Modern Lending Podcast | James Robert Lay

As we all start leaning into the digital marketing world, come hear an industry expert showcase how banks and credit unions are doing the same thing. Let's pay attention to what other competitors are doing in the same space. 

Your Snippet of this episode of the Modern Lending Podcast....

  • B.A.N.C.E.R.
  • Content is the fuel
  • In today's digital age AQ, EQ > IQ
  • Practice, Practice, Practice

Episode Transcribe

[Alec] What's up everybody?

Welcome to another live episode of the Modern Lending Podcast. We're gonna go down a rabbit hole today. With me is my man, James Robert Lay. Now James is the CEO of the Digital Growth Institute. He also is the bestselling author now of "Banking on Digital Growth". I met this guy on the internet as you do. And man, there's just tons of alignment that him and I have in our messaging and what we believe in stepping into. I cannot wait to get a copy of this book. I ordered it already. And this guy is teaching banks and credit unions how to go digital. Man, what an alignment! Let's open it up. Let's bring James on the show and rock and roll. What's up, James Robert, how you doing, buddy?

[James Robert] Doing well, Alec, it's good to see you man.

[Alec] I love that I had to figure out that you're the man with two first names. I'm glad we cleared that up before we got on the show here. So I didn't get your way through. So James Robert, congratulations, first of all, bestselling author, recently published "Banking on Digital Growth". I mean, that's a huge compliment. I think you said it was four categories that you got. Five?

[James Robert] Five.

[Alec] Dude, congratulations.

[James Robert] Thanks, man.

[Alec] So as I said, kind of in the intro, guys. I bumped into James Robert on the internets and realize right away that this guy was speaking my language and that there's probably a lot of things that he's doing, that I can learn from. So James, before we get into the questions, and we get down the rabbit hole, give everybody a little bit about your background, please.

[James Robert] So, my last real job was waiting tables and playing a punk rock band.

[Alec] So epic.

[James Robert] That was the life and there was this girl. I was a sophomore in college and she said, "You know what, your band is not so good. "You actually kind of suck." Do something with your life. And so I started this little web design company which grew into the Digital Growth Institute over the last 18 years. Actually, I got married to that girl. And now we have four kids. And along the way we've helped over 520 financial brands, simplify their digital marketing and sell strategies to grow from good to great and really generate 10 times more loans and deposits.

[Alec] And by the way, what a better time than now? I mean, I think there's reason your book is flying off the shelf, everyone's going, "We don't have customers anymore the traditional way. "How do we get to them?"

[James Robert] It's crazy because I started writing that book in May of 2019. And the world was a very different place. It's like what a century this month has been. I used to say, "What a decade this month is nuts." It should be a millennium. But just the amount of change we've experienced at the macro level, at the organizational level, at the micro level with ourselves. It's a lot for anyone to process it, to try to comprehend. And I think we need to have a lot of empathy for ourselves, for our teams, for our organizations, for the people that we're looking to help right now. Because we are really in it just a completely different time period.

[Alec] Yeah, and we're forced into it. So it's kind of like we got to go. We don't have a choice. And by the way, we're live on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook. Hi, Mary on LinkedIn. Chris, what's up on Facebook. Thanks you guys, for joining us hanging out today. Always good to see you, Mary. So James, let's talk about this for a second. When you talk to credit unions, banks, these banks, mega institutions about going digital, what does digital growth mean? What does that mean? Break it down in like layman's terms?

[James Robert] Well, let's talk about the internal perception first, and that's typically where the problem stems and internally, digital growth from the executive levels is viewed as, we have online banking, we have mobile banking, we have these online applications, we're digital. And I'm like, you got the service side of the business lockdown, you don't have the growth or the acquisition. So we have to actually go in and redefine or academically define what is digital growth. And simplified, digital growth is systems and processes that are centered around the modern consumer journey to attract, to nurture and ultimately convert leads for loans and deposits. And just that definition alone, if you can get that buy in throughout, that's a light bulb.

[Alec] By the way, I love it so much. Because if you're a loan consultant out there, trying to grow your business and looking at, what is digital growth mean, for me? It's the same definition guys. It's the same definition. So once you get somebody to understand that definition, James Robert, what's next?

