The Oil Boom That Went Bust

As part of the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Texas producers had big incentives to drill for oil. This resulted in an oil boom with the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude soaring from about $16 to $40. However, this optimism was unfounded, and soon enough the allure of big profits produced too much of a good thing, resulting in the price of crude dropping to $10.42. This collapse impacted the entire state, with over a quarter of a million jobs lost in Houston, banks calling in notes and real estate developers going bankrupt. Read full article here

The Story Behind Those Iconic Disney Channel Wand Promos

The stars of Disney Channel’s early 2000s programming have become part of a living history, thanks to the iconic “wand ID” promos that helped to rebrand the network. The promos required the stars to trace an imaginary outline of Mickey Mouse’s ears with a wand, and have become a rite of passage for new generations of Disney stars. The clips have since gone viral, highlighting the easily recognizable nature of these interstitials and transporting many back to their favorite childhood programming. Read full article here

Here’s why organizations should commit to responsible AI

The increasing popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) is accompanied by risks, making it essential for companies to follow principles of responsible AI to remain competitive and avoid liability. Recent studies have shown that AI-driven decision-making can lead to biased outcomes, leading to governments worldwide tightening regulations to target AI. An AI Liability Directive has been proposed in the EU to make it easier to sue companies for causing harm, while the US and China have also proposed legislation to regulate AI. Businesses need to start early and collaborate with stakeholders to ensure responsible AI. Read full article here

Netflix, Shein and MrBeast

MrBeast, with his hundred million YouTube subscribers, is an example of how ‘software’ is the point of leverage in the media industry. He is a showrunner, star, show, and network all rolled into one, and his output is as successful as a Netflix show. His success is due to YouTube and TikTok’s channel, platform, discovery mechanism, and revenue model. This is in contrast to Netflix, where the focus is not on software but on the ‘TV questions’ of rights, shows, commissioning models, and stars. Read full article here

A Whale-Oiled Machine

In the 1800s, New Bedford, MA was the global epicenter of whaling, and the city’s vast fortunes were built from whale oil. William F. Nye, a local entrepreneur, discovered a new use for whale oil: lubrication for the machines of the industrial revolution. His custom-made whale oil lubricants were designed for specific applications and were so effective that they kept machines running until the digital age. Nye’s whale oil solution to the problem of friction was truly timeless. Read full article here

How The Conversation is attracting younger readers

The Conversation, an academic news website, recently launched the Quarter Life series to appeal to the 18-35 age bracket. With content ranging from health and fitness to work and career advice, the website hopes to not only gain more traffic but also help readers become more engaged. Taking inspiration from the BBC’s six user needs model, The Conversation has identified four user needs to commission with outcomes in mind. To further engage with its audience, the publication has also started a free text message service powered by Subtext, where readers can ask questions and get tailored articles sent to them. Read full article here

How Florence Butt—Not Her Son—Launched the H-E-B Empire

Have you ever shopped at H-E-B, the beloved Texas grocery chain? You may be surprised to hear that the mastermind behind it all was not the man whose initials its name is based on, but his mother, Florence Thornton Butt. In 1905, with her husband ill with tuberculosis and her family relying on her, Florence opened the first Butt family grocery enterprise in the Hill Country town of Kerrville. Despite the odds, Florence persevered and her store grew, eventually becoming the H-E-B we know and love today. Her generous spirit lives on in the company, and in the 114,000 square feet of the newest H-E-B, which even features a replica of the facade of the original store. Read full article here

The DNA of entrepreneurs: How your genes could determine your business success

It’s no secret that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in influencing a person’s ability to become an entrepreneur. What’s interesting is that up to 50% of this propensity may be down to genetics. For example, the DRD4 gene, which controls dopamine, has been linked to an increased likelihood of taking risks, while the 5-HTTLPR gene has been associated with higher levels of financial risk-taking. Furthermore, the MAOA gene has been shown to regulate monoamines which can impact a person’s mood, motivation and reward. All of these factors combine to create the perfect environment for entrepreneurial success – proving that genes really can make a difference. Read full article here

What the Most Productive Companies Do Differently

Once a powerhouse of prosperity, US productivity growth has dwindled in the past 15 years. But if companies can unleash their inner productivity superheroes, they could add a whopping $10 trillion to GDP by 2030! Enter the “Titanium Economy” – fast-growing, highly profitable, small and often privately held firms thriving across sectors. These productivity champions invest in digitization, intangibles, a future-ready workforce, and adopt a systems approach. So grab your cape, follow their playbook, and join the productivity league to turbocharge America’s economy! Read full article here

Grocery Store Robot Gets Brief Taste Of Freedom

Giant Food Stores made headlines when one of their robots, aptly nicknamed Marty, was caught attempting to escape its retail confines. The six foot tall robot, equipped with googly eyes, was caught making a slow and steady dash across the parking lot outside the Hellertown, Pennsylvania store. Though Giant staff managed to stop the robot in its tracks, it’s amusing to think that Marty may have been looking to make a statement against robots in the workplace. Read full article here


The occasional email full of conversation-worthy content