Creating, Launching, And Monetizing Your Product With Sean Douglas

MLM 229 | Problem Solving And Positioning

MLM 229 | Problem Solving And Positioning


Creating, launching, and monetizing your product or service requires the right tactics. In this episode, Jen Du Plessis interviews Sean Douglas who is a Resilience Implementer, Suicide Awareness Trainer, International Radio Show Host of Life Transformation Radio, Business Positioning Strategist, and Author. Here, Sean shares to us his love for solving problems and how you too, can give the right answers that can guide you to business growth. He believes that by becoming someone who is known for something and has a startling fact, you can make a lasting impression to your target clients.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Creating, Launching, And Monetizing Your Product With Sean Douglas

I am excited for our guest because he is a veteran and everybody knows how important that is to me for my family and because I was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado and around that. I want to thank him for coming to our show. I want to introduce you to Sean Douglas. He is the host of two podcasts, one is called Life Transformation Radio. I was a guest on his show. Check out my Facebook page to see where I talked about it, as well as Failed Dinner Conversations. This is going to be a topic that’s going to happen at your households. We want to talk briefly about that as well. Sean, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me. I am honored.

We’ve had some fun together. Sean is a US Air Force Veteran. He’s a TEDx Speaker. He is a Master Resilience Implementer, which I’d like to hear more about. It goes across the gamut here, he’s a Suicide Awareness Trainer, which I can’t wait to connect you with a colleague of mine about this. He’s an author and there are many wonderful things that he does and he’s trying to help his community of veterans, as well as everybody else in their transformation. There is so much to say about you, but one of the things I do want to talk about is, what is your passion? You’ve got many topics that you’re addressing. Where’s the core of what you’re trying to do to help people with their personal professional growth?

I love solving problems. I love having a conversation with somebody like, “I wish that I could do X.” I was like, “Do this and this.” It’s like, “I want to start a show.” “Do this and this.” “I want to start a business. “I want to lead my people in my organization.” I want to be able to be in a conversation and give some advice. I want to be that mentor. I’m tagged on social media a lot when it comes to speaking and podcasting. I’m trying to get business up there too, but I haven’t built millions and gazillions of dollars of business. I’m no Gary Vee, but what I want is people to think of me like when they think about speaking, TEDx and all that, I’m immediately tagged first thought. That’s awesome and then positioning into their podcasts and if they want to know how to grow a show. I’m trying to get to the point where people are like, “I have a question.” I answered it and they’re like, “Thanks,” then eventually it turns into business and that’s my goal.

I love that you’re trying to help everybody. I don’t consider it a digression, but I want to talk about suicide awareness. Where does that fit into what you’re doing? That’s such a huge problem nowadays with our veterans and it’s also a huge problem with our teenagers. Most of my audiences are mortgage lenders. One of my clients, a colleague in her town committed suicide over rates. It’s a big problem in our society. Tell us about that a little bit so that we can learn more about how we could help you support that effort.

In 2008, I went through my own suicide stuff and tried to take my life. A few years later, I was a drill instructor for basic training. I went through classes and all that and became an instructor to teach suicide awareness and how to identify people who are the indicators that they may try to take their life. Ever since 2014, we set up the resilience program over at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Along with that was attached to suicide class. I was teaching both. I became the Air Force suicide awareness trainer and I was teaching other people how to be aware of those who may exhibit behavior that might be suicidal.

There’s a big issue with that with kids with bullying. There are veterans, people in the military and entrepreneurs. We always go back to 2008. It’s the benchmark. In the 2008 real estate mortgage business, the world shuts down. It’s our benchmark where we say, “Back in this time, this is what happened and this is how people were feeling.” This is the dark time, the great depression. When we go back there and we think about it, a lot of people’s lives were upside down and a lot of people probably did take their life.

At least in the mortgage and real estate business for that long, I wouldn’t say that I feel like someone’s going to take their life or anything that I can recognize because I’m not trained to do that, but there’s an overall depression. There’s not this moving on. There’s something that’s holding them back. It’s not even a helium balloon, but it’s like having a string to a helium balloon. I don’t even know that people have helium balloon minds because that would be, “I want to move. I want to get going forward.” They’re deflated and being dragged down and I’m seeing that. That’s not everybody. I don’t want to be Sally Downer or anything like that, but I see that there is this general numbness that happened since that time period with a lot of people. That’s why I’m excited about what I’m doing, about what you’re doing and making the impact on lives, helping people solve problems and recognizing that with people. How can we help you with your mission in that arena?

I get booked to speak at veteran events. I get booked to speak at resilience events. I get booked to speak at all kinds of different events for people who are suffering from this moment. They’re in their dark night of the soul. Maybe it’s an organization that is having a culture problem. If there’s a toxic leadership environment or toxic work environment and they need help with their culture, I get booked to speak for that as well.

MLM 229 | Problem Solving And Positioning
Problem Solving And Positioning: Positioning is not branding but how people perceive and receive the problem that you solve.


For everybody that feel like their culture is spiraling, that’s a great opportunity to reach out to you, to have you come in and share that message.

I don’t feel that there’s no retention problem at all in the world. No business ever has a retention problem. There’s a toxic workplace environment or a toxic leadership environment where people don’t want to work there. It’s not that people don’t want to work there and therefore, there’s some retention issue in this industry. It’s, “I hate the people I work with. I hate the people that are my bosses and I don’t want to work with them.” It’s the people, not the job and not the business.

I totally know what you’re saying. There were some new statistics that came out on about that. It’s 67% to 68% of people leave their job not because they don’t like what they’re doing, but because they’re not being recognized. They don’t like the culture. They don’t like the community. They don’t feel like they’re contributing to the overall personality. The personality of the department, the community and the company. Let’s move on to some more positive stuff. Although it’s an important message and I wanted to take the time to address it, but I want to talk about positioning. This is a big issue.

We were talking about it because I’m going in 50 different directions trying to figure out where do I want to make the most impact? The positioning is a big issue because from an entrepreneur’s standpoint and even sales professionals, we want to be everything to everybody. That’s a big challenge. It’s something I talk about all the time. You have to niche to grow rich. I think that a lot of people think that when they niche, they’re digging a ditch for themselves. It’s not the case. Can we talk a little bit about positioning before we head into the movement of what does it take to be a TEDx talker? How people could take some steps in creating that? Tell us a little bit about your take on positioning and what you’re seeing and how someone might be able to identify some steps on how they can identify a better way to highlight their message.

Positioning is not branding. Branding is your company’s core values. Branding is your logo, the colors, your programs, products and services. It’s your offerings. It’s everything that people think about your company.

Brands such as Nike and Starbucks.

It’s what you do and how you serve. It’s everything. Positioning is how Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortons, Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Arby’s, it’s how people perceive and receive the problem that you solve. Why would I go to Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks? Why would I go to someplace else over Walmart? Why would I go to Target? Why would I shop at one store and not the other? There’s always a positioning. Walmart position themselves as the lowest prices in town. We have a grocery store here called Harris Teeter. Do you have one too?

Yes, in Virginia.

I love Harris Teeter. They positioned themselves in a certain way. They do the coupons, the double coupons and the double day. They do all this other stuff that nobody else is doing. To position yourself in the marketplace, you have to figure out how you want to be known. How do you want to be perceived and received in the marketplace? Positioning is all about creating a problem that only you can solve and then becoming the subject matter expert in the industry that solves that problem. That’s how you position.

Better than anybody else.

Branding are your core values and your offerings. Click To Tweet

You have to create a problem that only you can solve. You frame it and condition the marketplace to receive that problem and get them to say, “I do have that problem. I didn’t even realize that.” You have to get them to rethink how they live their life. You condition the market to receive it by producing tons of content that says, “I had this problem.”

It’s interesting based on the example of Harris Teeter over Giant or over Food Lion. I never knew that Harris Teeter had coupons and double coupons. I have no idea. That’s where I shop, but not because of that. I didn’t even know they had it.

They have coupons and they have double days.

I had no idea. I go there for a different reason. That would lend itself to say that maybe there’s some positioning that is different for different people. They have shoppers and I don’t shop often. I let my husband do that, but I’ve noticed that when I’m in the store, I’m running into more of their shoppers than I am actual shoppers. People are in line outside to have the bags put into their car. I haven’t gone there yet because I’m so finicky about what I like, but I see that as a positioning. A different type of positioning for them because you have the coupon people who will go in and try to save a dollar and then you have the people that are like, “I don’t want to go ahead and try to save a dollar. I want to have my stuff done for me.” I go because I love their produce in their deli department. I don’t know that they positioned themselves that way in the marketplace other than you have to go there and experience it.

It’s much nicer when you walk in. Everything is in their spot. For me, having OCD, I look at it like, “This is wonderful fine stuff.”

It is funny that you are saying that because I’d be fixing things too.

I go to Walmart and everything’s all over the place. It’s a mess.

That’s how I feel about Wegmans. A lot of people go to Wegmans and it’s too much consumption for me. Let’s take an example. Let’s take a real estate agent. How do real estate agents change that perception when it’s such a commoditized industry? It is like, “How can I possibly do something nobody else does?” I know I can do it differently because it’s me, but you’ll get a different experience. How can I position that?

I love using real estate as an example because most real estate agents think that they’re selling a house, but they’re not. Every real estate agent is like, “I’m going to sell these houses. I’ve got to make my money with the commission.” They think about it from a business standpoint. I have a few real estate agent friends that are crushing it because they’re not selling houses. They’re selling people’s futures. They’re selling them their forever home. They’re selling them their first home when they got married. They’re selling them their first home because they got married and had a kid and they need to expand.

They are investors. A lot of them are investing in property for growing wealth.

MLM 229 | Problem Solving And Positioning
Problem Solving And Positioning: You have to be known for something in the niche that you choose.


They’re selling them an investment property that they’re going to flip or they’re going to use maybe for Airbnb or it’s their first house. When you think about it that way, what problem are you solving? I’m going to sell somebody a home. If we were going to go buy a house because we were going to have more kids, maybe we have two kids and all of a sudden had twins like, “We’re going to have four kids.” We go to the real estate agent and go, “We need to expand.” They’re like, “I’m going to sell you a house.” I don’t want to work with that person. They go, “That’s amazing. Let’s find you a great house for a family of six. That’s going to suit your needs.” That real estate agent takes the time to pick out the houses that would suit us and not their pockets. That’s who I’m going to do business with. When you have a real estate agent talking in those terms, “Let me help you find you a forever home.” They’re using language that suits us and they’re using empathy to sell because they’re like, “You want this one kitchen or that.” A lot of real estate agents that I know will get upset. They’re like, “They’re picky.” It is like, “It’s their house.”

You’re not making the payment.

It’s them that have to live in it. What do you tell them? They’ll get frustrated like, “I showed them six houses. I showed them all and they don’t like any of them.”

That’s transactional. I was speaking at an insurance company. It was two loan officers. We were doing some stuff and I said, “Do you realize that you can customize a 30-year fixed-rate loan?” Someone thought that I was teasing about that and they go, “Yeah right.” I go, “You can customize a 30-year fixed-rate loan. We need to help our clients understand that.” They think, “I need a 30-year fixed-rate loan so give me a rate.” That’s not the case. It’s, “Do you want 5%, 10%, 20% down? Do you want PMI or not PMI? Are you going to pay points or not pay points? Are you going to roll your closing costs in or not roll your closing costs in?” All of those are decisions that allow you to customize and position yourself as an expert because you’re not transactional and saying, “Here’s the rate. It’s a 30-year fixed rate.” It’s like every time they can hear it.

What I also tell real estate agencies is the houses that you have that you’re going to go sell or whatever, sometimes it’ll be like, “RE/MAX owns this. Century 21 or whatever organization has this house.” We can go in as real estate agents and be like, “I got this house. I’m going to try to sell this one.” Do a walkthrough or do something like a Facebook Live in front of the house and go, “Did you just get married? This two-bedroom, two-bath house would be amazing for newlyweds. It’s got this. If you’re in this area, if you’re in this city, if you’re in this county, I invite you to come out.” Be personable to your audience. That’s what I would do.

I hate to harp on realtors but they always say, which is the wrong way to start it anyway, “If you know anybody who is buying or selling a home, I’d like to talk to them. I can help them buy and sell homes.” Instead, “Who do you know who got engaged and they need to buy a house? Who do you know who found out they’re expecting another baby? Who got divorced? Who do you know who inherited money? Who do you know who’s trying to grow their wealth through investment properties? Who do you know who just paid off a bunch of debt?” There are a gazillion things that you could do.

It’s about honing in because I know I can tell you this, if you’re too general in everything that you do, I’m never going to be able to say like, “Who do you know?” Let me initiate if you know anybody. I have to physically in my mind drive to a building that has 70 floors. I have to figure out what floor it’s on and I’ve got to figure out what room or suite. What cabinet, what drawer and what file it’s in and I go, “I don’t know anybody.” To me, “Do you know anyone who is expecting a child?” It’s like, “I do.” They saw this person online and they said, “I know these people.” It’s amazing how you can be specific. Thank you for sharing with us about that positioning. I like the idea that you’re talking about the analogy of the grocery stores and the other stores and everything. They all have a different brand and they all have a different experience, which is a result of all their positioning. Burger King, I think is more of kids for some reason. Immediately, the little crown comes up for kids, even though I know McDonald’s has that playroom. I’m stuck at Ronald McDonald and then that makes me think of the Ronald McDonald House. It’s amazing how it’s perceived by different people.

You’d be amazed at what happens when you market to the seasons of life. If you want to position yourself away from the competition, market to the seasons of life. I tell relationship coaches all the time, “Stop being a relationship coach. Get to the seasons of life. Be a relationship coach for newlyweds. Be a relationship coach for new parents. Be a relationship coach for retirees. Be a relationship coach for divorcees who are going to find their second love. Be a seasonal person.”

That can go across all things. Even when we were talking about investment properties, it could be a season. I think most people are going to think that’s a season where you have more money and you’re older. If you’re in my age demographic, you have more money in and you’re older and you go, “I’m going to buy investment properties.” That’s not the best time to buy. You should be buying when you’re younger so they can be all paid off. There is definitely a season for each one of them. Thanks for sharing that. Let’s stay that in their position. Let’s move on to the TEDx. Some people would say, “I’m not TEDx-ish.” “Yes, you can be.” I have lots of friends who are. I’m working my way there as well. People don’t think that they have a message to give, but once you’re in a good position, you have that message you want to share. What are some things to get started? If someone was saying, “I never even thought that was possible.” How do you get started in going in that direction?

There are a few checklist items that most people want to see. It doesn’t have anything to do with followers. If it does, then you don’t want to speak there anyway. You have to be known for something such as a resilience implementer, a real estate agent or a mortgage lender. You can’t be like, “I don’t have a job and I have been floundering through life.” You have to have something. You have to have a foothold somewhere.

Become an expert in something that you're passionate about. Click To Tweet

You have to have something in the media like you’re a guest on podcasts or you either have one, you’ve written a blog, you have a book. Something that says something. You’ve written an article one time, but something that says that you are the thought leader. Maybe it’s LinkedIn articles. Maybe write a LinkedIn article once a week and that’s your blog. You have to be the thought leader on whatever it is that you want to talk about. You have to have a story. You have to be talking about it. You have to be creating content. They’re not going to pick some random person who’s never talked about this before. This has to be you. This has to be what you’re known for. You have to be the person in position to talk about it. That’s the main part.

Your website has to be talking about it. If you have books, whatever the shows are and all of your content has to match. That’s the biggest thing. Some people are like, “I want to talk about building boats on TEDx.” “Have you ever built a boat?” “No.” “Do you have a boat business?” “No.” “Has anybody ever built a boat?” “I want to talk to them.” It is never going to happen. You’re going to submit something about it. They’re going to be like, “This guy’s not even an expert.” TEDx is for the experts. They know what they’re talking about.

Become an expert in something that you’re passionate about. Knowing a lot of the audience that I have is that it would go back to doing Facebook Lives on a consistent basis where you’re interviewing. You could be the girl about town and you are an expert at finding out the great stories about all the owners and how they got to become an owner. Maybe you’re doing Facebook Lives and you’re a loan officer and you’re interviewing realtors or you’re a realtor and you’re interviewing loan officers. You can become that expert in that marketplace. This is something that a lot of people are struggling with. The challenge is not doing videos because they don’t like the way they look and they don’t know what to say. I think that’s the first start is you’ve got to let people know that, “I’ve seen you and I know what you do.” We both experienced it where people come to me and they say, “I know you from somewhere.” I’m like, “I can’t tell you where you might know me because I’m everywhere.” I know that there are chapters of TEDx. Would you suggest that we start there? Would you go to the top? How do we find these things?

What you do is you go to TEDx’s website. It is If you go to the TEDx website, it’ll say something about TEDx. Click on that. Once you find that, there are thousands of TEDx that goes on every year. I work with speakers to get on TEDx by doing three things. One, you have to have a message, not a topic. Not like, “I want to talk about boats.” You’ll find out that the message is usually a great topic. You can tie it into what you’re positioned as an expert. Your message has to have 3 to 4 sentences, emotional and powerful. You have to start with a startling fact, story or discovery.

My TEDx, my startling story I started off with was the 2008 suicide moment. There was one guy there that said, “98% of you in this room will die at some point in your life.” It was like, “98%?” He kept on going. He kept on talking and you can see everybody was like, “98%?” He was like, “You must be wondering about that 2%? Those are the 2% of people that are going to figure out life and longevity.” He then talked about life and longevity. He tied it into a joke like, “Because you have so much money, you’re going to be the ones that are going to figure out how to put your face inside of a space helmet filled with water like on the Simpsons,” or whatever the reference was.

He was talking about life and longevity, but it was funny how he started. One of my friends, we were working on her TEDx Talk and she told me one of her stories. I said, “That’s where you are going to start with, but you’re not going to tell it all. You’re going to start with that. I want you to transition.” She has two now. We started her TEDx Talk off with, “When I was younger, I used to eat out of trash cans. Before I get into that story, I want you to know this,” and she said something completely different. Everybody was like, “What?” You could see it in the audience. They were like, “What?” She goes, “You might be wondering why I started with that. It’s relevant.” She went on to talk about all of this stuff and the response was incredible.

When you hook them in the beginning, you have them because you only have 7, 9, 12 and 15 minutes. Sometimes, it’s eighteen minutes, but that’s like Tony Robbins. Those are the types of talks that you could give, so you’ve got to hook them fast. Number one, be positioned already. That’s the big thing. Don’t come in and talking about something that you have no business talking about. They’re never going to pick you. The second is to start off with a startling fact, story or discovery. That’s a big hook. The third and most crucial part that you must have is what happens when humanity implements this idea. Have the result already. If you implement what I’m saying now, not you will live a better life. That’s way too broad.

The riches are in the niches, niche down. If someone takes action on what we’re talking about on the TEDx, the result is that you have a great chance of becoming a TEDx speaker. That’s succinct. If anything that I say resonates with you and you decided to take action on it, what can you expect? Give that to them and show them the way. Most speakers want to try to be the hero of somebody’s story and you’re not. You are the mentor and the guide of their story. They are the hero of their story. They want to picture themselves in that and say, “I can do this.” You’re not the hero of their story. You are the mentor and the guide who gave them the roadmap to becoming the hero of their story. I always tell people it’s never too late to write your success story. Every day is an opportunity to write your success story.

Let’s talk about how people can work with you because those that are reading this are saying, “I want help. I want to work with him.” It could be that they’re working with you in many ways. What is the best way for someone to start the engagement with you? How do we open up that door with you and get moving?

I’m available on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tik Tok. I’m everywhere, so send me a message. If you’re a speaker, if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re a business owner, podcaster and author, let me know. If you want to be any of those, I’ll show you exactly how to become any of those. Let me know exactly what it is that you’re trying to provide the world, and by world I mean your sphere of influence, your immediate surroundings and the social world. What do you want to do? We will then go from there. I love creating the blueprint for somebody’s success. That’s what I absolutely love to do.

MLM 229 | Problem Solving And Positioning
Problem Solving And Positioning: It’s never too late to write your success story.


I know you’re also offering a complementary strategy session for everyone. If you want a strategy session with Sean, go ahead and click on that link. You can have a strategy session with him on whatever it is that you want to do. I know you have a TEDx Talk strategy session link and some others.

Create, launch and monetize your podcast. Create, launch and monetize your book. Create, launch and monetize your business. Create, launch and monetize your speaker business. Create, launch and monetize your programs, products and services. Whatever it is that you want to create, launch and then get paid from, that’s what I do. Let’s position it.

There’s something that you do that’s not about creating, launching and monetizing and that is a podcast that is called Failed Dinner Conversations. I want to talk about that a little bit because people are going to start having a conversation. They’re going to get their family together and inevitably something’s going to go wrong or something’s going to happen. Tell us about that one. I’m excited because I love the way that you’re putting this together.

It’s funny. We make it out of the holidays either scarred more or regretting that we even said yes to go to this dinner. Easter’s a finicky one too because you’ve got people that are like, ”It’s Easter, it’s all about the bunny.” You have some families that, “It’s Easter, it’s all about God and Jesus.” Now, you’re having a conversation about religion and the people that don’t believe it. All these dinner conversations are crazy. What I absolutely love about the show is that it highlights people’s failed dinner conversations. I have all of the stories from Thanksgiving and Christmas and maybe even New Years’. What I love is that people go to Christmas dinner with their significant other’s family and they say, “Let’s get married or whatever.” Everybody’s happy and I’m waiting for the person to go, “I don’t think so. Not right now. “

You had this whole thing planned out like you’re in the park and it’s nice and we get the Christmas lights and you pop the question and she’s like, “We agreed to talk. I need to talk to you.” He goes, “I need to talk to you too.” You’re like, “This is going to be great.” In the movies, here’s how it goes, “I need to talk to you.” “I need to talk to you too.” “I’ll meet you there.” We’re meeting there. We try to talk over each other. “No, you go.” “No, you got it.” “Let me go first.” “Please let me go first.” “I want to marry you.” She’s like, “I was going to break up with you.” That’s what we talk about, epic fail.

It’s like that for divorce too, “I want to talk to you. This isn’t working. I’m moving on. I fell in love with somebody else.” What you end up talking about too is that in our family, what I perceive as a failed conversation is that every single meal, when I get my two kids together and their significant others. Every time that we’re together for any meal, it’s not even a holiday, it’s just dinner. It always goes to sex. I’m sitting there and I go, “Does this have to go that way again?” Someone makes some off comment or, “That’s what she said.” That has to come up. I’ll say something and someone will go, “That’s what she said.” I go, “Here we go again.”

For me, that’s failed because no matter who’s there, no matter what guest we have, no matter who we’re trying to impress, if we have people in addition to us, it goes there. I was like, “Can we not talk about that at dinner this time?” For me, that’s a failed dinner conversation. I love that you also have someone who is helping people with those relationships and saying, “How do I make sure it doesn’t become a Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome? Let’s make sure it’s not PTSD from dinner. I can tell you that.” That was something my husband and I had to work on for years because my father was an alcoholic. Every dinner was a mess because he was already drunk. Every holiday was a mess because he was already drunk. My mother was a verbal abuser and I dreaded holidays.

It was one of the things that my husband and I said, “What we’re going to do is we’re going to work on making sure that our holidays are happy and that dinner time is happy for us.” I love you’re bringing in a relationship expert too to help everyone get past those and survive those. I want to say thank you for all you’re doing in helping people. You’re helping people from mindset, emotions, heart, family, relationships, PTSD, suicide prevention and all the way to their businesses. I absolutely love that. Thank you for all that you’re doing. You must be exhausted.

That’s what I love to do. Even when you and I talked, instantly when you were talking about the retreats and the speaking and everything, I was like, “That’s amazing.” The more you were talking to, I was like, “I know who I need to connect you with.” I’m thinking about who do I know that can complement what she’s doing? Who do I know that could take it to the next level? Who do I know that would be a win-win situation for everybody involved? Who do I know? What could I say? What could I do? I’m always looking for that lasting impression. I love to exit a conversation, leaving a lasting impression and going, “I got a lot out of that conversation.”

You connected me with a few people. We were sitting here and I was starting to write down, “I need to connect you with all these people.” We have a person that I said, “I need to connect you with Kyle.” You’re like, “I already know him because he does something great too.” Sean, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence and sharing this message. If you’re reading, please take him up on this offer. This is a great opportunity for you to learn how to get a better position. I would say this all the time, your future is a series of nows. What are you doing right now to ensure your future? You can wait if you want, but your future is going to be pushed out there. If you’re looking for success right now, let’s get on it. Let’s do it and get moving forward. Sean, I want to say thank you so much for joining us. We will catch you next time on Mortgage Lending Mastery.

Important Links:

About Sean Douglas

MLM 229 | Problem Solving And PositioningTEDx Speaker, Master Resilience Implementer, Suicide Awareness Trainer, International Radio Show Host of Life Transformation Radio, Business Positioning Strategist, and Author.

I inspire and motivate you to “Live Your Brand” so you can grow personally and professionally. I offer life transformation skills and business strategies to those just starting out and up to 50-year-old Professionals, Military Veterans, Entrepreneurs, Professional Speakers, and Business Owners that will unlock your true potential and elevate you to new heights in your personal and professional lives. In a highly interactive and engaging environment, utilizing online mentoring sessions and face face to face workshops, I equip people with the tools necessary to live EPIC lives, and leave people better equipped to manage change effectively. My WHY is that I’m a suicide survivor who hit rock bottom and has seen firsthand what that path leads to, and now I share my powerful testimony globally.

I am the United States Air Force Veteran. I enlisted in the Air Force in 2001 right after 9/11, been deployed to multiple locations overseas, and have performed a multitude of duties all over the world. I spent four years as a Drill Instructor in Air Force Basic Training where I developed over 600 men and women into military leaders. In 2010, I was awarded the Rookie Instructor of the Year Award for being the best Drill Instructor of all new Instructors. Throughout my 17 year career, I have earned The Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Where Will The Business Investment Come From? With Fredrik Sandvall

MLM 230 | Business Investments

MLM 230 | Business Investments


Are you in the process of raising investments but have no idea where to start? In this episode, Fredrik Sandvall talks about his military background in Sweden while managing three businesses. He shares his experience in the real estate space as well as some future undertakings he has planned. He also discusses some big mistakes people make when raising money for their business and gives ideas on how to do it right. Frederik is an industry expert and mentor to startup businesses looking to achieve financial freedom through real estate, investments, and business. His global entrepreneur experience had a direct impact on the establishment and development of FundX. He hosts two podcasts, namely Investing Skills, which he does alone, and Invest in You with his sons, Ivan and Charlie.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Where Will The Business Investment Come From? With Fredrik Sandvall

I am delighted to have a guest from the big pond over in the UK in London, Fredrik Sandvall. He is a global sales consulting. I want to tell you a little bit about him before we introduce him to the show. He’s a financier, an investor, a serial entrepreneur and a bestselling author. His book is called Trust is a New Currency: How To Build Trust, Attract The Right Partners and Create Wealth Through Business and Investments. One of the things that I like that he’s doing is working with new entrepreneurs no matter what their age and focusing on helping his sons as well to learn how to invest and build wealth early on. He’s a former Special Forces Captain in the Swedish Government. He spent many years running businesses even before he left the military. He spent many years gaining experience with management and consulting and working at senior levels with the largest organizations around the world. He worked in 40 countries and he’s a fundraiser. He’s connected as we’re going to find out in raising money for businesses to be successful.

Without further ado, Fredrik, we’re happy to have you here. Thank you.

Thank you for the introduction. I’m pleased to be on such a famous podcast as yours. It’s one of the big in the world in your space. I hope to give good value.

I know you will. Where did this all start? Tell us about your upbringing and how you got into this serial entrepreneurial piece of this with money, given the fact that if you’re in the military, typically people aren’t that versed in finance. There must be something that was in your background that got you excited about it.

I grew up in the countryside in Sweden. That’s in the north part of Europe. I grew up in a normal family. My mom was working under nurse, dad was working in the mid-match level job in the factory. I was the oldest. I had to find my way. A responsible relationship with my three siblings, I was young. My first business when I was seventeen and perhaps only have to learn how to run the business. It was selling marketing space. That was great because I got many noes, lots of them.

MLM 230 | Business Investments
Business Investments: Entrepreneurs today are what the rock stars were earlier. Rock stars today are entrepreneurs. Often if you try to combine them, you got two massive ticks in the box.


As we all do, we all get them.

From there, I moved into the military. I didn’t expect to stay for that long because Special Forces are super competitive, extremely hard to get in. It’s even harder to be one of the best. I was fortunate to be selected to become an officer there and I stayed for many years. That allowed me to grow as an individual to help people in Sweden and all over the world as well in conflicts, aid missions, peacekeeping as well as ultimately the worst side of the scale as well. While I was doing all of that, unusually for being in the military and to my commander’s disbelief, I got two business degrees. I was running three businesses at the same time in investment, consulting and real estate. When it was later time to leave, I was extremely ready to go straight into business. I did a third-degree and an MBA and then jumped into management consulting full-time. That’s how I got into working outside the military. I’m sure we can come back into investments later.

There are several things that we’re going to talk about from an entrepreneur’s standpoint but I want to hone in on real estate. What are you doing in the space of real estate? I know that you have a lot of properties and a lot of real estate. You were running from being a landlord. What got you specifically into the real estate part? Is that where you started? Was that something later on because you saw everyone gaining a lot of wealth through it?

I started early because my dad was dabbling with real estate when I was young. He was helping me. I was learning how to use all kinds of tools, know all the trades from having done it when I was young, which is sometimes useful, what I would say that people should do in real estate. I came from a practical point of view. I knew how to build things. From there, I also saw how he was successful but more often unsuccessful in terms of picking the right tenants, making things work, and not doing anything creative at all. You are a specialist in mortgages. They didn’t know what a refiner’s propolis to extract money for the next semester. All of those things were done wrong. I got to real estate early on and then I looked into commercial real estate with my first one accidentally. Through tax reasons together with my wife, I’ve got the commercial propolis, which is 300 hectares, which is 600 acres of forest in Sweden.

Money does grow on trees, not only paperless. We use plastic, but also if I do nothing, the pure growth of the trees, I have to translate into monetary value like $80,000 at least a year for us to grow. You can decide to take this year or accumulate a couple of years if you’ve got the right things. That’s how I got into real estate. It was different from where I am now, where I have many tenants in and around London and parts of the UK. I do develop things. I invest in other people. I’ve done the whole value chain from finding it right and then fixing it to the right level of the filling and extremely occasional flipping but more importantly, flourished the portfolio by thinking about the small details like I learned in Special Forces have made a huge component to decide.

I imagine through that trial and error, which was difficult for you to get through because as someone being in the military, everything is regimented. Developing your process took some time. You had to trial and error quite a bit. You’re doing buy and holds primarily in both commercial and residential. Are you dabbling in Airbnb these days?

All of my friends are doing it and my next larger commercial residential date will be exactly that. It will be Airbnb but I will give the keys to healing record service accommodation. It is Airbnb often. They will get the keys and then they will operate it. Meanwhile, I focus on adding larger assets that other people can match, other people’s capital as well to almost creating a fund of other people’s money. They can also benefit from my knowledge.

You can't really get into entrepreneurship if you shy away from the world of sales. Click To Tweet

One of the big things that are happening here in the US is now multifamily Airbnb. I’m in Airbnbs as well. I was wondering if you were. I love it. Let me ask you some questions about entrepreneurship. It’s crazy busy. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. You’re an entrepreneur. I’m an entrepreneur. My kids are entrepreneurs. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur and get away from the brick and mortar world and have that great lifestyle. That’s the premise of my entire coaching program a lifestyle business mastery is having that lifestyle first and then building a business around it so you can enjoy it. Where’s the passion? What is it that gets you excited or brings you a lot of joy as you’re helping new entrepreneurs specifically as it relates to them doing it right from the beginning? They’re not one of those horrible statistics that are still out there that over 50% of small businesses fail in the first year.

The statistics say don’t become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs now are what the rockstars were earlier. If you tried to combine it with some influencing things online, then you got two massive ticks in the books and not as exciting. It gives you lots of energy, but it’s also wasted to fame. That’s super basic things to do some tests. Does anyone even want to buy what I intend to offer to them?

The passion is there to give it and throw it down people’s throats.

It became financially dangerous and it’s used to get those into debt nowadays. You are working in your business, on your business and you’re paying for your business. You might have that super vital at first 1, 2, 3, 4 customers. One of the first things I tried to explain is you called her to get into entrepreneurship if you shy away from the word of sales. You’ve been working with the mortgage industry for many years. Imagine if you refuse to do any customer contact. I got a fellow entrepreneur here in the UK, some massive cold calls with many millions following his work. His dad used to say, “I love this.” He was a pub landlord. He said, “I know this pub.” If we can get rid of the customers and their employees, it could be ideal.

We’ve all been there and our thoughts about entrepreneurship. If being an entrepreneur not have to deal with anything, it’ll be great.

I’d like to take an example of customers from this business week in London, England, where I got a nice text message from the police. “Would you like to collect your keys from the police?” I’m like, “Which keys? Which property?” Two of my tenants have decided that now is a good day for a knife fight, but it wasn’t even true in the end. They had been arrested and so on and so forth. The police kicked out all the doors in our property. The tenants are my customers. You have to love your customers. Back to your important question, how did I get started in entrepreneurship? Think about it’s used a combination, minimal viable product. What is the least you could take your idea into something and try to test sell it before you even start the business? That’s one of the most important advice, do some rough numbers before you start. Why not connect with someone like you? Someone who can be your mentor, coach, role model, many good books, so much good free content out there and podcasts. You don’t have to do this on your own. You can also pull up with other people in the same space. In terms of masterminding or support groups, those are a couple of things some people might have.

It’s ironic because I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Marketers Cruise but it is an international phenomenon. It’s an eight-day cruise and that’s all it is, us sharing our ideas and getting feedback from everyone. There are 450 people from around the world coming. For example, Russell Brunson, ClickFunnels owner, is coming. He’s part of it. There are all kinds of people who are coming that are movers and shakers. It doesn’t have to be online marketing or business that is an entrepreneur. Doctors, realtors and lenders come as well to get feedback for the product offerings that they have and the services that they’re providing and to collaborate with others that have been there, done that. It allows me, for someone who’s been there done that, to do the same thing to other people that are at different levels than I am. I’m not way up here, but I’m not way at the bottom.

We got a fair amount of experience. I love that idea. What I like in particular about it is it’s off-site. You can do your own business. That’s great. Another thing is you mix up different industries. Many things to learn from other industries you can apply to your world. That’s like with travel, the same thing to steal ideas from all over the world and apply it by the unit.

Money is usually closer than you think. Click To Tweet

What’s even best about it is that no selling is allowed, only joint venturing, collaboration, sharing, giving, receiving. That’s what’s fun about it. I’m excited. There’s this thing called pizza and profits and that all happens upon one of the decks in the middle of the night. That’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. No matter what business you’re in, so a lot of my readers are lenders and realtors. It’s maybe your passion. If you’re passionate about a specific type of real estate or a specific product and lending are making sure that you have the marketplace in your area to be able to serve that.

I say that locally because a lot of times, real estate is local. You’ve already addressed some of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re trying to raise money for their business. I want to go deeper into that because not everyone is going to be raising money. There are a lot of solopreneurs who are reading this blog. Let’s talk about why I would want to raise money as a solopreneur because I think I’m small beans. Why would I want to raise money? What benefit is it? Tell us about the mistakes that people make as they’re trying to collaborate or bring investors on.

