It is with great pleasure I announce Colleen Wietmarschen has been promoted to the position of Managing Editor for both The Vision and the Women With Vision Magazine. Colleen, who joined the publishing team as senior editor not long after the inaugural issues were published, today manages the editorial team, provides liaison with contributors, as well as writes, edits, and oversees the publication of each issue. Colleen’s warmth, humor, and dedication as a leader are central to the success of 20/20 publications and we are thrilled to celebrate her continued success within our firm. Well done, Colleen! And thank you.
We hope you enjoy getting to know every person presented on these pages, learning the lessons shared, and simply enjoy reading our magazine. Please share and subscribe. This magazine continues to be offered at no charge to ensure the message addresses the desires and needs of our advertisers and readers, both men and women.
It’s hard to believe it’s already time for back to school. The summer flew by. As enjoyable as a summer schedule is, I find it incredibly satisfying returning to a routine. This year has been anything but routine for our industry. Working hard and the back-to-basics work which has been required this year has been refreshing for many of us. We remain keenly aware of the industry’s challenges and the distress mortgage companies are going through to consolidate in this time of reduced volume. Planning is more necessary than ever. This edition of the Women With Vision Magazine is dedicated to you, our readers. We’ve filled this issue with even more applicable, helpful content, and direction especially needed in this time.
I am thrilled to see my good friend and three-time Women with Vision Award Winner, Kiran Shah, on the cover. Kiran is a special person, a hard-working leader, and someone to watch. She has shown up to develop professionally and through the years has led her team with courage and considerable commitment. I applaud her and tip my hat to this wonderful moment she receives as our September Cover story! Way to go, Kiran! Keep it up!
Remember to work hard and to work smart. Grab a seat with us if you are not already subscribed; we know the way, and we come bearing decades of industry experience to help firms navigate the tumultuous waters of this current market. We are happy to help and guide you. It is our honor.
Written by: CaZ
“It’s not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
~ Aude Lorde in Wise Words from Influential Women by Kimothy Joy.
This quote resonates with Kiran Shah, Area President of First Option Mortgage (FOM) leading ten branches located in Georgia and Texas. During a growth period for FOM, Kiran decided to look for individuals who were different, not the typical leaders of the mortgage industry and has created a team consisting of multi-lingual professionals servicing different communities.
Kiran comes naturally by this ability to understand diverse cultures and dreams. Born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Dubai before emigrating to the US with her family as an 8-year-old youth, Kiran started in the mortgage business in 2004 right after college.
“I fell into the industry. After I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Georgia Tech and could not find a job in the market, my then friend, Alvin Shah, introduced me to a mortgage broker. When I went for the interview, it was to design web pages for a user interface. Once I was hired and before I started designing a user interface, my new boss suggested that I should learn about the business. So, I became a mortgage processor. The rest is history. From that position, I went into quality control, to sales as a wholesale rep, and then a trainer with Wachovia. In 2007, the day before my wedding to Alvin, my manager told me once I returned from my honeymoon, I would no longer be employed and would receive a severance package!
That was when I took a break, like many in 2007. I started an independent insurance agency and then sold it in 2014 when I rejoined the mortgage industry with First Option Mortgage.”
Along the way, as Kiran learned the business she loves, her family was never far away. Today, she lives in Georgia with her husband Alvin, their sons Kyle and Ayden, and Alvin’s mother. She has always lived with an extended family and proudly proclaims the advantages of raising her children with grandparents and uncles. Her parents and siblings also live in the same town, a happenstance Kiran considers a blessing.
“My greatest success in life is my children. My boys are kind, respectful, and understanding. I say understanding because, in our business, family support is key to success. My husband and I are in the same industry and work together constantly. Our children understand and respect this. They know when Mom and Dad come home and we are at the dinner table, there will be talk about work. They join in the conversations; now they are in their teen years and ask questions.
My sons participate in the events we host and honestly, we have built our team today to involve all our families. It’s beautiful because cousins and coworkers and friends and being part of an extended family is important. We could have a huge party with only immediate family now that my siblings are married with kids. At any one point, there’s likely to be four generations in our house. It’s a blast to see my children hang out with their grandmother.
Our tag has been FOM FAM for many years. We’ve changed this a bit to be TEAM FOM because even a family has to have team spirit.”
