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Chief Amazement Officer, Mike Malloy, of Rocket Mortgage shares Rocket's practices for creating a culture of care

Mike Malloy, Chief Amazement Officer, at Rocket Mortgage, a Quicken Loans company based in Detroit, leads The Pulse (what other companies call human resoures), Team Member Learning and Development, Team Member Workspace and Environment, Government Affairs, Event Management, and Audio-Visual. He has also led Rocket Companies Covid-19 response. Rocket Mortgage is America's largest mortgage lender along with other personal finance and consumer service brands. In this interview, Malloy shares that there is nothing more important than understanding what your culture is and writing it down so everybody knows it. It's how the organization makes sure that they always are focused on doing the right thing, serving their clients and being obsessed with finding a better way. During this pandemic he has stuck to this practice, leaning into their ninteeen "isms" creating an environment for the company's employees to work together to drive business in these hardest of times, while also ensuring that every team member can continue to build an amazing career, enhance their well being, build a stable financial future, and has an amazing team member experience. Listen in to hear Malloy share the practices at Rocket Mortgages that allow this culture of care to occur. 

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Show Transcript
Chris:

Welcome to Better, by Great Place to Work®. We're coming to you from the 2020 Great Place to Work for All Summit in San Francisco. And today we are joined by Mike Malloy who's the Chief People Officer at Quicken Loans. Quicken Loans is the nation's premier Fintech lender and the largest provider, correct?

Mike Malloy:

Yes.

Chris:

... of mortgages in the US. I just want to make sure that's still true.

Mike Malloy:

Oh, absolutely.

Chris:

And just now before we started recording, we were talking about how fast Quicken Loans has rocketed or grown, especially after or during the financial crisis — 2007, 2008 — and you reminded me that the reason why was because you didn't get into the subprime loan-

Mike Malloy:

That's right.

Chris:

... problem that was affecting the entire economy. That's why I think you guys have a great branding situation with your Rocket Loans.

Mike Malloy:

It is.

Chris:

And just now I just finished recording the episode with Ellen McGirt and Tony Bond. Ellen ran into Mike on the way here into the booth, and she said, "Oh, my gosh." She goes, "Quicken Loans has the best customer service of any company," she's ever dealt with, so congratulations.

Mike Malloy:

That's great.

Chris:

It must've felt great to hear that.

Mike Malloy:

It's always great to meet our clients. For us, all of those things, whether it's what loans we do and trying to make sure we're doing loans that really benefit our clients, whether it's that, the service of our clients as they work with us, all of that starts with our culture.

We have what are called our “isms.” There are the 19 values we have that we share, and those isms are the core of our organization. What they are is coming down from our founder and chairman, Dan Gilbert. Dan started Quicken Loans, the company that is now Quicken Loans, with himself and his brother and a friend in a 10-by-12 office in 1985. Last year, we did 145 billion in mortgage loans.

Chris:

That's crazy.

Mike Malloy:

Why? Because he says there is nothing more important than understanding what your culture is and writing it down so everybody knows it. And that's how we make sure that we always are focused on doing the right thing, serving our clients and being obsessed with finding a better way.

Chris:

You mentioned Dan Gilbert. How is he doing?

Mike Malloy:

Dan is doing very well. He has been recovering. For those of your listeners who are not aware, he suffered a stroke last year, but has been relentless about his recovery and just a week or two weeks ago made his first public appearance and was honored for the Detroit Business Crain's first ever entrant into their Hall of Fame.

Chris:

Oh, fantastic.

Mike Malloy:

He gave a speech and was welcomed so warmly by the business community, who are so happy to see him out and about. So he is incredibly focused still on our business, but even more so on what we can do to help our communities in Detroit, but also in Cleveland and Phoenix and Charlotte and the other places we do business.

Chris:

Right. I just want to comment and say that as a native Detroiter, Dan Gilbert has had a profound effect on the revitalization of the city that I grew up in. And he's gotten a lot of recognition and awards for it, such as the one you just mentioned, the Hall of Fame.

For anyone who's not been to Detroit, you have to visit. It's really has become awesome — what's the word?

Mike Malloy:

It's hip. It's fun.

Chris:

Hip. It's hip. It's chic.

Mike Malloy:

It's cool. Yeah.

