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The VisionAugSquare


“You’ve got to be HUNGRY!”


Vision Partners in Success
Regular Features

Note from the Editor in Chief

Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high. Oh, your daddy’s rich and your mama’s good-lookin’ so hush little baby, don’t you cry. August always brings to my mind the classic Gershwin lyrics from the opera Porgy and Bess. We here at 20/20 Publishing hope all of our readers are enjoying these last weeks of summer.

As always, a big Thank You goes out to all who have subscribed to both magazines. I hope you enjoy today’s issue and will share in social media. Reach out and congratulate your peers whose bylines and profiles appear in these pages. Tag us in your posts #thevisionmag and #2020visionforsuccesscoaching. We love the feedback!

Candy Zulkosky

Message from the Publisher

Even though it is the height of summer and we are all busy with vacations, travel, and enjoying our hobbies and families, it is also a time for everyone to lean in and grasp this market. Like the changing tide, what goes in must go out and vice versa, and now is the time for mortgage professionals to seek proper economic advice to lead their consumers.

In both The Vision magazine and the Women With Vision Magazine, we focus on rich, reliable, industry pertinent, and timely education. The pages of this edition are filled with incredible gifts for all of you to enjoy and we hope you dive into the content and the reflection of our Vision Summit with its many incredible offerings. Grab your lemonade and your favorite lawn chair and enjoy reading. We are proud to bring you yet again another wonderful edition of our magazine.


Yes, we do accept submissions. If you are a writer interested in being featured in a national publication, we will be happy to consider your ideas and your article submissions. We are also interested in recurring columns centered around our featured topics. The place to start is by clicking the button and inquiring.

20/20 Vision for Success Coaching

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." ~ Les Brown

Written by CaZ

Christine Beckwith

Corrina Carter

Eric Estevez

Fobby Naghmi

Laura Brandao

Mike Kortas

Robert Fillyaw

Ski Swiakowski

Skylar Welch


The Vision Summit 2022 was held in Tampa, Florida the last week in June and has been touted across social media and among the attendees as a resounding success. One of the core tenets of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching, the host for the Vision Summit, is teaching and knowledge-building. This year’s Summit was exemplary in the achievement of this goal. With speakers running the gamut from motivation to business skills to personal development to entertainment, the nine keynotes truly encompassed the universe of what it takes to be successful in the mortgage and lending industry.

The jam-packed day was filled with presentations from industry leaders. Christine Beckwith led the charge representing the FUTURE Eco-Vision and opened with a challenge to take action and embrace an I Can! mindset.

Sharing the HEART AND HUMOR Eco-Vision, Tom Mancuso delivered an impactful message revealing his personal story and the huge, life-changing obstacles he has overcome. Few eyes were dry throughout his speech.

Barry Habib shared his sought-after industry update and forecast. Focusing on the ECONOMICS Eco-Vision, Habib painted an image of financial uptakes possible in the long run and a cautionary message in the short-term.

Joe Panebianco encouraged positivity in his FUTURE Eco-Vision presentation where he showed the audience what to look for in the future market and how to use recent history to prepare for market changes.

Les Brown, representing the MINDSET Eco-Vision, presented a rousing, thought-provoking, and note-taking opportunity as only a consummate professional communicator as he can do. As Les finished his presentation, Eddy Perez of EPM joined him on stage for a one-on-one live interview in a fireside chat segment. Please be sure to listen to the outtakes in the video shorts below. There are six from Les Brown and could as easily be 60. His presentation impacted every mindset in the room.

And then the Summit broke for lunch.

The humor part of the HEART AND HUMOR Eco-Vision was masterfully presented by Comedian Johnny D (John Di Domenico). His upbeat music and comedy brought the house back together after lunch with his amazing impersonation of Donald Trump. The non-political skit was made even funnier with comments personalized to include his fellow speakers and event organizers.

Fitness pro and coach, Craig Capurso delivered the goods on the HEALTH AND WELLNESS Eco-Vision. His message focused on transforming lives for both personal and business growth.

Hammer J. Helmer, iconic cowboy hat and all, shared the importance of having a strong DATA AND KNOWLEDGE Eco-Vision.

The tag-team of Preston Schmidli and McBilly Sy of the Good Vibes Squad brought real-life examples of people whose DIGITAL STRATEGY Eco-Vision has led them to success.

SALES EXPERTISE Eco-Vision was represented by an exciting panel of industry leaders, each fiscally experienced and successful. Skylar Welch, Eric Estevez, Mike Kortas, Todd Bitter, Robert Fillyaw, Cory Parker, Melanie Walburg, Christopher Griffith, and Corrina Carter shared their success secrets and knowledge led on stage by panel moderator, Jason Frazier.

The final Eco-Vision keynote of the day was delivered by 20/20 Vision for Success head coach, Ray Befus. His inspiring HEART message also incorporated a baker’s dozen (well, nearly) of active 20/20 VSC coaches on stage as the closing panel. The combination and depth of experience on stage ran the gamut of the entire Eco-Vision. From Mindset to Health and Wellness; from Humor to Future; from Economics to Sales to Data and Knowledge to Digital Strategy and back again, these coaches brought it together.

Barry Habib

Joe Panebianco

Ray Befus

Christopher Griffith

Cory Parker

Craig Capurso

Good Vibe Squad

Melanie Walburg

Michael Hammond

Ruth Lee

Todd Bitter

Les Brown, Vision

Les Brown, You Are More…

Les Brown, Honor Yourself

Les Brown, Be Prepared

Les Brown, She Is The Message…

Les Brown, Hungry

Win or Learn: the Naked Truth

A Lunch and Learn Workshop

Traditionally, the Vision Summit opens with a red-carpet celebration of the Women With Vision Award winners. This evening affair is the culmination of a year-long celebration of the WWV Award winners as they are recognized on stage by their peers, friends, and families. This year, for the first time, an invitation-only workshop and luncheon was held in the hours before the Women With Vision Awards ceremonies. Dubbed the Win or Learn Lunch and Learn, the workshop featured the story behind writing and publication of the bestselling book, Win or Learn.

The book’s editor and four of the authors comprised a panel of speakers who presented ‘the naked truth.’ Each of the authors and contributors to the book are leaders in the industry who enjoy successful careers as C-Suite executives in their fields. Win or Learn was written as a compilation of chapters each revealing the story of the contributor’s rise to success, including the sometimes-raw truth of their journeys.

On stage for this event were Christine Beckwith, Laura Brandao, Cindy Ertman, Sue Woodard, Karen Deis, and Candy Zulkosky. The Win or Learn workshop, judged by many attendees as one of the best presentations of the Summit, came complete with a surprise reveal of the original, bare shoulder cover of the book AND an additional chapter contributed by the contributor whose employer forced her to withdraw from participation.

In the September issue of the Women With Vision Magazine, readers will be treated to a replay of this workshop and the heartfelt stories shared by the authors.

About the Author

CaZ, the Writer Success Coach, wears many professional hats all earned through experience as a professional writer, editor, coach, marketer, educator, and entrepreneur. Aside from her nom de plume when writing, she’s known as Candy Zulkosky and is the editor in chief of this publication.

As the Writer Success Coach, CaZ specializes in supporting writers. She finds joy in helping others to write and experience the joys of being published. CaZ coaches writers whose skills and experience range from the novice to the multi-published author. She tailors the coaching experience to best fit the needs of each writer and business professional she works with.

