7 Wonders of the Industrial World
This BBC series is one of my all-time favorites. The frustrated engineer in me has always enjoyed these types of programs which show how huge engineering problems have been solved. I mention the series because I just watched the episode on the transcontinental railroad for the 5th or 6th time. Not all of the stories take place in the USA but they are all worth watching if you have an interest in this kind of thing.
- The Bell Rock Lighthouse *
- The ‘Great Eastern’ *
- Bazalgette’s London sewers
- The Transcontinental Railway
- The Brooklyn Bridge *
- The Panama Canal *
- The Hoover Dam
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The Ultimate Disrupter
Here’s an article on one of the finest business minds out there today: Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Amazon will be around for a long time because it has a solid business model and provides real value in the market-place unlike companies such as Facebook, Groupon, Pinterest, and a host of others which are nothing more than facilitators for time wasting.
He’s a pro-customer, tightfisted risk-taker who is conditioning Wall Street to embrace his erratic earnings. If you’re running a business with high margins — watch out.
The Bank of Dave
How do you achieve the impossible? How do you crash your way into one of the most exclusive and powerful clubs on the planet? How do you as a tiny player unleash a disruptive strategy in an industry controlled by giants?
The answers all lie in the Channel 4 documentary Bank of Dave. For context, Dave Fishwick is a successful minibus dealer from a small town in northern England. When the banks stop lending to small business, Dave comes up with the crazy idea of opening his own community bank to lend to local businesses. This is when he is confronted with a seemingly impenetrable wall regulations designed to keep outsiders out.
Dave is a joy and an inspiration to watch in action. He is relentless. Nothing stops him. Every regulation, obstacle, is just something to be swept away, overcome, or dismissed with contempt.
A long time ago, one of my profs told me that it’s far better to do something and ask for forgiveness afterwards then to wait for permission. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given. Study tycoons and you will see that all follow this principle.
Dave reminds me of an Al Pacino quote:
There’s no such thing as too far. You understand? You push everything as far as you can. You push and you push and you push until it starts pushing back. And then you push some goddamn more. – Al Pacino
Go watch this extraordinary story and then do a search on his results.
Amazon Is Cutting Publishers Out of the Action By Dealing Directly With the Authors
In business school they teach you to analyze the supply chain in an industry, identify the fat cats making excessive profits, and then look for ways to displace them. Jeff Bezos and Amazon are masters at this disruptive growth strategy. They first did it by displacing book stores and selling direct to the public. (I’m the first to admit that this has had its downside as I have always enjoyed my trips to bookstores. Moreover, you couldn’t really call independent bookstores “fat cats,” but they were vulnerable to displacement.) Next Amazon launched the Kindle creating a new Blue Ocean market for digital books and helping to save a lot trees. Continue reading