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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, SamKnickerbocker.com 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 StaceyBrownRandall.com, 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.

Diversifying Your Business Through Non-Owner Occupied Properties With Jeffrey Tesch

MLM 217 | Non-Owner Occupied Properties

MLM 217 | Non-Owner Occupied Properties


The non-owner occupied properties are a huge market across the United States. It provides investors the power to acquire a property and rehab it back to livable standards. Jen Du Plessis interviews Jeffrey Tesch, the CEO of RCN Capital, about this great niche.  RCN Capital is a company that does small commercial loans to fund the purchase and rehab of this type of residential and commercial properties. Covering the basics, Jeffrey starts by talking about who fits this market and who does not in relation to the mortgage lender. He taps into the best way for loan officers to transition and bring this product up and shares the reasons why people should take advantage of this market space in the coming 2020. Offering help to those who want to dive into non-owner occupied properties, Jeffrey also talks about the services RCN Capital has to offer and more.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Diversifying Your Business Through Non-Owner Occupied Properties With Jeffrey Tesch

Chat With RCN Capital CEO

I am excited to have Jeffrey Tesch with us. He is the CEO of RCN Capital and it’s a company that I’ve had some affiliation with over the last several years. As I’ve moved from company to company and then subsequently moved out of lending altogether as an originator of no longer doing that. RCN does small commercial loans anywhere from $50,000 to $2.5 million to fund the purchase and rehab of non-owner occupied residential and commercial properties, provide bridge loans and issue real estate-backed lines of credit.

These are non-owner occupied only, no owner-occupied whatsoever and therefore are not subject to all of the crazy mess that we’re all involved in with QM and non-QM loans. There’s a lot of flexibility in these types of loans. If your niche is in investors, which is what my niche was and how I originally found our RCN years ago in Vegas. If that’s your niche and you’re tapped out at DTI, a number of properties financed or assets available, for every property that’s finance or credit issues or any of that, this is the place to go. This is where you need to be maneuvering. This is a great niche to be in. It’s a huge market across the United States and you’re going to tell us about that too, Jeff, about how we aren’t bound to our own city or our own licensing. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us and welcome to our show.

Jen, thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for all the kind words. We do go back quite a ways. It’s been great to see the evolution of your career. Some of the different educational things that you’ve been doing are tremendous.

Let’s jump right in and talk about who this is for and who this is not for as it relates to the mortgage lender, then we’ll go into the same question for the consumer.

A high-level view of our company is we started our company back in 2010 as a private family office that was going to deploy capital into the non-owner occupied residential space. That means people who were buying distressed assets, which there was a tremendous amount as we all know, coming out of the great recession. There was an amazing opportunity for investors to buy properties all across the United States, rehab them and put them back into the marketplace for families to live in. Because this is a very specialized loan, we thought it would be a great time to start a company focused on just that, which is a short term, twelve months, interest only bridge loan to give investors the power to not only acquire the property, but also provide the capital they need to take that property back up to livable standards and put it back into the marketplace. For the independent professionals out there, the mortgage people, this was an opportunity for people to begin originating product that was well outside the traditional residential guidelines that we’re all accustomed to. That’s how we got started in a very organic fashion.

I love getting the emails from you about sharing what the financing is that you’ve done over the last few months or so. I love looking at those because it opens up many opportunities. It helps more and more families, especially investors, to create more wealth for themselves. Mortgage professionals, let’s talk about that. This is specifically for mortgage brokerage firms and the employees that work there.

2020 is the year to diversify your business with investor residential and commercial loans Click To Tweet

Many people have seen me all across the country. Jen, our paths cross all the time at the various mortgage origination conferences from coast to coast. I’ll take us all back to how we thought about building the company. When we were building out the company starting back in 2010, we had a choice. That choice was, are we going to hire loan officers and deposit them all across the country or are we going to empower the independent brokers that were already in place in every community across the United States? As you can probably guess, we chose the latter, which was to build our lending programs so that independent originators could easily sell these products to their customers and be compensated quite handsomely for doing it.