Chris:

The art scene's amazing. The food scene is becoming amazing.

Mike Malloy:

Outstanding.

Chris:

Yeah. I go back to visit. All of my family still lives in Michigan, but I go back at least a few times a year, and I've now have decided to stay actually downtown when I'm there.

Mike Malloy:

It's awesome.

Chris:

Usually I'm staying with family or whatever, but now I just stay in the hotel downtown because there's so many of them.

Mike Malloy:

Yes.

Chris:

So many cool ones.

Mike Malloy:

It's very cool. Dan G likes to say, "When we get them here, we got them," meaning, if he can bring in other business leaders who are thinking about expansion, and they'll come in and see what's going on. They'll be like, "Yeah, we want to open an office." LinkedIn opened an office just down the street from us. Google and others have brought sites into Detroit.

Chris:

Facebook has an office there now too, I believe.

Mike Malloy:

Facebook, others because they see it and they're blown away by the vibrancy and that it's not what people think. Obviously, there's this, during the financial crisis it was very difficult and there were a lot of challenges, and there was the bankruptcy, and therefore people have a vision of it.

But that vision is not true. I tell everyone I meet whatever you think of Detroit, it is not that. And if people get there and come and visit and see it, they'll be blown away, and then that helps drive those further jobs.

Of course, Dan has been a huge part of that, but it's not just Dan or Quicken Loans. It's a massive number of stakeholders in the communities, public and private, religious, philanthropic. So many people coming together to commit to the rebirth of an amazing American city, and so it is truly extraordinary for our team members and all of us to be a part of that.

For many organizations, it's sometimes hard for them to find a mission that team members really can lock into. Obviously, we're all in business, but our team members feel so incredibly energized because they are part of something larger than themselves. In the Great Place to Work survey, 96% of our team members said they felt great about the work we do in the community. 96%!

Chris:

Wow.

Mike Malloy:

That means they can see and feel how we impact the city of Detroit and Cleveland and Charlotte and Phoenix. And then how we're trying to work to end veterans homelessness nationally and work we're doing in the communities, not just in the central business district industry, but all across Southeast Michigan. Right?

And our team members know that they can take part in that, and we have 70% of our team members take part in those volunteering and giving events, double the national average. But even more than that, they know that by coming into work and serving our clients and doing their jobs, they are driving something much larger than any of us, than ourselves. That is incredibly powerful for us as we work to drive our business.

Chris:

One thing that really surprised me a year ago when Great Place to Work was working on compiling this research report that we published, I think it was in July of 2019, and it was around Innovation By All. Quicken Loans was part of the story that we told about the ways that companies that are great places to work for all and where there is equality in the way that they treat and consistency and the quality of the work experience.

When there is that equality, it actually helps the company innovate faster, and so we told a really fantastic story about one of your employees at Quicken Loans, which-

 

Mike Malloy:

Olya Kenney.

Chris:

Yeah, exactly. Olya Kenney and it was about how she was able to help develop some software to help customers who might be color blind experience having a great customer service experience online on the website.

Mike Malloy:

I called it the Empathy Generator.

Chris:

Empathy Generator, which is a fantastic name.

Mike Malloy:

What a name.

Chris:

We're going to get into the naming shortly about a lot of the different divisions and products at Quicken Loans.

For our listeners, please go to our website and download the research report, Innovation By All, which we tell that story.

We even had Olya Kenney at the summit last year and she did a great job with my colleague, Ed Frauenheim, who moderated a discussion, panel discussion about Innovation By All. And the focus sessions that we do are basically the personal stories about what companies are doing to not only create great workplaces, but how they're innovating better.

Mike Malloy:

Yes.

Chris:

... or creating innovation, I should say. So thanks for letting Olya share that story with us.

Mike Malloy:

It was. It's funny that one of our isms is "Innovation is rewarded. Execution is worshiped." So think about this: Olya had an amazing idea, right?

Chris:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Malloy:

She had this idea, and then she worked with a team with others to actually turn that idea into a tangible piece of software. She executed on the idea, didn't just come up it, and then say, "Oh, what if?" But executed, turned it into something that people could use in real time.

That's just part of empowering team members, letting them innovate, helping them drive our business and then also taking that next step and making sure that if have the idea, they can actually carry it forward.

