Top of Mind Networks

Here's a Guy You Can Learn a Lot From

September 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I’m a fan of Ed Conarchy for many reasons.  For starters, he was one of the original guys who really “got” what we are trying to do with Mortgage Revolution.  But what I really love about Ed is his approach to mortgage planning.  Here’s a brief video Ed recorded in anticipation of MRev NY October 15th through 17th.  I’ll be there – and I hope to see as many Top of Mind clients as possible.  And if you’re going to MRev NY – make sure you give me a shout ahead of time so we can hang out.

Mortgage Revolution Orlando Is Going to Be Awesome

June 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re less than a month away from Mortgage Revolution Orlando.  I’m incredibly excited about it.  Here are a few reasons why:

1)  The Education:  At MRev, you’ll see Todd Duncan like you’ve never seen him before – and with a message that will change you forever.  I can tell you this from personal experience.  This is not the “same old Todd Duncan” not that there is anything wrong with the old TD.  But what makes MRev special is not just your keynote speaker(s).  In my opinion, the true stars of the show are… well, YOU.  Not people who haven’t taken a 1003 in fifteen years.  That’s what you asked us for.  Come on down to Orlando and find out how your peers are succeeding in a challenging market.

2)  The Community:  MRev is an event where you’ll immerse yourself in the business.  It’s almost surreal to see top producers openly share their secret ingredients with people they’d just met.  But it’s the norm at MRev, not the exception.  If you’re not willing to share with your peers, MRev might not be for you.

3)  The Charities:  Our focus on philanthropyis the glue that brings MRev together.  We started this movement when everyone thought it was folly to try and put on a mortgage seminar.  In hindsight, I guess it was a pretty crazy idea!  But our first two events have raised over $41,000 for local charities.  It feels damn good about being a part of something that is going to help us our industry’s good name again.

I could write for hours about Mortgage Revolution.  Perhaps what says it best is our Orlando Agenda.  If you make the trip and don’t walk away with some fresh perspective and ideas, call me upon your return and I will personally stroke you a check for your MRev ticket.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing you there!

Vendor Spotlight: Eventbrite

January 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I’ve been practically ignoring the Top of Mind Blog for the past month while preparing for Mortgage Revolution. I’ll talk more about MRev in another post later on.

Right now, I want to tell you about a company that is so freaking awesome, I just had to call them up at 6 am on a Saturday morning and keep the customer service guy on the phone for 45 minutes telling him what a fantastic company he works for.  Needless to say, he agreed with me.

headerlogo-transThis company is called Eventbrite.  (Full disclosure:  I only endorse companies I like.  I don’t receive any compensation in any manner whatsoever.  This review is from the heart.)  During the first 120 days of our MRev planning, it was complete and utter chaos.  We were all just volunteers.  None of us had ever put on a seminar before.  The first paralyzing snafu occurred when we decided to incorporate as a nonprofit with the name “Mortgage Revolution” (all MRev profits go to charity) in the State of New York.  There was so much red tape to go through, we didn’t end up receiving our incorporation documents for almost 6 months… which meant we couldn’t create a merchant account… which meant we couldn’t accept credit cards… which means we couldn’t pre-sell MRev tickets.

It’s kind of difficult to gauge how many people are going to attend your event when you can’t even sell them a ticket!  Eventbrite solved this for us with a few clicks of my mouse.  We created our event online – and Eventbrite handled all the ticket sales – even including the credit card function.  Once the event is over, they wait 5 business days and cut a check for the proceeds to you.  Now THAT’S easy.

One of the other really cool features of Eventbrite is their suite of communications tools.  Let’s say you want to send a quick email to every registered attendee of your event… you can do this within Eventbrite in about 2 minutes.  No managing a database.  No worrying about getting blocked by SPAM filters.  Just a clean, easy way of communicating critical details & news.

Bear with me here… there are a lot of other killer features I loved about Eventbrite.  Perhaps my favorite:  the ability to create “discount codes” on the fly.  If I was on the phone with someone who wanted to come to MRev and needed some sort of group discount, I could click a button and build a special discount code just for that person (or group of people).  You couldn’t imagine how handy this is until you start receiving the calls with one-off requests.

Okay, final thing… once you’ve created your event and determined how much you’re charging for tickets, Eventbrite creates a widget for you.  You simply copy the embed code (just as simple as embedding a photo in a blog article) and drop it wherever you want it.  Your promotional partners can do the same on their sites.  This Eventbrite tool’s functionality knows absolutely no boundaries.

So if you’ve ever thought of hosting an event – say a first time home buyer seminar – and want to save yourself a world of pain… just create a free Eventbrite account and get to work.  They make their money by attaching a nominal fee to each ticket sold (kind of like Ticketmaster!).

