bill taylor

Bill Taylor

In less than 6 years, co-founder of Fast Company, Bill Taylor sold his company for $340 million and won every award there is to win in the magazine industry. He is the author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller, Mavericks at Work as well as the new sequel Practically Radical.

What time of the day do you work best? Morning? Evening?

bill taylor

I am a total morning person. When I am writing or editing, I always do my best work between 7 am and noon. Then it’s exercise, lunch, and I rework the stuff I did in the morning But all my energy and creativity comes before noon.

Do you spend more time in the office or on the go?

bill taylor

I am on the road a lot—I gave about 70 talks this year, plus did lots of company visits for research purposes. Very little interesting ever happens in the office. All the action is “out there”—so you have to get out of the office.

What do you love most about what you do?

bill taylor

The chance to meet inspiring and amazing leaders and to visit remarkable organizations. I get to spend time with the best the world of business has to offer It gives me hope for the future, even if the daily headlines make me despair.

Is there anything you dislike about what you do or about your industry?

bill taylor

For me, like everyone else, the logistics of travel and being away from the family sucks. I love and learn so much from vising new places and meeting new people. The process of getting there is terrible.

Do you work in silence? Listen to music?

bill taylor

I work in silence, although when I write and edit, I often read the material out loud to myself. I like to hear how the words on the page “sound” to the ear. In the early days of Fast Company, my cofounder Alan Webber and I used to read stuff out loud to each other—in funny voices! The thing is, if the stuff is good, it sounds good even in a funny voice.

Under what conditions do you best generate ideas?

bill taylor

I get my best idea when I am on the move—in a plane hurtling through the skies, on a run huffing and puffing my way through a five-mile course. I don’t think well with my butt attached to a chair, which may something about the locations of my brain!

Are business decisions for love or for money?

bill taylor

Business decisions are about core convictions—what you believe. Every great business leader has a true sense of purpose that drives him or her. They may not love every decision they make, but they understand why they are making it.

Is the customer (client) always right?

bill taylor

The customer is always right, provided you have the right customers. If you want to do something special, if you want to be unique, then you are not for everyone. One of the most important decisions companies and leaders have to make is, Who do we want to do business with? The customer is always right only if you have the right customers.

Who did/do you look up to?

bill taylor

Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate, with whom I worked right after college. He is the most brilliant person I’ve ever met. Alan Webber, my friend and colleague of 25 years, with whom I started Fast Company, whose depth of character is beyond compare. And this may sound corny, but Abraham Lincoln, with whom I have been fascinated since I was a kid. There is such nobility in his suffering for all of us.

If you could say one thing to the younger you, what would it be?

bill taylor

Believe more strongly in yourself, even as you never forget that you can always do better. I learned later than I should have that being a success, having an impact, requires both fierce belief that you can do whatever you set out to do, as well as genuine humility about how you do it.

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