Modern Lending Podcast | Nicole Carrillo and Bri Hamilton

Come join me and Nicole Carrillo [EVP, Chief Accounting Officer] along with Bri Hamilton [Community Program & Events Manager] to hear how Anthony Hsieh’s vision to donate $1,000,000 to provide relief for those affected by COVD19 is transforming local communities. And as importantly, come hear how you can do the same thing!

Your snippet of this episode of the Modern Lending Podcast:

  • Community, community, community…now more than ever do we need to lean it it.
  • LoanDepot is making sure our community around us is taken cared of.
  • You don’t need to have a grand gesture just a helping hand.

Episode Transcribe

Alec Hanson:What’s up everybody and welcome to a special live episode of the Modern Lending Podcast.

We have a really interesting conversation to have today.

 I am bringing on EVP, chief accounting officer, Nicole Carrillo. I got it right. Two L’s make a Y, and Bri Hamilton who runs our … I got the full definition here, community program and events manager. We’re going to be talking about this million dollar donation that loanDepot is contributing into the world here during COVID-19. That’s cool. That’s wonderful. I’m proud of my company.How we’re doing it is actually inspiring me to bring this conversation to all of you today, because I think it’s something we all can do, even if we don’t have a million bucks in our pocket. Let’s kick off this episode of the Modern Lending Podcast. Woo. We did it. Here we are. Hi Nicole. Hi Bri. Good to see you gals.Bri Hamilton:Hi.Nicole Carrillo:Hello.Alec Hanson:I see you’re working from home and being safe and sound. I absolutely love it. This is going to be a fun conversation. Thank you for joining today. There’s a lot of chaos caused by COVID. A lot of people impacted. A lot of businesses impacted. I keep saying this to a lot of my peers, man, we are so blessed to be in the mortgage space. Which just sounds weird because mortgage people have always been like one step above a used car salesman. Now, we’re actually doing really incredible things in the American economy. Part of that is this million dollar donation.I wanted you to share real quick … Before we do. Everyone’s going to wonder. I gave your title, yay, but who are you? Nicole, share a little bit like when did you get to loanDepot? What do you do every day? Who are you?Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. Absolutely. Hi everybody. I have been at loanDepot since March of 2018. I am the chief accounting officer, but sometimes we jokingly refer to me as the chief anything officer. I am involved in lots and lots of different aspects of loanDepot in addition to my normal title job of accounting. I am so excited and so proud to be part of this million dollar giveaway that loanDepot has done.Alec Hanson:Bri, who are you Bri?Bri Hamilton:I’m Bri. I’ve been with loanDepot like a year and a half. I have been focused on doing a lot of the employee engagement efforts. I help with the WOW event that we do every year, which is my favorite event. [crosstalk 00:02:36]Alec Hanson:You’re representing too. You got the shirt on and everything.Bri Hamilton:Of course. Always. Yeah. I’m so excited. This has been the most exciting part of my career this far, is being part of this million dollar donation that we’ve been able to do.Alec Hanson:Yeah. No. Where did this come from? How did this come about?Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. When COVID really started to impact us in the middle of March when we had to push everybody, all of our 7,000 employees home, and we were realizing that we were very lucky and very fortunate. Our business was continuing. Our employees were doing well working from home. loanDepot was breaking records, but we were seeing all of this impact around us. All these people suffering from job losses, illness, fear, anxiety. Kids being thrown into this situation where they were trying to learn in their home, sharing devices with their mom and their dad and their brothers and sisters. We were really trying to think about what can we do to help? Anthony Hsieh, our CEO, is such a visionary and he really said, “Okay. Let’s do it. If I give you guys a million dollars, how much impact can you have? Put your heads together, and how can we have the most direct impact to people? Like literally our dollars going to those people to change lives.”Alec Hanson:Yeah. See, this is where I think this is going to be a really fun conversation because it sounds like we could have easily written a check to a great organization. I know we’ve done some of that. It’s like we could have just a million dollar check to this person and just there, “Look how great we are.” That’s not really getting in the weeds. Right? That’s not really looking down on how … Anthony also really wanted to go national and local because there’s a lot of loanDepot employees here in Orange County. There’s a ton.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah.Alec Hanson:Let’s share a little bit about what we did nationally because I think that’s really cool.