Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit

208.

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Week 208 in Detroit. This week was the first week that the patience with “the curve” seemed to strain. For the most part everything remained the same. Work from home. School from home. Curbside takeout only. In Michigan, a few things opened up a bit. Gardening. Golf. Nationwide, some states opened up much more dramatically. Hair salons and what not.

One thing that struck me this week was the role, or lack thereof, that patience plays in our lives.

For instance, I’ve been patiently growing a mustache this entire time. It’s barely noticeable. Though I did get a chance to discuss it this week. I recorded a virtual panel on Friday without shaving it off. I had a great call with an important business partner, a strategic partner, on Friday as well. He was growing a beard and we discussed it like an opportunity. When else will you be able to try out things that normally would require too much patience or too much risk to distract. I saw a tweet compare men growing or attempting to grow mustaches to women attempting or trying bangs. I’ll trust it’s true.

This crisis has demanded patience and left us no choice. Well perhaps a mustache or a beard is the choice. But it still requires patience.

I’ve always struggled with patience.

Patience to let other kids in the class participate at their own speed. Patience to let someone finish a story or sentence as I get increasingly excited to jump in. Patience to learn valuable lessons about myself and my job instead of fast-forwarding through life. As someone who has also tried to lead with my heart (nod to my friend Tyler reminding me about that this week), my motivations or intent are generally clear. Impatience, thankfully, identified by most of my friends & colleagues as passion and enthusiasm. Never meant to overshadow or interrupt, it can easily insult, even unintentionally.

Patience continues to challenge me. I want to go. I want to learn. I want to create. I want, I want, I want. One reason I bring up patience so often is trying to root out whether my choices are grounded in authentic motivation to improve, to grow, or rooted in selfishness, in ego.

Patience shows up in myriad ways in our modern life, even our quarantined life.

In our careers, patience is valuable and risky. Valuable because it shows discipline and judgment. Patience can often be interpreted as loyalty, which bosses and companies love. Risky because it can be used by bosses and companies to maintain the status quo. Not having to deal with promotions or new roles & responsibilities saves time and money. Often it’s not nefarious, just the real result of the speed of modern business. For others, especially women and people of color, “be patient” can be patronizing or malicious. That’s what makes patience, particularly in your career path, a complex decision.

Often people dismiss it too lightly by saying it’s always a case-by-case analysis and so you cannot ever know or prepare when you are being too patient or should stay longer in a role.

This week on my podcast Millennial Exec, Brock and I talked about this topic.

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In part, we chose this topic because Millennials are often tagged with the criticism of being too ambitious or too entitled. In part, we know whether you are considering your own career path, building a product or growing a company, patience is a very difficult data point to factor in.

Though I would appreciate if you gave the episode a listen, my takeaway is that it requires frequent check-ins with yourself and a trusted friend or mentor to ensure you have an objective view of your situation or your choice. Whatever that may be.

The next day my friend Michelle Busuito sent me some good insight on peer mentorship. Peer mentorship being the idea that a mentor can be someone in your life or industry that is going through similar questions and choices. That’s the idea of the podcast Millennial Exec, but it’s also a good reminder that bouncing ideas and decisions off someone can help improve decision-making.

“You want a CEO or Founder that’s a Learn-It-All.” — Mike Maples

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In his incredible essay Solitude and Leadership, William Deresiewicz writes, “It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea.”

An original idea.

In this context, patience is a necessary component of creation, of success. Or, at least, the seeds of success.

Patience does not seem to me to only be a challenge in my life, in my career. It’s a challenge we face in all aspects of American life.

In fact, Deresiewicz writes, “We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them.”

Bureaucracy. Keeping the routine going. Answering questions but not asking them. Never asking them.

Some among us have decided that bureaucracy is the enemy. That bureaucracy is so threatening to creation, to innovation, we do not have to acknowledge or respect it. Those at the top of the bureaucracy, even those elected to reform it, are complicit in bureaucracy’s threat. Drain the swamp, they may say. Then what? Liberty happens?

