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

Friends & Colleagues,

SCOJ #101. When I started Saturday Cup of Joe, my first week in Detroit it was part newsletter, part personal update and part tourism propaganda for Detroit (in the best way). At various times, I’ve written more about mortgages or Fintech or Detroit or leadership. At one point, a good friend and real estate industry attorney wrote “Ok, ok, we get it, you really like Detroit.” It was all in jest and I enjoyed it. It also got me thinking about what are the most interesting and valuable articles or topics for my friends and colleagues. Anyone who has been reading from the beginning has seen the ebb and flow including the occasion card tip into my personal struggles. It’s been a valuable experience. I really enjoy connecting with attorneys, urbanists, mortgage professional, Fintech entrepreneurs, and friends & family.

I’m trying to decide how to make this even more valuable for you and for me. I’m hopeful that continued writing will bring you value and help me sharpen my writing (and continue to meet new interesting people in our collective industries).

For instance, this week I was lucky to be included in a podcast titled Legal Toolkit on the Legal Talk Network. Jared Correia from Red Cave Law Firm Consulting and Cash Butler from Clarilegal hosted a wide ranging conversation with Debbie Hoffman, co-founder and CEO, of Symmetry Blockchain Advisors and me. I enjoyed the experience and look forward to sharing the episode with you in future posts. We talked about how in-house legal counsel views everything from value to service providers to outside counsel. Thanks Jared and Cash for the opportunity. And thanks, as always, to Debbie for her expertise and professionalism. She always exceeds expectations. If you have any issues related to emerging technologies, blockchain, managing cyber risk or anything else on the bleeding edge of Fintech, you have to get in touch with Debbie.

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Speaking of podcasts, Talking Fintech with hosts Colin Darke and (of course) me, published our first official episode. Please check out Benzinga where we host the podcast for some great content. Benzinga has to be your home base for all things tech stocks, Fintech news and investments. We’re lucky to have their amazing team helping us. Colin and I look forward to bringing more Fintech and lending news and insight in the coming months. Thanks for supporting our show!

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Not to take up too much time on personal updates, I have one more development this week that I want to pass along. My leadership and personal development course titled Answer Well was approved. I’ll be taking 14 legal team members through 5 hours (over 2 sessions) focusing on career development. Our approach is passion-purpose-profession. We’re trying to help our legal team identify their passion, articulate a purpose and ensure that the professional choices line up. Highest and best use of our energy.

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Detroit, MI, USA

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Millennial Minute: Do you like reading about Millennials? Do you like sweeping generalizations? Well, have I got a story for you. Millennials in the suburbs is the new avocado toast. This week CityLab profiled Homewood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago that created a graphic novel to attract Millennials to their town.

Here’s the big reveal, the people in Homewood “living out this progressive urban cliché are suburbanites.”

Imagine, “people walk to the farmer’s market, keep chickens in their yards, and hang out with friends of different races and sexual orientations.” Apparently that’s what Homewood thinks Millennials want. And maybe we do. The point is this might finally be critical mass for stories about Millennial trends. I’m ready to write my there-are-too-many-millennial-troupes-and-now-its-time-to-start-taking-a-more-nuanced-view blog post on HuffPo about this. Instead, I’ll just let this one go for now.

Yes, some Millennials (perhaps, most) prefer urban, close-knit communities. But not all. And there will be “cool” towns just outside bigger towns that become hip communities. My advice? Find one and start investing.

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Speaking of generational differences, what would you do with $10,000? What would a Millennial do? Let’s find out…Digg.com posted some research that looks into this very question.

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Perhaps there are interesting “finds” in the research about cryptocurrency or how Millennials view debt, yet overall “27% of respondents said they’d use the $10,000 gift to pay down debt.” That’s almost a 1/3 of everyone. Makes sense.

There was an interesting tension between investing in 401(k) and real estate. Millennials who, according to conventional wisdom, are supposed to be hesitant to trust real estate after the 2008 financial crisis are investing in real estate at higher numbers than other generations.

I’m not sure what to do with this data. Does this help you manage your business? Can you make generational marketing according to these figures? If not, at least we can begin to think about market trends in new ways. Entering a market where interest rates are ticking up and focus on home purchase business has ramped up, this type of data is helpful to understand who might be interested in what types of homes or credit products.

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A pro pos of nothing: Here’s an amazing article about chef Francis Mallmann. Mallmann is an eccentric chef and restaurateur who lives in Patagonia and operates restaurants in Buenos Aires and New York City.

