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.
Depending on your camp, there has been concern about the shortage of residential real estate appraisers for a few years now. But, within the overall debate of too few appraisers, there is a lesser-known issue:
the number of female appraisers is surprisingly low.
Women largely hold managerial and operational positions in the appraisal business, which is great. But they are not equally represented at the appraiser level. The commercial industry has many female appraisers but there are only a small percentage of women on the residential side.
In fact, according to figures from the Appraisal Institute, women make up just 25 percent of all appraisers. That’s particularly shocking considering 63 percent of all Realtors are women, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Obviously, women know the real estate market. So why are women so outnumbered in the appraisal industry?
The reasons aren’t simple. But it is well worth understanding why so few women choose careers as real estate appraisers and then finding ways to increase their numbers. In fact, the future of our industry depends on it.
The Traditional Barriers to Entry
The appraisal industry is still, in many ways, a men’s club, which is more left over from years gone by, as opposed to any anti-female conspiracy. But the truth is, it hasn’t been an easy business for either men or women to break into.
I believe making a career as an appraiser more accessible will help level the playing field for women. However, more could and should be done. Appraisal companies need to do a better job recruiting women candidates, and our industry should do a better job attracting women to the profession. Part of figuring out how to do this, however, involves looking more deeply at why so few women choose appraising as a career.
There are a number of initiatives designed to make the mortgage and housing industries more inclusive and open, which is commendable. For example, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has its MPower initiative, which is designed to help women strengthen their networks and achieve professional growth and development.
However, the way the appraisal industry is structured makes diversity more difficult to achieve. In the mortgage industry, there are many large organizations with the resources to create their own diversity initiatives. There are very few large appraisal organizations. Ninety-five percent or so of all appraisers are self-employed and work independently, and the vast majority of new candidates get their start as trainees working for independent appraisers.
Another, not-so-clear-cut reason why there aren’t more female appraisers has to do social norms. Traditionally, real estate appraisal work was seen as men’s work. This isn’t much different than women making up the vast majority of nurses or elementary school teachers. Rightly or wrongly, these roles have become culturally ingrained, and this can be difficult to overcome. When I joined the industry 28 years ago, people thought I was a secretary or an assistant. When I showed up at an appraisal appointment, I would often be asked when the actual appraiser was going to arrive.
Some Good News
But traditional gender roles aside, appraising is an atypical industry. Appraisal work isn’t a first choice for a career path for either gender. In fact, it’s often the second or third choice. Typically, an appraiser started out as a real estate agent or mortgage broker who became intrigued with the profession through their experiences with appraisers. At Valuation Partners, we get inquiries from people of both genders who have been displaced from their jobs or are just looking for a change in careers.
Other people become appraisers because their family is in the business and appraisal careers are often handed down from one generation to another. Many experienced appraisers will only take on family members as trainees. So, unless you are exposed to appraising in some way, it would never occur to you to pursue it as a career.
Due to family responsibilities, women remain more likely to take long breaks from employment than their male counterparts. When they re-enter the workforce seeking a new career in real estate, the barriers to become a real estate agent or mortgage broker are relatively low compared to real estate appraising. In many areas of the country, one can become a real estate agent or mortgage broker in a matter of months with far less expense.
A career in real estate appraisal comes with a two-pronged price tag: the direct costs of training and the limited earnings potential in the short term. The entry costs are unavoidable; there is coursework, testing, licensing, and other expenses, which requires balancing a cash outlay. But appraising also comes with very modest earnings at first. In some cases, the pay is non-existent when first starting out. Plus, there is the problem of finding a good mentor. When all these factors are considered, a career as an appraiser often falls short.
To be sure, getting an appraiser’s license should not be too easy because the appraisal is a critical component of a mortgage transaction. But until just recently, becoming a licensed residential appraiser meant you had to complete a total of 150 hours of coursework and 2,000 hours of on-the-job work experience with a certified appraiser. That’s in addition to having a four-year college degree, which isn’t a standard requirement for becoming a real estate agent or a mortgage loan officer.
The good news is that those requirements are changing. Last year the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) adopted revisions to appraiser criteria that include new options for entry into the profession. The AQB provided an additional educational path in the absence of a four-year degree, and it is in the process of designing virtual reality training, where candidates can more quickly learn how to appraise properties through simulated environments. Together, these changes should be able to substantially reduce the amount of time it takes to become credentialed.
