Ravens and MailBox Money

At the Thursday meeting last week, we discussed disruptive technologies and what we could do in the Vail Valley. We threw around a couple ideas, but really got stuck on the whole ski school thing. The bottom line is that, sometimes, the legal system will shut down new entrants into a market. In fact, the government is allowed to give out monopolies.

I’ll write more on that later but, as happens, I was driving with my friend Brent the other day discussing these things and he told me the following story about one of the more innovative but least disruptive ways of making money I’ve ever heard.

Brent told me a story about someone he knew back in college. This bloke whom I’ll call….Jake, was working on a masters degree and his thesis involved ravens (possibly crows). What Jake learned was that ravens were more clever as scavengers than he thought.

Here is what Jake did, he trained a raven from birth to pick up shinny round things and place them in a box, for the reward of a peanut. The result, the bird learned to pick up coins for food (also washers, and other round shinny things). Neat little trick, no?

But here is the real result. When Jake released this ONE BIRD into the wild, not only did it continue to forage for coins, but other birds saw the behavior and mimicked it!

For sum total of about $400 in change a week! (AKA, $20k/yr of non-taxable income).

Talk about MailBox Money.

(Mail Box money that comes to you with little or not extra work usually by maintaining ownership in a company or process that no longer requires personal effort this give you financial freedom to be creative in your endeavors).

So where is Brad’s little rant or lesson to share? This is a genuine combination play of two very old processes, picking up change & bird training, however it was the insight to combine the two that makes this new. It is NOT disruptive, it is innovative but more importantly it is valuable enough on its own to make it worth its time.

So as news organizations continue to love the concept and term ‘disruptive’ I suggest that we continue to work towards our goals, and that does not have to be disruptive at all.

But hey, what do I know?


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