[James Robert] Well, once we get that, it's okay, great. We have that alignment. Now, let's actually define, what is our purpose? Why do we exist as an organization? Why do we exist as a team? Why do I exist as an individual? Because once again, we have to reshape and reframe the conversation that we have with ourselves, with our teams, with our organizations, because a lot of times, we exist to push loans.

[Alec] Yeah, yeah, we exist to sell something.

[James Robert] Push your product, a commoditized product. And like, "No, we exist for a much higher purpose." And there's something I read about in the book called "The Purpose Statement Pyramid". Is we have what we do at the very bottom, and then we have the how we do it. And a lot of organizations and individuals, that's where we stopped with the conversation. If we can transcend that just a little bit higher, we can talk about who we do it for. Which to me that's critical if we can get really targeted and focus of who we're looking to help. That's a transformative exercise. It's a very hard one to have, but it's a transformative one. And then finally, it's the essential of why are we doing this? What is our purpose? What is our higher goal, our higher calling? And that's to get, in my eyes, if we're in financial services, whether you're on the mortgage side, whether you're on the deposit side and small business, it's to help people get beyond their questions and concerns, their fears, their frustrations, that are holding them back from them achieving a bigger, better, brighter future.

[Alec] Done, dude. Well, so let's unpack this some more. I know in your book, you talk about this a lot, but defining the customer journey. And you just alluded to it with understanding that we want to be part of that customer journey. You have the tools, but how are you really there? Maybe break down how you see the customer journey. And I think that'll tie into this really nicely.

[James Robert] So we could actually define that with an acronym. I call it "The BANCER Strategy Circle". And BANCER...

[Alec] I love it dude, I love acronyms.

[James Robert] B, build an audience with data. It's the very first step and that's why we needed to find who we're looking to help. Once we build an audience With data, we can then attract leads with personalized offers. So we have B[James Robert]A. The nurture part of this, the end of BANCER is to nurture those leads with automation and content. So to move them through, help them get beyond those unknowns that are holding them back. Because once we do that, it's like any relationship. I have to know you, I have to like you, I have to trust you. And once someone finally trusts us enough, that's when we can ask for the business, we can get them to click the Apply button, and that's where we convert them for a loan. But the journey is not over yet, because then we can expand that relationship, the E by the lighting in that experience through some type of an onboarding process. And one of the biggest untapped opportunities that I see right now, in financial services, whether in mortgage or other types of lending, the business, it's the R. And that is to repeat the entire process by asking for some type of a rating, some type of a review, and really most importantly, asking for a referral, because that's just gonna put someone right back through that entire loop once again.

[Alec] And I think the fear here or the problem here, is if you don't go down that journey, if you try to go right to the clause, you're gonna off ramp, you're gonna fail the customer and they're gonna go somewhere else.

[James Robert] Exactly. People have options today. The consumer is in control of the buying journey. That's it.

[Alec] So tying that into real estate loans, it's so crazy. I said that because in 2003, when I started, the consumer wasn't necessarily totally in control. And for those people that are new to our industry, and even though 2003 is not that long ago, people, not that old yet. It was a world that was hidden. The internet hadn't fully come into real estate, you couldn't find houses that were for sale without talking to local professionals. It was kind of a closed environment. To your point now, it's blown wide open, the consumer is in full control. And they have more options than ever before and more education. Sometimes misinformation, but than ever before.

[James Robert] It's interesting, you make the note of misinformation. And the way that I look at this is almost like a practitioner[James Robert]patient relationship, because if you're symptomatic with something, something's ailing you. What do you do? What's the very first thing you do?

[Alec] Google.

[James Robert] You go to Google, and you Google your symptoms.

[Alec] And then you realize you're on Web MD, and then you're too deep. And you realize you have 17 diseases.

[James Robert] And you're self[James Robert]diagnosing. And so even that's not misinformation. That's legitimate information. But I don't have the context nor the expertise to understand how that applies to my unique situation or my reality. So what do I do? I'm like, "Okay, stop." I call the doctor. I go see the doctor, the doctor then diagnosis me, he runs some tests. And then he says, "You know what, this is the problem. "Hey, and by the way, here's the prescription. "Here's the cure." And the same thing is true in mortgages and lending. There's a lot of information out there. And that can be very dangerous for someone, it can be a misdiagnosis, it can send them down the wrong path, it can cause them more pain. So what do we have to do? Physician[James Robert]practitioner relationship. We have to guide them through this journey to give them some calm, to give them some clarity, to give them some peace, to give them some hope.

