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After spending nearly two decades in the mortgage lending industry, Joey Barrow is convinced success in the field comes down to one thing.

“Customer service is important,” said Barrow. “You have to put the consumer first.”


Vision Partners in Success
Regular Features

Note from the Editor in Chief

Tis the season! Our festive cover reflects our wishes for a safe and happy holiday season for all of our readers. Be sure to read the Publisher’s Message. Christine, as always, has an positive and inspirational message. We have a new contributor, Mikinzi Ferran who presents the first of a 3-part series. As a proud Millennial, Mikinzi is well suited to share insights with us into the mindset of this generation, considered by many to be a strong growth area for mortgage in the future. Fobby tells us an origination story about Laugh, Lend & Eat. First time in these pages for Financial Forensics Coach Andy Tabag, as well. Peter Wietmarschen is back with a great review of Atomic Habits. Convinced me to buy the book! Leora has written a great profile article for the Class Act column all about Michelle Dugan, a truly amazing woman. And so much more! We hope you devour the entire issue in one sitting, or if you prefer a story at a time over coffee every morning.

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!

Message from the Publisher

And just like that, another year comes to an end. And WOW what a year it was! As I reflect on our organization, my personal life, and the lives of the wonderful professionals we get to work for and with daily here at 20/20 VSC, I can’t help but feel complete gratitude and joy. I know how cliché this sounds but I also reflect on many years of my life when I didn’t feel joyful and amazing like this. I find myself challenging everyone I speak with in group consulting and even one-on-one discussions to dig deeper into their souls to examine what provides them truthful ROI. Many of my weekly sales lessons have been around topics challenging the thinking around gratitude and internal eyesight.

What does this have to do with sales? Everything. To be incredible at running your business, you must be a healthy pilot. Often this is missed by firms who have tunnel vision to sales with ragged and wretched bodies being dragged along trying to prop up the production. I am thrilled to report here and everywhere I look in my peripheral I see folks working tremendously hard on themselves AND their businesses and succeeding.

With a full heart and an adventurous mind, I look ahead into 2022 and I say let’s soar into the future. We are healthier and stronger and the mortgage and real estate industries promise to help us have yet again another fruitful year with a robust equity position in our markets. And I believe if you align your Vision with your heart’s desires you will find yourself on the path to betterment.

Finally, this year I was told my superpower was evoking belief in others in such a way that they believe more strongly in themselves. Maybe if this is true, we should all sprinkle more belief around. It is believing that got me to this place and believing will carry me through. Do you believe? Tis’ the Season of wonderment and enchantment. Maybe if you believe more . . . more will become true and more magic will manifest.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all of you!

Christine Beckwith


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

Home Lending Pal’s Joey Barrow Disrupts the Mortgage Lending Industry

Written by: Dave Jordan

After spending nearly two decades in the mortgage lending industry, Joey Barrow is convinced success in the field comes down to one thing.

“Customer service is important,” said Barrow. “You have to put the consumer first.”

And that is exactly what Barrow, 50, is doing in his new role as Chief Sales Officer in Durham-Based Home Lending Pal (HLP), a mortgage advising site. As a veteran in the mortgage lending industry who has worked in different states, Barrow brings a level of expertise in lending and artificial intelligence, a dual skillset not often seen in this space.

“I was the third person hired by Home Lending Pal in 2018,” he said. “(Home Lending Pal Co-founder) Steven Better worked for me before and asked me to help out with the platform.”

Home Lending Pal, a digital mortgage advising platform, uses artificial intelligence and blockchain to prevent banks and lenders from identifying the name, age, race, gender, and sexual orientation of a potential borrower. The only information available is the person’s income, debt, and credit payment history.

The company was founded in part to help close the homeownership gap between whites and marginalized groups. A Pew Research study found Black homeownership in 2019 remained flat at 44 percent. Comparatively, Asian and Hispanic ownership were up 59.5 percent, up 1.9 percent, and 49 percent, up 1 percent, respectively. Since Home Lending Pal’s debut, more than 17,000 new users have signed on to the platform. Home Lending Pal helped more than 800 people qualify to buy homes.

“Masking the data allows the consumer to remain anonymous which could move more people to apply for home loans,” Barrow said.

Better recommended Barrow for the position at Home Lending Pal. “Joey is not only selfless and reliable but has an easy way of explaining complicated concepts especially in mortgage lending,” Better said. “His insight is fundamental from a knowledge and leadership perspective.”

Home Lending Pal Co-Founder and CEO Bryan Young agrees. “He has a deep level of mortgage lending especially when it comes to different loan products across different states,” said Young.” What we’re doing is unique. China and Russia did beta testing with artificial intelligence in lending, but no one was using AI in mortgage lending at the level we were. We felt this was beneficial and Joey understood it and helped us a great deal.”

“What makes us unique is that we’re able to connect with borrowers and lenders at a cultural level,” Young said. “And not just with race and gender, but with Millennials who are used to an Amazon-style shopping experience. And that’s one of the ways Joey keeps us centered. We’re giving borrowers insight into what lenders are looking for and Joey keeps our priorities in line in that regard.”

Barrow’s success could be seen long before he entered the mortgage lending world. At age 18, the Greenville, North Carolina native had his own car lot. After leaving auto sales behind and attending East Carolina University, Barrow started selling building supplies before transitioning into general contracting. From there, he moved into the mortgage lending space when he spent the last 18 years ultimately rising to the President’s Club level.

But as Barrow continued his ascent in the mortgage lending world, he still found time to be an advisor, mentor and, in some cases, benefactor to those working to attain his level of success.

“Joey was the most knowledgeable originator during my time as an originator,” recalls Better. “I had problems selling mortgages because I was matter of fact and technical. Joey helped me identify those challenges. I was working on commission, and it was hard financially. Joey bought me many lunches and offered advice and counsel to help get me to the next level. He was a lifeline.”

Christine Beckwith, President of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching and Consulting remembers the impact Barrow had when they worked together earlier in their careers.

“Joey Barrow is easily one of the most interesting people you could ever meet,” said Beckwith. “In my life, I rank him right up there with unique, motivated, heartfelt, and happy people. I had the great fortune to work with Joey for many years at AnnieMac Home Mortgage. I even visited him in his hometown and where he worked in Greenville NC. He always had this way of making me laugh, engaging me in conversation and he was a thoughtful and provocative thinker.”

“He had ideas, took risks, and was willing to put himself into his work and he was highly engaged. Joey attended all the events we held, and I watched him bring his son into our business. I knew he was this incredible man and human, it doesn’t surprise me at all that this month’s cover story in The Vision is about him and the amazing new company he is a part of—a combination set to change the world as we know it. I believe in his vision because I have come to learn Joey knows how to be successful and make others successful as well. The bonus is knowing while you’re working hard, you get to do it with someone who is truly remarkable and enjoyable to be around.”

But even after all his success in mortgage lending, Barrow realizes the industry isn’t perfect and is determined to disrupt the industry in the interest of mortgage equality.

“HLP has a level of transparency not typically seen in mortgage lending,” Barrow said. “People are able to go into the site and figure out if they’re qualified or not. And that’s my goal here at this company: to help improve the overall experience for the consumer.”

“We’re going to be a major player in the industry, especially with the blockchain aspect of what we’re doing,” he continued, “And we are putting the consumer first.”

About the Author

Dave Jordan is a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience in print and television reporting. He began writing professionally at 16 years old. His work has appeared in Bloomberg News and the New York Times and he has appeared on national networks including CNN and Headline News.

In addition to being nominated for three local news Emmys, Dave won first place honors from the Society of Professional Journalists/Oklahoma Chapter and the Radio and Television News Directors Association of the Carolinas. His investigations have changed state laws and led to the firings and indictments of politicians, school board members and businessmen. In 2016, named Dave as one of its “13 Investigative Journalists You Need To Know.” He is an active member and past board member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

When he is not working on his next story, Dave enjoys visiting relatives in his native New York City and traveling to the Caribbean where he has several relatives. He also enjoys reading the latest bestseller and cheering on his New York Giants.

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Women With Vision Magazine

Be sure to subscribe to both magazines:  The Vision and Women With Vision Magazine. Subscription is FREE and the only way to be sure you won’t miss a single issue of either magazine!

The Vision magazine

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Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored
Season 1, Episode 2: Why Sales Is Important

What is the driver in any business? SALES

Of course, mindset, culture, systems, and processes go hand-in-hand but SALES is the ultimate driver- the bread and butter. In this episode, Christine breaks down stories on her experience and in her career! Christine has been an Executive in the sales space for her entire life and today runs sales in her own company. Listen in as she breaks down the why, the how, and everything in between WORKS.