When we talk about them so that we’re clear on this, if you work for a bank or an independent mortgage lender, this is a product that you’d have to go to your lender and figure out whether or not they’d want to participate in this. You could call Jeff and find out ways that perhaps you could participate as an independent. Generally, this is for mortgage brokers and their employees only. I want to make sure we get that clear. It’s a great opportunity if you can make this happen. It’s a wonderful opportunity. When we talk about offering this product, as a residential loan officer, I know that this is something that you’ve had to train a lot of people on.

The mindset of a residential loan officer reminds me of the old days because I’ve been in the business forever, way back in the ‘80s when realtors said no to VA loans because they didn’t understand them. Someone said no to a NegAm loan because they didn’t understand it. Even now, perhaps someone saying to an adjustable rate because they don’t understand it. To put those walls downs for the readers, what are you finding is the best way for loan officers to transition and bring this product up? Is it a last resort bring up? Is it something where someone has to make a conscious decision to market this so that they can increase their business? Is it a combination of both?

The latter is 100% correct. We find independent mortgage brokers all across the country that are very busy with the low-interest rates on acquisitions, especially on the refis over the last few months. As rates have come down to numbers that we haven’t seen in 30 or 40 years, everybody got very busy and had very full pipelines. However, as 2020 comes along, it’s extremely important that people think about adding other products to their mix to help diversify what they are selling in their communities. What I like to talk about a lot when I’m going around touring the nation and educating the independent brokers is there is no reason for your company and you as an individual loan officer to ever say no to a non-owner occupied commercial loan.

The reason for that is it is super easy to get signed up with a company such as RCN Capital, understand our product mix, get the introductions here internally, and then when those opportunities come along, you will immediately have the ability to be able to get those deals funded. To answer your question directly, the time is now to add this product to your mix, whether or not you choose to market it. That’s a business decision on your part. We have full white-label capabilities to be able to meet up with the local loan officers, give them all the materials they need to market it, but that’s not needed out of the gate. What is needed is the initial education, getting you or your company signed up, so that when these opportunities come along in your local communities, you can take advantage of them.

I think that’s key. I’ve been talking about short-term gain for long-term paying. A few years ago we were in long-term paying because everyone was saying, “I’m not funding anything. I don’t have any business. I don’t know what to do.” I’ve run across people that have said, “I’m having my best year ever.” I’m happy for them and I’m pleased but it’s temporary. It’s only because the market is in our favor. These are great fundamentals and foundational products and services that you can offer that differentiate you and separate you in the marketplace. That is one of the things that we are constantly talking about and there’s only a handful of people that take advantage of making themselves different and shining a light on what their capabilities are.

MLM 217 | Non-Owner Occupied Properties
Non-Owner Occupied Properties: There is no reason for your company and you as an individual loan officer to ever say no to a non-owner occupied commercial loan.


I love that you said that. It’s a class that I’ve given too. I can’t even think of the name of it, but it was all about investors. I literally went from the wannabe investor who’s never had an investment property and how the mindset has to change because it’s not the emotional connection. It’s all about the numbers all the way to you and other companies that do this service in what I would call a world that most loan officers don’t even know exist. I play in that market because I do a lot of wraps in subject-to and that’s how I buy my properties. I was already in this market and it was easy for me to make the transition, but I do agree that it’s a mindset shift here for everybody. Why do you think 2020 is going to be instrumental? We know that interest rates are probably going to drop a little bit more, so it’s still going to continue. Why do you think this is the time to be introducing this type of product when you think about 2020 and beyond?

What I’ve found, and this goes for any business career that you’re in, whether it be mortgages, real estate or selling sandwiches on main street somewhere is that it is much easier to diversify your product offering when times are good. When times are good, your bank account is flushed with cash. You’re thinking about how much longer this is going to last and enjoying the good times. You’re not worried about how am I going to pay my staff or do I have to make layoffs? These are all horrible decisions that are made when you’re wondering where the next wave of volume is going to come from. What I often say in my various contacts with brokers across the country is please take advantage of the good times to think about how you’re going to set yourself up for success when this refi boom ends. I believe the purchase market is going to stay strong in 2020 and beyond.

