Small Shifts That Make a Big Difference - Skip to content

Small Shifts That Make a Big Difference


reverse mortgage newsThe Japanese call it kaizen: gradual, incessant improvement. Minuscule ongoing shifts can add up to a big win, just as a subtle shift in the words we use can affect how we view life. For instance: by moving a single letter, “scared” morphs to “sacred” and “reactive” becomes “creative”. Where we focus is what we “c”!

Dave Brailsford refers to these tiny tweaks as “the aggregation of marginal gains.” That’s a mouthful that means making 1 percent improvements in everything you do for a remarkable “system upgrade”. Brailsford wanted Great Britain to win the Tour de France, something no British cyclist had ever done. He began his unusual team management strategy in 2010. In 2012, the first British cyclist won the Tour de France, a feat another British cyclist repeated the following year. Brailsford’s British cycling team also dominated the 2012 Olympic Games, bringing home 70 percent of the gold medals.

Another uncommon way to subtly shift your game is to partner with your competition. First, of course, you need to shift how you perceive them. Rather than be reactive, get creative. I once belonged to a group called the Independent Communicators Roundtable, comprised of freelance communications professionals like myself. I never expected this gathering to be a business generator. After all, weren’t these people my competitors?

I got more business through this network in my first year than from any other source. One experienced writer/editor was relocating (this was in the pre-virtual work days) and gave me two of her long-term accounts. A man whose business focused on medical clients liked my health care background and brought be aboard as a subcontractor for several of his clients. And all of this was effortless. It just required a perceptual shift, from competition to collaboration.

How can such strategic alliances benefit HECM professionals?

A loan officer might approach a local bank with a collaboration proposal: “We know you support a wide variety of businesses and industries, and it can be challenging to have staff experts in every field. As a reverse mortgage specialist, I can originate the loan, provide superior customer service, and support your customers every step of the way, making for a mutually beneficial relationship.”


  • Banks that partner with a reverse mortgage lender keep that business with the bank: there is no need for the reverse mortgage customer to seek the loan from another community bank or credit union. It keeps the connection between the depositor (borrower) and bank intact.
  • This pairing can be a godsend for a smaller bank that has tried unsuccessfully to sell reverse mortgages. If their staff is not fully versed in HECM loans they could actually end up frustrating the borrower with lengthy closing times, inaccurate information, etc.
  • Loan officers seeking such a partnership should aim high. Bank branch managers can assist you in setting up a meeting with the bank’s CEO (if regional), or a VP suited to making this kind of decision.
  • LOs who serve bank customers must have excellent customer service skills and keep borrowers informed each step of the way. Arrange to have a central contact at the bank to whom you provide loan status updates.

Finally, know where you’re headed, then free yourself from perfection by delegating rather than micromanaging. One seasoned LO affirms, “Setting achievable goals with definite/measurable steps is a must if you intend to reach them. In other words: if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? We each set some goals for ourselves regardless of our age. It is our priorities and capabilities that change over time.”

  • Set goals
  • Aim for tiny incessant improvements
  • Collaborate rather than compete
  • Lead by letting others help you.

This is the path to the winner’s circle.

Remember: 50-50 is a tie; one percent more is a majority.


Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
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