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

Saturday Cup of Joe #128.

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Detroit, USA

Friends & Colleagues,

Week 128. Articles. Pictures. Quotes. Poems. Etc. Whatever. I started the Saturday Cup of Joe the first week I moved to Detroit now 128 weeks ago. Lately I’ve been wondering whether I have enough time to devote to this project and whether it’s actually useful for my friends, family and colleagues.

After spending some time in DC earlier this week at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Annual Meeting, I was inspired to keep this project going. Thank you so much for the time to meet and catch up, obviously, but also for all the kind words and support that I received from colleagues…especially about the Saturday Cup of Joe. I am excited to rekindle this connection given the interest and (even) reliance on the email each week.

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DC

This week has disparate articles from all across lending, the economy and leadership. I also included more photos than normal thanks to the busy and fast-paced week. I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend and much more routine-oriented week ahead. I’ll be working on cleaning up my deliverables and working on some long term timelines before Monday. What about you? What are you working on?

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Apologies for any typos — this edition was written via mobile device and on the run. It was not proofread.

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An alley in Washington DC. A beautiful sight in a beautiful moment.
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Same alley. Different view. Washington DC.

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Gut feeling versus analytical feeling: “Assume you are a turkey and it’s the first day of your life. A man comes in and you believe, “He kills me.” But he feeds you. Next day, he comes again and you fear, “He kills me,” but he feeds you. Third day, the same thing. By any standard model, the probability that he will feed you and not kill you increases day by day, and on day 100, it is higher than any before. And it’s the day before Thanksgiving, and you are dead meat. So the turkey confused the world of uncertainty with one of calculated risk. And the turkey illusion is probably not so often in turkeys, but mostly in people.” — Nassim Taleb

Rule of thumb here: “In general, if you are in an uncertain world, make it simple. If you are in a world that’s highly predictable, make it complex.” In other words, the “gut feeling” is useful in an uncertain world. In more predictable data sets, a strategic framework will find more success. Second and third level thinking — the response to the response — is often based on gut feeling since information is not available. Great leaders and great CEOs seem to have an uncanny intuition. At the same time, analytical thinking shouldn’t be ignored particularly if you or your organization have figured out how to make decisions without over analyzing. How much of your decision-making is gut feel? How much is tied to an analytical framework? Will you be reviewing that anytime soon?

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As we look ahead to the upcoming Midterm elections, one race stands out as an interesting “next-gen” election. The US Senate race in Texas between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke comes to mind as one of the most telling for the future of the country. Not to put too much pressure on it.

A recent profile in The Atlantic dove into Heidi Cruz’s history and what has led her to the current contentment. This article is an interesting view into politics and one American family. The Cruzes were wildly successful after graduate school. Heidi has always had to navigate her husband’s public life. Check out for a more complicated look into Ted & Heidi Cruz. (Hat tip to Kyle for finding and passing this along.)

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Millennial Minute: I came across a Medium.com repost of an article that is best described as a substantial overview of “the Millennial” complete with references to avocado toast and inside jokes about BoJack Horseman. Your thoughts?

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J. Peterman Manual. A real catalog (not just where Elaine works in Seinfeld). Enjoy the philosophy.

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Be all there.

Be all in.

Just be.

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On a call earlier this week, I was introduced to Humanyze — an internal productivity and improvement consultant. Humanyze will dig into your company looking at employee interaction over email, through other communication and even in person contact (thanks to discrete RFID tags). Seriously, in addition to tracking and mapping employee communication through electronic connection, Humanyze has an offering that allows certain (or all) employees to be equipped with tags that will also map in person communication data. It’s not that surprising that big data and data science has reached into HR and internal performance systems. Coincidentally this week, The Atlantic published a profile of Humanyze. The conclusion? Even if you can monitor the physical whereabouts of employees, you shouldn’t. I’m not sure I agree. One thing I do agree on is that the data collected and retained within most corporate systems has incredible insight into productivity.

Anything that can provide benefits and advantages for those team members that are working hard without the visibility to make sure leadership notices.

Thinking about these leadership issues, the question inevitably arises — what makes a great leader. The Wall Street Journal posted a column recently identifying humility as the number one quality of great bosses. Hat tip to Sarah Ferguson for adding to this great conversation with this article.

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Who doesn’t love a good chart? Here’s a chart of the world’s largest real estate bubbles. And guess what? It includes … bubbles. I know, I know. (Hat tip to Trevor for sending this one over. Thanks.)

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Housing: This week The Huffington Post launched a campaign to collect individual stories of how the financial crisis or housing crisis played a role in their lives. It is an interesting concept and somewhat interesting timing as housing could play a significant role in the next two years depending on the outcome of the Midterm Congressional elections in November.

This all boils down to one thing: No matter where or how you live, America’s housing crisis probably affects you

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Aversion solution explanation of decision-making: “At its most basic, the concept of solution aversion is the idea that people are motivated to deny problems and the scientific evidence supporting the existence of the problems when they are averse to the solutions.”

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“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.” — Robert M. Pirsig

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Chris Rock making me think. Now that’s an image that is going to stick around. Hmmm.

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Keeping up with the Joneses is literally making us crazy. A new study found that focusing on “hyper-capitalism” drives many people to forgo the traditional value judgments — family, community, fulfillment — and replace them with material goals. While this is far from new (Keeping up with the Joneses is like 50s-60s stuff, right?), the fact that material wealth is so easily celebrated, viewed and displayed in our wifi-enabled world is what is different. The intensity of it. It’s the difference between listening to Panama by Van Halen, which is barely tolerable at level 3, on level 10. According to the research, a healthy dose of questioning the reality of anxiety around material gain that includes replacing achieving with belonging is the antidote for many people.

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Today’s thought: Are you a founder, entrepreneur or team leader? Do you personally work customer calls? Why not? One of the most insightful and valuable practices that I’ve encountered is to have senior leaders and team leaders listen to actual client phone calls. How does your senior leadership stay connected to the front line work? As businesses changes and the market evolves, how does your company stay close to this? Consider having senior leadership field consumer calls or staffing the customer service hotline for a partial day. Get experience and new ideas directly from the source.

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Quote: “Believe those who seek the truth, doubt those who find it.” –André Gide

Bonus Content: Knowing who you are creating for is key. What is your core audience? As a creator or founder or entrepreneur, you must be able to explicitly say who you are building your thing for. How would you answer the following question? I am making a ______ that does _______ for _______.” Can you fill in the blanks? You must know what you are aiming for — you’ll miss otherwise.

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Museum of Natural History, Washington DC

Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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