Guardian Angel: Jeannie Smith Knows That the Key to Success is Never Giving Up

Jeannie Smith

Jeannie Smith with “The Wee Ones”: two of her pack of miniature dachshunds.

We love Jeannie Smith and her “can-do” attitude. She’s the kind of woman that can inspire confidence after just a moment with her, and she is a dog lover, to boot!

It’s no wonder that Jeannie, a mortgage professional that looks after her clients like family, is this week’s Guardian Angel. She takes time with every client to make sure that their needs are met, if not exceeded, which is a valuable asset in this quick-changing mortgage environment.

“I care about each loan and customer I work with — whether it’s a$ 50K loan or a $5M loan — and I love providing the white glove treatment,” Jeannie says. “I approach each loan and customer with a wide open mind so that I can learn about them, their financial goals, expectations, and what keeps them up at night when they think about the loan process.”

That’s the kind of personal service that is all too rare these days, but it’s exactly what you can expect at Guardian Mortgage. Find out more about Jeannie and how, through her tenacity, she’s made a wonderful career in the mortgage business.

How did you get into the mortgage industry?

Prior to working at Guardian Mortgage, I was a Senior Account Executive for Switch Liberate Your Brand. Switch is an experiential marketing agency headquartered in Saint Louis and I worked remotely in Dallas. The company changed leadership and wanted all employees under one roof in Saint Louis, but Mike and I did not desire to sell our home and relocate to Saint Louis. Seeing the writing on the wall I hired a Career Coach whom I had met through Switch.

Cool story how I met the Career Coach: While prospecting and walking the halls of Coca-Cola with my Switch Executive Producer, I was introduced to Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent’s speech writer. His Dad lives in Dallas and I did them a favor of connecting one of their family members with my JCPenney client. Through this connection I met my Career Coach Lori Link. We worked together for several months before my job ended at Switch exploring my background and my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). The coaching she provided was invaluable and a tremendous help when deciding whether to stay in the Experiential Marketing industry upon receiving some very nice offers or take a risk and explore something new. Well, I was a guest at her networking group, and by networking with the members I met Marcus McCue. The rest is history.

How has your finance and marketing background benefited your work as a successful Mortgage Loan Officer?

Working full-time at Lockheed Martin at a very young age while going to college full time at time taught me incredible work ethic and determination to never give up. I had several female mentors at Lockheed that cut me no slack and taught me invaluable lessons of teamwork and how to succeed at anything I put my mind to. I was always raising my hand for special projects and networking within the organization and when a senior analyst was leaving the company I was approached to take over her position which meant I’d be the youngest analyst managing $250 million Depot Repair Contracts during Desert Storm. This also meant I had to present to the Army/Navy during the quarterly reviews the profit and loss of those projects right along with the top executives. Whew that was scary and exciting, but I did all that and still managed a full-time college load and graduated with a dual major by the age of 25.

Lockheed was a springboard into business management and experiential marketing arenas. Starting my career at a young age, performing financial analysis and forecasting, budget preparation, managing profit and loss, was an easy transition into experiential and live event marketing. Managing multiple projects and teams simultaneously, while prospecting and developing new business opportunities, while presenting budgets and creative ideas that yielded excellent profit margins for the companies I worked for and generated revenue for my clients. The accumulation of this experience has truly helped me have true grit to take on a new career in mortgage lending and I think I’ve done an OK job so far.

Working with people at all levels and learning to communicate effectively — written and verbal — has helped me tremendously in the mortgage business. I get super excited when I provide financial solutions that are smart and actually help the customer because the lowest rate isn’t always the best financial solution. My back ground has helped be build trust and long lasting deep relationships with referral partners. I love working with a Realtor who trusts me to take care of their client and keep them informed all along the process. Here’s a recent quote from a Realtor I’m working with:

“Love working with you! This has been an incredible process! You are the expert so whatever you think is best is great with us!”

How do you approach each new loan/customer you work with?

I care about each loan and customer I work with — whether it’s a$ 50K loan or a $5M loan — and I love providing the white glove treatment. I approach each loan and customer with a wide open mind so that I can learn about them, their financial goals, expectations, and what keeps them up at night when they think about the loan process. I learn about their past loan experiences and what worked and what didn’t. I like to educate them so that they make an educated and informed decision. The years of being a financial analyst and presenting complex and detailed budgets makes me think about all possible solutions so that my client can make the smartest decision. This endorsement from a client who was referred to me really says it all:

“Jeannie was always open to answer questions, she responded timely to my inquiries. She made me feel like she cared about me and not just trying to get my business. I really appreciated it.”

Leslie, McKinney, Texas

What trends are you seeing in the housing industry these days?

