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EXECUTIVEAGENT MAGAZINE

Executive Agent of the Month

PROFESSIONAL PROFILES Tom & Rob Briggs M. Kay DeRight Rodney Felipe Ryan Grainer Kevin Smith Tracy Williams

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Jeff Moore Branch Manager San Clemente

Dusty lloyd Branch Manager Mission Viejo

Tom Briggs Branch Manager Huntington Beach

Brian Keranen Branch Manager Newport Beach

Eli Fairfield Regional Manager VP, LA West and OC

Brenda Dintino Branch Manager Irvine - North

Rob Briggs Branch Manager Huntington Beach

Daniel Perez Branch Manager Anaheim

Christopher Paliska Branch Manager Anaheim

Matthew Moore Sales Manager San Clemente

NMLS #324123

NMLS #247106

NMLS #303474

NMLS #483697

NMLS #411752

NMLS #239946

NMLS #171371

NMLS #255550

NMLS #1076530

NMLS #324114

PARTNER WITH US

ELI.FAIRFIELD@NAFINC.COM

(310) 227-3359

W W W. N E W A M E R I C A N P A R T N E R . C O M

#1 ranking among independent non-bank lenders is based on 2016 overall combined purchase volume for southern California counties. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. NMLS ID#6606. Š New American Funding. New American and New American Funding are registered trademarks of Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding. All Rights Reserved. Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin CA 92780. Phone (800) 450-2010. 6/2017


Executive Agent of the Month Maria Xanthakis Star Real Estate

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Professional Profiles

6 Tom Briggs

&

Rob Briggs

New American Funding

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32

10

M. Kay DeRight

Rodney Felipe

HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty

loanDepotÂŽ

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14

Ryan Grainer

Kevin Smith

Tracy Williams

Finance of America Mortgage

First Team Real Estate

Kinecta Federal Credit Union

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October, 2017 - S. Orange County

Editorials 30

Having Faith And Trust Will Lead To Success -Mark Victor Hansen

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Believe In What You Sell Or You Won’t Sell It -Pam Lontos

E XECUTIVE AGENT

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Fred Arrias Executive Publisher PO Box 73384 San Clemente, CA 92673 Ph: (949) 297-8323 Fax: (949) 266-8757 Fred@eamag.net www.EAMag.net

ADVERTISERS’ INDEX Finance of America Mortgage................27 & 37 iPhotography Studio...............................................25 Kinecta Federal Credit Union...............................13

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Creating A Niche -Nancy Michaels

loanDepot®................................................................9 & 31 New American Funding.....................................................2

PWAOR...................................................................38 The Termite Guy......................................................3

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Becoming a Peak Performer -Peggy Morrow

Ticor Title Company...................................................40 Wells Fargo Home Loans.............................................39

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Photography: iPhotography Studio, Ian Wiant, Rob Paino Graphic Designer: Garon T. Arrias Editorial Manager: Trudy Van Writers: Haley Freeman, Shannon Hartsoe Editorial Writers: Linda Brakeall, Bill Brooks, Tamara Dorris, T Scott Gross, Chris Widener, Dirk Zeller, Zig Ziglar

Checklist Your Business -Walter Sanford

© Copyright 2017 Executive Agent Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Although every precaution is taken to ensure accuracy of published materials, Executive Agent Magazine cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied by its authors.

Talking to Yourself -Zig Ziglar

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A Culture of Integrity and Collaboration Written by Haley Freeman

B

rothers Tom and Rob Briggs have spent their lives and careers in the Huntington Beach community, and together, they have more than 50 years of experience in the real estate and mortgage industries. Raised

was a growing mortgage bank with a lot of integrity and momentum, and we saw it as a blend of the best of both worlds. We can run the branch with the benefit of the company’s oversight and systems, but still have the freedom to operate and market the way we want to.” At New American Funding, that means leveraging the company’s repertoire of comprehensive loan products and seamless operations to get quick, clear answers and close loans on time. Tom explains, “We do most of our loans inhouse, but we can also broker. With so many resources, if

Tom Briggs by a mother who was a successful real estate broker, Tom and Rob each obtained their professional licenses right out of high school and eventually combined their talents to open their own mortgage brokerage. In 2013, they joined New American Funding as co-managers of the company’s Huntington Beach branch. “As compliance tightened up after the mortgage meltdown, it became increasingly difficult to be a small-tomid-sized mortgage operation,” Rob says. “We knew this

Rob Briggs a loan is doable, we can do it. We directly underwrite VA and FHA loans, and we have our own condo department. Whenever there is a question about a loan, someone is always available to get an answer quickly and accurately.”

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Along the way, borrowers and Realtors® receive regular communication characterized by integrity transparency. Tom continues, “We really try to educate people along the way, give them options and put them in the best loan for their circumstances. Someone is always here to answer questions and make sure everyone is notified at each milestone in the loan process. They can trust us to give them news whether it is good or bad. We have eliminated the frustration that comes when you don’t know where your loan is and don’t hear back from anybody.” New American Funding’s complete marketing program is designed to help real estate partners get maximum exposure for listings and cultivate lifelong client relationships through original, eye-catching multimedia. Marketing continues long after the loan closes, with mortgage statements co-branded with the Realtor’s® photo and contact information. The company also sends personal cards to homeowners four times per year on behalf of the agent. The consistent delivery of service at this level requires the commitment and collaboration of a whole team of dedicated professionals. As producing managers, Tom and Rob lead by example, recalling the business lessons they learned from their mother. “She instilled in us that to be successful, you have to work hard, always keep your word and treat people right,” Tom says. “Rob and I don’t compete with our people. But at the same time, were still doing business, so we don’t get disconnected with what Realtors® are looking for or what buyers need. We walk the walk, so we also don’t lose touch with what our loan officers need to succeed.”

