Mentoring & Leadership Guiding the Way to Success!

Thirty-two of the largest U.S. companies by revenue on the Fortune 500 list, including PepsiCo, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Oracle and General Dynamics, are run by women. Although this only accounts for a mere 6.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies, it is the highest proportion of female CEOs in the history of the Fortune 500.

It’s an exciting time to be a female entrepreneur with the abundance of opportunities available, including government contracts and diversity and inclusion programs. However, even with all the support, there are still obstacles facing women in the workplace; from lower pay than their male counterparts to sexual harassment and fewer promotion opportunities.

To get a better understanding of why women are still being held back in the business world, I looked at the most successful businesswomen I’ve known over the years. They have all had mentors, including myself. Over the past eight years, I have led mentoring meetings, training sessions and workshops giving me a clearer understanding of the specialized training and mentoring women need as they develop into successful entrepreneurs.

Change Your Mindset

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” – Marie Curie, two-time Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

It starts with your mindset. You need more than just business essentials and marketing to be successful. You need to believe that you can succeed in conquering your fear and embracing your confidence. Interestingly, I find more women have a fear of success than a fear of failure. We reach a certain level, and then we suddenly seize up and get stuck.

When women are ready, willing and able to break through their own glass ceiling and ask for what they’re worth, we will see a huge surge, not only in our economy but also in our community. The key to this and any success is collaboration. Through collaboration, we will change the world for the better.
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Catching the Next Wave of Mortgage Borrowers

Sometimes, a transition calls for a radical change, though some people try to avoid such shifts because they can be jarring. The sudden loss of refinance business has been that way for many lenders, and it will get worse in the future. How lenders respond to this transition into a purchase money market will set the winners apart from the rest.

The approaches loan originators will take to solve this problem will vary. Many will double their efforts to attract new refinance business, as writing that business has become their core competency. Others will seek out more purchase money business, pulling out old playbooks and relearning the rules of building strong business referral networks. A few will look for the radical change and catch the next wave of mortgage borrowers.

Speaking of catching waves, when learning to surf, even when you fail, you still learn something about yourself and become better for it. Mortgage lenders, on the other hand, cannot afford to fail. They must find the next wave of mortgage borrowers or face the threat of losing their businesses, which is all the more reason for them to consider the radical change.

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Women’s Advancement in Real Estate: An Interview with Sara Sutachan

What was the inspiration behind WomanUP!? What motivated you to become involved in the women’s movement?

I’ve actually always been a feminist. My mom is a single mom—my dad has always been around—but my mom was a really strong independent woman and she’s my role model. I came to work for the California Association of Realtors® (CAR) and had another amazing role model in Leslie Appleton-Young. I’ve always been attracted to follow strong women, and read books and articles about the women’s movement and the gender gap.

In my role at CAR, I oversee the industry and broker relations, and part of that is interacting and building relationships with the brokerage community and meeting with them on a regular basis. As I met with CEOs and some of the largest brokerage firms in California, I always wanted a balanced room. What I found was that I was hard-pressed to find that balance because the people who led the larger brokerage firms tended to be male.

I’d been noticing this, and even if it wasn’t a large firm, I would make sure women sat at the table. I thought to myself, “This is crazy. We should do something about this.” I couldn’t really drive it home until I got a call from Gretchen Pearson; she was going to speak at a women’s event and said, “I want to know data. Do you have any data on women leaders?” We really didn’t at that point. I had my own personal experience with not finding those women on the rosters, so then we dug into the data. I had my staff look at the largest brokerage firms in California and Google which leaderswere men and which were women. We found that 36 percent of firms were either run by women or had women at the C-level or in management at the top California brokerage firms with over 100 agents. We analyzed a list of approximately 200 of these firms.
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4th Annual NAWRB Conference

Scores of executive women and industry leaders came together for women’s economic growth, million-dollar contracting opportunities and invaluable resources at the 2017 NAWRB Nexus Conference: Women’s Collaboration for the Future. From July 16th-19th, 2017, NAWRB’s expert panelists equipped attendees with actionable solutions and specialized forecasts, providing a comprehensive inside look at the near future of the housing ecosystem.

