1. GO BEYOND WHAT’S
EXPECTED – BE CURIOUS
We all know success is directly tied to performance.
But it's not enough to simply perform well—true success
requires that you know more than what’s expected of you.
Fortunately, the mortgage business involves many different
disciplines. Generally speaking, the professionals who have
knowledge and experience in more than one discipline
command greater respect in their organizations. They are
also more likely to be promoted, too. In other words, take
every opportunity you’re given to broaden your knowledge
of the business.
When I was in my 20’s, I was very focused on doing my
job well. But I was also committed to adding new skills and
learning every competency I found within my immediate
orbit. At the time, I was lucky to work for someone who
made sure I had opportunities beyond the job for which I
was responsible. As a result, I learned so much more about
the mortgage business than I would have if I only did what
was expected of me. Whether you have such a boss or not,
make an effort to learn different areas of the business.
For example, if you’re in the compliance field, consider
learning more about sales. If you are in sales, think about
expanding your knowledge in operations, management, or
even servicing. The more experience you gain across the
business, the more valuable you'll be to your current or
future employer—and the more likely you'll attain a managing director position when one becomes available.
2. BECOME AN IDEA GENERATOR
Few people ever become leaders by doing the same
thing their predecessors did. True leaders are innovators,
thinkers, and problem solvers. Luckily for you, the mortgage
business is riddled with inefficiency and missed opportunities. At most organizations, there are endless prospects for
The key is to never think that your job begins and ends
with perfecting the tasks to which you’re assigned. Instead,
think broadly and across business lines. By understanding
how other pieces of the mortgage business work, you’ll begin to see untapped business opportunities as well as ways
your organization can perform better. If how the company
does business seems wasteful, ask why, and come up with a
better way. In my experience, the people who went above
and beyond their roles, who asked questions, and spoke up
usually got the ear of the C-suite.
For instance, is there an untapped market that your
firm has yet to address? Is there an internal function that
can be monetized to an external client base? What should
the business be looking at now to prepare for the environ-
ment a year from now? Even if nobody has asked for your
input, take it upon yourself to look beyond your job scope,
do some research, and generate ideas and recommenda-
tions. Understand that some ideas will fly, others will not.
The point is to show you have the long-term success of the
business in mind. This will open doors for you.
3. KNOW YOUR DATA
As a junior executive, I once sat down with my finance
partner and built a model to measure the profitability of
each client. We did this entirely on our own, simply out of
curiosity and in an effort to better manage the business. After weeks of work, we unveiled our findings, which showed
that several clients were not as profitable as the executive
team thought. In fact, a few were not at all profitable.
This was bad news, of course. But building this model
and sharing the results with the executive team helped
identify areas in which we needed to improve. More importantly, it opened the eyes of our executives to the full scope
of costs/leakage that were impacting profits so that something could be done about it. The key, however, was that my
finance partner and I did not write a report based on what
we thought was going on. We had built the model and used
hard data, and then wrote a report based on resulting facts.
For my finance partner and me, this expanded our
knowledge and visibility with the executive team, which
resulted in more projects and bigger assignments. We’ve
moved on in our careers, but I enjoy thinking back to our
collaboration and others like it and acknowledge how it propelled each of us forward in our professional development.
4. FIND THE EXPERTS
There will always be people who know things that you
don’t, which is why it is a wise idea to surround yourself
with experts and learn as much as you can from them. Just
keep in mind that the “experts” aren’t always the ones who
get the attention.
I’ve worked with many very smart people throughout
my career, and most of them didn’t land on the pages of
industry magazines or blogs, or win awards. However, there
are many more experts in our industry than can fit in the
pages of a trade publication, and each one is a potentially
wonderful resource for you.
If there is a side of the business you want to learn, find
experts in that area and ask them about their jobs. Ask
them what they think about how things are currently done