Mark is currently Chief Executive Officer and a founder of Equity Mortgage Lending. Mark has been with the company since 1986 and an impeccable reputation and long-term experience in the mortgage industry since his start in banking in 1980.
Mark was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1998.
Mark’s successes have not only been in the business world but also on the athletic field. Mark is a three-time National Champion with The Johns Hopkins Men’s Lacrosse team while he played in four National Championship Games. He is a four-time All American winning numerous individual accolades and went on to represent the USA in the World Lacrosse Championships in 1982 and 1984 again being presented with individual accolades.
- Always treat people fairly
- Make plans for downturns, they always come
- Keep an eye on expenses in good times and bad
- Always keep pushing that's the only way to remain relevant
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello, everyone, this is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the no limit selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode.
Umar Hameed 0:35
Hello, everyone, I'm privileged today to have Mark Greenberg, the CEO of equity mortgage mark, welcome to the program. Thank you. So Mark, in 90 seconds, tell us who you are and what you do? Well, I am a mortgage banker my whole life. I started in banking back in 1981, started equity mortgage as a residential lender in 1986. And have grown a company to 100 and some people and down to 20 people, depending on what the market has allowed us to do. So since the start of this company, which started in 86, correct, there's been some major downturns, right? Yes, you know, there's cycles throughout this industry. And we have to just go with the flow, anybody can be a CEO and this money in the bank, and you can do whatever you want. But when it comes down to one of those downturns, where you have to make decisions without a lot of cash. So tell me about one of those downturns and how you handled it. Well, I think every time if you're a conservative business owner, you have to put money in the bank when it's being made. Because you know that there is always going to be downturns, and you don't ride the highs and you don't ride the lows, you try to stay at an even pace. So back in 1998, there was a large drop in the market because of the bond market and the short term rate market had both dropped. And all the companies that the hedge funds that were leveraged at that point in time, had margin calls, and they dumped their paper into the, into the, into the market to liquidate. And at that point in time, it affected everybody who was in the mortgage market, because they were trying to sell their paper to keep their liquidity. And at that point in time, the liquidity was very difficult. And everybody had to start selling their paper at discounts just to get their money out if they could sell it at all. So bad times. And if I remember correctly, you were actually purchased by another player at that point when this seismic wave hit the market. So how did you navigate that downturn? Well, the good thing was, there were deeper pockets at that point in time, and it wasn't my money. But it allowed us to at that point, they had to make a decision whether we, you know, they keep the company going or they close it down. And that goes for all the subsidiaries. And they landed up coming to us and say we had our choice of either being purchased back by ourselves, or they were going to close it down, we decided to buy it back. So what made you make that decision? Because you could have just shut down and just got a job somewhere? Correct. I think once you're in the industry, as an owner and decision maker, it's very tough to go back into a marketplace and try to find someone who's going to tell you what to do. And when you think you may know a better way of doing it. So what was the first day like when you had purchased back the business in a really bad climate? How many employees Did you have, then we had about 25. At that point in time, before that, we were probably close to 75. And as we had seen the market turn around, we landed up reducing staff cutting back expenses, because we know that it was just the ultimate thing that you had to do to keep your business operational. So what does Day One look like when you got 25 employees? You got a big hill to climb? So did you give a speech to the troops? Did you just keep your head down? Like how did you leave that group of people to success? Well, you do a couple things because you still have to remove other employees because you can't keep them all. And everybody wants and believes that they're an integral part. So you have to pick out the cream of the crop at that point in time, and recharge yourself and figure out what your strategy and what your business plan going forward. The philosophy that I've always had is competition is good. There's always people who need money out there. And if you're diversified in your products, then you can go out there and be able to offer something to somebody because just because that market disappeared doesn't mean people weren't buying homes and didn't mean people didn't need to refinance. So just before we kind of move away from this really amazing part of your story. What's it like when you've got small staff, and you still have to let people go in a really down economy? Because for a lot of leaders, that's a really tough decision to make. So how did you end up making that decision, and it's a Very difficult decision. And I think it's difficult anytime you have to let anybody go, whether they are deserving or undeserving, it's just hard to make that cut. And it wears on you, you have a lot of sleepless nights debating over it and making the right choices and saying, you know, who you're going to keep them with, they're gonna bring to the table, the people who you're gonna keep. So the compass you used when you were at that time in the history of this company, is that the same compass you use? When times are good?
