Alan Webber and Polly LaBarre: Welcome to RealTime

Alan Webber and Polly LaBarre: Welcome to RealTime

Alan Webber is a founding editor of Fast Company magazine. Polly LaBarre works as a senior editor for Fast Company. Here is a rough transcript of their introductory comments:

Alan Webber: Welcome to RealTime Miami, everybody. How are you doing?

Polly LaBarre: I got a wakeup call this morning from Celia Cruz.

Alan: What do we have to do this morning, Polly? We have some business to do.

Polly: First of all, we need to introduce the new sheriff in town.

Alan: 10 years ago, Bill Taylor and I wrote the Fast Company business plan. About two months ago, Bill and Alan said it was time for us to give ourselves a promotion and become consultants to Fast Company. We wanted to replace ourselves with one of the smartest guys around. One of the people who was at the top of our list in the very beginning when we started the magazine was John Byrne, but he was too busy writing cover stories for BusinessWeek. Finally, we got our man.

John A. Byrne: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here. After that great introduction, I have a confession. I have a confession. I learned my first leadership lesson last night. Somehow, during the game last night, a teammate and I got separated from the rest of our group. We went off to find the Citibank building, and we never got back together with our group. I promise the staff -- and I promise you -- that I'll be a better leader than that.

This conference is one of the best focus groups I could ask for. Come up to me and let me know what you like, what you don't like, and what you would like us to do as the magazine continues to evolve.

Alan: If you have complaints about the magazine, please take them to John.

Now we're onto the more serious business of the morning and the real reason why we're here. We're going to try to set the context for this event before we get to the real talent of our speakers. I want to take a few minutes and be personal and go back in time a little for the last 10 years -- where we've come from, where we are today, and where we're going tomorrow. When you pick up the newspaper in the morning, there's a tendency for the headlines to be slightly doom and gloom-ish. The predominate sensibility of the last two years is that this is a good time to sit on your hands and wait for better times to come. The subtext for why we're here is the case for optimism.

When I look back at the achievements of the people who read and subscribe to the magazine, it's all about optimism. I want to cite three things -- three quick touch points for the case for optimism. No. 1, when we think about the last 10 years, the 1990s, there's a tendency to think about the dotcom bust, the stock market crash, and the corruption. That's the wrong stuff to look at. When you look at what Fast Company has written about for the last 10 years, we were right. We were right about globalism. We were right about the generational shift. We were right about a lot of things.

Second thing, everyone's waiting for information technology and the return of the market for IT. The last 10 years was about laying down the network. The next 10 years we're going to change the world using the bed of technology that we have now.

The third thing, if you look at the list of industries represented by you all in this room, yes, there are a lot of people having a hard time. But there is also at least one company or person who's doing well, changing the game, and doing something different. The industries are different. The competitors are different. But the game of winning is the same.

As the legacy of attending RealTime and as the commitment of reading Fast Company, when you go home, change the conversation in your workplace. Instead of a conversation about doom and gloom, change the conversation to one about change, innovation, and creativity.

Polly: We've always believed that you have a choice -- the voices of hope or the voices of despair. What this event is about -- what Fast Company as a magazine is about -- is hearing about the bold leaders in bold companies and fearless innovators. They're animated by a totally different force. They understand that we live in a world of opportunity. They understand that the world of business is changing. And they understand that the goal isn't to just survive in this environment but to be great.

The whole world is having a Po Bronson moment: What should I do with my life? It's tough because work is nt the 24-7 thrill ride that it was just a few years ago. Is it time to downsize our dreams? The price of chasing the dream just went up a little. But the good news is that there's less competition for good ideas. You can choose to be great. Why not be great? 75% of adults in the world are incapable of original thought. 25% are on this courageous hero's journey.

Alan: It's time to bring up the real talent. Imagine if you will that you have the opportunity to go to work every morning and have clients like Southwest Airlines, Krispy Kreme, and the PGA Tour. You work at a company that's known as an idea factory. What gets talked about every day is the importance of passion, the vital energy that comes from inspiration, and the dramatic engagement of creating the organizations of the future. RealTimers, please welcome Roy Spence.

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