Doing the Hardest Thing First — Defeating Procrastination

Procrastination is one of the most common pitfalls in business and in life. And, there are many excuses that people give, ranging from “I only procrastinate mildly important tasks” to “I actually thrive under pressure.” This may be true for you, but be careful you aren’t deceiving yourself!

The reasons for procrastination are many, and unfortunately so are the effects. In the time-sensitive industries of Mortgage Origination and Real Estate, Loan Officers and RE Agents are especially prone to the negative impact of putting things off until the 11th hour.

The issue of defeating procrastination comes down to one driving question: How does one find the motivation to do the hardest, (and often the most important), task first?

The Value of Making Mistakes


You close the email and sink back in your chair. Your underwriter pointed out that you calculated the income incorrectly for your self-employed borrower, leaving the DTI at an interesting 57%. Of course, the loan referral is from a new RE Agent that you’ve been trying to make progress with… and she is NOT going to be happy. The borrower is a CIO for a new manufacturing company in your area, and now the loan you told him was a “slam dunk” is now actually DEAD. Gulp indeed.

These are the moments where Loan Officer’s reputations are made, for better or for worse. Every Top Producing Loan Officer has multiple stories just like this that they can recall with great clarity; they can tell you the borrower name, Agent name, the Loan Amount, the problem, and likely what shoes they were wearing that day. These types of errors are burnt into our memories.

Getting the Right Headshot Photo for RE Agents and Loan Officers

We’ve all seen and often chuckled at them. They’re everywhere. A poorly chosen headshot photo often leaves a first impression that’s simply too strong to overcome. (Insert mental image of a ‘busy professional’ on cell phone. Yikes.)

One of the trickiest aspects of getting the image is that the guidelines for a good headshot vary from one industry to another. A yoga instructor might be sending the right message with a well-done action shot, but how about a school administrator? For him or her, a traditional headshot featuring formal work attire likely is the safest, most effective choice.

Loan Officers and RE Agents have their own unique factors to consider when seeking a high-impact headshot photo.

Why is a Headshot So important?

There was a time, many years ago, when a RE Agent or Loan Officer might only see his or her headshot in a few different places: a flyer, a newspaper ad, and perhaps the Yellow Pages. That was about it.

Today, with the advent of Social Media, internet marketing, E-mail Campaigns, and other media, your headshot photo can be found in dozens of places. Here are just a few of the landing spots:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Zillow and other Real Estate platforms
  • Personal or Work Blog
  • Website
  • Online ads
  • Business cards
  • Billboards
  • Drip Emails
  • Co-Branded Flyers

The reach of these tools far exceeds anything that mortgage and Real Estate professionals have had at their disposal in the past. This is a wonderful benefit, but it also intensifies the importance of your headshot. A poor choice will be seen over and over again across a wide variety of media.

Recent studies have shown that face perception affect humans’ judgments about the people around them. A person’s face greatly affects how we see that person’s character, trustworthiness, aggressiveness, competence, strengths, weaknesses and ability to lead.

Are Low Payoff Activities Holding You Back

In the fast-paced Mortgage and Real Estate industries, it’s one thing to know what you should be doing to grow your business. It’s another thing to actually make it happen.

Many of the High-Payoff Activities that allow Loan Officers and RE Agents to thrive are based on simple, well-known principles and strategies. However, if you don’t work to build those best practices into HABITS, they will simply be the first tasks avoided when your day goes awry.

The very first step to adding more High Payoff Activities into your day is to address your current Low-Payoff Activities. Low Payoff Activities are tasks and actions that waste your time and decrease productivity. These are bad habits that need to be minimized, delegated, or completely avoided. How many of these Low-Payoff Activities are holding you and your Production back?  

10 Productivity Tips for Managing Your Email and Your Day

A tidy Email Inbox may feel great, but it doesn’t earn you a commission check.  Know this: addressing the common obsession with a clean Inbox is one of the best ways to put more time, productivity and profit into your business.  Here’s why:

Email is simultaneously one of the most helpful and potentially debilitating business tools ever created. The ability to have a wide variety of vital conversations through one platform — and the ability to engage those conversations anytime, anywhere — is indispensable. However, people’s devotion to their Email Inbox is where problems often arise.

In the modern-day business world — filled with obvious Internet-based distractions such as YouTube, 24/7 news and sports coverage, online shopping and more — the Email Inbox is the underrated King of Distractions. It’s a silent assassin of workday balance and productivity.

Working to manage and organize your Inbox is important, but it should rarely be prioritized as your most essential task of the day. With that in mind, here are 10 tips for managing email that can help unchain you from your Inbox:

Why Habit Formation Builds Changes that Last

Recently I wrote about the benefits of building and constantly replenishing our willpower. While boosting willpower helps improve performance, it (ideally) takes a back-seat to something even more significant: habit creation.

