InteGRITy is where resilience meets unwavering determination, paving the path to greatness. Welcome to Season Three of the Get Attitude Podcast, where we embark on a journey to ignite your mind, awaken your heart, and transform your attitude. In this episode, our remarkable guest is Glenn Stearns. He discusses the concept of InteGRITy and how attitude shapes our destinies. Glenn is a man who faced unimaginable hardships and emerged victorious on the hit TV show “Undercover Billionaire.” As he shares his story, his challenging childhood, failed education, and early parenthood made it seem that he was destined for a life of struggle. However, his new book, InteGRITy, reveals the resilience that resides within him, as well as the secrets of his extraordinary ascent. Today, Glenn shares them with you. Remember, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. Join us for an inspiring conversation of perseverance, grit, and success.
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The InteGRITy Advantage: The Attitude Code To Transforming Your Life With Glenn Stearns
Welcome to the show. I and my good friend, Jason, are here to welcome you to the show. If you need some light in your life and you think you’ve had it tough, let me tell you something. Our guest has had it tough. You will learn stories and lessons from a gentleman who was on Undercover Billionaire. You guys want to make sure that you check out that show. You can see it on YouTube and your favorite streaming service.
We are going to introduce you to Mr. Glenn Stearns. He is going to help you find the gap from where you are to where you want to go, and from who you are to who you want to become. Glenn was born to alcoholic parents. Glenn Stearns was diagnosed with dyslexia. He failed 4th grade and fathered a child at the age of 14.
His new book is called InteGRITy. I read the book called InteGRITy and it is awesome. There are lots of lessons to be learned there. He graduated high school in the bottom 10% of his class. By this time, he developed a drinking habit that rivaled his parents. He struggled with a quick temper and found himself in jail for more than a few nights, but then he became a billionaire. His book called InteGRITy will help you understand how he did it.
I love what he wrote in his dedication. If you’re tuning in to this and you haven’t yet realized your full potential, or you feel like you’re not worthy of success, or think that you have not made it, this book is dedicated to you, the underdogs of the world. Remember, it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. GAPers around the country and around the world, we want to welcome Mr. Glenn Stearns. Glenn, welcome to the show.
How are you doing, Glenn?
I am so awesome. We’re honored to have you. Undercover Billionaire, let’s start with that clip. You nearly died. Can you give us an encapsulation of what that was all about? Did you succeed?
That feels like a lifetime ago. About 18 or 19 years ago, my wife and I did a reality show, which was a weird happenstance. Somebody asked us to do it and we did it. I ended up winning this show. For years, people kept saying, “Do you want to do another show? We got a great idea,” and I always said no. I’m a business guy. I’m not interested in that.
In the end, after a while, I said, “I will do it. Put me anywhere in this country with no money and no contacts. I bet you I could rebuild a business. If you’re interested in doing something like that, count me in.” I said that to these guys knowing it would never happen, and they called me back. They were like, “If you are serious, Discovery said they’ll do the show.” I said, “I’m serious.” I had not thought of anything else. I didn’t think of a plan. I didn’t think of what would happen.” You talk about being thrown into the fire. It was a very big wake-up call for me. That’s for sure.
Did you get it done? Did you hit your goal? When you said you almost died, what was that all about?
I had cancer, and it came back. When it did, they had to cut my epiglottis. It covers your windpipe and the food can go right into your esophagus. I don’t have that anymore. I had to stop eating, but I was trying to eat some of those noodles on the show.
I aspirated and I was in the hospital for four days or something. We didn’t show that. It looked like I went in and I came out a couple of hours later. We didn’t want to make it about being sick. I didn’t tell anybody. I was eating out of a feeding tube, and nobody saw that. We would sneak off into a car or say, “Glenn has to take a phone call,” but I was eating. It was brutal. The show wasn’t about poor Glenn and his cancer. We didn’t talk about building a business from nothing. It was how you get from survival mode to thriving. That’s pretty much what it was about.
We always like to start our show with this. Do you have a Glenn Stearns definition for attitude? Who would you say was your number one attitude coach?
Attitude is everything because whether you think you can or can’t, you’ll be right. You have to get the right mindset. In my life, there have always been these times when things have come to me. An example was I was fourteen and I get a girl pregnant. It is the end of my life. There it goes. Everything was out the window. You look a couple of years later and go, “I got this beautiful daughter.” What I thought was the worst thing turned out to be the best thing.