I’ve been working with raising fires for businesses in many different ways, everything from a partnership, JV, straight loans, or whatever. I have had taking money from individuals, from American companies, from companies in the Middle East as well as from pension trusts. There is money everywhere. Money is closer than you think. Often there might even be money in your closest family and that’s a fairly easy way, especially if you’re younger. Why not ask your parents for the seed capital? Talk about different stages. The first one you might be a role. The seed stage, you don’t have any sales at all or you might have less than what you’d like to make as a salary for a year and also many ways to seed stage. I thought time is tough because banks will only give you money if you got something else as security. Most other people would love to have security on you and everything you own if they can. You would like to do the exact opposite if you can.

You’re the lender.

The lender is like security. As a borrower, you don’t want to give security. At that stage is also quite easy to get an account on smaller business learning like a business credit card as always, which can be the sorting problem. Unfortunately, that stage or further will still hold your assets as collateral leverage. The next stage might be your dad asked other people for money. Taking an example, I’m invested in that stage of multiple business world like this. They have got some sales. They have some ideas. They have some technology or whatever it might be. They asked me more money to open the tap to have more stuff, more technology, or more developmental. That’s a big chunk, whether it might be £50,000 to £100,000 or a couple of hundred thousand pounds to do the next step.

It’s a big gap in growth. That’s that big acceleration of growth.

You told the multiplying what you have for that station and for that you can go to a new concept, which is exciting, which is crowdfunding. You are finding every single investor you might work with a platform. I am a shareholder and owner of one platform, which is called Crowd With Us, which is in the real estate space. We have developers who need to pitch the idea to us to get it certified and then to go to the market.

What are some places that someone could find if it’s not in the real estate space about solopreneurs?

We’ve got exactly the same. I can’t remember the brand that you got in America. It’s logical in terms of you also go to crowdfunding for businesses at early stages where people can decide the rate that they are willing to give and so on and so forth.

What mistakes do people make when they’re looking for crowdfunding? Is there going out on a thing? What do I do now? How do I get it?

The usual mistakes I spot and notice all the time is where they don’t prepare for it. They don’t do the due diligence on themselves. They would like to have it if they would give money to themselves. You don’t need to have a perfect pitch. You don’t need to have a perfect video. You don’t need to have anything perfect, but you’re thinking of a minimum viable product. What is the least you would like to have? How much do you need for how long time? What are you prepared to offer in return? How will I get the money back as an investor? What’s the duration? What credibility do you have? Have you been doing this before? Have you been growing businesses of this kind? Are you a virgin? This is your first baby and that means that it’s also riskier. Do you know the industry? All of those things come together as a nice picture, which gives you a foundation to even ask for money.

If you don’t have that in place, it’s hard for you to have the credibility to attract any money at all. To add to a picture, assuming that you now start to picture people out you don’t know well, it means that they will do their due diligence and they will find out a lot about you by using Mr. Google. People will Google you most likely before they have met you. Google yourself. What will people find at the very least? Try to do something about it. If you are like the two people who are on this show that you’re creating content, that’s quite good because you can create content and get the things you would like to be associated with yourself and tag yourself. You might be on a podcast, you might be on YouTube, you might have a relevant blog, and anything up will put you as a trustworthy person ideally. People even dare to part their savings potential and give it to you so you can grow them on their behalf.

One of the things that I was thinking about as you’re talking is that a lot of people have had a job all their lives. I’m going to be starting a new show and I most likely will publish you in both of the shows as well. My new podcast is called From Success to Significance: Life After Breaking Through Glass Ceilings. You were talking about entrepreneurship as a young person and I want to still talk about that, but entrepreneurship is someone who’s had a job for years and years. Now, you’re successful. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We say we want to go into that entrepreneurship. What would you advise from a learning perspective for someone to go from knowing how to make widgets well to having to do sales, accounting, marketing, branding and the back-office things like all of the pieces? How do they learn?

It’s overwhelming to start with and you don’t know what you don’t know, but you become aware soon that there are many things that you don’t know. You must take the aspect of tax. Value at a tax and all the good jokes and the stupid journals of each government has given us to play according to. There are many things. How do you do that? I will say many people that I know or exactly in our space where there are small, big business owners growing what they do. One thing to draw us learning, also with my podcast, people have got different educational backgrounds to put it like that. Your university or non-existing university degrees doesn’t matter at all. You will notice that they held many years of experience between when you started to now.

MLM 230 | Business Investments
Business Investments: Some people will most likely google you before they have met you. Google yourself so that you know what people will find. At the very least, try to do something about it.


Number one, you will start as this doesn’t matter at all unless you can pull some good learning from it. You might even have some old books in your bookshelf that you have never ever applied, might be a marketing book or something else that can come back in two years. I would say listen to entrepreneurial podcasts, number one, because that means you will now create a peer group. Even if you’re alone, you feel I don’t know any entrepreneurs. That’s a great place to start because you’ve become like the average of the people you hang around with and a podcast with great guests on it is a perfect place. Because that means now you’re hanging out with millionaires, maybe even billionaires and learning from how they did it. How to get over the massive hurdle of it feels like too much. Try to work with other people who are in the same space.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are many people who’ve made the same journey. Tag along to someone, ask someone to help you. In many cases, a good business partner who is not like you, is the opposite of you can be a blessing and a hell both in disguise. He has to take one example. I decided to work with my youngest brother. I was a management consulting partner. He was a banker. In terms of profiles and personalities, I’m more extroverted than he is and he’s more detail-oriented than I am. He is keener to work with the back-office systems while I’m happy to deal with customer interaction and getting new customers. Having a business partner or if you don’t want to split the business to have some employees to work on your contract basis. You can be an intrapreneur. That means you’re an entrepreneur under a bigger entrepreneur and that’s fine.

What do you think about pulling and building an advisory board together as well as you’re doing it to test your market and pull from different skills that you’ve seen in your marketplace?

That’s valuable. For example, one of my next things is on my to-do list. I’ve got one wish to do a group of companies to acquire. On the other side is to do the real estate fund for both of them. My advice is my board of advisors would be one of the most important things in the whole thing because the advisers and the people I associate myself with will set the aspiration level. It will set the level of funding I will get. It will open doors, open network and give access or the opposite if I pick the wrong people. To have a board of advisors of one company I’m working with, it’s in the lending space, they’re called Sapphire Lending.

I’m one of the biggest shareholders and growing up a business from the inside. I’m on the board so there we have got opposite personalities on the board. We’ve got the business owner who’s working with the sales, the systems, and managing stuff. We’ve got two different board members. You can have a board member for little money, many people who are experienced like to give and help. You might get your non-executive board member, advisor helping you on a monthly basis to check in with things. That’s invaluable in terms of accountability, keeping you on track, advice and open those doors when the time is essential for you.

That’s important because you can feel like an island as an entrepreneur and a solo entrepreneur that no one understands the problems you’re going through. Everyone’s been through them at some point. You need to find the right person to help guide you through them. I think the other important thing about a board of advisors and for those that are reading, I’m not talking about your board of directors. We’re talking about a board of advisors. They can also be the string to your helium balloon and bring you down a little bit and in a good way. I’m not saying in a bad way, in a good way to say, “You’re getting a little ahead of yourself there. Let’s pull you back in.”

I think that’s been extremely helpful. I want to switch gears as we finish up here and talk about what you’re telling your sons because I know that you have some young kids. They have a podcast as well and he’s going to be on the show here soon hopefully as well because we have reached out to him too. What are you telling young people? Tell us about him. He’s young. I know a girl who is nine years old now, but she started her podcast when she was six. I have a smart, intelligent grandchild who’s going to be six in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait to hear what you have told that we can share that with her as well.

I’ve got two sons, Charlie is thirteen and Ivan is fifteen. They’re both still in school. I started to do more entrepreneurial things with them three years ago. About that time, I also took them to an adult entrepreneur boot camp. I took them out of school for two weeks. There is a guy who is called Roger Hamilton, who is having events all over the world. I took them to his two weeks of boot camp, which is not at all meant for children. He’s never had anyone not even eighteen or not. They were at the time 10 and 12, which was embarrassing and great at the same time because when you’re young, you haven’t learned yet to hold back. If you take the example, if I say to a normal person anywhere, if I’ve tried this multiple times at universities as well when speaking like, “Who here likes to dance? Who here likes to sing? Who here likes to draw?” All three things we could do when we were younger but all of a sudden add twenty years and now, we can’t draw anymore.

We can’t dance or we can’t sing, which is embarrassing while we still can do it. Younger people don’t have the same limits. They have a different perspective. Therefore, to have a podcast, younger people are used to run around and do their TikTok or YouTube or anything already and Snapchat. They’re used to being online. To have a mic instead, we’re going to do audio and video together, that’s super simple. What do I say to them? I tried to make them curious, so they will be using curiosity to find their own way. I don’t have any set way. I don’t have any plans. In the best of worlds, I would love to have Charlie to be financially independent before he’s eighteen. For people who think about what does financial independence mean? It means that he will have more income, new love and outgoing.

You don’t have to do everything on your own. Connect with a mentor. Click To Tweet

I don’t expect him to need to have any university loans or anything like that. The same for Ivan, but right now, he’s doing Taekwondo and running. He’s a bit of both going off. Both got to go for a black belt in Taekwondo, which takes a lot of time. I hope they will succeed. The world is changing so much. You have to bill on one word then render. Next-generation, Generation Z, they don’t need to own anything anymore. They have access when they need it. It might be an Uber. It might be a shack to crash, a place to sleep. They don’t need to buy things. We’ve got some huge changes in the real estate sector. The whole service emphasis, everything’s changing fast at the moment.

MLM 230 | Business Investments
Trust is the New Currency: How to build trust, attract the right partners and create wealth through business and investments

I have a cute story too because my son and daughter-in-law for my granddaughter, she bought her first investment property. She’s five so she can’t own the property. She doesn’t own it but she thinks she bought it. They were buying a property and she said, “I want to be a landlord too. I want to own a property.” They said, “We need money. You have to have a down payment.” I don’t remember what the money was but it’s like $20, $30, $40, which was a big thing for her because she’d been saving it in her piggy bank. She was pulling out the money. She brought her money, including coins, in a Ziploc bag right to the closing.

They closed on the law, but then they passed a few documents to her to make it feel like she was. Her name is Molly and she signed it. It’s all on video. She was proper about it. It’s neat because every month that they receive income from the property, she gets a little income too. They’re teaching her what to do with it. Where to save it? I think it’s the coolest thing in the world and her little sister was at the closing and watching too, she’s three and she said, “I want one too.” They said, “You have to save your money from all your Christmas gifts and birthday.” 

I had the same. For the first year, when the boys were working in the business producing content, we have the Facebook group where we present things and then also the podcast. They also have to have to work for this. Normally you’ve got pocket money, but pocket money appears automatic. Instead, I decided to take one of the multilateral units. I have ten professionals living in a shared house. It means that the income on that one is super off numbers. He has to give you your list of ideas. We’re talking about roughly $500,000 in value for the property, a bit more. It’s ten people living there and it’s cashflowing around $5,500 per month gross. That means that ultimately after everything has been paid, there are a number of people who own this one.

I took half of my holding in this one. I had quarters now. They’ve got 12.5% divided between the two of them. Instead of giving them pocket money, they now have cashflow assuming that there has nothing been going wrong with the property and is full and then depending on what I would get would be my shadow for their income. They will start to see that when you don’t have tenants, you don’t get pocket money. When you do have everything right, then you get more and they will also have equity in this because it’s only in the companies, they have shares in the company, its super real. Now they have real estate and they care because it also affects their pocket money. Both of them want to do one thing with money. Do you know what that is?


Save so they can invest.

That’s what they learn is because once you have any candidates on a good amount now, it’s like, “I don’t want to go with that good amount.” I’m sure they’re involved in it as well and you’re helping them walk through what happens. What issues you’ve had? That’s awesome.

Charlie likes to learn how to buy shares. That’s his next thing. Time plus real estate is a good thing.

You don't need to reinvent the wheel. There are many people who've made the same journey. Click To Tweet

It’s time, value, money, no doubt about it. It’s been absolutely wonderful getting to know you. We have lots of links so we can reach out to you and find out what you’re doing with your kids, what you’re doing with your businesses. If someone wants to reach you directly, what’s the best way for them to reach you?

I’ve got two different podcasts. One is called Investing Skills. One is called Invest In You. The latter one where we had lots of guests. It does what it says on the tin with both of them. If you like to reach out directly, I use LinkedIn a lot. I love to help other people and if I can help you, whoever you are on your journey by connecting whatever, I will. Feel free to not only follow me, but you’re also welcome to connect on LinkedIn if that helps you. You can also follow me on any other social media things I like to create useful things.

We’re already connected. It’s been a pleasure and I want to say thank you. No wonder everyone wants to work with you. You’re giving and sharing. You’re an open book. I love that you’re willing to help people that you don’t even know. I want to congratulate you on what you’re doing with your children. You’re serving many people. Thank you for being a guest on our show.

It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks.

You’re welcome.

Important Links:

About Fredrik Sandvall

MLM 225 | Real Estate FinancingFredrik Sandvall – Financier, investor, serial entrepreneur and best-selling author

Former special forces Captain from Swedish spent many years running a business even before leaving the military, Fredrik spent over twenty years gaining experience within management and consulting, working at senior levels within the world’s largest organizations to create growth. During this time, he raised many millions of pounds worth of finance for different companies, and he realized the power in learning how to use money and funding.

Fredrik has since focused on his passion for helping other individuals to achieve their own financial goals by mentoring other aspiring entrepreneurs, multiply the business value with several having gone on to create or raise multiple millions.

Making Lead Generation Simple With Scott Groves

MLM 227 | Lead Generation

MLM 227 | Lead Generation


Keeping a proper database of contacts, and turning those contacts into business is an art form all its own. Lead generation is an essential skill for any good sales person to master, and yet, many neglect to even put the lightest bit of effort in it. Scott Groves is a sales coach and lead generation master who’s been in the industry for 20 years. He and Jen Du Plessis break down what lead generation is, and why it’s so important for a growing business. Could this be the big break your business needs?

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Making Lead Generation Simple With Scott Groves

If this is the first time, thanks for joining us. Welcome to the community and I hope that this is the beginning for you. If you have read for years, thank you so much for doing that. I appreciate it. A reminder, please pay it forward. Hand this out, get this information to your realtor friends, into your loan officer friends and your managers, title people. Everybody can win from this because it’s all about personal and professional growth. My guest is Scott Groves and he is the author of Lead Generation: 61 Days to Double Your Pay. He is an active producing loan officer. He and his team are on track to be doing $120 million in volume. He is also a coach. I love bringing coaches on because we are not in competition with one another, we are collaborators with one another. You’re going to be excited to learn his style and it’s different from my style. I find that we’re all attracted to different styles and whatever works for you in that giving, we all receive. Scott, welcome to our show.

Thank you. I appreciate you having me on. I know a lot of people that have had some false starts on the show. I know you’re coming up on several years and I’ve been following for a long time. Congratulations for making it that long because I know that is not easy in this industry.

It’s crazy. I got an email from iTunes saying I was ranked 1,267, which I thought was funny. Why would you email me for that?

It’s a big deal. There are hundreds of thousands of shows.

There are 785,000 shows. At least 126,700 are active. I had gotten the statistic about a month and a half ago that 126,000 were active. I got this thing that said, “You’re 1,267.” I figured I must be in the backend of it but top 1%. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what’s sad that only 126,000 are active. It’s been great and fun. I love giving. It’s not about me, it’s about you. Let’s talk about you and your business. You and I were talking. I was giving you a hard time that you broke the halfway mark for the tenure that I had in the business. You’ve been in the business for many years and you have a very successful team. Tell us how you grew your team? We all started this the same way we stumbled into this business. How did you grow a team to be at $120 million and what does it look like so that people that are reading can learn how your team is structured?

The first tip that I always give people is hire ahead of demand. I have found through the people that I coach and the way that our team has always worked out is a body in the mortgage industry is good for about 5 to 7 loans before we get tapped out. If you’re an individual producer and you’re buttressing up against that 5, 7 and 8 loans a month, it’s probably because you need some extra help. I don’t care if you hire somebody on the frontend, the backend, contract to close or the court calls it LP1 and LP2. The bottom line is you’ve got to invest in yourself and hire ahead of demand. I like to tell this funny story and I don’t expect anybody to get this dramatic. Coming out of 2009, I knew that I needed help because it was hard to piece together a deal coming out of the recession, but I was broke like everybody else.

The only asset I have is I was clinging onto my three-bedroom house here in LA for dear life. I found effectively an executive assistant who would work a few hours a day for room and board. I gave her a free room in my house. I told her she could eat any of my groceries, but I needed her to do a lot of the busy work that would free me up to do the lead generation. That was my first. I absolutely did not have money to hire ahead of demand. There’s always a way, some intern out there. That first person is that assistant, photocopier, marketing task doing the busy work. You and I both know Todd Duncan. He’s always joked in our coaching that I’ve done with him and be like, “Would you pay somebody $100 an hour to go to Target for you and run errands or photocopy?” I know that’s silly. Pretty much anything that you can hand off for $12, $15 and $20 an hour, just try to find that first person. That’s key.

From there, when you mentioned growing a big team, you’ve got to hire good people around you. A $100 million team for us, we’re very blessed by the size of loans in our market area. I’ve got a great business partner named Justin Bale and we’ve got effectively three people that work full-time on our business. We’re probably a little overstaffed to be quite honest, but that’s because I want to continue to run a coaching business on the side. We both have young children. He does a lot of property investing on the side. We’ve made the decision that neither of us want to be at full capacity because I want to be able to take time to do things like this.

Two business, our right-hand guy who takes a lot of the application upfront and does a lot of the warm fuzzy stuff, a contract to close expert who’s making sure every deal closes on time. Then a full-time marketing executive assistant, go out to open houses and be our wingman and take out flyers. We’ve got five people doing about twenty loans a month for $120 million a year. Probably a little overstaffed, either Justin or myself want to take a step back. We could probably do it.

MLM 227 | Lead Generation
Lead Generation: 61 Days to Double Your Pay

That’s why you’re both half right there. I was very much overstaffed too because it allowed me to do coaching and allowed me to do investing. I was doing both of those as I was exiting. One of the things that we wanted to talk about is lead generation. There are so many aspects of what we do in lending and in real estate as entrepreneurs. For those that are reading that aren’t in this space, we have many jobs. The lead generation, the follow-up, the fulfillment part, and then the nurturing of the relationship to make sure, the social media, we have all these pieces. We’re going to focus on lead generation. That is one thing. I always give the realtors a hard time. The best-wrapped car that looks cool driving down the road means nothing if you’re not generating leads for your business because that is the lifeline of your business. I know you have in your book, 61 Days to Double Your Pay. What type of activities are you talking about in those 61 days? Would you prefer to talk about maybe two or three different points about lead generation that you feel everyone needs to know?

It’s a great topic to jump off on. Shameless plug for the book, Lead Generate: 61 Days to Double Your Pay. The key is when I give talks, workshops or you and I have been at some place where we’re giving keynotes together, I always have people stand up if they’re married or they’ve got a boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other. More or less everybody stands up. I say, “If this story has ever happened to you, I want you to sit down. Your husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend comes home and says, ‘Billy from work or Susie, my college roommate or my cousin Jose, they bought a house. We’ve got to go over there and check it out.’ You’re sitting there saying like, ‘Why didn’t I get a shot at the loan?’” Everybody sits down because it’s happened to all of us. I usually start my keynote saying, “You’re not even famous enough with the person you sleep with. It’s all of their referrals.” You get some big laugh from the crowd. What’s dangerous is in our modern age of social media, people think they have to be everywhere in order to attract business. When the reality is to make that first $200,000, $250,000 of sustainable income in the mortgage business or the real estate business, you only need to be famous with 50 people and pick those 50 people however you like.

If somebody wants a worksheet on this, they can shoot me an email and I’ll send it over to them. It’s from your spouse to your accountant, to your financial advisor, to the lawyer you can trust. All of those people plus our normal realtors and referral sources. If you’re famous with 50 people, when it’s time to talk about a mortgage or real estate, they know, “You’ve got to call my girl, Jen. You’ve got to call my guy, Scott.” If that’s the case, if you’re top of mind with 50 people, you will hit that first $200,000 $250,000 of sustainable income. From there, it’s a matter of adding on strategically some relationships of people who you want to work with. What I talked about a lot in the book, double down on the relationships that are working because there’s not a $99 Instagram ad or a $999 Facebook funnel that’s going to make loans rain from the sky. That’s not the way it works. You and I are never going to beat rocket mortgage trying to go consumer direct because we don’t have a $200 million marketing budget. We’ve got to double down on those people in our sphere. That’s a lot about what we talked about in the book.

Brian Stevens talks about this a lot too. He’s another person in our industry who talks about this. The benefit that we have, especially in this environment is that rocket mortgage can’t do the relationship like we can. We can’t do their budget but they can’t do the relationship. That’s to our advantage. We need to take advantage of that sooner rather than later. Get our claws in people. It’s interesting that you say 50. I’m going to give you a preface a little bit of this. My business, $100 million a year with 22. I didn’t work with 50. I want to talk about how someone would get to 50 or pull back off 50? I imagine, looking back on my career, we all needed everybody. We went out and had thousands of people and I definitely had thousands of people in my database, but I only worked with 22. I got to the point that those 22 were required to give me two or more quality referrals a month or more to be in my good graces. What that meant was that I would bend over backwards for them. I’d be available on weekends to a certain extent. I would do a lot of things for them that I would never, ever do for anybody else. Are you talking about 50 people that you’re famous with that drip business in? Later, you go into more sustainable relationships. Tell me about the type of business that’s coming from those 50 people.

To be clear, there’s no wrong answer. It would be arrogant of me to tell everybody across the nation that they know how to do their business. I’m super jealous of loan officer friends of mine or people who I coach who are in Plano, Texas or areas where realtors have to close multiple deals a month to make a living. I’m in Los Angeles, California. The upside is the price and the loans are higher. The downside is that a realtor can close five or six deals a year and make $100,000, $200,000, which means for me, there are more relationships to manage. Out of those 50, maybe only 20 or 25 are going to be giving you sustainable referrals on a monthly basis. My number one referral source in 2016 lost his partner and he decided, “Life is too short. I’m going to close the deal, make money, go on vacation for three months. Close a deal and go on vacation for two months.” Another one of my top referral sources got pregnant and decided to stay home with the child for a couple of years. Another top referral source got married to a gentleman who was a general contractor and they decided to back off a real estate and start a flipping job and a renovation.

A wife who wants to have a funnel.

We’ve got to have those bench players and I agree with you. If you’ve got ten or twenty solid referral sources, then you’re killing it. The other 20 or 30 could be bench players. I will say along those lines that I don’t enter every relationship for it to be a usury relationship. If there’s somebody I’m giving money to, they better help put money back in my pocket. What I mean by that is if I’m paying my accountant $5,000 a year to do my books and file my taxes, there better be some referrals coming back the other way. It’s the same with my financial planner and my insurance agent. That’s the expectation that I set. I’m also friends with these people and I have long-term relationships with them, but they know like, “My business is predicated somewhat on you also returning the favor.” That’s where we maybe get that first ten or fifteen people that we want to be famous with. These people in our lives who are having financial conversations with other individuals, they have to know. “When it’s time to buy, sell or refinance a home, Scott should be the first person I talk to and the first person that my clients talk to.” That makes life so much easier for us because then we’re not reinventing the wheel every week trying to look for the next deal.

If I feel your pocket, I want you to feel mine. Tell us how, if someone’s reading this they’re going, “I don’t know if I could tell my accountant that. I don’t know if I could tell somebody or my dentist.” I got an Invisalign and I got to take it off finally. I did tell him. I’m actually testing in his office because he’s so big on customer experience. I’m coming in and teaching and I traded but I said, “If you’ll clean my teeth when I’m done with this and you’ll do a nice brightening, I will come in and teach a two-hour class.” I hate scripts, but I do believe in catchphrases. Help someone bridge that gap and broach that conversation with someone.

If you’re somebody who have been in a business relationship for a while and you’re either not getting all of their deals or they hand out three business cards or it’s somebody who you’ve been referring business to forever and you’ve never got a referral back. If the relationship is mature and you’re going to have this conversation and it’s going to be a tough conversation, you’ve got to go do it in person. Go schedule coffee. What I like to do, and I’m stealing this directly from the book, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. It’s a phenomenal book. Anybody in sales has to read it. Chris Voss was an FBI Hostage negotiator. When he left the FBI, he figured out that like, “All these same skills work in business.” What I would do is work on crafting questions where the answer is a no. If you give the person on the other line or in front of you the opportunity to say no, they’re going to feel like they’ve taken control of the conversation and you’re going to get a much more honest answer. This shows up all the time when people call. If I call somebody and I say, “Jen, did I catch you at a good time?” You’re immediately going to say, “No, it’s not a good time. I’m busy. I’ve got a show.” The conversation dies. If I say, “Jen, did I catch you at a bad time?” It’s very rare that somebody will say yes because people want to say no. They want to take command of the situation.

What most people have been used to doing because of telemarketers is, “Did I catch you at a good time?” “Yes, it’s fine. What’s going on?” “Do you like clean water?” “Yes.” “Do you want clean water for future generations?” “Yes.” “Can you donate $9 to the clean water fund?” “No. Thank you. Don’t ever call me again.” We’ve been tricked into this wall. If you get people to get enough fake yeses, then maybe you’ll get the yes they want. When I call somebody, I say, “Did I catch you at a bad time?” At one of these coffee conversations, I will say, “Is there any reason why I wouldn’t get a referral from you in the next week or month or year, whatever timeframe you want to pick?” Versus you’ve bought this person coffee. They’re in this reciprocal nature where they would say yes to anything, but it will be a fake yes. If I say, “Am I getting a referral from you?” “Yes, Scott, you’re my favorite. No problem.” We all know it’s fake. We all know it’s BS. If you say, “Is there any reason I wouldn’t get a referral from you?” They’re either going to say, “No, I owe you a referral, Scott. Let me find somebody that needs to refinance.”

If they say yes, they’re going to say yes and give you the objection so at least you know. They’ll say, “Yes, Scott, the reason you don’t get any referrals from me is because my sister is actually a lender and it’s awkward. God forbid, I sent business outside of the family. I’d never hear the end of it at Thanksgiving.” At least I know the right answer and then I can choose to continue that relationship. If you’re going to have this conversation, read the book, Never Split the Difference. Craft questions that had a strategic no answer where it’s a no that you want to hear.

What's dangerous in the modern age of social media is that people think they have to be everywhere in order to attract business. Click To Tweet

I wanted to go back rather than go forward because it starts with tracking because if you’re getting business from people, duck on it. You have to start tracking. If you don’t track, you don’t even know who you’re getting business from or who you’re not getting business from. As a result of that, you don’t know who you need to approach and have this conversation with.

Going back to that conversation about the referral partner of mine who lost his partner and travels a lot more. I love talking to the guy. We’re both boxing fans. We like gossiping about what’s going on in the real estate industry. In my mind, he was sending me a bunch of business. When we got to the end of the year and I was doing my quarterly reviews, I’m like, “I haven’t got a referral from this guy in months.” Because I had the tracking, it allowed me to go have the adult conversation with this realtor and say, “Is it you? Is it me? Did I screw something up? Has the market changed? Are you only doing listings?” A couple of things happened. One, we had an adult conversation, which was always nice. Two, he recognized something in his business that was changing that vacation was more important than closing deals if you want to live a little. Number three, it did allow him the opportunity to honestly tell to me what was going on in his business and then we could adjust and now we’re back on track and I’m getting referrals from him again. The tracking is key. You have to know where your business is coming from mathematically and not anecdotally because we’ll talk ourselves as loan officers into all crazy stuff.

Especially having the meeting. I do something a little different in the questioning but in the questioning, we tend to leave these meetings. Show up, throw up, leave the meeting saying, “That went great, we’re going to work together,” and then crickets. We don’t ask that question that gets them to start talking. For me, the question at the end is, “What are your thoughts?” They can say, “You’re great but I’ve got to be honest with you. My daughter’s a lender.” At least I know. Better than I know than wonder. We don’t want to hear that. We tried to superficially scooch past it and assume that everything’s going to go good. We say, “Short-term gain for long-term pain.”

Being famous for your 50. You want to be figuring out who these 50 people are that are in your circle. We’ll call it your sphere of influence. We’ll go back to the old starting out days for everybody. Go to that sphere of influence. Who are you giving money to? Therefore, having that adult conversation and ask for them to do the same for you and you’re suggesting framing the questions so there’s a no response so that they can feel they have more control. Also take a look at the book if you need more help on it. One way to do it is to push your thumb on them and say, “I’m expecting some stuff because you’ve expected from me.” What are some other tips that you’re giving to people on how to get more leads to be able to double their income?

It’s interesting that you mentioned the situation where you don’t throw up information. Maybe you ask great questions and you have a great relationship and you’re like, “I crushed it. I walk out of that meeting.” You forget to follow up with them. A month later, you see them closing a deal and celebrating at the Dodger game with your arch-nemesis on Facebook. This stuff happens all the time. What we coach our people to do, and I know you do the same and it doesn’t even matter what the follow-up process is, but you have to have a follow-up process. I’ve got a little plastic box from the container store in my car. As soon as I leave the meeting, I’m writing a thank you card. I’m sending a text letting them know who I am, here’s my virtual business card. I come right back to the office and I put them on my little call tracker for the upcoming weeks. In our group, we try to make 50 calls every week to buyers, realtors, listing agents and referrals.

It’s nothing. If you’re reading this and you’re saying 50 calls, it’s ten a day. Something I call first and ten, do it again every day. 

I get it. Cold calling is miserable, but these don’t have to be cold calls. They can be warm calls, they can be calls to the listing agent. They can be calls for the last 30 people you had coffee with.

Annual reviews, birthdays, anniversaries and people you should be calling. For me, it’s called dot. We never leave a meeting and say, “Period, there I had the meeting, done.” We don’t say, “They want me to sponsor broker open and done,” which I never do. “I did the broker open, done.” It doesn’t work that way. What’s next? How do we move our businesses forward together? Give us some ideas on exactly what you’re saying. You’re going to call them in the next week or so, but where do you get to the point where you’re starting to enrich that relationship by not only having it deep but having it go wide by the activities that you’re doing?

I’ve seen the math for our coaching clients, for your coaching clients, for Todd Duncan’s coaching clients, it’s effectively, you’re going to make ten calls to set four coffee appointments. Three of them might show up, one or two of them are going to give you a lead. We all know how it goes as lenders is that those first couples of leads can be challenging. One of those leads might close in a transaction that has the opportunity to build you the relationship. Taking a step back, we all know those first few leads you’re going to get are the garbage ones that five other lenders haven’t been able to do. Either you figure out how to solve the problem and close them in 24 hours or you wash your hands of it and say, “There’s a reason the other lender couldn’t come up with it. This one’s not for me. Thanks so much for the referral. I’m looking forward to working on the next one.”

I want to share a statistic that came out on that very point, which is 67% of people will work with the first person they talk to. First of all, you better know, are you number one, number two or number three in the pecking order? If you’re not number one, then you’re going to have to be more responsive to that particular client to get your claws in them faster.

MLM 227 | Lead Generation
Lead Generation: If you’re working people and you’re generating revenue for them, you should also expect referrals to come your way as well.


A text message that makes the client feel special upfront, I have found is a great way. I stole this from a friend of mine, Christy Solar, who’s a rock star down in Louisiana. You should interview her. You two would get along really well. She says, “I take my applications from about 11:00 AM until 1:30, 2:00 while I’m sitting at my desk.” The way that I do that is by reminding the client and the realtor how much I care about them. Even if I get the referral when I’m on the road at 6:00 headed to the basketball game, I’ll say, “This is Christy. Looking forward to helping you get into your first home. I want to make sure that I’m completely present for our conversation. How about we schedule a time tomorrow at 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, does that work for you?” She’s blocking out her calendar in a manner which she wants to work, but she’s doing it in a way that makes the client feel super special and taken care of. She knows that if she’s the first call, she better get back to him right away or she’s going to lose that deal. She also doesn’t want to be a slave to working at 9:00 at night. That’s how she’s bridged that gap of scheduling people when she wants them.

I love that because that’s a skill that I teach that I use all the time. I’m ready to walk into a meeting. It doesn’t matter what the meeting is, “Would it be okay if I called you between 4:00 and 6:00 when I’m in front of my computer and I can dedicate 100% of my time and attention to serving you?” I can repeat that 30 times. I’ve repeated that many times in my life. The great thing about that is that you’re saying that you’re busy, you’re not on-demand, you’re in demand. I’m about ready to walk into an appointment which says, “She works with other people.” If I’m ready to walk into an appointment, “Can I call you between 4:00 and 6:00?” Why 4:00 and 6:00, 3:00 and 5:00, 2:00 and whatever? Why that time frame? As loan officers, we’re excited about giving them customer service. “Call I call you at 3:15?” What happens at 3:15 is that the appraisal came in low. We’re freaking out. We put this under stress on ourselves because we told them 3:15. If I have that latitude to say between 3:00 and 5:00 or 4:00 and 6:00, when I’m in front of my computer and I can dedicate 100% of my time and attention to serving you, it’s amazing because I’ve never had someone say, “No, I don’t want you to dedicate your time to serve me. I want you to be distracted.”

“Can you take the call right now when you’re in the Guns and Roses concert?” “Sure. That’s going to work out well for both of us.”

If you like my husband who’s in the mortgage business and he puts it in his pocket on a napkin and then forgets about it when I wash it. You look unprofessional when you do that. It does say something that says, “I want to be present. I want to help you with what you’re doing.” I was smiling while you were saying that because that’s such a great skill and we’re angst about, “I’ve got to get back to him.” Yes, you do, but let’s do it in a way that puts you in demand and not on demand so that you’re not everybody’s beck and call guy and beck and call girl.

That is important and what you’re teaching is important, Jen, because when I was single and could walk out of a movie to take a loan application and look like the hero at 9:00 on Friday night, that’s cool. My wife is not going to put up with that. If I walk out of a dinner date on 7:30 on Friday night and disrespect my wife to continue to be the person I was in my twenties as a loan originator, that doesn’t apply as our life evolves and we have a wife or kids or other responsibilities.

It’s good if you can learn it now, instead of having to retrain all of your referral partners. I know new people and it doesn’t matter the age, just new people in the business are so angst about getting the business that they’re jumping through hoops. If you can learn that from the very beginning, then you can set a tone for your clients. It doesn’t mean that you’re not serving them. It means that you’re taking the reins and doing it on your terms. I love that you’re saying get to the texts, get back to them as quickly as you can. I want to ask about leads one more time. How else can we get more leads? I’m going to move on to something else that we didn’t plan to do.

I’m going to flip to a random page in the book. This book is all about getting you different tips and 30 of them will be a throw-away, twenty of them you’ll be like, “I already do some of that.” Ten of them be like, “That’s good.” Day 44 is Blue Ocean Strategy. It’s the idea of finding a new place to get business. I’ll give you a quick example. A friend of mine who’s my insurance agent, when he started his State Farm agency, they say, “The only way to do business is to buy leads off the internet, lowest common denominator, auto policies and you build from there, but you’ve got to do 100 low-cost auto policies a month.” He said, “That sounds like the Seventh Circle of Hell. I’m going to go ahead and find a different way to do it.” He started finding other avenues. What he did is he went to every luxury car dealership in Los Angeles, and I’m talking about $150,000 to $250,000 cars and said, “We have the best rates in the auto insurance industry for high-end luxury car owners for people that also are homeowners or business owners. If you get somebody who’s freaking out about buying this car, because they’ll spend the $2,000 a month on the Lamborghini, but they don’t want to spend $600 a month on insurance, have them give me a call, I’ll talk them off the ledge and I’ll help you close the deal.”

