028 – Neel Dhingra :: Quality Is Not The Variable Of Success

By November 13, 2020December 3rd, 2020No Comments


In a sea of competition, how do you stand out in the mortgage business? In this episode, Brian Covey talks to top producing manager, Neel Dhingra, to share how—by building a winning personal brand and putting out content. Neel has exploded his business through content marketing on multiple platforms and was recently recognized as a 2019 Video Influencer by BombBomb and Tom Ferry. He shares with us how he is producing a large volume of content on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, and how all these platforms work together in getting his name out there. Neel also provides some content strategies and explains why quality is not the variable of success. Join Neel and Brian in this conversation as they bring you more insights and tools you can add to your tool belt.

Connect with Neel:
Instagram – @neelhome
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/neelhomeloans/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/neel-dhingra-86704b22/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMNJCWaF-YBnbHP9ntE4e8g
Website – https://neelhome.com/

Listen to the podcast here:

Neel Dhingra :: Quality Is Not The Variable Of Success

I’m super excited about our guest, Neel Dhingra. This episode is going to be fantastic. We’ve had several great guests you recommended on our show, from Barry Habib, Dave Savage and Steve Sims, which was fantastic. Make sure you go in there, like, subscribe and leave some comments. I love to hear the guests that connected up with you, what messages that you enjoyed, and also as you recommend other guests we should have. Let’s talk about that.

Let’s jump in with Neel. I’ve never met Neel in person. It’s one of those cool things that if you’ve been paying attention in 2020, you’ve been able to connect with people I believe like never before. Neel is a guy that I have watched from afar and connected with, and seen that he’s changing the game. Not only from his marketing and his branding skills that he has, but he’s putting a new spin on what it means to be a mortgage originator and a leader in our space. We all could agree customers shop for their mortgage. They shop for things differently than they did in 2019. Neel has adapted. He’s executing at a high level. He’s somebody I respect in the industry. I was like, “We’ve got to get Neel on here.” I pulled up one of your articles, Neel. You are on Yahoo Finance. That’s not an easy spot to get, but I love as they went through, they were talking about you’re relatable, how you’re connecting with your audience, and some of those stories that I’m sure we’re going to unpack. Welcome to the show.

Thanks, Brian. I appreciate it. I’ve been following your stuff for a while as well. It’s cool to connect with other people who are trying to move the industry forward.

I found in 2020, and this comes up almost on every show, that there are many people that I haven’t met or I’ve met one time or we run in similar circles. I look at it as almost whether you’re trying to acquire customers for your business and you’re trying to connect with them, or you’re trying to make new connections. I believe in this power of association. The people you’re around are going to influence and impact your growth. I try to surround myself with guys like yourself, bring people on the show that I can learn and grow from that I look and go, “If I can learn and grow from you, chances are there are other people,” and just bringing out their inner greatness. I love watching your story. I would love to go back a little bit because I know we see the polished look. You’re in a new office and I’m sure we’ll talk about all that cool stuff we see. The reality is most people may not know your story. How did you get into the business? Where did you start? What does that journey look like to get you to where you are?

I started in the business in about 2002 before the last run-up and crash. I got in right out of college and started doing loans. At that time, it was a refi boom. That’s how I got started in the industry. I started off as a processor in 2002 and started learning from the ground up how to package and present loans. I then got into a junior underwriting position, and then I realize that I want to be on the sales side. I learned loans first and that was by accident, and it grew from there. Me, my brother and one of the partners grew our small mortgage brokerage into a large organization. We had about 30 people working with us in Nevada and multiple offices, then the crash happened.

One by one, all of our programs went away. Everybody quit one by one and we subleased our huge office out. It was me, my brother and one of the staff members in the back. We kept one room, almost like a closet. We worked out of that for probably 2 to 3 years to regroup. At that time, nobody wanted to lend because home values were falling. Nobody wanted to buy it because there was uncertainty with the recession. It was a couple of year period where we regrouped. From that point, every year had been better than the last. We slowly grew, and then about 2018 or late 2018, I started to get burnt out. I was tired of doing the same things and losing to other people who are doing the same thing as me and my market. I fell into the online space. That’s when I started the third facet of my business, which was switching everything from traditional and old-school marketing to online. That’s where it got me to where I’m at now.