[Alec] Well, and this is... Bill, thank you my man. If you don't follow Bill Gaylord everyone, you're missing out, this guy's incredible. Good to hang with us, dude. So let's talk about this for a second. I actually want to go back. I want you to hit BANCER again. I want you to run it, people missed it. It was too fast, but it's gold. So we got B, build an audience.

[James Robert] Build an audience with data.

[Alec] Absolutely. So and by the way, I cannot tell you how many loan professionals today are absolutely blowing a massive opportunity by not putting their customers they're serving into their social sphere. They are relegating them to a CRM if they're doing anything at all. And that's okay. I'm not gonna trash that too much, but they're not inviting them into a bigger cultivation, opportunity and relationship.

[James Robert] What you're talking about, it's the transformation of community. Community used to be physically defined location, zip code, five mile radius, three mile radius. Community is now digital. And what we get with digital when building an audience with building a community, is a multiplying factor. Because it's almost like a time machine to where I can be in multiple locations at once, like we are right now; LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube. But we have to put that type of contextual thinking in how we're looking at just presenting ourselves to the community that we're looking to build.

[Alec] By the way, so this is a little bit of a side note tangent, but this is what's, your dead on. And here's something that I think the mortgage industry isn't really prepared for. So in retail mortgage banking, we're used to geography. We're used to how many[James Robert][James Robert] I can go to open houses that I can drive to, no zip codes, I have my office, this is my sphere of influence location. There's no geography on the internet. I mean, you can be in any market at any time, multiple times and impact. Like to your point on the power of video in this digital community. Someone's gonna be watching this, like three days from now. And then connecting in to this digital experience and this digital community. That's why.

[James Robert] Yeah, and think about that. You're building like, video. That's why post[James Robert]COVID. I've been doubling down on video, I've been guiding and coaching more around video, because it's how we bring humanity to this sphere, the sphere of influence. There's two sides of the equation when we talk about digital growth. There's the DX, or the digital experience. But on the flip side, there's the HX. That's the human experience. It's not one, it's not the other. It's about using technology to bring people together for good. And when we look at the digital experience, we can't just look at it holistically, we have to break that down. We have the lead experience, and we treat those people differently. We have the customer experience. And then as I mentioned before, one of the biggest blue ocean opportunities, it's the referral experience. And then on the human side, we have two things, help and hope. And to me a lot of times when it comes to the situations like buying a home, people need hope before they can even be open to help. Can I even do this? Can I even afford this?

[Alec] I love that. The human side and help and hope is dead on accurate. So I want to hit BANCER though because[James Robert][James Robert] Build an audience. That's our B, what's our A?

[James Robert] Attract leads with personalized offers. And let's be very clear, what type of leads are these? These are MQLs or Marketing Qualified Leads. So the people who maybe they're a good fit. Maybe we might be able to help them, we don't know just yet. We don't know what stage they're at in this buying journey. But we have to extend an offer.

[Alec] Yep. We have Brian like that hope for help. That's killer. That's a nugget right there. Okay, so then we got the N.

[James Robert] Nurture leads with automation and content. And so at this stage, we're bringing people into what we would call a sales qualified prospect. They're moving a little bit further down. And that's why automation marketing, automation to me is an exponential factor. And content must be the fuel of this engine that you're running.

[Alec] So then we got the E.

[James Robert] The C.

[Alec] I skipped C? Yep, I jumped ahead and then I ruined the customer experience.

[James Robert] You missed the most important part of it, which is the conversion. We got to convert them for the loan. And I think it's interesting to note at the stage of conversion, a lot of times we look at that is we're gonna push them through our digital application.

[Alec] This is a good point.