There are generally not enough single-family houses in the United States in most MFAs for the demand that is there. The reality is the refi boom is what’s powering a lot of these over the top earnings with independent professionals. It is time to think about non-owner occupied origination and adding it to your product mix. In the third quarter of 2019, all the single-family 1 to 4 transactions, almost under 18% of all the transactions in the United States were for some commercial purpose. What I mean by that is it could be the short-term fix and flip, meaning the twelve-month buy, renovate and sell, but also in the area that’s growing tremendously. I can’t even believe how quick it’s growing. People are beginning to aggregate single-family 1 to 4 homes for long-term rental income.

Here in RCN, 35% of all our originations were for long-term single-family non-owner occupied rental debt. The market is really exploding. It is time for the local originators around the country to add these products to your mix and take advantage of it. If you think about it, it’s 18%. That’s almost 1/5 of all the transactions in the United States. If you’re not originating non-owner occupied commercial, you are throwing these away. The time for that to end is now. It is time to be thinking about how I can begin capitalizing on that growing marketplace.

Speaking of stats, let’s talk a little bit more about stats as it relates to that. Why is it that you’re getting so much of this business? We talked about 35% of your business came in as long-term. The average loan officer is saying, “If it’s 1 to 4, why aren’t they getting just a regular loan?” What are some of the stats as to why people are coming into this market space? If rates are that low, why are the stats like this for the buy and holds?

Non-owner occupied capital marketplace has evolved. What I mean by non-owner occupied capital marketplace is when we started our company back in 2010, I mentioned family office. What family office means is we put together our own cash, significant amounts of equity and began lending it out as our own money. There was no leverage, but as interest rates have slowly declined since the crash, the capital marketplace has found commercial non-owner occupied lending to be a very attractive place to begin deploying significant amounts of cash.

It is much easier to diversify your product offering when times are good. Click To Tweet

What we’ve done at RCN is we’ve used our extremely solid cash position being a family office and began partnering with Capital Partners out of New York, mostly hedge funds, to drive down our cost of capital, especially on the 30-year, non-owner occupied long-term rental to the point where we are competitive with local lenders. I never liked to talk about rates and points as the point of why you need to do something, but the fact is we’re putting out capital anywhere between 4.75% and 5.25%. locking those rates in for 30 years. There are no five-year arms or anything like that. You’re locking in at these crazy low rates, which 4.75% on a 30-year fixed for a rental is tremendous.

They’re not going through the calls for underwriting.

That’s exactly right. To answer your question, why do people wouldn’t go to a local community bank for the 30-year? There are a couple of reasons. One is our ease of underwriting. There’s no personal debt to income for the long-term rental. Meaning I don’t care how much you made or lost on your 1040. Mainly because we don’t collect it. What we are concerned with is your credit history. Are you paying your bills on time and how well is that single-family home going to cashflow once you get a renter in there? That’s what we’re concerned about. It makes the process so much easier than going to a traditional bank.

That addresses the primary focus on the consumer. I want to talk about that a little bit more. You’re doing buy and hold. For those that don’t understand what that means, they’re buying investment property and holding it for however period of time if they want to hold the property to grow well, to pay off the debt, to have equity, to have cashflow, to leave it for their family members, whatever their case may be. There’s also the fix and flip or rehab, renovation, that type of thing. Think about if you’re in that space of renovation loans with Fannie or with FHA, this is a great opportunity for you to piggyback on something you’re already familiar with and that’s doing the same type of thing but on the investor side with the fix and flips. What else are you doing besides that? You mentioned something about bridge loans but help us understand how we could do bridge loans with you as well, maybe an investor or maybe an owner-occupied.

We are a non-owner occupied lender. One of the reasons many independent professionals love to add this product to their mix is it frees them from all of the things that we’ve been implemented, Dodd-Frank and all the rest of it. It simply does not apply to commercial lending. It’s not because the government thinks what we do isn’t important. The way it’s looked at is it’s one business entity dealing with another business and its entity. It is two businesses acquiring debt for a business purpose. For us, that is what differentiates us from the traditional residential mortgage place. To answer your question on how we add different products, the fix and flip is the bread and butter. It still is the majority of what we do. The long-term rental is growing in popularity and wherever you’re from, I don’t care if it’s from Sacramento, California, Key West, Florida, Spokane, Washington, there are investors aggregating single-family homes.

