As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Floyd.
Jane Floyd is a top producing branch manager at NFM Lending. With over 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry, she has consistently been recognized for her high level of production earning top 1% of mortgage originators in America as well as six national rankings on the Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators lists including 2019 and 2020. Jane’s focus on her core values of integrity, growth minded, takes initiative, team work and a ‘wow’ customer service has allowed her to build a skilled team of professionals helping over 14,000 families in the Tampa Bay Area navigate the home loan process.
Jane’s passion for mentorship has led her to serve as a mortgage lender coach at The CORE Training, one of the top mortgage and real estate coaching companies in the nation. Community involvement is also an important aspect of her life supporting associations such as the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay (co-chair for the development committee), Women In Action, Pediatric Cancer Foundation, First Presbyterian of Tampa Bay, Pregnancy Care Center of Tampa Bay, Quantum Leap Farms Inc., Best Buddies of Tampa Bay and the community food bank.
In her spare time, Jane adores running or biking along Bayshore Blvd., reading, creating floral arrangements or fishing with her family and friends. She has been married to her husband Hank for 40 years and has two sons, Kellen and Dillon.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I began my career in public relations for a local title company. At the time, I knew public relations wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to pursue and was looking for a change. I had decided to go to law school and was entertaining the idea of Stetson University when a guy that I knew, who happened to own a mortgage company, asked if I had ever thought about entering the lending industry. He believed I would make a great loan originator, and the next thing I knew, I went to work for him. I quickly fell in love with helping people achieve their dream of homeownership and two years later I opened my own company.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I scheduled a lunch with who I thought was a big realtor referral source — they were a little surprised to hear from me but were looking forward to getting together. When I got to lunch, I realized I accidentally invited a past client! Their names were almost exactly the same in my phone — they had the same first name and their last names were only one letter off. We ended up having a great time and I learned how impactful it can be to reconnect with past clients. And, how important it is to slow down and remain detail oriented.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Honestly, it is hard to choose just one person as there are so many people I am beyond grateful for in my life and I owe part of my success to. However, I am so appreciative to have John Norsworthy on my team. He is our team leader and one of the most loyal and dedicated team members that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. John has worked on my team for nearly 15 years and there is nobody that is more accountable to himself, the team and to me.
John is also one of the humblest. During our quarterly meeting a few years back when I gave John a raise, he looked directly at me and said “you’re already paying me enough.”
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
My vision was to become one of the top mortgage originators in the Tampa Bay Area. I have a passion for helping my clients determine which mortgage is best for their financial position as mortgages are not a one size fits all.
It is special to look back to when I started my company and see the growth that I have been able to accomplish over the past decades through building a collaborative and communicative team. I’ve really taken the time to foster my working relationships, always trying to aid and support in the best way that we can, and I think it really shows throughout our community with the number of top realtor client referrals that we receive.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
An uncertain time I believe almost everyone can relate to in their own way is March of 2020. For a period of time, everything kind of seemed as if it was falling apart as no one knew what was happening. Wondering if we were going to survive as the lending channels were drying up.
At that moment in time, I just remember shifting my team’s focus on aspects within our business that were in our control. Trying not to act from a place of fear. I think I had built enough trust with my team up to this point that they were unquestioning that they would all still have jobs at the end of this as I was able to support my team financially for a short period of time.
Rather than focusing on the loans that weren’t coming in, I tried to focus our efforts on being a light within the community and listening to people. Our clients were really fearful, and as a team, we focused on addressing that. We called our clients as well as our realtors just to listen, talk through how they were feeling and let them know that we were there for them.
Through this, I think it made our team, our relationships and our brand within the local community stronger. And for that, I am extremely thankful.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
Not once, in the face of adversity over the past 30 years, have I thought about giving up.