When I was young, my mom would get my sister and me and be like, “We’re going to get lost. Let’s go in the car. We’ll go get lost.” Why? My daddy had a little drinking problem and maybe wanted to get us out of the house. We’d drive and get to a field. We pull over and we’d say, “We’re lost.” It was an attitude of not fear. It’s excitement. There’s a difference in where you put your mind to things. I grew up very fortunate that I was put in situations where I then began to see the silver linings of life. It was not the problems and issues, and why it’s bad, but why it’s going to be good. When you put your mind there, anything is possible.
It sounds like mom probably was your first attitude coach who manifested this unbelievable attitude that you have. When you read this book, InteGRITy, it’s all about attitude. My Slow and Painful Journey to Success, I love that small tagline. How did you come up with that? I can’t believe that you’re a person that says, “It was slow and painful,” because I know how positive you are. When you thought of that, it’s very catchy. It probably was slow and painful. Tell me a little bit about how you came up with the title for the book and that subtitle.
My life has been based on my word. I’ve learned a lot from watching people that didn’t do what they say. I look at a lot of situations. You always have to think very far in advance. You can’t look at what you’re going to get out of it this second. You have to look at your life and how you’re going to feel about it when you turn around at the end of your life. Are you lying there or are you proud of what you did?
My dad used to instill that word in my head. He was like, “It’s all about integrity, son. It’s about what you say and what you do. You can say one thing and do another thing. You can always make an excuse for it, but you know deep inside your own mind what the right thing is.” When we plant our seeds in life, they will come back and get us, either good or bad.
I’ll give you one example quickly if I can. My son had a little problem with a girl in high school. We’ll leave it at that. I said, “You guys have been caught. You got kicked out of school. What happened to the girl?” He was like, “She didn’t get kicked out of the school.” I said, “Do you think it’s fair?” He says, “I don’t know, maybe.” I said, “I think it’s fair, and I’ll tell you why. You had twelve demerits, and they were all little things. Your tie wasn’t on right, you wore the wrong shirt, or whatever. They were tiny things that you thought meant nothing. It was also the fact that our grades weren’t good. She had zero demerits and she was on the honor roll.”
I said, “When the people came to look at you, they saw all these little bad things going on in life and how you’re not a good student. They drop you. For her, she’s a good student and has never been in trouble. She never had any issues, and they caught her.” That’s life. You can call it karma. You can call it anything you want to call it. It could be bad luck like, “I got a bad great cloud over my head,” or you got the Midas touch and you got great luck. You plant those seeds throughout life. They’re tiny things that don’t mean a thing until they all add up one day. Everybody is going to get judged one day, so to speak. People will catch you or they’ll let you fall.
I’m going to dig into that. You did mention your father and your mom. They were both big drinkers. My mom was more of a big drinker than my dad. We certainly grew up on alcohol. We would always get a beer and a cigar every time we won a championship when we were six. We have pictures of that. I love my parents.
Many times though, I believe from what I found interviewing some of the greatest people on Earth like you, which I can’t tell you how excited I am to interview you, is sometimes, the greatest lessons and attitudes come from the generation before our parents. I’m wondering. Did you have a relationship with any 4 of your grandparents or 1 or 2 of them? Was there a story that we can learn from them? Tell us about your grandparents, what they learned, and what their attitude lesson was. That’s always gold for our people.
It’s interesting. My dad’s father was a very severe alcoholic. My dad said he threw a bottle at him and choked him out. That was the last he saw of him at fifteen. When I was a small kid, he was still a drunk. I didn’t know him very well. He died a drunk. My other grandfather was the same thing. He died of a liver problem or something.
For my grandmother, I’ll tell you an interesting story about integrity. I remember being a young kid. She’d always collect my birthday cards, and they had money. She’d be like, “I’m helping you. I’ll put it for a college fund.” When I got to be in college, I don’t remember her ever giving me any of that money back. I had wrecked my car and asked her, “Can I borrow $2,000?” She said, “Yeah.” She lent me the money and I bought another car.
As time went on, my mind went to I don’t think I ever got paid my money for when I was a young kid when she’d collect that money. I thought, “Maybe I don’t owe her the $2,000.” Why? It is because I made it okay in my head. I was like, “Since she had taken this from me, we’re probably even,” but that wasn’t the deal I made with her. I called and said, “Can I borrow $2,000?” I struggled with making it right.
Maybe a couple of years later, I came back into town and gave her a check for the money. She looked at me and started crying. She said, “I never thought you’d repay me.” I said, “Why? I owed you the money, didn’t I?” I didn’t bring up the past because maybe I was wrong. Who knows what I remember? It didn’t matter. My word was about the fact that I borrowed $2,000 and I was going to pay her back. She cried. Inside, I felt very good. I did what I said I would do.
