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Culture and Trust


The Elmendorf Chronicles, August 20, 2019

I’m on a plane. I’m sitting next to Jim the restructure guy. That’s all I know about him after trying to start up conversation. I normally keep to myself but thought I overheard the word "securitization" before he hung up on the conference call he was taking on the plane. He briefly told me that he “restructures businesses” and promptly went back to the 300-page paper manifesto he was reading. Paper, sheesh. But it got me thinking… I’m trying right now to restructure. Patch up, rebuild, improve, whatever you want to call it, I AM in restructure! I think all our businesses should be in a constant state of restructure. Constantly improvising, improving, innovating… growing better day by day.

I’ve been pondering two things worthy of restructure in my personal mortgage franchise. It’s our culture and the trust I have in my organization to serve our customers. Deep stuff. I also am struggling with whether I want to chronicle stuff like this or not. My life, thoughts and whatever it is I throw down. What profit might it be to those that read it? 

Would love feedback. 


It’s my first real issue. Trust is earned and expected in our business. First off, am I trustworthy? I know that I am. But the question I’m struggling with is, do I trust my own system? Now I have high standards and am a bit of a control freak, so maybe you can empathize with me when I say I’m having a hard time trusting my own system. The problem is that when I lose trust (which I have) I will revert to my old ways and want to do everything myself. Why? Because I feel I’m trustworthy. But that’s not how to run a good business. So, let’s start with that. What do I need to see happen for me to have trust in my own system, my own franchise? What is it specifically that I need to see happen for me to be able to trust?

I must be able to:

  • Trust that we will properly and professionally analyze the needs of the customer. 
  • Trust that we will gather all the client’s financial information and turn over every stone so there are no surprises. 
  • Trust in our preparation of a good story for the reader (i.e. decision maker). 
  • Trust to aggressively coddle our customer and all parties through the process of getting a loan.
  • Trust that we will hit the major milestones of approval, appraisal, 10-day prior to closing check and FINAL numbers (i.e. the Closing Disclosure or CD) review. 
  • Trust that the brand will be lifted and not the individual.

These are the things I struggle with. I’ve been toying with a system that combines automation and high touch surrounding these 6 trust items. My first step is to meet with my team and the management of my organization to get council and feedback. I feel strongly that if I can track performance in these areas and then coach to the gaps that exist, I can build trust. I'm also looking for some great books on the topic.

Any suggestions are welcome. 


This is a biggie and I feel like I have ultimately failed in providing a great culture for my business.  Not only for my team, but for me. I’m only to blame for this and I want to correct it. Maybe I’m being overly harsh to myself but I feel that I have created an environment of criticism over learning, of pressure over compassion, of Slave-Master over Leader. This is harsh self-critique and maybe unfounded, but it's how I feel. Perhaps those that work with me don’t feel like that is the case.  Personally, I go out of my way to help others and to provide a good environment both personally and professionally... but still, something is lacking.  I’m not talking about having words on a wall to deliver a fake sense of unity and commitment to the task (p.s. nothing against words on a wall!), I’m taking about the real deal where everyone in the franchise is excited about getting to work because they know their job, their purpose and ultimate impact to the organization! That they know they are a part of something special! 

I guess I need to relay my vision of this to everyone. I need to communicate that I’m looking for people that truly want a career and help me change the industry!  I’m not looking for people that punch in and punch out.  And that’s another thing I struggle with... dealing with those that possess a lack of desire and covet mediocrity. Those types of people need not apply. I spend too much energy just being pissed off about something I can't control. There must be those that want a great paying job and have a deep care for the culture I want right!? (YES, I am always looking!)

So, what's my next step? Share this vision?? To collectively and with holacracity set our core values? Whatever they become, one is about trust and other about being a selfless-learner. 

Suggestions welcome.

Final thoughts…

As you can see, I’m a significant work in process!  How do you deal with trust issues and culture within your small or large franchise? The Bible says in Proverbs 30: 13, “There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.” I don’t ever want to be perceived as an arrogant or prideful person, but rather humble and thankful. I feel we all need to eat a piece of humble pie from time to time and to step back and consider how thankful we should be for the wonderful opportunities in this life to serve others.