It will not surprise any reader to find Kiran has a vision for the future and a strong definition of what success means. She describes it by repurposing a phrase from the Austin Powers movies. In her vision, she grows more leaders by creating a Mini Me, one person at a time advising the key is to always replace yourself.
“I am not looking for leaders who are identical to me, who look like me or act like me. Rather, I am searching and developing those who think what I think. My first manager in this industry is a mentor whose guidance I follow to this day. She is the role model I emulated and the model I hold up to my leaders. I want to succeed, to make money. And I want to have 15 other Mini Mes doing the same thing!
My goals have changed several times in my life already. Now, I want to live a full life. To me, this means: enjoying my time with my boys and my family, continuing to grow my teams, and helping them become the future of our industry. There can be a work-life balance. It’s just different for everyone.
I do not hold any one experience as a disappointment or failure. They are all lessons I have learned from. I have lost teams and rebuilt my branch from scratch three times. I have had to split teams and lost branches. Every time, I have learned. There are certain personalities and traits which will not be a good match for my team. There are certain procedures that work in one area but not in another. We have rerouted training programs and interview questions. I am proud to acknowledge all my experiences have allowed me to become a better leader.”
Leadership and developing leaders are at the heart of the business for Kiran. She is a three-time winner of the Women With Vision Award, the curated industry award sponsored by this magazine. From the inception of the award, Kiran and First Option have taken a strong supporting position and embraced the award across their branches.
Kiran reports she has upped the ante to be nominated for the WWV Award. FOM’s nominees this year are women with a strong vision who are actively working toward making their vision real by moving to the next level. As a company, FOM honors the achievement of all its women leaders. But to be nominated for the WWV Award, a woman demonstrates following her vision to reach point A and is moving forward to lead her team to reach point B, C, and beyond.
“When we first began nominating our women leaders for the award, we highlighted women who were motivated, compassionate, and passionate. We wanted to see growth and to develop in them the fire and motivation to get to the next level. A good example is Ashley Filitor. She was shy and unsure but fearless about growing her business network and becoming a face in her community. And on top of becoming a top producer, she used all the resources we gave her like taking classes with 2020 Vision and going out talking to managers and other high producers to figure out what they’re doing right. Ashley was my nomination because I believe this is the behavior of a woman with vision.”
Kiran is a leader who brings compassion and passion in equal measure to educate, grow, and develop future leaders. She is dedicated to the success of her team and understands equally the struggles of someone new in the business and the hardships being experienced by veterans in this changing business climate. As an innovator, she looks for new opportunities and procedures to help her team navigate the pathways to success.
“I want to remind everyone change is ok. The only constant in our industry is change.
Realizing you may not be headed where you thought you wanted to be is part of life and growth. What I thought and who I was going to be in college is far from who I am today. Even in the last few years, my goals have changed. I think differently now, and I embrace this new me with all my changes and challenges.
I love how we adapt, innovate, learn, and grow in life and in our industry. I love how far we have come from the time I joined the industry. For my part, I want to contribute to the continuous evolution of the industry and introduce the next generation to the world of mortgages. My goal is to merge generational thoughts. There is magic, beauty, and new strength when we draw both from the experience of 20-year veterans and the enthusiastically different way of thinking and working the next generation brings.
Our business is changing. Again. It is important to expect change and plan for anything. Using technology to streamline daily tasks and to market ourselves and our product is now critical to growth and exposure. This is an area that only a few years ago was groundbreaking and now is a standard we cannot do without. We must venture into the unknowns while keeping an open mind to change.”
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Be passionate, about your goals and your work. Believe in yourself.
- Work hard, but more importantly, work smart. Work on your business and not in your business. And push limits.
- Replace yourself. Remember someone has helped you learn what you know today. Pass it forward. Teach, educate, and learn.
“This quote by Adena Frriedman, Nasdaq CEO, reminds me of Kiran Shah: ‘Empowering those around you to be heard and valued makes the difference between a leader who simply instructs and one who inspires.’