To add another layer to this, what about just straight up bridge loans for investors? We have found that many investors acquired properties during the crash, shortly after the crash and have seen a tremendous bump in the equity that they have available in those homes. Some of the people have paid their debt down to zero. Other people had their debt paid down to a very minimal portion in comparison to how much equity is available in the property. What we do is we offer bridge loans to people who already owned properties and are looking to take cash out of those properties and move them into another transaction. It could be buying more properties or investing in a family business. If that opportunity comes along where investors own properties and they’re looking to take some equity out and move on to another opportunity, a straight-up bridge loan is certainly an opportunity that we’ve been able to capitalize in a growing area.

MLM 217 | Non-Owner Occupied Properties
Non-Owner Occupied Properties: Take advantage of the good times to think about how you’re going to set yourself up for success.


How long is the bridge loan?

Typically, the bridge loan is going to be a short 12 to 24 months loan. What it’s doing is providing cash to someone to take advantage of that opportunity that they see. It could be rehabbing another property. If they’re cash poor but equity rich, it gives them the ability to be able to capitalize on that next opportunity without having cash in the bank.

That’s without having to eliminate that particular property. When it comes around for a due time, either they’ll sell that property and take whatever cash out or they would have already fixed and flipped another property and paid that off. As we talked about commercial and not to get too technical in this because commercial is a whole different thing. I used to do a lot of B&Bs years ago. What are you seeing in the commercial space that you are doing? Are you seeing small little anchored malls? Are you seeing 7 to 9-unit multifamily? What are you seeing mostly in what your definition of commercial is?

I can only speak to what we’re lending on, which is we are aggressively lending on multifamily repositioning loans. Once again, all across the country, there are many small to mid-size apartment buildings. They were built in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Many of these are the existing owners and they have a tremendous amount of units that haven’t been rehabbed and have gone vacant. They could be retiring, cashing out of the property. What we’re dealing with was investors coming to us saying, “I’ve got this twenty-unit apartment building somewhere in the suburb or downtown of any city in America.” I want to buy it. I want to convert those units that are dated to standards. I need an acquisition loan. I need bridge lending to rehab those units and then I will take this loan out long-term.” What you’re looking for there is a 24-month multifamily bridge loan that looks very much like the single-family 1 to 4 fix and flip loan where we’re giving acquisition dollars as well as those rehab dollars to be able to bring those units up to standard. We’re seeing a lot of that, Jen.

In a traditional commercial loan from a local bank, there’s going to be a review of everybody’s documentation; their credit, P and L, balance sheet, a whole renew usually in that 3 to 5 years span. What are you doing on those types? Are you following suit with that and re-introducing and making sure it’s still on track? Are you letting that loan sit there for the 30 years or whatever term they’ve gotten?

It’s dividing it up into two areas. One is the short-term fix flip, which we’ll call bridge lending and then the long-term 30-year rental. On the fix and flip, we are super involved with these properties. We service all of these loans in-house. We don’t sell off the servicing to another lender on the short-term bridge. What it means is if you buy a property, I’m going to put $50,000 into it and I think I’m going to be able to sell it for $250,000. We fund that loan and then immediately you go to work fixing that property. What you’re going to do is we fund 100% of the draws. What you’ll do is as each segment that you determined is a good time for you to request more money because we’re only charging interest on money that is dispersed. We’re not charging full boat at closing.

If you make yourself the expert, the business will follow. Click To Tweet

You can control the amount of money that you need. You will reach out to our servicing department and say, “I’ve finished the kitchen. Can you please send out an inspector to inspect this property? I’m going to need a draw for $10,000” We send out the money. We send out our inspector. They review and then we will immediately wire that money within 72 hours to your account. You control the process of that fix and flip. Switching gears to the 30-year, it is a straight-up rental loan where there is no rehab going on. All we’re concerned with is that property is tended up at closing and then once that lease is in place, we securitize these loans and they get bundled into the secondary market and then long-term servicing will take over on those properties.

To be clear, there’s no looking at everything every 3 to 5 years. People need to understand that’s what happens with traditional commercial loans. The bank is wanting to refresh and re-look at everything every 3 to 5 years because they have these clauses on them. Even though they call it a long-term, they have these 3 to 5 years review. That’s a huge benefit as well. I want to switch gears quickly as we finish up our time and that is if a loan officer is reading this, they’re going to have to go to their broker manager, get signed up and all of that. If they work for a bank, they can give you a call and find out what they can do.

