Right Attitude To Succeed

Steve Jacobson talks about letting peace be your referee. As founder and CEO of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, Steve Jacobson oversees and directs all business operations for the company’s full-service mortgage lending operation. Steve founded Fairway in April of 1996, and within five years, he grew the company to achieve over $1 billion in closed annual loans.

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Steve Jacobson – Fairway Mortgage

We are here with the CEO of Fairway Mortgage, Mr. Steve Jacobson. Steve, welcome to the show.

Thank you, coach. Let’s roll and get started.

How I want to start this, you’ve heard what we’re trying to do here. We have a lot of people tuning in. Our people are affectionately called the GAPers. What we like to do is talk with people who have influence and accomplished some amazing things, which certainly you have. I would like to know first from you. Tell me your definition of attitude and what attitude means to you. When you’re looking at hiring and interacting with people, what is it about their attitude that you’re looking for?

It’s always about their paths, what they’ve been through and their disciplines. We all in life face stuff that affects and influences us as good or bad. For me, personally, it’s always interesting to listen to what their path has been like, what successes and what failures. You say, “What’s success or failure?” It’s like, “Tell me about yourself. What’s your life story?” Whether it’d be athletics, academics or whatever it is for them, there are disciplines and consistencies they have to go through to challenge themselves to get better. First off, I listen to their history. You want somebody that’s disciplined and overcomes the stuff that happens to all of us. A lot of it is listening and asking questions.

What we always like to do is understand your past when you first got into this crazy business called the mortgage business. From what I understand, you are doing $6 billion or $7 billion in loans. To be a CEO and a leader of a company that large, it may be more, what was it like for you to bridge the gap from when you walked into this thing called the mortgage businesses as an individual LO to where you are now? What are some of the attitudes you’ve learned? What I would be interested in is take us back to what your mindset was when you walked into this business.

I started in 1984. In 2020, as a company, we did over $39 billion. We try to stay under the radar. It’s not about what we’ve done. It’s what we’re trying to do. My background was athletics. I was on the basketball team at the University of Wisconsin. I don’t like talking about myself. It doesn’t matter but you’re asking so I’ll share. I went from being the leading scorer in the state in my senior high school, only losing one game to being a walk-on in Wisconsin.

In my first year, I played JV. I was seventeen years old. In the three years that I was on varsity, I was named captain in my senior. It was All-Big Ten Academic but I only scored fourteen points in those three years. I was completely embarrassed. I moved from Madison to Arizona to never come back to Wisconsin for anything. I was that short, little white dude. Everybody was like, “Look at that cute, little white dude.” I didn’t want any part of that. I never go back to Wisconsin unless I visit.

Going back to 1984, I liked the mortgage business right from the start. I didn’t know what it was at all but I liked the fact that there was pressure. There were people like yourself as a realtor that you like us one day and won’t like us the next day. If the docs or the money is not in the title company, we’re called idiots. There’s always this pressure to help people and it’s a big deal. For consumers, buying and selling homes is a big deal.

Personally, the two things that I like was an entrance or a reward system of feeling good about helping somebody with something that was important. That’s number one. Number two is going to sound crazy, I liked the pressure. If you don’t do it well, you got Glenn Bill who has a voice. They’re going to tell everybody and their mother that we suck. There’s a discipline here. You better be good every day. If you’re not good every day, you better go home. That was years ago. I was at that place for twelve and a half years and started Fairway in April 1996.

Head back to the basketball piece of it. Who was your coach at Wisconsin? I’m curious.

The reason I went to school, there was a guy by the name of Bo Ryan. Bo Ryan was an assistant coach when I was in high school. There was a guy in Wisconsin by the name of Bill Cofield. I say this respectfully because this will give you a sense. He was the first Black coach in The Big Ten. In seven years at Wisconsin, he had two white guards. I was totally a white dude. All my buddies were brothers.

Let's keep playing because there are seasons in life. Click To Tweet

Growing up in a little town in Wisconsin, I never met a Black person in my life. I come into college and I’m like the minority. I had to hang with the brothers. The first thing they do is, “Jacob, you don’t go with us dressed like that.” I’ll tell a story about this that you’ll like as far as attitude. That was a whole culture shift for me but there was a lot of good with that. I learned a lot from experience.

