Week 224 in Detroit. Normally, we’d be in the midst of Summer vacations before school starts, college kids leaving home and the dog days of Major League Baseball. This year, the oddities continue, some vacations are happening, some are staycations and some of my friends have given up on the chance for vacation until later in the year. Some colleges are back, some are virtual, some are both and some, I think, still haven’t decided. Major League Baseball is…wait, is it back? Is it happening? Is it somehow more boring.
I know, those of you that know me realize how hard it is to admit that. I played baseball my entire life into college and even in one of those old man wooden bat leagues. Yet I find myself complete disconnected from the sport today. I was walking around my home office with my bat (you remember my bat) when I suddenly had the urge to take batting practice.
Despite that, I still can’t seem to watch baseball or take it seriously. I felt the MLB missed a major opportunity to innovate or test new concepts during this weird, shortened, no-fans season. My recommendation to no one in an official capacity at MLB (to my knowledge Rob Manfred never got any of my emails) was to totally change the game — best of three, 3-inning games each night. Potentially the game could go 9 innings if the first two 3-inning games did not produce the same winner. My thinking was the level of urgency would increase — bunting and base stealing would matter. The pitching strategy would be totally different — start the same pitcher the first 2 games? Start a different pitcher for each? Throw everyone 1 inning? Home runs would be, well, home runs — high risk and high reward.
Why don’t we look for more opportunities to try new things? Why don’t we take more chances to learn valuable lessons? Someone once said to me that Steve Jobs would say, “if marketing and legal made the decisions, we’d only ever go with what’s worked in the past.”
Don’t be Major League Baseball.
This is the last week in August during a global pandemic headed into a sure-to-be-exhausting-and-painful Presidential election when everyone is trying not to think about their family’s school. No one will notice if you take a risk on some innovation or new idea with your product or your team. Give it a try. Run the 3 inning game this week and see what happens.
Speaking of running, this week I am participating in the Move-A-Thon at my daughter’s elementary school. That’s right, for 10 days I will travel as many miles as I can each day through running/walking/rowing/swimming to raise money for the renovation of her school building. Her school is located in a historic elementary school in Detroit. The two floors were completed this past year for the previous school year and the top floor remained unfinished. We’re funding the completion of her school through fundraising.
It is with no expectation or pressure that I simply ask you consider supporting her school and my sore knees: http://app.99pledges.com/fund/detroitprep/jeremy-potter
Feel free to challenge me per mile or make a quick donation on the page.
Day 1–4 mile run,
Day 2–5 mile run,
Day 3–4 mile run,
Day 4–2 mile walk, so far, and maybe, if I finish this in time, a 2 mile row, we’ll see.
Day 5 — Tomorrow!
Any time or resources you spend even considering this is MUCH APPRECIATED. I also consider this fundraiser a vote of hope that we’ll be back into our schools and businesses in the not-so-distant future. Thanks for considering Detroit Prep and this cause!
Shout out to loyal Saturday Cup of Joe reader, all around amazing Grandpa and my Dad for participating in this amazing cause as well. (Yes, he’s beating me on miles!)
Implied in that is say something… that matters!
I enjoy Saturday Cup of Joe. When it first started, my best friend Brad told me “don’t commit to every week because you’ll want the ability to skip a week or be flexible. Only promise to publish when you have something to say.”
I knew if I did that, though, it would eventually be something I wished I did but never followed up on. Instead, I told Brad, I have to commit to weekly or I’ll never do it. And here we are. Week 224.
I still strive to “say something” and last week I just didn’t feel like I had it. Often, I’m sure frequent readers can tell, it’s a struggle to bring the same insight and passion as other weeks.
I want to double down this week on my commitment to do both — write each week and say something when I do. Thank you, as I’m sure you’ve noticed the weeks that don’t measure up, and continuing to read and support this.
In coming weeks, the posts will continue every Saturday morning. The size, shape or content may look different each time but I will say something.
One of the things I’ve been writing a lot about lately is racial injustice and system racism. This is something that matters. In the recent weeks and months, I’ve been evaluating my own privilege, my role in the system that produces unfair results and my leadership within the world I can influence. That’s a limited view and only one man’s opinion. I prefer to turn to the experts, instead, for the best point of view. An example of such an expert is Damon Carter, the SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer for CATIC Financial. Damon writes personally and eloquently on “How IT Leaders Can Effectively Address Systemic Racism” in this series for CIO.com.
Damon identifies 3 priorities for change:
1. Reimagine the workplace
2. Reframe diversity and inclusion across the corporation
3. Debunk common misperceptions
Common misperceptions run the gamut from “diversity of thought” is enough diversity to what-about-ism that fears diversity excludes white teammates.
