When the economy gives you lemons

A microphone on a podium

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: Morale in the mortgage industry has been in the pits. The Labor Department estimates nearly 100,000 jobs related to credit and lending have been lost.

So how can managers pump up the workforce? Hire business cheerleaders. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: When employees are bombarded with messages about how lousy business is, it's time for the company to recruit an optimist.

Frank Candy: The one thing that's gotten myself and a lot of my friends who are in this business through is believing in yourself and hope for a better tomorrow.

That's Frank Candy, president of the American Speakers Bureau. He says business with the mortgage industry is up about 20 percent.

Candy: What the mortgage industry is asking for is speakers with relevant content. Like, how do I deal with this change? And how do I do more with less?

Candy may deliver the pep-talk himself. Or he may send a motivational speaker, like Chuck Carmen.

Chuck Carmen: If you go back and look through history, I mean, some of the lean times, even back during Depression, there were more millionaires made then than there were in the good times.

Carmen makes between $5,000 for a keynote and up to 25 grand for a two-day intensive workshop. In the past, he's done presentations for Countrywide and others in the industry.

If addressing a mortgage company today, Carmen would press managers to deal with the morale issue. Get it out in the open.

Carmen: I love negativity. It's an honest feeling. It's an honest emotion. Let's face it, confront it. I want to get that real emotion out in the open, I want people to talk about it, and then I want to address it.

Even if they'd like a cheerleader, some companies can't afford it.

Frank Candy with the American Speakers Bureau says companies want to hire motivational speakers -- but on the cheap.

Candy: They're calling us and saying, "We'd like to bring in a good speaker, but we don't have the budget that we used to have." And so they're asking for more, and hoping to pay less.

The ones who shell out are hoping some of Chuck Carmen's optimism will rub off. Look at the bright side, Carmen says. You can still get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for 6.5 percent.

Carmen: I remember back in the early 80's, when I bought a house at 17 percent interest. So, I mean, it's all relative in how you look at it.

Carmen says there's life after subprime for mortgage brokers. If nothing else, they can earn commissions off the speculators buying homes in foreclosure.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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