When you’re scaling your business and adding new people into your operation, there’s always going to be a temptation to continue to keep tasks to yourself because you don’t absolutely trust the people you’re working with. But delegating tasks can mean the difference between scaling your company and stagnating, so you have a choice to make. Christopher Swartz is a Managing Partner with First Choice Mortgage Advisors, LLC. Joining Penny Zenker, Christopher goes into the most important aspects of delegating tasks. Learn from the tips that Christopher and Penny share, and make yourself a much more efficient entrepreneur in the process!
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Letting Go And Delegating With Christopher Swartz
On this show, we are dedicated to find different tips and tricks and people who are going to help you to work smarter because that’s what it’s all about. You don’t want to work harder and make less money. You want to make more money and do less in doing that. This is what this show is all about. It’s helping you to take back time. Christopher Swartz is here. He is a mortgage loan officer and managing partner with First Choice Mortgage Advisors. He has many years of experience in the mortgage industry, serving a wide range of clientele, providing them with different residential mortgage loan products. Chris specializes in conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, and renovation mortgage loan.
He’s won a lot of awards too. I was impressed. He was nominated by Mortgage Professional Magazine for their Young Guns Award for mortgage professionals under 40 who are making the big waves in the mortgage industry. He was also back-to-back Five Star Mortgage Professional Award winner in 2018 and 2019. He was featured in the March 2019 edition of Forbes Magazine as a market leader. He’s 1 of 8 mortgage professionals out of 4,996 in the Philadelphia area to receive this award. He also got some other passions in his life. He is the host of a podcast called FUEL, where he talks to high-level people and explores the foundation under extraordinary lives. He’s looking at how do people get the most out of their lives. Chris, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me, Penny. It’s a pleasure to be on the show and talk about and share what we do. Sorry for the mishmash of different things there. We’ve got the mortgage industry, which is my passion and what I do, and then the podcast, FUEL, which we can talk about as well. There’s a whole lot going on. We’re trying to manage it all and stay organized is the key.
There are no apologies necessary. That’s what we do. That’s a great start. We are somehow apologetic for all the interests that we have and all the things that we want to be involved in. The truth is that we can do a multitude of different things and see success and all of those areas.
If you have a plan and you’re focused, you can achieve success in different areas and different industries. If you look at some of the most successful people in business and entrepreneurs especially, generally they don’t just have one business. If you have that entrepreneurial bug, you’ve got a couple things going on. You can do it if you manage it correctly.
That’s what makes us more productive. Don’t you find that as you’ve got these different interests and things that you’re doing, you’re forced to look at it in a way where you’ve got to schedule yourself better? We’re going to talk about delegation. What are some of the things that you do that enable you to have multiple interests and multiple areas of success?
The biggest thing is getting organized, looking at what you have to do, and getting that down. There are many different ways to get organized. As an entrepreneur and as someone that has gone through a lot of coaching and those types of things, there are many different tools. I’m not going to get into what works and be like, “Try this one.” You can use a simple notepad. I have my little digital notepad, the reMarkable tablet. It’s simple and you make your to-do list. There’s fancy software. You need to figure out what it is that you’re looking to do, get clear on what that is, and then map it out.
When you say clear on what you want to do, do you set goals in those areas?
You can set goals as a top-level where you want to be, but then breaking it down into little micro goals like, “Where do I want to be by the end of the day?”
That’s how we get there. It’s one day at a time.
The biggest thing is figuring out. You can set those top-level goals and where you want to be in 3, 6 months, 1 or 5 years from now, but you have to start with today. You’re not going to get there if you don’t know the steps along the way. Mapping that out and then figuring out what that looks like for you is the first step to being able to manage multiple businesses, multiple interests, whatever you want to call it. It’s getting clear on what you want and then getting crystal clear on the action steps that you need to take to get there.
How do you manage your day?
Speaking of technology, one of the things that’s been great is I live by my calendar. If it’s not on there, good luck. Whether it’s the family or the work, I have to put it on my calendar. Fortunately, we have these wonderful digital platforms where you can integrate everything and all these different systems talk. I use the scheduling software. There are a slew of them out there like Calendly and all of these scheduling tools. I use OnceHub and that changed the game for me.