Chris:

That's great.

Mike Malloy:

It's innovation, but it's also execution. Innovation without execution is just going to be a wasted opportunity.

Chris:

Before I forget to ask you this, I want to talk about the fact that I was also surprised when I had found out that Quicken Loans is not just a mortgage lender, that you have a variety of businesses that sort of fall under the Quicken Loans umbrella.

And I'm not going to get it right trying to describe what it is, the full suite of things that you guys have, But can you give a very brief synopsis about many different businesses and products that Quicken Loans sells?

Mike Malloy:

Quicken Loans itself is just a mortgage company. There are a few other companies that are sort of generally owned in some portion by Dan Gilbert.

We have a holding company. Quicken Loans is part of it. It's called Rock Holdings, but under that there also are other Fintech brands. We have Rocket Homes, which is a digital real estate company. We have Rocket Loans, which is a digital personal loan company. We have Core Digital Media, which it helps us with advertising, internet advertising and the other things. We have Rock Connections, which is a call center function that helps us, helps us do business, but also is now getting into the online sale of cars has been a big business for them.

So we're always looking to innovate, looking at... And then Dan, of course, has personal interests outside of Quicken Loans, outside of that Rock Holdings. Of course, he owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, most famously, and folks know him for that, but also has interests in some other things, some other brands that you may have seen. Fathead is one of those interesting ones. Shinola watches, we have some interests in. We have-

Chris:

Have you stayed at the Shinola Hotel?

Mike Malloy:

I have, at the Shinola hotel. I'm wearing a Shinola watch right this moment.

Chris:

There you go.

 

Mike Malloy:

I have a couple of them. But there, again, it's a Detroit manufacturing company, a company that built manufacturing in the city of Detroit, so that's something we have to be part of because we are committed to that ecosystem.

Chris:

The reason why I mentioned all these different brands is the fact that it's a result of the innovation, the Innovation By All approach.

I do want to talk about diversity. Detroit is an incredibly diverse place. You have scored most recently as number 57 on our Best Workplaces for Diversity list. Congratulations on that.

 

Mike Malloy:

Oh, we're striving to get better.

Chris:

Everyone is.

 

Mike Malloy:

We are working to get better and-

Chris:

Companies that are on the list and not on list are all striving to get better.

Mike Malloy:

Yes, we want to-

Chris:

At least they should be.

Mike Malloy:

Yes, we very much do.

Chris:

Yeah. So how are you looking at ways in which you can find the best talent to increase the diversity, knowing that diversity has a direct effect on innovation?

Mike Malloy:

That's right. We have an amazing team.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Team led by our Chief Diversity Officer, Trina Scott, has been doing an amazing job of helping us grow in this space.

As you say, we're 57. We want to be much higher than that, not because of where it ranks on a list, but because we want to be the best employer for diversity, right? That's our goal.

So how do we do that? Well, finding and recruiting the best talent is a real challenge, but it is critical to our future business success, and finding that diverse talent from all over, wherever folks come from, making sure they will feel included and feel they can belong, feel they can be their whole selves at work. Right?

And so when we think about that recruiting, we've really expanded the way we think about all of our talent pools. We bring in about a thousand interns a year to our offices every summer, and we've thought like, how do we expand that?

So we've created relationships with HBCUs. We've looked at different places to do our hire. We've tried to expand beyond just the usual, you know, go to the local college and recruit, and so we've really seen an uptake in our recruiting across the board because we're being intentional about it.

Every time I talk to Trina, we talk about intentionality because so much of this is being bought in, but we're already bought in. Dan G's bought in. Jay Farner, our CEO, is bought in.

So then it's on us to make sure we execute. And how do we do that? It's about being intentional and not just saying the same old... The same old thing will get us the same old results. So we need new ways of thinking about these issues in order to change and get better every single day.

Chris:

You mentioned the isms earlier.

Mike Malloy:

Yes.

Chris:

And you brought with you today The Isms Book.

 

Mike Malloy:

The Isms Book. Yes.

Chris:

… which I'm holding up for the cameras.

Mike Malloy:

That's right.

 

Chris:

That we're recording if you're watching this on video. If you want to see the video and you're listening to it on your audio podcasts, you can go to our website to find that.

Mike Malloy:

Yeah.

