Modern Lending Podcast | Devin Hernandez

Let’s make a pivot and go internal, I have on Devin Hernandez, VP of Employee Experience for loanDepot. We are going to dive into what it takes to put on an all digital event for thousands of people.

In this snippet of the Modern Lending Podcast…

  • Get the zoom tips on how to be present online.
  • Find out the differences and similarities between running a virtual event and an in-person one.
  • People love getting stuff in the mail.
  • Turn your camera on and fill in the gaps for your team.

Episode Transcribe

[Alec] What’s up everybody. Welcome to another “Modern Lending” podcast. I’m your host Alec Hanson. That feels weird. I never thought this would be like a show, but apparently it’s a show. I don’t know how I feel about that yet, but today I’m excited because man, we live in the virtual world now, don’t we? We got pushed more and more violently into this virtual space and that affected all of our jobs, how we do things. But most importantly it affected how we connect with other people. And so a really good friend of mine, a sister of mine in another life Devin Hernandez runs employee experiences for LoanDepot. She’s a true professional and her life changed dramatically with COVID on how we connect with people. And so I want to bring her on. I wanna talk about what she’s doing and what we can learn together. So let’s bring on Devin. Woo, hey Devin[Devin] What’s up? Hey?[Alec] All right, so the comments are live, let the trash talking begin. I’m sure we’ll get some people that wanna just make fun of me ’cause that’s your job normally.[Devin] Just you. Just you, they won’t make fun of me.[Alec] No, they know better. ‘Cause you’re like you give out swag, you hook them up. Like know where, all the Chairmans Elite events are. And so you’re like, Oh yeah[Devin] That’s so much bribery but usually people are pretty nice to me.[Alec] All right so Devin before we start share with everybody your role at LoanDepot, what you’ve been doing, what you love doing like give everyone in the background here.[Devin] Sure, so Alec shared I’m the VP of employee experience, which is kind of a catch all. So it’s a little bit of meetings and events. It’s a little bit of philanthropy and charity, it’s travel. It’s a bunch of things. It’s basically anything that touches our employees and how can we make it impactful and exciting and authentic to LoanDepot. So I do a little bit of everything, but I’d have to say my DNA what I’ve made my career in is making really impactful events whether they be virtual now or in[Devin]person. So that’s what I do. And I’ve been here for, it’ll be 11 years this year.[Alec] 11 years, so you[Devin][Devin] 11 years.[Alec] You’re ahead of me by one year[Devin] I have to you at something. So it’s gonna be that .[Alec] Okay, so give everybody an overview of some of the favorite events you’ve done. I want people to try to get a ’cause I’ve been to so many of them and were so cool. And I want people to understand like what scale you’re playing at.[Devin] Yeah, okay so let’s start like smaller but probably the most impactful is our new hire orientation. And for anybody that’s heard me I was on Chris Madigan’s show a couple of weeks ago and we talked a lot about that. That’s one of my favorites because it’s every single month. So it feels a little bit like Groundhog’s day, but it’s so impactful ’cause it’s so different than most companies. Like we put so much more passion into it that it’s not like, “Here’s your training manual “and go watch these five videos and “take your test and let’s hope and pray that you do well.” It’s so much more than that. And it was five days of live events 11 years ago when I started. And it’s five days of virtual events now, but one of my favorite parts of that is you really get reenergized every time you talk to a new hire. When somebody comes over here and they share the way that they feel about LoanDepot and what this is doing for them in their personal life and professional life. Like it just rejuvenates you for things that you probably take for granted every day. So that I would say is one of my number one favorite but definitely one of the most impactful and coolest ones. So that’s number one. Number two, the launch of Mello. So, and you were there. You were on That was ridiculous. So I’m just gonna back this up a minute. We were in the middle of our incentive trip for retail and I get a call and like, “We’re launching Mello.” And I’m like, “What is that?” And we pulled it off in like two and a half weeks. And we already had this meeting event this national meeting already planned and we’re like, “Okay, how can we just like steal this meeting “and also launch Mello at the same time?” And so we had two different ballrooms set up. We had all of the salespeople in one room and it felt like your normal sales meeting. And then the next they walked into a different room that had I’m not even gonna tell you the dollar amount of audio visual and like creative staging. And we made a Starbucks happen. We made a living room scene. We had all white acrylic furniture throughout the room. Like we really wanted people to feel what Mello was gonna feel like. And then we did it live on Facebook. And that was so early on people weren’t doing those things yet. So I mean that was an incredible event that I think challenged me and my team in a whole different way. So I had said that’s number two. Do you want number three?[Alec] By the way, before we get number three. Everyone you can actually go watch that on YouTube. You can go watch them all. So you can see the set and they experience Devin is talking about. It was crazy to be there. I mean the whole wall Anthony was a video screen.[Devin] It was 90 feet by 40 feet tall. It was gigantic .[Alec] That’s gigantic.