Top of Mind Networks

You think that you have it hard?

July 23, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

In life and in business we often come up against challenges and obstacles.  No matter what we do, no matter how well prepared we are, the monster will rear its ugly head at the worst possible moment!

For those of us in the mortgage business, that ugliness appeared around the end of 2006.  Since then, it has been a struggle to stay in business.  And for those of us that have survived thus far, five years later, it remains a struggle.

How can you survive when faced with challenging obstacles? How can you overcome the demons that want to possess your life and your heart and stop you dead in your tracks?

Often times we think that success is because of luck.  We think that if we are lucky enough, we will succeed through a challenge.  But luck has nothing to do with it.  It is even simpler than luck.  How you handle your life, your business, and your family is based on one simple thing…

Your Attitude!

Your attitude is your first line of defense for any situation.  And it is as simple as saying “self, what are you putting in your head?”

What you say and what you do (thoughts and actions) will have a greater affect on your outcome than how you do it.  Your brain is a very powerful weapon in your arsenal of defense.  It will process multiple situations at a time.  Often, you do not even realize all of the thoughts that you are putting into your brain to process.

If you have lots of negativity and doubt, your brain will process that.  And watch out!  Because you will speak, sound, and reflect of negativity.

If you are positive, upbeat, focused, and driven, your brain will respond positively to those and your reflections will be positive.

So look in the mirror.  How is your attitude?   Will you be defeated today or will you win?

A colleague of ours, a friend and teacher of many in our industry, is facing the hardest challenge of his life.  The meltdown in the industry was not able to take him down.  Personal family relationships could not defeat him.   And now he has to face another battle.  A battle most of us have never had to face.  Our friend, our colleague, Dustin Hughes, has been diagnosed with brain cancer – stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme.  This is an aggressive form of cancer with a low prognosis for survival.

You think that your attitude is bad? You think that you deserve a pity party?  Dustin is 35 and has three young children.

Dustin is entitled to have an attitude!  And let me tell you, he does!  His attitude is on fire!  His attitude is that he is going to kick his cancer in the ass and he is going to survive!  Dustin is already a winner!

If you do not know Dustin or if you have not read his story, send a friend request to him – you need to read it!  His attitude shines right through.  This is someone that is entitled to be down.  Yet, he has chosen to accept the challenge and defeat it!

Please join us in supporting Dustin, Tracy, and their children in this fight.  Click here to join the Hughes’ Troop.

If you can, please support Dustin financially by clicking here.  An online page has been set up to help Dustin and his family.  Any amount, at any time, will be helpful.

And when you are faced with your challenge, remember, your positive attitude is what will get you through it!  Keep up the fight.  And keep up the POSITIVE attitude!

Desperately Seeking Leadership? You Might Find It In the Strangest of Places.

January 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Mortgage Revolution was fabulous. Perfectly imperfect. Real. Genuine. A Game Changer.

By now, I figured I’d have written 10 blog articles about the experience. But our Facebook Fan Page pretty much sums it all up.

Above all, what I think what we found at Mortgage Revolution was our voice. Now, when our industry comes under attack, we have an army at the ready. I thought I was finished blogging for the day… until I stumbled upon this video. Pure class. I think our Conan O’Brien is going to come from the Mortgage Revolution. Better yet, we’ll have hundreds of them around the country.

This industry is far from dead.

Worried That You Aren't Cut-out For This?

January 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

First off, THANK GOD for blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and all other social media avenues that have allowed us all to reach out and connect with folks we would have NEVER come across if it weren’t for these platforms.

I have had more fascinating, heart-felt, wisdom-filled conversations with strangers in the last year than at any other time in my life. Social media certainly has brought us ALL closer together in an intimate and powerful way, which I believe can only make us each more tolerant, patient, understanding and less fearful. (Now for stepping down off my soap box)

I’d like to direct this blog communication to those in the Mortgage Industry who right this moment are worried that they might not be cut-out for this.

