Our Beliefs Power Our Behavior

Many millions of words have been spent on changing behavior. Changing beliefs is perhaps more touchy of a subject.
We humans have a collective batch of behavior that we know to be good, and another batch that we know to be bad. Categorizing these logically is simple, behaving accordingly less so. If we had to sit in front of our parents, our children, our spouses, or our friends and label various behavior either good or bad, it would be a simple task for the most part and there would be a significant consensus among us all. For instance:

• Being polite
• Flossing daily
• Exercising daily

• Smoking
• Eating too much (any) fast food
• Starting fights

Yet as simple as making such a list would be, as strongly as we may want to align our actions with our words, we all tend to live a self-created reality somewhat different from what we would agree on paper is in fact logical.

It would seem that we are not all Spock.

Why is it so hard to change our behaviors if we know a certain behavior should be added or deleted? The root cause of behavior lies in belief.

Smokers may know logically that smoking has high rates of cancer, heart disease, erectile dis-function and sorts of nasty things, but smokers simply do not believe that they will be in the group that suffer any such maladies. They believe that they will be just fine. It is only when this belief is shattered through a significant encounter with the medical system that most alter their behavior.
So it goes with the tales of many a man caught on a flight of stairs thinking he may be having a heart attack. In that moment he faces not only his mortality, but the many thousands of cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes he’s consumed, and his belief of immortality is shattered. For many, this leads to a radical change in behavior, for others, a certain acceptance and a sort of throwing in of the towel.
If you have a behavior you want to change, dig deeper to the core belief that is preventing you from changing. Are you ignoring statistics? Are you looking for the easy button?
There is no easy button.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and doing something well takes effort. Often great effort.
I spent a few years of my life, perhaps longer, thinking that I would never belong in any sort of corporate job. My belief was that all men who wore suits, had a corner office and attended ‘important’ conferences downtown had university degrees, and since I did not have one I would be forever eliminated from contention for anything other than a blue-collar job. I would be a body in an organisation, never a brain.

Then, at age 36, I had one small comment from the past bubble to the surface of my mind, it was made during a business meeting a decade earlier I was asked ‘what university did you attend?’. Being 26 years old and rather proud of what I had achieved at that time, I responded quite honestly that I had in fact not attended university at all. The look on the man’s face said it all, as did the notable shift is his demeanour following this revelation. I had gone from a welcome prospect at the English country club we were sitting in to an outsider, in the blink of an eye.

At the time I took this a bit hard, internalising it as additional support for my belief that within the corporate world there was no place for the likes of me, a lowly high school grad.
But years later when this comment came back to me, it was a bit of a turning point, much needed at the time. I realised that this person’s perception of me for some time was that I had attended university. I had shattered his belief of who I was, and thus changed markedly his behavior toward me. The real revelation for me was that I had inadvertently fooled this well-educated individual into thinking I was an equal. How did I do that?

It seemed to me that it was from a combination of regular reading, writing, and perhaps my verbal sentence structure. I have always been a voracious reader; I have always written journals and letters – more recently posts and articles. Also the wonderfully complicated English language with all its nuance, double and triple meanings, irony, sarcasm, wit, tone, inflection, etc. has always been of interest to me.
So I could at the very least fit in – but perhaps I could do more than that. After all, how material in day-to-day dealings is a 20- or 30-year-old degree in a world changing at the pace that ours is today? Of little I would suggest without ongoing self-education.

Suddenly, my belief that a university degree separated me from the corporate world changed. My current belief is that we are all self-taught in today’s world, and that a dated degree is in many professions a far weaker foundation than that built of the most recent fifty books on a specific topic, all read within the past year. No doubt those with degrees have a leg up in the skills of researching, reading, and writing. These individuals have likely learned the most important lesson of all, how to learn – a massive head-start for sure.

However for someone who believes in their own ability to learn, to absorb new data and to form new viewpoints on varying topics – therein lies their power to truly change their behavior.

Change your belief in yourself for the better, your behavior will follow suit.

The results will speak for themselves.

Dustan Woodhouse, Mortgage Broker, AMP
Dominion Lending Centre
Author of ‘Be The Better Broker’

If you enjoyed this post you will love his Blog – dustanwoodhouse.ca/blog

Seeking Peak Performance

“Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.”