On the publishing side, CaZ is a multi-book published author and has edited or assisted in bringing dozens of authors to both print and to the best seller lists!

CaZ is pronounced KayZee in case you were wondering.

NEXA Mortgage is a Mortgage Broker lending to consumers looking to own a home or refinance their existing. Our mission is to serve our customers with honesty, integrity, and competence while providing an exceptional customer experience.

Our goal is to provide home loans to consumers nationwide while supplying them with the lowest interest rates and closing costs possible. We pledge to help borrowers overcome roadblocks that can arise while securing a loan and strive to offer the best payment plan along with the best terms imaginable.


Identifying Purpose to Achieve Success with Christine Beckwith of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching: A video interview

Recently, as part of their On Purpose series, Out and About Communications released an interview with 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching President, Christine Beckwith. The discussion included:

  • How she discovered teaching was her calling
  • How having a bird’s-eye view of the mortgage industry allowed her to stand out
  • Why she designed her business like a hospital and a drug store

View the interview on video below or read the interview transcript here:

Interview Transcript

Christy Mindell

Written by: Colleen Wietmarschen

Opportunities Knock and Leaps of Faith Taken Lead to Paths Never Imagined

If we’re being honest with ourselves, who really knows where our life’s journey is going to take us or what it’s going to look like, except perhaps if you are Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory! When we’re 18 or 20, most of us believe we know what we’re going to do for the next 20, 30, or 40 years, but then reality strikes, opportunity knocks, and life happens. When we choose to take a leap of faith, most of us find ourselves completing a 180-degree turn from our original plan. Christy Mindell, executive vice president of marketing at Champions Funding, would agree.

Recently named a 2022 Mortgage Star by Mortgage Women Magazine, a 2022 Marketing Leader by, Marketing Strategist, Leader, and more, Christy Mindell is not your average Class Act!

Christy is a second-generation Mexican-American who was born in Montebello, CA. Her mother, now an American citizen, was an immigrant who had Christy when she was 16 years old. “My parents were young when they had me, and my dad worked as a line cook in a restaurant while my mother stayed home to raise me and my two younger siblings. They were trying to figure it out themselves as well as raise three children as young adults. Along the way, they saw their way to becoming entrepreneurs and running a variety of their own businesses. They always pushed college, even though, at that time, they did not go themselves. I was the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree.”

Originally choosing a career in real estate and not sure what direction to take, she decided to take a course and learn about mortgage loan processing. Instead of landing a job as a loan processor, Christy was offered a position as an executive assistant for the CEO of a commercial lender. Within a short time, the CEO soon discovered Christy’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit and he promoted her to director of marketing. While in this position, she worked with mortgage brokers on the lending side of the business as well as high-net-worth individuals on the trust deed investment side.

Her role included being the property manager for the CEO’s rental properties as well as liaison between the owner, the contractors, and the city of Dana Point during remodeling and upgrades to property units.

After several years, Christy’s path changed after reconnecting on Facebook with a classmate from elementary school. Her friend recommended her for a marketing job in residential lending, and she accepted a position with Stearns Lending, a two-time #1 Top Wholesale Lender in the country, as their wholesale marketing manager. As Christy said, “I learned quickly there is a very big difference between commercial and residential lending. Being true to her nature, Christy dove in deep to learn the business inside and out.

Christy says, “I found my passion in marketing (or it found me). I love helping others find solutions to their financing needs and finding new ways to create content for the purpose of attracting and retaining business. I enjoyed it so much I switched my college major and emphasis from business management to marketing.”

At Stearns, Christy wanted to learn everything she could and for support, she leaned on her unofficial trainers, the colleagues she worked with, so she could understand world, their language, and what drives them to work with a lender. Quickly, Christy absorbed mortgage talk so she could fill the gaps missing in the marketing process, meet the expectations set, and really understand what motivated the internal and external partners.

Being the leader and achiever she is, Christy built a library of assets, established an online social media presence, and dedicated and trained the sales team to participate, engage, and show up everywhere online. Where once there was a large gap in communication and trust between the sales and marketing teams there now was a sense of mutual trust and understanding. Christy says, “the partnership earned me lifelong friends and a beautiful career path.”

She furthered her career in mortgage when opportunity knocked and she moved to Caliber Home Loans, the #2 Wholesale Lender in the country. Christy served as vice president of business development. She worked with the wholesale production team and soon became the liaison between the marketing and sales teams. How? Because she knew and understood both languages and was able to assist Caliber Homes in growing their presence, their personal branding, and their larger initiatives to drive more business. Her opportunity at Caliber allowed her to continue learning more about the mortgage business.

Twenty-twenty brought a new career opening for Christy. Glenn Stearns’s new wholesale lending start-up, Kind Lending, recruited Christy to establish brand strategy, build their online presence, and develop a sales marketing platform while bringing in the top marketing talent to support both the wholesale and retail divisions.

As Christy stated, “We supported not only the sales team, but the corporation and personal PR, branding, and speaking engagements as well. We built multiple podcasts, a recording studio, websites, marketing platforms, a company intranet, and events, as well as day-to-day marketing to support a strong nationwide sales team of highly experienced account executives. We helped to make a lot of noise in the industry which led to funding the first $1 billion in production after six months of opening the doors and during a pandemic!

As part of the senior leadership team at Kind Lending, I was able to take part in many projects; it was a challenge I found highly rewarding. I was proud of what we built together at the company and the team built in marketing.”

If you ever wonder whether or not using LinkedIn or other social media platforms is useful, here’s what Christy has to say. “I was referred by someone I only had a LinkedIn connection with but who had been watching my work over the years and followed my career! That’s how powerful the platform is.”

Knock, knock! When 2022 rolled around, opportunity knocked once again. Christy was asked to join another start-up company but this time it was working with a Non-QM Wholesale Lender, Champions Funding, led by Evan M. Stone, Patty Arvielo, and Natalie Verrette, all veterans who have made a significant impact working in the mortgage industry. Christy wasn’t sure if she wanted to dive in and work with a new company she had no history with. More importantly, she asked herself if she had the energy to start all over again to help build a new company.

Christy took the leap because she likes a challenge and wants to continue growing personally and professionally with the greatest minds in the industry. “At Champions, I oversee all things marketing from vision to execution with a team of amazing and incredibly talented marketers and departmental partners like our Executive Vice President of Sales, Kimberly Torres, who is equal parts highly competitive, personable, and down to earth. I find it truly rewarding working for a team whose commitment to its mission and customer service is aligned with mine. It will be fun to see where this road leads.”

When Christy was asked what her greatest success in life or business was, she said, “This was a hard question to answer. As I reflect back, I’d say my greatest successes are believing in myself that I am worthy of success, being true to others, and having integrity (even when my views weren’t popular) and giving more than receiving. I’ve found success and self-fulfillment in service to others and staying true to who I am as a person. If I can help someone win a deal, land a job, achieve milestones, then I feel I’m successful.”

Christy’s insightful answer, when asked about her greatest disappointment or failure and what she learned from the experience shows her true character as a Class Act. “My greatest failure is also my greatest achievement. I had a rough college path that lasted longer than a typical student would take to get through a bachelor’s degree. At first, what seemed like a disappointment turned out to be a source of pride. I stuck it out, was determined to graduate, and finally earned my college degree. I learned all my disappointments and failures will teach me the biggest lesson: never give up on what you set your mind to do.