The excitement was palpable as attendees filtered into the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa and settled into their seats next to future strategic partners and collaborators. Desirée Patno, NAWRB CEO and President, kick-started the event by recognizing the hard work that went into making the conference possible and the professionals who made time in their busy schedules to be a part of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) movement.

The Investment Opportunities: Access to Capital Facilitator workshop commenced sessions with Robert Fragoso, Realtor, CEO, Investor, who with over 28 years of experience in real estate investing and flipping homes described the importance of recognizing industry trends when making investments that will maintain profitability in the future.

“I came with the intent to share some of my experiences and knowledge—having been a part of so many homes that have been flipped—and what I see in the marketplace,” stated Fragoso. “Not necessarily what’s going on today, because that’s ever-evolving, but to have attendees learn how to spot the changes and the next opportunity so that they can be not just following the trend, they’re essentially the trendsetter.”

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Breaking Down The Barriers: Unconscious Bias and its Effects on Women in Commercial Real Estate Careers

According to research published last year by the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network, the industry median annual compensation for women in commercial real estate fields is $115,000, compared with $150,000 for men—an income gap of 23 percent. The gap is actually widest in the C-suite at nearly 30 percent. While there are examples of women being intentionally paid less for the same role, it is likely that a large part of the difference can be explained due to unconscious bias.

What is unconscious bias? These biases are subtle thought patterns and assumptions we carry about others based on our background, upbringing, and personal experience. Both men and women carry unconscious biases—it’s just part of being human. It helps us categorize situations and other people quickly based on past experience. The harmful consequences of unconscious biases often dissipate once they are brought to light and can be dismissed based on more accurate information.

Common types of unconscious biases include the halo effect (the tendency to think that everything a person does is good because we like a person), the affinity bias (the tendency to be friendliest with people who are most like us), perception bias (forming stereotypes about groups that influence our thinking about individuals) and confirmation bias (the tendency to seek information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs).

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The Truth about the Creative Drive

You know when you lack sleep. You might feel a bit disoriented, crave sugar, and start noticing random details around the room instead of focusing on what you wanted to do. Unfortunately, as a full-time, bootstrapping female entrepreneur this scenario is far too familiar.

Being a great entrepreneur takes effort, dedication and persistence, and it comes at a cost. In our efforts to develop and grow, we often stretch ourselves too thin. When we say yes to everything, we utilize time that would have otherwise been used to explore projects and opportunities that are more in alignment with our personal visions. At the end of the day we’re left to figure out how to balance work with life and self-care.

Sometimes you can’t reach that goal even if you do everything to manage your resources. However, creativity holds the power to help achieve your milestones by marinating in them. How can you be more creative?
When we ask this question, we are often asking how to be creative with ease. We want the results without the hard work. At times, when we don’t see immediate results, we are instantly crushed. Even though we know certain things will take a bit more effort and dedication, when we are used to ordering food, cars, lodging and dry cleaning with a click of a button, we unconsciously want things more instantly and perfectly.

It’s the same when we are creating something. As entrepreneurs, we know that every form of action is an act of creation. Whether it’s creating a new product that will revolutionize your industry or creating a new advertisement to market your message in a new way, we are always wearing our creative hat. What makes a difference between a thriving creative leader and a mediocre one is how they decide to interpret and utilize their creative strengths.

Thriving creative leaders are not just great with ideation; they know how to find connections in unassuming places, recognize opportunities in the most devastating moments, and thrive with limited resources. They let their imagination take their vision to a whole new level because they see things with an abundance mindset with patient persistence.

And yes, at times that means they may be working late hours and lack sleep, but they are using every insight and experience to learn, connect and create. This is a really important reminder for entrepreneurs, and especially for female entrepreneurs who often lack the resources, support and funding opportunities male founders have and believe that is the reason for our failure or delay in success. I know this may sound contradictory but lack of resources can be the key source to your growth, as long as you have the abundance creative mindset.

There are tools and strategies to be creative but they only scratch the surface. You have to do the work to learn what makes you creative and, most importantly, why you want to be creative. Why do you want to do this business? Why should others care? You have to dig deeper and reflect to understand your creative drive. Without fully understanding why you have a drive to do what you do and why you love doing what you do, you are half blind in your journey. When you understand your drive, not only do you understand what causes your excitement, you also understand what pushes you away from mediocrity. When you understand your drive, you understand why every form of creation and action you are taking is making a difference in building the bigger goal you want to fulfill.

