At Longbridge Financial, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day (March 8) all monthly long. A global day of celebrating women’s achievement, we stand with International Women’s Day in their mission to #BreakTheBias and take action for equality. And what better place to start than by highlighting some of our women leaders right here at Longbridge Financial?
In this latest installment of our “Ladies Who Lead” series, we sit down with Megan Erickson to talk breakthroughs and advice for working women.
As Branch Manager for Longbridge Financial’s Charlotte office, Megan oversees our growing sales team and ensures our call center is providing personal, professional support through each step of the reverse mortgage process. Having specialized in the reverse mortgage space for over six years of her past seventeen years in mortgage lending, Megan is a true expert and resource on all things reverse mortgages.
Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A: Two words – girl power. As women, we’re not just expected to excel in the workplace, but in life outside of work as well. Many of us are juggling our children’s or family member’s schedules with our own. It’s challenging, exhausting, and ultimately rewarding all at once.
Q: Which international women’s stories need to be heard and supported more?
A: I think we need to raise awareness and support for the single mothers. Raising children is difficult in its own right, but when you’re alone, sometimes it can feel like you’re jogging in place. Being a single parent has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to manage, but it’s made me stronger and pushed me to grow. I’ve seen firsthand how resilience comes from life experience. And I truly wouldn’t be the manager that I am today or have as much motivation if it weren’t for my two sons. We often hear of single mothers staying in one place, often without advancement, because it’s too difficult in corporate environments. I’m especially grateful to Longbridge as they have allowed me to grow professional, while raising my two children alone and sympathizing with the occasional interruptions that it can present during the workday.
Q: How could you contribute your wisdom, expertise, or ideas to empower other women?
A: Earlier in my career, I saw the importance of surrounding myself with positive people. Sales is tough, so I’m happy to return the favor and share my experience with new Loan Officers. Hearing “no” a lot is inevitable, but you must learn from every experience and not allow it to break your spirit. So much of being successful is how you position your mindset. With this in mind, you can’t take each “no” personal, but rather use it as an experience to better yourself. There is always a lesson to be learned from each situation – if you remember to ask. The more you learn about why you’re hearing “no,” the better prepared you’ll be for the next time an objection is raised. For women, it’s not always easy to push back once they’ve heard “no.” For some of us, it’s even culturally unacceptable. However, learning how to politely address objections was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, lessons I had to learn when I became a Loan Officer. Empathizing with your customer while continuing to press for the business is the difference between being mediocre and excellent.
Q: Does Longbridge do a good job at setting a culture of equality and inclusivity?
A: I think overall we do a good job, but there is always room for improvement. In our Charlotte office, I am especially proud of my leadership team. One of my team leads is of Indian descent, while another is an African American female. These two are amazing to collaborate with every day and I’m super proud of their advancements and diversity of our team. With each of us coming from different backgrounds, we bring balance to one another. I owe much of my success to those that support me daily. And I truly couldn’t ask for a better team than Team Charlotte!
Q: Do you have a female role model?
A: Yes, my mother. Also a single mother, my mother did not have the same financial stability that I’ve been blessed with. She had an extremely hard life, but she remains one of the happiest people I know. What I find most inspiring about my mother is that she hasn’t allowed the adversity she’s faced to define who she is. She has the biggest heart, tremendous faith, and always perseveres – through whatever life throws her way.
Q: What is some advice you’d offer women juggling a work and home balance?
A: I relate to this firsthand as I struggle with balance every day. I believe that you are supposed to allow yourself to take time to rest and unplug. However, often times that’s easier said than done. Personally, I’m working on it. It’s hard when you want to be the best at everything you do. I think the biggest thing is that you’ve got to not take yourself too seriously and remember, all you can do is all you can do. There will be instances where you run across people that are difficult to work with or difficult to please, but as long as you’re confident in your effort and have done all that you can, then ultimately, you’ve done enough.
Q: For women struggling in a male-dominant industry, what advice you would give?
A: Be strong. This is especially tough in leadership. There is a perception that a tough boss that’s male is just that – tough, strong, and authoritative. However, a woman that’s a tough boss, is often perceived as a B word that rhymes with witch ?.
As a leader, I’ve learned that taking the mama bear approach has gotten me the results I’ve wanted. It’s all about making people feel supported and appreciated, and being there to help redirect them should they veer off course. Treating your people right can go a far way not just in morale, but in performance as well. And it starts with those who report to you. None of us would have jobs without the salespeople who support our business.
Q: What are some ways women can find mentors?
A: Start with assessing those around you. Who’s excelling? And what are they doing to get such results? Picking the brains of those around you is a great way to grow. After all, anyone can be a top producer – but not everyone is going to commit the time and effort to doing so.
Q: What has helped you get so far in your career?
A: For me, it was a time management and holding myself accountable. I often found myself assessing my work and would typically identify any areas for improvement before someone else could. From there, I’d identify those who were successful and learn what they were doing. If what you are doing isn’t working, you must be flexible to make adjustments or change course. While I was working a 40-45 hour work week, I was totally absorbed in my work those 8 hours a day. That was my goal and I tried to stay as focused as possible. The best advice I can give is to work hard, be your toughest critic, and never stop asking questions – it’s how you keep learning!
Q: Do you feel that you’ve achieved everything you’ve wanted to?
A: No way! If I had accomplished everything I wanted, the journey would be over. I’m just getting started.
Q: What advice do you wish you could go back and give your 20-year-old self?
A: I’d say save your money, save your time, and invest in the people and opportunities that pay you the greatest dividends in the future. “Keep you heels, head and standards high!” ?
Thank you, Megan, for your insight and leadership!
About International Women’s Day
Celebrated annually, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day to celebrate the achievements of women – economically, culturally, and politically. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
The first IWD gathering was over one hundred years ago in 1911 and supported by over a million people. Today, IWD has grown to belong to all groups collectively in the mission to forge women’s equality.
Learn more about how you can #BreakTheBias. Visit internationalwomensday.com.