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How Do I Begin Again?

A special message to our readers.

Now there’s tears on the pillow
darling where we slept
And you took my heart when you left
Without your sweet kiss
my soul is lost, my friend
Now tell me how do I begin again?

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These words, from an unreleased Bruce Springsteen song titled, chillingly, “My City of Ruins,” speak to the issue so many of us at Fast Company are struggling with. How do we begin again? Where do we go from here? What’s important now?

It has always been a point of pride for us — and our most important source of satisfaction — that this company exists not just to put out a magazine or to create a Web site or to convene conferences or to sell ads. We exist to serve our readers and the members of the Fast Company community. Our job is to help you do your jobs better: to build more-productive and more-valuable companies, to do smarter and more-meaningful work, to lead richer and more-rewarding lives.

But how do we do our job in light of the calamitous events of last Tuesday — events that are bound to change forever how we think about work, life, and what really matters? How do we continue to be of service? We need your help to answer those questions.

We’re not talking, in this case, about the outpouring of grief, support, and connection, or the generous offers of help, that became such a big part of the Web site last week. The immediate reaction of the global Fast Company community was profound, moving — and to be expected, given the humane values and the deep sense of engagement that so many of you obviously share. We expect that emotional connection to continue, and we certainly encourage it. (Indeed, we’ve added a new invitation: Submit a favorite poem, a song lyric, or an excerpt from a speech or a book — words of insight, wisdom, even anger that you’d like to share with others — in a dedicated community space.)

What we’re talking about in this letter is the body of work that we should try to create going forward: the ideas, problems, and challenges we need to explore; the tools and tactics we need to develop — and, most important, the kinds of stories we should tell.

Last week’s attack — and the world’s reactions and responses to it — will figure prominently in what appears on this Web site over the coming weeks and months. But even as we shape our Web lineup to respond to events, we believe that it’s important to carry on with the basic work of Fast Company — which means presenting the most compelling ideas about business, leadership, competition, and change.

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In this period of great uncertainty, we recommit ourselves to the ideas and values that this enterprise has stood for over the past five years. Freedom to pursue our dreams and launch innovative products and services. Joy in our work and in our colleagues. And an optimism that the confluence of new technologies, new ways of working, and new approaches to power and leadership will move the world in a positive direction.

Freedom. Joy. Optimism. These were targets of Tuesday’s attack just as much as the Twin Towers in New York or the Pentagon. But even as the members of the Fast Company staff go about our work with an undeniable sense of loss, we refuse to turn our back on the fundamental worldview on which this enterprise was founded.

So let us return to the questions with which this letter began. How do we begin again? Where do we go from here? What’s important now? How can we be of service? We invite you to think through these questions with us. Please tell us the sort of articles — in the magazine and on the Web site — that would be of most value to you at this moment in time. Tell us the new kinds of problems that you’d like us to help you solve, the new kinds of leaders that you’d like to meet. And tell us what we should not change as well.

The power of any community is a function of the strength of its connections. Let’s be sure, during this difficult and perilous time, to make our connections even stronger than they’ve been.

Alan M. Webber
William C. Taylor
founding editors, Fast Company

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