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.

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Michelle Dugan – Broker Owner - MS Lending, LLC

Written by: Leora Ruzin, CMB, AMP

It is never too early or too late to believe in yourself!

M ichelle Dugan is not your ordinary mortgage loan officer and business owner. In a male-dominated industry, anyone who spends any amount of time with her knows there is more to her than what can be seen on the surface; more than just a pretty blonde. What most people don’t know about Michelle is her dream since she was a little girl was to become an attorney, but once she started working in real estate, everything changed.

“During undergrad, I worked as a real estate paralegal for a local closing attorney. I formed a close working relationship with a local mortgage broker and sent my friends to him for their home financing needs. In 2006, he convinced me to go after my mortgage license while waiting to start law school. I thought it could be a fun way to make extra money as a side gig. Little did I know I would fall in love with the lending side of real estate transactions.”

What started as a short break before law school ended with Michelle fully immersed in mortgage lending. In 2019, Michelle went into business on her own and opened MS Lending, LLC.

Michelle understands and appreciates the significance of being a woman-owned business and has leaned into it with all she has. More importantly, she is keenly aware of the precedence she sets being a woman in a Man’s World, yet she is hopeful for the future. “The tables are finally beginning to turn and more women are rising to the top of the mortgage world now than ever before historically. Being able to help influence women who may not feel their voices are heard is one of the highlights of my career. Women wear many hats every single day and it is possible to find balance to be able to live a fulfilled life not only personally but professionally as well.”

At the core of her business is love, compassion, and a true calling to help others. While being profitable is important, Michelle understands the importance of being a leader who can connect with her team, her borrowers, and the community at large. She considers herself fortunate to be running her business from the town she grew up in, in Madison, MS, and wants to give back to her community as much as possible. “I believe in leading with love, compassion, and grace. Everyone will make mistakes but how you overcome and recover from them says more about you than the mistake you have made. I try to always stay positive to everyone around me. Negativity is contagious and it is difficult to thrive in a negative environment. I believe givers gain so I give as much as possible to everyone around me. I’m a true local lender and am forever thankful to my local community for the support they continue to show me.”

It should come as no surprise that colleagues in the industry see Michelle as a beacon of light and hope for the future women of mortgage lending and hold her in incredibly high regard. As GTG Financial, Business Development Director, Ashley Miller, states, “Michelle encourages women to find their strength, use their voice, and stand up for what they believe. It takes visionary leaders like Michelle to create a solid platform for women in mortgage leadership roles, a career field that has historically been unavailable to females. Michelle is committed to continuing to change the landscape and setting up more seats at the table to allow for more women in leadership positions, which allows the population of homebuyers and homeowners to be better served.”

As most leaders are aware, running a successful business does not always come easy, and Michelle is no stranger to setbacks and failures. When asked about what she considers her biggest failure, she shares advice likely to resonate with many leaders. My greatest failure would be not believing in myself early enough in life. I wasted many years worried about failing or questioning if I was good enough or if I would be accepted. Little did I know that I was my biggest critic. The voices in our own heads are powerful. Once I started believing in myself my life truly began to flourish. Now, I encourage women in every stage of life to not be so hard on themselves and to love themselves through every step of their journey.” In fact, Michelle wishes she could go back in time to her younger self and give that teenage version of her this sage wisdom, “Girl, stop being insecure. You are in the best years of your life. Enjoy them. Have fun. Don’t worry about what others think of you because none of it will matter one day. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”

Because Michelle understands the importance of learning from failure and moving on, she always looks for opportunities to share her experiences with other women, in hopes it will encourage them to open their own companies in the future. As a mother of three beautiful children (boys, Bodie and Dylan, and daughter, Harper), her main goal in business is to continue to build a company that can be passed down from generation to generation. Of course, that is if her children decide to follow in her footsteps and become involved in the mortgage world someday! Her main goal in life also centers around her children, “my main goal in life is to raise my children to be responsible, kind, and caring adults. I want them to be ready for the world and to be able to seize any opportunity presented to them.”

What drives Michelle to run her brokerage with authenticity, compassion, and love? What is her favorite facet of working in the mortgage industry? The borrowers, of course! As Michelle explains, “I love helping borrowers in every phase of life, whether they are buying their first home or financing their retirement home. To be able to assist in such a major life decision means the world to me.” The finest loan originators truly care about putting their borrowers in the best financial situation possible, about serving people, not a race to close as many loans as possible. Nobody understands this more than Michelle. Her favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt perfectly encapsulates this thought:

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” As Michelle further explains, “We can possess all of the knowledge in the world but at the end of the day the borrower truly wants to know that you care about them and their transaction.”

Michelle is caring and compassionate, is extremely knowledgeable, and is always looking to learn and grow as a leader in the mortgage industry. She is keeping her finger on the pulse of potential changes and advancements in technology and sees the possibility for major disruption in the origination process. As she explains, “I believe that blockchain technology will eventually reduce the amount of information needed from borrowers so that one loan can essentially build upon their existing information. I do not feel like the role of the loan originator can ever be completely replaced by technology, however. Computers can’t build relationships and relationships are definitely the backbone of our industry.”

Perhaps the most endearing feature of Michelle personality is her unwavering devotion to her family and the legacy she is building for them. When most people think of what their greatest success is, they speak about a professional milestone or monetary achievement, but not Michelle. When we asked Michelle what her greatest success is, she unequivocally proclaimed, “I have an incredible husband and three amazing children. I am married to my soul mate, Nick Dugan. He’s my biggest cheerleader. I’m thankful every day for the love that we share. In 2022 we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. I’m forever grateful to have chosen a career that, while incredibly demanding, affords me the flexibility to be present and experience every moment of their lives.”

As Michelle continues to carve her own path in this industry, she knows there is still much work to be done, and she is ready to take on the challenges set before her. Being able to identify her strengths and weaknesses is what will continue to lead to her success in the future. She also understands she would not be where she is today if it were not for the help she has received from others along the way. “As we get older and we can pinpoint these strengths and weaknesses, we can begin to surround ourselves with people who can contribute in areas where we are weak and we can offer our strengths to others who may need them for their own success. Givers truly do gain. No one gets to the top of the mountain alone. By working together with others while knowing our strengths and weaknesses that we bring to the table, success will come sooner and be much more rewarding when it does.”

Michelle is a truly special woman and a force to be reckoned with in the mortgage industry. The level of respect she garners from her colleagues is nothing short of inspiring, and anyone who if fortunate enough to spend time with her will walk away with a deeper admiration for her and the work she is doing. As Jamie Cavanaugh, COO of Amerifund Home Loans, states, “Michelle Dugan exemplifies what it means to be a true mortgage professional. She has a wealth of knowledge and she cares for her clients and referral partners by taking the time to guide them through the loan process. Michelle is incredibly generous with her time and is always cheering on her colleagues and lifting others up. She is amazing!”

In closing, Michelle had these nuggets of wisdom she wanted to share, and it really does sum up how amazing she is and how the future is hers to gain. Of course, she just had to sprinkle in a bit of that Southern charm we all love!

“We don’t have a single defining moment in life that makes or breaks us. We are the sum of all of our days, good and bad. When you’re having a bad day, acknowledge it. But don’t let it keep you down and stay there. Acknowledge the low times because it will make you appreciate the good times even more. If you don’t like where you are, change it. We all hold the power within ourselves to be and become whoever we want to be. So, take a pause, take a breath, reflect, and get back to it. Give yourself grace when you need it. Live a life full of gratitude; appreciate it all, big and small. Life ain’t always beautiful but it truly is a short, sweet, beautiful ride. Enjoy every single step of it!”

About the Author

Leora Ruzin, CMB is the senior vice president of lending at Coloramo Federal Credit Union. Leora is also the managing editor of two magazines, The Vision and the Women with Vision Magazine and is currently serving on industry boards including Folds of Honor. A 14-year veteran in the mortgage industry, Leora is passionate about spreading awareness on helping everyone achieve the American Dream of homeownership. She is a fierce advocate for housing finance reform and common-sense credit policy. Leora is the winner of prestigious industry awards, including HousingWire’s 2020 Women of Influence, National Mortgage Professional Magazine’s 2020 Women of Inspiration, and is a two-time winner of the Women With Vision Award, given by 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching.

