Saturday Cup of Joe: a lending and tech(ish) newsletter from Detroit

Dec 8, 2018 · 7 min read

Saturday Cup of Joe #135.

Friends & Colleagues,

Detroit. 135 weeks. Detroit is all dressed up for the Holidays. The lights, the trees & decorations, and the pop-up markets all over downtown Detroit have everyone singing Jingle Bells.

Our family has been able to celebrate or begin to celebrate even while end of the year work has us moving at warp speed through the week. This week was one of the fast ones.

On the upside, we’ve got the weekend to regroup. I saw a stand-up comedian once do a bit about how all week we say “I can’t wait to get out of this office for the weekend only to over indulge and waste the time returning to work on Monday saying ‘I need this place, I cannot be trusted on my own’.” I’ve always appreciated that line. Now having a better plan for my weekends, I’m able to really enjoy them and gear up for another week. Once it comes into balance that’s just time to get a fixer-upper, right? Or a puppy? Or both? We’ll see…


And I thought it was a seller’s market…with these signs, this FSBO is making sure everyone knows.


“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” — Stephen Covey

I love this quote. Often prioritizing the goal, the objective means not doing many other things. Many of these other things are good things. Usually. That’s what makes it such a dilemma. Whether it’s our career path, our big goals for the next year, or our key objectives on the current to-do list, it can be hard to keep the really big things as top priorities.

One way to respond once you’ve identified “the thing” is to find what drives the thing.

The thing that drives the thing.


Detroit looking East.


1% better today. 1% better tomorrow. I had a productive and inspiring lunch with a colleague this week who created a massive change in her business and her life by implementing a simple contest. How can you make our business 1% better with an idea that can be vetted and implemented in 1 day? Her theory is a good one. If you are trying to fly around the world, taking off and landing in Detroit, changing course by 1% or 1 degree will put you in an entirely different place when you return. For better or worse. If you are trying to change course, make a 1% change tomorrow and you’ll put your life or your team or your business on course for a dramatic change when you finally come around toward your goal.

Additionally, it got me thinking about how valuable competitive prizes or competition generally is for innovation. I’m going to be setting up an innovation prize for my team and seeing what responses we get. How are you going to make a 1% change that could put you on a new course today?

Stop writing about Amazon you say? Don’t mind if I do…maybe tomorrow. Let’s take another look at The Ringer’s coverage of how our cities, all our cities, could be, should be evaluated. How are we clustering for work or play? “According to a recent report by the Brookings Institution, metro areas of more than 1 million people have accounted for 72 percent of the nation’s employment growth since the 2008 financial crisis, even though they comprise only 56 percent of the country’s population.”

One big bet for midsized cities, middle America will be whether employment growth, entrepreneurship looks for value. I contend this is a valid and real argument. Do more with less. Get a better deal, get a better quality of life, get a good story. What is sacrificed in favor of value and story, though, is density. Density of education, density of competitiveness, density of energy. Building density is the key to getting in the game, assuming your city wants to be in that game. The irony is that the cost is steep — housing, transportation, craft cocktails. And that’s after you offer up the incentives. I still maintain that Amazon selecting Detroit for its HQ2 would have accelerated this city’s growth into hyper drive. Overall it would have been positive, but it would not have been without significant risk and massive changes.

In the end, the “other cities” were used as a strawman to improve the “get” from the “targeted cities.” Interesting. If your company was being used merely to compete for pricing or incentives from the customers true target, would you know?

What would you do about it?

More Detroit stuff. As seen on Instagram, follow Pure Detroit


Money is a story. — Seth Godin

How you are you thinking about your customers? Your products? I saw this quote this week in the context of Godin’s advice whether missing out on $300 interest or being charged a $300 fee are the same thing. We might think so but we tend to act like the charge is more egregious. Is it? Perception versus reality is not just a real thing, it’s the whole thing. Money is voting. Money is support. Money is how we communicate, often times. I’m considering this week how “money is a story” can play into my business and drive innovation for my team.


Future of work: I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of work. One meeting I had recently described everyone as their own consulting firm. Many younger employees even view themselves this way within large organizations. Call it the gig economy. Call it an entrepreneurial attitude. Call it whatever you want. Dismiss it as entitled, soft, and privileged. The reality is its happening. So what are we going to do about it?

Our team members and employees are looking to side gigs, side hustles and other “passions” to fill a perceived need in their lives. The need might be financial but in many cases is psychological. As the author of this New York Times piece points out, there’s a disconnect between “personal expectation and economic reality.”

The real key is to find a way to tie your team’s value and activity to the larger thing that will drive them. Show them multiple “narratives” about how their career, their project/work and the company is playing into the larger story. Do that and you can have your most productive and fulfilled organization also be your longest lasting.

Continuity of identity: Organizations must change. People must change, for that matter. To be successful and remain proactive and productive in today’s economy, change is the only constant. How can we lead organizations and lead our teams when most people are fearful and resistant to change? Even the most dynamic organizations have to fight this natural human instinct.

The best way, according to Harvard Business Review, is articulate a vision of continuity at all times. Accompany change with ties to continuity and people will be much more likely to join your campaign, support your project or even change course.

Know what I mean? As seen at MKE.

Innovation: Gene Roddenberry is a modern prophet and not just cause my Dad says so, though he does. For every sci-fi movie or television show or conspiracy theory or even most start-ups in Silicon Valley today, there is a Star Trek episode that predicted it. Yes, that is my Dad’s theory but it is almost always true. Star Trek is just the beginning. Fortune 100 companies like Nike and Boeing are trying to leverage science fiction to improve product and innovate customer experience. It’s not just retail or cutting edge technology companies. “In 2018, Netflix invested an estimated $13 billion in original content, a third of it dedicated to science fiction, the company’s most-viewed genre.” Everything from entertainment to business leverages predictions of the future in product and content.

Now it’s a consulting firm. SciFuture will “explicitly” use “science fiction to unlock innovation.”

One thing that made this article (link above) applicable to our businesses and our teams is the idea that new ideas may come from outside your existing business or industry. Considering next generation or generation skipping ideas will help create new objectives for your business. Or an idea for a new Netflix script. Not bad either way.

Do you have an executive coach? Does it work? Do you find value here?

Climate change in 2050 could mean US cities begin to feel like other cities miles away (usually to the south). Interestingly, temperature drop is not the only measure of climate change but it could be the most easily measured. I wonder what happens to jobs and migration between areas of the country when Milwaukee starts to feel more like Bartonville, Illinois. Plus if you like data visualization, this article has some nice movement.


Today’s thought: “I’ve got a something idea.” My daughter once said this. I know because I remember it. Also, I know because it’s recorded, with date and time stamp, in my iPhone notes. Before I saw the note, reminding me of the memory, I heard a common theme this week — execution. A something idea. Even a stellar idea does not monetize unless and until it is executed. One entrepreneur is fond of saying, “I could give out my best idea and it wouldn’t make any difference because it is how I get it done that makes the whole difference.”

When in doubt, just start doing. Take that something idea and make it real.


Quote: “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

Bonus Content: A crazy story about the dark web, hitman for hire scams and hacker vigilantes…and it’s not even a movie (yet).

Continued success and continue to answer well,


where the future is written