Laura Brandao

Mortgage Industry Laura Brandao

“Say Yes, Every Day! Say No to Status Quo”

The only things I regret, and the only things I’ll ever regret are things I didn’t do. In the end, that’s what we mourn. The paths we didn’t take. The people we didn’t touch.” – Scott Spencer

Everyone goes through transformations in their life. From the day we are born, we change, grow and transition physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is through embracing these changes and celebrating them, whether they are joyful or challenging, that we live life to its fullest and make a lasting impact on the people around us.

I recently made a career change where I left my company of 15 years, now this wasn’t just a standard employee/employer relationship.  I was employee number one of a division that I grew step-by-step that resulted in becoming a top 10 mortgage wholesale lender in the country.  With that being said it was a very difficult decision but as each year passed by, I was finding myself not being challenged and I started to wonder if I would have regrets in the future.

When we are young children, we are told that the world is ours to discover and make our own. It is a familiar parental refrain and one that is, at its core, true. As we get older, however, there begin to be restrictions placed on our freedom to choose and to move through the world. 

When a child is told that conforming or staying quiet is the best way to avoid obstacles and conflict, it can leave lasting and damaging impressions on a young mind and set them up for a lifetime of looking back at what they did not attempt or accomplish due to a lack of confidence. It is those regrets that are the most painful of all.

Living life without regret means taking each challenge as a learning experience and giving yourself permission to go for it, no matter what the outcome might be. You may not succeed, but there is as much value in failure as there is in winning. It is what you choose to do with the failure that gives you the courage to try again.

If I could give one piece of advice about what I have learned in my life, it is to wake up each morning with the realization that nothing is guaranteed, including another morning. I want everyone to live their lives in recognition of the true gift we are given at every sunrise and by each sunset. We should be able to review each day with gratitude and no regret at having left something undone. 

Life does not happen to us; it happens for us. We may have to weather storms and pivot quickly to avoid the occasional catastrophe. Even if we do not immediately understand the consequences or lessons of any given situation, recognize the value in them and refocus on the things we can control, instead of worrying about the things we cannot. This means that we are living in the moment and genuinely appreciating what life can be when we refuse to manufacture our own regrets and, instead, embrace the joy and chaos that make up a human life. 

“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

Life without regret is something to strive for. So is living life with passion.

I discovered this a few years ago when I least expected it. I went through a profound metamorphosis that changed the way I looked at life, at myself and at the way I wanted to move forward. 

I had always known that I was someone who worked hard and that I was a good person with solid values and an ability to have a successful career. What I needed was to understand of what that meant in terms of how I was able to impact the world and the people around me and I began to recognize the true meaning of the gifts I had been given.

The results of one situation led me on a journey of self-realization and the discovery that my passion and the calling I felt I needed to heed was the one that meant I would dedicate myself to serving the underserved and be their proxy, their voice until society was ready and willing to hear them recognize them as they deserve.

I made this discovery about myself four years ago. I had been asked to moderate a panel discussion at a conference. Up to that point, I had never been on a stage before and the stress I felt about this upcoming event was intense. About two weeks before, I even tried to back out of the commitment, but the promoter insisted that I follow through.

I moderated the panel discussion. It was a huge challenge! I was nervous and anxious and felt all the normal range of fears that people feel when they are asked to put themselves in front of others with the spotlight turned on.

What happened next, made such a powerful impact on me that all the stress leading up to it seemed to melt away into insignificance. I stepped off that stage and was surrounded by women from the audience, all wanting to speak to me.

Most of them told me that they had never seen a female mortgage executive on stage before. They indicated it had been an empowering, impactful, and inspiring experience for them. At that moment, something clicked on in my mind. 

I came to the realization that I could use my voice to speak for and encourage other women in our industry to step outside their comfort zone and ask for the recognition and rewards they so richly deserve for the amazing work they do. 

Since that event, I have seen the number of women in leadership positions increase by 25% and women speaking from stages at industry events nearly double. It has been awe-inspiring and has made me even more determined to share my voice to continue working toward having those numbers increase. 

Another result of my self-discovery after moderating the panel, was my recognition of my “why”. Your why is your reason for doing what you do. Everyone has a unique and personal why and it isn’t always something they distinguish right away. It may take years or a special set of circumstances for a person to find their reason for doing what they feel passionately about.

My why is my impact on the world. When I began my career, everything was centered on my young family. Although I am still focused on that aspect of my life, a bigger picture has filled the frame of my life, my work, and my reason for the things I do every day in all settings. 

