Dear Loan Officer: Focus on Your Victories and Learn from Your Failures


Dear Loan Officer,

Everywhere I look, I can see a hurdle, a problem, a stumbling block.  Sometimes, things just go wrong, and perhaps continue to go wrong.  I recently talked with two dejected Loan Officers who were each dealing with an “ugly” loan transaction.  If you are in the mortgage business and have done a good amount of business, you’ve been in similar situations.

The reality is, it’s part of our growth in this business.  As with everything, the difference is how you respond.  One or two tough mortgage transactions, or clients, can temporarily crush your confidence.  And if you only HAD one or two loans in total, you’ll question your own capabilities when it can feel like “every loan transaction is a disaster”.

But that’s not the reality.  An “ugly” transaction does not make a career.  Start by focusing on the good ones you’ve had.  Pull out those raving testimonials you received on the LAST loan or two, from the clients that loved you and applauded your team.  Remind yourself that a bad transaction doesn’t mean YOU are bad.  Move on, be better next time and LEARN from any mistakes you made.

Confidence is the key to everything, so you must proactively build your confidence back up when things go sideways.  

Then, from a constructive mindset, “autopsy” the bad experience. What worked?  (Hint:  There is ALWAYS something that went well, no matter how bad things feel.)  Then, write down what didn’t work or go well.  How would you improve your systems to ensure things go better next time?  What questions would you ask earlier in the process?  How would you set expectations better next time, with the client, the Realtor partner, etc.?

Point is, don’t beat yourself up too bad over a tough/bad loan transaction.  Yes, we are in an emotional business and we take it seriously.  Heck, there’s a lot of money at stake for everyone.  But it happens and will continue to happen, though hopefully less and less. Stay confident.  Keep learning and improving.  It’s not easy…but if it was, everyone would be doing it.

I wish you all the best!


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Dear Loan Officer: Feel Like You Never Have Enough Time?


I envision everyone reading this nodding and raising their hand. I face this challenge pretty much every day, being a highly motivated, goal-oriented professional. Many of us, are also juggling virtual school for our kids, and working from home during COVID-19.

Too often we compile a ridiculous list of things we want to accomplish in the day, the week, the quarter, and the year. We then look at this list and balance the emotions of excitement and overwhelming stress.

Here’s the reality:
If you often feel like you don’t have enough time, it means you don’t have clear enough priorities.

I heard Tim Ferriss say something to this effect on one of his podcasts, and it immediately summarized the dilemma with such clarity.

If I’m being honest, I do feel I do a better than average job of setting priorities and saying “no” to the less important things. But I am nowhere as effective as I would like to be in this area.

The above mindset has really forced me to think about my “to-do’s” each day. Am I doing THE most important things first? Am I setting myself up for failure by setting TOO many goals for 2020?

It comes back to this question: What ONE thing if accomplished, would have the biggest impact on my work/life/finances?

Using this as a filter really helps me gain greater clarity on my priorities…daily, weekly, and yearly.

What tips do YOU have? What works for you?

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Pole Pole! A Lesson from Climbing Kilimanjaro

*Repost from November, 2016

Having just gotten back from climbing the highest mountain in all of Africa, I can say that the journey on Mt. Kilimanjaro taught me many lessons. What was the most important one? Set crazy, big goals that scare you and excite you at the same time…then focus on taking one step at a time in the direction of the goal.

As we began our ascent toward 19,341 feet, the guides would constantly repeat, “Pole Pole” (pronounced poh-lay poh-lay). This means “slow, slow” in Swahili. Honestly, I trained hard before our trip, but there’s just no way to train for how slow they encourage you to walk. Naturally I, and everyone else, just wanted to get to the summit as fast as possible. But going 42 miles, uphill, across every type of landscape you can imagine, with less and less oxygen available as you climb in altitude, requires you to slow down. The advice of “pole pole” forced me to concentrate on the task at hand, one step at a time, and not get too overwhelmed with how far I still had to go to reach the summit.

Every once in a while I would pick my head up, look to the peak of the mountain for inspiration, and then back to my feet. Minutes would go by, and eventually hours. But as long as I knew my steps were in the direction of the primary goal, I was happy.

In business, and in life, we must have goals. Big goals. They push us to grow and get outside of our normal comfort zones.

The secret is to not focus on how far from achieving your goal you are, but rather turn around, and focus on the progress you’ve made. As long as your daily actions are in alignment with your vision of where you want to go, you can be happy and confident.

Pole pole! Sometimes we just need to slow down. It’s not a race. If you know where you want to go, you WILL get there, step by step, if you stay focused and confident.

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Dear Loan Officer: Manage Your Energy FIRST

Dear Loan Officer,

I’ve been doing some studying on emotional energy.  Your thinking.  Your feeling.  Your vibe so to speak.  (Which comes from ‘energy vibrations’.)  And how all this impacts our ability to sell, build teams, and lead others.

