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In the last three recoveries, however, America’s economic engine has emitted sounds we’d never heard before. The 1990 recovery took 15 months, not the typical six, to reach the prerecession peaks of economic performance. After the 2001 recession, it took 39 months to get out of the valley. And now our machine has been grinding for 60 months, trying to hit its prerecession levels – and it’s not clear whether, when or how we’re going to get there. The economic machine is out of balance and losing its horsepower. But why?

The answer is that efficiency innovations are liberating capital, and in the United States this capital is being reinvested into still more efficiency innovations. In contrast, America is generating many fewer empowering innovations than in the past. We need to reset the balance between empowering and efficiency innovations.

Clayton Christensen — A Capitalist’s Dilemma

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Did Elizabeth bring your Pinot Gris within three minutes of the time you ordered it? Were your appetizers delivered within seven minutes, entrées within ten, desserts within seven? Were these plates described at the table before they were set in front of you? Were napkins refolded when you went to the restroom? Was non-bottled water referred to as “ice water” (correct) or “water” (incorrect)?

Everywhere at Once: Chef Geoff Tracy’s Data-Driven Empire

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I like to think of funded startups vs. bootstrapped web sites like the split between signed and unsigned bands.

Think about what a band has to do if they sign with a major label. They write music, perform/record it, and play it. Now think about people like Prince, Aimee Mann, etc. that do every single aspect of their music themselves. They have to create and record and distribute music, but also book tours and hotels and hire roadies and even oversee building websites. On the positive side, those going their own way talk about making more money from lower record sales than they did on a label, even though they do a significant amount of work.

So it’s a lot of work, but I would argue it’s totally appropriate for anything that isn’t a huge world-changing idea. And there are a lot of benefits that come from it.

Matt Haughey — My Webstock Talk: Lessons from a 40 year old (now with transcript).

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When I look around the world, the businesses that dominate don’t seem to be the ones that formed around process as a rallying cry. Rather, they adapted processes to bolster world-changing, market-creating ideas. The world doesn’t need a lean startup, or a developed customer, or a REWORK’d business; it needs solutions to problems, magic where previously there was darkness. How that magic happens is interesting and maybe even useful as a basis for other people running businesses to compare to, but it’s not a recipe for success.

Alex Payne — On Business Madness

Virtual rummage sale

I’m moving to Brooklyn at the end of the month, more on that later, and need to unload the bulky household items I’ve accumulated over the past few years. These include:

If you know of anyone looking for home furniture in very good condition, I’d be willing to make a deal.

One thing I’ve observed: the market is absolutely flooded with second-hand furniture right now. I imagine this happens every June. I also know that it was nearly impossible to find the things I needed when I moved down here last August or September. This smells like a market opportunity to me.

The idea that came to mind immediately was a centralized solution: the enterprising entrepreneur would rent an empty house or storage unit, pick up all of the furniture on the market at depressed prices, store it for a couple of months, and then resell when the demand picks up again. I’d imagine that most items listed on Craigslist or on display at garage sales in June are discounted at least 50%, if not more. The biggest issue with this model, although, is that there are serious costs associated with moving the furniture twice, first to storage and then to the buyer’s home, that might well cancel out any margins.

There’s got to be a cleverer solution.

Paul Graham on what business can learn from open source

“Those in the print media who dismiss writing online because of its low average quality are missing an important point: no one reads the average blog. In the old world of channels it meant something to talk about average quality because that’s what everyone was getting whether they liked it or not. But now, now, you can read any writer you want. [...] Nor is there anything new except for names and places in most ‘news’ about things going wrong. A child gets abducted. There’s a tornado. A ferry sinks. Someone gets bitten by a shark. A small plane crashes. And what do you learn about the world from these stories? Absolutely nothing. They’re outlining data points. What makes them gripping also makes them irrelevant. As in software, when professionals produce such crap, it’s not surprising that amateurs can do better.” — Paul Graham, OSCON 2005 (at about 9 minutes and then about 12 minutes).

Timeless wisdom that’s heartening to come across every so often.