Saturday Cup of Joe from Detroit


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Week 174 in Detroit. A short week? Who says? The return to school here in Detroit coincided with a particularly busy week in the mortgage industry. Two major regulatory activities are going on right now and both require significant attention. As a result, a short week was filled with writing, drafting and even some traveling.

How do you view the first week after Labor Day? Do you look at like a new school year? A fresh start? Or is it just another Tuesday? Another 4 day week?

This week my team went through some transition. We had a team member promoted to another role. The change gave me the opportunity to review my leadership and our team goals. I choose to restart and reframe my/our approach.

How are you looking at this week? The rest of the year?

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“Those things that hurt, instruct.” — Benjamin Franklin
Farnam Street posted “Four Tools of Discipline.” How to embrace challenge as opportunity to grow.

  1. Delaying gratification
  2. Accepting responsibility
  3. Dedication to reality
  4. Balancing


  1. Be intentional and in control.
  2. Be honest.
  3. Be objective.
  4. Moderation (is all the above).

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Car camping 100 years ago. Photos.

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Researchers at Boston University have found that optimists live longer. One view may be that the actual positive outlook, the happiness, influences a person’s health and therefore their longevity. One view may be that optimists make different, healthier choices. By viewing the potential of everything as “half full,” optimists continue with habits and behaviors that over time improve their life span. Smoking and drinking less, for instance.

It’s encouraging to know that perspective can shape your behavior and behavior outcomes.

If you cannot be optimistic, at least make decisions like an optimist.

Each generation challenges or questions the previous one. One explanation, outside the typical cultural battles, is that technology changes faster than previous generations can keep up. As a result, either the result of information moving faster or new, different experiences of the earlier adopters, younger generations and older generations do not connect. Or do not connect as easily. It makes one wonder if the ability for teams, organizations and businesses to speak to different generations differently isn’t the most critical part of operating today? My friend Kristen helps financial institutions and sales organizations understand generational divide. Technology is a big part of her message. Understanding how technology changes consumer expectations and employee experience could be the make or break moment for your business.

Authenticity using technology, specifically, social media could be the thing that sets your business apart from your competitors.

Do you think about generational issues in your business? From a team member experience? From a consumer experience?

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Engagement matters, because research … shows that we learn, remember and participate better when an activity is engaging.’

These are the types of articles that I find difficult to apply to my business. No shit engagement matters. This isn’t new information. No brilliance in the statement that people learn better when they are actually thinking about what you are talking about. At the same time, understanding and engaged are two totally different levels.

We’ll all agree that humans are wired for storytelling. And in the next breath, fail to apply storytelling to our business. Similarly, I’ve written that millennials prioritize experience over money or wealth. What is storytelling except experiencing information?

I wrote recently about firewalking. The concept of learning the lesson from someone else’s experience instead of learning from your own mistake.

Stories are part of human nature and stories help us experience information in a compelling way. Stories help us engage.

#NextBelt: It will come as little shock to most readers of Saturday Cup of Joe that I immediately embraced Detroit as my home. One way I did that, especially early on, was promoting Detroit. Many articles about Detroit or the Midwest reference “the Rust Belt” or “the former Rust Belt.” Either way, the author finds a way to get it in there.

One of my objectives in the Saturday Cup of Joe has been to rebrand the Rust Belt as The Next Belt. The #NextBelt, for me, represents several levels. First, the cost of living and quality of life in Detroit makes it affordable for founders and entrepreneurs to start a company. Second, Midwest cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh ,Cincinnati, and Milwaukee are affordable, amazing places for first-time home buyers and Millennials alike. These cities have history and character to match their potential. Third, starting a business in the #NextBelt means something different to the community, to the city than it does in Palo Alto or Brooklyn. For Millennials that want to mean something, Detroit offers the ability to move the world. We did it once. We can do it again.

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Northern Lights in Northern Michigan.

Millennials: For longer than the Saturday Cup of Joe, we have been reading articles about Millennials delaying their homebuying until other life events like career and marriage have been completed. When is homeownership something that is delayed? When does it become a trend that young people are not buying homes at all?

If Millennials are “changing the homebuying process” or demanding more tools and tricks, how will we know? What will indicate a change versus a trend?

Speaking of Millennials, I wrote a few months ago about how easy it is to forget that professional athletes are still Millennials too. Kevin Durant had decided to leave the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets. Apparently, KD wanted to be closer to NY and closer to business deals…closer to experiences. Just last week, Andrew Luck, the QB of the Indianapolis Colts, retired at age 29.

Similarly, it can be difficult to remember that political figures — Jared Kushner, Mohammed Bin Salman, Kim Jong-un and Mark Zuckerberg are Millennials. Yet Millennials are changing the world. Literally and figuratively.

Your thoughts?

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Ambition is good. Ego is dangerous. The threat of ego looms in leadership writing and business books. Why? According to Harvard Business Review, “ego makes us susceptible to manipulation; it narrows our field of vision; and it corrupts our behavior, often causing us to act against our values.” Perhaps that’s the clearest distillation of the threat of ego. It changes your judgment without your realizing it.

To counter the role of ego, take an inventory of your situation. 1). Utilize only the perks that directly benefit your role, 2). Surround yourself with people who will challenge you and 3). Maintain a sense of humility and gratitude.

How do you feel about meritocracy? How do you ensure it is objective in your business? In education, it is beyond control. “In practice…meritocracy now excludes everyone outside of a narrow elite. Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale collectively enroll more students from households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution than from households in the bottom 60 percent. Legacy preferences, nepotism, and outright fraud continue to give rich applicants corrupt advantages. But the dominant causes of this skew toward wealth can be traced to meritocracy.”

If true, it creates complexity. Meritocracy cannot provide a fair opportunity for all. But it is not an excuse for failure either. What’s more, beneficiaries of meritocracy cannot trust their performance. Intensity only increases. Desire to prove one’s self becomes an obsession. For instance, top law firms now require 2,400 billable hours (or more) a year. 2,400 hours means working 8 am to 8 pm six days a week.

The meritocracy distorts both sides of the workforce. The overlooked and the beneficiary.

The real question is how to overcome it?

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” — Maya Angelou

Bonus Content: Fraud taken to a whole new level. Deepfaking celebrities in videos is one thing. Deepfaking CEOs’ voices to take advantage of employees is entirely another. How would you respond to a familiar or recognizable area code calling your phone and hearing the voice of your CEO asking for something? For money?

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Continued success and continue to answer well,

Written by

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

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