I high-fived Tony Robbins during the day and that night I was standing 6 or 7 feet away from a bloated, middle-aged Axl Rose who still knew how to put on an amazing show while performing with a quasi-version of Guns n’ Roses in Las Vegas.
It was June 2014. I was at the “Mastermind Summit,” a mass gathering of mortgage originators, there to learn the tricks of the trade that were supposed to take our business to the next level.
I spent the time between my brushes with Tony Robbins and Axl Rose at an upscale Las Vegas steakhouse. Corporate expense cards were pushed to their limits at events like this. In every section of the dining area, I saw tables of 20 or more people, all from various mortgage companies, and all with seafood towers and tomahawk steaks that tested the limits of their dining plates.
I sat next to right next to my company’s National Sales Director. Don had a presence about him; a charismatic aura of success you could see when he smiled and hear when he spoke and feel when he was in the room with you. During dinner, he showed me a picture of himself on his phone, standing behind the massive pile of blackjack chips he just won, more than $80,000 in total!!! Either luck and success followed this guy around, or he just knew how to create his own magic.
The next day I sat through several seminars and breakout sessions where people talked about different products or methods or systems that pushed them down the path of success. There were so many great ideas. I had no doubt that most of them could have had a positive impact on my productivity as a mortgage loan originator. However, it would have been impossible and counterproductive for anyone to attempt to incorporate all of the strategies simultaneously. I was inspired by what I heard and what I saw, but truthfully, I was overwhelmed.
During a break, I saw 8 or 10 people from my company sitting in a few rows of chairs in an otherwise quiet conference room. Among them, “Mr. Charismatic,” who was set to be a keynote speaker at one of the upcoming sessions later that day. I sat down in a chair right behind Don and I exhaled deeply, exasperated by sensory overload. He smiled at me and asked, “What’s up?” and then I let him know what was going on in my head.
“Keep it simple,” Don said. “Out of all the things you’ve seen and heard here this week, just pick one thing and do it really well and you’ll become even more successful than you already are.”
From time-to-time, I’m guilty of being indecisive. Too many options, even if they’re all good, can lead to stress. Until that week, I didn’t know Don really well, but I had quickly placed him on a pedestal, so his words of wisdom seemed completely reassuring.
What resonated with me most was a software program called Mortgage Coach. It was a much better way to help my clients understand all of the numbers that were usually delivered in a giant stack of mortgage disclosure documents.
With Mortgage Coach, I could compare and contrast different mortgage programs and structures, all lined-up, side-by-side on a computer screen, or even on a phone. I’d shoot short customer-specific videos explaining the basic objective of my lesson, and I’d email or text a link to the presentation.
From there, my client and I would arrange to spend 20 or 30 minutes going through the presentation together – They’d be looking at their screen at home, and I’d be at home or in the office with the exact same presentation on my screen. In real time, I could highlight a specific number on my screen, and it would “light-up” on theirs, making it simple to follow along. Sometimes I’d demonstrate a 20 percent down payment scenario vs. a 10 percent down payment scenario, and other times I would compare a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to a 10-year Interest-Only ARM, and other times, I might show the same exact loan program and structure for three or four different properties. Really, the possibilities were endless.
Mortgage Coach became my thing. Although there were many loan officers throughout the country using the program, it seemed to me that most of the users must have been on the West Coast or in other parts of the country, because none of my typical competitors were using it.
The real estate agents that referred business to me loved what I was doing, and many of them asked me to use Mortgage Coach to make a presentation for the properties they listed. I became known as the guy who made the great video mortgage presentations, and for the most part, that’s how the agents introduced me to their clients.
Mortgage Coach was a big hit with clients too. My neighbor John referred one of his employees to me. During a phone conversation, he told me what his goals were, but said he couldn’t totally wrap his brain around all of the numbers. He didn’t really know if he was in position to buy a home or not.
Based on the information he provided, that night I put together a presentation for my new client. During his lunch break at the pharmacy where he worked, he opened the presentation on a computer screen in the back room – my neighbor John was there with him too. Slowly, I walked the client through his options. I remember highlighting one number and saying, “this would be your monthly payment in this scenario,” then clicking to another number and saying, “And this would be your total out-of-pocket costs.”
Everyone in the break room was amazed. My client said out loud, “This is the single greatest customer service experience I’ve ever had!” It really wasn’t me. It was more like me in an “Iron Man” suit. But instead of flying and blowing things up, I was ten times better at sharing and explaining mortgage numbers.
I used Mortgage Coach for the rest of 2014 and throughout 2015. My production went way up. My job was easier, I was making more money than ever before, and it became a lot easier to market myself. But around that time, I reached a point in my career where I had to make a move to a different company, mainly because I wasn’t able to compete in the jumbo mortgage market (Bigger loans, mostly in New York City).
At the time, The Espinal Adler team referred quite a few of their clients to me. They loved my presentations, and they loved how I “held my clients’ hand” throughout the entire process, but they were also quick to point out that I wasn’t capturing the business they referred to me because my rates were too high.
Everyone in the mortgage business is constantly recruited. I knew I had a ton of options. During each interview I explained how important Mortgage Coach had become to me, and I thought I was only scratching the surface of where it could lead me.
I narrowed my search down to one final bank. Both the area and regional manager that interviewed me were on board, but I wanted assurances that I’d be able to use it as a tool. After a day or two, they told me they received explicit approval from a high-ranking executive for me to use Mortgage Coach. So, I accepted their offer.
It was very difficult to walk away from a company I had been with for seven years. I left behind co-workers that I’d come to love, and a business model that allowed me to provide a very nice life for my family. I was taking a huge chance.
Less than two months after I arrived at the new bank, I received notice from the legal department. Immediately, I’d have to stop using Mortgage Coach. They were concerned from a compliance perspective. Their fear was that I’d be putting out numbers to the public that weren’t scrubbed against the safeguards built into their own software, even though Mortgage Coach does come with disclosures that protect against that. They told me I couldn’t use the one tool that was bringing me to new heights, and their answer was final.
I was angry. But at that point, there was really no turning back. The new bank doubled my assistant’s salary, and I still had access to low rates on those much bigger deals that I was trying to capture. I opted to move forward, making the best of my situation without Mortgage Coach.
It’s pretty amazing to see things come full circle. In early 2019, I left behind the mortgage industry and I joined the Espinal Adler Team as its Mortgage Finance Director. Even though I don’t originate mortgages anymore, it’s my job to guide the team’s clients through the mortgage process from start to finish. Last week, we decided to subscribe to Mortgage Coach so I could guide our clients the way that I was meant to guide them – in my Iron Man suit.