Choose Thinking: A Blog by Dan Gilbert

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

- Rudyard Kipling

January 14, 2014

Snow, Creativity & The Fresh Start of 2014…#1 of 99

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January 4, 2013

Greatness in 2013

Yesterday, I sent out the note below in an email to more than 10,000 of our team members throughout our family of companies. Enjoy! -Dan G.

Welcome to 2013. It’s a year. But it’s also a place. A place where you will be spending another 361 days beginning today and ending next December 31st. So, since you are going to be here anyway, why not be the best possible __________________ you can be?! (Fill in the blank yourself).

Do you want to achieve greatness this year? Do you really? What is greatness to you? It can’t be just OK. It certainly can’t be mediocrity. And it can’t even be good. Good is good. But great is GREAT. And greatness is rare. It stands out. Greatness is obvious to anybody who comes across it because it is not something that they see every single day. Greatness is defined through its own prism. You just know it when you see it. There are no doubts. It’s not a kinda/sorta type of thing. You don’t argue with people about it. Greatness is one of those things that most people will say that they want, but only very few are willing to pay the price to achieve it.

magnitudo se ipsa cognoscit; “greatness knows itself”

And the price for greatness is very high.

How could it not be? How could something so rare, so impactful and so valuable not have a high price to achieving it? I believe that every single one of us has the potential to be great at something or even several things.

So why don’t more people achieve greatness? Because they either don’t believe that they can ever achieve it and/or they are simply not willing to pay the high price tag that comes along with it.

I made a decision over the holidays to motivate as many people as I can to achieve greatness. I am looking for people who have big ideas and visions of things and are also motivated enough to pay the price to turn those dreams into reality. People who simply will not STOP when the inevitable roadblocks, challenges and horizontal gravity gets in the way of their mission.

This is hard stuff. Very hard stuff.

You say you want greatness? But what are you willing to pay for it?

To be great at something you have to embed yourself in the mission. You have to nearly be possessed by the calling. You have to know in your heart of hearts that you WILL achieve the picture in your mind that you can see so clearly. You have to sacrifice. Time is the most valuable thing of all and without investing a large portion of your valuable time, greatness will not happen.

But the price of greatness is more than time. You have to also choose to do the hard thinking that greatness requires of you. Not just random, once-every-so-often thoughts, but deep thinking. And thinking is hard. Thinking is work. Thinking is a choice.

You must create and innovate to achieve greatness. And this is the hardest and most elusive part.

Where does creativity and original thought come from?

It comes from a mind that sees no boundaries. Sees no barriers. Sees no reasons why something cannot be done. Creativity comes from the part of you that sees and knows how to take what already is in this world and melds it with your thoughts producing something completely new and original.

I heard someone recently say that it is no coincidence that we start kindergarten using a set of 64 colorful crayons and graduate with one sharpened #2 pencil. You see, somewhere along the way we were taught that big dreams, visions and those crazy thoughts in our mind are for young kids not the real world where reality is beige and gray, steady but boring.

Only one small problem with that thinking: It’s WRONG.

Look around you. Really look. Pause. Take a moment and see all of the possibilities. See all of the crayons that are actually still there. I hope and want all of you to achieve your vision of greatness in something this year. It doesn’t matter what it is because once you have crossed the chasm into the land of possibility you aren’t going to come back. And then your dream will turn into beliefs. And your beliefs will evolve into knowing. And once you know, then it is only a matter of time before they become real.

This brings me to the introduction of our first new ISM in more than five long years. You know we take these things seriously. Our ISMS are the core beliefs that guide us like a compass and serve as our philosophy and the foundation that firmly sits under our strategy, tactics and decision-making.

Our ISMS are WHO we are. And what we do is secondary to who we are.

This new ISM has shown itself over time and it became very clear to me that it covers a belief and philosophy that our other ISMS do not.

To create, to innovate, to begin the process of putting new and original thought into play we must accept the concept of:

“Yes Before No”

The Definition

New Dan Gilbert ISM: Yes before NoIt’s critically important that we live the culture of Yes. This does not mean that every single idea, question, suggestion or recommendation will ultimately be met with a big thumbs up. But it does mean that we respond to all curiosity with the mindset of Yes first.

