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From Headlands to Here

In the summer of 1991, I graduated from high school and my step-mom got me a summer job in the “Cancelled and Denied” loan section of Headlands Mortgage Company in Larkspur Landing. I remember printing the phone list, and it was in two columns on the front of a letter-size piece of paper. I think there were 45 employees. And tequila Fridays.

Every summer and winter, I would be hired back, and worked with some great people within Headlands.

After college, I used my journalism degree to work at the Marin Independent Journal. My hopes of earning a reporter position by working through the composing (paste-up) department didn’t work, but then again, I only stayed four months before moving to western New York, just south of Rochester in my mother’s hometown. I first worked for Eastman Kodak in its emerging media division (Digital and Applied Imaging’s marketing team), taking care of high-end “new” digital cameras. But the long drive was less-then-ideal, and I took a job as a reporter for the local community newspaper in Hornell. I really enjoyed my time as a reporter and weekend editor, but decided I wanted to shift from the high intensity of the reporting scene to the design side of the business. I learned Photoshop, Illustrator and started learning how to make websites.

In May of 1998, I moved back to the Bay Area, into a studio apartment behind Smitty’s bar in Sausalito. It was a great spot for me. I went to work in San Rafael for Headlands’s Retail division, and there met Leslie Gibin and Pat McCauley. It was a fun time, and the company was doing well. I met my future wife, Emi, and then took a position as marketing manager on the wholesale side of things. I worked closely with a number. Steve Abreu. Peter Paul. Loretta Kelly. Sallyann Clarke. I still keep in touch with a lot of them.

Soon after, GreenPoint Mortgage purchased Headlands and S.A. Ibrahim moved in. It was a great time to be in a booming housing industry. Loan volumes were at record highs. I moved to Texas and started working remotely for GreenPoint in January 2001, with Shawna Foster, Xavier Grier and the rest of the team producing marketing material. I set up the first email database that GreenPoint had, getting AE Sales teams to send us their email lists for corporate communications. I produced the flyers and other design work, and worked on the Intranet. It was an ideal position for me, as my wife was by this point in Medical School and we were a young family in San Antonio. But in 2007, the industry imploded and we all know what happened there. When GreenPoint announced it would close, we were a week away from our third baby. I knew I wouldn’t find another position that would allow me to work from home (which was important to us with the kids and my wife’s demanding schedule). So I went to work for myself.

EC Creative Solutions was an LLC I formed in Texas. I developed websites and provided marketing services for a variety of clients. I connected with the owners of the Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter and they kept funneling projects my way, making banner ads for advertisers. Usually, along with a banner ad, they needed website work as well. This was an industry in flux, and there were a number of entrepreneurial businesses being formed. People needed sites and landing pages for Loan Mods. Debt Settlement. Refinance. Reverse Mortgages. Title Loans. Payday Loans. They all needed web and design. And I needed clients.

One of those clients was Jordan Rolband, whom I became friends with. Along with another friend, programmer Mike Greene, we formed Delta Leads LLC, and generated leads by making landing pages, letting affiliates drive traffic to them, and selling the leads to the buyers. It was a great and exciting venture, but with my move to Seattle, we closed that business.

I attended five Affiliate Summits in Las Vegas and New York, and learned a lot about how the game is played from both sides of the fence. I’ve worked with terrific publishers who have given us great leads. I also learned about the seedier side of the industry, and worked hard to eliminate the low-converting sources.

In 2012, we moved to Seattle, and have fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest. I’ve continued to develop websites and work with clients. I have been writing. I’ve been enjoying having a flexible schedule to spend time with my children and my wife. Emi’s schedule as a Neonatologist is erratic, so we understand and work with that. I feel blessed that I’m at a point where I can take the challenges I want.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been working with Mortgage Compliance Magazine, managing their website and doing occasional design and writing. Publisher Ben Slayton was friends and worked with Peter Paul. And I’m again in touch with old friends from Headlands and GreenPoint, looking at other fun and new projects.

It’s been nearly 25 years of working with people from the old Headlands days. I’m excited to see what the next years will bring.