We broadcast energy all around us, every day, to anyone around us.  We also receive energy from everyone around us.  But what KIND of energy?  Happiness?  Excitement?  Gratitude?  Fear?  Anger?  Scarcity?

We control our vibe with our thoughts and feelings.  Others pick up on this and respond to your energy…good or bad.  We are either giving others energy, or taking energy away from them, based on our thoughts and feelings…our vibe.

Like attracts like:  people radiating positive energy will naturally move away from you if you are radiating negative energy.  Even worse, people with a negative ‘vibe’ will seek out others with a negative vibe, bringing their fear, anger, grief, and negativity into your life.   Misery loves company, right?

In business, sales, or even life, your mindset and vibe tells others whether you are a ‘player’ or a ‘victim’.  Nobody wants to be around a ‘victim’.  Teammates, friends, family, prospective clients and partners…want to be around players.

A negative vibe, a ‘victim’ vibe, can start an awful feedback loop, affecting our relationships around us, and leaving us feeling like we’re in a downward spiral sometimes.  Tough to escape.  Especially since what we focus on…expands in our mind.  (Thanks to our Reticular Activating System).

Whereas top performers, or ‘players’ spend the majority of their life in a positive mental state, giving off positive energy that attracts others.

Knowing this, how do you start your day?  What are your morning rituals that will put you into a ‘player’ mindset, giving on positive vibes? 

When stuff doesn’t go your way, and you feel yourself heading to the “dark side”, how do you control your thoughts/feelings/energy to stay positive…part of the solution…get back to the ‘player’ mindset and vibe…continuing to attract others rather than repel them?

Some hints:

  • Gratitude
  • Exercise
  • Reading positive stuff (i.e. not news)
  • Learning something new
  • Music
  • Talking to other positive people
  • Affirmations/Visualizations
  • Sending a note or personal video – focusing on OTHERS and giving

If we don’t invest the time to better control our emotional energy, daily, we will continue to make everything else more difficult in our lives and in our business.

Every day is a GIFT!  I wish you all the best.

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Dear Loan Officer: Why It’s Important to Take Time Off (Even in COVID-19 Times)


(This is a repost from March 7, 2017)

I’m about to tell you something that will radically transform how you think. In fact, for some of you, it may change everything about how you run your business and life.

When I tell you this new way of thinking, I am betting you will react in one of two ways:

Scoff in disbelief, and convince yourself that it’s just not possible to operate in that way. You’ll probably even say, “Trevor doesn’t know my business…it’s different for me.”
Breathe the biggest sigh of relief, feel a tinge of excitement, and think, “Finally, someone is going to save me from quitting this business!”

Are you ready? Here goes:

Taking time off is not a reward for working hard; time off is a requirement for you to be at your peak for your customers and team when you come to work.
Read it again. I imagine that for some of you, this way of thinking about time off just hit you like a ton of bricks. You get it. You may not know what to do with it yet, but you love it and want to adopt this new mindset.

Others are reading it and still scratching your head. That’s ok. We’ll get there together.

Let’s take a quick trip back in time. When you first got into this business as a commission-only Mortgage Loan Originator, a couple of things were extremely appealing to you:

-Unlimited income potential
-Nobody telling you when to be at the office

Whether you’ve been in the business two years, or twenty years, take a quick assessment of your current career so far. Are you earning the income you imagined possible when you first were starting out? It’s possible you are. Some people simply didn’t realize the potential that exists as an MLO, so your goals may not have been big enough. Here’s another way of asking yourself this question: Are you earning as much as you could be? Are you capable of earning much, much more?

Second, how are you enjoying the time component you were so excited about when you took the entrepreneurial leap into this commission-only world? When coaching loan officers, I often will say,

“Nobody tells you when to be at the office, but there’s also nobody telling you when to go unplug!” The reality is, I have no way of knowing how you answered the above questions for yourself. In fact, your answers might be different today than two years ago and may be different 5 years from now. But I do know, after two decades of being in this field that the average income for commission MLOs is low (relative to what is possible) and that an insane percentage of MLOs work more than 40 hours per week. In fact, when I take surveys at workshops I facilitate, 80%-90% of hands are raised when I ask who works more than 40 hours per week. Many hands continue to stay up as I move up to 50 hours, and even 60. In fact, it saddens me when there’s still some hands in the air expressing they work at least 70 hours per week.

For most, these hours include far more than just typical time in the office. They include the weekend calls for pre-approval letters, or working late to “meet” with a new homebuyer to map out a plan.

It’s up to you to transform how you view time off. Re-read the statement above. You must rejuvenate (Even in COVID-19 times) regularly to be of maximum value to others and be at your peak state in creatively solving problems.

I wish you all the best!

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Dear Loan Officer: Loan vs. Relationship

Dear Loan Officer,

I hope this message finds you well! Few would argue with the idea that building relationships is critical to success in our mortgage lending industry. However, with current rates at historic lows and phones ringing off the hook, is it clear that there is no shortage of business for the foreseeable future.