Chris:

So tell me what is in the Isms Book. What's it all about?

Mike Malloy:

The Isms Book, you're going to enjoy it. You read it. All 19 of our isms are in here, and we have every ism, a description of it and then ways in which we and others either have lived it or sometimes not.

And what it does, it helps our team members, every team member, every time we publish a new edition. We make sure every team member gets a copy of the new edition. We make sure that everyone has this in their hands on their desk, at their home, so they can understand exactly who we are and sort of what it is, how we're supposed to respond to things.

So, you mentioned the mortgage crisis, right? One of our isms is a very simple one: Do The Right Thing. Right? By doing the right thing for our clients, our company was in vastly better position coming out of the crisis. We talk about how we serve. You talk about the client service, right?

Chris:

Mm-hmm.

Mike Malloy:

One of our isms: Every Client, Every Time, No Exceptions, No Excuses. What does that mean? If you send me an email, you call me on the phone, I'm your mortgage banker. I'm not, but were I. You're one of our client-facing team members, someone will respond to you within 24 hours, no exceptions, no excuses. That doesn't happen, you call and said, "Hey, Mike was my mortgage banker. He didn't call me back." Right?

Chris:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Malloy:

You know what happens?

Chris:

You get fired?

Mike Malloy:

The team looks into it, and if it's true, they create what's called a No Return Call Complaint, and that goes all the way to every member of your leadership team, all the way up to and including Dan G himself.

Chris:

Okay, great.

Mike Malloy:

Why? Because we said it, and if we didn't live every client every time, we didn't live the no exceptions, no excuses part, then we're not in integrity. Right?

So we live it, and we make sure that we also as leaders are living that same thing. We're responding to team members if they reach out. If team members reach out to Dan G, he calls them back. Well, now with his health challenges, maybe a member of his team will or he'll ask me to reach out to them or whatever, but someone will respond. Why? Because that's who we say we are, and so we have to live inside integrity by making sure we're always doing, living our isms.

Chris:

That's great. I'm going to have to wrap up soon, but I mentioned the Best Workplaces for Diversity List, but I also have to mention that you're on a whole bunch of other ones too.

Mike Malloy:

Yeah.

Chris:

So I just want to run through the list: Best Workplaces for Parents™, for Women, for Millennials and Financial Services & Insurance, and of course, as I've mentioned before, 100 Best Companies to Work For.

You're also on PEOPLE Magazine's list of the Companies That Care®. I've heard and I've spoken with a number of CEOs whose companies appear on that list, and a lot of them say, "That's my favorite." Scott Scherr, the founder of Ultimate Software, told me that actually last fall. He said, "That's the one I'm most proud of." And that's a list that we compile, Great Place to Work compiles for PEOPLE that looks at the philanthropic effort and the community work and the volunteering that companies do. So that one is also very important to focus on.

Mike Malloy:

Yeah, it's incredibly important to us, and as I say, that engagement in our communities drives our team members and lets them understand how they're part of something larger than themselves.

When I was on the main stage presenting about this just a little bit ago, what I said was, one of our isms is Obsessed With Finding a Better Way, and that's how we think about our impact on communities. We are obsessed with finding a better way, and what that means in this context is we looked at problems that seem intractable, seem insoluble. And we say, how can we get there? How can we do something different?

And so a couple of examples, you mentioned the incredible rebirth of the city of Detroit. Right?

Chris:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Malloy:

The largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of America. And yet, because of working with folks and buying — Dan bought more than a hundred buildings with our Bedrock Real Estate Company in downtown Detroit.

 

Chris:

And not just a building — skyscrapers.

Mike Malloy:

Skyscrapers, and when no one else wanted them, when they were empty, when there were no tenants in them, and brought all of our team members, which were an incredibly successful company out in the suburbs in Lavonia, downtown. At the time, 3,400 team members, now almost 20,000-

Chris:

Wow.

Mike Malloy:

... in downtown Detroit, and having that impact and working with all the stakeholders and doing the things to drive incredible new businesses, creation of jobs, investment.

We just announced with Steve Ross and the related companies as well as the University of Michigan the creation of the Michigan Innovation Center where the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is going to put their Graduate School of Engineering in downtown Detroit.

Chris:

Oh, wow.

