Andrea is known for her integrity, professionalism, knowledge and for treating her clients as extended family. She understands that every homebuyer’s situation is unique and will provide you with the information to make confident decisions, whether you’re a first-time or seasoned homebuyer. She has 16 years of experience in VA, FHA, Conventional, as well as down payment assistance programs and excels in structuring loans for optimum success.
In this episode, Jason and Andrea discuss:
- Treating people like family
- The importance of being your authentic self
- Leading by example
- Focusing on the people first
- Having integrity, treating the clients like a family and bringing them joy through giving the care they need is the best thing in business.
- Nothing else is better than just being yourself, especially if you are enjoying your work and doing your job very well.
- Lead by example with kindness, compassion, empathy and understanding.
- The problem or the challenge is simply worked out when you focus on the people first.
“I know there are tons of training out there for leadership skills because I've done them. And in the end, I feel like it's just really simple, just focusing on helping people by listening to their problems. And then coming up with solutions that make sense, together.” - Andrea Lopez Bartoszewicz
Connect with Andrea Lopez Bartoszewicz:
- Website: https://people.rate.com/andrea-lopez-bartoszewicz-316293
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mortgagemaestra/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndreaLopezB2
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 312-375-0870
Connect with Steve and Jason:
Show notes by: Denice Salem
Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You're the expert. Your podcast will prove it.
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Andrea Lopez Bartoszewicz - Simple Leadership
I've got a special guest. This is going to be fun stuff. My guest is the VP of Guaranteed Rate. She's been in the mortgage industry for many years. She hails from the Chicago area, Andrea Lopez Bartoszewicz. Andrea, if you've known any episodes, you know that we talk about leadership, emotional intelligence, and the intersection of a lot of those things. We talk a lot about real estate and mortgages but we always start every episode with the same questions. I'm going to fire that away at you. Is that cool if we go right into the very first question?
Let's do it.
What is it that you're grateful for?
My family. I'm a mom of two boys. I have a 7 and an 8-year-old son now in 2023. I'm grateful for them because even on the most stressful day when they get home from school and I see them, I have a smile on my face. It never fails. I'm very grateful that they're part of my life and that I get to be their mom. They're amazing. I'm most grateful for them and for all the sweet things that they do. I feel like I'm very lucky to be their mom.
I've probably asked that question a few hundred times on our show, and it's very interesting to get people's answers. It's wide-ranging. It's probably the favorite part of what we do with the show, but I could tell by your countenance. I could see your face lit up when you said family and went down that road. That's very endearing. Thanks for answering that.
Now you all know my weak spot.
I'm going to guess that's a point of strength for you as well, which is the case with many of us for sure. I could go down that path for the next 30 minutes, but we're going to go down a different path. You are on this show because you are a leader in the industry. I know when I binge a show and there's a guest on, first of all, I metaphorically have my arms crossed.
I'm like, “Who is this person? Why is it that I want to listen to this person?” Initially, give us a little bit of your story. You got a little bit of a unique story with the way that you grew up, moved around, and do different things. I'd love to turn the microphone over to you and tell us a little bit about who Andrea is.
My dad was in the military. I moved around a lot until we settled. I've been in the Chicagoland area and then the Houston area, like suburbs in Katy, Texas. I went back and forth. Now I'm officially in the Chicagoland area longer than anywhere else. For me, this is home. This is where the majority of the family is. Even if I've traveled, have been all over the world, and come home when you're on that flight and you see the skyline, I'm like, “I'm home.” For sure here is home. I grew up all over, mostly here, and got into this business by accident.
What is that story? People get into real estate and mortgages from all kinds of different backgrounds and scenarios. When you say by mistake, what's your story?
My whole background before coming into the mortgage industry was medical. I was in the medical field. I was on a waiting list for a program at Rush Hospital that I was going into. A friend of a friend was like, “Do you want to work at this mortgage company?” I have the faintest idea about anything with finance or mortgage. It's like, “That's not my background.”