Getting the Word Out to Women
Not only does the industry need more female appraisers, it needs more appraisers overall. The prior barriers had made it more difficult for the appraisal industry to grow. Inviting more women into the profession is as much of a practical matter as it is one of fairness and equal opportunity.
Today, the average residential appraiser is a male in his late 50s, and many are retiring. In fact, our industry has seen about a three percent decline in the number of appraisers for the past several years, in spite of a relatively strong housing market. There aren’t enough young appraisers taking their place, as only ten percent of licensed appraisers are under the age of 35, according to the Appraisal Institute.
Recruiting more women into the profession will help replenish these numbers. But another reason to invite more women into the field is the simple fact that women know housing. Obviously, from the NAR’s figures, there’s no shortage of female housing experts, many of whom may find appraising a more challenging career. The barriers to entry aside, it’s highly likely that many women haven’t discussed or considered appraising as a profession because no one ever reached out to them.
For women, a career as an appraiser has enormous benefits that go beyond the ability to run your own business and call your own shots. I was a single mom when I started out, and appraising was a way to put food on the table and build a wonderful and expandable career.
The benefits I enjoyed, working independently and creating my own schedule, are even greater today thanks to technology. For example, I remember having to hunt down property records in the basements of county courthouses. Today almost all this information is digital. I also remember having to take photographs on rolls of film (remember those?), taking them to be developed, picking them up, and pasting them into appraisal reports. Today, appraisers can gather county records and photos and maps in digital format and then use them to fill out a report in the same day.
There are even greater and exciting opportunities for appraisers today thanks to the expanding types of valuation products and services, such as drive-by appraisals and hybrid appraisals, which represent work that generally was not available to appraisers when I started in the field.
I’ve had many conversations with women who have been discouraged about a career in appraising the more they looked into it. They have been warned of tough assignments, tough neighborhoods, getting dirty, being bit by fleas or pets, being alone in big vacant houses and so on. A lot of this advice was provided with the best of intentions. Still, over the course of my career, I’ve found there was a good deal of truth to these warnings. It isn’t a career for someone afraid of spiders and other creatures you’ll run into while looking through those crawlspaces, and I’ve ruined more than one pair of good shoes stomping through mud at job sites.
On the other hand, the adventure and the collective experience have been far more rewarding than I could have imagined. Not to mention, I’ve had plenty of fun along the way. The challenge for our industry is to relay these benefits, including the flexibility, the ability to set one’s own hours, and capitalize on new types of valuation products and services, to the many women who already have housing market expertise or possess the skills, ability and desire to learn. Community outreach and educational initiatives are just two of the ways the industry can relay the benefits of a career in real estate appraising to women. Given the recently addressed entry requirements and the declining number of appraisers in general, there is no better time than now.
Janice H. Buchele is the Senior Vice President of Residential Services at The William Fall Group, a national provider of comprehensive real estate valuation and analysis services for financial, public, and government sectors. She is a 20+ year veteran with substantive background in all phases of residential valuation services. Jan is also a member of WINDS (Women in Default Services) as well as WHF (Women in Housing and Finance). She can be reached at email@example.com.
“Can a notary refuse to notarize a document if the signer seems drunk?” It was my first week on the job at Notarize, a Boston-based company that offers remote online notarization and fully-online closings. I had been there for three days and it felt like my brain was almost full.
I’ve worked in tech as a product manager and writer for my entire career, so I’m used to drink-from-the-firehose learning. Onboarding at a startup is never a breeze. But besides knowing that my aunt is a notary, this was the first time I was learning anything about notarial law.
My coworker nodded in response to my question. “Part of the notary’s job is to evaluate if the signer is aware of what they’re signing. And if they are under the influence of something, you can argue that they might not be aware at all.” I was learning that some of the most important documents in a mortgage closing, for example, the deed, require notarization.The goal with that (and I’m oversimplifying here, so bear with me) is to make sure that:
The person signing these documents are who they say they are, and
That people understand what they’re signing.
So, if the concept of notarization very much includes not notarizing something if the above things turn out to be false, then that could put a notary in a really interesting situation. My wheels started to turn when my coworker gave me their answer. What if a notary refuses to notarize a document? What could happen? Sure, you want to assume the good in people. But still…“What if the signer gets upset and threatens a notary?” My coworker shook his head and sighed. “Yeah. It’s not uncommon.”
