A “Rags to Riches” American Dream

Many of Glenn's strengths as an entrepreneur were born out of gumption and deciding to getup every time he failed.  Glenn compensated for the mistakes he made and guidance he lackedearly in his life, by deciding to move forward not taking short cuts and living from a place of integrity. To this day, these are values he still puts first.

At 18, Glenn Stearns had racked up a resume that impressed no one: he was dyslexic; failed fourth grade; fathered a child at 14; entertained an alcoholic's drinking habit; toyed with trouble that landed him in jail a few nights; and graduated high school in the bottom 10-percent of his class.  But alongside those less than stellar early life markers, Glenn discovered his entrepreneurial spirit too.  Glenn started his first business at eight years old, making six dollars a month, by earning a penny a newspaper delivered weekly.  It wasn't long after that, in sixth grade, that Glenn learned persistence and people skills were the key to success.  By literally putting his foot in the door, and learning to read people's reactions, Glenn's newspaper sales grew to more than quadruple those of his peers, earning him not only money but prizes for his perseverance. In junior high, Glenn learned more entrepreneurial insight by observing there were opportunities and value to be found in things people overlooked and discarded.  His next business venture became selling, for a handsome return, the vintage beer cans he found discarded on the side of the road.

In just under ten years after becoming a teenage father, and with no lending experience, Glenn formed his own mortgage company Stearns Lending, Inc.. as well as a settlement company, Carriage Escrow.  His settlement company soon became the largest HUD contractor in America.  In 2002, Glenn's visionary success earned him Ernst and Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year" Award.

Over his 25 years in business, Glenn has experienced his share of challenges and failures.  But the obstacles forced Glenn to continue to think out of the box and continue to innovate his industry.

With the 2007 financial crisis in full swing, Glenn was about to lose it all: Stearns Lending was presented with class action law suits; Glenn had millions of dollars in loans stuck on credit lines; $100 million of defaulted loans were being pushed back for his company to buy back; he lost 85% of the company revenue and income; he held tens of thousands of feet of unused lease space; and his stellar reputation in the lending world was at risk. But Glenn says once he let go of fear and dug deep, a shift occurred and he was able to fight for all he had.  When most everyone in his industry was looking backwards and failing, Glenn began looking forward with optimism seeing opportunities others were missing.  As competitors were laying off their workers, Glenn was right there hiring them, recognizing the extraordinary talent he could put to work.  While other institutions were closing their doors, Stearns Lending opened five new large offices.  In September of 2007, Stearns Lending Inc. did $19 million in business. One year later, Stearns Lending Inc. made a phenomenal comeback that garnered national headlines and industry admiration by funding over $2.3 billion.  Glenn's company not only survived the 2007 mortgage-lending crisis, it emerged as one of the top lenders in the country. Since 2010, Stearns Lending Inc. has funded over 30-billion dollars in loans making the company the 2nd largest independent mortgage lender in the United States.

Glenn likens being an entrepreneur to climbing a mountain.  There are times you are tired and want to give up.  There are times it's scary and you wonder, "How did I get myself into this situation?" Glenn's rise as an entrepreneur is built on being resilient, knowing he can survive the lows by being adaptable when the unexpected happens, and remembering that no peak or valley is greater than the attitude of one's mind.

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