[James Robert] But maybe not, maybe not. I look at three different types of calls to action. There's your primary click to apply for the loan. But we have found by deploy, this is extremely tactical, but it's a transformative tactic. A secondary call to action, right below the Apply button. Have a question? We'll call you back. We typically see higher conversions on the secondary call to action. And there it is, it's connecting the digital experience with the human experience because people still have those questions. They think they're ready to apply but I need to talk someone to make me feel good. So then I can get pushed over the edge. So the conversion might not necessarily be 100% digital. Digital might just be an assist on that journey.

[Alec] All right, now I'm ready for my E.

[James Robert] Expand the relationship by delighting the account through some type of onboarding process or experience. And once again, there's an opportunity to connect the digital world with the physical world. Gift boxes to me are like a transformative experience. Because it just adds that little bit of touch that says, "You know what, wow, this is making me feel really good." Because coming back to those different types of consumer emotions and relationships, I have to know you before I like you, I have to like you before I can trust you. And only once I trust you finally then, in that onboarding, that's where you really reaffirming the love of the relationship.

[Alec] Love it, dude. And then obviously, we're back at the R, which is to repeat.

[James Robert] Repeat the process by asking for some type of a rating, whether that be on Facebook, Google places, on a specific website. Asking for not only the rating, but then getting the review of whatever it might be, and then following that up once more tying in the referral. And what better way to do that than to apply a system like NPS or net promoter, which I've always looked at as a vanity metric rate. Your net promoter score is 9.2. I don't care, turn that insight into action, and then get your promoters to actually promote.

[Alec] Totally, 100%. I like the vanity. It's so true. And I wanna talk about the narcissistic marketing in a minute before I forget, it's incredible. But let's talk about maximizing technology. You know, we're in a digital age, how do we build technology? How do we leverage technology in our growth strategy?

[James Robert] The way that I'm looking to look at this is through building what I call a digital growth engine. And when we look at the marketing and sales technology available to a lender, to an organization, it's insane. We've gone over the Martech like 10,000 now. So let's just distill this down. What are the four key pieces or the four gears that are needed to make this engine run? The very first is going to be some type of ad targeting, email targeting system, marketing automation at the front end. That's then gonna drive leads to a website that sells, not a glorified online brochure, which I see so many mistakes being made with that. It's like, here's all of our products. And here's all the bullet points that get tied into that. No, no, no, no, we need to actually help first and sell second. Then we're gonna take those leads that are coming through our website that sells and then we're gonna put them into the marketing automation, use content to nurture those leads. And then ultimately, once we convert them, we have some type of sales and service platform, i.e CRM, that we can expand that relationship with. But here's the thing, those are the four gears. What is needed for an engine to run?

[Alec] Gas.

[James Robert] Fuel. So if you look at each one of those gears, we need fuel to turn the gears, that fuel is going to be content. So content is the fuel of the digital growth engine. And now we take it to the next level. So our engine's running great. If you want it to run even more efficiently, data is now the oil of the engine.

[Alec] But let's talk about the fuel. And this is maybe a little bit of a tangent, but it's important. I talk to a lot of people whose main sticking point, I'm gonna say excuse, I'm a little harsher, is they feel like they have a lack of content. They don't know what to say. And so, how do you address that? How do you coach through that? How do you take organizations through that?

[James Robert] First and foremost, the content's not about you. So let's come back to...

[Alec] Sorry. Let's unpack that. That's totally right. But I see a lot of people whose content is about them, but go on.

[James Robert] Yeah, 'cause I think it's hard because it's like, "Well, what am I gonna say? "What am I gonna say about myself?" So there's like a mental block already kind of tied to that. So let's come back to purpose. And one of the things I talked about in purpose was the finding the who. Who are you looking to help? So now we need to identify personas. What are their questions? What are their concerns? What are their hopes? What are their dreams? What are their fears? What are their frustrations? Lean into the pain that people have. If you can start unpacking that, that's where the gold is. Because now that gives me specific problems that I can solve coming back to the physician[James Robert]practitioner relationship. Now I can start using my content as potential cures to these pain points of these personas or of these people that I'm looking to help.

[Alec] See, let's open up the topic about narcissistic marketing, because you've clearly defined in that quick hit what we should be focusing our content on. Who do you want to serve? What are the problems you can address? Go into that space. And yet, we see tons of narcissistic marketing, which is a term, I saw that from your book 'cause you showed it to me earlier. But like, and I'll give a silly example. Going off to a great job, gets a great review, post it on their social feed. Look at this great review, look at how great I am. Or loan officer does a great job closes a loan very quickly, very proud of that. And they post, "Record closing in six days, "look how good I am." How do you define and come up with narcissistic marketing as a topic and what does it mean?