As a veteran of the United States Army, she understands the importance of ensuring no one is left behind and truly feels anything can be achieved through perseverance and teamwork. Her experience with trauma, both as a cancer survivor and a survivor of sexual and physical abuse, has given her the drive and passion to help other women find hope and strength during similar circumstances. When Leora is not spending her time advocating for homeownership and spreading the word about the importance of investing in personal goals, she continues to expand her own knowledge through reading and attending industry workshops.

Leora holds degrees in Associate of Accounting and Bachelor of Business Management. She currently resides in Palisade, Colorado with her husband and daughter.

Michelle’s Tips for Success

  • We are the sum of the people we spend the most time with. Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up and be positive influences in your life.
  • You must take care of yourself first in order to take care of others around you. By filling up your own vase first you will begin to overflow which can, in turn, fill up those around you. Self-love and self-care are vital to success!
  • Don’t compare someone’s middle or even their end to your beginning. Everyone starts somewhere. Maybe you aren’t where you want to be in your career yet. Comparison is the thief of joy. Enjoy every step of the journey and one day you too, can be the person others are looking up to as they get started on their own journeys.
Laugh Lend & Eat: Behind the Scenes
with Fobby and Episode Zero

Written by: Fouad (Fobby) Naghmi, EVP

I like to call this episode of Laugh, Lend & Eat, Episode ZERO. Continue reading, and you’ll see why!

It was December 2019, and I had been bit by the podcast bug. I had been lucky enough to have Christine Beckwith as a guest on a webinar/podcast six months prior that had been met with tremendous approval from friends and industry peers. I then followed up with another webinar/podcast in September 2019 interviewing Tony Thompson of NAMMBA. Once again, a feeling of accomplishment, followed by praise from my peers resulted. I love this feeling.

In truth, I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. Worse, I didn’t really know how to do it. I did what I always do, I mapped out a business plan for a podcast. It included all the benchmarks that needed to be accomplished by a specific date to hit my goals. I decided I needed a name for the podcast, and I needed to schedule a show for January 2020 that would kickstart whatever this turned out to be.

There were a few names thrown around. None of them felt like me. I don’t have a cool story about where the name came from. Simply put, the name Laugh, Lend and Eat popped into existence, was created out of nowhere. I loved it the moment I heard it! Laugh, Lend, & Eat describes me perfectly. The marketing department went about creating a logo with my specific brand colors. I wanted to have a totally separate brand from the mortgage company I was working with at that time. In no time, we had a name, a logo, an interview-style format that I was comfortable with, and the technology platform to manage it all.

Next, I needed a guest whose interview would make sense to run in the first month of the New Year. Then I saw it in my head: BARRY HABIB. I had met Barry in Tampa at the 20/20 Vision Summit and had worked with him while creating a video for the Summit. Barry would be perfect.

I texted him via Facebook, and within an hour, he agreed to be the first guest for the inaugural episode of Laugh, Lend & Eat, The Podcast show. The business plan was written and executed. All goals were accomplished.

In all honesty, in January 2020, I had never initiated or operated a ZOOM call. Sure, I’d been a participant, but back then, something as simple as texting on my phone today was brand new technology. I am always confident in my ability to master tech stuff; this proved to be no different. I did a few dry runs with microphones, different backdrops, and camera angles to ensure that all systems were sound. It felt great. This was going to be epic!

The day arrived in early January 2020, and I had all my questions lined up for Barry. I knew Barry was a polished speaker and would require a lot of space to answer my questions. Got it.

We started the interview, and I admit I was terrified. Barry was answering my questions with such technical precision I felt he was controlling the show. I hung on for the ride.

Then I did what I had learned in the few interviews I had done prior; I sidestepped the obvious questions and we dove into Barry’s personal life. He began to slow down the responses and became more open than I had expected.

We talked about him growing up in Brooklyn in the early 1960s, the son of immigrant parents. He shared how his early years formed his keen alertness to see opportunities and wove stories of the time he was selling stereo speakers out of his van. Then, of course, we talked about him coming into the mortgage industry and how he went knocking door-to-door to solicit homeowners for a mortgage.

Barry then dropped a nugget; he stated he was about to release his first book in a few months. AMAZING! This was really happening. I was hearing breaking news, information from Barry no one else knew yet! My excitement had to be contained, though. I still had a few more questions.

You see, I was one of the naysayers of Barry’s prediction for the 10-year bond. I did not believe it would really go below 1 percent, as Barry had been saying for the past several months. It had stayed below 2 percent for the past few months leading up to January 2020, but this had to be it, right? I knew I was not in a position to challenge Barry. I mean, what was I basing my decision on? My gut? Regardless, I had to ask about it and Barry began to rattle off all the reasons why the 10 year would drop below 1 percent. Then he added what, to me, was another bombshell! He said it could go as low as 0.50 percent. Come on Barry! Stop!

This was great stuff, and it was happening on my inaugural podcast show.

The show ended and I thanked Barry for being my first guest and what it meant to me to have him open my podcast show. Barry was polite and humble, and I will never forget that moment.

I walked out of the studio and headed to my office to decompress and calm myself down. Once I sat down behind my desk, I figured I would see how quickly ZOOM formats recordings and allows me to download the recording. It was already there waiting for me . . . wow! This ZOOM thing was incredible.

I clicked on the download button and within a few seconds, it was ready to play. I hit the play button and realized the recording was only three seconds long. It must be an error. We had just finished a one-hour show, so how could there only be three seconds on this recording? ZOOM sucks! I hit retry a few times to see if another recording showed up. My mind was dizzy, and my vision was getting unfocused. I recall feeling energy running through my body, almost like I could figure out where the episode was if I moved quickly. I called our IT department and told them what had happened. They put a ticket into ZOOM. Thank you, IT department!

My head was full of several what ifs, but none of them made sense. We had done the dry run, and I knew what I was doing. I had even pre-set the record button for ZOOM and had paused it so I wouldn’t have to fumble around with the equipment. I ran back to the studio to see if the computer in the studio could show me something. And it did. I had never un-paused the record button. In other words, I had never recorded the show.

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when the roller coaster goes down that huge hill? Yeah, that feeling. That’s where I was at.

I ran out of the office and went into the stairwell. Don’t ask me why, I just did. I texted Christine Beckwith that I needed to talk to her, like 9-1-1 Buffy!

Christine called me back and I blurted out what had just happened. In full disclosure, I’m not clear on her exact response other than she really didn’t know what to do. I was done.

My first podcast episode. We had publicized that this fantastic new show was coming. We had secured one of the top names in the industry to launch it with. And I had never recorded it. I knew my career was over as a podcast host even before it began.

Then Christine said something like, just call him and tell him the truth. For some reason it seemed like the thing to do. But how? Should I get in my car and start driving to New Jersey right now and do it face-to-face? Should I text him? Maybe send him a gift with a letter attached? I mean, this is the way my brain thinks.

I came to one conclusion; I wasn’t going to do anything on this day. I was mentally exhausted and physically drained. Any amends would have to wait. I was going home to hide beneath my warm blankets.

On the way out of my office, I received an email forwarded to me by our IT department. It was from ZOOM. They had sent the timeline of all the activities that had occurred for that 3-second recording. Something like, HIT RECORD BUTTON – HIT PAUSE BUTTON – HIT END. Argh!

The next day I called Barry’s assistant and told her what had happened. She assured me that I was not the first one in the world for whom this error occurred. She was positive Barry had this same experience as well. That was nice of her. Unfortunately, Barry was going to be busy for a while, so I could not get him back on the show immediately. I understood and gratefully accepted a make-up date.

Records will show my dear friend and author Vivian Hughes jumped in that weekend to do the inaugural show, and it was an excellent episode. I made sure to hit the record button which was a step in the right direction.

Barry kept his word and in October of that year did record episode 23. By then, I felt comfortable enough to tell him what had happened earlier in the year and how we had created the Barry Button to remind me to hit the record button. Barry’s book Money in the Streets had been released and had become an Amazon bestseller. The 10-year bond had climbed back up to around 0.78 percent by then. Barry was proven right. Again.

About the Author

Fobby is a card-carrying 20/20 Vision Master. Evidence of his inherent professionalism and humanity is exhibited through his words. Not quite as apparent is the great sense of humor he brings into his relationships, both professional and personal.

“Starting in the mortgage industry in 1994 as an inexperienced loan officer, I understand the challenges my sales teams may face on a day-to-day basis. While the industry has changed, I truly believe the blueprint remains the same to achieve success.

I have been blessed to be able to build cross-cultural teams over the past years, which in turn, has really challenged me to better understand people’s individual needs as no two salespeople are identical.

My WHY is knowing every single day there is someone out there who needs a little push in the right direction to take their career to the next level. Once that push is given, the satisfaction I feel in seeing them achieve the desired results is unmatched for me.

