People keep asking me what my one takeaway is from time spent in Austin. I imagine they’re looking for some golden nugget of information that I may have gleaned from the conference — something to enlighten us all. But there really isn’t one. Unless it’s this: learn something new every day. Preferably about a subject you may have never given any thought to at all. Like cargo containers.
If you’ve never delved into the world of cargo containers before you will be surprised at their impact on our economy and environment. Each ship that carries them puts out more emission particles each year than 50 million cars. Ninety percent of the world’s goods, from apparel to raw materials to agricultural products are shipped in cargo containers. Virtually all of the containers that leave U.S. ports for their voyage back to Asia depart empty. Meanwhile only 10 percent of U.S. companies export anything. That’s a huge opportunity.
Slow the speed of a ship carrying cargo containers from 25 knots to 19 knots and you save $150,000 a day. Eliminate Black Friday and you can slow down an awful lot of those boats.
So, you know what the solution is? Social media: a network that connects haulers, shippers, consumer and cargo containers. If consumers could have more say in what goods they wanted, where they wanted them and when they wanted (or needed) their arrival, it could have a significant affect on the environment. If the newest cargo containers — the kind that fold from 20 feet to 19 inches — could check in with each other, they could reduce the space they need on ships should they have to go back empty. (The new containers need to snap together.) And if non-exporting companies had more access to the old empty containers, perhaps they’d consider exporting.
Learning stuff like this may not change your life, your business or your way of working. But it certainly opens your mind to new ways of thinking and connecting ideas. Consider that you might actually have more of a positive impact on the environment by delaying the purchase of a new iPad (allowing it to be shipped more slowly) than by lowering your thermostat. Finally you begin to see new potential in the tools you work with every day.
What did you learn today?