Marketing In Today’s World: Understanding Gen Z Consumer Attitudes And Mindsets With Shashank Shekhar

EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z Today’s market demands a deeper understanding of consumer attitudes and mindsets, which often differ from what we see in the media. It’s time to ditch the outdated tactics and embrace a more personalized and authentic approach. In this episode, Shashank Shekhar, the CEO of InstaMortgage and host of the Shashank Redemption podcast, discusses how to navigate the industry. He delves into the current state of the market, exploring consumer attitudes and mindsets that differ from what we see in the media. Shashank also reveals his company’s approach to educating both originators and consumers on navigating the rate environment and refinancing going forward. As a veteran of the industry, Shashank offers insights into the laws of marketing that he believes are still relevant in today’s environment for anyone looking to grow their business. He also discusses the Gen Z market and how most lenders miss the mark when trying to connect with this demographic. If you’re looking to build a successful mortgage business or simply interested in the industry’s inner workings, this episode is a must-listen. Tune in and learn how to navigate your way into today’s market.

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Marketing In Today’s World: Understanding Gen Z Consumer Attitudes And Mindsets With Shashank Shekhar

I am super excited about this guest. After starting his business in possibly the worst year for financial markets since the Great Depression, 2008, for those of you that remember, Shashank Shekhar has led his company to be one of the fastest-growing mortgage companies in America by helping thousands of families secure better financing for their homes. Their growth has been built on the pillars of legendary customer service and an unrelenting focus on education. Shashank lives and breathes the mantra, “We are in the customer service and education business. We happen to do mortgages.” He is an Amazon number one best-selling author. Shashank was also named 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year by Stevie Awards and is the host of the Shashank Redemption podcast. In September 2020, Shashank led his team to create Rachel, the first digital human in the mortgage industry. EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z I am super excited to have you with me here, Shashank. Welcome. It’s good to see you. It’s good to see you. How are you doing? I’m good. It’s 2023, hard to believe. We were catching up a little bit before this and hoping for those rates to come down a little bit, but in spite of all that, there are some good things happening in your organization. I know as a technologist and a leader, you’re incredibly bullish on the opportunity that’s out there. Maybe start out by giving us your take on the market as it is from the lens of a practitioner or somebody that’s running a company in this environment and where you think we’re headed this 2023. I bring a unique perspective because I run a company. I’m a technologist even though I did not go to an engineering school to get my degree there. Also, I’m a loan officer. I’m one of the top loan officers in the country. I do this thing every day, which a lot of loan officers are doing in the trenches. That helps me bring perspective to my company and to the industry, which is unique because I could see it from different lenses. There’s a realist view and an optimist view to it. The realist view is that it’s tough. It is what it is. I’m not here to mince my words and give false hopes to anyone. It is very tough if you’re running a company like me or you’re a loan officer and doing your business. We saw for a hot second that the rates dropped under 6%. We were all hopeful that the trend will continue. Unfortunately, it didn’t. The inflation seems to be extremely sticky even given everything that the Fed could possibly have done and more. At some point in time, people were saying that Fed is doing way more than it should, and they should let the economy be and inflation will cool down. On the latest report we saw, month after month, it went up 0.4%. It’s not easy being Fed, for sure, because you’re trying to balance the fact that you don’t want the economy to head into a deep recession. At the same time, you don’t want to be at a 7% or 8% inflation. That’s driving mortgage rates as probably all of us know. The problem is that there might be volatile markets here and there, but we don’t see them softening until the latter part of 2023. We are hearing about May 2023 or maybe June 2023. That’s a long time for any mortgage company. We have been suffering for almost twelve months. Add another six months to it. That’s a long time for any mortgage company. The optimistic side of it is that if you have survived so far, hopefully, you only have a few more months. You can continue grinding, which the industry has been famous for. I got into the business in 2008. We got out of that. 2022 was probably slightly worse than 2008 or 2009. I’m still optimistic that people who stay in the business and people who do the basics that they are supposed to be doing will