I used to have an assistant that used to spend all this time scheduling. I can relate to that. I was able to eliminate a position because they can do it themselves.
Make sure you set and keep track of your top-level goals. Click To Tweet You almost have this built-in. The key to all of this is efficiency. How can you drive efficiency into your life and your business? This little simple tool is $10 a month. Some of them have free versions. It’s simple, but it gives you back that time. You’re talking about taking back time. In my business as a mortgage broker, all I’m doing is chasing people down. I need to schedule a time to talk about your loan process. I need to schedule time to talk to you about your want to buy a home, and all of these things. You can imagine. You’re trying to chase people down and say, “Does Thursday at 2:00 work for you?” “No, it doesn’t.” You’re back and forth and there’s all this time loss. My scheduling tool has been the simplest little life hack to running my day. It’s like, “Do you want to meet with me? Do you want to do whatever it is? Here’s the schedule. Put yourself on there at a time that works for you and I’ll show up.”
Before you used a tool like that, how many times did you have to reschedule a meeting because it was scheduled and then they had to reschedule, and it goes back and forth? How many of those do you think you had?
Hundreds if you add them up. Not only that but we have a team of people that work at our company and they’re getting that time back. Think about if I had hundreds of appointments throughout the year that I spent hours upon hours trying to figure out a time to even connect, multiply that by my team in our company, how many hours are they wasting going back? Everybody on the team has this tool. You can always call us. We’re accessible like we were before this. This is one little thing that if it works for you, you can use it. It’s going to be more efficient 90% of the time.
I know you probably don’t track this but I’m curious, how many hours a week do you think that you save for yourself? We could multiply that by the number of people that you have. How many hours do you think you saved from a simple tool like this?
It’s a bit of a guess. My whole business is driven by appointments. I’d have to say I’ve got a good 1 to 2 hours back a week if you add it up.
That’s huge. It’s not to be sneezed at. If you think about that, 2 hours a week times 4 weeks in a month and then times 12, it’s 96 hours.
When you think about whatever it is that you do, what is your time worth an hour? One of the biggest things for me is knowing the value of your time. If you talk about any type of currency, time is the most precious form of currency that we have. To give somebody an hour of your time and saying, “I got two hours a week back,” is priceless.
People don’t realize it. They think, “We save 1 or 2 hours,” but an hour or two multiplied by every week, what could you do with 96 or more hours a year? You could do a lot of things with 96 hours. You could do something you’re additionally passionate about. Thank you. I wanted to put that into perspective for people of what that can mean. What else do you do? You talked about calendaring as a key thing and scheduling those appointments. We had talked about delegating as something that you do a lot of. Tell us a little bit about that and how important that is in your day.
In the mortgage industry, as you evolve in any career, you did things in the beginning to get started because you had to. Maybe you didn’t have the money or the resources, or you didn’t know any better. As I’ve evolved through lots of coaching and self-exploration and figuring out, “What am I best at? Where am I able to serve the people that are looking for my help in the highest and best capacity?” You start to peel that back and you look. There’s an exercise that we like to do with our team. This is a phrase that’s coined from one of my coaching groups. I can’t take the phrase but they call it the Acts of Freedom. It’s a hokey term for sure, but what it is, you list out everything that you do during the day and who does it.
The first time I did that exercise, there are 47 tasks on my side and there are three on the other side. You’re like, “Do I need to be doing this?” “No. This person can do that,” or you create a role that doesn’t exist. You create, “I don’t need to do all these things because my time is worth X. I could have somebody do these tasks for a fraction of that.” If your hourly worth is $50 to $100 and you’re doing tasks that you can pay somebody $15 an hour, you need to shift that. The biggest thing for me is the shift in delegating those things. Not that I can’t do them. It’s just keeping me from doing what I’m best at.
If we can pay somebody half of what our value is worth out there generating new business, that’s a no-brainer. It’s key to do that exercise. I’ve done a similar type of exercise, I call it The 4-Hour Workweek dedicated to something I learned from Tim Ferriss. It’s how you can reduce down the tasks that you’re doing. You said something critical and what I have in my Seven Steps to Master Time Blocking is understanding the value of your time. A lot of people focus on tasks that are not in their highest and best interest or low-value tasks because they’re not focused and in connection with what their time is worth. I wanted to highlight what you said, which is somewhere along the way, you’ve got to be clear on that so you could get clear on what it is that you’re going to delegate.