Have you ever seen a shot that you didn’t like?

Never. You’ve got to keep firing, roll and let it go.

To be a Division 1 player, you had a whole bunch of coaches growing up. Talk to me about besides Bo Ryan, when you think about your grade school or high school as a young kid, what coach impressed the thought of attitude? Who was the first coach that inspired and encouraged you? What was the first lesson on the encouragement that you garnered as a young person? Do you remember that?

I was fortunate to have a good high school football coach and basketball coach. Both those coaches were very encouraging. You know this because you’re a coach. As a player, what you want more than anything is to know the coach believes in you and encourages you. As a player, both of those coaches, I knew they were on my side. That was always a discipline for me because you can play free if you know the coach believes in you. You’re going to miss shots and tackles. You’re going to have stuff that happens but if you know the coach believes in you, it makes playing that much better.

When we got to college, there were 8 or 9 guys while I was at Wisconsin that played in the NBA. I can name names and there are people that you’ve probably heard of. We had talent but we never won and there are reasons for that. It was about attitude. This is not anything exciting to share. My senior year as a co-captain was the first year in Wisconsin’s history where we lost over twenty games. We still talk about that stuff as players as to why that happened because there are guys in those teams that played in the NBA for ten-plus years. It’s like, “What happened?”

I’m sure you’ve pondered that. There are lessons to be learned and growth to be gained from why that did happen. What are some of those reasons? You said it could have been about attitude. What comes to your mind when you discuss that with your former players? What was the attitude that was there that shouldn’t have been there or that should have been there that wasn’t there?

If you get yelled at and get confronted in front of teammates and you know the coach doesn’t believe in you, this is across the board, it affects a person’s attitude. A coach has to be encouraging. There’s tough love. We get all that. The teammates have to know you’re behind them and it’s important. There are disciplines. There’s still something that resonates with me. I’ll share a little story with you in college that we still talk about.

There’s a guy that played in the NBA for ten years. His name was Wesley Matthews. His son is playing for Milwaukee Bucks. Wes Matthews played for the Lakers. He was a backup point guard to Magic Johnson. If you google Magic’s sophomore year when Michigan State won the national championship, the last loss they had that year was to Wisconsin. This dude was so freaking quick. You said, “How quick was he?” We played full-court man-to-man. Long story short, I’m a short little white dude here. There’s no way. I can’t guard him. It’s done. Get your head out of your backside.

Coach Ryan said something that stopped the practice one day that I’ll never forget and we still talk about it, “Precious present.” If you miss a shot and you start pouting, you’ll miss the next one. If you make a shot and think it’s a big deal, the person will pass you. You better play every second really good. That’s an attitude shift. If you missed a shot, let it go. If you make a shot in a way and the feeling is cool and you got that sense, let that go too. Keep playing every play.

We talked about discipline. The precious present also means everything passes. In life, we all have our stuff but we know it didn’t come to stay. It came to pass. There’s a discipline there because you see people getting ruts. It’s like, “Keep playing because there are seasons in life.” There are plays that if you pout, you know what’s going to happen in the next play. I’ll never forget the coach stopping a practice in my sophomore year and going crazy on the precious present thing. On the precious present thing, we talked about it at a golf thing. In 2020, Bo came to one of our golf things and we talked about that. This is forty years later, which is pretty cool.

I coached high school football. GAPers, this is such a huge lesson about the precious present. Our word was always next. Every time our defense was in the huddle, we would always start the huddle by saying next. We always asked our players, “What’s the most important play in a football game or a basketball game?” I do this for every team I coach. When I coach my kids, they go, “The last play, the first play, the one before.” I said, “The most important play is the next play. That’s it.” That’s what you were saying.

For those people that are reading, what is your next play? Are you living in the precious present? Are you always looking at the next play or the next call? It may be the next hour in your life or the next day. It’s excellent advice and good stuff. Steve, I know you network with some very high-level people. I would love to know who sticks out to you, who moves you, and who has either shaken or woke up your attitude that you said, “That is some unbelievable stuff.” Share with me 1 or 2 stories if you could on that.