There is a scene from The West Wing where President Bartlet, while running for a second term, challenges his opponent to follow a sound byte with “the next 10 words.”

Why are the next 10 words so tough? Whether it’s disrupting bureaucracy or debating public health, patience is necessary to actually make the change. Whether it’s moving a KPI in your company or reaching a new sales goal, patience is needed to allow a strategy to work. Whether it’s losing that last 10 pounds or reading 10 new books this year, patience is the only way to do it.

The quarantine is its own form of patience. Patience to follow the prescription. Patience to trust that even if it’s not entirely necessary to one person, it is necessary and beneficial to many, many of us.

Some among us have decided that patience was never justified based on a belief that quarantine somehow threatened liberty (yes, liberty) and taking up arms might be necessary to defend “our way of life.” (I’m not sure the width of the word “our” here). Sure, it’s an incredibly small fraction getting an outsized amount of coverage. Sure, it makes no sense to brandish an AR-15 in a state government building when the threat described in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution is physical and federal. Sure, it’s a highly sensitive world where any slight or perceived slight could end up triggering a protest or reflexive tweet. The only thing missing is patience.

It’s almost like the way we, as sports fans, react to Joe Buck during any game with their team. Everyone believes Buck hates their team. Must be against their team. Highly sensitive to every perceived slight, sports fans shout and pout during (and sometimes after) the game.

Sports isn’t about patience. Quite the opposite.

But the bigger things.

The things we value.

The hard things.

The hard things we value take patience.

But…

Patience sucks.

It’s hard. We want results. We want success. Successful people get results. Now! Embracing patience and balancing ambition or perceived slights or goals requires discipline.

Discipline over something in our control is hard enough. Discipline over something outside our control, like a global pandemic, is frustratingly crazy.

Then, being patient in the face of being told what to do by a bureaucracy, is…is…is as complex and frustrating as trying to balance, well, our everyday lives.

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Housing in the age of Coronavirus. It’s a story of competing tensions. While millions of Americans have lost their jobs, millions more are working from home and saving more money than ever. Housing supply has been constrained for years, home values remain strong (for now). Homeownership is a good investment, yet ties the homeowner to a place. Owning a home builds wealth; achieving homeownership remains out of reach for many eligible Americans. Tensions.

As we come out of this crisis, I’ve written that I believe many people will make big decisions about housing. Many people are looking for homeownership and flexibility. Tension. Many people are looking for a path to homeownership that lowers the barriers to entry. Tension.

Necessity is the mother of invention or so they say.

Co-investment. “It’s an idea that could bring the benefits of owning a home back within reach, especially for millennials struggling to get on the homeownership ladder.”

The idea that bringing in other equity investors, kinda like the financing of other investments, lowers the initial investment. Yes, it also lowers the potential upside. The question homeowners or prospective homeowners have to ask is whether 80% of the upside today versus 100% of the potential 3–5 years from now whenever down payment aligns with an available home in their price range. This is the crowd-sourcing generation. The sharing generation.

Transacting home equity shares could provide flexibility and affordability but does limit the long term wealth potential. Tensions.

On the other hand, a crisis could drive Millennials back to more traditional settings. Forget flexibility and homeownership in a walkable urban core. Make the suburbs look more like the city and get the best of both worlds. CNBC is already forecasting a new kinda home.

“Millennials, the sharing generation, have been more apt to use public transportation, and they look for walkable neighborhoods with retail and restaurants nearby. As builders develop these types of neighborhoods even farther from urban cores, more millennials are likely to come.”

My friend, Rob, sent this article knowing I wouldn’t be able to resist the bait. Millennials will come out of this crisis with a tough choice. Patience to achieve homeownership versus a commitment to the place and lifestyle we want.

Create new, flexible ways to own while sharing in the upside in order to stay in a city or a community that tells a larger story.

Or

Create a suburban facsimile that mimics the thing obtainable now.

For this one, we have to wait and see. Patience.

Quote: “I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” — Muhammad Ali

Bonus content: The workplace of the future does not look like the workplace you left a few weeks ago.

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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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