[Devin] It was. And it would really had like an Apple feel to it. And I think anybody that was in that room just felt the power and the momentum of where we were going in that moment. So achieved. Objective achieved, yeah.[Alec] All right, you have a number three?[Devin] Number three, Chairmans Elite, One of my favorite things and we do it for three different business channels. We do it for retail. We do it for direct. We do it for our wholesale group. Each of these groups are very, very different demographically how they qualify. I mean, just age and where do they sit in the US and even in their environment. Some of them are remote, some sit in branches and then some sit in call centers. So that event, I think challenges myself and my team so much, ’cause it can’t be a plug and play. Like we have to look at each group and say like, what’s gonna excite direct? What’s gonna excite retail and what’s gonna excite wholesale? So that one’s super fun. And it takes us to some of the best locations in the country and in the world. So, I mean, personally, I love traveling around and checking some cool places out. So it’s definitely one of the benefits of my job and my role here.[Alec] Okay, so and I’ll have to I got to give you a little compliment on the event stuff that you do. One of my favorite things on every event you do is trying to wonder what little tiny thing you’re gonna pull off, A little gift, a little something that is unique that no one thinks about. You always do such a good job in those kinds of little wow experiences. In fact I try to teach a lot of loan officers like to copy that in the mortgage experience. Like look for those moments where you can come in and do something that’s not expected that delivers that smile. And that experience this is above and beyond.[Devin] Well, and I think to play in that Alec, like one of the things that my team and I talk about so much is we’re a big organization. We have 10,000 employees but I don’t ever want my team to seem robotic and not personalize. And so we don’t use we have an events@loandepot email box but you’ll never not have a person answering you with their name. And even for our events if Kate is my attendee manager for the event every email for her says, “Hey, it’s Kate, can I help?” Like whatever you need however, we can make your trip personalized and special. Like we haven’t lost no matter how big we’ve gotten we haven’t lost that personal touch. And so to me that draws back to that gifting and those special touches. Is that my team doesn’t get to say, “Okay, we’re so big now, “we don’t have to care about each individual person “that’s attending.” Like I know you, I know your wife Erica. I know Dan, I know Doreen. I know your sizes by heart at this point. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve filled Dan Hanson’s entire closet over the last 11 years[Devin][Alec] Facts, that’s a fact.[Devin] Right fact. But I take a lot of passion in that. And so does my team. I think we know the spouses just as much as we know the individuals that qualify for the trip. And I think that’s what makes it special. And it’s real for us. Like it’s not a stage. We’re not an external company LoanDepot hired and just make this meaningful. We’re part of team LoanDepot too. So I think passion comes through.[Alec] So I have some questions for you and here’s kinda where I wanna start it out. In the glory days when COVID wasn’t the thing, you and I worked together on several in[Devin]person large sales rallies. And I love sales rallies for a thousand reasons. I love getting together. I love community. I love just kind of the celebration and employee recognition. Like there’s so many layers to these things that I love, but, and we’ve had a blast. So I mean, we’d done Disneyland. They all got screwed up and then of course I called you and said, And so what did you think when I first threw that at you? And what were your thoughts on that?[Devin] I was super excited ’cause I knew that my team was preparing for some of these things. And to be honest Alec, this is where I will give my compliment back to you. If I was gonna go down the virtual event road with anyone, I’m glad that I got to go down it with somebody that’s tech savvy. That’s already out there. That’s already built a personality and an ambassador to the virtual world because it’s challenging, right? Like getting on camera is not natural for everybody. And I know you personally. I will call you my friend. And I know that it’s a lot of work for you to do this too. And it’s a lot of work for me to do these things. So to come online and be there for six hours, takes a lot. It’s fun, but boy, is it exhausting too? So I think when you asked myself and my team to kinda engage in this, I was excited that you were gonna be our first to go down that road. ‘Cause I think it was gonna be the most fun. I knew that we were gonna challenge the boundaries and that we were probably gonna do some duct taping in the background but it was gonna happen. And shout out to Kenny. He just commented on Facebook. Kenny Arroyo is my new event and meeting production manager. Worked for the dude forever. He’s done a lot of events with me. He’s super, super talented. And that’s the type of people that I want on my team now that can help us bring virtual. ‘Cause it’s not here for a minute. Like it’s here to stay and we’re building our team to be able to do these things. So thanks Kenny.[Alec] So why don’t you share some of the stuff your team did for this virtual event to try to make it not another Zoom call? ‘Cause there’s like Zoom fatigue is real, right? And it’s like[Devin][Devin] It is.[Alec] It’s real. And so if we’re gonna get six hours of this kind of virtual event. And then we’re gonna have a happy hour. I mean so share some of the things your team brought to this story because it really blew my mind.