As we transition from a truly overheated summer into a fall that is already proving to be tragic for many, we are reminded to give thanks. In the cover story for this issue, Dawn Muñoz reminds us to give grace. And that’s a lesson learned and remembered from which all of us can benefit.
I would like to honor this month the unbelievably wonderful staff who work on this magazine. It may look like it’s all coming from me but in truth, it does take a village. Christine Beckwith is, of course, an active contributor. Leora Ruzin works on both the sales and the editorial sides. Melissa Adair, Judy Cimino, and Peter Wietmarschen contribute variously as graphic, technical, and administrative support. In particular, I want to single out one person, without whose efforts this issue and many of those leading up to today would simply not have happened. For those who write for us, who advertise with us, and who are written about in our pages, you know of Colleen Wietmarschen, who bears the woefully inadequate title of Senior Editor. Colleen’s dedication and efficiency are what keeps me sane and on track. I am grateful for her presence in my life as an editor and as a friend. Thanks, Colleen. And thanks to the rest of the team. You are all appreciated.
And of course, you, dear readers, are also appreciated. Please do continue to share the news about our magazines. Subscribe and read is our mantra. We remain committed to developing new writers and new features and keeping these digital pages fresh and compelling.
Happy reading, all!
It does not take much to excite me when I view the incredible culmination of content and work shared in each and every edition of our beautiful electronic magazines. This edition is no exception. As we continue to see our women’s coaching division grow so does the attraction of high-caliber businesswomen who form our community of hard-working impressive professionals. Women With Vision’s mission is to help women run thriving businesses so it won’t surprise you we reserved our covers for just that caliber of women.
Dawn Munoz is one such woman. As an incredible partner to 20/20 Vision for Success she, her husband David, and their amazing team are truly the epitome of the American dream at work. Their culture is rich, their dedication is strong, and Dawn, like me, is a strong woman with a mission at heart and she leads with her heart and directs her team with her very brilliant mind. We are thrilled to share her inspiring story and know that like all of us who are questing towards our goals and dreams, Dawn’s story will leave the readers this month in a place of awe and appreciation, motivated and inspired, all of which is the mission of our Women With Vision brand.
With each woman who joins our community, the level of power we collectively possess to solve our queries and to inspire one another rises and the tide is high with 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching. I hope you will dive into this issue and moreover, consider adding your own prowess and experience to our community. We invite you to subscribe and even join our WWV community in a way you see fit, whether nominating yourself or a peer for the 2021 Women With Vision Award or joining our coaching division.
Written by: CaZ
“The devil whispered in my ear, ‘you are not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today, I whispered back, ‘I am a child of God, a woman of faith, a warrior of Christ. I am the storm.’” -Author Unknown
This quote has an interesting history, or perhaps non-history is more accurate. The concept is clearly taken from biblical lore, and often to this day includes an element of faith referenced by millions across a broad base of religious dominations. The core message has been quoted and revised across the millennium, always changed slightly, and always communicating a message of strength and resilience. In modern days, the attributable quote is considered to be this:
“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’” – Jake Remington
Today, we share these words as Dawn Muñoz knows them and uses them daily to reinforce the vision she lives and shares with her husband David in their family-owned mortgage company, Home Lenders of Georgia.
In speaking with Dawn to prepare to tell her story, her passion and belief in this quote was clearly stated, so much so I had chills listening to her speak. She is a strong woman, a natural leader with a solid business mind, and no one who knows her would deny this description. She is also a warm, loving, and kind person who fills many roles, including mother, wife, employer, mentor, and friend.
“In my office,” Dawn shares, “is a copy of this quote right next to the picture of the girl standing up to the Wall Street bull. Both empower me when I am down. I look at the picture and I feel like it’s me standing against the bull.
“I am reminded not to let my knees buckle when the devil whispers. I whisper back a loud NO! You are not going to get after me today as I say to myself ‘come on girl, suck it up! God did not make you weak.’”
Dawn credits her mother with instilling strength and a do not quit work ethic saying, “She was a hard worker who usually held down two jobs to provide for our family. I never saw weakness in her. Oh, sure, she cried but then pushed through, dried the tears, and got back up to figure out what had to be done. I think of her example when I see myself as the girl standing up to the bull and my spirit fills with strength.”