I’ve had a few dozen conversations of late where a Mortgage Professional has expressed that this year would be their, “last ditch effort to make it in this industry” or their, “final chance.” In my efforts to dig deeper to understand the psyche & facts supporting this desperate, final charge into 2010, I’ve uncovered the following recurring themes:

External themes:

  1. They perceive they have absolutely zero professional referral partnerships.
  2. They do not follow-up or further cultivate relationships.
  3. They do not belong to any groups, clubs, associations, networking groups, etc.
  4. They do not ask for business.

Internal themes:

  1. They are constantly comparing themselves and their business to others.
  2. Their thoughts are preoccupied with worry, loss and lack of…
  3. They do not read, listen to or engage in forms of positive re-focusing.
  4. They feel alone, that no one can help them, that they must do it all by themselves.

For those of you who identify with any combination of the before-mentioned, I want to tell you, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED RIGHT THIS MOMENT TO SUCCEED IN THIS INDUSTRY!

Here’s what I know you have:

The ability to change-You’ve done it before. Just think back over the time you have served on this earth. There have been other times of uncertainty, fear, isolation,…loss. You do not suffer those times any longer. At some point you began to laugh again, to create again, to accept a new way of doing things and to even embrace it.

The power to create- Think about all you have brought into creation, the careers, the ideas, the documents, the systems, the possessions, the friends, the children and the innumerous times you’ve re-created YOU? Your drawing board is still here.

The courage to act-What was it like when you first decided to leap into the mortgage arena? Did your business cards, marketing items, customers, knowledge, etc., simply appear out of your intentions? Or were there a series of baby steps and sometimes, gargantuan steps that you took that got your business off the ground? You couldn’t  do things the same old way that you had done them in the past, right? You’ve taken action in the face of many unknowns and uncertainties and you CAN do it again. Now, is no different.

Your well of worth runs deep. All of that glorious creativity and courage to change and take action are still within you, I promise you. You are a being blessed with a miraculous power to live a life exactly how you imagine.

Instead of imagining this year as your, “last ditch effort” imagine it as your year on the road to your greatest victories.

The struggles you perceive today do not define who you are or what you are capable of accomplishing. At some point in 2010, you WILL look back and all that you feared most will simply be a small blip on the radar of life. It will not hold you captive any longer.

Your choices from this moment forward, from day to day, hour to hour are the only things that you have 100% say-so over. Do not assign “bad” “good” “worthy” “unworthy” to those choices, no one else will. Give your mind peace and your heart hope, no one else can give this to you.

Here’s to all of the battle-weary, scared & scarred…Victory is well on its way, just over the next hill, your comrades know you WILL make it.

Still Don't Have a Business Plan?

January 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

j0438543Yep, it’s THAT time of the year again. Time to put aside a half or full day for some serious consideration of how you intend to grow your mortgage practice in 2010.

Being that I’ve been working with mortgage professionals and their business planning efforts for five years now, I can say, without blushing, I have some expert advice to share on this matter.

Sometimes you’ve got to creep-up on the business of business planning

What I mean is, if you tell yourself,

“Self, we’re going to spend all day today devising our business plan for 2010 and we’re gonna do it by ourselves, locked up in our office, with a blank Word doc or giant whiteboard as our business planning canvas.”

Likely what will happen is your “Self” will get cold feet, create reasons and emergencies and must-dos to keep you from what your subconscious sees as an enormous and brain-draining task.

To combat this, try a business planning warm-up exercise. Just stick one toe into the icy cold water to start. Here’s an exercise that I share with my own coaching clients who feel anxious about beginning the process: I CAN Plan Business ACTION Planning Primer

group meetingBuddy-up with other like-minded Mortgage Professionals

Going it alone truly does decrease the likelihood that one will finish his/her plan. Remember the old saying, “No one succeeds alone!”

Buddy up with 2 or 3 other goal-oriented, enthusiastic mortgage professionals in your area. Set a date and place, preferably NOT in your office or theirs and keep the agenda simple.