As a leader, Christy describes herself as compassionate, always willing to listen, and open-minded. She strives to be a collaborator and an encourager helping her team members to step outside of their comfort zone and achieve more than they believed was possible. She makes sure her team knows she is always there for them; she is an open book. She lets her team know everyone has strengths as well as areas just waiting to be developed. Christy’s goal as a leader is to be authentic and instill trust. “My upbringing with strong Latina role models taught me to be my truest self in all situations. I put my heart into my work, allowing my team to trust the decisions I make and the direction I take us are made with their and the company’s best interests at the forefront.

When asked what her favorite thing about the mortgage industry is, Christy simply stated, “the people in it.” She believes there are so many people in the mortgage industry who care about the true purpose of lending and empowering people towards homeownership. She trusts people in the industry change lives at the end of the day. “It’s a true joy to see the magic unfold one loan at a time.”

Of her many goals, Christy wants to train, mentor, and assist more women to move into leadership roles in the mortgage industry. “Champions Funding is setting a course for that. They are looking for those who are extremely talented but have been overlooked. They are employing the game changers, and it’s so motivating. I want to help people brand themselves and ignite their mindsets and careers.

I believe the industry is in flux, but those who adapt will be rewarded. The pandemic redirected many homebuyers, so I see a bigger market for untraditional financing for borrowers to realize their homeownership goals.

Making an impact on others is Christy’s main goal in life. She strongly feels through selfless work, people can change the world.

Christy’s dedication to her family is the reason she works so hard. She and her amazing husband will celebrate their eight-year anniversary this fall. She has a 7-year-old son who will be in the second grade this school year. Also, very connected to her extended family, Christy shared, “I hope I can be an inspiration to my younger family members in their personal and professional endeavors.”

When asked what Christy thinks of when she hears the term “Class Act” Christy said, “A Class Act is a person who not only gets the job done but does it with professionalism and the highest levels of service.”

Her vision for success is to “Push past boundaries. Be a trailblazer. Don’t let fear hold you back.”

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. If our teenage selves knew then what we know now, would our lives have turned out differently than they did? Christy’s advice to her teenage self would be, “Say ‘no’ to temptation. There’s always something more exciting than the thing you are doing right now. Think of your options and listen to the advice of others but form your own opinions. It’s okay to fail. Don’t stress out. It’s part of the process.” Do what you feel is right in your heart and follow your gut! It won’t let you down.”

Christy shared she really wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up, focusing on corporate law. She is an avid Star Wars and Disney fan, coaches soccer for her son’s team, and loves playing video games with her son or she’s perfectly fine playing them all by herself!

“Women in mortgage are revolutionaries and impact-makers. Now is the time to let everyone know that we’re unstoppable and will continue to advance to more significant leadership roles within the industry. We need more women to lead, not because they are women but because they are insanely talented.” -Christy Mindell

About the Author

A lifelong Midwesterner, Colleen was born, raised, and has stayed in Cincinnati, Ohio. Why? Because it’s home. Colleen found her love of the English language while working at a law firm where she developed her finesse in editing and proofreading and has carried these skills throughout her 27+ years as an entrepreneur. If she’s being honest, she isn’t afraid to learn anything, but prefers to pass technology stuff off to any interested party!

Anyone in a meeting Colleen facilitates knows she believes it’s OK to have fun when working so the meetings start with gratitude and celebrations. One of her favorite quotes is, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~Charlie Chaplin

In her spare time, Colleen likes to be outdoors. Whether it’s gardening, walking, hiking, completing a half marathon, or a sprint triathlon, nature and water are where Colleen finds joy and peace. Her walking buddy is Chloe, her dog, and when she can drag her husband out, she’ll take him along! Colleen sings in her church choir and another quote close to her heart is, “Music Makes Us Human” (Unknown).

In 2011, Colleen won the Best of Cincinnati Writers Award, in 2015, she won the Jan B. King Scholarship which led her to the path of Certified Author Assistant, and in 2022, she was honored to win the Women With Vision Award.

Christy’s Three Tips for Success

  • Live intentionally and boldly.
  • Take risks.
  • Surround yourself with people who lift you up, not tear you down because life is too short to accept anything less.
Never Give Up On Your Dreams – Kendall Lanier

Written by Laura Brandao

This month I had the honor of interviewing Kendall Lanier. As the National Strategic Account Executive for Factual Data, Kendall provides consumer credit and verification services. Kendall and his family currently live in San Antonio, Texas.

“You can’t have mountains without a few valleys” – Kendall Lanier

Kendall grew up in a family not flush with material wealth but rich in love. He overcame obstacles many of us cannot imagine, rising to the position he is in today as a successful and admired business professional. Kendall has agreed to share his personal and sometimes painful story with us to inspire and encourage people of all ages to never give up on their dreams.

 Kendall shared his thoughts and feelings on what his life was like as a young child growing up in Arkansas.

I grew up in northeast Arkansas in the 80s. I am the middle of five kids. I have an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister. We lived with our mom and stepfather.

We were a happy family. We had loads of cousins living nearby; our family was tight-knit and close. My mom and stepfather worked hard to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Kendall remembers some days when he came home after school and the lights didn’t work, or the hot water wasn’t on, but he didn’t worry or pay much attention. To Kendall, it just seemed like a normal day to day, and they always ended up being fixed.

I remember happy days of going to the bulk store and coming home with big blocks of cheese, loaves of bread, and jars of peanut butter, then eating grilled cheese sandwiches with my siblings and cousins. We enjoyed our family time and never felt particularly deprived of anything of great importance.

When I was about seven or eight, I did start to notice some of the other kids had newer clothes than we did, or cooler toys, but again, I didn’t feel that badly about it. It was just the reality I knew, and for the most part it rolled off.

My older brother, sister, and I ended up working summers in the fields chopping cotton as children. Our family needed the twenty dollars per day it brought in to pay the bills. So out we went at four-thirty in the morning to meet the field truck and were driven out to work.

He remembers the field truck was a beat-up old white pick-up with boards strapped in the cargo bed in rows. They called the driver ‘boss man.’ He would drive us about an hour out to the cotton fields and we would start at six and work until two-thirty in the afternoon. We chopped cotton in three-quarter-mile stretches strung out in a row across the field.

It was hard work. And it was hot and humid in the fields with little shade and no real relief from the heat. I remember when the cotton was high, we would sometimes bend down a bit to get some shade underneath the plants, but we always needed to keep going after a moment or two. If you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid.

At about one-thirty in the afternoon, another man came to the worksite. We called him the ‘white man’ and he brought a stack of cash to give to the ‘boss man.’ When the work was finished for the day, Kendall and the others climbed back into the truck and were taken back to where they were picked up from. They lined up and were handed their twenty dollars which they took home and gave to their mom and dad to support the household.

As young kids, this was a harsh work environment, but they did their job without resentment. Kendall’s family needed the money, and, for them, it was what they needed to do to keep the family fed, clothed, and housed. There were days when the heat was unbearable, and the work seemed too hard. However, the kids worked because the alternative was no money. And once they were at the field, there was nowhere to go and no way home until their shift was over.