I love that journey because a lot of times, we don’t unpack the chapters that lead up to where we are now. For those of us, I was in the business in 2002 and you look back at the rally, the crash, everything that went through. There were days that I was like, “Are we going to have products? Are we’re going to have money?” To your point, home values, foreclosures and short sales, in a way, I had never dealt with many deeds and losing in short sales that then you saw in Nevada. I was in Florida at the time. I’m sure you saw this. It’s like you had homes in new communities, ghost towns. You had several pivots and shifts. You had to realize, “Business is good. Now, business is not good. I’ve got to adapt where the business is going.” Are there any lessons you took from that? I hear this all the time, “The crash in 2020, we’re waiting for that to happen.” What were the big lessons you took through maybe those tough years where we weren’t sure what was going to happen and customers weren’t flocking to us? Many people couldn’t afford to buy and didn’t want to buy because they were scared.

It’s a great lesson to learn because every time something happens, there are certain people who will complain, sit and wait for things to change. Usually, almost always, there’s an opportunity. For example, in the first crisis, the programs went away. You can complain and worry about that or you can think about what programs do we have and what can we sell? I remember at the time, it was government lending and that’s what saved us in 2009, 2010, 2011. It was the FHA mortgage program. Existing FHA borrowers could refinance through a streamlined program because the government had temporarily reduced rates. Also, anybody who wanted to buy government lending saved the housing market at that time. FHA took a huge share of the business.

We focused on where that was at. There was government lending and reverse mortgages. There are ways to prosper even in the worst market in the history of mortgages and housing. There was a way to do well and you just had to find it. It’s no different than once I started seeing that. When I meet with agents, referral partners and builders, everybody’s saying the same thing. We’re all using the same scripts like, “I am the best lender. I have the best products at the best service. My rates are amazing.” I noticed it starting to work less. We’re becoming commoditized. Online is growing and taking more shares. With each quarter that goes by, online was growing. I’m like, “What am I going to do about this?” I then see this white space online of like, “Personal brand, content marketing,” not just running ads but putting out content. I was like, “What’s that all about?” That’s where the huge opportunity exists again.

If you want to remain relevant, you have to do what you have to do. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about that because I’m speaking with a group, this Rise Up Conference. It’s all about how to build a winning personal brand and you’ve done that. It seems like a mystery for some people, but let’s unpack that and talk about that a little bit. When you started, you said you fell into it, which I’m with you. I fell into it. I saw an opportunity. I wish I could be the guy that’s like, “I see this massive opportunity clearly.” I knew I needed to do something different. We get on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and all those things. Ours were more for recruiting at the time. We wanted to scale out our team and we recognized that it wasn’t efficient to fly around everywhere in the country and try to add team members. This remote work from home, little did we know, years later would become a common practice. I’ve noticed, everyone who’s built a personal brand started somewhere. They started to figure it out a little bit. What were some of those moments or a-ha moments for you as you started to recognize the opportunity like, “I need a personal brand out there?” Where did you start at that moment?

I started seeing other guys, not in the mortgage space but in the business community, putting out content and saying, “This is an important thing. You’ve got to be doing this. If you want to remain relevant, you have to do what you have to do.” Finally, he does something that clicked. I was sitting in an airport and I was waiting for a flight. It was a Southwest flight. It was delayed. When there are a couple of delays, the entire terminal fills up with people waiting. I looked around me and every single person around me was sitting with their phone. They all had their screen opened. I glanced at a couple of screens. It was either YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.

Every single person is attached. They’re addicted to this device. They’re on it 24/7. This is where everything is and how can we not be there? For the most part in our industry, other than people promoting themselves, there was no content strategy for real estate agents or mortgage lenders. I was like, “This is a huge thing.” Normally, it’s rare that every time you come up with a cool idea, you find that somebody has already executed it or the opportunity has already passed. You never come across something where it’s like, “I’m a genius. I could take advantage of this.” This is the first time in my life that even in 2020 going into 2021, it is such an untapped market. It’s a complete land grab for anybody who wants to get involved in this. There’s opportunity in this market with a small audience. Every time I post, somebody DMs me with an opportunity. It may not turn into a deal but more often now, it’s turning into a business. Why would you not post? Why would you not create content for these platforms?

The thing is, why would you not? Our town is outside of Nashville and Franklin. There are several hundred thousand people and they’re online. Everyone’s online at this point. You can see how much is happening there, and to be able to show up and be relevant. I love how you talk about that. You observe people on their phones, which people are making decisions on their phones too. Let’s call it what it is in the mortgage space. Rocket has grown quite a bit and you can see their share in a lot of states and MSAs. They happened to be number one. Not just in total business, but even in the purchase.

