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

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Detroit MI USA

Friends & Colleagues,

SCOJ #112. Thanks for reading this week’s Saturday Cup of Joe. I took a different strategy this week. In my role, I’ve been reading and preparing each night. Didn’t leave much time for my usual article surfing. As the week went on, I began to wonder whether I’d have enough time as my career continues to grow to carry on with SCOJ. No big decisions one way or the other but I want to think more about it.

Either way, this week was an attempt to include more links and photos without the usual commentary. It saved me from a late night but hopefully still highlights some interesting perspectives on housing, problem-solving, leadership and my new persona — the skeptical optimist.

Check out the links below and I hope this is a fun style for a short(er) week coming up.

Have a happy 4th of July on Wednesday and enjoy the 2 x 2 day week.

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Old Glory

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Problem solving: Teams with diverse problem-solving abilities perform best. In fact, “the groups that performed well treated mistakes with curiosity and shared responsibility for the outcomes.” Because we “chose our behavior” as leaders and simply as people getting through the day, curiosity, experimental and nurturing must be in our everyday vocabulary as leaders.

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Risk taking: The reason we feel pride or a sense of accomplishment or any value in completing something is based on the amount of effort or risk we put in. Risk takers, generally, are more fulfilled because the sense of value of the act is greater. Even if risk takers fail, there is value or a sense of attempt in that. What is your greatest risk last week? What could you do next week that would be risky? Where does risk intersect with your day-to-day life? How do you feel about that?

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Detroit MI USA

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Fresh Perspective: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sometimes returning to a time in a previous generation or “another time” gives fresh perspective on today’s intellectual or cultural battles. In Esquire, 1936, Fitzgerald writes, “One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

In fact, seeing things one way and being about to imagine the world a different way is exactly how great entrepreneurs and great thinkers made it so. This week take a fresh perspective on a long standing assumption in your organization or in your life.

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Next Belt: Check out this interactive map calculating how much a person needs to earn in each state to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in that state. See any surprises? The coasts are above $20/hr. Colorado is above $20/hr.

Not enough map for ya? Here’s another one. This map covers the country by credit score. Where is your business located? Are you lending in all states? High credit score states? Low?

As long as we’re on housing, there is NOT enough of it. I wanted to pass on this Bloomberg article because it does such a great job covering all the factors weighing on the US housing market today. Whether that’s housing stock in the affordable or first time homebuyer markets or the rising cost of building materials or the slow turnover among baby boomers who cannot downsize or retire for a variety of reasons, this is a succinct overview of it all. Check it out.

If that was not enough doomsdaying, just wait, there’s more. In a study of housing inequality Harvard researchers found:

1. Low cost housing is disappearing from the market: “In the last two decades, the number of poor renters living in “low-density census tracts of metro areas” — economist-speak for suburbs — has increased from 4.5 million to 7 million, surpassing the number of poor renters living in cities. It’s official: The housing crisis has come to the suburbs.”

2. American isn’t building enough homes: “Though the American population has been growing steadily, there are now fewer homes on the market than in any year since 1982. Despite seemingly bottomless demand, the construction of apartment buildings fell by 10 percent last year.”

3. America’s cities are unaffordable: “30 years ago you could buy a home in 75 of the top 100 cities on 18 months median salary and today that’s true for only able 25 of the top 100.”

4. Racial disparities in home ownership is getting worse: According to the research, the likelihood of homeownership is a gap that continues to widen among minority groups in this country.

5. High housing costs actually shift wealth from young to old

6. Politics is politics and, clearly, not helping.

Next Belt, Closer to Home: Curbed Detroit posted an interview with renown urbanist Jay Pitter and it captured something I’ve been thinking about in our neighborhood in Detroit. How do we continue to build on Detroit’s modest momentum while honoring and maintaining what has given this city it’s heart and character all along — it’s people? The thought that caught my attention and demanded that I share this article with you was many people talk about neighborhoods Detroit as if it’s a blank slate. The reality is that starts from a place of marginalizing all the people in the community all along.

Detroit is not a blank slate and as the city develops we have to be as honest and clear about how we discuss new opportunities as we are about how to get there together. As one city.

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What’s in a name? If you, like me, love nicknames, then check out this list (and the stories behind the names) of famous mobsters.

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The invisible power of choice: “Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” ― Roy T. Bennett

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Unbelievably Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford are featured on a chart of the highest paid athletes in the world. Not in the top 3, but still. Those two guys have to have the best agents known to professional sports. Here’s the full chart.

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Model (of) Detroit @BedrockDetroit

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Valuable lessons: The New York Times posted an interactive story — videos, articles and pictures — of scary inflation occurring in Venezuela. Between 2016 and 2018 a cup of coffee has increased 2000x in price. Not surprisingly the economic conditions led to social unrest and riots. The combination of frustration, confusion and authoritarianism has created a unique moment in the country’s history. The “revolution” is limited and the article ends without much in the way of solutions. Something to keep an eye on.

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Answer well: I hope this article doesn’t come across as “buried” in all the links this week. It is, perhaps, the greatest analysis of leadership that I’ve seen in the 112 weeks that I’ve been writing Saturday Cup of Joe. Seriously.

In a series of charts, the author evaluates different types of leaders and innovators. There’s so much to dig into here. If you like this type of thing, buckle up. One combination of features is the “Angelic troublemaker,” which immediately made me think of Dan Gilbert. Another was the “Skeptical optimist,” which is what I think I strive for on most days.

Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?

How about the “Ego-Free Fighter”?

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Question: How much do you care? About your business or about your reputation? How much would you care about someone else’s business? This link is a story about (wait for it, spoiler alert) Steve Jobs that I had never read before. Can you relate to his passion? What are you gonna do about it?

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Today’s thought: Reactive vs. Proactive. One of the biggest surprises this week about new role was the shift from reactive to proactive. As an attorney, it will not surprise you to learn that much of my work was reactive. The business client has an urgent question. The company is undertaking a large project and needs legal advice. The email that can’t wait till end of day for an answer. Being needed is fun.

My new role is as proactive as my previous role was reactive. Proactive comes with its own challenges but for at least the first 3 weeks, it is also exhilarating. I’m trying hard to channel the energy into activity. If we do not create or innovate, nothing happens. It’s much more about structuring my time and being disciplined to stay focused on the “big rocks” when the emails inevitably come in. Next week, be intentional and be proactive. How about you? Is your role reactive or proactive and how do you respond?

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Quote: “You learn from the part of the story you focus on.” — Hannah Gadsby

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Bonus Content: What I’m listening to this weekend.

Written by

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

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