Monthly Archives: September 2009

Do You Take The Time To Reflect?

reflection photoAs much as I hate to admit it, while the weather was mostly pleasant this past weekend, the mornings and evenings were filled with crisp air and a reminder that fall is on the way. Along with fall comes the start of many holidays celebrated throughout the world. Many festive traditions are celebrated uniformly in all countries, while others may be unique to a specific culture or country. Family time, an opportunity to take a few days off from work, no school for the kids…all things most of us look forward to all year long.

This past Friday night had special significance to me, my family and many of my friends. It is arguably for us one of the most important and significant times of the year for families who follow the laws and traditions of the Jewish people.

Let me preface that this is not a blog about Judaism as much as it is about all of our individual sense of responsibility, priorities, and desire to make us better children, spouse, siblings, parents and friends. Whatever you’re personal belief and I respect ones right to believe, I hope you keep reading to understand my message

Having been born a Jewish American, I am often asked about this time of year. Quite a few of my very close friends are not Jewish and don’t really understand what either Rosh Hashanah (commonly referred to as the Jewish New Year) or Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) stand for or why they are such important dates to Jews across the world.

Let me say to those who do understand their significance, the traditional Hebrew greetings of Shana Tova (a good year) or Shana Tova Ummetukah (a good and sweet year). You see, unlike the American calendar, the Jewish New Year falls on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, as noted in the Torah. This usually occurs sometime in the fall between early September and October on the American calendar.

Rosh Hashanah is followed by Asseret Yemei Teshuva or the (Ten Days of Repentance) which are days specifically set aside to focus on repentance that conclude with the holiday of Yom Kippur. It is believed by Jews that they are being judged by God for the coming year, hence some may say “may you be written and sealed for a good year” (ketiva ve-chatima tovah).

Yes, Jews believe that each person’s fate is determined for the coming year. On Rosh Hashanah the “book” of one’s life is opened and subsequently on Yom Kippur it is closed to “seal” the verdict. During the Ten days of Repentance, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. The evening prior and day of Yom Kippur are usually set aside for public and private petitions and confessions. At the end of Yom Kippur, one hopes that one’s self is absolved by God.

Yom Kippur is recognized as the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Since it revolves around the ideals of atonement and repentance, Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in temple or synagogue services.

I bring this up now, not just because of those who were seeking knowledge from me about Judaism, but also to acknowledge that now is a wonderful time for reflection, no matter what your beliefs may be. If I asked you to be honest with yourself for a moment, when was the last time you actually sat back and reflected over some period of your life?

It doesn’t have to be over a lifetime or even a yearly analysis. It doesn’t have to be over any specific time frame if you chose not for it not to be. It should, however offer you enough insight into doing just a little self analysis to help you determine if you are in deed the person you wanted to be. There are so many things that you can ask yourself. Certainly way too many for me to mention here, but lets try just a few.

Have you become the one who is respected and admired to a level that you had hoped to attain? Do the people in your life such as your family, friends, and fellow employees speak well of you? Have you earned the admiration of your children? Have you been a positive and involved parent setting for them a future guided by an excellent role model?

Have you been a loyal and supporting spouse enriching their lives and helping to make them a better person? Do they stand taller because of you?

The single best part about reflection is that it allows you the opportunity to adjust, alter, or apologize if necessary. The greatest element in life is that we live today and not yesterday. We live in the moment.

Any malice or ill will, whether intended or not, can always be rectified. Words and actions are exactly that, words and actions. Missed opportunities, or poor decisions are just that as well. They may be something that we have done and regret, but they do not define who we are.

Take some time in the very near future to be just a little reflective and seek out the opportunities that you would like to apologize or improve on. It’s guaranteed to make at least two people smile.

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Okay, I am a Detroit Lions fan, so shoot me…

football player editNew Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is in an incredible position. If he wins one game this year, after an 0-16 record last year, he will have improved his team’s performance to a level not yet ever seen in professional football. We can debate by mathematical formula whether that increase is 100% or it’s indeterminate. I’ll leave that up to those who think they know…besides it’s not the point of my post today…

Instead, let’s talk about what can turn this organization around. Like many of your companies, the organization has an Owner, President, General Manager or Managers, Coach(es), and employees or teammates. It doesn’t matter where you sit on the totem pole, the question is, are you taking ownership of your responsibilities?