Whether it’s somebody that’s you’re working with now or somebody you need to go out and find, at least you can define the tasks that you would like that person to do. From there, you list the job of making sure that you are clear with them on the things that you need them to do or finding the right person to do those things. Those tie into Tim Ferriss’ with The 4-Hour Workweek. That delegation piece is scary.
Some people feel like it’s a total loss of control, so they won’t do it.
In one of the groups that I’m in, we always say, “You’ve got to test the engine.” You’ve got to run the engine, let it break, and see what blows up, and then you can go in. If you think about a high level, let’s say NASCAR or some of these things, that’s what they do. They push the envelope until they say, “We can’t push anymore because the piston broke,” or whatever it was. What do we do? We make a stronger piston. That’s what you do. You learn but you have to have confidence in yourself and the judgment that you’ve made to empower that person to do the task that you’re giving them. If you’re not confident there, you’re never going to let go and you’re never going to grow.
You can kiss scalability goodbye because everything runs through you and you become the bottleneck. Not only will that run you into the ground, but it will run your business into the ground as well.
For me as an extroverted person who likes to be in control, part of it was a little humbling exercise to say, “It’s not that important.” People need this task done. As sad as it may be, they don’t care if I do it or Susie on the team. They need to get to the next step. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of things that I have a need for and I feel good about but some things, you’ve got to realize that you don’t need to do it and the person on the other end doesn’t care if you do it. They just want it done.
If you could give us your top 2 or 3 tips on successfully delegating. In your mind, you’ve shared with us some of the things we need to think about to get us in the right mindset. What are some techniques or skills that can help people to be better delegators?
The biggest thing, especially if you’re new to starting to delegate, is it’s uncomfortable because this is maybe your business. That’s your baby. You can’t let somebody else possibly do what you do. Nobody will do it as well as you. You need to have some accountability with the person that you’re allowing to do those tests and you need to have some tracking in place and make sure that you’re able to check-in. The biggest thing for me with my team is when I delegate to you, I want to delete it from my brain. You own it and you’re going to let me know when it’s done or it’s going to be done and ready to move to the next step.
If you try to delegate and you don’t move on from it or you don’t have the systems in place to check in on that task, you might as well do it yourself because it’s taking up brainpower and the bandwidth. One of the biggest things is putting some accountability system in place to make sure that you feel good and you know, “I’ve delegated this to Susie or Joe. I can look over here in this system or wherever it may be and see that it’s in process,” or “We have daily check-in so we’re going to run through things.” We use another little tech hack. We use a software called Asana. It’s a simple task management system.
It’s a free tool. There’s free access for those who go, “I can’t afford any tools.” This one, you can.
We run our team with it. I’ve yet to figure out why you would pay for this tool because the free version is awesome. That’s what we use. I delegate it and we put it on there. For my peace of mind, I can look and I can see what’s still has to be done on the other side but I can take it out of my space.
You talked about accountability and making sure there’s accountability in place. You talked about having some tracking. An accountability is deadlines. It helps you to track that and do those check-in points so that you can let it go from your mind. It also helps you to empower that person to complete the task at hand as opposed to micromanagement. That’s where we killed this empowerment. When we are all over them telling them exactly what to do and how to do it, that’s not delegation. Also, the tools that you have. Is there anything else that you wanted to share? I wanted to switch gears a little bit and talk about some other things too. Is there anything else that you think that that’s worth mentioning around delegation for people who are uncomfortable with delegation?
I think we hit the highlights. It’s getting clear. There are some cool tools out there that you can use if you’re looking to delegate and you have a team in place, but you’re not sure if they’re the fit or what you should be delegating to them. Maybe you do that exercise and write the list of what you’re doing and what you could delegate. Now you’ve come up with a role that doesn’t exist. That person is going to have certain personality traits. Do you want them to be outgoing or analytical based on the role? The last thing I will touch on is that we find helpful and there are different variations of this and there’s the DISC profile and there are all kinds of different levels. You can get pretty crazy with the DISC profiling.