David Kuiper Invites You To Mortgage Revolution

December 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I love this video by David Kuiper, one of the many killer speakers you’ll see at Mortgage Revolution. Short, sweet, and to the point. Have a great weekend.

Here's What Happens When Joe Borrower Calls His Local Talk Show Looking for Mortgage Advice

December 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I was in the car this afternoon listening to a local talk show on WSB 750 AM.  The talk show host took a call from a gentleman with some questions pertaining to his mortgage.

Subject Property:  Home on 15 Acres.  Bought in the early 80’s.  Rural.
Loan Info:  30-Year Fixed, 6.5%
Borrower Information:  Never missed a payment.  Presumably credit-worthy.

The Situation:

The caller had been asking his bank for a loan modification, but had been rejected at every turn because he admittedly was not experiencing financial hardship and had no problem paying the mortgage each month.  The talk show host correctly pointed out that there’s no law mandating banks entertain loan mods. 

Next, the talk show host, again correctly, suggested the caller consider refinancing his property.  The caller explained that he’d already looked at refinancing but the banks were only offering rates of 5.25% (1.25% below where he’s currently) – and they actually wanted to charge him almost $2,000 in fees for the transaction.

Here’s where I felt things got interesting.  The talk show host then told the caller to make several phone calls:

1)  To his local Credit Union and
2)  To the “big box” banks

The talk show host never broached the concept of a break even point on the refinance.  She never explained that, yes, there are typically fees associated with refinancing a mortgage transaction and what they cover.  Never did the talk show host recommend shopping his loan with local mortgage brokers, even though it’s possible that’s where he’d find his best deal.  The safe route was her to send her caller to a “big box”.

This is the mainstream media’s take on the mortgage industry, and it’s happening like this all over the country.  I just happened to catch this 5-minute conversation during my 10-minute commute to work.  I’m on the record as an ardent supporter of the ethical third party originator (brokers, regional mortgage bankers).  I think it’s a critical channel, and when it’s working properly banks and consumers both win.  But we must begin re-educating consumers about the value proposition mortgage brokers provide.  It’s not up to the mainstream media.  It’s up to all of us.

I hope to see you at Mortgage Revolution.  We’re going to take our industry back.

Mortgage Revolution Video Overview

November 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re officially 60 days out from Mortgage Revolution and there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the event.  Here’s a quick video I recorded if you’d like to learn more about who’s going to be there and what we’ll be sharing in Atlanta from Jan 10th thru 12th.  I hope to see you there!

Mad Respect for Think Big Work Small

October 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I have a pretty big announcement to make – Think Big Work Small is speaking at Mortgage Revolution.  I’m not sure how excited that makes you, but for a mortgage marketing geek like me, I’m downright giddy.  Here’s why:

1)  Frank and Brian’s Daily Show has become part of my morning routine – as eagerly anticipated as my cup ‘o joe.  It’s extremely well done – always entertaining and informative.

2)  TBWS is different than most of the mortgage vendors out there.  These guys genuinely care about helping people – particularly our friends over at NAMB.  My favorite part about TBWS – when they help you, they’re not concerned about what they’re going to get out of it.  Let me tell you – that is incredibly rare in our space.

3)  TBWS are just normal, cool guys.  Even though they have blown up over the past couple of years, they haven’t let it go to their heads.  They’re still mortgage professionals first – actively closing loans.

I’d encourage you to keep a close eye on TBWS – you’ll learn an awful lot about how powerful a tool video broadcasting can be.  Better yet, come and meet Brian and Frank at Mortgage Revolution in January.  They’re going to help you (and me!) get better in 2010.  I’m psyched.

Is The "Government Option" Killing the Mortgage Industry?

September 17, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Like most of you, I don’t care much for too much government in my life.  I deplore bribes like home buyer credits because we’re mortgaging our children’s future.  Understanding the nefarious effects of government participation in private markets, however, is difficult for most of us.  The sad reality is that our society has been marching towards collectivism since the 1930s. Nobody under the age of 90 REALLY understands what a “free” market is.  That pisses me off.

That’s sort of hypocritical for a guy who earns a living as San Diego’s VA Home Loan broker, isn’t it?  I mean, I haven’t funded a loan, without some sort of government guarantee, in 12-18 months.  The Fed’s support of the mortgage-backed securities market has artificially lowered rates to jump-start our business.  Ginnie insures 25% of most loans I write and Fannie guarantees the securities for the other ones.

I guess I’m just ungrateful.

