Memorial Day – back when I was born it was always May 30th not the last Monday in May. May 30th is also my birthday which is now known as “Traditional” Memorial Day, since the government made the changes to ensure a three-day weekend to start the summer.
I’ve always wondered if one of the reasons for my strong patriotism along with the love of our country and respect for the military sacrifices so many have made has to do with me being born on this day. Regardless of the reason I feel all Americans need to remember the reason for this holiday. It is so much more than just the “Start of Summer”.
According to History.com Memorial Day originated in the years following The Civil War. Memorial Day is a day in which many visit cemeteries to remember our fallen. Others go to parades to honor the fallen and those that fought along side of them.
It has been said in The Bible, John Chapter 15, Verse 13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Now comprehend how many have made that ultimate sacrifice for you, your family, your friends, and your fellow countrymen. The number is staggering.
The number of Americans that have paid the ultimate price is over 1.3 million per militaryfactory.com. And this does not include the millions more that have suffered both physical and mental disabilities. Unfortunately these numbers are only through 2012 and don’t include the many others that were killed in action since then. That’s an astounding sacrifice that has been made by people you didn’t even know.
As a birthday present to me I ask that while you are enjoying a long weekend with family and friends – that you take a moment of silence to pray for the fallen and reflect that without their sacrifice you would not be where you are today.
How do we keep from others having to pay the ultimate price? I leave you with this –
It has been said that if the children of the world’s politicians were the first into battle war would not exist.
Term Limits – it seems they are brought up every election cycle. And yes I have heard it over and over from the opposition. That we have term limits built-in through elections. Let’s be real, that is a complete fallacy due to the built-in advantages of the incumbent candidate. These advantages include:
All the direct mail that an incumbent can send throughout the year to their constituents for free.
Almost instant access to the media via press conferences and interviews on radio and television.
Name recognition from the aforementioned above bullet-points.
These built-in advantages are just too much to overcome for all except a very-well financed or wealthy candidate. The research proves this point. According to Politfact.com even though Congress has only a 11% approval rating, 94.6% of them are re-elected. That’s proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that incumbents have a grossly un-fair advantage over the challenger.
Though the above is a problem. The much larger problem and even great reason for term limits is the inefficiency of running for office every two years for Congress and Senate along with every four years for the presidency. Due to this inefficiency we only get a 50% productivity out of our elected official due to their spending half of their time running for re-election. Could you imagine if companies were run in this manner – we’d be in a depression. Though I think it is obvious we are in a “Political Depression” due to our current system of electing our national politicians.
Thus, I have come up with an easy and brilliant solution to get our government working efficiently again without members of congress living off the people for a lifetime. This idea will put the power where it belongs back in the hands of the people. Being elected was never about a lifetime appointment.
Here is my simple solution:
House of Representatives terms are for four years not two. One person cannot be elected for more than three terms.
The Senate would remain at six year terms with a maximum of two terms and they would again be appointed by the state governors and not elected.
The Office of President and Vice President would be for one six-year term.
That insures that no one in Congress can “run for life”. It means that they won’t have to worry about elections every two years. And finally the President can act in the best interest of the country without ever worrying about re-election.
Like most of the best things in life – Short & Simple.
Debt Snowball – that is when you continue to roll up assorted debts into one. It can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing. When a debt snowball is used to consolidate debt into one lower and manageable payment that is a good thing. Many consumers have done it in a good way using home-equity loans to pay-off other higher interest debt.
On the other hand, when you continue to roll-up more and more debt into a debt snowball just to accumulate more debt – you are creating a disaster. Unfortunately that is what Fannie-Mae appears to be doing by changing it’s underwriting guidelines with regards to student loans & payments. Yes that same Fannie-Mae that brought you the mortgage crisis of last decade seems hell-bent to do it again.
Up until now a lender had to count the fully-amortizing payment or one percent of the outstanding loan balance of a student loan in a borrower’s debt to income ratio. That is common sense – count the full-payment or more on a debt to determine a borrower’s ability to successfully repay a mortgage. Since we the people are backing these student loans and mortgages that is a reasonable and sound lending-approach.
Well folks that sound and reasonable approach just got turned upside down by Fannie-Mae. They have now changed their guidelines to allow lenders to accept the payment for the student loan that is reflected on the credit report. No longer following the common-sense guidelines aforementioned.
