Lessons in transformation from Malcolm Gladwell

Acclaimed author and speaker talked to brokers about how to remain relevant despite rapid technological change

From our sister title Canadian Mortgage Professional

Acclaimed author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell spoke to brokers about the subject of transformation Tuesday – a subject industry professionals have likely been pondering, themselves.

“All of these new technology and communication are fundamentally changing how we do business and marketing is at the heart of that,” Malcolm Gladwell told brokers at CAAMP’s Mortgage Forum in Montreal on Tuesday. “The question is: how do you create transformation – how does it happen?”

The mortgage broker industry is in flux; market share is down year-over-year, mortgage lending rules are ever-tightening, rates are expected to increase in the next year and technology is changing the way consumers attain mortgages. Gladwell spoke of several individuals who transformed their industries – and the three character traits that helped make that happen.

These three traits are creativeness, disagreeableness and conscientiousness; three traits that work together to help individuals revolutionize industries.

One example Gladwell gave was of a young RCA employee name David Sarnoff who helped transform the way consumers think about the radio – a fairly new, and expensive, technology  that, at the time, that was used to report the news. People weren’t rushing to pay for a piece of technology that provided the same service as newspapers, until Sarnoff changed all that.

Knowing that an upcoming boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier would be a big-ticket event, Sarnoff approached his bosses at RCA about transmitting the bout live, across radio waves. His bosses scoffed, but Sarnoff eventually persevered and sets up the entire process himself.

He steals a transmitter, hires a kid to do the play-by-play, sets up a transmission booth in Jersey City and convinces bars to play the event.

300,000 people ended up listening to the event and sales for radios soon after skyrocketed.

“He broadcasts the first live transmission of a sporting event in history,” Gladwell explained. “Sarnoff reframes what radio is all about.”

It’s an inspiring story that will surely encourage brokers who are riding the wave of change currently taking place in the industry. 

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