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Mortgage brokers wear many hats. Broker? Check. Late-night financial counsellor to stressed-out homebuyers? Yep. Small business owner? Absolutely. Social media manager? These days, yes.

How is it possible for a single mortgage broker to excel in every aspect of the job, let alone stay on top of them in today’s fast-paced lifestyle?

Some of the country’s top experts provided some insight and know-how to attendees at the National Mortgage Conference held recently in Vancouver. They all shared compelling stories of navigating the rocky world of business, leaving attendees with takeaways to help them excel both personally and professionally.

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Fotini Iconomopoulos was nicknamed ‘The Negotiator’ as a kid for her love of back-and-forth, give-and-take deliberations. Today, she’s a keynote speaker and MBA instructor with millions of dollars worth of high-stakes corporate negotiations under her belt.

But she acknowledges that the fear of negotiating keeps most people from even attempting one. “You folks save money on a mortgage that could be over the course of a lifetime,” she told the audience. “And yet, we tend to pause and not even do these negotiations.” Some negotiations could lead to a better deal, or lower costs. Others might just help you spend more time with your family.

Iconomopoulos pointed to one of the simplest launch points for a negotiation—and arguably the backbone of polite conversation: how you respond to the words “thank you.” To her, the typical replies of “no problem” or “no worries” are throwing away a key moment of power that can be used for future negotiation.

“What if, instead of ‘no problem’, you said: ‘I’m sure you’d do the same for me,’” Iconomopoulos suggested.

Leveraging these little opportunities can help a client build a sense of obligation, or at least prevent someone from coming back and sapping your precious time.

Disruption = Boomers + Gen-Z

Every generation hates the one that came before (and after) it, as Scott Stratten, founder of UnMarketing, pointed out with the help of a quote from ancient Roman writer and rhetoricist Cicero. The idea of intergenerational cooperation, rather than conflict, is essential for businesses of any stripe to understand in order to survive in an era of repeated technological disruption.

As Stratten points out, it took 52 years for refrigeration to become widespread, but just six years for the internet, four years for Smartphones, and two years for social media to hit the same mark.

“The advantage of a younger demographic is they’ve lived in this disruption,” Stratten said. “And the advantage of being older is we have wisdom. Wisdom is simply time plus mistakes.”

Integrating the perspective of older employees and the adaptability of younger ones could be essential for any business looking to capitalize on the mortgage industry’s ups and downs, while also respecting everyone’s differences.

“Ageism is an allowable bias,” Stratten said. “We have this thing where we just rip on people just because of the number on their driver’s licence and the year when they were born, when it is so irrelevant.”

If you can’t open a door, find another one

Wes Hall, founder of Kingsdale Advisors and the newest “Dragon” on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, knows all about what it means to run up against locked doors in life.

Born in St. Thomas, Jamaica and largely raised by his grandmother until his early teens, Hall believed he would work on the local sugar plantation for his entire life. That didn’t happen, thanks to his own self-determination, a move to Canada to live with his father, and more than a few lucky breaks.

“What do you do if you push on a door and it’s not opening,” Hall asked, referring to the idea of breaking down barriers in business. Over the decades, Hall has dealt with racism, emotional abuse from his mother and growing up in poverty in Jamaica. “Most people just keep pushing, right?” In his case, Hall found another door, and burst it wide open.

At a previous company, Hall found himself responsible for bringing in 80% of its revenue, but the company’s leadership didn’t have the confidence in him to accept all of his ideas for growing the business. Shortly after returning home to Toronto from a business trip in Vancouver, he quit his job and began building Kingsdale Advisors.

In other words, Hall didn’t keep grinding away at the same company over and over in the hopes that, one day, he might get lucky. He forged his own path and, today, is among the most powerful Canadian business leader on Bay Street.

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