In business, reinvention is a fact of life. Staying relevant means adapting to changing trends and practices. That’s a message we’ve delivered to Fast Company readers for decades. And it’s one we’re taking to heart as we embark on a major redesign of the Fast Company website.
As part of that process, we wanted to hear from readers about what they like to see from the websites they visit, and how Fast Company can better deliver the goods and the best experience possible. One theme kept coming up: Readers said the media they consume isn’t just entertainment or even education—it’s a competitive advantage. As one reader put it, “I’m constantly researching to stay current on what’s going on.”
You likely have some long-ingrained media habits. Maybe you read the latest industry headlines while you stand in line for coffee, or you tune in to a favorite podcast during your commute. These aren’t bad habits, but sticking to this routine may narrow your world over time, exposing you to only a few familiar sources and the same subjects again and again.
Spending time with books, articles, and other content that falls outside your scope of business can make you more open to new information and generate new ideas. When you’re drawing information and ideas from a vast pool of sources, you’re more likely to consume media that nourishes your creative side and deepens your insight—and ultimately what you bring to your work. A diverse media diet can enhance your understanding of the top challenges in your industry and provide fresh motivation for your goals.
LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS
Successful people have long drawn inspiration from what they read. For example, Nancy Green, president and chief creative officer of Old Navy, recently told Fast Company that she keeps a stack of leadership-related guides and memoirs on her nightstand, ranging from Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog to Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
Amanda Hesser, cofounder and CEO of Food52, finds motivation in books published across genres and eras, such Ben Horowitz’s What You Do Is Who You Are, a nonfiction look at leaders and work culture, released this year. She also looks to Zappo’s founder Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness as a reminder that companies need to cultivate strong connections with their customers—even when their balance sheets suggest the opposite.
DON’T SKIP SOCIAL MEDIA
Experts warn that social media can be a big distraction. But sometimes there’s nothing better for an entrepreneur than plugging into social networks. Entrepreneur and photographer Joshua Kissi told Fast Company that he keeps a close eye on his favorite Instagram and Twitter accounts—a good reminder that social media isn’t just a place for mindless scrolling. It’s the medium in which some creatives are performing their best work.
As you expand your media diet, remember to set limits for yourself and aim to be intentional about your media consumption. In a culture saturated with news and constantly buzzing with conversation and entertainment, it’s important to know when to unplug. Your media consumption will be more meaningful if you turn off other distractions and focus on just one piece of media—whether it’s a book, podcast, or Twitter account—at a time.
And remember: sometimes the best way to jumpstart creativity is to simply put down your phone or close your laptop. Old Navy’s Nancy Green told Fast Company that the real kindling for her creative fire comes from the morning hikes she takes near her family home in Sun Valley, Idaho: “Some of my best ideas come when I am out on the trail, truly in wilderness.”
Fast Company has been reporting on the importance of creativity and innovation for decades. Now, we’re turning our attention to our own users. As part of this process we’ve partnered with SAP to better understand our readers’ interests and behaviors, in order to provide them with the richest, most versatile experience possible over the next 25 years.