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Janitor Changes Entire Company; Listening To People In The Trenches

Silhouette of a janitor mopping the floorARROGANT WASHINGTON MUTUAL EXECUTIVE SHUTS ME DOWN

Prior to the 2008 meltdown, I sent more loans to Washington Mutual (WaMu) than any other broker.

As a result, I had the “privilege” of meeting one of WaMu’s senior executives.

Our brief conversation drifted to the types of loans that WaMu offered, and I mentioned that I thought their “10% down, no-income-verification, negative amortization” mortgages seemed too risky, as even a slight downturn could render WaMu upside down on a huge portion of those loans.

The WaMu exec did not want to hear that at all, so he quickly and rudely ushered me out of his office. And, about 5 years later, WaMu was belly up precisely b/c so many of their negative amortization loans went into default.

I was hardly unique in my ability to forecast that outcome, as I knew dozens if not hundreds of other reps and loan officers who had similar concerns (a big myth about the 2008 meltdown is that “nobody saw it coming”).

INSPIRATIONAL STORY

I have shared the above story several times in this blog, and I thought of it again when I was reading this very inspirational story about a janitor who transformed a company.

Richard Montanez was a barely literate high school dropout who grew up in a migrant labor camp in Southern California.

He worked various odd jobs from chicken-slaughtering to gardening before landing a job as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant.

While at Frito-Lay, Mr. Montanez discovered that he and his friends liked Cheetos a lot more if he sprinkled chili powder on them.

B/c Frito-Lay’s CEO had sent a video to the entire company telling all employees to take ownership of the company, Mr. Montanez decided to take his chili-powder-Cheeto idea straight to the CEO.

With pure gumption, he called the CEO and set up a meeting.

He prepared for the presentation for weeks, designed his own specialized bag for the chili-Cheetos, showed up in a $3 tie – and impressed the heck out of everyone.

And to this day, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos remain one of Frito-Lay’s most successful products.

Even better, Mr. Montanez was elevated to the executive ranks of the company, and is now a wealthy and highly sought-after motivational speaker.

You can read the entire story in this CNBC column here.

LISTENING TO PEOPLE IN THE TRENCHES

Last week, I blogged about getting too close to the elephant, and this is sort of an offshoot.

We not only want to encourage our teams to step back to see the whole elephant, but we also need to remind them to think like owners and to take their ideas seriously.

History is littered with examples of arrogant generals, politicians, and CEOs ignoring the advice of their teams in the trenches and suffering for it.

General Custer is one of the most famous, as he pretty much ignored everybody as he rode headlong into the slaughter that made him so famous to this day.

In any case, as we start 2021, this is a reminder to every team member (especially to JVMers) to think like owners.

Equally important, this is a reminder to every leader to not only listen to their team members but to encourage the sharing of ideas.

We certainly do at JVM, and it is a major source of all of our innovations.

This is also why we will be introducing Flamin’ Hot Mortgages later this month (or not 😊).

Jay Voorhees
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
(855) 855-4491 | DRE# 1197176, NMLS# 310167

 

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