Top of Mind Networks

Scarcity

April 28, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Did you happen to see the South Park episode when Cartman inherited a million dollars and bought an old, failing amusement park?

Yep, he called it Cartmanland. And once he bought the place, he opened the theme park up to… nobody. Don’t you see, this way he could ride all the rides he wanted… and no lines! Well Cartmanland worked out great for a while, but eventually Cartman started to realize owning a theme park required maintenance… and security. But he didn’t have any money for those things because he’d spent the entire million buying the park.

So in order to raise the money he needed for repairs and upkeep, Cartman decided to let two – and ONLY two – people buy tickets into Cartmanland each day. Of course, this scarcity threw people into a buying frenzy. What was a failing amusement park only weeks before suddenly began drawing throngs of ravenous fans. Cartman hadn’t changed a single thing except limiting the number of people who could buy from him.

It’s actually a funny episode and you can watch it here: http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s05e06-cartmanland.

Warning, it does contain some pottymouth humor. But it teaches us a solid business lesson.

We really shouldn’t try to do business with “everybody”. Instead, we ought to figure out who we work best with and who inspires us. Do you enjoy working with first time home buyers? Why not specialize in serving that market? Or maybe you’re awesome at originating reverse mortgages?

In sales, I think most of us inherently want more. More clients. More revenue. More success. Right?

Now that we’re 8 years into this ride, I think our clients like knowing that Top of Mind provides them that edge… and that we’re still a relatively well kept secret in the mortgage marketing world. And you know what? When you genuinely stop trying to sell “everybody”, your clients will realize and appreciate that they really ARE valued. I’d have bolded that for effect but for some reason our blog doesn’t seem to like the new IE 9. Oh well. Point made.

Again, if you don’t like potty humor don’t watch that episode. Most of it is pretty stupid.

46 Minutes…

February 12, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Never seems to fail that whenever a SureFire mailing goes out that there is a response of the impending application kind and aren’t those the best?

At 6:45 AM I received my notice and sample of the Neighborhood Home Activity Report email going out to my DB, at 7:31 AM, the following email arrived:

 

So of course my first action was to respond to the client and the next thing I did – now at 7:52AM was to make this post. As I was writing this, the client responded saying that she would like to set up a time to go over the details next week.

As more and more responsibilities are handed to us and the work required to close loans increases, I appreciate more and more that staying in touch with my past clients is regularly happening whether I’m being pro-active about it or not.

It’s also hard to make the time to reach out to those that make this possible but I was compelled to do so today. So, thanks to all of you at Top of Mind, SureFire is the best!

Reservoir Doggin' It at Mortgage Revolution

October 21, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

If you’ve been paying attention to guys like Frank & Brian, Dustin Hughes, etc… you know that we’re at the front edge of a Video Revolution.  I for one consider myself a 2 on a scale of 10 at using video for marketing purposes.

At Mortgage Revolution New York this past weekend, attendees got to hang out and learn from some of the best and brightest in the industry.  To get an idea of what you missed if you weren’t there, enjoy the video below.

These guys are right.  Just take out the video camera and start shooting something… anything.  Get that forward momentum working for you.  Forget about the tomato being thrown at you.  Try to set aside your inhibitions.  Be interesting.  Above all else – find a buddy that’s in it with you.  I’m stoked to raise my video marketing game.

Avoiding "Phishing" Email Scams

September 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In today’s electronic age, much of our sensitive data is hosted online.  Identity thieves and scammers are getting better at “phishing” for information.  This morning, I received a convincing-looking phishing email.  I used the opportunity to record a 2-minute video I hope you find useful in avoiding these scams.

Giving Back To An Industry–Mortgage Revolution in New York

September 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Despite the industry news, bad press and other negative talking points, there are many in the mortgage industry giving back.

Mortgage Revolution is about leaders teaching leaders. Mortgage originators who are in the field ever day helping clients training other originators what is working in today’s market.