another get the job done well and grow more business. We keep each other accountable, too.” Always looking to expand the team, Rob says he and Tom welcome both experienced Loan Consultants and those looking for an opportunity to learn. “For seasoned Loan Consultants who have their own book of business, they will benefit from coming to a company that will support them and help them get their loans closed in a timely manner. We also have spots for junior Loan Consultants looking for training -- someone willing to come in and do what it takes to learn to do the business the right way.” In Huntington Beach, the Briggs name has long been associated with trusted and reliable service, making Tom and Rob a perfect fit for a mortgage company with a 360degree culture of integrity and collaboration. “We are a company, a branch and Loan Consultants in it for the long haul,” Rob says. “People can trust us to guide them through the process of financing a home with honest communication from the beginning to the end of a transaction.” Tom Briggs & Rob Briggs New American Funding 19072 Beach Blvd. Huntington Beach, CA 92648 Tel: Tom-714-656-1160 - Rob-714-656-1161 Email: Tom.Briggs@nafinc.com Email: Rob.Briggs@nafinc.com Web: http://branch.newamericanfunding.com/huntingtonbeach NMLS ID 303474 / 171371

Repeatedly recognized as a top workplace in the industry, New American Funding promotes a culture of collegiality and support among its employees. Tom and Rob work hard to ensure that their team is running at optimum efficiency inside an affirmative work environment. “We all help each other out and have a good sense of friendship here,” Tom explains. “This is a work family, and we all enjoy working together and hanging out socially. The nice thing is that there is mutual respect, and everyone is willing to help one Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. NMLS ID#6606. © New American Funding. New American and New American Funding are registered trademarks of Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding. All Rights Reserved. Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin CA 92780. Phone (800) 450-2010. 10/2017.

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Creating A Niche

S

tarbucks did it. So did Sam’s Club. For that matter, McDonald’s did, too. They carved themselves a successful business niche.

When Starbucks came on the scene, it raised coffee from a mere beverage to a culture in its own right. Warehouse clubs like Sam’s made shopping in bulk fashionable, and we all know that before McDonald’s, fast food was downright slow. In today’s’ competitive business climate, you’ve got to separate yourself from the pack -- you’ve got to create a niche. By offering something no one else has and by targeting your business to a few select markets, you protect yourself not just from the competition, but from the twists, turns, and plunges of the economy. Before Starbucks, coffee came in two ways: regular or decaf. Now you have your choice of latte, cappuccino, espresso... The people who have grown to depend on specialty coffee roasters for their freshly brewed cup of Columbian premium would no longer dream of plunking 75 cents into a vending machine for a watery cup of joe. The lesson here is to create a product or service that so completely fills a need, that your customers will have a hard time imagining life before you came on the scene. Finding your own niche is often a matter of putting a new spin on what you already do. Ask yourself, how can I differentiate my business from others? How can I create the perception that my market simply cannot live without me and what I have to offer?

1. Decide who you want your customers to be. Be specific, listing their names and companies. 2. Decide on your focus. If you have trouble, then examine the needs of your customers. 3. Match what you’re selling to what the customer wants to buy. List your potential clients’ interest, concerns, ambitions, and goals. 4. Make sure your niche is special, unlike anything else out there. 5. Make sure your niche is viable. Is there a market? Is it a strong one? 6. Test your product or service with real people. 7. Market your business like crazy. 8. Commit yourself to your business. 9. Do it all over again when your niche has grown old. Look at where your market has been and where it’s going. And be prepared to respond to change. The secret to successful niche marketing is the ability to grow and evolve with the times. You don’t have to be a Starbucks, McDonald’s or Sam’s to be a successful niche marketer, but you can follow their lead for doing business. Find an unmet need, or create one, then position your company to fill it. Do that, and you will have found your niche. Nancy Michaels, of Impression Impact, works with companies that want to reach the small business community and with small business owners who want to sell more products and services. Copyright© 2005, Nancy Michaels. All rights reserved. For information, contact Frog Pond at 800.704.FROG(3764) or email Susiefrogpond.com; http:// www.frogpond.com.

In her book, “Nichecraft,” Lynda Falkenstein lays out the following steps for creating a niche:

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Branch Manager | Irvine, CA

BRENDA HEMRY bhemry@loandepot.com

949-346-3734 office 951-544-6197 cell NMLS ID 450281

www.loanDepot.com/bhemry | 2855 Michelle Dr. #190, Irvine, CA 92606 Rates, terms, and availability of programs are subject to change without notice. loanDepot.com, LLC NMLS ID 174457. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act CRMLA 4131040.


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Written by Haley Freeman

Rodney Felipe R

odney Felipe is an Orange County native who began his career working for one of the world’s largest banking institutions, where he excelled in customer service, operations and management. He found

his true passion helping families experience the American Dream of home ownership, and he has since committed his career to that purpose.

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Recently, Rodney reunited with his former branch manager, Brenda Hemry, now branch manager of loanDepot (formerly imortgage) in Irvine. As imortgage consolidated under the parent company, Rodney says he wanted to be part of this exciting transformation. “There are so many innovative things the company is doing,” he says. “Our CEO is always looking at the industry and making sure we’re not only competitive, but cutting edge in technology and social media. Lightning is our new app that provides a streamlined application process for borrowers, and it’s simple to use. The borrower can click on refi or purchase, and pull their own credit and even upload documents. Online apps used to be 10 pages long, but we’ve cut it down to four-to-five. It cuts in half the time it used to take to complete a loan application, and when it gets to me, I have what I need to help the client.” That’s when the real work begins, as Rodney evaluates data and matches the best rates and program options to fit his client’s profile. He stresses that loanDepot’s strong technology is not meant to replace customer service, but to enhance it. “Technology eases the burden of doing everything manually and makes it more efficient. But buyers still need coaching. People like hearing a voice on the other end of the phone telling them, ‘It’s okay. I’m going to walk you through this, and I’m going to make sure it gets done.’” Rodney provides an example of how this kind of personal service, backed up by professional knowledge, makes a difference. “I recently received a call from a Realtor® who heard I’m a guy who fixes problems. The client had a pre-approval from another lender for $435,000, but it wasn’t enough for them to buy what they were looking for, or much of anything in Orange County. I saw a lot of things the previous loan officer didn’t look at, and I was able to pre-approve them for $545,000. When an agent runs up against a situation like this, it’s always worth a second look. I like to look at things from different angles and find creative ways to make a loan work.” For millennials, Rodney says that loanDepot’s technology creates a sense of teamwork, allowing them to participate in the loan process while still receiving professional attention. But for those clients who are not tech savvy, Rodney and his team are ready with other methods in their comfort zone. “If someone doesn’t use technology at all, I will FedEx them a mailing label so they can FedEx their documents back to me. At the end of the day, we will

