Dr. Tina Seelig is a professor at Stanford University.
David Williams pointed me to an article about her in Psychology Today.
Her course is on âCreativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurshipâ.
She gave her class a project as follows:
In 1957, America was stunned.
The Russians launched Sputnik: the worldâs first satellite.
It passed over the USA every 90 minutes, sending out radio signals.
The USA couldnât shoot it down, they didnât have the technology.
The entire country was petrified.
American newspapers went into hysterics.
With a fleet of satellites, Russia could hit the USA whenever they wanted.
America, the worldâs most powerful country was defenceless.
At that moment the Space Race began.
For the next twenty years America would throw everything they had into beating Russia.
The world could see it was the one country they were scared of.
Russia officially became a global superpower, like the USA.
But what did it look like from the other side, the Russian side?
At the end of World War Two, Russia was broke, they could barely feed their own people.
They tried to build a nuclear missile like America had.
But theirs was too big, too unwieldy, too slow to set up.
So the scientists decided to see if they could use it to launch something, anything, just to keep their jobs.
A crude metal sphere would do, but how would they know if it worked?
They had no radar that could see anything that far away.
The cheapest and easiest way was to fit a small transmitter inside the metal sphere, just sending out âbeep beepâ signals.
So the Russian scientists sent up the little metal ball and listened for the âbeep beepâ signals to confirm it worked.
Then they went off to the canteen and thought no more about it.
But the USA didnât know it was just an empty metal ball.
To them it was something out of science fiction, an immense threat.
When Khrushchev saw the American hysteria he immediately told the scientists to launch more âfirstsâ.
Russia couldnât afford new missiles so they had to use what they had.
The missile that could just about get something up into orbit.
So they put the first living creature, a dog, into orbit.
Then they put the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit.
Then they put the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, into orbit.
Then they had a cosmonaut make the first ever space walk, in orbit.
All the Russians had was a missile that could just about achieve orbit.
But the Americans didnât know that.
With each âfirstâ the Americans got more hysterical.
As they did, they cemented Russiaâs place in the worldâs mind as the USAâs only real rival.
For Khrushchev it was a classic piece of marketing.
He made America spend all those billions on advertising Russia.
The world believed America had an equal.
Which is why you want the market leader to respond to your campaign.
To needle them into spending their money on a campaign that advertises your brand.
In the publicâs mind it becomes a two horse race.
Your brand is elevated into equality with the market leader.
And thatâs how, with hardly any money or resources, the Russian âspace teamâ took market share from the brand leader.
Of course America eventually won the space race, with their vastly superior resources they were always going to.
But Russia made sure the USA spent a lot of their money giving them a piggyback ride.
Every country struggles with the problem of prostitution.
Traditionally itâs been treated as a crime.
The solution has always been to stop women selling their bodies for sex, by arresting them.
Everywhere you look itâs the same thing: content is king.
Execution is king.
Content is what you find in school textbooks.
Itâs information, itâs dull, itâs a penance.
The vital things for homeless people are food and shelter.
That will keep them alive at least, but it wonât solve the whole problem.
It wonât make them feel like worthwhile human beings.