world that is very dynamic, somewhat volatile and obviously ever evolving. What advice would you give your grown children as they enter the world if they were to do so today?
Mat: The biggest piece of advice I would give my kids or anyone younger is to believe in yourself, set goals, and then work hard to accomplish them. It’s easy to set a goal and say that you’re working hard towards it, but how hard are you really working? What’s your mentality? What’s your attitude? Set a goal and work tirelessly towards that goal. At the same time, be patient. Don’t say you want to be the CEO of a company when you just started. Set a goal of being the best person on your team or becoming a leader. Set small, attainable goals and keep working your way up. Another thing I would tell young people is to be coachable. Find a good mentor – someone that will teach you and listen to them. They’ve been through it before – hear their perspective. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything the same way they do it. I don’t do everything the same way Tom Izzo does or everything the same way my Dad does. I just use them as data points and ways to get better. I then take the best of each of them and try to make it my own and add my own ideas to it.
Many years ago this man who is now a mentor to women and men alike, who leads the largest wholesale mortgage company in the country, was an athlete. A college basketball player, from 98’-02’ for Michigan State and later as the Assistant Coach to Tom Izzo, whom Mat calls one of his own greatest mentors. Mat credits his sportsmanship and athleticism as part of his core foundation and so many times I hear this as a correlating factor that is woven into the fabric of elite and successful people. It is also true for Mat Ishbia.
It was my honor to highlight Melinda and Mat’s story, to once again shine a light on a man who, long before there was any pressure to elevate women because “you should”, was doing it, of his own accord, gender blind and professionally and acutely focused on all the right things. A man making substantial contributions to the industries development through leadership and his example. We applaud you Mat Ishbia. Shine on!
Why did LeaderOne choose to host an event at this year’s Mastermind?
We want to take the opportunity to recognize the successes of women in the industry and to celebrate their accomplishments. We want to promote all the great ideas and strategies that some of our top producers have and give people an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, network and just have fun over cocktails and hors devours. With hosting this event, we hope to promote diversity in the workplace.
What message do you want to promote in the mortgage industry about women?
The ability to do one’s job doesn’t correlate with gender. It is a person’s drive and desire along with hard work and dedication that drives success. As women, we must surround ourselves with Leaders that support our goals and promote our career paths. We must all make sure we are employed by Companies that foster the environment for us to thrive, be successful and that treat women as equals.
What does your company do to promote and empower women?
We encourage. The Leadership team at LeaderOne encourages women to strive to be their best and to work towards obtaining the career path they dream of. We recognize the need to reach out to our employees and find out what their long- and short-term goals are to help them get to where they want to be both within our company and within their careers. I think it is important to help motivate women to have the drive to stand up for what they want and desire to go for it, even if the odds are against them.
We support. I started at LeaderOne 6 years ago as the Processing Manager. I was very vocal about wanting to develop my career path and wanting to have opportunities to flourish. Our CEO, Mike Stoddart, has supported me since day one by educating me, mentoring me and pushing me to make goals for myself while holding me accountable for achieving them. It’s such a breath of fresh air to know that you are supported and that your Leaders believe in you. I know that myself and others have learned from his leadership style and his passion for investing in people’s careers. That passion and support has spread to management across the company. We take pride in mentoring those that are truly dedicated to advancing their careers and I believe that our employees would tell you when asked that they feel that support comes from the top down.
We embrace possibilities. We believe that possibilities can be endless if we put our minds together towards a common goal. LeaderOne encourages all our employees to voice their opinions and embrace open communication on how we can better the company. Not only do we listen to ideas and suggestions, we strategize on how we can embrace the “how” and reward those that contribute.
We foster a culture that allows work/home life balance. We have spent the last several years putting a huge focus on the culture of our company and shaping it to be one that we have become incredibly proud of. Our culture is one that allows our employees to have a healthy work/home life balance. For me, as a wife and mother, this is extraordinarily important. I spent years wanting to have an impressive career. Then I became a mother to the three most perfect little humans and while my new focus was on being the absolute best mother I could be, my love for my career never lessened. It was then that I decided I wanted to have it all, the amazing career and motherhood, and put my best foot forward in achieving both. With a culture that allows for flexible schedules, generous pto, family events, and knowing that family comes first, LeaderOne is a company that allows me to have my dream of being the best I can be at both my career and motherhood. My kids are little, 2, 4, and 6, so my evenings and weekends are spent with them and I have to make sure I am not missing important events in their lives. If they have a school play or a fieldtrip or when they are sick, I am with them 100 percent, and while I am at work, LeaderOne gets 100 percent. The fact that I am able to do both lets me know I am at the right company.
We have found that this culture creates an atmosphere were Employees are happier and it shows with low turnover. We just celebrated our top producer, Molly Dean’s, 10-year anniversary. 10 years in the mortgage business at the same company is unheard of these days!