do whatever it takes to get the loan done without putting them through the ringer.” loanDepot’s progressive, service-friendly business model also applies to its loan products. In addition to its full array of government and conforming loan programs, loanDepot offers choices you won’t see elsewhere, like renovation loans with loan amounts based upon future, improved value. loanDepot is one of only a handful of lenders authorized to offer VA renovation loans. “We’ve had a number of seminars about how this program can make an otherwise unworkable home more friendly to disabled veterans. And for any buyer, renovation loans can open up all kinds of possibilities. In a market where inventory is short, they can go for the worst house on the best block, and get a renovation loan. The process is a lot simpler than people think, and the borrower is qualifying for a single loan. Realtors® love these programs because they can be deal savers.” Rodney is also well-versed in mortgages for manufactured homes. “They can be complex transactions, but I take pride in our company being able to do them. I am a preferred lender on a project in Long Beach with 350plus units that are being converted from mobile homes to manufactured homes on permanent foundations. With home prices climbing, a lot more people are looking at these as an option.” A seasoned professional who loves what he does and is known for providing white glove service, Rodney has both the know-how and the versatility of loanDepot at his disposal to get loans done. “Pass the baton to me,” he says, “and I’ll bring it home.” Rodney Felipe loanDepot® 2855 Michelle Drive, Suite 190 Irvine, CA 92606 Tel: 949-346-3993 Email: RFelipe@loandepot.com Web: www.loandepot.com/rfelipe NMLS ID 487714

Rates, terms, and availability of programs are subject to change without notice. loanDepot.com, LLC NMLS ID 174457. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act CRMLA 4131040.

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Becoming a Peak Performer W

hat makes someone a peak performer? You know, the kind of person who is outstanding in his job? According to researchers, outstanding individuals share certain attitudes and skills which contribute to their beyond-the-ordinary performances. Many of these can be learned. And often we are the only ones holding ourselves back. Check yourself to see how you rate on some of these ideas of how to become a peak performer. Affirm yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either. Peak performers focus on strengths and recognize their limitations for what they are, simple limitations, not personal failings. They realize that no one is perfect and so they concentrate on making their strengths as strong as possible to overcome any weaknesses they have.

Take one risk every day. In order to become a peak performer, you must be able to take risks. Daily risk-taking is a confidence-boosting exercise and a requirement for those who won’t let unrealistic fears stand in the way of their goals. Everyone feels some fear – but the peak performers overcome these fears that are unrealistic by tapping the reserve of inner strength built on taking risks regularly. Successful risk takers build the inner strength it takes to combat unrealistic fears: fear of rejection, fear of failure or fear of the unknown. You must begin by purposely taking one risk each day. It doesn’t have to be big—it could just be driving a different way to work, or cold calling several prospects. Pick a challenge about which you feel fearful and do it anyway.

They manage their “down times” more effectively than average performers by continuing to focus on what is good about themselves, rather than what is bad, peak performers motivate themselves to approach work and life’s challenges with confidence.

Seek results, not perfection. Peak performers understand that perfectionists seem to have only two standards of performance, letter perfect or forget it. Since everything cannot be done perfectly, perfectionists jeopardize their performance by simply not attempting any task they can’t or don’t know how to do well. Strive, not for perfection, but for excellence in everything you do.

Using reassurance and compassion, they tell themselves, “One setback does not make me a failure as a person. I can learn from this experience and succeed again”. They pick themselves up and continue to try again and again.

Learn to embrace mistakes as signals that you’re moving forward; avoiding becoming frozen in the cement of perfectionism. Remember the words of Marla Collins, “If you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make it!”

So you didn’t get that listing. Analyze what went wrong and try for another one.

Peggy Morrow, CSP, is a professional speaker and training consultant. Audiences love to laugh and learn as she keeps them involved, energized and enthused. Copyright© 1999, Peggy Morrow. All rights reserved. Peggy is a contributing author in the just released new book, Celebrate Customer Service-Insider Secrets. For information about Peggy’s Keynote presentations and training seminars, please contact The Frog Pond Group at 800-704-FROG or email susie@frogpondgroup.com.

Imagine it to make it happen. Superior achievers have developed the ability to translate their goals from words into pictures. They keep this picture constantly in front of themselves to serve as a motivator. A swimmer, preparing for an important race visualizes herself using just the perfect stroke to win the race. Peak performers do this in their work environment, mentally picturing themselves doing all the tasks in their job at an outstanding level.

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We’ve got feet all over the streets of OC. Hello neighbor! Tired of the big banks? Experience the difference of having a trusted credit union in your lending corner. Partner with us and see how your business will benefit. Pair your clients with one of our experienced team members. Erik Jenner, NMLS# 38025 Manager Mortgage Loan Sales direct: 949.253.5337 | cell: 949.293.1237 Erik.Jenner@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/ejenner Andy DeLuca

George Deekrich

Debbie Grant

Jake Kim

Mary Van Dorn

Tracy Williams

Corey Schumacher

Eldin Serrano

NMLS# 440903 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant tel: 310.297.4528 | cell: 949.291.7189 Andrew.DeLuca@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/adeluca

NMLS# 644587 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant tel: 949.726.2394 | cell: 949.413.8669 Debra.Grant@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/dgrant

NMLS# 1034211 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant cell: 949.275.8838 Mary.VanDorn@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/mvandorn

NMLS# 491690 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant cell: 949.306.1304 Corey.Schumacher@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/cschumacher

NMLS# 194556 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant tel: 310.643.1353 | cell: 949.293.7359 George.Deekrich@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/gdeekrich

NMLS# 346847 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant cell: 714.679.3710 Chae.Kim@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/ckim

NMLS# 762891 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant tel: 949.253.5350 | cell: 714.333.5932 Tracy.Williams@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/twilliams

NMLS# 287457 Sr. Mortgage Loan Consultant tel: 424.634.0384 | cell: 714.476.4373 Eldin.Serrano@kinecta.org www.kinecta.org/eserrano

Visit www.kinecta.org/home-loans for info.