They're like, “They'll train you, but they need someone bilingual,” because I speak Spanish. They're like, “They'll show you how to do everything.” I thought about it and they're like, “You can be flexible on your hours. It'll be fine even when you start school.” That was a career change for me when I decided to go back to school. I thought about it and I was like, “It doesn't hurt to talk to the guys.” I went and met with them.
They went over everything about what my duties would be and I would have someone that I could shadow. They'll teach me everything, help me study, and get prepped for the test because I had to do my state licensing and everything. I was like, “I'm fine with tests because I had taken many with the school. That's easy for me. I wasn't worried about that.” I did it. I was like, “Let me give it a shot,” then they told me how much money I could make off of closing.
I was interested. I was like, “That will pay for school instead of getting loaded up with student loan debt. At the very least it'll help me pay for school and it'll be something that I can do on the side that's flexible.” That was my original thinking. As I started doing it and got into it, I realized the impact it was having on the families that I was working with. That's what keeps me going in this for many years. We've seen the good, bad, and ugly in those past many years. I feel that a lot of it has been focusing on the service piece of this and helping people, not so much numbers, loan sizes, or under other things like that, but focusing on helping people.
I got the call from the hospital and they were like, “We have an opening in our program for you.” I was like, “I'm not sure if I'm going to go.” It was that fork in the road. It was a decision point I had to make. I was like, “I'm going to stay with this.” I did. I stuck it out and continued to help people the majority of the people I helped, in the beginning, were all Spanish speaking. I realized what a void there was in help for them, not only because of the language barrier, but the mortgage industry I feel was very different in what they had access to and what people they had access to back then.
When we had our crash in ‘08 and ‘09, everything was bad, but everything came back. A lot of the people that I helped were grateful and that made everything worthwhile. I still get cards like Christmas cards and calls like, “We finally put that deck in the backyard. We're going to have a barbecue. Why don't you come over for some Kani salad and taco?” I come over. We're barbecuing.
I started to shift my perception even to the people I work with like they're an extended family. I started training people like they were family. I care about my clients in a way that I know not everybody cares. It's like during the start to finish of a process, I feel like I go through all the emotions with them. It's in my empathy. It gets the best of me when I feel vested and because I want to see them go from start to finish.
I have some clients that I worked with them from the beginning to get credit ready. It's like planting a seed and watching the flower grow by the end. It's like the joy of when you give gifts at Christmas or for holidays and you get happier than they are because you're giving. It's the same, but I get to do that every day.
Simple Leadership: Helping people is kind of like the joy when you give gifts at Christmas or for holidays. You get happier than they are because you're giving.
I feel that brings joy in this business because there's like bad days and stressful days, and then you have to deal with many personalities and wear many different hats in this business. Sometimes attorneys or real estate agents are nasty. It feels like some people are nasty. They're not nice. It’s people I want to work with. I want to work with other agents, realtors, and attorneys that are great and have similar personalities and are looking in the best interest of their clients and work together as a team. At the end of the day, I feel like we're all there to support the person that's going in to buy a house. Most of the time, it's the purchases I'm dealing with.
On a refinance usually, those are repeat clients that I've worked with before to get them into that place. At this point in time doing it for many years, I pick and choose if I'm working with a realtor or attorney who I want to work with. Unfortunately, there are some people out there that don't have integrity and those are people I stay away from which I feel is totally fair. I'm not that desperate that I'm going to work with everybody. People that are like-minded, have integrity, good intentions, and treat people well are big things for me.
Stay away from people who don’t have integrity.
You are such a breath of fresh air in this industry. I talk to people every day that are good people, but focused on the numbers. The industry lends itself to that. It's a commission-based industry, real estate, and mortgage. It's easy to get skewed to the numbers, but I heard you say a lot of things in there that make me smile.
You talked about caring. You gave some stories about how you're focused on the people. You look at them as family. You use the word integrity. You told me a little bit about your numbers. The more that you're focused on doing a good job, helping, caring, and loving people, helping them get to where they want to go sometimes even starting way pre-app doing credit repair stuff and things like that. When you focus on those things, the numbers take care of themselves.
