As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, October 2009.
When I started my mortgage business many years ago, my wife and I saved money by eating tuna sandwiches for lunch. When we decided to treat ourselves, pizza was about the most we could afford.
It was during these early years that I discovered the importance of mentors. As a mortgage-industry professional, you can benefit from seeking mentors and being a mentor yourself.
One of my first mentors was a member of the Florida House of Representatives. We both graduated from the University of Florida, and through him I became an active alumnus and joined Kiwanis International. I went on to serve as treasurer of the Miami chapter of the University of Florida Alumni Association and held many leadership positions in my local Kiwanis club.
Another mentor of mine was a partner at the accounting firm where I worked before breaking off on my own. He was in the audit department, and I was in the tax department. He must have seen something inside of me, because he arranged for me to serve as his vice chairman of the University of Florida Accounting Conference. A year later, I became the youngest certified public accountant to be chairman of the conference.
A third mentor of mine, one who continues to influence me, is a well-known tax attorney. He's about two decades older than me, but we have many things in common, including our alma mater. While still a recent college graduate, I was anxious to meet him, so I called his office and introduced myself. He invited me to swing by and later helped me get involved in the Miami community. Although he was a powerful attorney and I was an entry-level accountant, he always returned my calls. He also encouraged me to give speeches and write articles, noting he earned acceptance as an expert by doing those same things.
I now can say that tactic worked for me, too. Many people in the mortgage industry recognize my name, and I'm called upon frequently to give speeches and to write about mortgage-related topics. Without mentoring, however, none of this from membership in charity and networking groups to writing and public speaking likely would have occurred.
As important as it is to seek mentors, it can be just as rewarding to mentor others. This is especially true for mortgage brokers with a decade or more of experience. Younger professionals hunger for your knowledge. By mentoring them, you will have the opportunity to enjoy their successes and help them through their difficulties. One of the secrets to being a great mentor is to point your prot?? in the right direction while allowing them to discover their own path.
This can be particularly rewarding when you mentor a new employee because your company also will benefit. Mentors who maintain ongoing connections with their prot?? often find great reward in watching them grow professionally. Moreover, a mentor-mentee relationship can lead to a lifelong friendship and help young professionals find their way.
Today, I still eat homemade tuna sandwiches for lunch. It's no longer about finances but instead a simple way to recall my personal past. I also mentor younger professionals and attempt to give them everything my own mentors unselfishly gave me.
Gary Opper is president of Approved Financial Corp., a licensed mortgage lender in Weston, Fla. A mortgage lender and note-buyer since 1984, Opper also does mortgage consulting. He holds certified-public-accountant and certified-financial-planner licenses and can speak to your group. Opper is past president of the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers' Miami chapter. Reach him at (954) 384-4557 or email@example.com.