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. Bri, you want to talk about Feeding America.Bri Hamilton:Yeah. We have partnered with Feeding America and we donated to them and they are sourcing the funds to the different food banks. That way they can start fueling. Getting the food out on a national level to all the food banks that are obviously extremely impacted and were struggling to make sure that they had enough food to give. They saw the need in the local communities obviously skyrocket. We’ve been able to help them get those funds so they can get the meals out for the families and the groceries and everything that they need to help the people around the local communities.Alec Hanson:Yeah. Yeah. I mean, obviously food banks have been massively crunched in this time. That’s amazing way to make this donation stretch across the country and provide obviously an essential need. That’s killer, but it didn’t stop there, right? Where did it go from there? I know you said earlier, Nicole, we did something for our troops.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. I think Bri is probably the best one to talk about that because she has been living and breathing that every single day. Bri, why don’t you tell him about what we’re doing for the National Guard that have been deployed?Bri Hamilton:Yeah. As you know, loanDepot, we love our troops and we do our WOW event every year. It’s something that’s near and dear and part of just the foundation of loanDepot. We partnered with Freedom Alliance which we love.Alec Hanson:Yes. We love those guys.Bri Hamilton:We’ve been partnered with them so that way we can put these great care packages together for the deployed. Either they’re on the frontline or out all over the world. Our amazing employees have put together over 80 boxes on their own at home. I provided a list and shipped them a label. They go out and buy these products and write an amazing letter to the different deployed, so just giving some encouragement. These boxes are amazing. I’ve gotten some great pictures and photos and inspired-Alec Hanson:What’s inside them? What’s inside the boxes?Bri Hamilton:It ranges. There’s maybe some games, magazines. There are snacks. There’s Gatorade, or the liquid IVs are put in there. Just different stuff to give them that feeling of home and support from loanDepot. It’s really exciting. We’re seeing employees have their kids color and write cool cards and [crosstalk 00:07:00] of affirmation to the troops and stuff. It’s really, really exciting. I know that my roommate and I are putting together some boxes and it’s really exciting.You just get the box. We put the label on and ship it out. It’s super simple. We are only able to do them with Freedom Alliance because they’re able to provide us with that information so we can get it out.Alec Hanson:I love that. People think sometimes you have to do this grand gesture. It doesn’t have to be that way. I mean, this is what really inspired me to bring you both on and share some thoughts on this because even loanDepot as a big company is getting super grass roots. Just a care package delivered to our veterans with cookies and snacks and a card, and some kids coloring. Just letting people know that we care about them because in this time of social distancing, I feel like we become too socially distant and we’re not connecting. Just, that’s a wonderful gift.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. You can’t emphasize that enough Alec, especially for our employees. While our business may not be closed, our employees are dealing with this isolation similar to how everybody else is. The impact that having our employees get involved … And we’ll talk a little bit more about that when we get to it. The impact that we have seen from getting our employees involved in the way that they feel being able to tangibly do something right now, you can’t even put a price on that. It’s helping everybody who is feeling stuck at home, feel a little bit more connected to other people.Alec Hanson:I had a really cool experience. I think you gals know about this. I got a random email saying, “Hey.” Part of our a million dollars is food to first responders and to some of our nurses and some of our hospitals. I actually had a really cool experience to be able to go to CHOC Children’s Hospital with Wing from Wahoo’s and drop off 250 meals to the night staff that was going to be there for 14 hours. I stepped into that and I was blown away. It was an incredible experience, but this is really just part of the whole million dollar donation that’s going on. Let’s go into that space.