For a Realtor or Loan Originator, the habit formation process is one that drives lasting change, but is often misunderstood and underappreciated. Yet to close more transactions than you are today, you need to build and execute on better habits than those you currently have in place. It really is that simple.

Forming Habits Takes Commitment and Patience

Decades of research has helped us gain a much better understanding of how habits are born.  We can now define habits by saying, “They are actions triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance.” Wait, what does that mean?  Let’s keep going.

Initially, with habits, conscious repetition is vital, and this requires the use of willpower However, habits don’t begin with JUST repetition and an act of the will. Habit formation requires repetition combined with “contextual cues.” In other words, if you want to build the habit to go for a run early each morning, a contextual cue (i.e. visual reminder) might be to put your running shoes next to your bed. When you wake the next day and see the shoes, they provide a cue that helps begin the routine. As the routine is built, it becomes a habit, i.e. an automatic, nearly unthinking action.

Increasing Willpower to Improve Mortgage/RE Performance

Having a hard time picking up the phone to make another proactive Sales Call, and you’d rather check your Twitter feed instead? Is your willpower to make these important calls waning? Situations like this help us to see that willpower exists, and that more personal willpower is desirable. As we will see, the cultivation of willpower plus the removal of barriers that prevent success, equates to more productivity, profit and well-being for any Mortgage or Real Estate professional.

The first step to unlocking more willpower is making sure you have a firm grasp of what it is – and – why willpower seemingly abandons us when we need it most.

Defining Willpower

In the field of psychology, willpower often is thought of as “the ability to exert self-control.” However, the opposite of willpower might be a better frame of reference for today’s discussion. Merriam-Webster provides a lengthy list of antonyms, including two words that might strike a chord with you: indulgence and overindulgence.

For many, these familiar words manifest themselves over and over again in our lives, from mealtime, social media and exercise, to gossip and even sleep. Anything — even activities that normally are very beneficial — can become a drain on your life when overindulgence begins to outweigh willpower.

How Willpower Becomes Depleted

Much like when your car runs low on fuel, you can run low on willpower as you continuously strive to do what’s prudent. When you grow weary of the struggle, that’s when you’re most susceptible to slip-ups.

3 Keys to Maximizing Your Client Database

“Who do you know?” In sales, it’s a simple, powerful and often overlooked question. Knowing the right people can often provide a shortcut to increased production. But before you run out looking to meet new referral partners, perhaps you should consider how much business you are currently losing from the people you already know. An illustration:

Imagine bringing water from a river back to your campsite. After a strenuous half-mile walk, you realize there is a hole in your bucket, and you’ve lost much of that precious H20. How frustrating! Your once simple task has become much more difficult than it needed to be.

Most Loan Originators and RE Agents have a hole in their bucket as well. Out of the hole drains Lost Transactions from People We Know.

We’ve all been there. You’re in the grocery store and a good friend excitedly begins telling you about the house she recently bought. You feel flush. You’re flabbergasted and ask, “Why didn’t you call me?” The answers range from “I didn’t know that’s what you did for a living” to “I didn’t want to bother you.” Huge potential commission… gone. Issue? A hole in your bucket.

And if you know a lot of people, this hole in your bucket can mean you’re losing a lot of money. Let’s consider how expansive your existing database really is.

Looking for Some Friday Motivation?

I hope you’ve had a productive week!  I wanted to share a video with you (sent to me by IGNITE client Pat Enders of Eagle Home Mortgage).  It’s a talk delivered by Inky Johnson, a college football player on his way to the NFL, who then suffered a career-ending injury.  Inky’s message: When faced with adversity, “The process is more important than the product.  The process is more important than the outcome.”  I think you’ll enjoy his talk as much as I did.

Have a blessed Friday –


Back to Basics with the Handwritten Note

3 Steps to Make your Next Note More Personal

It’s easy to be blinded by bright shiny objects as we try and keep up with the constantly changing landscape of social media and online marketing.

Some “guru” is always touting the next big thing and it’s up to you to decide if it’s actually worth your time and attention.

One marketing strategy that has never lost its effectiveness is sending out handwritten note cards to past clients, referral partners, influencers, and potential mortgage/RE clients.

Old Is New Again 

Not too long ago, we all had empty email inboxes, while our mailboxes at home were overflowing.

Nowadays, the reverse is true. According to a study by, the average American worker sends and receives 121 emails per day and that number is expected to grow to 140 by 2018.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do email marketing, but focusing ONLY on email means you’ll be executing just like your competitors.