Teala Smith, residential mortgage lender, Certainty Home Loans

by John Yellig

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in rural Kansas, but I have lived in Idaho; Miami and Sarasota, Fla.; Barcelona, Spain; Kansas City, Mo.; and now Georgia.

What was your most interesting job before going into lending?

I was a barber for 12 years before finding my life career in financing. I learned the most essential and key personal skills working in the cosmetology industry, which have led to my success in my current position in sales and finance.

What do you do to relax when you’re stressed?

I love to work out, do yoga and go on long walks with my best friend, Eddy, my golden retriever who came all the way from Spain.

If you could meet any well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why?

I would really like to meet Tony Robbins because I connect with his messages and his ongoing positivity. I connect closely with his story because we share a similar story of coming from a hard or troubled background and building  up ourselves and our careers from ground zero. His story really goes to show that anyone can make the most of their life and achieve their life goals if they have the right mindset, work hard and don’t give up.

Where is Atlanta’s best-kept secret?

Wisteria in Cabbagetown. This cool little dive bar is the perfect spot to hang and chill with friends, good conversations, interesting people and some awesome vegetarian/vegan food!

What do you love most about the industry?

I love helping people get into their dream home. Helping people who didn’t think it would be possible finance a home and build their equity for them and their families. I work with all home buys, but I do specialize in working with Hispanic borrowers and first-time homeowners.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

The most difficult aspect of my job hands-down is telling someone they don’t qualify for a home loan. I always provide a homebuyers guide to help people quality for a home loan, but telling someone in the moment that they do not qualify right away is the hardest part of my job.

What are you binge-watching/reading/listening to lately?

I am currently binge watching a Spanish series called Velvet Galleries about a boutique department store in Spain set back in the 50’s. During the 50’s, Spain was run by the dictator, Franco. It is not directly discussed in the series, but knowing Spanish history, the series inadvertently portrays the struggles of women entrepreneurs during the dictatorship and their methods of overcoming the oppression.

What’s your favorite meal in Atlanta?

I love Indian food and I always will. Take me to the best Indian spot in town and I will crush some Indian cuisine.

Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Atlanta?

I love everything old. Some of my most favorite places in Atlanta would be walking through the historic district of Inman Park. One home stands out to me in particular. It is an amazing Queen Anne house named the historic Beath-Dickey House, built in 1896. It’s a massive coral pink colored home with 15 rooms.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you on the job?

I had an elderly French gentleman request I meet him on a Friday evening after-hours, outside of work to go over a loan application with him. I politely declined, but that was an awkward conversation.

What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I think most people would be surprised to find I came from an extremely broken and dysfunctional family. Both of my parents struggled, and one continues to struggle with severe drug addiction and mental illnesses. Of course, it has affected me in my personal life, but thank God for great therapists and years of therapy. With that being said, all of us struggle with “family secrets” and being vulnerable to those sensitive topics. I have lived through trauma and negligence, but these situations are what make me who I am today. They have provided me with the ability to connect and empathize with many people from different walks of life. My difficult past has given me the motivation to reach out to those in need in hopes of making a difference and providing assistance to underserved communities and those in need. I am beyond grateful and blessed for the abundances I have in my life today.

What’s your favorite vacation spot and why?

I love beaches. Any beach and all beaches. I spent a month traveling in Southeast Asia a few years ago, and I fell in love with Thailand. I have yet to go back, but any chance I get to take a trip back to Krabi, Thailand, I will be there on a moment’s notice.

In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the lending industry?

Don’t give up, no matter what!

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