During the summer months, we worked six days a week. The only days we couldn’t work were Sundays and days when it was raining because the fields were too wet and muddy. Sometimes it would rain on our way out on the truck but stop when we arrived. Those days we still worked but because we were drenched on the way to the work site, we were shivering and cold by the time we arrived. The humidity was made much worse by the rain when the sun started beating down.

Kendall remembers, even at his very young age, thinking there had to be a better way to live than the backbreaking and woefully underpaid work he was doing. He did the work out of necessity, but in his own mind, he knew he wanted more out of life.

Kendall shared his thoughts on what he would have said if someone had asked his eight-year-old self what he wanted to do as an adult. I would have told you I wanted to be a meteorologist. I was fascinated by the weather and wanted to share my fascination with an audience. What stopped me was the fact I had never seen someone who looked like me in that role.

The reality for me was only white people seemed to be presenting the weather on TV so I had no idea I could do it too. I think back and wonder what would have happened if I had seen a Black man reading the weather on the nightly news.

“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” – Invictus

Kendall shared some pivotal moments in his early life which made him realize he wanted more and needed to follow his dreams.

I have one moment of a painful memory, and I don’t often share it. But it was a moment that helped to cement my commitment to myself to follow a different path in my life than low-wage manual labor.

I was about nine, and we had just returned from the fields at the end of a long, hot, and dirty shift. We got our pay and there was a grocery store across the street from where we were being dropped off by the field truck.

I went into the store to buy something cool to drink. I was approached by an employee and told I had to leave because they didn’t want a dirty, sweaty field hand in their store.

The humiliation I felt then still stings me today. I did not deserve to be treated that way and I knew, in that awful moment, I was worth so much more. It was a painful lesson in the way things were in that place and in that time and one I have not forgotten.

When Kendall finished high school and took other jobs, each one made him realize he needed more out of life than menial jobs which paid low wages and barely covered the bills. He worked for a while at the Kool-Aid plant, hefting 100-pound bags of sugar and other ingredients to pour into giant hoppers that mixed them for the packages. He also worked at another food production plant, a similar job, lifting huge sacks up a 20-foot ladder to an even bigger hopper.

It was hard and honest work and it paid a low but fair enough wage, but he knew there had to be a better and easier way to live. Kendall knew he was smart and resourceful enough to find it for himself, and he started to realize he needed to leave Arkansas to accomplish this.

My real pivotal moment came when I joined the Air Force. My brother had joined the Army and left home for another state to train and work. I didn’t think the Army felt right for me, but the Air Force did.

Kendall shared the steps he took toward moving on from his situation and moving forward and upward as a young man.

I enlisted in the Air Force at 19 and was assessed for aptitude. The results came back that I should be a linguist. But there was a six-month wait for the position. I became a cable splicer instead because it was available right away.

I went through basic training in Texas and traveled to different parts of the world climbing telephone poles and fixing and installing cables. I did my four years and then left to pursue other opportunities.

I worked as a telemarketer for West Telemarketing for a time. It was decent work, but I still wanted more.

When my wife told me she was pregnant with our son, I started looking for jobs that were steady and paid well enough to look after us. I applied for a job in the Home Equity department at Citibank, but they were full at the time. I took what was available and worked in their call center in customer service and sales for a time until another Home Equity position came up. I grabbed it and that was my initiation into the financial industry.

Kendall’s job at Citibank introduced him to the financial industry and he worked in many roles, including loan officer. He found the work to be satisfying and enjoyed my conversations with clients, helping them attain better financial literacy and reach their goals of owning property and financial security.

I didn’t really choose the industry. It was an exercise in necessity because I had a growing family to support, and I wanted them to have more than I had growing up. I took the opportunity to learn and move forward on the path I was already walking.

Kendall said his move to Factual Data has been a wonderful one and has provided him with the career he wanted to achieve his goal of having a good life and not just living paycheck to paycheck. I enjoy the work and have wonderful colleagues and clients. My job has given me the time to see my kids grow up and allowed them the chance to be kids without having to work at a young age as I did.

Kendall expressed his thoughts on where he believes the industry is headed in the next five years, what the biggest changes will be, and what will drive those changes. Technology is going to be the biggest driver of change in the financial industry, in my opinion. Finance is like a huge ship. It will move but it cannot pivot quickly so it will turn slowly, but it will turn.

Kendall also sees the customer experience being augmented and streamlined, using apps and other online tools to shorten wait times and increase the volume of business that can be done in less time than currently.

We will become more efficient and being able to disseminate more and better information to our clients, will increase their financial literacy and help them make better decisions.

If the COVID situation has done anything, it has forced the industry to pivot more quickly to remote work and embrace technology on a wider scale than ever before. Our industry has kept running relatively smoothly despite the changes and proven it is, in fact, a viable way to continue.

I also think teaching our clients financial literacy is going to be a large part of our future in this business. The savvier our clients, the better all of us can become. More of our clients will reach their goals and maintain their financial stability for the remainder of their lives.

We have an important responsibility in this area, and I believe it will benefit everyone to strive to better educate our clientele and continue to educate ourselves as the world around us and markets change more rapidly.

Kendall communicated his thoughts on what his experience has taught him and shared his advice for young people entering any career path. 

I would tell them finding a mentor is a vital component of a successful career. Whether the person is someone in your own organization or at another, a second perspective and some experienced guidance will be invaluable to you as you move along the career path.

A mentor can keep you grounded but also point out potential pitfalls so you may avoid them and reach higher than you believed you could. Mentorship provides more confidence when making career decisions. I have had mentors who have had an impact on decisions I made that were more beneficial for having the guidance I received.

A mentor can also help with more mundane matters but ones that are just as important. Learning to give and take bad news and manage difficult clients in a more productive and positive way are some of the items with which experienced guidance can help.

In a more practical sense, having a mentor can serve to shorten your learning curve in many ways. Instead of spending time trying to sort through certain tasks, a mentor may be able to point you in the direction you need to get there more quickly and solve issues before they take up too much of your time.

My best advice for a young person starting out in their career: Choose a mentor who can keep you honest, give you real and honest feedback, and guide you when you encounter rough waters.

As far as discussing his life experiences and how they have impacted and influenced his life and career, Kendall mentioned one of the best pieces of advice he ever received and he still practices today was given to him by one of his mentors. She asked him why he would put his success in someone else’s hands. Kendall said, I thought about that for a long time.

From his earliest life experiences, Kendall realized he wanted to captain his own ship and the jobs he was working at did not allow for any initiative or creativity on his part. I knew I had more value than that and wanted to move further under my own power.

I have learned if a mistake is made, take ownership of it sooner rather than later and get the issue fixed. Being humble and honest when things go wrong earns you respect and trust. Without those, your path can be very difficult.

My mother always told me that you need to work hard because nothing in life will come to you for free. I have always kept that in my mind, and I believe it to be true. I would tell young people starting out that working hard is important for learning life skills and putting yourself in a position to call your own shots when the time comes.

Throughout his life and career, Kendall has learned to keep things in perspective. He regularly tells himself, On my tough days in the office, there could always be something worse happening. I have learned to be grateful for what I have and how far I have come.

Outside of work, Kendall treasures family time. He has a 14-month-old grandson and time with him is precious to me.

