On today’s The Small Business Show, we’re joined by Glenn Stearns, star of Undercover Billionaire, Author of “InteGRITy: My Slow and Painful Journey to Success.” Glenn has been featured on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list, is a world-renowned businessman and entrepreneur, and is the founder of Stearns Lending.
From Maryland to California, out of college with big eyes and ambitious goals, Stearns started his journey as a waiter. He had large eyes and lofty objectives. “I was doing house loans and waiting tables,” he claims. Looking back, it was a sluggish beginning. “Most people expect instant success when they start a business,” he continues. However, the truth is that it takes time. One of the biggest privately held mortgage lending businesses in the U.S., Stearns Lending, Glenn launched in 1989 and sold to Brian Hale, former president of MetLife Home Loans, in 2012.
By 2020, Glenn returned to his mortgage banking roots and envisioned how wholesale mortgage lending would develop going forward by focusing on creating a company centered around its seasoned veteran employees, passionate about helping others and fundamentally good-hearted. From this vision, Kind Lending was born. It’s now one of the country’s top five wholesale mortgage lending companies and growing.
As Stearns grew through his career, the 2007 and 2008 financial crises broke out, but he went all in, unlike many. “When I look back at it, that uncertainty ended up being the best time of my life. In September of ’07, we did $19 million in business, and in 2020 we did $24 billion, which is how we became the country’s second-largest privately owned lending company.” He further explains, “My whole life has been focused on business, so when I was first diagnosed with cancer and the opportunity to go on Discovery’s UnderCover Billionaire, I took the opportunity to emphasize to my children how to have integrity and build a network of support around them.” After he beat cancer and completed the show, his novel was born.
In his novel, one of the key themes is integrity. Hence Stearns notes, “You have to preserve through adversity. Adversity is what leads you to where you are today.” You can either choose to be a victim or a victor. He adds, “Despite experiencing adversity, adversity is really an opportunity waiting to be approached.” The past is the past, “All we can do is learn and grow from it.” Glenn further explains that adversity is the difference between entrepreneurs having good or bad days.
Ultimately, every business will have its glorious rainy money days and not-so-glorious dry days. However, if you as a business owner are honest, have strong principles, and behave ethically while doing the right thing, even behind closed doors, then you exhibit integrity. Further, if you have a robust support system, then how you treat your team can either help or hurt you and your company. But it all depends on how you let adversity affect you and your counteractions.