The End and the Beginning

A few months ago my ole Bosses went to some fancy conference in which they learned insider secrets on how to be the best mortgage bankers in all the land. It sounded pretty lame to me. But apparently something happened there, and somewhere between Dallas and Houston on the ride back from the conference, one of them had an idea. Within four minutes of arriving home in Houston and kissing their wives and putting their suitcases away, each Boss had called me with the idea.

“Hey! Let’s have a Save the Blog party!”

“Save the blog?” I asked, holding the phone with my shoulder and stroking my fine cat Harold. “Why does my blog need saving? I’ve got like a good ten readers, at least.”

“If you can’t get fifty people to show up at a Save the Blog party, we’re going to take the blog down! It’ll be awesome!”

I stopped petting the cat. “What? Why is this awesome? Y’all want to take me down?”

“It’ll be great!” they chimed.

So the good news is, dear readers, they are throwing me a party. The bad news is they don’t think y’all will come, and the worst news is they think it will be such a hoot to shut me down if y’all don’t show up.

Readers of America, help me out! Come to the Save the Blog party the evening of June 13th! Save Just the Assistant!

More details to come…

In the meantime, please read my interview with the founder of Envoy Mortgage, David Zugheri. I know, you’re thinking it will be lame. It’s not though. David is a funny guy and even hugged me after the interview (probably so I wouldn’t write awful things about him). Read on!

Why Aren’t You the CEO?

An interview with Envoy Mortgage founder, David Zugheri

Just the Assistant: First things first, David. If you were going to hire someone to go on Envoy Mortgage’s Circle of Excellence trips as the official blogger, who do you think would be the best person for that job?

And if you need help, here are some good articles that a lot of people in the industry are reading that discuss this very topic:

Purdy Please

The String Puller

Water Cooler Moments

David Zugheri: Probably James Beaver. James knows his stuff.

[JTA note: James Beaver is my boss. James Beaver will NOT be the blogger.]

JTA (glaring): James isn’t available. Let’s move on because you clearly aren’t cooperating here. What made you decide to start a mortgage bank?

DZ: I was passed over for a position in my former company in 1997 and I felt stuck. And the only way to unstuck yourself is to go out and grab life by the horns. At the same time, Dana was getting shot down by another mortgage company.

[Just the Assistant Note: Dana Gompers is the other founder. I have not interviewed him but once I saw him at Memorial Park and introduced myself. My husband was with me and wearing short shorts, so it was a little awkward.]

There were a lot of people we looked up to in the industry, and we thought, they don’t know much more than what we know. But we had more desire than they did. Both of our former companies told us, “If things don’t work out you can come back,” and that motivated us. We also wanted more control over the process.

JTA: Okay, so I don’t understand, if you started this company, why aren’t you the CEO? If I started a company I would totally be the CEO.

DZ: Our company had reached 350 employees in 13 states. It was the responsible thing to do to bring Rick [Thompson] in to add structure. It’s like this: you can be a great hair dresser, but that doesn’t mean you’d be great at running a salon. You could be a great mortgage banker, the best mortgage banker there is, but that doesn’t mean you’d be a good branch manager or regional manager.

JTA: So your company was growing like crazy?

DZ: Yes. When the financial meltdown happened in 2008, we saw that as opportunity. We started growing so fast that we needed help.

JTA: What do you do when people don’t do what you say? Do you fire them?

DZ: I just talk to people. I say, “Hey, I would do that, so why shouldn’t you?” I always lead by example.

JTA: If I had your power I would just fire them.

DZ: You wouldn’t talk to them? I think you’d talk to them first.

JTA: No, I’d totally just fire them. So listen, why do you have that big glass wall in the foyer of the corporate office? That’s so weird. Why did you do that?

DZ: We thought it conveyed transparency.

JTA: But it’s so awkward because this one time I came to corporate and all these world leaders were sitting in there in a meeting and I felt so self conscious in the foyer, like I should be sitting up straight, but not too strait.

DZ: Well it’s also fun when we have parties. Some people can hang out in the foyer and some people can be in the conference room but you still feel like you’re all together.

JTA: Hey, that sounds fun! When’s the next party, hmm?

DZ: Uh, ah…in four and a half years when we celebrate our 20th anniversary.

JTA: You’re a really powerful man, so I’m wondering, what does your house look like? I imagine your house all white. Is it all sleek and minimalist with big black gates at the front and guards? Are the guards armed?

DZ (rubbing his face in agony): First of all, I don’t even have a house. My kids have a house. It’s their house.