come out ahead in the later part of 2023 and 2024. I always ground on homeownership in America is not going to go out of style. We both agree on that. Give me your perspective as you see a lot of consumer behavior out there. You see it from running your company and originating. How is the general consumer feeling about the housing market? You guys are in the Bay Area. I know you do other markets as well. I would love your thoughts on how the consumer’s attitude and mindset are different maybe from what we see in the media. I’m curious about your thoughts. On-the-ground sentiments are very different than what you’re hearing in the media. The problem with media is that the numbers are compared sometimes year-on-year or month-on-month. You can be comparing, say, January 2021 to January 2022. You’re like, “We were at a 3% rate. We are at a 7% rate.” Sometimes, the comparisons you hear in the media saying the home sales fell 10% or whatever, it’s not an apple-to-apple comparison. I would say the same thing about the industry in 2022. We did over $2 trillion in 2022. If you look at the numbers in isolation jobs, we did better than in 2017, 2018, and 2019, but we were comparing it against the $4.4 trillion that we did the year before. You’re at a 50% decline. A problem with some of these statistics is that we need to understand what the comparison is against.
That’s why I’m bullish about inflation numbers going down. It is because Inflation numbers compared to last year’s numbers will look so much better because 2022’s numbers were so much higher. It’s not as if we will suddenly see a deep dive in the numbers, but because we’ll be comparing it against 2022, the numbers would like to look better. Talking about what I’m seeing on the ground, buyers are still very bullish about buying homes. In fact, they are thinking that this is a time when they might be able to get some bargain for the first time maybe in a decade or something. We have rarely seen a market where you don’t have to go over asking. You might potentially ask for some seller credit. Those are the forces that are still driving them to buy, fully knowing that when the rates go down, they can still refinance. It’s not that you get one rate and you get stuck with that for the next several years. We are seeing certain lenders drill into educating the customer on, “This is your home. This is the most important thing in your life.” In a lot of cases, having a place to live and getting into a home is going to be maybe more expensive on a monthly basis, but with the odds of rates being elevated for many years, people are not generally feeling like that’s going to be the case. Are you guys doing anything specific when it comes to educating both your originators and the consumers on how to think about the rate environment and refinancing going forward? Yeah. I’ve been a huge fan of data-driven influence. Our industry always had taken the bad rap. We tend to tell everyone, “It’s a great time to buy. It’s a great time to sell in every single market.” That has given the reputation that we will say that because we get to make commission out of this. That’s why when people say, “The realtor has said that this is a great time to buy,” they take it with a pinch of salt because the realtor will say, “It’s a great time to buy.” That’s why I’ve been driving both my team and within the industry a lot of data, which points to the fact that even if you think there will be a recession, recession after recession, the home prices have stayed the same or have gone up. That is traditionally speaking other than 2008 and 2009. I have looked at home prices going all the way back to 1972, so this is not a recent trend. This has been there for five decades. Even if you think there will be a recession, recession after recession, home prices will have stayed the same or have gone up. Click To Tweet If you look at the mortgage rates, every time it goes up, it goes down. We may not be able to predict whether it will go down in May, June, September, or October 2023, but we know that it will eventually not stay at 6.5%. At some point in time, it will get under 6% or maybe even get under 5% at some point in time. The good thing about US mortgage markets is that refinancing is almost as easy. In fact, it is easier than purchasing in most cases. It’s not a question of, “I’ll have to go through this entire process all over again. Who knows if I will be able to refinance or not?” If you’re qualifying for a purchase, chances are you’ll qualify for a refinance again. Data-driven influence, especially with the kind of customers that we work with, the younger audience, tends to work much better than only emotion-driven influence. That’s so exceptionally well said. One of my favorite sayings is the data doesn’t lie. If you look at the data and analysis over the long run, it gives you context. It gives you a much better grounding of reality. What I’ve heard about you guys is you do a great job educating not just consumers, but also the real estate community as well. Correct me if I’m wrong. Are you intentional about adding that talk track into the sales process across the board? Absolutely. That’s something that I’ve been driving in my company meetings to my loan