Leadership is not about blazing a trail; it’s about supporting your team with the trail that they want to blaze.”

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Women With Vision Magazine

Be sure to subscribe to both magazines:  The Vision and Women With Vision Magazine. Subscription is FREE and the only way to be sure you won’t miss a single issue of either magazine!

The Vision magazine

Subscribe Here!

Written by: Andy Tabag

What is Financial Forensics, you ask? Simply put, it’s knowing your numbers. There is a correlation to financial forecasting, the process of estimating or predicting how a business will perform in the future. Financial forensics combines the investigative work of forensics with the practices of accounting. In the broader world, financial forensics professionals are used to detect fraud, gather evidence, and bring criminals to justice. In the world of mortgage, you as a business owner can use the same investigative technics layered on a solid base in accounting to gain a deep understanding of your company’s financial standing by digging into historic numbers to forecast future expectations.

Financial forensics is also known as forensic accounting. Professionals in this field analyze the financial records of both individuals and corporations. Financial forensic investigators do not always investigate money relating to criminal activity. They also work to determine the value of a business based on its accounting records as well as gathering and determining information regarding a bankruptcy.

The main steps of a financial forensics analysis are data collection, data preparation, data analysis, and reporting. A forensic accountant collects data. They then organize and prepare the data so it can be properly analyzed. The forensic accountant goes through that data carefully. Finally, they report their analysis to whoever requested it. They must have the ability to put complex financial information in simple terms for others to understand.

Increasingly, financial forensic investigators are being called upon to perform preventative work by designing systems and procedures.

And that brings us to why I, Andy Tabag, am writing this article in the Coaches ConnXion. As a consultant for 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching clients, I have created a system that allows me to bring my financial and forensic skills to bear for the mortgage and financial community we serve.

Many of the coaching clients I work with are either business owners or leaders in businesses who will benefit from understanding their numbers and forecasting for growth. This knowledge may come from forecasting what is expected in sales and learning how to evaluate these predictions over time. It may be understanding what activities are required from social media posts, realtors’ calls, or referral sources to produce a credit order ultimately producing a submission for a funded loan.

An example of a financial forensic for your realtor sales funnel. could be, “I called 10 realtors a week over the course of a month or 40 realtors every month to produce one contract in 30 days and this led to three credit orders and one submission in 15 days and a closing in 60 days.”

If this was your consistent average, we learned your forensic in this area is to “call 40 realtors a month to produce one closed loan in 60 days.”

Another example, a financial forecast, could be, “I want a certain profit or revenue for the year; how do I objectively formulate a plan I can follow to achieve this goal?” We can prepare a monthly tactical plan to ultimately navigate your business to reach your goal.

The biggest challenge many business owners share with me is the feeling that they are not a numbers person and doubt their ability to learn the fundamentals. Financial Forensic is in reach of any business owner or business leader. Beginning in February 2022, 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching is offering a Financial Fundamentals symposium specifically designed for non-financial people.

I will be leading this course and it will be available both to 20/20 VSC clients and as a stand-alone purchase for non-clients. The course is live on Zoom divided into four, one-hour sessions over four months. It is interactive. You will be certified in financial fundamentals when you complete this course and ready to use this knowledge as the foundation of your business. And who knows, it’s a prerequisite for additional learning. You may find you are more of a numbers person than you believe.

I certainly hope to see you in the symposium come February! Registration links and additional details will be available in January and published in both The Vision and the Women With Vision Magazines.

About the Author

Forecasting and planning for a future in your business requires entrepreneurs to understand their own numbers. Andy is the Planning and Accountability coach for 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching and Consulting. As an expert analyst and business partner, Andy guides executives and senior sales teams to build proper analytics and measure desired goals. His expertise in forecasting shows professionals how they can achieve 25-40percentlift simply by measuring and reaching their own metrics. Our tactical planning area allows you to keep your finances on track. We provide complete financial and analytical solutions to your questions and issues; just ask how we can help.


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

Characteristics and Qualities of Good Leadership

Written by: Laila Khan

We are all attracted to different leadership styles and for leadership qualities to resonate and be impactful, something about the message has to be aligned with our goals and core values. As I continue my professional journey, oftentimes I reflect and think back to the handful of individuals who have made a positive impact on me throughout my career and reflect back to these same questions.

What attracted me to them?

How did I benefit from the experience and engagement?

How did they benefit from me?

What message did I walk away with?

How can I apply this knowledge and pivot?

Leadership, defined in Miriam’s Webster dictionary, is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.”

John Maxwell mentions, “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

But how do we make the leap from where we’re at to empower others?

How do we identify those influential traits?

How do we transition into leadership and what are those steps?

Good leaders help guide us to make large-scale decisions keeping us alive and the world moving. Great leaders make impactful changes for generations to come.

While pondering over this topic framed by my own personal and professional development, I’ve compiled five essential qualities and characteristics I admire in leadership. I credit my growth in recent years as a leader to my mentors, my husband, my association with 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching and, in particular, to the decision and commitment I made to coach with Christine Beckwith. I can say, without hesitation, Christine embodies all five of what I call the Five Essential Qualities of a Leader:

  1. Integrity
  2. Self-Awareness
  3. Empathy
  4. Strong Communication
  5. Gratitude

There are many additional traits identified and expanded upon in books, by leaders, and even by our peers, all adding to a never-ending list. These five are top of the list in my view.


Integrity is a challenging metric to measure. This is especially true with employee evaluations, which are often the only metric in use. Integrity is the foundation on which leadership is built and directs our moral compass, our North Star if you will.

Integrity is needed in leaders and followers. If there is no integrity, leadership influence will crumble. Lack of integrity renders all other leadership traits ineffective. People want a leader who practices what he or she preaches, who follows through on promises, and is motivated when we work. Integrity allows us to live in accordance with our deepest core values and share that vision with our teams.

“Leaders who act with integrity and treat people well help maximize the contributions of their employees and build goodwill for their organization,” said Tim Hird, executive vice president of Robert Half Management Resources. “As important as these attributes are for managing a team, they also drive business by attracting investors, customers, and prospects.”

I found working with Christine refreshing because the 20/20 community promotes their core values through action. The honesty and resoluteness to execute and ensure there is no compromise in the quality and process is admirable and valued. I continued to see this through the classes, masterminds, and coaching sessions.


I associate self-awareness with the ability to recognize our strengths while embracing humility to identify and accept our weaknesses. Self-awareness is inwardly focused and is paramount for leadership.

There are two types of awareness, according to research done by the Harvard Business Review. There is internal self-awareness (private) which is a reflection of our own perception of ourselves through our lenses, in accordance with our experiences, feelings, emotions, values, and aspirations. How do we impact others? Internal self-awareness is also associated with purposeful work, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.

External self-awareness (public), can be defined as recognizing other people’s perception of us, our reputation. For leaders who see themselves as their employees do and have clarity on where they stand, their employees tend to have a better relationship with them, feel more satisfied and comfortable with them, and see them as more effective and approachable in general.

I appreciated this a lot during my coaching with Christine because she isn’t reluctant to dive deep and share some of the more challenging experiences and difficulties she faced to teach and inspire us. In her book Breaking the Cycle, Christine shares many examples of resilience, and my takeaway was no matter how much progress we make, there’s always more to learn. As we keep learning through life, it’s one of the many positive steps we can take to make our journey to self-awareness exciting.


“Without empathy, you can’t build a team or nurture a new generation of leaders. You will not inspire followers or elicit loyalty. Empathy is essential in negotiations and sales it allows you to know your target’s desires and what risks they are or aren’t willing to take.”

This statement, written by Prudy Gourguechon in an article on Empathy in Forbes, resonates with me in a way I believe it should with all good leaders.

In the professional arena, empathy is usually correlated with job performance and is critical when assessing leadership effectiveness and emotional intelligence. Leaders are directly responsible for championing a vision, creating a safe space, and ensuring inclusion amongst teams.

Empathy allows us to assess if the people we’re trying to reach are actually reached. It also allows us to have insights into the future surrounding the effects our decisions and actions will have on core audiences and to strategize accordingly. One of my favorite lines from one of Christine’s videos is,

Part of being a good leader is being brutally honest without being hurtful. If we truly care about people, we have to be honest with them in a caring way. If we’re not honest at all, we are actually hurting them.


Empathy and honesty are very much aligned with my roots and upbringing, and I appreciated the familiar path.

Strong Communication

What are we if we can’t understand one another? A great leader must be an honest communicator and have the ability to adapt your communication style per your audience.