They have a travel trailer, and they hitch up and drive to Corpus Christi as a family to spend time together at the beach. There is no Wi-Fi so the time there is connecting to each other and not online. He disconnects from work email completely and just enjoys the time with his wife, his children, and their grandson. These times are something he looks forward to and is very grateful for.

One of Kendall’s hobbies is he has an apiary. Just a couple of hives but I find it relaxing to go out and work with the bees. I am an outdoors person and love being in the sun and fresh air.

“I never lose. I either win or I learn.” – Nelson Mandela

Kendall’s advice to others facing what they believe are insurmountable obstacles is he would give them the same advice he has been given which is timeless:

  • Take one step at a time and keep going. Your first step may be extremely difficult but without it, you will be standing still. Even if your first step fails, try again. There will always be a way to grab the toehold if you keep trying.
  • Learn your way up. No one starts a journey knowing exactly how the travel will go before reaching their destination. Learn from the problems you encounter and keep moving past them. The lessons you acquire on the journey will help you with the next one.
  • Try to remember things are never as bad as you think they are in the moment. We all have the feeling of panic when something is sliding south faster than we can fix it and our minds immediately leap to the worst-case scenario. Take a minute to breathe and gain a bit of perspective. The more often this happens to you, the easier and less terrifying those situations will become.

Kendall, any final thoughts you would like to share?

In conclusion, Kendall shared his final thoughts:

I grew up in a time and place where people who looked like me were limited in what they could aspire to. Maybe the limitation was external or internal depending on the person and the specific circumstances, but it was a limitation that probably kept many from reaching for their dreams and goals.

One of the missions I have in my life is to tell young people to reach for those dreams. The limitations that held me back should not have existed then and should not be in existence today.

 If I can do one thing of value in my life, it will be to inspire children and young adults and convince them ‘anything is possible’ and there are role models out there to show them they can have access and opportunities if they want them.

I want to be the reason a young person does not turn away from a career they aspire to because of an obstacle of their own perception. The younger version of myself would likely be in a news studio studying weather charts in the hair and makeup chair before going on air if I had been exposed to even one weatherperson of color in front of the camera when I was young.

I have carved out a wonderful life and career for myself and have no regrets, but I want every child to have the joy and fulfillment of pursuing and attaining the goals inciting their passions and giving them satisfaction.

About the Author

Laura is a magnetic leader who has been instrumental in growing multiple organizations within our industry, creating opportunities for others, and empowering the industry’s women to collaborate and lead. Laura’s vision is to leave the mortgage industry better than when she arrived by supporting and enlightening others to be their best selves while guiding their families home. Laura’s tenure as President and Partner at AFR leading them to be a top ten lender has cultivated her leaps and bounds for her next chapter as a stakeholder and the Chief Growth Officer at EPM. Laura’s talents paired with exceptional leadership skills has shown unparalleled growth and a true mission to empower people more.

Quote: Say Yes Everyday by committing to live each day with positive intention. It’s your story, Give it life every day.

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Is Your Life Out of Balance?

Written by: Jenny Mason

No time? Exhausted? Living on autopilot? Unsatisfied? Unhappy? Burnt out? Lost your direction? In a constant battle? If you are nodding yes, your life may be out of balance.

We all have a million different kinds of priorities, responsibilities, and other stuff competing for our attention pulling at us from all directions to where we feel like a Stretch Armstrong doll that’s about to rip. When you Google how to find balance in life there are over two million results. People are trying to find the secret to finding balance as much as the Fountain of Youth. In a recent survey over 96 percent of the people said they feel like they are living on autopilot. We let our day run us instead of us running our day. We have to turn off the noise, find what’s at our core, and focus on what we need most to be fulfilled.

Can you remember riding your bike and the feeling when you took your hands off the handlebars? The excitement, then you put both feet out, woohoo, and it felt so amazing like you were flying, and then something distracted you, you lost your focus and ran into the guardrail? Oh, sorry, I had a flashback; I did that. I looked off from where I was going, lost balance, and hit the guardrail. Boy, I had a goose egg the size of a baseball for a few weeks. When we have balance in our lives, we have the same sense of freedom as if we were riding our bikes with no hands.

I have an experiment for you. Try this exercise: stand on one leg, raise to your tiptoes, then tighten your core, and focus on an object in front of you. Next, move your head to look at something else, then move your head the other way. How’s your balance? Did you wobble? Did you fall over?


Ok, here’s a different type of exercise to try. Take a golf club or a baseball bat in your hand. First, swing with the club clinched with a death grip. What were the results? Now take it lightly in your hands, keep your eye on the ball, and swing. What were your results? Second, swing your club or bat moving your head to look where you think the ball is going. Did you miss the ball? Now focus on the ball through your swing; what were your results? It brings a lot more satisfaction when you lighten your grip and keep your eye on the ball.

As it is true with those exercises, so it is in our lives. When we focus on our core values, what truly make and fulfill us, when we are present and don’t have a death grip on everything, we live fuller lives and have greater outcomes personally and professionally.

What’s at your core? What are your core values? What’s at the center of your life? Where does your strength come from? What does a balanced life look like to you? Is what you are doing lining up with those? Does the company you are working for have the same value system? Has something gotten you off track? Changed your focus? Are you juggling things that really don’t belong to you?

Once you start operating from your core you will find balance and be more fulfilled. Clarity on your core values will result in igniting your passion. Build your foundation on your core values and beliefs and stay grounded, rooted in them so when everything starts spinning out of control or winds of pressure are being blown towards you, you can remain firm, strong, and balanced.

We all have three resources: time, money, and energy. Time, we never get back, so spend it wisely. We all have the same hours in a day, but we are not all granted the same time on earth. We cannot redo a day so we need to take charge of the day before it takes charge of us.

I’ve learned a lot about balance with being a wife, mom, homeschooling, coaching, and being a director of market growth. Balance really isn’t about how much you do, but how you feel about what you are doing. Having balance is essential for happiness, well-being, and a tremendous boost to productivity. Aligning your priorities with your core system allows you to feel balanced instead of guilty and stressed.

Some tips I have found to help me stay balanced:

*Choose to find balance. Make a conscious effort to change then be disciplined, determined, and persistent. It’s a daily routine and sometimes minute by minute.

*Set goals in every area of your life. Take small steps, and don’t try and change everything at once.

*Assess your priorities regularly.

*Disconnect. Whether it’s for a few hours, a day, or on the weekend; make time to separate from external commitments.

* Set boundaries. Say no to nonessentials if they don’t add value to your life and aren’t in line with your core beliefs and values. Be relentless about this!

*Take care of your health. Do something each day to improve physically, mentally, and spiritually.

*Minimize negative influences around you. Whether it’s people, the media, or something else bringing you down, choose positive inspiration.

*Start your day on a positive note. How you start your day will dictate your day. Hold off looking at your phone or listening to the news. The stress, the worries, the pressure, the anxiety of work, and news about what’s going on in the world will pull you, suck you in, and take control of your day. Before anything else, take 30 minutes for you. Think of three things you are grateful for, exercise, enjoy loved ones, read, listen to a positive podcast, or journal. Do something to make you feel fulfilled, and something aligned with your core values.

*Prepare for your day. Have a process and make a starting and stopping time.

*Lessen your grip. Let others take care of tasks you don’t need to do.

*Tackle the toughest tasks in the morning. Pick three things you must finish, then write down the next three. Turn off the noise and complete what you need to feel satisfied.