I have another beef over here that was different. Whether it was right or wrong, I felt good about it. I never brought up the past. Who cares? She ended up passing away after that, maybe a year later. I felt good that I proved I was a man of my word. No one was looking. That’s what integrity is about. You do things when no one is watching. You make sure you do the right thing. That was about the only story I can think of with my grandparents. It was a rocky road out there from where I grew up.
Iron sharpens iron. That’s why you’re sharp. Sometimes, our greatest blessings are the toughness of life, which is what the book InteGRITy is all about. It is when you think about paying back $2,000 when you know you didn’t have to. As I read this, I had so many similar stories in my life. That’s why this book is so good. It’s so relatable to so many people. Is there another story where you paid somebody back that you didn’t have to? I’d love to know because for God’s sake, being a billionaire is quite a thing. What’s the most money you ever borrowed that you paid back? I’d love to know that story.
I’ll tell you one interesting story. I used to do HUD contracting. I became the largest contractor in the country for HUD for two different companies. One was an audit company, and one was a title and settlement company. I had a partner. I’d go to certain cities and I didn’t have any coverage. I’d land somewhere, not literally land, but go in and find the best people that did title work, as an example.
There was a guy that I knew in Philadelphia. I didn’t know him, but I had met him. We got together and I struck a deal with him. He would do all the title fulfillment for me. I had the contract. I’d come in and bring the people. He’d do his side and I’d do my side. I ground him hard. I like to get a good deal, so I ground him pretty well.
About a year later, I called him and said, “I’d like to see you. I flew in and brought my CFO. We sat down and I told him, “Tony, I need to change the deal.” He said, “Glenn, I can’t. I am on this thin of a profit as I could be. I can’t do it.” I said, “I know. I need to change a deal. I need you to make more money.” He said, “What?” I said, “Do you know what I’ve learned? I want to partner in a fair deal. I wasn’t fair to you. I need to be fair because it’s about the future. It’s not about the past.” He was like, “Oh my goodness.” I changed the deal. That man and I were loyal until those contracts ran out.
You get a little more maturity in your life. A good deal is where both sides maybe don’t get exactly everything they want, but they feel okay about it. I like to grind as far as I could. I’ve realized that when you grind, you make sure it’s fair. You don’t want to get taken advantage of, but you got to leave some on the plate for the other side. It’s important.
Through your history in business, certainly, you got your ass kicked and lost. I would love to know what was one of your biggest losses or the biggest times you felt like, “That wasn’t good.” I want to hear that story. I also want to hear, and I’m guessing this happens to you, what your attitude is after the ass-kicking. We have people that are tuning in to this who may have gotten milked out of money. Maybe they’re in a business situation and they’re filing bankruptcy. I want to hear that story because I know it’s going to be good. How do you come back from the ass-kicking?
I had sold my company to one of the biggest private equity groups. It’s the biggest in the world. I was proud to have them as a partner. They wanted to buy 80% of the company. I said, “No, 70%.” As a matter of fact, I’ll even carry some paper. I want to be alongside you. We’re partners. I had cancer. That was part of the whole reason for getting out. We had put a CEO in to replace me. I was out. I’m a just shareholder. I’m not on the operating committee. I’m not part of the company. The company changes when I’m not there. They start doing things a little differently.
Five years later, they sell some assets that are very valuable to the company. I get 30% of that income, only it doesn’t go to me, but it goes to the company. I have 30% of phantom income that I need to pay some taxes on. They then realize, “We bought this and that.” Now, we don’t have enough money, so we are going to go file for bankruptcy.
They wiped me out of not only my stock and equity but also, I held a large note that the interest kept rolling. Besides these bonds, I am the largest creditor. I’ve been wiped out of that. I was wiped out of the other equity. When they called me to say what was going on, I was pissed. They said, “We’ll let you come back in. We’re going to give you 5%,” or whatever. I said, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to open up across the street from you. I’m going to go at it and go head-to-head against you again.” I was mad.
What I realized after I hung up the phone is that these people are the best at what they do. It’s in the book, by the way. They did not do anything illegal. I was just not a partner. I thought of myself as a partner. I was excited. I was another piece that they can move around on the chessboard to get the return that they need to get. There’s nothing wrong with that. I can either be angry or I can understand that that is their role. They’re not apologetic, nor should they be.
Was I on the short end of the deal? Damn, I was. Am I mad about it? No. I used it as a fuel. I started Kind Lending. I went back into the same building and on the same floor. I took over my same office. I took down the sign. It said Stearns up there. I took my own name down and put up Kind Lending. I was excited once again to get back into the business and go at it again. To your point, you can be the victim or the victor. You can get angry. They did nothing wrong. I wish it had ended differently. I wish I stayed in operations. That was probably the key thing there. I learned a lot. I wish I learned it in a smaller company, but I learned a lot.
