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A Reflection Of The Small Things That Made A Big Difference In 2021

A group of professionals answer the question: what’s the BEST thing they did last year that you can consider doing too?

Sue Woodard headshot
Sue Woodard
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When I was a kid, I was “that” nerdy kid who went to the library religiously once a week, coming home with a huge stack of books to read. The librarians had long learned that the quota of three books per visit wouldn’t work for me, so granted me dispensation to bring home five, seven, sometimes more. I learned how to read at an early age — watching Sesame Street — and it was always a love of mine. But somewhere in the last x number of years, I stopped reading books quite as often, and rarely would pick up an actual paper book at all. Why? A combination of too much time reading email, text messages, social media, news articles — and all of it on digital screens.

But one day last year, I noticed an actual real live bookstore not too far away from my new neighborhood here in Minneapolis — and decided to go in. As soon as I entered through the doors, my senses were overwhelmed with the sights of brightly colored covers, the unmistakable smell of paper pages and bindings, the hushed conversations of latest releases and overlooked treasures. I was immediately brought back to those days so long ago, and my long-lost love of actual books was almost instantly revived.

So over the past year, one of the BEST things I have done is to step away from my screens, grab an actual book, and dive into an engrossing story, a biography of someone I admire, a business topic I want to learn more about. One of my favorites I’d highly recommend you read — in actual book form? "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. Life changing.

And that was my question, posed to an amazing group of professionals: what’s the BEST thing they did last year that YOU, dear reader, can consider doing too? I hope you enjoy reading about their adventures as much as I did, and find inspiration to take on something new for yourself during 2022.

Kim Hoffman

Kim Hoffman
Chief Operating Officer

In 2021 I started running! I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth. I’m over 50 and find myself feeling better and looking better than I did in my 30s. BUT mostly I’ve found a way to silence all the demands and noise that lived in my head and kept me in thought chaos! I never in my wildest imagination thought I could run, nor did I think I would love it. I started walking on the treadmill; working from home had eliminated all steps except those to refrigerator and bathroom, I knew I needed to move. At first, I walked 2 miles in an hour. before I knew it, I was running 2 miles in 30 minutes daily. While I lost 35 pounds, that wasn’t the goal. I needed to move and, in the process, have learned to love the silence and calm in my mind. It’s like religion to me now.

LoraLynne Ball

LoraLynne Ball
Senior Vice President of National Sales
VanDyk Mortgage

This year, I allowed myself and my team the time to breathe. In addition to expressing my gratitude to every member of my staff for an extremely successful 2020, I encouraged a sense of faith that we would continue to achieve great things. This meant giving everyone the time to reflect on where we came from and where we want to go, as well as spending time coaching sales and operations to focus on closing loans and providing an exceptional customer experience, every time.

In my personal life, I also took the time to breathe. Though this past year has not been easy, I found that it brought me closer to friends and family and reached out to those who I wanted to spend more time with. I greatly enjoyed spending time with my family in our cabin we purchased in 2020, as well as the perks of working remotely.

Rosalie Berg

Rosalie Berg
Strategic Vantage Marketing & Public Relations

2021 was a fantastic year to focus on learning. At my marketing and PR agency, we made sure we listened to podcasts and read blogs on the latest trends and techniques to better promote our clients. Much like the mortgage industry, the world of marketing is continually evolving, so it’s important not to get complacent. For instance, did you know that if your company’s website includes video, it’s 50 times more likely to bring organic search results as compared to a site with only plain text? That’s because Google rewards websites with captivating content by putting them on top search results. If you and your team didn’t focus on learning in 2021, there’s always 2022!

Michele Kryczkowski

Senior Vice President, National Fulfillment
Planet Home Lending, LLC

In the personal arena, I picked up a new habit. I invested in self-care, like so many others did in 2020 (yes, I was late to the party) and carved out time for myself and my health. I bought a Peloton, set weekly goals for myself, and pushed myself to beat my last best effort — every time. Viewing your personal stats up there on your Peloton every morning was a constant reminder that we need to continue to set visible goals for our employees and ourselves while we are at work. As they say, “the only easy day was yesterday” and to me, nothing rings truer when I think of where I want to head professionally. I set a professional goal for myself to let my C-Suite team know what my professional goals were while seeking constant feedback on how to get there. I have pushed myself to new heights, pressed out of my comfort zone and even published multiple articles. I am very proud of what I have done in 2021!

Dawn Sherbeyn

Dawn Sherbeyn
VP Strategy
Mortgage Coach

Did anyone anticipate the radical change that hit the world in 2020? What about when it continued into 2021? As I prepared for 2021, another year of uncertainty, doubt, and fear, it struck me, as a leader at Mortgage Coach, how my leadership skills needed an overhaul in the very different world we faced. As coincidence would have it, I received an announcement in my normal Darren Hardy motivational videos on his new program called the “Hero’s Journey, A Growth Adventure in becoming a modern leader." In January 2021, I made a huge step to invest in myself, my 21st Century C-Level leadership skills. With some hesitation I paid the fee, made the investment, and began the year-long hero’s journey. Twice a month, a community of like-minded people from all walks of life across the globe met and undertook the adventure to become leaders for the future.

Bobbi Jo Dallas

Bobbi Jo Dallas
Customer Experience Manager
Total Expert

In 2021 I decided to start studying for my NMLS. I can honestly say that it was the best decision I have made for my professional career this year.

Working in the financial technology industry, I was amazed at how little I really knew about the mortgage industry and day-to-day life of a loan officer. Having this realization, I figured the best way to really understand it was to do it myself. Over the course of the year, I embarked on my journey to get my loan officer license. Truth is, it has not been easy, and it has taken a lot longer than I expected, but it has also been extremely fulfilling and has helped me so much professionally. It has provided me with a new perspective on the industry and understanding of the role of a loan officer, which helps me better serve our customers every day.

What I have learned throughout this process and my advice to you reading: If you really want to know what someone’s life is like, take a walk in their shoes.

Things are not as easy as they look on the outside

Never stop learning.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine February 2022 issue.
Sue Woodard headshot
Sue Woodard

Sue Woodard brings 30 years of mortgage industry experience, strategic vision and leadership to her role as Senior Advisor at Statmor Group. Her focus is on helping lenders achieve greater productivity and long-term success. Sue started her career as a processor, became a top originator, then leveraged her knowledge to become a highly acclaimed industry speaker, subject matter expert and technology executive.

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