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Who’s Fast

A letter from the founding editors.

Well, this is the last issue of Fast Company that you’ll get this millennium, so it seems like a good time for a look backward — and a look forward. In November 1995, the first issue of Fast Company appeared. Its cover was a manifesto containing four propositions, each displayed in “tortured type”: Work Is Personal. Computing Is Social. Knowledge Is Power. Break the Rules. At the time, the new economy was uncharted territory, and its operating principles were as yet unwritten. There were a few things that we thought we knew — for example, the idea that in the new economy, one person with a link to the Web, a strong network of personal contacts, a sprinkling of venture capital, and a great idea can reinvent an entire industry.

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Four years later, more than one person has done just that. And four years later, we’ve learned a lot about the rules of engagement in the new economy. First, we’ve learned that the team with the best talent wins. In an economy powered by the energy of the individual, you simply cannot have enough talent on your side.

Second, we’ve learned that the team with the best ideas wins. You can outsmart, outthink, and outinnovate the competition. The new challenge: to keep your mind open to new possibilities — and your ears open to new ways of thinking.

Third, we’ve learned that the team with the best implementation wins. Outthinking the competition will take you only so far: You’ve got to outimplement the competition as well.

Fourth, we’ve learned that the team with the best leadership wins. But not the old-style, command-and-control leadership: We’re looking for grassroots leaders who can take initiative at all levels of the organization.

Finally, we’ve learned that the team with the clearest sense of purpose wins. When anything is possible, what really matters? When one person can make a powerful difference, what is worth doing?

In the spirit of these defining principles, we turn the page to a new millennium — and introduce you to this year’s inductees into the Fast Company Who’s Fast Hall of Fame: We present 15 stories about people who define what it means to be fast — and who inspire us all to remember both what it takes to win and why winning matters.

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