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About Ashley Gravano 

Results-driven and detail-oriented sales professional offering proven sales success. An experienced and skilled professional in multiple areas whose leadership, energy and high motivation serve as an example to others. Excellent networking, issue escalation/resolution and interpersonal communication skills (both written and verbal). Proven abilities to track business and meet established monthly and quarterly sales goals. Strong attention to detail and the ability to consistently meet deadlines. Well versed in developing, testing and implementing solutions, processes and procedures.


In this episode, Steve Scanlon and Ashley Gravano



•    The value of relationship building at every level of employer-employees,
•    Continual Improvement, and
•    The overarching landscape of where the mortgage industry is now.


Key Takeaways 


•    You have to build those relationships with every level of employer-employees out there.
•    Entropy states that matter in the universe always moves to a state of disorder, especially when unacted upon. So, in other words, if you don't do anything to get better, you will get worse.
•    You must continue to improve yourself and make yourself more valuable from a professional standpoint if you can work in two spaces. And you grow your network.


“Challenges are the only way you're going to improve.” – Ashley Gravano.



Connect with Ashley Gravano 



Connect with Steve Scanlon





Listen to the podcast here


Ashley Gravano - Connect At Every Level

I have a guest that I'm quite excited to be speaking with. Ashley. She's got such an amazing background in what she's done, who she is, and where she is, and I'm excited as all to bring her to our interview. Without further ado, Ashley Gravano, say hi to the Insight Interview World.

Insight Interview World, how are you?

It's a weird thing because they can't go, “We're great,” or “We're not that great.” Anyway, grateful that you are here with us, Ashley, and I'm looking forward. Right before we started, you were like, “I’m not prepared for this,” and I was like, “That's perfect.” We get all the organic answers of who is Ashley and what you're all about. Before we get going, we have a tradition on our show, Ashley. We like this opening question. I'd like to know, before we even get going, the first thing that comes to your mind in terms of gratitude. What are you grateful for?

I can go two routes with that. I can certainly go professional and I could go personal. I'm grateful for the support system I have professionally and personally, between my family and my work family. The amount of years I've been in the mortgage industry, I've grown close to many that has helped me along my path. Secondly, the support that I received from my family who helped me along my path, go in the direction that I wish to go in and follow my dreams and goals. I'm thankful and grateful for the family in general, whether it's my professional or my personal family.

I didn't mean to jump into a rabbit hole, but I'd love to hear personally who you come up with as well. Who's the first person professionally? They could be dead or alive. They could be with you now or before. Professionally, who's the first person you think about somebody who added value to your life in business? Who's the first person that comes to your mind that you're grateful for that they were around for you?

That's a tough one again because I've been in this career back since 1998. I would say Neil Golli is a good friend of mine who I worked with at Title Resource Group who's helped me, both professionally and personally, think about where I want to be and how I want to spend my time, helped redirect me in times when I wanted to shift focus. I know we will talk about this in a bit, but I've been in the mortgage vertical for quite some time, but I did change paths a couple of times in the last few years. I would give an attaboy and a sticker to Neil Golli, who's helped support me professionally over the last several years.

I have never met Neil. We do that for a reason and our readers understand this, but not only when we think about our gratitude and how you said two routes, you can get your support system both at work and with your family. Furthermore, when we think about people like Neil, what they've done, and what you said he redirected you where you needed to be, and it sounded like something was instrumental in your life. When we think about those people, it changes our neuro pathways, literally even if it's for a moment, we become different people. That's one of the reasons we do that because it sets us up to have our brain working better and with less anxiety. Cheers to Neil.

I could probably mention about ten others, but we'll start with him.

Clearly, we were going to dive into it. I can certainly read your bio. I've got your curriculum vitae. I can read that. It's never as much fun for me as hearing the story from you. In a handful of minutes, tell us the Ashley Gravano story, personally and professionally, however you wanted to do that. How can you synthesize and where are you vocationally? Some people want that and, “Why is Steve Scanlon interviewing this person?” Help us understand where you are, where you've come from, and what you're doing now.

