Christina McCollum of Churchill Mortgage On Five Things You Need To Know To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Mortgage Industry

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine
10 min readApr 16, 2023


Look outside of yourself for advice. Sometimes, it’s helpful to have someone look at your business and find ways you can improve and be open to the idea of change. The most difficult changes and tasks often yield the biggest impact on you and your business.

As a part of my series about the ‘Five Things You Need To Know To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Mortgage Industry,’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina McCollum.

Christina McCollum is a Producing Market Leader at Churchill Mortgage. A graduate of Washington State University, she has been in the mortgage industry for 20 years and is based in Benton City, Washington, where she raised four sons and serves as a leader at Columbia Community Church.

Going back to the beginning of your career, what brought you to the mortgage industry?

Back in 2003, I needed to find a job that allowed me to be self-paced and flexible around my children’s schedule, as I was raising four boys and trying to support my husband as he started his own business. I quickly discovered the mortgage industry was an ideal fit for me, especially given our ability to impact families and their lives.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that has occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took from that story?

I have more stories than you can imagine — it comes with the territory! My favorite one to share is about a couple named Bonnie and Larry, whom I met in 2019 when they needed to purchase a new home. For starters, Larry was quite a character and often chatted long past the end of his scheduled appointment time — Bonnie always had to be the one to tell him they needed to leave! During the homebuying process, Larry sold a tractor he had owned for over 20 years, and tractors rarely have titles, maintenance records or insurance. He intended to use the $30,000 from that sale toward the down payment, but to do that, he needed to show how he acquired the tractor in the first place, which proved to be an issue.

While it wasn’t easy, Larry was incredible determined to trace back his ownership, which led us to a local credit union he used to finance the purchase. However, it had been so long, they no longer had that record available, and the loan officer at the credit union had long since retired. But Larry did not give up, as he called the retired loan officer personally and asked them if they recalled his purchase Amazingly, he remembered and wrote a letter to that effect, proving he legitimately owned the tractor and allowing us to complete the transaction.

In the four years since this took place, I have become close friends with Larry and Bonnie and have helped other members of their family secure loans — though none quite as challenging as the first one! Their friendship is a constant reminder of that wild process and the essential role we play in helping families with their most important purchases.

Do you have a favorite quote to live by? And can you share a story or example of how that was relevant to you in your life?

The mortgage industry is predominantly male, especially leaders and most of the top producers. I started in my early twenties, so it was easy to feel intimidated and think my dreams of being a top producer or manager weren’t feasible. Quotes I held onto mostly came from Eleanor Roosevelt.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.”

Today, I can proudly share that I’m among the production leaders at Churchill Mortgage and have spent the last seven years in management roles, which create more opportunities to care for people along the way! So, dare to dream — you may find a happy journey along the way!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Honestly, so many things stand out to me about Churchill Mortgage. First and foremost, we are an employee-owned company that is also faith-based. With that comes a much different mindset in business and at work. In addition to the many blessings it affords us both monetarily and wholistically, as a person wanting to be a part of something bigger than a “job,” I’m so grateful to be at Churchill, I almost live with a little fear of losing it. What I mean is, it’s something I cherish so much I simply can’t imagine another path in the mortgage industry. I’ve had other jobs in the industry, but nowhere else has given me the real purpose that Churchill has, so I’m incredibly grateful to be where I am today.

Everyone needs help along their journey — who made a significant impact on your journey and why?

Kevin Hanna was the very first person to believe in me, as he gave me an opportunity in 2018 that I had never been given before. I had an idea to break away from my current company, where I was told, “you’re not the manager, Christina” every time I tried to share ideas with management. This was a mentality that was not healthy or constructive for me, and then I met Kevin. He was the first person to see I had something special to share with others and was understanding, supportive and inspiring as he brought me onto his team at Churchill Mortgage. He taught me it’s when we have faith in ourselves and those around us that we truly have found accomplishment.

Outside of Kevin and the others I plan to list here, my husband has been my greatest teacher. In 2020, Joseph decided he would come to Churchill Mortgage and we’d get to work together, which has been an incredible blessing. More recently, we had our first child together, Baby Joe. Baby Joe gets to be raised by both his parents and we take him everywhere. He has flown more in his 18 months than I have in my lifetime! I love my husband for all that he gives to our business and family, and I’d never be who I am today without his love and kindness.

Chris Knouf is my best friend and battle buddy for life. He is one of the smartest, hardest working, and funniest people I know. He has been there for me every day for the last five years, challenging me to be better and do better. He is more than a friend — almost like family.

Matt Clarke is the leader I never knew I needed. He is the most honorable man you will ever meet and is the embodiment of the words “trust” and “inspire.” I only wish that someday I could be even half the leader he is. It was after meeting Matt that I knew I’d never leave Churchill Mortgage, and he and Mike Hardwick are the reason this company is so successful.

