Defining Success

The dictionary defines success in many different ways: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity; the outcome of an undertaking.

But whose aims, whose purpose, whose prosperity is it that we talk about when we talk about what success means to us? Most people define success through their accumulated life experiences, by comparing themselves to others, or by listening to friends and family tell their versions of success. If we define our success by what other people think or feel, if we tie our success to their aims, their vision or popularity or prosperity, we are setting ourselves up for suffering, a loss of joy, and failure.

Tangible Result or Feeling?

What constitutes success for each of us is as different as our fingerprints. But in my experience there are basically two types of individuals when it comes to defining success: those who define it by tangible results and those who define it as a feeling.

If you’re a person who defines success by tangible results then you may say things like: “I’ll be successful when my paycheck is x amount, or I’ll be successful when I close x number of deals every month, or I’ll be successful when I make top producer.”

Conversely, a person who defines success by a feeling might say things like: “I’ll be successful when I no longer have to worry about money, or I’ll be successful when others are envious of me, or I’ll be successful when I’m not anxious about when I’ll get my next referral.”

The one common denominator in both definitions of success is that they take place sometime in the future. There is no appreciation for the successes of here and now. Why is that? Why don’t we celebrate our successes every day? The answer lies in our brains.


Our brains could actually be working against us when it comes to being successful and recognizing that we are. Fortunately our brains aren’t “hard-wired” as neuroscientists once thought. They can evolve and change as the information and sensory date we feed to them changes.

What typically happens is that once we’ve achieved “success” our brain immediately kicks in and says – nope, not good enough you have to do better, etc. The brain moves success further and further out because that’s the behavior we’ve taught it in the past. Maybe we’re always comparing ourselves to others. Maybe our family and friends do the comparing for us. Maybe we’re trying to live up to others’ expectations. Maybe we’ve been made to feel “not good enough” on more than one occasion. By allowing others to define success on our behalf, we’ve taught our brains not to celebrate success in the here and now but always be reaching for something more.

A Harvard study in 2007 proved that the brain can’t distinguish what is real from what is imaginary. That’s why our dreams can often feel so real. By learning to control our thoughts we can rewire our brains and how they handle success. Simply thinking and seeing ourselves as successful is the first step to eventually allowing ourselves to celebrate success in the present moment and not constantly put it off to the future.

Rewire Your Brain for Success

This isn’t something that will happen overnight but here are a few things you can begin to do today to rewire your brain for success:

  1. Resist the urge to use self-defeating language. You know things like, “I’m so stupid,” “What an idiot,” etc. Find one positive thing you did every time something doesn’t go according to plan and tell yourself that instead.
  2. Control your environment. Surround yourself with people who are positive and supporting, not negative or demeaning.
  3. Get used to using superlatives. For example, instead of saying, “I’m fine,” say “I’m awesome!”
  4. Don’t say “I am busy,” or “I am overwhelmed.” You can’t feel successful if you are complaining.

If you take control of your thoughts, if you are conscious and consistent in thinking positively and proactively, then you will begin to experience success. The quicker you can start to celebrate the small stuff, the faster your brain will rewire itself toward success as a natural part of your life.


Giving Thanks – Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so grateful for all the opportunity that the mortgage and real estate industry has provided for me. I am truly blessed getting to work with so many people that are committed to making a real difference in the world. I hope that you and your families have a wonderful day celebrating today! I appreciate all your support for FTSS and hope to bring you more wisdom in the upcoming year!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Non-Negotiable Activity Plan

Run Your Business like a Business.

In the mortgage origination industry if you want to create a sustainable model, one that will provide a steady stream of income regardless of the circumstances, you must approach the business as a business. Gone are the days where you took orders from someone else – now you’re the one calling the shots. It’s the kind of power and freedom you’ve been dreaming about. But with great power and freedom comes great responsibility. To function effectively as a business you must devise a comprehensive business plan. You’ll need to have a vision, and a purpose. You’ll need to set goals and identify who your ideal clients are going to be. And you’ll need to know exactly what marketing and operational processes you’ll need to have in place.

Non-negotiable Activity Plan

Developing your business plan is a big step. But it actually means nothing if you don’t also develop a non-negotiable activity plan as well. These are all the activities you absolutely must do, whether you feel like it or not, in order to build a sustainable business.

The items that go on your non-negotiable activity plan are the tasks you need to do in order to execute your strategy – whether that’s in marketing or database management. This is where you add all the tasks, no matter how small, in an executable and measurable format. No matter what, you’re going to execute this winning formula every single week of the year that you work. You create a foundation that regardless of how busy you get, no matter how frustrated, you know that these activities are your blueprints for success and sustainability. You can have a weekly plan or break it out by the day.