Charles R. Swindoll

Seeking Peak Performance.

Pushing for peak performance has always interested me. Not world-record level peak performance per se, more simply just pushing ourselves to new personal and professional bests.

A world in which each of us is constantly striving for all encompassing improvement is a truly remarkable world to be a part of. Create a world like this around yourself.

truth: we are all capable of so much more than we believe ourselves to be.

During 2014 I was lucky enough to give a dozen presentations across Canada, eight of them to a collective audience of 1,402 Mortgage Brokers in particular

The main focus of each presentation was the ‘nuts and bolts’ of file processing. Each presentation began with a real-life illustration of personal peak performance, striving to do better, and remaining optimistic. It was the story of one Meredith Fitzmaurice.

I paraphrase below from various accounts.

On Sunday, Sept 22, 2013, Meredith Fitzmaurice entered a half-marathon in Belle River, Ontario. Nearly 90 minutes into the run she asked an official riding his bike along the course how close she was to the finish line. She learned that she had in fact missed the turnoff to the finish of the half-marathon course and was now on the full marathon course.

With the realisation of this error, Meredith did not simply stop and call it a day, or worse a mistake, or worst of all a failure. Instead, Meredith’s first thought was to run an even 20 miles, her previous furthest distance, calling the day’s run ‘training’. Never having run 26.2 miles previously nor entered a full-marathon this seemed a reasonable compromise. At first.

Key Point: Mindset is vital. In the face of missing out on a potential win of the half-marathon Meredith seamlessly embraced the positive view: this would be a great training run.

Meredith then noticed only nine men ahead, and no women. At this point she asked the official on the bike if she could switch categories mid-run, and her plans shifted once again. This might now count as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, a goal Meredith was striving for. This ‘mistake’ was proving fruitful.

The race director approved the request to transfer Meredith to the full marathon category mid-race. Without breaking stride, Meredith went from having made a wrong turn, to being on track to win her very first full marathon and to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Although she had concerns about leaving her friend waiting and wondering at the half-marathon finish line, Meredith pressed on. She asked the race official on the bike if he would mind keeping her company.

Key Point: One who asks, receives. One who asks nothing, receives nothing.

Having only ever run 20 miles previously, she was concerned about pushing the extra 6.2 miles, yet Meredith finished with a time of 3:11:48: the fastest woman of the day, and in 10th place overall.

And she qualified for Boston.

Meredith’s first action upon crossing the finish line? A teary eyed hug for the guy on the bike, and making it known that without him she would not have made it.

Key Point: Few of us cross the finish line in anything alone, fewer winners still. An attitude of gratitude established long before stepping up to the start line is crucial when it comes to being first at the finish line.

I feel that this story perfectly embodies elements of life in general. We all take wrong turns, but how we adapt is everything. Learning to adapt quickly and positively to change is a vital skill. And perhaps most crucial of all is having that ‘guy on the bike’ along with us. In whatever form that takes, a support system is vital.

This sentiment will ring true on a daily basis with any Broker as well.

Conclusion: we are all capable of so much more than we believe ourselves to be

Thank you

Dustan Woodhouse, Mortgage Broker, AMP
Dominion Lending Centre
Author of ‘Be The Better Broker’

If you enjoyed this post you will love his Blog – dustanwoodhouse.ca/blog

Subtle Steps re Conversation Control

Early in my working life I found myself in a mail order sales role, working telephones as if my life depended upon it. Which in a way it did. Money is oxygen for a small business, and the ringing phones were the sounds of sales.

One skill learned early on was to repeat back exactly the information requested, but to do so in the format desired.

For instance, you can ask somebody for their credit card, let them rattle off all 16 digits in a stream and maybe say a few uh-huhs and gotchas, but if you really want to take control of the call and eliminate error you will read back the first four digits and pause. And nearly every single time the caller will then read you the next four, which you read back and pause, and so on.

Repeating credit card numbers was a key skill in my learning-how-to-listen experience.

When a client spells their name, reads you their SIN, address, or email — the key stuff — do not say ‘yep’ or ‘got-it’, because you almost certainly do-not-got-it. Instead, read back the exact information they just gave you, and read it back in bite-size pieces that you can work with.

