Industries In The Shadow Of Decline

The following post is by my colleague, Jamie Baker, with whom I’ve had the pleasure working with for the past 6 years. He is the “Digital Dream Manager” for Gray Television and has an astounding passion for the broadcast industry, the digital world and change. A while back, I asked Jamie if he would write some of his thoughts down so I could share them here. Today, I am very excited to post this first article on The New Remarkable. -erin

Mike Baird Wagon Wheel

Myopia–a lack of foresight,  a narrow view of something.

In 1960, Harvard Business School professor, Theodore Levitt, stated that “Every major industry was once a growth industry.”

In every era of history, industries that had once been riding a wave of growth were found in the shadow of decline. In his now-famous Harvard Business Review article, Marketing Myopia, Levitt asserted that, in every case, the reason growth slows or stops was not because a specific market was saturated, but because many who were once industry leaders suffered from myopia. In other words, they lacked real discernment and long-range perspective in thinking and planning.(1)

The first example I would like to focus on is the wagon and carriage industry, particularly at the end of the 19th century.

Thomas A. Kinney, assistant professor of history at Bluefield College in Virginia, suggests that there were 13,000 businesses in the wagon and carriage industry in 1890. With the advent of the automobile, the companies that survived were the ones who had the proper vision and understanding about this new and emerging opportunity.(2)

The companies that made the transition from the wagon and carriage industry to the emerging automobile industry, had the foresight to know that they had something relevant to the new and emerging auto industry. “The people who made the most successful transition [to the automobile industry] were not the carriage makers, but the carriage parts makers, some of whom are still in business”.

Carriage makers tried their best to remake themselves into automakers “but they were expert woodworkers without expertise in precision metalworking,” says Kinney. Businesses like axle and carriage lamp makers had the opportunity and transitioned very successfully from the wagon and carriage industry to the automobile industry.

Can you think of some other prominent instances throughout history where important industries shifted from steady growth to swirling decline? Why did the decline take place and what were the contributing factors? Could the drop-off have been averted? And, are there examples of contemporary industries that are currently in the shadow of decline?

In our next entry, we will learn about another prominent industry that shifted from explosive growth to detrimental decline.


1)     “Marketing Myopia”, by Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business Review, 1960 (

2)     Thomas A. Kinney, quoted in “Failing Like a Buggy Whip Maker? Better Check Your Simile”,, by Randall Stross, January 9, 2010 (


A little bit about the author, Jamie Baker @DigitalDreamMan:

As Gray Television, Inc’s Digital Dream Manager, Jamie loves leading, teaching and encouraging so that others become more informed, effective and successful. He lives in Harrisonburg, VA with his wife Kim. They have three grown children.








Wagon Wheel photo courtesy of Mike Baird

The Ridiculous Standards Of Beauty Amongst Women

Even as a grown woman, I still find myself struggling with being my authentic self and ignoring the inner voice that tells me to follow social norms.

Please watch this video. In it, the young poet, Lily, paints an honest picture of the elephant in the room. We owe it to the girls who will follow us in to adulthood to start the conversation and begin to change within, now.

Lily Myers – “Shrinking Women” (CUPSI 2013)

Sometimes, The Goal Should Be Simply Just To Get Wet

Get Wet TriathlonA few years ago, I decided to start training for the sport of triathlon. I’ve always been a runner and I’ve found that I can excel at biking when I log the hours. What I also found is that I do not like swimming. My coach told me I could be a decent swimmer but I let my own fears get to me and every time I hit the water for a race, I panicked.

Eventually, I slowed down in the amount of training and races I was doing because I was so discouraged by my disinterest in swimming. At some point, I realized how much I missed the challenge. It made me think about some of the chances people miss out on in life because they are too worried about the outcome. They miss the experience altogether because of their anxiety of completing the task.

I’ve always been a big proponent of imperfection. Failure is going to happen–it’s inevitable. It’s how we deal with those failures that make us who we are. In thinking about my triathlon training, I realized that I was too focused on the finish line and the pain it was going to take to get there rather than the experience I would have along the way. Sometimes, the goal is not always the end-product. Sometimes, the goal should be simply just to get wet…

Share Love, It Will Return In Big Ways

Toy Convoy WHSV Share Love

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” -Mother Teresa

Today, no matter how wonderful or challenging your life is right at this moment, remember to be kind. It’s nearly impossible to share a smile with someone and not have that smile affect you positively in a big way right back. Give what you can. Maybe that’s through words of encouragement, maybe it’s emptying your pockets for the Salvation Army bell ringers, maybe it’s paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line. Whatever you do, do it will good will and cheer. That’s how you can make a difference in the lives of others and your own, immediately. Share the love!

Balance Is Less About Circumstance And More About Perspective

Life Balance

Life-balance is not so much as a perfect balancing act but a constant awareness of the ebb and flow of the priorities in our lives.

Last week, I wrote five “go-to” tips for feeling more balanced in life. The discussion around life-balance traditional roles become more obsolete. But the assumption that everything has to be perfectly equal or your life is out of balance is absurd and quite frankly, impossible. For me, balance is less about circumstance than it is about perspective.

Different times of your life will require more focus on certain areas than others. And that’s okay. You can’t control when your focus in life needs to turn towards a sick family member or when someone in your department at works quits, leaving you to cover the bases. And you certainly can’t predict whether your significant will remember the Christmas gifts on the kitchen counter before you drive hours to visit family. But you can control the perspective that you personally bring to the challenges you are faced with.

You never know what’s coming next in life. Assume that unexpected events will occur and you’ll set yourself up to revel in the good surprises and be more prepared for the bad ones. The first way to allowing yourself more balance in life is to create some time for the unexpected. We are all too busy. We all think we can’t slow down. But when we don’t leave time for the inevitable and unpredictable, we can feel what we perceive as balance in our lives quickly slip away.

And when in doubt–when I feel like something is unintentionally off in my life–I ask myself “What am I doing for myself?” “What am I doing for the world around me?” and “What am I doing for the ones I love?” By answering those three questions, it’s easier to see when I’m sacrificing one area more for another without a specific purpose and then I readjust.

We can’t control what most of what happens in life, but we can control how we see and react to those things. True balance in life comes from that perspective.


twitter facebook linkedin google+ klout instagram pinterest youtube tumblr