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. One of the things that we took part of that million dollars to do was like I said, we keep focusing on trying to amplify our impact. We partnered with local businesses, whether it was restaurants. We wanted to support those restaurants, but have them donate those meals to the hospitals. We really looked for hospitals, and the night shift seemed to be a shift that didn’t get a lot of [inaudible 00:09:36]. We were focusing on that night shift at hospitals across Orange County and LA County, where these people really are on the front lines. We also partnered with a local t-shirt screening company that completely was out of work. They make uniforms for kids’ sports and stuff. It’s not-Alec Hanson:Yeah. No sports.Nicole Carrillo:We partnered with them and paid them to make masks that we then donated to homeless shelters and food banks and things like that. Not only were we giving masks that these organizations needed, but we were supporting a local small business and helping them to keep their people employed. We even found a local distillery here in Santa Ana that we paid them to make sanitizer. We paid them to make $25,000 worth of hand sanitizer and then turned to them and said, “Where should we donate this?” They couldn’t believe it. They had a whole list of places that needed it. It’s just been incredible. We’ve been able to support these businesses that maybe wouldn’t have been able to keep their people paid if we hadn’t come to them and said, “Hey, we’ll pay you to do these things so we can donate it to those organizations that are on the front line.”Alec Hanson:See, and this is where I get really excited. I have to highlight what you just said, because you said it too fast, Nicole. I want everyone to hear this. There are so many places and opportunities where you can have a one-two punch with your giving. You know, the fact that we went to local small business restaurants and said, “Hey I’m sure your traffic is down. I’m sure you’re stressed and maybe you furloughed your staff.” It’s a really hard time for small business owners. Yet to say, “Hey, here’s a bunch of money. Make some meals and let’s deliver it.” Now, we’re giving our food and giving support to people who need it on the front line, but we’re also lifting up the small business so they can be here at the end of COVID. That’s epic. Then you’ve got the distillery. You’ve got the distillery whose probably profits are up because everyone’s drinking every single second of their life now.Nicole Carrillo:Maybe. Maybe.Alec Hanson:They’re converting all of their processes to make hand sanitizer and then giving that away. Then the t-shirt screen printing company. I have a friend who runs one in Huntington Beach. They’re down. They’re totally down. All of a sudden say, “Hey, let’s pivot and please make some masks and we’re going to donate them.” I mean, it’s just lifting up everyone around us. If you are a local sales professional out there, this is within your grasp. The reason I got inspired to have this conversation with Bri and Nicole today was because I watched a loan officer of ours, Sean Uyehara in Nevada, do a similar thing. He went to a local chicken company that sells chickens and basically bought 50 meals. You guys, we can do this too at our level, no matter what. That’s incredible, but I want to hear about the Boys & Girls Club.Nicole Carrillo:Yes. Absolutely. This one’s near and dear to my heart. We have partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Orange Coast, which covers multiple of the cities here in Orange County. It’s Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport, Orange is like-Alec Hanson:By the way, which is my Boys & Girls Club. That’s where my son, Phoenix, and my daughter, Scarlet, played basketball. This is near and dear to me too.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. Costa Mesa and Irvine Club, we’re asked to open up to provide childcare and help with the virtual learning for medical professionals. Medical professionals could be anywhere from doctors and nurses, but also down to like the janitors and those medical techs who are not the highly paid people, who their kids are normally in school. Now their kids are out of school. They don’t have that care and attention and help with virtual learning but they’re on the front lines too.We have to have those people at our medical centers. loanDepot provided a grant to Boys & Girls Club to help fund that, to help cover the cost of that childcare for essential workers. As well, we have partnered with Boys & Girls Club at the Santa Ana location and loanDepot volunteers have been there weekly to do the meal box handouts. They have groups of families where their kids got their meals, breakfast and lunch at school, and then they got their evening or afternoon meal at the Boys & Girls Club.With the club closed, these kids have lost that direct access to food that they had on a daily basis. Boys & Girls Club has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank, and on a weekly basis are providing these families with meal boxes that are supposed to last for a week. Our employees are out there putting the boxes together, putting the produce in bags, putting it in the families’ cars when they pull up. We have served meals to over 350 families with our loanDepot employees that have been out there, doing the hard work every week to help make sure that these kids in these communities are fed.Alec Hanson:What I love about this, everybody, if you’re listening, tuning in, we have been given a great opportunity in the mortgage business. Not only to have a career that we can be proud of and a lot of success this year and the years to