What he’s getting is more affluent clients with a higher policy amount who aren’t going to ditch him over $12 a month. These people also happen to be homeowners. They happen to be business owners, they happen to need life insurance. All of these things that funnel into his business and that was a Blue Ocean Strategy for him. Nobody’s walking into the Rolls-Royce dealership saying, “I do auto insurance. How can I help you close more deals?” Not that there’s a direct translation to the mortgage business, but if you find yourself calling the same 30 realtors in your small town and you can’t get traction, try insurance agents. Try a car dealer.

I was at Washington Mutual for several years before they decided to implode. One of my best referral sources was a pool cleaner because I had helped him out with some account issues at some point when I was a teller many years ago and he remembered me. The pool cleaner always knows when somebody’s getting ready to renovate their pool, renovate their house, put in new hardscape. I must’ve got hundreds of referrals from him for home equity line of credit, which turned into refinances, which turned into purchase loans.

Which turn more referrals if you’re nurturing your database.

When you work with people, you always have to have a follow-up process. Click To Tweet

I haven’t been great at that. I’m going to be honest. I need to coach on that, Jen.

How much business did you leave on the table during this refi boom?

At least $100,000.

I love that you went to your book because my books are like that too. You go to it and there’s two-and-a-half pages of something to do. It’s so much easier to read. Only 3% of people read books after high school, which is why podcasts are so great because you’re not reading it, you’re listening to it. In your book, you go through 61 Days to Double Your Pay. Let’s talk about that and conversion. You’re in a position where you haven’t had as many leads. You go through 61 days of this and all of a sudden you’ve got all these leads and new problems happen.

You better have a good spreadsheet or good CRM. I don’t care which one, but Spreadsheet, Google Sheet, some way of tracking or except the fact that you have to get good at a CRM, you have to do that. It’s like not nurturing the database well enough. I probably left $1 million on the table over the first fifteen years because I didn’t have a great database or a great CRM. In the Facebook groups that you and I are both in, all the ones on Facebook with the big lenders. It’s the topic all the time. What CRM is the best? What CRM do you use? Who has a CRM tool? I don’t give a crap. Pick one and use it.

It’s like the one that you use. If it’s simple as a spreadsheet, then just be a spreadsheet, do it. I’ve had situations in the past and I’m great at community and all that, but 30-some years and people slip through the cracks and they’ll call and say, “Jen, I want to let you we signed the contract. I’m sending it over.” I hung up the phone, “Thank you, God,” because I don’t know who they are. I don’t have them on my database. We’ve all had those, but you can’t leave your business to chance.

With the conversion, there are a couple of things and there are two very competing ideas and I have screwed this up many times. Please learn from my mess-ups and screw-ups and do this right. On one hand, you have to create a conveyor belt where for your own sanity, for the client experience and for the realtor experience, everything works the same. Whether that’s a checklist or a workflow or something digital, I don’t care what it is. That’s competing thought number one. Competing thought number two is the biggest purchase these people will ever make in their life. The only differentiator between us and Quicken and Rocket Mortgage is our customer service. You have to put people on the conveyor belt and never treat them like they’re on a conveyor belt. The year that I did the most business that I ever did, I probably ruined the most realtor relationships because it was very clear that the process was about me and how I do things. How this is going to work and how we’re going to get this deal to close? That year I got 95% of my docs out early, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t make it client and the realtor feel special. You’ve got to create a conveyor belt and making people feel like they’re super special.

I love that you said that because that’s one of the pinnacle pieces of my coaching, which is communication and it’s having the efficiency of a system, but the effectiveness to the consumer. It has to be efficient for you so that you can manage it. You can’t in the middle of the conveyor belt say, “Hold on the conveyor belt because I want to make cookies and deliver cookies to the client’s office at the approval.” It’s not efficient. Can you do that? Yes. Find a more efficient way. It needs to be effective so that they feel special. It’s not even customer service anymore. The word is dead. It’s called CX, Customer Experience. We’re all talking about. It’s how they feel after having worked with you because of your conveyor belt. It goes beyond the golden rule of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” No, it’s the platinum rule of, “Do unto others as they want to have done onto them.” Building in, what is the best way for us to communicate? Is it via text? Is it phone? Is it email? Is it video? How do you want us to communicate? Being able to drop those little pieces into it, so they know you’ve heard them.

Another thing that either warn people or hopefully educate people is, what loan officers loved came plain about with consumers is one of our best opportunities. I will hear loan officers all the time complain about, “The client doesn’t get it. They don’t understand. They don’t know what’s expected of them. They don’t know how to go through the process.” If the client is ignorant, that means you get to set the expectation in their mind of what happens. Instead of telling them that, “Absolutely the appraisal will be back, it’ll be signed off and you can remove your contingency on Tuesday.” If they don’t know any different, say Thursday or Friday, who cares?

Let them know that we have to have it come back and it may not come back right.

MLM 227 | Lead Generation
Lead Generation: The best way to work is to set an expectation and over-deliver on that expectation.


Set the expectation and then over-deliver on the expectation. I always think it’s hilarious when loan officers say, “My client doesn’t get this.” That’s the beauty. They don’t get it. If everybody got it, we would be out of a job. That’s where we will build relationships.

Anticipate their needs if you’ve been through a process yourself. This is God’s honest truth. My husband and I had been married for a couple of years. We’ve never had a fixed-rate mortgage. We’ve always had an adjustable-rate mortgage. The reason that we have is because if rates are high, we’re going to love the mortgage. If rates are low, we can refinance into a lower arm. It’s like a hair person. They have colors and they cut it and they do all these crazy things with it. Because I need to experience what my clients experience on a regular basis. If you’ve got a house and you’ve got a low fixed-rate loan, that’s wonderful. I’m not saying that you’re not saving money, but I’ll make up the money in the experience. I’m going to provide a client over what someone else might because they have a 30-year fixed. When I go through that experience, I’m like, “This is how I feel and this is when I feel it.” I can incorporate that in my perfect loan process. Go to them and say, “The reason I’m calling is that there are no updates. I want to know how are you doing and what are you losing sleepover? What’s on your mind? What are you worried about?” That simple phone call is what makes the difference between having the conveyor belt and making them feel like they’re in a conveyor belt.

If you have the guts to ask somebody what they’re scared about and then the key is listen to the answer, that goes a long way. If you can articulate the question better than they can give you the answer, then they’ll assume you have the answer. If at the beginning of the process, at the beginning of your preapproval, at the beginning of going into contract, if you can say, “Tell me about the house you’re looking for and tell me what has you scared about buying a home?” They’ll immediately say, “Scott knows that I’m simultaneously excited about buying a house but scared out of my mind about whatever plugin X, Y, Z.” They’ll assume you have the answer and that you’re the right person to work with.

What other one tip can you give our audience about conversion?

As far as conversion, there’s nothing new in the mortgage industry, I’m sure I stole this from somebody. The moment that you get introduced to a client, start the official, “We’re going to buy a house together,” text message thread with you, the client and the realtor. What ends up happening is you’ve created this little circle of trust. Let’s say Jen’s the client and my friend, Bill, is the realtor. “Jen, this is Scott. I just wanted to start a text message thread with you, me and Bill. Sometimes you’re going to have questions that are better for the realtor Bill to answer. Sometimes you’re going to have questions that are better for me to answer. Do me a favor and rename this text message thread, Buying a Home, and we’ll both be here as a resource.” What happens is your chances of getting shocked go down dramatically because the realtor knows, you know, the client know, that we all know that we’re in this together and we’re working alongside each other for the goal of getting them into the house. When the goal is getting them into the house versus the goal of having the lowest interest rate, you cut down on the rate shopping by 50%. That’s my favorite conversion tool.

It’s funny because I’m not originating it more, I’ve done the thread, but I’ve never phrased it that way and rename the thread. Are you doing that by text or are you doing that to private messaging or instant messaging?

I’m doing that through text, it seems to go better that way.

I don’t know how to rename one, but I’ll have to figure that one out.

Apparently, Apple will let you do anything.

I’m always at the forefront of technology, so I’m going to go figure that one out. Thank you so much for everything. I love that you talked about leads and made it simple and I’m sure that people are going to want to grab your book. What is the best way for them to get a hold of your book?

With leads, one of the most important things is to have a good spreadsheet. Click To Tweet

Amazon is the easiest. There’s an Audible version. I would recommend getting the physical copy of the book because it’s nice to make notes, Lead Generate: 61 Days to Double your Pay.

It’s a soft copy. Mine’s a hard copy because I wanted it to be used. In fact, when we’re doing the publishing, I said, “Could you put a fake paperclip in it? Can I write notes in it and then you print it, like me write notes?” I go, “I love this.” It’s that kind of a book. I believe that’s what yours is too. It’s like taking these and saying, “That may not work for my business.” If you’re reading and you’re not in mortgages or real estate, but you can twist this and make it for your business. Get the hard copy. Don’t even bother getting Kindle because you buy Kindle and then you’ll have to get the hard copy anyway. If someone wants to call you and talk to you about lead generation, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Email is the easiest, I still monitor email, which I don’t know why I do it because it’s a plethora of solicitations. Join Jen’s coaching and buy my book. It’s that compound effect thing. Do ten or twenty minutes of what Jen says. Read five minutes of my book. Do 30 minutes of your ten calls a day. We’re talking about an hour a day and your business will dramatically change things. If you can’t find an hour in your day, then you might be in the wrong business. Go make your calls.

I have five coaches because each of them has a place for my practice. I have a speaking coach. I have a funnel building coach. I have an investor coach for my investment properties. I have all these coaches and I love that you said the compound effect because just like in life, there’s not one CRM that’s going to fit everything you need. You’re going to have to pick and pull. If you think that lead generation is something that Scott can do for you, and then maybe something else I do what you already all know because I talk about it all the time. It’s about that compound effect. Get a little bit of everybody. That will help your business grow. Scott, I want to say thank you again for all your wisdom and all your great ideas and great takeaways so that people can take their business to the next level. We appreciate you reading.

Thank you so much.

We’ll catch you next time on Mortgage Lending Mastery. Go out and make it a great day.

Important Links:

About Scott Graves

MLM 227 | Lead GenerationScott Groves. Husband, Father, Loan Officer, Coach, Boxer, Movie Junkie, Lead Generation Machine. Over $1Billion in funded loans over the last 20 years and thousands of sale people coached.

Building Your Power Tribe With Mitch Russo

MLM 226 | Building Your Tribe

MLM 226 | Building Your Tribe


Success in business means that your product or service is sought after by potential clients, or they keep on buying from you. It is about creating that customer base and building that “tribe” which attracts other potential clients, boosting your sales. In this episode, host Jen Du Plessis interviews author and business consultant Mitch Russo about building and taking care of a tribe to drive up sales to your product. They also talk about creating and handling your tribe culture while staying true to oneself.

Listen to the podcast here:

Building Your Power Tribe With Mitch Russo

I have with me Mitch Russo. Mitch and I met at an event called New Media Summit, which is for podcasters. He’s a great podcaster. The name of his podcast is Your First Thousand Clients. If you’re reading and you’re going, “What’s that? First thousand clients?” That’s what we’re going to help you get in this episode. I want first to welcome Mitch to the show and then I’ll tell you all about him. Mitch, how are you doing? 

I’m great, Jen. Thanks for inviting me to the show. It’s exciting to be with you.

I’m excited to learn from you. I always learn from my shows. Let me tell you a little bit about Mitch. His podcast is called Your First Thousand Clients. What he focuses on is providing custom tribe building services for his clients. We’re going to learn all about that. He was nominated for Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year on two separate occasions, once in 1989 and then once again in 1991. He comes to us with a lot of experience. He joined his longtime friend Chet Holmes and Tony Robbins and together they created Business Breakthroughs International, a company serving thousands of businesses a year with coaching, consulting, training, etc. He was the President and CEO. He has published The Invisible Organization, which is a CEO’s guide to transitioning a traditional brick and mortar into a virtual organization, which is what most of us have these days anyway. We’re out gallivanting and being entrepreneurs.

He published his second book called The Power Tribes: How Certification Can Explode Your Business, which I love and I want to talk about that too. His podcast is fantastic. It focuses on discovering the secrets of success from business owners who have served a thousand clients or more. I love one of the episodes that I was listening to. It’s mixing tech and high touch. I do that a lot too but I liked that one episode. I don’t know if you can remember the number. I doubt it but if you get a chance to listen to that, it’s a good one. Mitch, I’m excited to talk to you. Do us a favor and tell us how you got to this place? How did you get to the point where you had more than 1,000 clients? Where does it all start? Where does it stem from?

The first time I had 1,000 clients was when I started a software company back in the 1980s, early ‘90s. We grew quite slowly in the beginning, but then PR is responsible for changing our entire trajectory. We got some great PR and the company exploded. By the time I sold the company, we had over 250,000 clients. The thing we were doing is selling both a physical product and providing a service. In the beginning, I got to know my first 10,000 clients myself having either sold them directly or sold them from the stage. It was either they had met me or I had met them. You learned a lot.

Being able to say how many clients you served, how many hours you’ve coached, how many loans you’ve done or homes you’ve sold or widgets you’ve sold is pretty powerful. What was the software product?

Building a tribe around a reputation is a great way to start getting to know people and getting people to know you. Click To Tweet

It was called Timeslips. It was a time tracking system for lawyers and accountants.

That then progressed. How did you meet Tony and Chet?

While I was building Timeslips, this pesky sales guy kept bugging me about buying advertising and that turned out to be Chet Holmes. He was so persistent that finally, I gave in and said, “If you make me this crazy deal, I’ll buy advertising from you.” He did. We became friends. Over the years, we watched each other’s families grow up. We became close friends. One day out of the blue he called me and said, “I need your help.” Long story short, I ended up helping him and he invited me to help him build this company, which I did. He announced that he’s going to have his first meeting with Tony Robbins. He’d been trying to get a meeting with Tony for several years. He asked me to join them at the meeting and I said, “I would.”

We started talking about how the three of us can build a company together. That’s what happened. We built a company together and it was an incredible experience to be working with Chet and Tony directly until Chet got sick with leukemia and eventually he passed away. It was up until that point that we just hit a $30 million per year sales mark with that company. Once again, thousands and thousands of clients. I had hit that number several times. What I noticed is that it’s a fairly consistent process of going to 1,000 clients, whether you’re a real estate agent, whether you’re selling software, training, coaching or consulting. I became fascinated with that and that’s why I started the podcast.

It’s such a great niche too because the only people that can be on there is the people that have had 1,000 clients because they have that experience. If someone’s reading and they haven’t had 1,000, let’s start there. Let’s start about building tribes. How did you get to 1,000 clients in as fast as you possibly can in as little time as possible? What are some of the things that you’ve learned about since you started businesses over and over? What are some of the things that you’ve learned that become the foundational pieces of that?

The foundational components of a company are having a great product, letting people know about it, and then making an offer that is reasonable and sometimes even ridiculously cheap. When I started Timeslips, we offered time and billing software for $99 when it was normally going for thousands of dollars. It got people’s attention right away and some people bought it because it was so cheap just to try it out. Others waited until there were reviews and started to trust us and we were reviewed as the top product eighteen months after we launched the company. Sometimes the price is a great way to start. Other times it takes building a story like a coach, a consultant or a real estate agent needs to build a story. It needs to build at least a small base of people who will sing their praises. That’s what we’re all in the business to do is to build that reputation.

MLM 226 | Building Your Tribe
Power Tribes: How Certification Can Explode Your Business

Tell me about some of the stories that you’ve heard that have resonated with people. The first thing that came to my mind when you said something about stories is about Toms Shoes. Every time you buy a pair of shoes, he gives a pair of shoes to someone that doesn’t have it. His whole story is about how he went to a foreign country and saw that they didn’t have any shoes and he wants to make an impact on the world. Can you give us an example of some stories that you’ve heard that have resonated and attracted clients?

That’s called an Evolved Enterprise. That entire process has been well-documented by Yanik Silver in his book of the same name. It’s all about companies that give something away when they sell something. It’s a great way to garner publicity and it’s also a great way to give back to whatever community that you’re in, whether it’s the community of man or smaller. Another thing that we had is a very popular realtor in Dallas, Texas who said, “If you sign with me, you won’t have to do anything but move in.” Of course, we would laugh but then we would read some of the testimonials and she wasn’t kidding. She did everything.

She took over the entire process. She dealt with your mover. She dealt with your post office. She dealt with every single aspect of what it would take. There were people lined up to work with her. She was so smart. Building a tribe around a reputation is a great way to start getting to know people and getting people to know you. One of the ways she did that is by teaching before selling. If you have a meet-up in your area, you could start a meet-up group easily and you could get people together. The name of the meet-up could be something like, “Buying my first house.” You could meet every week and talk about all of the ways and you can have people come in who can provide financing and tell their story. The idea is to teach before selling because that’s how people get to trust you. I know you know this.

I call it edu-selling because you’re educating before you’re selling and it’s a service call, not a sales call.

The other thing is that there are many times that we give away our services before we try to sell so people can get to know us and have some confidence in who we are and what we do. That’s another way. The tribes that I build, to be clear, are in order to certify people. I’m not sure this has an application exactly in your industry but in my world, a certified coach can charge more, has more gravitas, can get leads from the client that they’re certified from and can hold the profession around being certified.

That can be applied to any business. If you are leveling up your skillset and obtaining all the designations that you possibly could have, that goes a long way to the loyalty as well. It shows that you care about the practice that you’re trying to build.

Teach before selling because that's how people get to trust you. Click To Tweet

From one standpoint, having certifications is a good way to say to people, “I’m qualified. I know what I’m doing here. I’m certified in these three things.” If you’re the company that’s providing the certification, that’s an incredible business model and it’s one that I help clients with every day.

Anybody who’s reading can think of certification. There is a real estate agent that I coached that has been talking about, “Why don’t we have this certification out in the marketplace so we can talk about it offline?” She wants to know why realtors don’t have this one particular certification. It’d be great if she could start it. It’s heartfelt. It’s an organization, a foundation that’s close to her heart. It has all the breeding of those types of businesses and people that would be attracted to them. I love these ideas of maybe you shave your price a little bit to get more exposure. It’s about educating before you’re selling, teaching classes, starting a meet-up or two. I love the niche that the realtor had. That was her niche. It was a service niche.

As much as it could be a product niche or whatever so that you can become that master influencer in your area where people know that that’s what you do. Let’s say someone is on their way and they’re finally getting a bunch of clients. They’re getting to a capacity that now has other problems. It’s not building the tribe. Now the tribe is built, it’s taking care of the tribe. What are some of the things that you learned when you talked about your business that did $250 million, that you had over 10,000 clients? What kind of transition happens there that ensures that they get the same type of service and the same type of view that they expect it when you were smaller?

It comes down to culture more than anything else. What we have as a culture course, we teach how to create a deliberate culture for your tribe once you start the process of building it. It’s very hard to install culture after the tribe is in place because usually, by then it’s chaos. That’s your culture.

That’s truly what it is. In the beginning, I need leads, I need people. I have all the people, now what? Everything starts falling through the cracks. In the courses that you’re teaching people when you do the certification, are you doing the certification and then saying, “By the way, we need culture?” Are you building that into the certification from the very beginning? 

We build it from the very beginning. It’s one of the first things that we do. I work with the CEO of the company to find out what their why is. I want to find out what their true passion is and we use that as the basis for building their culture.

MLM 226 | Building Your Tribe
Building Your Tribe: Having certifications is a good way to say to people, “I’m qualified. I know what I’m doing here.”


There are a lot of managers and a lot of owners of companies that are reading this. We want to make sure that they know that you’re available for them to reach out to if they want to fix their culture because they may be so far. I assume that you help them with fixing the culture too. Let’s assume that we have clients, we have a great culture, what’s in store for the company? What happens next? Do we hum along at that pace with the culture? Is there something else that needs to be built in?

There’s a lot that goes forward from there as you can imagine. There are two big steps that come at around the point that you described. The first is the systems. You have to make sure that you uplevel your systems and you have to be looking to do that at every step. The systems that got most people to where they are won’t get them to the next level. What we do is we help people assess the systems they have and eventually transition those to higher-powered, more capacity, faster ways of working with people and consolidating. The second thing is the owner themselves. Is this the life that they want? I work with people who are running a successful company but they’re completely burned out. Their wife wants to divorce them and they hate their job, which is literally what they have at that point. My job is to help them transition to a place where they get back to enjoying their life again.

It’s not even just the job, hating their job, the overwhelm, the divorce or whatever, but physically. They’re amassed too because they don’t take care of themselves and it’s driven and they’re trapped. It’s like being in prison. I love that you say that because that’s a lot of the stuff that I coach in as well for the small entrepreneur and the mortgage person. That’s important because what happens is someone plants a seed at a company and says, “You’re good at this. You might want to consider having a business like this.” Now they have to take care of all aspects of it. The sales piece, even if they’re not a salesperson. The HR, even if they’re not an HR person. They get trapped into having to be everything for everybody. I love that you’re helping them go on to the next level, which I’ve got to talk to you about by the way too, because I’m going to be starting a new podcast called From Success To Significance: Life After Breaking Through Glass Ceilings. That’s what happens. We go, “What do we do now? Now what? What do we do with our lives?” It’s a cool thing to see that. Let me ask you another question. This is more on the personal side. What drives you? Your passion is to help these people get more business and stuff, but what’s your passion for you?

I returned from a place called Myanmar, formerly named Burma. It’s in Asia. I was there for two weeks with just one purpose and that’s to photograph. That’s my passion. I travel the world with my camera.

What are you going to do with that?

What I do is build galleries online and I put them up on my website. At that point, I just do that. Years and years ago, my employees prompted me to enter a contest and I won the contest. The good news was it was nice to win a contest even though I didn’t want to enter it. From there, I was asked to exhibit all over the country. I started to exhibit and I had been in several. Honestly, it was starting to take so much of my time that now photography was work and it wasn’t pleasure anymore. I chose to stop doing that and focus entirely on just to travel and making the photos. There are people who buy my pictures but it’s not what I’m here to do.

There's no better way to be true to yourself than by honoring your own needs. Click To Tweet

I definitely can resonate with you on that. I was talking to someone about them saying, “How big do you want your coaching company to be? It can be the biggest, baddest and best.” I was like, “I already had my empire.” I just want to enjoy and give back to people and make some money in the process. I want to be able to give back to people and condense their learning curve with my experiences and stuff. I can understand that thought process. Tell us what you are reading right now that is inspiring you?

It’s Captivate. This is one of those books where my girlfriend bought this for me and I said, “I’ll stick it on the stack of books that are about three-feet high.” She said, “I’m reading this book. I think you’re going to love it,” like three times. I said, “Okay.” I opened the book and I started reading and I said, “This is fantastic.”

It’s captivating for you as well. Tell us a little bit about what it is. Is it how to captivate clients?

It’s more about learning how to use simple personality hacks to do well when you socialize to go to networking events and do a better job at that. It’s also a way of getting more self-confidence in yourself by raising your skills in that area and in basic communication with people. It’s simple things like how to provide a great handshake. It’s also some subtle psychological things too, which I love. There are little hacks about the way people are. There are ways of evaluating others relatively quickly as well.

I’ve heard that before like, are you captivating or are you in a position where you’re trying to get everyone’s attention? There are two different things in that. One is people are drawn to you and the other is you’re going, “Hello.” You’re ringing bells and trying to get everybody’s attention and be everybody’s friend. Thank you for sharing that book and thanks for sharing a little bit about what you’re learning in it too. I love asking everybody what they’re reading and anybody who’s reading this would have 52 books a year to have to read as a result of the show. What is your favorite quote?

There are several. I’m going to paraphrase because I don’t have it memorized. Steve Jobs happens to be someone I admire. There are probably a million people who admire Steve Jobs. One of the things that he said in a graduation speech that he gave at a university was to be true to yourself. There’s no better way to do that by honoring your own needs. A lot of people put their needs to the side for their partner’s needs or their company’s needs. If you honor your own needs, it’s the way of staying happy. To me, being happy is what we’re all here to do. That’s the primary goal of being here on planet Earth and I’m doing my best to live that every day.

MLM 226 | Building Your Tribe
Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People

I’m going to look it up because I want to know exactly how it goes. I coach on Lifestyle Business Mastery about recognizing what you want in your life to honor yourself and then build your business around it rather than building the business and trying to squeeze everything else in. That’s exactly what you’re doing. As you elevate people up into these different levels in their businesses. Mitch, if someone wanted to get in touch with you, someone who’s an entrepreneur is reading or a CEO of a company or a manager of a company that wants to get their CEO get in touch with you, what is the best way to reach out to you?

You could email me at or you can go to You could read all about the things I do and some of the projects and some of the clients that I’ve worked with.

That’s wonderful. Mitch, thank you so much for sharing this with me. It’s fascinating what you’re doing and I love that you’re helping these businesses get to this capacity and then leave a dynasty for their families on the backside of it. The techniques and tricks that you gave us. For those of us that are in a smaller group of people to get that loyalty to come in. I absolutely love those ideas. We don’t have to do the same thing every single day. We can be out there giving to charity, we can be out there giving someone a break at a price. We could be niching ourselves so that we’re attracting these clients. Thank you so much for all of those wonderful ideas. I hope that everyone will take those and put those into action. The result will be that they’ll have 1,000 clients if they don’t have them or 10,000 in the year or two to come just by what you’ve said here. Thank you so much for joining us.

It’s my pleasure.

To our audience, thank you so much for joining us. I am grateful and honored whenever I know that you’re reading and providing me all the feedback. Please take Mitch up on his offer to connect with him. If you think that this is something that will resonate with you and you’re looking to uplevel the number of clients you serve and in the manner you serve them. I look forward to chatting with you next time on Mortgage Lending Mastery.

Important Links:

About Mitch Russo

MLM 226 | Building Your TribeMeet Mitch Russo, who started a software company in his garage, sold it for 8 figures and then went on to work directly with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes to build a $25M business together.

Nominated twice for Entrepreneur of the Year, Mitch helps companies scale rapidly! Mitch’s 1st book is “The Invisible Organization – How Ingenious CEOs are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies and he’s here with us today with a new book called Power Tribes – How Certification Can Explode Your Business Podcast Host of Your First 1000 Clients.

Creative Real Estate Financing With Chuck Sutherland

MLM 225 | Real Estate Financing

MLM 225 | Real Estate Financing


In the world of real estate financing, finding fresh ways to go about things gives you a good strong edge in the game. Creative real estate financing has the power to put you ahead of other people doing the same things you are. Chuck Sutherland, an award-winning real estate investor and developer, chats with Jen Du Plessis about some creative real estate financing techniques that you can pick up and begin incorporating into your practice. The real estate investment field tends to get crowded sometimes, but these techniques shared by Chuck can and will give you an advantage, and allow you to maximize the potential of your investments and protect you from and possible failures.

Listen to the podcast here:

Creative Real Estate Financing With Chuck Sutherland

I’m excited about our episode because I have a friend and colleague of mine, Chuck Sutherland. He is a master at creative financing for anything and everything to do with real estate from small residential all the way to multifamily, commercial and complex retail. You name it, he’s done it. He has a great career and reputation and he’s here to share with us some secrets. Welcome, Chuck.

Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

I’m glad to have you. Your career has been really long. You’ve been in the business for many years. You’ve been a real estate investor, a real estate developer and your families in construction. You’re a consultant for a lot of people. You’re also a private money investor. There are many things that you do that it’s almost impossible to say where to start. I want to start at the very beginning and let everybody know that you have a couple of books. It’s going to go in the order of what we’re going to talk about. The first is your book called Creative Down PaymentsThe second book you have is Creative Seller Financing and the third book is Advanced Creative Real Estate Financing. I want to talk about your passion because I also know that you had been very interactive with micro-business loans for women. I want to start there to see if we can dip into what your passion is and what has led you to this creativity that you have and why you feel like there’s such a need for it in our marketplace. There’s been a need for many years, nobody knew about it. You’ve been on the bandwagon for a long time.

Back in 1987, I heard about this organization called the Grameen Bank out of Bangladesh, which made loans to the poorest women in the country as small as $75 so that women could start their businesses. Women couldn’t borrow at the banks in Bangladesh. It was very difficult for them to even get into the business of any kind. Professor Yunus started making loans and he started getting other people to make loans. With five million borrowers, they had over a 95% repayment rate, which was higher than the commercial banks in Bangladesh.

He considered that women who wanted to work and have their businesses were extraordinary credit risks. He started working on that early in the ’70s. I learned about him in 1987. I became part of the international movement instead of countries giving grants to governments that they made loans to women to start their businesses. The United States got involved in that and other countries did. It wasn’t a handout. It was an opportunity for people to control their destiny. I was on the board of directors of the international organization we work with for years.

Muhammad Yunus, who was the founder of the bank and won the Nobel Peace Prize for that was on the board with us and many other people that were extraordinary people, but highly committed. In 1987, there were seven million women that had their loans for self-employment around the world, five of them in Bangladesh itself. Out of that movement, it’s an undiscovered, untalked about movement. We’re at about 150 million, primarily women. There are some men in different organizations not in Bangladesh but all around the world that get loans for their own business and the repayment rates are still as high as they were in Bangladesh.

What made you want to go in that direction to serve that particular community? Maybe given your background, I know you’re one of eight kids. I don’t know how many boys or girls or where you fit in. Had you seen someone in your life struggle with that type of situation that you felt compelled to help?

When I was growing up, we were poor. My dad worked extraordinarily hard to be able to get ahead. One of the things he had a hard time doing was borrowing money because we wanted to be in business for himself, but it took him a decade before he could turn his dream into a reality because he couldn’t finance anything. Loans remained on collateral only. I grew up poor. When I was working in the world of real estate, I put a little money on a deal when I was twenty years old. Financing property, when you don’t have money, take something. When you don’t have money, the bank will loan you money if you prove that you don’t need it typically. How do you do something if you have no collateral start with and you have no money to start with? I started working with creative approaches to rent ranging financing and that’s why I wrote those three books.

They’re all about some form of financing because I had to learn how to creatively finance transactions or I couldn’t do anything. There are lots of examples that are commercial. Some of them are residential, but the principles are all the same. I talked about it in my book. Every principal, every strategy has a residential example and a commercial example. I was very excited to write that because what I developed and learned from others many times over the years that helped me get going myself and finally I have found ways to get financing in transactions. It took me years to be able to get to the point where I was doing what I wanted to do in terms of buying and developing property. I knew how those women felt, not having an easy route to get out of poverty.

Create an edge to protect against the failure of a deal. Click To Tweet

It’s to realize their dreams too and not to have their dreams crushed.

Particularly women in the third world, in this country, who don’t have a ready way out to fulfill their dreams because they don’t have the financing resources to get there. That’s why I started doing that. I met my wife doing that. Years after we met, we talked on the phone. She was doing grad school paper interviewing me and we ended up getting married. She moved to Dallas, which I moved to Dallas and it was from Wichita and St. Louis, I’m traveling a lot. That’s where I got involved with the opportunity for people in poverty to have a step out that wasn’t a handout that trusted and that they could repay. There are ways that were done that women, small groups, guaranteed each other’s loans and worked with each other to make sure people are successful. It is a heartwarming true miracle in terms of what’s happened for self-employment for poor people throughout the world. One of these days it’ll be like, you got the Nobel Peace Prize and then people forgot about it.

That’s sad too, especially with the impact that everybody’s made. I took a dive into that. I wasn’t sure if that was where it was going to be perpetuated from, but I’m glad it sounds like it is. You own Creative Real Estate Network, which can be found all over the place on the internet and in your career you’ve done over $200 million or been involved in over $200 million worth of property exchanges. I know that you did a very impressive one across five states and four different people and the private money movement. Let’s start with the Creative Down Payments book that you have because many of our audience are residential lenders, a few commercial lenders, some commercial and real and residential loans or realtors, some title companies.

Obviously, entrepreneurs who may or may not want to be involved in investing have been in the business as a lender, if I wasn’t able to help anybody get a loan and I have lots of resources. I’m very resourceful. One of my specialties was investment properties, but it was all residential. It wasn’t commercial, it was multifamily, but it wasn’t the depth of everything. If I couldn’t find a source for them, I felt horrible because I couldn’t send them anywhere. I couldn’t do anything for the person. Can you give us an example of what a loan officer or a realtor might encounter on a daily basis that your systems and your pathway of creativity could maybe help them get the deal done?

The Creative Down Payments program, it was the strategy I used to be able to get into investment properties originally so that I could build my estate, build my own wealth over a period of time. I had certain things I could do in a transaction, especially in downtimes. We’re in a boom but it will not last. It goes up and down like a roller coaster. Once I had a house that was for sale. It’s not a tough neighborhood but it needs a lot of work. I had it for sale and I had a buyer come along who wanted to look at the house and he was a plumber. He and his wife had four kids and he worked a day job. With four kids, that takes up a lot of money. They never had any savings.

They couldn’t build up savings with their kids and medical bills. I had this property for sale and it did require some work. It’s going to require a special person, but it required cleaning up and painting, maybe a little plumbing work too. He said, “I don’t have any money for a down payment on it. I wanted to look at the house because it’s close to my job.” I said, “Why don’t we talk about this?” I’m going to preface what I’m going to tell you and say, “I tell all my people to do what I did,” which was a document in the contracts and disclose to everybody involved what’s happening in these transactions. You do not want to hide anything from a loan officer or from your bank because people do.

It’s not reputable and people would go to jail for that. Here’s what we did, I wrote a contract and disclosed it. I wrote a contract for him to buy my house that had for sale and $15,000 as a down payment and new financing because he had plenty of income. He needed a down payment. The contract was subject to him being able to sell some advanced payments to make services at or before closing. There’s a separate contract. I bought $15,000 worth of plumbing services to be used at nights on weekends when he wasn’t working. I’m being able to sell my house over here. The two contracts were right together. They had to close at the same time. I had a use for it for plumbing credits because I had a bunch of small houses, duplexes and units. We signed the contract, we found a local lender who would make that loan and we closed. I got my credits and use them on nights and weekends when I had plumbing problems. It’s a win-win situation.

What was the response to lenders in that type of situation given the fact that you’re the seller and you’re the person who’s involved in this side contract for doing that?

The first two-lenders we went to didn’t understand it. Another lender thought it was somehow a violation of some law, but we’re disclosing everything we’re doing. The fourth one local lender made the loan. Everybody in that situation was successful and won that transaction. I had another transaction very similar to this where I had a duplex in a pretty bad condition. It was old but inside the units were clean and it was very cheap. I had it for sale and I decided I was going to split the duplex in half and I could get a lot line split right down the middle of the duplex.

MLM 225 | Real Estate Financing
Real Estate Financing: You can negotiate to buy or sell property, and the downpayment is something other than real estate.


One of the tenants who had lived there, paid for the facility, that apartment duplex many times over with rent. I said, “If you paint the inside and outside, I’ll give you the paint. I’ll give you a $2,000 credit as a down payment on the purchase of this property and subject to you have been able to assume the loan and release the other side of the duplex.” The idea was if the loan payments that he would have were pretty much what the rent was at that time. The mortgage payment and the rent were about the same. They were happy to do that. I say he was a couple, but he made other decisions back then.

I took it to the lender and they were glad to release the other side because they converted a unit investment loan to a residence owner-occupied loan. They were happy to make that transition. We closed that and I have a free and clear half of a duplex. I sold it to that tenant on exactly the same terms and conditions, $2,000 down subject to a new loan. I went back to that same financial institution, they made a new loan to that tenant. That’s only one example of down payments. When you get in the commercial world, we’ve used the land as a down payment to buy a property and we bought a hotel.