Our bias is to the Yes side of life. This is in stark contrast to the all too common approach of NO being the automatic reaction to any expression of an inquiring mind.

Just because saying NO is easier.

The status quo is not our favorite state. We live in the land of growth, possibilities, ideas, innovation, positive impact and results. And the only path to that place is through openness to the unknown… So Yes before no. And no only if we have done the work and exhausted all the potential of Yes first.

So there you have it folks. We are on a journey together to achieve numerous examples of greatness in 2013 and beyond. I have no doubt that the things we can achieve are only limited by the size of the dreams we choose for ourselves and all of the people around us. It will not be easy. It will require thought, dedication and time… fueled by creativity and innovation.

And you need to start off with a “Yes before No” mindset.

Just imagine what can be and make it so…

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December 3, 2012

27 Things I've Learned in 27 Years

For Quicken Loans’ 25th anniversary in 2010, I shared “25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years” with you here on my blog. Two years have passed and I have since revisited my list of lessons about business and life.

Today, I present to you a new and improved list, filled with things I’ve learned over the past 27 years.

Enjoy!

-Dan G.

#27

Don’t get distracted by people who want you to review the receipts for the paint brushes. Your job is to paint.

#26

Building anything great is messy.

#25

The one who tells you there is food on your face is your friend.

#24

The price of knowing is often way too high.

#23

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. (Thanks Albert E.!)

#22

Spreadsheets are for measuring the past, not the future. Remember, 57.392% of statistics are made up on the spot.

#21

The more you give, the more you get. It’s as simple as that.

#20

Winning on the hard stuff does not make the easy stuff easy.

#19

It’s not so frickin’ funny when it’s you, is it?

#18

There is no better joy than helping people around you go to levels higher than they ever thought they could.

#17

Working longer hours does not automatically make you more successful. Working smarter does.

#16

People who are constantly negative, pessimistic and cynical are not spewing their venom towards you or your ideas. They are talking about themselves. Never forget that.

#15

The little things DO matter. Especially to people.

#14

Think big, huge, large, enormous, immense, jumbo, walloping, gigantic, king sized, mammoth, massive, thundering. You have to think anyway… so why not?

#13

Try to please everyone all of the time, and you will end up pleasing no one most of the time.

#12

Be curious.

#11

Any ounce of energy you spend regretting mistakes you made in the past is taking away energy you need from doing things right in the present.

#10

Nothing great and long-lasting is built overnight, but you MUST take the first step NOW.

#9

Appreciate everything.

#8

Light yourself on “fire,” and many people will join your mission.

#7

I never learned anything talking.

#6

Thinking (going deep) about problems, challenges, new ways of doing things and creativity is one of THE hardest things you will ever do. It also will bring you the finest results.

#5

There is always a way to turn a problem into an opportunity. Find it.

#4

Some people WILL NEVER get it. Get them out of your team, club, house, life, etc… and both of you will be happier.

#3

If you believe tomorrow will be even more exciting than today, then you have discovered what passion really means.

#2

Nothing clarifies like clarity.

#1

When you love what you do, there is no such thing as “work.”

By: in Business & Entrepreneurship | Comments (5)


August 19, 2011

An Idea to Get Our Economy Moving Ahead Quickly

I believe there is a quick, easy, no-brainer initiative that both Republicans and Democrats could get behind and would have an immediate significant and positive impact on the U.S. economy, create millions of jobs and have zero negative effect on the federal budget.

We are currently in a state where cash is at an all time high on the balance sheets of U.S. corporations, banks and a smaller amount of individuals.  But for various reasons, including unstable markets, fears of a double dip recession, and general economic uncertainty, this capital is not being actively invested to grow the economy and create jobs.

In addition, the returns on this capital are, ironically, also at historical lows due to the unprecedented low interest rate environment and fearful investment climate that exists today.

So, we have enormous amounts of capital sitting on the sidelines providing almost no return, in a significantly challenged economy that is in dire need of job-producing capital investment.