officers. I’ve been educating other loan officers in the industry. I’ve done tons of webinars with MGIC, MP, and everyone. I’m trying to teach them the same thing. It’s when the market gets tough, you can’t have a unidimensional approach to selling. You need to have a multidimensional approach to selling. That multidimensional approach, in this case, is that you need to push the data-driven influence. You need to push product-driven influences like, “What is a good product market fit in a market like this?” Are you talking about seller buy-downs? Are you talking about temporary and impermanent buy-downs? There are several things that do play a role, and you’re right. A lot of this education needs to go to real estate agents. Maybe you’re aware of this. Within the real estate side of it, few people are talking. A lot of loan officers will assume that’s a conversation they’re having, but this is a great opportunity for you to go and pick up some of those real estate agent partnerships that you have been working on for a long time by bringing some of these ideas. It’s saying, “Why don’t you take some of the data that I’m giving you to your consumers who are sitting on the fence?” You’re telling them why it’s a great time to buy. This is one of the things that I’ve heard people talking about and I believe this as well. It sounds like you’re an advocate, too. It is getting the loan officers, the salespeople in our industry, advisors, and o riginators or people that help consumers purchase homes and help them with financing. If you index hard on education and advice, that’s always your true north versus trying to sell. Stop selling, educate, and then advise. It sounds like that’s part of your playbook through and through. I would argue probably a part of your secret sauce to being successful over all these years has been you’ve stayed true to that. You’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly true. When I got into the business in 2008, I was a year and a half in the country. I knew three people in the entire US back then. My closest relative was in Canada. I had no friends here. This is all in 2008, and you only knew three people in the US? In the entire country. Those three people were my colleagues from a company that got shut down, so they weren’t buying in a hurry, for sure. I have $1,900 in savings. That was eighteen months into the country. We got to walk into this a little bit. This is incredible. You and I both get the chance to talk to a lot of people in the industry. You hear so many people that their default is always to point to the obstacle. There’s always an obstacle. You came to this country knowing three people in the entire country and starting in the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. You said you had less than $2,000. You could not see obstacles. You had to only see an opportunity to be successful. Walk us through. I know we don’t have all the time in the world for the story, but I want to hear a little bit about how you were able to overcome that. It’s incredible and relevant to what a lot of people are going through. Hopefully, it gives some hope to people who are struggling. They can learn from some of my struggles. My main reason for getting into the business was twofold. One was the fact that I always wanted to start my business. For some reason, I thought, “I lost my job. This is something that I’m still low risk.” My daughter was a year old then. I was like, “If I don’t start my business now, ten years later, there might be way too many obligations and things for me to take the risk.” There’s an element of risk-taking. There’s an element of entrepreneurship, something that I always wanted to pursue. I saw what happened to people in 2008. There was a lack of education. How could it destroy not just the financial system, but technically, the entire country, if not the entire world’s financial services system and everything else that got attached to it? You could see that education could play a huge role in not just turning it around, but keeping the kind of problems that have been on the road. I struggled in the first 12 to 18 months because I didn’t know anyone. When you get into the business, the first people you turn to are people you went to college with, people you went to school with, your neighbors, your family, or somebody. I didn’t have that luxury as the same necessity as the mother of invention because of my focus on education. Two, because I had no other way of getting business. I got into blogging in 2009. I probably remember five people who were broken back then. It was pretty sparse. I remember that time very well. That comes from also understanding your audience. I was looking at working with a younger audience or people who are first-time home buyers. I could see that there was a shift in terms of media consumption. They were moving away from print. They were moving away from the TV. They were getting more information online. I knew that I had to be there. That is one of the Marketing 101. You need to be aware of where your audience is. You could be on the cover of the New York Times, but nobody reads New York Times. If that’s your demographic, then it doesn’t matter. Being where your audience is very important.