One of my most fervent beliefs is that each person has the capacity to make an impact on the world. To do that, we need to recognize and accept our gifts and turn them outward to share with the people around us. 

I want people to understand that none of us were born with limitations on what we can do and how we can improve the world we all share. I would implore them to realize that they have the right and, yes, obligation, to share their voice with others and, in doing that, leave a lasting and positive legacy that continues to benefit the community after they are gone. 

This is not an easy thing to accomplish. Overcoming fear and the challenge of gaining enough confidence to make yourself vulnerable to criticism or hurt is difficult but necessary. It allows you to achieve the goal of discovering and acting on your why. It takes discipline and hard work, but the result is rewarding for the giver and even more beneficial to those who are on the receiving end of the gifts being offered. 

My passion and my why are two of the things that have a profound impact on everything I do. From the way I answer the phone when it rings, to always rooting for the underdog from the bottom of my heart, my why is on my mind in my every waking hour. 

When I was a young mother starting my career in the mortgage industry, one of the first lessons I learned was that we are all the same in the ways that truly matter. Whatever titles or accolades we collect as we move through our life and career, we all experience the same emotions and must overcome challenges that arise. They may be different circumstances for each of us, but the fundamental core of our experiences is the same.

What I learned from what happened at that speaking event all those years ago, is that if I let fear dictate how I live my life and share my gifts, I will be doing everyone in my life, including myself, a grave disservice. I firmly believe that each of us is here for a specific reason and to make a difference in the world every single day!

“True self-discovery begins where your comfort zone ends.” – Adam Braun

My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We got engaged when we were young and were parents at 19. This was the event that profoundly changed my whole life. 

We were young and needed money to raise our family, so I took a job in the mortgage industry out of need rather than a true career decision. However, I arrived in this business, I have made it my own having enjoyed a lengthy and successful career. I worked hard and climbed the corporate ladder to where I find myself today. 

What you might find surprising is that, until that event four years ago, in the back of my mind, I always saw myself as that pregnant 19-year-old girl, uncertain and lacking in the confidence to truly be myself. I second guessed myself regularly and needed validation from others to feel that my ideas had merit and that my voice was deserving of an audience.

When I got up on that stage, I had to be vulnerable in front of a large audience. In accepting that, I realized that people were interested in what I had to say and that my opinions and ideas were not only worthy of hearing but also respected. 

When I stepped outside of my comfort zone, I discovered myself and that was not what I had expected. I began to understand that the knowledge and experience I had gathered over all the years of rewarding work in the mortgage industry was not only valuable to others but was showing me the way in which I could have a lasting impact on the lives of others.

I began to undertake the mission that I continue today. To support and encourage young women coming into the industry and show them that they are worthy of being heard because their gifts and talents are needed and appreciated. I want them to know that every moment is an opportunity to positively affect the world and those around them.

Leaving your comfort zone is difficult, can be stressful, and painful. Making that step takes courage and a commitment to accepting the outcome should it be good or bad and learning from the experience. Self-reflection and a willingness to make yourself vulnerable can elicit a positive response from those around you if you trust them enough to try. 

Life is often so consumed with rushing around and worrying about things we cannot control, not allowing ourselves to be present in the moment, that our true selves can get lost in all the noise. I would advise people to take the time to get comfortable with themselves and make a concerted effort to understand what makes them happy. Take a bike ride or a quiet walk. Spend a little time doing something that quiets your mind and clears your head. All the answers are inside, but it is only in the moments of stillness that one can really listen and discover them. 

When you have that moment of discovery (and you will), you are in the flow zone. Everything will click into place, and it will all make sense. You will see how the decisions you have made to get where you are were connected and there will be a sense of joy and peace in your heart and mind. This state will extend across everything in your life whether it be at work or at home. The pieces of your life will fall into a comfortable and recognizable pattern. 

I do not know if everyone is able to have this moment of revelation. So many are reactive to the events in their lives instead of learning and then taking control of their own narrative, they do not understand the nature and reason for the gifts they have been given. We were all born to share our gifts with the world, and it is in that sharing that we find our purpose and our flow state. 

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson

One of the practices I like to commit to is to plan out goals at least 5 years into the future. I believe that setting and then thinking carefully about goals (whether personal, professional or both) is critical to growth and moving forward toward success. 

I do an exercise with my team wherein I ask them to envision their lives five years into the future. I want to hear about their future life from different perspectives, both personal and professional. Being able to have that vision and flesh it out through a conscious thought process helps cement those goals and clarify them.

