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

Friends & Colleagues,

SCOJ #111. It was great to be back in Detroit working on the my new goals and objectives. I spent Thursday in DC having the first housing policy meeting in my new role. I expect and I’m looking forward to many more. Otherwise, this week has been busy with both work and personal obligations. My friend, Scott, from my first job prior to law school visited Detroit from NoVA. I’m looking forward to showing him the “real Detroit” and spending the weekend catching up on the last few years.

Hope you have a great weekend. Cheers.

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Detroit, MI, USA

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Strategy & Innovation. When trying to name my new team, we struggled with what might send the right message about our goals. We floated several different ideas. Harvard Business Review had looked at this and found that the most opaque and “boring” name might be most effective. One thing I want my new team to do is look at value in a new and different way. Naming is the first example but the lessons are important to consider.

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Anyone know anything about this book? Regulatory Hacking by Evan Burfield. I’m curious but haven’t ordered it yet.

I did just finish Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday. This was Holiday’s telling of the lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media that ultimately bankrupted the gossip site. A lawsuit secretly financed and influenced by billionaire Peter Theil. It was an amazing read and highly recommend. Gawker’s blind spots are telling for any leader who must try to see all the sides of any conflict. Hogan’s tough decision points and values are fascinating for anyone who’s company or organization finds them at odds with another. Holiday’s ability to weave in historical context and thoughtful syllogisms makes it a fun read.

Here are some specific highlights:

1. Holiday asks “why have conspiracies become taboo or considered always evil?” Why can’t we conspire in order to achieve our legitimate or risky goals?

2. Why do we have such an aversion to retreat? Scipio Africanus, the general who defeated Hannibal, would that an army should not only leave a road for their enemy to retreat by, they should pave it. This reframes victory in a positive way that doesn’t make our conspiracies or battles zero sum outcomes.

3. The great strategist BH Liddell Hart would say that all great victories come along “the line of least resistance and the line of least expectation.” Find it and exploit it. (If you are serious about winning.)

4. Along the same lines, Machiavelli wrote that fortune — misfortune, in fact — aims herself where “dikes and dams have not been made to contain her.”

To be active and disciplined in achieving your goals, find the opening least considered by your opponent and exploit.

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“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.”
— Andrew Carnegie

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Next Belt: Cheddar. Beer. Subarus. Wisconsin. All over Chicago the State of Wisconsin is selling itself to urban professionals who might be ready to move. CityLab covered the state’s approach and came away concluding the biggest takeaway was transportation. This is important for places like Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Part of appealing to millennials is keeping movement inexpensive and easy. Access.

Access and value.

The other thing Millennials love (I think) that benefits the Next Belt is our definition of value. Often (wrongly) criticized, my sense is that all the nonsense around avocado toast and cord-cutting is a red herring for what it really means — we define value differently than other generations. We’ll pay more for quality food whether or not you think organic is bullshit. The fact that we don’t want to “pay our dues” to be able to afford the organic beet juice smoothie is a separate thing, in my opinion. Moneyball through to SnapChat prove that we’ll define overrated and underrated in new ways. That said, Conde Nast published the 18 underrated cities across the country. The Next Belt cities are well represented — Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee. Writing your own story? Wanna have unique character and high quality of life (beyond microbreweries and distilleries)? Look no further than the Next Belt.

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As seen on LinkedIn

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Follow your verve: Pamela Druckerman writes clearly and candidly about time management. (Hat tip to Meredith for passing along this great link.) Those things we should do and should not do can be determined without guilt, it turns out. She provides some valuable memory devices for dealing with the trade-offs of choosing where to spend your time. Here’s one such tip. Druckerman says,

“When you’re trying to decide between several options, pay attention to which one energizes you and which one makes you feel tired just thinking about it. This isn’t always feasible; practical factors can intrude and there are things you must do. But it’s worth weighing the “energy” factor, too. Even as a grown-up, it’s okay to choose the option that seems like more fun.”

When you look back at your previous week or month, did you dictate your activity and attention or did someone or something else? When you look ahead to the next week or month, how are you going to ensure your time is well spent (or at least misspent with full awareness)?

