What's The Diff?

The things Quicken Loans team members care about and want to share with the world

Getting Inspired

Goodbye to the DIFF blog. Hello Zing!

Goodbye to the Quicken Loans DIFF blog. Hello Zing!I can’t believe it.

The DIFF blog is ending today. It’s over. Done.  Finished.

That’s right, the DIFF blog is officially retired.  We started the DIFF blog over four years ago as our original foray into blogging here at Quicken Loans. We wanted a blog. And we wanted to try something different. So, as part of a recruiting campaign, we launched the blog and wrote about things we found around the globe that made a difference.

The recruiting campaign ended a few months later, but the blog lived on. We’ve had several dozen writers over the years contribute to the blog. Almost a thousand posts in 4 years.

My favorite?

Just about a month or so after we launched the blog, my wife’s grandfather died. He had such an inspiring story, I wrote about it here. It pretty much cemented me as one of the main contributors to the blog for the next four years.  Check it out: Requiem for a Warrior.

One personal note about the DIFF blog. It was my writing here that eventually led to my current position leading the Quicken Loans Brainstorm team (content team).  It’s funny how things like this happen.  An opportunity opened up that I didn’t plan, and I can thank the DIFF for setting the stage for it.

I’ll miss this blog. I’m the first to admit I haven’t always given the DIFF blog the attention it deserved. Seems like other business priorities often got in the way of spending a lot of time writing here. But I never gave up on it and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working this for the past four and half years. Interestingly enough, I’ve never really considered myself a blogger. Just a writer working at a mortgage company that fell upon a pretty cool assignment.

So there you have it.

The time has come to say goodbye.

Goodbye to the DIFF blog, one of the favorite projects of my professional life..

Welcome, my friends, to Zing!

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National Eat Your Vegetables Day!

National Eat Your Vegetables DayToday is National Eat Your Veggies Day – I’m eating a salad as I write this.

I love vegetables. So does Michelle Busch of Title Source (pictured left), who showed up at work today as a carrot. Way to go Michelle!

I have no idea how or why this is National Eat Your Vegetables Day, but I don’t care. I’m eating my vegetables in honor of it.

As I just said, I had a salad today. I also had some miso soup with carrots and daikon radish and mushrooms and some other funky Japanese vegetables.

And tonight I’m going to have some more veggies, no doubt.

I actually eat vegetables every day. I’m no health nut, mind you. I eat meat probably a lot more than I should and I love a big juicy rack of ribs a LOT MORE than I should.

I frankly love food. Since vegetables are food, I love them. In fact, there aren’t any vegetables I’ve had that I don’t like. I’ve had plenty of meat products that I didn’t like and made me want to barf, but not really any veggies.

Except fava beans. I can’t eat them. It’s the weirdest thing. Continue reading “National Eat Your Vegetables Day!” »

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It’s Best Friends Day!

It’s time to celebrate because it’s Best Friends Day!  What? There’s a day for that?  Yes, there is, and today is the day to pick up the phone, type an email, send a text, or just hang out with your best friends to let them know how much you appreciate them being in your life!

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a friend is one attached to another by affection or esteem.  You may find that you have many friends over the course of your life, but only a few will truly have the honor of being your best friend.  It’s not an award given by an academy.  It’s not decided by the number of votes received. It’s an honor that can only be bestowed by you.

St. Thomas Aquinas said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  That’s a pretty powerful statement coming from a highly educated individual.  But you don’t have to be a scholar to know that the value of friendship is immeasurable.  Whether you vocalize or sit in silence, your best friend knows what you’re about and loves you in the sunshine of life AND the rain.  And if you’ve had the same best friend for many years, as I have, you’ve probably worn out a few umbrellas together!

Regardless of where life takes you, true friends know neither time nor distance.  Whether your best friend is 1,000 miles a way or just a mile up the road, it’s comforting to know that someone cares far greater than any time or space could diminish. Elisabeth Foley said “The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”

I hope you take some time today to let your best friend know how special their friendship is to your life, your happiness and in this crazy busy world, your sanity.

I ran across this poem by Helen Steiner Rice.  Enjoy!

A Golden Chain

Friendship is a Golden Chain,

The links are friends so dear,

And like a rare and precious jewel

It’s treasured more each year…

It’s clasped together firmly

With a love that’s deep and true,

And it’s rich with happy memories

and fond recollections, too…

Time can’t destroy its beauty

For, as long as memory lives,

Years can’t erase the pleasure

That the joy of friendship gives…

For friendship is a priceless gift

That can’t be bought or sold,

But to have an understanding friend

Is worth far more than gold…

And the Golden Chain of Friendship

Is a strong and blessed tie

Binding kindred hearts together

As the years go passing by.

