Late last year, when Fast Company sought to come up with the name for a new leadership group made up of founders, innovative executives, and creative businesspeople, one word immediately came to mind: “impact.” The term accurately captures the influence and energy of the group we’ve assembled; “Impact” also is the name we’ve assigned to one of our editorial sections, which covers world-changing ideas, social innovation, and the intersection of business and society.
Today, the Fast Company Impact Council consists of 200 individuals who are aiming to make a difference in their businesses and beyond. As the council’s inaugural year draws to a close, we asked a few members to tell us what the word “impact” means to them.
Frank Young, president of vertical market software solutions, Global Payments
“Sometimes you get ‘heads down’ in the day-to-day, and you feel like you’re putting out a lot of fires, addressing tactical dilemmas as they come up. I try to put myself up on a balcony and look out over the environment, the organization, and try to find the patterns that are emerging. Where can we have an impact on patterns, not problems. How do I solve patterns and not problems? It requires you to invite a broader, more diverse set of people into the problem-solving process to have a much bigger impact than just putting out that one individual fire.”
Mike Konzen, CEO, PGAV Destinations
“Here in St. Louis we have a fairly robust local economy, but we still have a lot of social issues that we’re dealing with. What can a design firm do in the context of all that? We have a partnership with Washington University called the Alberti Program that is free to a number of young people [from disadvantaged backgrounds] who are exposed to the design profession. Our employees love this program and it’s been part of how we evaluate our success in terms of local impact going forward.”
Chieh Tsai, chief product officer, Lands’ End
“When I hear the word ‘impact,’ I always look through the lens of: How does it affect our customer and the lives of our customers? My goal coming here and being part of the Lands’ End organization is really trying to solve the needs of our customer. How do we make products that are comfortable for them? Quality and value is of the utmost importance, and I think that’s really impactful, because when people don’t have a lot of money to spend, quality is even more important.”
Cindy Perettie, CEO, Foundation Medicine
“When I think about impact, to me it’s the ability to be able to have a profound effect on someone or something. At Foundation Medicine, we deliver molecular insights that provide a physician and a patient with their genomic profile. What does their cancer look like, what are the particular mutations driving their cancer? Our impact allows the physician and their patients to make an informed treatment choice that may lead to a better outcome because they’re able to look at targeted therapies, immunotherapies, or clinical trial options that might work for them based on their unique cancer. If a patient gets a therapy they respond to—versus putting them on costly therapies without a specific target—there’s a social impact too.”