Are they taking over payments of land or accepting free and clear land?

The one example I was telling you about is me and my partner we bought a hotel in North Dakota and part of what we did was we carved off a piece of the land that we bought from a neighbor. We sold that, they gave that property at closing to the seller of the property. We had financing to be able to finance the rest of the purchase. We used the land we were acquiring from a third party to give to the seller of the hotel as a down payment. We still had to have financing. We were able to get in with the lesser of a down payment, which was the key part.

The whole idea is being able to upgrade the down payments. There are a lot of things and assets people have as down payments and most real estate people don’t think of them as an asset. We’ve done RV’s as a down payment. We’ve given land as a down payment, received land as a down payment. I created a mortgage loan on a building I needed to refinance it when we get done. I had to expand it a couple of times before the tenant took possession. I created a note to a man who would make a loan, but I ended up buying his timeshare in Palm Springs for $25,000 for the deal to close.

He gave me his money and I bought him a property down in Palm Springs. I got $100,000 cash and the Palm Springs property. I took the $100,000 cash, put it in the building, finished it, sold it and pay him back. He went from $100,000 to $125,000 plus interest timeshared. I didn’t close it. I used it to buy another timeshare in San Francisco. I live in this world where if you can figure out a way to buy or sell a property when the market is not providing that access. There are properties that are marketable value but I have no market for that value. The properties are in real trouble.

The property is in foreclosure sometimes. We’ve done this with the banks to solve their problem when they foreclosed our property. It’s a unique way to do business. The idea behind this is simple, whether it was your buyer or seller. You can negotiate to buy a property or sell a property and the down payment is something other than real estate. It could be a personal property or it could be other real estates. The whole idea is that you do not have to be a victim of what the marketplace is if you can find a way to solve everybody’s problems. Everybody’s goals are in the transaction.

I was going to say that’s a win-win but I know that you tend to call it what goes around comes around. If you could help someone else out, then someone can help you in the future. Your connections must be pretty massive or expansive at people who have money. To me, I’m thinking a lot of spinning plates or he has this money and we have that and a lot of moving parts to it. How do you manage that?

One is I’m a member of a couple of national organizations where we worked with each other. We trust one another. We know what each other’s limitations are. Some people bring cash to a transaction. Some people bring work. I’ve done a lot of real estate development. Even as the worker be, you could say the person on the boots on the ground doing the work. The bottom line is that there are a lot of ways and a lot of people in the country that can help you. One of the things I tell people is that when you need to put together the resources to do it in any transaction, it’s not after you’ve found all the property that you’re going to do, you should put the resources way back here at the beginning before you even knew you had a transaction. That’s lenders, contractors, partners and title companies.

The more edge you have, the more ability you have to close transactions that others wouldn't be able to. Click To Tweet

Even insurance, making sure that they can do what you need to do as well. I did find that a lot in my career and lately, I happened to because I don’t do traditional lending anymore. I’m not required to have a license, but I do a lot of investment lending. Fix and flips, buy and hold and those types of things. The market out there has a whole other world of no questions asked on income, but give me some collateral. Of course, they come to me after they’d been through six different traditional lenders and then I got the call saying, “I know you’re not doing money anymore, but do you do that quirky stuff? We need a deal. By the way, I needed it yesterday.” I’m like, “No, it’s not going to happen.” I’m going to pretend like we’re starting out. It’s going to take a good month for me to figure this out because I have to figure out what you’ve tried and what didn’t work. I have to pitch it. We’ve got to get appraised. We still have to do that.

That’s an underwriting.

It has to be underwritten, but it’s a very light underwrite. We didn’t end up pulling the deal together in time and the guy lost $20,000, but it wasn’t my fault. He had already lost the $20,000 a day he wrote the contract. Somebody should’ve known, so he didn’t have to lose his earnest money deposit.

There are ways to do transactions. The key message I want to leave people with is that whether you’re buying, selling or lending, you want to find, create and expand whatever edge that you can develop, not against anyone else, but edge against failing at any contract you come upon. An edge, for example, is having some money to be used as a down payment. An edge would be having people that are knowledgeable about the construction of the property you’re going to work on. An edge can include your mental edge of being prepared to do whatever it takes to find out whether a deal is a good deal or not a good deal. Even an edge can be the speed of making decisions. That’s going to be whatever partners that you can line up to put into a transaction with you if it’s too big for your resources.

One of the things is all these techniques that we’ve talked about and I’ve written about are all in this world of how do you create an edge? An edge against the failure of a deal. You got a huge tool belt of resources that you can reach and bring together. The focus is on resources all the time. You’re adding people that have money as a party resource. You had a property that you have your skill in terms of knowing what to do with this property. You have people that know how to work with other properties. You create an edge against failure.

Anybody can do that. There are lots of things that are edges against failure, but there’s a lot of things that take away from that edge. I was talking to a residential investor and he bought houses that needed some work and he’d do some white turnaround work with him, clean up. He would do that and he would put it back on the market. He got a call from an elderly woman and she said, “I have a house for sale. Would you be interested in buying it? Are you still buying houses?” She saw one of his advertisements.

He said, “Sure, what’s the address?” She gave him the address and he says, “I’ll be right over.” She said, “You’re going to come over?” He said, “Of course, I’m going to come over. I’ve got to look at the house and talk to you and see if we can put together a transaction.” She said, “I’ve talked to sixteen or seventeen different investors in the last two days. I even had one guy when I told him what I wanted for the house, he cursed me out and slammed the phone down on me. I didn’t think anybody would come out and look at my house.” He said, “I will.”

We went out and he sat down and talked with her. He found out what the most important things that she needed in a transaction. One of which was that she was going to move into a home with somebody else and she needed 60 days to be able to stay in the property. The person that I’m talking about, he said, “Sure, that’s no problem. You can stay here, but we may be doing some work around the house.” She said, “No problem. I wanted to stay.” What’s important to her was that she could stay in that property for 60 days. Nobody else was going out and talking to her.

They were all pushing her away saying, “We don’t want to talk with you if you’re not going to give us a price we want on the frontend.” An edge that you can lose at the edge of relationships with people. People close transactions and the property doesn’t have anything to do with who’s going to close it. The edge piece is that you can make or break your edge every day in the business you’re working in. The more edge you have, the more you can find ways to close transactions that normally would not close and other people couldn’t close.

MLM 225 | Real Estate Financing
Real Estate Financing: When you need to put together the resources for a transaction, it shouldn’t be after you’ve found property.


That’s probably the golden nugget and what we’ve been talking about too is to have that edge on it. We won’t have time to talk about it, but I know you do a lot of high-level deal makers. For those that are reading in that high-level area in the market, that’s something that you work with as well. I also know that you have a course that’s called Creative Real Estate Formula. Tell us about the course that you have.

I got two courses. The first one is on, How to Raise Money for Real Estate for Investments. How do you find money that you can use to invest in a property that you want to invest in, develop, buy and remodel? How do you find joint venture partners? I have another course and it’s called the Ultimate Money-Raising Formula. I also have a course called the Real Estate Deal Makers Program. In that, we look at how you develop the skills that you need to be able to be in the business of buying and selling, remodeling and picking a property. I’m talking about not the simple things like, what an escrow is? I’m talking about what it takes to make a business for yourself? Being involved in real estate rather than spending all the time that you’re looking for a $1 million return on the first transaction.

A house with positive cashflow. That always seemed to be the big thing. It has to have positive cashflow. I said, “Maybe not. It doesn’t necessarily have to have positive cashflow.” It cracks me up too because in Virginia where I live, people will pay $700, $800, $900 a month for a car payment, but they won’t have a $25 negative cashflow on a property that’s appreciated. I can’t understand it. I don’t know the psyche of it, but they’re not the right people for investing. You have to take the emotion out of what we’re talking about. This isn’t, “Yes, you may want that home.” You’ve got to take the emotion out in order to get over all the hurdles in getting to the property if that’s what you want is that pride of ownership. Obviously, if you’re an investor, you’d want to take the course, but as a realtor or a lender, you want to be taking these courses.

You don’t want to be blindsided by your clients saying, “I heard and I knew about this.” This up levels your credibility and it increases your professional growth when you learn new ways and things that are out there that you never even knew about. We think we know everything about lending, but we only know about lending as it’s written in a book. It’s a guideline that we have to live by. It behooves you to know as much as you possibly can about this industry to whatever capacity you want. Whether you want to go all the way to commercial or you want to be involved with the advanced creative things or if you want to take a nice first starter. A jumpstart course on, “I didn’t realize all this world is out there,” and you can start building that connection for yourself as well. I want to end by asking you two more questions. The first is who is your mentor? Who do you look up to?

That’s a big question. I have so many of them. When I got into the self-storage business, there’s a man out of Wichita, Kansas by the name of Colby Sandlian who was one of the founders of the self-storage business. We were talking one day and he offered me a partnership. This was in 1990. I was the boots on the ground. I developed and bought existing self-storage and turned it around. We built self-storage. He has in my small part of the world in Dallas, Fort Worth area, Oklahoma City and Shreveport, Louisiana. We did about fourteen self-storage projects.

We joint ventured a bunch of self-storage projects around the country. What we did was to supply expertise to the people that wanted to develop them. We ended up with small pieces of action, small pieces of ownership on a lot of different properties. He got me started and taught me the practicality of the self-storage industry as opposed to the theory of the self-storage industry. There’s a huge difference in terms of how do you figure out what a good location to build a property is. How do you figure that out? How do you manage the property so that you have the maximum return? Everybody thinks that you raise the rates, but frequently that’s not the case.

There are five different ways to increase income. Have you ever converted a mobile home park into a storage unit?

I have not.

The reason why I said that is one of my uncles did that in Michigan. I know you went to the University of Michigan. They bought a mobile home park that was falling apart. They eventually got everybody moved off and bought people off. The slabs, they then built storage on because it was already there. It’s another little creative way. Could you share with us what your thoughts are for the market that we’re about ready to approach in 2020?

Going out and learning about things you don't already know increases your professional growth. Click To Tweet

I’m very cautiously optimistic. The construction costs have gone through the roof. I’ve done a lot of new construction. I cannot honestly tell you what a project is going to cost. I would be building in a year after I get everything put together. I’ve got a self-storage project I was trying to put together down in Arizona simply because I couldn’t pin down the costs of labor, lumber and steel.

I heard that in New York at a conference I was speaking at. It’s the same thing. They have so many overruns on costs in New York City, yet we have a bad shortage of housing nationally for everybody. They’ve got us by these construction costs because we need more housing.

We needed it all across the country.

You’re somewhat bullish.

I’m optimistic that the economy in the middle run, two or three years. I taught macroeconomics for a college one time. I’m cautiously optimistic. What’s unpredictable is after two or three years and when we get to that point, we have tons of issues that are about ready to come back and bite us. I don’t know which way it’s going to turn. In Europe, they got negative interest rates. How do you make a deal on negative interest rates?

They have negative interest rates. Everybody’s like, “I want that.” It’s not what you think it is. We do have some oversupply in certain areas. In the commercial, we still have some oversupply. We see that here in Virginia, where a lot of commercial buildings are being converted into residential condos. For us, it’s housing those that are coming in and doing the building. I live in the richest county in the country. They can’t afford to come in here and work to build the things that need to be built and because they don’t have the housing.

There’s a lot to talk about that. Of course, there’s a talk about recession, which we’re already in and how that’s going to affect things. We’ve been so spoiled with rates being so low for so long that any tick up in interest rates puts the skids on pretty much most of the market, at least on the traditional side. It’s another election year, it doesn’t matter what side you fall on. Do you feel that’s going to have a major impact on the housing and economy or do you feel that regardless of who gets into office, there’ll be a trickling impact a couple of years later?

I don’t think they’ll have any significant impact. In every election I’ve ever seen over my lifetime, every time the other party was going to get an office, it was going to be the ruin of the country and that never happened. I don’t think it makes any difference in terms of the long-term, the short-term materials and the cost of labor and money. Over the long-term, it makes almost no difference who’s in power in any particular national office. Maybe in local offices, it may make a difference because of the ease or difficulty in getting building permits.

The last question relative to that is, are you buying or selling?

MLM 225 | Real Estate Financing
Real Estate Financing: Whether you’re buying, selling, or lending, you want to create or expand any edge you can develop.


I’m not selling. We’re holding and I am looking for opportunity. This is another thing that’s an edge. When you don’t have to do a deal that you can choose because why choose to do a deal that’s going to for sure be uncertain and cost you money? I’m very cautious and I’m more of a long-term buyer and developer as opposed to a short-term flip person.

For me, I don’t like to fix and flips.

I’m cautiously optimistic over the short-term. I’m cautiously optimistic over the middle-term. If it’s a middle-term, meaning 2 to 3 years. After that, I have no clue. There’s an old saying, “If you’re in a firefight, keep your powder dry,” because you might need that powder in order to deal with the enemy. In our case, the enemy is the recession or extreme economic dislocation.

Thank you so much, Chuck, for spending time with us. If you want to learn more about Chuck, you can reach out to him directly. If he doesn’t respond for whatever reason, you can give me a call and I’ll get him on the phone because I see him all the time. Thank you so much for shedding some new light on some more opportunities that are out there for people to expand and grow their personal growth and their professional growth, their finances. I look forward to continuing our relationship.

Thank you. It’s my privilege and my pleasure.

Thank you again for spending your time with us. We hope that you took a nugget or two away from this conversation that can change your business and change your life. Please continue to pay it forward by sharing this show with as many people as you feel could benefit from it. We’ll talk to you next time on Mortgage Lending Mastery.

Important Links:

About Chuck Sutherland

MLM 225 | Real Estate FinancingChuck Sutherland has been in the real estate investment business for over 40 years. He has been involved in the development of single and multi-family residential, commercial, retail, industrial, hospitality, and mini-storage projects. As either an investor/developer or consultant, Mr. Sutherland has participated in the completion of over $200 million in real estate transactions and developments.

Mr. Sutherland has also been a development consultant, conducting feasibility and market studies for industrial, commercial, hospitality, retail, min-storage, mobile home, and housing properties throughout the United States.

From 1980-1990, Chuck performed market studies and feasibility studies for self-storage projects throughout the United States. Between 1990 and 1998, he joint-ventured the development of self-storage projects in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Since 1998, Mr. Sutherland has developed and/or re-developed hotel projects in Kansas, Texas, and North Dakota.

Investing With Passion To Maximize Business Success With Jeff VanNote

MLM 224 | Investing With Passion

MLM 224 | Investing With Passion


It’s easy to go about your business breezily, just gliding by, doing things as you always have. However, investing with passion takes something more – and there are much greater rewards at that. Joining Jen Du Plessis to talk about marrying passion and business is the host of the Deposit That podcast and “The Mortgage Quarterback,” Jeff VanNote. Successful endeavors don’t begin and end at the knowledge level, important as that is. Passion is a huge motivator for the ultimate success of your projects. Find the core of your passion to maximize business success today!

Listen to the podcast here:

Investing With Passion To Maximize Business Success With Jeff VanNote

I have with me Jeff VanNote. He is The Mortgage Quarterback and he’s also the podcast host of Deposit That. I always want to say Deposit This instead of Deposit That. I’m going to find out why you named it what you did. I want to welcome you, Jeff, to our show.

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

We had the opportunity to meet each other and said, “We need to have each other on each other’s show.” I had the wonderful privilege of coming to New York City after an event. Now, here we are. Jeff, would you mind sharing a little bit about your history? I know you’re not producing anymore as a mortgage loan originator and you’re out in the world coaching people, guiding people and making your mark. Tell us about how that transition happened and then we’ll start getting into some of the things we want to talk about.

When I got into the business when I was young, 18, 19, 20 years old, I saw things being done so inefficiently. To take you back to when I got into the business like the iPod turned into the iPhone. The Blackberry was the Bible. It’s the be all end all for business in general when Obama had gotten elected. I saw people doing things inefficiently. There were people that were still copying files and people that were charging two or three points at the day of closing like, “Tell the client they’re getting 5.25%, no points.” The next day you go to closing, it’s 5.25% and 2 points or 3 points. I’m like, “Is this what this business is?” These guys run around with smiles on their faces. I’m like, “I don’t think this is right.” I think my real true purpose is to change the way business is done specifically in the mortgage business, but you can’t change something until you fully understand it A to Z.

The market as we experience in ‘08 and ‘09, ‘10 and ‘11 was that unknown, and ‘12 Dodd-Frank came about. The aftermath of Dodd-Frank, the regulation, tread and it was like, “Here’s another hurdle to get over.” When you think you’ve got the business figured out, something changed. You had to relearn something or implement some type of new rule or guideline. I had to do all of that. Finally in 2017, when I was like, “I think it’s safe to take everything I’ve learned, step away from the originating side of the business and develop some tools, concepts or platforms that everyone eventually one day will be able to implement into their own business.”

As you’re walking through that, one who would be reading was going, “Why am I staying in this business because of all these hurdles?” I can say that after my career of so many years that it’s like a drug. It becomes a drug. We whine and complain about the changes and the shifts and all that but we don’t leave. We’re still there. It’s such a great industry to be in. Of course, it had to go through the morph of moving into technology in order to slow the pace. It certainly wasn’t first to market and that’s what happened. We’re here in the market. You’re not originating anymore and you’re helping people move their businesses forward as well.

I want to talk a little bit about passion. You and I had talked a little bit beforehand about it. This is a hot topic for me as well. One of the challenges that I see with many people in sales, whether they’re realtors, a solopreneur because a lot of our audiences are as well as lenders. We lack the passion behind it. I know it sounds like beating a dead horse to say, “What’s your ‘why?’” My coach says, “What’s your ‘what?’” He has a whole different concept on it. What is it that you do that makes you different, special and unique? What’s your ‘what?’ It gets back to where is your passion? What thrills you? What fulfills you? What makes you happy? Understanding why you’re in the business that you’re in so that all of your decisions are based on chasing this passion. You aren’t in this business just to make money. That’s not a passion. That’s a means to an end. Let’s talk about that a little bit and tell us what your thoughts are around passion and mindset before we get into any tactical piece of it. It doesn’t make any sense if you don’t have your head on straight, you can’t forward.

I agree, passion and creativity are probably the driving force behind any successful endeavor. I think passion comes in different levels. I’ve always been passionate about sport. You go step below that surface and say, “Why am I passionate about sports?” I’ve been doing this whole self-discovery for many years. When you’re in a business, you’re going to make a lot of money and people were going to call you crazy. I always say, “I am crazy,” but I want to understand why I am crazy. I get a Facebook message at 11:00 from a lady who was never actually a client. It took me back down memory lane. In 2008 turning into 2009, I was entering what would have been a semester in college. I’ve already been cut from the football team.

I’ve already been in the mortgage business for a year plus. I got approached by a group that was trying to help a wounded army veteran who was over in Iraq. A bomb went off and the shrapnel blew through his head and he had shrapnel sticking out of his head. He had to be mended back to Washington, DC. He was completely paralyzed, could speak and lost all functional movement. I tell this story because I forgot about stories like this who have gone through the whole 2 or 3 loan process. The deal actually never closed because the VA delayed his stability income, which is $90,000 for two years because they didn’t deem him permanently disabled. I’m sitting here as a 22-year-old kid, senior in college and I have this United States veterans’ future housing in my hand.

I was able to bring my creativity and use it two or three tail loans to properly construct a ramp and special bedding and features for the house, which is 203(k) allows to make an impact. They shut down highways in New York City. They did a full-on parade, police cars, ambulances were paving the way. Deep down thoroughly my passion is to help people. Sometimes in the mortgage business, we forget why we’re in the mortgage business. The rewarding factor that you’re truly helping people and making a difference. The lady reached out to me not to say hello, but she’s like, “My son needs a mortgage. I don’t know anybody else that I would trust to help my son get his first mortgage.” I’m like, “I don’t do residence mortgage anymore.” I haven’t seen this lady in person since 2008 and ‘09. For somebody to reach back out after several years and yes, we’re friends on social media and Facebook, which shows you the power of that. That was the type of impact even at 22 years old that I made on someone’s life. That what fuels me. Seeing people come back to me for that expert advice and opinion helps separate myself from the rest of the pack.

Passion and creativity are the driving force behind every successful endeavor. Click To Tweet

That story reminds me of a similar story not to that degree. We do have several clients that we’re doing their children’s loans and their investments. We continue to do theirs over and over again as they move in transition when they have their life events. They’re a dime a dozen, it’s not that we can see them all the time. When you can create that, that’s powerful. When you’re talking about passion and you’re talking to someone who says, “I can’t find my passion. My passion is I want to make money.” I had someone say that, I said, “What’s your passion?” I was teaching a class once for realtors and people were coming up with all different kinds of things and someone in the back said, “Making money.” I said, “It’s actually not making money. Money’s the way to get there.” He got up and left.

It’s not for everybody.

That’s okay. You can leave. We want to make money, but it’s money to serve the passion. It’s to have more homes, if that’s what you want or to do more charity work or to spend more time with your family on vacations. That’s a stepping stone to get to what is important. Walk us through how do we find our passion? We’re sitting there and we’re saying, “I don’t know if I have a passion. How do I find it?”

When your heart and soul are aligning to something, your body will let you know. Your gut lets you know or your brain does. It’s tough. It’s not something that’s easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Part of the struggle that I’ve been working on is how do you tell someone to keep your passion separate from your profitability? If you’re passionate about it and you make it work and you’re not profitable, you may lose your passion for something, coming from an athletic background. Oppositely, if you could figure out how to make your passion profitable, this is awesome. I’ll tell you a story.

It’s funny for me knowing the story. It’s going to be funny for the people if you know it. It was a wake-up call. When I broke my ankle, I had four businesses all of which were 100% reliant on myself to generate that business. Yes, I had a support team. Yes, I had operations. Yes, I had people on the back end, but if you don’t have the gas pour into the funnel, the funnel is sitting there not being used. When I broke my ankle, I was laid up for over six weeks in excruciating pain. My ankle was swelled up so bad that I couldn’t leave the couch, I couldn’t walk. I delayed surgery ten days and it was that bad.

I realized at that point, the only thing I had was my fingers and my mind. My mind was battling pain back and forth. I’m a big sports guy and I got into flipping and investing in sports cards again. Back in the day, I’m sure your kids bought football cards, baseball cards, basketball cards and that fell out of the mainstream for many years. I’m like, “I need to find a business that I don’t need to speak to people in order to be able to make money.” I was looking at my portfolio of cards. I’m up with 240% in a year on the cards that I bought. I was able to take a passion, which is sports, watch the game, see who’s playing well, invest in the cards like they’re stock, and then eventually sell them for more money.

I was able to corporate my passion into a profitable standpoint. If my ankle didn’t break, I never would have done that because I never would’ve thought like, “I’ll never have to get off my feet for six weeks.” I think that’s a good lesson for everyone in the mortgage business that what are you going to do if you have that rainy day, God forbid car accident or you need surgery or you have a hip replacement or a new one. You can’t walk because whatever God forbid happens to you, you’re back and how are you going to be able to make a living if you’re laying up on a couch?

I think that a lot of people are singular-revenue driven, not multiple lines of revenue. It’s something to think about. What other lines of revenue could I at least start? You and I were laughing about it when we were in New York about the fact that we have these multiple businesses, which people think we’re crazy. It’s not that it’s the businesses, it’s that we have these multiple streams of income. If one is at a low point or one is at a high point, we have options available to us. Do you still have your card business? Is that one of the businesses?

Now that I’m back on my feet, it’s very challenging to keep up with it. When you’re laying in front of the TV for 6 to 8 weeks, all you have to do is research and all that stuff. I have the ones that I purchased. I very rarely buy anymore. I made a significant investment, almost six figures into it. We’ll see where it goes as time goes on. I’m a believer that if you know for sure if something’s going to keep going up, don’t sell it and take the immediate profit. That’s my mindset. I still watch it on a daily basis. I still more so look at highlights or statistics after a game. Who knows, at the end of the day, it could grow to $1 million. It could stay at what I bought it at, but it’s more of a fun thing to still be incorporated into the sports world and mix my passion with profit.

Let’s go back to the passion for someone who is reading and saying, “I don’t even know where to start. Do I take a day off? Do I talk to people and say, ‘What do you think makes me look happy?’ Do I write down that I love looking at butterflies?” What are some of the tactics that you have your clients go through to discover their passion?

MLM 224 | Investing With Passion
Investing With Passion: If you know for sure that the value of something is going to keep going up, don’t sell it for its immediate profit.


You probably think of ten people off your head. You ever heard somebody say like, “I always wanted to do that.” I’m always like, “Do it.” Unless it’s something that’s crazy like, “I want to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.” I would not advise doing that. Try it, do it. The other thing is opening your circle up to different like-minded people. Meaning driven people but maybe in a different profession. Strategic people that are working with technology or strategic people that are working with farming or whatever it might be. You might want to grow your nursery and get into that. You might get into the spirit world and start meditating, but unless you try so many different things, you’re not going to know what you like and don’t like. You might think you like something and you do it and you might not. Trying different things is vital.

That’s one way to start discovering the different passions that you have. How do those passions marry into business?

I looked up one of my properties off the market. Once you take a property off-market, your phone rings nonstop with the cold calling from realtors. I’ve been talking to this lady. She came from the corporate world, “I come from a corporate background. I did X, Y and Z.” I’m like, “From 2014 through 2016, I played on seven different softball teams, played over 140 games a year. Every year I average between $100,000 and $200,000 of closed business just from my softball teams that I went, played, and had fun. It was a passion for me, but it was a service for them.” It’s incorporating something that you’re good at or you’re interested in and letting that select group of people know that you’re the expert in that field. If you’re a dancer and you like dancing, go join dance clubs. Tell people you love dancing, you dance your whole entire life. They probably can relate to that and you’re in the mortgage business. They’re going to be like, “I love Jen. She’s a dancer.”

It depends on what people don’t say.

I believe when I first started training New York City realtors when I was 25 years old in Midtown Manhattan. I was 25 years old coming from the Bronx training realtors in Manhattan about the mortgage business and people are like, “I don’t want to be a realtor.” I’m like, “Why do you have your real estate license?” If you’re keeping the fact that you’re a realtor a secret, you should quit because the more people know you’re in real estate, the more likely you are to get a deal. It doesn’t cost anything. They didn’t have the power to go out and say, “You know what I’m talking about, I’m a realtor.” That’s what got me into education, getting people more confident in their craft.

I see that a lot too just sitting on boards at an association realtor. I’ve been on the board, I’ve been in committees. There’s never a lot of cross-pollination by the affiliates who are on the committee. When you’re at the real estate board, you’re on a committee, why aren’t you talking about your business? It’s either feast or famine maybe with lenders and maybe realtors too, or either attacking you or not doing anything. There’s no in-between. There’s no couth in how to broach that conversation and let it happen naturally, but still be the one who’s edging it along or nudging it along. If someone’s reading and they’re saying, “I get your point.” I have a client who’s like this. We had this conversation. She’s a black belt not just karate, but something else. She said, “I would never tell anybody I do that ever.” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

She’s cutting herself to the audience.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to say, “I get your point, I found my passion, I’m going to go play softball, I’m going to play laser tag, whatever it is?” How do I broach that conversation without sounding like I’m only there for that purpose?

Here’s what I’ve learned. It’s always been something that’s worked for me. I was a ground and pound guy for a long time, hit the streets, and hit real estate offices. If you walk into the office, you’re like, “I’m interested in your mortgage business. Harry, Susan and Martha were here before you. Sorry.” When you walk into someone’s territory, whether it’s their home, their office, they’re probably going to have a picture or a collection of their dog, a New York Yankees, a picture of Bill Clinton, whatever it is that’s having around you. For example, I bought my son this little pumpkin. If I walk into someone’s office and I see a pumpkin that’s painted a face, I’d be like, “Here’s my story. I just painted a pumpkin with my son.” You’re taking what they’re giving you the secrets and you’re connecting with them on something that they have that’s around them. That’s how you create the interpersonal relationship. People wouldn’t be able to do that because they’re only worried about getting the deal.

It’s a very old sales tactic but we don’t use them. We’re not in the world of traditional sales anymore. I think that’s part of it too. Part of it is to increase your heightened awareness, get your antennas up and start looking around and taking notes. Someone says, “My birthday’s coming up.” “That’s good.” Take note of that. Go deeper than just the superficial like, “I’m not okay.” I was talking to my daughter and I’m worried. She’s having major knee surgery. She said, “I’m starting to freak out about it.” I said, “That’s okay. You’ll be okay.” Do I do that or do I say, “Let’s stop and just think about it.” You trust your surgeons. Slow down so you can speed up the relationship rather than speeding up so that you don’t have any business. Does that make sense?

When your heart and soul are aligning to something, your body will let you know. Click To Tweet

Yes, absolutely. That’s a good point you make. People make things much more complicated than they have to be. Nowadays, a salesperson doesn’t listen. Back in the day, we had to listen. You’re walking in and you’re present, you’re on Instagram, on Facebook, checking your email and you’re worrying about what you’re doing for dinner. Whereas before, people were so much more present than you had to create that human interaction because people don’t have that or weren’t trained that. It’s mostly they get around people and they freeze up, they lock up.

Let’s transition into what you think is going to be happening in 2020. I know that you and I talked about digital and the thought around it. I’m a believer that I don’t feel that anyone’s job is going to be taken away because of the internet. I feel that you will lose your job if you don’t bring the internet, bring social media, and bring technology into your business. Help us understand some of the thoughts that you have around that. Some advice that you might want to give to someone who’s reading about how to take some action in that arena, if they’ve not done it so far or grow it if they need to.

I’m going to use the analogy of the Earth and the sun. When people in the mortgage business are Earth and on the sun that orbits around. I get close enough not to get burned to burn anybody. I hear everything. I watch everything, I see everything. That’s how I’ve always been and I never worried about what everybody will say. My ears are always open and I’m always listening. I do believe some realtors are safe, call it for the next 3 to 5 days. There will be still some need. There will be a bigger need that gets worse because you’re going to know the best online lending system. The banks don’t want to get off them approved for maybe 1 or 2 like your debt ratio is 44 and it’s supposed to be 43. You almost need a human to say, “Let’s get you to 42.99 or your credit score is 618, how do you get over 620? That’s more where the advisory and the advice comes in and someone who knows the business will always have some value. The question is how much are they willing to pay for that value? Are they going to use you for your value and then go back to the digital mortgage concept?

I truly believe people need a much bigger personal brand presence because it would be able to attract the right consumer. I can’t tell you how many deals I close for my private hard money and invested in business from Instagram, from people I’d never met but followed me for years. They liked me. They messaged me and they hand me their deal. It cost me nothing other than putting content out there that I believe is valuable. I’m always like, “If someone’s calling me with this question, it has to be one other person in the universe that needs to know about or wants to know about this and might find this interesting.” I closed it. I think people need to get much more secure with who they are as people, especially more secure as a professional.

As you’re talking about that too, it’s also taking action now. Now is the time. Your future is a series of nows. What are you doing now to secure your future? I know you’re talking about posting things, but it took some time. You didn’t just post and all of a sudden the whole world came to you. You had to start creating that brand. “This is what his message is. I wonder if he has something new to say.” “I want to know what he has to do and get ideas.” It takes some time to develop that, whether it’s 3 months, 6 months or 2 years, sometimes you’ll get that one opportunity that pops in but generally, it’s going to take some time to do it. Waiting for the world to fall down and then taking action is going to be to your detriment no matter what business you’re in.

It’s to give you feedback. The average person that messages me on Instagram starts with, “I love your stuff. I’ve been following you for about a year or so.” If someone comes to you first, you’re in control. If you go to somebody that’s going to lead, you’re not in control. When you reach out to them, they know they have you. It reversed the script on how these deep-buying companies operated. I think that’s an important number to keep in mind where it’s going to take you a year to get somebody to trust you most likely. If you have no expectations, you must be grateful because you got processed by 50%.

I do think that there’s so much distraction. Chasing anything and everything that might work and not just sticking to 1 or 2 things with some tenure to see if it is going to work. There’s a saying, “Most people quit right before they’re about to succeed.”

It’s true and that’s easy. You do this all along. “Another opportunity came up that I could settle for, let me go back to that.” Meanwhile, they’re one email or phone call away from getting everything they want. I’ve been there multiple times.

We’ve all done it.

It’s tough. As times change, it makes it that looks easier to throw in the towel because there’s so much noise and outside pressure that’s like, “Why am I not doing this? Why am I not doing what Joe’s doing?” It makes it very interesting. I think people need to focus on being patient. If you’ll just be patient, it will come. If you haven’t gotten what you’re looking for yet, maybe you’re not doing it the right way.

MLM 224 | Investing With Passion
Investing With Passion: A bigger personal brand presence will be able to attract the right kind of consumer.


It’s all about constant comparison and saying, “I have a lot of competition.” Not really, you’re just comparing yourself to them. That’s a blue ocean strategy. That’s the mindset of having a blue ocean strategy. Let’s talk about the market itself. Not about your branding, your passion, which leads to your brand and the digital market. What do you see is happening going forward in the market and what advice do you have for people that are reading?

I personally would not buy any real estate for the next several months because of the uncertainty. About 20% in 30 days, which is unheard of. It has to pull back. Nothing goes straight. There’s uncertainty with the election, uncertainty around rent regulations specifically our market here in New York City and New Jersey, there are a lot of unknowns. I got a call from a lady who owes $15,000 across two investments. It’s a hard money deal and worst-case scenario they underwrote that investment cashflow standpoint. At best case scenario, there’s $18 million deals combined. She owes $15 million into $18 million.

I wouldn’t do the initial deal and trying to help her out and she’s up on the impression, the real estate’s worth $27.5 million because she’s on appraisal. In one year, if someone put on paper $27.5 million and based on economic factors, it’s only worth $18 million. In general, people are feeling the finance boom. That’s happened every year for the past several years and grabbing a breath of fresh air. The person that has a regular fix income that doesn’t have a hustle or poor job, a wife that makes a lot of money, they’re feeling the squeeze and make those businesses. If interest rates go up, the market stopped. Then they plummeted the rates again.

From that point, I don’t like single-family home real estate. There was only a good deal to be had. If a home is worth $500,000 with the rates being at 3% and rates go to 4% in a perfect world, if the costs to borrow money goes up, the value of the asset has to come down. That’s why I made that rule up. I did it. I also think owning a home still comes with pride. You’re creating your kingdom. You’re creating your territory, you’re giving your family an asset to own. I always recommend it from a pride standpoint, but I don’t believe you should look at your primary residence home as an asset. I don’t think you should look at it as a liability. I think you should look at it as a place to call home and take the business. If you make money on it, great. If you are going to lose money on it, just don’t sell it and don’t move. Eventually, when the market gets strong again, you’ll probably sell it and walk away with some money. In general, my outlook on real estate is operate overall.

We’re in that same position. We sold a bunch of condos. We sold some townhouses too to get out of the market. These were properties that were prime for Airbnb, but the market is changing and there’s so much resistance for single-family, units, condos, townhomes, that type of thing to be rented out as Airbnbs. There’s such a big push back from the counties that we felt this is not the right time to have that type of investment. We’ve wanted to get rid of these for a while. We want to turn in our houses to make them hotels like a monopoly. That’s been the game for us. We’ve held off on doing anything else. We’re holding our cash and we’re just waiting.

Many people are going to do that. It’s a fear of the unknown. Top New York City lenders have zero purchases mortgage loans in our pipeline. Our pipeline is 100% refinances and these were four of these types. These top four guys are saying that, “They have no purchase business. It’s only a telltale sign.” Usually, what happens in Manhattan first is you’re dealing with a bigger ticket side.

