10 million gallons of gas

If you ran a delivery business, you might intuitively imagine that your delivery route optimization algorithm should optimize for the shortest route to the destination.

UPS, however, moved away from trying to find the shortest route. Instead, they avoid turning through oncoming traffic at a junction. This “no left turn” (in countries with right handed traffic) rule may mean going in the opposite direction of the final destination. However, it reduces the chances of an accident and cuts delays caused by waiting for a gap in the traffic, which wastes fuel.

This simple idea means the company saves 10 million gallons less fuel, emits 20,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide, while delivering 350,000 more packages every year. (Mythbusters confirmed this in a test)

Prof Kendall, writing on Quartz, asks – could we plan roads that make it more difficult to turn through the traffic? It would take a brave city planner to implement this, but if UPS can save 10 million gallons of fuel, how much could a whole city or even a whole country save?

The success of UPS’s policy raises the question, why don’t we all avoid turning left (or right, depending on what country we’re in), as we drive around cities on our daily commutes? If everyone did it, the carbon savings would be huge and there’d probably be far less congestion. – Prof Kendall on Quartz


Source and thanks to: Qz.com

This post is part of “The 200 words project.” I aim to synthesize a story from a book (and, occasionally a blog or article) I’ve read within 200 words consecutive Sundays for around 45 weeks of the year. I’ve also recently started a new Sunday project that synthesizes 5 things you need to know about tech this week – if you’re interested, more on that on NotesbyAda.com.

Ikea Retail Therapy

Swedish agency Åkestam Holst spent 2016 using Ikea ads to explore family dynamics in all shades. Then, they came up with an ad that was a masterclass in how to rethink advertising.

With “Retail Therapy,” Ikea’s website renamed products to match common Google searches in Sweden. Here are a couple of examples –
“My daughter is out all night” – a disco ball
“My partner annoys me” – a double-desk separated by a cubby wall
“He can’t say he loves me” – A magnetic writing board :)

Additionally, this campaign was also smart because high volume searches for terms like “He can’t say he loves me” lifted Ikea’s product ads to the top of the Google Adwords pile. AdWeek accurately called it “a visibility coup so maniacally clever that it’s hard to hold a grudge.”

We don’t sell products. Instead, we sell solutions to problems. Ikea’s ad campaign was a wonderful illustration of that idea. Well played, Ikea.

“Whether it’s a snoring husband, a never-ending gaming son or any other relationship problem you have, Ikea can come to the rescue … or at least put a smile on your face while you keep Googling for an answer.” – Ikea Retail therapy


Source and thanks to: Adweek, The Retail Theory ad spot (1 min, 36 seconds)

Not selling Basecamp by the seat

Basecamp co-founder, David Heinemeir Hansson, had a thoughtful post about why they chose not to sell Basecamp by the seat.

The problem with per-seat pricing is that it makes your biggest customers your best customers. With money comes influence, power and pressure. By maintaining a per-company pricing (regardless of size), no one customer’s demands would automatically rise to the top. So, they didn’t have to displease many to please a couple of large customers.

Second, they didn’t want to deal with the mechanics of chasing big contracts. They wanted to keep their company small and nimble. And, finally, this enabled them to build Basecamp for businesses like themselves – the “Fortune 5,000,000.”

John Shattock, the CEO of Beam, once said – “Values aren’t values until the cost you money.” Wikipedia is a classic example of this idea. They could easily become one of the biggest ad businesses on the planet. But, they choose not to.

Similarly, by clearly trading off large amounts of money for freedom, the Basecamp co-founders continue to demonstrate the simple, counter intuitive, and provocative approach to running a tech company that they’re famous for.

The problem with per-seat pricing is that it by definition makes your biggest customers your best customers. With money comes influence, if not outright power. And from that flows decisions about what and who to spend time on. There’s no way to be immune from such pressure once the money is flowing. The only fix is to cap the spigot. – DHH


Source and thanks to: Basecamp blog

(This story and quote is part of “The 200 words project.” I aim to synthesize a story from a book (and, occasionally a blog or article) I’ve read within 200 words consecutive Sundays for around 45 weeks of the year.)

Frederic Tudor and Ice

Frederic Tudor, a young man from a rich family in Boston, once visited the Carribean (estd year – 1800). He was then seized by an idea – how about shipping New England ice to the Carribean?

