By Jennifer Du Plessis
It was February 1983 when a very young 19-year-old girl entered the office to interview for a receptionist position at a mortgage company. She thought to herself, “one more interview in a field I didn’t get my degree in.” After all, what did she know about mortgages other than the rates were at 18.5% – heck what was “percent” really? What she didn’t know was that her life was about to change.
Yes, this was me a little over 34 years ago! Of course, so much has changed since then; yet in the same breath, many things haven’t. We still require loads of paperwork to close a loan, it remains a competitive market, and men still dominate most origination and management positions.
When I was asked to write an article on Leadership for the maiden voyage of MWM, it required quite a bit of self-reflection. Because I entered the business so young, I feel I’ve been raised in a man’s world and, therefore, to a certain extent my mortgage practice and other business lines are conducted much like a man. Why not? It’s where I learned to carry myself, conduct meetings, negotiate, and manage. That said, I’m very much a woman and believe me, I have had my share of discrimination in the workforce. However, as I was reflecting I was brought back to the root of how I was able to climb many ladders – all the way up to executive management and now CEO of many of my own companies. It’s funny how life’s experiences and opportunities present themselves. I am completing my first book, and while it took months for me decide on a title, I find the name fitting for my thoughts on Leadership and how to achieve the results you desire.
Allow me to introduce you to LAUNCH
To succeed in anything, you will need to leverage people, technology, and yourself. Find a few mentors, male or female, in or out of our industry to talk to about their achievements, their challenges, and how they overcame them and so on. Learn from others and use those connections to help you advance in your career.
If I could put my finger on the ONE thing that I see with everyone I coach or simply talk with, taking action is by far the weakest area. So often we spend more time trying to get things perfect instead of just doing it. Stop. Now. It’s time to take charge and move the needle on your career. Someday is here, right now.
As women, we think of the word useful as being helpful. We need to remember as mortgage professionals we are operating in a man’s world. So, make an adjustment in your mindset. Be useful where it counts! Solving problems, responding rather than reacting, leading rather than following. Don’t misplace your thoughts in this arena as working longer hours, taking on projects that don’t benefit you directly, or being the “go to” person in the office who orders the food and sets up the conference room for events. Hire others to do those administrative functions. If the task is beneath your hourly rate, don’t do it.
Take time; real time, to assess your needs first. Is it the title you are craving, the power, or the income? Leading isn’t about any of those. You can lead right where you stand now. Leading is showing initiative in the areas you feel you are the strongest and where you have the largest need to grow. Show through example to your team, and your management, that you have needs in your career to excel way beyond your current role.
Obtain every certification you can. Attend every webinar, seminar, and class available. Being a life learner in all areas will propel your career. Avoid sticking with just those areas of your current position. If you want to be a manager, take management classes. Get it?
Begin to take small steps in developing better habits. Arrive on time, be present and not distracted, exercise better time management to complete projects and tasks more efficiently. You will need more self-control as you climb the ladder of success.
Leadership is what you make of it, not what someone, a man or anyone else, thinks it should be. Was Mother Theresa a leader? Absolutely. Now go lead someone today!
Jennifer Du Plessis, CMPS, CDLP, CME is the VP, Regional Sales Director of Apex Home Loans, Inc. in Herndon, VA. She is the author of Launch! Stop Talking. Take Action. How to Take Your Business to New Heights. She is also a speaker, coach, consultant, and Podcast Host of Mortgage Lending Mastery.