Growing up in a low socio-economic status while attending school in a rich district contributed to a less than ideal childhood for Dawn. She left home immediately after high school and admits to making many mistakes in her first year in college with regard to finances, causing her to return home during her second year to work to pay off credit card debt. This delayed her education for years until she was able to get back on track. In typical Dawn fashion, however, once back on track she stayed true and finished with an undergraduate degree in business followed by an MBA, both from Oglethorpe University in Georgia.
Never one to let adversity stop her for long, Dawn’s strengths as a leader, including passion, an ability to inspire, an empathetic nature, and a strong need to drive to success were honed in those early years growing into a young woman. Of the hard-learned lessons she mastered, Dawn names this as the greatest, “Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Find your niche and work the hell out of it. Always listen to your gut and do the right thing even when it’s hard. The reward is greater than you can imagine. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams. You were made for more.”
In the beginning, whenever a client or agent would call me with an ‘I need magic’ scenario, I would commit to it. I had many, many sleepless nights because of this. Would I get it done? You bet I would but at what cost? Now, if someone calls me with an ‘I need magic’” scenario, I am no longer interested in being the hero. If it makes sense, if it fits within guidelines yes, I will do it but I no longer take the approach of making something happen.
In 2005 when she and her husband David decided to open their mortgage company, she joined him, leaving her position as VP for a software company behind. Dawn was ready to leave corporate America and a role in which she found little satisfaction or fulfillment.
As she remembers the time, “The industry was dominated by overpaid men who worked as little as possible; just enough so they could get by. When I had the opportunity to join my husband to help him grow and succeed, I jumped on it. I started as his processor. I loved it. Oddly enough, I loved the detail of the paperwork. I loved putting together a package, submitting it to underwriting, and then clearing conditions. I enjoyed the challenges we had dealing with underwriters. This was back in subprime days so we were working with companies like Countrywide and First Horizon. In 2007, we were awarded top broker by Bank of America wholesale. In 2008, the mortgage meltdown started to affect our business and there were days when I was not sure we would make it. But we did. We kept our expenses low. We adjusted with the times. It wasn’t pretty. It was scary but I was not going to quit.
Dawn speaks easily about what she likes best about the mortgage industry: genuine opportunities to help borrowers. As a person who enjoys talking to people and is interested in knowing everyone’s story and where they are coming from and why they are moving. It’s not a surprise to learn it is normal for her clients to stay in touch, even after her part in the transaction is complete.
Dawn explains it this way, “There are many loan officers in this business who do not take the extra five minutes to explain the process or explain to the client why one option would be better than another. These are conversations I have regularly. And typically, at the end of our conversation, they continue to reach out to me for advice, asking questions about their life and financial decisions not related to giving them a rate.”
“I believe it’s important for us to provide a safe place and guarantee integrity. I expect my company and my employees to always do the right thing for the client. I will always do the right thing no matter how painful it is and conflicting it may be or how it may impact me financially. At the end of the day, I always do what is right for my clients and my employees.”
Dawn, amid her many virtues as a leader, is also a realist. Her main goal for the business is to empower her employees to make them better than she is and have them running the company someday. In Dawn’s vision for success, she surrounds herself with people who inspire, with art that inspires, with quotes that inspire.
“It has been said the biggest battle is the one between your ears. Learn to take control of those thoughts creating doubt or fear. Fear does not come from the Lord. As a business owner, I hire people who are better than me. As a woman, I love other strong women. I have no issues working with strong, sensible businesswomen.”
“I think more and more consumers will educate themselves on working with a mortgage broker versus a retail lender. I think consumers want the personal attention you don’t receive from larger organizations. We are small and I like being small. I like it when a client calls and asks, ‘Do you remember me? You did a loan for me five years ago. And I can say, ‘Yes of course I remember you. I put you in your first home.’”
Women, historically in business, have too often been our own worst enemies when it comes to breaking the barriers to enter the boardroom. Not so for Dawn. As a strong woman leader, she embraces rather than feels threatened by other strong women. In fact, she prefers to populate her world with strength and courage.
“Often for a woman, ego is less of an issue than with men. I can easily entertain someone’s criticism or hostile comments and allow their words to roll off of my back. I’m not easily offended and welcome criticism. And this may say be bad to say, but I think the general consumer wants to deal with a woman, especially a confident woman like me who is trustworthy and empathetic.
I don’t have to sell. We have a conversation. I give them advice I don’t have to compete for business with a loan officer who is kind of selling them a rate.