What was the total losses? Was it $60 million or something crazy?
No. It was a lot more than that.
You don’t even like to say the word, do you?
Losing $60 million would affect my attitude. There’s no doubt. You got $60 million education or whatever that number was. Let’s talk about Kind Lending. We met for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I’m like, “This guy is kind as hell.” What’s your mantra of kind? Why did you put kind in? What’s the backstory on that?
I look at what happened in our industry in mortgage banking. Not to bore your audience, but when Dodd-Frank came in and they changed everything because of what happened in ’07 and ’08 and the financial crisis, they tightened down everything. What these smart Wall Street guys did is they understood that the banking industry was going to change because of things like Basel III and a lot of things that had to do with servicing. It was too heavy stuff.
They understood the banks were going to shed servicing. The non-banks, which are people like us, the mortgage bankers, and not real banks like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, were going to become the dominant players in the mortgage industry. They were right. They’re very smart. When that started to happen, the industry changed. A lot of Wall Street influences private equity. People went public.
A lot of things happened, and the nice normal mortgage industry became ruthless. It was like, “We’re going to give you a sign-on bonus or more money than you’ve ever dreamed of but now, we have you locked down for 2 years or 3 years.” The world changed. It was a handshake, and now it was contracts. They’ll sue you. It got to be a different industry over the last 10, 12, or 15 years.
I came back in and said, “I’m going to put the kindness back into our business. I’m not going to do these sign-on bonuses.” They were like, “Glenn, you’re not going to get anybody.” I was like, “They can come and go as they want.” I’m going to pay them well. I also want to make sure that if they leave, I’m not going to be mad at them. I’m going to be mad at me, “What did I do wrong?” I’m not going to sue them. I’m going to say, “How could I keep you?” It’s a different mindset. That’s all.
You mentioned the mindset of seeing things in the future. Many people that I see are very short-term. I’ve got two questions for you. Number one, you hired a lot of people. You’ve partnered with a lot of people. What do you look for in a partner? What do you look for in a hire? Does attitude come through when you’re interviewing people? What do you see as the biggest mistakes people make? One is people aren’t looking long-term enough. You’re right, but what else are you seeing people doing wrong or companies doing wrong as you look at things?
It’s interesting. People have always said to me things like, “Didn’t he or she have the most beautiful blue eyes? Didn’t they have the most amazing teeth? What about their hair?” I’m like, “I didn’t see their eyes, teeth, or hair. I’m looking at whether they’re a truth teller, whether their expression tells me that I can get closer to them, or whether I want to get farther away.” I’m analyzing the person. I’m not looking at their blue eyes. It’s a different thought process.
I like to size people up on whether I think that they’re going to be loyal and whether they’re going to be somebody that is going to be able to want to be on the team and fight hard, and they have integrity and the things that it takes that are very important. To me, that’s where I go. I don’t ask questions about their skill in underwriting or their skill in how they sell. I got other people who can do that stuff with all the operations and all that. I need to know if they’re the type of person I want to work for us. That’s important to me.
Around 9/11, when the terrorist attacks happened and everything, remember we couldn’t fly for five days or something. I then flew to Maryland. I got on a train and went up to New York. I went there with a hard hat and gloves. I wanted to move rocks. I wanted to help. I didn’t understand that the National Guard would put a big fence up. I thought, “I want to see if there are still people I could help.”
When I got there, I wasn’t allowed in, so I left. I went back on the train. I get on this train and I was sitting in one of those table areas. This old man sits down right in front of me, looking at me. Behind him, he had put his wife in the corner seat. I’m a little awkward. I’m staring at this man. I look down and see he’s got a ring on. It’s big. It said basketball. I could read the basket. I said, “You like basketball?” He says, “You could say so. I own the team.” I said, “You do? What team?” It was the Washington Bullets at the time, which were the Wizards, and the Washington Capitals. It was Abe Pollin who owned both teams.
It’s a longer story, but I sat with this man for whatever that two-and-a-half hours was. It was like, “Tell me about your life. Tell me about your pluses, minuses, how you lived, your successes, failures, and all these things.” The one thing that he also emphasized to me was the importance of loyalty and the people that have worked in his firm forever. He went on and on. He said, “You do things that are the best. Take The Irene. Do you know The Irene, that apartment complex in DC?” I said, “Yes, I know that. It’s the one with the marble. It’s the best.”
He said, “I built that in 1964. Do you want to know why I named it The Irene?” I said, “Yes.” He goes, “Irene, come here and meet this kid.” His wife was Irene. I’ve got my receptionist out here. She’s been with me for 26 years. I have my assistant for 27 years. Our president has been twenty-something years. We’ve had many people in our lives for a long time. Loyalty is important, and then how you treat people. People aren’t going to stay when you’re a jerk.
