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

#154

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Friends & Colleagues,

Week 154. Only half of the week was spent in Detroit. The other part was split between CA and 35,000 feet. A quick trip to the Bay Area included stops in Berkeley and San Francisco’s Embarcadero and Nopa neighborhoods. Meeting with business partners and catching up with several colleagues in the area. One thing we’ve been talking a lot about on our team is being in the right rooms. What are the right rooms to be in? How or what do you use to evaluate?

Do you have ways to divide your time between core work, stretch goals and innovation?

70/20/10? Do you leave at least 10% of the time for crazy, ambitious ideas? If so, why or why not?

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“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy

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Helpful reminder on leadership and time management:

1. Maximize focus by noticing distraction especially identifying triggers and protecting against them.

2. Know what is “sand” and what is “rocks.” Then compromise on sand but not rocks.

3. Engineer your schedule based on your energy. Lean into your most effective personal schedule.

4. Be ruthless with your calendar. Discipline and diligence.

5. Think in 2 week sprints and 6 month goals. Next effective step today to achieve big rock soon (or soon-ish).

6. Reset to zero each day.

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The intersection of mortgage, fintech and artificial intelligence. When I changed my LinkedIn profile to read “Working on what’s next,” I got a lot of positive feedback. I also raised expectations. How would I find the next iteration or, better yet, revolution? Because the mortgage industry is heavily regulated on of my colleagues likes to say, “it will always be an evolution not a revolution.”

I spent some time this week in the Bay Area discussing where the mortgage and consumer finance industries are headed. Within the industry, we’ve been talking about these competitive issues for some time. Now the broader tech and startup communities have started to take notice.

Many investors and companies are focused on what mortgage industry refers to as the “loan origination system (LOS)” or the workflow management software for lenders. To me, efficiency can be found within the LOS but only because of how inefficient these systems are to start with. The next e-volution is faster and better underwriting approvals.

While the industry awaits the next step in that evolution, startups and disruptors continue to try new things. One example, https://www.homelend.io/, is a blockchain empowered process that claims to enable peer-to-peer mortgage lending. From the website: “Homelend P2P platform works by embedding mortgage lending business logic into smart contracts. This is the platform’s core functionality. By creating a set of smart contracts that execute business processes, Homelend allows individuals to borrow money from their peers in a trusted, transparent, and secure way. The key idea is that borrowers and lenders are not linked by means of a financial intermediary (i.e. a bank or a centralized P2P lending platform), but rather by smart contracts that automatically execute a pre-defined business logic.”

Just that simple right? The mortgage industry relies on complicated warranties and due diligence among parties. All the legal language over the years has stacked up into reams of docs. Disruption is good for the industry bringing new ideas and fresh energy to our industry. It also tends to stall without deep mortgage experience behind it.

But it is just a matter of time. Innovation is happening throughout the mortgage and marketing process. The only constant is change.

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Household middle-class income:

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How that middle-class income is spent:

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$73,574 annually. Gas is more expensive than eating food at home. Eating out is almost triple phone costs.

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#NextBelt: This is how America’s gritty, authentic cities can once again capture the nation’s attention. Renovation. Yup, Fixer Upper. You thought it was just a fun, friendly TV show that lead to a product line at Target and PR campaign for Waco, Texas. It was that, I suppose. The seed that was planted, however, can grow into a cultural moment. A transformative moment. Here’s how:

Fact: Millennials are looking for experiences, for deeper meaning and purpose and for recognition (read, to feel like a big deal).

Fact: Millennials also cannot afford to have that life in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Silicon Valley or Boston because the cost of living and available jobs do not allow it. Or if they do, do not allow any progress on debts and savings.

Fact: High speed Internet, quality air travel and microbreweries have made many smaller cities feel accessible. Feel big.

Fact: Many former Rust Belt cities, now known as The Next Belt, have character, available space (both residential and commercial) and quality amenities.

Fact: The Next Belt cities also marry diversity and history in a meaningful way, a way Millennials should respond to.

Result: If Millennials are looking for a way to matter to a place and to be a big deal while maintaining a comfortable quality of life (read, avocado toast and IPA), there is no better place than Detroit. Cleveland. Pittsburgh. Milwaukee. Louisville. Cincinnati. Did I mention, Detroit?

Pick your spot. Plant your flag. Embrace the place, do not displace. Contribute to the character and community. Be the difference you claim to want. Experience the full range of American life in the places that helped shape our history and will move our future forward.

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Yes, I still get the print edition of The New York Sunday Times but no I’m not about to advocate for bringing back print newspapers in Saturday Cup of Joe. I am, however, going to suggest a New Yorker article that adds some specific context to the idea of mainstream media. I often hear people talk about the media as if there was once this time when the news media was completely unbiased and held public officials to account. The reality is much more complicated (isn’t that so often the case?).

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Do less to do MORE: Are you busy? Who’s not? Am I right? “We think [our work is] important, so it creates a disincentive in some ways to turn it off,” one participant told us. “If we all hated our jobs, it would be much easier to create work-life balance.”

3 ways to address busyness:

1. Be real about peer pressure. Social cues are real and everyone is competitive.

2. Isolate important work and give it more time.

3. Increase visibility into everyone’s work

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Today’s thought: Focus on the people. In our busyness and speed, it can become about the work and the next “thing.” I’m working hard to remain focused on the people. 2 of my team were rewarded with additional roles and responsibilities…promotions. It was exciting and a great reminder that investing in people is good for everyone (including the bottom line). My renewed priority is developing people.

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Quote: “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” — John Buchan

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Bonus content: $88 Million home in Bel Air, CA. I mean, car elevator for 6 cars, “extension closet,” and zero deflection stairbase, am I right? I didn’t even know what half of that was before watching this video.

Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

Thinker, curious leader, once an attorney…always trying to answer well.

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