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

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Friends & Colleagues,

SCOJ #107. Fintech. Blockchain. Leadership. Bald Eagles. This week has it all. I spent the week exploring big ideas and trying to answer every email quickly and efficiently. On one hand, I succeeded. In a variety of contexts — MBA’s Secondary conference and subsequent meetings and calls — I was able to dig in on several new products and new ideas in the mortgage industry. On the other, I owe a few emails that I just haven’t finished writing yet, including one to my mother and another to a friend, Brian, who was kind enough to respond to last week’s Cup of Joe. I’ll finish those emails momentarily…or tomorrow!

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This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to everyone reading this who has served in our country’s Armed Forces or who has sacrificed so that a family member or friend could serve. I get to do all the amazing things in my world every day because of those who paid the highest price for our collective freedom. What Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion, of fidelity.” We thank you.

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One interesting topic of conversation recently has been the idea of a “regulatory sandbox” for Fintech companies to innovate and work free from the fear of accidental (or arbitrary) regulatory scrutiny. Arizona announced one such proposal as a way to attract forward looking businesses to the state. What concerns me, though, is the state of innovation as a result of regulatory risk. I talked to one company that suggested there are 82 regulators between state and federal across all financial services activity. Particularly as it relates to Fintech, regulators of all shapes and sizes believe they are the primary Fintech regulator.

At Symmetry Advisor’s blockchain event on Tuesday, I spoke with someone who said that countries interested in cultivating an advantage in blockchain have banned together to offer wider audiences and consistent regulation to entrepreneurs. The countries working together are Estonia, Bermuda and Singapore to create a global sandbox. I wonder if any states will join Arizona in the same way these countries have banded together and create a state-level sandbox in this country. One concern, of course, is that the federal level can always trump a state sandbox, no pun intended. Another concern is that these blockchain and Fintech platforms are inherently cross-border and it can be more difficult to isolate whether a user is from a particular state than it is for countries.

The idea of innovation, though, came up over and over again this week in New York. In order to take financial services to the next level and truly disrupt the industry, companies need to be able to take chances and, as many in tech say, fail fast. That’s an inherent tension for regulators, but we have to do a better job of a national strategy to remain on the cutting edge with these other countries.

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Source: SSI

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With graduation season behind us, the Wall Street Journal, published a map of where the nation’s graduates end up. Washington, D.C., for instance, is the 6th largest metro area but the nation’s second highest population of recent college graduates. Not surprisingly, New York City is #1. Geography clearly matters but it is interesting to track these trends and consider how to grow some of our mid to smaller cities.

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Perspective.

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There’s a hole in that road

I went for a walk down a road

I fell in a hole

I didn’t see it

It took me a long time to get out

It’s not my fault

I went for a walk down the same road

I fell in the same hole

It took me a long time to get out

Why did I do that?

I went for a walk down the same road

I fell in the same hole

But I got out quickly

I went for a walk down the same road

I saw the same hole

But I walked around it

I went for a walk down a different road.

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Today in Blockchain: According to Propy, Palazzetto Mansion inside Rome’s historic Palazzo Albertoni Spinola will be auctioned and bidders can use cryptocurrency via Propy’s new online tool to place bids. The company, looking to capitalize on crypto investors looking to shift their exposure to tangible investments and collect the “first trophy asset auction” to accept cryptocurrencies. To see more about this property, check out the video.

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Source: CB Insights.

Clearer now?

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One of the things I’ve learned from Dan Gilbert is that most people, many organizations planning to take a specific action (or launch something) do not account for what the world will look like as a result of the action. One reason is that it is difficult to know how the conditions will change once the product exists or once the proposal is accepted. As a result, most people decide to make the decision given only the current conditions and do not account for any possibility of the world after the fact.

I was reminded of this critical error in judgment again this week when I read Seth Godin’s daily blog titled “Before and After.” “When you put the right idea into the world, people can’t unsee it. It changes our narrative. The existence of your product, service or innovation means that everything that compares to it is now treated differently.”