Mark Greenberg 5:28
Yeah, I think that one of the most important things when things are good, is to keep your expenses extremely low, to go back and look and try to cut. Because if you start living at a higher level of spending, when things are good, we know that it's always going to change. And if you aren't prepared at those point times, then when things have the downturn, you're going to be really exposed. So we constantly keep a focus on keeping our expenses down at all times. I think that's a mark of leadership. Well, you know, whatever your values are, if you can be true to those, and live them good times, bad times, that's a hallmark of greatness, and not kind of like get fat and lazy, when times are good. And then really tight. When times are bad. I also think that it's a good thing to be able to spend and enjoy your money and not just sock it away. Because that's what we work for. We work hard so we can enjoy things. And part of the enjoyment is seeing a growth of a company or the success or being able to, you know, get through the difficult downturns. But you also have to have your own personal time, your own your own pleasures, without going to the extremes. So what lesson did you learn in that part of history for this company? Like what was the thing you took away that, you know, hey, I think the most important thing was always treat people fairly, make sure your expenses are always in line. Look for the next opportunity in the industry, whether it's a product, or, or a customer base, a segment or a niche in the marketplace. So you can be always moving forward. And always feel that someone's on your heels. And you have to keep pushing yourself,
Umar Hameed 7:12
what motivates you, what keeps you going,
Mark Greenberg 7:14
I think it is a competitive nature. Every time that I have been challenged in my life, I try to step up to those challenges and a lot of downtime, so you become unemployed, you need someone behind you to push you a little bit harder. Sometimes it's you pushing yourself, but somebody else it's, for me, it's been my wife who's has sort of pushed me along to keep my confidence. And I think having confidence is one of the most important things. And having an awesome wife helping you along is pretty darn good, too. Absolutely. After 35 years of marriage, and, you know, a successful family and business over the years, it's been pretty special. I'm very, I'm very fortunate.
Umar Hameed 7:57
Nice. So who's a mentor for you.
Mark Greenberg 8:00
I've had numerous people who I've looked up to, that haven't necessarily mentored me individually. But I think it's been some of the characteristics that they've had. My father was one he worked very hard, but wasn't a great father, because he wasn't home. But if you understand what he was trying to do and provide for the family, you know, his integrity was working hard and being able to provide, I've had other which are coaches, and coaches always try to find the way to motivate you, right. And if they motivate you properly, whether it's sometimes screaming, sometimes it's arm around the shoulders, but if they know how to utilize your strengths and play to that, that was important. The other thing is saying negativity out there. And, you know, you see these characteristics that you know that you don't want to be a person who yells and screams at employees, a person who throws chairs, person doesn't treat people fairly, right. And you see those characteristics and you say, That's not who I want to be. So it's it's more about those characteristics of people throughout my life, more so than an individual mentor. Nice. If you could have lunch with anybody living or from history, who's that one person? And what's the question that you'd be looking to get the answer to? You know, I I'm very connected to the State of Israel, and their leadership their throughout their, their job history, yeah. And to be able to be faced with all these confrontations. So whether it's gold in my ear, or Ben Gurion, these are people who had this vision and this blind faith to step forward and to make a country and to grow the country and to protect the country. So it's one of those people if you get a chance to read this book is called the promised land. brilliant, brilliant book that gives a clear snapshot into the birth of Israel and the dynamics and it was like, one of my favorite reads, yeah,
Umar Hameed 10:06
it's outstanding book, Mark, what was your first sales job?