If consumers are choosing to go with an online lender, why is that? You start to dissect it and you start to realize that frequency and the pattern interrupt of their marketing shows up. I love watching some of your content because you come from a cool value-add educational piece. I love that it’s engaging and it’s you. I know if I bumped into you on the street, it’s going to be the same Neel that I saw on Instagram and your posts. How have you evolved with your content? For all of us, you maybe started somewhere, but I noticed with guys like yourself and some others I follow, your content is also improving. That’s important. Do you have a strategy around that or observations you’ve seen that has caused you to update your content or is that a part of Neel’s journey?

There are two things there. The first thing you talked about was people seeing the shift. It’s important for people in our industry and the real estate industry to not listen to anecdotal advice. Let’s look at the data. The thing is in your brokerage, in your circle of originators or real estate agents, you’ll see people will say, “Online is never going to be a threat to us because it hasn’t affected us. Our numbers are still great.” They will also say, “They’re never going to replace me because of X, Y and Z. I provide great service and all this and stuff.” That may be true but the problem is if you look at a large sample of data, online has continued to take share.

What happens is it’s taking the deal from you and you don’t even know it. People don’t realize it. They don’t know because there are so much businesses and abundance for everyone, so people can ignore it. As soon as markets slow down a little bit, you start to notice, “I’m losing a deal or two here. I’m losing a conversation. I’m losing some of that on the real estate and the mortgage side. What am I going to do about that?” If you look at traffic to sites like Zillow and Quicken’s volume, it has exploded. We can talk all day about how Quicken is a terrible lender. I hear mortgage people talk about this all the time that they’re the worst. You’re getting some guy in the call center, but it doesn’t change the fact that the consumer is choosing them more than they’re choosing us.

BCS 28 | Variable Of Success

Variable Of Success: It’s important for people in the real estate industry not to listen to anecdotal advice. Let’s look at real data.


That may be wrong, but it’s up to us to educate them, “This is the difference between a local expert lender or a local expert realtor versus going to Zillow. Here’s what you get by dealing with someone on the ground with expertise who understands. It’s going to give you a high level of service.” We can’t blame the consumer for choosing when we didn’t do our part. Quicken and Zillow are doing their part. They’re blasting the consumer at scale. We can compete. We just have to tell our story well.

When I first started, I didn’t realize that. I was putting out content. I was trying to compete like they do, creating ads and saying, “I’m the best. We have the best rates and services.” What I found was you can’t compete with a big brand like that if you’re doing ads. We have to look at how are we different than them and then lean into that. How are we different than these big brands? We’re different because you get my expertise, my level of service, my team’s willingness to take care of your transaction, and make it important. If you look at how many deals Quicken is handling, they’re a great company to handle an insane amount of business.

In our office, we may only handle 100 transactions a month. That’s a lot for a mortgage team, but for me and our consumers, every deal gets the same level of care and importance to make sure that it gets done. Make sure that if we hit a roadblock, we’re going to overcome it. I wanted to tell that story more. I started doing that more on Facebook and LinkedIn and a little bit on Instagram. I noticed that it was resonating more, explaining how we’re different. I started to get into more, “Now, I’ve started putting out content, how do I make the content better?” I was like, “Let’s get a better camera. Let’s get a videographer. Let’s get an editor to make it cool and stuff.” I think people want to go to that first when in the beginning, it’s about getting out there. For example, I have an awesome set up in my office with the 4K camera and lighted back on and it looks dope. I logged in and it didn’t work for this setup. I’m on my phone now. That doesn’t stop me from speaking and putting out good content. The quality is not the variable of success.

There's just so much opportunity literally in today's market with a small audience. Click To Tweet

For a lot of us, there is that journey of you want to jump to the best equipment and have the coolest setup and all that. It almost takes you back. I was watching this John Maxwell video and there’s Gary Vaynerchuk from 2017 or 2018. The resounding message was to get great at what you do. You have to be good at what you do because your brand is going to be rebuilt by what people say about you. I love what you said, “We have these 100 customers give or take that we’re taking care of. They’re getting this high level of service. This high-level touch that we can take care of all of them.” You’ve got to be able to back it up. I love that journey that you’re going through.

