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I have been in the mortgage industry for nearly 10 years now.  I've been in this business  just long enough to have been through a few ups and downs.  Recently I made a road trip through central and eastern Washington to call on Agents and visit local VA institutions.   This particular trip was going to be the first of many in which to lay a foundation;  laying a foundation and building relationships are a critical part of any successful marketing/sales strategy.   I really enjoyed visiting with the different agents as they all have a little different take on what is going on in their community, how the economy is affecting them and what they are doing in order to stay successful.

While in Yakima  I visited Jerry Heyen, of Creekside Realty.  Jerry noted that the Yakima market was steadily moving along, and that homes in the $150k were most active.  While in Wenatchee I met with Doug Andrews and Perrin Cornell, of Century 21 Exclusively.  While meeting with Doug and Perrin of Century 21 Exclusivley, the discussions pertained to the market, market niche's that we could penetrate, and how well the Wenatchee market has held up in the overall poor economy.  There are only a few pockets in the entire nation that have held its head above water in terms of Real Estate Values and Wenatchee is one of those area's that can attest to this. 

While in Ellensburg I visited with Del Knudson of John L. Scott, Fran Stolen of Kelley Realty, and Jennifer Savage of Windermere Realty.  All were amazing individuals and top shelf agents, you get the sense these agents all had one thing in common.  They had a great sense of community.  Every single agent genuinely gave a glimpse into what was going on their community; this is huge as it is a direct reflection on them as people and as agents.  They truly are engaged in day to day life in Ellensburg. 

I ended my trip in Spokane Washinginton and had the priveledge of meeting with Jeannette Karis of Re/Max of SpokaneJeannette has held the title of Spokane Area Realtor President, as well as ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES, SFR.  Very highly decorated and knowledgeable in her industry Jeannettehas a firm grasp on the pulse of her community as well.  We discussed the market climate in Spokane and laid down some initial strategy to incorporate both of us in order to leverage our marketing in the area.  Jeannette has many successful years of interaction with the VA client base, and has a strong reputation in the industry as well as with the VA community, as she serves in several capacities within the VA network.  Once again community is the common denominator.

Kevin J. Lawson 

Last Friday was a great day.  I had the wonderful privilege of volunteering at my daughters school under the the Watch DOGS (dads of great students) program.  Its an amazing program run around the entire United States founded by a father with a vision.  Through an adverse situation at his childs school this amazing gentleman realized that there needed to be a more prominent male role in the schools across America.  So the vision that was Watch Dogs became a reality.   There is such a program in nearly every school today.  Its such a huge success that it should be mandatory, but that is not the case.  Believe it or not there IS resistance in some situations. 

I have now witnessed first hand what the children and faculty gain by allowing fathers to come into their childs school, and volunteer for a day of  Watch DOGS.  Its amazing, the kids interact with you far beyond your expectations.......your looked up to and most if not all of the teachers and staff appreciate what it is your doing too.  I have hit on a common thread here the last couple of posts here and that commonality is giving back.........Community...getting involved and volunteering.......getting in touch wtih the pulse of your town or county in which you reside.  If we all did a little bit of this it would make such a tremendous impact in where we live and it would only spread from there.  This stuff is contagious I'm telling you.  It really is.  For there is so much enjoyment out of being around children and seeing all those smiling faces and adorable personalities.  If you come across a  little one that is not so happy, and you so happen to engage them and find out what is wrong, you have the ability to change that unhappiness into happiness.....for some children have no male role model so for them maybe the Watch DOG has a huge impact on their life. 

Thats what its all about.  Making a difference.  Impacting a childs life for the better.  Treating people right.  Giving back to the community.  If your busy, thats fantastic.  Make a half day out of it to give it a shot.  You'll soon wish you were signed up for the full day.  Myself, I cannot wait to get  back to my daughters school to be a Watch Dog for the day again. 
Kevin J. Lawson

I was fortunate enough to attend our counties Veterans Resource Committee meeting yesterday, seeking membership along the way.  The duration of the meeting consisted of proposal after proposal in search of funds for veterans relief, assistance and new plans to assist veterans in a variation of ways.  I attended representing Creekside Mortgage, Inc., and can attest that we are veteran owned and operated, and have nothing but the Veterans best interest at heart, as we consistently do 85 to 90 percent of our transactions assisting veterans in VA Loans.

Lets back up now to the doom and gloom that our nations media paints so often on the many news networks, internet and published accounts.  Its easy to get the perception that there are no  institutions or individuals, countries or anyone for that matter that is out to make  a positive change in peoples lives.  Well I can positively tell you that there are good people doing great things in abundance.  Getting involved in your community is a great way to find out what is being done and also find out how to assist others.  There are a great many ways to get plugged in; all you have to do is pick up the phone or get on the Internet and spend fifteen minutes researching what area might make the most sense to you. 

Creekside Mortgage, Inc. is heavily involved in several associations that assist with Veterans needs.  We do it out of respect and a sense of loyalty to our fellow brothers and sisters that have served and protected this great nation.  There is a great feeling one will achieve after giving and its so worth the time that one invests, for its giving a little and knowing you have done the right thing.  I know that Jeannette Karis of Remax of Spokaneis heavily involved in doing many of the same things and she doesnt volunteer out of obligation but of genuine honor and loyalty to her community.

