Your Investments Reveal Your Values

Where attention goes, energy flows. That’s a fact. If you’re not paying attention to something, it is irrelevant or less significant than whatever it is that has your attention. But have you considered what that really means?

I talk to loan officers every day who share what’s not working in their businesses. Then when I ask what they’re doing, I hear things like, “I’m waiting for my referral partners to help me,” “My laptop has been on the fritz so I can’t follow my leads”, “I don’t know how to set up an online app,” etc. Where is the investment in those scenarios – in the referral partners or in waiting? The leads or the laptop? The online app or lack of personal technical expertise?

Now I’m not saying that these aren’t real-world concerns. It’s just that when we dig a little deeper, we can see that what the loan officer is focusing on is showing what they value – and, in these cases, it isn’t the things that will move their business forward.

In our business, we work with investments all the time. But do you stop to think about where you are investing your energy, time, focus and resources? It’s like the homeowner who spent tons of money to update their kitchen but their curb appeal is a disaster – are they really looking to sell their house? Or like the client who has a great credit score and wants a house but goes gambling every weekend to ‘hit it big’ and loses their down payment money to the (casino) house.

Of course, we are holistic beings, meaning that every part of our lives affects every other part. You can’t say you are abundant when you are counting your change for gas money. The same thing is true for your business. You can’t say your business is successful when you aren’t investing in it. The cool thing is that you can understand why you aren’t investing in your growth by looking at what you’re currently investing in… make sense?

So, are you investing in relationships or just reaching a number for weekly conversations? Are you investing in processing systems or in technology that you’ll put to work when everything else is perfect? Are you investing in the right people to help you or are you willing to wait until you have the money to do it?

I’m not saying to over-extend yourself without a plan. I’m also not saying that what you’re doing is wrong. All I’m looking to do here is to raise the question: what are you invested in – really?

Here is a quick exercise that might help you see your values more clearly. Grab a piece of paper and write out your top values. Write these fast, in five minutes, because those will be what’s top of mind for you. What do you value? Write it down. Once your five minutes is done, if you’re like most people, you’ll have somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to fifteen values. Now, on the left side, rank them in the order of priority – one is the most important to you and the lowest number is the least important. Once you’ve done that, on the right side, rank them again but, this time, rank them as to how they’re actually showing up in your everyday world. This is where the magic happens because you may find some surprising gaps.

For example, if Family is your #1 ideal value but you work late hours and weekends, or you’re single and want that to change but you’re not socializing, or it’s been a few years since you’ve visited your folks, Family might show up as #8 in your real-world values. That’s a big gap, and it shows that you are not investing in what you believe really matters to you OR what you think is really important is not what’s really important for you. Look for gaps of 3 points or more as clues to where you might want to check yourself.

In this business, people and relationships are the backbone of what we do, and that includes the relationship you have with yourself. You need to understand your values to know who you are and how you want to grow your business; where you spend your attention is how you know what you really value.

The same holds true for your clients, by the way. If you have a client who says they’re ready but isn’t working to clean up their FICO, or a referral partner who isn’t referring, you can see that there is a misalignment between what they’re saying and what they’re doing. Their “investments” (time, relationships, resources, results, etc.) are showing what they value. Now these might be temporary setbacks! But they are also a good way to open a conversation to find out what’s really going on… that kind of conversation, based on values and honesty, is what builds (or lets go of) relationships.

And if it means letting go of a relationship, that’s ok. You want to be surrounded by people who are a fit for you and your business (unless you’re ok with superficial relationships).

That’s the slippery thing about values – there is no right or wrong. There is only clarity and whether something is working for you (or not).

So pay attention to where you are putting your focus to learn about what you really value. If it isn’t what you think it is or what you want, you can choose differently going forward.

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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Do You Know Your Core Values?

Before you can make decisions, establish workflows, develop processes, nurture your ideal customer relationships and generally build your business, you need to know your core values as the ‘rudder’ that steers your business ship.

Your values are the filter through which you see and relate with the world around you. They help you be congruent in what you say, think and do – both internally and externally. Your values set the undertone of your corporate culture. And your values have a direct affect on your marketing messaging and campaigns. They’re kind of a big deal.