come. We’re also in a wonderful position to serve those who need serving. Sometimes when we’re in our own pain, we’re in our own hardship. Like I’m not happy, right? I’m as optimistic as you can get, but it’s hard. My wife’s homeschooling now. She didn’t pick that job. Now she has to do it and so we have a chaos in our house. My kids are sad because they can’t see their buddies. There’s a lot of stuff that all of us individually are carrying around. Then when we open up and we look out at the other people who are suffering so much more than we’re suffering, that perspective really helps us with our day-to-day stuff. It’s like get some perspective. I love that loanDepot employees are out helping people get food and providing those essential needs to those people.It’s incredibly powerful because sometimes we get frustrated like, “My loan, it’s not moving as fast as I want it to go.” They were like, “Oh yeah. Wait, what about these people over here whose kids aren’t getting fed? Maybe I should go serve a little bit and open up some perspective.” I love this conversation because I think we all need this a little bit in our lives. You can go down to your own Boys & Girls Club in whatever city you’re in and ask them if they have a need. See if you can fill that need personally. I mean, sometimes I think we get a little overwhelmed like, “Oh, what could I possibly do?” You can do a ton. Just go show up. By the way, this is where it gets really exciting for me is, Nicole, once we started serving this community more needs started to present themselves.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. This is where I can’t echo your point enough about reaching out to these organizations and saying, “I want to help you. What do you need?” We have access to things that sometimes these nonprofits whether it’s a Boys & Girls Club or a YMCA or a homeless shelter or a food bank. They have needs that sometimes we find it’s very, very easy to fill. Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana said, “One of the things we’re really struggling with is that many of these kids in this very low income area, these kids don’t even have a device to do their virtual learning.”It’s been what? Nine weeks, and these kids haven’t been able to do their classes. loanDepot is sitting here. We had a stockpile of laptops that we had purchased as part of our potential return to work plan that we ended up not needing. They were laptops that we couldn’t use with our current configuration, but they’re perfectly great brand new laptops. They also told us that there was a group of 17 families that did not have access to Wi-Fi. They did not have Wi-Fi in their house.That was a cost that these families couldn’t take on. We worked with our IT team. We said, “Look, we have this list of kids and families.” We send it over to our IT team and shout out to Jessica Gilbert and Andrew Nguyen who just [inaudible 00:17:43]. They came back to us a day later and they said, “Here’s the laptop that’s been assigned to every one of these kids. Here’s the Wi-Fi that we’ve ordered, the hotspot for these 17 families.”Alec Hanson:Oh my gosh.Nicole Carrillo:You have to ask these clubs, “What do you need? What can we do?” They were trying to distribute food on these broken rolling tables. Chris Giglio, our head of corporate real estate said, “I have so many vendors that would donate you guys a hand truck.” He called around and got them a hand truck in three days. You all have access to do things like this. It’s doesn’t have to be 40 computers. It could be a new table or a new hand truck to help them in the mission that they’re trying to do to serve.Alec Hanson:You know what? I want to hit this again for people that are listening. Marketing today doesn’t work. The way we used to market … Everyone’s like, “Why is he talking about marketing?” It’s going to land here. Just stay with me. Marketing today is just noise. Humans are tired of it. We’re tired of the noise. You know what marketing now is? It’s service to other human beings. That’s what marketing is. If you’re looking at ways to grow your business, go serve other human beings.That’s how you grow your business. I don’t know how to … I want to shout it. As I’m hearing you talk Nicole I’m like, “This is so accessible for every single one of our great salespeople, loanDepot or not, to go serve the community they’re in. That’s marketing. That’s how you build influence and brand. By the way, you get to do something good. You get to do God’s work, like get out. It’s just, I love how those things have now come together and become the same thing. Because marketing before has always been so cheesy and taglining and Zippy, and yeah that cool tune. Now, it’s actually just about helping and serving your community. That is the game. I love. No, wait. The laptops are a surprise though, aren’t they?Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. Bri, do you want to talk about it?Alec Hanson:The families don’t know.