Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit #163

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163. Thank you for reading the Saturday Cup of Joe. I hope you enjoy this week’s. I have been thinking about how to fit in more of the leadership lessons I’m learning as I write about the housing industry, housing policy, innovation, entrepreneurship and more.

One meeting this week was my friend, Isaac Gilman. Isaac works at one of our affiliated companies. He leads technologists and projects. We hit it off, in part, thanks to our mutual love of Detroit and lifelong learning. He recommended a great podcast that I’m going to pass along now. The American Banker’s podcast Nobody’s Home.

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It has been an exciting week of meetings with entrepreneurs through Detroit Startup Week, community builders at the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and opportunities within our company.

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For instance, I have been lucky to have met (thank you, Michelle Busuito) and become friends with Mark Wallace. Mark is the CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. His leadership and energy is infectious. The Detroit Riverfront is “a world class gathering place for all.” I look up to Mark and his vision. He’s an incredible friend and trusted community leader. On Thursday, we attended the Simmer on the River to support the Detroit Riverfront. It’s one of the city’s crown jewels spanning the Detroit River and hosting views, events, joggers and myriad photogs. My first year in Detroit was spent in two buildings on the Riverfront. One on each end of the Riverwalk.

We always love when we get to spend time along the river.

If you are not local to Detroit, the Riverfront is required visiting when you are here. Let me know when you are here, and I’ll meet you there.

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“You need a philosophy and you need to write it down. And re-write it and go over it regularly. Life is too hard (and too complicated) to try to wing it and expect to do the right thing.” — Ryan Holiday

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Behind the scenes: I’ve always loved the “behind-the-scenes” piece. Whether that’s on set with the hottest TV show or a day in the life of a CEO, I can’t get enough of the inside look. This week’s example is the New Yorker’s profile of Augusta National golf course or the patrons of Augusta or both. Having never been to The Master’s I don’t know exactly how to interpret this article but I enjoyed it.

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A Buddhist legend tells of a young farmer who was covered with sweat as he paddled his boat up the river. He was going upstream to deliver his produce to the village. He was in a hurry. It was a hot day and he wanted to make his delivery and get home before dark. As he looked ahead, he spied another vessel, heading rapidly downstream toward his boat. This vessel seemed to making every effort to hit him. He rowed furiously to get out of the way, but it didn’t seem to help.

He yelled at the other vessel, “Change direction, you idiot! You are going to hit me. The river is wide. Be careful!” His screaming was to no avail. The other vessel hit his boat a sickening thud. He was enraged as he stood up and cried out to the other vessel, “You moron! How could you manage to hit my boat in the middle of this wide river? What is wrong with you?”

As he looked at the other vessel, he realized that there was no one in the other boat. He was screaming at an empty boat that had broken free of its moorings and was going downstream with the current.

The lesson? There is never anyone in the other boat.

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Several months ago, HUD and the DOJ sued Facebook over the fact that the site allowed advertisers to target ads by race, gender, and geography. The result? Discrimination. What I’ve been trying to research ever since was whether the targeting, in and of itself, was the problem or the nature/content of the ads made them illegal.

Is it discrimination simply to target ads? Or does the nature of the offer/ad determine whether bias exists? The author writes, “In reality, of course, neither targeting nor optimization is perfect, so both work interdependently: The advertiser doesn’t trust Facebook enough to hand over all of its targeting data, and Facebook doesn’t want to share its optimization data (at least not intentionally) with outsiders.” I’m trying to understand the line. Any isolation? Or only ads that make risky or more expensive offers?

The article suggests another solution. “If showing housing ads based on a user’s race or ethnicity is illegal, simply prohibit advertisers from targeting by race or ethnicity for those ads.”

This suggests any targeting is inherently illegal, regardless of what the ad says or what the offer is.

How does your business respond? How do you think about advertising?

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A Map of Two Bedroom Housing Rent, Nationwide.

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Unfounded theories that I totally buy into: Diet, in particular fasting, can serve as an anti-cancer treatment.

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People will do something — including changing their behavior — only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values. — Marshall Goldsmith

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Innovation: A few weeks ago I acknowledged that even someone like me who works in innovation can admit the word “innovation” is overused and hardly used properly. I’m still fascinated by how technology is changing our lives and our businesses. This, to me, is innovation.

Yet, I’m a lawyer who attended liberals arts college. I’m not a scientist. Scientific innovation is different than economic innovation. Often, though, it’s not clear. Entrepreneurs blur the line. Perhaps intentionally? A new research paper explores the line between corporate research and university research and asks how we should think about innovation now.

The authors wrote, “The translation of scientific knowledge generated in universities to productivity enhancing technical progress has proved to be more difficult to accomplish in practice than expected.” That’s when corporate rose in prominence. For many years, critical research and development occurred in corporate labs and offices. That has trailed off…tremendously.

Now it’s not clear corporate support of R&D will return. In fact, the authors came to the conclusion that corporations will never rival universities on innovation. They concluded, “In the longer run, therefore, university research will remain the principal source of new ideas for such inventions.”

How does your organization approach innovation? Where do new ideas come from?

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How far could $1B go in Detroit? Google set aside $1B for 20,000 housing units in SF. Admirable and I applaud Google for investing in their community. A fraction of that could change affordable housing in Detroit. Next time, Google. Let’s do it here.

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Legal nerds unite: This Aeon article goes deep on law and economics which is the legal theory that incorporates market competition as a control for regulation. In fact, the author is a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and I’m inspired to track her down and discuss this piece. In the meantime, there are a lot of thoughtful questions in this article about how we view market forces versus legal rights and what outcomes may be changed as a result.

For instance, the author observes that “competition does not take place in a vacuum: it always requires rules, from property to contract to antitrust, that are themselves, logically speaking, limits upon competition.”

At the same time that has not stopped us from (overly)relying on competition. The point is that’s a choice. We often feel like it’s inevitable or natural but the reality is, it’s a choice. We control the law and the rules of the game. If you controlled the law and the rules of the game, what would you change?

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Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
Anne Lamott

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Some medical conditions, like diabetes, more predictable from Facebook content than from demographic information. Seriously. According to early research from Penn and Stony Brook, researchers could predict medical conditions from Facebook posts.

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Do you travel for work? Do you have your own personal theories or superstitions that help you? Do you travel on early morning flights? Do you avoid red-eyes? Here’s one traveler’s opinion on why the earliest possible flight is the best…assuming there’s coffee, and lots of it.

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“To accept it without arrogance, to let it go with indifference.” — Marcus Aurelius

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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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