Saturday Cup of Joe: a lending and tech(ish) newsletter

Friends & Colleagues,

SCJ55. On Tuesday, we got a private tour of the Detroit Grand Prix race track on Belle Isle. The first weekend in June is a series of races on Detroit’s Belle Isle featuring IndyCars, SportsCars and Super trucks. We were on Belle Isle to officially add a plaque to Brad’s bench. As you know, my best friend Brad passed away in January. Dana (his wife), Katy (the wonderful friend who made this happen), Meredith, Tess and I went out through the race track to add Brad’s memorial to the bench. Despite my own lack-of-handiwork with the drill, we successfully left our mark on in the park for all future visitors. It was emotional but I was honored to be a part of it. Here’s a pic:

“Seat’s Taken”

Hope you have a great, long weekend. Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

This week we look at:

  • PHH v CFPB (Of Interest)

Of Interest: Compliance and regulatory attorneys unite! This week, the oral argument in the appeal of PHH v. CFPB occurred before the DC circuit court. One friend compared it to the regulatory attorney’s equivalent of a Beyonce concert. One of the attorney’s involved in the case told me the line formed around 7 am and gallery was standing room only. From all accounts, the constitutionality of the CFPB took center stage and dominated the day. If you want in-depth, detailed responses, check out Rob Chrisman’s Commentary here.

Though the en banc court appeared skeptical of overturning the entire agency, there were some tough questions about power, rule of law and interpretation of certain statutes (RESPA). You gotta love any case that looks to the 1935 Supreme Court decision in Humphrey’s Executor v. US. What’s interesting historically about that time compared to our time is that President Roosevelt had challenged the outer limits of executive power by firing those who did not agree and/or refused to resign. Roosevelt’s goal was an increase in federal authority and regulation. PHH v. CFPB is caught between two administrations — one that looked to Roosevelt as a forefather and one that’s still fighting the New Deal policies in 2017. The ties to history are profound and interesting. There’s no way to know what the court will do based on their questions but you can bet everyone will be watching this decision closely when it comes out this Summer. In fact, perhaps it will one day require the Supreme Court to review their own precedent. Who knows? For more background and context on the PHH case, National Law Journal published a great overview this week.


As seen on LinkedIn this week

Got Me Thinking: The power of expectations is real and extremely strong. The strongest might be how people view themselves. The expectation of their own outlook/narrative being true. A close second is how quickly we expect something once we believe in it. In recent years, technology has sparked an unrealistic expectation in how fast business and, more importantly, tech-enabled business can get things done. I think there are two reasons for this. First, in just 17–20 short years, the Internet and access to information, services and people have revolutionized our world. Not just our free time and lifestyle, the Internet has raised the game for consumer-facing companies and policymakers alike. That’s why I reacted strongly to this op-ed piece in the Michigan Chronicle on Friday. The premise was — Detroit is a nice story but the recovery remains unfinished. No kidding. I mean, it’s only been 5 years since bankruptcy. What’s the expectation? It took 5 years just to get the core business district on the map again as somewhere to believe in. There’s no question the overall changes are going to take longer. Perhaps the Portlands and Brooklyns of the world color our expectations and impressions but DC took longer than 5 years and remains a work in progress. Downtown LA has unfinished business in terms of an inclusive economy. I guess some will think I’m becoming defensive of a city I’ve only lived in a year, but I think I’m reacting more to how economists, journalists and others set expectations or write about expectations that implicitly validates the unreasonableness. For instance, no one has written a “Detroit is done improving” or “Detroit’s recovery is complete” article. Yet, you’d never know it reading that op-ed and others like it. Nevertheless, several stories this week highlighted Detroit’s declining overall resident population and increasing renter population. If you follow one of our ISMs at QL, you gotta believe it to see it. And that’s true here. We cannot make progress in Detroit, with millennials or with our country’s economic outlook overall if every 5 days we have to fight the “it’s-not-happening-fast-enough” narrative. Let’s believe it and believe in it. Then we’ll see it.

Detroit, MI

This week in Detroit: Another opinion in support of #NextBelt. This love letter to the Detroit tech scene was published on and covers what I’ve been saying all along. The “magic” in New York City and SF is in whatever the person who lives there sees/feels in it. Just imagining being close to something or someone special is enough to motivate and drive many people. Here in Detroit, there’s a different type of authentiCity that attracts a certain type of entrepreneurial person. But it’s exactly the same as NYC and SF. It’s not gonna feel the same for everyone and it’s not for everyone. The diamond that the author of the post identifies is what I call the #NextBelt. We’re looking for hard-working, forward-thinking people who appreciate the history, grit and possibility of having to write their own story. In early history of America, it was the Wild West and the dream of land (and gold). In mid-20th Century America, it was the moon and space exploration. We love to chase what’s next. In a cyberworld where the exploration is online, we can live anywhere and be as dynamic and effective from anywhere. For many millennials, the access to an affordable life with all the amenities of a major city is exactly what can define our generation. 10 years ago we watched Portland and Austin craft a reputation around what’s next. Now it’s time for the former Rust Belt now the #NextBelt to become the authentiCities of the next 10 years and hopefully, beyond.


