Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit


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Week 190 in Detroit.

Is it Friday?

It feels like a Tuesday. I wish it was before Christmas because I can’t believe it’s over already. Oh, office humor…or what passes for it. Whether on conference calls or those of us who were in the office any day this week, there was a lot of discussion of the days of the week. Thanksgiving was kinda late this year. Christmas on a Wednesday.

Hopefully you avoided all that with some time off or, at a minimum, working from home. We spent our Thanksgiving holiday week off and traveling so I was in the office a few days this week. The best part of working on Christmas Eve has to be the ability to catch up on months of emails without interruption. Email is certainly one area that I could use more structure (more on that below).

We celebrate Christmas and had a wonderful time this week.

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@TheDad on Instagram

Looking forward to a laid back weekend and setting some 2020 goals and routines in the coming week. I’ve never been one for big or public New Year’s resolutions but I do appreciate a day or two to help reset and prepare for a new year. I find it valuable to use the time to reflect and try to implement anything that will last as a new part of my day or my mindset. So in that, I have the practice of resolutions without the fanfare of writing them down or tracking them. Not sure if that’s better or worse, frankly.

Have a happy and healthy New Year’s celebration. May your 2020 be intentional, passionate and fulfilling.

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I received two books from my wife for Christmas this year. One is a biography of Marlon Brando. One is Jay-Z’s book Neither book was something I asked for, but in her usual way, she knew I’d love it. And I do. Just in the several sections I’ve read since receiving it, I’m picking up all kinds of insight into his background and creative process. Jay-Z made an incredible comment on storytelling describing how he got started crafting lyrics:

“To tell the story of the kid with the gun without telling the story of why he has it is to tell a kind of lie.”

How true is that for so many stories and situations in life?

Can’t wait to keep reading.

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How did they get the lights on that tree?!?

So many 2020 predictions. I always think back to Matthew Berry’s fantasy football ESPN radio show because he always said “predictions sure to go wrong.”

Fintech: Thanks for the great find from Brian Vieaux, President of Finlocker, on the Forbes’ Fintech trends for 2020. We were discussing 2 of the key trends on Friday morning.

First, the fintech problem of oversaturation is happening for investors and consumers alike. 10 apps for all your personal finance needs from accounts to budgeting to credit is too many. I’ve written before about how consumers will begin to align their perks and preferences. All consumer finance is moving toward the credit card industry. Plenty of options but consumers align around the 1 or 2 that provide the specific rewards we prefer. Airline miles. Travel. Cash. Etc. No reason more consumer platforms — accounts, payments, and consumer credit — are not soon to follow.

Second, the move away from FICO score. This is a fascinating prediction because FICO is so entrenched in consumer credit today. Certainly unsecured or on-demand credit has moved (slowly) away from FICO. Overall, though, we haven’t seen true disruption yet. As predictive data improves, we expect to see alternative predictors of risk. Is 2020 the year? Probably not. But with a few days to go, it makes for good content to speculate.

Big (Fin)tech: Bloomberg’s panel of experts predicts tech companies launching consumer finance options. Not a huge surprise here after 2019 brought us the Apple Card powered by Marcus, tech platforms establish trust, leverage deep pockets and deliver a financial product already embedded into their existing experience.

Overall: LinkedIn’s 20 Big Ideas for 2020

More like “2,020 opportunities inside 20 big ideas.”

I was inspired not to be intimidated but to see a more complex and interconnected world as an opportunity. The regulatory assault on tech predicted as in #17, challenging capitalism (#8), our own focus (#14) and the meaning of work (#20) are all calls for opportunity. Our challenge is to answer well.

What happened to the benefit of the doubt: I mean, seriously, I acknowledge that I’m going to sound like Andy Rooney. I further acknowledge that referencing Andy Rooney makes me sound even more curmudgeonly because I am taking a relatively small observation and turning it into a commentary on (pretty much) all of society. So, let’s dive in…

I have always thought about giving people the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best intentions. It’s not just about “staying positive” in the motivation speaker sense; it is about keeping the conversation or the class or the meeting moving forward. When you assume someone is wrong or ignorant or rude, it tends to derail the interaction or the conversation or, in general, progress. It feels like too often now we’re jumping to conclusions, often wild conclusions, about what someone meant or might have meant. I felt like there used to be a parenthetical “ya know what I’m trying to say” at the end of many people’s opinions or ideas.

Now it feels increasingly like more people revel in pointing out the fallacy, inconsistency or offensive comment (or even inference within a comment) in order to either score points or assert superiority.

What was once reserved for know-it-alls is now celebrated as the call-out, the subtweet, or standing-up-for-yourself (paradoxically by bringing down someone else).