When was the last time that you truly pushed yourself and asked why you are doing what you do? Have you truly been giving your 100 percent? If you’re not, why not?

Stop using the need for perfect balance as an excuse to not fully dive into your potential. When you recognize every piece of your experience is a puzzle piece that will help fill the gaps then you stop worrying so much about
balancing; rather, you focus on how the pieces all fit together to reach the goal. In cooking, marrying the flavors and spices is important. Sometimes you need equal amounts of two ingredients, sometimes a little less of one and more of another, sometimes even replacing an ingredient with something different.

At times you may lack sleep, the funding or the network to reach where you want to go, but you shouldn’t see that as something that’s stopping you from reaching your dreams. Take a step back to see how it all connects and can help you get to the next goal. You may be surprised at what you find.

The truth is, you already have the creative drive. You just need the courage and patience to recognize the diamond in the rough.

Monica Kang
Founder and CEO

How I Reinvented my Career without Reinventing Myself

Baby Boomers are living longer, retiring later and, the truth is, we’re finding that one lifelong career just isn’t enough. Long gone are the days when a high school or college graduate finds a dream job, spends the next 30-35 years moving up the company ladder and retires with a pension at 62. In fact, graduates are changing jobs nearly three times, on average, within the first five years of graduation; a pace that has nearly doubled versus just 20 years ago, according to LinkedIn Economic Graph data.

Whether you’re a Millennial, Baby Boomer or somewhere in between, if you’ve spent any time in real estate or financial services over the past five to 10 years, chances are you’ve experienced long and lean times as a regular course of doing business. With the ongoing interest rate movement and uncertain times ahead, there is no better time than now to consider where you stand in your career, how much it fulfills you and what might lie ahead.

My own employment, some 30 years of trials and successes in financial services, has taken me over a lot of winding roads. I’ve had to make a number of adjustments to my career path—either preemptive or forced—most recently several years ago when my employer (a very large and well-established insurer in the mortgage banking ecosystem) descended into receivership.

As with twists and turns I’d experienced before, the writing had been on the wall. Banks were substantially cutting back from residential lending and servicing. The once robust non-agency market was anemic and unlikely to emerge as its former self. Warehouse lending, title services, mortgage insurance, appraisal services and others survived, but were (and are) very competitive commoditized value propositions that expand and contract based on market need.

Fortunately for me, I had diversified jobwise. Since 2005 I had been following a passion and teaching evening college classes in finance and macroeconomics. So while the sudden change stung, it didn’t sink me.

As both a student and professor, I’ve spent a lot of time studying employment trends. Virtually every generation has faced changes in both opportunity and employment requirements due to advances in technology. In real estate and mortgage lending, automation of workflow has been a driver of technology in loan originating, appraisal, loan processing, underwriting, servicing, brokerage services segments and much more. I had been exploring how to capitalize on my 30+ years of mortgage banking, structured finance and capital markets experience to refresh my career. My research led me to financial technology companies that were quietly making inroads into the space, but with improved value propositions.

Shortly after things went south with my employer, I accepted a position at a fintech company in San Francisco called Alight. It was a leap for me—I was a died-in-the-wool mortgage guy and while Alight was exciting, I have to admit to having a bit of trepidation about becoming a tech sales guy. But I was hooked from the start. Alight’s value proposition suited my expertise, my educational background and my view of where the mortgage industry needed to head. It was a win-win for me from day one to the end of my time at the company.

Back to you. Chances are your industry—your livelihood—is (or will be) undergoing substantive change, change that will likely affect the way things run. You need to be prepared for any surprises that may come your way. But where to start?

1. Do your research.
First, study the advancement of tech companies and the
inroads they made during periods of change. Tech advancements are the proverbial writing on the wall and typically herald significant change coming. Technology that enhances productivity may curb manpower needs, while technology that opens up new areas previously undiscovered may require additional manpower, so education and training—even just some self-study—may be necessary. Investigate the field you’re in now (if you’re satisfied), and some other industries where you can leverage your expertise and about which you think you can be excited.

