• 12.31.01

We All Need a Fresh Start

A letter from the founding editors.

Who’s ready for a fresh start in 2002? Check that — who isn’t? Most people would agree that 2001 left us sad, somber, and more resolute. It also left us even more eager than usual to start the New Year right.


In this, our first issue of Fast Company for 2002, we offer inspiration and instruction on the art of the fresh start — and we make some fresh starts of our own. (Check out the newly refreshed Report From the Future at the front of the book and the freshly launched Master Class at the back.) We’ve bundled together a collection of pieces designed to show you how to make a fresh start with your company, with your R&D, with your own career, and with your approach to creativity. And we’ve added a look at a wartime technology that is anything but fresh: the B-52, an airplane that has been on a nonstop flight for over 40 years — and that may keep flying for 40 more.

There’s a lot to learn about starting fresh. On the Road Again tells the story of Yellow Freight System’s reinvention under the energizing leadership of CEO Bill Zollars, who turned things around by making a commitment to customers, communication, and fast technology. Roche’s New Scientific Method demonstrates in dramatic fashion how disruptive technology calls for a whole new approach to innovation. Starting Over … And Over … reminds us that a fresh start begins with an individual. In this case, that individual is Kamran Elahian, a serial entrepreneur who has learned from each of his fresh starts. Weird Ideas That Work showcases the fresh thinking of Stanford’s Robert Sutton, who offers a kind of antiwisdom about innovation.

Each piece is different; each deserves its own consideration. At the same time, it’s worth thinking across the articles to see the lessons they have in common. A fresh start, they remind us, doesn’t come easy. It takes a leader who is committed to making it happen. It takes an appreciation of technology — and a sense of humility in the face of technology’s transforming power. It takes persistence and patience. And, as philosopher Peter Koestenbaum points out in After Shock, it takes a willingness to start with yourself — to go deeper in finding your own promise. As Koestenbaum says, it’s the promise “to become the person that you were meant to be …. It’s the ultimate New Year’s resolution.”