Many have called for years for the head of team owner William Clay Ford Sr. While the team has qualified for the playoffs only nine times in the more than 50 years since winning the 1957 championship and has won only one playoff game in that span, many blame Ford who took controlling interest in 1963 for its ongoing ineptitude.

Ford has changed coaches more often than the turnover at your local McDonalds. He has hired tightfisted General Managers; player orientated ones and even one who excelled on the playing field, believing that he could be a solid judge of talent. He has never been gun shy about spending money for those he has been told have talent and when he appears in public, professes a winning desire.

He wants to succeed and even at times attempts to will his team success, yet he doesn’t. In the meantime, his arch rival Mike Ilitch, Little Caesar pizza mogul, and owner of the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings has achieved a fairly high level of success. Like Ford he is not afraid to spend money and take risks. So you say, what is the difference?

I’ll argue that what sets them apart is their ability to hire and surround themselves with people who share their vision and mission. People who not only are willing to roll their shirt sleeves up, and there are many of those, but people who are experts in their particular field. The best of the best.

As the leader in your organization, the greatest asset you can provide may be to hire someone who in fact just might be smarter than you. We tend to see them through narrow glasses as a risk or a threat to our individual futures rather than an asset to the organization we are trying to construct. You really don’t hear too often about the President of a company being fired because under his direction and due to the people that he personally hired, generated too much profit or success.

This same measurement applies at all levels and must be equally applied from the top of the organizational structure all the way down to the lowest rung on the ladder.

A General Manager supplies no value to the President of his company if he does not take the advice of those that he has hired to support his effort. He has hired these people to give him the proper introspective to make an educated decision. If he fails to hire the right people with the appropriate level of skill because he may see them as a risk, and thus make his own decisions, he puts the whole company at risk.

Your coach or team leader relies on the performance and the expectations of his employees. You have been given your job because someone believed in your talent. You are being counted on to meet the expectations placed upon on you to support your fellow employees in the designated task, and to appropriately earn the recognition and praise of your superior for performing at an optimum level. It is not necessarily always exceeding expectations that matter, but at the very least achieving the goals and objectives that you are being counted on to meet.

Of course the Detroit Lions have a very long way to go. Any company undergoing a complete re-organization won’t turn things around over night. I for one however, believe that for the first time in a very long time, everyone on the organization is on the same page. I like their new management team and their clear cut vision for the future. They are not compromising on ways to achieve both their short and long term goals and demonstrate to each other the appropriate level of respect.

Wherever you sit on the corporate ladder within your company, ask yourself if you are performing at an optimum level. Are you meeting or exceeding the expectations that your superiors’ have of you? Have you surrounded yourself with team players who share your vision and mission for success? Do they have the talent necessary to instill positive growth?

Consumers Are Paying the Price…

appraiser55appraiser44Wow, has mortgage banking been a challenge this year. Mortgage Brokers continue to take the heat for our nations collapse as new and ongoing legislation, while attempting to protect consumer’s interests, continues to in one way or another punish consumers, more than it does reprimand bad actors in the mortgage industry.

The good news is that all of us, that is you too, have an opportunity to correct one of those very challenges.

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) was established earlier this year after the backing and promotion of New York Attorney General Mario Cuomo’s investigation into mortgage fraud in his state. While there is no debating the issue at hand, nor his intent to address it, the solution was poorly thought out. In turn, it has done nothing to alleviate the problem and in many ways has increased mortgage costs to consumers

Recently the House of Representatives constructed H.R.3044 which calls for an 18 month moratorium of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). Now that the members of Congress are back in session, it is imperative that you help to support this action. Whether you are in our industry or a concerned consumer, call your Congressman today and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3044 and attach the bill as an amendment to any legislation currently moving through the House of Representatives.