Here are 5 business foundations to consider as you begin to brainstorm your goals as a group:

  1. Time Management
  2. Marketing & Lead Generation
  3. Database Management
  4. Building Business Referral Partnerships
  5. Tracking/Metrics

Be specific with your goals and simplistic with your process

Creating dynamic, detailed, action-driven goals is the MOST important aspect of your business plan. All of our excitement, hope and renewed energy comes from the act of creation and creativity. Don’t just stop with a goal like:

Develop methods to cultivate my new business referral relationships.

Take it to the next level with actionable items like:

  1. Invite 5 of my new business referral partners to meet at my office on a quarterly basis as a Mastermind group.Rotate who will set the agenda and lead the group.
  2. Locate and schedule to attend at least 3 business growth seminars, workshops, or presentations per year. Call all of my referral partners to let them know about the event, and for those who agree to go to the event, host a dinner party immediately after to discuss take-aways and each person’s implementation strategy.
  3. Invite my new referral partners to join, and offer to write a recommendation for the ones who accept the invitation.

Pink HighlighterAlways set target action dates for all of the activities you must engage  in, in order to accomplish your goals. Looking at the year ahead can feel daunting. Decide when you’ll start on certain goals by quarter, first. Then take it down to months within the quarter and then finally into the week of that month you have designated as your target action date. Whatever you do, DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. Prioritizing your goals and getting them into your calendar drives a significantly higher percentage of success than passively keeping your goals in a workbook.

There are dozens of seminars, software applications and workbooks with CDs & DVDS on the topic of business planning, all of which can cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars. Much of the content and instruction is complicated and quite frankly, overkill, for what is needed in order to develop an effective plan.

What you need:

  1. Very specific, actionable goals WRITTEN DOWN.
  2. All goals and specific action steps prioritized into your Outlook, ACT, Franklin Covey or other favorite calendar tool.
  3. “Buddies” with whom you can share best practices and brainstorm goals.
  4. An accountability partner that you meet with once or twice a month, without fail, for the entire year.

However you attack the business of business planning, just remember, it’s personal and will drive certain emotions and this is precisely WHY many professionals do not engage in the process even though they know they should.

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious, conflicted or overwhelmed when sitting down to write your goals and action plan. As the old saying goes, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Your business, your family and most importantly, YOU are worth the effort.

Go Completely Mental

December 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Not only, “Tis the season to be jolly,” but I say, “Tis the season to go mental!” It’s nearly impossible to avoid it anyway, right? Just about the time when the leaves wither and fall and the afternoons turn in early, our attention starts to turn as well. Our thoughts move inward and we settle into a gentle reverie, contemplating the meaning of life and recalling what’s dear and important to us. Many of us unconsciously look for an outlet, and many times, it’s a creative one like painting, journaling or photography.

There are plenty of well-documented theories on why the change of seasons directly impacts our state of mind. However, what I believe would be more impactful than reading about the cause is discussing how to capitalize on the effect!

First, let’s illustrate the two avenues people take when they “go mental” during the colder months. There’s the group that searches out creative outlets and there’s the group that stews in their ruminations.

You may recall a brisk December day when you came home to find your significant other curled up in a blanket, staring out into the backyard. You, being the concerned and sensitive partner that you are ask, “Honey, is everything ok?” And your partner, having gone mental, responds without turning to look at you, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a lot of things…” Unfortunately, the outlet for the “Stew In It” group tends to be the unsuspecting partner.

On the flip side, you may recall a brisk December day when you came home to find your significant other curled up in a blanket at the kitchen table with family photos strewn about, scrapbooking tools at the ready. Or, perhaps your partner had pulled the table saw out from the garage or the paints and paint brushes that had been in the closet since last year. And you, being the interested and curious partner that you are ask, “Honey, what are you up to?” And your partner, having gone mental, responds by looking at you with enthusiasm sparkling in their eyes and says, “I just got this crazy urge to….” (you fill in the blank).