A lot of people want a brand and say, “I’m the best or compete with the big guys.” A lot of times, people are going to choose you because of you. You gave a real example of, “Now, we’re log in. The camera’s not working. That’s cool, we adapt. We go to a phone.” Are you able to make that shift right away and take care of your customer’s needs? I’ve seen some of your content and I’d love to get your thoughts on this. You changed your message to what made you different. I think this is where people sometimes stumble. In real life, mortgages are somewhat a commodity. We can all price in all these ranges, we have products, they look similar, they close similar and all those things. How did you get clear on what your message would be that made you different? Did you sit around and brainstorm with your team? Did you whiteboard that up? How did you decide that in the process?

I started making lists of things that we do that they don’t do or things that we do different than our competitors, and then create content around those things. I started making lists of things that my clients are asking me on a continual basis or problems I help them overcome. Those are pieces of content. I then started leaning into the number one source of my business, which was builders and referral partners. How can I help them? I got into helping other people within our industry. It started to be other loan officers reaching out and saying, “I like this. Can we jump on a Zoom and help me out?” I was like, “This is probably not the best use of my time but because I’m so into it, let’s jump on a call. Let’s do that.”

That got me into if you like helping other people within the industry, that comes through in what you’re doing, then people will refer to you more. I stumbled into this is fun for me. I like helping people with creating content and different strategies. It’s like a video game for me. We tried this piece of content and it worked. This one didn’t work. Why did it work? It’s because you did this differently here or whatever. It’s figuring out how to beat that game and doing better, and then posting that content and having it work out to business by accident. You’re not posting it to get the business but by posting consistently, people start reaching out. People will probably be skeptical at first, which is in our DNA because we’re told to put out ads and close like, “What are your numbers today? What did you get today?” This is a long-term strategy. It took a while to change your mind to, “This is something I’m going to commit to for the long-term versus the short-term tactics that everyone’s doing in our industry.” That’s exactly why it works.

You’re so far out on. I hope people don’t miss this. If you’re dealing with 100 customers or so at a time, if you’re the loan officer that has ten customers at a time, find the commonalities. What are those problems that you’re solving or the questions that those customers come and ask you? Real estate agents and builders consistently ask you a series of questions. I remember I was going through with one of our team members and they were wanting to start doing some content. I was like, “Let’s talk about that. What are the problems you’re known for solving? Why do people come to you?” They come to Brian for certain things. They come to Neel for certain things. If you start writing that down, you’ll get clarity.

I love how simplified that can be. What are the problems you’re solving? If you’re not solving problems, we need to take a hard look at that because chances are you are. If you’re not solving problems, you’re probably so far out on being a commodity that you’re an order taker. We’ve been seeing that in our industry. I believe in 2020, everybody’s eligible for a refinance. Everybody’s got great rates. Everybody can look like a superhero, but are you solving problems? I love that you said long-term strategy. This for me is the mindset that differentiates the top 1%, top 2%, whatever you want to call it. You have a strategy long-term because we all know 2021 won’t probably look exactly like 2020. It won’t be as easy. There will be a different set of challenges and different things. As you start looking out, your team is having a lot of success now. Are there things where you’re like, “Brian, this is where I see the next blue ocean of where opportunity could be, whether it’s real estate agent, mortgage lender and those things?

BCS 28 | Variable Of Success

Variable Of Success: If you’re not solving problems, you’re probably so far out on being a commodity that you’re an order taker.


There’s a huge opportunity. The only thing that limits me on capturing more of it is time. For example, the two problem that I have to overcome are I need good people to handle more business. Also, I need to keep growing the source of business. I follow where’s my business coming from and keep growing that business that is direct to consumers. That cuts out you being vulnerable to one channel like buying leads from Zillow or one builder that refers to you, then all of a sudden, they have their own lender. We had a big account with a national builder. They came up with their own lender, a JV partner that they partner with and cut us.

You lose an account like that. You can’t be that vulnerable to one source of business. If we can eliminate that middleman and go straight, that’s a huge gain for us. What we’re focusing on now is putting out more content that would help consumers distributing that content. Posting is not going to do it anymore in today’s world because the algorithm is difficult. How do you distribute content? One thing that I do, that a lot of people in our industry don’t, is they’re using third-party services. They’re using shortcuts to send newsletters and emails to clients in their database. We have a database of 10,000 people that we’ve ever done business with. Using that and spamming them every month is making them tune you out versus me sending an email out.