Cecil Kemp is a wise, bringer of light. I’m three years into my relationship with Cecil as my business coach and counsel, and he is a true disciple of the Lord’s love here on Earth. I have grown more emotionally in three years with Cecil’s leadership than in my entire 37 years of life prior to meeting him.

Jeff Miller knows how to solve all of life’s puzzles and knows everything I need to know! I don’t know how he has become so wise in his short 45 years on this Earth, but I’m lucky to be a benefactor of his knowledge most days. He advice provides a kickstart to higher level thinking — anyone who knows him would say the same.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my “work sisters,” Monika C. and Jen V. — the most intelligent, patient and helpful women I get to see and work with every day!

Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Can you share three things that most excite you about working in the mortgage industry?

I’m driven by the legacy, adventure and leadership elements of the business. The mortgage industry is a level playing field — all loan officers start at the same starting gate. If you are hardworking and diligent, you can make an amazing living. This industry affords you the ability to create a legacy and be part of amazing adventures, and if you’d like, amass levels of leadership few have seen.

Can you share three things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement three ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

I rarely have concerns about our industry, because while it has its ups and downs, it is ultimately pretty consistent. Just like any job, you get out of it what you put into it. I wouldn’t expect anyone without a tremendous work ethic to make it in this industry.

What advice would you give to other mortgage and real estate leaders to help their teams to thrive and to create a fantastic work culture?

My advice isn’t anything revolutionary, and most old adages likely apply. Invest in yourself, and you can build a life you don’t need a vacation from. Hard work is the simplest cornerstone to this business — and really any job where being a self-starter is necessary. If you require direct management and tons of structure, this could be a difficult business for you. Self-motivated and driven individuals are the ones who rise to the top.

If you had to advise someone on five non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Mortgage industry, what would you say?

1. I think it’s often overlooked that being organized is undervalued and could make or break your business. Track everything and qualify your business activities.

2. Do the right thing always, because I often say that if you are doing the right thing and enough people see it, you could build your entire business from that goodwill. You never know if that $50K loan could turn into $500K, so treat everyone you meet with integrity and grace.

3. Be willing to adjust and learn. The mortgage industry is always changing, and if you think you can’t learn each day in this business, you likely won’t make it for the long haul.

4. Spend all your free time honing your craft. This is something most don’t even consider, as they think working in the business is JUST working on the business. Coaching and educating yourself above and beyond is your decree in lending, so be sure to spend time and money on this category.

5. Look outside of yourself for advice. Sometimes, it’s helpful to have someone look at your business and find ways you can improve and be open to the idea of change. The most difficult changes and tasks often yield the biggest impact on you and your business.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

I want everyone to be inspired by the idea that no matter where you start in life, all things are possible. Take my story, for example — on my mother’s side, my family is made up of immigrants from Iraq. Most of the men on that side of the family are completely self-employed, preferring to build their own dreams instead of building empires for others. My father’s side is similar, with my grandfather building a successful insurance business.

As for me, being one of seven children, we grew up very hand-to-mouth. My parents didn’t go to college or have high-paying jobs, but they instilled us with values based in faith and family, always taking us to church and sharing the love of the Lord with us. They also taught us we could do whatever we wanted to do be who we wanted to be, which gave me the confidence to embark on this career path while simultaneously being a mom of four boys — it hasn’t been easy, but I’m so grateful people believed in me, and I want others who hear my story to believe in themselves.

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: Jason Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Empowered Investor. Jason has been involved in several thousand real estate transactions and has owned income properties in 11 states and 17 cities. Empowered Investor helps people achieve The American Dream of financial freedom by purchasing income property in prudent markets nationwide. Jason’s Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ is a comprehensive system providing real estate investors with education, research, resources and technology to deal with all areas of their income property investment needs. Through Jason’s podcasts, educational events, referrals, mentoring and software to track your investments, investors can easily locate, finance and purchase properties in these exceptional markets with confidence and peace of mind.

Starting with very little, Jason, while still in college at the age of 19, embarked on a career in real estate. While brokering properties for clients, he was investing in his own portfolio along the way. Through creativity, persistence and hard work, he earned a number of prestigious industry awards and became a young multi-millionaire. Jason purchased a California real estate brokerage firm that was later acquired by Coldwell Banker. He combined his dedication and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and media personality. Over the years he developed his Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ where his innovative firm educates and assists investors in acquiring prudent investments nationwide for their portfolio. Jason’s sought after educational events, speaking engagements, and his popular “Creating Wealth Podcast” inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people in 189 countries worldwide.

While running his successful real estate and media businesses, Jason also believes that giving back to the community plays an important role in building strong personal relationships. He established The Jason Hartman Foundation in 2005 to provide financial literacy education to young adults providing the all-important real world skills not taught in school which are the key to the financial stability and success of future generations. We’re in a global monetary crisis caused by decades of misguided policies and the cycle of financial dependence has to be broken, literacy and self-reliance are a good start. Visit for free materials and resources.