The most important thing to recognize is that these activities need to be done regardless of how many loans you take or loan level problems you face. If you have never read the Compound Effect by Darrin Hardy you should. He has taught me it is the things you do every day that add up to long-term success.  Here’s an example of a non-negotiable plan.


  • Email/text/call to agents – buyer updates / loan comparisons from weekend and see if they have open house prospects
  • 5 calls to Prospect or Database
  • Facebook / LinkedIn Post about weekend open houses or market updates
  • 5 REALTOR® Calls


  • 5 calls to database
  • Process Prospects for the following week: Mail thank you notes, schedule follow-up, add to social media and your CRM.
  • Follow up on Refinance Prospects
  • 1 REALTOR® Meeting
  • 5 REALTOR® Calls


  • Add contacts to database – buyer / new contacts you have just met
  • 5 calls to database
  • 1 REALTOR® Meeting
  • 1 Sphere of Influence Meeting
  • Review pre-approved database for credit expiration dates, updated docs and make calls to anyone who needs updated info
  • Call REALTOR® that have new listings to target open houses


  • 5 calls to database
  • 1 REALTOR® meeting


  • Facebook / LinkedIn: update weekend availability
  • 5 calls to database
  • Call pre-approved and prospective buyers
  • Call REALTORS® with pre-approved buyer updates (rates, programs, etc.)
  • Email/Text/Call REALTOR® with weekend availability

Regardless of the metrics and activities you put into your plan, it won’t do you any good unless you know the results. Once a week it’s important to look at how you performed in each of the activities you set and critical that you evaluate the results from those activities. Give yourself a report card. It’s really the only way to see if your plan is working. If it isn’t you’ll be able to make adjustments each week to do more of the things that create the results you want. You won’t be left at the end of the year wondering why you didn’t meet your goals.

To get a sample copy of the Activity Plan Report Card that I use click on this link:



In my recent blog about sustainability I talked about discipline being one of the cornerstones to consistently building and maintaining your business. Discipline is hard work. It takes having a plan and working it even when you don’t want to. It takes self-control and the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel even when you’re surrounded by darkness. But what if you can’t? What if the sheer quantity of what you need to do overwhelms you?


That’s when laziness rears its ugly head. Laziness is often defined at the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy. But that’s not how it applies as a sabotage mechanism in the mortgage industry. Laziness in this context actually results because people have too much to do. They know what they should be doing but aren’t doing it. They feel like they can’t get anywhere. They don’t know where to start so they don’t. And the longer they wait to start, the harder it is.

They sabotage their business by distracting themselves with Facebook, LinkedIn, other social media, television, or unimportant tasks. They begin to make excuses. They have an “I’ll start again, tomorrow” attitude only tomorrow never comes. Oh sure, they’ll take care of the things that absolutely have to happen – the loan closings, the doc preparation, taking applications from referrals that drop in their lap. But doing the tasks that need to be done, the ones with long-term rewards, the ones that will sustain their business, get shut out by their distraction of choice.


If you feel like laziness may be one of your preferred methods of sabotage I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions: what are you trying to avoid, and what do you think you’re going to gain by avoiding it and distracting yourself? Then step back and look at all the time you spent watching television, surfing the web, texting, etc. and make a list of all the things you’ve created from those activities. My guess is you won’t be able to put anything on that list. There is no sustainable joy or progress that comes from those activities and there certainly isn’t any sustainable business or financial success that comes from them.

I’m not saying that you have to be working on your business 24/7. We all need to time to relax and regenerate. But I am suggesting that you need to build those activities into your plan after you have done your daily disciplines. The goal is to remove conflict and not beat yourself up for relaxing. Yes, you’ll say, but the reason I’m not currently doing my daily disciplines is because I’m overwhelmed by them.

Often the feeling of being overwhelmed stems from a plan that is too broad in scope. Perhaps your plan says that you’re going to contact 15 people in your database every week. That can seem like a lot if you’ve got closings and applications to process. But what if instead your plan said I’ll contact 3 people each day from my database. Three doesn’t sound like much. Three is maybe a twenty minute activity. Three is doable. So stop looking at the enormity of what needs to be done and instead break each goal or project down into small pieces. Start tackling each of those small pieces and make sure to celebrate your success when you’ve accomplished them. Before you know it, the big project will be complete too and laziness will no longer be an issue.