Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Julie Armstrong; Mortgage a Home - Not Your Future!

I had the opportunity to meet a personable young business woman during the August 2013 Woodstock StreetFest.  Julie Armstrong is the proud proprietor of The Mortgage Centre in Woodstock.  Following a chat and coffee in her Light Street office, I talked her into having a photo taken alongside her Woodstock StreetFest promotional display.  What follows are some tidbits from our conversation, which leaned towards the importance of embracing a vision, as well as treating clients as we would want to be treated ourselves. 
Available to the Public at Woodstock StreetFest, 2013

When starting and managing your own business, one is likely to encounter numerous challenges.  But if your business vision is rooted in and has blossomed from a personal and professional value system, you are likely to feel an intrinsic sense of reward as well.  Such is the case with Julie Armstrong.  When Julie entered the Mortgage Brokerage field as the employee of an established but larger operation, she would come to recognize that at times, higher risk clients had difficulty honouring the contracts into which they had entered.  These contracts were often set at traditionally higher rates as a reflection of the inherent risk. 

Julie is well aware that real life can throw us some unanticipated and unpleasant curveballs, and she wanted to assure all clients consider their mortgage options with a clear head and a viable and realistic plan of action.  She is a firm believer in the importance of managing and minimizing financial risks related to assuming a mortgage.  As she herself evolved into the role of Mortgage Broker within the Stratford area, Julie began to wonder if there was a way she could break this unfortunate cycle for clients who were unable to meet their mortgage payments,

Julie tested the feasibility of establishing an independently owned business within the Woodstock area.  Her vision was to offer a personal and local touch which would result in manageable rates for her clients, with her service fee being absorbed by the lending institution rather than those seeking a mortgage. Julie has conscientiously worked hard to both develop and earn a positive reputation as a supportive business professional within the community.  There have been several times that she has been offered ‘employment’ within the field as she continues to build her business network, but Julie’s determination to fulfill her vision has kept her on course.  She occasionally reminds herself that if it was ‘easy’, everyone would be in business for themselves!   
In order to focus upon developing positive relationships with both clients and associated businesses, Julie has hired an Administrative Assistant; Manuela handles a range of ‘behind the scenes’ tasks; this allows Julie to do what she does best, which is to get to know her clients and seek out the best mortgage options available to meet their individual situations.   
Julie’s Top Three Tips!

Julie Armstrong;
The Mortgage Centre,
Woodstock, ON
Considering a Mortgage?    (1) Find someone who will treat you like a real person, not a transaction.  Julie welcomes each client as if he or she is entering her living room.  (2) Your mortgage payment should be calculated from your base salary, not less predictable income such as overtime.  And remember that life is more than a mortgage payment, so arrange for an amount and payment plan that takes this into account.  (3) Build and maintain an emergency fund.  Nobody is immune to unexpected expenses and repairs.   

Considering Self-Employment?    (1) Recognize that building and managing your own business typically requires a full-time commitment. In Julie’s case, she has responded to client inquiries morning, noon, and night! So maintain a positive outlook AND good health!  (2) ‘Think ahead’.  The first year or so (business start-up/establishment phase) is often a ‘lean period’ for income generation.  Plan ahead and build a savings fund for this time-frame, in case you need to draw upon it.  (3) Stay current in your field so that you can offer your clients the best possible service.  That is really what business is all about!

Julie's contact details can be found at:

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment!

Catherine Stewart-Mott; Forward Momentum Services

Monday, August 19, 2013

Autumn ... Springing into Action!

 Grade 8 Graduation!
I would like to introduce a rather amazing person who reminded me that people of  all generations, if given the chance, will step up to a challenge.  14 year old Autumn Vannatter is a perfect example.  While I was flitting around a Resource Centre in Tillsonburg advising people as to a myriad of job search needs or inquiries, in walked Autumn.  While she could have been enjoying a warm summer day with her young friends, she had a more focused plan of action involving two goals. First, to find summer employment, but equally commendable, she wanted a head start on completing her secondary school community hours.  As one of the photos in this story indicate, this young lady has only recently graduated from Grade 8!  All too often, students are in a panic to scrounge up 40 hours of opportunity at the eleventh hour. Not so for Autumn!

Having noted her interest in garnering volunteer hours and as I often do, (and for which, honestly, it is not that often people follow through), I touched upon some professional development workshops I would be presenting a few days later.  Comfortable in my marketing spiel, I challenged her to attend as a client so she could build her resume and portfolio with the certificates she would receive.  But I tossed in another suggestion ... that she consider helping me with the workshops so she could complete some of her community hours.  Admittedly, I did not really expect to see her the following Wednesday!
So when 5 foot Autumn came strolling through the workshop room doors on July 10, I was in awe. ESPECIALLY when she accepted my earlier challenge to help with the workshops. After having her tackle various activities literally ‘on the spot' throughout the day, it occurred to me how fitting it was that she attended ‘that day’ in particular. More on that in a moment.  In concluding the afternoon session, each participant (which was otherwise all adults ranging from mid 20's and up!) was asked to describe others using a positive word or phrase.  Autumn was described as having ‘quiet courage’ among other positive qualities. I considered it highly appropriate that this proactive young woman, whose long term goal is to become a Paediatrician, attended a workshop entitled ‘Embrace the Leader Within’.

In fact, Autumn's 'leader within' had already sprung to the surface!

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment!

Catherine Stewart-Mott; Forward Momentum Services