Here’s the story of how PERCEPTION helped me secure a home loan.
In 2013 I had been working for myself for more than 5 years and it had been 3 years since I started Guiding Tech – the consumer tech content business which I would eventually sell in 2020 to an American media company.
Today I can easily secure any loan or mortgage. Back in 2013, however, I could neither afford it nor did I do something that a bank would easily understand.
Running an online content business, or making money doing something online full-time for that matter, was not common then, not in India for sure.
People didn’t exactly understand what I did for a living. Most would think that I was involved in some shady online stuff, which was quite funny frankly.
I guess the concept of working from home or from wherever one wants just didn’t sink in easily.
This wasn’t a problem for me until I applied for a mortgage for a house I was planning to purchase. I knew I was eligible if one were to consider the finances. I had a good credit history, a steady stream of income, etc.
So I thought the approval would be easy.
It wasn’t. Far from it.
The banks didn’t understand what I did and how I made money. The fact that a company like Google was sending me cheques every month was just unthinkable to them.
I quickly realized that I was facing a perception problem. Deep in their hearts the bankers knew I was eligible, but their perception of a guy in his mid-twenties in tshirt-jeans working from a coworking space and making a living wasn’t letting them approve.
This needed a nudge to change their perception of who I was.
Thankfully, I had previously written for some mainstream media sites. I also had photos with some well-known media personalities and I had a magazine write-up that had covered who I was and what I did.
I had never thought I’d need THESE to apply for a home loan.
I prepared a presentation that showed off these pics along with other credentials.
I could see the eyes of a banker go wide when I showed this to him the first time.
The loan approval came through in the next few days.
We like to think that work matters more than the perception of it. I wish that were always true.
Human beings aren’t wired to be unbiased. It takes a lot of mental effort to see things for what they are. Not everyone can do that. That’s why they rely on visual cues – how someone’s dressed, who they are with, etc.
Mind you, perception is also driven by cultural and economic shifts. I am sure today a young web publisher would have an easier time securing a mortgage. People are now more aware of the new rules of work.
But when you’re trying to do something different, something that’s not part of the general landscape around you, then managing perception of your work could sometimes become as important as your work.
Remember, perception matters. And sometimes it’s all that matters.