That's what's what I understand about your business. That is exactly what's happened to the point where you've been in the industry for many years. You went through the downfall of 2008. Here we are in the first quarter of 2023, where it's another funky time in the industry but you're doing well and thriving. You're not just surviving, but you're thriving. You've got a smile on your face. You're taking care of people. It's a breath of fresh air. Thank you for that. That's fun. I want to dig into this a little bit more. Caring, integrity, and focus on the people. That comes from somewhere. Where does that come from?
I’m not sure. I think I was born this way. Since I can remember, I've always stood up for the underdog and looked out for people. I'm an only child. It's not like I have siblings or anything. It's just me. I've always had a close relationship with my parents. There are the three of us. I had young parents. I feel like the three of us grew up together.
Some things influence my parents. My dad always taught me to accept everybody, “Even if they're purple or polka dots, you're going to still accept them the same way.” I feel like I was always very accepting and looked for the good in people. Not that I was immune to seeing the bad in people, but I’m focused on the good of everybody. As a young kid, I was ahead for my age as far as school, education, and things go. I was smart and honorable all through my school years.
Simple Leadership: Accept everybody. Even if they're purple with polka dots, still accept them the same way.
I feel that I had a certain amount of empathy or looked at the world through a different set of eyes seeing what was wrong with it and what needs help. I think a lot about how people interact with each other because when I was young, if I saw somebody getting bullied, I would stick up for them. I had somebody I told you about. Her name was Jodi. If she's out there somewhere, I hope she's well. She was my bully in third grade. I stood up to her, and then she became friends with me afterward. I realized she was dealing with her own stuff at home. That's how it was manifesting.
From pretty early on, I thought, “If somebody's not acting right, maybe something's going on at home.” A lot of times that's the case, especially with kids. I feel like it was something innate to me in wanting to do that. Since I was little, I wanted to be a doctor. There was always nurturing and helping people aspect of my personality. I'm like the doctor in mortgages.
I have a lot of psychology background, but I feel like even with all that, I end up using it on a daily basis. Anybody in this industry for many years has lots of stories about past clients or some things like soap opera dramas. I have to use all the things I learned. I remember my mom was dead set on me becoming a doctor when I didn't, and I was doing this, she was against it in the beginning, but then she started seeing how I was changing people's lives in a different way. When I would get a card or something, she was like, “You got a thank you card.”
I was like, “They invited me to such and such thing. They're having a barbecue.” After a while, she started seeing the benefit of what I was doing and how I was helping people, but in a different way than then she had planned for me and then how much I enjoyed it. My mom told me, “Whatever you set your mind to, you're going to do it well.” That's how I feel.
Whatever you set your mind to, you're going to do really well.
I made the decision to stick this out. I was like, “I'm going to be my authentic self,” because a lot of people in this business focus on the numbers and on, “Let me get all jumbo loans. I'm not going to do any loans under $400,000.” To me, it's absurd. The smallest loan size I ever did was $25,000. The guy bought this tiny house. I got him $20,000 in down payment assistance. This was years ago, and it was on the South side. By the end of the day, after everything, it was $25,000 in his mortgage. It was super small.
That man referred me to eighteen clients that year, including a builder. I'm like, “I have no idea how he met these people.” For that full year, he's like, “Don't worry, I'm going to pay you back.” He sent me eighteen clients from the smallest loan size I did. It's like, “Never judge a book by its cover.” A lot of people probably would've snubbed him off because it was a small loan. He was grateful. He kept referring. I was like, “Thank you so much for all the business you sent. That was a lot of prosperity that you sent my way. I sent it back to you. Thank you so much for everything.”
You didn't help him the way that you helped him because you knew he was going to be good for eighteen referrals. You helped him because you wanted to help him. That's who you are. You explain that with the way that you were brought up and your parents. Andrew's parents, if you're reading, that was a big, huge thank you that she shouted out to you. I thank you as well, because of what they did, you're able to serve the industry and serve people the way that you're doing right now, whereas if you had a different upbringing, maybe the way that you're helping or not helping might look different.