[Devin] Yeah, so if it’s cool, I’m gonna start with some of the challenges that you kind of go through when you’re doing a virtual event. And so like you brought to us and I looked at it and I’m like “Oh my God, we’re gonna be on Zoom “for seven hours.” Like, “How are we gonna do these seven hours?” So right when you walk into a general session your sales rally, your national meeting, whatever it is you walk into this hall room that has things that are visually stimulating you. Whether it’s like the signage, whether it’s the little gifts on the table, whether it’s your name badge, your journal the people you’re networking, the gigantic screens. Like there’s so much, that’s grabbing your attention, that’s keeping you engaged in the content and everything that’s happening. When we change that. And we throw you into your living room or your office, your car, wherever you’re taking this you have a million distractions. Like I know, like I got my kids running around I got my dog, my husband is on Zoom in the other room. Amazon is being delivered. Like there’s a million things. Plus I’ve got my email there and nobody can see that I’m just like typing away on my email while Alec is doing his thing. There’s a million distractions that we’re competing against in that moment. So I think when you and I and my team started planning this, we really tried to think about how can we create different engagements throughout? And so we started to layer things in and to some that looked at it maybe like, wow, there was so much going on. Like there was a DJ, there was an artist there was Alec , there’s a guest speaker. But it’s like we’re trying to keep an ADD person like super focused. And I think we did it and we killed it. And I’m really proud of it. I think some people may be like, “That was a little much,” but for the majority of them, I think they were so much more in tune than they would have been had they just done this for seven hours, right?[Alec] Yeah, and you know this, and I know this, but like[Devin][Devin] So specifically, like .[Alec] Yeah, so even in live events, there’s always people who aren’t happy with something. Like you can’t please 500 people. You just can’t. You can get close. There’s always gonna be someone who like, “The coffee was cold or hot.” At live events it’s funny. Like, “You didn’t give me enough food.” Like whatever it is, right? And you’re like, “Come on, I’m trying here”[Devin] Temperature. It’s the worst thing in the world. Hot and cold in a ballroom. And now it’s on you. You can toggle your own thermostat at home.[Alec] But I think you’re really dead on. And there’s a parallel here that I wanna get to later. But maintaining attention in a space where you’re at home, the kids are there the dog is there, the neighbor rings your doorbell your phone, you could just put your camera off and just do whatever you wanna do. And like, it’s so different than being in an event where you’re live with everybody hanging out. It’s just radically different.[Devin] Yeah, absolutely. So we, brought a bunch of different things in Alec. We did a graphic artist, which shout out to John. He was an amazing artist that sat with us live and the biggest compliment in the world came back from him. And he’s like, “That was so much fun.” He doesn’t work for a LoanDepot. He doesn’t work for LoanDepot. He’s got all these other things going on. He does a bunch of different conferences but he came back and he’s like, “That was so much fun. “You guys are so cool.” And I’m like, “We just made mortgage super cool, “to a total outsider.” So I think that was a complete win. So we had a great graphic artist, that was drawing along all of our speakers. And then we had a DJ live out of Philadelphia that was helping us out as well. And I just think the combination of, a mixed agenda of different people we gave breaks we’ve got all these other components. I really think we did a nice job of keeping people’s attention. And it seems like they were pretty happy with what they got.[Alec] Yeah, and I do wanna give a shout out to all the managers who finally got on video. ‘Cause I know I’m pushing everybody into video, like aggressively. And then I just forced them. I’m like, “You have to send me a video “thanking your employee of the year “and your ops partner of the year. “So get it in.” But I think those videos, when they played through kind of in the virtual reality environment like I think they had an impact. I think they really meant something to somebody. Like the people got to hear. And I’ll tell you this too Devin. This is one of the big learnings I had on virtual events. The comments that are live, that you get direct feedback. Normally when I’m speaking to a bunch of people, I get kind of head nods as feedback, but I’m not getting like direct feedback. And it was actually really cool to have people being like directly commenting as I was talking or as someone else. I loved that. I thought that was really like heightened the engagement for me. And I hope so for them as well. It’s also one of the reason I like these live environments. ‘Cause we’re getting comments like Kenny is jumping in. Because now I’m like, “Yeah, “you guys are part of this experience. “You’re part of this conversation with Devin and I.” And in that virtual reality event they were part of the conversation if they want it to be. And that was really cool.[Devin] Yeah, no, I agree. It was fun and I was messing around with people in the chat box. I know you were as well. And it calls people out. So they’re not just like, you’re not just watching. This is not a one[Devin]way opportunity. Like you’re part of the audience you’re live. And I think you and your team did a really nice job of, we were projecting the different Zoom screens on your virtual stage behind you. And when people won, you were pointing them out and high[Devin]fiving their screen and it was awesome. And I think it reminded people like I see you because I think that’s the thing that people miss the most right now is that they just feel like it’s easy to feel like you’re at home and nobody is connecting with you. But like we really made we made a point to make sure that we recognize people and we see you, we’re here with you. And I think it was fun. It was a good time.