Dawn tells a great story about when she first started working in her career before working in mortgage. She and another woman with more experience were hired at the same time for two parts of the same job. Each approached their role differently, with nearly opposite points of view. Dawn, fresh and new and imbued with a strong get-it-done work ethic and natural leadership abilities, went looking for tasks when none were assigned. Her senior partner waited for the assignments and did nothing more than the job assigned. A week after being hired, her manager called her in and announced he was giving her a $5,000 pay raise. He apologized, saying he had started the other woman at a higher salary and should not have done so. It was apparent who was the go-getter and should be rewarded. In the end, she began with the company as an administrative assistant and left as a vice president. That story epitomizes the confident and compassionate leader everyone who works with Dawn Muñoz sees and experiences.
Dawn, like many of the career women we profile in the WWV Magazine, is also a mother and wife. Her goal in life is to have balance and spend more time with her children. Nine-year-old Hannah and ten-year-old Manny are miracle babies, by Dawn’s definition. She had her children while in her late 30s due to difficulties conceiving. She believes firmly her children were born when it was their time to join the family and she is a better mother now than she would have been at a younger age.
When Dawn and husband David made the decision to open up shop as a mortgage broker, they had less than $10K in the bank. “It was nerve-wracking, for certain,” Dawn shares, “but 16 years later as I look back, I know it was the right decision. David felt the time was right to go out on his own as a broker.”
For Dawn, encouraging David to take this leap of faith came instantly. Starting their own company while for sure was a risk, was not much of a leap to take. They both earned their licenses in 2004 and by May of 2005, Dawn’s own last straw came as she realized the men in comparable positions had a base salary and a bonus structure while she had a much lower base salary and every quarter her bonus had to be approved AND even then, did not equal what the men were earning.
“I’ve been working side-by-side now with my husband for 16 years and you know, crazy as it sounds, I enjoy seeing him every day. We each have characteristics the other does not have. Over the years, we have learned to stay in our lanes.”
One of the greatest blessings Dawn finds in running a business is also one of her greatest challenges. Dawn suffers from guilt, worrying she is not spending enough time with the family. This is her ongoing challenge, one not above to be solved with one blanket answer. As a confident and compassionate leader, the role of mother is weighted on the side of compassion.
Balance is found by allowing the children to be a daily part of the business in as much as a child can be. They meet the clients and the employees and often help out when preparing mailers to send out. They understand this is how their parents provide for them. Dawn schedules dates to have lunch with them and do fun things together. For them, this is a normal way of living. You go to school, you come home, or you go to the family office, you find a moment when your mother is not working and share a bit of your day, or you pitch in tying ribbons around a gift or stuffing a mailer with staff. And so, she is teaching them the same powerful lessons she learned as a child with, she hopes and prays, more compassion than was sometimes shown to her.
On a final note, Dawn shares what is likely an open secret: she is passionate about gift-giving.
“Another lesson I’ve learned in life is when to be a pit bull and be aggressive and when to give people grace. I’ll speak up and say what needs to be said and then I show grace and remind people, whether it’s employees, kids, or clients, to look for the other side of the coin before going in to attack.”
“Giving gifts is a part of giving grace. I love blessing people in need. If I could ask for more success financially, it would be for me to have the ability to give more. I know it’s better to give than to receive and I truly live by this motto in life. My employees will tell you, I often leave a gift on their desk. It’s not always something big. Just this morning I left a gift for a young lady who has been working for me for about one year and has taken on a lot of responsibility. She is committed to delivering excellence. I found a plaque with this on it: Beautiful Girl–you were made to do hard things so believe in yourself. I could see she was giving her all and felt she needed recognition for her hard work.”
“Her response was priceless, ‘You always seem to know when I need to hear something like this.’”
That simple statement sums up the confidence mixed with compassion that Dawn draws upon and shares every day on business and life.
Thanks to Rachel K. Yatteau for the awesome photographs of Dawn and family.
Rachel K Yatteau photography firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know (or are you) a Woman With Vision? The 2021 Women With Vision Award nomination period is closing soon. For our video moment in this issue, we’ve chosen to share three of the on-stage awards given on June 8 to winners of the 2020 Women With Vision Award.
