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

Saturday Cup of Joe #121.

Friends & Colleagues,

Week 121. Very short intro this week. I had to leave Detroit for an emergency trip to York to visit my mother. She’s struggling with some health issues and so, I appreciate your understanding with my posting this week’s Cup of Joe “as-is.” Thanks for reading.

Back next week with more thoughts and articles.

Happy Labor Day weekend to all you workers out there. Or as my daughter called it last night “Unwork Day.”

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Who is your favorite Godfather character? Mine was always Sonny. I felt for a long time that I was unique in this view. Not according to this week’s Farnam Street blog about honor; apparently everyone’s favorite is Sonny. What about you? I also assumed my dislike of Jon Snow was mine alone…perhaps not. Either way, check out this strong post by Farnam Street on how we view honor. Good stuff.

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“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” — Bruce Lee

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Detroit from Belle Isle.

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Ever consider advertising with negative reviews? No? Most companies are afraid of negative reviews, try to hide them, to address them. One ski resort leans in and actually posts some on their homepage. Very creative. Check it out here.

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Above the desk of the head underwriter at the first lender where I started my career hung a sign that said “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” I loved it then and I’ve never forgotten it.

I was reminded of that fact again this week when I read Seth Godin’s blog post titled “Emergencies Cost Extra.” While his view might be a little broad to be applied to everyone’s business, the underlying principle is sound. How do you measure standard operating procedures? How do you account for added value? The ‘customer is always right’ fallacy has convinced good businesses to waste time and money on emergencies, particularly emergencies involving the customer. I think the proper reframing of this old rule is “you should always treat the customer as if they are right,” but not necessarily absorb whatever the customer says as truth.

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Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” — Stephen King

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As seen on Instagram, but is it true, tho?

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Homeownership: I pride myself on recognizing (and being ok with) change. Early in my career I was told that people are resistant to change. My response — great, I won’t be one of them. So far so good. That’s why this week I read a blog post that made me think of a great Jack Black line from the movie High Fidelity- “that’s so good it should have been mine.” A writer on Medium.com had made a point that was so good I wanted to have written it. Louis Hyman wrote, “The longing many Americans feel for owning their own business, the celebration of entrepreneurship in our culture, and our homesteading heritage are not just about money — or buying houses. Yet for several generations, we have made it easy to own a home but hard to own a business.” Now, that has changed. For the last 10 years, it became easier to start a business than own a home.

This has changed everything almost without us even noticing.

In my current role, I talk with housing and finance folks all the time but never made the comparison or corollary between entrepreneurship and homeownership. It brings up a lot of interesting questions about cultural and economic incentives. We have yet to have a cohesive, coordinated national strategy that incentivizes investments in homes or businesses across the whole economy. Perhaps that’s too much to ask for given the complexity and competing objectives in a modern, growing, global network. At the same time, we do have policy levers and other attempts that could be made to attempt to address these incentives.

One example that came up this week was a 1031 investment credit for the stock market. Imagine if you could carry the profit/investment in a company to a new startup the way you can in real estate. Just a thought.

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Speaking of homeownership, an Australian startup is looking to connect borrowers and lenders on an online platform that not only finds a home loan but auctions off the customer to the best offer. Future of mortgage brokers?

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“Fox Island, Resurrection Bay, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.” Source: Atlas Obscura

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Millennial minute: The millennials that are buying homes are regretting it (at least according to this blogger). But why?

1. Too many costs

2. Issues with the home itself

Bottom line? Yes, buying a home can be overwhelming. But your home is where you will create priceless memories with family and friends

Northwestern Mutual is selling placemaking not financial investment as the number 1 reason to own a home. That’s interesting and something I’ll be thinking more about in my work this week.

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Live authentically: “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

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A brief history/thought on Stoicism: The Stoics trace their lineage to Zeno of Citium, who founded a philosophical school in Athens about 300 years before the birth of Christ. Along with Seneca, the Stoics are mostly known today by the works of Epictetus, an emancipated slave, and the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius. Central to their worldview was the need to distinguish between what we can and cannot control, and waste no time worrying about the latter. In other words, we should conform our thoughts and behaviour to Mother Nature’s ineluctable course, which the Stoics believed was a major part of what it is to be good or virtuous.

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Answer Well: Values-Goals-Action. I heard this from a colleague this week and it stuck with me. What are my values is the baseline for everyone. Values inform Goals. Goals lead or should lead to Action. V-G-A. After thinking through VGA for a day or so, I ran into this “you get what you believe in” piece on Medium. It’s an interesting thought. If you “get what you believe you deserve” in a romantic relationship, it stands to reason that it would be true in a professional setting, or more so. Put another way, the author writes “we get the exact treatment we allow. But it’s also true in life overall (and work) as well.”

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Today’s thought: One thing I noticed about good companies is that they help their people find themselves, even when that means losing them. Normally, though, it doesn’t mean losing people. It means winning people. It creates more opportunity overall. Allowing employees and team members to explore new roles, new skills and yes, sometimes, new journeys. Things like shadowing, leadership training, etc. It requires a self-assured and big picture view of the world. Investing in people always pays dividends. This week consider how to invest in your team even if it means letting them explore or be honest about their connection to your organization.

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Quote: “Having a word for something helps spread awareness of it.” -Taleb

Bonus Content: The top 20 movies of 1998. This is important for several reasons. First, who doesn’t love a movie list? Controversy no matter what. Go. Second, 1998 was an amazing year for movies though I’d argue that 1999 (Matrix, American Beauty, Office Space) and 1994 (Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption) were slightly better. Third, and perhaps most importantly, #18 is The Spanish Prisoner written by David Mamet. I watched this movie so many times in high school. Turned me on to good screenwriting and Mamet whose career I’ve been following and enjoying ever since.

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Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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