There’s a video I made that’s earned me into multiples of six figures. It was a video that I created that says, “Why the housing market won’t crash.” This was in March. It was me sticking my neck out a little bit. What I was saying was we don’t have enough inventory. The government has reacted quickly versus the last crisis that took them a long time to come up with these programs. They acted fast. It was like money coming out of the sky for a minute. Because of no inventory, housing is going to be elevated because you’re going to be stuck at home. Because the government intervened quickly, we’re going to have 10% unemployment, but for the 90% who are employed, they’re going to be out there transacting.

That video I posted on YouTube was my best video on YouTube. I got a ton of negative comments saying, “How could you talk about this in a pandemic? People are dying and you’re talking about real estate.” What I was trying to say was, “These are the facts. These are the data points. Here’s what’s going to happen.” I sent that video to my entire database. I got a ton of engagement from both real estate agents, past clients and current clients. What happened was that video never says, “Call me or for all your mortgage needs, call 77555.” There are no sales on it. It’s just, “This is the information I want to share with you. Let me know if you have any questions.”

By sharing that video and then following it up with another one and then update it as we got further, people started reaching out. They will DM or call you. They’ll be like, “What do you think about this scenario? I’m thinking about buying a house, what do you think about this?” You elevate yourself above the people. For my market, which was in Northern Nevada, not one person sent that video. I was the only person that sent that video. I was the only one who talked to the camera and said, “Here’s what my thoughts are. Here are the facts.”

Everybody else sent out a spam email with the picture of a cupcake that says, “Happy Birthday.” They know it’s spam. They know that this is a corporate email or happy holidays and all that stuff. It’s great, but now it’s working against you. If somebody is like, “I don’t know how to make a long video like that,” you could take your phone and send out BombBomb messages. I can send a message to Brian saying, “What’s up Brian? I want to wish you a happy birthday,” rather than sending out the spam birthday one. That one is going to result in real relationships. The other one is going to work against you.

It was my wife’s birthday and we were talking about that. I was asking her because I’m curious about learning. She was telling me some of the messages she got from people she hadn’t seen in years. Some of them posted pictures from grade school or middle school. People sent videos. Some of them sent a personalized text. Never once did she say, “I got this list that looks like it was a generic sent from a CRM Happy Birthday, Brian, or Happy Birthday, Nicole,” for her birthday. I thought that’s the consumer. Think about the people around you. If you ask the questions, you’ve done your homework. You did the video and it maybe was a little premature. It sounds like it wasn’t.

You’ve got to strike sometimes and be different. If everybody’s saying the same thing over here, you’re more noise in that funnel and it doesn’t work, but you stepped out. I also noticed when I’ve stepped out on those, it requires me to do my homework, to do my research, to make sure I’m ready because you probably got flooded with calls like, “Neel, why? What’s up with this? Here’s a scenario I have. What do you think about this market? What do you think about that?” I’ve found it required me every time I did that to level back up again. If I’m putting that content out, I better be able to back it up because when I get a phone call, we need to back up with substance.

You have to be good at what you do because your brand is going to be rebuilt by what people say about you. Click To Tweet

This is all meta so we’re on this live. A client of mine that I did a deal a few years ago must have seen it. He texted me and said, “Can you call me when you’re done with the live?” This is an example of people are sitting on this idea or concept of like, “You guys are wasting your time. There’s a lot of business to be closed.” Why not block the time to do some content? It’s only going to take 30 minutes or 40 minutes. What else are you doing? What’s the most efficient way to do the content? Would I rather do the thing, which my original coaching program told me to do, which was getting in the conference room and make your twenty calls, and get eighteen voicemails that nobody’s ever going to listen to? Maybe connect with two people and they’re busy and they’re not catching it at the right time. Should I create some content for them, send it to them, and let them consume it when they have the time? Maybe they miss this one, but they’re going to see the next one. It’s that consistent nature of it and it works.

How crazy is that? I was having this conversation with Steve Sims. He was talking about we’ve got to sharpen our tools, our acts and everything off the battlefield so that we’re ready when we go on the battlefield for things. I’m thinking about that as you’re talking. He gave this great example of he’ll go through his phone and he’ll take people with the name that starts with A. He’ll call those people. That’s one strategy he has, but it’s very personal. What I’ve found with content as you shift, and I’ve seen this with yours, your content can live forever. You post it out there. You can reuse the content. To those of you that are thinking, “Neel and Brian, that’s great. You guys must have all this time in the world.”