[James Robert] Well, a lot of it comes from just observation. I like to think of myself as maybe a digital anthropologist studying human behavior digitally. So narcissistic marketing. Maybe it's rooted in just our flawed human nature to where we try to make everything about us. That's been amplified more I think than ever before. Because of things like social media. So social media, it's like a double[James Robert]edged sword. It's not good, it's not bad, it just kind of brings out the individual of a person at their core and amplifies that. So narcissistic marketing is where an organization, a loan officer even, has a solution to a mass market that might be called to action. And so it's very broad. And when we look at that type of a narrative structure, an organization or a loan officer might have a solution for a mass market that might be called to action. Who's the hero? Who is that narrative about?

[Alec] That's it. When it's about yourself.

[James Robert] It's yourself. But here's the thing. Shout out to Miss Bongo. Shout out to Miss Bradley. They're my ninth and 10th grade literature teachers. Never thought what I learned back then would be practical today. When you go back to basic literary structure, there can only be two types of heroes in a narrative; your protagonist, and your antagonist. And I, me the consumer, and the stories that I'm telling myself conversation I'm having with myself in my head, I'm the hero. So enter the other hero, they're already coming into the narrative, if it's about them, they're the antihero. They're the antagonist. So if we're using a narcissistic marketing[James Robert]like model, we're already have been defeated before we have even had a chance to "win the battle". But why are we trying to win battles? It's a lose[James Robert]lose proposition. So let's reframe this and take on another role and even more helpful role in this type of a narrative structure. Coming back to literary history, I think Joseph Campbell made everyone's work in this so simplified when he wrote "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" and he kind of looked at all the literary history going back to the earliest stories of Gilgamesh and whatnot. We have another role, and that is, enter the helpful guide. That is the Obi[James Robert]Wan Kenobi, that is the Mr. Miyagi, that's the Yoda because without a helpful guide, there can be no hero, and without a hero, there is no story. Be a helpful guide.

[Alec] And it's so hard, by the way, I hear that. I had a great pod with Dave Savage and that theme came through again. But you know, in practical terms, it can be hard to be in that frame of this state of mind.

[James Robert] So let's make it practical. And that's where we apply the storyselling methodology and the storyselling. Because here's the thing, everyone's talking about, "Yeah, you need to tell a better story." I would go to conferences, I'd be speaking at conferences, I'd hear another speaker and tell the artists, "You need to tell a better story." What? What the hell does that even mean? I get angry. So I spent like three years trying to figure this out. And really going back to ninth grade in my head and then doing my reading. Storyselling, coming back tie it all together. A consumer persona has specific questions and concerns who meets a helpful and empathetic guide. And here's the key. This is the crux. That must first build trust with content. Because when you go back and you watch "Star Wars". Luke, when he was introduced to Obi[James Robert]Wan, "Who's this old man?" Every guide has to build trust before the hero will follow them or take the guide's advice. And the way that we do that digitally, the way we build trust digitally, comes back to what we were just talking about, content.

[Alec] You gotta show up. And there's a lot of people not showing up.

[James Robert] Exactly. But the journey doesn't end there in the storyselling methodology. So now the guide has built the trust, what has to happen next? The guy has to call the hero to take some type of action. So I do see there's a gap. There's a lot of people pumping out lots of good content. But they never come back and ask, "Can I help you? "Can I take you to that bigger, better, brighter future?"

