Have you ever heard of Humans of New York? The project was started in 2010 by a blogger and photographer who took on the ambitious (some would say crazy) goal of photographing 10,000 people on the streets of the Big Apple. His idea was to “create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants.”
At one point he began interviewing his subjects as well, and that’s when things got really interesting. Snippets from the interviews were published alongside the photos and the effect was both beautiful and heart-wrenching. Looking at those words and images together allowed us to bear intimate witness to the hopes, pain, passions, and inner lives of random members of our species.
STORIES ARE THE MOST ENTERTAINING, AND PROFOUND, VEHICLES OF COMMUNICATION THROUGHOUT HUMAN HISTORY.
Today, Humans of New York has become a massive phenomena with more than 20 million social media followers. The exhaustive website has expanded beyond the residents of a single city to feature long profiles of people living in more than a dozen countries around the world. Personally, I preferred the format from a number of years ago: Single image, short blurb. And that was the inspiration for this year’s Forty Under 40.
Stories are the most entertaining, and profound, vehicles of communication throughout human history. They give us a stick-to-your-soul way of passing knowledge from one person to another, and are often used to shine a light on larger truths about who we are. Perhaps even more importantly, a good story can create a bone-deep emotional connection with the teller.
So, for this year’s Forty Under 40, we focused on the things that made the winners different from their industry peers. One of our company founders struggled for seven years before his parents saw remodeling as a “real business” while another started his company out of a dorm room where he slept with his tools. Still another went from someone who only “thought I knew what I was doing” to strategic plans to sell franchises in 2021.
Some of our stories are funny, others are sad, and still others are inspiring.
We changed up the photos as well. Rather than featuring a collection of professional, but admittedly “safe,” headshots, we tried to get an image of each winner that keyed into his or her identity. The evocative photos and captivating stories that accompany them form a sort of Humans of Remodeling that is both an entertaining read and intriguing look at the collective identity of the next generation of remodelers. Enjoy this year's Forty Under 40!
Read the rising stars' stories by clicking the icon below.
I will be on temporary leave during preparation for the next issue, and so expect to see a different name and photo at the top of this column. Alison Rice, a highly-skilled freelance writer with deep ties to the residential construction industry, is filling in while I’m gone.