Prior to the 2008 mortgage meltdown, I knew of a moderately successful owner of a mortgage broker shop who had ridden a couple good years, and it went to his head.

As a result, he was convinced he could change the world (because what mortgage broker can’t?) and he would constantly brag about all the world-changing charities he was going to start and fund.

He loved the accolades he got for that, but unfortunately life, Lamborghinis, and ladies got in the way, and he never started or funded anything.

Then the 2008 meltdown hit and his company went belly up; the last I heard, he was unemployed and just trying to make a living, instead of changing the world.

I think of that story often and most recently when learning about the troubles with Better Mortgage and Zillow.


In the HBO comedy series “Silicon Valley,” the writers relentlessly made fun of the silliness of excessively lofty missions – and here is just one example where every founder wanted to make “the world a better place” no matter how obscure their tech offering was.

Because the above series and scene were so comical and famous, I thought we’d see the lofty missions go by the wayside, but not so much.

Significant success seems to foster significant loftiness – almost without fail – until reality (in the form of losing money) hits.

I could give numerous examples, but I am focusing on Zillow and Better because their issues are recent and they are in our industries (mortgages and real estate).


Zillow’s mission is “to give people the power to unlock life’s next chapter.” But – according to this NREP video, Zillow is not only NOT “unlocking” next chapters, it is ripping entire chapters from peoples’ lives.

This is because Zillow is canceling hundreds of agreements they had in place to buy peoples’ homes, and those people were relying on those agreements in order to purchase new homes.


Better’s mission is actually pretty good (“We’re making homeownership simpler, faster — and most importantly, more accessible for all Americans.”), but its CEO was somewhat renowned for his lofty comments as well as for disparaging other firms who were not lofty enough.

That is why it was interesting to see how Better handled the layoffs of 900 people this week, despite the fact that it will soon have $1 billion on its balance sheet.

This video of the CEO announcing the layoffs surfaced on the internet today, and it was both alarming and very sad (as the person recording it was clearly upset).


We are not perfect at JVM, as we have had our own share of layoffs and we do strive for our own version of loftiness.

BUT – we never think we are going to change the entire world; we never publicly disparage other firms; and we remember that sometimes business reality needs to trump loftiness – which tempers our comments.

Heck, all I really want is ecstatic clients (both agents and borrowers), ecstatic employees, a healthy business, and enough money so I can listen to podcasts, read the WSJ, put a cheap gym in my garage, and hang out with my wife. If that changes the world, so much the better.

But, if not, I will still continue to strive for those things.

I guess my only point is that we might all temper our loftiness during the good times so we don’t look ridiculously unlofty during the bad times.


There is one type of loftiness I always love and that is “quiet loftiness,” and I know a ton of people who practice that over and over – as they are all about giving during both good times and bad in a very quiet manner.

My former coaching group, L360 Performance Experts, is a great example of this as they focus so heavily on giving as a part of building a better life overall.

They sponsor an entire school in Costa Rica with millions of dollars of donations and substantial physical labor as well.

Their work has literally transformed an entire neighborhood and the lives of everyone in it (it is difficult to hold back tears when you see the videos of the grateful people).

But, nobody in the group wears this on their sleeves or brags about it (even though some members have donated over six figures this year alone), and very few people outside of the coaching group even know about the enormous success of the group’s efforts.

Lofty indeed.

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

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