Kiran is a leader who understands what it means to act with purpose. She coaches, listens, provides support, and is focused on growing our team to effectively achieve this vision. Kiran cares with compassion. She cares about our growth, our opinions and our challenges at work. When faced with a problem she works with her team and supports them to find the best solution. Kiran lives to adapt. The mortgage industry is always changing; Kiran has an innovative mindset and is always open to new ideas. She is also focused on providing us with the best resources to serve our diverse community.” ~ Paola Colina
“Kiran Shah is the kind of leader every executive coach hopes to support. She’s honest with herself and others. She listens and takes responsibility for the results she’s seeing and the results she’s pursuing. She goes first in responding to challenges, needs, and opportunities. And she inspires by demonstrating personal growth in her own professional journey. Kiran is not the same woman I met when she began her coaching journey. I expect to see Kiran climbing to greater and greater heights as she continues to build her career in the mortgage-banking industry.” ~ Ray Befus
“Kiran embodies the true spirit of servant leadership, bringing it into focus like no one else I’ve met. In my observation of her professional interactions, she works tirelessly to empower her team to set and achieve ambitious goals while ensuring they receive the support and resources needed to be successful. As a result, she is able to unlock each team member’s potential and lead them forward in driving their organization’s exponential growth.” ~ Mahnaz R. Charania
Written by: Leora Ruzin
Michelle Dugan – Broker Owner – MS Lending, LLC
Michelle’s Tips for Success
- We are the sum of the people we spend the most time with. Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up and be positive influences in your life.
- You must take care of yourself first in order to take care of others around you. By filling up your own vase first you will begin to overflow which can, in turn, fill up those around you. Self-love and self-care are vital to success!
- Don’t compare someone’s middle or even their end to your beginning. Everyone starts somewhere. Maybe you aren’t where you want to be in your career yet. Comparison is the thief of joy. Enjoy every step of the journey and one day you too, can be the person others are looking up to as they get started on their own journeys.
M ichelle Dugan is not your ordinary mortgage loan officer and business owner. In a male-dominated industry, anyone who spends any amount of time with her knows there is more to her than what can be seen on the surface; more than just a pretty blonde. What most people don’t know about Michelle is her dream since she was a little girl was to become an attorney, but once she started working in real estate, everything changed.
“During undergrad, I worked as a real estate paralegal for a local closing attorney. I formed a close working relationship with a local mortgage broker and sent my friends to him for their home financing needs. In 2006, he convinced me to go after my mortgage license while waiting to start law school. I thought it could be a fun way to make extra money as a side gig. Little did I know I would fall in love with the lending side of real estate transactions.”
What started as a short break before law school ended with Michelle fully immersed in mortgage lending. In 2019, Michelle went into business on her own and opened MS Lending, LLC.
Michelle understands and appreciates the significance of being a woman-owned business and has leaned into it with all she has. More importantly, she is keenly aware of the precedence she sets being a woman in a Man’s World, yet she is hopeful for the future. “The tables are finally beginning to turn and more women are rising to the top of the mortgage world now than ever before historically. Being able to help influence women who may not feel their voices are heard is one of the highlights of my career. Women wear many hats every single day and it is possible to find balance to be able to live a fulfilled life not only personally but professionally as well.”
At the core of her business is love, compassion, and a true calling to help others. While being profitable is important, Michelle understands the importance of being a leader who can connect with her team, her borrowers, and the community at large. She considers herself fortunate to be running her business from the town she grew up in, in Madison, MS, and wants to give back to her community as much as possible. “I believe in leading with love, compassion, and grace. Everyone will make mistakes but how you overcome and recover from them says more about you than the mistake you have made. I try to always stay positive to everyone around me. Negativity is contagious and it is difficult to thrive in a negative environment. I believe givers gain so I give as much as possible to everyone around me. I’m a true local lender and am forever thankful to my local community for the support they continue to show me.”
It should come as no surprise that colleagues in the industry see Michelle as a beacon of light and hope for the future women of mortgage lending and hold her in incredibly high regard. As GTG Financial, Business Development Director, Ashley Miller, states, “Michelle encourages women to find their strength, use their voice, and stand up for what they believe. It takes visionary leaders like Michelle to create a solid platform for women in mortgage leadership roles, a career field that has historically been unavailable to females. Michelle is committed to continuing to change the landscape and setting up more seats at the table to allow for more women in leadership positions, which allows the population of homebuyers and homeowners to be better served.”