[Alec] Where are virtual events going in your mind? “Cause you mentioned Kenny, but like I know you’re looking forward and you’re looking at all this stuff and you’re going, “Okay like are these gonna live “in parallel to in[Devin]person events, “as those become back in style?” Where do you see this going? ‘Cause I’m, curious where your brain’s at.[Devin] Yeah I mean, I probably should have had Kenny next to me ’cause he probably knows a lot more than I do on this part. But I’ll tell you what I think. I think is that we’re gonna see an evolution of hybrid forever. There’s gonna be a group of folks that for any, which reason don’t feel the same comfort in traveling or going across the country to go to this event or that event. But then there’s gonna be people probably like you and me, that crave human connection. So we’re gonna have in[Devin]person and we’re gonna have people that are gonna be joining virtually too. And so I think building into all of our meetings, we have find a way to bring in that virtual attendee. It’s gonna be just as important as how we set the seat for someone who shows up in front of us. So I think we’re gonna see that and we’re probably gonna see that forever. And I think it’s gonna be, I think that’s gonna be one of the best benefits, at least from my side of the industry. So Alec, you mentioned at the beginning that we used to do these sales rallies at Disneyland. We did them for years right? And there’s a reason why we kind of we stopped for a year or two. And I’m just gonna call it out. Live events are expensive. They are. There’s a lot of components to it. You’re traveling people. And it’s not just about getting somebody to your meeting for five days, but they’ve gotta fly in the day before we gotta feed them. We gotta get them a hotel room. So live events get so costly too for an organization. And so you start to limit your audience size because you’re like, “Okay, “like let’s get it down to just the key hundred folks “that we can get in the room. “And then we’ll send out PowerPoint slides to everybody else “that couldn’t be there.” And I don’t know any person that’s felt like, “Oh, I read that PowerPoint, “and I totally got the point.” I mean, they’re not that impactful. So this virtual change for us has given us an opportunity and kind of a gift to say, we can do these events again. We can make our audiences large and we’re not I’m not gonna tell you that virtual meetings are free, ’cause they’re not. If you do them well they do have a cost to them but we’re back in our audience again, we’re back with our people again. And I think we’re doing a really nice job of it, but that was kind of like the silent gift to me in the moment. Is it allowed us to bring some things back that we may have put on the back burner for a couple of years because of costs and constraints.[Alec] You know what, it’s funny too ’cause Devin, it’s not just about scaling. Look at the high level of events of 100 people 1,000 people events, that kind of stuff. But then you have to, I go back down mentally to like, what about the branch manager who used to hold sales meetings in[Devin]person sales meetings and give a little award monthly recognition. And now it’s like gotta pivot virtually everyone had to pivot virtually and I’m just looking down going, “Man, I’ve got to put “a ton of pressure on everybody. “Not just what you do and I do “but what a branch manager does.” And so there’s skill there, there’s new skills to learn. Like how do you hold an effective virtual meeting and how do you keep attention? And by the way, people turn their cameras off. And so it’s like or they don’t even own a camera, right? I mean, they can’t even get on Zoom. So I’d love for you to share some like secrets and tips and tricks you’ve learned and tactics and all that fun stuff for everybody listening because it is a whole new area. And like you and I ran into it head first, ’cause we’re like crazy people and we’re like, “We’ll figure it out. “Like I hope it doesn’t blow up.”[Devin] Right[Alec] There are people who are like terrified or not well[Devin]equipped at all. Let’s give them some of the secrets Devin. Spill it, spill the guts here.[Devin] Sure, so not even from a meeting side but, our organization uses Microsoft Teams as a main communication tool which is we all moved out of the office and I don’t have an office phone anymore. And so every person in the organization can call me on audio or by video every time they want. Every single time I answer on video. It doesn’t matter who you are that’s calling me. I don’t care if I’ve never if you’re one of the 10,000 employees that I haven’t had a chance to meet yet every single one of you will see my face. And it’s funny, I answered a call yesterday with one of our recruiters and she’s like, “Oh my God, your video is on.” And I was like, “Yeah, you should turn yours on.” And we had a conversation. She’s like, “Do you get ready like every day?” And I’m like, “No, I don’t. “But that’s not the point. “The point is, is that I don’t get to hide from you “when I’m in the office. “I don’t get to hide from you “when we went into a boardroom together. “So why am I trying to hide from you at home?” And I have connected so much deeper with a lot of my team members during this time. I have employees that sit in California and in Arizona. And I have seen my Californian employees more than I ever have