Rates are expected to rise, so if you are planning to buy you will want to get pre-approved and act quickly. Even though it’s been a sellers’ market, most buyers are conservative and they don’t want to overpay. We are expecting to see more inventory come on the market and rates will eventually rise. Consumers are consciously working on improving their credit scores and reducing debt to have more purchasing power. With our economic development teams busy attracting major corporations to the Metroplex I believe we’ll see more homebuyers preparing to purchase a new home. Younger people have seen their parents property values go up and down; therefore, many view a home as a place to live and not so much a great investment. This has changed their outlook about home buying and have become more cautious. Finally, if you are trying to time the market and hoping for rates to fall, don’t ask your lender “if you had a crystal ball.”

Let’s talk puppies! We hear you have an adorable pack of your own. Tell us about them!

Before my husband and I dated we worked together and I would tease him that all he did was hang out with his two dogs. I was single and on the go and only had time for a cat named Maxx that lived 18 long years and outlived all of my relationships. I think he scared them off. Anyway, fast forward and now Mike’s two dogs are my two dogs plus we added two more to the pack. We have 4 adorable girls that bring us so much joy, laughter, and challenges all at the same time. They range in age of 18 to 4 years old. The oldest is an Australian Shepherd and Greyhound mix and has the willpower of an OX. She is ancient but she just keeps on going. Her will and determination to live has taught me so much about love, kindness and patience.

Beasley was found in a garbage bag and Mike adopted this sweet soul. She is a big brown potato and has the most ferocious bark but is a big ole teddy bear that just likes to lean on you and be loved. I’ve seen people come to the door, turn around and run when they hear her bark. She is my protector and feet warmer and thank goodness we have a king-sized bed because she takes up a third of it, which of course we’d have it no other way.

Our little weenies that we call The Wee Ones are the loves of our lives…Before adopting Lady Bug and Annabel there was Bela. This sweet little Dachshund is the reason we love doxys so much.

For years I would tell Mike, “I want a little dog,” and he would always say “No Little Dogs!” Well, one day I was out working in the yard and the neighbors walked by with this teeny tiny miniature doxy who was found in the neighborhood. They had been trying to find the owner, but after 2 weeks and no one claiming her they were going to take her to another neighbor’s home who was going to take her to the SPCA in the morning. I said “NO! I’ll take her to Operation Kindness!” because I knew “NO LITTLE DOGS” allowed at the Smiths. Well, I just happened to be too busy to take her to Operation Kindness the next day so that night I snuck her in bed and 10 years later the rest is history. Funny thing is she and Mike became inseparable.

That began our love for doxys, and that’s when we found Lady Bug through All Texas Dachshund Rescue. We drove halfway to Houston to meet the foster mom and brought her home. She is a sweet senior whose original owner took her to a kill shelter after she loved him 8 years unconditionally, because his new girlfriend didn’t like her. Seriously! She spent 3 years in the foster home until we brought her home. She was so sick, but we didn’t realize it until a week passed and her face swelled up. She had a major tooth infection and after surgery and many teeth extracted she’s a happy camper. She did start having fainting spells after Bela passed away, so we rushed her to the vet and realized she had a heart condition. We keep our vet’s business in business! Lady likes to grunt when she wants something so we find her often grunting in front of the “magic pantry door” where yummy treats and food come from. We’ve often though of making a video of her before and after to show people that adopting a senior can bring you and the baby lots of joy, love, and laughter for many years.

After Bela passed away suddenly and after the shock and sadness subsided we decided it was time to adopt again. We called ATDR and before we knew it we were in the car heading to Waco to bring Annabel home. She is 4 years old and is so cute and sweet. She is a food monger so the days of free range feeding for the other girls don’t exist. She is so funny … every night right when we are shutting down for the night she goes to her toy box and brings us her toys. She loves to snuggle and she loves Lady Bug. And, when she wants the “magic door” to open for treats to appear she dances around in circles and jumps up and down. We’ve only had her a few months so her personality emerges more and more each day. All I care about is that she’s happy and she’s found her safe “forever home.”

What drives you to do what you do every day?

Life in general drives me every day. I approach each day with thankfulness and pray that I’m a blessing to someone each day. I take my career very seriously, and my husband will tell you that I’m driven and determined to accomplish and succeed at whatever I put my mind to. I don’t take myself too seriously and have a good laugh at myself several times a day. I do like to work hard and play hard. I had to grow up very fast as a kid because I lost my mom at the age of 4 and my sister was only 6 months old. I moved out of my Dad and stepmothers home the day I graduated from high school and figured out very quickly how to succeed on my own. When my sister was a senior in high school I moved her out of our stepmother’s home and into my apartment. The rules were she had to graduate high school, work to pay half the bills, and enroll in college. Fast forward and she has an MBA and is about to become partner at the company she works for in FL. What drives me…mentoring people especially women to become the best they can be, helping young people make good decisions that will impact their future, donating to organizations that impact the world. What drives me in the mortgage business is helping borrowers achieve the dream of homeownership by providing financial solutions that meet their budget expectations and doing solid pre-approvals to ensure no surprises during the loan process. Building trust with referral partners drives me and what drives me to wake up in the morning…well the truth is my husband’s coffee!!