That is a great answer. I feel like you have this innate ability to understand people. I feel like you can feel the energy, which leads me to this question. Who is your best friend when you were 14, 15, or 16? Is he or she still your best friend? Who is a friend that stuck with you through the tough times outside of business? On a personal level, let’s honor that person. Maybe tell us what you learned from them.
His name’s Shane O’Malley. I met him right in 8th grade or 9th grade, then I moved on. We’ve been through it all together, the good, the bad, and the ugly. He witnessed everything with me. There was a time when I had to fly out, pick Shane up, bring him here to LA, and put him in a little rehab. Shane has not touched a drop of alcohol or anything else. That’s been about eighteen years now.
We’ve been through a lot. He’s been through hell with me. I’ve been through it with him. He is a wonderful guy. I’ll see him soon. He’s coming out here. It wasn’t about money. To your point, it wasn’t about any of those kinds of things. He has been there. He celebrated my life when things went well. He is not one to be jealous. He has been a true friend.
Did you guys do anything together that was quirky or fun? Was there an attitude lesson? When you think of him, his spirit, and his energy, what did he teach you?
I grew up a redneck. We would get into a lot of fights with each other. I don’t know. There are so many crazy things. I didn’t come up with a very normal household. I remember many times, we’d be in our kitchen. It was an 800-square-foot house. It was very small. We were in there drinking at fifteen and getting sideways. We get in a fight and my dad would go, “Take it outside.” We’d go outside and duke it out.
One time, it was me against Shane and Cliff. I duked it out and they beat the crap out of me. They were on top of me and beating me. My dad walks down, goes over, grabs my hair, picks me up, throws me in my room, and they run off. Five minutes later, they both come up to the porch and they are crying. They’re like, “Mrs. Stearns, is Glenn okay?” They were worried about me. They beat me up, but they were worried they didn’t beat me up too much. In the middle of our insanity, we still cared about each other.
I got friends like that. One of my dearest, oldest friends played dice baseball as a kid. In dice baseball, whatever your role is, you either hit out or whatever. We’re in game six of the Yankees-Cardinals, Greatest of All Time. We will be having a few beers while playing games. Tom Ackerman, when you’re hearing this, you’ll know I was talking to Glenn Stearns about it. There’s nothing like friendship.
What we always do in our show is move to something called Knowledge Through the Decades. I want to walk through your life and get the attitude lesson at each decade where you turned it. I’m going to ask you to recall and remember your life and share with us your walk and what the attitude lesson was at these benchmarks. We always start with childbirth. I know you have children. You may not remember being born, but when you think of birth, what do you consider to be the attitude lesson in birth?
When I was very young, it was a curiosity of wanting to learn and go out. I was not one to stay inside. As a kid, I would crawl. They caught me on the roof trying to get the cat. I was three years old. There are lots of lessons about being outside and trying to get away from the world.
Curiosity is a great attitude lesson. I want you to think about being ten. That would’ve put you in about 4th or 5th grade, about the time you remembered with us. At ten, was there a teacher, a friend, a circumstance, or a bully? Can you go back to when you were ten years old? What was the attitude lesson you got at ten?
I failed 4th grade. I’m in 4th grade again. For your audience, hold your kid back in kindergarten when they won’t remember. In 4th grade, he knows he is a dummy. It was not a good year to hold me back. I’m held back and I watch all my friends move up. I come in and it feels horrible. About a month later, I end up with all these new friends and all these other friends. I’m friends on both sides. It worked out fairly well, but it was a weird time. I was pretty insecure. Let’s put it that way.
You said insecure, but you said a word earlier in our interview. You said silver lining. I’m not so sure. What you didn’t describe there was where your ability to find a silver lining, no matter what faced you that didn’t occur at ten.
When I look back, I look at things and go, “I had good friends in both grades.” It built up throughout your life. You don’t just have it. You reflect and go, “Every time something happened to me that I didn’t like, I found something good out of it.” That builds, and then you start to look for that as you get older. You realize there’s always a positive even in a negative.
You’re 20 and you’re at Townson University. Do you remember turning 20, maybe 21?
At Townson University, I was just the commencement speaker there. I’m a doctor now, so please address me formally if you don’t mind. I’m joking. I said I think they got the wrong guy. I graduated with a 2.1. The dean goes, “It was a 2.16. We looked it up, Glenn” The guys in the back are like, “There’s hope for me.” I’m 20 and I’m in a rut. I have followed in my father’s footsteps and my whole family’s. My 2.1 was not by accident. I am out every night partying it up and having fun.