[Alec] So I got to tell a story on this one. And James Robert, I think you'll appreciate it. I posted a mini comment on this earlier but in my early days of origination, I was busting tail. Like I had the top 100 realtors in my market, I'm getting a monthly drip. I was going to every single open house, and broker preview, and board event, networking event. I was everywhere. People used to say like, "Dude, you are everywhere. "Everywhere you go, I'm seeing a flyer from you. "I'm seeing you." But I couldn't ask for business. And I had a fear of rejection that would happen from this. And so I built great rapport and I ended up getting business because I built relationships. But what happened one day was I decided to ask, and I was gonna get married the next month. And so I wanted to fund over $10 million, because that was a big number. Still a big number. And I was like, I'd never broken that metric. And I was like, "I really want to hit this as a personal goal." And I sent out a stupid piece of paper with me on it that said the $10 million challenge and I mailed it out to all the agents, mailed it out to all my customers I'd done business with. And this in my first year of doing business, so it's not a lot of customers. But, I got $13 million of business that month, because I asked. But I didn't just ask, I had been busting my ass, literally, to make connection with everybody. And it's the one[James Robert]two punch, exactly what you're saying.

[James Robert] You have to make the connection before you can ask for the business. And that takes time. And here's the thing. Digital growth is a journey. Is a journey from good to great. It is a journey that begins in the mind. And it takes time. Digital has also shortened our patience. We want it now, now, now.

[Alec] And we get instant gratification all the time kinda.

[James Robert] We do. We get dopamine hits like, all the time.

[Alec] Like, "I made a video, where's all my business?"

[James Robert] You said something there that was key. And I wrote this down, about the ask. The fear of rejection, because here's the thing. It's really a two[James Robert]sided equation of the ask because now if you come back to the BANCER Strategy Circle, you gotta ask for the business to convert someone. But then if you wanna repeat that process, you have to ask for the rating, the review, the referral. And I see fear holding a lot of people back on this journey. I've never considered the fear of rejection, though. That's a really good one because what I write about in the book, the four fears that holds someone back whether they're a mortgage officer, an executive team, it doesn't matter. It's first and foremost. It's the fear of the unknown. We as human beings love the cave of complacency and the cave of comfort, it's safe, it's secure. It's not dangerous. Complacency in this digital world of exponential change, it's killer. It's gonna be the downfall of a lot of people who, like here's the thing. A lot of people up to this point I'm so glad the narrative is finally changing about, education and the way that we learn, the way our kids learn. AQ, Adaptability Quotient, and EQ Emotional Intelligence in this digital world, far outweighs IQ. I was just talking with someone in the FinTech space. And like, you get a lot of people in FinTech. They're like, super, super smart. But their EQ is like, zilch and that's why there's a lot of challenges bringing FinTech into the marketplace, because we got the smartest people in the room, we got the IQ, but we don't have the EQ. AQ and EQ. So we got the fear of the unknown. The other thing too, that I see is the fear of change, like coming out of the cave of complacency. We don't like that change. Then we have the fear of failure. "What happens if I try this and it doesn't work?" What happens if you don't? Play worst case scenario with this. Because what got you to where you're at today won't get you to where you need to go tomorrow. Which then brings me to the last fear. And it's the fear of success. Like, holy shit, what if this does work?

[Alec] Yeah, then what?

[James Robert] Then what? Can I even sustain something like this? But fear of rejection. That's a great one. I appreciate that. I'll put that on my radar.

[Alec] Well, so let's circle back to digital stories. I think that you nailed some key points there. And I want to just kind of hammer on it before we move on, because it was really well said. The fact is, we have to get out of our own way and be our guide, or else we're immediately battling heroes with the customer we're trying to serve. And it's just all of a sudden, you're dead before you even start. I loved hearing that. And then you get trust, you gain trust by content, by showing up, by being present, by being with them in the struggle. And that to me, lays out a wonderful opportunity to tell stories in that narrative tone. The more we're reminded of that, the more we implant that in our brains, the more we can filter our marketing through that lens. We get away from the narcissistic marketing. And we turn into true guides and true value[James Robert]added people. And I want to say one more thing too that triggered me on this. For everybody paying attention now or later and Zooming, joining this conversation. James Robert said earlier, "You gotta get really focused on why you do what you do." Because all content comes through that. And the ability to break through fear comes through that. If you get really focused on why you're doing what you're doing, you'll turn the camera on, you'll start telling stories. But you got to be really grounded in that. If it's just another loan, if you're doing it for money, all those things will come through your stories and they won't last.

[James Robert] I wanna address that. Because if we come back in and look at ancient wisdom, there's an old saying, "Where there's no purpose, where there's a vision, "the people perish." A really good book and a lot of people know "Think and Grow Rich". But what they don't know from, and what was the author's name on that?