No, we don’t. We have the same 24 hours you do, but what I’ve learned on content is the more I put myself out there like this show, I can tell you how many people laughed at me and were hating on it like, “Why are you doing a show? Why are you doing this?” I’m like, “I have a vision for something bigger that’s going to make an impact, bringing guests on and to do this.” There are referrals. They happen as a by-product of this every time. Your content will live forever. Your voicemail can be deleted. It’s a one-time, you’re in and out. Let’s talk about some content strategies. I see you doing content. For those people out there. I’m sure you’ve seen Gary Vee’s piece about reusing and creating multiple contents. You implemented that strategy where you’ve got some videographers. Some people come in and you do some well-produced content. I don’t think it’s over the top of all the crazy stuff we see, but you can reuse that. That’s something people miss out on. To your point earlier, you solve problems. The problem someone has now with you, probably in six months, there’s another group of customers who have the same problem.

For people reading this, I’ve had people hop on and be like, “Only 8 or 10 people saw your live. That’s a big deal.” No, this is going to go on the show. This is going to go on YouTube. Over time, many people will see it. In a world where people are caught up in vanity metrics of, “This video went viral and got one million views.” You don’t need anywhere near that. When somebody watches a piece of content like this or when somebody watches my video about the housing market on 2020 predictions or how to navigate the housing market, if they watch 2 or 3 minutes of that video, that is gold.

That is a deep connection with somebody to sit there and watch. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this. Until I started doing video, I never realized how long one minute was. If you watch somebody talk for a minute and it’s not engaging, you’re off, you click and move on. For someone to sit there and watch long-form content or even 1 or 2 minutes of what you’re saying, that is more valuable than any phone call, voicemail, cold call, email, mailer, anything that you’ e ever done before. Now, you’ve got a deep connection with that person. They trust you and view it at a certain level. I would say to look first at a content strategy. You can do pillar content, which is long-form.

Go through that pillar content. In the midst of this conversation, there’s going to be 30 or 20-second clips where Brian or Neel said something. You cut those clips and those are short clips for social. If somebody wants to watch the full video, they can go to the show or YouTube and watch the whole video. For consumers’ content, I would look at Google Trends. There’s this website called AnswerThePublic.com. If you go to this website it’ll say, “You type in your field.” It could be mortgage or home mortgage. It could be different variations. For real estate, it could be a real estate market. It could be a housing market or different things like that. Let’s use real data. It will show you the terms that consumers are searching for now, the most search terms.

BCS 28 | Variable Of Success

Variable Of Success: If everybody’s saying the same thing over here, you’re just more noise in that funnel and it doesn’t work.


That’s how I got the video for the housing market because as we saw the pandemic on the news, the most searched terms in March were housing bubble 2.0. Is housing going to crash? What’s going to happen to home values? People thought it was going to be like the last recession, but no two recessions are the same. I wanted to put out that content. Look at that and see what people are searching for and then create content around those things. If you put in mortgages, there will probably be 20 or 30 things that real consumers in your market are looking for and they’re Googling this. You don’t have to wonder if this video is going to do well. It’s going to answer the questions that they’re looking for.

What is the website again?

One is Google Trends and the other one is AnswerThePublic.com. You can put in a keyword and it will give you the topics for your video. You could pay for a premium and get even more depth, but these two sites are free. I went there and found free information on creating the video. The crazy thing is this is the stuff that’s all available online. I’m not a genius. I just look at stuff on Google and figure it out on my own. Anyone of us can do it, but no one in my market is doing this because they’re all busy making money. You talked about what we’ve learned from different crises, different market cycles. The one thing I did learn was I’ve been through 2 or 3 of these booms in real estate and then lending. Every time one came up and I got through it in the end, I said, “If that ever happens to me again, I’m going to do it differently.” The next one comes and I would do it the exact same.

What happens is you end the boom period with a little bit more money in the bank, but you’re in the same spot business-wise or even worse because you didn’t nurture any relationships. If you took this time, this boom period that we’ve been given and took some of that time and money and invested it in your content strategy, you’re going to separate when the market slows down a little bit, meaning rates go up a half-point. You’re going to separate from everybody coming out of it because you’re one of the few who invested in marketing when everybody else was invested in short-term making money strategy.