*Set realistic expectations and don’t judge yourself by what you accomplish in one day. If you accomplish one thing and you feel amazing, give yourself a woohoo, and don’t start beating yourself up about something else.

*Finishing your day. Before going to sleep spend some time reflecting and reassessing. Spend some quiet time to unwind. Journal or find an activity to let your mind rest then your body can.

*Find hobbies, activities, and outlets where you can operate from your core values and feel fulfilled. Incorporate your core values and beliefs into your work whenever you can.

*”Avoid burnout. Find meaning behind your work and purpose outside of the hours you are putting in.”

Remember our old friend Ebeneezer Scrooge? At one time in life he had fun with family and friends, and he was in love, and then he became consumed in his work and making money. He took advantage of people, looked down on them, and eventually was so far from his core values and , he became a lonely, miserable miser. Then, after the nigh of spectral visitors, he was shook to his core and remembered what it felt like to have balance, to be happy, to be fulfilled. He was given a second chance and he chose to make time and enjoy his family and his loved ones. He chose to use his resources to truly help people, thus changing him from a miserable unfulfilled out-of-balance miser to a happy, fulfilled, balanced man full of vitality.

About the Author

Jenny Mason is a regional business development manager with Movement Mortgage. She is 100 percent a servant leader building relationships, encouraging people, igniting passions, and adding value for all. Jenny is passionate about encouraging, serving, and inspiring people to overcome their limiting beliefs, to reach for the sky, excel more, ascend higher, and live life more abundantly personally, professionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually!

Jenny is one of the many incredible Coaches at 20/20 VSC.


By Popular Demand...returning to the Marriott in Tampa! 550 Water Street


Written by: Ruth Lee, CMB

My childhood and adolescence spanned the 70s and 80s. Our clothes were heinous, ill-fitting, and highly flammable. Our hair went from crooked, bad kitchen haircuts to spiral perms and mullets. We used blue eyeliner, and the tamer of all crunchy bangs and destroyer of ozone: Aqua Net. And every year, we would chin-on-palm wait for the coming of summer. At Our Lady of Mercy, the last day was marked by field day, a grotesque dance between athletics and heat exhaustion in the semi-tropical Baton Rouge climate. I was never a field day kind of girl; it was like running around in a hot, damp wool blanket with bugs. Then, the last bell would ring, and we waved goodbye to all our friends until the next bell in the fall.

For those of us from the Gen X vintage, it meant landlines, quarter arcades, and roller disco. We were so free range; my brother and I walked to the neighborhood pool a mile away when we I was five, usually barefoot. We played in ditches, and built tetanus-shot inducing huts in the woods; summer was about staying alive, out of my parents’ chore hustle, and heading home just before the streetlights turned on. We were middle class, so my parents didn’t talk much about vacationing places; just having the time off work. We had a small camp on a river about thirty miles out of town where we had fun weekend getaways. Our humble camping wasn’t glamping but we savor the memories to this today.

My parents were about the hustle, and the hustle was in school or in the office. As the daughter of two first-generation college graduates, hard work was valued, then came expertise, and finally, job satisfaction. Way down there in a land of unknown terms that are part of the common lexicon today was this ephemeral concept of work-life balance. It was openly scoffed at in my home as something to aspire to in retirement, or death, and what was left was guilt. My parent’s guilt for missing so much, and my guilt for asking them to give me attention when they were so tired. Then there was the generational guilt about how we might not achieve or exceed our parent’s success. So, we worked like mules to prove our value, and, like it or not, I am not alone, and it is what many of today’s mortgage executives’ model, even if we try to stop.

Since you all now know I walked the burning asphalt of Baton Rouge to the pool both ways, let’s talk about the real purpose of this missive from the executive seat. The real purpose is to call on everyone to embrace, and not neglect, an important aspect of summertime. Taking a real vacation. Not a staycation, not a family visit; those are days off from one job to fulfill another. I’m talking about a real, leave your house, put up a tent, hit the road in an RV, rent a house, or go to a beach vacation.

Today, 50 percent of all Americans leave days off on the table every single year, and for those who do take a vacation, 82 percent work and 90 percent check their emails. Ask yourself about your last vacation. Did you really take time off? Or did you check your email, take a couple of calls, work on the plane, at the pool or at the beach? Now ask yourself how critical are you really? Is your team and business so fragile it cannot exist without your direct machinations for a day, a long weekend, or (quelle horreur!) a whole week? If so, fixing that dysfunctional situation should be your first duty of business upon your return.

For every email you check, every deal you coddle, every problem you micromanage, you send a message, no matter how banal, you are there letting everyone know you are incapable of meaningful delegation or building a team you trust to make short-term decisions. Aren’t you amazing? You can micromanage with a Mai Tai in hand. The other message is a lie never said, but it is a lie nonetheless received by all those on your vacation who come face to face with the universal “one more minute” finger.

I’ve learned a few things in my life, and this is a pull the chair up kind of lesson. Vacation is not just for me. Sure, it is a time for me to recharge and step out of the weeds. Vacation is not just for my family either, although, it certainly demonstrates I have the discipline to take care of myself and my family. So, what is vacation about? It is about your values, both personal and corporate. Your vacation is about your company.

A vacation is a time to assess my management team. It is a time to allow my employees and company to stand on their own, to learn, and to know I trust them and I’m giving them an opportunity to shine. It is the time to evaluate how much initiative and innovation is driven by me alone, and how much of it has been fostered in the corporate culture.  It is a time I demonstrate my support of taking time off to recharge and model its importance to the health of my company.  It’s a week or two for goodness-sake. Think of each email and text sent as a tiny erosion to the culture of independence, collaboration, and self-reliance you’ve been trying to build.  Re-evaluate, then book that trip.

About the Author

Ruth Lee is a well-known, highly published industry expert on mortgage operations, compliance, servicing, and technology. Having built and sold two companies in the mortgage industry, one a mortgage lender out of Austin and one a mortgage services firm out of Denver, Ruth offers a unique perspective on the marriage of sales, operations, and overall business growth.
Ruth graduated from Future Mortgage Leaders in 2007 and most recently co-authored the MBA’s Servicing Transfer Best Practices. Ms. Lee seeks every opportunity to consult and counsel on the practical implementation and impact of operational, regulatory, and legislative changes.
Ms. Lee holds a B.A. in Economics from Mount Holyoke College. She resides in Lakewood, CO with her husband Mike, her black lab Ned and two cats, Jefferson and Adams. Winter months find her and Mike riding every peak they can find.


Highlights From Vision Summit 2022

Written by: Megan Anderson

Have you ever talked yourself out of reaching a goal you set for yourself?

This was a question keynote speaker Les Brown asked the audience at Vision Summit 2022 earlier this summer. It had a profound impact on me and many others in the audience.

Les started by telling us a story about his daughter, who was doing sit-ups while working out with a trainer. Though she had set a goal for herself, she was struggling and asked how many more she had to do. The trainer replied, “As many as you can.”

Then Les Brown bellowed out, “HONOR YOURSELF!”

His daughter did just that and ended up completing over 50 sit-ups.

Les’s story made me wonder:

  • Why do we have times where we choose not to honor ourselves?
  • How can we best align with our goals?
  • How do we empower ourselves to achieve what matters to us?