All loans are subject to credit approval. NMLS #407870. Intended for mortgage professionals only and not for consumer use.

17361-06/17


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Tracy Williams In the Relationship Business Written By Haley Freeman

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or Tracy Williams, Loan Consultant at Kinecta Federal Credit Union in Brea, her job is about more than helping people get great home loans at com-

petitive rates. Tracy says that for more than 20 years, she has been in the relationship business, and if she hasn’t already met you, she’d love to say hello. A native of North Orange County, Tracy attended high school in Fullerton and then completed her education close to home, earning her degree in sociology from California State University, Fullerton. Her father was not only a World War II hero and recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, he was also a successful entrepreneur from whom she learned strength, drive and phenomenal sales skills. She wasn’t exactly sure what her future held when she finished college, but she knew she loved working with people, and an early career in consumer sales seemed like a good fit. Then a friend at World Savings Bank recommended her for a position there, changing the whole direction of her life.

“I found that lending gave me the best of both worlds,” Tracy says. “I enjoy meeting new people, but I’m not the kind of person to stay in the office. In lending, I can be out in the territory, and also work with a team and have great camaraderie and friendship with my colleagues.” Tracy found her niche in mortgage lending. She became a 5-time recipient of the President’s Club award at World Savings Bank.

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Over the years, she has added to her industry knowledge by working as a licensed Realtor®. “Having done both sides of the business is a real advantage because I can help support my members who are applying for a loan and also their Realtors®. I can back the agent up because I know where they’re coming from and understand their concerns about closing transactions on time and protecting their commissions.”

Part of Tracy’s passion for helping her clients achieve home ownership is her enjoyment of her own home.

Early in her career, Tracy joined coaching program By Referral Only, and it helped her build systems around her philosophy of maintaining lasting relationships with people. “It really resonated with me because they teach you how to stay in touch with clients so that meeting and working with people doesn’t become a one-time transactional experience. I want to do a great job for people and build a lifetime relationship with them. That’s what makes my business so gratifying.”

flower or vegetable garden with her beagle

She says she only has two speeds, “on and asleep,” so when she’s not at the office, you will likely find her working in her

and chihuahua as loyal helpers. Tracy is a loan consultant who takes an active role in managing every transaction from start to finish. She takes responsibility for the details all the way through, and when the loan closes, it’s not the end of the relationship. “It’s just the beginning,” she says.

For more than 15 years, Tracy has been sending a personal newsletter to her clients designed to add value to her service as a loan consultant while also helping her remain connected. “About 80 percent of lenders spend their time chasing new business,” Tracy notes. “But I’d rather invest my time in my existing relationships than put my efforts into something random and that is why I have the highest lock to fund ratio among my peers.” This philosophy comports with Kinecta’s 75-year legacy of taking care of its members and cultivating relationships that last a lifetime. As a nonprofit institution, Kinecta offers lower interest rates and fees on mortgages than many of its competitors, while providing the added benefits of full-service banking. “We are a full-service financial institution in the communities we serve and strive to be the preferred first choice of our customers. We continue to take care of them after the loan closes and can offer many other financial products. Our members aren’t just a number. We look at their whole picture to see if there is anything else we can do to help.” Kinecta lends in 18 states, so Tracy can also help clients who are relocating or purchasing second homes elsewhere.

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Tracy Williams Kinecta Federal Credit Union 1040 E. Imperial Hwy. Brea, CA 92821 Tel: 714-333-5932 Email: Tracy.Williams@kinecta.org Web: www.Kinecta.org NMLS ID 762891


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Believe In What You Sell Or You Won’t Sell It

I

recently went into a store that sells expensive ergonomic furniture. I asked the price of a particular lounge chair. “About a thousand,” said the salesperson. “About a thousand?”, I questioned. “Around that.” I was browsing some other choices when she went over to help someone who had just come in. He was looking at ergonomic pillows. I heard her telling him all about these $50 pillows: how the shape was good for your neck, what the interior material was composed of, about the hypoallergenic covering. She was selling this pillow as though it were a ...well, as though it were a thousand dollar chair.

If you don’t believe in what you sell, you won’t sell it. Or at least, you won’t sell it frequently as you should. How can you possibly become comfortable selling a home for $750,000, when you think anything beyond the minimum essentials is extravagant? If you think what you’re selling isn’t worth it, that’s what will show when you try to get someone else to buy it. There is a way to overcome this. Start looking at things from the customer’s perspective. There are plenty of people who will buy a home that costs $750,000. As a matter of fact, there are people who will pay more than they have to just for the prestige value or because of an emotional need to own a certain house. People buy things for many other reasons than price. You don’t necessarily have to figure out every customer’s motivation. Just understand that location, design, status, and comfort are all reasons people will spend more money on a home. Look at your inventory and mentally note or write down all the reasons someone would want to own each property at the price it is marked. When a customer asks about a particular house, find out if any of these reasons are important to them. Then sell by focusing on that reason. A $1,000 chair may have seemed a luxury to my salesperson. But to someone in pain from a bad back, it would be well worth it. Seeing it in that perspective, the salesperson would have felt comfortable selling that chair at that price. Every house on the market is there because there are people who will buy it. If there is not a niche who need a certain house at a certain price, it is taken off the market. This goes for extravagantly priced luxury homes as well as cut rate “fixer uppers.” Don’t second guess your customers. Sell according to their wants and needs, not yours. Pam Lontos, CSP, MA, is one of the country’s top sales trainers and motivators. Copyright© 1999, Pam Lontos. All rights reserved. She is President of Lontos Sales & Motivation, Inc. Her seminars, keynotes, and consulting are customized to your company or association. For information, please contact The Frog Pond Group at 800-704-FROG (3764) or email Susie@frogpondgroup.com.

