Residential Magazine

The Best Strategy Is Your Strategy

Improve yourself through coaching and mentoring, but use only what works for you

By Michael Sunnaa

Almost all top producers in the mortgage industry seek to improve themselves daily either through coaching, mentoring or some other ongoing training. But what is it that they’re all trying to extract? The most common misconception is that when you’re listening to a podcast or speaking with a business coach, you must emulate their behavior.

In essence, many originators try to become their coach or mentor and expect that is the only way it will work. While that’s one way to achieve greater success, it’s not the only way. Whether you have been licensed for a short time or for many years, there is a tendency to see greatness and want to copy it. People tend to get discouraged when the results don’t match up.

“Many originators try to become their coach or mentor and expect that is the only way the recipe will work. While that’s one way to achieve greater success, it’s not the only way.”

Take a step back and look at a completely different field. Imagine yourself as a kid playing baseball or softball and you see someone on TV hit a home run. You might take to the field and try a stance like him or her, hoping to see the same results. After one at bat, then two, three and so on, you are no better than you were before.

So, what do you do? You go back to the basics by working on your swing, your stance and your ability to recognize the pitch. You sit back in a comfortable stance with a bit more confidence after practicing and enjoy the results. You didn’t borrow someone else’s batting stance; you developed your own. Now translate that into being an originator.

Dramatic shift

At the end of 2021, mortgage originators had just completed one of the most rewarding years of their careers. They had just finished continuing education courses and license renewal. Fresh off the Christmas and New Year’s break, they were ready to continue building their pipelines and bank accounts. Something would happen that no one expected.

Sure, everyone knew it would slow down a little at some point, but no one expected to see such a rapid rise in mortgage interest rates. Those who had been in the industry for many years took a step back and started asking questions. Do I retire? Do I stay with this for one more cycle? Do I exit the business and walk away with my pandemic-era mortgage fortune?

Many people who were new to the industry and had no direction simply went back to the career path they were on before historically low rates enticed them into originating loans. Then there is you: the mortgage originator who is still in the business, the loan officer who is still perfecting their craft, the mortgage professional reading articles to better equip themselves for the future of the industry. What do you do?

Think back to the example of the young athlete trying to find their own way to becoming an all-star. This is your time to shine and to take all the nuggets you can from producers of all types. Take information from coaches, mentors and articles that interest you to develop your own personality.

As an originator, the ways you can generate business are finite. You can call on past clients, referral partners, friends or family. You can advertise in stores, on social media or via other formats. And you can farm prospects through emails, phone calls and by knocking on doors. That’s about all the ways you can generate new business. And while each one of these methods come with their own level of stress, some are going to be more comfortable than others to implement.

Aha moment

While you are listening to the latest Tom Bilyeu podcast or sitting at a local event hosted by a social media influencer, take notes about the things that interest you or spark an aha moment in your brain, as opposed to writing down what you hear as a recipe. It’s important to connect with your work in a fashion that makes it easy to repeat.

There are multiple paths to your desired destination and all of the information you absorb will create a personalized road map. Many of the loan originators who were hired, put through a two-week training course, got their license and given a script were paralyzed when the industry turned. They waited for a new script or some relief in rate hikes.

Those of you who were able to move with the industry have found a path to success, regardless of the market. “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson sums up the mortgage industry in the most basic sense. The business is still out there — it just moved a little.

If you could close a mortgage for every person in your state that was just like you, you’d be rich beyond your wildest dreams. The mindset that you need to emulate someone else and adopt their approach is absurd. What you need to do is find out who you are, what motivates you naturally and what activities are personally sustainable. Once this is established, take all of the nuggets and inspiring thoughts you’ve written down, then implement a strategy that works for you.

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Your only competition is yourself. Don’t borrow a personality from someone else. Instead, create a business plan around your own personality, then share it with others and inspire them to be the best version of themselves. ●


  • Michael Sunnaa

    Michael Sunnaa is CEO of Viewpoint Lending and managing partner at Lending 3. Sunnaa is a 25-year-plus veteran of the mortgage industry with a master’s in business administration who is currently working on his doctoral degree. His experience ranges from broker to banker to direct lender. Sunnaa has trained and managed more than 2,500 loan originators and continues to grow in changing markets. 

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