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

Friends & Colleagues,

Week 115. Saturday Cup of Joe #115. What are you up to this weekend? Thank you for reading Saturday Cup of Joe. After work on Fridays, several of the families in our neighborhood get together at a biergarten down the street. As one of my friends said today, thanks for Saturday Cup of Joe, its great toilet reading. I said, I know, right? Cause it really is. In thinking about the point of SCOJ, I enjoying learning about a variety of topics and applying lessons from across industries to my own leadership and career. It’s a creative outlet to the week. I hope you are enjoying it wherever you are reading it.

How do you read this? Do you click the links? Are the links helpful? I want to keep thinking about how I organize my weeks and my writing. Thanks for both coming along for the ride and continuing to weigh in on the writing and topics. I really appreciate it.

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New in town. Check it out.

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Housing…on the moon: Luxembourg is moving to conquer space — one obscure contract at a time. In 2016, Luxembourg launched a 2016 law that sent the space race into hyperdrive. Luxembourg created a comprehensive legal framework for the collection of resources from space.

“It is not clear whether international space law allows for a country to grant property rights to natural resources extracted in space,” a study by Allen and Overy, a Luxembourg-based law firm, found. After the US approved the world’s first space mining law in 2015, Russia was one of the countries to raise objections.

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Housing…in a truck: Ever heard of overlanding? Might be the next trend, if it isn’t already. This couple left their desk jobs in Vancouver and drove to Argentina over 18 months. Now they are internet celebrities. Have you ever dreamed of a long road trip or disappearing into the wilderness for a while? What stopped you? What might be a small way to do it in the next year?

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On gentrification: Thank you to everyone who responded to my article on gentrification in Chicago. Last week, I tried to point out what was happening in Chicago and highlight how relevant it was in Detroit. I may not have made my point as clearly as possible. Or, more likely, I may not have known what my underlying point was until I had more time to articulate it. And here’s what (I think) it is: I’m lamenting the loss of character, the loss of the story.

Gentrification isn’t bad in spite of improving living conditions and retail options. It’s bad because it makes life way, way less interesting. It insulates. It separates. I want to respect the past, respect the art, respect the craft, respect the sacrifice necessary to appreciate the present, the world around me, the mix of people and nature that make this world work. I react to gentrification because I care deeply about the people who already live there and their stories.

As we all know, it is more complex than just an economic issue or just a social justice issue. It’s hard. It’s messy. So is life. So are relationships. I’m fascinated by the complexity and the difficulty in finding joy (and power) in living in diverse communities.

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On writing: “Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world.” — Susan Sontag

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Do you have a favorite corporate logo? Larry Kim posted an infographic on Medium that brings in all the aspects and considerations in a logo as well as a plethora of examples of the market’s best. Check it out. Do you agree? How’s your logo? Is it time for a change?

Unicorns…know what I mean. Photo credit: Unsplash

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Artificial intelligence: Let’s look at facial recognition. Do you care? Why do you care? Many people I’ve spoken with about facial recognition technology are afraid of it, afraid of abuses to privacy and civil liberties. Privacy, however, is complicated. Our laws do not protect privacy when in public, but that was before “public” included cyberspace. So what then? This week, a good friend and cutting edge tech attorney, Michelle Busuito, sent me an article about Microsoft’s CEO urging lawmakers to regulate facial recognition technology. One question posed by this new technology is who should regulate it? Industry regulation like standardization? Public regulation like laws and even a governing agency?

As we enter the next generation of these questions, I want to push on the underlying assumptions we’re all making here. For instance, do we care if social media platforms use facial recognition to serve up “tagging” options with your friends and family? If so, why? You are already posting the picture online. Do we care if The New York Times uses Amazon’s facial recognition software to identify attendees at the recent Royal Wedding? Probably not. If not, what’s the difference between that and your favorite store (Starbucks?) using it to serve up your favorites faster and more easily when you walk in?

Does your opinion change with user consent? If I can opt into the Starbucks program but cannot opt out of New York City constantly running the faces of everyone who passes a subway turnstile, are those fundamentally different from a personal, legal rights perspective in your mind? If so, why?

When I think about these questions, I don’t worry that much about facial recognition software. At the same time, I haven’t been subject to personal or institutional discrimination, either. I haven’t had to worry about the government tracking my whereabouts. Hint — You can find me at several coffee shops in and around downtown Detroit. Likewise, I’ve never minded advertisers and retailers directing ads and offers directly to me. I also hold them to a high standard when they get me wrong. That toaster I bought was a wedding present, I’m no longer “in the market” for a toaster, Facebook!