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Cover Story

Executive Agent of the Month

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aria Xanthakis has been a top-producing agent at Star Real Estate SeaCliff for 16 years running. She has earned nearly 100 five-star Zillow

reviews, and recently, as of September 1st she was ranked the number one individual Realtor® in Huntington Beach per market data. She aggressively outperforms the competition in the number of days her listings remain on the market, as well as her record of sales-to-list price. Her fallout percentage is near zero. Results like these don’t happen by accident.

Written by Haley Freeman - Photography by Ian Wiant

Maria is continuing a tradition of service excellence passed on to her by her hard-working parents. Born and raised in Claremont, Maria earned her degree in fashion merchandising from San Diego State University. Although she had early aspirations of becoming a fashion designer, Maria instead opted to continue her family’s legacy in the restaurant business, opening PERO’S Restaurant in Huntington Beach with her sister. Eventually, Maria married, and she and her husband, Jim, acquired full ownership of the restaurant, making it an award-winning culinary destination serving 18,000 customers per month. When the SeaCliff Shopping Center where it was located was slated for redevelopment, Maria found herself forced into early retirement. That state of affairs did not sit well with this enterprising woman who was accustomed to the rigors of running a restaurant seven days a week. Her husband, also a mortgage broker, suggested she would make a fantastic Realtor®. He was right. Maria obtained her real estate license, thinking she would sell a home a month, “just for fun.” It didn’t take long for her entrepreneurial drive to kick in, and soon, she established herself with Star Real Estate, where she has spent the bulk of her successful career.

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“THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF MY LIFE IS MY FAMILY”

“From the beginning, Star was an excellent fit,” Maria says. “We are a small company, and it’s not about our sales or the volume we do, it’s about our clients. That’s what it needs to be. The training my father gave us growing up was, ‘It’s never about you; it’s only about the customer. They must be satisfied with the last meal they had, and your restaurant is only as good as your worst busboy.’ He also said, ‘Stop talking, and listen to what your customers are saying to you.’ My parents and all my siblings have always been entrepreneurs. The seven of us never worked for anybody. I do what I can to give the same personal service I learned growing up to my real estate clients. I like to maintain that one-on-one relationship. When people hire me, they get me.” When Jim retired from his mortgage company, he joined Maria in her real estate practice. With his expert help, and that of an assistant and a buyer’s agent, Maria is free to interact with her clients and oversee every transaction. “Jim is amazing,” Maria says. “If I didn’t have him, I’d have to hire three people to take his place. He has taken on what I can’t handle, with advertising, marketing and support with inspections and other tasks. This way, I can always be available. No matter how busy I am, my

clients will always get a call or a text back letting them know I will get back to them. In a restaurant, you have to take care of people’s needs right now, and when someone is buying or selling a home, there is also urgency. If they call at 8:00 at night, you’d better respond, and fill the need.” Having lived in the Huntington Beach community since 1980, Maria enjoys long-established relationships with other industry professionals she trusts to serve her clients with the same high standards of care and excellence. “Aimee Whitaker at Tiempo Escrow is there for me in every aspect of a transaction. There’s no better company out there. Louis Dennis at First American Title is one of Jim’s best friends and is all about taking care of clients. I also have three lenders I always recommend. They are all stellar at picking up the phone and answering texts whenever a client has a question or escrow needs something. Tom Briggs with New American Funding is one of these amazing lenders. He is always there when I need him, is quick to assist my clients and most important gets the deal closed. In this business, everyone involved has to be totally clientoriented, or it doesn’t work. Listening to people and answering their needs is what keeps them coming back.”

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Continuing a Tradition of Service Excellence People do keep coming back. Maria’s business is largely made up of repeat and referral clients due to her reputation of providing service that is consistently trustworthy, caring, energetic, knowledgeable and friendly. One longtime client gave her this glowing review: “Maria is the only agent I’ve dealt with that keeps on top of all issues. As my buying agent, she predetermines houses for me to visit with all backup information and has been right on with investments that make sense. As a selling agent, she handled a sale which created nine offers above the asking price. The last house closed in 15 days. Maria is professional, a quick study, very knowledgeable and a Huntington Beach specialist. I’ve been buying and sell-

ing homes for forty years, and she is the best agent I’ve ever met.” Though it may sound counterintuitive, Maria frequently talks clients out of selling their homes. Why? “One of the services I provide to all of my clients is an evaluation of their real-estate holdings and their finances to determine whether if it makes sense to sell their property or to retain the property as an investment. I try to get to the why of it by asking questions to find out whether selling their home is really the best thing for them in every aspect of their lives. I’ve talked many out of selling because I care more about their financial well-being than getting a commission.”

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Maria promises “Expertise in Your Real Estate,” so she engages in business coaching and looks for frequent opportunities to freshen her industry knowledge. “I never stop learning,” she says. “When I was in the restaurant business, I would go out to eat and see what new thing I could learn and incorporate in my restaurant. In real estate, I’m always looking for a new TED Talk, reading books on leadership or listening to podcasts -- any tidbit I can take away that will make me a better Realtor®.” Family is still Maria’s main focus in life. She and Jim have been married since 1983, and they share two grown children. “I’m so blessed. Jim is an amazing husband and partner in life. I’m grateful every day for him and our two spectacular children Chris and Caroline, Natalie (Chris’

wife), Alex (Caroline’s Boyfriend) and Jims Daughter Erin, her husband Jeff and the rest of our extended family. When I am not working my favorite times are spent with our Children.” In Maria’s world, clients are like family, and in the tradition of her family, she enjoys inviting them to her table with an annual client appreciation celebration at her home. She strives to stay up on the important milestones in peoples’ lives and often acknowledges them with a heartfelt card or gift. When you choose Maria as your Realtor®, you get more than her real estate expertise. You also become the recipient of a long tradition of service excellence.