Mark Greenberg 10:08
You know, I got into banking, and I think, into mortgage banking into in 1981. And I was a loan officer. So that was my first sales job, I sort of at that point knew that it was not about selling something as much as about listening to somebody and providing what they needed to me, I still do that to this day, it's really understanding somebody's needs. And either educating them, informing them, giving them options, whether they need you're not to do the loan, it's more about giving them advice and suggestions. This may not be true. But from my point of view, there's a desperate need of people out there to be listened to and heard, because in this day and age, there's not a lot of that going on. Well, I think with the internet, now, people don't want to talk, right? They don't want to listen, they just want to be able to get their information, whether it's good information or bad information. That's the other problem. You don't know what information is really good out there. So I think that if you have the opportunity to talk to somebody who has experience and understanding of their marketplace, and is learned about it, and I think that's a good long way, because people don't want to listen, but they want to be listened to that's part of a Salesman is listening to them. So you can then make the suggestions for them. Have you had any sales managers that were helping you along? You know, I've had some partners throughout the years. And, you know, their sales managers as well. And they have, you know, I think they've stayed so long with us. And with me, and as a partnership, that it's been just that relationship overall. So tell me about one of the sales managers you had as an employee or someone that was your manager? And what was the attribute they had that you admired? I think there are people who spend a lot of time and effort but effectively, not coming in late not going and leaving early, a person who comes in and does their work and stays focused during the day and has a plan.
Umar Hameed 12:12
So that hard work and kind of focus is important.
Mark Greenberg 12:15
Yes, I think to this day, I still come in early, I still stay late. I try to show other people that behavior. Absolutely. Absolutely. She was one of my clients, one of the most successful recruiters in the country, he still goes out in the bullpen and makes his calls every day because he says I want my people to see me doing the work. I love it. And I want them to know that even if you reach the top, never lose sight of your roots. Well, in today's world with compliances, as cumbersome as it may be, and changing a product, I've gotten more into the administration and compliance and I was pulling my hair out, I needed to get back in touch with the borrowers and being out there in the sales side. And so I do take calls, I do make sales, I still to me, I still originate loans, I think it's important to keep you in touch with what your product is. But it really it It soothes and heals my soul, the human connection, I have to do it. And it's very important to me. So this is a strange question to ask a Jew. But tell me about a come to Jesus moment for you in your career come to Jesus moment was I was unemployed, the company I was working for when I had a business. And I had always said that I could start my own business. But I wasn't going to do that. Because I was too low, I wouldn't have left somebody. But now I had the opportunity. And I kept finding all the reasons why I couldn't do it back to my wife, she kept pushing me and having me overcome each one of those hurdles. And I think it was that she had more confidence in me at that point in time than I had in myself. And so now I make sure that I always look forward, push myself beyond waiting for someone else to so one of the themes that's come up a few times in this short conversation is fairness. And it sounds like when you were talking about I didn't want to start my own company when I was working for someone because it sounds like your internal compass that wouldn't have been fair. Well, you when you learn a business, and someone trained you and teaches you and even though you think you can do better somewhere on your own, there's still a loyalty. And I think as any team, and as any player in that team, you have to work together. And so I just didn't take that opportunity. Nice. So looking at the sales climate right now you there's so many people looking on the internet to get quotes and understand and be educated. What's the biggest challenge for salespeople today? sales in general, I think it's just getting to the to the right qualified customer. There's a lot of people who are homeowners in our situation, do they have a need do they realize they have a need and what that is so it's being able to open the door and getting in front of them.
Umar Hameed 15:00
So how do you find those people?