We all have mentors. We have people we look to and watch. I’ve learned over the years that mentors are people you never have to have met for them to be a mentor to you. One of the main people for me personally is John Wooden. John Wooden is a coach and I know you know his story. He won all those National Championships at UCLA. He had many books written. Unfortunately, he passed a few years ago.

It’s the discipline, consistency, work ethic, and taking care of all the stuff that you can control because there are so many things you can’t control. Make sure you have disciplines, consistencies and systems for the stuff you can control. For the stuff you can’t control, if you have the right disciplines and consistencies, those things should not influence stuff to get done.

For example, take it into the business where I’m in, the mortgage space. If we’ve got a closing on Friday, you want your docs on Tuesday or Wednesday. That’s the way it goes. You don’t care about the stuff. I could do a loan for some dude in three seconds walking into closing and there’s no money there. He said, “Where’s the money? You’re an idiot.” I said, “I did the loan in three seconds.” He said, “Who cares?” You better have the discipline and consistency to get the money at closing.

That may sound a little bit simplistic but it’s a discipline that’s always there because there’s stuff that’s going to happen every day. You better be able to turn it fast. Coach Wooden was that way. He was very systematic about his disciplines. To me, as an athlete or a business person, you want to know, “What are your disciplines? What are your consistencies? What are the things you do all the time no matter what?”

You have to have space in those disciplines for adjustments. You can’t hold too tight to your disciplines. You may make an adjustment now, but if you have certain consistencies, adjustments aren’t that hard to make because you’re open and ready for it, “Let’s go and play.” You can have a practice and have all these things play out but when the game starts, nothing is the same.

Peace has got to be your umpire. Click To Tweet

The ability to adjust in life and business is extremely key. I always equate it to and you know this as well. When you watch basketball games, you can tell who is getting the good coaching. It’s the team that wins the third quarter. Undoubtedly, you can tell who is making adjustments at halftime. I always say that in the business world, “Who is making adjustments every quarter, every week or every month?” John Wooden is certainly a good Indiana boy, which brings me to Bob Knight. I’m guessing that when you played, Bob Knight was coaching at Indiana.

He was. I was that little kid that after every game, I would go shake his hand like a little kid that you would expect. I was in Wisconsin when Bob Knight was in Indiana.

The reason I bring it up is especially later in his career, watching Indiana basketball yearly growing up, you talked about players who were nervous to make a mistake and do the wrong thing. When they were shooting, they were rickety. That had to do with how Bob maybe treated his players. I don’t know if you had any feedback or thoughts if you saw or witnessed that. They looked terrified when they played for him.

Everybody has got a style and way. As an athlete or as a teammate, I want to be able to play free. I’m not good in that kind of structure personally. My high school basketball coach, when he passed away, I was honored to do his eulogy. I said, “I’m not doing it.” He goes, “Yes, you are, Little.” That’s what he used to call me. He put it in writing so there was no choice. It’s not like when somebody passes, you want to raise your hand and say, “I’ll do the eulogy,” because those are never fun to do.

You build relationships with people that you trust. That trust in relationships is at the corner of any company as you peel it back that does anything positive. It’s about those consistencies of the relationships that are built on trust because you’re going to have issues, adversity and stuff that don’t go right. It’s not about, “Everybody is great when everything is going well.” The question is, “What happens when the stuff hits the fan? How do you react to it and play through it?”

One of the things, when we talk about relationships, is your company has over 7,000 people that you’re at the helm of. As a leader, how do you try to touch all 7,000 of those people? What’s the leadership and/or relationship lesson of leading something like that?

People always want to know what’s next. In this world, the patience level is not very good. You’ve got to keep creating opportunities for people to grow. “Let’s play, let’s grow, let’s do this.” It’s not like growth is so whatever. It’s the opportunity to grow. It’s, “What’s next?” It’s challenging people to be the best version of themselves. As far as the relationship part, there was a whole bunch of people in a group with our team that we didn’t make a decision as we vet it through that group. That group has people that are on the street, people that you know at Fairway.

If I make a decision, who cares what I think? An influence isn’t about one person. It’s about a team concept. There are consistencies and disciplines that I personally do every day to hopefully stay connected to the network. As soon as that has been done, it’s old news. It’s, “What’s the next play?” It’s like you said, “Precious present. You better be great today.” We talk about everyday being a game day. When somebody says, “You guys had a great year last year,” what I think is, “Who cares? It’s old news. It doesn’t matter.” The number may be okay to share. That’s fine if that will help somebody validate whatever yes or no. As far as to talk about it, there’s nothing to talk about. Let’s go.

