man wearing red shirt pushes red lawnmower through his green backyard MOWING LAWNS FOR MOBSTERS

When I was in high school in AZ, I did yard work every week for a neighbor who also happened to be our local mobster.

I didn’t know he was a mobster until several years later, but the prevalence of new luxury cars, expensive toys, and boats did make me wonder.

He used to send me to a friend’s house to borrow his turf mower – a specialized mower that cost more than many cars, that was made specifically for mowing putting greens.

The friend’s home was surrounded by security cameras and there were men in suits who would let me into the back gate, after I was carefully screened, so I could load the mower into my truck.

The scene was surreal, as I was a shirtless teenager in flip flops surrounded by guys in suits who seemed to be suspiciously watching my every move, and yes, it did seem suspicious and ridiculous to me even though I was only 17.

And sure enough, when I was in college a few years later, the owner of the turf mower was taken down in what was at the time the largest drug bust in AZ history.

And that is only one of the reasons why I enjoy the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico so much. I bore witness to the fringes of many of the events depicted in the series during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I also enjoy the show b/c it is well-acted, wonderfully entertaining and educational from a business perspective. 😊


In a recent episode, one of the characters shared a parable about three blind men and an elephant.

Apparently, three blind men came upon an elephant for the first time.

One grabbed a leg and concluded the elephant was a tree; one grabbed the trunk and concluded the elephant was a snake; and one grabbed the tail and concluded the elephant was a broom.

The famous parable’s actual point is that each person has their own subjective truth based on their own experience – a great lesson on its own.

BUT, the Narcos character’s point was much better and it is the lesson in today’s blog: the three men were all too close to the elephant to understand what it really was.

The character was reminding his boss to take a step back to see the bigger picture in order to better understand his business.

And THAT is a great business lesson, as many of us are so focused on our daily tasks that we forget to step back to look at our business or even our industry as a whole.

As a result, we miss many opportunities to expand our businesses or to make them more far more efficient.


I was a very successful loan officer in the broker channel for many years, but I was stuck in a specific way of doing business that prevented me from growing or delegating.

It was my wife Heejin who pushed me to take a step back and look at the industry as a whole to spot new channels, opportunities and efficiencies – and now, as a result, we have the JVM Lending everyone sees today.

I think it is equally important for team members to see a business as a whole so they too can help spot opportunities for growth and efficiencies.

This is why we have full training modules for mortgage banking, economics, technology, marketing and much more – even though very little of that knowledge is necessary for our team to do their day-to-day work.

This extra training/perspective works wonderfully too, as our young team members are constantly sharing solutions and ideas that we end up implementing (a recent example was a suggestion by one of our BDOs, Danny Levitt, to purchase a new software solution called Quip).

In contrast, when I was at Wells Fargo years ago, they seemed to purposely keep everyone in the dark when it came to the big picture – and things did not go well for Wells Fargo, as management seems to have pretty much ridden their elephant off of a cliff. 😊

And lastly, this is one of the primary points in the excellent book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (a truly game-changing book for me): don’t forget to make time to work ON the business instead of just working IN the business.

So, this is my reminder (or Narcos’ reminder) to take a step back in order to see (or feel) the entire elephant.

You never know what opportunities you might be missing.

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

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