Who do you see walking across that stage in 2022 to receive this prestigious accolade? Yourself? Your coworker? Your family member? The nomination period closes on September 15. You don’t want to be late. Nominate your Woman With Vision today and in the meanwhile, please enjoy watching these happy moments from previous winners.
Jamie Cavanaugh presents WWV Award to Jackie Dunlap, June 8, 2021
Tom Mancuso presenting WWV Award to Joni Pilgrim, June 8, 2021
Sohail Halani presenting WWV Award to Kiran Shah, June 8, 2021
Written by: Leora Ruzin, CMB, AMP
“Melinda is relentless about getting better every single day and bringing her entire team along with her. She consistently sets and shatters goals from improving our operational efficiency, improving our processes to setting our people up for success while pushing them to grow in new ways. Not only is UWM a better company for having a leader like her, but I am a better leader by having someone dedicated to being the best version of themselves around me every day.” – Mat Ishbia, President and CEO, United Wholesale Mortgage
United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) has been the number one wholesale lender for six years straight and recently went public in January of 2021. The company, based in Pontiac, Michigan, continues to be at the forefront of innovation and progressive mortgage lending opportunities for their broker partners. At the center of their operations is Melinda Wilner who has been the chief operations officer (COO) for several years. When you take a minute to know her, it is clear her heart is in wholesale lending.
Since graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1997, she has lived and breathed all things mortgage lending from her home state of Michigan. “I’ve been in the mortgage business for over 20 years. I have experience in originating loans, processing loans, HR, and marketing. Almost my entire career has been in wholesale mortgage origination.” She attributes her rise to the C-Suite from the wise words of her father who taught her if you work hard, you can be anything you want.
As the COO at UWM, Melinda is in charge of overseeing multiple departments, including processing, underwriting, and IT, with a whopping 7,000 employees under her leadership. When asked how she leads with such gusto and passion, she credits her previous experiences and the desire to make the experience as easy as possible for their broker partners. “I truly believe everything I did prior to UWM prepared me for the work I do today. My understanding of what it’s like to be a wholesale broker and originator has allowed me to be in the weeds of the business and make a true impact on the company and the industry. I’m laser focused on increasing efficiencies and streamlining the lending process for mortgage brokers and borrowers nationwide. We want borrowers to know going through an independent mortgage broker is the faster, easier, and cheaper way to obtain a mortgage, and a big part is ensuring brokers can quickly and efficiently bring their borrowers to the closing table.”
During her time at UWM, she has been behind the wheel of phenomenal advances in innovation, including the launches of UClose and the Client Request (CR) portal. Tools like these help brokers run their own shops with efficiency, all while keeping the borrower’s experience in mind. “I challenge my team to think through every step of a process change or roll-out and get into the weeds of our business; down to the most granular level. It’s important that they see the bigger picture, not just the task at hand. Equally important is always thinking through the impact of a change from all sides and how it impacts our clients, borrowers, and our team members. I often describe myself as quietly competitive. I love to win and I challenge myself, our company, and team members to be better each day. I am highly collaborative and believe this is how the best ideas for innovation and change for the better come about. It’s great to work on things with a team of people who are all working for the same goals.”
Digging into what drives Melinda to give her absolute best every single day, it is clear her passions lie in the service of others and helping her teams realize their truest potential. Yet at her core, she is a leader who believes in the power of positivity, pushing the limits of what you think you can accomplish and good, old fashioned hard work. “I have a fierce desire to make a positive impact on my team members and help them become the best versions of themselves. Leaders are only as great as their team, so I work to ensure the people around me are striving to reach their maximum potential. You never know what you’re capable of achieving until you test your limits. We often say, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” What we find is the more you do new things that initially make you uncomfortable, it’s a matter of time before you conquer those too. You realize you can overcome what’s holding you back and from there the sky is the limit!”
Melinda is certainly no stranger to sharing the stage with a supporting cast and finding creative ways to foster a cooperative environment. Being one of six children growing up, she is used to the “wonderful chaos” found in a home filled with different personalities. A mother herself, she proudly proclaims her greatest achievement is what she has created at home with her family. “I have two sons: my oldest is headed into his freshman year of college, and my youngest is starting his final year of middle school. I also have my wonderful husband who is my biggest supporter and cheerleader.”
