The mortgage motivator: What do you read?Ralph LoVuolo Sr., CMCreading, knowledge "What are you doing?" I asked my wife. "Don't rush me please," she countered. "Well, why is it taking you so long to get through the door?" I continued, growing a little impatient. "I don't see anyone in front of you. "I'm looking at the menu. And if you push me too hard, I'll waste a lot of time with the waitress having her repeat everything. Why do you think it's here, for their health or yours? Go a little slower, please." She was nice about it. I was just a bit anxious because I knew what was inside those doors. "Well, after you read the menu, you can let me know what I'd like," I said. "But after all the times we've been here, I can't imagine there will be anything to pull me away from my favorite - oysters." I went in the door, through the entranceway and what wafted into my whole being was the mellifluous odor of crabs boiling in a special sauce, overdone with garlic. But my senses were delighted, snapping just like a live crustacean. Sawdust on the floor and tables covered with heavy paper - nothing fancy at all. Fancy is so far from this place that the last fancy thing they did was allow a prospective bridegroom to have his bachelor party here. Not in the back room, but right out in front. The only attendees besides the actual men were crabs, the kind that grow in the ocean and back bays of the waters off the Atlantic coast. And oyster crackers, the kind you can only get in the Philadelphia region. Hard crackers about the size of a quarter, round like a ball and toasted. Oh my God, with horseradish on them, they are heaven, or broken into an oyster stew - wow! It was a Friday night, and my wife and I were going out to dinner. Nothing fancy, just a local place that serves great oysters on the half shell. Maybe you don't like them - it is an acquired taste, but smothered with cocktail and tartar sauces (a special mixture of mine), I'm betting you might overcome your reluctance. The lady standing at the podium greeted me with an accustomed grin, knowing what would follow. "So how are you tonight?" she asked. A familiar greeting easily made because of the time we've spent together over the years here at my favorite restaurant. "I'm great, Sara, but what is important to me is how you are," I replied. "It's not important how I am. I'm hoping that you're great tonight, because I've had a fabulous week and I'm looking to share it with you and your staff. Is Lisa here? Can we sit at one of her tables?" Kathy was reading the specials, just like every week. "Is there anything special I should know about?" I asked. Almost every word is repeated every time we go in that place. Familiarity is not strong enough a word. But they always seem to enjoy it. "I'm not sharing that with you, you'll have to ask your wife. What do you think she's reading it for, her health?" was the reply. After Kathy came through the door loaded with information, she did what she is great at: letting me know what she had read. I really could not do without all the banter; having her read the specials is an unimpeachable way to be informed. She reads, I listen. She reads more, I listen more. She is like a machine, able to repeat exactly what she has read. What a talent. I struggle with every word. Dyslexia has been my devil since I was a tot. It was worse in college. But reading is a fundamental need that we too often avoid like it was some plague, some way to contract a disease that will destroy life as we know it. But reading is a must in this fast-paced world, so here are a couple of questions for you - serious questions. Questions that are meant to tax your mind, make you think and hope that it will cause you to take some action that you probably haven't made before. What do you read? According to a recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts called "Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America," the answer is not much of anything. According to that study, for people between the ages of 18-24, the rate of decline in reading literature was 55 percent greater than that of the entire adult population during the 20 years between 1982 and 2002. It makes me wonder why Amazon.com is so popular, but they've seen the statistics and that's driving them to get into other businesses. So the question is asked again - what do you read? Why do we read? C.S. Lewis once asked this question to his students in college. I found a blog that offered the following response: "I read to gain knowledge." According to a May 15, 1999 study conducted by Jerrold Jenkins, chairman and CEO of Jenkins Group Inc., an independent publishing services firm: - 81 percent of the population feels they have a book inside them - 27 percent would write fiction - 28 percent would write on personal development - 27 percent would write history, biography, etc. - 20 percent would do a picture book, cookbook, etc. - Six million have written a manuscript - Six million manuscripts are making the rounds - Out of every 10,000 children's books, three get published Who is reading books (and who is not): - One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many students do not even graduate from high school - 58 percent of the U.S. adult population never read another book after high school - 42 percent of college graduates never read another book - 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year - 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years - 57 percent of new books are not read to completion Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased. I really enjoy challenging you. It makes my creative juices flow. I'm always finding things that should make you guys and gals feel inadequate. So, how about it? Reading is what you need to do to learn. Many times I've told people that I have three sales principles: 1. Give away information 2. Ask for business 3. Be persistent Even with all of the things I've learned over my life, I still hold these principles as absolute truths. All sales revolve around these three principles. But how can you give away the right information if you have no point of reference? How can you give away what you don't have? Knowledge is what I'm talking about. Knowledge of ways to help those you seek to have business referred from: the real estate agents, financial planners, builders, insurance brokers, attorneys and certified public accountants. The help you need to offer people is how to help them make more money, be more effective, make a better impact into their market, advertise better, market better, be more organized, understand the ways the computer can change their lives, target market their services, etc. But you can't give away what you don't know. And the only way for you to learn what you need to know is by reading. I never want you to sell rates, programs and points. That is a complete waste of time. You need to convince people that you can be a valuable asset to their sales effort, that you can help them generate more business. But you can't give away what you don't have. Oh, wait a minute, I already wrote that. Well, it was so good, I wrote it again. I'm in the middle of training a group of salespeople that have never really had anyone like me in their lives. They're learning a lot, but it is not without a little angst on both parts. My angst, or in my native language: agita. (Agita means heartburn, acid indigestion, an upset stomach or, by extension, a general feeling of upset. The word is Italian-American slang derived from the Italian "agitare," meaning "to agitate.") This week, we're doing a book report on one of the first motivational books I ever read. "The Greatest Salesman in the World," by Og Mandino. It was one of the things that changed my life. It can change yours, because in many cases, what you're doing isn't working. So what should you do? Change! And the first thing you need to change is yourself. And one of the first things to change about yourself is to read! When are you going to take what you do seriously enough to learn every facet of the mortgage industry? What do you know about secondary marketing, warehousing, funding, payoffs, private mortgage insurance, etc.? And what do you know about generating business other than what your first boss taught you? What magazines do you read and what papers do you spend time perusing for hints to make the life of your potential clients more pleasant? I've assembled here on my desk the various publications available in the mortgage business. Some of them are better than others, but all of them should have a place in your life. For example, The Mortgage Press - it is filled with useful information that helps loan officers and managers improve their effectiveness. Published monthly, it is sponsored by 37 state mortgage broker organizations. Call your state mortgage broker organization to find out how to become a member and get The Mortgage Press delivered to your door. You'll find their number in the first couple of pages of this issue. There are other periodicals covering virtually every aspect of the mortgage industry that you can read to get new ideas for improving your business. Kathy and I often discuss my articles. But if you didn't read this one, you'll have nothing to discuss with your co-workers, spouse, significant other, child, parent or friend. So read; read everything you can get your hands on. I do, and I'm really dyslexic - seriously so. Ralph LoVuolo Sr., CMC is president of Mortgage Motivator, a mortgage industry training and coaching firm. He is a founder and past president of the New York Association of Mortgage Brokers, a teacher accredited by the New York and New Jersey Real Estate Commission, a former associate professor at Atlantic College and New York University and a published author. He can be reached at (609) 652-6901, e-mail [email protected] or you can visit his blog at www.mortgagemotivator.blogspot.com.