New York to Florida Gene Simmons comes from the other side of the real estate development and investment business; the lending side. Originally from New York, he relocated to Florida years ago. At this point in his career, with more than 20 years experience in mortgage and loan business, he’s seen his share of ups and downs in the industry. He’s also seen—and chosen to live by—the timeless principles of good ethics and honoring one’s word, regardless of what this or that other lender is doing. Those principles have served him well, even through some wild years for some sectors of the lending industry. But Simmons never veered from his core path of excellence in service, good ethical practices, and highquaiity loans. For Simmons, it’s not solely about the money or the profit. He takes a longer view. For him, it’s always been about building solid, trustworthy and valuable, longterm relationships with his clients. This makes his partnership with Aaron a solid one. "Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships." Stephen R. Covey Early mentors Both Aaron and Simmons know their area of expertise so well that they practically could do it, excellently, in their sleep. But when you talk with either of them about their beginnings, they are each quick to point out excellent mentors in the beginning of their careers. For Simmons it was an early boss in the loan business. The man was renown for not only his nimble and creative loan solutions, but also, and more importantly, for the ethical way he did business. Every. Time. For Aaron, it was a real estate investor guru. Again, this mentor was bold, challenging his mentees and always available when a student needed 53 help. Above all, he was ethical to the core, and Aaron valued that. But mentors without students who are willing to follow the advice of their mentor yields no fruit. The students themselves have to be willing to DO what they are challenged to do, even if it is out of their “comfort zone” and doesn’t seem to make sense at first. Both Aaron and Simmons were willing to take those newbie leaps of faith, to take advised action, to “just do it,” but only because of the high level of proven trust they each had for their early mentors. Now they, in turn, are trusted guides for their team, for each other, and for their select clientele.