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Do You Use Your Business Without Understanding It?

Every day people use things they don’t really understand. Things like their vehicles, televisions, and computers.

Do you use your business the same way? If so, what is “The Bad” that comes from that? Let’s find out—and what you could change to get better results—in this solo episode of the Cold Star Project:

whaling whale oil fuel do you use your business without understanding it cold star project podcast
Whaling – Wikipedia Commons: fair use

Transcript / Show Notes

We use things we don’t understand.



Microwave ovens.

Even telephones.

Can you explain how any of these things work? Most people can’t. Not a clue.

What about your business?

Are you doing the same thing: using it without understanding it?

I’ll give you a pass on electricity.

Look up a definition of it and you’ll find many of them self-reference. “Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion of electric charge.” Um, thanks. The noun is defined by itself as a measurement. Wow. Or even worse, “a form of energy resulting from the existence of charged particles (such as electrons or protons), either statically as an accumulation of charge or dynamically as a current.” What gobbledygook!

At least from that one you can take away the idea that it’s a form of energy.

Cars, well, they are made of systems. The main one turns an energy source (petroleum fuel) into physical energy (the drivetrain turning the wheels to send you down the street.) If people understood only that much, it’d be an improvement.

Micowave ovens pass a specific wavelength of energy into the food or drink. They turn electricity into heat. Presto! Warmed consumable.

Telephones are an interesing example of using things without understanding them because they’ve had a modern change in how they do part of what they do. This is illuminating because you can start seeing how a sort of ‘changeout, plug and play’ idea can be used with other items.

Your voice is turned into a vibration (like an audio speaker in reverse), which is then turned into a series of digital blips. Those blips used to be sent down a wire to someone else’s phone, where they would be turned back into the vibration and reproduced through the speaker to the listener.

It’s fun to notice that the sound you hear isn’t your friend’s voice. It’s a * reproduction * of it.

Technology changes, though, and since being invented in the 1970s cellular towers have taken the place of wires to communicate the blips.

Another nifty point to notice is how old the idea is that we’re using as the backbone of our communications network. They’re always upgrading it (3G to 4G, for instance—and none of us knows what that means, either, do we?) but the concept is nearing 50 years of age.

Makes you wonder if we could be using something better to transfer our data, but the powers that be are holding back because they’ve invested large in this cell network.

Of course I didn’t mention satellites, which the cell towers bounce the blips up and down from to send our voice reproductions around the planet to where they need to be. In moments, too…you have to appreciate the speed.

If you could unplug ‘wires’ and plug in ‘cellular networks’ in the phone system, how could you take that concept to your business and its ability to scale in the future?

Let’s talk about energy, because that’s been a sort of ‘changeout, plug and play’ thing too over the years.

If we were living sometime between around the 1600s through the later 1800s, we’d think whale oil was fuel. You think of those big sailing ships and all those masts clustered in harbors, right? Many of those are whaling ships, in from killing, stripping blubber from, and boiling oil from those unfortunate whales.

Electricity didn’t catch on until Volta figured out how to do something serious with it and only in the later 1800s did it start getting adopted. We’ll return to electricity in a minute.

In the meantime, we have coal.

You’ll crack a smile about the threat of some bad boy or girl getting “a lump of coal” in their stocking, in some kind of Scrooge-esque Christmas Story kind of way. To us that’d be something useless. But when I tell you coal supplanted whale oil as the big fuel source, the thing you burn for heat, and you transport yourself mentally back to that Victorian time, maybe you won’t see it as a slap in the face. That lump of coal is someone caring about your wellbeing…”I’d like you to be warm.”

Coal is a rock. Somebody figured out that you could burn this rock, and it gave off a lot of heat for a long time relative to its size.

How long? Fans of the Silent Hill game series are likely to know about the real world town of Centralia, PA, where an underground coal fire has been burning for almost SIXTY YEARS.

The first engine-powered ships were powered by coal, and many homes’ furnaces were fueled by this rock. Coaling a ship was a big operation: a second vessel, called the collier, would have to come alongside and the coal transferred over to the warship’s hold. It would take over 12 hours to refuel a typical ship, during which the warship couldn’t do very much at all.

Power plants around the world were made that use coal as their fuel. At least 40% of the world’s fuel still comes from coal today.

How coal turns into heat in an historical home furnace by being burned is a pretty easy picture to grasp. But how does coal turn into electricity? This is useful for our ‘changeout, plug and play’ idea.

The coal is burned and produces gas from a boiler. That gas is steam, and the movement of the steam is used to turn a turbine (think of a big wheel with spinning blades.) That turbine shaft goes into a generator, which takes the motion and through things called stator windings—and those are what make the electricity.

Natural gas has often supplanted coal as the fuel source, what you’re burning to heat the boiler water and turn that into the steam that turns the turbine to produce electricity.

“What’s Hydro, then?” you may ask. Dams are popular power sources in my home province of British Columbia, as rivers are in plentiful supply. Water passing through the dam uses the pressure of the river and the blockage of the dam to turn the turbines. Notice how everything after the turbines is the same: that’s the ‘changeout, plug and play.”

Nuclear plants work the same way: splitting uranium atoms gives off so much heat it boils the water in the boiler that turns into steam and turns those turbines.

Ships used to be run by wind power…then coal…then petroleum oil…and now we have nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers that don’t need to refuel for * decades. *

Think of our electrical network, which has all these different fuel sources plugged into it, all ultimately turning turbines to create that electrical energy.

How can you use what you’ve learned here in your business?

Well, the thing in the middle is the same, isn’t it. The electrical network, what you produce—money, in your case, or happy clients—is the constant output.

But plugging into that might be several different sources of fuel to be used.

Organic traffic.

Paid traffic.


Joint Ventures.

Strategic Partnerships.

Many, many more options are available to you.

So—are you just using your business…or do you understand it?

What To Do Next

Cold Star Technologies agents are ready to diagnose the most powerful opportunities for improvement within your business, and help you understand it better. To book a time to talk about your situation, click here.

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