If you can use a tool like these personality assessments, make sure because one of the biggest things is you have a need to delegate X to somebody to free yourself up. You go out and you find somebody, “Here’s this person. They said they would do it.” You need to make sure that person is the right fit. Those tools like the DISC profile or something along those lines can gauge their personality, their characteristics, and how they’re going to thrive in a position. That would be the only other little tip that I would share. It’s making sure that the person is right for the task that you’re delegating.
For people reading, it’s important even though you may know 1 or 2 of these or you maybe even know all of them, the question is, are you doing them? Sometimes we know but we don’t do what we know. It’s also good to look at what’s stopping you from taking the action that you know is something that’s going to be good for your business. I also want you to consider that as you’re thinking about what you can delegate.
We all know what we need to do if we want to lose weight or if we want to get in shape. There’s no secret. You need to go to the gym and eat healthy, but what are you doing? A lot of these things for me, if you get involved in coaching and things, I’m dropping any earth-shattering new news on people. This is the stuff that people are doing that’s been out there, but sometimes hearing it enough to say, “It’s time that I take action on that.” That’s what I would encourage people to do. If you’ve heard this stuff before and you know about it, are you doing it? I love that. That’s a great point, Penny.
Often, we find that there’s a question that we ask ourselves all the time that drives us or drives what we focus on. At the end of the day, what results do we get? If you had to say what was the one question that you continually asked yourself, it might be unconscious, you might have never thought about this before, but you’ve done a lot of coaching so maybe you have. What’s the one question that you think that you ask yourself all the time that has made you so successful as you are now?
The question I asked, and I’ve come up with a podcast around this, my podcast is called FUEL. What is my fuel? You could go back and make it something that you would relate to, what’s your why? Why are you doing this? Why do you want what it is that you’re setting out to achieve? That’s the question. You need to find your fuel or your why. That’s the question I asked myself. Why am I doing this? That has spun into what’s your fuel?
Be clear on what it is that you’re going to delegate. Click To Tweet I love it. I didn’t even know that was going to lead into there. I didn’t know what your question is. I want to talk more about your podcast but I’d like to know what is your why.
That was a genuine answer to your question not a lay-up into the podcast. It was fitting to the question.
People know that I don’t script this. We go wherever we go. What is that why for you? When you say, “This is what drives me and this is what I’m passionate about,” what is that?
In a nutshell, I grew up with a humble means. Single mom, on government assistance, living in an apartment, and seeing family members. Around at the time, we’re living in poverty and not achieving things that I would see on TV or the books and aspire to do. That why for me is I want it to break that cycle of being another poverty statistic. I wanted to go to college, own a home, have a family, and not repeat those cycles. The why for me drives me and takes me back to those younger years of wanting to live a better life than the people that I had grown up around with and saying, “I want to be different.”
That was and is my fuel and why every day. I can up that bar. At first, it was, “I don’t want to live this type of life. I want to own a home, go to college, and have these things.” The cool thing about it is that starts to evolve because you don’t just buy a home or graduate college and do these things and say, “I made it. It’s done. Life’s over.” That’s the why and the fuel but it continues to evolve. I’m married now. I want to be the best husband I can be. I have two girls so now the bar is up there. I want to be the best father that I can be. You can continue to build on that foundation and that’s what I do every day.
It is true that it evolves. That question for us evolves and brings us to different places. Is that where FUEL came from?
That is where FUEL came from. My passion is connecting with people, listening to their stories, and trying to provide a solution or developing relationships. The vehicle that I use to do that and my “9:00 to 5:00” is the mortgage business and industry. I’m one of the partners in my own company with First Choice Mortgage Advisors. What I’m doing is connecting with people and they’re sharing their story of wanting to own a home or a second home and all those things.
Through that, I’ve realized that my passion is connecting with people, hearing their stories, and FUEL is the platform that I’ve created, which is an acronym for Foundations Under Extraordinary Lives. That’s where FUEL evolved from. I love hearing people’s stories. The little couple of minutes there that I shared about my past and my story and what my fuel is. People can maybe relate to that and take something out of it and say, “I had a similar experience. I’m going to use that as my fuel and I’m going to change my circumstances. I’m going to make a difference.” That’s what fuel is and everybody’s fuel is different. I want to hear what I call your fuel story, what drives you, what makes you get out of bed, and have that energy and that fire.