I want to know what would be the next step for someone to introduce this to their realtor-base. I know that when I introduced it to my realtor-base, one of the challenges I had is that realtors come around and they are like, “I’m a realtor. I’m a real estate agent.” I go, “How come you’re not doing real estate on every real estate? Why are you only doing residential? If you could do more, wouldn’t you want to do more and have more opportunities?” It was a little bit of a challenge because like residential loan officers, we have this mindset of QM, who’s got to fit by the rules? All of this is a little new to some people. They’re saying, “This is even out there.” How would a loan officer or what are you guiding your loan officers or having your staff do to guide loan officers to be introducing this to make that mark in the business and to the real estate agents that they’re working with as a means to help their business grow?

Realtors are a great point. We were out in San Francisco at the National Association of Realtors Annual Convention. What we do with the realtors is we try to educate the realtors as to say why would you limit yourself to owner-occupied? You should be seeking out investors in your community and saying, “I have a pipeline of deals that get listed with me and my company. I want you to be able to work with me to find that end buyer that will absolutely take this distressed asset or rental and put it into the community.” In general, if you sat down at your computer at home and Google in your community investment clubs, there are many investment clubs in every corner of our country. If the realtor or mortgage professional engages with these local mortgage origination investment clubs, you will be amazed at what you will find is going on in your community. One of the largest is known as REIA, Real Estate Investment Association. Google that. There are chapters all over the country.

They have a national cruise too. I’ve been on it. They take all the national REIA on a big cruise. They have lots of speakers and lots of deals are getting done. The money is flowing back and forth. It’s exciting. REIA is definitely one of the best ones around. I would caution everybody, there are a lot of investor wannabes. You have to grab the bull by the horns and be the leader in the relationship with the investors as consumers as well as anyone else who’s in there trying to get business. I will tell you that it’s very rarely do you see another loan officer on there. It’s not lending. I never see realtors in there. If I do, they don’t even usually own their home, let alone invest in a property.

What other tips you might have if we wanted to talk to the realtors that we already have in our database? This is a great time to be talking about what my plan looks like. I know I’ve been guiding all of my coaching clients to be sitting down with their partners and saying, “What’s your goal? How can I help you get there? Here are my goals. How can you help me get there?” How would I be introducing this to my residential real estate agent who I have a good relationship with? I feel like a lot of loan officers live in that scarcity mode. They’re afraid to muddy up any waters and introduce something new to their realtors that maybe they’ll go elsewhere, which is a bunch of cockamamie. I’ve done it myself. I’ve introduced my realtors to this. What suggestions do you have to broach that conversation and introduce them?

MLM 217 | Non-Owner Occupied Properties


Especially for the mortgage professionals that are going to reach out to their realtor contacts, the first thing you want to do is get educated on the product mix with your private lender. In RCN Capital, we take that very seriously. Our marketing department goes above and beyond to be able to provide you easy to use white-label documents that you will be able to share with your realtor partners so that they begin to understand how easy it is to market to investors. That’s what we’re talking about here, which is every level of the food chain marketing to investors, which is a completely underserved marketplace when it comes to independent brokers and especially realtors.

Realtors are focused on lunch and learns with local people. Let’s try a completely different attack, which is how about lunch and learns for investors? Reach out to your local business groups and they’re everywhere, Lion’s Club, the financial planners, the list goes on of all of the usual people that people need to do business. If the mortgage brokers educate using the simple white-label documents that we provide, you will find that the little light bulbs go off and everybody said, “I heard about a deal and I told them we didn’t do that.” Once again, that needs to add.

I remember that too. I remember bringing this up and saying, “I had this guy and I’m already working with an investor. He doesn’t even look at properties.” Whenever I get a pocket listing or a regular listing, I send it over to him. He runs the numbers and we close on them. These are deals we never see because the guy’s paying cash, they’re getting money from you already. There are deals that we don’t see. I have one other quick question I want to ask you. You mentioned listing agents. One of the things that I focus on with my high-level coaching clients is working with listing agents. I think realtors go to school and they’re told to say three things, “I already have a lender, I have an in-house lender and I’m a listing agent,” and that the loan officers should put their tail between their legs and run away.

