Commercial Magazine

Learn First, Then Teach

Mentorships can pay countless dividends for your mortgage company

By Kevin Guest

A much sought-after speaker once shared to a crowd that, as a kid, he wanted to become an excellent baseball pitcher. He had no particular talent, but he did succeed in learning how to throw an effective curveball. Aside from hard work, his secret was to study professional pitchers and mimic their moves.

This single insight can apply to any profession, especially the competitive world of commercial real estate finance. No new mortgage broker steps into a job prepared to put together the financing for a $50 million downtown office building. You learn by mimicking the habits of your colleagues and others whom you know to be successful. This is what makes mentoring so important for mortgage companies that seek to attract and retain the best talent.

As with all businesses, commercial mortgage companies can benefit from fostering these types of relationships. The junior employee should gain knowledge in efficient ways of doing business while the mentor should gain different perspectives from a new generation of talent. Aside from directly helping employees improve, the mentor (who is most often a supervisor, manager or CEO) can get a good read on their subordinates. Employees who actively seek out mentors tend to be the company’s next generation of leaders.

Act boldly

Seeking out at least one mentor should be the first step for mortgage brokers looking to advance their careers. All industries — and especially the real estate finance business — are relationship based.

Mentoring should be thought of as a more intimate form of networking. The mentor-protégé relationship, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be a lifelong one or even a long-term commitment among the parties. A person should seek out many mentors on life’s journey. The more relationships you have, the greater the pool of knowledge from which to draw. You may consult with a mentor for only a few days or weeks. Others can remain mentors for life.

It is important to note, however, that mentoring relationships don’t tend to happen spontaneously. The junior employee has to be bold in seeking out a mentor. Chances are you’ll be approaching a busy, high-ranking individual — such as a manager, top sales performer or CEO — and asking them to spend time teaching their secrets. In asking for this favor, you will need to be aggressive and willing to risk rejection. Fortunately, skilled and successful people tend to see the value in these relationships, and they are willing to help others who reach out to them. But the protégé almost always needs to take the first step.

Reaching out to a mentor can be intimidating. Fortunately, commercial mortgage brokers don’t tend to be shy and are conditioned to sell themselves. Part of your DNA is to talk to people daily. When approaching a mentor, however, you’ll need to convince them that you are worth their time and effort. One way to do this is to show them that you are listening to their advice and following it. If you ignore them, it will damage the relationship.

A commercial mortgage broker can be helped by a mentor in several ways. Some of the more obvious questions of a mentor are what works to generate new leads, how to revitalize your career when in a slump, how to generate solutions in a down market and which tools are effective in building a portfolio. A mentor also can teach you about what to avoid — such as potential client turnoffs, unproductive habits, pervasive negative talk, clothing that communicates failure and unappealing mannerisms.

Mentors can help to guide you to a long-term path for achieving your career goals and avoiding pitfalls. An experienced mortgage broker has typically made plenty of mistakes in their career and has overcome obstacles.

Any employee, regardless of their success or experiences, should strive to keep learning, and younger people with new ideas have much to teach.

Reciprocal benefits

A senior employee might ask why they should become a mentor. After all, top company performers are already successful. Why bother taking an interest in a junior employee?

The fact is that mentors have much to gain by surrounding themselves with talented people who are eager to learn. Any employee, regardless of their success or experiences, should strive to keep learning, and younger people with new ideas have much to teach.

Successful people and strong leaders tend to surround themselves with people who have different points of view. Here we can learn a lesson from Abraham Lincoln, arguably the greatest U.S. president. Lincoln surrounded himself with people who made him better and they didn’t always agree with him.

Mentoring someone is a reciprocal act. You are teaching them, but through this process, you also learn. Teaching forces you to consider how you’ve been doing things. A student can challenge your preconceived ideas and even help you to overcome flawed processes that have become automatic. Taking on a pupil may force you to rethink some of the ways you do business.

Another benefit that veteran employees or managers can gain through mentoring is insight about their employees. A junior employee who seeks out advice is typically the individual you want on your team. By asking you to be a mentor, this employee has already shown leadership. You are not only helping these individuals become more efficient employees, you are grooming the next generation of top performers for the company.

Experienced mentors, teachers and influencers are a secret weapon for career advancement. Without a doubt, connecting with a mentor is a great adventure that can mold a mediocre career into an extraordinary one. Once you have been mentored, you also should look to help another mortgage professional who is early in their career. Taking these straightforward steps today can help any career-minded professional power forward and lift others to higher levels of achievement while creating harmony in a post-pandemic world. ●


  • Kevin Guest

    Kevin Guest is chairman and CEO of USANA Health Sciences, a global health and nutritional supplements company. He is a Direct Selling Association board member and is a member of the CEO Council for the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. Guest is the author of “All the Right Reasons: 12 Timeless Principles for Living a Life in Harmony.”

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