Here is the problem – the government allows student loan borrower’s to negotiate a lower-payment and defer the additional payment and interest to a future date. Basically they are allowing debt to be piled upon more debt. That usually doesn’t work out very well.
Thus, with Fannie-Mae’s new guidelines you are not qualifying the borrower on their real debt to income ratio – but on a deferred reduced payment that will be due at some point in the future.
This bad debt snowball may turn into another mortgage-crisis avalanche!
The Battle of San Jacinto happened on this day April, 21st a hundred and eight-one years ago. The battle was between Texas and Mexico in Texas quest for independence. It was fought in San Jacinto, Texas which is about twenty-two miles outside of what is now know as Houston, Texas.
The Mexican Army was led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. On the other side the Texas Army was led by General Sam Houston. Santa Anna had an Army with him of twelve hundred men that were fresh off a victory over the Texans at the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of Goliad. On the other hand, General Sam Houston had amassed an army of nine hundred men ready to avenge their losses to the Mexican Army. Santa Anna was known as a brutal dictator and had laid carnage to even women and children when fighting the Texans.
He was such an evil ruler that many of those that fought against him were citizens of Mexico known as Texicans. Even though the Texan Army was out-numbered they had several advantages going into the Battle of San Jacinto. First, they knew the lay of the land, it was familiar to them. On the other hand, it was foreign to the Mexican Army, and they established their camp in a vulnerable location. Moreover, the Mexican Army had been on a long march to get to San Jacinto. They were tired and weary. Lastly, the Texan Army was rested. They were also highly motivated by revenge along with their thirst for independence from Mexico.
Combining those factors when the Mexican Army took it’s afternoon siesta from their long March the Texans attacked at 4:30 PM. They charged the sleeping Mexican army with cries of “Remember The Alamo” & “Remember Goliad. Eighteen minutes later it was over. In what can be described as not only the shortest battle, but also the most decisive one as well.
The Texas Army in that short time had killed six hindered fifty Mexican soldiers and captured another three hundred. Moreover, the Texan Army only lost leven men with another thirty wounded in battle.
And that my friends is where the saying “Don’t Mess With Texas” evolved!
Krav Maga is the best self-defense system on the planet in my opinion. There is a reason most top Special Operation Groups use it. These include Navy Seals, Delta Force, SAS, and Shayetet 13 the Israeli equivalent of the US Navy Seals. In fact, Krav Maga is taught to every member of the Israeli Defense Force. Moreover, this combat system has been adopted by many of the top law enforcement agencies nationwide. If all of these “Teams” find it to be the best I’d say that my opinion is valid. Moreover, there is no self-defense system that has been more “Battle-Tested” than Krav Maga. That makes it a proven system that works.
Like many young boys I always had an interest in martial arts. Perhaps it was all of the Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and later Jackie Chan movies I had watched. Finally, after college I took the plunge and contacted many martial arts schools. The one I settled on at the time was Champions Martial Arts. It was a school that taught multiple systems as one. I practiced there for years obtaining a black-belt in Shin-Nagare Karate and Wu-Shu Kung-Fu.
There were lost of positive things I learned there. The four that you should learn at any quality martial arts school: Respect, Discipline, Patience, & Determination. It also provided me a place to set goals and obtain them through hard work. The most practical martial art I was introduced to there was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I had a solid foundation on ground-fighting. I also developed many friendships many of which I still enjoy today. Eventually the Head Instructor retired, and it was time to find a new martial arts school to train & practice.
About that time I heard about an Israeli Martial Art system called, Krav-Maga while watching a television program. What piqued my interest was the instructor talking about using “anything” as a weapon and the practicality of the system. It was simple, effective, and anyone could learn it. That was all I had to hear, now I had to find a place to checkout this martial art. And I’ll continue the story in my next post. Until then, “Walk In Peace”.
Texas Longhorns – they are my college team, and I’ve know that since I was five years old. Cheering for the Texas Longhorns is something I learned from my father, Russell Cox, and my uncle Jon House. Both of them are went to The University of Texas at Austin. They had season tickets to Texas Longhorns football games for as long as I can remember.