If you feel lost even thinking about it, the key is to first decide what the goals and priorities are for your life/time/project. In order for Druckerman’s tips to work, we all must know what we’re measuring new requests for our time against.

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Question: What would have to be true for me to change my mind? This is the question I ask myself anytime I’m considering a decision or a proposal that I’m resisting or fighting. Farnam Street blog wrote a post that digs into persuasion and reasoning. What evidence would you use and for what outcome?

Here are some types of evidence, consider which is most appealing or effective in what context. 1). Direct or experimental evidence. 2). Anecdotal or circumstantial evidence 3). Argumentative evidence or 4). Testimonial evidence.

The type of evidence is always influenced by the type of reasoning. Here’s what the blog wrote to describe the two types: “inductive reasoning proves a general principle — your idea worth spreading — by highlighting a group of specific events, trends, or observations. In contrast, deductive reasoning builds up to a specific principle — again, your idea worth spreading — through a chain of increasingly narrow statements.”

How can you use these principles to improve your leadership, your next pitch or your influence?

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Wisdom from Seth Godin: Seth writes a daily blog and is known for looking at marketing, entrepreneurship and life writ large in new and innovative ways. This particular post is titled “Cold Yeast” and is available here. I decided to include the entire thing here:

Cold yeast

“Almost every element of good bread happens long before it goes into the oven.

Too often, we spend our time and effort on the exciting last step. And too often, we forget to spend our time and attention on the preparation that’s a lot less urgent or glamorous, but far more important.

Poor preparation is a lousy excuse for a last-minute selfish frenzy. That frenzy distracts us from doing it right the next time.

If you want to understand where mastery and success come from, take a look at the inputs and the journey, not simply the outputs.”

I was exploring this same concept specifically around home ownership recently. For instance, a critical part of buying a home is securing a mortgage yet the most exciting step is looking for (and choosing) a new home. As a result, mortgage financing sometimes becomes a last-minute frenzy. If understood, the majority of the process can be done prior to or during a home search. It could be basically done by the time the purchase contract is accepted. Because it is not glamorous and often complicated, it is left to the end and the time constraint only makes it worse.

Cold yeast is a good reminder for approaching problems properly with the right preparation.

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Valuable lessons: In order to length your years, deepen your days. This advice is part mindfulness and part common sense. The author recommends focused activities or exercises that are not work and spending time with people you like. Hard to argue with that. Your thoughts?

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Detroit.

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Something I have to think more about: How to raise a brave and gutsy daughter. Caroline Paul writes in her book and in these 9 tips how to change culture minds about raising a daughter. The two I’ll focus on are Practice Bravery and Give Her a Long Leash.

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Not answering well: Interesting story about the drug cop who routinely stole money from illicit packages. He was caught by discarding his trashed McDonald’s bag into the box before sending it along to the intended recipient. The only problem? There were cops on the receiving end waiting to sting the drug dealers who intercepted the box, opened it and then found evidence of a greasy cop instead.

It’s easy to read this story and reduce the valuable lesson to — don’t be sloppy or lazy or cocky. More than that, though, is the lesson about how you never know what might be happening downstream or in the future. It seems obvious that another police department could also be onto the same drug ring, but it’s so easy to overlook these obvious outcomes until it’s too late. I think the point for me in this was if you are serious about what you are doing do not take anything for granted. Consider all the angles.

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Answer well: Proverbs 15:23 — “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word.”

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Detroit’s Eastern Market

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Today’s thought: Ship steering. Have you thought of your career or of a project as “ship steering”? I had lunch with an ambitious future executive this week who approached both career and professional goals as ship steering. In my interpretation, it meant thinking strategically about career and day-to-day choices. How do you think about strategy in your organization? Are you a ship steerer?

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Quote: “Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.” — William Arthur Ward

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Bonus Content: Outsider magazine posted a list of links to their 10 most-read mystery stories and I have to say I cannot wait to read them all.

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Detroit’s Riverwalk.

Continued success and continue to answer well,

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

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