I like to interview people that are achieving at high levels, whether it’s in their business or personal lives. I like to allow them to share their story to empower others to find their fuel and that’s what FUEL is all about. You can tune in 20 to 30 minutes while you’re in the car. Get some little nuggets and hear the story behind the person because most of these people that we interview are known exclusively for their career, “He’s the best at so-and-so. He’s the best real estate agent.”
There’s something that drove them there to be the best. I can relate to that. When we first met, we were talking about how awesome it is to hear people’s stories and there’s a different connection when you hear the backstory of someone. You’re in the mortgage business. You’re helping people fulfill their dreams because there was a dream that you had. It’s interesting to connect that story with what it is that people are doing. One of the things that I discovered and it’s morphed over time, but for me, what have been underlying if you want to call it fuel story or whatever. It started when my father passed away when I was nineteen.
For many people, it’s like the pandemic now. I got clear on what was important. Time was limited and what I wanted for my life and what was important to me. Living my life to the fullest, being the example, and being adventurous those were things that drove me so you can fill it in. You can see when you look back at all the things that I did in my life and how that was a driver. That’s awesome that you’re pulling that out in a longer conversation with people in your podcast. I highly suggest that you check that podcast out.
If you’re not sure what your why is, it’s as important to this conversation of Take Back Time so you can appreciate and that you’re aligning your goals and your values with the actions that you’re taking every day. When you do that, it feels good, natural, and it’s going to help you be more in the flow. You’re going to be able to get through more obstacles faster because you’re on that path. Do you want to share anything else, Chris?
We’ve covered a lot of good stuff. People can go out there and check out some of those tools that we talked about. For any questions, they can reach out to me and we can get you all the information on that.
For sure, so everyone can find your podcast, your mortgage service, and connect with you. We’d love for you to reach out, connect and share the stories. You’re also on LinkedIn.
The podcast is TheFuelStory.com. That will give you the links. You can download the audio on all your favorite platforms. If you need help on the mortgage side, it’s First Choice Mortgage Advisors. We’re in Media, Delaware County and we can serve Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. If you have any needs there, you can check us out. I’m accessible. Find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and all those places. I’d love to connect with you and share. If you want more information on any of these little nuggets or you would like to be a guest on FUEL and feel like you have a fuel story that you want to share, you can reach out. I’m happy to help in any way I can.
Thanks, Chris, for being here.
Thanks for having me, Penny.
Thank you all for being here because you’re seeing all the different aspects that go into you being able to be more successful and to take back time in your life. We talked about two important things. Understanding scheduling, delegating, how to free yourself up, and control the time that you have, and also taking a look at what fuels you. That’s it for this episode. Thanks for being here and we’ll see you in the next episode.
- The 4-Hour Workweek
- Facebook – Chris Swartz
- LinkedIn – Chris Swartz
About Christopher Swartz
Christopher Swartz is a mortgage loan officer and Managing Partner with First Choice Mortgage Advisors, LLC. He has 15 years experience in the mortgage industry, serving a wide range of clientele providing them with various residential mortgage loan products. Christopher specializes in Conventional, Jumbo, FHA, VA, and renovation mortgage loans. Prior to joining First Choice Mortgage Advisors, LLC Christopher worked for Keystone Funding as Branch Manager.
Christopher has completed specialized training in renovation mortgage lending. He graduated from Cabrini University with a B.A. in organization business management.
Christopher was nominated by Mortgage Professional Magazine for their Young Guns Award for mortgage professionals under 40 who are making big waves in the mortgage industry. He was a back to back Five Star Mortgage Professional Award winner in 2018 and 2019. He was recently featured in the March 2019 edition of Forbes Magazine as Market Leader. He was 1 of 8 mortgage professionals out of 4,996 in the Philadelphia area to receive this award. He is the host of the FUEL podcast where he talks to high level explores the Foundations Under Extraordinary Lives.
Christopher lives in Media with his wife Lori, their two daughters one cat and one dog. When not working, Christopher likes to travel, fish and just relax with family and friends.
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