The Proposal

Congress passes and the president signs a bill reducing the capital gains tax to 0% on any new capital investment beginning immediately and made through the end of 2012, with certain important stipulations (which I will explain in a moment), if the investment is held for two years or longer. It would not matter how long after the two year holding period the investor realized profits on his investment for the 0% tax rate to apply to the gain as long as the investment was made after the enactment of the legislation and is this type of investment:

  1. All NEW capital investment made by corporations, partnerships and individuals for newly issued shares of stock in both private and public companies (including start-up businesses) after the enactment of the capital gains legislation.
  2. All NEW investments made by corporations, partnerships and individuals purchased after the enactment of the new capital gains legislation for all new capital assets.
  3. All NEW construction real estate, both commercial and residential by corporations, partnerships and individuals developed after the enactment of the new capital gains legislation.
  4. All NEW capital improvements made by corporations, partnerships and individuals to existing real estate, both commercial and residential, made after the enactment of the new capital gains legislation.

The 0% capital gains rate would NOT apply to:

  1. The sale of any stock, bond, etc. (private or public) that existed prior to the enactment of the new capital gains tax.
  2. The sale of any capital asset, including real estate, that existed prior to the enactment of the new capital gains tax.
  3. Any and all capital gains realized on any asset purchased prior to the enactment of the new capital gains legislation and sold after the enactment of the new legislation.

In other words, this special capital gains tax rate would only apply to new job-producing investments made after the enactment of the legislation. It would not apply to gains on investments that were made prior to the enactment of the legislation.

It would also not apply to the mere exchange of capital assets that existed prior to the enactment of the legislation, but were both purchased and sold after the enactment of the legislation or purchased before and sold after the new legislation.

This simple approach highly incentivizes the movement of the enormous amount of dead capital from the sidelines into the economy in the form of desperately needed new job-producing long-term capital investment with no negative effect on the federal budget and without any windfalls to those who only trade existing capital assets.

Seems like a win all around and one both Democrats and Republicans can get behind in a bi-partisan manner that would also have the residual effect of boosting confidence in Washington, which is as desperately needed as new job-producing capital investment is needed in the economy.

By: in Your Money & The Economy | Comments (31)


July 21, 2011

Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Joins Dan Gilbert in Detroit Venture Partners

Magic Johnson Joins Detroit Venture Partners

Entrepreneur and NBA Hall of Famer to join venture capital firm launching tech companies in Detroit.

DETROIT, July 21, 2011Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Hall of Fame NBA star, philanthropist and entrepreneur, announced today he will join Detroit Venture Partners (DVP) as a general partner. DVP is a Detroit-based venture capital firm that invests in seed and early-stage technology companies primarily located in the heart of downtown Detroit. Mr. Johnson will also be investing millions of dollars into the fund itself.

Detroit Venture Partners was launched in 2010 by entrepreneurs Josh Linkner, Founder & Chairman of ePrize; Dan Gilbert, Founder & Chairman of Quicken Loans and Majority Owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers; and Brian Hermelin, Founder & Chairman of the private equity firm Rockbridge Growth Equity.

Magic, a Lansing, Michigan native who played basketball for Michigan State University before being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, said:

I am investing in Detroit Venture Partners and the City of Detroit because I want to have a positive impact on the biggest downtown in my home state. I believe strongly in the Detroit 2.0 movement and creating opportunities to help people get back to work.

Dan, Josh and Brian share my core values and are approaching their venture investing with the ‘hands on’ style I am familiar with because that is how I do business.

DVP is well on its way, already investing in six of the 12 companies it expects to fund in 2011. In the next several years, DVP plans to impact Detroit by investing in early stage companies who are expected to create numerous jobs, bring significant economic activity and occupy substantial amounts of office space in downtown Detroit.

Linkner, CEO and Managing Partner of DVP, said:

Earvin brings so much to the DVP team – entrepreneurial experience, a passion for Detroit and Michigan, additional capital to fund businesses, and the well-respected Magic brand.

Gilbert added:

There is absolutely nothing more important than transforming Detroit to an exciting place for young, eager, wealth-creating entrepreneurs to embark on their business journeys. More and more great people, investors and businesses are joining the initiative to build something very special downtown every single day. And Magic’s involvement will only accelerate this process further and faster.