In this article, I will answer those questions by sharing more highlights and takeaways from this year’s Vision Summit. You’ll also learn about a crucial mindset shift, making empowered choices, and a simple exercise you can do to help you focus your time and energy on the things most crucial to you.

Why We Chose Not to Honor Ourselves

One big reason we fail to honor ourselves is because deep down we don’t believe we can achieve a goal that matters to us. Tom Mancuso’s speech reminded me of this.

Years ago, he was in a motorcycle accident and was told he would never walk again. Hearing this news sent him into a deep depression and to cope, he started drinking too much and telling himself he can’t.

But one day he was tired of being told he couldn’t. He was tired of living his life by the limitations others saw for him. He changed his belief from “can’t” to “can.” This shift in his beliefs allowed him to reach goals he didn’t think were possible.

He began to honor himself.

By honoring himself, he was choosing self-love. And the thing about loving yourself is once you do, it creates the space to give others the opportunity to do the same.

Tom could have let the accident limit his entire life. But he didn’t and once he reached the point of honoring himself, he became selfless and started to share his story. I watched hundreds of faces in the room glued to Tom as he spoke and shared the good, the bad, and the ugly about his struggles. His talk encouraged those of us who were listening to identify where we struggle and where we limit ourselves.

Tom’s example of overcoming gave everyone permission to step into their own personal power. I have never seen so many audience members with tears in their eyes. Sharing your story and living by example is one of the best ways to give back to the world.

I had the chance to interview Tom after he stepped off stage; you can watch it HERE.

Know Your Values

Making choices that align with our values, beliefs, and purpose are a crucial way we honor ourselves, and give back to the world. All of these take time to learn and they take on new meaning as we gain more experience.

If you’re feeling stuck with how to align with what matters most to you, try this simple exercise. At the end of every day, write down what tasks you did that brought you joy. Focus on those tasks that made you feel empowered and capable. Note which things, people, and events lifted your energy and those which didn’t.

Over time, and fairly quickly, you’ll begin to see what you need to do more of and what or who you should let go of.

Making Empowered Choices

Honoring ourselves doesn’t just involve big decisions. Our daily choices are how we honor ourselves enough to reach our goals. As mortgage originators, one of the most crucial choices we can make is to equip ourselves with the knowledge and analysis that can help our clients make the right financial choices for their families.

I understood this when MBS Highway’s CEO, Barry Habib, stepped on stage. He talked about the housing market, both where we are and where we’re headed.  After all, the media has been sounding the alarms on a potential recession this year, which has many questioning if it’s a good time to purchase a home.

When people hear about recessions, most remember the sharp decline in home prices during the housing bubble and 2009 recession. Many often mistakenly believe the recession caused the housing bubble, but it was quite the opposite: the housing bubble led the U.S. into a recession.

Looking back at the other eight recessions since 1960, home prices significantly increased or at least remained stable each time during and after the recession. One of the reasons this occurs is because interest rates significantly fall during recessionary periods.

During the housing bubble, risky, non-verified mortgages were commonplace. There was a glut of supply in the real estate market along with much lower buyer demand. Today’s housing market is much stronger. There are 3 million fewer homes for sale compared to the housing bubble and 14 million more households. Strong demand and tight supply should continue to be supportive of home prices.

Being equipped with crucial market knowledge and analysis like this gives you the power to answer your clients’ questions with confidence, and it’s a daily choice you can make.

In MBS Highway’s daily morning update video, we cover anticipated market and rate movements, economic reports, and media-driven objections so you’re always up to date with the latest news and most crucial analysis.

Sign up for a free 14-day trial of MBS Highway to check out our daily morning update video, as well as our most popular tools like our Bid Over Asking Price, Buy vs. Rent Comparison, Loan Comparison tool, lock alerts, and more. These tools will empower you with the knowledge you need to turn prospective homebuyers into clients and become the type of advisor they need to guide them in today’s market and for years to come.

You Are Not Alone

This event reminded me we are never on this journey alone. Take some time to think about people in your life who have helped you along the way and remember to hold them close. One person I’ll continue to keep close is Christine Beckwith and I look forward to her new book, Finding Honor:  The Journey to Truth.

And remember, MBS Highway is here for you, too.

About the Author

Megan Anderson is a well-known professional speaker, teacher, and winner of HousingWire’s 2020 Women of Influence award. She is also the winner of the 2019 40 under 40 award and 2019 Women with Vision award. She has introduced systems and platforms that effectively create content and increase engagement.

She is vice president of Marketing at MBS Highway, the industry’s leading platform for mortgage sales professionals. Megan has helped eliminate the fears and obstacles mortgage and real estate salespeople have in creating video content. Her innovative pieces of training have transformed salespeople into local celebrity advisors.

Megan is a highly sought-after speaker and coach who is passionate about helping others grow their business and gain more confidence in themselves. She is also the host of the podcast Behind the Breakthrough, a podcast telling the untold stories of success.

Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention - and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari

Written by Peter Wietmarschen

Have you ever sat behind your desk, completely overwhelmed with the world around you?

Have you caught yourself checking your phone while you should be spending quality time with your kids or spouse?

Or maybe you’ve found yourself unable to sit down and read a book for more than a few moments at a time?

You’re not alone!

And to prove a point, I want to start off with a small challenge for you: Can you read through this entire article without checking your phone or switching tabs on your browser?

Author Johann Hari noticed throughout many areas of his life, his attention and the collective attention of those around him were being sucked dry. He took it upon himself to study the widespread lack of focus sweeping through people from all walks of life. He studied what focus means, what is claiming our attention, and how we can fight back and gain control of our attention.

Hari begins his journey doing what many of us have probably only imagined; he took three months away from the internet. No Wi-Fi on his computer, no 5G phone, no email, no Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and no way to connect with other people except for a ‘dumb’ phone with only a select few people who had the number. I am sure many of you have thought about going off the grid, to step away from the constant emails, the overwhelming need to post on Twitter, and the vitriol spewed by strangers and friends alike.

He reasoned that the biggest attack on our attention was from our phones and the best way to combat the attention deficit he was experiencing was to go cold turkey. He took the blame for allowing himself to be swallowed by distractions and he took the responsibility for changing his actions (more on this later).

While he was spending his three-month sabbatical in Provincetown, he realized a few things related to attention. The first was even though he was no longer being constantly interrupted, he found he was still not able to focus for more than a few moments at a time. We have become so accustomed to being distracted that our brains will distract us even when there is no external stimuli. Research shows the average worker never has one hour of uninterrupted work; whether it’s meetings, calls, emails, or some other matter at hand we simply do not have the chance to focus.

The second revelation he had was as time went along, he found he was able to focus more deeply and for longer periods of time. This makes sense, but the really important part was he began to go into what many researchers call a flow state. A flow state is a state of focus so deep that time merely flies by. We are so intent on the job at hand we aren’t distracted. What he realized is in our own lives, we are seeing less and less time in our flow state. The constant distractions pull us away from our work and we no longer think deeply about the problems we face daily, both individually and societally.