Melinda enjoys skiing, traveling, reading, and spending quality time with her family and friends, with an overarching goal of leaving the world a better place than when she entered it. “My main goal in life is to make a positive impact on everyone I encounter. I’m fortunate enough to have some great mentors in my life and I want to give back and offer the same support to others around me. Whether it’s pulling someone out of a bad mood so they can have a great rest of their day, helping someone through a difficult time, pushing someone to pursue their dreams, or just simply bringing light and friendliness to a stranger, I sincerely hope to make the world a better place by spreading my positivity practices to others.”
What is really impressive about Melinda is how whenever she is asked about her role at UWM and what it means to her, she speaks from a place of serving others. Using the term “dream makers” to describe her team, she beams when she describes what is at the core of their operations: put people in homes and give people jobs. It is a responsibility she does not take lightly, and doing right by UWM’s clients, consumers, and team members is her greatest motivation.
“I love the people in our industry. Mortgage brokers are mostly small business owners out there each day helping make the dream of homeownership come true for Americans all across the country. They wear multiple hats every day, servicing borrowers and building their business. I love building relationships with them and watching them grow their businesses. I love our UWM team as well. Never have I been surrounded by so many caring and hard-working people who always get the job done; it’s truly breath-taking.”
Tips for Success
Melinda has been through the highs and lows of navigating the operations’ ship at UWM, and has compiled a few nuggets of wisdom along the way:
- Find a way to make an impact on your team every single day.
- Embrace challenges and accept change.
- Believe in yourself and have a strong support group helping you do that.
- Find someone in your life who can hold you accountable. Whether it’s a friend, a significant other, a co-worker or a family member, having a person who can remind you of your goals and push you to be better every single day is extremely valuable and important.
- Have the confidence to reach your goals, and never let fear of failure stand in the way. View challenges as opportunities and don’t let yourself or your perceptions of yourself be your own roadblock.
In closing, Melinda speaks truth to the idea where nothing can stand in the way of success more than our own fears and insecurities. In one of Melinda’s favorite quotes, “Don’t worry until it’s time to worry,” she offers up her thoughts on what stops people from reaching their potential. This sage advice can transcend across all industry types, and even in your personal life. “I think people tend to get caught up in comparisons and societal expectations, but at the end of the day, if you’re doing what you love and are helping people along the way, that’s success. Be kind, treat people right, and find something you’re passionate about, and success and happiness will follow.”
Most folks can connect with this message, and during a time of such division and separation, this advice could not be more on-point.
Written by: Coach, Ski Swiatkowski
Life gives you exactly what you ask for.
Hello?! News flash! No, it doesn’t. It gives you exactly what you truly desire and diligently work to achieve. If you don’t follow the formula, you receive whatever shows up in your life.
You see, unfortunately, there are a great number of people who have been raised with and/or developed a sense of entitlement. There’s a belief that because we live in America, we deserve to have whatever we want. There’s an expectation it will come without effort from our government, our employer, our parents, our church, or somewhere. The American belief in hard work and determination to achieve success is slowly disappearing.
Additionally, when people don’t get what they think they deserve, you hear about it. There probably isn’t a day that goes by where you haven’t heard someone complaining about the problems and challenges they are currently facing. Things didn’t go the way they planned. They were treated unfairly. Someone didn’t do as they expected. They didn’t receive their share. Moaning, whining, and complaining has become far too common in today’s world.
This article may sound a bit negative at this point, but understand, I’m merely describing observable human tendencies. I promise I will give you some positive ideas shortly and they will impact your life if you choose to use them.
For those of you who don’t believe what I’ve stated about this aspect of human nature, just check the news sources and social media. This behavior is rampant.
So, when people don’t receive what they want, when things don’t happen as expected, and when problems occur, what is the typical reaction? Their complaining seamlessly turns into blaming.
The natural tendency is for our ego to look out into the world to find a reason for what has or has not happened. Someone or something is to blame: it’s my spouse’s fault, it’s my boss’s fault, it’s my co-workers’ fault, it’s my parents’ fault, the customers, the economy, lack of education, lack of money, bad luck, and the list continues.
In the mortgage industry, as in other industries (and life in general), this has become far too common.
The truth of the matter is there’s only one person responsible for what you have or don’t have in your life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s YOU. No one else.
Our egos make it hard to look in the mirror and say, “I’m responsible for what happens in my life,” but it’s what every successful leader does. They don’t look outside themselves. They look inside. This takes courage and a great deal of emotional intelligence.