I know you may be thinking I can stop reading now, and this really doesn’t concern me, however, you should concern yourself because:

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers conservatively estimates that the HVCC will cost you, the consumer, over 2.8 BILLION dollars a year in extra fees, created by long delays (extended lock-in fees) and higher appraisal costs.

Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) are driving honest appraisers and mortgage brokers from business, eliminating competition, increasing costs to consumers and reducing revenue. The HVCC is causing significant delays in real estate transactions, hurting real estate agents, title companies and other third parties reliant on turnaround time.

Additionally and arguably, HVCC does nothing to reduce fraud, as it legitimizes the same failed model, which was the subject of Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation.

As a consumer you are also now “trapped” with a specific lender. If a better deal becomes available with a different lender, the consumer is forced to pay for another appraisal as the original appraisal is no longer transferable.

This lack of portability, regardless of the reason will force borrowers to pay for another appraisal and wait for a new appraiser to be assigned and complete it. This will increase the total cost and time needed for obtaining a home. Delays in turnaround times could also cause you the borrower to miss rate lock deadlines and possibly face penalties charged by the lender or home seller.

Additionally, the quality of appraisals can now be challenged. In some circumstances, AMC’s are assigning appraisers from a different municipality, county, or even state to appraise your home, therefore unfamiliar with the neighborhood and unable to produce an accurate appraisal.

Many also argue that Appraisal Management Companies are looking to be profit centers as well paying many appraisers lower fees, thus resulting in the assigned appraisers, willing to do the work, often being inexperienced and failing to adequately appraise your home.

Additionally, administrative costs for the AMC’s are also passed on to you the consumer resulting in increased fees, in many cases ranging from $50-$150 more per appraisal.

Studies by The National Association of Mortgage Brokers have indicated that these issues, coupled with the drastically increased appraisal turnaround times that impose extended lock periods, are now costing consumers an estimated additional $711.95 per transaction.

Are there problems in the mortgage banking industry? Without a doubt. Do changes need to be made? Yes, of course. Let’s just make sure that we address these issues by doing the proper due diligence so that our solutions benefit, not punish you the consumer. If you want change, you need to speak up along with those of us in the industry fighting diligently for our rights to deliver to you fair, honest and competitive products and services.

Yesterday’s coffee is cold and stale….

Now that I am nearing two years past that half century mark, I have certainly become more reflective.  I was listening to my I-pod this past weekend and among all of the classic rock songs that were playing; an old favorite by Frank Sinatra slowly breezed through my head. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention….”
 
I bring this up, because I believe that now is a great time to be a little reflective.  Arguably, we are beginning to slowly escape from the depths of one of our country’s most challenging times.  Most of us have not come through them unscathed and many of us are still picking up the pieces.  However the good news is that the past is the past.  Yesterday was yesterday.  Today, we can choose to move forward.

Many people believe that their personal and professional lives should be kept completely separate.  I don’t necessarily agree.  We learn many lessons throughout our lives and those lessons can prove invaluable in all facets of our life. 
 
I have two daughters who have danced competitively for a number of years and I found myself many times challenging them to make the absolute most out of every dance competition, every performance, and to attempt to do whatever their heart inspired them to do.  Whether it was to do a solo performance, or as part of a larger group, I encouraged them not to hold back. It was by no means because I was a “dance dad tyrant” but more because I knew they loved it and I wanted to see them reap the benefits of their hard work.

I did not want them to have any regrets later on in life when they reflect back and think, “Gee I wish I would have done this or that”.

When you are in your eighties and sitting in your chair at home, will you be reflecting back on that same question, or will you be one of those who will say, “Yes I did that and it was one of the greatest and most fulfilling things I ever did?”

So my big question to you, now that we can begin to see a little ray of sunshine, and for many of you a new and fresh start, is not what do you regret, but more importantly what do you aspire to become now, so that you won’t have any future regrets?

Are you doing with your life what you are passionate about?  Has it always been your dream to open up a new business?  Have you been reluctant to seize an opportunity or change jobs?  Have you questioned your leadership potential or sold yourself short on workplace opportunity?

