Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Shashank Shekhar author of My First Home: A step-by-step guide to achieving the ultimate American Dream.
Norm: Good day Shashank and thanks for participating in our interview. – Thanks for doing this Norm!
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
Shashank: I am the Founder and CEO of Arcus Lending, a mortgage company based in Silicon Valley, CA. Before starting Arcus Lending, I had worked for GE Money in mid-level management and a mortgage start-up as Director of Product Management. I also sit on a board of Give India, a non-profit. I have an MBA in marketing. I live in Saratoga, CA with my wife and 2 daughters.
Norm: What do you consider to be your greatest success or successes so far in your career? As a follow up, how many times in your career have you experienced rejection? How did they shape you?
Shashank: During the first 2 years, I faced several rejections and discomfort. For example, when I started blogging in 2009 when very few industry professionals were, I remember I wrote a blog post every week for 6-7 months before I got my first call/lead. Since then, my blogs have been not just been one of the best sources of acquiring and retaining business, it has also helped me get several media requests.
That and other no so pleasant incidents have taught me that going out of your comfort zone and persisting at something you think is valuable will make you more successful than you could ever imagine.
Norm: What has been your greatest challenge (professionally) that you’ve overcome in getting to where you’re at today?
Shashank: When I started Arcus Lending, I knew only 3 people in the entire country. On top of that, it was 2008 – the year of the worst financial crisis in recent history. Overcoming, no connections and severe industry downturn in the first 2 years of business have easily been the biggest challenge I have faced. 8 years later, having won virtually every single industry award and becoming one of the top 40 loan officers in the country, it will be safe to say I have overcome those tough initial years.
Norm: What were your goals and intentions when writing My First Home, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Shashank: First time home buying is a special occasion in everyone’s life. But because of the complexities around it, most people approach it with a mix of fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
I wrote this book with the sole purpose of making the process easier and more predictable. I did not want lack of knowledge to come in their way of not buying their own home. I have tried to demystify the entire process by avoiding the jargon as much as possible.
I have read dozens of books and guides on the topic of buying your first home and firmly believe that “My First Home” far exceeds those guides/books in the quality of the content, spread of information and the non-technical presentation of those topics.
Norm: What was the time-line between the time you decided to write your book and publication? What were the major events along the way?
Shashank: It took about 2 years to finish the book from the idea stage to publication. Initially, I had a co-author who was from the mortgage industry. But, he backed out of the project mid-way delaying the publication by almost a year. Bringing in Richa Sarin in the last 3 months helped with the speed since she is really good with design and illustrations.
Norm: What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?
Shashank: I read several studies and researches pointing towards benefits of home ownership. I did want to vaguely mention benefits of owning a home without any research to back it up. That’s why all the benefits mentioned in the book have been sourced to one study or the other.
Norm: What are common mistakes first time home buyers make and how should they avoid them?
Shashank: The biggest mistake that a first-time home buyer does is to start looking at homes before figuring out finances. My #1 advice to potential home buyers is to first get pre-approved before doing anything else. Find out how much you qualify for, what your payments would be or fix anything you need to qualify for a mortgage before looking at dozens of homes online and offline.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing this book and what did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Shashank: Writing about the financing section was the easiest and most fun. Being a lender it came naturally to me. The most challenging part was giving the correct structure and flow to the book. I was very clear that I wanted the book designed and written in a way that it was an easy read for someone considering to buy their first home. After seeing the final version of the book, I am so glad that it met my expectations.
Norm: As there are hundreds of books written about home buying, what would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read your book?
Shashank: I read a lot of books written on this topic to prepare myself for the book. I wanted to see what the current books were lacking that I could provide to my readers. Most of the current books are written by non-industry authors, attorneys or non-profits.
The biggest differentiation for My First Home is the fact that it has been written by an industry veteran like me, someone who has actually helped hundreds of first time buyers own a home. Also, I have a devoted a full section on preparing for home buying and then another section on how to stay a happy homeowner; something rarely seen in other books. And the book comes loaded with infographics and illustrations, making it easier to understand.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and My First Home?
Norm: What is next for Shashank Shekhar?
Shashank: This is my 3rd book in seven years. I guess I will pause for some time before working on the next one. On the business front, I will continue to work towards making Arcus Lending the most loved lender for First Time Home Buyers. Also, aiming at making it to the Inc. 500 list in 2017, a list of 500 fastest growing private companies in America.
Norm: As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Shashank: I wish someone asked if I could quantify the value of such a book for first time home buyers. But, since you didn’t ask I am still thinking what the best answer would have been.
Norm: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. It's been an absolute pleasure to meet with you and read your work. Good luck with My First Home.- Thanks Norm! Much appreciated.