We lead by example. We practice what we preach in promoting and hiring professionals that are successful and great at their jobs. When it comes to finding the right candidate, we look at applicant’s skills and experience and not their gender though LeaderOne has several women Leaders that act as role models both within our company as well as in the industry. Joining me on the Executive Team is our EVP, Chief Compliance Officer, Shelly Hill and our EVP General Counsel, Darien Oien. I am proud to sit on the Executive Team with these women. They both help to lead our company daily and encourage our Employees to be the best they can be. Our top three Originators for production in 2018 are all women! Molly Dean, Kim Burke, and Angie Sherer lead by showing dedication and determination in being top Originators in the industry. Each of them spends time to educate other Originators and share strategies and tactics that make them successful. Four out of our five regional operations centers are all managed by women who help keep our Company’s operations running efficiently on a daily basis.
The women leaders of LeaderOne are all self-driven and succeed because of the team support that allows them to be the best in our Industry. They are what motivates me to be better for them. Their success is our success.
What would you hope attendees would take away from the event?
We want to show women that they can be successful with putting in hard work and dedication. We hope that after they get to know some of our top Producers, more women will be motivated to push themselves to achieve their highest goals. We hope they gain some valued insight into strategies and tactics that they can use with their current business model. We want to show others that the dream of being a leader as a woman is real and that LeaderOne shows it is realistic and possible. We want women to know that there are Leaders and Companies out there that support women. We hope that people can network and meet some new contacts while having a fun evening in Las Vegas.
What are the details of the event?
The event will be held on Thursday evening June 6th from 8-10pm at the Palms Resort and Casino. It will be held in the Fantasy Tower on the 25th Floor, Suite 205. You can RSVP at this link. Please include your mailing address for a token of our appreciation!
Rosalie Berg is the Founder/CEO of Strategic Vantage Marketing & PR, and in this interview, she shares her philosophy on establishing a strong brand that is both authentic and adaptable. With 17 years in the mortgage industry, Rosalie has seen how marketing is constantly evolving and advises her clients to embrace change by recognizing the benefits that new technology brings to old processes. Rosalie emphasizes the importance of knowing who you are when building a brand and to not get caught up in trying to sell a message that isn’t true to what makes you you. Finally she shares tips for those who are interested in leadership and how entrepreneurs can create a competitive advantage to make their business stand out.
Interview with Rosalie Berg, Founder/CEO of Strategic Vantage Marketing & PR - YouTube
MWM: What are some of the biggest challenges your clients experience related to modern marketing?
Rosalie: One of the biggest mistakes that I think people do in marketing, public relations, everything essentially, and it’s not just people, executives, but companies and brands is market themselves for something they are not. And you know, when people come to me and they’re looking for brand image, a big part of it is, “Who are you?”. Are you guys hip, are you conservative? I mean, we’ve worked for a company that the CEO is a guy who always wears a cowboy hat. And he was known for his cowboy hat. We don’t want to change that. We want people to remember them as that. So when it comes to something that resonates, it has to be who you are. If you’re somebody who’s funny, think about funny advertising. Don’t do something that’s really traditional and boring.
The best example I have of poor marketing is Tiger Woods. You think about Tiger Woods, and before his crash, which was in 2010, more or less, he was being endorsed by Accenture, very conservative, Tag Heuer, companies that were known for being solid and reliable. I mean somebody must have known, his publicist must have known. They did him a huge disservice because if he had been marketed all along by the companies that are marketing him now, which are athletic brand companies like Monster Energy, companies that do sport things like that, it wouldn’t have been such a shocker for him or for anybody. But no, he was marketed as somebody who was very conservative and very level headed, but that wasn’t Tiger Woods.
So my advice to companies is always pay attention to who you are and don’t make yourself out to be somebody or company or executive that you’re not. Your target audience will like you for who you are and they will make the most of you for who you are. But if you sell yourself for what you are not, then there’s going to be huge disconnect once they figure it out and it’s not going to resonate.
MWM: Do you have any other advice for someone who is wanting to build their personal brand or their PR presence?
Rosalie: Absolutely. If you really want to stand out, you can’t be a generalist. I think about my success as a person and even my success in my agency is because I wasn’t just a marketing and PR person. I was one that specialized in the mortgage industry, and that makes me very different. There aren’t very many of us out there. So you could be somebody that specializes in speaking the Hispanic voice or the underserved voice, or you could be an SEO wiz, or whatever it is that your specialty is. Really learning that, really embracing it and marketing yourself for that, that’s going to resonate.
Figure out what your specialty is and find something that’s different. Don’t be what everybody else is. I can’t tell you how many companies come to me and when I ask them, “What’s your competitive advantage?”, they say something that everybody else does. So I say, “Ok, let’s take a deep breath because everybody else is saying the same thing.” And while I’m not saying you should say something completely different, let’s try to find something that sets you apart.
