Why You Should Read Business Success Stories

People talk of cabin fever, but more and more the worry is over what we might call “cabin despair.”

There is more outside than we realize.

Winter cold usually keeps us in, and Covid restrictions have taken away our remaining options to get out and expand our world.  As our world shrinks we experience fewer of the people and things we value.  This robs us of inspiration, motivation, and hope.  Without this fuel we start to wonder how tomorrow holds anything worth the effort. 

There is no single solution to the effects of increasing isolation.  Friends and family are most important, of course.  But since this is a blog about business, I’d like to take a walk in that direction.   

In, “On the Nature of Things”, Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius tells us “There is nothing that exists so great or marvelous that over time mankind does not admire it less and less.” 

Lucretius’s insight is that looking only at the present restricts our world.  We see only what is in front of us, like the four walls of our room, we take things for granted and rob ourselves of the values we could find.

We tend not to think much about the businesses that provide the things we want and need.  We pay.  We get. We go on to something else. There’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s how life usually goes, but life is not going usually these days.  By looking at the story of a business we can see the innovation, the struggle, and the courage it took to find the business solutions we now take for granted. There are even clues for how to do better business today — how to bring value into the world.

We can access these stories from home.  Two of my favorites have been “The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger” by Marc Levinson and a small book about the rise of a regional gas station/convenience store in Western Pennsylvania: “Made to Order: The Sheetz Story” by Kenneth Womack. 

And this is the point: we’ve all seen shipping containers and gas stations.  We got the things we ordered.  We bought gas and candy.  So what?  So read the stories and see how these are human creations and you may well find something of value in the world beyond the four walls we seem trapped in today.