I remember the very first Texas football game I attended. It was against our rival Texas A&M on a cold November Thanksgiving Day in Austin, TX. It was cold for Texas anyway which meant you had to wear a sweater. For some reason my mom had packed a burgundy sweater for me. Unfortunately burgundy looks like maroon, the school color of our rival. I was so upset that everyone else was in Texas “Burnt-Orange” while I languished in ugly maroon.
Thus, that was the first time I had ever become upset with my mother. On the other hand, when you get that feeling over having to wear a maroon sweater you know without a doubt you are a Longhorn! The saving grace of that day was later in the evening when the game was played, my Longhorns slaughtered that Aggies.
That’s one of the great things about being a Texas fan, we dominate our two rivals – the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Aggies. Our all-time record against Oklahoma is 61-45-5 and against Texas A&M is 76-37-5. Unfortunately with Texas A&M moving conferences we no longer play them – for now anyway.
I was blessed that for the rest of my childhood thru my teenage years I was able to attend Texas football games. Moreover, I loved those trips to Austin with my parents and my Uncle Jon & Aunt Sue. Furthermore, with every game I attended the bigger fan I became.
Bleeding orange is something that I’ll do my entire life. Now it’s something I’ve passed onto my two sons, and they love it too!
Student Loan Crisis is now upon us and we need some reasonable solutions. Furthermore, we need them to be implemented immediately. This problem is a two headed monster – rising student loan debt and escalating college costs. Did you know that the average student loan debt is $27,000 per student according to Forbes. These issues are compounded by shortfalls in the education budgets at the state-level across the nation. Let’s first address an easy solution to the budget shortfalls before addressing the student loan crisis.
Universities are for the most part giant-educational bureaucracies. They, bureaucracies, are like a cancer, they must grow to survive. Moreover, the only way to stop the cancer is to cut out the malignancy. Thus, every university, especially every state-funded university should have to have it’s budget reviewed by outside independent auditors for the big three. Those would be waste, fraud, and redundancy.
One can only imagine how much of these can be found at any college by a consulting firm such as Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, or Bain & Company. Colleges should be required to “take a look under the hood” every two years before raising taxes or tuition.
Now back to the issue at hand solving the student loan crisis. I bet very few people know that student loan funds are deposited directly in to the students personal bank accounts. Giving eighteen year-olds access to cash and asking them to be responsible with it is akin to giving a pyromaniac unlimited access to gasoline and matches! It’s just not a good idea, but that’s what the government does – unbelievable!
A small minority of students may use the money for its’ intended purpose. On the other hand, the vast majority are going to buy beer, pizza, and spring-break road trips. Some females have been know to pay for breast augmentation with their student loan monies. Perhaps they should enhance their knowledge before their looks.
So what’s my solution?
Student loan funds should be directly disbursed in the name of the student for their intended purpose. The student submits a bill for college tuition the government pays the college directly. The students need housing and food? Then the government pays the university directly for the dormitory and meal-plan. Don’t want to live in a dorm with a meal-plan, fine but no student loan money for it. Textbooks, the government pays the bookstore directly.
If the student needs extra money they can get a job at the local Starbucks, wait tables, or get some other part-time job.
My plan will reduce waste, fraud, and abuse of student loan funds. In addition, it brings efficiency back to the use of the government’s funds.
One more thing we will limit the types of degrees one can obtain with student loans, but we’ll save that topic for another article.
Fun, most don’t have it anymore in the workplace. Moreover, people dread going to work because it is no longer that. That’s not the case at Fairway Independent Mortgage having fun is so important to our company’s culture that it is our third core value. Our CEO Steve Jacobson realizes if people aren’t having a good time they are less motivated. Furthermore, they are harder to retain.
So what’s the simple answer? Create and foster an environment where employees are encouraged to have fun! And it starts at the top. Our CEO, Steve Jacobson, sends out a “Friday Funny” created by Lindsey Hardman, our On-Boarding Coordinator. “Jake” as he’s known has the uncanny ability not only to know almost everyone’s name in the company, but has a nickname for them. And if you know the background of each person the nicknames are appropriately funny!
Furthermore, on our company calls there is always a great sense of humor from the executive team. They do a great job of filtering important information in humorous manner, which encourages you to be on the calls. I can guarantee you most companies have boring company-wide calls – not us!
Fairway is managed at the Branch Level, or what Jake calls “The Street”, because we know our local market better than anyone. And here at The Keslo Group of Fairway Independent Mortgage we take our Core Value # 3 to heart!