The next time your down and think that there is no good going on in the world or your community you can rest assure that there is; and if you were so inclined you can make an effort to invest an  hour to three hours per week, and that will go a LONG way.  I saw first hand all of the amazing programs going on in Clark County, Washington that assist Veterans.   There really is an abundance of good going on in our communities, and if you actually look out into your community you can find good and contribute to it as well.  Its the right thing to do.

Kevin J. Lawson

Well its Monday morning after the Super Bowl that matched the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints.  What can we gain from the game?? Well......for beginners an attitude of not quiting...... the Indianapolis Colts were expected to win and I for one thought like many that Payton Manning and Company would come out to the field and take care of business and go home with another Super Bowl victory, and trophy.   Like most watchers of the game if you did watch the game, after the first quarter it looked like it could be a LONG day for Saints.  Manning and company were methodical as they marched down the field with precision. 

However the Saints never lied down.  The Saints dug down deep and were actually making gutsy calls, going for it on a fourth and goal from the 2 or 3 yard line.  The Saints did not make it into the endzone......they were stuffed at the goal line.  But they had more to give.  The second half began with an onside kick that the Saints recovered and thats when things started to look up for the Saints.  The bold decision paid off as they scored and were hanging in the game.  Payton Manning threw an interception later in the game that was run back for a touchdown and basically all but sealed the Deal. 

What looked like in the beginning of the game, a really tough and long day for New Orleans Saints ended up being a lesson in resilience.  The Saints never quit fighting.  The coaching staff did not waiver on calling aggressive calls.  The same can be said for professionals in the Mortgage or Real Estate industry.  For the minute you give up on yourself or the game, you'll be heading down a long and dark road.  Putting in the hours, practicing and creating great habits, as well as educating yourself and staying educated are but some of the necessary items required to have any success.  You have to lay down a substantial foundation for any type of successful business to stand on in the long run.  So make a commitment to yourself and to your upper management.  Be proactive in setting goals, write them down and read them multiple times per day.  Visualize what it is you want to achieve, and dont be shy about letting those goals include your family, and your outside of work life.  Being a professional in the Mortgage or Real Estate industry is all about making the most of your time.  Use your time wisely.  Make as little mistakes as possible, and when you do,  make sure that you fully understand what you did wrong and learn from your misfortunes if you have them.   Now get excited, that always helps and seize the day !!!!

Kevin J. Lawson

Flexibility and creativity dont exactly come to mind when you think about the mortgage or real estate environment, however as sales people, were constantly tasked to be ever more creative.......get deeper into a niche, create a new a new niche, and be ever vigilant with our creativity. 

The more that employees are encouraged to think creatively and apply that creativity, the more flexible in practice and nimble in responsiveness a company becomes. When you take pressure off people to come up with a "big" idea, you encourage the creativity that can bring about incremental innovations. As a result, a new service or product offering may emerge, but it's more likely that you will optimize your operations for cost, quality, efficiency, and speed.

At its core, innovation is applied creativity. And, it is my belief since I have seen it for years is that most employees can be encouraged to be creative, if you want them to be.

How can you encourage small innovations?

Think small. The beauty of small innovations is that they focus on immediate concerns, not on finding game-changing products. Encourage your people to find a solution to a problem, or a better way of doing things.

Try posing questions: How can accounting streamline billing? How can customer service resolve issues on the phone without supervisor intervention? How can product engineers find more time to spend with customers? Using such questions will get people generating ideas. Not every idea will be brilliant, but that's the point. You want to collect ideas, refine them, and select the best for implementation.

Implement locally. Since most small innovations are limited to a department or a function, put them into action as soon as possible. If the idea does not work as expected, don't abandon it immediately — see if you can tweak it. Implementation itself can be creative and sometimes it takes several tries to make innovative ideas work as expected, or beyond expectations.

Promote widely. You need to recognize those who think of and support the innovations. Many organizations provide incentives for such efforts, from gift coupons all the way up to substantive bonuses for innovations that positively affect the entire company. The important thing is to recognize the right people, and to do it in a timely fashion.

Encouraging small innovations is only part of the management equation. Execution of the innovations is critical. No amount of applied creativity can make up for slipped deadlines, blown budgets, dissatisfied customers, or unbalanced profit and loss statements. You need to focus on the details to get things done.

You may also discover another benefit from your small innovations: tapping into the collective brainpower of your employees. They are your collaborators, and by treating them as such you make it known that you welcome their ideas and will reward them.  For when employee's realize that they playing as a team and idea's and new innovations are welcomed you create a more vibrant culture..... a more relaxed and open atmosphere..less constrictive environment. 

In the Mortgage industry, one that is more and more regulated we dont have wiggle room that allows us flexibility.  However the way that each broker, or mortgage bank runs their own business, there is room for improvement; there is room for more efficiency.  In the mortgage industry nothing has been perfected.....not that I'm aware of anyhow....so put the brain to use.......challenge yourself to be creative and see if you cant  land an idea worthy of approaching your manager with and implementing that cost or time saving vision.

Kevin Lawson