I had a debate with a fellow loan officer in another company. I said, “I think there’s going to be a shift.” In 3 to 5 years, I want us to look back in the people that invest in only Zillow leads or whatever form you’re buying those from. The people that are investing there versus the other camp like you and myself, and some others out there, we’re investing in the relationship game and content building game of, “I’m creating content. I’m spending money to make sure that its quality and upping my game.” Those are going to be the relationships that last because I look at it as very transactional buying a lead. I hope to convert but my content to your point earlier is going to live and have a life of its own and be repurposed.

There are two camps out of this. The ones that figure out I can build something in more of a legacy long-term and those that keep playing the short-term game of as you said, you lost the large builder. They’re only focused on the one in front of them versus this massive opportunity that could exist if they invest. None of this stuff is free, but I would challenge the notion if you’re spending money in other areas like lead gen. Are there other areas that are more fruitful authentic to you? I’m like you, even in recruiting and that space, I didn’t want to sit around and make twenty calls a day. I wanted to connect up with people, engage with them, and find new ways to attract the right people that I wanted on the team. I shifted and went through a period where people laughed and thought it was funny. I was like, “You’ll be laughing when our team continues to grow and we hire the best.”

You’re talking about recruiting. That was one of the problems that I face now. It’s finding good people and running ads doesn’t do it. Spamming people on LinkedIn doesn’t do it. Let me give you a real example of what happened to me. I post videos all the time. I posted them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. The reason I do that is that I’ve got clients everywhere. You don’t know where you’re going to catch somebody. Videos that got little engagement or little views have turned into business because it was catching somebody on a platform that I wouldn’t have ordinarily seen them on. If the video works in one place, more than likely it’ll work in multiple places.

If you like helping other people within the industry, then that comes through what you're doing. Click To Tweet

What happened was one day, I came home from Oregon. Two people had asked me during the week, “Neel, do you guys just do a lot of videos there or do you close any business?” I get this question all the time and let me show people like, “Yes, we do a lot of content, but my primary thing is closing business as you guys do every day. Let me show you my CRM, what we’ve closed to date.” I showed my volume for the year and that we’re crushing it. We’re getting things done. We’re happy about all the families that we helped. On top of that, we also did a lot of content. I didn’t take my eye off the ball. I posted that and I did that at home with my phone at 9:30 at night.

I posted it to Facebook. It didn’t get many views. The next morning at 8:00, I get a text from another person who’s in the industry. She says, “Neel, we need to talk.” I was like, “Okay.” We get on the phone and find out that she’s having a lot of struggles at her organization. She wants to leave. She has a team of operations people with her and that could help as well. She’s here now working in the office two months later. If I didn’t post that video, would I have connected? She said that it was the first video in her feed that morning. They’ve landed there. The algorithm is luck of the drops. If she woke up ten minutes later, maybe I wouldn’t have seen her. It’s the repetition. Post it, share your thoughts, share what you’re doing, share success stories, share business stories, share anything because you never know when you’re going to catch somebody. I didn’t ask for anything in there. All I did was explain things. That strategy is a perfect example of hopefully, I have created a decade-long or more relationship with somebody that started with one video.

That’s a killer. That’s what is happening out there. For all the people that are skeptical or wondering, “Is that happening?” There are many people that we’ve brought on our team especially during this season where we’re not traveling. As a company, we’re not traveling to markets and all that. It’s hard for me. I used to rely on a lot of loan officers that would do the face-to-face coffees with realtors and all. I used to go meet with loan officers and branch managers and teams. Now, I’m on Zoom, but I also realized I had to up my content just like you posted something that would attract the right person to you. We had to get clear on our avatar, who’s the right person, who we’re looking for, and put messages out. You’re casting lines and you’re trying to connect with people the way they want to be connected with. It’s not a call that they have to make a decision with. They can review the content and go, “I like that Neel guy. I could see myself maybe working with him.”

When you get these calls in the middle of your day, you’re in it. You’ve got people, you’re behind on emails, the phone’s ringing, and some guy cuts through on your cell and says, “This is Joe with XYZ lending. I’d love to chat with you about this.” I’m almost a little bit angry. It’s almost like you want to put a no-solicitation sign-on, but instead of cold calling all day, what if that guy took that time and energy? He showed people what it’s like to work, “Do you guys think that’s cool about LoanDepot?” You show people what the culture is like. You show people how you are crushing it. You’re putting up great numbers but at the same time, you value your people. There was a guy in your organization, Chris. He continually posts stuff to the operation staff like, “We couldn’t have done this without our team. I want to thank everybody.”

