In this country in the 19th century, trade unionists proposed a holiday to celebrate the impact that workers across the country had on “the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country.”1 The day become known as Labor Day, celebrated the first Monday in September. For most people, Labor Day is just another three-day weekend, a weekend to make one last trip to the lake or plan a family cookout, and that’s fine. But it got me thinking about the impact that hard work has had on my life over the years, and the lessons I’ve learned from it. As Labor Day approaches, I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on the impact that hard work can have on a person’s success and share a few examples with you.  Here are some Labor Day lessons!

I started my financial career as a lending officer for a mortgage company, helping my clients refinance mortgages, pay off debt, free up cash flow, save, and invest their hard-earned money to meet their personal financial goals. As my clients experienced success, I did, too, and soon most of my new clients were coming from referrals. I was driven by my ambition to be successful, and over time my reputation and client base grew. I soon became the top producer in the office and was offered the opportunity to open a satellite office of my own.


Opening the satellite office was a new experience for me, but one that I embraced as an exciting new challenge. Now I was wholly responsible for all expenses, compliance, revenue, employees, etc. Still driven by a strong desire to succeed, I decided to go big and invest in a “tiger team” of ambitious loan officers, financial advisors, realtors, and investors. I lived and breathed this business as we ramped up, focusing heavily on production and efficiency. I made substantial investments in education and training for my employees. I paid them more than they could make anywhere else. We had the best software, support personnel, and marketing plan possible, and this set us ahead of our competition. I empowered my team to be the best, and our office quickly grew to become just that – the best-producing office at Trinity Mortgage, which at the time was the largest mortgage banker in Kansas City. Things were cranking, and I suddenly found myself being approached by other mortgage brokers who’d heard how well I treated my employees, and who wanted to sell to or merge with me before all their loan officers left to work for me. It was a crazy exciting time, one that I cherish to this day, and it all happened because of hard work and dedication to the goal of being successful.


My success didn’t stop there, however. I started acquiring competitors one by one, eventually growing so big that I acquired Trinity Mortgage, the company I first started with. My company eventually grew so large that I was able to qualify to become an actual mortgage bank, responsible for writing and servicing loans, and packaging them for resale. The company grew from 5 employees to 105. It was astounding growth in just a few short years, and I felt like all my hard work had truly paid off.


Then it all came crashing down. But that’s a story for another day. For now, let me close with these lessons learned through hard work:


  • Take care of people and they’ll take care of you.
  • Give people the tools they need to be successful and they’ll do the rest.
  • Show up every day, and work as hard as you expect your employees to work, if not harder.
  • Never take success for granted.
  • Be grateful every day that you’re able to work for a living. Many people in other countries don’t have that opportunity.


Happy Labor Day, Everyone!

Garen Armstrong



or financial advisor?

can we say how much time here?