What We Said When the World Changed

Few things transformed the 20th century like the car and the airplane.

Both set the stage for the modern world, completely changing family life, politics, war, culture, business, leisure time, and communication.

But we only know how important the car and the plane are with hindsight. We had no idea how big they’d become when they made their first appearance.

Innovation is always changing, but psychology is timeless, so understanding how we reacted to the arrival of the car and the plane sheds light how we’re likely to respond to breakthroughs today and tomorrow.

This report digs through turn-of-the-century newspapers to show how Americans responded to the early days of the car and the airplane.

It aims to show two things:

  • Nothing is obvious when it’s first invented.
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Why We’re Wearing Red Today

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a good reminder of what’s been accomplished – and what hasn’t – in the 106 years since the first IWD event.

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You Can See Where This is Going

More than $30 trillion will be transferred from baby boomers to their children in the coming decades.

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Problems We Want Solved

Billions of people wake up every day trying to solve the world’s problems. It’s an amazing thing.

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The Bad Side of a Good Idea

The number of publicly traded U.S. companies peaked in 1996 at 7,322. Today there are just over 3,700, according to Wilshire Associates. The U.S. population has risen nearly 50% since 1975, and real GDP has tripled. But the number of public companies has declined 21%.

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Writing Lessons for a Better Life

Writing is one of those things you’ll need to be decent at no matter what business you’re in. It’s also one of the hardest things to get decent at, since it’s 90% art, 10% illogical grammar rules. Novelist William Maughan said there are three rules to good writing. “Unfortunately no one knows what they are.”

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The New Business Strategy: Be A Little Nicer To Everyone

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The Most Complicated Simple Problems

“Investing isn’t complicated. You just buy stocks when they sell for less than they’re worth.”

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Explaining Old Products To My Son

My son turns one next week. He doesn’t talk much, but one day I hope he’ll ask what the world was like when I was his age. I imagine it’ll go something like this.

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Simple Rules of Capitalism

You can’t accurately describe how complicated the global economy is.

There are more than 200,000,000 businesses in the world. Three-hundred trillion dollars of financial assets. Eighty trillion dollars of GDP. Almost 200 countries, thousands of cultures and norms. With seven billion people, a rough calculation shows there’s about two tons of pure serotonin careening through the global economy at every moment. Economists try in earnest to model all of this in Excel.

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