in the last five years they’ve reported to me. And so the connection with this team is so important. Think of the basics. It’s not just about how am I gonna show up virtually for my meetings, but start doing it in your everyday life. Like even I look at my kids I have a five[Devin]year old, a 12[Devin]year old and 14[Devin]year old. So I got kindergarten, junior high and high school. So please somebody pray for me because the last seven months have been tough. But it’s funny if you watch them, none of them take phone calls anymore. They FaceTime their friends for every single conversation. And I’m like really? They don’t even text anymore because they don’t even wanna write which maybe is a whole another conversation. But they FaceTime constantly. They’re not afraid of that, but yet we try to hide from those things too. So I say just start with the basics. Force yourself to get comfortable because it makes these things less uncomfortable. I’m not worried about going live with Alec today because I do it every single day. So I’d say that’s a big thing for me.[Alec] Devin, that’s a huge tip. Huge tip that’s underrated. On my last podcast, I had a buddy of mine on there and he always defined it as putting in the reps. And like but you just described was perfect. Like you’re just, you’re practicing. Even if it’s with your employee or colleague or peer across the country, you’re practicing looking at a camera. You’re practicing showing respect. You’re probably getting better at it, ’cause you’re like, “Ooh, that didn’t work.” Or, “I didn’t like that.” And so you’re changing things. But that’s huge. I mean, I can’t highlight that enough.[Devin] So, and then for the folks that hate looking at themselves on camera. So a couple of my tricks I have a whole LoanDepot wardrobe that I purchased. So I’ve got a shirt for every day of the week. And so it does help because I just know that I wanna be on brand. And I want to see my logo on the screen, the LoanDepot logo on the screen. I always wear earrings because they immediately make you look more dressed up. And now I accessorize with different types of glasses . So if you look at my desk, there’s like four different pairs of earrings, two different pairs of glasses, because that’s all you see of me. So this is what I’m gonna dress up for you. So there’s my simple tip for there. The next thing I would say is just your level of excitement. There’s a saying that text and email always comes over neutral or negative. And I always take that to heart when I’m reading people’s messages that to convey excitement in an email is really, really tough. And so somebody who’s never people tend to take those things the wrong way. So if you can talk to them that’ll help. But two, when you’re talking on camera, you have to increase your energy level almost to the point that you’re annoying yourself. Like I’m sure my household is making fun of me right now. Like what is mom doing? But you’ve got to bring it up. So like that inner cheerleader in all of you, like bring it up 25% because you are combating all the distractions. And I need to make sure that you’re not gonna stop listening to Alec and I right now so I’ve gotta put it on. I’ve gotta turn it on. And that’s what makes it exhausting too. I mean Alec I’m sure like after the sales rally I sent you an emoji of like a little kid in a ball on the floor rolling. I’m like, “Talk to you in 12 hours,” because it’s just is draining, but it’s so rewarding too. It is[Alec] Yeah, I really resonate with that. Video you’ve gotta come up a notch and when you’re hosting team meetings and you’re doing sales meetings and you’re the leader of that experience, you’ve got to come and bring it all. Because otherwise it does the not[Devin]in[Devin]person effect pulls down the energy just naturally. You just don’t, there’s no one else here. So you gotta bring it. Great tip.[Devin] So the other thing that I would say from a tip is know the tool. Get in Zoom, play with it. Watch other people. There’s tons of things out there that tell you how to use the tool. If the Zoom is the one that you’re gonna use the most but understand how to share your screen understand how to mute people or unmute people. It’s so funny. I do so many video calls. I’m no joke. I’m on video probably seven to nine hours every single day which is a bit ridiculous. But I have vendors all the time that are like, “Oh, this is Devin. “She’s like the Zoom queen.” And that makes me laugh. But they’re like, “She can share screens like nobody’s business.” And I’m like, “Really? “Like, that’s a new, “like that’s a talent that I have? “is I can share screens.” But it’s funny. So know[Devin][Alec] I gotta go nerdy on you now ’cause you know this thing. Have you seen this? I showed you this before?[Devin] Yes, I tried to order one.[Alec] This is stream deck for those of you guys that don’t know. And down here are all these buttons down here, I hotkeyed ’cause zoom has hot keys, right? Like in order to mute all, it’s like Alt+A or something. I don’t remember, I had to Google it. And so I assigned hotkeys so I can mute everybody, right here. I can share my screen. I can unshare my screen. I can mute myself. I can, all the features are built into this little stream deck. And so instead of having to hotkey or click around, if something’s happening really quickly bang my screen is off. My naked six[Devin]year[Devin]old runs in here that screen off. But you’re totally right. Know the tool. You don’t necessarily have to go that dorky, but I just didn’t wanna keep having to click around. I wanted one button to push. And, but yeah I mean, you gotta know your tools or else you can’t use them effectively.