Examples of effective communication include active listening, receiving, and implementing feedback, asking open-ended questions, being transparent, and providing clarity on expectations. I recall when I first began coaching with Christine and the 20/20 Vision for Success Team, the very first question I had was about communication style. I needed to be in a program that adopted these traits so I could be comfortable being vulnerable for the sake of growth and professional development. It was her leading by example rather than speaking at me that allowed me to truly benefit by adopting my own communication style.

We know an organization’s talent should be able to trust their leader will share information, whether it is good news or bad news. Corporate goals need to be communicated throughout all levels of the company. It is important everyone has a basic knowledge of the overall plan and how they contribute to the accomplishment of those goals. While this is known, it’s not always practiced and its loss creates a disconnect, deterrence, and discord. Effective communication also comes in many forms and my favorite saying by Christine is, “Show up with results and that will do the talking for you.”


Gratitude is sacred and powerful.

Recognizing the power of gratitude and adopting it in all facets of life speaks to an abundance mindset. My husband always reminds me that the glass is always half-full and we must never lose sight of that. At home, my daughter asks each of us daily, “what are three things you’re grateful for?” Just being cognizant of this brings more value to everything and it’s when we lose sight of this, gratitude is forgotten.

Having gratitude makes us better people. The best leaders know how to demonstrate sincere gratitude in the workplace. By appreciating the people behind your or your organization’s success and acknowledging the contributions they make each and every day, we create a thriving environment.

When gratitude comes not only from leadership but from within at all levels, it fosters teamwork and cooperation and promotes empathy and compassion. From that, we create a space to translate positivity and this energy can be very contagious and uplifting. Thriving communities like this attract more like-minded people and is what I truly appreciate about 20/20 Vision for Success. It’s all about the journey and appreciating each moment as growth and an opportunity to be better than when we started. This journey has embedded a renewed appreciation and gratitude for my family, my 20/20 family, my colleagues, and our industry. We are doing so much and continue to make great strides.

Leadership Development Leads to Sustained Success

While we’re all on a learning path in life, each milestone is a cause for celebration. To be in the company of leaders and trailblazers is invigorating and being awarded the Women With Vision Award earlier this year was truly a memorable moment for me. I was proud to share this achievement with my peers and family. I attribute a part of my growth to the lessons and community 20/20 has provided and to walk on stage with my daughter in hand is something I’ll always cherish. We are the sum of our parts and it’s through relationships and the investment of time we recognize characteristics and align with traits we see within our peers, leaders, and communities. These opportunities provide us a chance and courage to put our ideas into action, grow together, make mistakes, and come through better than how we started.

Laila Khan is the assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Guidance Residential where she brings her unique talents to promote success for both the company and the team she works with. Her emphasis on the customer journey and marketing strategies directly impacts her company’s visibility and brand awareness generating more leads and building partnerships.

Laila believes home is where the heart is, and with her 24+ years of experience she has found her heart is in the “niche” space. Her network is broad and strong. She loves working with her company teams to secure home financing and help customers meet their needs, goals, and dreams of home ownership. She focuses on enhancing the customer experience, lead generation and conversions, and optimizing digital presence across platforms.

“I simply love building relationships, learning from others, and closing the gap.”

Laila believes in leading by example and doing all she can to ensure team members are personally and professionally fulfilled. She considers these basic tenants of a servant leader to be the core of her success and strengths, personally and professionally.

“I believe in legacy building, purposeful work, and servant leadership. As an advocate of a balanced work-home life and giving back, I value spending time with my husband and raising our three children.”

Laila’s downtime is dedicated to volunteering, tutoring, and investing in community building. She also enjoys being a Tae Kwon Do mom, a DECA mom, and a Girl Scout troop leader, serving and paving the path for our future leaders. 

Laila is a contributor to several industry magazines. She has been recognized and received numerous awards including Top 20 Sales, Marketing, and PR Trailblazer Progress in Lending, 2020 Women With Vision Award, and the Path to Diversity and Inclusion.

About the Author

Laila Khan is the assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Guidance Residential where she brings her unique talents to promote success for both the company and the team she works with. Her emphasis on the customer journey and marketing strategies directly impacts her company’s visibility and brand awareness generating more leads and building partnerships.

Laila believes home is where the heart is, and with her 24+ years of experience she has found her heart is in the “niche” space. Her network is broad and strong. She loves working with her company teams to secure home financing and help customers meet their needs, goals, and dreams of home ownership. She focuses on enhancing the customer experience, lead generation and conversions, and optimizing digital presence across platforms.

“I simply love building relationships, learning from others, and closing the gap.”

Laila believes in leading by example and doing all she can to ensure team members are personally and professionally fulfilled. She considers these basic tenants of a servant leader to be the core of her success and strengths, personally and professionally.

“I believe in legacy building, purposeful work, and servant leadership. As an advocate of a balanced work-home life and giving back, I value spending time with my husband and raising our three children.”

Laila’s downtime is dedicated to volunteering, tutoring, and investing in community building. She also enjoys being a Tae Kwon Do mom, a DECA mom, and a Girl Scout troop leader, serving and paving the path for our future leaders. 

Laila is a contributor to several industry magazines. She has been recognized and received numerous awards including Top 20 Sales, Marketing, and PR Trailblazer Progress in Lending, 2020 Women With Vision Award, and the Path to Diversity and Inclusion.


Written by: Mikinzi Ferran

The Hard Truth: Learn How to Speak Millennial

Editorial Note:

We welcome new author Mikinzi Ferran to our pages! This three-part series, The Hard Truth: Learn How to Speak Millennial, will span both The Vision and the Women With Vision magazines.

Mikinzi has penned a deep dive into why the Millennials and Gen Z generations are largely untapped markets for mortgage and how to approach and win the trust of what many believe to be fastest-growing segment of homebuyers today. This first article focuses on understanding why and who: breaking down the statistics and showing what we can learn and apply today by studying previous purchasing booms.


It’s time you buckle down and demolish your competition!

No, I’m not talking about Brokers are Better or Love Your Lender. I’m talking about crushing the Rental Market! While our precious Baby Boomers are stepping out of the limelight, our Millennials and Generation Z are starting to become leading factors in the home-buying market. Yet, these generations also have the highest number of individuals staying at home for longer and starting families much later in life. How can we kickstart these upcoming generations to begin leaving their childhood homes and educate them about buying real estate? Given what we know about Millennials and Gen Z, it may take additional persuading to convince them to jump-start their financial future.

Let’s get ahead of the curve and understand the mindset of Millennials and Gen z statistically speaking. Let’s learn the facts. The Hard Truth will be a series beginning with a basic understanding of nationwide statistics, followed by a profound insight on how to apply the statistical facts to your marketing skills, explicitly gearing your efforts to maximize appeal to these two generations and their preferences.

As part of Generation Z myself, I hear it firsthand, “No one ever taught me this in school,” or my new favorite, “I have the money; I would just rather spend it on things I want to do.” At times, this is just a mindset, and they don’t necessarily have to be persuaded but instead, educated. As always, the first step in teaching others is first to educate yourself.

At this moment, Millennials make up the fastest-growing segment of buyers. Millennials is a term describing a generation of the population. Anyone born between 1980 and 1995, equaling about 80 million nationwide, is considered to be a Millennial. That’s the second-largest generation after baby boomers! A Baby Boomer is a person who was born between 1946 and 1964. As part of the lending industry, I see most of our borrowers fall into the Baby Boomer category, whether moving from Ohio to Florida or our refinancers. They make up about 70 percent of our deals. Eighty percent of Baby Boomers own homes nationwide.

On average, individuals can expect to own three homes in their lifetime and be a part of roughly seven mortgage transactions. While our Baby Boomers are potentially on their second or third home in their lifetime, our Millennials are beginning their home search while Generation Z is slowly treading behind. But why is this becoming a trend when boomers typically started their family and owned their first home in their early twenties?

In July of 2020, Pew Research shared that 52 percent of young adults from ages 18-29 resided with one or both of their parents. This living arrangement is at its highest since the 1940 census at the end of the Great Depression, when 48 percent of young adults lived at home. Roughly 2.2 million Gen Z’ers (18-25) are living at home. Let’s let those numbers sink in for a little bit.

Less than half of the individuals amongst these two generations are out on their own. What’s the real reason for staying at home as you creep into your thirties?

Of course, the elephant in the room is one of the leading factors of 2020 which caused many individuals to become unemployed and potentially move back in with their parents. The global COVID-19 Pandemic. Among the adults who moved back home, 23 percent said their reason for moving was because college campuses closed, while only 18 percent said their move was job loss or financially related.

