This issue marks Fast Company's first anniversary — a year of growth, exploration, discovery, and change. Much about the magazine has evolved over our first six issues. We've been finding our editorial voice, fine-tuning our look and feel, evolving the formats in which we present ideas and information. What has remained rock solid, though, are the core beliefs around which we launched the magazine: the proposition that a new generation of businesspeople is changing how people work and what work stands for; that as a result, companies are changing in fundamental ways; and that business, in turn, has become the most powerful force changing the world.
For the magazine as a product, Year 1 has been about hits and misses, trial and error, and learning from reader feedback. We've been looking for — and finding — a new cast of characters to write about, people and companies whose triumphs and struggles speak to challenges of creating this new world of business. We've been identifying the opportunities and worries of the new-company hard chargers, big-company change agents, and future-of-business thinkers who are creating the new rules by which everyone else is being forced to play.
For the magazine as a movement, Year 1 has been about the growing support for a shared agenda among businesspeople in companies of all sizes, in all industries, of all ages, who rally to a set of emerging principles of work and life. For Fast Company as a team, it's been about the gratifying support we've received from readers, advertisers, new-found friends, and long-standing allies.
Year 2 begins with this issue — and with a look both back and forward. To commemorate our first anniversary, we've created a special "Unit of One Handbook" full of provocative ideas and tangible advice. We invited 33 of the business leaders we chronicled in our first six issues to each contribute one idea for the year ahead that one person could put to use. The four themes around which we've organized these contributions — leadership, personal success, change, learning — represent four key elements of what Fast Company will cover in the year ahead.
Our cover story for Year 2 is also a look back and forward: FC1 stated our opening manifesto for the future of business: "Work is Personal. Computing is Social. Knowledge is Power. Break the Rules." FC 7 offers a manifesto for the most powerful force sweeping business today — the startup revolution. Whether you're starting a company, joining a startup — or seeking to rejuvenate an older company so it feels like a startup — we live an economy of startups. It's where the action is. It's where more and more people want to be. Fred Moody's story on the Seattle startup scene ("The Only Thing that Matters") captures the animal spirits at work in the startup world; Michael Malone's interview with the world's most powerful venture capitalist ("John Doerr's Startup Manual") offers personalized advice on how to get in on the action.
The Tools article in this issue continues the series of hands-on features that "In the Loop" feedback has told us readers value so highly. Who isn't called upon to make presentations, often to the most senior executives in their company? Who doesn't dread having to do it? Who doesn't need help? Who shouldn't read Eric Matson's article ("Now that We've Got Your Complete Attention...")?
In our ongoing search for fast companies — ultra-competitive organizations whose business models and operating practices are worth learning from — we take you "Back to the Farm." But the article is not about agribusiness. Rob Walker describes how the down-to-earth values and on-the-edge technologies of family farming helped rescue $2.5 billion Rosenbluth International, the world's third largest travel-service company, by creating a new set of principles which this undeniably fast company could rally 'round.
So open FC7 and join with us in celebrating our anniversary. Light up a cigar — you'll find a helpful guide to this nouveau business fad in "NetWork#7". And as we begin Year 2, remember: for Fast Company to grow, for the ideas and practices to spread, we need to hear from you. Send us email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us how to make the magazine more useful and provocative.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb/Mar 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.