[Devin] Know the tool and find someone who does know it really well. In the industry and organization our industry that I am part of meetings and events and hospitality has been an area that’s been really really heavily hit with COVID. I mean, I’ve got lifelong peers that I have been jobless for months. I’ve got hotel friends that have worked for the same hotels for 30 years, that don’t have jobs today. And it’s sad and I’m not necessarily better at my job than they are. I’m just really really blessed to be part of a growing organization and part of an industry that’s not impacted in the same way. And for that I’m truly grateful, but I’ve reached out to so many friends like, “Hey, I use Zoom seven hours a day. “If you don’t know Zoom and you need help, message me.” And seriously Alec like for this group too, like I made three different videos already. I’ve given them to the tech department of LoanDepot. Like if someone just doesn’t even understand how to schedule a meeting or how to use this, like I’ve made a bunch of little videos. I don’t look great. I don’t sound great, but I’d rather hand them out to you and empower you to know how to do that because it’s the simple things. And I think that’s what scares people about being virtual is like, what am I sound like? What do I look like? And what if I don’t know what I’m doing? And people are watching me get flustered. So know the tool. Practice the tool. And you practice the tool by using the tool more frequently than just like once in a blue moon.[Alec] Yeah, I was gonna say just like your last point if you’re practicing and you’re using it in your daily use, you’ll start to figure stuff out. I mean, I cannot tell everybody how many times I’ve opened up a Zoom alone hit the record button, hit the record button, and talked so I could hear how I sounded. What the mic sounds like. Like check because I wanna know. And then I would figure out and use the YouTube and figure out how to like improve it. So yeah, I mean, head on. Okay, anything else[Devin] So the other thing you talked about is like, how do you engage people? Okay, so that’s how you get ready for it. You’re gonna practice your tool. You’re gonna use it more frequently. And you’re gonna find somebody who knows more than you do about it and ask them all the questions. But then you’re in the event itself. One of the things about Zoom that’s a bit of a challenge is once you get over and it depends on your computer, once you’re over like 16 people or so then you start to have pages of folks, right? And it’s hard right? You’ve got the grid . And if you’re on an iPad, then you’ve only got nine. And if you’re on a phone then you’ve got six and so on and so on. You have to work really hard to engage people. So if you’re a manager holding smaller group meetings of 20 or 30 folks one of the things is you have to get other people involved in running that meeting too. Because if they’re just gonna sit and watch you the whole time, it’s lame. Like give your people things to do to participate. They have to help. And it’s building ambassadors within your group too, but it keeps changing the view. If you are talking the entire time and you have 30 people who are sitting there on mute, guess what? Their screen never changes. Not one time because you’re the talking head it’s in the top left corner and that’s it. But the moment that you start engaging with other folks and having other speakers within your group, the screen changes. People move. As somebody speaks, people move around, And it’s important for the human eye to see things. ‘Cause they’re like, “Oh, something changed. “I need to see what’s looking.” So it’s also just an engagement strategy. So that would be an easy one I think. Share the love, share the weight of with other folks.[Alec] All right. What else?[Devin] So what else? What do you wanna know? I mean, I do this all day long, so I kind of feel about it.[Alec] Let me piggyback on your comment about the sharing the load. ‘Cause I think that’s super true. Like one of the things I see people do in their meetings is they put up a PowerPoint or they put up the agenda and the static agenda is there. And that’s useful for a period of time, ’cause I wanna see kind of what the day is. But then unfortunately they’re running a meeting with the agenda up and they’re minimized now to the little side of the Zoom thing, and I can’t to your point, if you don’t keep the action moving whether it’s new speakers, different things coming up on the screen, like our brains go into white noise mode and we just stop hearing. We stop just, it doesn’t stimulate us. We stop paying attention. And then all of a sudden now my camera goes off and I’m on my phone and I’m over there doing an email. And I totally agree like bringing up your rock stars, having them to participate, them share stuff, them doing updates not just one person can absolutely change the space. So let me ask you this question then.[Devin] Do you mean when you turned into like you had a donkey head when you’re not part of the conversation anymore?[Alec] Yes, snap cam filter. So I’ll share this everybody ’cause it’s super embarrassing but that Devin knows what’s happening here. So I have massive ADD. And when I’m done with a meeting and it’s still going on and I’m emotionally done, I have a bad habit, which is I kind of like start doing stuff on the computer. I’m at the keyboard the keys are here. I can just pull up a new screen and be doing something. I hit a hotkey on accident and sometimes I use snap cam filters during meetings. ‘Cause you can turn yourself into a potato or a donkey head. And so I’m in a meeting, in a prep meeting with Devin like I’m over here, like typing away, doing something else, muted. ’cause I’ve moved on.[Devin] With vendors. With vendors. It’s not just us.[Alec] It’s so not good. And then all of a sudden like I had hotkeyed myself into a donkey head. It was a donkey head. Or like glasses[Devin][Devin] Yes, it was a donkey.