When we go from leading 7,000 people, I would like you to lead one person. There’s somebody out there that may be facing a time of extreme challenge or major decision-making. What I would like to know is in times of great decision-making, stress and pressure, what are your process and attitude? What can you give the one GAPer that’s out there that’s going, “I can’t figure this out. I know there’s more in me. I know there’s more to what I’m doing. I know that I’m not living to my potential. Maybe I’m in the wrong job. I’m not sure what it is?” What’s your advice to that person to turn it all around?

We all know there are disciplines. There’s your faith, family and occupation. One and two are personal. Not everybody is going to have faith in whatever but either way, whatever somebody believes, you’re still going to have people you connect with. There has got to be a core group of people that you ask opinions to. When somebody is pressuring somebody for a quick decision, that’s exactly the time to pause.

The whole analogy is, “Make peace be your empire.” If you don’t have peace about something, don’t do it. If you’re grappling with something, that’s the answer to maybe pause. You can go get 2 to 3 perspectives and opinions. Your whole view of whatever happens can change. If people are going through struggles, and this is the same when I’m talking to myself, I personally say, “Peace has got to be your empire.” If you don’t have peace about something, then it’s probably not right no matter what somebody is forcing you to do.

As a listener, there are two things we got to do. We got to hear what people say. We may have to repeat back, “Are you sure? Am I understanding you correctly?” If you ask the question back, they tell you whatever it is. That’s number one as a listener. Number two as a listener, we have the opportunity to answer when it makes sense for us. We don’t have to do it right here. We don’t have to do it. Say, “Wait a second. I want to think through that. I want to spend some time visiting with people, praying about that or whatever it is for that person.” Make peace be your empire.

The theme of our show is to do more than you’re paid for. I like to touch on that quickly. This will be a nice segue into Fairway Cares and the American Warrior Initiative. Before we jump into that, when you think about doing more than you’re paid for, was there a time in your career that you got that message where you actually did it or where you’ve witnessed it and you said, “That’s the definition of value. I got to do something for my customer on behalf of my customer before I even ask them for business?” Talk to us a little bit about any story or message that you have on that one.

When you’re a walk-on in a Division 1 basketball team and you go through the practices that are two and a half hours every day for whatever, it’s like a crucible you go through that you know nothing is going to be easy. As long as you face that thing, you may have to work a little bit longer and grind a little bit more because nothing that anybody has done, if you listen to the story, is easy. Knowing that it’s going to be a grind is part of the discipline. When somebody says, “I’m going to work until this,” you just listen to how people have done or how has that worked out for you.

As a realtor, as good as you were as an agent, I’m sure you outwork people. If you’re doing the units that you and I used to talk about, there was a window. I don’t know what that window was but there were opportunities you took up that you wouldn’t even step into. Even that was a discipline that if you wanted to do the units, affect the families and do what you had to do, that was part of your discipline. If you shared the story with me, I might say, “That sounds hard.” You would say, “If I’m going to play, I got to play. If you’re going to be all in, let’s go.”

The funny and sick thing about it is I still do those types of units but I have people helping me for sure. Like you do, I love the grind. To me, life every day is a game. When we talked about doing more than you’re paid for it, I want to mention the incredible contribution that you do with Fairway Cares. I read that you did right around $900,000 that your people gave back to Fairway Cares. I want to know, how did that start? We interviewed Sean Parnell on the show too. He was off the chain crazy good. Talk to us a little bit about both of those initiatives and the thought of giving back, how that can heal possibly somebody that’s reading, and what it has done for you and others that you’ve worked with.

It’s like that whole analogy, “Make your plans but God has the last word.” Fairway started in 1996. The minute after it was started in Texas, my dad got sick. I got a phone call and thought, “That’s great.” I didn’t know what he had but long story short, he had an operation on Christmas Day ’96. Twenty-six months later, he passed at age 60 but he never made it home after the operation. For 26 months, he was either in a hospital or nursing home. He never talked, walked and controlled bowel movements. He had a tray and feeding tube.