As a woman, this type of question is always on my mind. It’s just not something that a lot of men have to think about when they think about day-to-day activities. And while I’m not a notary, I was beginning to think that if I was, I would be all about notarizing in a public place.
But this is where it starts to get really interesting, and when I really started to connect the dots.
Some of the most important documents in a mortgage closing need to be notarized. A common scenario in the paper world is for a mobile notary to actually visit your house to complete the closing and notarize the necessary documents.
So began my understanding of why Remote Online Notarization (RON) is such a big deal for the safety of notaries, signers, and the validity of notarizations in general.
Threats on notaries
Naturally, once I started to dig into all of this, I became a googling machine. Some interesting stuff came up.
It turns out that if a notary is threatened in any way when they’re in person, it’s actually safer for them to just proceed as normal. Advice à la “just give the mugger your wallet.”
Even the National Notary Association (NNA) says, “If you feel threatened or that refusing a notarization would place you in imminent danger, go ahead and complete it. Then report the situation immediately afterwards to your local law enforcement.” But, what if they don’t actually call the police? According to another article by the NNA, only four percent of threatened or vulnerable notaries surveyed actually called the police after an incident. If action isn’t being taken after a dangerous notary experience, theoretically, those notarizations still stand? Something seems off here.
The notaries we hire at Notarize tell us stories about carrying a pocket knife to their meetings in case they ever need to defend themselves. Being led into trailers where they find eight men and a dog. Being given an address for a meeting that turns out to be a strip club. And the most concerning stories that involve aggressive or threatening tactics.
“We’ve trained our notaries on how to handle signers like that,” says Ashley Spiess, Notarize’s Director of Operations. But the biggest thing Notarize does is “professionally empower them so that they can disconnect.”
There it is. Disconnect. In a remote online notarization situation, notaries can simply disconnect the meeting. There’s no risk in saying “no” to the notarization, because a single click removes you from the transaction.
Making notarization safer (and just generally more comfortable)
Remote online notarization isn’t just about the safety of notaries. The discomfort and question of safety can happen on the signer’s side, too. Since starting at Notarize and interviewing our customers, I’ve heard too many stories about a mobile notary showing up for a closing at someone’s house acting unprofessionally.
It’s one of the reasons so many celebrities are turning to remote online notarization. Instead of heading to the UPS store where they might be recognized, or inviting a stranger into their home, they can turn to RON to quickly and efficiently get their documents notarized just like any other citizen.
When you break it down, remote online notarization improves the experience from both sides because it’s made up of three elements: a full video recording, an in-depth ID proofing process, and a fully remote experience, where nobody can be threatened.
No specific location is shared. The notary has to be in the state they are a notary for, but otherwise, their specific address isn’t revealed. And they don’t know where you are either. In fact, that’s one of the most important benefits of RON – you can close on your house in the U.S. from the Amazon rainforest and the Notary wouldn’t know. Unless you show them the rainforest, which could be cool.
And, I feel I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t call out the very real benefit of getting something notarized from your couch in your jammies. Anything you can do in your jammies sounds pretty safe to me.
To learn more about remote online notarization, you can visit notarize.com and we’ll teach you all about it.
Emily Mias, Principal Product Manager at Notarize. Emily Mias is a product manager with a passion for writing and uplifting other women in technology. Emily currently leads the real estate product at Notarize, an online platform that enables borrowers to close on their homes completely online. Follow her on Twitter at @emilymias.
The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem and need help. This applies to any vice in your life that is standing in the way of finding true peace and joy. I have overcome many vices over the course of my adult life, but I often find that there is one I just can’t shake. It’s not anything that I can take a medicine for, and it is not outwardly obvious when I am suffering from it, but it is the one vice that is preventing me from reaching my truest potential. I suffer from “Imposter Syndrome,” and I am not alone.
By definition, Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” While this affliction is not one that is recognized as an official psychiatric condition, it is very real in its debilitating effects. Individuals who suffer from Imposter Syndrome often feel unworthy of success and have a difficult time accepting praise or accolades for their accomplishments. The funny thing about people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome is that they are quite often high achievers and totally rock at what they do.