My number one motivation is my faith in God. Whether business, health or relationships, I turn to him. I also blessed to surround myself with an amazing group of mentors. These are people that I can turn to, no matter the circumstance. They will tell me what I need to hear, not what I necessarily want to hear, when I start to doubt a decision or business strategy. I can always trust they will give me their honest advice and feedback allowing me to move through my struggles and reposition to a more positive mindset.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
Become a servant leader by encouraging people through the tough times and creating a culture of trust.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
As a leader, I try my hardest to make sure everyone feels heard, cared for and acknowledge that their opinions matter. I set team meetings throughout the year with my employees with a start and end time as well as agendas to address not only what is working, but to also learn from their point of view what their personal struggles might be. From there, we can all learn to grow together to provide a positive and engaging work environment. We operate as a team and I have zero tolerance for those who aren’t a team player.
While I provide my team with plenty of events such as happy hours and vacations, I feel it is important to also encourage personal development and growth. Each month, I recommend and order motivational books for those who are interested. Right now, my team is reading Row the Boat by Jon Gordon.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
I have found the best way to communication difficult news is immediately, directly and to make no excuses. Once that is addressed, you have laid the foundation to provide a solution.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
By focusing on the present. No one can predict the future. Things happen socially, economically and politically that are out of control, but it’s learning to pivot your strategies quickly and make adjustments that fit the needs of both your employees and customers as that change occurs.
I learned this the really hard way in 2009 when the economy and lending industry took a downward turn. I was overly optimistic and did not make changes quickly enough for what was happening. Everyone has a past but the most important part is that you learn from your mistakes to better your future as a leader.
Now, when setting goals for myself and my team, I always ask myself “what are we focusing on today?” The future may be unpredictable but you have control over the present. I’ve learned the importance of a one-year, three-year, five-year goals, but I’ve also learned the importance of implementing actionable steps with daily and weekly metrics to achieve success.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Communication. Articulating clear expectations within the company and making sure everyone understands what their role is.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
Please keep in mind, that these are also all mistakes that I have also personally made in my past and learned from.
- People = Profits. I learned this from one of my top coaches and realtors, Rick Ruby. People want to know that you truly care about their needs and the service you are providing.
- Hiring the wrong person just because you like them. I have done this in the past when I hung onto an employee because I admired them as a person, even when I knew they weren’t right for the job. Now, every employee goes through an intensive interview process to make sure they are a great fit for our team.
- Being way too optimistic. I am always a half glass full type of person but sometimes it is key to take a step back and face reality. This goes back to 2009 when I was overly optimistic about the market crash and I didn’t pivot my company quickly enough. My team and I took a big hit and it was something I could have potentially avoided.
- Taking things too personally. In the past, if any employee ever wanted to leave to pursue another position within the industry or start their own company, I would take it to heart. Now, I’ve learned to ask myself if my reaction is based on my ego or is it for my higher purpose? I want to create an environment that allows for people to pursue their passions and I want my employees to understand that I fully support them.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
It’s pretty easy. Every month for the past eleven years, I have done an extremely detailed personal budget and business profit and loss. I know my numbers.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Cultivate buy in from your team. I’ve touched on this a tad already, but you have to make sure your entire team is aligned with your company’s vision and expectations. It’s my job as a leader to ensure no one feels left in the dark.
- Be a servant leader. It’s imperative that your team knows their leader is grinding right alongside them, and that you’ll be honest about the current reality. You’ll not only build comradery, but you’ll also garner trust.
- Focus on what you can control. Mindset is a choice — spend no energy on things that are out of your control and focus on persevering.
- Stay calm and confident. Last year was tough for everyone, my team included. With all the uncertainty at the beginning of COVID, we had two options: we could sit here and cry, or we could make it work. And we made it work.
- Remain present. Uncertainty is a given in life, and it’s our job as leaders to pivot our team’s focus to the now. The past is there for us to learn from and it does us no good to anxiously await the future. Let’s focus on today. As one of my coaches once told me, “Walk out the door every day and say I did my best and my best was good enough.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” This quote by
Zig Ziglar is definitely at the top for me. I will never forget the day, 25 years ago, when I was in the front of the room listening to him give this particular advice. Learning to be a servant leader, not thinking about myself. That’s what I strive to live my life by.
How can our readers further follow your work?