I like to reference this story every time I'm interviewed for a show or meet new people. If you remember the '80s movie Secret of My Success with Michael J. Fox, I know some people will not know that movie, the younger generation. My son would not know that movie, but he starts in a mail room, and he's the top guy at the company. I started in the mail room of PH Mortgage. I started opening appraisal as my job and am now Vice President of Product Solutions over at Mortgage Cadence on the tech side.

I've gone through a lot of different positions over the years I've been in the industry. I'm aging myself. However, I started in the mail room and worked my way from the mail room to the sales, account management, and operations team at a national title company/mortgage company. I decided to take a leap to a startup title company, and try to get my experience in a smaller role.

A few years back, I decided to jump onto the tech side of the industry and see what that's all about since we're in this digital transformation phase with the mortgage and helping the borrower experience improve. I started in the mail room and now I'm on the product solution side on the tech side of the industry. That's me in a nutshell.

This is why I don't ask all my questions. I have so many questions about that. If I was going to pretend that you were going to write a book from the mail room to VP of product solutions on tech or whatever that arc would look like, you're going to write a book about how to get from here to there.

I know there's a lot of detail in every one of those things, but are there some general things? As you look at the arc of your career that you would point to and go, “If you want to move, graduate to this, do that, and go from the bottom to get where you got,” what would some of that book be about? How would you help somebody else think about that?

I would put 4 or 5 chapters on relationship building. You have to build those relationships with every level of employer, employees out there. If we speak about Neil, I met Neil, who was a senior vice president that I didn't work with directly, talking about coffee as a sales rep for our department. A lot of people are afraid to talk to some of the senior leadership at their company, afraid to talk to people that they don't know and build relationships with some of those folks. Much of my career has to do with the relationships I've built over the years who helped guide me.


You have to build relationships with every level of employer-employee out there.


I could name so many people. Neil Armstrong, all of these gentlemen, and some ladies in the industry too. Kim Hoffman, Delilah Remus, all of these women and men in my life that I've met by chance, and built those relationships with those people. it’s not being afraid to talk to senior level if you're not a senior-level employee. Also, working on your confidence from trying new things. I went from being an account manager to working alongside the CEO of a startup title company.

Not being afraid and building those relationships. Those are two big parts of my story. Taking chances. You're going from a national title company to a smaller title company to then working at a tech company where you don't have a lot of experience, but you're learning as you go, and you're working along with people that can help guide you. Those relationships and taking those risks, for sure.

I wrote relationships at every level. As you dove into that, like I typically do, I'm sitting here taking notes and going, “There are so many insights that I have as a result of what you said.” This is why I never get to my questions. It’s because there are so many great things here. One thing you said in passing, and maybe you and I can flesh this out a little bit. You talked about taking risks and having confidence. I think that's cool, except sometimes, even as a coach, I can tell that someone, “You just have confidence.”

I guess one of the things I want to ask you is, did you always have confidence? Is that something you developed? Were you always like this because you can even hear it in you? You sound like a fairly sure and confident person. What if there are people reading and they're like, “How do you do that?” do you think that's a teachable skill?

It is a teachable skill. I was not always confident, I did not always take risks. I did not believe in myself, which points me back to relationships. The people I surrounded myself with and still surround myself with pushed me to believe in myself and help me get past the barriers that I've put in front of me. I spent a lot of time at one company and in some positions because it was comfortable until I started listening to mentors, friends, and some family members who said, “You've been doing this a while. Are you happy? What are you doing? What's going on?”

That confidence is not something that came easy. If you look at where I was as a ninth grader in high school to where I am now, you would not even think it's the same person. I wasn't an introvert. I don't want to go that far to say that I wasn't a people person talking to new people, but the risk-taking was something that I would rarely do because I was like, “What if I can't do that? What if this person doesn't think I'm capable?”

Leaning on those relationships and surround yourself with people who believe in you and push you forward and raise you up and tell you can do that. It's going to be hard and you're going to make mistakes, but keep going, keep trying and keep working on that. It's something that I have to work on every day because there are days I’m like, “I'm not going to do that.” There would be days that I would've turned down this show because I felt like I was not where I want to be at a professional or personal point in my life. I have to listen to everything that’s been taught through mentors and relationships that said, “Yes, you are. Keep going. You'll get there.”

