Monday, December 10, 2007

Wise Words

About 5 years ago, my good friend Evan Stone started his own mortgage company, Pacific Union Financial. He's had a ton of success and has always been an entrepreneur I admire. It's not just the success I admire though, it's the class and big heart exemplified by the letter below that I admire. He recently sent out to his employees, friends and family.

Thanks for letting me publish it Evan.

Friends, Family, Colleagues:

Happy Holidays from Pacific Union Financial! At this time of year, I typically reflect on the events that have transpired over the last 12 months and give thanks for all of our good fortune, both with family and with work. This year’s reflections have a bit of a different tone and tenor. Anyone who reads the front page of the newspaper or who listens to the nightly news has had their attention brought to the troubles facing our industry; anyone who works or did work in the mortgage industry knows these troubles firsthand. It would be really easy to send the annual greeting card out this year with negative bullet points regarding the struggle that anyone in mortgage banking is currently experiencing, but instead, I offer a different perspective. From our challenging business environment emerges several lessons that I have learned. These lessons can’t be taught or learned in a classroom. They can’t necessarily be understood by reading a book or even this email. They have to be learned first hand, and I am still learning them. Maybe these are lessons that the rest of the world already learned that I was slow comprehend. Regardless, by sharing these experiences, I hope these awfully expensive lessons for me may be less expensive for you.

1) When times are good, even optimal, remember that they may not always be that way. Many mortgage brokers/bankers were making more money than they ever thought possible. Now many are loosing more than they ever thought possible. Some are out of business. If we were a little more prudent when the times were good, the sting may not have been so severe during the downturn.

2) Exercise patience, understanding and non-judgment. Mortgage industry professionals have collectively been very humbled by our current market conditions. Many of us (me included) were impatient with others and judged others in ways that were foolish and insensitive. Right now, the overwhelming sense that mortgage professionals or others in related professions feel is that we just want to be given a break. Just remember, you can’t get what you’re not willing to give, so give everyone a break.

3) There is no substitution for hard work. I don’t care how good you are at what you do. Plain and simple. The only reason we’re still here is because we roll up our sleeves everyday and put our hard hats on. Okay, maybe they’re not hard hats, but you get the point.

4) You must believe in yourself and believe in a better day. For all the mortgage industry professionals or anyone in another industry suffering adverse business conditions on this email, it will get better. You must truly believe that. And, you must believe that in any situation you can succeed. This is not always easy when all you read about is what a mess the mortgage business is in. Stay focused on what you can do to improve yourself and turn a deaf ear to the pessimists.

5) If you can weather the storm, you come out on the other side stronger than before. We are armed with knowledge gained through these endeavors that make us more powerful and potent as a company. We are very proud to still be in the game. Don’t give up.

6) Gray hair (or as my wife calls them, your natural highlights) may be an inevitable part of an arduous and challenging process, but no matter what, don’t try to cover them up with Just for Men. I tried. I looked ridiculous. Wear your gray proudly so that others may be aware of your wisdom.

I speak for everyone in my family and company when I wish all of you a very festive and safe holiday and certainly a very prosperous 2008. We have enjoyed working with you, being your friend, and for some, being a part of your family. Thank you for all of your continued support.

All of Our Best,

Evan, David, Laura and Alex P. Stone