For example, if your #1 value is relationships, then you will make time to develop relationships and do what is needed to grow them – like, communicate regularly, get to know your people (customers, team members, colleagues, vendors) and make sure your business processes and protocols support relationships.

If your #1 value is freedom, then you need to set your business up in such a way as to afford maximum freedom. There is another decision in that, by the way… is freedom only about you or about you, your business and/or your team members? In any case, you will likely want to make the most of technology, schedule your days so you are at peak performance, have cash reserves in the bank so you can make decisions on the fly and hire self-motivated team members.

In just those two examples, you can see how understanding your leading value(s) can completely change your business paradigms and approach to being successful in business on your own terms.

Some of My Values

To give you more examples from my world, here are some of my top values (in random order).

Gratitude. I am one lucky son of a gun and I know it. Now I do my part by being as prepared as I know how to be for what happens and what I think is going to happen. But I definitely have somebody watching over me to have the life I’m living now.

Smart people. I like being surrounded by people smarter than me, including my team, my mentors, my colleagues, thought leaders… I’m not too slow on the uptake but I appreciate learning from and being supported by folks who just have their A-game on point and challenge me to bring mine. I make sure I am in the company of really smart people as much as possible. (Have you met my cracker jack team yet???)

Freedom. Yeah, freedom means a whole lot – there’s nothing like the open road on my Harley or in my Slingshot. Being able to make big decisions spontaneously – like sending someone to law school or taking my family to Europe for a month – means more than words can say. And I want everybody to enjoy it too so I teach everything I know about business in our industry – I don’t hold back. (If I held back, I wouldn’t be feeling free now, would I…?)

Money. Now it’s not about the money – it’s about what the money can buy. We’re all adults here so let’s just put it right out there – business is about making money. If your business isn’t making money, it’s a hobby. Money on its own is meaningless, but money gets you stuff that makes life fun and enjoyable. It’s a lifestyle thing. Now my business might have an ‘off’ month now and then – seasons happen – but if I start noticing any negative trends, I am all over that like white on rice because I need to do some course correction.

Community. It’s not enough for me to have this great life if I can’t share it. I like having a good time and it’s just a lot better to do that with other people. Even more, to get to show others how to have it is like teaching someone how to fish so they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives too. Frankly, without you, my life would not feel as fulfilling as it does – whether or not we’ve had a conversation, we’re connected simply because you’re reading this, and that matters. Who knows where this can go?

Possibility. That was a good lead into valuing the potential that is just waiting out there to become opportunities. We don’t need to create possibilities – we just need to figure out which opportunities to pursue. Being open to possibility means not missing the good stuff that ‘know-it’all’ types never even see. It takes humility, a beginner’s mind and it’s not necessarily easy to keep a possibility mindset after so many years in our industry – but, even when I get ‘unexpected outcomes’, it’s always rewarding.

Identify Your Values

So let’s talk about your values, the guiding principles that dictate your behavior and actions in your business. Your values will help your team and your customers know how you see right from wrong, and how to make decisions to progress your business growth. Your values will act as a magnet, drawing in the right people and opportunities that will enrich and support your business. Your values are your business ‘soul’, and need to be part of every aspect of your business.

Pull out a sheet of paper right now and write out the first 10 values that pop into your mind in just five minutes. If a value doesn’t come to you in the first few minutes, it’s probably not a core value. Now, you might need to refine the values that come up but our goal here is that you identify your top values that are most immediately accessible in your mind. (If you want to get a starter list of potential values as inspiration from my office, let me know in the comments below or in a private message and we’ll get them to you.)

Once you have those top ten values, consider whether you want to refine any of them or, possibly, if anything is missing. If you need to make changes, make them. Then – and this is the important part, because this is what will inform your business growth going forward – cull that list down to just five values.

Sit with those overnight and see how they feel in the light of day the next morning. If they feel right, use them as the compass for how you’re making decisions in your business. Everything should align with those values going forward. (If not, it’s time to make some changes.) In fact, your values are so important you might want to print them on your business cards or on your website.

Maybe you’ve done an exercise around this in the past or maybe you already know what makes you tick. In that case, share them below! The more you state those publicly, the more you make them real for yourself and your business. So let’s hear them – thanks in advance for sharing!

