In Part II, Decker delves into his quest for innovation
Read Part I of our interview with Brian Decker here, where we left off discussing Decker’s transition into more of a non-producing role.
Decker has been quietly managing this transition for a while now. The vast majority of files that went through his system for the past year and a half were only touched by him when there was an emergency that he needed to handle. Now, he’ll be actively explaining that process to clients and partners.
He’s launching a new campaign in February: “loanDepot presents the Modern Lending Team”, and it doesn’t focus on Decker at all. When originators focus on their name, he said, clients and partners feel that if they don’t talk to that person, they haven’t gotten the ultimate experience.
“You come to a point where you need to realize that it is in the best interest of your referral partners and your clients that you let go of your own narcissistic identity. What I’m providing is a modern lending experience. I’m not providing Brian Decker. I’m providing an experience, and I can best provide and best serve my customers by making sure that I have a brand that encompasses that, and I can work on making that experience for the customer better every day,’ Decker said. “I have built the assembly line. No matter who puts the part on the assembly line, the end product comes out the same because of the team I’ve built.”
Being obsessed with innovation, Decker’s always been willing to explore new avenues to enhance that experience. He’s been incorporating video for years, and between text messages and video updates, he said it’s so much easier to deliver a quick three-minute video to the consumer than having a 20-minute phone call.
“We’re in an age where people want things immediately . . . They would much rather have a video to watch that gives them a full explanation and engages multiple senses by seeing you, hearing you, and watching you explain something to them than trying to explain it over the phone anyway. So you have to learn how the human being understand things,” Decker said.
Decker’s bringing other top originators into his fold and encouraging them to grow and benefit from his expertise. He, along with his friends at Guaranteed Rate Sam Sharp and John Noldan, have created the TOP (train, optimize, perform) training platform to spread that knowledge nationwide. TOP set out to rectify what some other training platforms are doing wrong, where subscribers pay a ton of money for a long-term commitment, but have to wait months before they receive information that’s relevant for their business.
Instead, the group is launching TOP on Demand, which features content by the top loan officers on their respective area of expertise. The multi-media content is searchable and it’s all available a la carte. Originators can also buy time with any of the content-creators for one-on-one help.
“We didn’t need to do it for money. We wanted to create a legacy, but we wanted to deliver a different platform that actually helps people, and people don’t have $2,000 a month in a market that’s declining to spend five months to get something,” Decker said. “They do have $600 every three months to buy four specific items that they can truly learn . . . on a specific area that they need help with on their business.”
Every originator needs help with their business in some way. As much as Decker encourages originators to have a mentor, he didn’t have one himself until more than a decade into his career. At Guaranteed Rate, he was surrounded by people who helped him with his business, and who are still his friends. Today, Decker is mentored by Hsieh himself, but Decker said it’s not wise for everyone to shoot for the top.
“If you’re doing $5 million, don’t hit up a $300 million originator. He’s not going to be able to help you because it’s been so many years since he was where you [are], he’s not going to give you the advice you need. Find a guy that’s doing $25 million. If you’re doing $25 million, find somebody that’s doing $75 million. Find somebody that’s only one or two steps ahead of you.”
Regardless of training or mentoring, only so much of origination can be taught. Looking around at the top echelon of the industry, many of whom are his friends, Decker said that they are “90% the exact same person” who share certain traits, namely that they’re not afraid to take risks, double down on work, and have the tough conversations when necessary. A lot of skills can be learned, Decker said, but that drive is inherent.
“People are either born employees or employers. You can’t teach somebody that wants to go in at 9 and clock out at 5, you just can’t change them. You can’t teach somebody great work ethic. Everything else can be refined, but you just can’t teach that.”
In originator, the highs are high, the lows are low, and to go all in, Decker admits there are sacrifices (sleep being one of them). But ultimately, it’s not about business. Just because he’s worth three times more now than he was three years ago doesn’t mean he’s three times happier. Happiness, he said, comes from a great family life, a great personal life, and in turn, knowing that his business life is in order.
And when that business life enables him to get home at 6:30, turn down the work role and crank up the Dad role, that order is visible for anyone to see.
For more strategies from top originators, come to Anaheim on April 4th for our Power Originating session featuring Shant Banosian, Ben Anderson, and Oleg Tkach.