When I first walked through the doors of Inc magazine, in January 1982, it never occurred to me that I'd still be here more than two decades later. I was just 33 years old at the time, and at that age it was hard to imagine where I'd be in two months, let alone 20 years. Besides, Inc was a start-up just entering its hypergrowth phase. We didn't have time to think about much beyond getting the next issue out the door.
Inc and I were an odd couple back then. There was absolutely nothing in my background to suggest that I was the right guy to guide a young, evolving business magazine. I had been an arts-and-entertainment editor in New York, had run a city magazine, and had tried in vain to launch a national chain of urban-home-design magazines. Aside from what I'd learned in that experience, I didn't know much about business. What I did know I found about as interesting as Olympic curling.
But within days of coming to the magazine I began to realize that there was a side of business I'd been completely unaware of. I discovered a generation of founders who were creating businesses not just to make a buck but to make a difference -- people who were using capitalism to change the world and who, in the process, were transforming the world of business itself. In the beginning many of them didn't know much more about business than I did, but together we learned that entrepreneurship was a set of skills and attitudes that could take you just about anywhere you wanted to go.
Looking back, I realize that that sense of mutual discovery was one major factor that kept me at Inc all these years. Another was the sheer thrill of making magazines with the most extraordinary group of professionals in the business. For all the talk about a magazine reflecting the interests, personality, and sensibility of its editor-in-chief, building a magazine and a brand is -- like building a company -- a team sport. I've had the privilege of working with the best, and I'm proud to call them my colleagues and my friends.
Finally, I have you, the readers of this magazine, to blame for my lingering here so long. You are a magazine editor's dream audience, more responsive than any group of readers around. Some days I'd swear that I've had the chance to meet, talk, or swap E-mails with just about every one of you personally. I owe a particular debt to those of you who became contributors, advisers, and friends. I think of you as my mentors.
And so I stayed, and I had a ball, although I often felt the tug of entrepreneurship. I was constantly tempted to go play the great game of business myself.
Well, I've finally succumbed to that temptation. This will be my last column as editor-in-chief of Inc. By the time you read this, I will already be off on my own entrepreneurial adventure.
The end of one journey and the start of another.
Mainly, I'll be working with start-ups on developing business plans, raising capital, refining strategy, and branding. In one venture I'm teaming up with Don Burr, the founder of People Express airlines; his son Cameron; and a group of seasoned aviation professionals to launch the nation's first jet air-taxi service. I'll also be working with Doug Mellinger (who has made frequent appearances in Inc) and his company, Foundation Source, which is making it possible for a new generation of philanthropic-minded people to set up their own foundations at a small fraction of the traditional cost. And I'll be assisting Ryan McNeil, defensive back of the San Diego Chargers, with PBFN, a company designed to help professional athletes be successful in business now and in their post-athletic careers.
Frankly, there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. I believe we've entered a period when smart, agile small to midsize companies have a tremendous advantage over the unwieldy conglomerates created by the mergers of the past 10 years. More than the 1980s and the 1990s, this will be the decade of the entrepreneur.
I hope you'll keep in touch. You can reach me at my new E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please E-mail your comments to email@example.com.