The Power of a Fresh Start

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some truly inspiring, talented, and driven professionals, both within my company and without. Now, with my new opportunity at Paramount Bank, I have the chance to create an environment that will attract those same kinds of people, and build a one-of-a-kind team driven by intrinsic motivations toward personal and professional success.

Starting somewhere new means  I can unleash my enthusiasm for the work I love, the freedom to take ownership of the market I understand, and I can use my experience within the industry and the military in ways that have not been done before. 

At Paramount, we’re finding and hiring the best industry veterans who have something to prove in order to be the most powerful company redefining the mortgage experience. We’re preparing for a successful future that includes taking advantage of the changes that will come to the mortgage world.

There a number of reasons that I believe building something, especially your team, from the ground up is better. Here are just a couple:

1. You avoid long-standing traditions and behaviors.
Any team, no matter how talented or experienced, is going to develop its own traditions, informal hierarchy, and behaviors outside of the written rules and guidelines. This is human, and (most times) it helps the team function more efficiently. However, when someone tries to join the team, or lead it, and change these deep-rooted traditions, they are met with resistance and sub-par performance. Every team, no matter how experienced, will have a hard time changing behavior that has been “the norm” for so long. When a new leader tries to go to battle with years of habitual behavior, the latter always wins. By creating your new team, everyone is coming from different backgrounds, and they have the opportunity to create new traditions, habits, and informal rules.

What is an example of a new tradition a team can create? It can be anything from midday informal firesides to a book club to a monthly philanthropy day. The important thing is that they are created by the team members themselves, which build their cohesion and professional fulfillment

Hiring is the most expensive decision you can make, not because of overhead but because of the human capital required to get the new folks up to speed.. If you hire correctly, you will find intelligent people who are able to know what is required of them in the job, and what behaviors to leave behind. There is no battle with old tradition, which leaves more time to focus on strategy and innovation.

2. Teamwork needs to go both ways for it to be effective.
When a leader joins an organization, a lot of time is spent getting familiar with the company; the books, the mission, the vision, and so on. It’s usually not until some time later that they can actually get started on making changes or taking the team in a new direction.

As a leader, when you see opportunities you usually need to reset the structure of your organization in order to properly act. But by forming a team from the ground up you can set the structure that best suits your strategy. Now, I can bring in people that are OK with ambiguity, ambition, and a changing environment. They are willing and eager to jump into the unknown along with me.

They are a perfect fit for the structure, and we don’t have to worry about building a structure around existing positions. This way, team members know that they are essential to the success of the organization, and not just there to fill diversity quotas, or to keep a department happy with a high headcount.

When you form a new team, there is no stopping the train to wait for you to get on then trying to pick up speed again. Instead, the team members jump on the speeding train already in motion and make it go faster. There is a vision in place and there is no problem with team members conflicted about being loyal to the former leader, you’re not changing something they love. The people are joining your team because they’re already prepared to love what you love, to work on your vision, and go where you lead. If you’re working the other way around, then good luck getting anywhere fast.

3. Fresh starts mean fresh ideas, not a new chance to try old ones.
The longer a team works together, the more ideas they’re going to try, and even more ideas are going to be turned down, thrown in the garbage, or dismissed. When a new leader takes over a team, the members of that team are going to see it as an opportunity to resurrect their old ideas and try them out on you. What does this mean? It means no matter how hard they work or creative they are you’re now working with someone that isn’t looking forward, but looking back. They’re trying to prove to themselves that their ideas were good, when they were told they weren’t. A new leader of an old team is going to spend a lot of time hearing old ideas, bad ideas, and once-rejected ideas from team members that won’t let them die. This is not a good way to start a new relationship. Either you will end up implementing bad ideas that were rejected for a reason, or the team member’s first interaction with you will be a negative one. Avoid this situation by creating your own team.

4. The employee impact is real.
When building a new team, employees feel their impact when they come in on the ground level. The atmosphere of a new team is naturally more collaborative. The first people on the team help you build the rest of it, they feel their influence in the structure and the direction of the company. This builds trust, loyalty, and pride in the work they do because they want to see something they helped create be successful. They had a hand in it’s birth and they know it’s going the right direction because they helped steer it that way.

In my first 60 days at Paramount Bank, we have been working at high speeds to create the best possible team for us, and for our customers. We hired 10 military veterans, including: a Command Sergeant Major who spent six years as a leader in Fannie Mae, a Chief Marketing Officer from another midwestern competitor, a former head of credit risk, a National Sales Director for another midwest competitor, and many, many other industry veterans (in more ways than one) whose backgrounds and expertise are thorough and impressive.

We are lucky to have found them. And we were bold enough to go after them.

This opportunity to build a new team from the ground up is one that I am excited to tackle. We are building a one-of-a-kind team driven by intrinsic motivations toward personal and professional success. This is the team of the future: a team of community-first individuals who work for something greater than themselves. When we get to create a team the way we want, and get to pick the individuals we want for that team, no challenge from the industry or our competitors can stand in our way. There is no replacement for culture and a powerful vision. That’s what we look for and that’s what we are creating here at Paramount Bank.