Fast Company's Greatest Hits: A love story
I was introduced to Fast Company (FC) in 1997, when I was a freelance writer interested in better ways of working. I'd been lucky enough to work at one of the largest media companies in the world, and yet I'd found my most useful ideas outside of it--chatting people up at network events, reading about the innovation in corporate culture. People were starting companies fresh out of college; cubicle walls were coming down. Fast Company hinted at the power of the peripheral influences that were knocking at the doors of the corporate mainstream. I thought, even if I can't dress like the people in this magazine, I aspire to WORK like them.
FC was my bible during my Web 1.0. days, when I was finally working like the people profiled in their pages. The magazine was like a catalog back then; it took days of intense reading just to get through it. And I never skipped articles--nuh-uh--I read every piece about every start-up and every innovation at companies that were desperately wanting to be perceived as getting it, lest I NOT know something about how to be successful in this world of the New, New Thing.
I was heartbroken in late 2001, when, anticipating the demise of my employer and very burned out, I opted to travel for several months and cancelled my subscription. When I returned jobless and unsure of what to do with my career, I still bothered to resume my subscription, and then the disappointment set in. The magazine was bone thin, hungry for advertising dollars, and the content was uninspired. It seemed that both the NASDAQ and Fast Company were experiencing a dark night of the soul--and why shouldn't FC, as a magazine reflecting the new economy. Still, I expected MORE from it. I had turned to FC to help me figure out where my career was going in the past, why couldn't it help me now?
I had to learn to find my own way, FC wasn't going to help me; it had it's own soul-searching to do.
Later, in early 2005, when I'd quit my corporate job to pursue my own work, I reacquainted with the magazine, this time without all of the expectations, and decided that, this time, if I really wanted satisfaction with the pub I would have to get off my duff and help create content. After all, I was a PRODUCT of the new, then tarnished, then revitalized, ecnonomy, and I, too, had plenty to share. Fast Company was only too happy to listen to my stories, and those of others who'd gone off the grid to re-approach the world of work. I became a fairly regular writer last year, curbing my pieces this year to focus on BlogHer. I noticed that FC had re-established its place on the fringes, where conversations are taking place, but pulled back on its stories about companies that used cray pas during board meetings. We all came out of that time a little more realistic and a lot smarter.