Why do some budding entrepreneurs succeed, while others fail? Glenn Stearns’ 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 prioritize.
By the time he reached 18, Glenn Stearns had racked up a resume that impressed no one. He was dyslexic, failed fourth grade, fathered a child at 14, entertained a burgeoning drinking habit, toyed with trouble that landed him in jail a few nights, and graduated from high school in the bottom 10th-percentile of his class. But alongside those less than stellar early life markers, Glenn discovered his entrepreneurial spirit too.
Glenn started his first newspaper delivery business at eight years old. Initially he made six dollars a month, earning a penny for each paper. It wasn't long after that, in sixth grade, that Glenn learned that persistence and people skills were the keys 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, which earned him 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 — 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 Stearns Lending LLC, and the 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.
Throughout his 25 years in business, Glenn has experienced his share of challenges and failures. These forced Glenn to continue to think outside of the box and continue to innovate his industry.
BIGGER RISKS. BIGGER REWARDS.
When the 2007 financial crisis was in full swing, Glenn was about to lose it all. Stearns Lending was presented with numerous class action lawsuits, he had millions of dollars in loans stuck on credit lines, $100 million of defaulted loans were being pushed to buy back, 85% of revenue and income was lost, the company held tens of thousands of feet of unused lease space, and a stellar reputation in the lending world was at risk. But once he let go of fear and dug deep, Glenn was able to fight for all he had, seeing opportunities others were missing. . While other institutions were closing their doors, Stearns Lending opened five new offices. In September of 2007, Stearns Lending LLC did $19 million in business. One year later, the corporation made a phenomenal comeback that garnered national headlines and industry admiration by funding over $2.3 billion. Stearns Lending not only survived the 2007 mortgage-lending crisis, it emerged as ,America’s #1 Wholesale Lender in 2013.
TIME FOR REFLECTION … AND KINDNESS
In 2014, Glenn sold a majority share of Stearns Lending so he would have more time to spend with family and friends. A few years later, he was invited to star on Discovery Channel’s Undercover Billionaire television show. The show’s producers presented him a daunting challenge: build a new business from scratch, in just 90 days and with $100 in his pocket. Glenn responded by opening Underdog BBQ during this time, and the restaurant is still open and cooking in Erie, Pennsylvania.
In 2019, Glenn decided to open another mortgage company. This one would be different: one that put people before profits while emphasizing kindness and integrity. The result was Kind Lending LLC. Opening in mid-2020, during a global pandemic, Kind Lending funded $1 billion in wholesale loan volume during its first six months in business.
Glenn likens being an entrepreneur to climbing a mountain. “There are times when you’re 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 continued success as an entrepreneur is built on resilience, 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.