It’s interesting that you say that too because it concerns me for people that are doing well because rates are low and they’re not doing well because they didn’t do anything different in their business. They just happen to be getting a lot of business because rates are low. Having their clients call them, because I know statistically most loan officers, as much as we’ve talked about it, do not communicate with their clients after closing. I say most, I’m not going to give a number but everybody I talked to, I was speaking in an event and there were 40 some people in there. I said, “Honestly, who of you have reached out to your clients? Not that they’ve called you.” Only three people raised their hand and I said, “Are you honest?” One person put their hand down. If purchases go away and refi stay there, but you haven’t communicated with your database, then how are you going to get your business? How much money have you left on the table if this goes around by not communicating with your database? What are you telling your clients to prepare them for this potential new market?

It’s in the worst-case scenario in the world. If you buy a house for $600,000 and you put that 3.5% and for whatever reason, you want to go and sell that house in this market. By the time you paid a real estate commission, you’re probably going to be negative and you’re probably going to be bringing money to the table. Losing maybe breaking even at best. I’m like, “If you’re buying now, buy something that has a chance to appreciate it.” Maybe don’t go for that be all end all home. Maybe go with your little starter home for $350,000 or $400,000 medium level houses in the area demographic that you’re in and start there because the higher up you go, the bigger there is to fall. People still need affordability.

People need to afford property. When I look at properties and loans that we do with our capital, what can I rent this property for? There are two bedrooms going for $3,000. I’m going to underwrite that loan. I don’t care if it’s $3,000 because that can go with all the new inventory coming to the market. I give people that, “Are you getting this house as an investment or are you buying it as a primary?” If you’re buying it as a primary and keep it for several years, at least you’re going to make out on the tax deductions. That’s where I’d tell them, “This is the best advice.” They’ll get mad at me if I tell them the truth. I’m like, “I have a rent where what we’re seeing was going to happen in 2018. I entered into a rent to own at a landlord to buy and close anytime.

I’m going to make X amount of dollars from my place, put an $80,000 down payment and have a higher payment for my mortgage taxes and condo fee. I’ve got to pay $24.77 a month in rent and keep the $80,000 in the bank.” I’ve gotten lucky with them years ago. It could have gone in the opposite direction or I may need that cash or something else. I think that people become too emotional when buying a home that they throw out the facts out the window. That’s why it takes a true professional like yourself or like somebody who’s been in the business to give people the full honest opinion and evaluation based on their financial situation. It’s not an online lender that’s giving them the lowest rate. That’s why I think we separated ourselves.

You can incorporate your passion into a profitable standpoint. Click To Tweet

I also think it’s important as mortgage professionals, as title reps, real estate agents that we’re investing in real estate as well for our future. I always thought it was funny when a client says to a realtor, “Is this a good time to buy?” The realtor says, “It’s a great time to buy.” They’re not buying, but they think you should. It’s important for us to be investing in the product that we’re selling. If you can’t do it by yourself because you don’t have the wherewithal, then get a couple of friends together. Do some home buying for investment properties and create a joint venture so that you guys can learn through that process. That’s a good message going forward. Let me change gears here and ask you about your podcast, Deposit That. I know what the answer is because I’ve been on the podcast, but tell us how this all came about and where the passion came in creating a podcast that could help people.

I wanted to do a podcast a few years ago and I couldn’t think of the name. The name itself should be catchy or people have to be like, “I get that.” Once you figured out the name, you have to figure out how to incorporate it like your subject or thesis. It was in the middle of June. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery. I try and run the football field as much as possible. It’s painful. I’ve been standing on the sideline where I spent all my college career. I figured I’d go back there. I’m like, “Deposit That. That’s the podcast name.” I had previously been on a friend’s podcast who’s in education and it was a plug and play studio. You were there. You show up. I’m all about simplicity. I like to learn things, but I like to stick to what I know and the professionals handle that they handle. People forget that old school sales tactic. I’m a big believer. I get guilty of it.

People want to try and recreate the wheel, but when you get back down to the foundation of back to basics, it is what it is. I know from my struggles of trying to implement 7 to 10 different changes in my life. I want you to listen to one episode and hear one takeaway from the episode that you resonated with, you liked, you admired and implement that into your memory bank, and you’re done. That’s where it came from. The lady that was on, she wrote in the book, “Deposit This.” I was like, “I like that.” That’s like the female version of Deposit That. It’s catchy. I’ll be at a sport at a Boston game, I’ll be walking by and people are like, “Deposit That.” I’m like, “Do you know about that?” They’re like, “No.” I’m like, “Go check out the podcast.” I feel like I’m a walking billboard with a catchy tag on.

It’s funny because I’ve never heard that phrase. “I deposit this,” I get it. Maybe it’s a girl thing, I don’t know what it is, but I love it. The whole concept is to listen to your podcasts and get 1 or 2 nuggets that you can deposit into your business right away. You could deposit into a parking lot to use when you feel the time is right, but you don’t want to forget the idea or the concept to help move your business forward. I love that. How do we get ahold of you? Look up Deposit That and subscribe. Read an episode or two and give Jeff a five-star rating and a great review and do the same for us as well. You also have your coaching company, The Mortgage Coach. Give us an overview of what your perfect client is.

Everyone needs a client and I’m a big believer that people need coaches. Sometimes coaches come from unknown places. With the mindset that we have something from everyone, we could all be each other’s coaches. I can coach you on this topic. You can coach me on that topic. One day I would be the player and you’re going to be the coach, then we’re going to reverse roles. I worked very efficiently. I cut right to the chase. A lot of coaches like to say, “You know you need to sign up for your program. You need to pay me $1,000 a month.” I’m like, “One session is $275. It’s a minimum an hour.” As long as you’re honest and transparent with me, we’re going to get more out of it. I don’t need to do another coaching session with you.

I’m going to tell you what I hear. I’ll tell you what you’re telling me. I’ll give you 1 or 2 things to tweak and come back to me when you master that or when you realize that you’re mastering that. You can give someone coaching and implement it the next day. It doesn’t work that way. You have to give them that shot and then let them play it out on their own. Your average person that I coach is somebody that wants to go from making $50,000 to $75,000 in the mortgage or real estate world. Have a record year or become a better brand or deliver a more clean message. A lot of people want to have this lavish brand, but they don’t have the experience to back it up. I’m like, “You could always share other people’s posts for so long before you are like a news reporter.”

My goal for people is don’t share my stuff. Read my stuff and formulate your own opinion on it. If I wanted to get a parrot or a puppet, I buy 100 of them. I don’t want parrots, I want puppets. I don’t want followers. I want more leaders. My goal is to make somebody who’s currently a follower, a leader in their own right. Most of the coaches that I have, I don’t consider them coaches. I don’t consider them men. They’re all from different walks of life that people I respect and I know they’re going to tell me what’s best for the overall situation. That’s where a lot of coaches fail.

If someone wants to reach out to you and have a conversation, they can certainly have a conversation. As we close out, let me ask you this. A book that you’ve read that has changed your mindset or one of your favorite quotes that you live by that someone could take as a nugget from this episode.

I read the book, Think and Grow Rich. I listened to the audiobook five times. I had it on replays while sleeping subconsciously. I sat down every day and listened to four chapters. That’s something I think people need to implement and take notes. My favorite quote came from a friend who was also a big NFL athlete trainer. He’s coming up here to New York City and staying with me for four days and trains me two days for free. His quote is, “Easy work is worthless.” When he said that to me, it completely hit home. I’m showing up to work, doing the easy stuff and leaving and passing challenging or creating. When you dig down and say, “If you really work, you’ve done it.” Why not challenge yourself? Why not push yourself to take on the horn, you go learn and better yourself and become more evolved as a person. That’s a quote that fits into this show.

It doesn’t move you forward. Your future is a series of nows, so if you’re doing worthless, that’s what your future is going to be. It’s been wonderful. Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to join us and to give us some of your wisdom and your advice for finding our passion, for creating some mindset around that which then leads to our brand. You talked to us about some tactics that we could use to move our business forward, along with your thoughts on what’s going on in the marketplace so that we can be better prepared for 2020 and beyond.

MLM 224 | Investing With Passion
Investing With Passion: Focus on being patient. If you haven’t gotten what you’re looking for, maybe you’re just not doing it the right way.


Thank you so much.

Please take a few moments to give us a five-star review, write a review for us and keep those comments coming to me on LinkedIn, Facebook and messages. I love hearing what you’re learning on the show and how it’s moving your business forward. If you want an opportunity to have a conversation with me, please feel free to click on the link below and you will be able to schedule a time to chat with me and let’s see what we can do to help your business grow forward. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us. We will catch you next time on Mortgage Lending Mastery.

Important Links:

About Jeff VanNote

MLM 224 | Investing With PassionCommercial Mortgage NY was founded in 2017 by Jeff VanNote, after a decade of being mentored by a 25-year seasoned veteran in the commercial mortgage world.

Jeff wanted to compliment his multi-hundred million dollar book of residential mortgage business and clients, as he saw a specific need for his newer real estate investors to get the full hand holding they need in order to accomplish their goals and needs for financing. He is the host of Deposit That Podcast.

Tapping The Subconscious To Enhance Your Listing Process With Sean Abbananto

MLM 223 | Enhancing Listing Process

MLM 223 | Enhancing Listing Process


Selling property is not all about marketing the place’s facade, its features, and the price. It is also about getting into your potential buyer’s subconscious and putting up the right symmetries to the things that they see and feel about the property. Host, Jen Du Plessis, sits down with leadership speaker, Sean Abbananto, to talk about what he has found out that brings success to real estate transactions, particularly for the stagers and realtors, as backed by science. Sean shares how he and his wife Micah discovered different strategies to up their listings game that has been taking people’s business to the next level. Learn all about what it takes to have buyers make that offer in this episode.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Tapping The Subconscious To Enhance Your Listing Process With Sean Abbananto

I am so excited because I have a very special guest with me, Sean Abbananto. He has such a wonderful story as well as his wife has a wonderful story that we’re going to bring on. I want to share with all of you something cool that Sean does that I think will help you as a realtor, and as a loan officer. You can help your realtor partners. Sean, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Jen, so much for having me on. I’m excited to get connected with you and your audience. My wife, Micah and I are thrilled to be part of your network and to be able to share with everyone what we’ve discovered that is changing the listings game for realtors and rocking their business. We’re happy to be helping people take things to the next level.

You and I had a little conversation beforehand. We were chatting and learning about each other and I said, “Shawn, you got to be on the show.” Sean, one of the things that you were starting to talk about is the story about the tornado in Oklahoma. Why don’t you share with us how this all started and what you’re doing?

My wife Micah is a rock star and you’ll want to have her on. I don’t want to tell too much of her story. I’ll hit some highlights. She survived the F5 tornado with her three children back in 2013. It was a life-changing moment for her. She came out of that shelter. She lived right across the street from the elementary school that was hit where the children were lost. She realized that her own life, even though she had survived this F5 tornado, was still in quite a bit of a storm. She had been married to a gentleman that had struggled in life with addiction for several years. She said, “I have to change some things to protect my kids.”

When she comes, I’ll let her tell more of the story. Moving forward, she found herself in a place where she did leave him and she had to find a way to support her kids because she had no support. She does seeking God and saying, “I’ve been a stay at home mom. I’ve worked a little bit, but what do I do?” He many times will remind her who she was. She had a flashback memory of being a little girl. When her friends would come over, they didn’t play with dolls. They didn’t do tea parties. They moved her furniture in her bedroom again and again. She was born and created to be a stager and a designer. All these years later, she launches a staging company here in Oklahoma City.

Before this all happened, what was she doing?

She’s pretty much a stay at home mom. She had spent a couple of years working at a school as an executive assistant to the headmaster. She found herself desperate. I love it when she speaks on this at conferences because it’s a powerful story of how your life can be turned around when you truly live your dream and your passion. She came to work for me. This was way before I knew her. I met her because of the called Where Was God? It was about the tornado and I knew the producers. They invited me to a pastor screening and I learned about her family and that she wanted to do more speaking. One of my favorite things is I have been speaking and coaching people for many years.

I love to help new speakers go from nothing to good or good to great. I wanted to help her out. We didn’t talk for two years until I put a post on Facebook looking for some office space for a new business I was starting and she reached out and said, “Do you need help?” She came to work for us. I got to know her that way. What I realized very quickly is that she had a passion for design and staging. I said, “You are so much more than who I see coming in every day helping us here. I’m going to fire you and make you go live your dream. I’m going to coach you as you do it.” Jen, as you know because you coach people, you work with people, you help them take things to the next level. One of our greatest joys is to help people get started and take off. What happened over the next few years, to readers, you want to lock in because it’s going to help you in your business and your life. She launches out. Because she was created to do this and she has a tremendous passion to help realtors and homeowners, her business exploded. She went from no inventory. She had no furniture. She loves to tell the story. She used her furniture.

One of her favorite pictures she shares during her keynote is she used her patio furniture from outside in the living room. All the living room furniture was on the stage. Within a short amount of time, she had purchased about twelve sets. We were buying other staging companies out. It exploded because when she started doing consultations for occupied listings, there was something that was happening in the marketplace here in Oklahoma City that was catching fire blowing realtors away. Homes that had set for months and months were suddenly selling within days, if not hours when she was brought in to consult or when she was brought into stage on top of another stager.

Which may have been the realtor too because a lot of realtors have that designation, they think they know how to stage and that could be it.

The reality is, God bless them because a lot of them, they can’t afford a stager. We get it because it’s expensive. When your average consultation is $250 to $500 a pop, people can’t afford that, especially when they’re starting out. Most realtors are transitioning in from another career. They have to start fresh. One of the things we loved about what we discovered is how to help people ramp things up through the use of this system. What happened was these houses were selling 4 months to 4 days, 14 months to 3 weeks, 6 months to 24 hours. During this time I was selling a house. I put it on the market, it’s set for several weeks.

I had a lot of showings, but no one was pulling the trigger. She finally said, “You’re my boyfriend now let me come do what I do.” She did. Long story short, within twelve hours of relisting it and bumping the price $5,000, I had a full offer. With the PS on the full offer when you get your next full offer, we’ll bump ours because we have to have this house. I saw it with my own eyes that what she had discovered was something that was very unique. The cool thing is as we drill down, we discovered that it was scientifically based.

It wasn’t the creative side of things. I have a couple of questions for you. If we go back, this happened in 2013. I’m gauging the timeframe. We’re in 2015 to 2017. The market is recovering. Rates are low. It’s not great, but it’s not a bad market. Was there a competition for this? As I’m thinking about the audience, whether realtor or lender, we think about all the competition. To me, it sounds like a blue ocean strategy. I don’t care what everybody else is doing. I’m doing something completely unique and different. It’s shining a light on her expertise over somebody else’s because I’m thinking of a stager is a stager. There’s got to be something that she’s doing. The scientific part of it is probably what it is, but tell me about the competition at that time. Was the competition heavy for stagers? Does she come into a market that was already saturated?

There were a lot of established stagers here in the Metro. The thing about Oklahoma City back then is, we’re one of the fastest-growing markets in the country because of the recovery from the crisis. With Oklahoma City, just being honest, our NBA team being such a good team put us on the map. People were coming from all over the world wanting to do business here. We had a lot of influx from California and some different places. People moving here and doing a lot of startups. Our market was hot. She was originally called in on trouble properties, properties that wouldn’t sell. What realtors discovered is because what she’s doing different, why would I only use this on trouble properties, I’m going to use it with every listing. Those realtors, once they started doing that and they saw listings moving even faster without having to do price reductions and all that stuff. They started lining up and then they create a waiting list. The waiting list started to get longer. First, it was a week and then 2, 3, and then 4. These realtors would say to her, “I will not list this property until you consult on it.”

It's a powerful story of how your life can be turned around when you truly live your dream and your passion. Click To Tweet

Because if they listed it and they sat on there for 2 or 3 months, it might as well not listed at all.

What they would tell the homeowners is this, “We can list it now, but if it sets for three months, then you have all the maintenance costs and all that stuff to leave it on the market.” If you trust me, let’s wait a few weeks, let this woman do what she does because she is by far the market ready queen. You’ll be blown away at what happens. Because she’s such a sweetheart, she started to get stressed out because she can’t say no. She wants to help everybody on the planet. She’s the Mother Teresa of staging. I said to her, “Let me go along with you on these consultations and see what you’re doing because there’s something different that you stumbled onto.” I went on three consultations with her. I was blown away because she was saying the same things, but it was not the core driven. It was about balance.

Let’s explain that a little more.

Most stagers or most realtors, when they advise a homeowner how to prepare a house, they focus on the decor. They focus on what’s in the house. What Micah focused on, it wasn’t so much what was in the house, it was where it was placed in the house. The balance of a room was more important than the decor of the room. We didn’t understand why people were responding so strongly to this until we continue to do more research. What I said to her was, “You’re saying the same thing and it doesn’t matter the size of the house, the price point. You’re going in here and creating this balance in these houses and they’re moving very quickly.”

As we did research, what we discovered is God created us to respond to symmetry and balance at a higher level than decor. Our subconscious mind where way for this. This is a statistic that everybody needs to know. The 95% of the buying decisions are made in our subconscious, and our subconscious mind is drawn to balance and symmetry, not the decor. All of a sudden, I’m going to answer a question for your realtors that they’ve asked a zillion times before and that is this, why when a buyer comes into a home and they get all excited in the moment and they’re going, “Look at this house, honey, it’s perfect. I love the color that. Little Jimmy will go in that room. Little Susie can go in that room.” They’ve all experienced it. That buyer leaves that house and crickets.

It doesn’t make an offer.

They never hear from them. They don’t make an offer. They move on. Why is that? They’ve all asked the question, “Why does that happen?” It’s because 5% of the conscious mind was drawn to the decor, got excited in their emotions. Because the house was not balanced, the subconscious got triggered. There’s something that doesn’t feel right, so let’s keep looking.

MLM 223 | Enhancing Listing Process
Enhancing Listing Process: God created us to respond to symmetry and balance at a higher level than decor. 95% of the buying decisions are made in our subconscious, and our subconscious mind is drawn to balance and symmetry.


They can’t put their finger on it either. “I like it, but there’s something about that house.” That same line is said over and over.

What we realized is that it was scientific. No one had discovered this. No one was doing this. The beauty of it is its very teachable. To make a long story short for everybody, I’ve had over twenty years of working with people and being in marketing, creating things. I said, “Let’s put this into a program because you’re stressing out. The reality is you want to help all these people. Not only will we be able to help all the people that are on a waiting list currently for you, but we’ll be able to launch this nationwide and help people all over the place we’ve never even met before.” That’s what we did. It’s based upon the world that we live in and the era of HDTV and all that stuff, we invested thousands of dollars. A part of the story that about 1.5 years in, she launched her design business, which exploded.

She does that full-time. The staging system is what we have on the side to help realtors. She was very fortunate and got a design of $1 million home here in Oklahoma City. We use that home to film in. We filmed videos where she is going through and doing a home consultation. We would set every major room, we would do a before and after and she would walk through and set everything up, and then we’d do a big recap of every room. We filmed eight videos. All the major areas of the house. We did an eleven-minute interview with her where she hits on all the other stuff like pets, kids’ toys and all those secrets that she’s come up with to make this work.

We say, “This is great.” We have these HDTV quality videos. They’re awesome, but people need more. We need to make it very simple for these sellers to be turned into market-ready stagers. She created fifteen graphics that they print out and then six master lists with little checkboxes that they print out. Once they go through and get things done, they check off these lists. We even created a master showings list so that every time the realtor calls and says, “We’ve got a showing in two hours or one hour,” they can go to that list and make sure that everything is perfect and show ready for the realtor.

I have a question about that too. I bet you’re being asked about that because I’m thinking balance. I’m thinking that I know some stagers that go into, “Your house isn’t feng shui. There’s not a flow of water that can go through. You have this sofa sitting there and it’s blocking.” How does this compare to feng shui in a scientific manner?

Feng shui is great. I think I tried that once at a Panda Express. With a little soy sauce, it wasn’t bad. For me, what I’ve seen take place over the course of the last few years and watching all of this in real-time work is that there’s a balance and symmetry that can be brought to every room. We simplified it in the process. A lot of the graphics will say, don’t do this, do this. She spelled it out in a way that a seller would not be stressed out at all. Because what we discovered is that we would ask realtors, what is your listing process? They would say, “I don’t have one. I take every home as it is and I can’t afford stager, if I go in and give some advice.”

To summarize how powerful this is because realtors are busy and there’s, they’re so overwhelmed that we wanted to make it as simple as possible. We have a friend that’s been a realtor for 28 years. She bought the system and we said, “All you have to do is we even created an email that realtors copy and paste and send to their seller. There’s a link in that email where the seller logs into the system.” She says, “I love this. I’ve done these 28 years. I used to spend on average about ten hours getting a house ready for pictures.”

There’s a balance and symmetry that can be brought to every room. Click To Tweet

That’s what my client does all the time.

Your clients are going to love this because this is how simple we made it for realtors. It is a very affordable monthly subscription that gives them unlimited uses. They can have one listing or 100 listings a month. We don’t care. Since Micah was a single mom and struggled and had to use her furniture, even though consultants told us this needs to be priced very high because of the value, we said we want to make it affordable for every single realtor that exists because of this. When we heard from someone that’s been in the industry like yourself a long time that there’s an 87% turnover every two years in the real estate industry, it broke our hearts. We’ve got to create something to help people that won’t cost them very much. It’s very affordable. It’s about helping people. She said, “All I do is send an email and schedule pictures.” She goes, “This is awesome.”

What has been the reaction on the seller side? Like, “I’m paying you a ton of money to list my house, and then you send me a list. I’m going to play devil’s advocate for just a second. You send me a list and you want me to do all this.” That’s part of it anyway. You can’t go and clean their house. Tell me what the sellers think.

They’re absolutely loving it. This is why, because no one loves to sell their house. No one loves to move. Everyone stresses out on what they’re going to have to do. Everyone wants to get the most money, sell it in the fastest amount of time. We both spoke at a realtor conference, our good friends, Jessica and Randi of the Mega Moms. We spoke at their conference. The first day Micah spoke, there was a realtor that said, “I have to have this. I just got a listing.” She got the system that gets your house market-ready system. She sent it to her seller that evening. That evening, the seller got it. She logged in. She watched all the videos, she printed everything out. She sends a message to her real or that evening and says, “Thank you so much. I was so stressed out. This is easy to follow. It’s simple. This is perfect. It took all the stress out.” She hunts us down the next morning and says, “It worked just like you said.”

The beauty of this is it simplified the listing process for the realtor and the seller. It’s taken the stress out for both and it’s created and you’re going to love this as a coach. It’s created consistency in the process. That always increases success. That’s what we’ve created a very simple but powerful way to take the listing process to the next level. The other cool part for realtors that use this system is they have a way to set themselves apart from other realtors and their market. Because if you’re realtor A and you go up against realtor B, you say to that listing, “I have a free gift I’m going to give you, it’s called The Get Your House Market Ready System. It’s by the Market Ready Queen. The best market-ready expert in the United States. It’s going to walk you step by step, room by room on how to get your house market-ready.”

The other person doesn’t have that. You’re going to get the listing we’ve heard again and again. People are signing up based upon the fact that there is a powerful tool that’s simple to follow that will get their house market-ready and take the stress out. The beauty of it is that normal staged houses sell 79% faster and for 6% to 25% more money. That’s a normally staged house or the stager focused on decor, not what Micah has discovered with the science of staging. It’s been a powerful thing that’s helping so many people and we’re just so excited to see the success that people are having with it.

If you’re reading and you’re a realtor, this is a no brainer. If you’re a loan officer, and I’ve said this a thousand times, when they go to the realtor school, they are told a couple of things. When a loan officer comes up to you, there are two things. Tell them you already work with a lender and they’ll go away and tell them you’re a listing and they’ll go away. I have a system for listings that I work with for how a loan officer can work with the listing agent. This is another tool in that toolbox. This is another tool to give to your realtors that don’t know about it and spread the word, but also to have statistics on how much faster they’re going to be able to sell and how many more listings they’ll be able to get as a result of that.

That’s the beauty of it because you get it. We have mortgage lenders who get so excited about this. Title companies, real estate photographers, they’re all coming on board. They’re all sharing it with their realtor clients because photographers want that house to look as best as it can be. May times they show up and it’s not truly market-ready and they have to take the pictures anyway. The house sets because everyone shops online and everyone goes on and has that first impression. If I’m looking on my laptop at a house and the house is unbalanced, so that the subconscious is not getting triggered, you got to move on to the next one. For all your mortgage lenders and everyone that follows you, this is a no brainer to share with all their realtor clients.

I’m speaking at a mortgage company here and I can’t wait. I’m going to share this with them. I’m going to give it as a little bonus, like, “I got a bonus thing. If you’re interested in it, let me tell you what it is.” I want to say thank you so much, Sean, for joining us. It’s about giving more value to my audience so that they can succeed as well.

Thank you so much for having me. We’re excited to be new friends and to help all your audience and clients. We’re excited to partner up. It’s a wonderful thing.

For those of you that are reading, take some action on this. I look forward to catching you next time on Mortgage Lending Mastery.

Important Links:

About Sean Abbananto

MLM 223 | Enhancing Listing ProcessSean speaks for organizations igniting leaders to discover a new level of believability.

Believability will always lead you to one place. Solid, strategic, solution-based leadership.

Staying Afloat In The Competitive VA Niche With Blake Bogese

MLM 222 | VA Loans Niche

MLM 222 | VA Loans Niche


One of the prominent pieces of advice by many who have made it in the real estate world is to find your niche. Branch Manager at Arcus Lending Inc., Blake Bogese, is one of those people who believe in this. In this episode, host, Jen Du Plessis, sits down with Blake to talk about his career as a business coach and real estate broker. Diving deeper, he takes us into the world of VA loans in his marketplace and how he managed to stay afloat and become successful in this niche that is known to be highly competitive. He goes further and talks about helping veterans and the importance of developing great relationships in the business. Blake then shares his plans in the coming 2020 and his business growth hacks.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Staying Afloat In The Competitive VA Niche With Blake Bogese

I am excited that you joined us because my special guest is Blake Bogese. Blake, I’m excited to have you on the show, welcome.

Thank you so much for having me.

I’m happy to have you. Let me tell you how we met. We were both at Mile High Mastermind and I was getting sick at the end of that. That’s why I can’t remember exactly when it was, but we were both attending Mile High Mastermind in Denver. Did you speak? I can’t remember. Maybe you spoke after I left.

I didn’t speak. I was the guest of Adams. I was there.

We saw him speaking. We get to chat in one of the breaks and I said, “Blake, I want to have you on the show.” Let me tell you a little bit about Blake and then you can tell us more about yourself. He’s a UVA grad, which for those of you who don’t know is the University of Virginia in Richmond. It was founded by one of our founding fathers, which was Thomas Jefferson. I know this because I sent my money there for my son. I love that. UVA is a nice school. He’s been in the lending business for a few years. There’s a story behind all this that he’s going to share with you. I wanted to bring him on to talk about one of the niches that he has in the business. We’ll talk about all kinds of things as well. Why don’t you share with us a little bit about your history? I recall telling you to tell people that you’ve been in the business for 32 years from the womb. That’s what my son used to say, “I’ve been in the business for 27 years from the womb,” because he’s always been in the business. Share with us a little bit about your history, your family and how you got into the business and we’ll go from there.

I’m a native of Virginia, Richmond area, more or less. Growing up, my dad has been in real estate. He was more on the building development side of real estate. Early in the mid-2000s, my mother had a career change. The company she worked for a while moved to Florida. There’s a period of time she didn’t work and then she found mortgages. My aunt and a cousin were in the business and she started working with them in the mid-2000s and rode the wave big up. I was in college at the time when everything crashed. Mortgages weren’t a thing you were going to get into in that industry and it was tough sledding for everybody. I graduated in 2009 and found a local job in Richmond. That was a good opportunity, but it wasn’t what UVA had trained us for, which was like big, high-end finance consulting jobs. That took me to Houston, Texas. I had a cousin who was trading energy down there for a big hedge fund.

There was a broker shop that was old school matching electricity and natural gas, deals up over the phone and instant message. That was an interesting career that allowed me to develop customer service skills, relationships, account management. It taught me how to be fast. I speed solved everything in that business, speed mattered. You’re only as fast as you could type an email. I did that for a couple of years but grew tired of being in Texas, my family is in Virginia and my life’s from this area. I sat down one day and I had a coach down there. I started making a list of what could I do in Virginia that would be what I wanted to do in my field and what interests me. The number one thing was mortgage lender back with my mom. He has some details. I came back and started in 2016. I started working on the mortgage business and on September 15, 2016, I closed my first deal. I remember it was $80,000. It was a VA loan that somebody else had messed up. It came to us with the listing agent.

That’s my career in the business and that’s how I got here. Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have gotten into it in 2009 or 2010 when I graduated college and had ridden that wave when mortgages weren’t nearly as popular and it was a tough industry then. In the few years, I’ve done this, I’ve grown to learn the business. I feel like it’s a career for myself now. It’s not a job that I’ve had in the past. I’ve had a lot of success being focused on one or two things that I wanted to be good at. Everybody can do everything in this business. We all have a lot of products. We all have great rates. We all have them, whatever. I want to be very specific on a couple of things. With the real estate agents I work with, I want to go deep in those relationships.

Being successful stems from focusing on just one or two things that you want to be good at. Click To Tweet

That’s how my business was in Texas. I don’t want to necessarily work with 50 people and only know them a little while. I want to have five people that are my friends that are realtor referral partners. I’ve had some of those channel accounts that aren’t realtors as well like financial planners, corporate bankers, lawyers. They’re your friends and you also have business relationships. I wanted to be known in our marketplace for VA loans. I got in and had that first taste. My mom had always done a lot of VA loans and I had one. I’m like, “This is a great industry.” I started researching a lot about VA loans. I found some groups on Facebook and I became a certified instructor with an organization. I started teaching classes and perception became a reality. I told everybody this is what I wanted to do and I started hosting. The next thing I knew, I started giving a lot more VA referrals and that business has blossomed for me. That’s been a huge focus of mine.

The profit margins are good for the company unless you’re acting as a broker. Are you now a broker?

I’m a broker now. The broker world is completely different. That’s something new for me. When I lived with my mom, we were in a retail operation. I never thought about that necessarily. Now I’m in a lot more than I did then but that wasn’t any reason behind it.

I used to own a company for many years. I was a broker and I loved it. Thankfully, I got out before the crunch, not knowing the crunch was coming. It was a whole different reason that I got out. What’s great for you is that you’re doing well for someone who’s been in the business for a few years. That’s comparative and quite frankly even better than some people who’ve been in the business for a long time. You’re doing well, so congratulations on that. Let’s talk about your niche. Let’s go a little bit deeper into not VA loans because those that are reading know about VA loans and we don’t need to know about that.

Why did you decide to go into a niche when many people in the industry try to get every deal that they possibly can? They want a living and breathing deal, good, bad and ugly. They want the opportunity to take a shot at it. It seems different that someone who’s brand new in the business decides to take on a niche that quickly. I love that you did because I believe in niching to grow rich. I believe in niches. I had niches when I was a lender and one of them was VA. What made you decide to take on a niche given the competition that’s out there?

I don’t think I’ve necessarily decided that it was going to be the beginning. I’m still making deals that aren’t VA. When I got into fancy people on Facebook, honestly they’re in the mortgage business and they all came through some digital advertisers that had used the right keyword search and got us all into a certain place. I would have these nights where you can’t sleep and you’re in a new business. You’re not making any money. I’m doing commission-only since 2012. I had ridden the wave, but I’m sitting there thinking and I would get on these Facebook groups. I start scrolling and there is so much information about not just guidelines, which most loan officers do a terrible job of understanding. It’s not just guidelines but how we run the business, how to market, how to sales talk. All of these things I started consuming so much information that I was like, “There’s no way I could ever be the expert on all of these things.”

I didn’t think of the 800 credit score conventional borrower that had a ton of options. I thought I was in a place that I wasn’t sure if my rates were the best. I lost a couple of customers in the beginning that I’d already thought of my commission check, and then they shot me at the end and I lose the deal. I didn’t want my niche to be there. I didn’t want to be the first-time home buyer guy. I started to think deeply about, “What would I do?” I listened to some podcasts and YouTube videos talking about who is your perfect customer? What does your perfect customer’s perfect day look like? I started thinking about that. It was a 38-year-old active-duty guy who got PCS at Fort Lee, who’s in my local town. He’s retiring and he wants to keep his family here. I’m like, “That’s my perfect customer.”

I started to research the VA market and realized Virginia has the fourth-highest number of veterans of all states. One out of eight people over the age of eighteen in the State of Virginia is a veteran or active duty. We have over 100,000 women veterans in the state. You start looking at the demographics of where you are and you’re like, “I think this is where I could be successful in.” I started getting these deals. I started noticing the deals coming through the office that are turned down by some other big VA mortgage companies. I’m like, “There’s a huge niche where people are doing a bad job. If we can do a decent job, then we’ll be much better. If we do a great job, we’re going to blow the lid off the thing.” It happened to be a VA loan. It came about a little organically through my thought process but I got there pretty quick.

MLM 222 | VA Loans Niche
VA Loans Niche: Virginia has the fourth-highest number of veterans of all states. One out of eight people over the age of eighteen in the State of Virginia is a veteran or active duty.


You organically got there. Do you have veterans in your family?

Not in my immediate family but grandfathers certainly were. In my community, all of the kids that were from the local fort base went to my high school. I played a ton of sports and all those kids will be playing sports, and then they would go to Huntsville or they would come from Germany. You always had these families that are always around you. I guess it was a natural thing but not in my family.

Let me ask you about you being in that specific niche because I want to highlight something here having this as my niche as well. Ironically, what’s interesting about my particular niche in VA, it was jumbo and super jumbo VA because I did a lot of congressmen, senators and people at Pentagon. I got tapped in and away I went with it. There was a lot of partial entitlement, double entitlement, things that a lot of loan officers don’t know. They think you have to have it all or nothing. I don’t want to go into product details or anything like that. What niche are you working inside of VA? I worked at a mortgage company division of a bank. We couldn’t do a VA loan less than a 640 credit score. That might be one of the reasons why you think some of the lenders can’t get it done is that’s what the banks’ overrides are. What niche are you finding that is separating you from everybody else when it comes to VA?

It’s not a particular niche in terms of I’m not in the jumbo market at all. Credit score requirements, I would say that I’m at 600 to 620 above. It depends on the complete picture. Now that I’m in the broker world, I have a little bit more options. That’s the field that I play in, but all the niches are normal people buying and selling houses and they happened to be veterans in the VA loan. They’ve been told it’s not a great loan product or the loan company. They’ve gotten hooked up with the realtor, if not, maybe they’re not well-versed. What I see a ton is that’s heavily advertised to these big companies out there. They have their car insurance through your card notes that they bank with.

Mine has been a real-life person that they can meet or they can video and I’m not a call center. I will tell you that I’ve read the 26-7. That doesn’t mean I have everything memorized but I’ve read it. I know what we should be doing and I understand that it’s a different loan product than FHA. A lot of people lump stuff together. It’s being that human person and knowing the guidelines. That’s the niche. For me, I’m not in that jumbo market. It’s a lot of first-time home buyers. We do have people that are active duty and we’re using their bonus entitlement because they own a house somewhere else. It’s educating the clients and the real estate agents honestly are the niche.

Let’s talk about the real estate agent because I can tell you many years ago, this was a problem with realtors going, “It’s a VA contract. The appraiser is going to be a pain in the butt. They’re picky. They’re this or that.” How have you learned to work around that or work with that or educate people right from the get-go so that you get more opportunities and your clients get more opportunities when they’re making offers?