Often, as the client reads their first three SIN digits I interject and repeat them before they utter the fourth digit, and the client will pause after the sixth digit waiting for me to recite the second three back.

This is you taking control of the process and setting expectations in a very small way in the early minutes of the very first call.

Taking control and setting expectations is what this business is all about.

Dustan Woodhouse, Mortgage Broker, AMP
Dominion Lending Centre
Author of ‘Be The Better Broker’

If you enjoyed this post you will love his Blog – dustanwoodhouse.ca/blog

Ability to Communicate

In 2017 success will be determined for many Mortgage Brokers by one single ability:

The ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

This was always the cornerstone of any significant success, but this year it will be the cornerstone of even modest success. When a client calls and asks that inevitable question, ‘what’s your best rate?’, the question is now quite complicated to answer, to say the least. Over the past several years, rate quotes were something I reserved, as much as possible, for applicants who had submitted complete documents up front, for whom I had a complete credit report, and ideally an accepted offer or completed appraisal as well. After all, why plant a rate number in a client’s mind if they are shopping for pre-sale product that will not complete for 12 months? Why plant a rate in a client’s mind without their complete application in hand so that you know for sure these are AAA clients?

A critical time saver, and ultimately a file saver, is not only knowing what information to communicate but when to communicate it. The three phases of client communication in our office are:

1. 40,000-foot view – Early on we communicate to the client (with a completed application) a fundamental math shortcut. ‘Payments are $400.00 per month per $100,000 borrowed with 20% down, $450.00 per month per 100,000 with 19.99% or less down’. This eliminates multiple emails, phone calls, with a vast number of requests to solve payment scenarios all within a very narrow bandwidth. ‘If you want to spend an extra $10,000 you know your payment will go up by $40.00 (or $45.00) per month. Nice and easy to figure out payments on the spot’.

2. 5,000-foot view – The clients are actively shopping; they are out weekends with a Realtor and it is only a matter of time. Now is the time to have the deeper conversation about a HELOC if applicable, different lender types, and most importantly, the fixed vs. variable rate conversation. It is important to set aside your own bias here and explain that for a variable-rate mortgage it is the Bank of Canada that dictates the Prime lending rate (mostly) and that there are eight set dates each year where the rate may change, and that it is unlikely to move by more than 0.25% at any one meeting, and that there are lenders with fixed-payment variable-rate mortgages to insulate the client from payment shock… and to apply some math, such as a 0.25% rate hike on a $300.000 mortgage results in a $36.00 per month payment change. Again, having all of this data compressed into a dozen or so clearly worded sentences is key. There is much to be said for the success of the variable rate and the two-year fixed products over the past ten years. Arguably over the past forty years. Make sure you know how to say it, otherwise you will sound no different from the branch rep peddling the flavor of the week – which is usually five-year fixed, a product wrong for 60% of our clients.

3. Ground level – We have a completion date in sight, within 120 days or less, and now we get into the nitty gritty of managing the clients through the final steps. We stay in regular contact to keep them on track and remind them why they have chosen the mortgage product and lender that they have and which steps will be happening in which order. We stay in contact with the lawyer’s office, ensuring all lender documents and conditions are met well in advance of the client’s signing, and we let the client know that we are on top of this all the way through.

These are the bite-sized pieces that we break our communication into. Talking about fixed vs variable on the very first call may be the right thing to do, but rarely. Start with the big stuff: how much are payments; how available are you through the process; can you connect the client with the right Realtor, appraiser, law firm, moving company, etc. Cover the high points of the process. And let the clients know that as we move closer to requesting an approval, and funding the file, there will be more detailed conversations.
Having the language to explain that a client with a larger down payment now poses a greater risk to the mortgage investors is going to be important.

Having language to explain to BC clients whether or not they should implement the BCHPP will be very important. It is not a winning move in every instance.

It is in these last two points that many a file will be won or lost this spring. And it is these two points that will be the subject of upcoming posts.

Dustan Woodhouse, Mortgage Broker, AMP
Dominion Lending Centre
Author of ‘Be The Better Broker’

If you enjoyed this post you will love his Blog – dustanwoodhouse.ca/blog