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A Rose to Remember Warm Thoughts in December


Varying in size from compact to miniature, to climbers that can reach seven meters, a rose is typically the first item one considers when attempting to bring a smile to the face of another.

June is National Rose month so take some time out and learn about the flower that inspired countless poems, accompanied innumerable first dates, and lied with loved ones in their final resting place.

With over 100 species, roses are typically the accessory of choice when friends offer condolences, thoroughbred three-year olds win races, and most notably when men court women.

While many people may be familiar with the tradition of bringing roses to a woman on your first date or spreading roses on the bed, the first night of your honeymoon, the ritual actually dates back to 41 BC when Cleopatra received her beloved Marc Antony in a room filed 18 inches deep with rose petals.

Accordingly, with men believing the more roses you buy, the more romantic a woman perceives you, it’s no surprise that 1.2 billion roses are sold annually.

Red roses represent love and respect.  However roses come in many colors and each color represents a different meaning:

  • Deep pink roses represent gratitude and appreciation
  • Light pink roses convey admiration and sympathy
  • White roses signify reverence and humility
  • Yellow roses embody joy and gladness
  • Orange roses epitomize enthusiasm and desire

The combination of roses represent more than colors that match or fuse together well.  Specific color combinations have particular meanings as well:

  • Red & yellow blended roses symbolize gaiety and joviality
  • Pale blended tones represent sociability and friendship

Five states selected the rose as the state flower including Georgia, Iowa, New York, North Dakota and the District of Columbia.   Notably absent from that list is California which produces roughly 60 percent of the roses grown in the United States.

A medieval symbol of virginity, the white rose is linked to the Virgin Mary.  Aside from love and respect the red rose is also religiously symbolic of the blood of Christ and a symbol of his passion and resurrection.

In discrepancy with Poisons 1988 power ballad, “every rose has its thorn,” a thornless rose signifies love at first sight.

Participate in celebrating National Rose Month by taking a rose to some one who is sick and shut in or a woman you admire.  It will certainly bring a smile to their face and leave a sweet scent in your mitt.

George William Curtis said it best, “ The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”


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The Tune of June – National Accordion Awareness Month

Many Americans associate the month of June with Summer Solstice, the NBA finals, and finally Candy Month!  Nonetheless, 22 years ago San Francisco native Tom Torriglia decided that June was the perfect month to educate and spread the word about the resurgence in popularity of…the accordion!

Favored by Steven Q. Urkel of the Family Matters sitcom, the accordion is a member of the reed family and commonly mistaken to be a part of the keyboard family.   Billy Joel and Barry Manilow are two popular musicians who became proficient with the accordion.  Guitarist Nils Lofgren lists the accordion as the first instrument he learned to play.

Accordions that have keys on them are called piano accordions and were first manufactured in the United States in 1907, in San Francisco.

However, China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of accordions in the world.

The accordion family includes five instruments:

Although accordions are popular for being used at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings, Canadian country singer Shania Twain used the accordion on her third studio album, Come On Over, and accumulated triple platinum sales.

All Things Accordion, in San Francisco, will host the Polka Band and Bella Ciao to kick off their entertainment celebration for National Accordion Awareness Month.

Detroit will not miss out on any of the excitement this month as hometown band, the Hot Club of Detroit, has local concerts planned in:

  • Kalamazoo – June 21st, Fontana Chamber Arts
  • Ann Arbor – June 23rd, 8 p.m. – Kerrytown Concert House
  • Detroit – June 24th, 9:30 p.m. – Cliff Bell’s

So try something new and engage in the spirit of National Accordion Awareness Month by learning and listening to the sounds of the accordion this June.


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Turn the Flash on, it’s National Photography Month!

May is National Photography Month, and that means taking photos, learning more about photography and maybe even investing in a brand new camera.  Even though May is almost over, the photos don’t have to end.  In fact, you’ll probably take more photos in the next few months of beautiful weather, fun vacations and more.  So bring out your camera and challenge yourself to take photos that reflect your personality or bring out the creativity in you.  Don’t be afraid to try different settings because there’s something to be said about photos that are not perfect.

I personally love photography and am well known around the office and among my friends and family to be official paparazzi whenever something’s going on.  Hey, I figure you never know when the President or the Pope might walk by…so my camera is always with me.

I thought I’d share six of my favorite photographers whom I admire for their style and ability to evoke emotion.  Check out more about each of them below and maybe you’ll be inspired to find the Ansel in you!

Nature and Environment

Human Emotion

Fashion and Society

Do you have any favorite photographers?  What makes their work special to you?

