Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit


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The dog days of Summer. I am not really sure where that came from but I did hit a Play Ball! exhibit dedicated to baseball at the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA). It was fascinating. I didn’t think that seeing the Honus Wagner card (the most expensive and rare baseball card) would be as interesting as it was. Ty Cobb’s bat. A Babe Ruth signed ball.

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“The things that get you fired when you’re young are what get you lifetime achievement awards when you’re old.” — Francis Ford Coppola

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Intentionality. Quality. . The critical piece of the interview for anyone building their own brand or running a team is the attention paid to intention. Intention on defining the brand, of course. But, perhaps more importantly, the intention of execution as well.

“It is true that the front end of a star brand — the innovation, supporting the creative process, the advertising, and so on — is very, very expensive. High profitability comes at the back end of the process, and behind the scenes. It comes in the atelier — the factory. Our products have unbelievably high quality; they have to. But their production is organized in such a way that we also have unbelievably high productivity. “

At our company we say “Innovation is rewarded but execution is worshipped.” The best brands, products and even athletes have the best “factories.” The work, behind the scenes, beneath the surface, is where A companies are differentiated from A+ companies. The 95th percentile from the 99th percentile.

Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble. (Quidvisrecte factum quamvis humile praeclarum.) — Sir Henry Royce

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Relevant again today.

Doritos & Taco Bell: This week I was listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History today. — Pat Boone taking R&B songs from black singers and making him famous and how Taco Bell started by co-opting Mexican street food and Americanizing it. That may sound like a loaded and sensitive topic.

As part of the investigation of how Taco Bell was founded, Gladwell also interviews the Taco Bell innovation team. There were two key things discussed.

1. Sometimes innovative ideas still need to be introduced and explained to consumers. This was the case for Taco Bell’s “naked chicken chalupa” when consumers didn’t understand the shell would actually be spiced chicken instead of tortilla. Calling it a taco didn’t work. Calling it a chalupa at least associated the chicken with a thicker shell. It’s widely popular despite the early bumps.

2. Sometimes new ideas must be escalated and executed without the normal process. This was the case when Taco Bell wanted to make taco shells out of Doritos. A lot harder than you’d think. If the two legal, marketing, operations teams got involved, “it would have never happened.” Instead, the team took it to the CEO and the two CEOs agreed to partner on the product over a handshake.

When is the idea a bad idea and when is it something consumers just need to understand? When must we trust the process and when must we escalate outside the normal process? These are the same, hard decisions your company and your team are making everyday.

My team has committed to focusing on the big challenges. One thing that means is that, as we execute, we escalate the right decisions, the hardest decisions to our leaders. Taco Bell faced the same challenge — what are we capable of? And what should we escalate?

These are great questions for you and your team this week — what are you capable of? What can you escalate to get done?

Execution is worshiped. Let’s go go go.

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Broadway, Detroit, MI, USA

Innovation is guts plus generosity

“Guts, because it might not work.

And generosity, because guts without seeking to make things better is merely hustle.

The innovator shows up with something she knows might not work (pause for a second, and contrast that with everyone else, who has been trained to show up with a proven, verified, approved, deniable answer that will get them an A on the test).

If failure is not an option, then, most of the time, neither is success.

It’s pretty common for someone to claim that they’re innovative when actually, all they are is popular, profitable or successful. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s not innovative.”

Allow generosity to take the lead and you’ll probably discover that it’s easier to find the guts.”


“You need to know that when you get your commission, you’ll be joining a bureaucracy, and however long you stay in the Army, you’ll be operating within a bureaucracy. As different as the armed forces are in so many ways from every other institution in society, in that respect they are the same. And so you need to know how bureaucracies operate, what kind of behavior — what kind of character — they reward, and what kind they punish.” —

Do not conform. Bureaucracy asks you to conform. Instead, ask what can be done to better the situation? To add value. Create vision. Then tell someone about it.

is a speech from years ago but it rings true today. It’s not about going back. It’s about moving forward, in a new world, a changing world, a diverse world. Independent thinking. Creativity. Flexibility.

What does that mean day-to-day? Think for yourself and act on your convictions.

Dogs sniff each other. Human beings tell stories. This is our native language.” — Steve Denning

Bonus Content: It’s not exactly free money. . At least in Denmark.

Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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