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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Clarify Your Success Through Opposition

Carl White - Mortgage Marketing Animals - Success

When I talk with loan officers, there are times they don’t know what they want for their future business growth. Is it about increasing the number of apps or pre-quals – or both? Is it about building a team infrastructure or about being more efficient with existing team members? Is it about being an elite producer in a branch or about becoming a branch manager some day? Is it about increasing public visibility in the community or about increasing targeted ideal leads for new business? Is it about using online ads, a media blitz or a video campaign?

In other words, there are a lot of strategies and tactics that can give you what you want in business, but you have to start with the end in mind. Even the best pilots need to course-correct to reach their final destination; the same is true for every loan officer who wants ‘more’. ‘More’ is not specific enough to generate real results. That’s like shouting ‘hey – you!’ in a crowded marketplace and expecting your ideal customer to turn around and hug you – it just isn’t a solid strategy. (By the way, I could start talking about how important it is for you to know your ideal customer profile here but I will restrain myself and stay focused – for now.)

So what do you do when you don’t know exactly what you want? This is a typical problem for newer loan officers especially but it’s also relevant for more experienced LOs. Why? Because more ‘seasoned’ officers don’t have as much time in their career to screw around in getting the results they want. (Oh come on… you know that’s true. I’m right there with you!)

If you haven’t yet reached ‘success’, it’s highly likely you haven’t yet defined it. But living in this amazing country means we have unlimited options – and there lies the problem. You absolutely need to define your own version of success to have it. If the outcome doesn’t pull you immediately, it’s either not the right element that makes you feel successful OR, like when you push off the bottom of a swimming pool to get out of it, you need to push away from what you don’t want.

So what DON’T you want for your business? If you don’t want:

  • Inefficiency
  • Wasted time
  • Unhappy customers
  • To work all the time
  • Unproductive team members
  • Missed opportunities…

You get the idea. Whatever you DON’T want points you to what you DO want!

If you don’t want inefficiency, that automatically means you want efficiency. So how do you get efficiency in your business? Do you hire more team members? Do you get new technology? Do you upgrade your processes? Do you take fewer breaks? Do you reduce your phone time in side conversations? It depends on what you see as inefficient and then on how you think you can best achieve what you determine is efficiency.

The bottom line is that you can clarify what success means to you – and the best way for you to get it – by determining what you don’t want first. Try it and let me know what comes up for you. My top three DON’Ts are: unhappy customers, unhappy team members, unhappy wife (and not necessarily in that order!).

Fill me in on your top three DON’Ts on Linkedin so we can brainstorm on what you really want going forward for your business. I’m looking forward to learning about what’s important to you for your business.

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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Is Your Conditioning Running Your Business?

When you got into this business, you formulated a way to go about doing it successfully. For example, whether your marketing plan was about networking or speaking or asking for referrals or relying on community members or going to church more often to meet people, you had a plan. And you got some success with that plan. Why? Because even a blind hog gets an acorn every now and again.

Now, there are a lot of things you could do to make your business more successful. And my team and I are happy to share everything we know about that with you.

But here’s the thing – if you think you already know what’s going to make your business successful, you won’t hear a thing we say. In fact, it means your conditioning is running your business.

What’s conditioning? In psychological terms, it’s also called the Law of Effect, which was coined in 1905 to describe what happens when someone experiences either a positive or negative effect from something they did. So, if you did something that worked, you will do it again. If something didn’t work, you will be averse to trying it again.

B.F. Skinner came along and upgraded the concept to something he called “operant conditioning”. For a good time, check out The Big Bang Theory’s approach to operant conditioning.

The point is that, if you haven’t upgraded your systems, your marketing, your approach, your conversation, your marketplace positioning, your online presence, your advertising strategy, etc. in a long time, you might be a victim to your past conditioning. You think you already know what you need to know so you’re not open to new ideas. Maybe you don’t want to rock your own boat but you could be missing efficiencies, customers, revenues and new team members to help you be even more successful.

I can hear it already… yes, “victim” is a strong word here. BUT, if you don’t even know it’s happening, you’re not volunteering to be stuck, right? The good news is you can take the proverbial handlebars of your business back by being willing to explore new ideas. (Who uses reins in business anymore, right?) (Just proved my point there, didn’t I?)