Are you one of those people who have sat back many times and said, “You know someday I would really like to….” But then never actually did it?  Take my word for it, it is not about luck.  It is tough for luck to find you when you are sitting home on your couch feeling sorry for yourself.
 
It is perfectly okay to dream about great things.  It is even better to execute on them.  While the quotation has been used many times over and credited to a number of famous people, the initial credit goes back to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw who said “Some men see things as they are and say, Why? I dream of things that never were and say, “Why not?”

It is time to take advantage of your talent.  It is time to challenge yourself and exceed the standards and expectations that you have grown complacent with.

Recently, and after much self doubt, I decided to write a book.  Astonishingly, a publisher agreed to offer me a contract and publish it.  The truth is, I challenged myself to complete a dream I had, and I chose to tackle the task and complete it.  We both know you can achieve greatness if you want it bad enough.
 
As Horace said in his Latin poem “Carpe diem”, are you ready to “seize the day?”

Something a Little Different

Yes, I have entered cyberspace. Truth is, now you’re not even safe in your own homes and on your own computers. You thought you got rid of me when they invented voice mail. You thought I was avoidable when they invented Caller ID for your home phones, and then they did so at your office and your cell phones, and yet there I still was.

I have often been told that I love the sound of my own voice. Well, I can’t say that’s necessarily true, but yea, I do love to talk. Most of the time it has got me out of trouble, as it is a curse of a natural born salesman, however, on a few occasions….

Well we can save those stories for future blogs. Yes, I’ve gone electronic media.

No, it doesn’t mean I’m running out of things to say. Had you there didn’t I? I am just now going to start committing some of those things to writing. I don’t expect everyone to become fans of my blogs; however I do hope to entertain and educate those of you who will stop in for a visit.

I plan to attack just about anything that comes to mind. Certainly I will talk a lot about those things that I know, and you can expect it in an educational yet light hearted and friendly manner.

• You can expect a lot of information about the mortgage industry and all of the changes that we are facing today and will continue to face.

• You can expect to hear a lot about how coaching and mentoring can make a huge impact on both your professional and personal lives.

• You can expect to hear about the value of family and setting your priorities in order.

• And you can expect to hear my take on many things irrelevant, yet hopefully insightful and whimsical.

To the surprise of many of you, all these years that I was busy jabbering, I was actually writing down a lot about my life, a lot about my experiences both personally and professionally.

I wrote down a lot of the lessons my father taught me and about the experiences we shared together, so that I would never forget them.

I believe the impact that many of you have had on me to be profound and hopefully in some way on my part, reciprocated.

It was all this incessant rambling that I eventually decided to tie up in one neat little package, throw in a little insight and perspective and call a book.

To my utter shock and amazement, especially as a first time author, my words were picked up by a national publisher and are currently being sculpted into a new book in its production stages.

Make sure to look out for “It’s a Great Deal, All Three of Me Think So…You would be surprised at how much you can sell to someone with a multiple personality disorder”. It has a little of all of us in it.

I plan to share some of the thought from the book as well as what new things life will continue to throw at us. Together I think we can share some brilliant ideas, share some funny experiences, and learn from each other.

The only way this blog thing works is if you participate. Your feedback is necessary for me to know what touches you. I need to know what you agree with and what you don’t. I have a thick skin; if you don’t agree with something tell me. Share with me your take. If you agree, demonstrate your positive reinforcement. I really want to hear from you. You can hit me up here or on Facebook. I’m hitting this cyber world head on.

And, as far as the title “The Bruce” goes. It has absolutely nothing to do with being self absorbed. On a recent trip to Hollywood with one of my daughters and her dance friends who were invited to study for a week at the Edge Center for the Performing Arts, I was the loan dad among the young ladies and a few of the moms.

Being the “so called” body guard, which is humorous given my size, and the fact that I referred to these young women respectfully as “my peeps” they felt that just Bruce or Mr. Rosenblat just wasn’t the right touch. Hence they anointed me “The Bruce”.

Alexa, Sam, Stacey, Rachael, Mackenzie and Madison the title is dedicated to you.