I've hit the one-year mark working at Inc. And aside from meeting many of you--which is always an honor and often an education--circumstances have sure made my job something of a carnival ride. Some days it feels like I've been here only a week, and some weeks it feels like it's been a decade, but certainly my time at Inc. has not resembled anything I imagined--wonderful or worrisome--the night before my first day on the job. Maybe the past 12 months have made you feel the same way about your business.
After all, who could have predicted them, starting with a global pandemic, swerving into social upheaval, pivoting to insurrection, and then hitting the backstretch with Texas icier than Alaska and Alaska toastier than Texas?
That's the thing, right? We may see the big trends coming, the inevitabilities, but it's what happens on the way to them that's beyond knowing. And those unknowns can really rattle a business and its leaders.
Those unknowns, the incidental challenges, are something we encounter again and again in this issue of Inc. You'll see them in ways small and big, with Daniel Lubetzky's business Kind launching into a nutcracker of a recession in 2008. With Mark Rampolla, who watched Coca-Cola buy and then mismanage his coconut water brand, Zico, only to return it to him for one more try. Even in our cover story on Jeff Bezos, who is stepping down as CEO of Amazon, we learn that the inevitability of the internet did not necessarily mean the inevitability of Amazon. You'll also see them with Stephen Hays, as he perches on the railing of a Las Vegas hotel balcony, his life, never mind his business, perilously close to ending.
In each of these cases, our hero ultimately scrambled and scratched and strategized his way forward to success. But they were the lucky ones. Their positive outcomes weren't guaranteed, and plenty of other businesses have had outcomes that aren't positive. Which is why, above all others, I'd recommend another pair of reads in this issue.
In "Invitation to a Crisis," former Obama White House official Jonathan McBride argues for injecting chaos, in a controlled way, into your operations. The goal is not to torture yourself or your team--but to better prepare all of you, to make you more nimble, to help you be organized and take considered decisions when faced with whatever crisis might be next. And in an accompanying piece, corporate strategist Magnus Penker takes it a step further, with a lesson in how to sunset your current business while standing up a new one, because, well, as he suggests, nothing lasts forever.
He's right, Magnus is. Nothing does last forever, except maybe opportunity. Opportunity to defy a recession or a pandemic, rebuild a business, pick up the personal pieces, and try again. In fact, here's one prediction I do think we can make in any year: When faced with a challenge, the Inc. reader will find a way to succeed. That's what I've learned in the past 12 months. What I expect to learn in the next 12 is that the post-pandemic economy will present an entirely new set of challenges. And I can honestly say I'm looking forward to them.