In his 2009 book The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team, legendary college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski offers 13 chapters of advice on how to effectively build a team, drawing on his experience at Duke University and, more recently, with the team of NBA players he coached to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Each lesson offered, though, has a single theme in common that embodies Coach K's core coaching philosophy: Time. "How do you build a team?" Krzyzewski asks in his introduction. "Embrace moments. Plan for moments. There are moments of anger, moments of joy, moments of togetherness, and sometimes just moments of awareness. Learn how to recognize them, reevaluate them, and, most important, share them. They are the lifeblood of our team."
So what does all of this have to do with technology, productivity, and YOU as a leader in mortgage banking? Everything! Just like the key to building a winning team is to "embrace moments," one of the key objectives of every mortgage banking leader should be to learn how to effectively "embrace moments." By this, I mean that time is the precious commodity we all have, and business can only ultimately be improved by the improved use of this commodity. In a single eight-hour work day (which I know is a modest estimate of an actual work day these days), there are 480 minutes and 28,800 seconds. What you do with those minutes, seconds and moments will define the extent to which you will fail or succeed in the industry. Leaders need to be an example of this in their organizations.
Now, all of us have the same 28,800 seconds in a traditional eight-hour workday. But, even if all of us do the exact same things in that workday, some of us will be substantially more effective as a result of the use of technology to leverage our time. Using technology allows you to cram more into a moment, allowing you to make better use of that most precious of commodities.
It continues to baffle me how many in the industry refuse to embrace new technologies that can help them save vast amounts of time and dramatically improve their businesses. Some prefer to cling to tradition and convention rather than to suffer the pain of change required to learn, adopt and implement the new technologies. But, I would like to make a crucial point on this matter. I am not interested in technology because it's "new." I'm interested in it because it works. As with many things, it is not a question of new and old; it's a question of right and wrong. Does it improve your use of time or doesn't it? To the extent that a technology doesn't make a positive impact on time management, I think we should pitch it. But, to the extent that it helps us use our time more efficiently, it is imperative that we embrace it.
In this article, I would like to touch on four distinct areas in which technologies have risen to greatly aid us in the mortgage banking industry. Is it an all-inclusive list? Of course not. But I believe that if mortgage professionals can master the technologies currently available in these areas, they will be able to provide much better value for their customers, much greater opportunities for their staff, and a much more stable position for the industry in the marketplace.
First, and perhaps most obvious, are the benefits provided to mortgage professionals in way of getting more organized. Computing technology has made data management much more efficient. Note-taking applications such as Evernote allow you to store notes in various folders and access them anywhere from any device. Similarly, file storage applications such as Dropbox allow you to store files in the cloud and access them instantly wherever you are. Applications such as Todoist and Remember the Milk can help you manage tasks more efficiently. There are also countless customer relationship management systems and accounting software applications that help you can your data organized and accessible. Are you using these technologies to help you better organize your business? Are you using the best of these technologies that are currently available? It's a fast-moving marketplace. Don't hesitate to shop around to stay on the cutting edge of what's available to keep your data in perfect order.
Another important form of technology, one that has become particularly popular within the last decade or so, is communication technology. The ability to quickly and effectively reach customers, vendors, colleagues and others has been greatly magnified by communication technologies. You're probably using e-mail, but there are additional features in e-mail that may help you use it more efficiently. Are you using a signature with appropriate links? Are you using auto-responders when you are out of town or when e-mails come from certain places (i.e. form submissions)? Do you have templates for common e-mails (i.e. office memos)? What about social media? Your human resources, marketing, customer service, public relations and sales departments can also use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to create messages for your audience and respond to messages from your audience. There are even internal social networking platforms, such as Yammer and Salesforce's Chatter, to help members of your staff more efficiently and effectively communicate with one another. How willing are you to adopt these new communication technologies? Doing so may just offer the seamless flow of communication that gives you the competitive edge in the industry.
Taking the concept of communication technologies a bit further, there are also new technologies that have arisen to foster collaboration. Rather than simply allowing you to talk to others, these technologies allow you to work together with others on projects. Have you ever had the experience of trying to set up a meeting with a group of individuals that all have difference schedules and are just as busy as you are? Chances are, you go back and forth for days, or even weeks, before you're able to hammer out a time that is good for all of you. Well, as they say in the digital technology world, "there's an app for that!" A Web application called "Doodle" enables you to send out a list of potential meeting times to a group of people who can sign up for times that work for them. The time slot for which everyone signs up becomes the official meeting time. Speaking of meeting, technology makes it possible to "meet" without meeting at a geographical location. You can use conferencing software such as Citrix or Webex and, for more casual meetings, Skype or Google Plus Hangouts. What about after the meeting—when you actually need to start getting work done? Project management applications such as Basecamp and Do enable you to share conversations and files with one another as your working. With Google Docs, you can even have multiple contributors work on a project at the same exact time. Are you using these technologies to foster better collaboration for your team? Technology breaks down the barriers that keep your team from getting things done. Embrace it.
One last important use of technology for making you productive in the mortgage industry is something you might not often consider as falling under the umbrella of productivity—professional development. I'm talking about learning more about your industry and the role, which you play in your company. Technology has made it easier than ever to consumer new and useful information. You no longer have to go the bookstore to buy a book or wait for the monthly or quarterly trade magazine to come in the mail. You can get the latest news and best practices every day, every hour, every moment. Are you using the technologies that enable you to do so? Are you subscribing to the right industry blogs and news sites? Most trade magazines even have online options to which you can subscribe via e-mail to receive new updates in your inbox. Subscribe to them and get the information as it becomes available. Are you listening to podcast like “Lykken on Lending” (www.LykkenOnLending.com)? Are you watching video presentations? Are you following the top informational resources on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Each have specific uses and benefits to mortgage professionals and leaders. Using “learning technologies” to get the latest information in the industry will also make you better at using the technologies for organization, communication and collaboration. When you're in the know, you're in control.
Technologies will continue to evolve. The bright and shiny object of today will be the outdated relic of tomorrow. The important question to ask isn't, "What new technology should I be using?" Rather, the important question you should be asking is, "Where can my business become more efficient and what current technologies are available to help me achieve optimal efficiency?" In other words, don't get hooked one single tool, application, or platform. Always be willing to get rid of something that's no longer working. Remember, it's all about making a better use of time. "Embrace the moments," says Mike Krzyzewski, "Plan for the moments." How can you magnify the moments? That's the question that matters. If you have the right priorities when it comes to managing your time, you'll always make the right choice in embracing the best technologies to make you competitive and a more effective leader in the mortgage banking industry.
David Lykken is president of mortgage strategies and managing partner with Mortgage Banking Solutions. He has more than 35 years of industry experience and has garnered a national reputation, and has become a frequent guest on FOX Business News with Neil Cavuto, Stuart Varney, Liz Claman and Dave Asman with additional guest appearances on the CBS Evening News, Bloomberg TV and radio. He may be reached by phone at (512) 977-9900, ext. 10, or e-mail [email protected]
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