Great leaders are often born from hardship and molded through experience. This has proven true for Larry Bettag, an executive leader and author who developed his signature brand of authentic leadership over decades in the mortgage industry. His approach centers on genuine connection, demanding excellence, and empowering teams. For Bettag, leadership is more than a skill - it's a calling.
Bettag grew up the oldest of five siblings in a driven household. While his brothers and sister found early academic success, Bettag needed help to unlock his potential. "I was the dumb guy," he reflected. But his father, an anesthesiologist, saw beyond Bettag's self-doubt. He constantly encouraged Bettag to tap into his talent through sheer will, telling him, "10 percent brain power, 90 percent ass power."
This motivational spark first fired when Bettag switched college majors repeatedly before finding his voice in writing. After graduating, he took a job with his father, where that seed of confidence grew into management skills. He soon transitioned into mortgage lending, eventually rising to an executive role.
At the core of Bettag's leadership style is authenticity. He interacts with his team like family - directly, emotionally, and honestly. Bettag explained, "I will get in people's faces here. But they know I'm not doing it out of mood." He continued, ”To be great, you have to serve as you would serve your family."
For Bettag, this means demanding excellence from others as his father did for him. Through criticism, he chips away at people's barriers to unlock their potential. He commented, "My dad saw more in me than I saw in myself. I want people to see what God put in their DNA."
At times, this results in friction. But Bettag differentiates mood from motivation. He pushes people not out of anger or ego but belief in their untapped talent. "If I don't demand, who will?" Bettag asked. "Someone needs care and love, which means making tough decisions."
Vulnerability fuels Bettag's authenticity. He openly shares business strategies with his team, creating transparency. "I commit to them, to their families," Bettag said. "They put their whole family with me." This environment of support and high expectations empowers the team to achieve more together than alone.
Bettag is also vulnerable to his mistakes. Early on, he failed to sustain a work-life balance. "I would not divorce my wife and kids for success," he asserted. Now God and family form his priorities, guiding his calendar. Such openness about learning experiences helps the team grow comfortable with failure on the path of progress.
Authenticity extends to admitting uncertainty. As Bettag testified, "I see talents and I think that the hardest thing for me to do is chip away." He mentors based on empathy rather than expertise. In past counseling work, Bettag found abuse victims clung to painful cycles because change seemed impossible. By listening and believing, he inspired small steps forward. With his team, he evangelizes their untapped potential.
That faith propels Bettag through market turmoil that might otherwise sow self-doubt. When the mortgage industry hit turbulence, he supported his workforce through consistent outreach and accountability. "I can't expect them to respond if I neglect them," Bettag explained. "If I don't meet with them, who will?"
Bettag believes leadership potential lives in everyone. His book "No Rewind" shares stories of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary transformations. The narrative profiles his own brother's recovery from a devastating accident to rebuild his medical practice and win Doctor of the Year.
Such triumphs reinforce Bettag's motivational motto: "You are specifically created, designed as the most unique person in the history of this world." He infuses teams with this empowering mindset, often rekindling his father's mantra of finding success through bold action.
Decades into his career, Bettag's passion for leadership burns bright. His formula for authenticity - directness, vulnerability, and belief - unlocks others' potential. All leaders can draw inspiration from Bettag's journey - where he started, how he leverages his strengths, and the wisdom he's accrued. For in leadership, as in life, there are no rewinds. Only the opportunity today to shape tomorrow.