JTA: Ha! Do you make them pay your mortgage?

DZ: No, but I should. My house is not white. It’s, it’s, there are so many toys. So many toys… They stick their drawings on the walls, and the toys…

[JTA Note: He then showed me a picture of his son in a playroom. Did you ever see that movie Escape to Witch Mountain? Remember all the toys? It was like that. Or like on Big when he buys all those toys. I didn’t post the picture here because I figured somehow I could get sued, but you get the idea.]

JTA: Do you dream about mortgages?

DZ: Absolutely. Well, mortgage stuff, business dreams.

JTA: I’m really sorry about that. You should try it out here at the bottom because I just get to dream about flying and my pets talking and stuff. Okay, finally, is there anything you want my readers know?

DZ: Yes. They are in on something that is going to be big. Just the Assistant is going to be huge. Rush Limbaugh started somewhere. You’re going to be big like him. You’ll have your own radio show.

JTA:  Actually, I won’t. The ole Bosses are threatening to take me down. Well, thanks for your time, David! It’s been a hoot. Now go answer all those phone calls!

David Zugheri

I Said a Sentence on the Radio

Street Talk Live Funny

I talked on the radio. I talked on AM radio on a finance show called Street Talk Live. (Read here to find out how this came about.)

I got there fifty-five minutes early because I was so panicked about being late. I do that a lot if I’m nervous about an event. Once, in college, I showed up so early for an exam that the building wasn’t even open and there were still homeless people asleep in the parking garage stairwells.

I passed the time by practicing what I’d say if they let me talk on the radio. I called my husband and was like, “Okay, how’s this? ‘I’m Christina Ledbetter and I write a blog called Just the Assistant dot com.’” That’s really all I had. My husband said it was great. For the rest of the time I tuned in to 700 AM to prepare for my big break. It was a different show than the one I’d be sitting in on. Mostly, I heard people call in and complain about the government, and then the host would make a joke and the caller would laugh and say he hates liberals.

Finally, it was time to go in. David Zugheri (the founder of Envoy Mortgage), sat waiting in the lobby. Dude was so intimidating. I’m kidding. I seriously thought he was going to hug me when we met. He kind of did a start toward one but I stuck out my hand to show that I’m super professional (and I didn’t want to mistakenly start to hug him back and realize he wasn’t going to hug me after all). Then we sat down and I grilled him with my Just the Assistant interview tactics. More on that later this week (I know, you’re dying; just hold your horses).

Ten minutes later one of the radio guys came out. His name is Lance and I think he does important stuff with other people’s money. He was really friendly. I thought it would be a huge deal that I was showing up for this radio show but David was all, “This is Christina and she’s going to sit in on the show today,” and everybody else was all, “Cool!” I thought they’d have to background check me or something.

The next thing I knew, they’re all, “Okay, we’ve got about four minutes until we’re on,” and we all rush into this fancy radio room with microphones and buttons and gadgets and screens and the radio producer has me sit down at a mic and asks, “So are you going to be talking? What are we doing here?”

I literally go, “I was invited to just sit in a chair.” Then I started to sweat. After that, this other man comes in and hands me a set of earphones and they’re all like, “We’re live!” and telling callers the number to call.

This is the hosts telling the callers that they have to pay taxes.

These are the hosts telling the callers that they have to pay taxes.

Oh my gosh, they’re live. I’m breathing on the radio. Can they hear me breathing? IPO price – something per share. Gold prices down. Tesla a good car? What the heck are we talking about? Oh no – my stomach just made a noise. Do I have to toot? Please say I don’t have to toot.

And then they introduced me. And I said a sentence! I said, “That’s right.” I was so excited I texted my husband.

Radio

This is it. This is when I go viral. While the host and David tried to calm a caller who wanted to know if he could stop paying taxes, I wondered about my blog stats. The host had said the name of my blog like three times. I’m telling you, this is how people go viral. I decided to do a quick check. It looked something like this:

Viral

The single hit was from the radio host clicking on my blog so he could read from it. I guess I’ll go viral later this week.

Alright folk(s), stay tuned Thursday to read my interview with the founder of Envoy Mortgage. I promise it won’t be lame (my first question was whether he’s going to let me go on our company’s Circle of Excellence trip next year).

Also, my ole Boss Chad Helmcamp is trying to hijack my blog again. You know what I need to do? I need to give him his own blog so he’ll leave mine alone. Until then, keep reading here (and subscribe on the right if you so fancy). Off to see if NPR needs any help.

Street Talk Live Guest