While there are plenty of valid reasons for staying or returning home, we wonder if it is something deeper than lack of motivation or change in circumstances. Sadly, we lack statistical insight behind the remaining percentage on why they still reside at home. This is where getting to know your market on a personal level will pay off.

As we all know, our industry flourished during the pandemic when interest rates dropped to an all-time low in 2020, and what many of us experiences the Refi Boom. Luckily, I purchased my first home at the age of 22 back in 2019 when prices were reasonable, and government programs were still high in demand. Despite the refinance boom and interest rates at an all-time low, my strategy and understanding of the market allowed me to drop my mortgage insurance and consolidate debt by waiting to refinance. The amount I put towards the closing cost and a down payment upon original purchase was a fraction of my equity in over two years. I did my research and became educated. Do all potential and current homeowners understand this? Certainly not in the Millennial or Gen Z generations.

While the refinance boom was underway, it may come as a shock, but many Americans became homeowners in 2020, despite the pandemic, but how many of these new homeowners were a part of our two generations?

According to Statista’s Homeownership rate in the U.S. 2012-2021, less than 38 percent of individuals under 35 own a home. So, what’s stopping them from maximizing their investments in real estate? From a Gen Z perspective, I do not think we are equipped with the knowledge to understand the financial advantages of owning a home.

I’ve seen it firsthand, and I’m sure you have too; the Millennial and Gen Z mindset often pertains to, “I have the money now, I am going to spend it now,” or “I want to keep building the savings and buy a home when I’m ready to start a family.” Millennials and Gen Z are waiting to start a family before buying a home, and they are also seeking career stability. These two generations need help realizing the numerous financial opportunities they can derive from purchasing a home now and not waiting!

This is where you come in! In the beginning of this article, I mentioned the need to crush our rental competition and not one another! Our market can have a constant flow rotating between buying and selling. This flow can potentially lead to homeowners having four to five homes in their lifetime rather than three, but it would mean home purchases would start in the early twenties, not mid-thirties.

Since we now have a basic understanding of Millennials and Generation Z, how can we apply this knowledge to our marketing abilities and turn this information into transactions? In the January issue of The Women With Vision Magazine, we will discuss how to market specifically to Millennials.

About the Author

As a young woman new to the industry, Mikinzi found herself tackling mortgages after working for a boutique marketing firm. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in English, she continues her passion for writing, by writing blogs and researching for mortgages and real estate. As a young homeowner, and now Woman with Vision winner, Mikinzi hopes to inspire and educate across all generations that millennials and Gen Z will soon lead the fastest-growing segment of homebuyers today.


Stress, Burnout and Resilience to Stamp Out Both

Written by: Ruth Lee, CMB

When leaders in the mortgage industry ignore the signs of employees or even their own stress and burnout, it can have devastating effects on absenteeism, staff turnover, creativity, and raw stamina. As such, it is a business requirement to understand how to recognize the warning signs, and to have policies and a plan in place to mitigate and combat them when they occur.

Recognizing stress and burnout is challenging in the mortgage industry because we are problem-eaters by trade. All day, every day we triage and solve problems in deals with our client’s home, clearly one of the most sensitive, emotional, and life-changing investments in their life. We slay dragons from borrower expectations to fickle underwriters to compliance demands; from dips in volume to being hyper-busy, the “why can’t I find a flipping underwriter/processor/closer on Earth?” type of dragons.  And after a serious refinance boom like the last two years, the pressure can be intense. One punch in the arm is an eye roll, three hundred a day for two years well, it’s enough to make you consider becoming a dental hygienist.

Recognizing stress and its best pal burnout is about looking at how you and your team are responding to what is our natural state of problem-solving. Leadership must be hyper-vigilant for changes in the atmosphere, which is a cue to look deeper. For example:

  • Stress can cause over-engagement in a problem, using a cocktail of will and time to resolve
  • Burnout leads to total disengagement, where it’s hard to find the will to put in any effort at
  • Stress leads to an inflated sense of urgency and
  • Burnout leaves a sense of despair and
  • Stress is characterized by anxiety and can be physically draining
  • Burnout can lead to depression and become emotionally
  • Stress leads to a loss of energy
  • Burnout leads to a lack of

Burnout can be severe, to the point where a high performer suddenly can’t seem to get it together. Those approaching burnout exhibit chronic fatigue, they can’t focus and make unexpected mistakes, and the star employee starts getting sick and staying home more, enough that you and others notice it. They become cynical, negative, and disruptive around the office, indulging in mean-spirited behavior and outbursts.

After almost two years of running at top speed, most of my clients and their teams are pretty burnt out.  But the challenges don’t actually end, they just shift to new priorities, like finding purchase business, new investors/products, or improving processes and technology.

Regardless of boom or not, it’s important to ensure you foster an environment to stave off stress and burnout. Take a corporate retreat and then don’t meet about anything. Insist your employees take their time off. While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to take time to rest and recharge the batteries. And no, taking time off between the holidays is NOT taking a vacation. The holidays, with all the shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking, and cleaning, is NOT time off; it’s just a different type of work.

This will sound obvious, but it is surprising how often work culture discourages taking sick time.  Make sure your team knows they are allowed to take a sick day. If you are sick, be sick. Go home, rest up, take care of yourself, then come back ready to work. Don’t try and work through it. If you cannot rely on your team to have your back for a day or two, you are doing it wrong. If they can’t rely on you to have their back while they recover, you are doing it wrong. Sick days are a critical component of working with others to keep yourself, your clients, and your other employees safe. If your employees fear reprisal or disapproval from taking sick days, you need to fix it immediately. If you fear malingering, then you need to hire an “A” team who wants to be there.

Finally, have a plan to combat stress and burnout when they occur. Be honest and open about it and ensure your team knows you are available to have the discussion. Be empathetic and solve the problem. Do they need a different role for a while? Can you clarify their job expectations or their development? Can you stamp out dysfunction, such as political gamesmanship and aggression? Pull it out by the root. Send them on a vacation; it will be the cheapest $3500 you’ve ever spent if they are a great employee or leader. There are a zillion ways to address it but be quick and decisive.

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.



Written by: Megan Anderson

A new year always brings new opportunities. It’s the time of year where we begin to think about the future. What’s next for us? What goals need to be readjusted? It is also the time of year where we reflect on the past to see where we excelled and where we fell short.

Aside from our personal and business goals, a new year can also bring a new market. In this month’s article, we will discuss important ways to plan for the new year, along with crucial MBS Highway tools to help you and your business thrive and make a positive impact on your clients in any market.

Knowledge Breeds Confidence

One way to thrive and make an impact in any market is to embody and exude confidence. When we feel confident, our clients and referral partners sense it and they, in turn, trust us. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Having confidence helps us build relationships and increase conversion.

A few years after I started working at MBS Highway, Barry Habib asked me to be on the Morning Update video. This is a daily video where we break down the various economic and housing reports and how they could affect the market. We advise originators on when to lock and float.

The first time we filmed, it took me ten takes and the second I went off camera I burst into tears. I felt uncomfortable and lacked confidence. I wanted to give up, but instead of saying no to an amazing opportunity, I chose to study. I woke up early to read about the reports. I continually reviewed the Certified Mortgage Advisor course to really understand the various reports and why they mattered.

By studying, practicing, and being willing to learn, my confidence increased. Today, a few short years later, I’m asked to speak at conferences all over the country on market outlook and forecasts.

In today’s world, it is not enough to simply get mortgages done. You must be a financial advisor to be competitive. You can do this by starting how I did, watch MBS Highway’s Morning Update video every day. And after you watch it, try to articulate what you learned to others around your office.

The more you teach market information, the more you begin to understand it. The more you understand it, the more confidence you’ll have. And the more confidence you have, the more likely clients and referral partners will want to do business with you.

Overcoming Points of Friction in the New Year

Now let’s discuss some issues we’ve been experiencing which will likely continue into the new year and how you can overcome these points of friction to grow your business.

Nationally, we are short on housing inventory while demand has been growing exponentially. This tight inventory has left many potential buyers asking themselves, “Should I buy, or should I continue to rent? And if I do buy how much better off will I really be?”

Be honest with me, can you answer that? And if you can’t who is supposed to? After all, aren’t we supposed to be the trusted advisors? This is where MBS Highway’s Buy vs Rent tool and the Morning Update can help.

For example, during the Morning Update we talk about rental prices. Apartment List reported rents rose 2.1 percent in September and 16.4 percent year over year. This is the fastest rent growth on record and is on a 22 percent pace if this growth continues.