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah.Alec Hanson:Yeah. What’s the surprise?Bri Hamilton:Yeah. As Nicole mentioned, our amazing IT team was able to get these laptops to us. Tomorrow we are going to be bringing over the laptops to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana. The Boys & Girls Club have asked the families that are assigned these items to come and pick up their weekly groceries. When they come, we’re going to say, “Oh, wait, hold on one second.” Then we’re going to go and grab a box and we’re going to surprise them with their new device.They have absolutely no clue. I am so, so excited to be a part of it. We will be fully streaming it and all that fun stuff, so that way all of loanDepot can be part of it and see all the excitement from the families. Yeah. We’re really-Alec Hanson:You’re doing the loanDepot Instagram takeover tomorrow, right?Bri Hamilton:I am. Yeah.Alec Hanson:If they just follow loanDepot’s Instagram stories they’re going to see you they’re going to watch these laptops go and get delivered?Bri Hamilton:Yeah.Alec Hanson:That’s so epic.Bri Hamilton:Yeah.Alec Hanson:Oh, I love it.Bri Hamilton:It’s going to be really, really amazing.Alec Hanson:Guys, these are just some of the stories that I wanted to highlight in this conversation about what’s going on and what you can do locally. You know, I know, again, sometimes it feels like, “I’m not a big corporation. I don’t have tons of resources. I don’t know.” You do. You have way more than you realize. Sometimes it’s just walking down there and asking what people need. You’re going to find out that there’s this huge opportunity for you.I’ll give you another one I saw that I loved, is a lot of these local restaurants like Burger Lounges and like Spitfire Pizza and stuff in Costa Mesa, they’ve set up provision tables in their restaurants. Have you guys seen any of those yet? Because I have to put on a hazmat suit and go get the food and like come home with it. Now, I feel like a modern day weird, put on my armor and like, “I’m want to go get the food honey.” Anyway, it’s a mask. The provision tables are laid out and what I’ve seen some of them doing is people are actually buying some of those provisions, but leaving them there and telling the staff, “Hey, when people come in and if they’re in need have them take a bag of this grocery some. Here’s a hundred bucks for it.” They’re paying it forward with essentials, because it can be really embarrassing to ask for help and people don’t want to do it. Sometimes you just have to ask.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. Yeah. That’s actually a really good point Alec. Also, one of the other things that we tried to do with that million dollars, which was probably one of the biggest things we did in Orange County, from that loanDepot pandemic relief fund, is the $500 debit cards, emergency debit cards directly to families that have been impacted.Alec Hanson:Yes.Nicole Carrillo:[inaudible 00:22:21]. United Way is helping us administer that fund. You get in contact. You’ve lost your job. You can’t buy diapers. You can’t get formula. You can’t pay your utility bill. You can go through the process and we can get you $500 in your pocket through one of these emergency debit cards to help you make ends meet, because it’s right. You’re right. People are having trouble making ends meet and we wanted to help get those dollars directly to those people.Alec Hanson:Let’s recap and see if I missed anything. This million dollars is being deployed so strategically and so broadly to really help the bulk of humans that we can. Obviously, we were helping nationally with Feeding America, which is really cool. Anybody can write a check and we encourage you to write a check. It’s awesome. They’re a great organization and people need food. Secondly, care packages to vets, which is epic because even though we’re all dealing with our own stuff, sometimes it’s good to go to tell our vets like, “Hey, we haven’t forgotten about you either buddy. Thanks for all you do.” Then you’ve got the local restaurants that you’re buying all these meals from to serve first responders, which every single loan officer should be doing right now.I’m telling you, if you’re a loan officer, call the local hospitals. Call, ask them first. Don’t just show up with a bunch of meals. Bri is like, “Yeah. Please talk to … Call them.”Bri Hamilton:Talk to me.Alec Hanson:Because you could be showing up the same time I am with my Wahoo’s truck and then it’s going to be awkward. Call them, but you absolutely can support small businesses. You can absolutely figure out how to support them and restaurant to help them provide their food. Then we’ve got the local Boys & Girls Club and finding out that they need food too and how to help them equip their kids with food. Then laptops and hotspots is so epic. It’s so cool. Then, oh, we have the hand sanitizer with the brewery. Is it brewery or is it a … Well, let’s give them a shout out. Who is it again?Bri Hamilton:Distillery.Nicole Carrillo:It’s Blinking Owl Distillery in Santa Ana. They really stepped up for us. They don’t make beer. It’s some kind of like-Alec Hanson:Gin or something?Bri Hamilton:Spirit.Nicole Carrillo:Gin. Yeah.Bri Hamilton:Yeah. Spirits.Alec Hanson:Sounds like I found my new