Some of the past speakers have been

Mortgage Revolution is committed to putting on the industry’s finest sharing and teaching experiences for originators while donating all proceeds to charity.  The event in New York will be the final event of the year and should be the catalyst for any originator truly committed to their industry.

The organizers and founders listed below have been the inspiration for these events.

Media Partners:

If you are in the business and feel this is truly your career of choice, Mortgage Revolution is one event you can’t afford to miss.

If you are searching for a home, home loan or just simply reading this and are shopping, ask if YOUR Loan Officer is traveling to New York for the industries greatest teaching, learning and sharing experience.  I look forward to seeing you in Tarrytown.

FHA Madness

August 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The FHA recently proposed reducing the UFMIP while increasing the annual premium that is paid monthly. Their stated intention is to bolster their insurance reserve fund. Um, not so fast….

Before even running the numbers, cutting the upfront MIP which is arguably when they need the money the most, wouldn’t seem to make sense. So when in doubt, I always fire up a new spreadsheet. Not surprisingly, my suspicions were confirmed. Want to see exactly how bad it could get? Here’s a very short video to demonstrate  how it works out.

If you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet shown in the video for your own use or to engage your clients and partners, you can download it here.

So which is it?  Is the FHA just saying one thing and doing another? Don’t they have accountants that work there? Are they purposefully trying to seal their fate?

Or, for you conspiracy theorists, was this all a well concocted plan to run up the stock prices of the regular PMI companies (check the recent price action)? When you boil it all down, that’s about the only beneficial thing for at least somebody that’s coming out of this…..

My guess is that this is just another well intentioned but very poorly thought out plan by yet another government agency that fails to seek advice from those that are perhaps in the best position to offer it. If this bothers you, please check out www.immaag.com  This is run by Bill Kidwell. Bill is an esteemed broker from CO and is leading the fight against this and other proposals which are only harming the public and making it more difficult and expensive for all involved.

In the meantime, if you have any FHA/fence sitters waiting for things to get better, use the spreadsheet to show them how much more expensive their payment will be or how much less house they’re going to be able to afford once the MI costs go up.

Did You Know Top of Mind's Surefire System Has a Free Single Property Website Solution?

July 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

We’ve been running pretty hard here at Top of Mind the past couple of years.  Unfortunately, we haven’t been doing a great job letting our clients know about all the new whiz-bang we’ve been working so hard to build.  Incidentally, as I wrote in my last article, we’re working on fixing that little issue.

In the meantime, here’s a quick video from David Orsini illustrating how to use our new Lenderama Mortgage Website Platform (which is 100% FREE for all Surefire clients) to build a nice, clean and easy “single property website” in less than 10 minutes.  If you are a Surefire client and you’d like to be able to do this, your first step is to fill out this form.  More of these videos – and some big time innovations – are on the way so stay tuned!

This Moment Ends the Most Traumatic and Scariest Five Hours of My Life

July 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This is probably not the most appropriate forum for the experience I’m about to share with you, but I need to write this while everything is fresh in my mind.  I hope that it helps you if the same situation ever happens to you and your family.

I was on a conference call with Rene Rodriguez and David Childers this afternoon when I received a call on my cell phone.  The incoming caller ID showed my home phone number.  So I muted Rene and Childers and answered the phone assuming it was my wife.  The voice on the other end of the phone asked me in a masked voice if I knew if my family was safe.

Hello?

“Do you know if your family is safe?”

Who is this?

“Do you know if your family is safe?”

Okay, now I’m freaking out.  I hang up both the cell and office lines and run into David Orsini’s office and tell him what is going on.  We both jump in David’s car and speed like crazy toward my condo – about a 5 minute drive.  Meanwhile I’m on the phone with 911 telling them what had just happened.  Along the way, we pass a policeman who we flag down and who follows us back to my condo.  While I was on the phone with 911, David called my wife Abby who was at work and safe.  Abby immediately called our daughter’s day camp and determined that she was also safe.  So – the dreaded and unimaginable had been averted – thank you God.