To truly achieve the wonderful successes we want in life, we must be willing to take responsibility for the results we have and want in our lives, full ownership. But how is it possible in this blame-happy world?
Before I continue, let me make something clear. When I talk about taking responsibility for where we are in our lives or for the things that have happened, I’m not talking about assuming blame and guilt. Doing so just takes on negativity.
Responsibility in this context is about accepting the current situation for simply what it is (good or bad) without judging ourselves and then taking control of what we will do next to improve or change the outcome. This is about our thoughts and actions from this moment forward.
We can’t change an outcome resulting from decisions we’ve already made and actions we’ve already taken. We can make different decisions and take different actions to create new outcomes in line with what we do want in our lives.
Once we realize taking responsibility for the current situation and our next actions moves us toward our desired outcomes, we then have the ability to impact the quality of our life in our work/career, relationships, health and fitness, and your financial picture, in a positive way. We are no longer the victim, but the creator of our destiny.
Another way of saying all this is, you accept the fact you create your life and are not just reacting to it. You begin to see things happen for you and not to you.
So, the question is, how do we facilitate this change? Taking greater responsibility starts with believing in our personal power to change, being aware of what needs to change, and being willing to take responsibility.
Believing in our personal power is vital. It is my deepest belief each of us has a tremendous amount of ability and power to do great things. This idea of personal power and ability is supported by many of the greatest books ever written, starting with the Bible and books like Think and Grow Rich, and The Magic of Thinking Big. The trick is discovering and continuously cultivating this power within ourselves. This is a challenge for many people because of negative baggage picked up on life’s journey, but very doable.
Regarding awareness: the more aware we become of the ego’s complaining and blaming chatter in our heads, the more we are able to control it and make decisions allowing us to take responsibility for our outcomes.
Of course, our willingness to act will ultimately determine if we indeed make the changes in our thinking and actions and thus, lead to taking responsibility.
To guide you on this path to change, here are my eight steps to taking responsibility.
Eight Steps to Taking Responsibility (and Gaining Control in Your Life)
- Develop the belief in your power and potential.
You have the power and potential to bring great things into your life, to create the change you want to see. This will give you confidence and coolness to know you can handle the problems, the challenges, and the disappointments. It will also empower you to make better decisions and create better outcomes.
Regularly read and/or listen to content about the power of your mind to keep you focused on developing this belief.
- Acknowledge your ability to choose your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.
Remember, you create your life with your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. It’s important for you to be conscious and intentional about these so you can make the best choices. Keep your vision on the future you want (for life/business). A strong, consistent vision will both guide you and keep you on track.
Reprogram your mind by writing out and reading affirmations supporting your ability to control your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.
- Stop blaming and complaining.
Realize when you do this, you are assigning control of your life. Seriously! You are saying someone or something outside of you is the reason why your life is the way it is and why you haven’t achieved what you wanted. Those actions come from a victim mentality and will undermine your ability to take responsibility and create the changes you want.
Be conscious of what you are saying. At the end of the day, review your conversations. You must eliminate these responses especially when things are not going as you intended.
Ask someone close to you to point out when this type of negative talk is part of your conversations.
- Treat everything as a lesson and
Take the approach of everything in life is a lesson from which to learn. When a wrench is tossed into your plans and you don’t have the outcome you wanted, ask yourself the tough questions like these:
- What decisions and actions might I have made which perhaps contributed to the undesired outcome?
- What was my mindset before, during, and after?
- What am I supposed to learn from this?
- How can I use this going forward?
- What can I do differently next time to yield a better result?
- Accept the fact, in life, sh*t happens to everybody.
High performers accept this as part of the game of life and determine how to push on toward their goals.
Allow for negative feelings and emotions. They are part of being human, but, be aware of them and let them go. Move on quickly to roll back to your plan and create the change you want to see.
- Don’t take anything personally.
People will do and say things that may bother you as you make your way through your challenges. Don’t take them personally, and stop thinking everything is about you. It’s usually related to the other person’s problems and issues.
Keep in mind, you don’t have control over how people respond, only over how you respond (your thoughts and actions). Be sure to observe if there are any truths you can learn from this situation.
- Keep your thinking in the present.
Remember, we can only live in the present moment. Yes, you can learn lessons from the past and you must plan for the future but stop spending excessive time thinking in either of those two places. Ask yourself: What can I do right now to remedy a bad outcome of the past and create a better one for the future?