How’s that you say? Chris Kelso, our branch manager is the king of social media. His posts are always funny. He’s always making silly videos of the staff. Recording videos of our referral partners dancing between commercials on our radio show “The Real Estate Rat Pack”. Then he posts them on Facebook. In addition, how many mortgage companies have a wrapped “Monster Truck”? Chris came up with a contest. If you post a picture of him in the “Monster Truck” driving around town onto Facebook, we send you a Starbuck’s gift card.
The Kelso Group has a signature “environment” to foster having fun. We design our offices like a home, makes sense since we our in the home-mortgage business! When you walk-in it’s like walking into a “Great-Room”. There is no reception area. Attached to our “Great-Room” is a lounge/bar, and kitchen. We have lots of fun events here for our clients and referral partners – sushi-making parties, football/baseball/basketball watching parties, birthday parties, happy hours, and more!
No one loves what they do more than we do – let’s have some fun!
Franklin Texas Trips always include baseball for our family. Both boys play for the Houston Heat Organization and their 14 U & 13 U team play at “The Ranch” in Franklin, Texas. It’s a great environment and the best part is that teams from all over the state participate. That makes it easier to see how you stack up against the competition state-wide.
Franklin is a small town about thirty minutes north of Bryan-College Station Texas in the rolling hills of Central Texas. The town is the country seat of Robertson County. It is a town of only sixteen-hundred eighteen people, but they have in my opinion the most beautiful baseball fields in Texas. And that’s why Franklin Texas Trips are all about baseball for our family.
“The Ranch” is eighty-four acres that contains six baseball and softball fields. The fields are all built at different levels in the rolling hills of this gorgeous part of Texas. They are a combination of turf in the in-field and natural gas out-fields.
When we go to see our sons, Garrett & Tyler’s teams play there it’s a fun “road-trip for the entire family. Not only do we all go together we bring our German Shepherd and Yorkie-Poo with us. The park allows dogs on a leash and they love going as much as we do.
One of our traditions for our Franklin Texas Trips is a stop at “Country Donuts”. It’s a little donut shop in Franklin that has great donuts and the best apple-fritter you’ve ever tasted. The people that run it are very nice.
As you can imagine being a small town Franklin consequently doesn’t have a lot of dining options. So much of the time we pack lunches and snack with us – those are essential items of a “road trip” anyway. If we have to get something there is a good burger place called The General Store in the next town over in New Baden.
Overall we love our “Baseball Experience” at “The Ranch” in Franklin, Texas. If you ever get a chance to watch a game there on a beautiful-spring day – do it! It’s a great combination of two of America’s past-times: Baseball & Small Towns.
If you are not learning, you are not growing, and you are not helping you clients.
If there is ever an industry in a constant state of change, it would be ours – the mortgage industry. Guidelines seem to change hourly, regulations, compliance, loan programs. The list goes on & on.
You have to embrace this constant change to be the best in the business. And the best way to do that is by fostering knowledge and growth.
One of the things we do at Fairway to stay on top of change on a daily basis – is to send two different e-mails to inform everyone company-wide of changes.
The first is ” The Retail Daily Credit Policy Newsletter”. It addresses any regulatory changes from the likes of Fannie-Mae, Freddie-Mac, and FHA. In addition, it alerts us to upcoming guideline changes from these same agencies in addition, to our portfolio lender programs.
The second, is “The Product Post Of The Day”. It advises to new products available to our clients. In addition, it alerts us to any changes to existing products.
At Fairway we are also required to take annual training for compliance, and security for documents. Our client’s privacy and the security of their private information is paramount at Fairway.
Our CEO Steve Jacobson is a huge believe in coaching. Branch managers and their loan officers have access to the best coaching programs in the industry. Many of these are paid for in part or whole by the company – they are that important.
We have on-going training through on-line educational programs thru our Fairway Mortgage University. There are so many great classes available for every position in our company.
We also have weekly webinars for new products and programs so we can better serve our clients.
Finally, we have live classes and seminars on a variety of subjects that are available to the appropriate staff.
Education is power and thru fostering knowledge and growth we want to be the most powerful and educated mortgage company for our clients – they deserve nothing but the best!
Cary Michael Cox – Operations Manager The Kelso Group