As most leaders are aware, running a successful business does not always come easy, and Michelle is no stranger to setbacks and failures. When asked about what she considers her biggest failure, she shares advice likely to resonate with many leaders. “My greatest failure would be not believing in myself early enough in life. I wasted many years worried about failing or questioning if I was good enough or if I would be accepted. Little did I know that I was my biggest critic. The voices in our own heads are powerful. Once I started believing in myself my life truly began to flourish. Now, I encourage women in every stage of life to not be so hard on themselves and to love themselves through every step of their journey.” In fact, Michelle wishes she could go back in time to her younger self and give that teenage version of her this sage wisdom, “Girl, stop being insecure. You are in the best years of your life. Enjoy them. Have fun. Don’t worry about what others think of you because none of it will matter one day. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”
Because Michelle understands the importance of learning from failure and moving on, she always looks for opportunities to share her experiences with other women, in hopes it will encourage them to open their own companies in the future. As a mother of three beautiful children (boys, Bodie and Dylan, and daughter, Harper), her main goal in business is to continue to build a company that can be passed down from generation to generation. Of course, that is if her children decide to follow in her footsteps and become involved in the mortgage world someday! Her main goal in life also centers around her children, “my main goal in life is to raise my children to be responsible, kind, and caring adults. I want them to be ready for the world and to be able to seize any opportunity presented to them.”
What drives Michelle to run her brokerage with authenticity, compassion, and love? What is her favorite facet of working in the mortgage industry? The borrowers, of course! As Michelle explains, “I love helping borrowers in every phase of life, whether they are buying their first home or financing their retirement home. To be able to assist in such a major life decision means the world to me.” The finest loan originators truly care about putting their borrowers in the best financial situation possible, about serving people, not a race to close as many loans as possible. Nobody understands this more than Michelle. Her favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt perfectly encapsulates this thought:
“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” As Michelle further explains, “We can possess all of the knowledge in the world but at the end of the day the borrower truly wants to know that you care about them and their transaction.”
Michelle is caring and compassionate, is extremely knowledgeable, and is always looking to learn and grow as a leader in the mortgage industry. She is keeping her finger on the pulse of potential changes and advancements in technology and sees the possibility for major disruption in the origination process. As she explains, “I believe that blockchain technology will eventually reduce the amount of information needed from borrowers so that one loan can essentially build upon their existing information. I do not feel like the role of the loan originator can ever be completely replaced by technology, however. Computers can’t build relationships and relationships are definitely the backbone of our industry.”
Perhaps the most endearing feature of Michelle personality is her unwavering devotion to her family and the legacy she is building for them. When most people think of what their greatest success is, they speak about a professional milestone or monetary achievement, but not Michelle. When we asked Michelle what her greatest success is, she unequivocally proclaimed, “I have an incredible husband and three amazing children. I am married to my soul mate, Nick Dugan. He’s my biggest cheerleader. I’m thankful every day for the love that we share. In 2022 we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. I’m forever grateful to have chosen a career that, while incredibly demanding, affords me the flexibility to be present and experience every moment of their lives.”
As Michelle continues to carve her own path in this industry, she knows there is still much work to be done, and she is ready to take on the challenges set before her. Being able to identify her strengths and weaknesses is what will continue to lead to her success in the future. She also understands she would not be where she is today if it were not for the help she has received from others along the way. “As we get older and we can pinpoint these strengths and weaknesses, we can begin to surround ourselves with people who can contribute in areas where we are weak and we can offer our strengths to others who may need them for their own success. Givers truly do gain. No one gets to the top of the mountain alone. By working together with others while knowing our strengths and weaknesses that we bring to the table, success will come sooner and be much more rewarding when it does.”
Michelle is a truly special woman and a force to be reckoned with in the mortgage industry. The level of respect she garners from her colleagues is nothing short of inspiring, and anyone who if fortunate enough to spend time with her will walk away with a deeper admiration for her and the work she is doing. As Jamie Cavanaugh, COO of Amerifund Home Loans, states, “Michelle Dugan exemplifies what it means to be a true mortgage professional. She has a wealth of knowledge and she cares for her clients and referral partners by taking the time to guide them through the loan process. Michelle is incredibly generous with her time and is always cheering on her colleagues and lifting others up. She is amazing!”