We know instinctively what comes next in both of the above scenarios. So which avenue do you want to pursue?

I believe that allowing ourselves some creative play during this contemplative time of year can ignite and inspire our career and personal aspirations. For most businesses, the winter months dictate a slowing-down period. What better opportunity to release your creative genius and tap into a part of your brain that mostly lies dormant the rest of the year?

So, what can you do right now to draw the best out of this winter “moodscape”?

Like everything else in life, it boils down to choice, which further boils down to conscious effort. Here’s an exercise to get you conscious about your choices. For the best possible outcome, invite your significant other to do this exercise as well.

Select 5 creative activities that you can engage in once a week throughout the winter:

  • Journal
  • Photography
  • Scrap-booking
  • Create a skit with your kids
  • Pencil sketch
  • Play a board game
  • Write poetry
  • Photography
  • Create a skit with your kids
  • Paint
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Create bead jewelry
  • Blueprint your dream home
  • Crotchet/knit/sew
  • Do a science experiment
  • Create a new logo
  • Write a song
  • Play an instrument
  • Create a new chili recipe
  • Build a house of cards
  • Do a puzzle
  • Make & name your own beer
  • Create a vision board
  • Write a sermon for church
  • Sculpt with clay
  • Write a family newsletter
  • Rearrange your furniture
  • Build a blanket fort with your kids
  • Bake and decorate a cake

Of course, these are just examples to help get your creative ideas popping. Once you have selected the activities that you will engage in, put them into your calendar and treat them like any appointment you wouldn’t dare miss.

By taking advantage of this seasonal phenomenon and engaging the creative mind, we set off a domino effect that leads to more ingenious problem solving, negotiating, strategic planning and brainstorming in our business lives.

The following famous quotes capture the importance of unleashing one’s creative brilliance.

Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

The ability to convert ideas into things is the secret to outward success.
-Henry Ward Beecher

Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein

What if,  instead of giving your boss a 20-page sales plan, you gave her a 30×40 Vision Board instead? How about having your team “Show-n-Tell” their goals during their next performance review? You might be thinking, ‘Has she gone completely mental?’ Yes, yes, I have and though I cannot predict where this creative landscape will take me or you, I know that it will provide solutions, new perspectives and limitless rewards.

I invite you this season to succumb to your creative genius, unleash the possibilities and enjoy going completely mental! I promise that your significant other will thank you for it.

Is Your Attitude Attracting or Repelling Opportunity?

November 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

On several occasions I have had this dialogue with clients:

Client: I’d like to grow my purchase business by developing more worthwhile Realtor relationships.

Coach: Great goal! What are you willing to do to make this happen?

Client: I’m willing to do anything! I’m just not sure what I should do.

Coach : Ok, are you open to some suggestions?

Client: Yes.

Coach: How about looking up listings of top producing Realtors in your area and popping in on their open houses to introduce yourself?

Client:Hmmm, I don’t know. It didn’t work for me in the past and I really don’t want to spend a Sunday going into open houses when the Realtors don’t want me there, anyway.

Coach:Ok. How about scheduling yourself to attend some Realtor Association events or Chamber mixers?

Client: No, because there are always other loan officers around trying to get the attention of the Realtors. Too much competition.

Coach: Well, what if you partnered up with your Title Rep. and put together a presentation on recent changes in the industry and resources that Realtors should be aware of to help them stay abreast of these changes?

Client: I just don’t think that will work. Every loan officer out there is trying to get into Realtor offices and most of them aren’t even interested in what’s going on. All they care about is whether you can give them a referral or not.

Notice any patterns here?

Now if you’re wondering, if I, as a Coach, would simply force them to do these things anyway, the answer is HECK NO!

Regardless if something has worked for others, and that could be hundreds of others, asking someone to do something that they have a negative attitude about, will NOT bring about the desired results. In fact, it will create a self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e. “It won’t work.” “They won’t talk to me.” “Nobody will care.”