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Wow, What a Ride!

Happy Sally Ride Day!

Today we honor the birth date of Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space.

Born in Encino, Calif., on May 26, 1951, Ride’s first love was tennis and she pursued a professional tennis career before enrolling at Stanford University to study physics and English.

In 1977, while looking for postdoctoral work in astrophysics, she read about NASA’s search for astronauts and decided to apply. More than 8000 people applied, 35 spots were filled, and Ride was one of six women selected.

After completing extensive training in gravity and weightlessness, water survival, parachute jumping, navigation and more, she was eligible for assignment.

She served as mission specialist aboard STS-7, the second flight of the Space Shuttle “Challenger,” which launched from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on June 18, 1983 and returned 147 hours later. After becoming the first American woman in space, her next flight was October 5, 1984, on STS 41-G, which launched from KSC and returned 197 hours later.

In January 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded and Ride ended her current mission training to serve as a member of the Presidential Commission to investigate the tragedy.

She then worked at NASA Headquarters focusing on long-term strategic planning for the space program. Ride retired from NASA in 1987, and in 1989, she was named Professor of Physics and Director of the California Space Institute at the University of California.

Ten years later, Ride took space education to a new level.  She joined space.com, a website dedicated to the space industry, and started EarthKAM, an Internet-based project that lets middle school kids take photographs of Earth from space and download them. In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, an organization that provides support for youth interested in science, math and technology. She has also written and collaborated on five children’s books.

Ride has been and continues to serve on numerous boards and councils and has received the National Spaceflight Medal twice, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Women’s Research and Education Institute’s American Woman Award, and many more. She was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame on June 21, 2003.

To learn more about space and educational opportunities, check out the following websites:

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National Dance Like A Chicken Day

As a frequent wedding attender and dance aficionado, I am all about the group dances. They get everyone out on the dance floor, they are typically pretty easy to do, everyone looks equally ridiculous doing them, and they’re just darn good, clean fun.

I say:

“Blare the hokey-pokey!”

“Unleash the Macarena!”

“Where is a fun place to stay? THE YMCA!”

Take a moment today to honor a song that transcends weddings and finds itself suitable for any age, gender or roller-skating rink. Today is National Dance Like A Chicken Day.

Big props to the Lawrence Welk Show (and accordions in general) for the video.

Originally titled “Der Ententanz” (The Duck Dance), the Chicken Dance was created by Swiss accordion player (and well known bad-ass) Werner Thomas of Davos, Switzerland in the 1950’s.

So while you may not own a full size chicken suit (although, I’m sure a disturbing number of people probably do), make sure you do the Chicken Dance today with all the funky chickens across the globe doing likewise.


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Nick Gilbert – 2011 National Children’s Tumor Foundation Ambassador Represents Cavaliers @ NBA Lottery

Breaking News…

The kind I love to share…

Nick Gilbert, son of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, is representing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the upcoming NBA draft lottery on May 17, 2011.

That’s a pretty cool experience for an inspiring 14-year old from metro Detroit. Nick is also the 2011 National Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) Ambassador. As the 2011 CTF ambassador, Nick’s role as the Cavaliers on-stage representative comes with important additional responsibilities – including raising awareness for the battle against nuerofibromatosis (NF). Nick Gilbert was born with NF more than 14 years ago (more info on this in the press release below).

Congrats Nick. Have a wonderful day on the 17th and continue all the great things you do!

Read the full release below: Continue reading “Nick Gilbert – 2011 National Children’s Tumor Foundation Ambassador Represents Cavaliers @ NBA Lottery” »

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Quicken Loans Helps Nigerian Student Reunite With Mom After 10 Years

Sometimes you read something that makes you proud. Proud to be part of an organization that does great things for people. Sometimes those people are people you’ve never heard of.

This is one of those times.

Here’s the recap: USA Today and the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday about Wayne State University  student Victor Chukwueke, a Nigerian national, who dreamed of reuniting with his family that he left 10 years ago to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor in the US. Chekwueke suffers from neurofibromatosis, a disorder that causes tumor growth in the nervous system.

Despite this, Chukweke is graduating from WSU with honors and is speaking to his graduating class at commencement.

Here’s where Quicken Loans got involved. Chukweke wanted his mother to attend his graduation and Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans founder) used connections to make sure that happened. From the Freep:

“I was reading the paper and the story caught my eye,” said Joyce Keller, philanthropic adviser for the company. Dan Gilbert…has a relative with neurofibromatosis. “With everything (Chukwueke) has been through and this one obstacle still standing in his way, it was an easy decision to see if we could help.”

Great story. Hope you like it.

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Today's Date:
Sunday, February 25, 2018