DVP, along with some of the businesses it invests in, will be located in Gilbert’s downtown Detroit Madison Theatre Building, which is currently being transformed into a hub where tech and creative companies can collaborate and innovate.

DVP is “all digital” – with investments exclusively in the areas of digital media, software, cloud computing, e-commerce, marketing technology, mobile apps, internet and social.

The company’s investments include:

  • FLUD, a news-reader application for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, based in San Diego, California with plans to launch a business development office in Detroit
  • Hired My Way, a Birmingham, Michigan-based company that better connects job seekers and employers
  • Are You a Human?, a Detroit-based business providing a better alternative to the difficult-to-read internet form “CAPTCHA”
  • Detroit Labs, building Web, iOS, and Android applications for businesses ranging from local start-ups to Fortune 500 Companies, with offices in Detroit
  • Gumshoe, based in Detroit, is an alternative reality game of Clue right in your back pocket where players compete against friends and a community of sleuths to solve mysteries
  • Favers, a Detroit company providing a social shopping platform for specialty retailers where consumers can share the products they “like” – plus “follow their faves” to get instant product updates

In addition to DVP, the real estate arm of Magic Johnson Enterprises is in talks with Gilbert’s real estate partnership, Bedrock Real Estate Services, exploring potential investments in downtown Detroit real estate.

By: in Business & Entrepreneurship, Detroit 2.0 | Comments (1)


July 17, 2011

Detroit 2.0: It's Real and It's Happening Now

Let’s talk Detroit.

As you may have read, we (as in our entire organization from top to bottom) are like the pig at breakfast when it comes to Motown:

Fully committed.

Or as those who play Texas Hold Em’ like to say:

“All in.”

Why?

  1. Because we live here and work here (and we’re here, anyway).
  2. Because if we (as in all of us in SE Michigan) don’t create a safe, lively, exciting, technology-focused urban core that brings hope through new (and old) entrepreneurial companies that serve as a magnet for young, smart professionals, the vast majority of whom have made crystal clear they want the experience of living, working and playing in a cool downtown oozing with OPPORTUNITY, then just say “sayonara” to an entire generation of would-be “Detroiters” and “Michiganders.”

And this time, we can turn out the lights for good. (If the electric company doesn’t already do us the favor because we won’t be able to pay our bills.)

It’s not only a generation we are trying to save from fleeing to the likes of Chicago, NY, San Francisco, Boston or South Beach (God forbid!).

It’s THE generation that will and is already creating the most amount of wealth in the shortest period of time of any generation since Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal men walked the earth.

Don’t believe me?

Say “Groupon.”

Groupon was created in the fall of 2008. That’s less than 36 months ago or after most of you signed your last car lease.

In other words, your current automobile (hopefully, an American one) is older than this little company.

Little?

Well, they will likely be public in less than six weeks or so at a “little” 25 BILLION dollar or more market capitalization.

That’s a higher market value than each of these “big” companies:

  • Staples
  • Kellogg
  • Alcoa
  • Gap
  • Sears
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Nordstrom
  • Campbell’s
  • Hershey’s
  • DTE Energy
  • Pitney Bowes
  • Whirlpool

And bigger than the COMBINED market value of Penske, Compuware, Comerica, Lear, Masco, and Goodyear.

In less than three years.

And not only is Groupon creating thousands of new jobs, but they are also creating an entrepreneurial, urban-based, downtown hotbed of spin-off companies and other start-ups near their headquarters located in:

Chicago, Illinois.

Where were two of the three founders of Groupon (who together control over 30 percent of the company) born and raised?

Detroit (and its close suburbs).

Where did they go to college?

University of Michigan.

Who paid for their college?

Partially you, me and every other state of Michigan taxpayer.

Why did they move outside of Detroit and SE Michigan?

Because, back around the turn of the century, downtown Detroit simply was not the place that any Internet- or technology-focused entrepreneur was going to set up shop. This was the same time Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell were beginning down their entrepreneurial paths creating the start-up companies that eventually led them to the launch of Groupon.

Did Detroit and SE Michigan miss out on this one?