When you got started, you grassroots said, “I have to create my own ways of generating business.” For you, that was starting to put out content and educating the market on buying a home, financing, and probably all those topics. That led to opportunities. It seems like you did the work, leaned in, and kept grinding. At one point in time, when I started blogging, it was in April of 2009. For six months, I wrote two blogs every week. It was six straight months. When I got my first call, it was in October and November of 2009. Somebody said, “I saw your blog or radio blog.” I almost fell off the chair. I’m like, “Somebody’s reading this thing that I’ve been writing for six months.” I’ve taught so many classes in blogging for probably thousands of people. Most of the time, they come back after two months saying, “This thing doesn’t work. I’ve been writing it for two months. Nothing happens. Nobody reads it. I haven’t gotten any lead.” That shows you that it’s a tough business, for sure. I will never discount how tough this business is, but it is the fact that you know that there is something that will work. Education is probably on top of that list. I can’t think of anything which exceeds or which can rank higher than that. That takes time, building your audience and understanding your audience to follow you, and eventually then getting to leads and finally, closings. It’s a long cycle business. Most people quit. Most people don’t want to put in the time. That was so well said. Once you put in the time for something like this, that’s what gives you the predictability, sustainability, and consistency of the business which very few ideas give you. That’s why we see so much of a rollercoaster in the industry. Not everything is influenced by macroeconomic factors. Some of it is because both as a mortgage company and as loan officers, we haven’t figured out building a sustainable business model.
EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z
Gen Z: Not everything is influenced by macroeconomic factors. Some of it is because both as a mortgage company and as loan officers, we haven’t figured out building a sustainable business model.
Many people are still so transactional. Coming off of the exuberance that we saw, you’ve seen that shift to where people were forgetting that we’re still in a relationship business. Building those relationships digitally or face-to-face is a process. You have to have a very thoughtful approach to doing it. We started segueing into what I would put under the bucket of marketing. Customer engagement marketing, growing the business, and blogging was a component for you. As we sit here, what are some of the immutable laws of marketing that you believe are still tried and true and super relevant for anybody that’s trying to grow the business in this environment? Two things are what I focused on. One is the product market fit. We get it wrong a lot of times. It is that we have a product that we feel very good about and we do not understand that the market may not be ready for it or the other way around. I could be sitting in a market where there are lots of retirees. I could be sitting in a Florida market where a lot of retirees are moving, but then, I’m not offering reverse mortgages as an option, for example. I could be sitting in a market where there are lots of immigrants who have probably various small down payments, but I’m not offering down payment assistance or low down payment programs to them. That’s a product market misfit. That, for me, is very important when you try to start building your marketing strategy. You first test your product market fit. You need to be in a different market because your product does not address it, or you need to change your product to fit the market. The second one, which I said earlier, is to figure out the audience that you want to target and understand where that audience hangs out. If you are targeting a market that is more Gen Z and Millennials because that is where the future of home buying is, but you are focused more on TV, print, or you’re saying, “I don’t use social media. I don’t care about social media,” it becomes hard. That is because you are at a place where your future audience is not. For me, those were the two things when I was looking at in 2009 to carve out my marketing strategy. It has held up. It has withstood the test of time. I could still use the same strategy over and over again.
EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z
Gen Z: Figure out the audience that you want to target and understand where that audience hangs out.