MWM: What advice to have for women in overcoming barriers to success?
Rosalie: One thing I really believe as a woman, it’s such a strong position to being a woman. I don’t believe in it being a disadvantage. I understand we are breaking through barriers, but I do think part of it is feeling worthy on your own, feeling that you’re there on your own, and that you are just as strong as anybody else. And that while men might have some tools, women have their own tools. I’ve got one friend of mine who’s a CEO of a big company in the mortgage industry, and he says, “I’d rather hire a woman.” He’s got like 1000 people under him and he can’t say this publicly, but he says “they’re organized, they’re committed, they’re multitaskers” and I’m thinking yes, that’s exactly right. And that’s an advantage. Use the advantage to your side. I think men are so used to being confident, that sometimes I think their confidence is what sells them. So, in a way, it’s for us to overcome those challenges, it’s not just about everybody else.
And I’m not saying sometimes there are obstacles that are brought to us, but let’s not focus on them, let’s focus on the things that are working well for us. We’ve been given so much and if we have a positive state of mind, I do believe that we can conquer the world.
Meet the MENtors – Christine Beckwith talks with Dave Savage, Founder and CEO of Mortgage Coach
Next up! The one, the only, the incomparable Dave Savage, founder and CEO of Mortgage Coach. Dave was nominated by our very own editor of Mortgage Women Magazine, Kristin Messerli, and backed up by dozens of top ranking women in the industry.
What does it take to be a “MENtor” who opens doors for women? Dave will tell you “not much,” and in fact, if you ask me, he is a clear example of “gender blindness” in business. While he has been intentional about seeking female engagement in his network, he didn’t simply elevate women for being women. He did so because they represented the best in class and expertise.
For the long time I’ve known and worked with Dave Savage, I have consistently heard one thing in his voice: a passion for his profession and for our industry, for both men and women. Dave has built a community of over 10,000 members of Mortgage Coach and 30,000 subscribers on social media. His influence is wide and visible in the mortgage industry. As is the case for other men featured in this column, he has been elevating women for far longer than was popular or pressured to do so.
I asked Kristin Messerli, Managing Editor of MWM, to share her insights into how Dave has been a valuable mentor and leader for women. Here is what she had to say:
Dave has been one of the most influential people in my career and professional development, and he is an exceptional example of a male advocate for women’s success. Through his leadership, I have learned to see my age and gender as a strength, rather than a barrier. Like most women, I have encountered barriers such as men not taking me seriously or making sexual advances towards me, but Dave has helped me to look beyond those obstacles and see the strength in offering a unique voice of leadership to the industry. This message of empowerment has significantly impacted my upward mobility in my career and shouldn’t be underemphasized in mentoring women.
Dave has continually encouraged me to put myself out there, speak up, and identify new ways I can add value as a leader. He has been intentional about sharing opportunities with me that promote my message or give me a voice within his community, such as co-hosting a webinar or co-authoring an article, and he makes introductions when he sees an opportunity to bring value to both parties. While the exposure and introductions are incredibly valuable, I have grown the most as a leader through his willingness to take the time to discuss new ideas, share feedback, and provide constructive criticism along the way.
Male or female, Dave is intentional about identifying and promoting leaders that share a mission for equal access to education and empowerment. I am inspired by his leadership and hope others will follow his example.
Here is an excerpt from my interview with Dave Savage. To listen or read the full version, CLICK HERE.
Christine: What do you see as successful traits in professionals you elevate?
Dave: The short answer, and the people I am most attracted to are just, they are humble, they are hungry, and they are smart. I can’t remember who coined that, I think it might have been Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage. The people that I am attracted to, and the very successful people that I come in contact with and who I interview, are all humble. They are getting after it, they are hungry. They look at this digital disruption that’s happening and the chaos in the market and they are like “push let’s go.”
Wherever there’s chaos, there’s opportunity. I think this epitomizes Kristin and is one of the reasons why I have invested in her as a mentor: she embodies those character traits. I think it’s that simple.
Christine: This question is really about the very topic we are on here, professional women’s evolution. As a MENtor, what is some of the advice you would give to women?
Dave: I have been intentional about bringing women to the stage in leadership within the mortgage coach community for a few years now, I think five years. I don’t know if it was five years, six years ago, whether it was my wife, calling me out, looking at all the people I interview: a bunch of guys.
And I had women in the industry, Cindy Ertman, Sue Woodard. Whether we were at dinner having conversations and just talking about the disparity of men versus women leadership. I started really getting after it, getting intentional about “you’re right” and when you look at who the top producers are in different mortgage companies. There’s not as much disparity. Maybe on stages in the mortgage industry.