Only to the extent that you believe hyper-growth, 25 billion dollar, e-commerce, entrepreneurial, job-creating machines that will further sprout an entire
eco-system of additional start-up, new economy businesses around it should be located in the downtown center of your city.

There is absolutely nothing more important than former rust-belt, manufacturing-dependent, major urban cities like Detroit and Cleveland to become attractive, exciting places for young, eager, wealth-creating entrepreneurs to embark on their business journeys.

How tragic is it that some of the highly talented people who are now doing exactly that in other cities and states not only grew up in the cities that need them most, but were educated by the public universities that the taxpayers of our state partially pay for?

We must create an environment that keeps them here.

That environment is a downtown that is hustling and bustling with young technology-focused people who can find cool lofts to live in, abundant retail and entertainment options close by, safe streets day and night, and most importantly, numerous
start-up and growing entrepreneurial companies where opportunity is endless and creative minds are free to collaborate and do what they do best:

CREATE!

That’s why we are investing heavily into downtown Detroit (and Cleveland as well).

So much is happening. More and more great people, investors and businesses are joining the initiative to build something very special downtown every single day.

It’s happening fast folks. And it’s happening now.

Detroit 2.0 is real.

We can’t afford to lose the next Groupon, created by our own kids coming out of our own universities, to some other town.

How do you measure that kind of loss (or gain) on a spreadsheet?!

Although there have been some major announcements and excitement over the past year or so, the best is yet to come for downtown Detroit.

My gut is we haven’t even scratched the scratch on the surface.

Stay tuned…

-Dan Gilbert

By: in Business & Entrepreneurship, Detroit 2.0 | Comments (39)


December 20, 2010

25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years

Our Quicken Loans family celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. For a quarter century, Quicken Loans has helped more than one million American families in all 50 states realize the dream of homeownership.

In the past quarter century, I have made my share of mistakes and have learned a few things along the way as well.

At a recent all company “huddle,” I gave a 29 minute talk to more than 4,000 of our team members in downtown Detroit, where I presented, “25 things I’ve learned in 25 years.”

For better or for worse, here they are.

Hope you enjoy them…

-Dan G.

#25

Comic Sans…

If you don’t like it, then don’t frickin’ read it.

#24

Throw a curveball once in a while and your fastball will work WAYYY better.

#23

Silo thinking is poison.

#22

Things aren’t always as they seem…

GO DEEEEEEP!!!

#21

The difference between poison and medicine is the dose.

#20

Spreadsheets measure.

They do NOT create.

#19

Winning the hard stuff does not make the easy stuff easy.

#18

You don’t choose the cards.

Play the ones you have been dealt.

#17

Give what the greedy man won’t

and you will get what the greedy man wants.

#16

Write it down.

#15

The one who tells you there is food on your face is your friend.

#14

You now need 5 things to survive…

1. Air

2. Food

3. Water

4. Shelter

5. Technology

#13

If your ideas are any good,

you’re gonna have to shove them down people’s throats.

#12

The price of knowing is too high.

#11

Nothing clarifies like clarity.

#10

You affect the outcome.

(If you choose to do so, that is.)

#9

There is always a plan B.

Find it.

#8

The answers are easy.

Asking the right questions is the hard part.

#7

Melt the “Abominable NO-man”

or be frozen forever.

#6

Simplify it and you will be paid a lot of dough.

#5

Building anything great is messy.

#4

You can’t go WRONG

doing the RIGHT thing.

#3

What’s the name of the cleaning person?

Better find out.

#2

We are in the Downtown Detroit and Cleveland rebuilding business…

And business is a-boomin!!!

#1

The words need music.

By: in Business & Entrepreneurship | Comments (6)


October 27, 2010

Cleveland, The Mission Has Not Changed

I apologize for my absence, but I’m back and ready to blog! To kick off this fresh start, I’d like to share with you a letter I wrote to Cleveland fans, which will be included inside our Tipoff magazine and distributed to everyone who attends the Cleveland Cavaliers 2010-11 season home opener tonight at The Q:

Tipoff Tonight

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; make it hot by striking.”
- William B. Sprague

Cleveland,

The mission has not changed.