I first started a business like everybody else. I added 1,000 real estate agents to my Facebook friend list. I started doing videos on Facebook about myths. Thirty seconds to one minute about mortgage myths. I started knocking those out. This was my first year of business. They were of terrible quality, but they were something. I was putting that out there and I finally got enough courage to host my first event and had 40 or 50 real estate agents come to a 2-hour lunch and learn where we talked about all those myths and detail. I have the PowerPoint slide. I’m shaking in my boots because I had no idea what I was talking about. I had my mom in the background. I was like, “If they asked me a question, I don’t know, dive in.” That was the big thing.

What we found is that real estate agents don’t go to a school to teach you everything. All of their education and knowledge is coming from past experiences. Every real estate transaction has a different house, a different seller, a different buyer and different loan products. There are 1,000 variables that could make that experience be great or make it not great. I don’t know if everybody knows exactly what those are. If I hit him with the bat about exactly the process, exactly how it’s handled and why this is not worse. I have found that they want to listen. They want to be educated and they go, “That’s how it used to be but now Blake’s the expert.” I get tagged on Facebook all the time to ask me questions. I get to bring them calls from listing agents. It’s this little bit word of mouth I’ve taken off. There are 5,000 real estate agents in Richmond. I love to talk to all of them but you are trying to hit as many as you can and Facebook has been great for sure.

Real estate agents don't go to a school that teaches them everything. All of their education and knowledge came from their experiences. Click To Tweet

We have a lot of reasons why we could be doing videos every day, a daily digital deep dive where we’re going online talking about a lot of things. I love that you focused on myths in the transaction that are not myths for clients but for realtors to understand. I always know when a realtor says VA is fussy about whatever. I know that they either haven’t done a lot of deals or they haven’t done a lot of VA. They’re going back off of that history of what they’re doing. You said you’re working a lot with financial planners, attorneys and things like that. How did you go into that particular market? Where does the niche of VA play in there? Does it play in there? Is that a secondary niche or is it not even a niche but secondary revenue?

It’s secondary. I make it pretty well-known with all my groups of friends and relationships that VA is what I’m known for. That is always in the back of people’s minds. I have done a good job of getting deep with my clients. We don’t talk about the rates or the fees of those transactions. The first-time homebuyer, we might have a more basic conversation but as I progress my business and I worked with more first-time home sellers who have options, what I’ve found is that a lot of people aren’t asked that question. They think they need to have $1 million in the bank to get a financial advisor. They have an IRA or they have a 401(k) but they don’t have someone they’re talking to. They have maybe a parent, maybe a friend.

I’m able to ask some questions that I know from my background and from the people that I’ve associated myself with that are thinking this way. They’re basic questions and we start asking those things and undercovering, “Should we put more money down? Should we maybe put less money down to pay this off? How are we saving appropriately? What does this do for our cashflow?” We start looking at a holistic picture. If I can get to people to have that conversation with me, I don’t ever lose those people. I’m an advisor to them at that point. I am not an advocate of their financial well-being.

If you run the numbers about home appreciation in Richmond, Virginia versus renting, I tell you that this is why people build wealth. It’s owning a home and that makes sense. I have those same conversations with financial planners. It’s like, “I’m already talking about this. I don’t want to do your job. I don’t know it as you do. If I get people like that or you have somebody like that and we can have a deeper conversation on how to take care of them.” Honestly, I have not been getting leads from passing out referrals. I’ve done a terrible job of taking my personal clients and giving them to financial planners, but it’s talking to a handful of people that I know they have a good clientele base and tell them my story and why. Nobody else has approached it on. I’m not doing seminars but a handful of people that I’ve known previously or have coffees with. You catch those refinances. You catch divorces. You catch big life events that the financial planner doesn’t know about.

Because they don’t call enough or your insurance agent whom I was on the phone with. We were catching up from a few years ago. I have been all the time thinking at the back of my mind. He never calls, he sends the stupid birthday thing that he isn’t even signing it. He’s not nurturing his database. He’s neglecting us. He got the insurance policy and now it just sits there. I love that you’re doing that. I love that you’re doing that sooner rather than later because when I was practicing, 33% of my business came from financial planners and divorce attorneys. The rest of it came from others like realtors and clients.

Financial planners, divorce attorneys, CPAs, they’re thinking of a client with a long-term basis as a relationship. Unfortunately, a lot of real estate agents, because of the nature of the business is transactional and working with those financial planners, you think relationship too. You don’t think transactions. It’s a mindset for the long-term. I’m not saying we don’t want transactions. I want to do fifteen deals every month. That’s my number that I would love to hit. I’m thinking about how is this client the client for life? I don’t want to win them back again in five years because they’ve never heard from me.

I love that and I love that you’re already taking that early on in your career because that’s something a lot of people have missed in this particular go-round of refinancing boom. Everybody’s excited as they’re getting a lot of business.

I’m guilty too.

MLM 222 | VA Loans Niche
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

That short-term gain for the long-term pain because if you only do well because the market does well, that’s not good. You want to do well all the time and think about how much money is left on the table by not nurturing your database and having them call you all the time. Thankfully, maybe some of them called you into but where are the rest of them? I want to ask you about what’s coming up for you in 2020? What does it look like for you? What changes are you making in your business or switches? What are you trying to do in 2020? What is going on there?

I hired an assistant/marketing/learn officer/I gave them your team checklist. I said, “This is all between us.” Everything is us. It’s a new person. I’m working on that. I’ve been working on the house. I have the office that I signed the lease on. I’m hiring my processors. I’m not using a corporate or company processors. I have a lot of teams, thinking about how I can be a great leader and delegate and be able to grow my business and not be hustling. I love the hustle. I love winning. Every phone call gets me jacked up. I’ve been able to sustain this business for the long-term and not get burnt out or not want to kill yourself when you lose a deal. You have to build a team and you have to have something greater than that. That’s our big focus on 2020. I want to build that up and be able to focus on the marketing and prospecting our pipeline at the top. To grow the business, I need support behind me. That’s the big change for me going forward.

That’s great because you have the background, having gone to the School of Commerce, which is at UVA, which is the Business School. That helps too because it puts you in a good situation right out of the gate. I’ve learned probably more than you have at Comm School but it took me 35 years not 4 or 2 years at Comm School. Being able to be a real advisor to people is key and critical. I’m sure that you see that with your family as well. Tell me about the growth hack. You’re going to grow your business or if somebody’s reading and they want to grow their business, give us a hack on some type of growth, something you do that you haven’t talked about yet.

The video is staring us on the face but that is the easiest way to get in front of more people at a quicker period. My other growth hack for me is organization. I have to have a checklist and a process. A few months ago, I took every application on a piece of paper that went into a file cabinet, and then I had to find that piece of paper and type it in. I’m not doing that anymore but I know that I have leaped somebody else to do in that. Those are going to be the two things that are going to be the biggest bang for my time and money. I’m going to be getting more videos on because of the masses it can hit. Also in that regard, the BombBomb videos to clients so that I can talk to them and they can see my face, but we physically don’t have to meet somewhere. I am hyperfocused on the organization and it’s hard for me because that’s not who I am. I know that’s where I have to focus.

It’s a perfect time to be considering getting organized. If you didn’t get organized, you want to get organized.

You talked about the refinance boom. I’ve had my fair share of it. I hit my entire database and the people that raised their hands and the opportunities. I’ve talked to them, but when I looked at my yearly goals, I’ve already hit my yearly goals because of refinances and I feel that I see someone’s needs. I’m okay if I can invest back in the business. I don’t need to buy a new watch, car, shoes or a new house. I’m going to take this money that I probably shouldn’t have because rates should be higher and try to use that as the gasoline that I pump on my business. I’m assuming the blessing.

It’s funny because I’m asked quite often on podcasts when I’m a guest, “What advice would you give to yourself as a younger person?” The advice would be, “Save, save, save.” We have a tendency because we make so much money in this business that when we have the money we, “Spend, spend, spend.” We get the fancy this and the fancy that. I love that you have your values in play. You know exactly what is going to work for you and your family. That’s going to take you a long way. It’s great that you’re putting it back into your company and your practice so that you can continue to grow. What is your favorite quote or a book that you are reading or that you have read that you would like to share with everyone that you feel would be beneficial for them? Either in personal or professional growth.

I’ve read Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership. He’s this gung-ho former Navy SEAL. They’ve lived in the day where it doesn’t matter where you are in the chain of command or where you are in the process of life, but everyone takes extreme ownership of why things aren’t correct. That’s how it works. Things are going to be a lot better. There’s no blaming anybody else. You point at yourself first. It’s not that I didn’t do that but you take it to the next level. You’re like, “I’m not happy in my current situation. That’s on me.” I don’t like where I am right now. That’s on me.” If you’re not doing anything, it’s still a decision you’re making. I read a long time ago the Rich Dad Poor Dad. Everybody else talks about how you invest in assets. That book makes you think about how you need to buy rental properties right away, which is a great strategy for long-term wealth as an asset. I could never get there. I don’t want to put my money in the market. I didn’t have it saved up. It hit me this past year that my greatest asset is my business. That’s back to my other thing like this is an asset that I can own that’s bigger than me hustling. Let’s figure out how to make it into the business. It’s not just, “Blake’s calling a lot of real estate agents so he gets leads.”

That’s a transformation that I’m hearing and seeing with everybody at all the conferences I’m at and all the calls I’m on. It’s a transformation that we’re seeing. It’s the transformation that we’ve had over the last several years because of tread and all the messiness of all the compliances that loan officers need to be loan officers, everybody needs an assistant, let them make sales. Someone else can do something. Now, it’s starting to transform into how do I be a better leader? How do I be a better business owner? It’s not through attrition that I happened to be the lead of a team. I’m excited about that because for years and years, I was a manager and a corporate trainer for a major national mortgage company on this topic.

I’m excited about that because it bothers me that many people don’t have any leadership or management skills and yet they’re leaders. It’s one thing that I’m excited to see us transfer to. Thank you for sharing the book. I appreciate it. I appreciate your time. It’s been great getting to know you a little bit better. I love having people that are sharing something that they’re doing that’s unique and different. If you’re reading this and you’re saying, “Maybe that’s something I could do. Maybe I still haven’t bought into this whole niching opportunity,” this could be a great example. The catalyst that makes you go in that direction that says, “Maybe I do need to be an expert in one area instead of trying to be an expert in a multitude of areas and not getting any business as a result of it.” Thank you, Blake, for joining us. I appreciate it. I hope you had a good time.

Thank you so much.

Thanks for sharing your story. For our readers, please be sure to rate us. Give us a five-star rating. Please be sure to write a review for us so that we can continue to grow. I hope you make it a fantastic week and we’ll talk to you next time.

Important Links:

About Blake Bogese

MLM 222 | VA Loans NicheBlake is an experienced project manager with a background in finance, client relations, marketing, brokerage services, negotiation and internal operations. He is a graduate of the prestigious University of Virginia. My focus is mortgage loan originating primarily in conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA residential loans.

His work is a blend of financial strategy and relationship building. He truly enjoys crunching numbers to solve business problems and also understands what it takes to gain someone’s trust.

While he works in finance and marketing, he recognizes that he is in the people business. It all starts with relationships.

Creating A Positive Impact Within The Business And Into The World With Catherine Rocheleau

MLM 221 | Positive Business Impact

MLM 221 | Positive Business Impact


Leading a company or business does not just revolve around making profit and delivering your products or services. In fact, it extends beyond to having a clear vision and impact. In this episode, host Jen Du Plessis interviews business impact strategist Catherine Rocheleau about her strategies on leadership. No one can do business alone. That is why we need to build strong teams if we want to expand our businesses. Catherine gets inside to what she calls ‘The Triple Bottom Line’ that represents the three key factors that make a business more profitable. Tune in to this episode to explore more what these are and maximize their benefits and create a positive impact.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Creating A Positive Impact Within The Business And Into The World With Catherine Rocheleau

I have a wonderful guest with me, Catherine Rocheleau. She is a business impact strategist who is passionate about creating positive social change through business, which we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about leadership. Leadership as it relates to having a positive atmosphere, a positive outlook, a positive culture, being a good leader, communicating well with your team, and building strong teams. We all know that’s important as we continue to expand our businesses. We can’t do it alone. Catherine brings us extensive experience as an entrepreneur.

She’s been instrumental, especially in her diversified background of creating positive organizational change designed to boost profits and business growth while creating stronger teams, better communication and effective leadership. She does this through her IMPACT Business Blueprint Program. Catherine lives in Northern Vancouver, British Columbia. We have met and continue to meet on a regular basis. We’re both in a program together and both in a coaching program called Lead. I see her all the time on screen and then we get the opportunity to meet each other in person where we’re able to go to some of our summits, retreats and workshops. Welcome, Catherine, and thank you for taking the time to share with us. One of the things that you talk about is something called a triple bottom line. Before we get into how we get to be more profitable, let’s talk about this triple bottom line that you like to talk about as it relates to business.

If we think about it, organizations have more than shareholders that they should be responsible for. Unfortunately, the way that we look at most organizations, they are profit-driven. Their primary goal is for shareholder wealth. If we look at the model of business, it is more of a stakeholder model. I use the triangle and it’s the People, Profit and Planet. You need all three factors in your organization that are looking at your shareholders, employees and suppliers. It’s considering your community, the world in general, the environment, but also your profit. If you have a business that is profitable plus they have a purpose, they create positive change in the world for any or all of those stakeholders. When we think about employees, they want to be with companies that do more than making money. That’s where the triple bottom line comes in. It stands for People, Profit and Planet. It is a model that looks at how we maximize the benefit for all three factors when we’re making decisions, looking at operations and looking at outcomes.

You’re right, this is a big topic. In Canada, and maybe I’m in the wrong segment of the market, but I hear about the environmental. When you say planet, for me it means community because that seems to be something that is the buzzword that’s running around in my circle. It’s that community involvement, helping people in the community. It may not be environmental, it may not be about geological, it’s the people that are on the planet. It’s helping people around it. I know that employees have been more attracted to that in the future.

Catherine Rocheleau is a master at creating strategies for mission-driven companies that result in higher profits. Click To Tweet

That is a purpose. When you think about it, people can be people in your organization as well as your community. The planet can be the other factors in your community, not only the people. There are other things in the community that you need to be considering.

What do you mean by impact?

Whenever I go into a room, I’ll say, “How many of you in your business wants to make a positive impact in the world?” Everybody raises their hand. I turn around and I say, “How many of you can measure the impact that you make?” and nobody can.

They’re hoping you are. I’m speaking from my perspective as an entrepreneur, but I don’t know how to measure it.

Employees today want to be with companies that do more than just make money. Click To Tweet

We all want to do that. There is an impact we make by delivering our product and service. For your audience, if you’re a lender or realtor, you’re trying to make a positive impact by helping people get the home that they desire or the business that they desire. That’s one impact. The impact that I tend to talk about is that indirect impact. It’s beyond what you deliver. How are you benefiting the people in your organization, community and environment in addition to that? That’s what I call the ripple effect. We create an impact by delivering a product or service that we’re passionate about and that we’re good at. What’s that indirect ripple effect that creates a positive impact? When we hire people to work with us, whether we’re contractors or we add to our team as a larger organization, we positively benefit people in our community because we hire those people. They can spend more money. They can help other people and it benefits out from there. That’s what I mean by impact. It’s that ripple effect beyond you delivering your product or service.

Going back to that original question, for example, when I’m speaking someplace. Someone will come up to me and say, “I saw you speak a few years ago. You changed my life.” I’m like, “Make a note of that.” To me, it’s not measurable because I can’t go out and grab it. I know and I hope to God that I’m doing that, that I’m making an impact on people’s lives. How do you measure something that’s intangible?

If you think about it, say for example as a solopreneur or a contractor, you have resources. It’s your skillset. For some realtors, they have vans that they use for their clients. There are times when those vans aren’t being used for their clients, they’re just sitting. They could lend that to a nonprofit for delivering food to the community. Their van gives them credibility. It’s a shared resource, but it has a greater impact. The person who has that van that lends it out can say, “I lend my van out fifteen days of the year. The impact is we feed 50 families every trip.” There’s your impact. You measure those things, volunteer hours that you’re doing. You can measure that, you can convert that into a dollar amount, that becomes a measurable entity. For example, I track all of my volunteer hours and I was over 200 hours of volunteer time. I do that regularly. It’s another metric because that’s me giving back to my community. That wouldn’t happen if I didn’t do it.

I love that because the company I was with before I transitioned out of origination into being a full-time speaker and coach, we did a lot of volunteer hours. We encouraged our employees to take time off of work to do those hours. We didn’t just let them have it. We knew the event was going on and we all did it together. We had shirts whenever we were working together. That’s good. How do you tell the world about that? I get on social media, you can say, “Look at me, I’m holding a hammer for Habitat for Humanity.” If you’re doing more silent things, things that you don’t want to share with the world or they’re more private.

MLM 221 | Positive Business Impact
Positive Business Impact: The conscious consumer is prevalent nowadays. These are consumers who want to do business with organizations and companies that do more than making a profit.


What I’m going at and let me tell you what it is. I’m Catholic. I say that all the time. I deliver communion to people. I can’t take pictures of people at their homes with communion and stuff. I know I’m making an impact on my community in that way. That’s one way that I do volunteer work. The other work that I do is volunteer at a veteran’s facility where they’re dealing with PTSD and not something I want to say other than, “I want to say hi. I’m walking into the veteran’s facility and I want to say that I’m contributing my time. If you can do it in your neighborhood, that would be great.” What are some ways that we could be sharing this to allow for the ripple without it being in a contained vacuum?

What I always say is that each of us has the ability in our businesses once a year to put out a small impact report. We can summarize what our goals for the year were? What are those things and actions that we have taken to be more environmentally friendly, to better pay our team members, or to take care of our team members? How have we used our time? That example of allowing employees time off of work as paid time, they are a representative of your company, but they’re doing something that the employee is also passionate about it. There’s that triple win that I always like to talk about because the employee wins, the company wins and the recipients win. Why not? We can talk about it. We don’t have to do it with a lot of pictures.

This is not a PR stunt. This is something that should be heart-driven. It should be part of your core operation and you’re reporting on it the same way you would report on your financials. You brought in your revenues. You’re not going to tell everybody what your total revenues are unless you’re a public company. You are going to say, “We had a successful year. Here’s what we did with it.” You might be proud of the fact that you do pay your employees five hours a year to go out and volunteer, or that you pay them at a living wage. Those are things that are valued but are often swept under the table. We need to have a way of communicating with transparency and integrity. That’s the whole thing. It’s not for PR. This is something that’s integrating into being great human beings and great business owners.

I’m trying to figure out how you would do it if you’re not a company that puts out a report, and you’re an individual. As an individual loan officer, the only way that I have to do that is to put it out there on social media. For me as a company, because I’m an individual, that thing would be where it’s at. When I was originating, there are three charities that I’m involved in. I offered to give $100 per closing to a charity of the client’s choice as long as they pick for my three. I couldn’t give it to everybody and I would donate in their name. That was cool and people liked it. I didn’t tell that. It was for my clients. I didn’t think that I needed to. I probably should have because it would have shared the fact that I would do that if you came to me and I probably would’ve gotten business as a result of it.

People want to connect with people who have the same values as them. Click To Tweet

In my company, I have what I call my more than green plan. What that means is money is green and the environment is green. My passion has always been people. That’s why I work in leadership, communication and teams. That’s how it came about, more than green. 2% of all of my top-line revenue goes to charity. I have four charities that I support. I’m like you, I pick my charities. Anybody who works with me knows that money goes. The way that I’m able to support them further is promote my charities in different ways. I can say, “There’s a fundraiser or there is this happening or this event is happening that I know to go to help that charity.”

As an individual, we all have the ability to have that impact. As a person, you could say for every sale I make or for everything I do, but the conscious consumer is prevalent. These are consumers who want to do business with organizations and companies that do more than making a profit. If you communicate as an independent, as a person that is doing this and you’re doing this out of the graciousness of your heart, you can share that and do so because you’re being consistent. You’re doing it in integrity. You’re doing it transparently. People will come to you. It does attract business. It is a client attractor. People want to connect with people who have the same values as them.

We talked about the shift that’s been happening a little bit, but let’s talk about how to build stronger teams and have better communication. There is a lot of finger-pointing that goes on. At least, what I see with entrepreneurs is they don’t ever blame themselves for hiring the wrong person. It may be the right person, but then once they get them in, they don’t communicate with them properly so they end up losing them anyway. Whether it’s a right or wrong person because of the lack of communication, what happens with a lot of leaders, team leads, managers and entrepreneurs to that extent are that they were good in their craft. They’ve been elevated into this leadership position either by attrition, production, or someone planted a seed that said, “You’re a great widget maker. You should have a widget-maker company.” They’re thrust into this position and they can’t seem to grow the team. The frustration that they have is they’re running around like a chicken with their head cut off. Can you concisely tell us how do we build better teams? How do we communicate to build better teams? Maybe it starts at the hiring process.

Number one, when it comes to onboarding, you want to have a proper system that takes you through the hiring process. What are your interview questions? What are you trying to find out? Make sure you do that when you bring somebody on. Orient them. Give them the policies and procedures. Walk them through what you need them to do. If you don’t take the time to train and orient somebody at the beginning, they’re going to flounder and they’re going to do their own thing. You’re losing control. I find a lot of companies undervalue the onboarding process.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to inspire those that are below you or that are following you. Click To Tweet

Number two, as a leader, you have a responsibility to inspire those that are below you or that are following you. A leader leads and people follow. We have an obligation to do that. You put the hammer right on the head of the nail. Not all great employees are great leaders. Sometimes what happens is the wrong person gets into a leadership role, they are better doing their job than they are at being a people manager. You need somebody who is a people manager that’s also relatively good, but not your best employee to be in that leadership role. There’s another thing to find the right leaders and promote them. The great employees, they may be highly productive, maybe they’re better continuing to produce.

You bring up a good point. I’m coaching someone, a loan officer who is great at origination and not great at managing people. It gets frustrating, very snippy with everyone, and condescending. An enabler, not an empowerer. They don’t empower people to do their job, they say, “Give it to me, I’ll do it.” What we’ve done is that we hired a team manager to be a buffer between that team lead because technically they are in a team to be a buffer between the team lead and the actual team. This person is a people person, doesn’t know a lot about the industry but knows a lot about people. It’s worked out well. What other points do you have on that?

Another one is that you need to build relationships with each and every member of your team. One of my tricks and I recommend this all the time is that you need to have a daily conversation with everybody on your team if you possibly can. I have run remote teams. This was even before we had things like Zoom and all the video calls. I would get on the phone and I would talk to everybody every day. “How are you doing? Is there anything I could do to help you?” If you’re in one location and you can have a daily huddle. Think of football when they huddle. They come together, they create their plan, “What’s our priority? We snap, we go, and then we execute.”

Your daily huddle is an opportunity for everybody to come together, share their top priorities, identify where the roadblocks are. What are the opportunities available for us to set the plan? We go out and we execute. It should only take about 10 to 15 minutes. If you can set a time where everybody comes together and you have a standardized format, you report, you go, and then the follow-up happens. Out of this meeting, you’re not troubleshooting anything. You’re bringing things forward. Who’s going to be responsible for following through on this? You identify that. The team goes out. It all gets flipped after. It is amazing. It builds a team, communication, trust and relationship. If you as a leader do not have relationships beyond barking orders, then you’re not going to to get the productivity, you’re not going to have the engagement, and you’re not going to have the retention that you need. You’re not going to deliver the customer service that you want, which is driving your bottom line.

MLM 221 | Positive Business Impact
Positive Business Impact: If you as a leader do not have relationships beyond barking orders, then you’re not going to get the productivity, engagement, and the retention that you need.


For those that have been reading, and Catherine, you probably don’t know that I talk about huddles all the time. We have a fifteen-minute huddle every single morning. You’re right, you have to have an agenda on. It has to be specific, otherwise, it will be a twenty-minute huddle and you’ll start losing the game because you keep getting penalized. You want to be prepared for the huddle constantly. Everyone’s prepared for it.

Everyone is proactive and forward-thinking. When you have a roadblock, you need to identify what that roadblock is. That’s something that’s stopping you from being successful. When you bring it up as a point of fact that, “The photocopier is broken and I can’t photocopy all of the agreements or the printers down.” If you just say that, somebody has to be delegated to get that fixed. Most people won’t even say anything, they’ll mumble and grumble. It comes forward. Somebody is delegated to deal with it and away we go.

Catherine, what is it like to be you?

It’s challenging. I’m passionate about what I do. I love working in leadership. I love working with passion-driven and mission-driven entrepreneurs and businesses. I love to see teams come together. For me, I would say that I have the opportunity to work a rewarding career and can have an amazing change both on my clients and their teams as well as the greater good through my company and my efforts to be more of a B-corp impact business model. I do believe that we all together can make a huge difference. I’m honored that I have that opportunity. For me, my days are filled with talking to people, trying to look at new opportunities, training, educating and coaching. I love that whole world and I do want to see others succeed. I always say I’m not sporty, but I’m the world’s greatest cheerleader and I get that right into my business.

Do you have a gift for our readers? Do you have something that they can go to and get a blueprint?

I do. I have an article on becoming an impact business. You could use it even as a person. Although it does have a definite business focus, it would definitely be there. Anybody who does sign up for it, what we would be able to do is I will follow-up with something that has a leadership slant. I can put that together and have everybody so it will come as a secondary gift for anybody who does get the impact. It’s 5 Simple Business Strategies to SPARK IMPACT & Ignite Change. It has a little bit of a leadership slant attached as an addendum to that. I can do that for your audience and it would be quite valuable.

For our readers, what is the best way for us to get access to that?

This is an eBook. It’s all there. It will have the leadership component attached to it. You’ll see from a business perspective and you’ll see from a leadership perspective. It’s one of those ones I’ve been working on.

It’s great because we do have a lot of managers and entrepreneurs who read this. This is good for them as well. Quite frankly, anyone who’s in the lending or real estate space, while one is paid 1099 and the other is paid a W-2, we are our own business owners. It’s fine that it’s written that way. That’s wonderful. Catherine, one of the things that I ask a lot of my guests is to tell us about a book that you’re reading that you would like to share with everyone or give us one of your favorite quotes.

I’m rereading Good to Great. I love that book. I always extract things out of that book. It’s one of my favorites. My favorite quote is from Yoda from Empire Strikes Back. It is, “Do or do not. There is no try.” What that means to me is you do your best whenever you do something and you do it to your absolute. If you don’t do your best, you’re only going halfway and you might as well not do it. I even put that quote right on the back of my business card.

Those that are reading, we also have a collaborative book coming out that you and I both are part of. It’s funny because I say I’ve written 1/21st of a book or 1/17th of a book. We each have a chapter. It’s collaborative. It’s called The Game Changer. It’s been an absolute pleasure, Catherine. Thank you so much for joining us. For those of you that are reading, please go write a review. Give us a five-star rating, subscribe, and pay it forward. We were talking about that. Let that ripple go out there to help others in the industry and outside of the industry so that they can have that personal and professional development that forges their business forward. Catherine, thank you for joining me.

Thank you, Jen. It’s been a pleasure.

Important Links:

About Catherine Rocheleau

MLM 221 | Positive Business ImpactCatherine is a Business Impact Strategist who is passionate about creating positive social change through business. Catherine founded Ignite Leadership International®.

She created the online program IMPACT Business Blueprint to guide other mission-driven organizations to adopt a new approach and create positive change.

Catherine believes changing the world through business requires changing the rules of business. As a speaker, Catherine’s pragmatic and insightful approach enlightens and engages audiences wherever she speaks.

Mortgage Lending Origination: How To Draw People To Lend From You With Ben Lavender

MLM 220 | Mortgage Lending Origination

MLM 220 | Mortgage Lending Origination


Being a mortgage loan originator requires more people skills than you think. In this episode, Jen Du Plessis talks to Senior Mortgage Loan Originator at Affordable Financial Services, Inc., Ben Lavender, about what he does best at work – soliciting potential borrowers. His strategies, specifically increasing content and creating videos, can be useful not only in his field but also in other areas involving sales and client acquisition. Tune in to today’s show to discover Ben’s secrets to reaching his level of success in a short period and his learnings from Brian Stephen’s Mile High.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Mortgage Lending Origination: How To Draw People To Lend From You With Ben Lavender

If this is your first time, thank you. Please subscribe. Please give us a five-star rating and please write us a review. That’s important for our success and I appreciate all of you that have done that and continue to do that. If it’s your 3rd, 4th, 100th time, thank you again for all of your support. We appreciate it and I love the feedback that we’re getting about what you want to know. When we put this out several years ago, it was the first one that got traction for lenders and we continue to morph into different things, but it’s all about your personal and your professional development. I have the wonderful privilege of having Ben Lavender with me. He is with Affordable Financial Services. He is a loan originator and we’re going to talk about his practice and how he has reached his level of success in a very short period of time. Maybe pick up some nuggets from him on what you could do to move your business forward. Ben, welcome.

Jen, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Let’s get started by having you tell us a little bit about you. How did you get into mortgage lending? How long have you been? Give us a synopsis of what your practice looks like from a unit and dollar perspective as well as a team if you have one.

I started early when I was 22. It was my first job out of college. To be completely honest, I had zero sales abilities, zero sales training. I was taught everything from the ground up and had good mentors that were good to me, who I still talk to. I spent the first couple of years in business learning how to structure deals and how everything works. When I say I had no idea, Jen, I’m not exaggerating.

I don’t think any of us do. You and I had the wonderful opportunity of sharing an Uber from Mile High Mastermind in Denver. I recall when you said that you were everybody’s beck and call guy, every loan officer that you could get your hands on you were learning from them.

Knowledge is power as they say. There are two parts to it. One part of it is the most motivational aspect because I’m not a huge fan of masterminds in general because it’s typically something to upsell you into coaching or whatever, and they don’t give you anything real to implement. However, Mile High was different. We know the crew. I’ve known them for a long time. That’s one part of it, having the information to implement and then getting to know like-minded people or even better people that are far higher than you are. That’s the way that I always see the business. Even if I’m the top 1, top 2, top 3, whatever in my company. It doesn’t matter because there’s always someone else out there who’s producing more than I am. That’s the person I need to look at, not who’s around me here or the mortgage company next door. It’s how can we always grow to the next level.

How’s 2019 been for you? We all started off worried. We have a ton of businesses, it’s my best year ever.

I like to think that I had such a fantastic year because I’m amazing, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s a combination of a couple of things. Jen, I switched to the broken platform. I was in retail for several years. I don’t want to turn this into a broker’s conversation, but for me, it was a couple of things that I have a big competitive advantage over my competitors. That’s part of it. In addition to that, the purchase and the refi market going on at the same time. For me, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of my videos. Once a week, I do some educational videos that I push out to consumers and to realtors. They get quite a bit of business from it. My mindset going into it was to do them for fun and not expect anything from it. If I got business from it, great. It was a whole like, “Ben, don’t expect to see results for at least nine months.” I’ve only been doing it for a few weeks and I’ve already gotten not only deals that I’ve already closed from it, but relationships with realtors who are sending me business as well. They’ve proven to be powerful. For me in 2019, that’s been the game-changer.

Do something for fun and don’t expect anything from it. If you got business from it, that’s a bonus. Click To Tweet

I want to dive deeper into that. One of the things that I had talked about is a short-term gain for long-term pain. It’s the opposite of what everyone else is talking about. It always concerns me because in my career I have seen many ups and downs. My ups and downs started with rates being at 18%, coming down to 14% and the days that we had at 12.95%. They were funny how they were released that way. Finally, walking into single digits instead of double digits. I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. One of the things that I see that happens is that realtors who read this, loan officers do well when the market is good and then they don’t do well. That was the whining and complaining that we had. I want to know what are you doing, Ben, to plant the seeds so that you don’t have long-term pain when this market does shift from us?

Something that I neglected for a long time is my customer database, past clients because I was focused on generating business with realtors. As time went on, I was getting business from my clients without even doing anything. Using stuff like Homebot, which over here in New York, no one uses that. It’s made a dramatic difference. What I’ll also do for every single client, whether it’s a birthday or some occasion to touch base, I’m big on video. I’ll send them a video Happy Birthday message, personalized always. It is a little bit exhausting, I do admit, but I think it’s important. Honestly, I do enjoy my clients but not all of them. You’ve got those that drive you a little crazy, but the majority.

You don’t have to send a birthday video to them.

Even those I do because you don’t want them to run into someone, “I didn’t get mine.” For the most part, I do enjoy them. A cool aspect of this business is relationship building. It is getting to know people. I’ve got some relationships that I’m still doing business from my first year in the business. Even though I didn’t do anything special other than providing good customer service and listen to them, I’m still getting business from them. With that said, if you’re a loan originator trying to think, “If I send videos and enrolled them in Homebot or CRM post-closing, that’s cool.” It’s good to do. If you didn’t have that initial bond with the client, it’s not going to mean much. They’re going to feel like they were on some list that you closed. For all of them, it’s like how many conversations are going back and forth and going through the process. That’s what built the connection. All the follow up after that is secondary to that.

Let’s talk about that as it relates to the process and then we’ll get to the leads. What are you doing that’s different during the process that creates that strong bond with your clients, not just another transaction for you or that you’re not some other mortgage broker guy for them?

It all goes back to the video. It’s the same thing. In the very beginning, we’re doing the whole preapproval stage. I also don’t mind giving away the secret because the truth is if someone had the tenacity to do it, they would have done it already. Nine times out of ten, if they listen, they wouldn’t do it anyway. The first client, even sending them a preapproval documentation checklist. We send them a video greeting and then, “How do you prefer to communicate?” We go over everything and then I’ll enroll them in what I call a fifteen-day blitz of how the process works from start to finish. Most of my clients are first time home buyers and they’re intimidated by what’s going on. Even the thought of an appraisal, because it’s unexpected, it freaks them out. If you prep them for it, it’s like, “It’s time to do the appraisal. It’s time to find my home insurance.” They’re more ready to do it and the process is smoother. That’s the beginning. When we go into the contract, we send them their disclosures. “I know we went over this before, but a reminder, your processor is going to reach out to you. If you have any questions, I’m always here. Once the appraisal comes in, once we get a commitment. Once it’s closed, rate locked.” Every touch-point of the transaction, they’re getting either a video email, text email or both.

Are they generic in nature or are you specifically doing that? That’s time-consuming.

They are generic. Those aren’t individualized.

MLM 220 | Mortgage Lending Origination
Mortgage Lending Origination: Your content can be the top twenty questions that your clients asked you.


How are you creating a bond with them if it’s generic in nature? Is it through the video only? Are there taps or sprinkles in there of personal touches?

I also don’t want to overdo it and drive them insane. What typically happens every time I send a video, there’s always some response. “This was cool. Thank you, Ben. I appreciate it. Ben, I have another question.” It’s like, “Let’s get on the phone quickly.”

It’s like partnering with them. It’s a partnership.

I feel like the difference is that if I didn’t do it, they would not ask those questions and stop those additional conversations with me. Some loan officers may view that as inefficient, but for me, it’s another opportunity to build a bond with my client. If I can answer enough questions and talk to them for five minutes, that’s another opportunity.

It’s proactive rather than a reactive move. I travel a lot and I was always in the long line and I would see the TSA line and go, “I have to do that.” It required that I made an appointment, drove to the airport, parked, went in and got all the requirements. You have to go to the airport to get your TSA and I didn’t want to do that. I’d get in that long line again. Finally, I said, “This is crazy.” All the time that I’m wasting in this line, I could have spent getting the TSA approval and I can go through the fast line. It’s my favorite thing in the world. Les Brown said, “If you do what’s hard, your life will be easy. If you do what’s easy, your life will be hard.”

