Thirty years ago, almost to the day, I left a job at the forefront of the computer revolution to join a magazine. It was undoubtedly a bad move financially, though less so than an earlier decision to give up a position with an investment manager (now hedge fund guru) to go into computers. But at the time, the idea that I could have a job in which I read interesting stuff all day long and called up fascinating people whenever I liked was too compelling to ignore, so I said yes to the editor of a start-up publication and never looked back. Now, after three decades in the business, I find myself editing a magazine that's 30 years old this month. A nice coincidence. Particularly nice for me, because the magazine is Inc.
Bernie Goldhirsh launched Inc. in April 1979 as an answer to his own frustration as the owner of Sail magazine. He could not find good, credible information for people running small but rapidly growing companies. His first issue set the tone for what would follow: a cover story titled "The Boss Who Wouldn't Let Go" ("He thought he could do everything, and better than anyone else. That made him a barrier to his own company's survival"); a profile of an up-and-coming company called Apple Computer; a list of the 100 fastest-growing companies in the nation; and a smart strategy piece titled "Amid Economic Jitters." Sound familiar?
Inc. has changed over the years. Various departments have come and gone. The logo has changed from small to big and back to small. But this magazine's mission remains very much the same: to serve the entrepreneurial community with timely advice and information, to elucidate the joys and trials of running a growing company, to hold up examples of excellence in business, and to acknowledge the contributions of people who have the drive, intelligence, and moxie to start something on their own.
I find the people we write about stimulating and sympathetic, no matter what their flaws. I think Bernie described them and the role of an Inc. editor perfectly: "I always tried to tell the editors to think of the businessperson as an artist using both sides of his brain," he said. "You're not writing for a rational person. You are writing for someone who has the soul of an artist, and his expression is business." You will find this anniversary issue chock-full of artists. No doubt you will recognize yourself in more than one of them.