2. Take the five-year plan and stay relevant.
Use your imagination to consider where the industry might be five years from now; it’s a reasonable and practical timeframe on which to base decisions. Read thought leaders and influencers, not only in your industry but also in related industries and broad, innovative areas like technology, sciences, economics. And then, instead of focusing on the job you would like to have five years from now, begin by considering what types of employment will be part of the future economy. Play to your strengths, your experience and your skillsets, and educate yourself in unfamiliar areas that have potential. Be sure to only pursue things that excite you and will be worth really working for.

3. Get in touch & stay in touch.
If you’ve been working in an industry for a while, you’ve likely accumulated a lot of contacts. Take the time to reconnect with old colleagues as those contacts will come in handy as you look for new opportunities. Begin to grow your network out beyond the borders of your industry, particularly into areas you are exploring. People like to refer and hire people they know.

4. Find your paper route.
Develop a hobby, passion, talent or value proposition into a business that is economically rewarding, convenient timewise and psychologically liberating. Start it as a paper route, something you do in your spare time that can add a second or third source of regular and predictable incremental income. Your paper route may start off small, but with time and energy you can grow it into a meaningful source of income. Get certified or licensed, and keep it active. When I first started teaching 12 years ago, what I made was laughable. I taught one class and earned $400 for an eight-week session, and today I am an adjunct professor. My teaching income is not inconsequential and the benefits are substantive. Best of all, I love teaching and it is something that I can do well into semi-retirement.

5. Develop an achieveable, but not too slow timeline.
Life is busy and there are a million things that can get in the way of making changes, particularly when it comes to revamping a career. It’s much easier to continue on the same trajectory than to change course. Take a breath and reevaluate. The things you start today, the things that require extra effort, the things that require a journey, are the very things that will contribute to your success sometime in the future. I once had a boss who always said to me, “Ralph, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” Well, go ahead and take that first bite.

Expanding your career into a new area or converting a hobby into an income-producing enterprise requires a lot of care and feeding, a whole lot of discipline and some sacrifice. But, once you’ve done it, you won’t remember the pain, you’ll be basking in the rewards. Things like supplemental income, or a “side hustle,” as the Millennial demographic calls it, can turn into a meaningful addition to your personal bottom line. Money is fungible, $3,000 to $25,000 per year in extra cash can be very additive to lifestyle, savings or whatever you decide.

Start thinking about what may lie ahead for you—life’s big milestones—kids, houses, weddings, college, rainy days, retirement—and factor those into your plan first. Once you have those cornerstones laid, the only limits to what comes next are the ones you impose. Live your best life many times!

Ralph Armenta
Technology and Mortgage Banking Consultant & Adjunct Finance Marcoeconomics Professor

Moving the Needle in the Right Direction for Women Tech

STEMconnector® has more than 170 members and has organized to push skills to more than 5 million open jobs. Million Women Mentors (MWM) was established to increase career opportunities for girls and women and has gained nearly 2 million pledges for mentor relationships. The movement has to change the career options for women and girls and reach pay equity by making great jobs and rewarding careers available. STEM jobs provide a means of pay equity; thus, we must provide the economic excitement for women to earn and contribute.

Consider what we are achieving with Million Women Mentors, reaching millions of commitments and bringing the private sector and organizations together to mentor, sponsor and provide internships. Please join us. I had the honor of writing a blog with PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, back in 2015, which says the following about Million Women Mentors: “We’ve already seen some amazing progress, but imagine what could happen if every STEM professional made a commitment to mentoring one-on-one for just two hours a month. We could truly change the game.”

STEMconnector® is a consortium of companies, associations, academic institutions and government entities actively engaged with STEM education and careers and with the future of human capital. With multiple products and councils, STEMconnector® is both a resource and service, designed to link “all things STEM.”

Gender & diversity is at our core. In the U.S., women and minorities make up the majority of the population and, clearly, the demographics of education. That’s why we launched Million Women Mentors, and we are on our way to 2 million mentor relationships. By endorsing all efforts—from private and public, to educational and organizational— to mentor and change lives, and increase careers in STEM jobs, pay equity is close. Every corporation and institution wants to show their progress and results for gender and diversity based on successful recruitment, engagement and retention.