Me, David and the policeman got to my condo and looked around – everything looked as we left it when Abby and I had left for work this morning.  Now here is the complicating factor – the condo we’ve been renting was just listed for sale.  The only request we’ve made of the listing agent was that she give us 24 hours notice before a showing.  Wouldn’t you know it, around 10:30am the listing agent received a request to show our place from another agent.  Reluctantly, my wife accommodated the request even though we hadn’t anticipated today’s showing and hadn’t locked up access to our valuables or tidied up.

This showing was supposed to be at 1pm.  The dreaded phone call I received happened at 3:38pm.  Could the person have visited our condo, run to Home Depot, and made a duplicate key?  There is a lot more to this story than you probably want or need to know… but after researching this all night here’s what I’m pretty sure happened…

There is such a thing as “Caller ID Spoofing”.  Apparently, anyone in the world can make a phone call using a simple application and make it look like they are calling from any number they choose.  And yes, if you have an iPhone, there’s an app for that too.  In this case, someone had both my mobile and home phone numbers – ironically I don’t even know my home phone number by heart… it just shows up on my cell phone as Mark Green (H).  Very few people have my home phone number – and I almost never even answer the home phone… which made it all the more scary.

I am not sure, but I think Caller ID Spoofing is illegal in some instances and not in others.  Here are a few things I wanted to get across to you by sharing this story:

1)  I thought to myself, how did someone get my home number AND my cell phone.  It wasn’t too difficult to figure out, unfortunately.  I googled my home phone number and my name and home address came up instantly.  How effed up is that?  I am sure my mobile phone is out there on the Internet too.

a)  Your action item:  Google your phone number using the following format xxx-xxx-xxxx.  Hopefully your number is not listed, but if is, click on the link that says “Phonebook results for xxx-xxx-xxxx.  Below your listing, you should see a link that says “Request to have your name removed from this list”.  Click that and fill out their form.  Google says that you showed up on their site because you have a listed number.  So the next step after that is to make your phone number unlisted with your phone company.

2)  Obviously, if you get a mysterious phone call from a Caller ID you recognize, I hope my experience helps you think clearly.  There are all kinds of nasty ways this Caller ID Spoofing can be used.  Someone can do what they did to me, obviously, but they can also call you from the same phone number as the local branch of your bank and begin asking you personal questions about your account.  Someone can do the same thing during the mortgage process to provide a phony Proof of Employment.  Nasty stuff.

3)  Never, ever, ever take anything you love for granted.  For just a few minutes, I lived the nightmare every human being dreads.  But I know that some good has already come out of it… and more good will continue to come out of it.  I’ve always tried to keep proper perspective and understand how lucky… and truly blessed… I am.  The past five hours, I hope, will help me remember to always cherish and appreciate the things it would be easy to take for granted.  I have a great wife.  A great kid.  Loving parents and siblings.  A great job.  Fantastic friends.  And a life I wouldn’t trade with anybody in the world.

Top of Mind Networks Geeked Out Development update 5/21

May 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Readers, many of you know David Orsini as one of the three owners of the company and the original developer of our surefire 1.0 system.  Because no one actually knows this system better than David, part of our restructuring last week was designed to free up some of David’s time so that he can extend the current surefire 1.0 system to provide the 2.0 capabilities we’ve been talking about for so long. 

Our original thought last year (seems like a lifetime ago) was to free up Davids time by getting him out of development by rewriting his current system.  Unfortunately, that turned out to be a colossal monster of an undertaking and started to have no end in sight.  As that decision started to make less and less sense, we finally decided to stop the madness and rethink our whole strategy.  So now we’ve freed up David in other ways so he can do more development work and ”extend” his current system to get the new functionality we need.  Sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Well, most things do in hindsight.  But anyway, no use crying over that spilled milk. 

Development along our 6/1 deadline is progressing and we see no current roadblocks.  And with that status update appropriately blogged, I’ll be handing over the release update/blog responsibilities to David.  Please be on the lookout for David’s updates on our development efforts.  I don’t know if he’ll be as wordy and lengthy and verbose as me, but I’m sure he’ll do his darned best.

Sherwood

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