Nothing anybody’s done is easy. Click To Tweet

Long story short, he died a horrific death. You say, “Why are you sharing that?” It’s not what you get. It’s what you give. That death taught me so much. The whole Fairway giving culture, I know what that did to me as a person. It took me years to get over that. The whole Fairway Cares thing is when anybody is going through something that’s whatever. That whatever can be those unexpected things in life that change on a dime. We give and do stuff. We have a house that’s 14,000 square feet that we bought that people go to get better. If you saw that 14,000 square foot house on 250 acres, you would say, “Are you kidding me?”

On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 12. People go there. We’ve had as many as 35 people there on the weekend with family. They go to heal to get better. The discipline of Fairway Cares and AWI, which is a veteran deal of giving back, is the whole crux of Fairway. In Fairway, every person I’ve met goes back to my dad in him getting sick because I would never have come to Wisconsin if it hadn’t been for my father becoming sick. I was in Texas. I’ve been in Arizona. I drive through Madison during holidays and that was about it. To me, it’s about giving first. If you give, you get. It’s all about everybody else and impacting their lives. That’s the basis of those two initiatives.

It’s an incredible legacy to leave to your father. What was his name?

Big Daddy Schwartz is what I called him since about age five. He used to call me. “What’s up, Big Daddy Schwartz?” He said, “Why don’t you just call me dad?” “I don’t know. I’ll just call you Big Daddy Schwartz.” His name was Darrell Jacobson.

Did you have brothers and sisters? I know you have a sister, I remember.

I’ve got a younger sister but that’s it. My dad and I were extremely close.

Aren’t you an uncle to some nephews and nieces of your sister?

My sister has got three kids. Dylan and Amy worked in the company. Sherri is the CEO of Fairway Cares. She is doing a phenomenal job.

Let’s go ahead and play Knowledge through the Decades. Knowledge through the Decades takes our guests through their life. What I want you to help me with is to go back to the day you were born. It’s amazing. Some people tell me they believe they remember the day they were born. I would like to know the attitude lesson about birth. Maybe it’s about those nephews and nieces when they came in. What’s the attitude lesson about birth and being born? What can a baby that has just been born teach us about attitude?

If we’re given the gift of birth, the question is, what kind of difference are we going to make? What impact are we going to have? It’s as simple as that.

The gift of birth creates impact, commitment and life changes for all those around. To expand upon that, your life is a gift and you affect people whether it’s positive or negative. Ultimately, when you get old, you get to choose. With Big Daddy Schwartz, I’m guessing around ten years old, you were a smart-ass little kid having a lot of fun. Do you remember being in 3rd or 4th grade being ten? What was the attitude lesson when you were ten?

At that age, we were shooting spit wads consistently in class and seeing if we could get away with it. I had my buddies in the back of the room shooting spit wads, thinking that was cool as it can be. If you ask ten years old in 3rd or 4th grade, those were the spit-wad years. That’s true.

The attitude lesson might be, “Let’s have fun and not worry about it.” Did you ever get in trouble as a child in grade school?

I’m a little bit smart. My mouth got me in trouble a little bit. I remember growing up, I always wanted to play. I was always playing basketball, baseball and football. To me, the school was a way to go play. I ended up and finished third in my high school class. We would say, “Who cares? If there are 83 people in your high school class means nothing.” To me, school was about getting done to go play. Play to me was basketball, baseball and football.

What position did you play in football, corner or safety?

I played safety and then I also played a linebacker and wide receiver. I was a quarterback but I didn’t like it. You had to think too much. I don’t want to think. I just want to hit people.

I was a former quarterback. I love it. We call them runners and hitters. That’s all we want. That’s what we try to identify and go with that. You go from 3rd and 4th grade. You were twenty years old. You were standing there on a Big Ten basketball court at twenty. What do you think the attitude lesson was that you garnered from being twenty?

I’m going to take you to 28 because that’s when it resonated. You mentioned Bob Knight. There was a book written by Steve Alford called Playing for Knight. I don’t know if you’ve read that book. That book was one of the turning points for me because between 20 and 30, I was playing basketball 5 or 6 nights a week. I was playing in Arizona. We were winning these leagues.