Finally, his next revelation was focus doesn’t necessarily mean constant attention spent on one specific thought. When you read a book (or maybe even this article) there are times when you are pulled out of the story because you make a connection to some related area of thought. The constant attack on our attention pulls us away from reading enough so we tend to be unable to make these connections because we are not able to focus deep enough on what is in front of us. We’re inclined to skim web pages to find what we want, we don’t read more than a sentence or two at a time, and we are trained to make sweeping generalizations on the state of our world from 280 characters on Twitter. We lack what Hari calls mind-wandering attention.

The question then is, what causes our attention to decline and how can we change it?

There are many causes for our current lack of attention. What sticks outs to me is we are faced with an overload of information, and we are overwhelmed with that information because of technology.

Studies show there is more and more information being created and disseminated every year but this is nothing new. This has been happening for centuries! The problem is not because too much information is being created, the problem is how the information is reaching us. Even as little as 20 years ago, many people were still receiving the local newspaper and watching the evening news. Now we are able to literally watch Breaking News around the clock. In recent years, we have even seen people commit horrendous crimes when they livestream violence.

Hari and others share the opinion that we as humans, our bodies, and minds, are not structured in a way to separate these constant interruptions of danger from the real sense of danger in our lives. It’s two-fold. We end up losing our empathy for those around us and we are structured to pay more attention to consider what might cause us harm. It’s a simple evolutionary trait: we pay attention to the dangers around us to help us stay healthy, happy, and alive.

But why are we in this predicament in the first place? The reason Hari postulates is because we are overwhelmed by companies who participate in surveillance capitalism. Have you ever wondered why it’s free to use Facebook? Twitter? It’s because the product these companies sell is not our feeds, it’s us. We are the end product. You heard right; we, the users are what companies sell to advertisers. They showcase how long people are on their platform to sell more ads. They gather and package our information to hyper-target us with ads.

The goal of platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and others is to have you spend as much time as possible on their platform. So, they do things like create algorithms to show you what you want to see. They introduce endless scrolling on their feeds. They have auto-play videos once you finish what you originally watch.

Here is where things become really scary. What have I mentioned so far? We know companies want you to spend time on their apps, they have a hyper-specific profile of you as a user, and humans are more likely to pay attention to issues and information which make us mad. So, what do many of these companies do? They use the tools they have to keep you on their apps by giving you a steady stream of contentious content and this content might outright be untrue, and they do this all to keep you engaged so you spend more time and they make more money.

So, what does this mean for our attention and how do we overcome it? You could do something like Johann Hari did and go through a detox. We could place the blame on individuals for not being able to overcome the stress and pressure from these companies. Or we could apply pressure on the right people to stop the weaponization of surveillance capitalism against our focus and attention.

We, as a society, need to make the decision. Are we willing to let everything continue to attack our focus, leaving us with less ability to solve the issues we face, leaving us with less empathy for our neighbors, leaving us facing a future warned to us by numerous sci-fi movies? Or are we going to come together and make the necessary changes to overcome the challenges in our lives?

I’ll be honest with you; I could probably write an article twice as long as this, and I have only been able to cover the very high-level concepts presented by Johann Hari. Don’t get me wrong, I use social media, I watch YouTube, and yes, I too have focus and attention issues. But after reading this book I found myself looking deep inside to see how I could change my everyday life to be more present. I also know we will not see any true change unless we come together as a society to demand change.

I would highly recommend reading Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention – and How to Think Deeply Again. I would also strongly recommend finding ways to restore your own focus. Find a time to turn your phone off and read for more than a couple of minutes. Change your notifications so you won’t be inundated with email notifications every five minutes. Talk, in person, with your family and friends and reconnect with the empathy we all have.

5 out of 5 Stars!

You can find more about Stolen Focus on Amazon.

About the Author

Peter is a proud, lifelong resident of Cincinnati, Ohio. A graduate of Morehead State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in Saxophone, Peter is a music lover at heart. In his daily work, Peter has turned his creative mind towards writing and works as a publishing consultant for authors. Peter enjoys working with local marching bands as an instructor.

Peter joined the magazine team at 20/20 Vision For Success in June 2020 and has been working behind the scenes on several projects such as the Women With Vision Awards and the Vision Summit. Besides the magazine, Peter also writes for other clients and advises writers on their book projects.

Outside of work, Peter is an avid soccer fan who supports FC Cincinnati. He is a member and former board member of The Pride: FC Cincinnati Supporters Group. Besides FC Cincinnati, Peter watches the US Men’s and Women’s National teams.


Finding Honor, Christine Beckwith’s powerful new book, destined to be a best-seller.

And be sure to catch these great reads from Christine Beckwith. Feel free to go grab them now on Amazon! 

Breaking the Cycle is filled with engaging stories wrapped around a theme of power words and is an invaluable treasure trove of practical, hands-on advice. Jam-packed with easy-to-implement suggestions, you’ll read sage advice from two women whose diverse career paths literally write the book on how to create your version of success!

In Wise Eyes: See Your Way to Success, Beckwith tells her life story in a style that is real and raw, but brutally honest. Wise Eyes is a handbook for professionals wanting to walk a direct path to incredible success.

And in her most recent book, Win or Learn: The Naked Truth, Beckwith joins more than a dozen other C-Suite professional women from across the mortgage, real estate, and finance industry for frank discussions about what it takes to succeed as a woman in the top eschelon of business in today’s world.

Are you a reader who likes to share the wealth and benefit received from consuming a great book? Just as we welcome Peter Weitmarschen and Leora Ruzin to these pages as book reviewers, we would be delighted to welcome you as well. We consider all submissions. Reach out to us at and let’s talk books. –Editor


Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored

Season 2, Episode 20: Why You Need This Retreat In Your Life

This kind of reset is one of the essential things for any business person or business owner to participate in, and the 2020 Retreat House has been designed for you to do JUST THAT.

In this episode of Beckwith Unplugged & Uncensored, learn the following:

  • What value the retreat is going to bring you as a business person
  • How it helps to reset your business plan
  • What the next six, twelve, and eighteen months are going to look like in our industry
  • Your blueprint for success workshop and what that entails
  • Why organic marketing works
  • and tactical steps to gain alignment in your business while adding structure to your day

Our 2020 Retreat House website will be up in the middle of August to answer all your questions, but for now, send us an email at and put “MORE RETREAT INFO” in the subject line and we will get all of your questions answered and hopefully YOU signed up for what will be one of the best decisions you ever made!

We look forward to hearing from you and as always, thank you for listening!


Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored is video podcast designed for Christine Beckwith, a long-time business executive turned executive coach in the banking, mortgage, and real estate industry. In this totally transparent and sometimes raw monologue, Beckwith tells it like it is…publicly. Emotion is the driving force behind all human intellect, accomplishment, and success. If you cannot feel where you are going, you cannot SEE it either. As the visionary behind 20 / 20 Vision for Success, Christine brings her personal and professional philosophy to the mic. Listen in because these are lessons you will want to learn here instead of anywhere else.

Subscribe today!

Self discovery is now part of the buying process. Pre-framing can help you control that.


Learn how Vonk Digital can help you leverage the New Way to build your brand, authority, and credibility with our website platform and tools. Visit us at

Read this vlog episode, if you prefer, on the Vonk Digital blog!

Vonk Digital, an industry leader in website and marketing tools for mortgage originators across America, is a proud sponsor and hosting partner of The Vision Magazine.


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DIRECTOR’S CORNER – August 11, 2 pm, eastern

DIRECTOR’S CORNER – September 8, 2 pm, eastern

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