I update my own personal goals every year. It is important to monitor and refine goals, so they are not merely reactive, putting my dreams into someone else’s hands. Sharing your goals with others is a fantastic way to make them more concrete and make yourself believe you have a personal stake in achieving them. Be proud of your goals and send them out into the world for feedback and scrutiny. It is a wonderful exercise in building confidence and moving forward. 

There are people who hesitate to set goals for themselves out of fear. They are afraid of not being able to reach them and the path of least resistance is to simply not set expectations for themselves. This is a sure-fire path to stagnation and frustration. 

There will be opportunities that arise every single day. One of the best ways to capitalize on them is to be open to making the attempt and having goals is an excellent way of recognizing them when they appear. 

If you have a goal that you are working toward and something rises up in your path that may align with it, you are far more likely to step up to investigate it than if you are merely reacting to it. When you can look at an opportunity from the perspective of how it will further your chances of succeeding at achieving a set goal, you are taking responsibility for your own future.

Knowing what you want is another way of setting a clear goal. We all have desires, wishes, and dreams. When those goals are identified clearly in your own mind, it becomes easier to reach them. Opening your heart and your mind to all the possibilities and permutations of those dreams means you are willing to risk more to reach them. That also means that you will be more open to trying new things, meeting new people, and finding it easier to pivot when required to be successful.

Maintaining a positive mindset and a willingness to take chances is vital to figuring out what it is you want from life and reaching out to grasp it. This ties back into the flow zone I mentioned earlier. When you have identified your dreams, you will know you have succeeded when the pieces fall into place, and you feel that positive energy flowing back to you in the form of feeling fulfilled.

Envisioning a destination in your mind is another way of setting a goal for success. When we plan a vacation, we book the tickets with a specific stopping place in mind. We may need to change planes or navigate our way around a traffic jam on a freeway, but we eventually will get where we want to be by setting the ending place and working toward arriving safely. Having a plan and recognizing that there may be roadblocks on the way manages our expectations but also makes it easier to succeed in the end. Goals should always have a designated end point, so they are achievable and measurable not aimless.

“In the end, our legacy will not be based on rank or sales but by those who cherish our stories and the impact of our words.” ― Nathaniel Connors

We are all put here on Earth for a reason. Not one of us is here accidentally. The odds of each unique person being created and born are too astronomical to be completely random.

Even with that in mind, sometimes we let ourselves get beaten down by the mundanities of life and neglect to recognize how truly special each of us are. Every person has a unique set of qualities and talents that, if realized and used for the common good, would be an unstoppable power that could benefit all of us. 

It is important to pause sometimes and think about the legacy we want to leave behind when our time on Earth is done. How do you want to be remembered and by whom? We often get so caught up in the whirlwind of daily life, that we forget what a gift just being alive is for each of us. 

I want you to think of your legacy in a different way. Try to imagine it as a work in progress and not simply an ending. Every time you offer your assistance or encouragement to someone who is struggling to rise, you are creating another part of your own legacy. 

Legacy is found in moments we shared, the decisions we made, and the actions we have taken which shape not only our own lives but also impact the lives of those around us. Leadership is not an innate quality, but one learned and honed over a lifetime of experience with a willingness to share success and failure with others. 

A legacy is a process and not a final destination point. It should be crafted and shared within a lifetime, not just remembered afterward. It is a continuous process of learning, growth, sharing and teaching that enriches our lives and gives the benefit of our experience and wisdom to others who need it the most. 

I started in the mortgage industry when I was 21 years old. The business found me; I wasn’t seeking it. Over the course of my career, I have learned the joy of helping others to reach their dreams and working toward the fulfillment of my own goals. I feel honored to have been given these opportunities and I want to encourage others to seek and find their own calling and passions in whatever profession they choose. 

I have always felt a need to leave this industry better than I found it and have a lasting and positive impact on those within it, including the clientele we serve. One of the things of which I am most proud is having worked to augment the ranks of women in leadership roles. I am proud to offer women my encouragement and support as they work toward filling the seats in the boardrooms of this industry. 

Every person can make a lasting difference in the world in whatever capacity they choose. My hope is that I can encourage everyone to discover their gifts and use them to benefit our world community in positively impactful ways. Each of us has a light within and when they are all shining brightly, even the deepest darkness does not stand a chance. Let that be your legacy to the world. Let your light shine out and share it with everyone you meet to encourage them to do so in turn.

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