Even good conditioning can run it’s course. It’s important to recognize if you are stuck in your business, if it’s running you, if you could be doing something different to make things easier for you, your team and your customers. Because you’ve been doing what you do for a while, you may not be able to see that on your own. That’s why my team and I offer personal strategy calls and everything else we do. Your eyeball can’t see itself without a mirror and you might not be able to objectively see what’s happening in your business without a sounding board.

If you’re getting a ping, a sting or a ‘charge’ when reading this, that’s a sign something in you knows it’s time for something new. You don’t need to do it alone – just schedule your 1:1 session here today.

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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Experience Is Your Enemy

Carl White - Experience Is Your Enemy - Mortgage Marketing Animals

One of the great ironies of living longer is you can get stuck in what you’ve learned from experience. When you look back on a difficult situation from your past and see you would do it different today, that shows how far you’ve come in your experience. You want that because when you’re not getting better, you’re either stagnant, boxed into the past or dead. (It stands to reason, right?)

Here’s the thing – when you gain a certain level of experience, it gets real easy to coast on your laurels. It seems obvious you don’t need to learn about something that you think you know well. There’s a little ego in that too. The rub is that, when you think you know something, you’re not open to the new possibilities that come from learning and growing past the familiar, known and expected. Things get predictable, which is different from stable. And that, my friend, is the enemy for your business. 

I know you’ve met people who are a little stuck in the past. They’re the ones wearing clothes from the 80’s (and not the cool kind), in a home with ‘vintage’ decor, driving a car that’s taped together in places because it’s paid off. These are the people who complain about how things are changing for the worse these days, being critical of the world but not doing anything to make it better. In our industry, these are the folks who work from handwritten notes, try to do everything on their own instead of hiring a team, don’t use social media and have an old website. I’m not putting these people down! Instead, I want to help them get into the present so they can be happier and more successful. We all need help now and then, but it means being willing to let go of what we think we already know so we can try new possibilities. 

When you feel you know something so well you don’t need to learn anything, that’s a problem. Today’s competitive market means you need to keep up and, ideally, get ahead of the curve. Growth is, by definition, uncomfortable. The degree of discomfort is the measure of how far you are going past your experience. You need to stay on the growing edge to be current and relevant to your customers. That might be around technology, best practices for your team or spiffing up your personal image to be your most attractive. 

The point is your previous experience can be the enemy of your business. You do want to know what you know – but you also don’t want to be that guy or gal who goes through their day by rote, doing what you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it. Because if you do, life is going to be boring and your business is going to be behind the eight ball right quick. 

Things move fast these days, including in business. So how do you balance having or gaining experience with learning new stuff all the time?

For me, I focus on only three things, mostly because I hire great people to help me focus on everything else in my business. My focus is on finding ways to create more value in three areas: 

  1. Relationships. The relationships that I have with my family, my team, my clients, my students and the new people who are attracted in to working with me in some way are the lifeblood of what I do. I trust my people and value my relationships as a top priority. 
  1. Opportunity identification. I look for opportunities like a bloodhound. If there’s some hidey-hole of gold, I’m going to do my best to find it. I may not be the one to go after it, because my team members might be better at that than me – but I look for new potential to make the most of it. I do this with my clients too because they might be missing something that is obvious from where I stand. Looking at things from different perspectives gives me and the people around me the extra edge in both life and business.
  1. Self-care. When I’m not at my best, everything suffers. I need good sleep, healthy food, a little exercise, having a good laugh and having fun, time to connect with God and my loved ones, time to think about things – I like to do that at the lake. Me making the time to take care of myself means I bring my best to the eight days a month that I work. I am more productive in those eight days than some people are in eight months (or even years!). The good news is that I am committed to showing my students how to live this lifestyle too.

One other thing about what happens when you think you know it all… in my experience (pun intended!), just when you think you know it all, life has a way of taking you down a peg or two by throwing you a curve ball. When that happens, it’s a sign to get humble, open your mind to learning something new and either go back to learn whatever you missed or, on the other hand, take whatever you have learned and should have respected more into new directions in your life and business activities. 

The bottom line: get comfy with discomfort. When you lean into it, learning something new is exciting and thrilling and gives you a sense of accomplishment. And it benefits your business and the people around you.

So where do you think your experience might be holding you back? What do you need to learn that could help you be a better human and a better loan officer?

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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