Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit

#166

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Week 166.

What a week. We had an interesting experience on Wednesday night — Jaws In Concert. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) played the soundtrack to Jaws as the movie played above the musicians. It was so much fun. Highly recommended.

Also this week, Rocket Mortgage sponsored this statute in the Moon Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to commemorate the Apollo 11 mission.

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Hope you have a productive week and take on your “most important question” at work on Monday.

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Question: Is Logan airport in Boston the worst major airport in the country? Subquestion: Are you allowed to hold Logan against Boston, an otherwise incredible city?

Not all of this story is Logan Airport’s fault but, if you bear with me, I hope you’ll see that it really, actually is.

My last few visits to Boston have all included delays and complications thanks to Logan. Last time it was storms in Boston that caused our flight to be delayed 4 subsequent times. Instead of arriving around 9 PM, we landed around 12:30 AM. This time it was a true comedy of errors arriving and departing. My departure flight from Detroit could not take off because, as the gate agent told us, there is a necessary FAA form that was not on board and without the piece of paper, we cannot board the aircraft. A manager has to bring the form.

Physically.

From whatever office in DTW she was working.

She had to walk an 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper to Gate A66.

One sheet.

Literally.

Then we boarded.

That’s our system. Apparently.

What information could this magical form possibly contain that would be impossible to convene or retain in some other way that could save us the 40 min delay?

Once our plane landed in Boston, we were not able to leave the tarmac for lack of a gate. We were late, of course. No gate. 53 mins later, we began to taxi across the runway to find our gate.

After deplaning and finding the rental car shuttle, I spent another 17 minutes waiting for the shuttle driver to properly accept and secure a motorized wheelchair. I’m not, I repeat, NOT, complaining about the shuttles accepting this nice lady’s chair. What was astounding was how unprepared the staff was to accommodate the chair. Like I said, 17 mins. Once the shuttle reached the rental car deck, I did have to stop complaining as National Rental was a complete joy, as usual.

The small upside of the whole delay was that traffic, otherwise a nightmare in Boston, had largely subsided now that I was 90 minutes later than anticipated. Yay!

Unfortunately the return trip through Logan was equally painful. Traffic forming around Boston was already so heavy in early afternoon on Friday that it took me 45 mins to go 6 miles to Logan. The shuttle from the rental car deck to the airport was waiting when I exited the door only to wait to fill up with so many people that we could not move or breathe for the 9 minute trip back around to Terminal A. Overcrowded by 37 people at least meant that we all got to the airport, luckily. Unfortunately no one’s flight took off on time. Flights didn’t make it in on time and couldn’t leave on time. Couple those delays with an afternoon, Summer storm and you’ve another 90+ min delay at Logan.

So I return to my original question — if airports become increasingly important to our economic mobility, entrepreneurs being able to move around the country or companies collaborating in new and different partnerships, will Boston be limited by Logan Airport?

Could this, on the other hand, be the oversensitivity of a A-type traveler?

Can both be true?

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I have at least 2 if not 3 more trips to Boston this year. I will get to the bottom of this.

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“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.” — Wayne Dyer

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How incredible was this year’s Women’s World Cup? The US Women’s National Team not only dominated the field but did it with energy, style and class. Emphasis on style. The leaders and personalities on this team are going to inspire fans and hopefully future players for years to come. I hope you got to tune in on Sunday for the Final game and see the game. I sure did!

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The American Dream: “Needs like housing and education are all yoked together.” As we think about economic outcomes over the next few years, the concerns around whether millennial (and increasingly Gen Z) will ever want to be homebuyers are quickly being replaced with concerns about who will be able to afford home ownership at all. The quote above from an article in The Week outlines the overall economic burden on Americans. Even families in the top 5 percent of wage earners struggle in certain communities to own homes, save for their children’s education and make ends meet. Cynics among us will immediately question their consumption and with good reason. Yet, what remains a good idea politically — attacking the 1% — does not solve the policy problem for the other 99%.

There is still a self-defined middle class that is anywhere from annual household income of $60,000 to $200,000 where figuring out the balance of spending, saving and housing remains difficult.

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Next Belt: National Mortgage News missed Detroit on the list of top cities for Millennials to buy homes but did include many other #NextBelt cities across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and upstate New York. Your thoughts?

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“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).”

