Community//

Laura Brandao: “Find a Supportive Tribe”

I believe every one of us was given what we need to succeed and have an impactful life. I want Say YES Everyday! to empower readers to say YES to using their gifts, to say YES to being open to new adventures, new people and new opportunities with no preconceived notions or expectations. There was […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I believe every one of us was given what we need to succeed and have an impactful life. I want Say YES Everyday! to empower readers to say YES to using their gifts, to say YES to being open to new adventures, new people and new opportunities with no preconceived notions or expectations.

There was one woman who heard my Say YES Everyday! presentation at a conference about a year and a half ago. She later shared with me that she had been considering applying for a new job, but in her 50s, she was concerned about ageism. She took the mindset to heart, and on New Year’s Eve of 2019 she said “YES!” to applying for a job. She not only got the job, she became the #1 salesperson for her new company in 2020, her first year there. She has shared that her new position is the best job she has ever had, she’s never been happier, and she credits taking a positive turn to Say YES Everyday.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura J. Brandao.

Laura J. Brandao is the president and only woman partner of American Financial Resources, a national mortgage company. With many business and mortgage awards to her credit, Laura is a coveted speaker and panelist, inspiring audiences with her positivity and passion.

Although Laura married her high-school sweetheart, raised two wonderful men and built a successful business, she felt as if she started living into her purpose when she accepted an invitation to get in front of a Las Vegas ballroom filled to capacity. Once she said “YES!” to stepping out from behind her desk, Laura began experiencing life in whole new way. She learned that if you go into every situation with no preconceived notions or expectations, you can do ANYTHING!

Laura currently hosts Thrive Thursdays and Positively Charged Biz, and co-hosts Leadership Mastermind and a “Growth Series” for the Women’s Mortgage Network (WMN). She also serves as Chair of the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America’s (NAMMBA) Visionary program, and serves on the boards of Mortflix and the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey (MBANJ), chairing its women’s committee.

Laura shares her infectious passion to fulfill her life purpose — to inspire, encourage and empower people to rise up to be their best selves, so they can live their greatest lives.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in New Jersey, the youngest of four children. I met my husband while I was still in high school, and we married and started a family very young. I learned very early on that I had a voice, and could use it to affect change. Both of my sons are grown, and we still live in the first house we bought in North Arlington, and have since built an addition to bring my parents to live with us.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

I feel you can never be filled with too much knowledge, and I read books and listen to podcasts constantly. When I was still in my 20s working as a telemarketing manager, there was one book that really resonated with me: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It may have been the most valuable book I had read, up to that point in my life. So, I wanted to share it, and bought a copy for all of the managers on my team for Christmas that year.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

From the very beginning of AFR Wholesale, I always send out a morning email to my team. One morning, I learned that two people quit, the same day. I was in such a fog with my mind racing when I sent my morning email to my team, that I unwittingly attached one of the resignation letters…and sent it…to everybody. Thankfully, the responses I received from my team to alert me to my error were very supportive. “Sorry you started your day off this way.” Needless to say, I was horrified.

The lessons I learned were to always take a moment and double check your emails before you hit send, but more importantly, acknowledge that emotion affects your judgment. I am happy to report that I never made that mistake again!

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

I believe every one of us was given what we need to succeed and have an impactful life. I want Say YES Everyday! to empower readers to say YES to using their gifts, to say YES to being open to new adventures, new people and new opportunities with no preconceived notions or expectations.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

I have been told there are a few unbelievable stories in my book: meeting my husband at 17 years old, or quitting my job with two kids and without another job to go to. I think the most interesting may be when I did not understand why I was required to take swimming in high school, and I went to the school board to fight it. I believe it was in that moment that I realized that I had the power to use my voice, and change people’s minds. Of course, after that successful ruling, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

There has been a series of moments that led me to share the mindset behind my daily blog into a book. I really discovered the power of Say YES Everyday when I started speaking on the topic, sharing it with women’s groups in the mortgage industry. I realized I could share the power of my new mindset with others, and consistently received feedback that the concept was resonating with people in the audience. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started a weekly Survive & Thrive series on Facebook. Guests not only shared what they were doing to survive, but opened up about what they were saying yes to, which helped them survive. As the series evolved into Thrive Thursdays, we also began exploring the guests’ unique superpowers which helped direct their journeys. I also had a podcast guest by the name of Larry Levine, author of Selling from the Heart, who ultimately introduced me to his publisher. I had to be open to all of these events, and meeting all of these people; I had to go through this process to understand that I needed to share my message with the world.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