Put the effort on the front side so that the backside of this can be much more pleasurable for both you and the experience for the client as well. I absolutely love that. Thank you for sharing that. Let’s move on to getting the lead. From a marketing perspective. You and I were at Mile High and one of the things that we heard from Brian Stephens. He talked to us about video. I’m curious without going into detail about that because I’m going to have Brian on, but maybe you can tell us what you’re doing that’s different. Tell us how you do everything, including what you did differently and what you incorporated perhaps from what you heard from Brian Stephens?

What I took from Brian, which I have not implemented yet is doing Facebook Live. I find live videos to be more fun. I was thinking about how you can make it entertaining? I’ve spoken to some other guys and gals as well. They say, “Don’t just talk about mortgages, talk about everything and anything to keep it interesting.” Regarding how to make my mortgage videos different, what I do, or at least what I think I do well is make a lot of them entertaining. I put a lot of humor in there because the reality is the mortgages are boring from a consumer’s perspective.

At the end of the day, they want a house. They don’t want a mortgage and they don’t want to deal with a bank or lender. It’s throwing in humor in there. I have one of my videos that did quite well. It was a video on how lots of consumers go to Credit Karma or CreditWise to check their credit. As lenders, we know that’s not accurate. I spent half the video hitting people with steel chairs literally throughout it. It got, I don’t how many shares and how many views, but it did well. It’s throwing in funny stuff like that to keep it interesting. The setup is I have a videographer come in once a week and then the whole thing takes maybe 40, 50 minutes, not even an hour to shoot. It’s scheduled. Every Thursday you come in at 4:00, you come in at 2:00, whatever we have at that for that month. This way, it keeps me accountable.

There's always someone else out there who's producing more than you do whom you can learn from. Click To Tweet

You have to have your content available. You have to know what you want to talk about.

To be honest, the content is quite easy. For those of you thinking about, “What type of content can I come up with?” it’s quite simple. Think of the top twenty questions that your clients asked you. That’s your content. It’s not that difficult. The other thing that I will say as well is not to overthink the content of the video. Especially given the nature of our business with compliance, we have to be careful with what we say. Obviously, think about that carefully. I never talk about interest rates ever. Not one time, unless I’m talking about the market in general, but I won’t say a specific number to stay compliant. The New York banking department is very strict, so I don’t mess with that. What I was getting into is you don’t want to overthink video because at the end of the day, even though I put so much effort into my video, I understand the reality is that mortgages are boring and people aren’t going to watch the whole thing. On average, the videos are anywhere from 50 to 130 seconds. People will do another thing. The main thing that you want to get across is that you’re in the mortgage business and that you’re an expert. Make sure that each video looks different to capture their attention because otherwise, it’s just the same thing from week to week. The content honestly is not that important, in my opinion, at least.

What they want to do is know who you are. We know in sales it’s the know, like and trust. They know what we do. They like us generally, but they don’t trust us enough to send us business because they don’t know who we are. What video does is it allows us to highlight and shine a spotlight on our personality. That’s what’s going to attract and draw people to us. It’s not just a goofy personality. You do have to thread in there the fact that you are a lender, that you are an expert in your marketplace and that you have that credibility. It’s getting them to like you and want to follow you and feel that they know you as a person. I think that is the key. In your case, you’ve taken the funny route and that’s great, like the more humorous route. For others, it might be a passion they have that they’re sharing with others. They’re going on because of the passion that they have for whatever it is. We know Katie Parsons.

One of the things that she does is she takes pictures of birds and things like that. That’s something that other people are drawn to. She doesn’t usually go with the humor route. Make sure that it’s true to you and that you’re aligned with who you are. I want to ask you a follow-up on this, Ben. It’s one thing to put a bunch of videos out and we all do. We put it out and then we go, “I hope I get 1,000 views and I hope people like it.” What are you doing to amplify it? Are you paying for ads? Are you boosting it? Are you tagging people? Are you posting in groups? What are you doing that gets the attention so that we get business?

It’s quite specific and simple because it’s all on autopilot. All I have to do is click two buttons and it’s done. All the videos, I will boost them on Facebook and on Instagram. I target realtors, real estate attorneys and home inspectors. Sometimes I’ll target other loan officers but not all the time. It depends on the video because it’s nice for recruiting purposes to bring people in for the company. It’s happened quite a few times. I’ve got a random email from a realtor saying, “Ben, you don’t know me. We’ve never spoken. I’ve referred my clients to reach out to you. I don’t know if she’s reached out yet, but I saw all your videos on Instagram and I love all the content that you put out there. Thank you so much.”

If the content is consumer-based, are you doing this from your personal page or from your business page? How are consumers consuming this?

The funny thing is that I don’t talk to consumers directly with those videos because I feel that you can’t narrow it down enough. At least locally here, it might be different for whoever else is reading this. I’ve tried doing it especially the style of video is not good for consumer lead generation. I’m not doing any hard selling in the video. All I’m doing is educating and demonstrating that I do mortgages in a funny, playful way. There’s no specific call to action other than all I do is say my tagline, which is, “I’m your favorite British mortgage broker.” It’s funny because I run into people at networking events and that’s like, “You’re the British mortgage broker.” I’m like, “Yes, I am.”

There’s a friend or colleague of mine who works at AnnieMac and he’s Tran, The Mortgage Man. He does videos and does that thing. They’re like, “You’re Tran.” Find that angle that’s cool. I imagine that helps you a lot. I hired a loan officer many years ago that was a Marine and he was a mechanic also. We had a lot of fun with him being the loan mechanic, the Marine who you can trust. There is another guy who was a skydiver and he was a skydiving loan officer. He always was sharing pictures at that time because we didn’t have video. It was pictures he would have in his old-fashioned folder that we used when we met with clients.

MLM 220 | Mortgage Lending Origination
Mortgage Lending Origination: Answering more questions and talking to your clients even for five minutes more is an opportunity to build a bond.


He would show it to them when he met with the client?

When he met with them, he would have a collage of pictures of him skydiving and have it in his folder saying, “This is our company and this is me.” This is way before digital, but the concept is still there. It’s something that highlights you that becomes a magnet rather than something that you have to chase. I think that when you market to everybody, you end up marketing to nobody. You want to be able to market to those people. You mentioned Brian Stephens. You’re probably going to try to do some Facebook Live to local community, restaurants and yoga instructors, whatever the case may be. Try to expand that a little bit more. What else is on the docket for you for 2020?

Basically, everything needs to go up. I thought, “I’m doing one video a week. That’s cool.” I was like, “No.” We have the AIME Fuse event in Las Vegas, which was massive. Gary Vee is like, “You guys should be putting out 50 pieces of content a day.” I was like, “That’s a bit much for me.” Even if I don’t do 50 a day, I could do one or two as opposed to just doing one a week. I always thought to myself, “It’s too much. You’re going to drive people crazy.” At the end of the day, I always say this to myself. I’m not that special. All of the loan officers, neither are you, you’re not that special. Whereas if you post one thing a day, you’re going to ruin someone’s day. If you do, that person is crazy and you don’t want to work with them anymore. That’s what I’m telling myself. How can I increase the content? Another thing I want to do is start podcasting locally. I want to bring in a local yoga studio to showcase them and get to know businesses around.

I’m doing that type of stuff and quadrupling all the types of content and diversifying it. Also, LinkedIn is huge. That’s what I learned from Mile High. I never posted on LinkedIn and that’s something I’m going to start doing a lot as well. I’m pushing myself out there like an absolute mad man. It’s a great way to get business to come to you as opposed to you going to it, which for me, I like that. I don’t like doing cold calls or any of that stuff. That’s not who I am or it’s my style. I like to put myself out there and if you want to work with me and you like what I’m putting out there, great. If you don’t, no problem. There are tons of excellent loan officers in the business, so it’s all good.

It’s efficient too. Of course, it aligns with everything that I do in my coaching, the lifestyle. Lifestyle is not about having all the fancy cars and whatnot. That’s part of it. Lifestyle is being fulfilled, having that freedom to do what you want. When you can attract business rather than have to chase it, that will save time and allow you to enjoy all the work that you put in by being able to do the things that you don’t want to do that make you happy. I love that thought process. When we talk about this, this reminds me and I talk about it all the time, but it’s the jab and hook. We’re putting information out there that is funny, entertaining and social. Keeping social media social, keeping LinkedIn professional, and then the hook. The hook is fun and, “By the way, I’m a lender.” I love that you’ve done it in a humorous way because then it doesn’t become that dry aspect of it. One of the things I love to ask everybody is the name of a book that you’re reading that you’d like to share with someone. If you’re in the midst of it and you’re not sure about it, then maybe a book you’ve already read, perhaps a quote or a mantra that you live by.

I am reading Jordan Belfort’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which is good. One book that I love is Selling with Noble Purpose. What I found, at least with me at one stage of my career, I was focused on the units and the numbers. I haven’t talked about it because it’s not something that I actively think about. The reason is that if I do, I find that that’s what I focus on. Whereas what I need to focus on is customer experience, which is something that I took away from that book, Selling with Noble Purpose. I think I’ve read it 3, 4 times already. It gets way more specific than that. It’s doing the right thing by your client, the consumer and going above and beyond creates an experience. That is the foundation of everything. That’s how I was like, “My clients are always asking this question. They have anxiety about this. It’s keeping them up until midnight. Why don’t I make a video about it and send it to them before they even think of it?”

That’s where the client experiences blossoms, anticipating their needs.

The other one is Tim Grover’s Relentless. I’ve read that probably another 5, 6 times. I read that at least twice a year. That’s pure tenacity and competition. I love it because it drives and it tells me. A lot of people in my life say, “Ben, relax. You’re working too hard.” In my mind, I’m not working hard enough. I read Relentless and I was like, “I’m doing the right thing.”

Prioritizing things that are most important to you, I love that. Ben, it’s been a pleasure. I’m happy that I met you at Mile High and hopefully, I’ll meet you again there next time. I loved it. It was a pleasure meeting you. I look forward to us having a nice long business relationship and I wish you the best. Thank you so much.

I appreciate it. Thank you, Jen.

Take care.

Important Links:

About Ben Lavender

MLM 220 | Mortgage Lending OriginationBen Lavender, also known as “Your Favorite British Mortgage Broker” is a consistently ranked Top 5 Producing Mortgage Broker in all of New York State.

Ben has been in the mortgage business for 8 years and serves Long Island, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn markets mostly.

Ben strives to create a stress-free mortgage process through client education, which is provided through countless video sessions & consultations, going over every step of the process with his borrowers”

How To Create A Financial Legacy With Samuel Knickerbocker

MLM 219 | Creating Your Financial Legacy

MLM 219 | Creating Your Financial Legacy


Creating your financial legacy—whether for yourself in ten, twenty years, or for your family—always starts with a few simple steps. But before you’re able to chart out your course, you need to be able to answer a number of questions. Jen Du Plessis talks to Samuel Knickerbocker, a Legacy Strategist and the host of Fuel Your Legacy, about the process of building a sustainable financial legacy. Our decisions, financial or otherwise, are driven by our own valuation of our self-worth, so a lot of the course you’re charting begins there. Let Samuel teach you what decisions you can make in order to create a secure financial future.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

How To Create A Financial Legacy With Samuel Knickerbocker

I want to introduce my guest, Sam Knickerbocker. He is with Fuel Your Legacy. He’s a Legacy Strategist and that’s his company. We’re going to have a chit chat about creating your legacy from a financial standpoint, but also from a mindset standpoint because it’s not all about the money that Sam focuses on. Sam, welcome.

Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Sam and I had this great opportunity to meet each other at a retreat outside of Salt Lake City in a small town called Heber, which I’d never heard of. There were tons of snow. I can’t remember when it was. We had this great opportunity to spend 3 or 4 days together with other people doing a lot of breakthroughs in our own personal lives so that we can be better in our business lives. That’s how we met and that’s why I wanted to bring him on and have him share his wisdom with us about what his passion is and what he is trying to do to improve his personal life and our personal lives, as well as our businesses. Sam, would you talk to us about you, where you’re from, what you’re doing and what your company is, and then I’ll ask you lots of great questions.

I’m going to give you a little bit of my childhood because this underpins why I do what I do. Essentially, I was raised the seventh of eleven children, very much poverty for American standards. The house we moved into shortly after I was born was a double-story house with old white vinyl siding around the bottom floor. The top floor was open low-grade OSB wood. The windows were broken. When you walked into the house, you could see underneath the foundation where there was supposed to be a shower and a toilet in the bathroom. For the first few years, we used a honey bucket outside of our house.

It was a very interesting experience growing up that way. I have pictures up when I was 5 and 6 years old and the house hadn’t changed that much. It was barely livable even at that point. That’s how I was raised. Along with that, as in a lot of poverty mentality or households comes a lot of verbal and physical abuse and then neglect, especially when you have eleven children. My mom is an angel in my opinion, but during that period of her life, the chemical imbalances in her did not allow for her to be attentive or show that she cared the way that she wanted to. Talking to her, her perspective was very different than what was happening to me as a child.

As I was growing up through this, I never felt cared about, loved, even recognized a lot of the time. Being the seventh child, your older siblings tend to raise you. I know there are people with way worse lives than me. I listen to them tell their story. I’m like, “I have it so good. My life was so good.” As I grew up though, I wanted to figure out how could I maybe remove the abuse or remove the bad parts of my childhood from future generations. I went and studied Psychology and figuring out why would my mom act this way? Why did I respond the way I responded and how can we heal that relationship? I decided to go into neuropsychology. What I found in the research was that the one consistent thing that is not talked about all the time, but it is very much a major correlator in the research is the socioeconomic status of households.

Sam is on the cutting edge of money and it's relationship to Legacy like no one I've ever seen! Click To Tweet

When I saw that, I thought I could spend my whole life trying to repair psychologically something that’s been broken or I could spend the rest of my life helping people understand the rules of money, how it works, how it impacts every decision we make in our life, the stress, anxiety, depression, happiness, joy, all of those things, how money impacts those. It’s not a direct cause but it definitely impacts it. If I’m able to teach that family, I’m able to wipe out a lot of the social issues of our time, whether it’s sexual abuse, domestic violence, malnutrition. There are many things that when you get into research, they’re all correlated to, “I didn’t have enough money to make a change.” If we can resolve that for people, then they can’t use that excuse anymore.

Anytime somebody asks me, “Why didn’t you do it that way? Why didn’t you do it differently? What are you holding back from taking the next step in?” If it’s a financial reason, let’s help you understand the rules of money because if we can remove that, think of what your life would be like if money was no longer a factor. That’s my goal and that’s why Fuel Your Legacy is so important to me. It is to help people understand that your legacy is not money. The fuel to your legacy is money. That’s what I believe. That’s what I based the rest of my life on. I love it.

Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a very long story. It’s not as short as you said it. I was happy to be there as you shared that story more intimately with the rest of the group as we were all doing. When you look back on that and people that are reading are saying, “I want to change things too.” A lot of us have come from that situation because it seems like everybody’s more wealthy these days than they used to be. I don’t know if it’s because maybe people aren’t and they’re trying to keep up with the Joneses on social media or whatever the case may be. I too came from a very poor background and I mean really poor. I don’t see that as much at this time. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Believe me, there are lots of people who are. The people that are reading this probably came from that but aren’t there now. They want to change everything going forward. I was going to say legacy, but I guess I will have to. They want to change that path and they want something better for their family and their kids.

I know my husband and I always wanted our children to make more money than us, be more successful than us because that’s what we’re set out to do as parents. To learn from our past, our mistakes, our successes and give that to our children so that they can be 10x to us or 3x to us. In my case, my son is already 5,000x to us. He’s a multimillionaire already at the age of 32. I see how that has changed and will change his children. His children will have a completely different outlook. I’m excited and surprised that he still penny pinches. He drives us nuts because he penny pinches so much. I love that he’s teaching his kids that too. How do you approach this thought process of success, of achievement and of managing money? Where does someone start in this process of saying, “That’s it. I’ve had enough. I don’t want money to be the thing that drives all of my decisions in all areas of my life?”

I think that’s the age-old question. Most financial advisors or financial planners or people who are in the financial space, they’re going to approach the whole conversation from a specific financial conversation, numbers conversation. I’m going to draw contrast here. You may not like it because I know you love Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey approaches the whole conversation from a number’s perspective, which there’s nothing wrong with it. I’m not going to argue numbers work. When you take the whole thing, and this is the beauty of having other people enter the industry, when you take the whole process and you flip it on its head and say, “I’m going to approach it from a purely psychological habit-forming perspective.” I don’t care what the numbers turn out like I’m talking about the habits that are being formed in that community.

If you go on to a debt-free community and watch them on Instagram, what you have is a bunch of people who are being programmed to live in fear and scarcity. They’re being programmed to penny-pinch. They’re being programmed to not feel like they have enough. What’s amazing about these people is somehow, in a matter of a year, they’re making maybe $60,000, $70,000 a year and they will be able to pay off tens of thousands, sometimes $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 worth of debt in less than a year. By any standard, that is absolutely incredible. However, when they get out of debt, they’re left there like, “My husband wanted to go buy a brand new pair of sneakers because now we have the money, but I don’t feel right about spending $25.”

MLM 219 | Creating Your Financial Legacy
Creating Your Financial Legacy: The identity which you’re creating for yourself, in the long run, is more valuable than being absolutely debt-free.


The problem is you built an identity of debt. You built an identity of being debt-free rather than being financially successful and independent. The identity is what’s important for me, although you can be successful in both ways. For me, the identity of which you’re creating is more valuable in the long run than being debt-free. I don’t care if I’m in debt. If I have $4 million and I’m in debt $2 million, I don’t care about being in debt $2 million paying interest on $2 million because I know that that’s an investment. It’s working for me. What I care about is not being able to pay my debts. Being debt-free, most successful people are not super interested in that.

It’s about leveraging.

Helping a client understand the mentality and the identity that’s being created has to be the first step in any journey. Most of my clients say it’s grueling but for me, it’s exciting. I go through and I help my clients. They track every penny. It’s the same type of process. Where is every penny going? Without clarity of where you are, you can’t start making adjustments in your life. You start making these adjustments and you have no idea what the problem is. It’s like if your car oil ran out and you’re like, “I think that it stopped because the tires are flat.” That doesn’t change the fact that there’s no oil in the car or there’s no gas or all these other issues. A proper diagnostic requires going down and finding exactly what is an objective and looking at it without a notion. This is the problem I see with a lot of people who come from poverty and go to success. I went through it myself as well. The way I explained this is like a silo.

I work with a lot of divorced individuals. People who have gone through their life, they had a certain level of success and then they got divorced. This can happen to a mom who’s still married but has sacrificed her life, her desires, her intentions and herself to her family. They lose their identity. When they try to regain their identity, they build a financially successful silo, like a grain silo. They paint it nice and so on the outside they look super successful. They built the silo, but on the inside, they’re completely empty. They have no fulfillment and they are lost. They’re using this financial silo as a status symbol. Inside they still feel like the person in poverty. They’re still treating themselves like the person property. Although they built this beautiful silo, they don’t feel like they’re worth storing anything in it or using it. It’s sad because it comes down to is the silo your legacy or is the silo there to store your legacy, to fuel your legacy? What’s the purpose of financial success? I don’t care if you’re financially successful.

If you’re happy at a certain level of life without money, happiness is what we’re going for. People say, “You should learn to be happy without money.” I completely agree. I’m sure a lot of people say it but happy rich and happy poor are two types of happy and happy rich is better. You can be happy both ways. I agree but denying that having wealth gives you opportunities for things that no wealth doesn’t give you, that’s just asinine. You’ve got to recognize you have more opportunity, which means you have more wants that can be fulfilled.

Which is something that I talk about is what fulfills you. I’m not saying that everything needs to be monetary. What fulfills me is sitting and having a cup of tea on my porch and listening to the birds sing every single morning. I absolutely love doing that. What also fulfills me is traveling and that requires money. Some of the fulfillment will be non-monetized and some of it will. I want to ask you this question because you come from a big family and so do I. I’m one of 37 first cousins. I’ve seen this in business as well, where people that come from having like, “We can’t get that because we can’t afford it,” hearing that as a child, when we have success and people that have come from that place, they almost feel like they’re not worthy of success. What they do is they self-sabotage. They can never get to success because every time they have $1, they self-sabotage. It’s not conscious. It’s a subconscious reaction to spending that money. I’ve seen people, especially in the industry I was in for many years, mortgage lending, where they would make a lot of money. Mortgage lenders make a lot of money.

So many people base their financial decisions off of the feeling that they don't have value. Click To Tweet

They make $500,000, $600,000, $700,000 a year. The top producers make over $1 million. They make all this money and when there’s a shift in the market, they lose everything. I’ve seen people wearing $10,000 watches, which I think is silly. That fulfills them and they have the money to do it. If you have a $10,000 watch, 3 or 4 second homes, fancy cars, all the flashy clothes, beautiful home, you have all that and then you lose it all and then you have it again and then you lose it all. It makes me wonder where the self-sabotaging is in their past that makes them feel that they’re not worthy of the stickiness of money. I’m horrible with biblical quotes. I just know stories. The key is if you can’t manage $100, how can you possibly manage $10,000 or $100,000? The key is getting back to the basics and saying, “How do I manage $1?” Can you talk a little bit about the psyche behind that particular type of person and why they have that problem? I imagine there are some people that are thinking like, “I’ve made thousands and thousands of dollars but I had absolutely nothing to show for it.”

I always think of this as a star or something where it’s all equal or they’re all co-causal issues. One is the value of the individual. How do they value themselves and is there value that they’re gaining being propped up by somebody else? Is somebody else propping up their value? I’ve had some clients where when they’re working for somebody else, they’re making millions of dollars because they’ve been given that value. Somebody else has externally placed that value on them. I do a whole webinar on this. The difference of value exchange, let’s talk about value exchange. Value exchange is essentially always going on and there are two forms of value. There’s non-monetary value, then there’s monetary value. You’re always making this exchange. If you can add enough non-monetary value to society, then the natural reaction is that you get monetary value.

Some people are like, “What if the dollar crashes?” I’m not even a little bit concerned about any of that because I know that whatever the monetary value is in society, I can get it. I am confident in my non-monetary value addition to the society.” I don’t care what happens if we switch to the Euro or if we switch back to the gold and silver standard. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter because I know I have value that people will pay me for. That’s where a lot of people don’t understand that. What happens is they come from this background and then somebody else props up their value. One of the issues here is they never dealt with their issue of not having value. Somebody else told them that value, it feels good. You feel valued. This is why a lot of abused women or men will stay in an abusive relationship because they believe they have value in that relationship. They’re willing to put up with so much heartache because they feel like they have a little bit of value there. You see this with employees. Employees will stay in an abusive business relationship. Business partners will stay in an abusive relationship because they’re uncertain of their own value, their own ability to go and create that value outside of that relationship. It’s the imposter syndrome to the T.

One of the first questions I ask if I’m dealing with that type of person is, “When was the first time that you can remember not feeling like you had value?” That almost always takes somebody back to the 2 to 4-year-old range in their life. It’s something completely non-related. They based all of their emotional decisions off of this not feeling as though they have value. They’ve never addressed it and it’s compounded. A lot of times you don’t even recognize what it is or how could that even possibly be related to my lack of ability to manage money. Another one is a lot of these people who’ve made a ton of money and they lose it, they are not tracking their money. All they know is they keep making more than they’re spending. They refuse to look at it.

There’s another question. When was the first time in your childhood that you were scared to report or that you got in trouble for reporting something that was negative? You got a bad report card. What happened the first time you brought home a bad report card? What did your parents do to you or say to you? What was that emotional experience? Now, you have this emotional response when I asked you to report your financial statements and say exactly where you are. You have an aversion to knowing exactly where you are because it’s painful. There’s this emotional response that has to be rooted out and we have to be willing to objectively look at what is without any emotion. Once we’re there, then we can start working and making decisions and start making value judgments. Maybe you like eating fast food. I think that’s silly.

You think it’s silly to buy a $10,000 watch. I know one gentleman friend of mine has bought $400,000 worth of racing cars just in one month. He values that. He doesn’t value traveling. He’s a homebody, but he spends all his money on racing cars. I would never ever spend that much on racing cars, but I would go travel the world multiple times. I would go start a charity. It’s all about what somebody values and there’s no condemnation for what somebody values. Let me clarify that. This is my words. If you like, you can use them. If you don’t, you can reject them. That’s fine. I think everybody has to make a judgment. When the light turns red or green, we have to make a judgment call and decide whether we’re going to stop.

MLM 219 | Creating Your Financial Legacy
Creating Your Financial Legacy: Having wealth gives you opportunities that not having wealth can’t give you.


We at first observe other people around us and we see how they operate in their life. We have to make a judgment call about how we’re going to operate in our life. The question is are we putting an emotional condemnation behind that judgment? Are we now condemning them for living their life or are we just saying, “Judgment call here. I’m not going to live my life that way?” Judgment is an essential part of God. It’s an essential part of natural law. It’s an essential part of life. Condemnation is where you’re overstepping your bounds. Judgment has to happen. Condemning people can’t happen.

One of the things that I learned a long time ago when someone does something like that, I’m not condemning them. I’d say, “Good for them. Good for you. It’s not what I would do but good for you.” I have to comment on a couple of things. I want to share some stories because they come back to this very thing. My husband and I, our cars, one car might have 158,000 miles and every single car passed that. One of our cars has 320,000 miles on it. People say to us all the time like, “Why don’t you buy new cars?” We never buy new cars. One of them was a new car and that one has 300,000 miles. Every one of these cars looks nice. It’s getting older, there’s no doubt about it. My husband is a race car driver. He can build a car from scratch. No wonder it’s lasted that long. It’s funny that you mentioned the person who spends money on cars because it’s certainly something my husband spends money on, his race cars and show cars. He made the comment a couple of years ago about that with another friend saying, “Why don’t you just get a new car? Your cars are so old.”

Brian said, “I’d rather spend my money on my race cars. That’s where I get my joy. It’s not what I’m driving day-to-day. It’s what I’m driving to fulfill me and make me happy.” The sad thing about that is that it doesn’t fulfill me. I would like to have a new car. I wanted to share that story because I totally get that. I also totally get the whole fast food thing. I can’t tell you how many loans I’ve done. I’ve done over $1 billion worth of mortgage loans over my career before I transitioned to speaking.

The people that I would see their bank statements, they didn’t have enough money to come to closing. Day in and day out, they were going to McDonald’s. Every time I was on the phone with them, they were at McDonald’s. They were saying, “Can you hold on a minute?” “What do you want?” “We’ll have a Mc this and a Mc that.” Darren Hardy says these little insignificant choices that you make in your life make major impacts. I think you were at my workshop when I shared the “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.” Nobody gets bit by an elephant but you get bit by mosquitoes. It’s these little itty-bitty things that you do all day long and knowing where your money is spent that does that.

The last one I wanted to say is this comment about report cards, bringing it back and what did your parents do and you associate this feeling. We never paid our kids for good grades ever. That feeds this mentality that you’re talking about. If you have good grades, you get X amount of dollars and if you have bad grades, you’re going to get a lower amount of dollars. It’s right there is showing you what you’re worth because you’re a C, you’re only worth $3. Because you’re an A, you’re worth $20. I think that breeds that right in.

I’m sure that you want to make a comment on that, but I want to ask you this question. If someone’s reading and maybe they do come from scarcity and not an abundance approach, maybe they have some animosity with money or they’re having some conflicts with the value of money over the value of themselves. What’s maybe one step or the first step or an activity that they could do? What advice could you give someone to help take that and start this out?

Without clarity of where you actually are, you can't actually start making adjustments in your life. Click To Tweet

A great friend of mine, Travis Brady, he proposed this question. Pondering on this question and maybe writing your thoughts about this question are maybe the first step, then I’ll get to the second step. The question is replace the word money in your life with value. Deep inside ourselves or inside of your soul, you know that you have value. The issue becomes that many people in our lives has told us that we don’t have value. We’ve created a structure of what is valuable in society and what’s not valuable. If you walk up to somebody and you straight up say, “You have no value,” their knee-jerk reaction is to defend themselves because they know deep inside themselves that’s not true. It doesn’t matter how many times they’ve been told that you have no value, they will always have a knee-jerk and a stinging emotional response to “You have no value.”

This is like reverse psychology or the counterintuitive, but when you start saying, “I have no money for that or I can’t afford that,” basically what you’re saying is, “I don’t have enough value for that.” The exchange is if you don’t have the monetary, then you should have the non-monetary. If you start recognizing that saying, “I don’t have money for that,” is saying “I don’t have enough value for that,” then you’re like, “That doesn’t ring true.” Where’s the disconnect? Journaling about that disconnect between value and money in your life can give you some incredible insights about experiences from your childhood. When did you first feel that you didn’t have value?

This is what I have my clients do. I get a sheet of paper and I write down all of these negative experiences where we were told we didn’t have value. I have them go write down three questions. One, how do they feel about what was said? Why am I focusing on all the negative? You’re being clear about your feelings. You’re not focusing on it, but you’ve got to articulate what’s inside of you. Write down how do you feel about this person telling you that you have no value. You have to ask yourself what might also be true. You then have to look at the whole entire situation and journal about it from that person’s perspective, the person who told you, “You have no value.” Try and put yourself in their shoes. That’s step two.

Step three is then to rewrite that story or narrative from a perspective of power and empowerment. I’m going to share a story with you about probably one of the largest impactful things in my life that I did this with. This one experience pretty much shifted everything in my life. I don’t know what that one experience is going to be for each of you, but once you choose to do enough of them, because I did a lot of them, this is just the one that sticks out and had the most impact. When I was younger, we were all homeschooled. My parents at the time believed that the school was run by the devil. The medical field was run by the devil and the only way to protect themselves was to board up the house. We were all homeschooled. We studied only what they wanted us to see.

I had learning difficulties. I was dyslexic and it took me hard to learn my ABC’s. When I was about 6 or 7 years old, my mom sent all of the kids to school and she did one-on-one sessions with me in her bedroom. I’m learning these ABCs. We’d sit on this bed and we’d go through these 42 phonics flashcards. They’re about the size of a letter. Every time I mess up, she would get more and more upset. A good analogy or visual for this, if you’ve watched the new The Incredibles, Jack-Jack. He’s normal and then he gets red into a monster and he’s flaming. This is the best way to describe my mom. She would get more and more upset and she would be beet red, screaming about how dumb I was and why I couldn’t get this, then the phone would ring. It’d be one of her friends or something and she would pick it up and cool as day, she went back to the normal little baby Jack-Jack, “Hello, my name is Gail Knickerbocker. Can I help you?” At that point, I’m praying that the person doesn’t hang up and there’s this break of verbal abuse. As soon as it goes down, she’s instantly back to this monster who’s yelling at me.

As that would escalate, it would get to the point where if you screwed up, she would go, “Get in the bathroom.” She’d go in the bathroom, grab my ankles and she would start beating me. If you scream too soon, then she would beat you more because you’re being weak. There’s no perfect time to scream, then we’d get back up and we’d do our ABCs. That was the surrounding of me learning my ABCs. If that’s not traumatic, I don’t know what is. That was traumatic for me. Here’s the deal. That’s been affecting my need to be perfect. It delayed me writing a book. It delayed me starting a podcast. It delayed me doing anything in my career. I didn’t want to step out of the lines until I was absolutely sure that I could do it with the best degree of excellence. In college, I had straight A’s because that was my identity. It was like, “I cannot fail at this.” I will slave away just to get a good grade because failure means abuse. Even though as a grown adult, nobody’s going to come and beat me, it’s an illogical fear because it was rooted in me as a child. That was the case.

MLM 219 | Creating Your Financial Legacy
Creating Your Financial Legacy: When people try to regain their identities, they try to build a silo of financial success, but inside, it’s empty.


I was invited to redo this through some therapy and I went through it. I was like, “This is how I felt about my mom.” There are lots of not good words. I have a bigger vocabulary to explain how I felt. It was not great, then I said what also might be true. This is where I started to gain perspective of my mom. This is where the story changed me. To think about my mom and her current state of belief in our house about what the public school system was and what these other things were. For my mom, to make the choice to take all of her children and essentially sacrifice all the other children to the devil or the public school system so that I could learn my ABCs. Once you look at it from that perspective, was it the proper manner in which I would prefer to learn my ABCs? Absolutely not. Do I wish anybody ever would go through that? Absolutely not. No part of that do I think is great except for the intention and intention matters.

Whether it’s true or not from her side, it doesn’t even matter because now it’s a story I tell myself and what power it gives me. What did I learn from this then? Who am I now because I went through this experience? One, the amount of love that I’m able to comprehend now is way more than I ever thought I could. My mom taught me extreme resilience. She could have beat me and said, “You’re dumb as crap,” then just leave. She said, “We’re getting back up on the bed and we’re going to go again.” In the world, once I shifted that story, now my story is there’s no way that somebody can reject me.

There’s no way that somebody can beat me more than I’ve experienced in my past. I am bulletproof from a mentality perspective. The reason I’m bulletproof is because I can look at everything from a place of love and gratitude for what is. I may not always love it as far as enjoy the process, but I’m always looking for what’s the most positive thing that I can draw from this? When you go through this story, how do you feel about it? Be clear about how you feel about this person. Maybe even share it with them after you’re able to share the love part. Don’t just go share the pain because there’s the pain, what might also be true. Go and ask questions if you need to seek some outside perspective about what was going on and then rewrite your story. That one story transformed pretty much my whole life when I gained an understanding rather than just victimhood.

I love your story because you and my stories are very similar. Yours is more physical. Mine is more verbal. You can read this in my book and we’ve talked about this too. It was the first time I shared it. I love that you have experienced it younger than me. You’ve gone through it younger than me because it wasn’t something that I was able to transform until I started talking about it. I call it journaling because I was writing about it. I was making it part of my book so that people could understand why I am the way I am and why I have this insatiable appetite for success and being perfect and all that good stuff, which now I’ve accepted that I won’t be perfect. I tend to use a lot of terminology to myself like progression, not perfection. Move it along, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be perfect in everything that I do.

It comes from an uncle calling me, “Jenny who ain’t got a penny,” which is why I can’t go by the name of Jenny because it does take me back and I don’t like the name. I will turn into that Jack-Jack if someone calls me that just because it takes me back to my childhood. He’s also telling me that I was going to be like my father. I was going to be an alcoholic. I was going to smoke. I was not going to have anything. I wasn’t going to have any money. I wasn’t going to make anything of myself. He told me what my value was. Prior to that, I believe somewhere around 6 or 7, maybe 9, he told me that. Until then, I was a happy little girl. I was running around. We were poor but I didn’t know because I had all these cousins around me. I had fun and made mud pies with my little Easy-Bake oven and all that stuff. When he told me that, it made me stop in my tracks and say, “I guess I am. I didn’t know that I wasn’t valuable, that this is what was going to happen.”

It was something that I did all through high school and college, that perfection and had to move through that. I’m coming out of it. I’m definitely out of it, but I wouldn’t say I’ve recovered from it. I’m out of that big hole, but I’m not standing yet. I’m not running yet. I’m still coming out of it. It’s wonderful that you’re sharing this with anyone who’s reading so that regardless of their age, where they are in their business, in their lives, that they can come out of this and start moving forward. There’s so much more than we can talk about. We’re running out of time because we keep sharing these long stories, which is good because it’s saying to rethink the way you think about money and yourself. It’s upleveling the value that you put on yourself. This goes back to the airplane. You have to put that mask on for yourself before you can help others. I know that’s something that you’re teaching your kids. How many do you have?