For many who suffer from Imposter Syndrome, there is that voice in their head that is telling them that they are not good enough and they do not belong with those who are very successful. This is magnified when they experience failure in their professional life, such as job loss or a product launch that does not produce expected sales. When they are then given accolades for the completion of a successful project, as an example, they chalk the success up to dumb luck.
Dr. Valerie Young is the author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why capable people suffer from the imposter syndrome and how to thrive in spite of it and is an internationally-known speaker on the topic. After coming to the realization during her graduate studies that she, along with many of her classmates, suffered from Imposter Syndrome, she decided to make this the focal point of her doctoral dissertation. From there, she has written several books and has hosted events on how to identify and combat Imposter Syndrome.
In her book, she identifies the five competence types in people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome:
The Perfectionist- They set unreasonably high expectations, then are riddled with self-doubt when they are not able to achieve those expectations.
The Superwoman/Man- If they don’t work harder than everyone else, their perceived phoniness will be revealed.
The Natural Genius- If something doesn’t come naturally to them, and it takes them longer than others to complete a task, they feel incompetent.
The Soloist- They do not ask for help, because if they do, they will be labeled as a fraud.
The Expert- They measure their competence based on how much they know on any given subject, and will be exposed as incompetent if they do not know everything.
She also explains how being afflicted with overwhelming self-doubt and self-deprecation is much more common in women than in men. In general, men do not hold onto their failures nearly as long as women do, and not as intensely. As she explains, “Unfortunately it’s easy for women to take a man being less rattled to mean he’s more competent–or at least more confident–which to the untrained eye is often mistaken as one and the same.”
For me, I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in my life where I started to feel like I was not worthy of success, but I do know that I have been dealing with it for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a household that was not overly loving; in fact, it was often a violent and angry place. My father, in particular, was always quick to tell me how I would not amount to anything when I grew up and was typically MIA when I had a choir concert, theater performance or during times of academic achievement.
So, what did I do? I immersed myself even deeper into my schooling, after-school activities, and, during high school, held a nearly full-time job at Taco Bell. I was desperate to show my father that I was not stupid, and I felt inadequate if he did not proclaim his pride for his daughter’s success. This lack of self-esteem stayed with me for the majority of my 20’s and a good chunk of my 30’s.
As I have made my way through my professional career, I have often treated successes as temporary moments of pure luck, followed by feeling like something bad is about to happen. I would be in a room at a conference with insanely successful people and find myself constantly measuring where I was in my career against theirs. “What am I doing here? I do not belong here. They are going to ask me something, and when I respond, I am going to sound stupid. They will see that I am a fraud.” These thoughts would take over all the available space in my head, and I would often look for the exit door before I was “exposed”.
It wasn’t until very recently where I have been able to tame the “imposter monster” in my head and have grown to embrace my successes, while also accepting my failures for what they truly are – learning opportunities. The first step to my recovery from Imposter Syndrome was to acknowledge that I needed to look myself in the mirror and tell myself that I am a human being, and that I am not alone. From there, I decided that, while I knew I was a strong and capable woman, I needed help in learning how to better advocate for myself.
I signed up for coaching sessions, bought a few books and reached out to a few women I looked up to for guidance. It was not easy for me to ask for help because I am part Soloist, and an even bigger part Perfectionist. I had to let go of the fear that by reaching out for support, I would be seen as weak or inferior. The reaction to my plea for help was quite the opposite, really. Women (and men!) have been more than willing to help guide me through this phase in my life; the phase I am calling my “professional awakening.”
Don’t get me wrong. I still suffer from moments where I feel like I am either in over my head, or I am trying entirely too hard to belong, especially when I royally botch something up. The difference now, however, is that I do not let those feelings linger for too long. I take a moment, reflect on something that I have accomplished that brought me joy, and use that positive energy to get past the feelings of inadequacy. As Dr. Young stated, “everyone feels stupid from time to time. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that sometime in the next 24-48 hours every person on the planet will have an opportunity to feel stupid. In these moments you need to remember, just because you feel stupid, does not mean you are stupid.”
I recently came across a quote from an unknown author that struck a chord with me: “Look back at where you came from and let yourself feel proud about your progress. You are killing it.” I used to think that announcing my successes was tacky and people would think that I was gloating. The reality is that announcing my successes not only helps me build my self-confidence, while quieting the imposter monster, it may also help someone else develop the confidence they need to reach for their goals. I still have a long way to go, and that monster keeps trying to get back into my head, but I have embraced the fact that I am worthy of my good fortune. I have worked for it, I have earned the rewards, and most importantly, I deserve it.