Maybe those posts don’t engage that much, but I see him, other people see him. That stuff is repeated over and over. You clicked with those people. You’re like, “These guys seem like good guys. They seem like good people. They’re doing good things. I want to work with people like that.” That’s how recruiting should work. Not like the spamming, I get these InMails, you’d probably get them to on LinkedIn and they go straight for the sale. It’s like, “I love your profile.” It’s a spam thing and you just delete it. You don’t even ask, “What are these guys doing?” The few people that do respond, what is the quality of those responses? People need to change that. I’m shocked that people are still using the same tactics from 10, 20, 30 years ago. They haven’t changed at all.

BCS 28 | Variable Of Success

Variable Of Success: We don’t have to wear the same jersey to cheer each other on. Let’s go do the right thing in the industry.


I look at that and it creates more opportunities. If you’re willing to make that change, I know Neel talks about it a lot. I engage with a lot of people offline that don’t work for us. Maybe one day they will, maybe they won’t. I don’t know but we can change the culture. I always look at Dave Savage talk about being a change agent. I want our industry to be viewed as the professionals we are. For people to understand that we care about what we do and the service we provide, and we want to be the best at what we do. Part of that is we’ve got to show up. I can’t thank you enough. I know we could go on and on, but I love how you show up and add value to what you’re doing. I’m a fan and I tell people all the time, we don’t all have to wear the same jersey to cheer each other on. Let’s go do the right thing in the industry because for so long, and still nowadays, we aren’t doing it the way that we believe it should be done in a modern way, and serve and value people. You’re doing that so kudos.

Thanks, Brian. I appreciate it. When you talk about helping other people within the industry, what has it done? What does it do for you? Many times, I’ll reach out to somebody and say, “I filled this processing position. I don’t have a need, but I came across this girl. She’s excellent. Maybe you could use her. Maybe you have an opportunity for it.” I could connect somebody with the right person. How many times people reach out to me who aren’t licensed in our state and they’re a regional lender? They’re like, “Could you take care of this client? I’ve been following you for a while.” We share business back and forth. Maybe I’m not in mid-market that they are. Also, “Let me introduce you to this guy” or “Let me do this.” The real value is in the relationships. As you talked about, Brian, it’s not always about the short-term money game. It’s about the long-term. If people could shift to that long-term mindset, it doesn’t take forever to start paying off. It will start paying in the first 6 to 12 months. Once you get it, you get it. You can’t imagine going back to the short-term tactics anymore. You’re forever changed.

That’s true. That’s a good way to end this, thinking about that long-term structure. You are right. All of us have started somewhere. Once you get that move in and groove in, it’s fun. That’s what we all need. As Simon Sinek says, “Create this world that people show up to work, feel like they’ve contributed and valued. They come home and make a better life for themselves and their families.” We can all do that. Where can people find you on social? You’re out there in a lot of places. Where can they find you and connect up on your journey?

My Instagram handle is @NeelHome. You can reach me there or DM me, anytime I’ll respond. I’m also on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. If you Google me, you should see a full page of content. You’ll find me.

Posting content consistently will have people just start reaching out. Click To Tweet

We’ll make sure you follow along with Neel. Make sure you go check him out. Share it with your friends and those that you think would add value, especially mortgage and real estate, but also any other sales could benefit from this. Make sure you like and subscribe to BrianCovey.com. We’ve had some tremendous guests like Neel that have dropped a ton of value and it’s all free for you. Make sure you go in there. You’ll find some people that you connect up with that your story may align with theirs. Every week we’re trying to bring you something of value so you can connect up with people that are on the same journey as you, and realize their struggles and what they’ve gone through and adversity are probably similar. You can do that. We want to bring out the greatness in all of us and make the world a better place. Neel, thank you for joining. I know we’re going to have you back on soon. Keep crushing it and finish out this crazy 2020 year. I know you are going to finish strong.

Thanks, Brian. I appreciate it.

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About Neel Dhingra

BCS 28 | Variable Of SuccessHe has exploded his business through content marketing on multiple platforms, and was recently recognized as a 2019 Video Influencer by BombBomb and Tom Ferry.

Neel produces a large volume of content on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.  He also produces a podcast, The NeelHome Podcast – which is available on YouTube and all major podcast platforms.

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