Steal These Ideas

A letter from the founding editors.

What’s the coolest idea that you’ve heard recently? The hippest TV ad that you’ve seen? The neatest Web site that you’ve visited? Have you passed that information along to any of your buddies? If you have, says Seth Godin, then you’re an idea merchant, and you’re in the business of spreading “ideaviruses.”


Ideaviruses are the most powerful tool that we have today for introducing new products, for establishing new brands, and for creating new wealth. And the best part? Ideaviruses don’t just happen by accident! In “Unleash Your Ideavirus,” Godin walks you through a step-by-step approach to spreading your ideas swiftly, effectively, and profitably. By the way, the “ideavirus” concept is itself an ideavirus. So feel free to spread it!

Looking for more good ideas that you can profit from? Do you remember your first job? You were in training while you held that job, but what were you really training for? Take a look at this issue’s Unit of One section, “Training to Work,” in which 15 top achievers — from Richard Branson to Tom Brokaw — revisit their first jobs and reveal what they learned along the way. The big idea here: Experience teaches you lessons whose value you may not recognize until much later.

If you’re looking for ideas that truly reflect the spirit of our time, then read the two pieces in our “Character Test” package. “Soul Proprietor,” by Keith H. Hammonds, offers a gut-wrenching look at the work of Troy Tyler and his partners at smartRay Network Inc. Pulling no punches, the article shows that entrepreneurship is about being an outsider — and about taking risks. Nothing is romanticized here. Tyler and his teammates are living the entrepreneurial life on the edge.

And for a youthful look at the life of today’s entrepreneur, check out “Youth Movement,” by Curtis Sittenfeld — a state-of-the-art report on two of the new economy’s new business leaders: Michael Furdyk, 18, and Jennifer Corriero, 20. Topping off their startup efforts and their speaking gigs, they’re now winding up a six-month consulting job at Microsoft, where they’ve been helping the company scope out the future of knowledge work. These aren’t young people who happen to be talented; these are talented people who happen to be young. This is an issue that’s chock-full of ideas. Read them. Steal them. Spread them. After all, that’s what good ideas are for.