It does still work if you think about it. I talk about it slightly differently but what you’re talking about is clarifying your audience and then, segmenting your audience down to, “Who is my ideal persona?” Let’s say I’m going to go after reverse lending. That’s an example. You’re going to do a segmentation of your audience to make sure you’re pinpointing that group of people. Your marketing, approach, campaign, and content are then very much designed to speak to that. It’s not only where they hang out and where they consume content, but also what they care about. You go all the way through. That is well said. It has held up so long. A lot of people think that all the technology and certainly the channels of engagement and what you can do with data have become more robust. It still is understanding your audience and then making sure the product set that you have can hit that bullseye. I want to get in a little bit into the Gen Z segment. You’ve always done well as a thought leader in this space in terms of your vision for how this generation which represents a massive opportunity going forward. Where do most lenders get it wrong when connecting with Gen Z? I don’t think we understand Gen Z very well as an industry. The reason for that is that it’s an aging industry. The average loan officer is probably closing in on 50 or maybe even higher than 50. The same is true for mortgage executives. They are probably even older. They probably were loan officers for a few years and then became executives. We are not on the ground with Gen Z. We need to understand that they think and behave differently than, in some cases, even Millennials. Some people think, “We got Millennials. We understand them. We understand Gen Z, not just their media consumption,” which is high on video platforms like YouTube and TikTok, followed closely by Instagram. Maybe Facebook and then everything else is much smaller in there. It is also the fact that they take financial advice from YouTubers and TikTokers. You would think sitting here as 50-year-old mortgage executives, “You must be kidding me that they are taking more financial advice from people who are YouTube influencers or something.” Forbes Advisor did research. 76% of Gen Z-ers had taken financial advice from someone on YouTube and TikTok and worked on that advice. It’s not like they have taken advice. You would think, “Maybe they’re taking advice on small little things, like which stock to invest in.” We all know the story of what happened on Reddit. Maybe they’re thinking on maybe which stock to invest in, but almost 22% of home-buying tips or home-buying information was taken on YouTube and Reddit. It is the same with debt consolidation or cred repair. It is almost 30% or 35%. What we are seeing is that they are not present on that platform. The first theory was that they are present on that platform, but they’re not taking financial advice from people there. First, that’s untrue. Second, even if they’re not taking on those platforms, 35% of them are doing online research. That means people like us that are blogging have a huge opportunity of getting found for creating videos on YouTube. We need to get out of that mindset of the fact that, “We have done it this way and it has always worked.” I’m not saying this is the only way to work. As Gen Z-ers get more mainstream, and they already are, it will become harder to target them through traditional media and the traditional way of working. If you don’t switch that or you don’t start focusing on that, years later, you may be too archaic to be able to attract that segment. That is said differently. You’ve put an exclamation point on this. If you don’t have a strategy around video as part of your marketing playbook, you better think about it. That’s because you’re going to be missing an entire segment in the way they consume content. Do you agree with that? I do. For me, the way I look at a customer journey is that whether you’re a Gen Z, a Millennial, a retiree, or whatever that is, there are three stages to experience. There’s a previous stage, during stage, and after stage. The previous stage is they have not interacted with your product and service. They have found you on the web. They have read your reviews. Somebody told you about them. That’s a previous stage. The customer journey, regardless of the customer, has three stages to experience: a previous stage, during stage, and after stage. Click To Tweet The during stage is when they engage with your product. That’s when you’re giving them the mortgage. They’re going through that process. What happens after the closing? Even if you get one part of it right, let’s say, you’re a good marketer. You understand Gen Z or maybe you’re slightly younger. You get to the top of the funnel. They come in and you don’t have the digital experience that they are looking for. I started taking online applications in 2008 when nobody even knew there was something called an online mortgage. That’s why it’s important to understand that getting them in the door is one part of the experience. You’re still missing the other two. When a robust CRM comes into place is both during the journey and after the journey. That’s where you’re able to stay in touch with them, both during and after. That’s why we have 8% to 15% depending on who you’re hearing. The retention rate is because the industry does not have that kind of focus on the fact that, “Once this closes, what happens next?” Platforms like Total Expert, you could potentially increase your business by 10%, 15%, or 20% practically by doing nothing while putting some of these post-journeys on autopilot. What we always look at and what’s still shocking is how awful the industry is at transitioning from the transaction to a longer-term relationship with that customer. It is equally as shocking. What you’re out is if you look at the customer journey, there are holes all over the place where opportunity is lost. In this environment, there is no business falling from the sky, so people are tending to spend time looking at it. It’s interesting because if you look at the pull-through rates and you look at the lead or application to close, the numbers are all over the board, but they’re not great. EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z A lot of organizations have maybe 50 and some have 60% pull-through. 40% to 50% of the people that apply are not funding. A lot of the time, the process maybe is taking more time. They’re out shopping. Tell me if you agree or give me your color on this. The lender is then not adding any additional value, education, content, or communication to help bring them through that customer journey. Is that how you see it? Give me your context around that.