In closing, Michelle had these nuggets of wisdom she wanted to share, and it really does sum up how amazing she is and how the future is hers to gain. Of course, she just had to sprinkle in a bit of that Southern charm we all love!
“We don’t have a single defining moment in life that makes or breaks us. We are the sum of all of our days, good and bad. When you’re having a bad day, acknowledge it. But don’t let it keep you down and stay there. Acknowledge the low times because it will make you appreciate the good times even more. If you don’t like where you are, change it. We all hold the power within ourselves to be and become whoever we want to be. So, take a pause, take a breath, reflect, and get back to it. Give yourself grace when you need it. Live a life full of gratitude; appreciate it all, big and small. Life ain’t always beautiful but it truly is a short, sweet, beautiful ride. Enjoy every single step of it!”
Written by: Ashlee Cragun
Growing up as a little girl watching movies, I would notice kids depicted running through the forest or fields catching fireflies in a glass jar. The glow was pronounced and brought a smile to everyone’s face. Throughout my childhood, I was jealous of those kids I saw on TV and wished I could find fireflies for my jar. I wanted to run through the night and fill a jar with beautiful glowing bugs to light my way! Little did I know it would take until the ripe old age of 34 to see my first firefly in person, and they did not disappoint.
Recently, I was away at a yoga retreat with my high school best friend. One night we were swinging in a hammock after class talking and reminiscing about the past when I looked up through the trees into the starry night, out of the corner of my eye I saw small flashing lights. I quickly turned my head to see little bright lights flying all around us flashing and sparkling in the darkness. As I motioned over towards the trees, I heard both of us shriek with excitement. I will never forget the words I said, “REAL LIVE FIREFLIES! I have always wanted to see them in person. It was on my bucket list and I didn’t even know it.” I want you to think about those words I said.
“It was on my bucket list and I didn’t even know it.”
Twenty-twenty-three is quickly coming, and each of us will begin to hear the question, “What are your goals for the New Year?” You’ll be asked this question by friends, family members, and coworkers. Since you will be hearing this question often over the next several months, I am going to ask you a different question: What will be on your bucket list for the next 12 months? Bucket lists are often associated with dreams, aspirations, and excitement. The items you would list on a bucket list are things that excite you, make you happy, and fill you full of life; they are items you want to strive to achieve at all costs.
This year don’t think of it as you are just setting goals. You are setting up a bucket list to help you become the person you want to be and express who you are. Bucket lists don’t just have to be about destinations or hobbies; they should be all-encompassing. Think about your relationships, financials, physical health, mental well-being, and professional growth, and let’s walk through different steps to take and ways to make 2023 the PRIME time to become 1 percent better every day!
- Be specific. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking too big and too broad and they aren’t able to dig in and accomplish what they have set out to do. They become overwhelmed and do not know where to start. When you are specific you know exactly where you are headed and the destination is clear.
- Develop a plan. Take a look at what specific steps you need to take. Start small and work your way up. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Set small milestones and break them down so you remain encouraged by achieving small markers that will lead you down the right path.
- Take Action. Stop thinking too much; not everything has to be perfect. When you start overthinking everything you never start. Things don’t have to be done exactly how you imagine; just do it.
- Write goals down and make them visible! When you take the action of writing them down it makes them real and not just thoughts and dreams. It has been said that if you physically write something down not only are you able to remember it better but it becomes a reality. Once you write down what you want to accomplish, make sure you put it somewhere visible, so you are reminded every day of the items on your bucket list. When you see something regularly you become encouraged and excited to cross it off your list!
- Be honest with yourself. Keep your perspective focused. When you evaluate your progress, make sure you aren’t exaggerating. Be sure you know exactly where you stand in your plan or goals. This will eliminate disappointment and help you develop efficient plans to make your dreams a reality.
- Plan for obstacles. Unexpected challenges or changes will occur and cause you to have to adapt and adjust. Don’t be discouraged; this is normal. Take the time to re-evaluate your progress and switch up the milestones you are trying to achieve. Don’t beat yourself up; these moments teach you lessons and help you grow.
- Don’t be afraid to reward yourself. It has been shown that celebrating successes, no matter how large or small, and practicing positive reinforcements release different chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin in the brain. These hormones regulate focus, motivation, and the feel-good neurotransmitter, which takes negative stress and turns it into positive stress and increases the feelings of joy and self-confidence.