distillery.Nicole Carrillo:Yeah. Chris Giglio did a pickup there the other day and it seemed to take a little bit longer than it should.Alec Hanson:Weird. He just ended up hanging out just a little bit.Nicole Carrillo:Just kidding.Alec Hanson:Sure. I got it. Well, so gals, what else would you say? Because you’ve been front lining this. You’ve been actually on the front lines, figuring this stuff out, solving solutions. If I’m a loan officer out there in another state right now or in Florida or wherever, what would you tell them to do? What would you tell them to go check out? How can they help?Nicole Carrillo:What I would say is everyone is very focused on the hospitals and the frontline workers, as they should be, but there’s a lot of other essential workers that are out there. Some of our donations went to CHP because they couldn’t get masks. Some of our hand sanitizer went to the sheriff’s department because they couldn’t get their hands on it. There’s a lot. The food banks used to rely so heavily on corporate volunteers. There’s no corporate volunteers anymore.Those food bank employees are strapped right now. Go out there. Support your local businesses and consider donating those meals or donating those supplies to some of these other really frontline essential services, or those that are out there where their job is to help other people.Alec Hanson:Killer. Bri, what have you learned? What experiences would you share about this, if someone wants to get involved, whether it’s with loanDepot or on their own?Bri Hamilton:Yeah. One of the biggest things that I’ve also seen through this. You don’t need to have funds in order to support like we’ve been saying. A lot of the different things that our employees are doing and they’re excited about is we’re all going to be reading books. Taking videos and reading books to children. We can record videos and just say, “Hey, keep going and doing these things.” They’re getting to see other people because they’re at home and they’re used to seeing all their friends and they don’t get to. It’s really exciting for them to see new faces and just feel the support and know that they’re not alone. If you are able to … So I don’t have that skill, but we have seen so many people that are able to put these face masks together. Our employees very talented and they’re sending them to me and I’m getting to go and drop them off. I’m dropping off a couple hundred to CHP, like Nicole was saying. There are ways. You don’t necessarily have to find the perfect cotton material. Actually Nicole’s mom has helped. She’s found a way to actually make it from fitted sheets from beds, so when we can’t find the cotton we’re using it. There’s just different resources. Just from all of this, the community and people that I’ve been working with and the different businesses and stuff, that sense of community. I’ll never forget working with Dimino’s Kitchen who is owned by one of our loanDepot employee’s family. That’s a bond that we’re going to have. Just knowing that and forever diehard Wahoo’s fan was. I’m California grown. They’re amazing. Greenleaf Chopshop we’ve been working with. These are all brands and companies that are the relationships that we’re building and the gratefulness and stuff. I will always remember that time. Just feeling that bond and building the relationships. Like you said, that’s really the true marketing now is the relationship building.Anybody can pay to have a billboard if they want to, but having the relationship that I know if I need to, I will always tap into those resources because they care and have that sense of community and stuff. I think that’s the biggest thing.Alec Hanson:Yeah. You know what? I’m going to echo that Bri. I will never forget hanging out with Wing and handing out meals from Wahoo’s to the people at CHOC. I mean, it was just an unbelievable experience. Well, look guys, I want to leave everybody with this as we kind of wrap down. Number one, Nicole and Bri, you guys are awesome humans. Thanks for being awesome humans. Number two, I want to remind everybody.Guys, times are stressful. Perspective will help and the best way to get perspective is to go serve those who are in massive suffering right now. That absolutely is going to uplift not only your soul, but it’s going to give you patience and a little bit more calmness to weather through the hardships you’re having. The last thing is, you do not need a million dollars to make an impact. You just need the will. You need to walk down to some local business, some Boys & Girls Club, some food bank and ask, “How can I help?” You’ll find that the whole world will open up to you and you’ll be able to serve. The last thing is just that marketing today guys is not about a flashy banner or a podcast, or the graphics that you’re making on Canva. It’s about serving your community. That’s how you make influence. Thank you both for serving our community. You’re awesome.Nicole Carrillo:Of course.Alec Hanson:With that, everybody, we’re going to wrap down this episode of the Modern Lending Podcast. Go out and be of service. Thanks everybody.Bri Hamilton:Bye.Nicole Carrillo:Bye.