This is a topic for all our teams, all our companies and all our leaders to be working on. Damon highlights the critical impact diversity & inclusion can have in the tech community while providing a valuable and actionable framework for all of us.
One of the things I’ve been struggling with lately is the reactive state of mind. I’m working through a year-long program called The Leadership Circle. The positive (upper) half of the leadership circle is creative. Positive traits and positive responses and positive attributes all live in the top half. Negative traits and negative responses and negativity lives in the bottom half. The bottom half is reactive state.
There are a lot of reasons to be reactive in 2020. In fact, some might say that the entire culture is reactive. But that’s the easy way out. That’s an excuse. The reality is that is not true. The entire culture is actually people, positive & creative people, just trying to make sense and get by and make ends meet. In the reactive state, however, it’s easy to forget that.
Suddenly minor obstacles (unnecessary or unexpected delays in a priority project) become overwhelming or excuses to insult or curse. Major obstacles (human beings’ unwillingness and inability to embrace change) are cause for surrender.
The reality is that negative energy fuels the reaction, thus reactive.
One thing I’ve been working on lately is tying the intentionality that I write about so often to energy. Notice the feeling. Interrupt the reaction. Celebrate the choice. Emphasize the change. NICE. 4 steps — Notice, Interrupt, Celebrate, Emphasize.
One of my favorite reminders is “be intentional.” Do not let the thing happen, whatever “the thing” is in your work or your life. Instead, be conscious of the choice and direct the thing. Succeed or fail at least you’ll have been an active director in your life.
I tried to build out that idea further.
Notice is awareness. Awareness recognizes energy (one way or the other). What you do with that energy is the choice. Positive energy will dictate a positive choice. Recognizing or embracing negative energy will generate reactive or stubborn response.
This week I’m focused on energy…we’ll see how it goes.
Easing people into innovation: Change is hard. As I said, human beings’ fear of change is one of the most infuriating obstacles in my work.
Change happening quickly, like in a global pandemic, is disorienting.
I think we’d all agree that often our impressions, particularly around assumptions (and changing those assumptions), are strong. So strong, in fact, that product designs use them to feed our misperceptions. I was reminded of that this week when I found an article about how the sound car doors make when closed is manufactured to meet your false assumption about what quality “sounds” like.
Yup, the sound of a car door closing is unnecessary and made to feed your subconscious. Apparently when the auto industry conducted market research to determine how consumers interpreted the sound of car doors the assumption was that a quiet close would be indication of luxury. Research showed exactly the opposite was true. “To that end, car companies go to great lengths to guarantee that the sound of their doors live up to the lofty price tag, and why the door of a 2020 Mercedes will likely sound the exact same as its 2008 counterpart.”
Our (mis)perception of luxury (and quality) is not so much wrong and it is what is defining luxury instead of the other way around.
What areas of your business are you over-looking? Perhaps your next innovation is as simple as leaning into your customer’s perceptions of your product? How do you know when you are serving the customer perception versus fighting it?
This week try to identify a way you might be fighting (mis)perception and instead, give the people what they want. Or at least what they think they want.
NextBelt: Tale of two cities — pre-COVID and post-COVID. The Brookings Institute posted an analysis of the “legacy cities” which frequent readers of Saturday Cup of Joe will recognize at the #NextBelt cities. Unfortunately COVID-19 is hitting cities hardest. This is not just a matter of population density but a larger commentary on how the socio-economic characteristics of our cities from years of inequality and broken opportunities created vulnerable populations. For instance, cities like Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo, started COVID-19 with a weaker economic base, deep racial inequities and already stressed local budgets & systems. These cities face serious risks in the coming months:
At the same time, I saw another report this week that stated New York City relies on commercial real estate taxes for over 35% of the City’s revenue. The threats in the #NextBelt are more acute but perhaps not as substantial.
The #NextBelt also has advantages the large coastal cities do not. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our cities had momentum building within our economy, had growing populations of younger, educated workers and maintained a greater awareness of both the need for social justice and potential of innovative public-private partnerships.
Many people are worried about the American economy and the cities as a major component and driver of the economic engine. One bright spot is that the #NextBelt stands ready, aware and more nimble to bounce back. Technology and mobility might be gamechangers in a coming recession and, if so, the change might be coming to the #NextBelt.
Move here. Move the World.
Quote: “If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.” — Orville Wright (born 8/19)
Bonus Content: If you are getting out for a vacation this month, what about a road trip? A socially distance road trip is COVID-19 approved? No? Here’s a great list of road trips across the country courtesy of OutsideOnline.com.
Continued success and continue to answer well,