I like to be a disruptor. I’d say, “You’re a listing agent. I’ve been looking for one.” I catch them off guard. I developed a lot of things that I could put into working with the listing agent. To what capacity do you think this works for listing agents as much as it does for the buying side of things? You’ve talked more about focusing on the owner-occupied. Do you see that this could be a great way for them to get new listings or take on listings they normally wouldn’t have because this opportunity is available and there’s knowledge provided by the loan officer as they approach them in the relationship?

One of the things that we talk about in our presentations around the country is the local mortgage professional wants to become the go-to expert in a specific area. If you can become the expert in non-owner-occupied commercial lending, whether if you’re in a small branch, a big branch, whatever your community is. If you’re the go-to person for that knowledge, reach out to your local paper that only serves your town and offer to write an article on an investment that you saw happen and maybe you participated in. All of a sudden, you’re the local expert in this particular segment of the mortgage place. You’re going to be the one that’s like, “I heard Mary over here at so-and-so mortgage shop is the go-to for this product,” or, “Joe over at this realtor is the go-to to list my investment property when I want to sell.” If you make yourself the expert, the business will follow.

It’s always been that way. I used to do the best customized 30-year fixed-rate loan in the marketplace. Most loan officers don’t think you can customize a 30-year fixed loan. I would change the words and we’re customizing them all the time, but I want to do it better than anybody else. I want to be the best at doing a customized 30-year fixed-rate loan than anybody else. Mine was always investor anyway because I had my own need to put it together. Jeff, it’s been fantastic talking to you. Tell us a little bit about you. I want to know something about you. What is one of your personal goals for 2020? What books are you reading that’s having an impact on your personal or professional life?

If you can make the customer experience the unbelievable, your company will absolutely grow. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting, we’re getting ready to set our goals for 2020. For the company, we sat down with our manager at a round table and that was the topic. Each department of our company, whether it be finance, marketing or technology, what is each department going to do to move that ball forward for the company? One of the things that we’ve always tried to do here at RCN is taking the absolute granular customer experience and trying to make it unbelievable that those customers will never want to leave. What I mean by that is when you’re selling money, everybody’s rates are the same. You might be a little better here, a little worse here. When I use the word customer, I’m not just talking about the end-user. I’m talking about mortgage professional partner. I’m talking about referral agents, all the way down the food chain.

If you can make that experience unbelievable, the company will absolutely grow. That’s what we’re working on for 2020. We’ve done a great job with it in the past few years and our reputation. We like to thank that propelled us to the great growth we’re seeing. It’s always about what’s next in that customer experience. That’s where we’re working on. As far as what book I’m reading, I had the pleasure of seeing Gary Vaynerchuk at AIM. I had seen him on LinkedIn and how powerful he is with some of his ideas on empathy and growing a business. I picked up his book and I’m just getting into it. The thing I love about it is it’s straight forward, no-nonsense.

What’s the title of the book?

I can’t remember the title, but it was released in 2018. What I’m finding out about it is he goes into some of the granular ideas of how important it is on customer engagement and how empathy can power not only your own organic business but that customer relationship and bring it to the next level.

It even goes beyond engagement. It’s not just what we do, looking at them and engaging them, but it’s their involvement in our success. Their involvement in all the things that we do in our practice. I love that and I want to say thank you so much for joining us. His website is RCNCapital.com. You’ll be able to go there as well if you want to reach out to his company. You probably won’t get the CEO and that’s okay. Their whole team is incredible. They all know what they’re doing. Reach out to them and see if this is an opportunity that could stretch your business beyond. Thank you, Jeff, for being here.

It’s my pleasure, Jen. Thanks so much. It’s so good to see you.

If it’s your first time, welcome to our community. Make sure you subscribe and make sure that you get all of the updates. As we get further and further along, we are one of the longest-running shows for mortgage lenders. Continue to pay it forward and go back to all the beginning again. You never know, there might be something said in the beginning or in the interview that didn’t resonate with you the first time through, but you’re ready for it. Thank you and go out and make it a fantastic day.

