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

Friends & Colleagues,

SCOJ #102. Thank you for all the messages and well wishes over the last few weeks. 100 is an amazing milestone. 102 is even better and 104 is officially 2 years. I have been humbled by the reaction to this newsletter and thrilled to learn that this has been valuable to some many of you. It’s exciting to be able to keep in touch each week. As you know, people are at the heart of what I do and what I think about. This week was no exception. I attended a business development presentation as compliance counsel. It was an interesting and exciting opportunity for our company. I came away, though, impressed by how our potential business partner prioritized people. In the end, it’s all about people. Clients, employees, partners. It is so much easier to work with a company that share’s your company’s worldview.

What are you doing this weekend? We are laying low. Visiting with our close friends that recently moved into the neighborhood, some spring cleaning perhaps, and catching up on messages and emails, we will be able to rest and recover.

102 weeks in Detroit.

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Detroit, MI, USA

Detroit Fintech Association is hosting an event on May 2nd downtown Detroit. If you are in the area or interested in Fintech, please join us for this great event. We are planning to have the who’s who of Detroit’s growing startup and Fintech companies…and some advice from the founders who launched Detroit Fintech Association. Plan on being here.

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Ever wondered whether initial investments in IPOs and specifically recent IPOs or ICOs are worth it? One Reddit user charted the returns on the initial investments of the 6 largest companies. Interesting stuff.

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Say Thanks — To The Good and Bad: The Stoics saw gratitude as a kind of medicine, that saying “Thank you” for every experience was the key to mental health. “Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods,” was how Marcus Aurelius put it, “that things are good and always will be.” Say thanks to a rude person. Say thanks to a bungled project. Say thanks to a delayed package. Why? Because for starters it may have just saved you from something far worse, but mostly because you have no choice in the matter. Epictetus has said that every situation has two handles: Which are you going to decide to hold onto? The anger or the appreciation? The one of resentment or of thanks?

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Amazing footage and photos of a shark feeding frenzy in French Polynesia. Just powerful and call. That’s all.

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Valuable Lessons: Do not overlook the value in diversity of thought-process. Often we hear about diversity of thought, but diversity of thought-process can be even more dynamic on your team. Last week I began a mentor-mentee program at work. My mentor is a dynamic, strong and thoughtful leader. She gave me this piece of advice in our first deep dive. There are so many moving parts and squishy parts to leadership that it can be difficult to keep a mindset straight. Evaluating someone’s thought-process and then building a team with diversity of thought-process is important to maintaining a successful and high performing team.

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Tigers v. Orioles, 35 degrees, Comerica Park. Detroit, MI, USA.

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Time’s change and time stays the same: This article published by The Ringer’s media journalist, Bryan Curtis, recaps the Denver Post’s (and all Denver’s) sports writing culture. It’s fascinating to consider how individual choices as well as overall trends interact to create a unique outcome. It’s also interesting as a captivating piece of writing. Check it out.

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Campus Martius, 55 degrees, Detroit, MI, USA.

Challenge question: Do you fall into the now or never fallacy? Too often I talk to people in the midst of making a professional or personal decision who view the only option to be doing it (whatever it is) or not. Because the decision is big or feels important, we often forget to test drive the idea. I prefer “bite sized” versions of whatever I’m proposing to do. Do you wanna write a book? Start with a chapter and see how it is. Do you think you want a new job? What’s the smallest test you could run or the bite-sized piece you could bite off that would confirm or deny your assumptions? Start by shadowing someone in the area of the company you wanna go. Or working for free on the side to ensure you are making the right decision. Wouldn’t working for free part-time on nights and weekends for 2 weeks be worth it to confirm that your career change is well founded?

Whatever “it” is for you. Think this week about the smallest test that would still provide valid feedback allowing you to have more information before making a big decision.

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Valuable Lesson: 4 steps for hiring a dynamic, elite capable team. Thumbtack CEO and Co-founder Marco Zappacosta provided his experience and rubric for ensuring a company does not waste time and resources hiring or retaining an unqualified executive team.

1. Minimal job description is likely better. When a job description is too broad, the risk is that the truly crucial skills are not properly prioritized. Zappacosta writes, “Invariably you end up with someone who’s mediocre at all of them, but not exceptional at the ones at which you truly need them to be exceptional. You hire for lack of weakness rather than for an explicit strength.”

2. Separate the “fit” conversation from the skills assessment. Generally more executives do not work out due to fit than capability. Don’t mix them up into one wandering discussion. Be intentional about each separately and only move to skills after fit is ensured.

3. Backchannel all references. Be upfront with the candidate that you’ll be calling around. Why? The answer you are looking for is — “Great, call anyone you like.”

4. Share everything — the results of the references with the candidate and the results of the CEO or hiring executive’s last review. This gives both individuals a chance to react and respond. Nothing clarifies like clarity.

If you wanna deep dive even further on talent acquisition and development, check out this McKinsey review of the topic.

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Gratiot Ave., Detroit, MI, USA

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Fintech spotlight: During a coffee break during a long meeting this week, a financial services exec showed me his phone because he had found out about an amazing new platform — Ojo Home.

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Quirky Content: Random really cool cookbook. “America: The Cookbook” is described as 800 recipes that define America. Interesting. Eat your way coast to coast.

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The ISM that I receive the most questions about. We tie the threads and support the companies in our Family of Companies.

Today’s Thought: From, my friend, Anthony Miller at the Knowledge Coop:

Regarding questions, one idea has served me incredibly well in all aspects of my life — consider the reason someone asks a question. There’s always a reason. Something must have sparked it. We are often times trying to confirm or deny an opinion regarding a person or something a person has just said. If a prospect asks, “How long have you been in business?” I know they are really wondering if we are legit; are we going to be there long term? If someone asks how long I have been in the industry they likely are trying to size me up. If my God Daughter asks me why the sky is blue, she is interested in learning more about the sky.

As you refine this skill, it is amazing how much insight it gives you into what people are thinking. We simply don’t ask questions unless there is a thought that triggers that. Whether it’s in a relationship, in sales or in friendships, considering what’s behind the question helps me be present and focus on things that otherwise might go unnoticed.

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Quote: “Honesty is the most respect you can pay a person.” — Anonymous

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As seen on social media that one time.

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Bonus Content: Here are one guy’s 19 recommended email subject lines sure to get someone to click. I think my favorite one is “Will work for $$$ or Nutella.” Do you buy this?

Continued success,

Written by

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

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