— Stephen Covey

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Speaking of affordable home ownership, how about the opposite? Homes in Arlington, VA have been subject of aggressive real estate speculation since Amazon announced South Arlington as the site for HQ2. Homeowners are getting calls, mailers and even knocks at the door. My friends, Margo and Thomas, moved to Detroit from Arlington and rented out their home. They are receiving postcard solicitations to buy their Arlington home for cash.

All the attention prompted Arlington to allocate even more of the budget to affordable housing grants. “Arlington County budgeted $16 million for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $9.3 million for Housing Grants, a rental subsidy program. That is roughly $1 million in additional funding for both the Affordable Housing Investment and Housing Grants.”

Arlington may be a solid experiment to better understand how rapidly adding jobs and residents to a place can have lasting implications on everything from home prices to infrastructure. In Detroit, we’re taking note.

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And if all else fails, we’ll print some more homes. Here’s Politico’s latest update on 3-D printed homes.

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A few weeks ago I wrote about Quayside, the new development by Sidewalk Labs (of Alphabet), in Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. The ambitious Master Plan is available online. What strikes me beyond the breadth of the neighborhood is the approach. For example, the materials would be “sourced from a new factory in Ontario that would, according to the company, create roughly 2,500 manufacturing jobs.” The entire development is energy efficient leveraging a thermal grid for management. The data collected is used to better serve the community (and protected by data privacy rules). Real estate sold and rented in the community will be at market rates.

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Overall, it’s a really interesting approach to economic development. I’m hoping to visit Toronto soon to see the before and compare it in 3–4 years to the after. Stay tuned.

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Consumers less attentive to news/info on a small screen: According to new research from researchers at University of Michigan and Texas A&M, viewers react differently to news on television and on mobile devices. The complete consequences or implications are unknown but the initial guess is that our retention and comprehension of the information is also affected. What does that mean for your business? Your marketing? Your content? How can you cut through the noise?

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Incredible Norwegian cabin retreat.

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Great reminder of where #innovation starts: I wrote in the early days of Saturday Cup of Joe that being first and being wrong feel the same. Meaning if you are out in the world with a new idea, it can be difficult or impossible to know who the idea will turn out. I came across a wonderful reminder of how wild ideas are sometimes the biggest hits from Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda. Consider his elevator pitch for a hip hop inspired musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. Yet, it became a sensation.

“The mode of storytelling makes sense to the subject.” — Lin Manuel Miranda

How do you think about your wildest ideas? How can you match storytelling to your business or your product or your subject to win the eyeballs and earballs?

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The most founder-friendly private equity firms according to Inc magazine.

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Trustworthiness as checks and balances: Would you scan ALL your items in an entirely self-service grocery store? Of course you would, you’re no crook. Well, several years ago when Alipay (financial services platform of Alibaba) attempted an experiment on 62% of items were properly paid for. Today, partnering Alipay with Sesame Capital, the self-service model used your social media identity to govern the “consequences” of whether you paid for the merchandise (or in one experiment, properly returned something that was borrowed). Rates of success went up to 95% because the transaction was governed by your social media “score” within Alipay.

Alipay incentivizes the behavior it wants and/or learns more about consumers:

· Users are encouraged to return to the app to play games and collect rewards

· The game includes moral choices like whether to donate or keep rewards and whether to “steal” from friends or help them

· Encouragement to get friends involved and keep them playing — more customers!

No matter what business you are in, knowing more about consumer or client decision-making is key.

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There’s a guy running for President named Andrew Yang. He has many provocative and controversial ideas. This week he announced funding for saving America’s empty shopping malls. Without specifying which uses of these decaying buildings were be eligible for funding, he brought attention to a really interesting issue. What happens to malls and soon all those big box stores we’ve built over the last 20–30 years?

My answer: convert them into diverse, living communities. Just the way we’ve drastically improved hotels and casinos over the last several decades, there’s no reason malls cannot be converted to include various housing units throughout with communal space for things like dog walking area with astroturf, jogging tracks, yoga classes, a coffee shop and events like learning to make sushi or movie night. Imagine the Macy’s wing is now 22 apartments for over 55 year old residents or the JCPenny’s wing is the dog-friendly section. While the conversion is extensive and expensive, the upside is obvious. More housing, more dense housing and more convenient housing to major highways and communities (the location of most suburban malls).

I’ve long argued that government could be a tool of setting incentives. Proposing funding or establishing policy that incentivizes industry and markets to act. Perhaps this is a good attempt. We’ll see.

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“I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.” — Groucho Marx

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Bonus: The brutal world of towing wrecks in Pittsburgh is literally life and death. But why?

Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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