TII 145 | Relationship BuildingRelationship Building: Listen to everything taught through those mentors and relationships who says, "Yes, you are, you keep going, and you'll get there."


What I find super interesting about that is a lot, but you looked outside of yourself for that. If I'm hearing you and this certainly resonates with me, sometimes hit the go button on these things and I’m like, “Who am I to do this?” Part of the skill to develop is in the willingness to listen to those other people. I don't know if the inside of us is a lot, maybe we don't have it and we develop it specifically because we do go listen to other people. I love that who are you surrounding yourself with and are you listening? They're telling people they're awesome, and the willingness to go, “Can I hear really that?”

That could be an unpopular opinion. On the flip side, you can say, “You shouldn't listen to what people think about you. You shouldn't listen to what people want you to do or think you're capable of doing.” It should all be inner. You shouldn't need other people's validation. These are all things that we're taught. You shouldn't need to listen to the guy down the street who thinks that you're not capable or capable.

However, I am against a popular opinion, an unpopular opinion. You do need that support group who's behind you cheering you on, like these professional football teams. They've got a whole group of cheerleaders that are out there on the sidelines telling them they can do it. I think you need that.

This would get philosophical fairly quickly, but you brought something to our attention, which is should it be this inner developed internal thing where you don't listen to anybody or do we listen to people? I love that question because I could hear someone going, “That's a contradiction.” I listen to you and go, “That's a beautiful paradox.” For me, when I hear you say that the answer is yes, and both, if you've got someone going, you'll never do that. You're not good enough. By all means, don't listen to those people. If you have people encouraging you, seeing things that you can't see, even telling you some things that are difficult, but it's all out of a belief of what's possible, I would not only say, listen, but I would also say it's life-giving.

Why do people hire coaches?

I'd like to know that, by the way.

You hire a coach to improve yourself and to look at what they see in you that you might not see to bring it out in you. That's why I would hire a coach.

The late and great Tom Landry, who was the coach for the Dallas Cowboys, not to give you the silly sports metaphor, especially because you're nowhere near there, but he said, “A coach is somebody who tells you things you don't want to hear and makes you do things you don't want to do, so you can become the person you want to become.”

Sounds like you had some good ones, though. A lot of transitions, too. I'm always interested. I published a book on the lizard brain, which is this survivalistic part of our brain that does everything it can to keep us the same. We're not good as species of change. Here you are. You've done all these transitions. You'll try a whole new vertical. I'd love to hear about that. Maybe is back to go for and risk it. What were those transitions like for you?


Let's not do honesty on our show by all. No, that’s beautiful. I love that scary. Keep going.

I certainly hesitated and bored the heck out of the close friends in my circle of, “This could go well, this could go bad, what do you think?” I talk out loud sometimes. I don't want the answer, like you sai. You don't want to hear those things. It was scary, especially because of your experience, my experience from the title space that I knew and people knew me so well, moving to the technology space where I couldn't even tell you what some of these terms mean when I joined Cadence.

However, you have to continue to improve yourself and you also make yourself more valuable from a professional standpoint if you are able to work in two spaces. You grow your network to say, “I've got connections on this side of the business. I've got connections on that side of the business.” I've worked in the mail room, and now I'm working on the tech side. It certainly is challenging but challenges are the only way you're going to improve.

TII 145 | Relationship BuildingRelationship Building: You must continue to improve yourself and make yourself more valuable from a professional standpoint.


There's that word again. I will stop you for a second. I want to hang on the word. You said this, "You have to continue to improve yourself." Hopefully, I'm a somewhat gracious host. I didn't want to stop you and go, “Ashley, no, you don't,” because a lot of people don't think like that. That's why we have these insight interviews, as if to say, “Right?” because you did. I want to pause and I don't want to take that for grante. Improving yourself, I don't know that people have to. Sadly, I know a lot of people who don't think like that. The fact that you do is remarkable. Talk about improvement. Talk about continual improvement. Why?

I think you become stale and uncomfortable. No one remembers this episode of this TV show, but I've referenced TV shows because clearly, I watched a lot of TV as a young teen. There's this episode of Married With Children where Kelly Bundy, her brother was telling her something, and all of this old stuff is coming out of her brain and she's losing things that she's learned in the past.