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.
I can remember the day, 10 years ago- one email changed the course of my career. I was turned down for a job, but instead of hitting Delete, I hit Reply. What did I have to lose? Absolutely nothing to be honest. The hiring manager was looking for a specific type of experience- but really, I think he was just blowing me off. My response went something like this: “I appreciate your quick response. After reading through your job description again, I feel my experience to be sufficient for the following reasons…” Within two weeks I was working for this company.
This one Reply changed the course of my career and life. There were several reasons I decided to push back instead of accepting the hiring manager’s original declination. First, I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t currently working for this company, and the only possible negative outcome was another declination. Second, I had the self-confidence to know that even if I didn’t have the exact type of experience he was looking for, I had relevant experience and the ability to learn. Our entire lives are filled with doing things we have never done before. I knew my boundaries, and I knew how far I could push them, and I certainly knew them better than this hiring manager who had never met me. The third reason I clicked Reply instead of Delete is something hard to explain. It’s like hitting a breaking point where you say “I don’t think so.” It’s pushing back at the norms, standing your ground, knowing your value, and always questioning “Why?”
I apply these same techniques in my daily activities at Proctor. As VP of Specialty Lines, my primary function includes new sales for the company. As you can imagine, I am told “no” a lot. Sometimes “no” comes in different forms, like “Call me next month” or “Send me a brochure and I’ll think about it,” or simply ignoring my voicemail. In these scenarios, it’s more important to read between the lines and decipher the unwritten message versus taking their comments at face value. A past client once had the choice to remain with their existing provider or go with my company – we were clearly the better insurance provider in terms of rates and technology, but they decided to stay with the incumbent. I came to discover there was a personal relationship, which outweighed the superior services we were able to provide. As you can see, this obstacle was huge and it was unspoken. Eventually, I was able to present our services through a different channel and won the business.
In this case, similar to the obstacle presented by the hiring manager 10 years ago, I had nothing to lose, I was confident in our services, and I pushed through.
Certainly these traits exist in my personal life too. After building a new house, I had trouble getting the cable company to install internet. Each technician that came to the house gave a different story. After nearly a year, enough was enough. I wrote a letter to the CEO, including a detailed map of the property. I then forwarded a copy via email to several of his direct reports. Amazingly, I had internet in 2 days. One thing I’ve come to realize is, everybody is accountable to somebody. If you’re not getting what you want, or what you believe is right, then find someone with authority that can get it for you.
Now, pushing the envelope does have its limits, and there are times you just have to let the chips fall where they may, but I think you’ll be surprised how many times they fall in your favor when you ask yourself, “What do I have to lose?”
Gretchan Francis is the Vice President of Specialty Lines at Proctor Financial, offering specialty insurance products and services to financial institutions and mortgage servicers across the country.
How to Ease Symptoms of Spring Allergies Naturally
By Cindy Smith
Oh, the welcomed beauty of Spring after the earth’s long rest of Winter. The first blossom, the shadow of green across lawns, and the smell of a Spring rain often give a sense of renewed hope and excitement. We are eager to get outside, take walks along flower bordered paths, listen to birds announcing the awakening of the earth. However, you may be one of the 18 million adults who suffer from stuffiness, headaches or asthma as Spring begins to blossom. Or you may be walking around in a daze from the plethora of allergy medications, exhausted from sleepless nights of coughing and sneezing. There are natural remedies to not only combat the symptoms but also allow you to feel well enough to enjoy the blossoming of nature.
An allergic reaction is actually the body’s natural way of combating outside stimuli that the immune system detects as a threat. However, when our immune system is not at its best, it will over-react or fail to defeat the enemy. Here are ten natural ways to build the immune system and ease symptoms so you can fully enjoy the beauty of Spring.
Apple cider vinegar. This is an allergy remedy powerhouse. Add a tablespoon to a cup of hot water with a small bit of local honey, lemon and a dash of cinnamon. Drink each morning before eating to cleanse your lymphatic system and any accumulated mucous from the night. Drink throughout the day to help reduce inflammation and congestion.
Essential oils. There are several essential oils that will help relieve symptoms and build a healthier immune system.
