SMITH, the online magazine I started in January 2006, is powered by stories, so I’ll start with one here. One of our most successful ideas has been the six-word memoir project. The concept is simple: Tell us your life story in six words. However, it can be challenging to distill a life with such brevity. When we launched six-word memoirs, we published some examples on the site. I quickly wrote one for myself: “Big hair, big heart, big hurry.”

The hair is genetic (and often unruly), but the other four words accurately describe my personality, a worldview and way of being that burns itself into SMITH Magazine. I can even distill my personality further, all the way down to one word: infectious. I bring a passion to SMITH’s mission—our belief that everyone has a story and everyone should have a place to tell it—that is unwavering and infectious. I spread my love of what I do fast and furiously. I don’t know how to do it any other way. SMITH and so many other media outlets are fighting to capture the attention of an audience with many choices and much to do. When I infuse this audience with the infectious spirit that lifts me up and fuels SMITH Magazine, I know I have won over new readers—new “SMITHS” so to speak.

This devotion to storytelling, and the joy that surrounds what I approach with a missionary zeal, is at the heart and soul of SMITH. And I think that’s what makes the site so appealing. Readers may like one story more than another, or prefer our photo-driven stories to lengthy memoir pieces; some readers will become storytellers themselves—even if in only six words—while others may not. But my hope is that the passion that I bring to SMITH, and SMITH sends out to the world, inspires others to tell their story. Even if someone chooses not to tell it on SMITH, the goal is to leave each person with this belief: my story is interesting. The sad reality is that this simple notion is one not shared by a lot of people. SMITH Magazine is here to tell you that everyone has a story and everyone deserves a place to tell it. That’s why I started SMITH. And if even a small fraction of this belief that’s burrowed deep into my bones rubs off on our growing reader base, SMITH will have met its mission.

People ask me all the time: Why the name SMITH? Well, it’s my name, sure, along with millions of other Americans. However, in my mind it’s really my grandfather’s, a Russian immigrant who arrived with little and found his American dream through hard work and unwavering optimism. He was a wonderful storyteller in his own right, and a true Smith in the sense of the word meaning one who creates—like a wordsmith or blacksmith. His way of living infected my father, and my father to me. I decided to put our last name in all caps and start a magazine with the hope that SMITH Magazine’s infectious, addictive and passionate spirit will spread to all of us: one person, one story at a time.