I feel like if I'm not using all of my brain every day, then I'm becoming stale. I'm becoming bored and I'm not giving the best me. If I feel this job is good, it's not great, but it’s good, comfortable, a paycheck, or even a hobby, if we want to take it out of the professional. I like to do yoga. Let's just use that as a reference. I'm not a yogi, but let's say that. I like it. It’s okay. I'm not trying harder. I'm doing just enough, then for me, I'm not growing as a person.

I'm stale and I'm bored. When I become bored and feel like I'm sitting and wasting away. For me, those challenges and those steps out of my comfort zone, more so professionally, I'd say, help me grow into a better person and keep me occupied. If I'm bored, I feel like I'm not giving the best version of myself. That's certainly my reason.

There's a wonderful theory inside the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which I know little about, so don't ask me anything about that. A lot of people have heard of this. It's called entropy. Entropy states that matter in the universe is always moving to a state of disorder, especially when unacted upon. In other words, if you didn't do anything to get better, by default, entropy says you're going to get worse.


You will get worse if you don't do anything to get better.

What you described is like a physical property of the universe, and here you are living it out in your life. Usually, Stephanie, who works with us, will come to me and go, “What do you want to title this?” Something about don’t get stale. Stale and bored is a bad place. In my own coaching practice, what I've tried to impress upon people is there are forwards and backward, but the brain will attempt to keep you the same.

By default, staying the same, this is cynical, but it'll move you backward. Entropy as the safe, stale place, while it's safe and it feels good, you'll go backward. what I'm hearing you say is by the way you live your life, I can't do that. You didn't like that feeling of being safe and stale and bored. Other people might gravitate towards it until they wake up one day and realize that entropy got them.

I certainly do not give my best self when I'm bored, for sure.

I don't know anybody that does, but that's great. What about when you look around in the industry, and you're in a vertical of it and you're on the tech side, which I certainly want to hear about that too, obviously. Now the industry's thrown this huge challenge at everybody and everyone's freaking out. How do you look at that? Are you going, “Great, a challenge. Let's take it. Let’s go do something with it.” How are you viewing just the overarching landscape of where we are now?

I made it through the ‘08 challenge of this industry. If you look in my resumé, you'll see that in this time period of ‘08, I went from this job that I loved and was super excited about and I moved into a position that was certainly by far the job that I was least excited about in my career in this industry. However, I knew that I had to pivot for a short period of time until things were covered because the industry has evolved.

When I started, we were working off of paper files and now we're in this digital transformation where nobody even wants paper at a settlement table. For me, we've been busy over the last several years because of the pandemic and the interest rates and people could not even breathe because they were busy.

A lot of the fundamental things that have to happen in this industry, I feel like, were forgotten because we were so busy, we just needed to stay above water. Now it's quite the opposite. Everyone's going, “We're too slow. What's going on? How are we going to improve? The borrower experiences need to change.” I feel like this time, it's troublesome for a lot of companies and individuals. It's going to slow down, but it's going to allow the industry again to look at what's happened over the last several years and say, “When,” not if because this will come back.

This industry always has these ebbs and flows. What can we improve on? When, not if, we hit another busy time, how can we improve our cost to close, our borrower experience, and our employee retention? When it's busy, you have a lot of employees that are jumping ship to ship because of better offers. The time is great for companies big and small to look at how to improve when the next wave hits.


When it's super busy, you have many employees jumping ship to ship because of better offers. This time is great for companies big and small to look at how to improve when the next wave hits.

To give you a tech term, that's an iterative improvement, and so back to improvement. Unfortunately, as I look around, there are people that are too busy being worried about what could be to think about what will be.

You'll laugh because I'm a pessimist at heart. I can also sit back at the same time and say, “There's good that will come from all major changes and slow down.”

You might be a pessimist, but you've walked your talk in terms of doing that. The other thing that I wrote is somehow there's a book in this for you. You probably don't want to do that.

I would love to write a book. I told a friend of mine, “Maybe I should write a book.”

I got the title for you, and it's what you said. I didn't make it up. I like something around if things pivot, then evolve. When there's a pivot, evolve. Maybe it evolves around a pivot, but when things happen, you watch many people go into a shell and they get negative and whatever. Maybe we can help people evolve through that and see that this is an opportunity to grow.