Eucalyptus is a great choice for opening airways, reducing spasms in the respiratory tract, and thinning mucous. Eucalyptus is NOT a replacement for asthma medication but can improve asthma control. Diffuse or add a few drops to coconut oil and use as a chest rub. Eucalyptus is a strong oil and can burn if applied directly to skin. For that reason, it should not be used on children.
Peppermint is a great expectorant and opens airways. Peppermint is great to diffuse, apply to the chest, neck or for headaches, apply to the base of the head. Add a few drops to coconut oil when using as a chest rub on children.
Tea tree is an antiseptic and will destroy any bacteria that could turn allergies to a sinus infection or bronchitis. Diffusing helps destroy air-born bacteria as well as bacteria in the respiratory system as you breathe it in.
Hydrate. Drinking water will help flush any unwanted foreign matter as well as help reduce inflammation and thin mucous.
Light workout. A light workout can help reduce stuffiness and increase energy. Of course, if you are suffering from air-born allergies, be sure to exercise inside with a light yoga class or walk on a treadmill until you have built up your immune system to withstand the attacks of allergens. Intense workouts can suppress the immune system, so when you are not feeling well, keep it light.
Anti-inflammatory diet. When allergens get inside the nose, eyes, or lungs, it causes inflammation. If we are already inflamed by the foods we eat, it magnifies the reaction. Foods that cause inflammation are processed foods, sugar, dairy, and excessive alcohol. Eat whole foods as much as possible. If it has an ingredient list, it is not a whole food.
Meditation. Stress is found to be one of the major contributing factors of most major illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis. Stress causes inflammation in the body that will increase the body’s reaction to allergens as well. Meditation has proven to reduce stress and inflammation. There are plenty of great meditation apps to help you get started. Headspace is one of my favorites.
Neti pot. A neti pot uses warm saline to flush out mucus and hydrate nasal passages. Salt is very healing to nasal passages as well as the throat. If you are suffering from a sore throat, gargle with salt water as well. It takes practice to master using the neti pot, but well worth the effort.
Nettle leaf tea. Nettle leaf is a plant (also known as stinging nettle) and has proven to improve hay fever symptoms. It is an anti-inflammatory and has anti-histamine effects. It can be taken in capsule form but is more effective as a tea.
Local honey. Bees use pollen to make honey. By consuming local honey, your body will build a stronger immune response to local pollens.
Acupuncture. There are many health benefits to acupuncture including reducing inflammation, strengthening the immune system, and balancing the body’s energy. Do research and ask for recommendations to find a well-trained and educated practitioner. A Doctor of Oriental Medicine or a practitioner of acupuncture can be a game changer for your health.
To get started on your journey to a stronger immune system and greater health, choose one or two of the suggestions above that most appeal to you. Apple cider vinegar is number one on the list because it packs an allergy defeating punch, however, I struggle with the smell of vinegar so it’s the last thing I want to do when I don’t feel well. My go-to is essential oils. I get truly miraculous results and I love the way they smell. But that’s me. Listen to what your body is telling you it needs and start there.
Adding a few healthy habits and using the medicine nature provides can be life changing, giving back energy and clarity to perform at your best with enough left over to enjoy the blossoming of Spring. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and let me know what works for you.
*Although the recommended alternative therapies are meant to support or replace any current treatments, always consult your doctor before using along with prescription medications or discontinuing prescribed treatment.
Death is this far away thing until it comes for you, like it did for me, last July.
I remember the day clearly: July 19th, 2018. I was on my way to Santa Barbara to attend a conference and I was thrilled. I had good reason to be. I launched my business, Hello Solutions, six months earlier and it was thriving, already far exceeding my year-end goals. I was so thrilled that I decided to take time off. I arrived at my hotel three days early for much needed relaxation and as I walked into my hotel room my phone rang.
My life changed forever.
After getting the news, I found myself in silence in my Santa Barbara hotel room, holding my phone up to my ear but not knowing what to say, how to feel. It was surreal. After speaking with the doctor I had a decision to make. Who was I going to tell? My instincts kicked in. I called my brother first, my parents second, and my clients third.
When I started my business, I promised myself to only represent clients who shared my values. I wanted to surround myself with good, decent, always-do-the-right-thing people. And boy, did those values shine through. Not one client terminated a contract. I flew back home the next day and time allowed a lot of feelings to sink in. I felt scared, ashamed, alone, broken, even guilty. I was afraid I would be looked at and treated differently. Afraid of being labeled. Afraid of losing my business. Afraid of being disfigured. Afraid of dying.
