The new economy is out there, hiding in plain sight. from coast to coast, some 25 million Americans are citizens of Free Agent Nation. They've slipped the traces of corporate life, declared their independence, and discovered new ways of working and living. In the process, they've written a new bill of rights for business: Freedom is security. Work is fun. Working solo isn't working alone. You are what you do. To explore Free Agent Nation, Contributing Editor Daniel H. Pink took a coast-to-coast roadtrip. He also scoured the nation for the essential tools and resources that free agents — and aspiring free agents — need to prosper. We've assembled this material, including a special visit with the man who invented modern free agency, in The Fast Company Free-Agent Almanac. (No, it's not Jerry Maguire, but he's in there too.)
What's one thing that all free agents need? Copies! Plus slides, brochures, Internet connections, and a host of other services offered by Kinko's: The Free-Agent Home Office. The new world of work requires a new support infrastructure. That's where Kinko's comes in. It's the "Cheers" bar for Free Agent Nation: a place where everybody's there to help and everybody knows your name. By the way, Kinko's still makes copies — 12 billion in 1997, or two for every man, woman, and child on the planet!
Free agents don't talk about jobs. They talk about projects. And so, increasingly, do people who work inside companies. But how do you decide which projects to work on? How do you find out about hot projects? For answers to these and other practical questions, consult our guide to the most important project of all — Project: You.
Once you've read and absorbed all this advice on free agency, you'll be ready to give it a try. And where better to declare your independence than on the Web? After all, The Web Can Make You a Star! Meet four businesspeople who have used their expertise, charisma, and inside information to create their own shows — and to reach a potential audience of millions.
If all this talk of free agents leaves you feeling isolated, then let us emphasize the importance of community. Being responsible for yourself doesn't mean ignoring your connection to others — especially at this time of year. That's why Fast Company marks the season with a special Unit of One holiday edition: part giving, part giving back. What to Give highlights fun gifts in five categories: gear, travel, style, desk, play. Ways to Give Back offers hands-on insights from 19 businesspeople, who have found meaningful ways to contribute to their communities.
Of course, giving back isn't limited to the holidays. And good ideas about how to do it aren't limited to these 19 people. To keep the conversation going, we've created a special area on our Web site http://www.fastcompany.com/givingback . If you want to tell others about your best practice for giving back, this the place. We, the people of Free Agent Nation, may work on our own, but none of us is alone.
One last word on community. We've always believed that Fast Company is more than a magazine — it's a resource for a community of people who believe that they can make a difference in business and that business can make a difference in the world.
To help inform and expand that community, we're organizing Fast Company Real Time, the first gathering for Fast Company readers. It will take place in Monterey, California on June 15-16, 1998. For more information on this event, visit the Web http://www.fastcompany.com/realtime .
A version of this article appeared in the December 1997/January 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.