I’m not so much lamenting the environment on social media as expressly some concern that it is spilling over into other areas of life. Certainly the political gaffe has always been an exercise in — what did they mean? But, by and large, the rest of us were trying to understand each other NOT intentionally misunderstand each other.

Today, I’m not so sure.

Overreactions once reserved for politics are now how many people discuss politics, if they discuss politics at all. In fact, I think what bothers me the most is that political-esque overreactions are now the way interactions occur whether on social media or at the all-natural, fruit-infused office watercooler. Whether with friends, colleagues or total strangers, a little benefit of the doubt goes a long way. Not just as an act of courtesy but an act of maturity. If someone is making a point and everyone knows the point they are trying to make, stopping the meeting or the class or the conversation to ensure that imprecise language or a miscue can be pointed out is obnoxious.

I am all for precise language.

I am all for making sure everyone is on the same page.

I am all for pointing out truly bad or truly wrong ideas when it helps accomplish a goal.

I do not understand the compulsion to stop the progress of an idea or conversation to point out the problem unless of course there is true confusion or a bona fide belief that something truly offensive has been said.

Otherwise, we all benefit from the benefit of the doubt.

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Tim Ferriss on Medium, Insta, whereever you get your podcasts.

Lloyd’s Banking Group just hired a Chief Design Officer named Dan Makoski. The firm’s mission is to see prosperity in all they do. In short, to ensure that all of Britain prospers. An audacious mission that could make a designer hesitant to join financial services. Old traditional establishment types with big tech-y dreams. Sounds like a recipe for failure.

Yet, I like how Dan tied his experience and expertise into how he can help Lloyd’s. “It all comes down to…to something I honestly believe: that great design comes from knowing who you are designing for and what they really want and need.”

In that, Dan delivers a proxy for business. Our teams, our companies are great when we deliver what the client really wants and needs.

If you click through and read on, you’ll find that Dan returns to a theme that is cherished by design and business alike — simplicity is genius. The elegance and simplicity of the best designs and features are what set them apart.

Beware the “attention slot machine” of email. Because we humans so enjoy productivity and busyness, in fact we thrive on it, we tend to spend hours and hours on short bursts of feeling productive at the expense of being productive.

Turns out that scheduling is key to unlocking your mind. Knowing you’ll check email on a particular schedule frees you from responding to every “random ping” that comes in.

I think deep down we all know this but unless we return to the mantra — be intentional — we end up succumbing to the pull of the instant gratification.

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‘Cause I watch it every Christmas Eve. And it’s still relevant.

A few months ago, I started using LinkedIn a little differently than I had in the past. I’ve always tried to comment or post on professional achievements or milestones for those in my network. Growing my network through mutual connections generally happened by following up with someone I met at a conference. I wanted to do a better job connected with everyone I already know and expanding my network to those I do not yet know.

For those of you that are connected with me and/or use LinkedIn often you already know that I post much more frequently than I ever did before. Before, I found myself send a text or email to a handful of colleagues anytime I found an interesting article or something I read made me think of something they taught me. Now, I share that with my community on LinkedIn.

For better or worse, I have been linking to articles, mentioning leadership theories and sharing causes that I support or believe in.

My strategy is taken from another industry, the entertainment industry. Shonda Rhimes the creator of and tells her writers “don’t save story.” In other words, if you have an idea use it and force yourself to have another and another. Be more creative by engaging the ideas that you do have and then create the space for more. Sure, it has the potential side effect of creating wild, unbelievable plot lines in some of her shows, but she did just become the highest paid showrunner in Hollywood. So, I’ll take it.

Don’t save story.

If you think of it, do it and make space for the next step or next project.

Quote: “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” — John Quincy Adams

Bonus content: A great Medium post by a retired Navy SEAL who decided to enroll at Yale as a freshman…a 52 year old freshman

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As seen on Instagram

“We are all just walking each other home.”

There is a peace and joy in the humanity of that thought. It invites openness and understanding for everyone else just walking along this life. The best times — a child’s excitement on Christmas morning — and the worst — losing someone we love to cancer — are both part of the walk, part of our story.

I am struck by the challenge of Christmas.

Generosity, gratitude and even grief.

The challenge is to honor it all year long. Live the whole year, everyday, with the love, gratefulness and empathy that we share during the holiday season.

I am grateful and humbled for your connection and your contribution to my walk. Thank YOU for reading this, for offering feedback and a helping hand along the way, and for taking up the challenge of answering well all year long.

Happy holidays and here’s to living our full selves in this spirit this coming year.

Live courageously.

Ask good questions.

Be grateful yet unsatisfied.

Participate don’t displace.

Be intentional.

Answer well.

Happy new year to you and those you love.

Written by

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

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