That's huge. That story about the 18 referrals for a $25,000 loan is beautiful. It's wonderful. It’s this extension of the manner in which you care for people. You and I also talked about you running a team and you're a leader of a team in the industry. What does that look like, being a team leader? Many of the people reading this are leaders in the industry. Talk about that leading experience for a little bit and your take on it.
I'm a big proponent of the golden rule. I keep that in mind. I also keep in mind setting realistic expectations too. I might work at 10:00 on Saturday night if I'm not out with my husband or something, but I'm not going to expect that of my team. I want them to have a work-life balance as well. I want to have a work-life balance, but there's going to be times when I'm like, “Let me hop on because the kids are in bed. My husband's watching something. I'm going to get this out of the way.” I feel honoring their accomplishments, the things that they're good at, always saying please and thank you are big ones, and sending a little note like, “Thank you so much for doing this. You went above and beyond.”
Those little things make a big difference, especially for a team that's not commission based. They're getting a salary and granted, they'll get incentives for how many units closed for everybody, but at the same time, they have a different mentality working in this versus when you're 100% commission. I work every day, to some extent, and take a vacation.
As long as we got Wi-Fi, I'm good. I can work anywhere that's even a nice thing even since 2020. I've been completely remote. It's changed how most of us even approach this business in the industry of being able to have that flexibility and in technology too. I feel like lead by example, have kindness, compassion, empathy, and understanding, and realize that they have lives outside of the office.
Simple Leadership: Lead by example. Have kindness, compassion, empathy, and understanding, and realize that your people have lives outside of the office too.
You make what you do and how you approach your job and the leadership of your team sound simple. I listen to you and it makes me feel relaxed. It makes me feel like the manner in which you go about doing what you're doing. There are many books on leadership, techniques, tools, tricks, scripts, and all kinds of different things. I don't hear that from you. I hear that you want to care and love people and add value. You make it sound simple.
I happen to know that it's not, but the manner in which you go about sounds that way. Your demeanor is very relaxed and very caring. The authenticity of what you're saying comes through like what I'm guessing that the manner in which you're describing this, if and when your team members read this, they're going to go, “That's about right.” They're not going to go, “She's a fraud. She beats us every day.” That's not how it is.
There are moments in my head where I'm like, “Why didn't get this done? We have a deadline. It's got to be now,” but I feel like when you start putting yourself in other people's shoes and understanding what they have to do in a day. I have two processors. We have our mortgage coordinator. She's my upfront processor then we have the loan coordinator who's the backend processor after the file has gone to underwriting. They each have different tasks and duties.
When you look at what the VP's tasks are in comparison to what they have to do then they have to do that for every file within a time constraint that I don't necessarily have for me, once something goes active in 24 hours, I get everything I need and make sure everything was there even ahead of time. I'm like, “Good to go.” That might be a couple of files where it's like they cover me, but they also may have another VP that they're handling. It's double or sometimes triple.
It's a different situation. That's why I said, “Realistic expectations.” When you understand what your team has to accomplish and the time constraints that they have to do that, then you can understand better and be able to support them better like, “I'm not going to bombard you with phone calls and emails because it's going to take away from your task.” From the beginning, this is everything, all the background info, things you need to know, and then let it go. Hand it off.
When you understand what your team has to accomplish and the time constraints they have to do that, then you can understand how to support them better.
For most of us in the industry, sometimes it’s challenging because we want to hold onto it maybe the whole time. If you do that, then you can't focus on helping the people because you're focusing on that instead of trusting your team to do what they need to do. That's probably the most difficult part for a lot of people and my position in this industry is trusting your team 100% to do what they need to do. People are human. we all make mistakes. I make mistakes. I'll be the first to admit it. If there is a mistake, how do you deal with it? How do you fix the mistake? Where can you go from there? How do you shift it? I'm very fortunate that I have a great team.
My MC and LC are amazing. I know that once they get it, they'll take care of it. I don't have to babysit them or micromanage them because I feel their experience. They've been doing this for a long time. I don't like to be micromanaged. I'm not going to do that to somebody else. I feel as long as that communication is there and we're letting people know where things are going or putting notes in the file, it runs smoothly.