Before contemplating your next big decision — to launch a new product or pursue a major change in the organization — try to account for what the world will look like with the idea being a reality. It won’t be perfect and you’ll never know for sure. But practice of even trying will (or could) bring out new perspectives, new ideas, new risks that will no doubt improve your decision.

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Future of what’s known: The blog Farnam Street wrote this week about probabilistic thinking. It’s interesting for leaders and anyone selling a product to consider “what are the odds?” In your decision-making, how often do you find yourself asking “what are the odds?” If so, this article is for you.

The author, Shane Parrish, writes, “We know now that the future is inherently unpredictable because not all variables can be known and even the smallest error imaginable in our data very quickly throws off our predictions.” This is interesting in the context of what Dan G said about how to evaluate the future. How can we better evaluate the future?

The article goes on, “The core of Bayesian thinking (or Bayesian updating, as it can be called) is this: given that we have limited but useful information about the world, and are constantly encountering new information, we should probably take into account what we already know when we learn something new. As much of it as possible.”

The difficult part, then, is how to proceed practically. For instance, how should we then make decisions? “Successfully thinking in shades of probability means roughly identifying what matters, coming up with a sense of the odds, doing a check on our assumptions, and then making a decision.”

How do you make decisions? Is there any rubric? Any consistency?

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Communal living: One of the first topics I covered in the Saturday Cup of Joe was the rise in communal living or shared living. Initially, there was a flurry of articles about families living in a large building or tiny homes communities. As time went on, the articles slowed.

One interesting development in entrepreneurs is the group of companies attempting to connect roommates or tenants. The idea of shared or communal living is always a possible market among 20 year olds in urban centers, but with the rise of these companies, it could expand. How do you view these models? Is this a cultural shift or a coincidence of timing?

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Detroit, MI, USA.

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Ever wonder what it feels like to buy something as Jeff Bezos? I know that none of us know what it’s like to be Jeff Bezos, so it’s just imagining the buying power of Jeff Bezos. Like a vacation in The Maldives for $0.24?

I’ve yet to determine if there’s any value in these type of articles/comparisons. But, admittedly, it’s fun to think about.

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Have you seen this? Incredible footage of a fox capturing a rabbit and then having a bald eagle steal (or attempt to steal) the rabbit. Video here.

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Ego Is The Enemy: Anytime start-up bubbles or even Fintech bubbles come up, someone mentions Theranos. Theranos is not a Fintech but was a highly valued, hot startup that rose quickly and burst publicly in a spectacle of lies and deceit. It reads like the Hollywood movie that it’s on the way to becoming.

This New York Magazine profile, as much as story of the journalist who uncovered the fraud, as it is a story about the unwinding of this once popular company, is a very valuable lesson in both leadership and objectivity. One key aspect to the journalist’s success was not being a part of the Silicon Valley echo chamber. Yes, the author of the definitive stories on Theranos also had some medical knowledge but it was the willingness to remain outside the story that allowed him to tell the story the right way.

This article is interesting just as entertainment or a cautionary tale but it can also serve as a valuable lesson. Where are our own blind spots? Where is our own ego lurking to distort the truth?

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Today’s thought: Equal parts curiosity, ambition and fearlessness. My leader, Amy, and I were discussing how to identify the type of candidate we were looking for in a new position that opened up. It was difficult to articulate the “thing” that makes a good, dynamic legal team member. That’s what I came up with — curiosity, ambition and fearlessness.

What do you think? What are the inherent or innate traits you look for in your team?

It’s not everyone on the team, by the way. It’s a combination of personalities. The role we’re looking for is dynamic and proactive. Not everyone on the team is curious, ambition and fearless but these are the difference makers. The elite.

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Quote: “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” — Leonardo da Vinci

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Bonus Content: There was a time, in the early 16th century, when coffee consumption was severely restricted. In fact, coffeeshops were considered a social ill and dramatically restricted. Beside just being curious, this is also an interesting study in perception and assumption.

܂Continued success,

Written by

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

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