When you catch yourself spending too much time dwelling in the past or future, you can regain present focus by clapping your hands once and saying to yourself, “Welcome back to the present. This is where I get things done.”
- Be a person of integrity.
Being responsible is a characteristic of integrity. In business and your personal life, make it a habit to do what you say you will do.
Take responsibility for your actions and the results, and accept 100 percent ownership for both your successes and your failures.
And a reminder for those of you who have children, they are watching you. Your words and actions are teaching them about responsibility and integrity. So stay on guard.
When you practice these steps working on being a more responsible person, you will be amazed by the sense of personal control you gain and the feeling of greater self-worth.
To solve our many problems, the world needs more people who are willing to step up and take responsibility. What if each of us took responsibility for our small part? What change would it create in our business, our life, our world?
If you are truly motivated to be the best spouse, parent, friend, leader, mortgage professional, or whatever role you choose, make a commitment and empower yourself by saying, “I am completely responsible for who I am and the result I produce in my life.” Then practice living your commitment.
Written by Ana Maria Sanin
The importance of strong brand vitality cannot be underestimated. Brands are more than logos, colors, and taglines. They are the backbone of every company, and they contribute to your business’s marketing success (or failure!)
As you develop your own brand and work hard to reach customers, remember the most successful brands have four pillars: product, service, price, and people. All four should be constantly aligned to create strong brand vitality!
How can a renewed focus on these four pillars of branding help you achieve true brand vitality? Let’s take a closer look at each and discover how you can use your new brand marketing knowledge to inject fresh life into your brand over the next year!
How do we determine a brand’s vitality?
It’s always good to stop and remember the foundation your brand and your business stands on. What do we mean when we talk about brands To borrow from the experts at Harvard Business School, a brand is the “psychological association between concepts and attributes.” This means a strong and vital brand isn’t just your name or logo. It’s how you market yourself overall, and this idea carries through all four pillars of branding.
Your brand is the words selling your product or service. It’s the price and quality of your product or service. It’s how you treat employees and how you define yourself to customers. Ultimately, it’s the sum of all the elements making up your company!
Once you know what makes a brand a brand, it’s time to know if your brand vitality is alive or barely making it on life support. The key? Building four strong pillars on top of your brand’s foundation.
The Four Pillars of a Robust Brand
Focus on adding value and strength in these four pillars to create a brand to support your business, one that builds and strengthens relationships with customers.
Pillar One: Product
The first pillar is a product your company offers as the cornerstone of your branding. This sells you to customers, so it’s vital to create a premier product which delivers clear value to your customers.
This can be an existing product enhanced and elevated to a first pillar level. For example, Dell created the first online retail storefront intended to allow customers to design their own computer systems which were then shipped to them directly from a factory. This was a revolutionary concept and placed valuable products rapidly in the hands of businesses struggling with product delivery or maintaining inventory of their products. It also built trust between the customer and brand through creative and innovative marketing.
The first pillar is where you can show the value of your brand. Create a product making what matters to people come alive. This is where true relationships begin!
Pillar Two: Service
The second pillar, service, is how you provide assistance and support to customers. This includes delivery, installation, guarantees or warranties, customer care services like live chat, and so on. It also includes the various support you provide, including how you respond to online reviews and ratings.
You can focus on improving your service by creating more direct relationships with customers or prospects. For example:
- Offer easy options for contacting your company. For instance, have your phone number and email address listed in a convenient place, making it easy for people to contact you without having to search for it.
- Be transparent and honest about your policies or actions, even if you think they will hurt your image! You can recover from mistakes and negative reviews by being open and willing to apologize. People are more likely to forgive a mistake or mishap when your company demonstrates it’s trying hard to learn from it.
- Create a list of the most commonly asked questions and put them online for visitors to access.
- Post a list of your company’s values and make it clear you’re committed to holding yourself accountable to those rules even when faced with challenges or difficult decisions.
The bottom line is it is important for you to show customers you will do whatever it takes to deliver value. This means supporting your product or service when the going gets tough!
Pillar Three: Price
The third pillar in branding is price, and this is where strong brands set themselves apart. In many cases, a lower price may attract more people, but if you don’t deliver on what’s promised, your brand won’t be considered valuable.