After many attempts of shipping ice over and gradually overcoming challenges of transportation and storage (blocks of ice melt slowly so it was possible to move them even without too many innovations), he slowly began to stir up some demand. People in the Caribbean began developing an appetite for iced drinks. While Tudor nearly went bankrupt through the process, his fortunes changed by the end and he ended up a multi-millionaire.

But, this started a unique shift as all previous global trade had been about moving materials from warm places (abundant solar energy) to colder ones – spices, food, etc. The ice trade became very successful and the ice barons of New England became rich.

It is this ice that led to the growth of Chicago. While Chicago became a transportation hub thanks to some excellent engineering and building of railroads, it became the hub of the meat industry due to refrigerated meat. How that happened is coming up next week…

A man who has drank his drinks cold at the same expense for one week can never be presented with them warm again. – Frederick Tudor :)


Source and thanks to: How we got to now by Steven Johnson

(This story and quote is part of “The 200 words project.” I aim to synthesize a story from a book (and, occasionally a blog or article) I’ve read within 200 words consecutive Sundays for around 45 weeks of the year.)

Paradigm shifts

All was peaceful one Sunday morning on a subway in New York until a man and his children entered. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. The, however, man simply sat down and closed his eyes. Irritated and after unusual patience and restraint, Stephen Covey finally turned to the man and said – “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”

The man lifted his gaze, suddenly conscious, and said softly, ‘Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.’

We can all imagine how Stephen felt that moment – his paradigm shifted. He felt the man’s pain and saw everything differently.

It felt like an appropriate story for the new year – we might be able to make small changes in our life by shifting our attitudes and behaviors. But, if we want to make significant leaps, we need to shift our paradigms or how we see the world.

In the words of Thoreau, ‘For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.’ We can only achieve quantum improvements in our lives as we quit hacking at the leaves of attitude and behavior and get to work on the root, the paradigms from which our attitudes and behaviors flow. – Stephen Covey


Source and thanks to: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

(This story and quote is part of “The 200 words project.” I aim to synthesize a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words consecutive Sundays for around 45 weeks of the year.)

Mentorship and grit – The 200 words project

Venture capitalist and blogger Tom Tunguz nicely summarized Robert Greene’s book “Mastery” by identifying two common paths to mastery – mentorship and grit.

Leonardo da Vinci’s story captures both ideas. Leonardo was born out of wedlock and was prohibited from attending school. His father, a notary, had access to a large supply of paper which was a rare commodity at the time. So, Leonardo would walk through the forests of Vinci and draw. Over time, he built an excellent body of work that led to Andrea Del Verrochio to hire him as an apprentice. Leonardo would go on to learn many different sciences under his mentor and become a master artist.

As he was still scorned because of his birth, Leonardo demonstrated grit as he pursued hundreds of inventions including helicopters, parachutes, and a giant crossbow. This combination of an education from a leading expert and grit led Leonardo da Vinci to greatness.

Tying it into his work with entrepreneurs, Tom observed – “I suspect all great founders and CEOs are supported by a network of great mentors. Most of these mentorship relationships are hidden in the shadows, not often mentioned. But that lack of visibility belies their critical importance.”

A few times in my life, I have been privileged to have amazing mentors and all of those experiences share something in common. Those people helped me learn something about myself that I couldn’t have without them: they pushed me to start a business, they challenged me to carry a quota, they offered me an opportunity in venture capital. – Tom Tunguz


Source and thanks to: Tom Tunguz’s blog, Mastery by Robert Greene

Laundry Love – The 200 words project

Ventura is a beautiful beach city just north of Los Angeles and home to Greg Russinger.  Greg was very passionate about engaging people in his city to bring relief to those in need. One day while walking with T-Bone, one of his many friends from the street, Greg asked him, “Is there anything I can do to help you with your daily needs?” The response was instant, “clean clothes”.

Clean clothes would remove barriers to human interaction and increase self-esteem, he explained. So, Greg approached a local Laundromat and requested permission to allow him and a group of friends to come in and sponsor washes for those living under the poverty line. Thus, Laundry Love was born.

Laundry love soon gained momentum in Ventura and has now touched over 450,000 people. All of this happened because Greg asked T-Bone what would help instead of assuming what might be useful. There is something powerful about spending time in the environment of the people you hope to reach with your product or service and listening to the ones you hope to serve.

If I had clean clothes I think people would treat me like a human being. – T-Bone


Source and thanks to: Good Idea, Now What? By Charles Lee

(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)