Nobody Covered the Wright Brothers


Ted | Flickr

No one ever said changing the world was easy. If you believe that your work can actually put a dent in the universe, you’d also better be prepared for the universe to take its time figuring out what you’re up to (Collaborative Fund blog). From the automobile to the telephone, from the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk to Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web, the innovations that end up transforming our lives often go unheralded when first introduced. That’s something to ponder as we return to our post-Labor Day labors: “Changing the world” is one thing, “convincing people that you’ve changed the world” is something else. If you hope to accomplish a mission, you need patience as much as you need brilliance.

Patagonia’s secrets of sustainable success. Patagonia started up in 1957 and spent decades growing and refining its approach to sustainability before most businesses had ever heard of the term. The company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, told one of the classic tales of patient innovation in his 2006 memoir, Let My People Go Surfing. In an interview on the book’s 10th anniversary (FastCoCreate), current Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario talks about the company’s success at achieving profits while sticking to its ideals, and says its biggest challenge today is holding onto those ideals at scale. For instance, as a global brand with $750 million in sales, Patagonia needs a lot of organic cotton — but only 2 percent of the world supply is organic right now.

“Venture communism” in Hangzhou. China’s cities are cultivating startup ecosystems in their own distinctive way (The New York Times). With local governments providing much of the capital, 710 startups in Hangzhou’s Dream Town are trying out new ideas and ways of doing business in the world’s most populous marketplace. China may have spent the last quarter-century becoming the world’s factory, but now it’s beginning to think about what comes after that. There’s no telling how many of these companies will make a difference and how many will flame out in some future dot-communist bust. But if China is going to keep growing, government officials and the entrepreneurs they’re backing see no choice but to invest, invest, invest.

On the fifth day, take a rest? A four-day work week — like this one is for most Americans — sounds like a dandy idea. But a public health expert who has studied the idea warns of some downsides (The Conversation). If you’re just stuffing the same amount of work into fewer, longer shifts, you may just be risking more exhaustion from workers pushed beyond their natural limits. Four ten-hour workdays means four days a week that employees will be more stressed and mistake-prone, and that parents will miss an evening meal with their kids. For many workers, flexibility may be more important than a fixed schedule that deviates from the five-day norm. Giving people a sense of control over their work lives can have priceless results.

Job growth? It’s happening in cities. Good news! “The U.S. economy added nearly 12.2 million jobs between 2011 and 2016, growing from about 130 million to more than 140 million jobs” (Atlantic CityLab). Cities, writes Richard Florida, have been the engine of this growth — New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, of course, but also places like the Carolinas, Florida, Texas and Utah. When you filter for higher-wage and higher-quality jobs, though, you find yourself looking mostly at the usual suspects in the Northeast corridor and on the West Coast. The concentration of high wages in these “knowledge and tech hubs,” Florida writes, has driven the dynamic of inequality in the post-Great Recession recovery. To escape this “stark picture,” we need to get better at spreading growth around, geographically and socially.

Startup Culture is Broken. Now What? NewCo founder John Battelle talks with Inc. about returning Silicon Valley’s startup culture to its mission-driven roots, and spreading that approach to cities far from San Francisco Bay.

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