Political oversight and control of technology, though, cuts both ways. One of the senior leaders I’ve worked with the last few years says of regulation, “be careful what you ask because you might not like the answer.”

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“Truth is simply not as relevant as what seems to be the truth.” — Nabeelah Jaffer

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On extremism: James Baldwin wrote that ideas are dangerous. This essay argues that, as a result, we’ve been looking at terror and terrorism all wrong. It is about loneliness. And loneliness opens the door to ideas that otherwise would not take root.

According to the author, “Ideas force people to confront the gap between their ideals and their manifestation in the world, prompting action. Ideas can prompt change for better or for worse — and often both at the same time. But attempts to create change are always charged with danger: to act in new ways is to erode old limits on our behaviour. In the forging of new territory — and the sense of danger that accompanies it — actions that might once have been deemed excessive can come to seem not merely necessary but normal.”

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Answer well: How’s this for change management? This McKinsey Podcast deep dives the leadership perspective and approach to successful process improvement. For instance, successful change management is defined as “the ability to achieve a desired result and sustain that result and continue to improve upon it.” Change management is hard because it is a mindset change. For instance, leadership is asking employees who have performed one way for years to change deeply held habits. One leader put this this way: “don’t tell me you’re funny; tell me a joke.” Leaderships that mention “the effort” aren’t serious. “Role modeling” for the rest of the organization is key. Actions speak louder than words. A cliché, but a true cliché.

Another important point that caught my attention was the definition of value. Leaders need to “define value in an environment where we’ve never sized value before.” For instance, “talk about a digital solution” and it’s likely “you’ve done it before.” If you’ve never done it before, then there’s “no benchmark that allows you to size it.”

Change management is challenging, but it’s not impossible.

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On creativity: One of the podcasts I regularly listen to is Malcom Gladwell’s Revisionist History. The most recent episode looks into something called parapraxis, better known as the Freudian slip or a variation of it, and how it interferes (or in my opinion, enhances) creativity. The podcast is fascinating to hear how Elvis dealt with it and how Jack White helps Gladwell break it down. My favorite part, however, was the conclusion. Gladwell nails the tension between being authentic by letting people into your creative journey and the fear or embarrassment of screwing up or making a mistake. Personally and culturally, we tend to allow the perception that embarrassment is bad and performers should feel “bad” when they’re too emotional, too rough, too vulnerable. Instead, we should celebrate it. It is a common element of our humanity. We should be in the mess together and wear it like a badge of honor. This week — go make a mess, a creative, interesting mess.

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Perception is reality: Millennials are more aware of perception than any generation to come before. Yet it was not millennials who marketed lifestyle over product. The history of Pepsi and brands that followed — Apple, Starbucks, Samsung, etc. — made lifestyle front and center. Do not sell the product, sell the self-perception of what the product means. How does your organization sell lifestyle? How do you sell perception?

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Photos of dogs? Come on. That’s a sure winner. Here’s a link to the Dog Photographer of the Year presented by the UK Kennel Club. Enjoy.

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Cabin porn: One of the first Instagram accounts I started following was called Cabin Porn. In fact, I used to have a cover photo on Saturday Cup of Joe that was borrowed from that account.

In the spirit of summer, here are some cabins all over North America that you can book for your next adventure.

It’s a cabin. Seriously. Check out cabinporn on Instagram for more.

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Future of student debt: Universities are entering into Income Share Agreements (ISA) with students to help address affordability issues. From Purdue to Clarkson to other small(er) universities, ISAs are growing in regularity. Here’s what Mark Cuban said: “It’s inevitable at some point there will be a cap on student loan guarantees. And when that happens you’re going to see a repeat of what we saw in the housing market: when easy credit for buying or flipping a house disappeared we saw a collapse in the price housing, and we’re going to see that same collapse in the price of student tuition, and that’s going to lead to colleges going out of business.”

ISAs appear innovative and in many ways, ISAs are innovative. It might not be the most comprehensive solution, but it’s a valid attempt.

No matter what industry your organization or company is operating in, student debt and its economic ripple effect have implications. How are you thinking about student debt? How are you thinking about innovation?

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Today’s thought: Always have a plan. If you don’t have a plan, at least have a direction. If you don’t have a direction, at least have a reason why no direction is the plan. I found a blog post this week that speaks to ambition and strategy. Know what you are building toward. Even if it changes, build toward a plan.

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Quote: “On s’engage et puis on voit.” translated “One jumps into the fray and then figures it out.” — Unknown French revolutionaries and American subsequent entrepreneurs and bloggers

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Bonus Content: A map. The pay gap between Boomers and Millennials. Your thoughts?

Source: Business Insider

Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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