I see it that way and I understand it this way as well. Even if that person came into the pipeline and has no option to go out because they have 30 days to close and you’re on day 7, they don’t like your process, but they have to still go through it. They are not referring you to future clients. They are not coming back themselves. I did seven loans in my first twelve months on the job. I didn’t know anyone and I had no money to invest. All of those seven plans, each one is probably valued at over $250,000 from me. It may be even $500,000. That is because it is not the size of the database. Every single person could potentially be a seven-figure customer for you because, over a decade or so, they will come back. They will buy investment homes or move up homes. They will refer a friend who will refer a friend. That’s part of the transaction that we don’t understand. Even if you made the client go through that transaction because he or she had no option, they are not coming back to you. They are going back to somebody else who promises a much more streamlined, digital, and faster experience next time. Every single person could potentially be a seven-figure customer for you. Click To Tweet This is cool that you’re pointing this out. It’s obvious why you’ve been successful. You understood the customer’s lifetime value from day one. It sounds like that was part of your strategy. For every customer you looked at bringing in, it was not, “I’m going to $5,000 or $10,000 on this loan, and I’m going to help them buy their first home.” It’s, “What’s the lifetime value potential of this individual customer? How can I make sure that I capture all of that over the next 20 to 30 years?” In marketing, it is called LTV. It is very different from the mortgage LTV, which is LifeTime Value. I was talking to Dan Catinella about this. In software, we talk about customer lifetime value all the time. In lending, it’s this new concept all of a sudden. That’s one of the first things that I teach to a new loan officer. I’m like, “Don’t worry about how much you make for transactions in the first year or two. Make enough so that you have bills to pay, but understand that you need to be working on building your database, not so much about how much you are making on each and every client. If you can get 20, 30, or 40 people in the database, then those 20, 30, or 40 people could be worth so much more. You have to play a long-term game with something like this.” The LTV from a marketing or SaaS perspective is something that the mortgage industry needs to understand because that’s how those industries work. For us, LTV means something else, but I hope that we could bring in this new acronym for the industry. Instead of Loan-to-Value, it is Customer LifeTime Value. We can call it CLTV or LTV, or whatever, but that’s LifeTime Value of the client. When you think about some of your foundational principles around marketing and growing the business, working in the database, and being intentional about that is a core part of that. Is there anything you’re willing to share on some of your best practices for maintaining, nurturing, and getting the most value out of the database? A lot of people are trying to figure that out. First of all, we need to simplify the business to the sense that 80% of our jobs should be about fixing three problems. I’ve said this I was struggling in the first year. I thought everybody that I would talk to would say, “You need to learn this. You need to learn that. You need to network.” I was like, “As a successful loan officer, I need to be good at these hundreds of things. I would never be able to get to it.” I’ve broken it down into something very simple. At the core of it, you need to solve three problems, how you get more leads, how you convert those leads, and how you get the converted leads to refer you to more leads. That’s the essence of the business. That’s all there is. There is support in everything that happens behind the door to support these activities. I’m not discounting operations or everything else that is critical to this job, but that’s what our focus should be. EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z Everything should roll up to those things. Everything should roll up to those three problems. If you can solve those three problems, everything else is secondary. The problem is the focus on that. It is everything. Whether you’re doing operational efficiency or you’re implementing new technology, nothing should be for the sake of, “This technology is for technology’s sake.” I see it in Silicon Valley. You’ll be surprised at how many times a year there is a product idea that is funded $20 