To stay in that era, right when I graduated, I’m at a bar. It’s 1:30 in the morning. I am sitting with my friends and I am laughing hysterically at something. My friend fell. He got a beer thrown at him. A girl slapped him. I don’t remember that part. In the middle of my laugh, as I say in the book, “In the middle of the foggiest of fogs, I had the clearest thought. I don’t want to do this anymore. This is boring.” That was starting my change of going, “I don’t want to fall in my father’s footsteps. I don’t want to be a drunkard. There’s more in my life I can do.” It happened that one moment. I had this weird clarity of stop.
That is powerful. You’re an all-American partier. I get it. Your 2.1 was very well-earned from what it sounds like. You go through the next 10 years and you turn 30. Do you remember your 30th birthday? Where were you, and what was going on? What was your attitude lesson when the big 30 hit with you?
I don’t remember my 30th birthday. I remember that time when I was all about making money. It’s like, “I got a new vice. How much can I make? How rich can I be? What can I drive? How much business can I do?” I was very driven to continue to grow, succeed, build, and all those kinds of things that you do about that time. It was all materialistically driven.
With that materialism, drive, or hunt because that’s primal, it’s okay to make money. It’s okay to get rich. It’s okay to hunt. When it comes to being in that mantra or that state of, “Go get it,” what’s the best trick? For those guys that are there now that are like, “I don’t give a shit. I need to make money,” What was the number one most important thing you did? What’s the advice you can give to a 30-year-old about making money?
I left it at that because I moved on to the next phase, which I want to tell you about in a second.
I’m going to let you.
I made it okay. Let me stay in the phase of making money. I don’t regret a single thing. I loved it. I loved the caveman and warrior. I loved the hunt. I loved the drive. I loved it. It’s fun to go and wake up early, stay in the office until midnight, and plan out how you’re going to win. There is nothing wrong with it. It’s misdirected, for me, to just try to become rich or try to win. I loved that phase. I don’t regret a single thing about it. Can I move on to 40 for a second to tell you why or not yet?
We’re going to move to 40, but what I heard was this. GAPers, if you want to do it, you got to get your ass up earlier than anybody, and you got to go to bed later than anybody. That’s called commitment. Those are the two lessons on making money.
Don’t be apologetic. There’s nothing wrong if you’re doing it with integrity. If you’re doing it correctly, it’s a wonderful game because you’ve got a wonderful way to keep score. That’s what you’re doing. You’re like, “Am I making more money? Am I growing my net worth? Am I making other people wealthy?” All those things, there’s nothing wrong with it at all.There's nothing wrong if you're doing things with integrity. Click To Tweet
I love what you said, “Am I making other people wealthy too?” That is because true wealth comes from helping others become wealthy. It’s your 40th birthday. Do you remember your 40th birthday? Where were you? Was it a big event? Tell us what the attitude lesson was at 40.
Right around that time again, because it wasn’t exactly that day, I go on a hunt. I go with Dr. Robert Schuller if you remember the Hour of Power. It’s his son though. He’s 60-something, but this is when I’m 40. We fly into Portland. We get on a helicopter and go up the Lambeth River or whatever. When we get in the helicopter, he says, “Do you see that jet, that jet, and that jet? Those people are all already at the hunt.” He set me up knowing there are some wealthy people going on this hunt.
I’m 40. I get there and there are two gentlemen. One was Foster Friess. I don’t know if you remember Foster. He is very well-known. He is the billionaire that was behind Rick Santorum and all that stuff. The other was Mike Ingram. There were a lot of other guys, but they were the two that ran the hunt. I don’t know anybody. Instead of everybody sitting around at breakfast, Foster says, “Let’s start right here. Let’s get to know you. Tell us about yourself.”
I was sitting next to whoever the guy was. Immediately, my mind goes, “How do I fit in? How do I tell these people that I’m worthy to be at this table? They got their jets. How do I sneak in some of my toys so they know I’m a man too that has succeeded?” As this first gentleman talks, he didn’t talk about planes or any of that. He starts talking about building homes in Mexico and all this stuff. It doesn’t go to me. It goes the other way. I get to hear the next guy and the next guy.
We get through all of breakfast, and we go hunt. We get to lunch, and it keeps going. By the time it gets to me, I realized none of that materialistic things mattered. These people moved from success to significance. They were talking about how to change the world. They were talking about how to build happiness and how to feel fulfilled on that day you’re going to sit on your deathbed that you’re going to look back and say, “I did good in the world. I made an impact.”