Mike Malloy:

On a site that used to be the half completed rotting former county jail.

Chris:

Wow.

Mike Malloy:

That was built, half built and stopped, and we tore it down and built the county a new jail somewhere else, so we could have that piece of land on which we're going to put the Michigan Innovation Center. Incredible partnership with so many stakeholders, right?

And then we talk about if we can make that impact in the central business district, how can we help in our communities, the neighborhoods?

We have a program called Neighbor to Neighbor where our folks went door to door. We hired a number of Detroit residents and sent them door to door to educate people about tax foreclosures. There were more than 150,000 tax foreclosures — 150,000! — contributing to blight in the neighborhoods, not because anyone did something wrong, but because folks didn't pay their taxes and the County had to try to collect.

We went door to door, we educated people. 10,000 homeowners were able to get an abatement and save their home from foreclosure. Hundreds more, we worked with them. They were renters. Their landlord was going to get foreclosed upon. So we intervened and worked with the city and the county and the land bank and others.

I told a story about a woman named Pearly Mack who, she was going to be thrown out of her home through no fault of her own because her landlord hadn't paid the taxes, and instead, we intervened. We educated, we worked with her, and for her paying her "rent" for the next year, a grand total of $3,500, she became the owner of that home.

We've had hundreds of people like that through our Making it Home program, and none of that has anything to do with mortgage lending, but it does have to do with being home. And that's how we have our team members think about these programs.

Chris:

And that approach to community involvement and care comes from Dan.

Mike Malloy:

Yes.

Chris:

He started that-

Mike Malloy:

Yes.

Chris:

And has created such a fantastic culture of people who just continue that tradition. Yeah.

Mike Malloy:

It's really exciting. And then the last one is you think about this, obsessed with finding a better way, looking at these really big problems and then saying, "These can be solved.”

We've worked with a group called Community Solutions, and you may have seen our TV commercials. We ran a number around Thanksgiving. We are committed to ending veteran homelessness in America, and we're working... And one of those problems that seems, again, intractable, and yet it is possible. Eleven communities working with Community Solutions and a vast array of stakeholders, including our Quicken Loans Community Fund. Eleven communities in America have eliminated veteran homelessness, and three communities have eliminated chronic homelessness entirely.

It is possible, but you have to be obsessed with finding a better way and you have to do something other than what communities have done for so many years. You have to think about investment, permanent supportive housing and other things that will allow folks to move from that state into a much better place.

And so that's how we think about being obsessed with finding a better way, whether it's in the city of Detroit, whether it's in our community in Southeast Michigan, whether it's nationally with veteran homelessness, whether it's with our clients, whether it's with our team members.

Chris:

Okay, great. Thanks, Mike, for sharing that.

When you think back on your career with Quicken Loans, what has been the one single best day that you've ever had at work?

Mike Malloy:

It's a great question. There's so many good days. I enjoy everything I do. I feel incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity do what I do, impact our team members, make people's lives better, create jobs, help serve our community. But one thing that really always sticks out for me is when I see the true examples of our team members living the isms.

One of the best days I remember, I recall a team member coming to me and saying, "Mike, I have this idea.” This is before I had this Chief People Officer role, I was leading our mortgage servicing business. A team member came to me and said, "You know what? I see that 99.5% of our clients are doing amazingly well, but there still are about half of 1% who are struggling, who can't make their payments. And we try, we do everything we can to help them." He said, "But you know what? I'd like to contribute some of own hourly rate to help those clients in need."

Chris:

Wow.

Mike Malloy:

And that example of truly living the isms, I always remember that, for a team member hourly rate, working, and I'm sure he wasn't a person who had substantial means. But he said he cared so much about the people he talked to every single day that he thought, I'd like to give some of my own money to try to help those folks. Then we worked on some things and actually found ways to use some money we were getting back from the federal government as we help those team members and instead allocated that money to the kind of program that he thought of -

Chris:

So cool.

Mike Malloy:

... which is a fund to personally help folks, and that's the kind of thing that makes me fired up to show up every day.

Chris:

That's great. Thank you.

Mike Malloy:

Yeah.

Chris:

This has been a great conversation, so thank you, Mike.

Mike Malloy:

Thank you, Chris, really appreciate it.

Speakers

Mike Malloy

Chief Amazement Officer