By the way, along the way, if you're being iteratively better, it wouldn't hurt your business now. It's not going to get loans flowing through the door like milk and honey like they were when interest rates or whatever. I get that, but this idea that you could be iteratively improving will not only make you better at some point in the future, but it'll also certainly make you better now. I’m guessing.

My kids say that there are two versions of me. There's work me and there's home me. Personal and professional. This may be an unpopular opinion, but it's okay to be this big risk-taker in your professional life, be willing to make all these changes, and be more conservative with your risk-taking and on your personal side. People in this industry specifically know me as driven, hustler, and go-getter. I do some video podcasts, I do some coffee jokes. I've got all of this going on, and then, if you know me in my personal life, you're like, “They're different.” That's interesting.

Whether that's popular or not, what I like about it is what it is. If somebody tells you, “That's unpopular,” we'll chalk that under those are the people you don't listen to. We go back to that, "Be selective about who you listen to." Believe it or not, we're getting close to the end. How quickly does that go?

Ashley, you have done podcasts and different things and you do your own stuff. Was there something that you hoped I asked about your career, work, where you are, what you've done, and how you've transitioned? Was there anything else that you hoped I asked you that I didn't?

I would say no because we hit on different topics as far as a personal and professional is concerned. I'd love to hear from you your insight on building a great show. You do an amazing job with these interviews and things like that. As someone who’s done this a lot, I'd love to hear back from you what makes a great interviewee? How do you keep this going and keep growing from your reach?

You win the prize for I've never been asked that before on the show. That’s fantastic. You turn the tables. Now you're interviewing me. Very quickly, I would tell you 2 or 3 things. It matters who you find, finding cool people like you who are articulate and have a good story. I didn't even get to dive into what you're doing with this thing with technology.

Finding good people is a big part of it. The tenacity to keep doing it, it's not easy. Look at how we had to do it. You have to schedule this and get it going, but I would tell you more than anything, as you said, back to Neil, "Don't try to do this alone." If this were me alone trying to assemble this, edit it, calendar, schedule, do all this, I'm the guy out here doing the interviews. There's a whole team of people behind me that will edit this, and help me with it, Stephanie, our logistics person, helps me do a ton of this. As with anything else worthy in life, there's always a team of people behind it.

Anybody can do this. The technology exists. Pick up a freaking iPhone and you can go out and record something and figure out how to get it on iTunes and do it. That could be great, by the way. I think employing people who are gifted at certain parts of it to do it in terms of logistics, in terms of editing, there are people that help us add music to it, and so go get a team of people to help you do it. That'd be one thing that I would say. Also, don't listen to people who will tell you that you're not going to sustain that long. I had some people go, “We've been doing it for two and a half years,” and there are people like, “Most people do that once or twice and then quit.” Maybe that just fired me up.

TII 145 | Relationship BuildingRelationship Building: Get a team of people to help you do it.


That goes back to listening to certain people and not.

I listened to them and then gave them a hand gesture. I probably shouldn't have. My partner, Jason, and I run the company ReWire. We're an executive coaching company, and we do the insight interviews based on the insights that we want our readers to have. It isn't about what Ashley says. This is me ending our show, Ashley. It isn't about the advice you gave or do this or do that. I want to interview people in a way where someone going, “That's super interesting.” What insights do you, as the reader, derive and not what advice did I or Ashley give you anything like that?

Our show is trying to be different. We're trying to draw out insights rather than give advice. How about that? I want to thank you. I'm grateful for you and this is wonderful. The cool thing about the show is I get to go back and read to it and I took a whole bunch of notes.

I want to read evolve and pivot. I think you should do that. How you've come from where you came from and how you've transitioned, and even when you say stuff like that, you got to continue to improve. Please don't take that for granted. That's a great gift given to you and the fact that you do that has made you unique. I hope you get to share that with other people and we thank you for sharing that with us.

It was an absolute pleasure. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much, and we'll have to have you back on the show. Hopefully, you and I get to carry on some discussions even afterward, and in the meantime, I hope everybody has a great day. Ashley, again, thank you for being a part of it. We'll see you all here next time.

Thanks so much.


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