Judgment is an essential part of natural law. Condemnation is where you're overstepping your bounds. Click To Tweet

Just two. Two is plenty.

I know this is important for you to have your kids have something completely different than you had. I know that people hope and dream for that, but I don’t think people take the action to make that happen. I love that you’ve done that. I think that’s absolutely wonderful. Tell us how we can connect with you. How can our readers open the door with you and say, “I want to continue to have this dialogue with Sam,” and continue to raise their hand and say, “This is me. I need help. How can I reach out to you?”

One of the best ways, if you want to direct line me, I have a business line. You can text Sam, it doesn’t matter if you capitalize it or lowercase. Text Sam to the phone number (385) 263-7699. We’ll kick back a little thing to let me know who you are and then we can start an open dialogue there. You can go to my website, and on there you can watch a few videos of clients who have said some things about me. You can watch my story in a dramatized form. There’s an eBook that I wrote for helping people understand why it’s important to begin a legacy and what are the underpins. It’s called Fuel Your Legacy: 9-Pillars to Build A Meaningful Legacy. You can get access to my eBook there. I do a webinar about once a month. That’s called the Legacy Blueprint webinar. It goes over the aspect of worthiness. Are we worthy for success to heal your relationship with debt? That’s a very emotional thing. You can talk about a relationship with a spouse and it’s almost all applicable but it’s money. Two is how to legacize your budget? How to create a budget from a psychological perspective, using habits that are already there to make sure that your money is there.

You had recommended a book to me called The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. A lot of those habits are there. I think people want to learn the concepts. It’s a great book. The last is value exchange. I go into a little bit more depth about all those principles to help people shift their mind. My goal is to help people get clarity. The webinar is great. On my website, you can also see where I’m speaking. If you’re in the area where I’m speaking or you want to fly out to where I’m speaking, there are different speaking opportunities there that you can watch me speak as well.

Thank you for sharing that. As you know, I’m an avid reader. What are you reading right now?

I read a book a week. I just finished The Automatic Millionaire because I’m doing a book review on it. I’m going to re-start Think and Grow Rich. I try to read Think and Grow Rich about once every three months. I read How to Win Friends & Influence People once every other month. The most impactful books in my life, I’ll share those. These are the top three. One is The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute. The other is Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill and the other one is The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.

I’ve read all but one of those that you’ve suggested. The fourth one is good. It’s something I read not too long ago.

That book changed my life, coupled with The Anatomy of Peace, which is a good story or dialogue on how to approach every situation from love and treat people as people rather than objects. It doesn’t answer the question of how to explain to another how you like to be treated. That’s where I think The Four Tendencies gives a lot of insight into what’s a language pattern to communicate how I like to be talked to or communicated to. That’s where the coupling of those is a magical appoint in being able to communicate effectively and have healthy relationships with even people you vehemently disagree with.

It was useful for me in business too. It’s not just personal relationships but also business relationships as well. I call it the platinum rule. The golden rule is to do onto others what you would have done unto you, but the platinum is to do unto others as they want you to do unto them and to communicate the way that they want, not the way that you want to communicate. That allows for the forging of great relationships. That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing that as well. I appreciate it. It’s fascinating that we’re talking with a Legacy Strategist who’s talking about the psyche of money rather than where are we going to put your money? Which stock do you want? Which brokerage do they want? Thinking about the 30-year plan and what life insurance policy. We’re talking about being able to come into that situation with the right mindset first. You have to fix them before they can come to you versus going to somebody else and they’re going to screw it all up. That’s what makes you different.

There are a lot of people who do things from the psychological perspective that I do and they’re phenomenal. I learned from them. Wayne Dyer is awesome on finance. Bob Proctor is phenomenal with identifying your value and how it relates to money. There are a lot of people who are going to educate. Even Napoleon Hill, he educates about the essence of money and all of the things about that. There are people on the other side who talked about all the numbers. Tony Robbins, Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, they talk about all the numbers. In my opinion, the power and coupling the two, helping someone to get their mind straight who can assist you in taking the tactical application and is on the same page, that’s important. Both of them have their own benefits on either side of the aisle, but the coupling of the aisle between what some people would call woo-woo things, like the whole energy and the actual practical physicality of money. That’s important to have somebody who understands both worlds and can operate in both, not just one or the other.

You’ve got to get in touch with Sam. Attend one of his webinars, reach out to him, let him have a conversation with you so you can start moving and filling your silo and make sure that it is something that leaves a legacy for everybody. Sam, thank you so much for coming here and sharing your story and your business with us, and how we can continue to improve ourselves in this big bad world of everything that’s coming at us, the white noise. It’s wonderful to hear. We’ve wanted to do this for quite some time. For all of you reading, please get in touch with Sam. Please write a review. It’s important that we continue to have those reviews going. I’m so grateful that you take the time to read to what we have to share. Take care.

Important Links:

About Samuel Knickerbocker

MLM 219 | Creating Your Financial LegacySam specializes in 21st-century financial strategies focused on helping you establish a legacy of meaning. Growing up his life was full of hand-me-down clothes, toys and shoes that were worn out two kids before he got them. Even worse were the beliefs and habits about money my parents passed down. None of the “experts” teach the difference in the mindsets and habits of poverty vs. Legacy, they ignored the causes of poverty and focused on how to survive it.

Sam has gathered the foundational financial habits, mindsets and behaviors to legacy building then uniquely coded them into tested processes and systems to establish a solid foundation for anyone to build their legacy on. His passion is to empower high achieving men and women like you with the financial foundation essential to maximize fulfillment in your life and create you legacy. He is the Host of the Fuel Your Legacy Podcast where I teach the foundational habits, mindsets and behaviors essential to create a legacy that lasts.

Generating Referrals Without Even Asking With Stacey Brown Randall

MLM 218 | Generating Business Referrals

MLM 218 | Generating Business Referrals


Generating business referrals is important in any business to promote its products and services, but how do we get referrals effectively? In this episode, host Jen Du Plessis interviews entrepreneur and award-winning author Stacey Brown Randall about referral marketing. Stacey’s programs help small business owners and solopreneurs take control of their referrals, their client experience, and their business. Today, she tackles the different types of referrals and shares some tips on how we could connect to business prospects better.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Generating Referrals Without Even Asking With Stacey Brown Randall

I have a special guest with me because it’s not very often that I bring back a guest twice on the show. In fact, this might be the third time that I’ve done that. Stacey Brown Randall has so much great content to provide to all of us as entrepreneurs and salespeople. This would be a great time to bring her back in. Welcome, Stacey. I’m glad to have you again.

I’m honored to be back. Thank you very much.

I like this in particular. I may want to bring more people back in the future because it continues to develop our relationship. We were talking about things that we can do to help each other’s businesses grow. It is all about referrals. That’s what we are going to spend our time talking about. Please read the first episode that we had with her. It was back in February of 2017 and it’s been years since we’ve talked. Her life has changed. Her business has changed. Mine has changed and my business has changed. I’m retired from a 35-year career in lending. I’m a full-time speaker, coach and a podcaster. There are lots of things changing.

Stacey Brown Randall is a member of the business failure club, a contrarian on how to generate referrals and a supporter of the entrepreneurial dream. She is a three-time entrepreneur, award-winning author of Generating Business Referrals Without Asking. I know that when you read that title, all of you are saying, “How do we do this?” She’s also the host of Roadmap to Grow Your Business Podcast and national speaker. Her program helps small business owners, entrepreneurs and salespeople take control of their referrals, their client experiences, and their business. I absolutely love that, Stacey, because one of the key things for my coaching program is the client experience, how we communicate with our clients. It’s no longer customer service. It’s how they feel about having worked with you. Let’s talk about your definition of referrals. What is truly a referral?

That’s a good place to start because people take different terms and they use them interchangeably when they’re talking about different types of prospects that maybe they have come into their business. I have someone talking to me and they were like, “I got a referral.” They’ll tell me what happened. I was like, “That was an excellent introduction, but it wasn’t a referral.” They were like, “Is there a difference? I was like, “There’s very much a difference.” It’s great for us to level set in terms of like, “This is what a referral is. This is what we need to know and how it’s different from a warm lead, an introduction or word of mouth buzz because those are four different types of prospects for different levels.”

Talk about the first one.

Referrals have two things that the other sales terms don’t have. They have none or only one of these two. A referral has that. A word of mouth buzz, introduction or warm lead is going to miss or may not have a personal connection. There is always somebody willing to put their reputation on the line and recommend you to someone that they know that has a problem. They want to help them solve their problems or overcome their issues. There’s always that personal connection. You’re always going to be connected with them. A lot of times, people will say to me, “I got a referral recently.” I’d be like, “Tell me about it.” They’ll be like, “I had a client that told me they were talking about me to somebody else who needs to hire me. They’re going to have them follow up.” I was like, “That’s close to a referral,” but there was no personal connection.

MLM 218 | Generating Business Referrals
Generating Business Referrals: People take different terms to what is a referral. They use them interchangeably when they’re talking about different types of prospects that have come into their business.


You’re not in the driver’s seat to be able to do any follow-up. We don’t know who the person is. We’re out there and someone thinks well of us, but everyone is busy. They’re probably going to forget to get back to you. It’s close, but yet it’s not because it’s lacking a personal connection. Typically, personal connection is going to happen over email. It can certainly happen over a text thread when you’re all joined together on a text. It can happen live when you’re at the same networking event or the same charity dinner. Nine times out of ten, it’s going to come over email where the referral source is going to send an email to the prospect, copy you on it, and make that connection between the two of you. That’s the personal connection piece.

It can also happen over instant messaging. I got a referral from someone. It becomes two people in an instant message. It says, “I want you to meet Jen. Jen, I want you to meet David. David is great. Jen is great. Good luck to you two.”

If that were the language that came through and that’s an introduction language like, “You guys should meet.”

It was more than that.

I should add that to my list of things that I talk about. It can definitely happen in an instant message. It has happened to me over Facebook messenger before. Usually, it’s going to happen more likely through email, but not always. The second thing a referral will always have and it’s always going to have is a need to identify. When we’re in that word of mouth buzz situation, you have a client who’s talking about you to somebody else who needs you. There’s a need identified, but there’s no connection for you to get to that prospect because you hadn’t personally connected. Looking from that perspective of an introduction. A lot of people were like, “I got this great referral.” I was like, “It’s an introduction.” It was exactly what you said. It was like, “Jen, you should know Sam and Sam, you should know Jen. You guys are great people who should know each other.” You’ve been connected but why?

You stand there and you’re like, “I don’t understand.” That happened to me before, not as a receiver, but I’ve watched it. There was a person in my BNI group several years ago that was a great connector. That’s what they did, connections. At a networking event, they would walk the two of them and go, “Jen, I want you to meet him.” It was her style. I saw people who are not good at networking and connecting the dots. They’re standing there going, “What do you do?” Whereas going through that and saying, “I wanted to connect the two of you. Here’s why I want to connect you. She was mentioning that she is looking for people who like underwater basket weaving with puppy dogs. I know that you know people who love underwater basket weaving with puppy dogs. This is a good connection for the two of you to move forward.”

There’s always that, why. Why we’re being connected is being addressed. A lot of times, people will think it’s a referral when it’s truly an introduction. The reason why people were like, “Personal connection need is being identified. That’s the definition of a referral. Why do I need to know how it was different from an introduction, word of mouth buzz or warm lead?” I always say, “I need you to know how to respond.” Nine times out of ten, the way you respond to an introduction should be different than how you respond to an actual referral, which is also different than how you respond to word mouth buzz, which is different than how you respond to a warm lead. Your reaction and the conversation you’re going to have and how you’re going to respond is entirely different. Most people don’t pay attention to that. That’s why I want you to know that when you have a referral, you have to have two things, personal connection and a need identified. When you have an introduction, you’ve been connected, but there’s been no need identified. When I say you need to identify, the buyer knows they have a problem and they are in buying mode. They realize that in the situation, they’re the prospect. They’re not looking to sell anything. They’re looking like, “I’ve got this problem. I need Jen to help me solve it. Stacey is going to connect us.”

There is always somebody willing to put their reputation on the line and recommend you to someone that they know that has a problem. Click To Tweet

When they’re in the buyer’s mode, that’s what makes a referral quicker to close, easier to close, less price-sensitive. All those things that we look for in a referral. That is why we want referrals. It’s got to be a referral to have those amazing qualities of being easier, quicker, faster to close. You’ve got to have those things. When you get an introduction, you know it’s an introduction because you’ve been connected, but you don’t know why. In that situation, you don’t know who the prospect is, “Are they trying to sell to me? Am I trying to sell it to them?” Are we truly being connected because we need to grow our network and have one more person that we know? That’s okay but we need to know that because that’s how we respond. When you get word of mouth buzz, that wasn’t a referral because you weren’t connected. I do know there’s somebody out there that needs me.

When you get a warm lead, that’s typically somebody saying, “I know this company needs you, Jen. You should definitely call them. Here’s the contact name and number. You should call them.” That’s awesome, but we don’t know if they know that they have a problem. We have no idea if they want to hear from us. Since you’re not willing to connect us over email, that trust you have in me to solve their problem isn’t transferred to them. They don’t know that. Its warm lead lacks personal connection and a need identified personal connection and the introduction lacks the need. None of those have both pieces. Only a referral has both pieces. The only sales term I’m leaving out in this situation is cold lead. Most of us know what a cold lead is. They wouldn’t have anything that a referral or any of the other ones have. People are confusing introductions, word of mouth buzz, and warm leads with referrals. There are four distinctly different types of prospects.

I’m making sure that I understand that one is lacking personal connection, one is lacking need, one is lacking both, and one is giving both. That’s bringing that full circle. Let’s focus on the referral itself. What is the best reaction or engagement you feel would be good for a referral to have the highest conversion ratio?

That’s a good question to ask in terms of, “What do we do when we’ve been receiving that referred prospect?” We have to recognize that the referred prospect shows up in a way that no other prospect ever will, not the prospect you met at a networking event, not the prospect who happened to answer your cold call, not the prospect who happened to answer your direct mail piece. They’re showing up and they already have trust in you. You need to leave your dog and pony sales pitch behind. They don’t need that. That’s not what they’re interested in. You don’t need to sell.

You do need to make sure that when you’re having that conversation, you understand what their issues, what their pain points are, and how you can help them solve them. Remember that they trust you and they can’t quite put their finger on why. They’re not going to say, “I trust you because Jen referred me to you and Jen trusts you.” That’s what’s happening. It’s important to recognize that a referred prospect shows up entirely different. There’s an entirely different script that you should use when you’re talking to a referred prospect. You should not go into the sales mentality.

You should go more into the curiosity mentality of like, “I understand why we are here. Can I help you? Maybe I can’t and I need to be able to direct you on.” I think you should treat all your prospects awesome, but a referred prospect, there are ramifications on how you treat this prospect based on what gets back to the referral source if it does. It’s important that you have the right mentality and then the right conversation structured in place. It doesn’t include, “Let me pitch you and show you the 32 features and everything we’ve got. Here are all the benefits.” You don’t need that.

I have a question around this because one of the strategies that I’ve always used in this referral aspect is the first thing that I do in my process is I contact my referral source. A lot of people, the first thing they do when they get a referral is, they contact the referred person. I’m sure there’s a refer-E and a refer-or. They contact the refer-or and say, “I was told to give you a call.” We get into the curiosity part of it. I contact my referral source and say, “I want to say thank you so much for referring this person, but before I call them, is there anything I need to do to help you in the relationship that you have with this person?”

MLM 218 | Generating Business Referrals
Generating Business Referrals: A referral is different from a warm lead, an introduction, or word of mouth buzz because those are actually different types of prospects for different levels.


One of the things that we failed to do, I can speak from the lending perspective of this, when a lender gets a referral from a real estate agent, there’s a variety of these. There’s the word of mouth, “I was talking to a client and they’re probably going to call you.” All the way up to referral, a trusted handoff. I always call because we assume that they have this client in the bag and that may not always be the case. I say, “Tell me about the clients before I make the phone calls so that I can be a little more prepared.” Do you need any help? Do I need to talk about you a little more? Is there something I need to know about? Is she the decision-maker? Is she’s a linear thinker? Is he a rocking chair thinker? What are some things that I could use to help me in communication with them? What are your thoughts there?

It’s important to understand how your referrals show up. A lot of people are going to receive, “I’m referring you to my neighbor, to my friend, to a colleague, to a peer, or maybe to a client of mine.” Depending on the type of referrals that you typically receive and who your referral sources are, you may not need to do that. In your case, though, you know your industry with the mortgage world, you know that perfectly well. That is a perfect thing to follow up with. In some cases, I’ve been referred to someone and I was like, “Is this a referral? I’m not quite sure.” I will sometimes follow up and be like, “What am I missing? What do I need to know here?” If you know your industry when a realtor is referring someone to you that they may not be 100% their client, that is a brilliant strategy. Everyone should adopt it immediately. A lot of times, when I’m dealing with other people who are going through my Growth by Referrals Program and they’re receiving referrals, it’s typically a friend, a neighbor, a peer, a colleague, or a client that they’re referring.

It isn’t quite that client relationship that you have to worry about, but the immediacy thing that I always tell people to do when you receive that email, most people follow up with the prospect right away and the person who’s been referred to you. I always say hit reply all on the email. At that moment, what you want to do is thank the referral source for referring you and connecting you to the prospect and address the prospect and saying, “I’m glad that we were connected.” You continue in however you handle setting up your first call, first meeting or whatever your processes and then you put in that language. That’s for the immediacy factor. It’s to keep the thread going. When the prospect responds back, they remember, “I was connected to Jen because of Stacey.”

They were all still in that email thread. I want you to take a minute and 55 seconds and pull out a thank you card. Write a handwritten thank you card to the referral source for sending you that referral and naming that referred prospect in that card. That’s super important. A lot of people don’t do that. That’s going to have a greater long-term impact on the memory in one way of what your referral source remembers about you and how they feel about you. That one small act can impact what they think and feel about you. They’re not even quite sure why, but if they were to trace it back to that moment where you impacted how they felt about you. There are definitely some follow-up procedures I always teach people to follow, but that handwritten thank you note is one that cannot be overlooked and the email response back isn’t going to solve it.

I have a thank-you note from someone that I had a conversation with. I said, “Thank you for taking the time. I’m putting together a new coaching program and I’m doing some research. I need some help with research.” This simply says, “Thank you so much for taking the time for helping with the research. I’m grateful.” I’ve been a note writer all my life. My mother was a note writer and she taught me. I learned from her. I write many times, as many as 50 notes a week. We’re in a crazy world that the minute an email goes off, you’re like, “That’s done, next.” I want to have those brain cells be stolen and taken. Two days later, they’re going to get a note and it’s going to make them smile. I want them to associate happiness with me. That’s what it is. That’s going to make them smile. They are going to think about me again and the reticular activator goes off and another connection refrain is coming my way.

I always tell people when we’re thinking about generating referrals, it’s important that you do what your mama taught. You write with handwritten thank-you notes because we were on some level taught by somebody. Maybe not first boss, but somebody taught us that we should be sending handwritten thank-you notes because that’s the impact. I always ask people, “Why would you expect more referrals from someone when you can’t take a minute or two to truly thank them in a polite and proper way for the referral they sent you?”

I’ve heard lots of people say, “I stopped giving them referrals because I never heard back from them, not even a reply email like thanks for the referral, not a note saying, ‘I wanted to let you know I called them and I talked to them and we’re moving forward. Thank you again.’” Keep them apprised of what’s happening in the process. What questions should we be asking our referral partners when we receive any one of the four categories, a word of mouth buzz, introduction, warm lead, or referral if we’re not clear about it? It might be that they just typed the email and didn’t put the need in.

When you have a referral, you have to have two things - personal connection and a need identified. Click To Tweet

When you get an email where the need hasn’t been identified, it’s easy to go back and be like, “I want to make sure that I’m clear here, were you connecting us because you had a conversation with them and they need what I do and they need me? Were you connecting us because you think that we should know each other?” Whatever questions you need to ask, it’s for the clarification you’re ultimately looking for that you may need. That’s an important part of it. I always tell people, most of the time, when I’m working with someone, it isn’t their opportunity to go analysis paralysis. They overthink their reaction and what they should say back to them. You don’t need to be that worried so much about it. If you are unclear, this is an introduction. I think that a referral and you want clarification, ask for it, like, “I want to ask you offline before I respond back, were you connecting us because they needed to work with me?”

One of my favorites says, “I’ve got a referral.” It wasn’t a referral when it came over from a client. He was referring somebody else to me. The email was very nonchalant, like, “You guys should know each other.” It was a classic introduction. “Stacey, I’ve mentioned you and I’ve mentioned him to you.” There’s nothing there. I reached out to the client and I said, “I’m trying to get the backstory here. Why were you connecting us? Is it because you want us to go or network? Does he need to grow his network? Should he hire me?” He goes, “He should totally hire you. He’s not 100% ready to have someone tell him that.” Right there, I know exactly how to craft my response by asking. He didn’t say, “You should be hiring.” The perfect referral for me is, “Jen, meet Stacey. She’s awesome at telling you how to get referrals and teaching you how to get referrals without asking. You should talk to her about working with her.” That’s the perfect referral for me, but when they come in and they’re more cryptic, you’re like, “I’m not quite sure what this is.” I asked for the information, “What am I missing?” It is the same thing that you asked.

I wasn’t doing it for clarification of referral connection. I was doing it for clarification in my ability to convert. Unbeknownst to me, I was doing that. Let me ask you, in that particular situation, did you ask that person who did the referring to amplify their response and say, “One additional thing I wanted to add here quick was this?” Did you ask them to do that or did you take it on as a professional level and say, “I know how to handle it from here. I’m just curious about that.” Maybe people feel that they need to have. If that truly is a referral, then I need to have this person share the fact that they trust me a little more because maybe my skillset isn’t so good at sales.

It depends on where you are in the situation that you’re in from that perspective. You could do either. In that situation, I didn’t. When my client had told me the conversation that he had with the prospect and why he connected us. From that perspective, I knew exactly how I wanted to address the prospect to get them on a phone call, to even see this is indeed the potential of going anywhere. I was prepared for it and not that I was prepared for it too. If you need your referral source to make that connection as they need to hire you, then yes, you can ask your referral source to send a follow-up email. If you feel like your relationship is strong enough with a referral source to do that and they’re in the habit of referring you. If it’s the very first referral they’ve ever sent to you, I don’t tell people to tell the referrals who are to change how they’re doing things because we haven’t yet built a habit in them and I’m pleased that they’re close to sending a referral.

We don’t want to make it difficult.

If I know what my conversation is at that point following up, then I know exactly how to spend this or swings it or modify my language so that I am putting myself in the driver’s seat. I actually got one where a financial advisor referred me to a business coach. I’ve lots of different types of people go through my Growth by Referrals Program, business coaches, consultants are one subset of them. He referred me, but he said nothing about my program. He said nothing about anything other than, “She started her practice. We were talking and your name came up. She’s awesome and you should get to know her.” I was like, “What am I going to do with this?”

Because of where I am and, in many years, I’m into this, I know how I get these referrals from this one particular financial advisor, I had a different response than I would necessarily teach other people to have. My response was blow by the horns and be like, “I’m glad that X financial advisor connected us and had talked about me. I don’t know what you’ve learned about how I work with people. I don’t know where you are in your journey, but I’m glad we were connected and that you’re interested in learning more about working with me.” In case if she hadn’t had been, that’s okay. I’m at a stage in my business where it’s okay for me to lose out on that. I’m going to start the chase. If she wasn’t truly someone who was referred to me and she was referred to me for someone to go have coffee with, I don’t do that much anymore. I don’t do it as often as I used to. That would have been harder, for me anyway.

MLM 218 | Generating Business Referrals
Generating Business Referrals: The most important thing to recognize when you’ve been referred someone is that they’re showing up different than any other type of prospect that you’re going to have.


I went right into, “I’m glad that we were connected and that you had a conversation and my name came up. I would love to hop on a call and have a conversation with you about how I work with people and how I help people get referrals without asking. My program looks like this.” I went straightforward. It turns out I was right. Usually, my gut is right because I’ve been doing this long enough. I’ve got this right. She was like, “I’ve ordered your book. I’ve taken your Referral Ninja Quiz. It was random that you also came up in a conversation with this other person that I know.” We’re getting on a call. It’s your ability to navigate and to use your best judgment in those situations. If you need more backstory, ask for it, but don’t ask your referral source necessary to do an extra step for you unless you trust them and asking them won’t be off-putting to them.

We don’t want to make it complicated because otherwise, it’s like, “Every time I send a referral, I’ve got to do more homework.” We definitely don’t want that. Let’s switch gears and talk about the five steps to generating referrals without asking. Can you share with us what those five steps might be?

I’m going to give you that high-level overview. There are additional resources where you can go find out this information. Each of these five steps acts as its own chapter in my book Generating Business Referrals Without Asking. You can grab the book. There are also resources on podcast episodes I’ve done on it and articles that I’ve written are on my website. If someone feels like when I do my high level, you’re like, “You left me hanging,” there are places you can get it. Most of them are free. The book is only $17 or $16.95. Nothing is going to cost you that much to get what you’re missing.

The high-level explanation of the five steps and I’m making this assumption and that is you already do great work. You have a sticky client experience, your processes and procedures are in place, and you’ve probably received some referrals in the past. Maybe it was one or two years, but you’ve been referred before. If you don’t have a sticky client experience or you’ve never received a referral in the past, I have other parts I would tell you to start. We’re not going to start with step one, we’re going to start somewhere else. There are other resources I would direct you to. With these five steps, I’m making the assumption you do great work, you’ve got a great client experience and you’ve received referrals in the past, which tells me you are referable.

Step number one is to identify who referred you in the past. It’s identifying our referral sources. The easiest way to do that is to pull out a list of your clients and figure out how they came to know you. Maybe you have this in a database like CRM or Client Relationship Management tool. If not, maybe reconstruct the data, but it’s all of your clients where they come from. “This came from a podcast. This one came through when I spoke on stage. This one came through a Google ad. This one came through a referral.” You look at where they came from and you’re paying attention to the clients who were referred to you along with the names of those referral sources. Referral sources are always a first and last name unless Madonna is referring to you. I was getting people like, “It’s this person.” They have a half name. I was like, “In five months, you’ll know who that person is.”

I don’t know who they are. You have to identify your list of goals. You’ve got your referral sources. Step two, people say, “It feels out of place.” It’s not. It is your ability to write a handwritten thank-you note when you receive a referral only because I need you to be able to set the gratitude and thankfulness in place. Step two is important. Step two is that handwritten thank-you note. You’ve identified your referral sources and you are committed to every time you receive a referral, you will send a handwritten thank-you note. Step three is, what are you going to do in between receiving those thank-you notes? We’re sending thank-you notes for referrals received because we are earning that right to have more referrals sent to us.

If you're going to go into entrepreneurship into places where you're going to need referrals, you're going to be a salesperson. Click To Tweet

I always tell people, “You deserve referrals. You just not owe them. You have to be willing to do some work.” You’re going to write a handwritten thank-you note, but what do we do to maintain, cultivate, deepen, strengthen that relationship with our referral source in between writing handwritten thank-you notes? You may only get one referral a year. Step three is we build this plan. It’s our outreach to our referral sources. Our plan is keeping us top of mind and being memorable and meaningful, which is not your newsletter. It’s not you send them a text message because some auto respondent reminded you every 45 days to send a text message, “How are you?” We are doing things that are memorable and meaningful that is going to grab their attention. That is going to continue for you to pour into them as you’re thankful. You’re grateful for the fact that they support your business and sends you referrals.

I want to inject that this is the nurturing versus neglecting that I talk about all the time. Are you nurturing or neglecting your database and sending a thank-you note and letting it dangle out there? It’s there and they have to decipher what your expectations are as a result of that. You got the note, that’s great, but now what?

I always tell people, the reason why I write the thank-you note is because I want my referral source to know that I’m worthy of the next one. I am not saying that in my note, but I’m building. We have this plan of how we’re going to continue to maintain that top of mind, memorable and meaningful connection with our referral sources. We do it in some very specific, unique ways. I always tell people, “There are many things you can do. I don’t need you to do with many things. I need you to do with a few of the right things, what you want to do throughout a year, but this plan you build is going to wash, rinse and repeat.” I have people who’ve been in my program for years, exceeding their referral goals that they want to receive every year because they do the work and they follow the plan. What makes step three so great is combining it with step four.

Step four is the language that we use. Specifically planting referral seeds that impact, that plan, those outbreaks, those touchpoints that we’re doing with our referral sources. We’re not doing them for the sake of doing them. We’re going to use some language that’s going to allow us to plant referral seeds, but we’re never asking and we’re never being promotional or gimmicky. It is allowing them to think about us on a different level in a subconscious way about referrals without us saying, “I want you to dream about me and referrals.” We’re not saying that to anybody, but subconsciously, when people take care of us, we look for ways to take care of them. We’re going to be planting some seeds so they know what would be awesome without telling and without asking them.

Step five is what wraps it all up for that perfect Tiffany Blue Box with a nice little bow on top. That’s the idea of we know who our referral sources are. We are grown-up and we can send a thank-you note when we receive a referral. We’re worthy of more. We have a plan to nurture those relationships and we have the right language to use while we’re nurturing those relationships with our outreach. Step five is like, “You’re busy like me, so we need to make this a process. This is a plan. This is something that we’d systematized in our business so that it happens.” If you don’t follow the plan, the way we built it, then you go exactly what you said. You go right into neglect mode and all of a sudden, you haven’t talked to that referral source in nine months. That is not going to generate you more referrals if you’re not taking care of them. It’s the idea of us building this process and system I was looking to help make it happen. When I talk about people, they’re in my program for 3 to 5 years, they’re hitting their goals. They’re exceeding them. An attorney was bringing in 1 to 3 referrals a year. She started on the program, then she got to twenty and then the second year, she got to 40 referrals in a year. That’s more work than she can manage. It is different for every industry. It’s because a year or two, she was still following the plan. That is the point because we make it into a process and it’s this one.

MLM 218 | Generating Business Referrals
Generating Business Referrals Without Asking: A Simple Five Step Plan to a Referral Explosion

You can’t scale your business unless it is a process. You can’t have one person have one experience and another person not have one, especially in referrals. If someone had a great experience and feels wonderful about you when they think about you, they smile and they say, “You have to talk to Stacey and you have to work with her because you mentioned that you need help in this area.” It’s a true referral. They go to Stacey and they don’t get the same experience. It was like, “I know you were referred to me, but you told me all these wonderful things that she did and I didn’t see any of that.” It’s the consistency, but it’s also the discipline of doing it. You’re right, we’re adults. I was saying something to someone like, “Stop dreaming and keep your day job. If you’re going to go into entrepreneurship into places where you’re going to need referrals, you’re going to be a salesperson. You might as well keep your day job because if you dream about being successful and you’re not willing to put the work into it, it won’t happen at all.”

I don’t know if this is exactly what you meant by what you said, but I always want to clarify this. A lot of people think when someone’s referred to me, I have to do the exact same referral process to them that I did for my referral source. I always say we are extremely clear in everything we do as to why we’re doing it is because they refer you. It’s not because they’re a client that you can have clients who refer you. They get a client experience and they get a layered referral experience on top of it. You could have clients that were referred to you but have never referred you. They still get that same awesome client experience. They are not getting layered on referral experience because they’re not referring you. We’re very clear that this is happening because you’re taking care of my business in referring.

What I was talking about on the day job is if you’re not willing to do the work as an entrepreneur, you might as well keep your day job because you’re going to struggle. This is about the discipline of putting multiple systems together, not just this one or two but several together. As we finish up, I know that you have a Facebook group that anyone could join, it’s called Referrals Without Asking. You can get on there and start getting your questions answered. I believe that you have a seven-day challenge as well. Tell us about that.

It is a 7-Day Referrals Growth Challenge. It’s a video out that drops into your inbox every day for seven days from once you sign up. That helps you start setting a foundation of what it looks like to be able to start generating referrals. Part of that challenge, you can take it separately, but also part of that challenge is a Referral Ninja Quiz. It is a great opportunity for you to figure out where you stand in your ability, your skills to generate referrals without asking for them. It’s a nine-question quiz that you can take that quiz. It’s part of the day one challenge or you can take it separately if you don’t want to do a challenge. It goes through and it asks you specific questions that help you understand where you are in your stage of being able to generate referrals.

You’re going to land with one different type of Referral Ninja level. I always tell people that the top level is the master level. You want to be a Referral Ninja master. You want your red belt. Out of the thousands of people that took the quiz, only 2% typically land master level. Over 80% land at the beginner level and then the rest land in the middle. When you take the quiz and you have to figure out what Referral Ninja level you are. There are lots of free resources that’ll come behind to help move you towards that master level in your journey. It serves to be when you take that nine-question quiz.

It’s all about action. Let’s start to write a thank-you note when you get a referral. Also, as an assessment of the last referrals that you had in the last month or so, going back into that, everybody that you’ve been connected with and reassessing and saying, “Was that a referral or connection? Maybe that’s why it didn’t convert is because I didn’t have clarity of what type it was.” It’s always good to go back and analyze where things were so that you have more clarity moving forward in all the referrals. Hopefully, your reticular activator will assess that and recognize and change the way that you’re doing things.

Consider taking the seven-day challenge and take the Ninja test. That’s probably the most important thing is, you may think you’re good with referrals, but maybe not. I must throw something else too. If you belong to an organization, you belong to a BNI or to a Chamber, what a great activity for your group to be able to do. If they’re not getting the results that they want, it’s a great way for everyone to see where everyone’s category is in there. It’s a fun game, gamification of referrals in the educational moment that you have in each one of those. I’m going to encourage you to do that with your groups as well. It’s a great way to do it in your offices, to your sales staff, or your team and find out where everybody stands with that. Stacey, if someone wants to reach out to you directly, what is the best way for them to reach out with you? They might want more information than going to the resources you have available online.

If you go to, that’s my home base. Down at the bottom, you can find my email address. You can certainly send me an email. If you’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, you can connect with me, look for Stacey Brown Randall and send me a private message, a LinkedIn message or direct message. That’s another way to reach me as well if you’re well versed in social media. If you feel like the good old-fashioned email like I do, you can find that on my website.

Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence again. This is good to know, particularly when we’re doing this as we get towards the end of 2019. Obviously, this is something that we want to know all the time. In thinking about the new year, restrategizing, putting your business plan, and your marketing plan together, this is the time to start making those little tweaks to get the results that you want. Don’t talk about doing this. Let’s put this into play. Let’s implement this. Take the action so you can get the results and amplify your business. Stacey, thank you again for joining us. It was great talking to you and I look forward to us continuing to grow our relationship as well.

It’s the same here. Thank you so much.

I’ll talk to you soon.

Important Links:

About Stacey Brown Randall

MLM 218 | Generating Business ReferralsStacey Brown Randall is a member of the business failure club, a contrarian on how to generate referrals and a supporter of the entrepreneurial dream.

She is a three-time entrepreneur, award-winning author of Generating Business Referrals Without Asking, host of the Roadmap to Grow Your Business podcast and national speaker.

Stacey’s programs help small business owners and solopreneurs take control of their referrals, their client experience and their business.

She has had the privilege of helping well-known corporations and franchises such as Bank of America, Mass Mutual, International Minute Press, and Re/Max but her focus is on small business owners and solopreneurs from companies including HM Properties, Financial Symmetry, O’Connor Insurance Associates, Tyra Law Firm, Farris Cooke CPA, Slater Interiors, Rae Images, CAJA Bookkeeping, and hundreds more.