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

Saturday Cup of Joe #146.

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Friends & Colleagues,

Week 146. Switching it up, slightly, this weekend and we’ll see how it goes. Let me know if the new format works for you. Always looking for feedback.

I had one of the most fulfilling weeks that I could imagine though I still cannot find time to work out (so perhaps there is room to improve. In rapid fire order — my Dad was visiting for several days to new challenges at work to wonderful time with friends (lunches, Red Wings game, dinner) to our annual company meeting (more on that below) to a big presentation in DC that was a success to moving forward on some key objectives with my team. It was one of those weeks were all my attention, concentration and focus was required. Little sleep. Rewarding results.

Given the end-to-end schedule this week, I even had one call pushed back and then emailed the founder of that company to apologize only to get an immediate email response leading to a Midnight phone call because we couldn’t find any other time to connect. I don’t say that with pride or with a #humblebrag or with faux modesty (wait, are those all the same thing?). I merely found it so odd (perhaps it’s normal for you but it was a first for me) that I thought it worth mentioning. In one (significant) way, I was jealous of the CEO on the other side of the call. Not because he was working at Midnight, but because he was so fired about his business that he couldn’t help himself. He is dedicated to the business and building his business. It’s not sustainable and you cannot have a balanced, healthy life by working that often all the time. That wasn’t the situation here. He was just so excited to talk opportunities and marketing and growth. Finding the focus and passion is key. Preparation follows. Execution. Success. It is inspiring and refreshing to be connected with so many incredible minds during my week. It helps me love what I do and sparks new ideas all the time.

In fact, new ideas can be part of the problem with busy weeks. Which ones get priority. Which ones get follow-up.

How do you think about priorities? We just completed a process of selecting quarterly and year-long objectives. These are the “big rocks” we’ll be moving this year. We used a structure known as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). The best way to understand this structure is the following phrase: We will accomplish ________________ as measured by ___________.

The accomplishment is the objective (O). The measurement is the key result (KR).

Measure What Matters by John Doerr for those looking for more information.

Regardless of what framework you use, driving success means saying no to new ideas. How do you stay focused on what matters while leaving yourself open to innovation and new ideas? Are you working with a mentor? Are you bouncing these things off a small group of trusted advisors within your company?

It’s an important process and one I’ve become more convinced requires structure to be success. Entrepreneurial attitude is what keeps the team engaged and energetic but structure is what ensures you’ll have something to show for it (he wrote to himself as much as anyone).

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“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson

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DoorDash: How is a company that is competing with 3 other monster competitors and can be disrupted locally by teenagers with cars be valued at $7.1B?

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In this TED Talk, Celeste Headlee, talks about the power of conversation. Here are 3 takeaways that I jotted down.

1. Focus on the moment. Avoid distraction.

2. Enter every interaction is the chance to learn something I don’t know.

3. Do not rephrase the point over and over. (This is something I’m working on).

For more with Celeste, check out this podcast.

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The Belt, Detroit, MI, USA

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Couple links about money. I’ve been thinking a lot about consumer finance lately and this is almost market researchesque (though limited in population and therefore it’s anecdotal) in its insights. How 5 people from across the country in different points in their life view their spending and saving.

Another quick link is from ideas.ted.com: 3 tips for money saving

“We all know that saving is important and something that we should be doing more of.”

1. Take aim at your small, frequent purchases

2. Commit your future self to saving

3. Use transition moments to your advantage

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How do you think of the value of an idea? Of a meeting? Of a proposal? One of the strongest values on my team is getting the most value out of everything. We apply this principle in several ways. For instance, we will convene a meeting to present an entire proposal on something we recommend NOT doing. The process is value and even if the process leads us to “no,” we want to present senior leaders with the why and offer the opportunity to disagree.

Another way I think of value is what unexpected synthesis might come from a proposal. In other words, it can be beneficial to convene a meeting around a proposal that’s not fully baked but needs other minds to help fill in. I emphasize can be because there is a fine line between prompting a breakthrough and appearing unprepared and lost. Tread carefully here. At the same time, I once had an engineer tell me that it’s actually better to be completely opposite the solution then just a few clicks off. Often just flipping the whole thing over leads to the solution, whereas being just slightly off makes it hard to see the solution. I believe this is true in our organizations as well. This week be bold with testing some ideas that are almost there to try to get to the answer.

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I’ve written before questioning whether the idea — you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with — is legit. This week I found a formula that puts a more positive spin on it (but ultimately reinforces the idea as true):

YC = YS*FS

Your Ceiling = Your Success x Friends’ Success

The bottom line is that your potential peak is based on your friends and your friends’ success. Do you agree? Do you have examples in your life where this is or isn’t true? Where does family fit into this mix? Food for thought. A good journal prompt for self-reflection would be — if YC= YS * FS what does that mean for me?

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New National Park in Indiana? Who knew? I would have thought this was a bigger story but with so much bad behavior out there, I guess not.

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Changing face of consumerism matters. No matter your business or your organization, how people change is how consumers change. That means either your customers or your employees or both. It might be easier to skip over an article about the changing face of retail workers but within it lies some insight into shoppers and employees alike.

For instance, Rachel a college graduate with a humanities degree and experience in social justice is working at a designer store in Santa Monica. “We’re selling leggings, sure, but we’re also teaching our customers how to be feminist,” … Above a work chart and an explanation of benefits hangs a small sign: ‘We will fit you, you don’t have to fit us’.”

Expectations are changing. The article goes on, “The lifestyle is worth so much more than the lifestyle product.”

When you think about your business and your clients, consider how you think about lifestyle. About storytelling. Some transactions are so large that the import supersedes lifestyle-mindset, to a degree. Home buying and home financing may fall in the category. We’re still learning. But for almost everything else, lifestyle is the measure. Values. Measure. Meaning.

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Today’s Thought: Passion and preparation. The ingredients of success. Listening to extraordinary athletes — Olympians and professionals — speak to our company this week, I was struck by the consistency of the theme. Passion is required to endure the repetition. The repetition of training. The repetition of study. The preparation. Passion begets preparation and preparation excellence.

Quote: “When you are committed to excellence, you prepare as such.” — Desmond Howard

Bonus Content: What I’ll be reading all weekend (before it becomes a movie).

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Daily Stoic

Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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