Strong brands find a way to deliver the best value for their price and focus on creating quality products that balance cost-effectiveness with high standards. The bottom line is choosing the right pricing structure to fit your brand’s identity! Here are a few questions to ask yourself regarding your pricing:
- Are you able to create a pricing structure offering the most competitive cost and still meet your standards of quality?
- Are you willing to shift your brand image in order to provide an exceptionally low price?
- What products or services can you offer which allow for a better value? Could it be faster delivery or enhanced support with the purchase, for example?
Pillar 4: People
The fourth and final pillar is people. People who work for the company are still an integral part of the brand: their actions, behaviors, beliefs, and words are all parts of how the customer perceives a company.
Are you creating a culture where your employees feel valued? Do they have opportunities to grow in their career with your company? Are they able to communicate with customers in ways to help your brand receive positive feedback and stay trustworthy?
A strong culture is created at the beginning of the branding process. In fact, it’s imperative you create a culture founded on trust where people can feel free to share their ideas without fear of judgment or negative backlash from others.
Create a culture of transparency, and your people will be able to share information with customers and help them understand how they can trust your brand.
How Your Pillars Impact Your Brand Vitality
Now you know the four main pillars of your brand. It’s time to strengthen those pillars so you can create a vibrant brand that stays strong in the face of time and adversity. The best part about this process is it starts with you!
This is where brand vitality comes into play. Your brand’s vitality determines its ability to grow today and thrive tomorrow. As the leader of your company, you don’t want to simply “set it and forget it” with your brand! You want it to grow, thrive, and exponentially return on your initial investment.
When you focus on the power of your pillars, you can trust your brand vitality will be stronger than ever. And in the end, you’ll have a brand to support your business and make it stronger!
How to Strengthen Your Brand’s Pillars
Now that you’ve read this far, here are two questions to answer:
- How is your brand’s vitality?
- How are your pillars?
For your brand to grow and thrive, it is essential for you to take time to reflect on how vital your brand is today. Is it as strong and vibrant as you’d like? If not, it’s time to invest in strategies to increase your vitality.
Let’s consider one pillar and how you can begin to strengthen it to increase your brand’s effectiveness.
- Supercharge Your Product Pillar
- Become Your Own Product Expert
As a mortgage or real estate professional, it’s your job to know everything about the products and services you offer. This means you should be familiar with the ins and outs of your product line, as well as how they work together to create a solid foundation for your business. But what else can you do? It all starts with knowing exactly what sets your product apart from the competition and why your customer should choose your services over the next option down the street.
Know Your Competition
Tools such as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis and marketing strategy can help you determine which product features to tout and how you can position your brand in the eyes of clients.
The strength of your product pillar determines how effective your business will be at selling itself as an expert in its field without the need for excessive advertising or promotion. It also makes it easier to create a clear difference and unique selling point for your business.
Adapt Your Product for Tomorrow’s Customer
To build your brand’s product pillar, it’s essential to understand why customers buy your products and services. Do they feel they are receiving what they want out of their purchase? If not, how can you improve the value exchange so customers receive a better return on their investment with you? What makes them click “buy now?” How can you help them obtain value from the information they receive during their time with you? These are a few ways to strengthen this pillar so your product is intrinsically tied to your brand’s strength.
When you offer a high-quality product or service, it will be easier to gain word-of-mouth referrals and increase your sales over time. When your customers are happy with the value they’re gaining from your business, you can expect more clients and repeat traffic as well!
Don’t Forget: You Aren’t Alone in Your Brand Development
Brand vitality can be a strong force in the financial world if you know how to use it. But just like any other business, it needs to be sustained and nourished to keep growing as a business asset. When you support your brand’s vitality, it leads to a stronger business overall.
Make an appointment with yourself to consider how vital your brand is. Are the pillars you are relying on strong enough for the challenges that lie ahead? If not, what do you need to do to strengthen them to continue moving forward with confidence and momentum? Just remember, working to support your brand’s vitality pays off in the long run.
What are you doing to strengthen your brand’s pillars? We’d love to hear your ideas and feedback!
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Mortgage X Podcast
On this episode of Mortgage X, Frazier and Beckwith are back with Season 3 of the Mortgage X Podcast!
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Our Tell Your Story Marketing option provides the story-based advertising our readers report they prefer. To be seen and remembered and receive the best bang for your buck, experts say to make your marketing personal. Telling your story is about as personal as it gets. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for our rate card and additional details.