million or $30 million by VCs. I’m like, “What problem does it solve? How did they get that funding?” They went to Stanford or something. They have a degree and all of that stuff. We know that this is not a product that’s going to last. Lo and behold, 2 or 3 years later, the company closes down because they were not solving any problems. We’ve seen that story so many times. That’s the important part. You take those three problems and then you make your own solutions. You asked us to give some tips on all three parts of it. This is going to be simple. For the first part, which was how you get more leads, for us, it was always about education. It is not education directly to the client through content creation. We’re doing a ton of events for real estate agents. Whether I had 5 people in the room or 125 people in the room, or I was doing a national webinar, it doesn’t matter. We do a ton of events for our real estate agents. We do a ton of education for our financial planners, CPAs, and every referral partner because they are in direct contact with the client. They need to be educated on what’s there. The second part is operational efficiency and digitization of the entire process. It is whatever technology you need to digitize the process. All of this questions operational efficiency. We have an operational call every week to figure out whether we can save two minutes from here. It’s nothing radical. We are not changing the mortgage process dramatically. Sometimes, it is, “Why are we ordering flood cert and then going back and doing this? Why can’t we do both of these at the same time? Sometimes, it is minor things.” It was a Kaizen philosophy that Japanese carmakers did. That’s why they outsmarted the American car makers at that time. Finally, what happens after closing this? How do you get your closed clients to refer you more clients? That’s where an effective CRM comes into place. If you do not have that, then you’re losing. Half of my clients come from that after-process. Imagine I would be doing 50% less business. Some years, it’s higher. Some years, it’s lower. I’ll be doing half the business that I’m doing if I was focused on the 1st step and the 2nd step and I was not solving problem number three.
EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z
Gen Z: If you don’t have an effective CRM, then you’re losing.
That’s unbelievable. It puts an exclamation point on how important that process is. Particularly, 50% of your business comes from the database, which is huge. If you look at elite producers and organizations using data to drive deals and opportunity, it is core to that strategy. Thank you so much. I have a last question and I’m going to let you go. What advice do you have for lenders this 2023 to be successful? Sit down, focus on solving those three problems, and give yourself some time. Sometimes, it feels like even one extra week of less production is a lot. I run a small company with tight budgets. It’s not a deep pocket that some of the bigger companies have. That’s the thing about this industry. You need to have a 3-month plan and a 3-year plan at all points in time. You should be working on both simultaneously. If you’re only working in the short-term plan, then you get in a year like 2022 and 2023 and you’re crushed. If you’re only working on the long-term plan, then you have to have deep pockets, which we do not do. That will be my advice. Work on a 3-month plan and a 3-year plan simultaneously. More importantly, work it. When I say work on it, that’s working on it, not just writing it on a piece of paper. Do the work. That is well said. Thank you so much. Congrats on all the success you’ve had in the last few years. I look forward to catching up soon. I look forward to it as well. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

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About Shashank Shekhar

EXIN S3 E5 | Gen Z After starting his business in possibly the worst year for financial markets, i.e., 2008, Shashank Shekhar has led the company to be one of the fastest-growing mortgage companies in America by helping thousands of families secure better financing for their homes. Their growth has been built on the pillars of legendary customer service and an unrelenting focus on education. Shashank lives and breathes the mantra “We are in the customer service and education business, we just happen to do mortgages.” #1 best-selling author Shashank was named “2022 Entrepreneur of the Year” by Stevie Awards and is the host of the “Shashank Redemption” podcast. In September 2020, Shashank led his team to create Rachel, the world’s first digital human in the mortgage industry.