You're coming back to the golden rule. You said, “Putting yourself in the other person's shoes.” These cliché things that we hear over and over again, you're walking that talk. There's a reason sayings are sayings. You're going beyond it and acting it out on a day-by-day basis. It’s a breath of fresh air. What I heard you say, and I wrote this down, the insight for me was this reminder of focusing on the people.
In one of the workshops that we do, when we talk about coaching, we have this little stick figure illustration that we do where there are two people sitting on opposite sides of a table and there's a box in the middle. The client is focused on the box telling the story about the thing, the box, and the problem in your story whereas the coach is focused on the person. You are doing exactly the same thing. You're focusing on the person first, whether that is your borrower, referral partner, realtors, or internal team members, and the problem second.
Typically, what you say and I observed this with people, when you're focused on the people first, I'm not going to say the problem works itself out because it's not always that clean, easy, and wonderful but the manner in which the problem or the challenge or whatever it is gets worked out, is simpler and better than if it's the problem. Thank you for that reminder. I hope our readers picked that up.
We call this The Insight Interviews. You led me to another insight, and I hope that the readers picked that up as well. I feel like we could do a double or a triple episode here with where we're going. I would like to do a few things. One is I'd love for people to know how to reach you, the people in your area that want to reach out to you or maybe not in your area that want to reach out to you and either have leadership conversations, talk about loans or the way that you run your team. What's the best way for people to reach you?
Sometimes things get buried in email, but texting is probably my number one. The secondary would be email. I'm all over social media, but honestly, I don't always check the comments because there are some weird comments I get that are not mortgage related. Texting or email is probably the best way to reach me. Email is nice because you can put much more in a text. Usually, the text is like, “Let's schedule a quick time to chat and go over everything,” whereas email is if you're introverted or shy, it's nice. I put everything on there, and then go from there.
Are there any last thoughts or anything that we're hoping that I asked that I didn't? Any parting thoughts as we end our time here?
Everyone needs to listen to each other in what we have to say. That gets you so far, whether it's leadership or sales if you're in this industry, but listening to other people and what they need, especially our clients. I feel part of that initial conversation is asking them, “What do you want to get out of this? Do you want to buy a house? What's your long-term plan? Is this the forever house or this is the house for now?” and listening. That was one training I did many years ago. The Japanese term is haragei but it was listening and even mimicking the other person but focusing on them.
Everyone just needs to listen to each other. That gets you so far.
It's definitely a skill that you can learn if you're not already doing that. You probably are doing it, not realizing it. That's a big thing regardless. I know there are tons of training out there for leadership skills because I've done them. I have seen them. In the end, I feel like it's simple, focusing on helping people, listening to their problems, and then coming up with solutions that make sense together. You can have your own book, but then, “Give them some options.” I feel like that takes you a long way.
What a great final thought. I feel like not just for the mortgage and real estate industry, but society in general. If we could listen to one another, wouldn't that make a better world?
Talk, express yourself, and communicate.
It is such a great final stamp on our time together. You are such a good guest. Thanks for spending time with us. You invested your time, which we don't take lightly. We know that this took you off the field of play. It took you away from your family, which you opened up with during this conversation. We're grateful for your time. I can't wait for this episode to drop and for people to learn from you.
It's my pleasure.
That was such a good episode. Yet again, I have a whole page of notes. This simplicity with which she answered the questions. It is one of the main things that I took away. The leadership of any organization or any team can be made as complicated or as simple as the leader wants it to be. I observe complicated all the time. I got this easy loose script simplicity from Andrea that I'm thankful for.
She talked about the golden rule, truly caring for people, and then gave examples both with her clients, her referral partners, and her internal partners, focusing on people and then she ended with this if we listen to one another. She wasn't saying that out of desperation. It was this relaxed like, “This works. This is what I've found to work.”
Where it all came from that wasn't lost on me, the manner in which she was brought up and her parents. I'm going to bet, and I don't know this, but my insight and my intuition tell me that she's probably doing that in turn with her own family and kids. There are lots of insights there, but readers, it doesn't much matter what my insights were. The big question is, what insights did Andrea present to you.