The good news is that after some attitude re-tooling (yes, attitude is a tool) ANYONE can create new opportunities and successes for themselves, even out of what once was seen as a bag of old tricks.

Brian Tracy, entrepreneur, sales guru and motivational coach says this about attitude:

This attitude of looking for the good in every situation, of looking for the advantage or benefit in any problem or difficulty, is the way that the most successful people think most of the time. Superior people, leaders in all areas, face the inevitable ups and downs of daily life on the way to their destinations by taking complete control of their thinking and their emotions. They do this by choosing the words they use to describe a situation, their tone of voice, and their behavior in dealing with problems.

So what’s YOUR attitude about getting out there and creating new business for yourself?

Tips to Re-tooling Your Attitude

Here are 3 re-tooling techniques that you can help your attitude to help you to succeed! 

A Morning Dose of Positivity 
How long has it been since you listened to a motivational CD series on the drive into work? Pick up the latest CD by your favorite positivity guru and use your commute, whether it’s 10min. or an hour, to accelerate your attitude. 

Check Your Attitude at the Door 
Every day, before going home from work, take 2 minutes to complete the following sentence in your journal or notebook: “Because of my positive and willing attitude, today I was able to………” 

Partner-up with a Positivity Pal 
Ask a teammate or peer to engage in 30 consecutive days of positivity with you. Agree to send each other one email each day where you communicate one positive experience from your day and one, specific wish of positivity to your partner.  It could look something like this:

Dear Daniel: Today I made it a point to get out of my office. I had a very productive lunch with a Realtor partner of mine. It was well worth my time and effort and so much more pleasant than I thought it was going to be. I wish that you have a surprise encounter with someone tomorrow that leaves you feeling GREAT!

Remember, everything starts from the inside – out. Giving yourself the gift of a positive attitude today will directly influence whether opportunity knocks once, twice, three times or ever knocks at all.


Too Much Emailing, Too Much Texting, Makes you Stupid!

November 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

BrainAs a Business Coach, I am constantly reading anything and everything that has to do with neuroscience-how the brain works. The more insight, tools, practices, habits that I can share with my clients on how they can change their external results by consciously understanding their internal mechanisms, the happier and more productive they become.

Here is a gem that I came across in the pages of a new book called, “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long” by David Rock.  Every mortgage client I’ve ever had has struggled with this one and I’m sure many of you have, too…

The Impact of Doing Too Much

A study done at the University of London found that constant emailing and text-messaging reduces mental capability by an average of ten points on an IQ test.

The author explains that the effects are similar to missing a night’s sleep or around three times more than the effect of smoking cannabis!

The author continues…

Despite the depth of scientific research out there about the problems inherent in partial attention, people continue to stretch themselves to do more at the same time even though the benefits they may be receiving are minimal. Being “always on” seems like a logical solution. Ergo, if you have more emails that can be done in the time at your desk, then do them everywhere.

Here’s the thing that my clients managing teams have found to be true- Being overly responsive to email and text traffic just increases the total number of emails and texts you get! People notice so they send you more issues to respond to.

Light BulbGet that IQ Back Where it Belongs!

  1. Set an auto reply message in Outlook every day to indicate the times when you will be returning email and voicemail. Change your voicemail daily, too. This only works if you follow it!
  2. Use text-messaging as a secondary tool for urgent matters when you can’t reach someone by phone. Only respond to texts that are of an urgent matter.
  3. Share your Outlook calendar (Read only view) with your team so they can see when you are available and when you are not. This will help you to manage those folks who abuse email.
  4. Set up rules in Outlook so that emails from friends, family members, email updates that you subscribe to and any non-urgent, but regularly occurring communications, are automatically sent to folders for later review.
  5. Turn off the option that audibly/visually alerts you when a new email has hit your inbox.
  6. Respond by calling, rather than emailing. It’s just way too easy for a lot of folks to waste a lot of time via email.
  7. If you happen to be a Manager, just think about the number of complaint emails you have received from your LOs and or support team vs. the number of complaints you have actually heard face to face or over the phone. Having been in your shoes, I can promise you that if you begin responding to “issue” emails with…

“I sense that you are upset-dismayed-disappointed-anxious (you choose the expression) about ________ (you fill in the blank). Let’s talk. I will be free at 3pm. Please call me at that time so we can discuss this situation.”