In fact, the level of energy, motivation and determination by those of us in every part of your Cleveland Cavaliers franchise has never been higher or stronger.

We will play to win.

Every season. Every game. Every minute.

Why?

You.

The thousands of emails, letters, notes, phone calls and words of support you shared with us this past summer has fueled every one of us with a further heightened sense of will-power and grit to deliver the incredibly loyal and passionate fans of the Cavaliers the ultimate prize.

That prize is an NBA championship.

No fan base deserves it more.

No city deserves it more.

Words will never express the gratitude and appreciation for the overwhelming support and confidence you showered upon this franchise over the past few months.

There will be nothing we do not explore.

There will be no amount of time, capital, brain-power or ingenuity we will not invest if we believe it will contribute to our chances of success.

The train has left. It will not stop until it pulls into “Larry O’Brien Station #1.”

I am looking forward to enjoying the ride with you.

Onward and upward.

Dan

Dan Gilbert
Chairman
Cavaliers Ownership Team
Twitter: @CavsDan

Cleveland Cavaliers: All for One, One for All

###

By: in Sports & Basketball | Comments (6)


July 16, 2009

A New Addition to the "Family" of Companies: StyleCaster

I’d like to introduce you to the newest addition to our “family” of companies and the future of style and fashion: StyleCaster.

StyleCaster is a new website that will change the way you look at fashion.  It’s your very own 24/7 personal shopper that gives you personalized style tips, the low-down on the latest fashion trends, access to a large catalog of cool clothes and the ability to buy your favorite items with a few clicks of your mouse.

StyleCaster.com Home PageThe best part? StyleCaster doesn’t tell you what’s fashionable based on the latest runway style or celebrity endorsement, it actually learns from YOU and serves up outfit ideas, product suggestions and premium content from the top fashion editors and stylists based on YOUR tastes.

How does StyleCaster know what you like? Here’s the magic: With every click and every choice you make on the site, StyleCaster pays attention and remembers for next time. The more you interact, the more your fashion profile grows, offering you a super customized experience and bringing you closer to the styles you want most.

In addition to knowing your tastes, the website serves up outfit recommendations appropriate for the weather in your area (yes, it knows that too). It not only connects you with people who have similar ideas of fashion as you, but you’ll also become part of a social community where you can swap ideas, inspiration and advice with top fashion editors, stylists, models and trend-setters.

We’ve previewed the website to a few select media and fashion insiders, and the response has been AMAZING. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

  • W Magazine: “Its combination of big money, big talk and big ideas seems to have scored points among the fashion set.”
  • ShopBop: “This is the stuff of fashion fantasy, and StyleCaster is making it a reality.”
  • WalletPop: “A free personal stylist, only nicer… StyleCaster will provide you with the dream cyber closet of ideas and network you with stylists, models, and other fashionistas with similar tastes. It’s Facebook meets Elle.”
  • GlamChic: “Stylecaster is essentially catering to every woman’s guilty pleasures and taking you inside the fictitious closets of fashion’s top influencers. And as fun as it is to rummage through your friends’ closets, it’s far more fun to peek inside those of seasoned professionals, like famed celebrity stylist Annabel Tollman and editors Meg Cuna and Carol Han, or to browse through the picks of creative novices with tremendous flair.”

By: in News & Threads | Comments (0)


July 15, 2009

Detroit, Here We Come!

Compuware Building, Downtown DetroitThe halls of Quicken Loans are abuzz this week with the news that the company will move its headquarters and about 1,700 team members to the Compuware Building in Detroit by mid-2010. The move will come two years earlier than originally planned.

In late 2007, our company pledged to move its headquarters into a newly constructed building downtown to be completed by 2012. However, given the turmoil in the economy, obtaining commercial financing for such a large-scale project has become extremely difficult.

So instead, we’re “quickening” our timeline, moving into One Campus Martius with the goal to eventually construct our own building.

“We pledge to fulfill our commitment to the city,” said Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans. “This is an interim step that allows us to begin transforming Detroit into a high-tech hub of business and ingenuity.”

Making the move… Detroit, here we come!

Find out more about Quicken Loans moving to Detroit.

By: in News & Threads | Comments (2)


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