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MARIA XANTHAKIS Star Real Estate SeaCliff 19440 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach, CA 92648 Tel: 714.785.8914 - Email: MariaXanthakis@gmail.com Web: www.MariaXHomes.com - CalBRE # 01322068 ExecutiveAgent Magazine


ExecutiveAgent Magazine


CHECKLIST YOUR BUSINESS

W

hen I first got in the business, I found myself with a manilla folder and hundreds of bits of pieces of paper stuck any which way with no regard to purpose, chronology or importance. Then the day came when I received the phone call from a grumpy seller. I frustrated the seller because of my lack of ability to answer his questions and thus was born my need to become systemized under a checklist format. Let me tell you about the excitement of having a checklist mentality: 1. You don’t have to store the information in your brain. Once you make an addition to a checklist, the step has been remembered forever! 2. Every time you go to a seminar and receive a brand new idea, don’t you find it frustrating in its implementation? Well, add it to your checklist. The idea almost certainly fits under some category and in that category it’s going to get done! Just go back to your office manual (a binder of checklists!) of the main business systems that you do, and enter it under the appropriate checklist number. Now, your brain doesn’t have to remember it, and it automatically gets handled as long as you have the discipline to complete your checklist. The last item on most of my checklists says I can’t take the file off my desk until I finish the checklist! 3. Remember the times you shook your head and wondered where all the money went. Well, let me tell you, it went to overhead. It went to all those necessary (spur of the moment) emotional expenses that you just had to write a check so you could save, increase or improve your business. Over the years I have found that most of those checks written were unnecessary and a checklist is a perfect form for going back to and cutting. You will see your totals drop out of your Schedule C. Yes, that’s right. When I tell you that you need to bring your overhead to less than 25% of your gross, where do you go back and cut, that’s right, you cut line by line out of your checklists. Go back and ask yourself the question, what could have been eliminated that nobody would have missed. It’s a refreshing experience.

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4. Another reason for checklists is simply it provides foundation and basis for delegation. As you may know, all the mega agents that I’ve ever counseled, trained and coached have had to do the actual business systems themselves then generate checklists, and then were able to finally delegate the task to a less expensive widget maker who followed the pro’s step. 5. It may even provide the basis for your next career like mine. (Speaking and training) 6. How about selling your business someday - won’t it be worth more if you have directions on how to run it? So there you have it, lots of reasons to checklist your business. It not only will increase your speed and efficiency, but most important, one of the greatest aspects of customer service is consistency. Remember, do the best the same way all the time and soon you’ll never have to prospect for new clients again because they’ll be self-generating. Just spend the time to write down all the things you do the next time you commence a new business system. Preparing a lifestyle, making the presentation, marketing the listing, closing the transaction, lead generation, follow-up, even opening the office can all be checklisted tomorrow. I have over seventy checklists that I used in my top performing real estate business that I now use to coach top performing agents all over North America. This checklist is the first step for growing, maintaining and developing raving clients and increasing that elusive net! I hope you put them all to good use. Walter Sanford is a top producing real estate agent and speaker who travels the country delivering systems and strategies to top producers for higher productivity and client satisfaction. Copyright© 2000, Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. For information about Walter’s keynote presentations and training seminars, please contact the Frog Pond Group at 800-704-FROG (3764) or email susie@ frogpondgroup.com; http://www.frogpondgroup.com.

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E XECUTIVE AGENT

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MAGAZINE

Ryan Grainer Written by Haley Freeman

R

yan Grainer’s first introduction to the mortgage industry was during high school, when he took a job answering phones at a local mortgage company. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from

and keen attention to detail got him recruited to one of the nation’s top-producing mortgage teams, where he further refined his working knowledge of mortgage lending. Ryan’s experience culminated in a strategic move to Finance of America Mortgage in Newport Beach, where he knew the company’s progressive service model and reputation for excellence would help him deliver superior service to his clients. And he was right. In an office where processing and underwriting take place under one roof, internal transparency and communication ensure that loans are transacted swiftly and efficiently. Ryan comments, “Our branch manager is always involved and updating us, and our ops manager’s door is always open. I can grab a file anytime and know exactly where we are in the process and what we still need to do. Everyone here is ready and willing to help each other out.” The company’s use of industry-leading technologies add to Ryan’s ability to close loans quickly and on time. “So many younger buyers are going paperless. This is the ‘I want it now’ generation, and our company is heavy on technologies that make working with us convenient.” Finance of America Mortgage’s marketing resources are also second-to-none, adding further value to real estate partners. “We have a full marketing team on staff at all times. Our marketing staff will sit with you and your agents and go through a book of materials and ideas of things that have worked and not worked. We have some of the highest quality of marketing I’ve seen in the industry.”

California State University, Fullerton, but he saw a future for himself helping his Orange County neighbors achieve the American Dream. Ryan tenaciously worked his way up through the industry ranks, beginning as a junior processor before advancing to sales. His enthusiasm for his work

Ryan sets borrowers up for financial success by carefully educating them about the lending process and their loan options. “People come to the process with many misconceptions about what is and isn’t possible,” Ryan says. “I educate them about the facts and about lending guidelines so they can make choices that fit their goals and budget. I want to lift the weight they feel and give them confidence that they are in good hands.”

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Helping His Neighbors Achieve the American Dream When a buyer isn’t quite ready to purchase a home due to poor credit or other challenges, Ryan invests the time needed to help them become eligible for a loan. “I like these success stories most of all. It’s cool to see somebody who thought they couldn’t get a loan getting the keys to their new home. It’s also a great feeling to be able to save a transaction for one of my Realtors®.” Known for his availability, timeliness and accountability, this eager young professional is never more than a phone call away, and he follows through on his promises. “I’m available to Realtors® and clients seven days a week, and I always answer my cell phone. I don’t even have a desk line. I want people to know I’m on top of it at all times. If there is an email or voice mail left in my inbox, it keeps me up at night. I don’t put off what I can do today.” Ryan’s experience in multiple aspects of operations and sales gives him a more global view of his transactions and helps him to be thorough in preparing loans for underwriting. When he issues a loan pre-approval, he stands behind it. “I do my due diligence, and if I send out a pre-approval letter, I have the DU or LP in my hand. I dig deep and work the file so that when a borrower calls to say they have a contract in hand, I know we’re ready to close.” Ryan and his wife, Jennie, now reside in Aliso Viejo with their baby boy, Easton. Ryan grew up playing hockey, and as a diehard Duck’s fan, it is no surprise that baby Easton already has his own jersey signed by Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer.

and the people in it. “I love the amazing conversations I get to have with people as they’re going through the process of buying a home. For me, it’s the greatest part of the whole loan experience.” Ryan Grainer Finance of America Mortgage 3501 Jamboree Road, Suite 200 Newport Beach, CA 92660 Tel: 949-306-3268 Email: Ryan.Grainer@financeofamerica.com Web: www.foamortgage.com/rgrainer NMLSD ID 1030205

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EA

Having Faith And Trust Will Lead To Success

I

am a big believer in goal setting. I know for sure that when you set a goal, and believe in your heart of hearts that it’s going to come true. This Universal law has been proven to me over and over again throughout the years – basically it is “ask and you shall receive.” The thing you desire the most will eventually come to fruition. But it’s the “eventually” part that can be frustrating. What do you do when you have been wanting the same thing for so long – maybe waiting for years – and you still don’t get it? Just hang in there, knowing that what you want is already yours.

