What do these companies — Burger King, MTV, CNN, FedEx, Intel and Microsoft — have in common that’s related to the current economic situation?

They all began during slow economic times and each has been a significant force in modern culture. There have been 8 U.S. recessions since the Great Depression (1953, 1957-8, 1973-5, 1980 & 81-82, 1990-91, and 2001-2) and interesting things took place in each of them.

-Burger King started in 1954 when the Florida franchisees of the Insta-burger King chain, James McLamore and David Edgerton, began their takeover.

-Fred Smith started FedEx express in 1971 in Arkansas, but lack of support from the airport led him to move to Memphis during the 1973 recession.

-That was also the year that an employee of Honeywell (Paul Allen) and a Harvard student (William Gates, III) were inspired by the appearance of the MITS Altair 8800 computer on the cover of Popular Electronics to create a version of BASIC that would run on it.-During the double-dip recession that began in 1980 both MTV and CNN got their starts. Ted Turner (CNN) started a music video channel (Cable Music Channel) in 1984, but after one money-losing month sold it to MTV who developed it into VH1.

Game-changing innovation doesn’t depend on an abundance of time or resources. It thrives whenever people are energized by possibility. Perhaps it does even better in tough times because a certain discomfort can get us to get up and do something about our discontent.

A sufficient lack of comfort can get you moving on the great ideas incubating in your noggin or that are cultivated in a late-night bull session. I’m eager to see the next world-changing idea come out of the garage. And this is the right time for it.

What innovative ideas have been generated within your organization since the recent economic slump?

– Doug Riddle

Thanks to Bruce Goodman of the Michigan law firm Varnum in their November Energy newsletter “Watts News,” referenced in the ACC news feed:  ACC Link

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