As if he spins his own myths in real time, Mallmann is quoted as saying, “I eat a steak every day…sometimes twice a day. I love steak.” He goes on later in the article to discuss his brash view of relationships and commitments. Regardless, Mallmann describes a unique view of life and embodies a rare existence.

The two takeaways, though, that we can mine for something valuable (other than the pure entertainment) are 1). The power of fire as a facilitator and 2). Eating and drinking as a vehicle for “better conversation.” It should shock none of you that a long meal of “better conversation” inspires me as well. What inspires you? Do you share the view on the power of fire? Do you have your own facilitator? What is it?

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Broadway, Detroit, MI, USA

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Here’s the thing: I’ve been reading a lot about the so-called scandal between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. What I’m trying to understand is the perceived line between user expectations and company responsibility. For instance, at no time on Facebook (and I joined when an .edu email address was required for an account) did I consider my information private. I know that sounds weird especially when everyone else seems so outraged. My thought process from the beginning was that I was opting into a platform that would probably be using me for something even while I used it for what I needed.

Where Facebook fails, in my opinion, is when their settings, changes or modifications are not true, consistent or accurate. In other words, when Facebook does not carry over existing user settings during updates or when Facebook makes changes that require users to revisit their privacy settings but does not do a good job telling users of this fact. Those are the moments when Facebook is wrong and liable.

Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week taking responsibility for everything from Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of data to the lackadaisical way Facebook dealt with privacy settings early on in its existence.

Do you feel Facebook is responsible for data you willingly share being purchased or aggregated (assuming it’s in keeping with user-defined settings)? Why? What’s the appropriate amount of accountability on tech companies versus users?

Is Facebook responsible when you click a link to a bogus website declaring the newest conspiracy theory or celebrity gossip? How do we balance consumer responsibility and corporate efficacy?

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One interesting topic I heard from an entrepreneur before and written about from time to time was the statement: “being first and being wrong feel the same.” This is true of products in the market as much as it is true of ideas in a company. Being out in front, being alone in an idea is just as isolating as being wrong. So it begs the question — how can we tell the difference?

We cannot. Part faith. Part vision. Part bite-sized experiments (with real data). It must be founded in some basic assumptions, surely, but your business must also be stubborn.

There is a determination required of anyone doing something new or bringing a product/service to market that should not be deterred even by severe obstacle. Success is often simply outworking the competition. Lasting longer.

At the same time, I think it was Bill Gates who said that automation applied to an inefficient process will only make it more inefficient. Taking a step back to evaluate the process before trusting the process is crucial to remaining successful. How are you going to evaluate your process this week? Are you wasting resources on some technology or solution that only makes your team more inefficient? If so, what aspect of your team and what do you propose to do about it?

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Challenge question: What role patience? Social media is filled with executives, authors and coaches encouraging readers to “act now” and “starting living your best life tomorrow.” Yet when talking with executives, mentors and colleagues about what is valued, experience or expertise comes up early and often. Many entrepreneurs, however, credit their being a novice and outsider to being able to disrupt an existing industry. If disruption, activity and friction helps to propel forward progress, when is the right time to be patient or not challenge the current process? Ever? If so, it seems the decision to challenge something or someone versus be patient and gather experience might be the most critical we’ll make in our role as leaders and in our careers.

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Perception vs. reality: It seems that the one of the themes of 2018 has been — how to measure value? Or better put, how to think about value? The last few years the “speed of the game” was the theme. There is no question that the market, in viral success as in crisis, moved faster than ever before. While that hasn’t exactly changed, the challenge has shifted to articulating, measuring and producing value. From the Moneyball Oakland A’s to The Process Philadelphia 76ers, professional sports has been struggling with measuring value for years.

In many ways, I’m encouraged by what I read about Millennials because it seems we’re taking a creative look at value. One primary example is experiences over “things.” Consumer and entertainment markets are trending toward experiences and brand identity over luxury or logo. As this trend matures, I predict we’ll see a reframing of what’s valuable and of what consumers will pay for because people will begin to look at their own life story as the primary investment. We’re buying once-in-a-lifetime moments not once-in-a-lifetime sports cars. If you agree, how are you positioned as a lifestyle brand? Even if your business is not consumer-facing, how are you looking at this trend for your own employees? How they want to feel?

Help consumers write their story. Help employees define their narrative. See what happens.

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Today’s Thought: Take a breath. No, take 6. Apparently it actually takes 6 breaths to trigger a physiological change such as lower blood pressure. The next time you are trying to decide whether to take a breath or count to 10, there’s a pleasant and beneficial compromise. 6 breaths.

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Quote: “When companies are large enough, they become chickenshit.” — Malcom Gladwell

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Don’t become chickenshit.

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Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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