Glenn Stearns, "Undercover Billionaire" Star, Founder and CEO at Kind Lending & Author
For those of you that see Glenn Stearns now, the star of "Undercover Billionaire" and CEO of Kind Lending that seemingly has it all started with very humble beginnings.
He grew up in Maryland, and his mother was a grocery checker and cleaned homes while his dad was a printer. Glenn failed the fourth grade and had a child at the age of 14. Most people would look at these insurmountable odds and relegate themselves to living an ordinary life. Glenn said it set him up for success. He had to leave school early and go to work to support his new child, and it instilled in him an incredible work ethic which he credits for building his empire.
One of the many incredible things about this man is how much he values relationships. The mother of his child and her husband are dear friends of his, and part of his "extended family". He doesn't understand how people can separate from someone they were involved with and never speak to them again. He says, "if you don't look favorably on your ex, it's a reflection of you because you picked them.". He remains friends with these kids he went to school with to this day. That mindset carried him over to his business relationships, and he is incredibly well respected by his competitors.
He doesn't believe in the "kill or be killed mentality" in business, he feels there is enough to go around and that colleagues should collaborate. Glenn operates from a focus of "servant leadership".
When he first started, he drove from Maryland to California and worked as a mortgage loan officer for ten months before deciding to start his own company. That was the company he built for 30 years and says one of his early lessons was not to kid himself. He started doing other things as part of the mortgage company including suit, title, and escrow. He knew he had much larger players in the core mortgage business, and he had to build his reputation.
He was introduced to government bidding on jobs, and he ultimately had the opportunity to bid on a contract because he came in 50 cents less than the previous person who had it. He quickly realized that it didn't pencil out and it was going to cost him money to service it. He went back to the government to try and renegotiate. They told him if he didn't fulfill his contract he would be in default and would never again be eligible for another government contract.
Glenn was a quick thinker, and he realized that there were many inflated fees from outside parties on these documents. He proposed doing the contract as is but if he could save the government money on other fees, he would charge them a 10% fee on the savings. They agreed, and Glenn was extremely successful. So much so that he grew to service 75% of all HUD contracts in the country.
He grew very quickly and started building because two of his competitors were going under during 2007, so he decided to acquire them and their talented people. In 2007 he opened five offices; in 2008 he opened five more; in 2009 he opened over 100 more, and then the crisis hit him as well.
He says he was at the lowest point in his life but realized the only direction he could go was up. He owed a lot of money to several financial institutions that wanted to get paid. He says, "when times are tough you don't stick your head in the sand, you confront it". He negotiated with every single creditor and ended up not only surviving but thriving. Glenn always observes that the true test of someone is to see how they treat people when they are down.
When he started his new company, "Kind Lending" he named it because he looked around and realized that the world needed more kindness.
He is the star of "Undercover Billionaire" on the Discovery Channel and has a follow-up show where he goes back to the town of Erie, PA to help other business owners succeed.
He and his wife Mindy are very passionate about giving back. He is a spiritual man who believes "to whom much is given, much is required". At one point, he sat on 16 non-profit boards.
He is also a podcast host of a show called, "Grit Happens" where he brings his successful business entrepreneurs to share their stories with a large audience.
Glenn is an extraordinary gentleman who I was honored to have on this podcast.