Saturday Cup of Joe: a lending and tech(ish) newsletter from Detroit
Saturday Cup of Joe #145.
Friends & Colleagues,
Week 145. Thank you for reading the Saturday Cup of Joe. It has been exciting to dig into my work executing on our 2019 goals. January was spent preparing and February (and beyond) will be spent making it happen. Plan and execute. The execution phase is hard (the hardest?). Ideas are one thing, execution an entirely other.
How did this week move the needle for your business? How has your planning turned out early on? Do you revisit the goals often — weekly, quarterly, at all? What is the next check in for your team?
My February has been spent building a strategy for my team, a vision. We also had to respond to several current events from the government shutdown to the nomination of new political leadership in certain agencies in DC. The balance of objectives/goals and urgent or regular business is one of the difficult calibrations of any leader. Short term versus long term. Revenue versus a foundation of the future.
In the meantime, enjoy the weekend. Hopefully your time is peaceful and restful. Catching up on sleep, fun or e-mails. Whatever works for you.
Have a great day.
Amazon HQ2: It’s been a while since I wrote about Amazon HQ2 and I hesitate to dip back into that pool. Hard to resist, though, when it is announced that Amazon won’t be locating a second (?) or third (?) headquarters to Long Island City as originally announced. My initial thought was — what a mess? How are they making decisions over there?
But it was someone nearby my desk looking at the CNBC headline that commented — “so the whole thing was basically a sham?” — when I realized just how delicate these types of announcements and decisions are.
It has the ability to chance consumer opinion of your brand, your company. These things are important no matter who invincible your company may seem. It will be interesting to see where this goes or if it has any long term implications.
How do you scrutinize what you are told? What you are asked? In the worst sense, it is being manipulated for someone else’s purpose. In the best sense, it creates a heightened awareness of intentionality and self-awareness.
Some simple questions worth asking:
1. How does this announcement/offer/news/pressure make you feel?
2. Is there something about this news that touches a hot button issue or fear? Is the story being told designed to trigger you?
3. Are you surrounded by people who are also engaged with this news? Is it becoming a mob?
4. Is the presenter of the news using external pressure to push you into acting in ways that contradict your self-interest or self-esteem?
5. How would you feel if you discovered that the story you just heard wasn’t actually true?
For your consideration in the coming week.
What does affordable housing mean anyway? Innovation in housing finance often intersects with affordable housing. It’s been one of the most interesting aspects of my current role. At the same time, the complexity and challenges of housing supply and costs continue to mount. In fact, many articles, including this one, refer to it as a housing crisis. Technology cannot fix the housing crisis, the Emily Badger writes. As someone who thinks about the future of housing as much as I do the future of credit, specifically mortgage loans, this is hard to hear.
The good news is that there is good news. Technology can (and does) lower the barrier to entry for many people. Technology also circulates good ideas and solutions faster than ever before. Technology has not solved for housing supply, over-regulation (i.e. zoning) and NIMBY-ism but technology has made homeownership more accessible and understandable. Technology has made home loans marginally more efficient and less expensive.
Any societal problem rooted in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs will not be solved by an app. This is a complex problem that will likely need a complex, dynamic solution that operates on multiple levels at the same time. Now…where to begin?
Story-telling: Have you seen the Fyre Festival documentary yet? This is the doc on Netflix about the ill-fated music festival (and likely associated fraud) by Fyre Media for a music festival in The Bahamas. I had heard a lot about it and finally watched it this week. One thing that struck me was the prescient foresight of using influencers to sell product. Granted, this founder and company had no ability to execute whatsoever. But they were not wrong about the role influencers do and will play in marketing. This list of the top 10 trends for 2019 will help you consider your own marketing and advertising. The two that got me thinking where “brand awareness” and “influencer marketing.” What does that mean for your business? How are you stepping up from transactional lead generation or referral sources to brand authenticity and brand management? How are you keeping up with changing trends?
Stranger than fiction: “Private Mossad for hire.” Follow Psy-Group, an Israeli private intelligence company, whose slogan is “Shape Reality” as the company covertly spreads its clients’ messages to influence the public perception of consumers or voters. I know what you are thinking — is this show on Netflix or Hulu…or Amazon Prime? Nope. It’s real. Available to the highest bidder, companies are now offering the ability to craft elaborate campaigns to influence public opinion beyond thing “influencer marketing” has to offer.
According to one Israeli intelligence officer, “Social media allows you to reach virtually anyone and to play with their minds…You can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want. It’s a place where wars are fought, elections are own and terror is promoted. There are no regulations. It’s no man’s land.”
It’s “no man’s land” in (digital) plain sight.
The currency of the future: JPMorgan believes JPM Coin can help lower its clients’ costs and risks, by making money transfers instantaneous and by reducing the amount of capital they need to hold onto. Just two years ago, JPM CEO called cryptocurrency a fool’s errand. Now, JPM is moving full on into this area. JPM Coin is to be used by the bank’s major institutional customers, not individual customers, to help move money around the world.
How do you look at cryptocurrency in your business? Do you think about it? Are you planning for it?
How are cryptocurrency and new technology platforms disrupting your future?
Student loans: As I’ve mentioned over the last few weeks, I have continued to think about student debt and how it may or may not affect housing. I was curious to find some research that diminished the popular wisdom that folks with student debt cannot qualify to buy a house. A more nuanced look seems to imply that students who did not complete degrees or borrowed to obtain degrees from for-profit schools are those that are most disadvantaged. College graduates do tend to get jobs and achieve higher incomes making it possible to qualify and own homes. Whether or not they choose to buy is another topic for another day, but it appears their student debt load is not necessarily as much a deterrent as previous research showed.
How diverse is your team, your company, your community? I recommend an interesting article by Vox on racial capitalism. Racial capitalism is the use of someone’s race, ethnicity or diversity (usually nonwhite people) by another group (usually white people) to make money or boost a brand. The true underlying problem is a superficial, rather than authentic, commitment to diversity. Teams and companies built on an honest commitment that devotes time and resources to diversity are doing the right thing.
Today’s Thought: “Do you wash your feet in the shower?” That was the question that set the whole thing off. “What do you mean?” I said. “Like, specifically scrub my feet? With soap?” At the time I was asked (not that long ago), it didn’t even cross my mind to wash my feet the way I would the rest of my body. Now I can’t help but think about it AND, of course, wash my feet.
You don’t know what you don’t know. The old adage remains true. All of decision-making is just limiting (never eliminating) what we don’t know.
One way I’ve approached this is to ask my team and our business partners — “What don’t I know?” Direct and clear. Try it, you might be surprised how much it uncovers.
Quote: “The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” — Bertrand Russell
Bonus Content: 10 Craziest Things TSA confiscated in 2018.
Continued success and continue to answer well,