There was one woman who heard my Say YES Everyday! presentation at a conference about a year and a half ago. She later shared with me that she had been considering applying for a new job, but in her 50s, she was concerned about ageism. She took the mindset to heart, and on New Year’s Eve of 2019 she said “YES!” to applying for a job. She not only got the job, she became the #1 salesperson for her new company in 2020, her first year there. She has shared that her new position is the best job she has ever had, she’s never been happier, and she credits taking a positive turn to Say YES Everyday.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

As a society, we need to consciously create more positivity and more public encouragement. Self-esteem builds an individual’s empowerment. We should all strive to have our names attached to positivity, and choose not to engage in negativity. We can all choose to create more dopamine in others by committing to positive interactions. We all have the ability to use our platforms, whatever they may be, in a positive way.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is not a title or a badge; we all have a responsibility to show the world what we’re made of. Everyone is watching you, and your actions and your words affect others. Consider the simple filter from your childhood, “If my parents were watching, would they be proud?” We all have choices; our days are filled with them. Good leadership is being a good human. Leadership starts with yourself, and taking ownership of your actions. You must lead yourself first, and others will follow. Don’t ever do anything that doesn’t make your mother proud. If everyone thought that way, there would be no social injustice.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Find a Supportive Tribe — I am fortunate that I have always had tremendous support at home, my parents first and then my husband. But I never truly understood the value of having a supportive network professionally. Before my affiliation with AIME and the Women’s Mortgage Network, I worked like an animal. I had support at home, so I was fine working as a lone woman in a sea of male executives. I felt I had to make this company successful, and believed if AFR went under, I had nowhere to go. I felt I wouldn’t have a position anywhere else. Everyone needs a supportive tribe, especially women. I have been in the mortgage industry for over twenty years, yet my world changed when I became part of WMN, and I now realize the power and importance of a tribe that supports you.
  2. Create Your Own Reality — I had to go outside of AFR to realize I was sucked into the world and the business I had created. You have to experience a contrast and put yourself in different situations to create magic. Say YES Everyday allows you to open yourself up to different perspectives, and view your world from another vantage point.
  3. You Don’t Need to Dress Like a Man — As an executive, I believed I had to dress manly to be taken seriously by the men who surrounded me. Now that I have a tribe, I know I’m not the only one who went through this phase. I remember I bought a dress for my parents’ wedding anniversary, and decided to wear it to work. It was the first time I wore a dress to the office; and it was 2011. I finally felt like me; I love how I feel in a dress. My assistant commented how nice I looked in a dress, and it had nothing to do with what I was wearing. I was happy. I donated all of my business suits and now have a closet full of dresses. You will never again see me in a suit.
  4. You Don’t Have to “Tone It Down” — Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am one of those “high energy” individuals. My life and my work excite me, and I make no apologies for that. When I was younger, starting out in my career, there were a few men who suggested I “tone it down” if I wanted to be taken seriously. Once I learned that their comments were not about me, but were a reflection of their own insecurities, I stopped toning it down. I found my voice, and if I have something to say, or value to contribute to a conversation, you can’t shut me up.
  5. Know Your Audience — While you definitely should not shy away from using your voice, it is important to know your audience. If you want to be truly heard, you cannot speak to everyone in the same way. Certain people can only hear or receive information in a certain way. You should be authentically you, but it is vital to understand that others are going to be authentically them, as well. If someone is not capable of hearing you, it doesn’t matter what you are saying. But if you are able to package your voice or your ideas in such a way that they can receive it, then everybody wins.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within,” said Maya Angelou, the revered author and poet. This is what discovering your superpower is all about! We are all born with exactly what we need. Saying yes to activities and people that take us outside of our comfort zone is how we learn what our unique gifts truly are. Once we know, it is important to share our personal superpower with the world. The world needs your light. You can’t borrow gifts from others, and while you can reflect the light of others, you need to shine from within to truly make a difference in the world.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Most recently, I have been moved by poet laureate Amanda Gorman. She gets it. “There is always light…if we are brave enough to BE it.”

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My Say YES Everyday blog is on my website: https://laurabrandao.com/say-yes-everyday/

Readers can join the Say YES Everyday group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sayyeseveryday

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Vivien Killilea / Stringer / Getty Images / Daniel Zuchnik / Contributor / Getty Images / Dave Pedley / Contributor / Getty Images
    Wisdom//

    6 Celebrities Who Inspire Us to Step Out of Our Comfort Zone

    by Jane Burnett
    Community//

    Next Gen Presents: The Power of Intrapreneurship with Capital One’s Rasheeda Creighton

    by Haley Hoffman Smith
    Community//

    Dealing with The ‘Influential Bully’ at Work

    by Renoy George
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.