Lessons from The Box by Marc Levinson

A few notes I took after reading The Box by Marc Levinson.

  • The biggest disruption by technology is where business is corrupt, with a lot of government regulation, and inefficient labor.
  • If the only labor you offer is a strong back your job is about to be eliminated by a new technology. The productivity gains are too much.
  • Heavily unionized labor is prime for disruption. Union leaders are inflexible and don’t care about the consumer. Consumers want cost savings and better services. Consumer demand will always trump unions and their leaders.
  • Heavy government regulation gets in the way of new technology. Politicians think short-term. They think about getting re-elected. Politicians aren’t interested in letting the market push and shape the new technologies.
  • For brand new technologies to take off you need the visionary, the relentless front-man, the man who stakes his livelihood on it like Malcom McLean and container shipping.
  • If the market is there take on debt, issue shares, get capital now to get to there first. If you wait too long for your capital to build you will miss the first mover advantage.
  • You don’t have to have the answer to all your problems with your business. Simply know what your problems are and then higher smart people to solve them.
  • Experts are poor fortune tellers. They don’t know the future.
  • Cost cutting in business and in life has to be a focus every day.
  • Sell a commodity business at its peak cycle and buy it back during the bust.
  • Disruption by new technology takes a lot longer than people expect. If it is a highly capital intensive business like shipping it will take a very long time.