I, myself had to take a different approach to how I’d get them to lead, and I’ll use Kelly Zitlow as an example, so Kelly if you’re hearing me here! When I first reached out to Kelly, who is a top producer, we talked about the disparity of women on stages. She was like, “You know what, I’ve got to start leading more!”
My advice would be to every woman that listens to this, who’s kind of on the fence, “Should I take the stage? or not?” Take the stage. Get out there, do a little more self-promotion. I think as men … we tend to find that really easy and natural. “Hey, want to get a mic and you know …” and you’ve never met a mic they don’t want to grab.
Jump on that opportunity to take a leadership role because it makes our industry better. I can only speak for the Mortgage Coach community, but it definitely makes that community brighter when we have more diversity.
One last thing, and I think this is the case for everybody. We live in a world now where you don’t need permission to get on a stage. Between social media, between the video we’re creating right here in Zoom. I’m in a hotel room, with internet,
I say this to everybody, to young leaders, but I would say especially to women leaders: You don’t need permission to get on a stage and make videos. If you have it in your heart to lead and you’ve got something to share, get out there and share it. Amplify your voice with modern technology.
Christine: What is your legacy work? All of us have that thing we want to leave an impression on. What’s yours?
Dave: I really got clear on this, coming out of the meltdown. I think it was when I watched Simon Sinek’s presentation and the power of why. What conversion is all about; it’s a sales tool to convert. My why and my legacy is to change how people get into debt in America. Our total cost analysis is when someone gets into debt, what’s your monthly cost, what’s your cost to get the debt, call that the fee worksheet. But to look at what’s the cost over 5 years? What’s the cost over 20 years? What are some strategies to pre-pay my debt and become debt free? Cause I don’t believe a mortgage is the American dream. Home ownership is the American dream, home ownership, debt free is the American dream, or an American dream.
I hope my legacy is that I was a leader in the mortgage industry that reshaped how people deal with debt. For now, we’re turning that into a competitive advantage for lenders, but I hope we’ll look back 10 years from now and I’ll be a pioneer of that movement.
Christine: I thank you, on behalf of all of us who need more men like you, who are willing to diversify and elevate. I think it’s a wonderful example to lead by for all the leaders out there to follow.
Dave: Alright thank you and thank you Kristin for nominating me. Take care all.
As I sit here closing out yet another amazing tribute to a leader in our industry, I am grateful to see this kind of support and clear contributions to our evolution.
Thank you Dave Savage, from me, on behalf of Kristin and all female professionals who you have impacted, elevated and motivated. Thank you for your fairness, your honesty, and integrity, and for showing up at exactly the right time in history to help us carry this movement forward.
Christine Beckwith is a 30-year mortgage industry veteran who has broken many glass ceilings and blazed a trail for many female professional generations to come. She is a Mortgage News Network Anchor and the President & COO of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching. This year she was featured in the 2018 Mortgage Professional America magazine as one of the top 75 women in the mortgage industry and named one of the “2018 Most connected Mortgage professionals in America” named by NMP magazine.
Today, women have more decision-making power and influence over consumer decisions and business than ever before, and that is becoming increasingly apparent in the mortgage industry. Most mortgage conferences this year have a women-focused panel discussion, mortgage companies are starting women’s advisory councils and initiatives to promote female talent, and single female home buyers are the second largest home buying segment in the country (double that of single men).
However, we are only beginning to understand how to reduce barriers for women in business and adjust our marketing and experience to resonate with women. For the history of the mortgage industry, the default target consumer has been a white, non-Hispanic male, and we have a long way to go to equalizing the power dynamic.
This issue, we solicited articles and interviews focused on reducing barriers for women, and providing open conversation around how women have overcome barriers to their success and happiness. Many of the barriers we encounter along the way are perceived barriers within our control to manage–these are barriers that have been shaped by societal expectations and environmental factors, but they are within our control nonetheless. Rosalie Berg shares, “part of [overcoming barriers]is feeling worthy on your own, feeling that you’re there on your own, and that you are just as strong as anybody else.”
I am incredibly proud of the contributions we received this issue, including personal, inspirational stories such as overcoming the imposter syndrome, and having the difficult conversations that promote equality in the workplace. Many others share what has empowered them through obstacles in our Ask the Experts column. I hope you will find these and every column in this issue as inspiring and informative as I have, and find new ways for you to share your message of empowerment within your circle of influence.
As always, I open the door for conversation on these topics, and your continued support in distributing this content within your networks. The entire industry will grow stronger as women continue to step into a more prominent and influential role in our communities and businesses. Please share our articles and issue on social networks and within your company, and if you would like to contribute an article for a future issue, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are stronger together, and I am proud to share such a strong community of women in the mortgage industry.
Mortgage Women Magazine welcomes your feedback. If you have comments, questions, criticisms, praise, or information to share with us and our readers, please write us at info@Twelve11Media.Com.