Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit

182.

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What a week. We had the annual Mortgage Bankers Association conference in Austin, TX this week.

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It was great to dig in on some really important issues for our industry and our business. Thanks to all the friends and colleagues that were able to make time to connect. Highlights include: important meetings with our key investors and regulators, thoughtful dialogue and innovation with strategic partners and insurers, and the chance to touch base with anyone I have not seen in a while.

Austin is a fascinating place. I was lucky to get out into the city for a bit. One of our partners took us to dinner at an incredible local spot. Another friend and colleague found a speakeasy with the right amount of spook, story and charm. Not everyone could make it to Austin and for those, I know we’ll catch up again soon. Overall I appreciate the opportunity to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time across a bunch of topics. We had a productive series of meetings and came away with much to do.

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Being away from home is hard. Spending a Sunday (in particular) traveling meant explaining to our daughter why I had to work. On one hand, it was good because, even at 6, it is important for her to understand my work and why that work can require travel. On the other hand, it is hard to leave any free time especially on a weekend when she’s not in school that day.

Luckily I made it home in time for Halloween.

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The debate continues. Private companies, increasingly, are forced to decide how to respond to political and policy issues such as: immigration, free speech, hate crime definitions and even climate change. This week Twitter announced the decision to ban all political advertising with the exception of voter registration campaigns. In a well crafted “sound byte” on Twitter, CEO Jack Dorsey said “Political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

The reality is that public discourse in America (especially) has always been political. Seriously, I think an argument could be made that because our founding was fundamentally about free speech and the freedom of religion, our “public square” has been inextricably linked to political speech.

What’s equally interesting is the founders of the digital age — Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon — are all weighing into the political speech/free speech debate. Only Apple, and to the degree you allow Amazon to be separate from Jeff Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post, are removed from the frontline debate on political ads and, even larger, hate speech.

This is a fascinating struggle between tech, culture, business and power. In many ways, it’s the intersection of all the freedom and entrepreneurship we’ve been about since our founding. We’ve stood for certain freedoms and those have led to this.

From my perspective, I get the best of both worlds as I get to participate in and comment on this new frontier as we figure out the next medium for political debate.

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6 word story. I recently participated in a fun leadership development exercise. Write a 6 word story about your purpose. Note: it can also be more direct — your next quarter goal or your annual goal, etc.

In the context we were thinking about it, the 6 word story was a way to articulate a personal development objective.

Here’s mine:

Sparking audacious, unexpected accomplishment in others.

What’s your six-word story?

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Know the moment. I was in a meeting this week where a senior leader said, “you have to know the moment and act.” He was referring to that moment we’ve all experienced where something just clicks or you clearly see how the opportunity has been presented. Those are the moments that change the game. Those are the moments that, once passed, don’t easily come around again.

I totally agree.

And yet…

I was left considering — how do I identify the right moments?

Too liberal in your interpretation and you are seeing moments everywhere which makes you akin to the boy who cried wolf. Not everything is THE MOMENT.

Too conservative and you miss the moment. Talking yourself out of it, rationalizing it away, the moment passes never to return.

It can be difficult to know THE MOMENT.

Too often we don’t trust our gut.

There are actually more “moments” than you think. The reason there are more moments than you think is that the ones we act on, when we execute, become the ones that matter. Even though, it’s not all the moments, it is better to act than not. We can’t turn every moment into THE MOMENT. When it’s forced, it’s obvious.

Still, better to take the shot (most people forget the misses anyway) and ensure that when it is right, you were there.

Look for the chance to capitalize this week and make a moment.

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Do not make false threats to your kids. According to new research, lying to your kids makes them more likely to lie as adults. You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t lie to my kids, who would do that?” This research points to “lies” that includes things like “If you don’t behave, the police will come get you.”

As many readers will know, I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. Seth is an author, marketing consultant, podcaster, frequent speaker and entrepreneur. His habit of daily blogging inspired The Saturday Cup of Joe in some ways. Seth has been featured here many times and I’ve interacted with him a few times on email.

If you click on this story, Seth discusses the inspiring journey to his pivotal book The Purple Cow. The reason I appreciated Seth’s post was not just that it resulted in his life-changing best selling, though that helps. The reason I appreciated his sharing the story was the genuine, lasting connection he made with someone simply by being himself and speaking up.

Ask the question.

Live the answer.

Tell the story.

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What is a business model? Here’s a helpful video and article from Peer Insight.

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Concoction of feelings. Aren’t we all, though, a concoction of feelings? It’s true most obviously in the way we purchase things. The context I heard “concoction of feelings” this week was in a reference to marketing. Too often marketing is left to the marketing team. The reality is that we’re all marketing all the time.

Coca-cola is spending millions of dollars over years and years to ensure you feel the exact right concoction of feelings when you want/see/taste a Coca-cola product.

This is true of all brands. We say “the box sells the cereal” to capture this idea on our team. In many ways, you produce a similar concoction of feelings when you discuss a proposal, present an idea or interact with your team. Your work product, thought process and value is the cereal but how you present it is the box.

Have you thought enough about your product, your service or your company as the catalyst of a feeling? Have you thought enough about yourself as a brand?

Get over the instinct to talk yourself out of it. Perception is reality. Yet, we try to deny that even when it means missing opportunities.

If it feels too big to try all at once, try just observing before acting. Consider the work you do. Consider the value you bring. Whether it’s your product or yourself, write the marketing in your mind. If you like it, move to little experiments in your work or your career.

The goal is to produce the right concoction of feelings. Weird to think about. Hard to do. Wildly successful when accomplished.

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Engineer versus lawyer. It occurred to me this week just how different the engineer-brain and the lawyer-brain are from each other. The engineer is bound by physical rules, organized according to cause-and-effect and naturally aware of efficiency. The lawyer is bound only by agreed-upon rules, organized according to effect-by-cause mentality and naturally aware of negotiation.

Where the engineer automates the process step-by-step, the lawyer looks for exemptions or loopholes in the process.

Where the lawyer bends the material to fit the system, the engineer alters the system to meet the materials.

The engineer is rigid; the lawyer is flexible.

The engineer has answers, the lawyer questions.

Where do you fall? Are you more engineer or more lawyer?

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“Good leaders make people feel that they are at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens, people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” — Warren Bennis

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Continued success and continue to answer well,

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Written by

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

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