It does not matter where you grew up, how little money you have, or even how many mistakes you have made. Everyone has the potential to turn their life around and make their dreams come true. That's the belief and life of Glenn Stearns.
The ideals and possibilities of the American Dream are important for Glenn to share, as he believes that adversities are an ideal foundation for success. Growing up in a low-income suburb of Washington, DC, he attributes hope, hard work and mentors as the influences that helped him break free from hardship, overcome numerous challenges, and dare to live his wildest dreams.
Glenn was born to alcoholic parents, diagnosed dyslexic, and failed 4th grade. He fathered a child at the age of 14 and graduated high school in the bottom ten-percent of his class. While some of his friends lost their lives to drugs and alcohol, and others spent time in prison, Glenn's path intersected with mentors who gave him motivating examples of how to not meet the fate of his friends and instead take control his destiny. He took that life-changing encouragement and ran with it. Glenn became the first person in his family to attend college and graduated with a degree in economics from Towson University. Inspired by stories of people who took risks and achieved their grandest ambitions, he then moved to California where he slept on the kitchen floor of a one-bedroom apartment that he shared with five other recent grads. While waiting tables, Glenn continued to search for new opportunities to rise above his humble beginnings.
At 25, after working as a loan officer for 10 months, Glenn formed his own mortgage company Stearns Lending LLC. In 2002, Glenn's business acumen was honored with Ernst & Young's prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award. By 2010, Stearns Lending LLC reached nearly $1 billion in monthly funded loan volume while experiencing record growth. Stearns not only survived the 2007 mortgage-lending crisis, it emerged as one of the top lenders in the country. Glenn attributes his resilience to putting “people before profit” and having transparent integrity in lending standards. Since 2010, Stearns Lending LLC has funded over 30-billion dollars in loans, making the corporation America’s #1 Wholesale Lender in 2013 for two years in a row. But Glenn's life course has not been all about exceeding expectations and building a successful business. His unusual climb to the top has also led him to profound experiences and life lessons outside of the board room. Many have compared his journey to the fictional character Forrest Gump. Glenn's adventures range from being in the courtroom the day of the OJ Simpson murder case closing arguments ("If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."); traveling with astronauts and Vice Presidents; competing and winning the reality TV show "Gilligan's Island"; to owning a Montana ranch with John Elway and a private Caribbean island with Sir Richard Branson.
In 2011, Glenn was the youngest member ever inducted into The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. The Award is given to select Americans, many historical and global change makers, in recognition of personal and professional success despite challenging starts in life. Members must have also made giving back to others an imperative cornerstone of their success. Horatio Alger Members personally fund and award $9 million dollars annually in college scholarships to thousands of young students who demonstrate strength in the face of adversity, using their extreme hardships as motivators for achievement. In 2013, Glenn became the youngest member elected to the Association's prestigious Board of Directors.
A two-time cancer survivor, Glenn sold Stearns Lending prior to embarking on a multi-year sabbatical with his family. Upon his return, Glenn starred in a reality show, Undercover Billionaire, on the Discovery Channel. Equipped with nothing more than $100, an old pick-up truck, and a cellphone, Glenn was charged to anonymously build a business valued at $1 million in 90 days. This project led to the creation of Underdog BBQ, a restaurant that is still in business today, located in Erie, Pennsylvania.
He went back to his roots in mortgage banking and visualized the next evolution wholesale mortgage lending by focusing on building a company around its people who were seasoned veterans in the industry, passionate about helping others, and who were essentially kind at heart. From this vision, Kind Lending was born.
In October of 2003, Glenn appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show with his new bride Mindy. Mindy's life story is as fascinating as Glenn's. Her journey also illustrates the power of holding a big vision, seizing opportunities, and having faith in living your wildest dreams. Take a look at this memorable Oprah episode below.
Mindy & Glenn on Oprah
Today, the father to six children, and grandfather of two, Glenn and his wife Mindy are both active mentors to young people with adversities. The Stearns have been honored for their dedication to community service and philanthropy with Starkey Hearing Foundation's "American Couple of the Year Award," Orange County's "Giving Is Living Award,” and the 2014 Athlete's First - Orangewood Children's Foundation's "Golden Heart Award" for leadership and impact on youth.
Many of Glenn's strengths as an entrepreneur were born out of gumption and trying again every time he failed. He compensated for the mistakes he made and the guidance he lacked by deciding to not take shortcuts and living from a place of integrity. To this day, these are values Glenn continues to put first.
Mentors act as a compass expanding our view of how to navigate life and business. Mentors inspire us to dare greatly, support us during difficult times, and benefit us in becoming better people.
Glenn has been surrounded by mentors who have helped to shape his life both personally and professionally. As a mentor himself, he extends his stories of success through his podcast, Grit Happens, his social media channels and inspires hope in the show, Undercover Billionaire on the Discovery Channel.
By striving to make an impact and sharing abundance - one becomes rich.
By striving to make an impact and sharing abundance - one becomes rich. This is a mantra Glenn and his wife, Mindy Stearns, live by through their various affiliations to help others.