Every time I pick up the phone, I aim to get on each call looking to build a relationship. Next time you’re on a call, I challenge you this: Consider asking yourself whether if you are trying to secure a loan, or if you’re looking to build a win-win relationship?

I’ve had several calls with people this week that frankly, I don’t know if they will do business with my team. But I spent time educating them, asking powerful questions and sharing the ins and outs of how securing a mortgage loan works.

Remember the lifetime value of client; maybe you don’t get that loan because you do what’s best for that client. But they may come back to you on the next loan, or share your contact info with a friend, because you became a resourceful ally to them.

So next time you rush into your next call because you are so busy, consider how valuable it is to create a life-long customer. I know you, dear reader, wholly understand that the relationship-building in business is worth so much over time.

I wish you all the best!

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Dear Loan Officer: How do Billionaires Think?

Dear Loan Officer,

As some of you may know, each week I get a chance to roundtable with some of the top mortgage thinkers and producers from around the country. We recently had a profound discussion about identifying key components of how a Billionaire thinks.

Jeff Bezos recently increased his net worth by $13 Billion in one day. ONE. DAY. As we’re having record months and years in the mortgage industry, and perhaps making the most income of our careers, how may we adopt some of the tools that our wealthy counterparts employ? Follow the below points (or click play on my video as you work!)

1. Billionaires constantly develop their mindset. They’re big dreamers and thinkers. In today’s environment, it may be stressful with how much production you’ve got, but how are you continuing to think really big? Aim to play the long game; I know you’re keeping your head down to maintain the sea of loans, but how are you looking 2-3 steps ahead?

2. They increase their risk bearing capacity. Consider where you are willing to take on more risk? I have mortgage advisors on my team that I’m currently helping to hire more team members. How can we bring on a new team member, and make them adaptable to change? The best team player is able to shift when the market shifts, and this avoids having to constantly hire/fire during the market swings.

3. They have a healthy perception towards failure, and fail fast. Be OK with failure. Early failure is more critical than early success, because it forces you to improve. The most successful among us typically have weathered significant amounts of failure.

Which Billionaire quality resonates with you the most? Which avenue of your business might you be able to increase your risk tolerance for?

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Dear Loan Officer: Creating a Great Culture

Dear Loan Officer,

The way that company culture manifests differs by job, but the general consensus is that culture either governs the rules, or is the rules – which predicates the expectations of behavior in a workplace.

We can all agree that things. go. wrong. It’s amazing how many people you help, and things can still go awry. Guiding principles is something we use at our office, which is called our Rules of Play. Systems or rules like these, help to guide us during stressful times (or times when realignment is needed).

Rule of Play #2 – Communicate good news or bad, proactively and with a proposed solution.

It can be an appraisal that comes in low on a refinance, a lock we forgot to make and the rate got worse, or a customer that didn’t hear back from you. But the truth is, our customers see us as their partners. We’re in this together, and so ripping the band-aid off, so to speak, is better done quickly, and as painless as possible.

I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but Deliver The News.


What news do you have today, that you might need to deliver?


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Dear Loan Officer: 5 Steps to Multiplying Referrals

Dear Loan Officer,

We’re all trying to build with our clients, in a way to turn them into long-time fans. Loyal customers will keep you top-of-mind, and will not only buy from you again, but refer you to their greater network of people.

Grab your journal or iPad, and consider/weigh the following points for multiplying your referrals in a meaningful way:

Acquire – Your job is to acquire opportunities; what are your Pillars of Business, where do you want your business to come from, and how good is your scripting when pursuing new partners?

Optimize – What are you doing to optimize your customer or partner experience, to WOW them?

Retain – How do you keep clients on board while they’re out shopping? Hint: Strategies for reducing fallout is a key component of this.

Cultivate – what is your strategy/process to continuously cultivate relationships over time? Many people fail to stay in touch, which can be inefficient over time when maintaining top-of-mind awareness with clients.

Multiply – You have a customer on board, you’ve given them an experience, now are you asking them for a referral? THIS is a never-ending opportunity to generate leads.


Action Step: Find which one of these points you may need the most help with. Where are you falling short?

Please contact me if you have any questions – I would be happy to help – you can find my contact information on the bottom of my “About” page. I wish you all the best!


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Dear Loan Officer: Creating Your 90-Day Business Plan

Dear Loan Officer,

Happy Tuesday! I wanted to pull this one up from the archives – a powerful tool for you, to think about how you’d like to engage and make your Q3 the most successful quarter yet. It focuses on the 90-Day Business Plan.

What is the 90-Day Business Plan? In a nutshell, it is a one-page plan focused on the number one thing that, if accomplished, will have the greatest impact on your business, money, or life.

Create your 90-Day Business Plan now 

When put into practice, the benefit is clear: If you have a clear understanding of what your goal is – and apply strategies and tactics to accomplish the goal – exponential achievements can be attained. 

*The key is in creating priorities, attaching metrics to your priorities, and reverse-engineering the activities that might need to take place to achieve your main points.

What are your top business priorities, as we’re entering into the third quarter of the year?


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