Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, Corporate Survival
Top of Mind with Julie Rose - Radio Archive, Episode 388
- Sep 23, 2016 11:00 pm
- 1:42:56 mins
How a Man Named Nathan Built a Hot Dog Empire 100 Years Ago Guest: Lloyd Handwerker, Author of “Famous Nathan: A Family Saga of Coney Island, the American Dream, and the Search for the Perfect Hot Dog” and Director of “Famous Nathan” For 100 years, Nathan’s Famous has been synonymous with hot dogs. The annual July 4th hot-dog-eating contest is part of its fame. But more than anything, Nathan’s is famous for the iconic yellow and green sign at the corner of Surf and Stillwell on Coney Island where Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker opened a small counter and started selling hot dogs for a nickel in 1916. How that simple food stand became a multi-million-dollar business and a household name is a quintessential story of the American Dream. Nathan Handwerker’s grandson Lloyd writes about it in fascinating detail in his new book, “Famous Nathan: A Family Saga of Coney Island, The American Dream, and the Search for the Perfect Hot Dog.” Nature Holds the Keys to Corporate Survival Guests: Martin Reeves, Senior Partner at the Boston Consulting Group, Director of the BCG Henderson Institute, Author of “Your Strategy Needs a Strategy”; Simon Levin, PhD, Director of the Center for Biocomplexity at Princeton University, Author of "Fragile Dominion" “It’s a dog eat dog world.” “Only the strong survive.” “It’s a jungle out there.” Lots of business clichés make the not-so-subtle comparison to biological principals of evolution and adaption. But when it comes to actually learning lessons from the natural world about how the fittest survive, the business world isn’t such a good study. For example, part of surviving in nature is experimenting with lots of different features in a species to see what works. Businesses are inclined to think of too much failed experimentation as a waste. Nature is also really good at redundancy – the human immune system includes layers of physical barrier and chemical barriers, as well as massive amounts of extra immune cells hanging around just in case an infection shows up. Again, businesses would likely see that as a wasteful threat to profits. But business strategist Martin Reeves and Princeton biologist Simon Levin argue that corporations would do well to learn nature’s lessons of survival in this increasingly complex world.