Twenty-twenty-three is going to be a special year. It is the PRIME time to decide the next step in your journey. Remember, your journey is your decision and no one else’s. Don’t let anyone else tell you who you want to be. Be intentional in finding a good support system. Find your tribe, the people who will be there for you, join you, understand you, support you, and cheer for you.
Now is the time to write up your bucket list. Why wait one more day when you can start today?
Don’t think only about the simple or obvious things in life. Think outside the box and visualize the fireflies waiting to fill your jar. What is going to light your path to a successful 2023?
Written by: Ray Befus
Transitions in the economy and industry always require astute businesswomen and men to pivot in multiple ways. In this season within the world of mortgage banking, individuals who moved into the industry just a few years ago to work at fast-paced, high-paying jobs are having to pivot by slowing down and shifting their focus from doing a job to building a career. This transition in perspective requires a significant transformation in one’s daily mindset.
As an executive coach, I often describe this shift as getting up every day to live your best life now—both personally and professionally. Career building is a long-term endeavor and requires strategy, discipline, balance, and patience. It invites us into a focused lifestyle that is significantly different than furiously processing refi loans in an unending blur of stressful days. If you’re deciding to make the shift from working a job to building a career, then my own journey to building a career in executive coaching may provide a helpful road map for you. The process of career-building is similar, no matter what industry you may be in.
My first step, and the one step that energized every other step in my journey, was to take my personal discipline levels to the highest point they had ever been in any chapter in my life. In the words of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, in their book Extreme Ownership, I began taking extreme ownership of every part of my day. I refused to think like a victim by blaming any circumstance or person for any of my weaknesses or breakdowns. I began with the decision to start waking up at 4:00 am seven days a week. Why not go after my own success like a Navy Seal going into battle? Day by day, I was advancing before dawn while most of my competitors were still sleeping. My next decision was to fill my entire day with meaningful activity, either to strengthen myself, body and mind, or to build my business.
One dimension of my decision was to limit my eating to healthy foods and take the intensity of my daily exercise up a couple of notches. I wanted to feel my best, have all the energy I needed to work long days, and look the part of a disciplined and sharp executive when I walked into any room. Building on physical and mental development came down to scheduling time every day to read recommended books, watch podcasts, and attend seminars and conferences. But it wasn’t the listening making a difference; it was the doing. If I read a book or listened to a speaker who stirred my thinking, I wrote down the action steps they recommended and followed through to deepen my self-awareness and develop new skills. I envisioned myself as a part-time college student, taking courses on the side while I built my career.
Another dimension of my investment in professional development was to initiate meetings with other professional coaches whom I’ve come to describe as “co-petitors,” women and men who lived and worked from an abundance mindset and were ready to invest in a new coach as generously as their own mentors had invested in them. I bought breakfasts and lunches and drank bottomless cups of coffee, asking questions, listening to stories, asking for every resource they were willing to share, and once again, implementing each new tool or process these coaches recommended. No exaggeration, some of the perspectives and tools they shared with me transformed my evolving career, and I shared some of my resources with them. Several of these “co-petitors” have become solid friends.
My first investment each morning was a deliberate centering routine. I had already begun planning my months, weeks, and days before they began. So, each morning, I reviewed my plan for the week and the day. I made adjustments based on my guiding question: though I can’t control immediate outcomes, what can I do to make this day the best day possible? My next step was to begin with marketing on social media, primarily LinkedIn. I regularly revised and polished my LinkedIn page, taking recommendations wherever I could find them. On average, I spent two hours before 7:00 am posting so most of my prospective clients had an opportunity to see my posts first thing in their morning routines. I wrote scripts and sent them out to businesspeople celebrating birthdays, changing companies, receiving promotions, and engaging in new projects. Together with scripted encouragements, I offered free resources, a complimentary coaching conversation to one, an executive summary of a popular book to another, or a worksheet speaking to a challenge they might be experiencing. I was adding value wherever I could to whomever I thought might desire it. And my LinkedIn contacts took note. One young executive in the United Arab Emirates wrote back to ask if I was serious about a pro-bono coaching conversation. After a complimentary consultation, he filled in a coaching contract and wired the money.