[Alec] Napoleon Hill.

[James Robert] Napoleon Hill. What they don't know is another book that I highly recommend people read, especially now with everything that's going on in this crazy millennium of 2020. It's called "Outwitting the devil". And it is a book literally framed around fear and overcoming fear. And Napoleon Hill puts the devil on trial and gets the devil to confess all of his secrets. And one of the things that Napoleon Hill writes about, you're talking to specifically is the definitiveness of purpose. Once we lock that in, everything else becomes crystal clear. And I think a lot of people right now, with all of this exponential change, environmental change, changing consumer behavior, we get stuck in the circle of chaos, where we're confused, we're frustrated, we're overwhelmed. Hey, I get it. And I got a lot of empathy for that. But the only way to escape that circle of chaos is step number one, you've gotta gain some clarity into what the future opportunities are in the first place. Because that clarity helps to come tie it all back, it helps to overcome the fear of the unknown. And one of the best ways to do that is just to define a purpose beyond the product, put transformations of people over the transaction.

[Alec] So let's get practical. How do you do that?

[James Robert] In regards to, it's a bit because we just unpacked a lot. Be more pointed, how do we do what?

[Alec] How do we get out of the circle of chaos?

[James Robert] Four steps, gain clarity, become a lifelong learner. Things are happening and changing way too fast. We already talked about the transformation of education. There's no reason and what you're doing is so valuable. You're teaching. Be the student, but also be the teacher. It's both sides and it's like this upward spiral. Everyone wins, the tide rises together. So gaining clarity, be a lifelong learner, be a student. And if you don't know something, Google it, YouTube it.

[Alec] James Robert, I got to add on this. One of my favorite sayings is "Be a student of your own experience". Think that the ability for someone to objectively step back, look at what they did, look at the content they make, look at the experiences they're having, and go, "Do I like this? "Is it going the right way? "What am I learning from this? "What can I learn from this?" Is an absolute like skyrocket cheat hack to push yourself forward.

[James Robert] So let's talk about that. We have to, as an individual, a team, an organization, a society, a culture, redefine failure. And that to me is one of the biggest flawed things out of the public school system is, I have four kids. And I'm really trying to just let them learn and learn through experience, learn through failure. Because up to the time that you go into that grade school, you don't know really what it's like to fail because it's all about play, it's about experimentation, it's about learning. But then you're getting these grades and like, "Oh, no, I got a C." Or, "Oh, no, I got a D."

[Alec] Yep, and this bringing up whatever they got, an A, and so they're better than me.

[James Robert] Exactly wrong. Your failure is nothing more than the best learning mechanism in life. I look at failure as the fertile soil, from which new growth springs from. And if we can be okay with that, and really dig deep and do a lot of like self[James Robert]assessment, self[James Robert]awareness, that's a big, big thing when it comes to just gaining clarity into what opportunities are. What can I do and make it even better?

[Alec] Well, you know, everyone makes everything, like a final exam. And so, it's like, "Guys, no, this is practice. "All of this is practice until we die." Like it's just practice. Like every video, every piece of content, every article you write, every tweet, everything you're trying to impact on your business. It's just practice.

[James Robert] I love that, I love that. It's practice and let's break down the final exam, if you will, because, we all work in annual cycles, and we have these goals that we set. Break it down. Let's look at "The 90 Day Year". There's a book actually by that title. To where it's not so big, it's not so overwhelming. And this is a model and a methodology that I teach when it comes to growth and other acronym. What are our goals that we're looking to achieve? And I learned this trick from Dan Sullivan. When we look out towards the future, it's very hard to gain a sense of clarity of what that looks like. So we have to literally put ourselves two years ahead or three years ahead or one year ahead. So Dan Sullivan, he asked the question, "If you and I are having a conversation "three years from now, and we're looking back, "what has to happen between now until then, "for you to feel good about the progress "that you're making on your own journey?" And that's how you get clear about the future state that you're wanting to create, for yourself, for your team, for your organization, for the people you're looking to help. Then you can follow that up. So that's G. Then you can follow that with R. What are the roadblocks and challenges that I must eliminate because they stand in my way? You have to be very clear about that. Put them on a piece of paper. Continuing forward, what are the greatest opportunities available now for me to create a capture? And maybe it is, you know what? I have to commit to creating one piece of video content per week, and just getting it out there. I think a video, we're gonna come back to that. I was working with a round table, about 30 CEOs of financial brands. And the fear, the sheer terror that I heard from them is that's what's holding them back. I said, "Hear me, here's what you can do. "You get three takes, you get three takes to do a video. "Take number three, whatever it is push it, just go with it, "lean into the fear and make it happen." And I said then as a bonus, "Maybe take a shot of scotch or whiskey, "take your edge off." And I think something else that sometimes helps a person get over the fear of video, It's like we get that I, that single I staring back at us with the camera. That can be intimidating. So what do we do? Get someone to stand on the other side of the camera, just talk to them. And that's how... then it's like anything. You'll disconnect from them after say, you do this for a month. "Well then I can just use a tripod or a selfie stick." So there's ways that you can coach yourself through on this journey that you might take. So goals, roadblocks, opportunities. How do you want to grow?

