Bill Lyons, EO San Diego, founder and CEO Griffin Fund, A regional boutique mortgage bank, helps veterans, active-duty military personnel and self-employed individuals realize and maintain the dream of home ownership in the United States. Griffin Funding was listed as one of the highest-scoring companies in Inc. Magazine’s 2021 Best Workplace Annual List and was listed as No. 2,471 in 2021 Inc. 5000 list One of the fastest growing private companies in North America. We asked Bill how he built such a unique mortgage banking business. This is what he shared.
Your company focuses on serving veterans through its home mortgage products and community impact. What brought you to this niche market?
When I started the company in 2013, I wanted to focus on the niche market, not for everyone. I want the company to be different. When you operate in a niche market, you can focus on it and become an expert in it.
I chose the VA loan because it allows us to focus on and help the active military and veterans serving our country realize and maintain the dream of home ownership in the United States. A VA loan is a type of mortgage loan provided through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program. Having expertise in VA loans allows our loan officers to become consultants and consultants, not just salespeople selling mortgages. Most mortgage companies don’t understand all the ins and outs of VA loans and what you can and cannot do. Focusing on VA loans allows us to provide the greatest value to our customers.
Because we worked closely with veterans and participated in a great project like Soldier’s shelter It’s very simple. Shelter to Soldier is a non-profit organization that brings together combat veterans and rescue dogs-mainly to help two people recover and move forward together. We have seen that providing the right loans that suit the needs of veterans has a positive impact on these heroes who have made great contributions to our country. When we learned about a non-profit organization that connects rescue dogs with veterans, we hope to become one of them and further have a positive impact on the local veteran community.
We are also focusing on creating a veteran outreach coordinator position to help provide support services to veterans and hire more veterans.
What is your process of hiring a chief operating officer, and how does it affect you personally and professionally?
In mid-2019, we hired Evan Kidwell, initially serving as Vice President of Strategy. I know that if we want to expand and grow, we need people like Evan to help us get to the next level.
After Evan joined us, we focused on recruiting the talents we need to grow. Evan has developed a three-part recruitment process to ensure that we identify the right talent for our culture. As a result, business is in full swing.
Evan helped me grow personally and professionally. We have the same business values and the same mission, which ultimately enables us to succeed as a company. When it comes to the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS), there is no doubt that I am a visionary, and Evan is clearly an integrator.
What would you share with other entrepreneurs considering hiring a second-in-command?
Hire a suitable deputy For me it changed the rules of the game. I have been struggling to find the right person throughout my career.Failure and learning, failure and learning-finally Find the right person.
The first person to look for is someone who knows that he is the second in command and who is self-aware of his own strengths. Without Slash, Axl would not be Axl, and without Slash, Guns N’Roses would not be Guns N’Roses. Everyone wants to be a person with vision and ideas, but there are not enough executors there.
Finding the right deputy, he wants to be a deputy, and hopes to become the best deputy in his entire career through continuous improvement and growth, which is very important to me.
Tell us how to be included in Inc. Magazine’s 2021 best workplace list.
As a talent-first company, we put the team first. Rather than hiring managers and bosses, we see them as recruiters who can become our team’s resource leaders. We care about our team members and make sure that everyone is cross-trained, so when people are in an emergency or just want to take a vacation, they will not feel that they let the team down.
All this has to do with talent acquisition and talent management. This attention has cultivated the assets that make our company strong, and I list them as:
- Human capital is our first asset.
- Loyal and fanatic customers are our second largest asset.
- Our brand is our third largest asset.
During the pandemic, our company focused on caring for the team. We know that if we take good care of our team, they will in turn take care of our customers with five-star service. We promote “self-care” by hiring performance coaches and giving everyone free access to the Peloton app.
We know that if we are to thrive, we must make people connected, conscious, and compassionate. We learned a lot, so we become a better company today.
How do your company’s core values affect your business decisions?
Caring is one of our company’s highest values. When you care about each other as teammates, it will demonstrate and lead a positive culture that attracts more top talent. When you care about your customers, it will show up—and it will bring 5-star reviews, repeat customers, and recommendations.
Most people leave the company because they dislike the boss, disagree with the leader’s vision, and/or feel unappreciated. We are very busy and have a lot of things to do. I find that handwritten notes or thoughtful thanks can go a long way—not only for our team members, but also for customers, family, and friends. It lets them know that you are thinking about them and that you really care about them.
How will the knowledge you learn during the pandemic affect your entrepreneurial journey?
Before the pandemic hit, I never knew why I had to go through the experience of the Great Recession in 2008. As soon as it hit, I felt an unprecedented sense of certainty. It allows me to be the leader I have been training to be my entire life.
I used to Help other entrepreneurs In my local EO chapter, they have never experienced a crisis or economic recession before. I am fortunate to be able to contribute to my local entrepreneurial community. I learned how to become a better leader, how to best support and coach the team, and how to successfully support a fully remote team and ultimately support a mixed workforce across multiple states. I cannot become a captain without a great commander and helmsman like Evan at the helm.