And then I invested heavily in face-to-face networking. This required me to step out of my comfort zone. When I started building my career, I showed up as an introvert on personality tests. Today, personality assessments identify me as an extrovert. This is the transforming power of deciding, day after day, to live outside one’s comfort zone. As I continued my career-building journey, I decided that at least two to three times a week, I would intentionally step outside of my comfort zone. I would look at what I was doing that was not producing the results I hoped to achieve, and then reflect on what I was not doing and was even afraid to do. Over time, I discovered the success I was eager to experience was often waiting for me behind the door marked, “Afraid to Do . . . Until Now!” Fully one-half of every day in those early years of career-building was given to marketing, networking, and selling with the most effective tools I could find and were often outside my comfort zone.
Let me end this reverie with several principles that guided my journey into a successful career. First, don’t measure your success daily or even weekly. You’re playing a long game. The best metaphor for career-building might be farming. Farmers generally don’t see meaningful changes in their fields on a daily or even weekly basis. Monthly measures are more realistic. The seeds planted today may not even break through the ground for weeks and the harvest will require an extended season before it’s ready to bring into the barn. Measure your progress, for sure, but do it monthly.
Second, add value wherever you can to everyone who might have an interest. Communicate that you actually are an authentic expert, at least in a few things that matter a great deal to your prospective customers’ success.
Third, keep sharpening every tool you have and refining every system you use as you move forward. Don’t keep chopping with a dull ax. Get a chain saw! Don’t allow last month’s successes to become a temptation to coast through this month. Embrace struggle as a mentor and even failure as a teacher. Keep stretching and growing.
Fourth, get together regularly with one or two professional friends or co-petitors who are successful, positive, constructive, and generous. Drop your guard and be honest with them. Ask them what they think you might not be seeing. Ask them what they think you might not want to hear. Ask them what they might do if they were in your shoes. Listen. Don’t rationalize or become defensive. Just listen.
In my own career-building years, most days there few results I could celebrate. So, I just worked my plan like a farmer. I was rich in time, but money was sometimes uncomfortably tight. Over dinner, my wife would often ask me about my day. Sometimes the truth was that no checks had come in the mail, but when I looked her in the eyes, I was able to say, “I’ve done everything I know to do today to build this career.” She would smile, look me in the eye, and reply, “I respect that and, I believe in you. I know you’re going to make it.”
And I did. So can you. It’s time to pivot.
If you’re interested in joining me in this career-building conversation, please do sign up for my 20/20 symposium this fall—Live Your Best Life Today. We’ll make the journey together.
What It Takes To Hit The Mark In Marketing
Do you know what it takes to hit the mark in marketing?
It takes YOU.
Unapologetically, authentically, Honest, and Raw, YOU.
You indeed have to date your audience before they marry you, but it is also true that not everyone is going to want to marry you, and that is OKAY.
At VisionMark, we hit the mark for you with digital strategy, editorial strategy, and story-telling abilities to tell your audience exactly who you are and what problem you solve.
Go to www.2020visionmark.net today to find out your next marketing plan.
Listen in, and we will see you for coffee on the Marketing side!
ABOUT BECKWITH UNPLUGGED AND UNCENSORED
Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored is a video podcast designed for Christine Beckwith, a long-time business executive turned executive coach in the banking, mortgage, and real estate industry. In this totally transparent and sometimes raw monologue, Beckwith tells it like it is…publicly. Emotion is the driving force behind all human intellect, accomplishment, and success. If you cannot feel where you are going, you cannot SEE it either. As the visionary behind 20 / 20 Vision for Success, Christine brings her personal and professional philosophy to the mic. Listen in because these are lessons you will want to learn here instead of anywhere else.
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 email@example.com for our rate card and additional details.
Coaching is about building a foundation for results and knowing how to step into action based on that foundation. Turning vision into reality requires trust that the bedrock beneath the vision is sound. Coaching with 20/20 Vision begins by building and strengthening your foundation and ensures you remain focused on the vision for success.
Vonk Digital, an industry leader in website and marketing tools for mortgage originators across America, is a proud sponsor and hosting partner of Women With Vision Magazine.
To learn how Vonk Digital can help you leverage the “New Way” to build your brand, authority & credibility with our website platform and tools visit us at www.vonkdigital.com
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.