To put this in context, rents from January 2017 to September 2019 averaged just a 3.4 percent rise. What’s more, rent renewals are going up 5.8 percent year over year! This rise in rents can have a significant impact on your clients’ cash flow over time.

But if your clients were to purchase a home their mortgage would amortize, building wealth and equity. Plus, with a fixed-rate loan their monthly payment would remain relatively stable into the future.

Another great feature of MBS Highway’s Buy vs Rent tool is we give you the annual rent increases for specific counties or zip codes. Let’s take for example a $400,000 home in Hillsborough County, Florida.

Based on the cost per square footage for both renting and purchasing in this county, a comparable monthly rent on that home would be around $2,500 per month. Let’s say the client is receiving a discount at $2,100 per month. We know rents are rising 5.5 percent annually in this particular county.

Now, let’s say your clients were to purchase a home with a fixed rate of 3.25 percent, putting 10 percent down and they are thinking about living in this home for nine years.

Now that you have all this information, can you tell me what option is better and by how much?

If not, no fear. MBS Highway is here!

With our Buy vs Rent tool, you can show your clients that just on a cash flow basis they would be better off purchasing by $29,000 and that is just the beginning. They could expect to gain $208,000 through appreciation alone!

And then there is the best-kept secret: equity through amortization. Make sure your clients know part of their monthly mortgage payment is principal and interest and while some of it goes back to the lender, the other portion is basically a forced savings plan taking money from one pocket and putting it in another. Overall, they might be surprised to know they would be $267,000 better off purchasing over renting.


More Market Volatility Ahead?

We talked about a new year bringing a new market, and it appears we need to strap in for more volatility and a rise in rates. The MBA came out with their forecast for 2022, which stated they see rates going to 4 percent and refinance volume dropping 62 percent. So how are you going to keep your refinance business in a higher rate environment?

Of course, clients don’t just refinance to receive a lower rate. They may need cash for unexpected expenses or emergencies. The first step to keeping your refinance business thriving is realizing you have the power to help change people’s lives during difficult times. Not just that, but the strong appreciation we’ve experienced has created a wonderful time for cash-out refinances.

Let’s say your clients bought a home three years ago for $500,000, with their original loan for $400,000 at a rate of 3 percent. What if they need to refinance, but the rate is 4 percent and the closing costs would be $4,000?

At first glance, it would not make sense for your clients to refinance. Their current principal and interest payment is $1,686 and their proposed principal and interest payment would be $1,802.

However, since they purchased their home, they have been building equity and we can use the equity to help them financially.

Let’s say in this scenario your clients are hoping to pay off credit card debt. You can show your clients how they can use the equity to pay off this debt, which would save them $1,776 per month.

Now let’s say your clients are beginning to get excited but they stop you and say, “This is great but I’ve been paying down this 30-year mortgage and I don’t know how I feel about another 30-year commitment.”

This is when you can show your clients the power of debt consolidation. Advise your clients that instead of pocketing the extra money they are saving they can instead invest the $1,776 back into their mortgage.

Nothing is going to change. They are going to keep making the same monthly payments they have been. But since they are putting the money back into their mortgage, they won’t have 30 years left of payments. Instead, they would have 11 years and 11 months. And since they are paying that mortgage off sooner, they are able to amortize much more.

The bottom line is this: To keep your refinance volume in a rising rate environment, it’s crucial to be able to articulate the financial opportunity and be a debt manager.

Making a Real Difference With Social Media

Lastly, if you want to really make an impact in your business next year, it is important to amplify your message. By mastering social media and social video, you can have a greater reach answering common questions and concerns, building your reputation as an expert and advisor in the process.

MBS Highway’s Social Studio tool is here to help. We create scripts bi-weekly on engaging topics like “Making the Right Choice Between Buying and Renting” and “Understanding the Latest Data on Home Appreciation.” You can even create your own scripts. I have seen originators multiply their business four times over in a few years simply by adding social video marketing to their communication strategy.

Want access to the tools that can give you the confidence and knowledge to thrive next year? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of MBS Highway and see for yourself the kind of impact they will make.

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.


Written by: Jenny Mason

Imagine if you could be happier, have stronger relationships, better health, sleep more soundly, have more energy, and increase your productivity? Sounds great right? Well, you can. It often takes only a few positive sparks of emotions to ignite the process, which then fuels positive changes in other areas of your life resulting in vitality. Vitality refers to a feeling of Aliveness.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world, most people exist, that is all.” ~ Oliver Wilde

Research has shown gratitude is the single most powerful method of increasing happiness. The psychological benefits of gratitude have been proven time and again. Gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait—more so than even optimism, hope, or compassion. Grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism. Gratitude as a discipline protects us from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness.

Practicing gratitude has a positive effect on the mental, physical, and spiritual areas of life. Studies have shown consciously being grateful activates different parts of your brain; the hippocampus and amygdala, the two main sites regulating emotions, memory, and bodily functions. Studies also show cultivating gratitude increases feelings of energy, enthusiasm, and vigor, achieving goals, coping with anxiety, relieving stress, and improving health. It also helps you feel a greater sense of purpose, be mentally stronger, experience decreased pain, and leads to increased time spent exercising and experiencing more sleep time. It’s also known to lower blood pressure and increase energy.

Gratitude is a natural antidepressant. When practiced daily, the effects of gratitude can have almost the same impact as medications. It produces a feeling of long-lasting happiness and contentment, the physiological basis of which lies at the neurotransmitter level. When you express gratitude and receive the same, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for your emotions, and they make you feel ‘good.’ They enhance your mood immediately, making you feel happy from the inside out. It’s difficult to feel depressed or sorry for yourself when you experience gratitude. For example, a person who worries too much about the adverse outcomes will subconsciously re-wire his brain to process negative information only. Your mind cannot focus on positive and negative information at the same time. By consciously practicing gratitude, you can train the brain to selectively attend to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and stress.

There is even reason to believe gratitude can extend your lifespan by a few months or even years. Many centenarians interviewed attribute living a longer, fuller life to having an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude has been shown to help in your career as it makes you a more effective manager, helps with networking, increases your decision-making capabilities, and increases your productivity.

Writing down five things you are grateful for every day in a journal can increase your long-term wellbeing by 10 percent. Studies show people who keep gratitude journals are 15 percent more optimistic, 25 percent happier, sleep one-half hour more per night, and exercise 33 percent more each week compared to those who do not keep a gratitude journal. In future studies participants in the gratitude condition felt more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, attentive, energetic, excited, determined, and strong.

Gratefulness is not just a feeling. It is also an attitude, a chosen posture toward life that says, “I will be grateful in all circumstances.” Becoming aware that every moment is a gift, you did nothing to earn it or deserve it, yet you were given it to enjoy it to live it to the fullest.

You can’t always change where you are at right this moment, but you can change where you are headed. By living a life of gratitude, we don’t feel, we begin to feel the gratefulness we live. Feeling grateful vs. being grateful. It’s easy to feel grateful when everything is going our way, but when we grow is when we exercise our gratitude muscle when everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

It’s harder to be grateful in difficult times if you weren’t practicing gratitude in the good times. Do it now, practice gratitude.

Gratitude is not only an emotion felt when receiving a benefit gladly, but it is also a stance toward life…. Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It is not a form of superficial happiology. Instead, it means realizing the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It means reframing a loss into a potential gain, recasting negativity into positive channels for gratitude.” ~ Robert Emmons

The basic idea is really simple: Every day, write down five things for which you are grateful and notice the beauty in nature all around you. When a complaining thought comes into your mind turn it into a grateful one. Focus on what you do have, your blessings. Be grateful for the small things. Be present in the moment. Focus on the positives, not the negatives. Thank those around you and hang out with other grateful people. Be a positive emotional contagion. I am grateful for you, here’s to vitality!

“Gratitude drives happiness. Happiness boosts productivity. Productivity reveals mastery. And mastery inspires the world.” ~ Robin Sharma

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.



On this Special Thanksgiving Episode of the Mortgage X Podcast, Christine and Frazier also discuss business planning for 2021.

Christine Beckwith of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching and Jason Frazier of Mortgage X Creative bring you the Mortgage X Podcast. Guests range from visionaries working hard to evolve our industry to meet the needs of the modern consumer to the industry’s biggest producers, advocates, legends, thought leaders, partners, and lenders.

After you listen to this great podcast, be sure to take a look at the January issue of the Women With Vision Magazine where Kelsey Rauchut was featured as the cover story!