Weeks passed and as I prepared to begin treatment, I carried these feelings with me like a weighted vest that kept getting heavier and heavier with every step. I was tough. I knew that, but I had never faced death. I remember when insecurities seeped in and began to drown me. The self-doubt taking me like quicksand. It was then that I remember asking myself, am I strong enough to do this?
That doubt choked me for what seemed like years but as the days passed and major surgery loomed I realized I needed to let that go. It was in this one moment that I decided I was strong enough. I could do this. After all, I was that 16 year old that beat the odds in high school and graduated Recon. I was that 21 year old who went from temp to Senior Manager in under 5 years for a Fortune 40 company, leading a sales force of over 100 employees. I was that woman who launched her first business, signing her first client, only 10 days after being laid off. I was going to be that woman who won this war.
I share my story because I am not superwoman. I, like you, have crosses to bear. Battles to fight. Dreams to conquer. And I know there are times when all seems for nothing. When giving up feels like the better option. I understand fear and I also understand despair. But underneath all of these emotions lies our strength, our tenacity, our will. And if we dig deep enough into ourselves, we can pull from this strength and we can overcome.
I share my story to hopefully inspire you to keep going when you feel weak, keep going when you want to give up. Recognize the warrior within you and know, without a doubt, that you can achieve anything.
When I made my decision, I armed myself with everything I had learned in life and took death off the table. It was no longer an option and it was not going to win. It was not taking my business, my happiness, and it was definitely not taking my life. You see, cancer is a sneaky disease. It hides in silence all the while feeding on you. It creeps and feeds on anything you give it; slithering and crawling, exploiting any weakness. And so I made a decision to not give it anything other than what I had to.
There are things you absolutely cannot control when fighting this monster. You cannot control the pain. You cannot control the loss. You can control your perspective and I was not letting cancer take that. It was during this time that I learned some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in life. It’s not just about winning the fight, it’s about how you fight. It’s about accepting that one can be both afraid and strong at the same time and I was fierce.
The war began and as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation quite literally chipped away at my body and spirit, I treated each day as its own battle and I fought. Fought to stay positive, fought to survive the day’s awful side effects, fought to believe, and fought for the strength to keep my business going.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why in the world were you worried about work when you were fighting for your life? And I was. I had Stage 3, grade III, highly aggressive breast cancer. But you see, I had made promises to my clients when they hired me and I was not going to let cancer take my integrity, too. I devised a plan and with my family’s support, I was able to focus what strength I had on healing and the business. I was honest with myself about my limitations, focused my energy on where I could be most productive, and I executed.
I’ll be honest. This was brutal. I had never experienced hardship like this before. I was considered healthy. I ate right. I worked out almost every day and I even competed in CrossFit. I was rarely sick and at the time of the diagnosis I felt great. And suddenly I was screaming in pain from chemotherapy side effects, disfigured from surgery, and grieving the loss of everything I had known my entire life that made me female.
Seven months after my fight began, on January 24, 2019, I received the news I was cancer free. N.E.D., No Evidence of Disease. They found no evidence of disease. It bears repeating. After days and months of battles, I won. I was alive! And I walked away with scars I wear like badges and a new view on life; one I hope to pass on to you today.
Bad things happen to all of us. The bad shapes us and molds us, but it doesn’t have to define us. Who we are is represented in how we react to these experiences. In essence, how we walk through the fire is what defines us. What happened to me was unforgivable. Cancer stole things from me I’ll never get back but by wallowing in it and feeling sorry for myself, that would have only allowed it to take more, and I wasn’t giving it one more second, not one more piece of my precious life.
So, I say remember. Whatever you’re faced with in life, whatever trial or tribulation, this time in your life is temporary and you deserve to be happy. Remember that you are in the driver’s seat and that you, only you, get to decide who you are going to be.
Leisha Delgado, a tenured default servicing executive, is the Founder & CEO of Hello Solutions, a minority woman-owned small business dedicated to providing business development solutions to the mortgage default servicing industry. Over the last twenty years, Leisha has held key positions at notable service providers including a Fortune 40 company and has been repeatedly recognized for her achievements in sales, customer retention, and client relations.