[Alec] So, James Robert, obviously, go buy this guy's book. If you're looking to hear all this wisdom pouring out of him just go by the book, it's all there. But I always like to wrap down with kind of this conversation and this question. Put yourself in the seat. You're sitting down in front of a brand new loan officer to the industry and a 30[James Robert]year veteran. So you got super experienced and you got brand new and they're sitting out in front of you, and they say, "What do I do? "What would you tell me to do given all this landscape, "all this world?" And how do you lean into them? And what do you say?

[James Robert] Collaborate.

[Alec] That's a great angle.

[James Robert] Collaborate because you got 30 years of experience, and then you also have someone who is younger, has kind of grown up in this digital world. Why don't we collaborate our capabilities? Because I think that a lot of times what we lack is capability. And if we can bring capabilities together, whether that be experience and expertise, or being able to navigate the complexities of digital, to me, it's a collaboration opportunity. Raise the tide together.

[Alec] You know, I love that so much because... Two quick stories. When I started in Origination, I didn't know anything, I didn't know what I was doing, I had a great mentor, but I gotta get my feet wet. And I realized, "Hey, wait a minute, "there's some really successful people out there "that originate loans. "And they're all in these lists, "and I can see them and they're right here." And we have this thing called phone in 2003. It was an archaea brick, but it still could call people. And I called them, and I sent them emails and I said, "Hey, I'm new, we're at the same company. "So I felt like, I work with you. "And can I buy a coffee? "Because I'm trying to learn "how to be a really damn good Originator." Every single one, every single one said yes. And every single one sat down and gave me their entire playbook. Free, no insecurity, no fear, just hear. And the reality is collaboration. The reason that I'm gotten better in my opinion at this digital world, it's because I've been staring at people who are doing great things and learning. And then guess what? "Can you teach me? "Can you help me? "How do you do this?" And they go, "I do it like this." And I go, "Holy shit, thank you." Collaboration is, especially in a digital age when we can feel so disconnected because we can't go get coffee with somebody. But you know what, you can still connect and collaborate. And that's an incredible message.

[James Robert] But I wanna address what holds the collaboration back. I like competition. We have to make some choices like now, as an individual. I'm either going to approach this world with a growth mindset, and there's way more opportunities available for us to create together. And that's just going to eliminate the competition. Or I'm going to approach this with a fixed mindset. And there's some type of a fixed number that we can go out and we can fight for and we can compete against one another. Collaboration to me is the answer because it's the learning opportunity. I mean, think of it this way, like what we're doing right now. You get a 30[James Robert]year veteran and a new up and coming person. Cocreate a podcast together, cocreate something, collaborate and you're going to get an exponential factor instead of trying to do this on your own by yourself.

[Alec] James Robert, I appreciate you man. I appreciate your advice today. You dropped so many nuggets, I cannot wait to reshare this and cut some parts out and get it back to the world today. Any final words before we wrap down and say goodbye to everybody?

[James Robert] Be well and do good.

[Alec] Be well and do good.

[James Robert] All right, thank you. Thank you.

[Alec] Have a wonderful day, everybody. Thank you for tuning in on this episode of Modern Learning Podcast. If you liked it, share, comment, repeat, love you guys. Take care.

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