You’re killing people, I’m sure.

The long story short is at 28, I read a book. The difference between Steve Alford and Steve Jacobson is that Steve Alford set his goals higher. Steve Alford in college said, “I want to be this.” He would work to get there. I read that book and said, “Why didn’t somebody give me this book at eighteen? Why didn’t I set my goals?” I don’t even want to go into what I set but there were things I set that I got that happened. Fast forward to 59, it’s still the Steve Alford book. People say, “You guys are whatever. Who cares? Let’s play.” There should not be anybody in our company that blinks when we hit a certain number because why not? Let’s go and play. We’re not going to be held back by our minds here. There, I was personally held back because of how I thought.

That’s very powerful. That’s number two on the Attitude Boosters, “Have a big goal.” That’s already passed. We’ve done that. I know you said it was 28. What we can do is modify a little bit and keep moving and playing. When you were 30 or in your 30s, do you remember your 30th birthday? I’m curious.

I know exactly where I was at my 30th. I was in Houston, Texas. A college basketball buddy of mine got married. He came up for my 30th birthday with Big Daddy Schwartz and my high school basketball coach. We went and loaded up. I haven’t drunk for many years. There are reasons for that but on my 30th birthday, I’m 59. That was back in the cocktail days and we had some fun.

We talked with our last guest about addiction. It’s 1 of the 3 biggest mistakes people make with their attitude if they are addicted to their attitude. We ended up having a pretty poignant conversation. Not to bring up or say you’re an addict but when it comes to attitude addiction or addiction to anything, what’s your advice for people that may be fighting attitude addiction, the people that say, “That’s just me?” Do you have any advice for people on that front?

You have a responsibility. The way I personally look at that is to break your life and family patterns. I’ll be transparent. My dad died because of alcohol. He had a liver transplant on Christmas Day ’96 but it didn’t go well. He died at age 60. Growing up in the Midwest in the years I grew up, everybody drank and that’s the way it is. It was part of our lives in good, bad, right or wrong. Years ago, I stopped breaking the pattern in this family. If I die tomorrow, at least my nieces and nephews and people around me know it’s not easy. There are days you want to snap it back, “Let’s get it going.” To me, any attitude addiction you have, whether it’d be whatever, look at your family. Your responsibility is to break the pattern for your family.

We talked about the two attitude coaches that you were recruited by or wanted to play for. They’re our parents and I came from the same background. My mother passed, certainly, a bottle of Dewar’s a day and three packs of cigarettes. That’s how they lived back then. It doesn’t mean they weren’t great people but it’s tough. We’ve certainly had those conversations in our huge family that we have. Think about your 30s. What’s the attitude lesson when you were in your 30s or when you were 30 on that fantastic night you had with your pops and teammates?

I was a loan officer that was closing X amount of loans per month in Arizona and got transferred. I was given an opportunity at age 30 to move to Houston. You said, “What was the attitude then?” It still resonates at 59. Salespeople need the next thing. I had made it in Phoenix. When you’re closing 400 to 500 units a year as an originator, you have people you create relationships with and there’s no reason to change that.

Worry less because everything passes. You're going to make mistakes. It's not going to be perfect, but stuff come to pass. Click To Tweet

I was asked a couple of questions, answered a couple of questions, and made the decision to move from Phoenix to Houston in probably ten minutes. You said, “What resonates to you at 59?” Salespeople need the next thing. You can’t just put salespeople in a box and say, “They’re going to be happy there.” It has nothing to do with money. It has to do with opportunity. You got to keep playing and giving people the opportunity to grow.

You’re crushing it as an LO. I’m curious if you remember your 40th birthday. That’s probably when you said, “I’m going to start this thing called Fairway.”

I started that when I was 36 or 37. I was still dealing with my dad’s thing. When you lose a best friend and at my age, I’ve lost people since then, it changes your perspective and attitude. You say, “What does it change? What did you learn then and now if you’re still here?” My best friend in college died. My best friend since grade school is already dead.

When you’ve lost your best friends and your unconditionals are totally on your side, then the question is, “If I’m still here, God is giving me the blessing to still be here to make a difference and make it matter.” Make your life matter because who knows when it’s going to end? The people I’m talking about died in an instant. They had no warning.