My life changed at that minute, listening to these people that had all been so much more mature in their lives than where they were. It wasn’t just about making money. It was about, “How do I make a significant impact in the world?” I’m crying in front of these men, telling them I had a divorce and how I regretted this because it’s a failure. I am best friends with this woman. My kids love us. My wife and I are friends with her. I took my ex-wife around the world with us to teach my young kids. It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you.It's not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you. Click To Tweet
The things I talked about were how I’m going to go and make a difference. I started a foundation. I did a lot of things because of that. I became very good friends with Mike and Foster. As a matter of fact, it’s interesting because it was Ross Perot Jr., Tucker Carlson, and another big gentleman that spoke at Foster’s wedding. There were three. I can’t remember the third guy, and then me. I felt grateful that they wanted me to be the fourth speaker to talk at his funeral. He made an impact.
That is a great story for 40. We’re going to get to 50, but since you mentioned the foundation, what is the foundation? What’s the mission? How can people find it?
It’s the Stearns Family Foundation. It is a private foundation where we go and help where we can.
That’s good. You can try to be a part of my University of Attitude. We’re changing the world one attitude at a time. Our mission is to simply help people change their attitudes. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we have people like you on this show. People say, “Where’s the University of Attitude?” I say, “We have six billion campuses on the planet, and we’re changing every campus. You are the president of your own campus.” That’s what we’re doing. That’s so impactful for me. You had to remember when you turned 50. Didn’t you have a big party when you were 50?
It was a big party. I’m sitting there at 50 years old and I don’t feel well. This is after the big party. I’m having dinner with a gentleman. You might know this guy’s name. His name is Dick Cheney. He was with his wife, Lynne, and Liz. It was the three of them. It was Mindy and me. We were at their home in Virginia. Dick is telling me, “I got a new heart. I feel good.” I said, “I feel like crap.” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I don’t know. I got something big. I can tell it is something big.” That was when I found out. He got me to his doctor the next day. Long story short, it was cancer.
All of a sudden, my life changed. It was the ultimate equalizer. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter how much impact you’re making. It’s about how you might be dead in a couple of months. I immediately went to my family. That was it. Friends and family were the most important things in my life. That was exactly the minute I brought in an outside company to own the majority of the company. I let them take over that. I was like, “I’m going to go and spend time with my loved ones.”
I went around the world for a couple of years. I brought my ex-wife to be the teacher. I brought my kids. We brought a nice boat. It had a helicopter on it so we could go anywhere we wanted. I got my dad. My dad had not drunk since 1982. That man was a good man. For 42 days, he and I dove and fished every day in Indonesia. Until the 43rd day, I was like, “I feel guilty. The world is moving and I don’t care. We’re here with my family.” I finally got to a point where I’m like, “I got to come out of this dream.” It was a wonderful place to be for a long time to focus only on my family.
That’s powerful. Hopefully, GAPers, you will not have to get cancer to learn this lesson. I was going to ask you. Traveling the world and Indonesia, which you brought up, was there any other place that was profound to you that you felt something deep inside where you were like, “I can’t believe I’m here.”
I don’t remember where, but I had the palace. It was shut down. It was just my family that got to go through and tour it. We go to a little concert at the end. That was an amazing thing. We leave and we go to Cambodia, and I’m in the Killing Fields. Here, my kids were seeing what happens to innocent people that were killed because they had an education and were not a part of the regime. It was in Dangkao. We went to some places and saw the best and the worst of mankind. There are a lot of amazing places that you go to where you are like, “How can humans get to this level? How can we allow people to be like this?” That was the other side of it. It was very eye-opening. It was an interesting time.
That’s what I was looking for. That atrocity of humankind still exists on this planet. We are very fortunate. You turned 60. You’ve been battling cancer for ten years. I’m sure you’re like, “I made it to 60.” Tell us about your birthday, what you did at 60, and what the attitude lesson at 60 was.
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do because I’m 59. I’m almost there.
You’re not 60? I thought you turned 60. Go ahead.
I’m getting there. I did the show Undercover Billionaire. It was about building a business. I did it in 90 days. When I got done, all of a sudden, I was like, “I want to do this again. That was so fun.” When this happened for me, I was washed away with the company. I’m out because of the bankruptcy. I’m like, “I’m going to do it again.” I’ve been focusing on Kind Lending. I am building this and having a blast because it’s different now. It’s not all just growing and winning. It’s that coupled with kindness and how this is a fun game. It is understanding and having a maturity level that’s different than before when I was 30. To be able to do it now and not have as much stress over it is a lot different.
I’ll give you an example. We’re a mortgage company. We’re supposed to be in ties. We’re supposed to be rigid, but no. We work together. We are here more time than we are with our families. We’re going to tone it down a bit. We have software that we have to use with the broker community. They get to bring in their business and they get to use it. That’s their portal. We call it the quickie because it needs to be fast and quick. We got the quickie portal.
