Standing along Pine Street in St. Louis, watching a pop-up bike lane in action, I struck up a conversation with a 64-year-old MetroBus...
CEO, Flat Branch Home Loans
Eldon, Missouri — home of the Mighty Mustangs. Ask me what makes them mighty . . .
Years lived in Columbia:
Tell us about your job:
I have the opportunity to provide clarity and direction for Flat Branch Home Loans.
Who is a mentor in your life?
My mentor right now is Mary Ropp. Mary is living proof that it’s possible to be happy while being passionately involved within the community, being dedicated to a career, and still dedicating time and energy for friends and family. I admire her energy and optimism. She’s my hero.
What are some misconceptions about your job?
Mortgage lending is easy. OK, OK . . . people probably already know that mortgage lending isn’t easy, but being the CEO is, right? This is what the American Dream is about: Climb the corporate ladder, reach the top, and voila – cake! CEO’s don’t work nights or weekends. They barely work during the week, save for those inclement weather days that keep them off the golf course. Right?! Well, the truth of the matter is that the work doesn’t get any easier. It’s just different. I am thankful for my experiences, and you’ve heard it before: everything you have ever done may have gotten you this far in life, but it’s not really going to help you go further. The stress level is still there, but it’s different. Realizing that the decisions that I make each day can affect the future of our company can be daunting. Our employees and their families rely on us to do the right thing. At night, on weekends, and at home, Flat Branch is never far from my thoughts.
What is the single best thing about your job?
This one is easy — the single best thing about my job is the people that I get to work with. Our teams are absolutely amazing. I have never witnessed so many genuine, caring, and dedicated men and women under one roof that share the same mission and are united in our cause. I’m impressed and so often humbled by the compassion that our teams show each other and our customers. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
What was the last professional goal you accomplished?
The last professional goal that I accomplished was putting together a team and then helping them build another channel of Flat Branch. Flat Branch Mortgage Services is our third-party originator channel, and it was born a few years ago. FBMS is now established and thriving with a spectacular future ahead!
What motivates you?
I am motivated by people. I know that’s corny. But corniness doesn’t make it any less true.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t doing this job, I would be a sign language interpreter.
Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
The accomplishment I am most proud of is raising our two boys, Jay and Dalton, into the spectacular human beings that they are today. There isn’t any achievement or accomplishment that could ever top this. They are amazing individuals and I am so proud of them. I am also pretty impressed and thankful that I survived raising two boys — do you know what happens when boys learn they can’t really fly? I do. I still get this little panicky sensation whenever I see anyone wearing a cape.
What’s your favorite community project?
I am not sure I have one specific favorite community project, but I am very fond of any that involve assistance to the elderly.
What is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Never lose sight of what doing the right thing looks like.
What is your favorite business book you’ve ever read and what impact did it have on you?
Everyone is going to expect me to say “Good to Great,” because that’s the concept that Flat Branch is kind of built around, but I have to confess that’s not the one I selected. My favorite book that I’ve read that had the greatest impact on me was “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” When I really sat down and thought about it, I realized that my life was made up of a string of relationships: relationships with my co-workers, relationships with our clients, relationships with my dentist, doctors, family, and friends. These are all just people who have their own hopes and dreams, people that have their own challenges and heartaches. This book was the foundation for my philosophy that it’s nearly impossible to be successful unless you figure out the people part. The key to great relationships is communication, sort of. I believe it’s a little more than that. For me, the key is to stop talking so much and listen. We have to really hear what someone is saying to learn what is important to them. Knowing what’s important to other people helps us understand one another.
If you had unlimited funds, what is the one specific thing you would do to improve Columbia?
Unlimited funds? Wowsers! With unlimited funds, I would fund our local not-for-profit and charity organizations to ensure that they were equipped with the personnel, training, and resources to accomplish their goals.
What is one goal you have for 2017 and how do you plan to achieve it?
For 2017, my goal is to be more involved in our community. I plan to achieve this by surrounding myself with people who are already involved in our community and share in this passion. Get out of the office and get involved!
What trait do you most want in a co-worker or employee?
This is a tough question. I think, when considering all of the valuable traits that we want and need in our co-workers or employees, the one that I want the most is compassion. I feel it’s the one that is the most important, and many other traits have a prerequisite of compassion.
If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would improve my procrastination, or rather work on not being such a procrastinator . . . she types nine minutes before the deadline for turning in this questionnaire.
What do you do for fun?
I love to paint. I also love to game. Games of any kind are fun to me. I admit I also find a lot of amusement in mentally preparing for a zombie apocalypse.