That was at 40. That’s the gravity of that reality. We talked about living the best year of your life. We always put people in the mindset, “What if you knew this was the last year? What would you want to accomplish? How would you live?” I believe that’s healthy and that’s what you’re saying.

Respecting what you’re asking, it’s trying to help others each day. It’s trying to leave the world a little better because of the people that you can positively influence because of what you do or say. I don’t care about any public attention. Fairway so far is under the radar screen. Nobody even knows we’re there. They think, “Is that Fairway or Fair Lending? What the hell are you?” We stay way under the radar. When you said, “What did you close, $6 billion to $7 billion?” We closed $39 billion. You’re going, “Really?” Nobody knows. We personally don’t care about that part. What we care about is, “Are we making a difference in people’s lives? Are we helping?”

I’m sure that that blends into the 50-discussion so as not to be repetitive and to be current. I know because I know your culture and your people that it may not be a different answer. When you did turn 50 and think about that day or the time in the past years, what’s the attitude lesson for where you are? You’ve done so much great stuff. What’s the attitude lesson for us to garner?

Worry less because everything passes. Don’t grind on the issue. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s not going to be perfect. Stuff came to pass. It did not come to stay. What you’re going through will pass, whatever it is. Even though you don’t think it will ever get better, it will pass. Don’t worry so much.

I heard a statistic that people who worry 40%, all the stuff has already happened to them, 12% is about medical issues that will never happen with them and 24% are about everyday-nothings that don’t matter, which means people who worry 92% of the time are worrying about nothing when it’s all said and done if you do the math.

Steve Jacobson, I want to thank you for being a part of the show, for helping us changed the world one attitude at a time, and for spreading your attitude to our GAPers. It was an honor to take an hour of your time. I know it was very valuable. Thank you very much. Is there any last thing that you want to leave our GAPers with, words of encouragement or anything like that?

Have fun with it and keep playing. It’s game day. Let’s go.

Steve Jacobson, you are the best. Thank you very much. GAPers, read this one because it’s going to be good.

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About Steve Jacobson

Right Attitude To SucceedSince establishing Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation in 1996, founder and CEO, Steve Jacobson has been an innovative leader in the mortgage industry. In the past 25 years, the company has continually grown, closing over $65.8 billion in 2020 alone and employing close to 10,000 team members nationwide. Mr. Jacobson’s focus on growth has led to more than 700 Fairway branch and satellite locations across the United States.

In 2020, Fairway’s retail business was 56.7% purchase and proudly ranked as the #4 VA lender in purchase units and volume (FY 2020), #1 USDA lender in purchase units and volume (FY 2020) and #1 FHA lender in purchase volume (FY 2019). In addition, Mr. Jacobson has also helped grow additional revenue channels within Fairway in both wholesale lending and digital consumer direct lending. The digital consumer direct lending channel has grown into a $3 billion business in under two years.

As a leader, Mr. Jacobson has been personally recognized for his contributions within the mortgage industry. In 2019, he received the HW Vanguard Award which recognizes individuals who, through their leadership, have moved the housing industry and economy forward. Not only that, but his philanthropist mentality was also acknowledged highlighting his focus on Fairway’s nonprofits American Warrior Initiative (AWI) and Fairway Cares. Each year, both nonprofit organizations are able to grow and impact thousands of lives through the generous contributions of Fairway’s employees.

With his entrepreneurial mindset, Mr. Jacobson has also helped in founding Frisco Lender Service, LLC (FLS). This company specializes in residential appraisals and Ignite, a coaching arm of Fairway, which provides mentorship and growth opportunities to originators and corporate employees. Unlike other companies in the mortgage industry that are owned by hedge funds, Fairway is privately held and an ESOP. This allows Fairway to truly put employees first which goes hand-in-hand with Fairway’s positive and inviting company culture. Fairway has had the honor of being named as the #1 Workplace in the USA 2021 by Energage, and for the past six years has been named the #1 Best Company to Work For by Mortgage Executive Magazine.

On a personal note, Mr. Jacobson is a Wisconsin native and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from the University of Wisconsin. He is also the former co-captain of the University of Wisconsin basketball team where he joined as a walk on and played for four years while achieving Academic All-Big Ten his graduating year.

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