Wendy Peel to head Reverse Mortgage Division at BlackFin Group


Wendy Peel has been hired by BlackFin Group to serve as managing director, partner of the reverse mortgage consulting practice. In this role, she consults with lenders about the power of generational lending – meeting borrowers where they are in life with the loan product that can best serve their lifestyle. She is recognized by the mortgage industry as a Reverse Mortgage subject matter expert.

Peel comes to BlackFin from ReverseVision, where she served as vice-president of sales & marketing. Prior to that, she was vice-president of sales & marketing for CommercePromote, providers of Cloud- based SaaS applications.

She was also vice-president of business development & marketing for iCoStore, a provider of promotional products, and sales & marketing director of Take Notice, a woman-owned marketing and design firm. Peel will engage senior leadership to analyze and realize the strategic and financial value of reverse mortgages.

Dean McCall Promoted to CIO at Promontory MortgagePath

Dean McCall has been promoted from managing director of development operations and data to chief information officer for Promontory MortgagePath LLC. As CIO, McCall will affect broad decision-making beyond technology and into strategic positioning, Promontory MortgagePath’s client service model, and other company initiatives.

McCall’s expertise in cloud infrastructure blueprints, data architecture, and the mortgage industry has been instrumental to Promontory MortgagePath’s growth and success. Prior to joining the organization in 2015, McCall worked in engineering, technology consultation, and warehouse architecture with Oracle, Aurora Loan Services, and Redwood Trust.

Tony Taveekanjana Joins PenFed Credit Union’s Mortgage Leadership as National Retail Sales Executive

PenFed Credit Union, the nation’s second-largest federal credit union, today announced Tony Taveekanjana has joined its mortgage leadership team as National Retail Sales Executive and Vice President. Taveekanjana is a highly accomplished executive with experience leading the nation’s top mortgage companies. He is responsible for expanding PenFed’s national retail sales team with a focus on building self-sourced purchase production through partnerships with realtors, builders, and financial influencers.

Prior to PenFed, Taveekanjana was Co-Founder of Homeric, a mortgage solutions company. He also held leadership positions at top mortgage companies including Movement Mortgage, Gateway First Bank, Envoy Mortgage, Stearns Lending, New Penn Financial, Fifth Third Bank, and Bank of America.

Taveekanjana attended the University of Tampa John H. Sykes College of Business and resides in Dallas, Texas.

“I’m proud to join the PenFed team and help them further build on their incredible success,” said Taveekanjana. “PenFed is a leader in the mortgage industry with a very strong value proposition for our Retail Channel. The added bonus is PenFed is mission-driven to provide a lower cost of homeownership and a mortgage process that is easy and accessible.”

nCino to Acquire Simple Nexus for $1.2 billion

nCino, Inc. (NCNO), the financial technology company focused on cloud banking and digital transformation solutions, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the developer of mobile-first technology for mortgage lenders, SimpleNexus, for $1.2 billion. Under the terms of the transaction, nCino will acquire SimpleNexus for approximately $240 million in cash and approximately 13.2 million shares of common stock.

nCino, a publicly traded financial tech company specializing in cloud banking, said its decision to purchase Utah-based SimpleNexus is a natural expansion of the company into the point-of-sale mortgage market. The transaction will broaden nCino’s serviceable market by over $4 billion.

SimpleNexus participates in more than one in seven mortgage originations in the US, serving more than 300 mortgage companies, over 80 banks, and credit unions, and more than 41,000 loan originators nationwide.

Pierre Naudé, chief executive officer of nCino, comments, “Just as nCino has transformed the process for commercial, small business and retail lending, treasury management, and account opening, SimpleNexus has streamlined the many stages of the homeownership process into a single, seamless journey. Their innovative solution and deep subject matter expertise in consumer front-end technology will extend our capabilities to the US point-of-sale mortgage space and enhance nCino’s mobile and point-of-sale offerings, unlocking additional opportunities and value for our customers and their clients.”

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.


For an invitation to our private student events or to our public virtual events contact us at

HAPPENING NOW! Winter Carnivale

The Power of Small Changes

By Peter Wietmarschen

Humans have harnessed the energy of the atom to power our cities and countries. We’ve used the destructive power of atoms in war. And sometimes we’ve unintentionally let that power run away from our otherwise good intentions. Atomic was a hot-button, generation-defining word for unbelievable power.

But this is not all atomic means. Atomic also means small. Atoms are the small building blocks of matter we are made up of, interact with, and rely on to live.

This duality between power and size is the core principle behind Atomic Habits, a book written by James Clear.

Atomic Habits is one of the most sold books in recent history, selling well over three million copies. Let’s take a look at what makes this book such a popular read for business owners, sports stars, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.

I don’t want to bore you with a poorly rehashed story Clear shares but here is a little context. The author begins with his personal story of triumph. Clear was a star pitcher growing up, with aspirations to play in Major League Baseball that were suddenly thrown into question after a traumatic brain injury. Clear’s love and attention to habits were borne out of his fight and recovery to return to his best playing days.

By taking both meanings of the word atomic; small and powerful, you can create atomic habits which are both small in size but powerful in effect.

Gradual Improvement

In fact, the reason I fell in love with the book early on was how he shares a story about becoming one percent better every day. The idea behind this is minor changes today lead to exponential results in the future. For example, you’re not going to become any better at checking your email if you go in today to clear out your 1,000 unread emails. But you are going to be better if you find the time to check your email daily after you pour yourself the first cup of coffee in the morning.

Let’s look six months into the future. If you just cleared out your backlog of unread emails, you would find you have another 1000 unread in six months. But when you find a time each morning to read your emails, then you will have a better chance of staying on top of the constant stream of incoming messages, leaving you with only a handful of old emails.

My Three Takeaways

My first book review covered The Productivity Project, a book I have read multiple times. And like The Productivity Project, I can already tell you, after recently reading Atomic Habits, I will be back for more!

Here are my three takeaways from Atomic Habits that will help anyone build better habits:

  1. Understand the 4 Laws of Habit Creation.
  2. Know the Difference Between Motion and Action.
  3. Learn to Fall in Love With Boredom.

The Four Laws of Habit Creation

Most everyone wants to create better habits for themselves; whether it’s checking emails consistently, scheduling your tasks, being more focused at work, or any numerous other habits. But not everyone thinks about their bad habits. These can be as small as drinking too much coffee or not prioritizing your time to something more detrimental like smoking cigarettes.

Clear structures Atomic Habits around his four laws of creating a habit and uses the inverse of these laws to guide how to break your bad habits. These four laws sound simple enough but putting these laws into practice takes real commitment and focus. This is why it is so important to understand these four laws (and their inverses) so you can more easily recognize when to adapt your behavior towards creating your habit.

The four laws to create a good habit are:

  1. Make it Obvious
  2. Make it Attractive
  3. Make It Easy
  4. Make it Satisfying

The inverse of these four laws is how to break a bad habit:

  1. Make it Invisible
  2. Make it Unattractive
  3. Make it Difficult
  4. Make it Unsatisfying

The Difference Between Motion and Action

My second takeaway from Atomic Habits was learning the difference between motion and action. Like the dual meaning of “Atomic,” Clear uses a bit of wordplay here. To many of us, motion and action are more or less the same. However, Clear explains motion is when you are planning and preparing for a job. Action, on the other hand, is something we do which delivers results.

For example, motion is planning out your social media for the month. Action is writing and scheduling the posts to go live.

Or motion is creating a plan to bring in ten new clients. Action is actually picking up your phone to call prospects.

Fall In Love With Boredom

Finally, my last takeaway is to fall in love with boredom. Clear asked one of his coaches what the difference between the best athletes and everyone else is. His coach’s answer: It comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day.

When you are building a habit there will be times when you become bored. It’s inevitable. Sometimes it’s not about getting pumped up to go to work or excited to write a newsletter. The most effective people embrace boredom. They know there will be days when they don’t want to drive into the office or put on their jogging shoes. But they do it anyway.

Why? Because it’s what makes them successful!

Action Steps

These three takeaways are only as good as the action we can take to make them happen. That is what sets Atomic Habits apart from other self-help style books. Clear provides actionable suggestions you can use to implement the ideas he shares in each chapter. He uses formulas like habit stacking (adding a new habit to an established routine) which easily shows you the steps to build a new or stronger habit. He gives you exercises so you learn your identity (our habits are a reflection of our identity). He also has a wealth of knowledge he shares on his website.


From the simple laws of habit creation to falling in love with boredom, Atomic Habits is a must read.

4.75/5 Stars

Atomic Habits – James Clear

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

Be sure to catch these other 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.

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