A Look Ahead: Millennials are making news on a daily basis at this point. Whether it’s office space that millennials prefer or how seniors are “more millennial” than millennials, the trend to include generational analysis in an article is borderline out of control. I’ll avoid a big in-depth theme here and simply highlight two that I found interesting from this week. First, The Wall Street Journal identified a trend quickly blaming millennials for it (shocker) and then went on to describe how it might actually be a good thing. The trend? A shortage in the housing market. The reason? Millennials have “preferences” for wanting to “live closer to transit, restaurants, and their workplaces.” For instance, “the share of young, educated people living in the urban core of Washington D.C., for example, increased 8.6% between 2000 and 2014. I suspect Detroit will follow the same trend if not sooner and faster.

Second, in keeping with the “millennials are changing everything” theme. Inc. magazine found that millennial women are dominating the work place. Women are landing higher paying and more visible jobs than their millennial men counterparts. While largely a good thing overall, the author could not resist predicting the downside. Here, the downside appears to be income and employment trends that show men are taking lower income positions and/or not pursuing education or higher paying career paths. Instead of highlighting the competitive benefits here, the author looks to the “politically important cohort” that now has “distinct economic disadvantage[s]” and rightly observes, this will have the result of delaying “the American Dream,” including home ownership. I believe change is good and pressure breeds the smart and the strong rising to the top, so I’m not worried. Though, there’s no denying it will have an impact on socio-economic trends including home ownership.


Walk the Talk: This week I found a bunch of articles that are perfect for Walk the Talk but did not have a clean way to synthesize them into one section. Perhaps, the real truth is I didn’t have the time but given the long weekend, I thought it might be easier to simply present each set for your consideration. Dig into whichever topic seems most useful to you.

1. Perhaps my favorite self-reinforcing theory came from an article on the site encouraging readers to embrace disorder and spontaneity. In the 5 ways to benefit from the chaos, I found several that resonated with me.

a. Juggle multiple projects. Benefit is cross-pollination of ideas and allow the brain to work on one problem in the background instead of being forced to solve it immediately.

b. Embrace the discomfort of strangers. Meredith has often accused me of liking social awkwardness too much, especially in my TV shows (The Office, Louie, Mr. Robot, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Girls). Here, the lesson is friction can create better ideas and more productivity/creativity.

c. Don’t keep a daily planner. Or at least don’t stick to it too strongly. Sometimes it’s about the work more than about staying on schedule.

2. Inc. magazine often tries to produce articles that can live on your Facebook feed without growing old or becoming outdated. This week I found a new one that contained 2 lessons “imposter syndrome” that stood out to me. Imposter syndrome is the feeling that at any moment you’ll be found out for not having the requisite experience or skills for whatever work you’ve been entrusted. I didn’t necessarily buy everything about imposter syndrome but I thought 2 lessons were true just for self-assured, confidence at work. First, trust your “future self” and bet on yourself to know what to do as your career progresses. Second, doubt is a feeling. It’s not that feelings are easy to control, we all know they are not. But it is valuable to remember that it only affects you as much as you allow. Proceed with courage and courage will find you, you know, or something like that.

3. Beware the danger of interruption. Control the interruptions especially the technology interruptions as best you can. We know we’ll be interrupted by coworkers all day especially given the rise in expectations I mentioned earlier in Got Me Thinking. We have high expectations on getting our problem solved, on getting our email answered. Since you cannot control other people, be thoughtful or at least cognizant of how often you are interrupting yourself to check a phone, tablet or email account. This is a good article for anyone trying to understand the research behind tech and mental efficiency.

4. Anna Deavere Smith on procrastination. Anna Deavere Smith is one of my favorite actresses mostly for her roles as Nancy McNally on The West Wing and Bow’s mom on Black-ish. Several quotes from her new book were selected and reviewed on the site Brain Pickings. Here’s the one I liked the most — “The main fuel for procrastination is thought. Sometimes procrastination abounds because you really don’t have a clear idea of what you are trying to do, and where it’s going. Then the exercise of visualizing what you are trying to do, what you want, what your goal is, can be helpful…If you are basically a motivated person, without too many deep, dark reasons why you are conflicted about success, then procrastination can be met head-on by ‘just doing it’.” Check out Brain Pickings for thoughtful reviews and commentary on many different areas of art, literature, science, etc.

5. Harvard Business Review profiled a researcher who claims that talking to yourself out loud could increase learning by 3x. While I see the point here, I would argue it is process, however accomplished, of asking “why” and evaluating the importance or validity of whatever information was just consumed. Trying to grab the valuable lesson and commit it to memory is incredibly useful and practicing it only makes one better at it. So, out loud or not, there’s a good reminder in this article.


Moment of non-business:

Good Bones by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine.

In a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

A thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.


Today’s Thought: Jellybeaning. One of the rising leaders on our legal team taught me this term this week. She had been in leadership training at Enterprise Rent a Car and then joined QL. She said jellybeaning is the small talk between a leader and teammate at their desk throughout the week. Just like you probably drop by wherever the candy is in your office and chat up the person who sits next to it, a manager can implement the same strategy without the lure of jelly beans. Whether it’s books like One Minute Leader or short lessons of the value of face to face interactions for team building, there’s no question it’s good for leaders like us to be more visible to our teams. Now I just have a handy way of remembering it.

Quote: “Discovery consists in seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. — Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi

Bonus Content: Creative way to meet someone from the other side of the world. The Portals Project comes to Detroit. Check out the video for a full sense of the experience.

Continued success,



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Thinker, curious leader, once an attorney…always trying to answer well. Working on what’s next and next and next.