Commitment to the underserved is part of all that we do, and we are proud of those who do not tolerate inequality and want to focus on making the land of opportunity a reality. STEMconnector® takes pride in “scaling up” what works. Along with the CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, STEMconnector® has committed to Tech Talent for All. It takes great marriages of private and public sectors. The CEO of Sprint, for instance, announced the 1Million Project, which donates tech to those in need. Salute all!

Public policy impact is clear on each of these. If not at the federal level, then we need the support at the local level. Public policy impact must be translated and saluted. Whether we continue support for tech talent for all or CTE Support, we stand up for use of public policy in many ways.

Women’s Equality Day was August 26th, and November is Science and Technology Month. Why can’t we make every day a celebration for gender gains in science and technology and a commitment to improve the numbers? Considering that up to 80 percent of jobs today require tech skills, and all STEM jobs pay women close to parity—about 96 cents on a dollar compared to 80 cents overall—an answer to parity and pay equity will involve technology. Let’s put more effort in gaining STEM skills and especially tech skills, and making tech careers a national priority. We urge all of you to read the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality can add $12 Trillion to Global Growth. Gender advancement in STEM and tech is about economic opportunity and equality.

It can’t be the “Old Boys Network” any longer. We know we need a “New Girls Network,” but let’s allow men to be our champions and advocates, and ask CEOs and others to commit to the advancement of women and girls. We can do it together. Don’t accept no. Instead of focusing on “Sexism in Silicon Valley,” let’s build commitments to embracing women in STEM and tech.

Maya Angelou said, “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care.” We all care about the phones in our hands, the computers on our desks, and the cars that we drive. We must care even more about the girls who want to invent, explore, and discover the next generation of amazing STEM breakthroughs but who just need a little encouragement.

We must move faster. The movie Hidden Figures highlights the roles of three African American female mathematicians working at NASA as human computers. They helped build the space race. There are too few role models for girls today. Women comprise 24 percent in the tech and computer science space, a number that has declined or been static for the past decade; meanwhile, men are jumping ahead. Most high school and university gender numbers are poor, as are the requirements to teach computer science in schools. As NCWIT shares, girls comprise 56 percent of the Advanced Placement (AP) test-takers, yet only 19 percent of the AP Computer Science test-takers. We must advance and encourage all to code and engage in data analytics and other exciting areas. Carnegie Mellon has close to 49 percent women’s enrollment. We are proud to work with many academic institutions pushing the needle, but too few are embracing women in STEM and tech.

Jobs are open in every area of tech, and we must mentor, sponsor, offer great job opportunities and share our successes. We must push to advance women and girls, and role models are vital. Write your own stories and blogs, speak out and act, and, most importantly, execute and report results. Just as we released 100 CEO Leaders in STEM, 100 CIO Leaders, and 100 Diverse Leaders, look for the 2nd edition and release of 100 Women Leaders in STEM in October 2017.

The “Fearless Girl” is a symbol on Wall Street staring down the bronze “Charging Bull.” The “Fearless Girl” represents the desire to build equality for finance (as well as STEM and tech) and has gained millions of media impressions and new commitments. Let’s join together as fearless leaders and mentors to achieve STEM success, and gain more jobs in the tech field, which is dominating finance and every other area. All of us can be catalysts for gender action, and girls and women can—and will—build our economic future, financial achievement and success. Tech underlies all we do. COMMIT to action now as we join together to drive RESULTS.

Thank you, Edie Fraser!

Jumpstarting Your Career & Business in the Housing Ecosystem

As a professional in the housing ecosystem, it is crucial to think outside the box and utilize the resources at your disposal to grow and advance your business and career. Analyzing your market, familiarizing yourself with the competition and crafting a superior business plan are great first steps, but pioneering decisions are what will make or break you in the market.

Adapting to the changing times, leveraging your differences, preparing for the future of the market and surrounding yourself with people invested in your success will help you seize opportunities for advancement.

Balancing New School and Old School
If you consider your favorite products, are they the “best” or the most inexpensive choices on the market? Or, have you developed a relationship with a particular brand that you buy because it has done right by you? Similar to your preferred items, your business can become the go-to for customers.
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