My Favorite Classic Instructional Video

by Nico Scopelliti

The video below is one step removed from the subjects of logistics, supply chain, or transportation, but anyone who appreciates one will appreciate the other. And it happens to be my favorite old-time instructional video of all time.

"Around the Corner," presented in 1937 by Chevrolet and produced by the Jam Handy Organization, is a work of genius. It explains the working of the differential gear, and I don't know which exhibits more ingenuity and sheer brilliance — the differential itself or this documentary explaining it. The video takes a complex mechanical challenge, presents it in an easily digestible format that engages the mind, breaks it down into in simple, sequential steps, and successfully educates the viewer in less than 10 minutes.

My personal introduction to the differential came in the form of a car accident. I had borrowed my friend's '87 Silverado (yeah, it seems Chevrolet really wanted me to watch their video one day) because I needed to move a bed. I was driving along, obeying the speed limit (about 45 mph) when a small delivery vehicle pulled out in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop about a hair's breadth short of a collision. The idiot in front of me drove off, but I was left stranded. The engine still ran perfectly, but the rear wheels were frozen in place. After the car was towed to a mechanic's shop and examined, it turned out that the internal workings of the rear differential had been completely destroyed. The gear had been subjected to such a tremendous force that it essentially exploded, leaving a hole in the outer casing that made it look as if a bullet had been fired from within. Naturally, this piqued my interest... what the hell is a differential anyway?

Well, the video below does a stellar job of explaining. (Don't skip the introduction. Synchronized motorcycle riding may be a little hokey, but the intro has a purpose, and it segues nicely into a conceptual description of the problem a differential solves.)


Unless you're mechanically inclined or naturally curious about such things, you may be wondering, What benefit does this video offer me?

Well, whatever your job, your responsibilities likely include educating someone from time to time, be it someone who reports to you, a colleague, your boss, a client, a prospect, or the market you serve. One way or another, odds are you have to teach — or at least communicate — something to them that they don't know.

Whenever I have to teach something, I take inspiration from Jam Handy's video. It reminds me that even a complex subject can be made comprehensible if you take the time to break it down into simple enough pieces and present it visually in a manner that will make sense to the audience.

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