Brett Mills couldn’t have foreseen that beginning his career in the mortgage industry in 1998 would lead him to pulling children’s teeth in Central America in 2012. But that’s just what he was doing last year in a small village in Guatemala as part of Academy Mortgage’s yearly service trip for its elite producers.
Mills, who previously owned his own brokerage, joined Academy in 2002 and currently works as a branch manager and senior loan officer in Utah. Recognized as one of the top 14 loan officers in the nation over the past several years, Mills has a passion for helping consumers achieve their financial goals and obtain financial peace.
He also has a passion for humanitarian work, as he demonstrated during Academy’s week-long service trip, where employees helped dig trenches and aid a local dentistry in pulling children’s wisdom teeth.
At Academy, the hard work to achieve ‘President’s Club’ status – which translates to $20m in purchase business or $40m in total volume – is rewarded not with a plush resort stay in a tropical locale, but with a week of challenging manual labor in a developing country. And, according to Mills, the latter is preferred.
“That’s the trip to be on,” Mills says.“That’s what we’re fighting for. We’re going to go sit in tents in a village and be hot and dirty and sweaty. We literally give the shirts off our backs, and it’s so rewarding.”
Mills and other members of the club spent a week clearing ground and moving rocks to lay pipe for a new system that would bring fresh mountain spring water to the village of Secanquin, working side by side with men of the village. The volunteers also aided a local clinic that offered much-needed dentistry work for residents near and far with tooth issues. Mills himself pulled 30 or 40 teeth in one day.
He says the trip helped break down barriers between Academy colleagues, a hard thing to do in a world driven by competition.
“We all have pretty big egos,” he says of Academy’s top producers. “We are all ranked in the top 200 producers in the nation. We are pretty self-centered and focused on our business. But in Guatemala, we could forget where we were, what day of the week it was…we had no phone or internet access, the outside world was shut off.”
Mills says lessons learned in Guatemala have definitely manifested in the workplace at his branch as well. Always an advocate for balancing life and family, he says the experience reemphasized those practical lessons.
“I want my employees to go home; I want them to have a happy home life, which will only mean they provide a better experience for our customers. I learned that from the Guatemalans: when it was time to work, we worked hard, but every night it was about family and relaxing.
To read more about Brett Mills, his road to success, his adventures in Guatemala and his next global excursion, check out MPA issue 7.4, on desks now!