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About Jeffrey Tesch

MLM 217 | Non-Owner Occupied PropertiesJeffrey Tesch, Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of RCN Capital LLC, including sales growth initiatives, underwriting review with compliance oversight and leadership of senior level strategic planning. Joining the Company in 2010 as Managing Director, Tesch led efforts to develop a national brand in private lending with the best practices and transparent products for a diverse customer base. Since RCN’s inception, Jeff has personally underwritten over 4,500 loans and overseen over $1 Billion in originations. Jeff’s previous real estate experience was as an investor in both commercial and residential properties, ranging from single family homes to commercial retail centers. Jeff currently serves as a member of the American Association of Private Lenders’ (AAPL) Ethics Advisory Committee.

Jen’s Jots — What’s Going On With The Podcast?

MLM 216 | Mortgage Lending Mastery

MLM 216 | Mortgage Lending Mastery


Just as the year comes to a close, we celebrate with it new beginnings. Nearing the show’s fifth year, host Jen Du Plessis celebrates by sharing some updates about the podcast. Having changed the name to Stop Talking, Take Action, Get Results! earlier in the year, Jen has decided to go back and to relaunch Mortgage Lending Mastery. She also shares other good news about the show being in the top 1% of the iTunes Worldwide, along with a new podcast in 2020, a new book, and more! Take part in this celebration as we continue pursuing this path of achieving success in the mortgage and lending space.

Listen to the podcast here:

Jen’s Jots — What’s Going On With The Podcast?

An Update On The Changes To The Podcast And Looking Forward To 2020

It is Jen’s Jots day and I thought that the timing would be perfect for me to explain what has been going on with this show. I’m about to celebrate my fifth year of doing Mortgage Lending Mastery. Earlier in 2019, I decided to change the name to Stop Talking, Take Action, Get Results! I did this for a multitude of reasons, but I ended up turning it back into Mortgage Lending Mastery, which I’m happy to be doing and excited to be able to relaunch. You’ll notice that I also have a new album cover with the subtitle of Stop Talking, Take Action, Get Results! I’m pleased to announce, thanks to all of you, that I’m in the top 1% of iTunes worldwide. I am excited about that. I don’t know what it means other than to be able to say it. It’s cool because it’s been a lot of work for years trying to come up with new ideas and new topics.

Thankfully, the mortgage and real estate space constantly change so that gives us new topics to talk about. This is a perfect time to say thank you. It’s right around Thanksgiving, coming up on years with the rebranding back to the name and my birthday. Thank you so much reading, for paying it forward, for all of your ratings and your reviews. I encourage you to keep those coming. Nothing else is going to happen with Mortgage Lending Mastery. We’re going to continue to move forward. We’ll continue to have mortgage-specific content, as well as professional growth. That’s always been something that I focused on, that personal and professional growth as it relates to being in the mortgage real estate or entrepreneurial space.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to announce that I will be launching a new podcast at the beginning of 2020. That will happen probably around February. I would love for you to join me on that show as well. That is going to be called From Success to Significance. I’m launching the podcast, but it is a prelaunch to a book that I’m working on called From Success to Significance: Life After Breaking Through Glass Ceilings. This book is much different than the Launch! book that I released a couple of years ago. For a lot of reasons and probably some things I haven’t shared with all of you, I want to take this opportunity to do it.

Women of the first generations who had wonderful jobs sacrificed a lot. Click To Tweet

I signed the contract with my publisher on October 1st in 2016. I found myself on stage in Atlantic City at Caesars Palace speaking for a great mortgage company, AnnieMac Mortgage, at their annual sales rally. While I was on stage, my mother had a stroke. She subsequently passed away a couple of days later. That was on October 22nd, 22 days after I signed to do the book. As you can imagine, I was pretty distraught and I had a deadline. It needed to be finished by the end of April. I had to push through in that book. Thank God it was a tactical book. It was more about how to do things and giving you great ideas and tips and then some action items. I’m very thankful that that was the type of book because I wonder sometimes when I look at it, “Would it have been written differently had I been in a different mindset?” I don’t think so for that book, which brings me to this book.

When I retired from lending and transitioned into speaking, coaching, podcasting full-time and growing my new business, I was still out networking. I talk about all the time that it’s important to do. Someone said to me, “What do you do?” I was wanting to say, “I’m a mortgage lender.” Instead I said, “I don’t know who I am now,” because that was my identity. That was where my success was for 35-plus years. It made me start thinking and I’ve grown over the last couple of years as a result of it, trying to figure out what is it that I was doing. All of a sudden, the books started coming up as an idea for me. I really am and still have been moving from the identity of being a very successful, high producing mortgage originator and making lots of money to wanting to be significant for people in the mortgage and real estate space and entrepreneurs as well. Making that shift was definitely life-changing for me. It was something I was ready for. It was something I planned.