When you know what you want and have done everything you can, the only thing you can do is have faith and trust that Infinite Intelligence is working to make your dreams a reality. Sometimes it takes a while. We have to know our dreams were ours the minute we decided we wanted them. They are manifesting themselves. We just need to be patient. Is being patient an easy task? Not always. Sometimes it can even be depressing waiting for what we want to show up in physical form. But we have to realize if we weren’t supposed to have what we dream about then we would never have had the dream. We just need to believe in our dreams and ourselves and allow the Universe to work in its own divine time. You need dedication combined with perspiration moving toward a destination to get your ideal realization. In closing this week, I’d like to offer an exercise to complete in the week ahead:

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So, how do you keep the faith when it doesn’t seem like anything is happening? Stay focused. Stay focused. Stay focused. Keep your mind focused on your goal. Don’t allow present circumstances to fool you into thinking that this is your future circumstance. You know your future. You know what you’ll be doing. It’s manifesting itself right now. You just have to meet it and be ready when it arrives. One way to do this is by “acting as if”. Act as if you are already living in your dream home. (After all, you will be). Act as if the promotion or new job you desire is already yours. (In reality, it is.) When you wake up in the morning I want you to close your eyes and see yourself living your dream. If a new job is what you really want, see yourself arriving at that new job, smiling and ready to go to work. If a new home is your dream, watch yourself as you walk outside to retrieve the morning paper. Turn around and look at your dream house. It’s there. It’s yours. You dreamed about it. Now it’s a reality. Do this 10 minutes every day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. “Act as if” until you’re living your dream. Mark Victor Hansen, “that Chicken Soup for the Soul guy®”, inspires NEW VISION that generates innovation, productivity and profitability. markvictorhansen.com. Copyright(c) 2003, Mark Victor Hansen. All rights reserved. For information about Mark’s Keynote Presentations, contact the Frog Pond at 800.704.FROG(3764) or email susie@frogpond.com; http://www.frogpond.com.

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E XECUTIVE AGENT

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MAGAZINE

M. Kay DeRight Treating You Like Family Written by Haley Freeman

M

Kay DeRight and her husband moved west from Springfield, Illinois to Southern California in 1986. She spent her early career in the field of human resources and labor relations, both in the private and public sector, where her genuine warmth and quiet authority made her an effective advocate. After two years living in the UK with her husband and two young children, she returned to the United States uncertain about her professional future. “I had always been interested in real estate,” she says, “and I thought it would be fun. With my

background in labor negotiations, I also thought it would be a profession where I could make use of my experience as a negotiator.” Her theory proved true. Kay’s natural gift for connecting with diverse people and her sharply honed ability to help others reach consensus prompted her real estate success and gave her the momentum to continue through the challenging years of the recession.

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Shortly into her real estate journey, Kay joined HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty, and although she is often recruited by other companies, she says, “Why would I leave when working for HomeSmart Evergreen is as good as it gets? We have excellent training, our admin is wonderful and agents are fully supported to give customers what they need. Everyone helps one another, and if your workload gets heavy and you need another agent to jump in and hold an open house for you, they do it.” Kay’s people-focused approach to real estate, her integrity and her vigilant attention to her client’s needs and goals have helped her build a practice built almost entirely of repeat and referral clients. “I try to set up every transaction so it is a win-win on both sides. Agents and lenders can make or break the deal. Working with honest, ethical agents and lenders on the other side of the transaction makes all the difference when working to successfully close a transaction. I’m transparent with all parties and don’t play games. My end goal is always to make the transaction as smooth as possible. I’m not about being the top producer. I just want people to remember me as being fair and honest, so they won’t hesitate to refer someone they know.”

Kay’s passion for working with people is also reflected in her commitment to community service. She is a longtime member and past education chair of the Assistance League of Irvine. With both of her daughters now grown and thriving on their independent paths, Kay has more time to give to this dynamic organization that fills many needs in the community, from supporting education, to providing emergency assistance to victims of domestic violence, to providing vision care and new glasses to children in need in the Irvine Unified School District. The first question Kay asks herself when she engages with a new client is this: “What if this were my family?” For her, it is more than just closing a transaction and earning a commission, it’s about taking care of her clients! “I treat everyone the way I’d want my own family to be treated. Right now, I’m working with three clients who were referred to me by their parents, whom I helped to buy or sell homes previously. I love my job, and it’s so gratifying to be a part of someone’s life for generations.”

Kay is the recipient of numerous heartfelt notes of thanks from her clients who promise to do just that. A first-time buyer wrote: “You really made buying my first home as simple and painless as possible. You were always available, and if not, returned calls immediately. I felt like I was very well-informed about every step in the homebuying process. I will definitely refer you to my friends and family when a home purchase or sale comes up.” A seller in Irvine shared: “The negotiation process was relatively painless, and I was satisfied with the final price and conditions. Kay kept me well informed and was able to accurately anticipate the buyer’s wishes. She was very timely, thorough and accurate regarding execution of documents. Her strategy was executed like clockwork and resulted in the highest price that the market would bear. She is ethical, honest, and wears her integrity openly. It is with great confidence that I highly recommend her to anyone wishing to buy or sell their home.”