Then it hit me !  The “government option” makes it impossible for private mortgage financing to make a profit. Certain banks received TARP funds, at a ridiculously low carrying cost (like .25%), and lend that money out, risk-free, at 5.0%.  That’s an awfully FAT profit for a virtually risk-free transaction.  That may sound good to you but it tells me that we are dissuading private lenders from entering a market which so sorely needs them.

What’s “the government option” sound like?  If you’ve been watching Glenn Beck, you know what the government option is.  The residential real estate finance industry is a shining example of how it DOESN’T work.  This isn’t about health care, though;   I’m talking about home loans.

I want you to think good and hard about the negative effects of the current funding monopoly.  While it seems great now, this mortgage subsidy is going to have a whipsaw effect, not too far down the road, and it’s gonna hurt.  Private lenders can’t develop a loan product that yields enough for their portfolio (or for the securitized pool investors) because of that single-payer option in mortgages.

If we can’t get the Government out of our lives today and develop private market solutions for the “new” mortgage market, when will we?  Face it.  We’re no more” free marketeers” than the folks at the Social Security administration- and THAT is something that worries me about the future of the mortgage industry.

The Five W's of Mortgage Revolution

July 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


Click the Image to Visit the MRev Site!

What:  Mortgage Revolution is this year’s Super Bowl for our industry. Both LoanToolBox and Strategic Equity elected to fore go their annual events in 2009.  We took it upon ourselves to make sure LO’s have a killer event this year.

Why:  We think it’s critical for us to have a place to get together, learn, blow off steam and get psyched for 2010. But MRev will go way beyond that. We’re donating 100% of the profits to charity. Perhaps what I’m most excited about is the fact that we’re going to build the mortgage originator’s “code of ethics” that will transcend broker vs. banker. It’s time to rebuild our industry, and it begins in…

Where:  Atlanta, Georgia

When:  November 9th thru 11th, 2009

Who:  The sharpest minds in the business – and hopefully you!

Okay, that’s the 5 W’s.  It’s going to be awesome.  Our goal is 1,000 students at the Revolution – and that’s gonna take a lot of work.  Are you game?  If so, please bring a friend.  Better yet, give me a shout if you’d like to join the MRev team – we could use the help putting this event together!


June 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Shocking.  That’s the only way to describe it.  One minute you’re planning for a farewell tour and the next you’re actually saying farewell to life.

Look, this blog is meant to be about mortgage marketing and crm, and that’s all good.  But sometimes there are life lessons that just can’t be ignored.  Last night served as just another wake up call for me.  I’m 38 years old and carry around a stress load that just doesn’t make any sense for a “regular joe”.  Sure, 10 years ago, it was just stress.  But now, there are days where I feel the physical effects of the stress.  My heart rate races sometimes at night – and I just lie awake staring at the ceiling until the subconscious takes over – thankful to arise the next morning.  One day, who knows when, the next morning will not come.

Top of Mind Networks production manager Dante Jones shared his perspective in a Facebook update last night:

“The goal is not to live forever.  The goal is to create something that does.”

There’s absolutely no doubt that MJ will live on into perpetuity.  The haters will remember the controversial side of MJ.  The rest of us will remember his genius and the fact that charity always brought out his best.  In a sense, it’s a shame that he was not able to outlive the controversy – surely it factored into his early death.  In fact, I’d guess that the stress of MJ’s everyday life is what ultimately killed him.

We talk about perspective all the time.  The passing of MJ serves as another wake up call to all of us.  In the mortgage business, the typical litmus test we measure ourselves against is how much money we’re making.  And money’s good.  Money’s fun.  But money in the bank doesn’t make for legacies.

My measuring stick – how many people did I help?  And I think that’s the ideal measuring stick for mortgage originators.

We in the mortgage business have the unique opportunity to make great livings while doing good deeds.  That’s why I’m proud to be a part of the Mortgage Revolution.  You’re going to begin hearing about Mortgage Revolution – the premier event for ethical mortgage originators – over the coming weeks and months.  Can we teach ethical origination techniques that will also make the cash register ring?  Can we implement a universal Code of Ethics for the mortgage industry?  Can we raise $250,000 for charity?

This industry is starving for leadership right now.  Quite frankly, if it wasn’t “profitable” to throw a big event for mortgage originators, it just wasn’t going to happen.  2009 is proof of that.  My goal – no, make that my legacy – is proving that wrong.  I know that Mortgage Revolution is going to be my full time job for the next 4 months, and it’s an unpaid volunteer gig.  But at the end of the day, I’m positive that we’re going to change the mortgage industry for the better – perhaps forever.

It’s an accomplishment that pales in comparison to MJ’s legacy.  But we all have to start somewhere.


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