Mark Greenberg 15:02
A lot of our business comes from referrals. Because people know that when they refer someone to us, they can trust us to make sure that they're taken care of properly and they're treated fairly. The other way is we do direct mailing, and we reach out to people that way, makes the phones ring. At that point in time, we have conversations to help people. So referrals are good for any business. So how do you create mechanisms that encourages people to not forget you and refer you, I think, today's it's about value added. And so what we do is a lot of education. And if we can educate through an organization or an association or employer, or just somebody else's customer base, then to us it's about being able to be in front of them all the time, because we're educating them. So how do you know you're making the right hire salespeople are all pretty when they're talking to you in the interview. And the fiction, I mean, their resume looks really good. So how do you make a decision that you know, Janet's going to be a great fit for us? You know, in our industry, right now, it's very difficult because it goes through so many gyrations. In the past, there didn't need to be any licensing. So now you're you have to be licensed, which is a great thing, because it shows that there's more education, but that doesn't make them a good salesperson. Right. And I think from our standpoint, it's very difficult. We go through a lot of people to find the right, right philosophy, because we have to have them fit into our culture. People tell you they want they fit into your culture, they believe in your culture, but actually doing it is something different. It's tell me some of the behaviors you would see that would let you know, an employee's fitting into your culture. I think it's about how they talk to the customer, or client, what kind of information they can bring to us to be able to figure out whether a loan is a potential loan, if you don't ask all the right questions you don't understand, and you're trying to put them into a product that's good for you, as a loan officer, but not good for the client, then you know that they don't fit into your culture, you have to walk away from loans if they don't make sense. And in our time and age, it's about making sure it works for everybody. So you've probably had salespeople over the years that were keepers, that, you know, this person is amazing. But all salespeople, you know, sometimes they get into a funk or a slump? How do you get people out of that? I think it's just sitting down with them, working with them, getting them back and giving them the confidence they need again, because they everybody has the ability, if they're good to talk to the person, this is a very fundamental business, there's some basic items that you really need. When you're talking to a customer. It's being able to extract that information out it gets into detail. But overall, there's it's it can be a very simplistic business. What do you know, now that you wish you knew 10 years ago, I wish I was paying attention in class more when I was in school. Because some of the people and some of the opportunities that I had, I didn't take advantage of as best I could. And I think that would have helped me a lot more throughout, whether it's weather education with reading, writing, communication skills, I think he just goes back to anything that you weren't aware of and weren't privy to. And now you are you're like, I wish I had spent more time doing that. because anybody can write but to write well is is a gift? Absolutely. What's the best advice you've ever received?
Umar Hameed 18:39
My wife told me to marry her. No.
Umar Hameed 18:43
I think it's to step out and do what you believe in, take that little bit of a first step out there on the cliff. And, and believe in yourself. And I think that's been my whole life is having the confidence and doing what you think you can do. And not letting other people tell you that you can't do something. So Mark, how many kids do you have? I have two, any grandkids? No. So for your two children, if they were starting their own business today, what would be the three pieces of advice you'd give them? That would give them a better chance of success? I think Be true to yourself. I think that you have to be able to be true to the person you're you're dealing with. Because it's honesty and integrity. I think that's one of the most important things and be knowledgeable about what you're doing. And with those items, I think that you can be pretty safe and whatever things you do, brilliant. Before we part company, is there a book you'd recommend people to read? I just finished reading the undoing project by Michael Lewis and I thought it was an outstanding book from the standpoint it gave you a whole different perspective. of how to look at things. You know, we look at surveys and we look at people and, you know, if you take a different stance and look at things, you get a whole different perspective. And it's a really meaningful way to, to look at the world. There's another book I forget the author, it's called everybody lies, fascinating book. They don't look at assessments or surveys. They look at what people are searching for on Google. And it was just mind blowing. Mark, thanks so much for sitting down with me. How can people get a hold of you? It were equity mortgage lending, and our phone number is 410 321 7800. And we handle the whole Mid Atlantic region. Brilliant. Thanks so much as now with me. I'm looking forward to our next conversation. Wonderful. Thank you.
Umar Hameed 20:50
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at no limit selling calm. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro linguistic programming, and that is the fastest way to get better results.