ExecutiveAgent Magazine

M. Kay DeRight HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty 9901 Irvine Center Drive Irvine, CA 92618 Tel: 949-929-3848 Email: kay@ksellshomes.com Web: www.kayderight.com CalBRE # 01354750


E XECUTIVE AGENT

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MAGAZINE

Kevin W. Smith Giving Back as a Lifestyle Written by Haley Freeman

F

rom his earliest success as an award-winning employee at In-N-Out Burger at only 16 years old, to his current role as an award-winning Realtor® at First Team Real Estate in Mission Viejo, Kevin Smith

community leader, and real estate sales professional and investor, Kevin’s greatest passion has been connecting with people and making a difference. His spirit of contribution inspires Kevin to action. He is an avid community volunteer who supports numerous organizations with a proven recored of changing lives. “I like a cause where I can volunteer,” he says. “It’s not just about giving money. I like getting involved in something I believe in, where I can make a difference by showing up.” Kevin’s activities span causes he is passionate about, from affordable housing, to preventing child abuse, to helping veterans. He recently returned from Washington D.C., where he acted as an envoy for the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), talking with members of Congress about changing the standard home loan application to require lenders to talk with veterans about their VA loan benefits. “A lot of lenders don’t even ask the question if their borrower has ever served,” he explains. “VA loans offer veterans an opportunity to get into a home with no down payment, and they can qualify with lower credit scores. Especially in a place like Orange County where housing is so expensive, a VA loan could make the difference between a veteran owning a home or not.” In addition, Kevin and his colleagues are lobbying to get veterans classified as a protected class to prevent housing discrimination. Kevin continues, “Sometimes people don’t want to sell to veterans because they think it will be more difficult to go through the VA lending process. Those who have served deserve our help.”

has left a favorable imprint on the Orange County and San Diego communities where he has spent his life and career. Throughout his journey as an entrepreneur, restaurateur,

Veteran’s issues are a primary focus of Kevin’s volunteer efforts, as he comes from a long line of men who served, including his father, stepfather, uncle and grandfathers. “I’m very patriotic, and I honor those who have sacrificed for this country we are so fortunate to live in. With enough jobs, food, water, education and housing for everyone, this truly is the greatest country in the world.”

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In true grass roots style, Kevin also participates in various committees inside his office at First Team. He is chair of the education committee, where he organizes learning opportunities for his colleagues to enhance their professional knowledge and improve the quality of service First Team is delivering to the public. A busy professional in a business that requires his attention seven days a week, Kevin acknowledges that it can feel like a stretch to find time for giving back. However, he says that giving back can become part of your lifestyle, and he offers two pieces of practical wisdom for those who are contemplating how they can make time for humanitarian work: First, schedule it. “Everybody’s busy,” he says. “But if you put it on your calendar like any other appointment and commit, you’ll find that you automatically show up. When you put it on your calendar, you’re saying it’s a priority.” Second, choose activities you enjoy and causes that inspire you. “You have to pick something you love. For instance, teach someone about your hobby or interest. It will motivate you to follow through, and giving back won’t feel like a ‘have to.’” Kevin is a dynamic and civic-minded professional who lifts people up with his enthusiasm for life, and he hopes to inspire others to make giving back a lifestyle. Looking

to the future, Kevin plans to continue giving back long after he retires by becoming the mayor of a small town someday. He will definitely get my vote. Kevin’s Top Volunteer Picks in Orange County 4 the Fallen: www.4-thefallen.org Alzheimer’s Orange County: www.alzoc.org Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA): www.bacaworld.org OCAR Cares: www.ocar.org/OCAR-Cares.html Field of Valor : www.communityfoundationoforange. org/field-of-valor-2017.html Patriots and Paws: www.patriotsandpaws.org RWB.com: www.teamrwb.org Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals: www. varep.net Veterans of America: www.veteransofamerica.vet Veteran Service Office: www.alzoc.org VETNET: www.vetnethq.com Women’s Council of Realtors, South Orange County: www.wcr.org Working Wardrobes: www.workingwardrobes.org Kevin W. Smith “KevCo” First Team & Christie’s International Real Estate 27451 Los Altos Mission Viejo, CA 92691 Tel: 619-379-7664 Email: kwsmith3443@gmail.com Web: www.KevinSmithSells.com CalBRE # 01934297

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EA

Talking to Yourself

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ne of the most moving experiences of my life took place on Sept. 13, 1997, when I was autographing books. . .One lady who asked for an autograph had such a compelling expression on her face that I knew I had to listen carefully to what she had to say. She shared with me that when she got the self-talk card that was included in one of my audiotape programs, she couldn’t even read the first list of qualities that she was supposed to claim. Throughout her life she had been so beaten down by her family and husband that it was impossible for her to believe that she had the character and success qualities that I identified. It took two or three weeks of listening to the tapes to build herself up to the point where she could look herself in the eye and claim that she was an honest, intelligent, goal-setting person. . . .She continued to claim additional qualities until she could go through the entire list of 60-plus positive qualities. As a result, her demeanor and attitude changed dramatically. She started standing up straight, smiling, and even laughing. Then something truly fascinating happened. Her husband watched her new attitude emerge. . .and decided

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maybe claiming the qualities could do the same for him. He started claiming the qualities and he, too, started to change. “He especially changed in the way he treated me,” the woman told me. “Today we’re getting along better than ever and are happier than we’ve ever been.” The first part of her story was interrupted by tears. She was very emotional. In the last part of her story, as she talked about the changes in her husband and their relationship, she smiled. The most important opinion you have is the opinion you have of yourself, and the most important conversations you will ever have are the conversations you have with yourself. . .The reality is that you cannot consistently, consciously claim all the qualities on the self-talk card without changing. Zig Ziglar is a beloved author and America’s motivator. He is the author of 25 books and offers training and consulting to organizations all across the globe. To learn more about Zig and his business visit his website at www. ziglar.com.

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Robert Bruch 714-717-6617 NMLSR ID 223111

Mark W. Bowman 866-531-3229 NMLSR ID 450934

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Information is for real estate professionals and is not intended for consumers. Information is accurate as of date of printing and is subject to change without notice. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N. A. © 2016 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. NMLSR ID 399801. AS2530479 Expires 08/2017


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