Race to Space and One Buff Guy’s Bread

Better and Faster: The Proven Path To Unstoppable Ideas by Jeremy Gutsche gives examples of those who were down, but not out. In 1957, the race to space kicked off with the Soviets sending Sputnik to the stars. The Sputnik satellite was a misnomer to Americans, and a disappointment. A mysterious lobe transmitting data to the enemy, was priority number one. Two American physicists named George Weiffenbach and William Guier, solved how to track Sputnik’s location, what it was doing. Using rudimentary wires and receiver, and applying basic physics from the 1800’s, our scientists recorded Sputnik’s whereabouts. The Americans soon tracked Sputnik II, and later their own Explorer I satellite, using this technique.

Americans were the first to see an inverse could be true, by orbiting several satellites Earth’s entire surface could be viewed. In 1996, President Clinton green lit the Global Positioning System for civilians, not just military. Companies like Nike and Foursquare use the feature for virtual user experience. Nike+Running fused GPS on running shoes and wrist bands to track where someone was running, how fast, and the ability to store those scores for future improvement. In 2012, Foursquare boomed coffee stores, as users could accrue points when visiting those places. The platform added 20 million users in its first three years, locating popular social spots for food and helping Mom and Pops get customers.

Of course, not all innovations are hits.

Colgate once created a line of TV dinners. With the popularity of health foods, Colgate Kitchen Entrees, served assortments of rice, chicken, carrots, and broccoli. A company promoting oral health, expanding into healthy packaged foods? The results were hilarious, as Colgate scrapped away their food line. People didn’t want to eat food reminding them of toothpaste. The N-Gage by Nokia thought to combine video games with a phone. Released in 2003, Nokia’s designers stumbled across the future- but the future wouldn’t arrive for another decade. The N-Gage’s look was unpopular, and universal smart phones didn’t exist yet. Nokia as a cell phone company, has been dormant since. Its successor Apple, was born from similar turmoil.

Apple, IBM, and GM- three companies that collapsed.

In the 1990’s, IBM was bleeding billions in their computer business. IBM’s Chief Executive Ginni Rometty says the company stagnated for far too long. The inventor of the Universal Product Code, brought in the Information Age with hard-drive manufacturing. When that model ran dry, IBM fell until they brought in Lou Gerstner to be CEO from Nabisco. By moving away from floppy disks into a services based firm, IBM reinvented itself once more as cloud computing and artificial intelligence providers.

As for Apple, they brought Steve Jobs back.

General Motors powered through the American automobile industry during this time, as trucks sold captured over half the market share during 2004, with the popularity of the SUV adding to GM’s dominance over Japanese and European automakers from 1990–2004. By 2005, fuel efficient vehicles made the Hummer, and Chevrolet’s Tahoe and Yukon models near obsolete. GM went under once the recession hit, as GM vehicles sold were down 56 percent, in 2009. By contrast, Toyota only lost 14 percent in the same time. General Motors rebounded by building a fleet of lighter vehicles, scrapping away the Hummer line. Despite safety recalls in 2014, Detroit is in position to explore autonomous cars with GM’s $500 million investment in Lyft.

Better and Faster tells the story of David Dahl, of Dave’s Killer Bread. The loafs are packaged in bright colors, a buff man playing the guitar graces the front. The buff guy is David Dahl, who’s organic Portland, Oregon based breads are the culmination of twenty years drug use, depression, armed robberies, and prison sentence. One wonders how Dahl is even alive, let alone proprietor of a $50 million annual bred enterprise, employing 240 workers. Dahl’s father ran the family bakery, Midway Bakery, expecting the kids to adopt the business. Dave Dahl couldn’t fathom enjoying such work, going down a dark path of crystal-meth and high speed car chases.

It was in prison that Dave Dahl wondered what if, instead of delinquency he accepted the family’s position at the bakery? In prison, Dahl studied every resource on baking, and once free, begged his brother Glenn to work on the family franchise. Glenn said no, because Dave regularly trashed the bakery and walked out before. But Dave committed to one hundred hour weeks, doing all tasks from kitchen clean up to experimenting with new recipes. In 2005, Dave brought his newly made breads to the Portland Farmer’s Market, selling out in hours and all summer long. Today, Dave’s Killer Bread can be found inside Whole Foods and Fred Meyers.

David Dahl donates 325,000 loaves of bred to Meals on Wheels annually.

Adversity- whether due to an illness, economic pressures, or a lost job- can present tremendous opportunity. When our security is threatened, complacency isn’t a realistic strategy. -Better and Faster.