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

Saturday Cup of Joe #134.

Detroit, MI, USA

Friends & Colleagues,

Detroit. 134 weeks. This week I had the pleasure of presenting the end of the year awards for my area of the company. 500 of us gathered to reward the type of performance and focus that we want everyone to emulate. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in my work — the exciting innovation, the ongoing projects and the status updates — and forget how important it can be to stop and recognize team members. Not just for the individual recognition that highlights top performers, but also for the positive energy and momentum it creates among the team. Ultimately what we’re doing is about people — the colleagues, clients and characters — that make life special. I was fortunate to have the special honor of recognizing our Community Service award for the team member who logged the most volunteer hours. It was a fun night and a great way to bring the team together.

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There have been a lot of questions this week about whether the housing market is slowing down. I read reports from CNBC to Bloomberg to Dallas Morning News about what areas of the country are heating up and which are cooling off. One realtor in Texas decided to heat up the market all on her own. She hired Instagram models to pose in the house for the listing photos. Here’s her story.

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Quote that is making me think deeper this week: “The purpose of life is right in front of us: It’s to create a reality we want to inhabit — to reach towards the better end of our conscious experience.” — Zat Rana

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As seen on Instagram @6AMSuccess

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Data Visualization at its finest: This animated bar graph shows the population growth and/or loss state-by-state as NY takes an early lead but CA comes from behind to win. Click here to watch the population move from 1900–2017.

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Innovation: Why is innovation so often considered automatically good? I know I write about it that way almost as second nature. Go. Push. Progress. Innovation, specifically technology innovation, is growing more complex and layered every day. This week former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter penned a thoughtful and broad essay on how technologists and entrepreneurs should be approaching their creation. Published in The Atlantic, Carter unpacks artificial intelligence, biotechnology and job training. He asks an incredible question — “How do we set the conditions for today’s disruptive changes to redound to the overall good of humankind?”

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“…the maintenance of competition does not necessarily involve destructive and unrestricted competition, any more than the maintenance of liberty implies license or anarchy.” — Justice Brandeis

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Homebuilders: Shifting trends in interest rates and certain markets have home builders offering all kinds of incentives including discounts on add-ons and vacations. Does this signal a slowing in housing in areas across Texas, Pacific Northwest and Southeast?

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Millennials versus hipsters: City versus suburbs. According to a recent study by Ernst & Young, 41% of millennials bought homes in the suburbs. This goes against much of the research several years ago about the habits millennials may or may not develop. In fact, as the next wave of “boomlets,” a term I heard a recent presenter refer to those kids of the most populated years of the baby boomers, begin to buy homes, we will start to see more numbers we can use to better predict this market.

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Hot take of the week: Avoid Amazon. Monday was CyberMonday and in a classic anti-whatever-is-popular post, The Ringer took some shots at Amazon. I thought it was useful to see an uprising in the Anti-Amazon sentiment. Just this week I talked to a large HR software company that was worried Amazon might enter the enterprise space, a consultant working with a billion dollar roofing company who was worried Amazon might enter the home materials space and, as always, mortgage banks worried about Amazon’s lending capability. Some, like consumer banks, have good reason to be worried. Bain & Co. discovered how many Prime members (65%) would be willing to try an Amazon checking or savings account. Another 37% of people, who are not Prime members, would be willing to try it as well. That’s why the anti-Amazon consumer position articulated in The Ringer article was curious.

Two observations.

First, I found it useful that the author identified several web browsing tools — ShopBrain and Honey — that search the web while you shop for better deals on the same product. That’s interesting and helpful.

Second, I found it ironic that while writing a story about the threatening digital behemoth, the author recommended shopping on Instagram which is owned by Facebook. I’m not sure that Facebook isn’t more dangerous and threatening in many ways than Amazon, but that’s not about consumer goods and probably best for a different day.

That said, whether it’s to fight our digital overlords, find a better deal or be more ethical in your purchasing this year, I’m always a fan of any writing that ends with “whatever you do be more thoughtful and intentional.” Ultimately that’s the goal whether you end up going with Amazon or not. Happy shopping!

Even architects and designers are getting in on the fear. What does Long Island City look like after Amazon? Someone took a look waaaay into the future.

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Origin of “New England” in a map: Apparently New England was first used by John Smith, yes that John Smith, in the mid-1600s, when he created a map with that name. Link to the Atlas Obscura article.

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So, my not-quite 6-year-old daughter is claiming to be a vegetarian: I’m proud of her (and we’ll see if it sticks). For those who are not vegetarian, here is the list of America’s best steakhouses by Robb Report.

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A map the world totally needed: The US identified by famous song titles.

The US Song Map.

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Personal Finance: Don’t Be Broke” by Ramit Sethi

The 5 steps are:

· Focus on what you can control

· Adopt a growth mentality

· Spend consciously

· Focus on the Big Wins

· Earn more money

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Trains and things: In the spirit of watching holiday movies for the next month, I’m endorsing Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I have not seen it yet this year but will be fixing that soon. I thought of it after reading a totally unrelated article titled “Did You Miss The Train?” The article targeted the concept of missed opportunity. Or, better put, the article tries to spark a — are you on the right train — feeling. Admittedly, it’s not the most well written but it does speak to these question of how to know if you are on the right track versus on a fortuitous adventure.

I brought it up here because it spark such different responses in Meredith and me. She was confounded by this obsession that the author seems to have with always plotting and planning the course. Further, the author describes something that sounds great as “just” a mistake. He wrote, “The seats might be comfortable, the meals gourmet quality, and the person in the seat next to you might become your best friend. But if you’re going the wrong direction, you’ll just be happy further away from your destination.”

No room for happy adventures?

I simply reacted to the idea that it can be difficult to tell which train is your train. I find that true. Also, it made me think of a song by Elton John “This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore” (see — the train theme) and did I mention P, T, & A?

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Today’s thought: Articulate. Explicit. Frequent. This week I was thinking about how to create a rule of thumb for team-wide communication. Be articulate in your message. Ensure the message is explicit and clear. Though I don’t mean explicit as profane, but certainly that does not hurt if you are trying to get your team to remember it. Lastly, reiterate the message frequently. Without clear, direct and consistent communication, it can be easy for a team to lose sight of the company’s big rocks, the team’s values or even their own individual motivation.

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Quote: “If you look at the history of innovation and the history of great ideas, they come from connections. They come from people putting themselves in environments with people who want to push the envelope.” — Gina Bianchini

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Bonus Content: This interview with NPR’s Terry Gross offers simple, practical and effective advice about interviewing, conversations and being interviewed. Highly recommend it. This week my goals is to start at least 3 conversations with the phrase “Tell Me About Yourself.”

Continued success and continue to answer well,

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