An open letter from Glenn Stearns, CEO of Kind Lending
I’ve never been accused of having an over-abundance of smarts. 2.1 GPA over here. But somehow I made it through college (just barely), and after 10 months of professional work experience as a loan officer, I went on to build the biggest mortgage lending company in the country.
How did I do it? People keep asking me that.
My answer is normally something along these lines: it’s a combination of grit and consistency. It doesn’t matter how poor you are growing up. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how late you get started. All that matters is that you GET started and DON’T STOP.
People seem to be satisfied with that answer, but as I went on, I realized I wasn’t.
Was it all just luck?
That single question put me on a path that would see me testing my mettle in front of millions of people all around the world. That question brought me to Undercover Billionaire, the fine town of Erie, and eventually… Kind Lending.
But we’ll get to that.
Are You An Underdog?
It’s cold outside. I’m bundled up in about 15 layers of jackets, sweaters and coats. The plane just touched down and I’m shivering my butt off on the tarmac. What happens next? I get handed a hundred dollar bill, the keys to a beat up truck, and I’m told that I have 90 days to build THAT into a $1,000,000 evaluation business. My first thought?
What have I gotten myself into?
I was about to find out.
It took me the full 90 days, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and the invaluable help of an incredible, Erie-local team to make it to the finish line. Every single step of the way, I questioned why I was doing this. Was I crazy? What would happen if I failed in front of all of these people? In front of millions of viewers on international television?
If I threw the show now, so it could never be released, would I save myself the trouble of looking
bad in front of a good chunk of the world’s population?
Even if I did, would my reputation ever recover?
All these questions went through my head a million times a minute as I was grinding to turn that hundred dollar bill into a business. But after some serious consideration (and a couple of long, brooding nights) I realized what this was really about.
I wanted to do it for my kids.
I wanted to show them that when you get older and one by one you hit the milestones that people think of when they think of success, that you don’t just throw in the towel. You don’t give up. I wanted to show them that when your back’s against the wall, you don’t wave the white flag. That’s when you fight harder.
And what better way to document that, then on live TV?
Undercover Billionaire saw me stripped of my contacts, my name (they had to call me Glenn Bryant to obscure my identity), and every green dollar I’d built up over my lucrative career in the mortgage lending industry. I was never at risk of losing it all. But I was at risk of failing hard in front of a big audience, and most importantly, my kids and family.
How’d that bet pay off?
But just by a little bit. It didn’t matter in the end, though. After 90 days, we got to a company evaluation of $750,000 — just shy of the target million. Part of the bet was that if I came even a penny short, I would put one million dollars of my own money back into the business.
So I did.
The business we ended up building was called Underdog BBQ, and by the end of it, I felt like we’d earned that title. We fought against every setback imaginable, from losing our restaurant lease on the DAY we were planning to move in, to a flip house from hell that saw me sink over ten thousand dollars of startup capital into repairs. It was a frickin journey, I’ll tell you that much.
But in the end, we made a company. And no one — read it: no one — can take that away from us.
And by the time I touched back down in OC, put my suit back on, and hugged my wife Mindy for a long, long time, I knew — deep down in my heart — that I wanted to do it again.
And that was the start of Kind Lending.
A New Kind Of Company
I think a lot of people know that I sold my first mortgage lending business about six or seven years ago. It’s one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life. But even with that chapter behind me, I was always itching to get back to work. To get a goal in front of me and rise to that challenge each and every day of the week.
That itch is part of my DNA. So I just couldn’t ignore it.
But I was stuck in limbo. I was legally obligated NOT to scratch that itch. Why? Because I was in a non-compete. But while all of that was going on, I did Undercover Billionaire, and it was like a light bulb turned on in my head — and it just wasn’t gonna go off.
On the show, we worked our asses off. I built a team around me of passionate, hard working, entrepreneurial minds who were experts in their field, and we kept on showing up every day until we had a business that we could be proud of. Underdog BBQ.
That process really lit a fire in me. It was SO FUN to get all these people together and say, ‘let’s charge this hill’ and then actually go out and DO IT. And by the time that fire was back, a most auspicious event took place…
My non-compete went the way of the dodo.
What happened? My old company had a massive restructuring that, among other things, wiped out the specific piece of legalese that told me I couldn’t build a second mortgage lending business to rival my old one. And with that non-compete in the dust and in my rear-view mirror. I didn’t waste any time.
I got to work.
It was perfect timing. With the success of Undercover Billionaire at my back and the support of my friends and family, I set about building a mortgage lending company that did things differently — and the first step in that enterprise was to find a team that believed that things could (and should) be done differently.
It’s a given that you have to treat your customer with care and respect. They deserve it. But what about your employees? What about the people who are breaking their backs and burning the midnight oil to expertly craft a mortgage lending experience that is truly special? These are people who need to be cared for in JUST the same way the customer is cared for.
Here at Kind Lending, we’re building a movement. We want the people who work for us to feel appreciated. To feel supported. To feel like management has their backs and believes in their ability to succeed and rise to the occasion.
A Kind movement.
The world is in a place where it could use a little more kindness. And these short two years later, we’ve attracted an unrivaled team that believes in our movement. Who know that the mighty dollar is merely second to a much greater currency…
That’s our focus at Kind Lending. That’s the way we do business.
And that’s the way it’ll stay — for many, many, many more years to come.