Now, my primary goal is to coach people who are doing very well and are missing a piece to go to the next level. I’m also coaching people that are brand new and trying to do things properly the first time. My goal is if I can compress the timeline it takes you to be as successful as I was able to accomplish after 35 years, that’s going to bring me all the joy in the world. That’s where I’m trying to make the most impact and make some significance in my life. The other part is that I’m the first generation of women who had these very powerful high paying jobs. We paved the way and pioneered, especially in the mortgage business. There’s a handful of us who’s done that. I don’t mean to not mention any specific names because I don’t know everybody in the mortgage business. There are a handful of women who are my dear friends, who we have pioneered and paved the way for other women in the mortgage space for a long time.

MLM 216 | Mortgage Lending Mastery
Mortgage Lending Mastery: A handful of women have pioneered and paved the way for other women in the mortgage space for a long time.


Most of us are now out of the business and doing coaching as well. We’re all doing something a little different. We’re trying to give back and help people accelerate their success and learn from our mistakes, from our wins, our thought patterns and things. As being one of the first particular generations that had these wonderful jobs, we sacrificed a lot. There were a lot of women that sacrificed marriages and relationships with children and their health. I’m blessed that I’m still married. I still have my health, but my mom stayed at home. When I grew up and became a teenager, that’s when she went out into the workforce. She was typically a secretary, a writer, an administrative assistant or executive assistant with the whole goal that she was only going to do that long enough that when I had kids, she could come home and take care of the grandkids. That was pretty much what women did then.

In my generation, we are tired because we worked for so long and hard to try to win battles, exceeding and breaking through ceilings that aren’t just women-oriented, but different ceilings that we had to break through in life. When I retired, the last thing I wanted to do is stay home and take care of my grandkids. It’s not built in this particular generation. I absolutely love my grandkids. I love taking care of them when I can but it wasn’t my passion. Now, what do you do? After 35 years of doing anything, man or woman and you’re not ready to call it quits or retire, what is the next step? For me, it wasn’t going to be working for someone. It wasn’t going to be a greeter at Walmart. For me, it was, “What are other challenges?” I’m finding that a lot of people are stepping into more entrepreneurship, sitting on boards, doing charity work, etc. That’s where this particular book is going to be coming from is life after breaking through whatever ceiling it was for you, whether it was a financial ceiling, a gender ceiling or a family situation or health.

All of those reasons are reasons that I want to talk to people about what are they doing after that long career. Sometimes it’s retirement and sometimes it’s relaxing. There are a handful, I’m sure there are people who want to stay home with their grandkids. I think that’s great, but maybe it’s a full other career, something totally different. That is what this show and the book are going to be about. I encourage you to read it and support me. I would love the support in launching this. More importantly, if you’re in the midst of your career, if you’re in 10, 15, 20 or 25 years in your practice, it’s a great opportunity to start thinking about, what is my exit strategy? We know that both real estate and mortgage professionals are an aging workforce right now. What is next for you? Are you thinking about it?

Both real estate and mortgage professionals are an aging workforce right now. Click To Tweet

I’m blessed that I had the fortitude to think about it and say that I wasn’t going to be in lending for more than 35 years. That was a big goal for me. The goal was, originally, I don’t want to be in for 40. I would never tell anyone I was in for 40. It was a goal for me to get out when I was 55 so that I have plenty of time to enjoy life, still be moving, be able to do cultural things and travel. I wanted to share that with you. I want to take the opportunity on this particular show to say thank you as I’m reflecting back over the last years of being one of the first show in our space and continuing to move forward.

I’m excited to share as much as I possibly can with you for years to come and I encourage you to be on the lookout for From Success to Significance as a new launch of another show where I can have the opportunity to interview people that have made that transition. What it was like preparing for it, making the transition and what it looks like on the other side so that it gives you the opportunity to think about what your path might be in the years to come. Thank you so much for all your support and all your feedback.

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