[Alec] Oh, I mean, talk about[Devin][Devin] And it was great, because I immediately said, “I think we’re done with this meeting. “I think Alec is done. “We can finish this offline,” which was awesome. But you know what? And it brings up a really good point, Alec is that you have to know your audience. Like I know when my audience is done. Like don’t belabor it. So it is helpful that I know that about you. And that I know when you’re done whether you have ADD or you turn into a donkey.[Alec] Oh my gosh.[Devin] But it was[Devin][Alec] Yeah, I have to Now I realize like turn off the snap cam thing or if you’re gonna multitask so that you don’t turn yourself into a jackass with everybody’s sitting there and you don’t even I didn’t even know that I had a donkey head on. So that was incredible skills by me. Don’t do that.[Devin] It was awesome.[Alec] All right, so question for you. How will in[Devin]person events come back? Like what are they gonna look like? I’m sure you’ve been thinking about some of this a little bit. ‘Cause places are slowly reopening. So what do they look like in the future?[Devin] So, and it’s kinda funny, we’ve been working with some of our vendors to see even just like what floor plans look like. Like visually like how is the room gonna look differently? And it’s weird. So, if you picture a room that you could have a 100[Devin]person event in that room can now accommodate 20 people. So the size and the way that people are set up and having everybody distanced. But all the days of people getting irritated like, “You squished me into this table “with one person on this side and everyone.” Those days are gone. And so I think that’s why it’s also so important to have that hybrid approach is because we can’t physically like to hold a 1000[Devin]person event it’s gonna be so different and everybody’s individual risk tolerances and what they’re uncomfortable with are different too. So I’ve seen a couple of folks that are doing in[Devin]person meetings right now. I wouldn’t recommend them for my group right now ’cause I just don’t think if your goal is connectivity, if your goal is to get people face to face because that’s the key part of live events. And if they’re having to stay that far apart from each other, right now, that’s really difficult to achieve. So I think we’re doing a great job with virtual events. I think they’re here for a while longer. I don’t know where this is gonna go. And it’s hard ’cause everybody’s risk tolerance is different. Everybody’s organizational risk tolerances are different. I mean, we both know companies that have their doors open today and have people in their offices. But LoanDepot has made a radical and amazing decision to keep our employees home. And I commend them for that but there’s organizations that haven’t. So different organizations think differently, different States, different countries. I mean, I’m looking at contracts for different I don’t wanna leak any Chairmans Elite information. I’m careful here .[Alec] It’s international. You’ve leaked that so[Devin][Devin] I did not.[Alec] I’m just saying.[Devin] ‘Cause you heard country?[Alec] I heard it.[Devin] So it’s funny ’cause we’re having to layer in those things. What a country feels about it, what a specific state does. And then you’ve got to think about your individual people and how they feel about it too. So I know everybody is anxious for them to come back but if I released Chairmans Elite today and said, “We’re going tomorrow.” How many of you would sign up? You think about it, yeah.[Alec] It’s really complicated, unfortunately.[Devin] It is super complicated. And it’s been part of my team. For 10 years we’ve planned these, that has been a key event for us. So it feels kinda like out of like we’re out of step not having it in our rhythm, in our rhythm of getting ready for it. I mean it feels different about it but we’ve got some cool things in store. We’ve got some hopes and some plans, and we’ve got some dates. So we’re super excited and hopeful that next year we’ll be able to bring everybody back together for that event.[Alec] Me too. I would like that. I like the virtual stuff because those are really different I mean, they’re just different experiences. I mean, a really well done virtual event or virtual sales meeting or sales rally is different. It can still be good, engaging. People can still enjoy it. It can still have value, but it’s just gonna be a different thing. Then we can all get together in a room, which again to your point earlier, like has its own big giant list of problems. From expense to just people’s personal preference to, sometimes I don’t wanna sit in a room for 10 hours or five hours or whatever it is. So they all have their places. But I think you’re right. A hybrid view is kind of where the world is probably gonna move.[Devin] Well, and I think for you or for any of you folks that are watching that are planning these events just be conscious of your audience. Be conscious of how much they can handle. I mean, you said it, you don’t wanna go sit in a ballroom for five hours, but you also don’t wanna watch Zoom straight for five hours either, right? So there’s so much that’s transferable from a live event to a virtual event. And maybe that’s a good time for us for this next little piece is when my team approaches a virtual event the rule book didn’t get thrown out the window. Like a lot of the same things come into play. We still had to think about how to communicate to them and how to get them excited and to drip campaign the different guest speakers and keynote speakers and special guests that we were gonna have. We still thought about swag, but we switched and we went digital on our swag, which I have to say, I really like it. And I’m just gonna do a plug out here. My husband works for LoanDepot now as a loan officer. And