As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, June 2008.
In October 2003, I attended an event that provided a defining moment in my professional career and my personal life.
Along with about 30 other people from across the country, I spent three days at a leadership workshop in Atlanta. There, it became clear to me that success rises and falls with the shifting tide of leadership.
This is particularly relevant to our industry today. It will take quality leadership and strong character to climb our collective way out of the current mortgage-market collapse.
During the workshop, experts extolled the virtues of reading and learning, stressing the pursuit of knowledge as nothing less than crucial to successful leadership. After all, as leaders expand their own horizons, they also expand the horizons of those they lead and encourage them by example to continue the succession of education.
Listening at the conference, I could not have agreed more, and I took the message home with me. Not only did I redouble my own commitment to reading and leadership training, but I also began to teach my two daughters to do the same.
Today, my family has a saying: "Leaders are readers."
Every night before bed, my 8-year-old daughter, Colleen, and I take turns reading to one another. Her favorite book is the Bible. We've read through Colleen's Bible several times, and we're both struck by how the same stories take on new meaning as life's events constantly influence our interpretations and understanding.
Megan, my 10-year-old, embraced reading as well. In fact, when she wanted a pet, she thoroughly researched types of animals and the responsibility involved with each. That commitment convinced my wife and me that two guinea pigs would indeed be welcome members of our family.
My daughters' own passion for learning inspired me right back. Like the experts at the leadership conference, their hunger for new information strengthened my own. The result is that today, I'm a more effective leader in my professional life.
Leadership involves many things -- motivation, wisdom, nurturing and guidance -- and it should always include a lifelong commitment to learning.
Almost five years ago, a group of leadership experts urged my fellow workshop attendees and me to read a book a week. I'm not quite there, but I'm getting close.
In the meantime, I'm confident that the values I learned during those three days are strengthening my future, my children and my company.
Michael A. Hammond is CEO of Mortgage Cadence. Hammond has extensive sales, marketing and public-relations experience in financial services. He is also a certified mortgage technologist. Contact Mortgage Cadence at www.mortgagecadence.com, or e-mail Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org.