- October 15, 2020
Gina Montes believes in miracles.
The Miracle Morning, to be exact.
Montes, the mortgage loan originator at Sarasota’s Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, says the Hal Elrod self-help book has transformed her life by making her better organized, mentally sharper and more grateful. She’s so devoted to it she typically awakes around 4:30 a.m. six days a week to practice the book’s lessons.
“It helps me to win my day,” Montes says. “It reminds me of why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
The “what” is running Paramount Residential, which she opened with her husband in 2016. The “why” is more of what drives her.
“Home ownership is the American dream,” she says. “I want to help everyone I can live the American dream.”
The concept of life in America as a dream is one she knows firsthand. In the mid-1980s, Montes and her family emigrated from Colombia to escape narco gangs and civil war ripping the country apart.
When she arrived in New York, she didn’t speak a word of English.
But Montes was a quick study. Jobs at Nordstrom and Wachovia Bank in Miami trained her in how to provide good customer service and gave her solid financial acumen.
Then, at 23, she took a pay cut to go into mortgage banking.
“My feeling was I couldn’t focus on how much I was making because I was gaining so much knowledge,” she says. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
In 2005, she and her husband moved to Sarasota sight unseen to work for a national mortgage bank.
Three years later — when she was pregnant with her first child, no less — the couple opened up their own mortgage brokerage. During the businesses’ early days, they ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“Humility is a big part of success in this business,” she says. “That’s one of the most important things I’ve learned.”
A self-described “big problem solver,” Montes says she struggles with taking on too many challenges in an effort to help people. “I feel that’s my duty,” she says. “But I’m also trying to learn how to balance more. It’s hard for me to turn off sometimes.”
If she can achieve that, she says, it will be no small miracle.
City of Residence
Paramount Residential Mortgage Group
Senior mortgage loan originator
Years on the Gulf Coast
Married with two children
Miami Dade College
What community group or organization are you most involved with?
What's the weirdest job you've ever had?
Acting like a human statue for the American Heart Association Ball in Miami
What's your top tip for being productive?
Practice Miracle Mornings. Wake up before the rest of your world wakes up, and you will be able to win your day.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be?
Coaching people to be the best version of themselves
What's your favorite off-hours activity?
Spending time with family, dancing and boating with friends
What's your favorite board game, game show or video game?
"Family Feud" is my absolute favorite
*What’s your go-to delivery service? (DoorDash, Uber Eats, GrubHub, Bite Squad, etc.)
What do you use most — Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or Google Meetings?
What’s the best binge-worthy show you have enjoyed during the pandemic?
What’s the longest virtual meeting you’ve been on since mid-March?
One with my best friend talking about work and life
How many times had you used video for a work meeting prior to the pandemic?
We have a meeting once a month on video with the whole company
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic?
To appreciate more what I have and who I share it with.
What do you miss most about the world pre-pandemic?
Traveling to far away places on an airplane
What have you been spending more time doing during the pandemic?
Time at home with the kids
Do you prefer working from home or working from an office?
Office, but give me a laptop and somewhere to sit, and I got this.
How have you kept up camaraderie with colleagues during the pandemic?
Zoom and calls
What’s the first thing you’ll do after the pandemic?
Travel to the Bahamas or Vegas