…that the number of these types of emails will dramatically decrease and you will find that the real issues will be left on the table, of which most can be quickly and effectively addressed and resolved in a single conversation.

Don’t let your productivity tools make you as dumb as a stoner! For even more brain cell-saving techniques, read 5 Way to Save Time on Email.

Build Confidence, Gain Credibilty, Get Business…

October 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

origmkcoahToday’s consumer is looking for an expert. They want a loan officer they can place their trust and confidence in to get their deal done.

The question is…Are you that loan officer?

Do you have the confidence you need to win today?

Do you have the credibility within your market?

Do you have influence in the purchase money market with agents?

Listen to my interview I did with a loan officer who wanted all of these things and more and how he discovered how that writing a book would open many doors in his business. You will be blown away, encouraged, and inspired!

Click here to listen to the Power Marketing Podcast on How Writing a Book will change your business!

How to Prepare for the Future of Mortgage Origination

October 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

So much talk has been going around about the future of  the mortgage business. Some brokers have been questioning the wholesale business and if it will still be around, while some originators at banks have dealt with the fear of being shut down by the Feds. Where is the truth and what does the future really hold for the loan officer?

Should you be a broker, banker, or candle stick maker? Is there a safe place to hang your hat?What can you be doing to secure your future?

These are the types of questions I am getting a lot lately, so I devoted an entire podcast to what I think today’s loan officer should be doing.

If you are in need of some hope, real life strategies, and a clear vision for your business then be sure to listen to this podcast.

Feel free to listen here or download a copy and take it with you on the road.

Go Grow Your Business….No Really…YOU!!!

October 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I have the pleasure of knowing and talking to many of the industry leaders as well as some fresh faces that are doing great things. What I find interesting is that they all are working on growing and building their brand as well as working the day to day items.

There are LOTS of great ideas and lots of great Services such as Top of Mind, Loan Tool Box, Mortgage Coach, MMG, Sales Mastery and CMPS just to name a few.  You probably have mentors and parterns with equally great ideas.  Really all of the ideas you need are out there just waiting to be implement.   There are TONS of other resources both free and for a fee.


My challenge to you is to build, grow, swipe and adapt, create, strengthen and CREATE your business. The MOST opportunity is when there is turmoil in the market which shakes up the status quot.  YOU can pick up market share right now. You can build your brand. Here are some of the REALLY COOL examples of items being done.

This is by no means a comprehensive list and I would love to hear other ideas:

Dustin Hughes — VIDEO KING — motivation and information

Chris Brown — TV STAR — News casts and press releases

Shaun Guerrero — Client Event — Movie Night


I have seen great things with these…some of which I have personally done and had GREAT SUCCESS.

FTHB seminars — 287 to my last event — you can too!

Leann Scrimpshire — Realtor BP events — she did one 2 years ago and Greg Frost has an interview on LTB with her….I did the same last year and will do it again. We took full video, pics etc….TRY IT!

LUNCH/COFFEE — if you are eating alone, you are MISSING OUT!!!

Mark Green — doing incredible things for us as an industry. The NAMB call last week, Mortgage Revolution, etc…

Again, this is a quick list…what others do you see that YOU can implement?

What are YOU willing to do for your career, for your industry, for your TEAMS, and for your family and friends?

Most importantly, you must have a TAKE NO PRISENERS attitude.  Failure is NOT an option.  You can and must commit to your success.  YOU, and I do mean YOU, must make the implementation of items a NON-NEGOTABLE item.  As Tim Davis has said to me, “Take Massive Action!” 


You can take market share and build your brand. With the current challenges in the market I have just one thought….

BRING IT!!!!!!!

~To Your Success

Next Page »