We’ve got happy beginnings and happy endings. We’re going to go easy on you if it was your first time. There are all these little innuendos. People are laughing and are going, “Are you saying that?” We’re like, “Get over it. Come on. It’s fun. It’s light. If you don’t like it, we’re sorry. You don’t have to bring your business here.”
We have grown faster than anybody. The mortgage businesses are tanked and are at the bottom. We’ve grown 340% since January 2023. From 2022, we’re up well over 300-and-something percent. We’ve been killing it because we’re real and authentic. We are not trying to be anybody else. They say you never measure yourself with someone else’s ruler. We’re just ourselves. We’re not trying to be anybody else, and it is working.Never measure yourself with someone else's ruler. Click To Tweet
That is SUCCESS® Lending, correct?
That’s Kind Lending. Kind Lending formed a partnership with eXp. We own that 50/50 with eXp, and that is SUCCESS® Lending. That has taken off. That is an amazing combination of a wonderful real estate company in the eXp, and a wonderful mortgage company in Kind Lending.
I’m honored to be a stockholder in that. I’m honored to tell you that I’ve put 3 or 4 LOs in there. I’m honored to say that you have funded many loans for us over the past couple of months. Being a part of that growth is exciting.
You are doing wonderfully.
I texted you my Purchase Mentality program. I’ll resend it so you can peek at it. Everything I teach and that I do on how to get inside the heart and mind of a real estate agent deals directly with what you’re saying. Hopefully, you’ll get to peak at that. In closing, you dropped some unbelievable knowledge on our GAPers. You’ve certainly helped them think about their lives, how to get from who they are to who they want to become, and from where they are to where they want to go.
We always like to let you get on the pulpit, if you will. I specifically would love for you to do this for me. We have people that are in hospitals that tune in to us. We have people that are fighting cancer or that have cancer that are tuning in to us. If you could, tell me your attitude about the fight that you have with cancer. Can you give those to people that are taking chemo and doing radiation that are my dear friends? You know who you are if you’re tuning in to this. You’ve battled this thing for ten years. What is your advice to them? What’s your attitude? What’s your message of hope for them?
We’re all going to die. If cancer comes into your life and you dodge that bullet and stay alive, to me, it is not that I had dodged the bullet, but I’m grateful I got the experience of seeing, “I might not make it through.” That opened my eyes so much to not sweat the small stuff, allow myself to live in the moment, and be who I am.
When we sit and look at things like cancer, some people will take them down and take their families down. It’s a horrible disease, but we’re all going to be faced with something. In my life, I’m different now. I don’t eat at all. I don’t eat and don’t drink because it all has to go through a feeding tube. I could focus on that or I could focus on the fact that cancer didn’t get me. It is my new normal. That’s where I am.
We’re back to your mindset. Things like that or anything in the world, you can look at it and say, “Am I the victim of this situation or will I turn it around and find something positive that’s going to allow me to keep going?” I’m alive and I’m grateful for that. I’m not sitting in a position of anger, remorse, or anything that is negative because it won’t do me any good.
That is so powerful. This is the last thing that I’m going to ask you to do. We got people tuning in to this in cars, walking on beaches, or sitting in their homes. When you think about the question of how you got from where you were to where you are, and how you got from the person you were to the person you are, what’s the secret? What’s the gap? What is your piece of advice for those people that are standing at the edge of the bridge going, “That’s where I want to be, but I got to bridge the gap.” What’s your best advice on bridging the gap for our audience?
You’re always learning. We got to remember that we got to stay humble, stay true to who we are, and be authentic. I have gotten more in my life out of showing, talking about, and discussing my flaws than I have about discussing all the good things and toys. What happens is you become relatable to people. We’re all similar, but some of us want to put up a wall and show that we are perfect. That’s some people’s way of dealing with life. Other people are showing how they are a pathetic mess. They suck the life out of both sides. I’m perfect. I’m horrible. Neither is true. It’s that our personalities are drawn to do something.
You can be authentic, be yourself, or focus on your own gift. Every one of us has a gift. For some people, it’s the retention of knowledge. For some people, it’s sales. They are different gifts. We can focus on whatever we are good at, and we do it with authentic behavior. When we’re not trying to be someone we’re not, then we tie it all in with a little thing called integrity, we will be able to rest our heads, take our last breath, and put a big smile on our faces and go.
I love it. That was the eternal optimist and the silver lining detector, Mr. Glenn Stearns. Thank you for being on the show.
I love it. Thanks, Glenn.