he attended this event, which was incredible because we were on two different sides of the house. I’m like production running on the east side, and he’s on the west side of the house, actually watching it go live. It was super fun. But we did all these digital assets for them afterwards. So they had, digital assets to put on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, that they were attending. They had different phones screens of the key themes from the meeting so that they could leave a little bit longer for them. They had desktop updates for them that had those messages on there. And I know from my husband I see it on his phone every day and it makes me smile. I see it on his computer screen because having a strong mindset like it’s something he wants to focus on. And I’m like, “We did that.” Like, “We gave that to people.” That swag. That’s the same thing as me giving you a name badge or a journal on your seat that had the name on it. But we just had to do it a little bit differently. We thought about food. Like we had a happy hour with you, right? And if we were at a ballroom or a hotel or a restaurant, we would have had passed wine and this and that, but instead we had personal curated boxes sent to our top performers, with the bottle of wine that met their personality match with a couple of items in there, that’s in their house. And then we showed up later to do a cocktail hour with them. So if you think about it, there’s so many of the same components from a live to a virtual. It’s not a new playbook. It’s a challenge, but it’s not a new playbook that’s out there. It’s still those connection and those small touches. It’s just how can you do it in this world? And how can you have it show up to their house? And I think Steve Sims may have said it in your rally. People love getting stuff in the mail. They love an Amazon delivery. I can’t tell you how many people from that event were posting their boxes for their Chairmans Elite wine and everything showing up to their house. And then the week before that we sent out a gift to every single employee in LoanDepot. And I watched unboxing parties all week long. Like you can still do the same things. It just take a little bit more of a different logistical twist to it.[Alec] Yeah, no doubt. All right so we’re at the end. This was super helpful. Love the basic tips and tricks for people who are trying to run their own little event virtual. It doesn’t have to, like I said I mean the scale doesn’t change the opportunity to impact somebody personally. So if it’s a 500[Devin]person event or a meeting with your office and 10 of you, there’s still a huge opportunity to use the virtual to its advantages. And then to figure out how to come back around that and pick it up where it’s weak like a personalized gifting. And you’re right everyone loves packages. ‘Cause when you physically get something it has all of your attention. Steve’s comment, “You have to touch it with both hands.” You have to open it. You feel it. It’s an incredible different thing. So what would you share as like final tips from somebody who runs events and experiences for the management team out there across the country who are figuring out how do I connect better with my people? What’s your little landing pad for them?[Devin] So I’d say it’s gonna be twofold. One, don’t wait for a sales rally to meet with your team. Don’t think that it’s just the big events that are impactful. It’s doing it every day. And that’s that simple thing of turn on your camera. That’s like, I do a happy hour with my team every single Wednesday for 30 minutes. Sometimes I’ve got things to share, sometimes I don’t, but I’m physically in front of them and I’m seeing their face and I can see if they need something from me. Like I can tell on their face, if they’re engaged if they’re disengaged, if something is going on in their world, I can see it and don’t hide from it. So don’t wait to have this gigantic sales rally where we’re gonna have Stream Yard, and we’re gonna have YouTube and we’re gonna have a sketch artist and we’re gonna have a DJ. Like yes all those things are great but that shouldn’t be your only point of approach with your people. So I’d say fill the gaps, but then we’re not having live sales rallies. And on top of that you’re not going to live professional development conferences either. I know that like besides planning for LoanDepot we did 85 live events last year. On top of that, my team goes to an educational conference every year and we’re not doing that either. So you do need to fill the void with educational opportunities for your team and making sure they’re in the loop with the company. So I think the sales rally is a great thing. Town halls, just all calls, like get them on a rhythm and schedule them out, whether they’re quarterly, but commit to them and share that commitment back with your people. But you gotta fill the gaps in between. Doing a sales rally once a year is not gonna change your people or make them more engaged with you. It’s how are you doing it consistently? And then you’ve got a big one and then a little bit along the way, and so on.[Alec] Perfect advice, Devin. So before I say goodbye to everybody I just wanna thank you because you work tirelessly to bring like life and love and happiness to the employees at LoanDepot. And we’re so thankful for all the things you do. I’m so thankful that you told me me where CE is secretly so thank you for that.[Devin] Did not. Denied, denied.[Alec] And everyone at LoanDepot is so appreciative of what you do. So thank you very much.[Devin] Aw, thank you. I love team LoanDepot. I’m purple and green through and through.[Alec] All right, friends thank you for hanging out with us today on the “Modern Lending” podcast have a wonderful day and we’ll see you next time on the internet.