Make your long trips go faster

If you want to make your next plane or car trip go by faster, I have a great way to do it for those interested in tech business. It’s a podcast with some of the most interesting business stories told in a fascinating and rivetting manner. It’s called Acquired. The show has been ranked the #1 Technology show on Apple Podcasts. Each episode has about 300,000 listeners.  

What’s so unusual is, unlike most podcasts, each Acquired episode is often three or more hours in length. It’s hard to imagine being mesmerized by a podcast that’s so long that it would make us restless if it were a movie. But it’s unlike anything you’ve experienced.

I first listened to their episode on TSMC, the Taiwanese semi-conductor manufacturer. It was recommended by a Taiwanese business friend that praised it for its accuracy and depth. I found it fascinating, as it described how its founder stumbled through several jobs before starting his company. I couldn’t imagine a better business podcast until I listened to another one of its episodes about Sony Corporation, and then again, listened to its recently posted story of Costco’s founding and revolutionary business model.

Each story usually begin with the founder’s early life, well before the company has been established. But they move along quickly and you’re always eager to hear more. They are filled with inside tidbits and details that most of us were never aware of. For example, the Costco episode explains how the company can sell products with only an 11% margin, yet still make a record $750,000 per employee. The secret behind their success begins with the very low number of products that creates an amazing number of advantages you would not have imagined.

The format’s two founders, Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal, talk back and forth about the subject company, explaining to each other the details about its operation and its personalities. They convey an excitement and awe when they uncover something special. While it comes across as informal, they’ve done a huge amount of research on their subject. You come away with a real understanding of the company, it’s personalities, its practices and how it operates today. Each episode is told like a story, not a recitation of business facts, carefully researched and delivered with a lightheartedness, passion and real excitement.  

iPhone’s new bedside clock

I’ve been testing the new beta iOS17 software for iPhones. While it’s filled with scores of new features, one of the niftiest is a new clock mode that turns your phone into a clock with a beautiful illuminated dial. The software is due to be released in a couple of weeks.

by Phil Baker