From the Editor
Tetzeli explores in “Believe” (beginning on page
66) is a business that many of us instinctively
connect with founder Steve Jobs but that actually has become a far different place. In recent
months, many Apple watchers have contended
that the differences from the Apple of days
past are primarily negatives, underscored by
a dramatic drop in Apple’s stock price. Tetzeli
points out how much those naysayers are missing. Apple’s cult of believers—internally and
among its billion-strong customers around the
globe—provide unique advantages that give the
company a strong chance of maintaining its
prominence (and valuation) for years to come.
SoulCycle is a much younger, smaller business than Apple. But as Jonathan Ringen writes
in “You Got Soul” (beginning on page 76), the
passion it engenders among users from Michelle
Obama to Ariana Grande has turned it into a formidable prestige brand. Both alt-food purveyor
Hampton Creek and clothing brand American
Apparel have grappled with lawsuits and controversy (see “The Great Scramble” on page 82 and
“Can American Apparel Mend the Seams?” on
page 88), yet their perseverance owes everything
to their communities of devotees.
Fast Company, too, is something of a cult
brand—if you’re reading this, you are likely part
of a distinctive psychographic in business: optimistic, future-focused, open to risk and change.
Our coverage, in print and digitally, is gauged
to serve as inspiration as well as information,
a badge that gives you permission and encouragement to question the status quo and strive
for creating a better world. This community will
come to life—and come together—this November
at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in N. Y.C.,
and we hope many of you will join us there. Tickets are on sale now and the agenda is amazing,
including speakers from Silicon Valley and Saudi
Arabia. If you have extra time, you can even pop
over to Angelo’s for a trim. He’ll take good care of
you, even if you don’t tell him I sent you.
ARE YOU READY TO JOIN THE FLOCK?
June in San
I got my hair cut yesterday at a barbershop in Brooklyn that’s been in business for nearly 60 years. Angelo, who runs the place, has created a distinctive
culture: music from the 1950s and 1960s, posters of Bogart and Sinatra, an
impromptu bar in the back during the Christmas season. Two of the barbers,
Vito and John, are brothers who know Angelo from their childhood days in
Italy. John (who retired a year ago) once playfully identified the thinning hair
on the crown of my head as a “Saint Anthony” condition—Saint Anthony
being the patron saint of lost causes.
Angelo’s has survived for six decades as much because of its personality
as its haircuts. In that way, it is indicative of a wave of today’s most high-profile businesses, fueled by cultlike followers. Most cell phones today can
make calls, take pictures, surf the web, access apps. So why do so many
people carry an iPhone? You can get exercise at any gym. So why are so
many people enamored with SoulCycle? Understanding the alchemy of
these success stories provides a powerful window into what defines competitive advantage in the modern era.
Editor-at-large Rick Tetzeli arguably knows more about Apple than
any other journalist working today. He oversaw Apple coverage for years
at Fortune and Fast Company, and then cowrote The New York Times No. 1
best-seller Becoming Steve Jobs. This summer, he persuaded Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook, to sit down for an unprecedented series
of interviews—Apple has historically been reluctant to cooperate with a
magazine feature unconnected to the release of a specific product. What