Fast Company

How Hunter Lived

The news Monday morning of Hunter S. Thompson's suicide hit me like a punch to the gut. Whenever a writer I admire passes on I become depressed. It means we will never get any other wonderful work from them. It doesn't matter that I hadn't read any of his new books, like Hey Rube or Kingdom of Fear. The books are always there for me to read eventually. It is the realization that the stack of books to read by Thompson will never grow taller.

What does Hunter S. Thompson have to do with Fast Company or the world of work? Not only did we cite Thompson in some of our earliest materials -- including a now out-of-print T-shirt -- we've worked with Thompson's collaborator Ralph Steadman as an illustrator for the magazine. All journalists owe Hunter a debt of gratitude. His books are insightful, human, and entertaining. Much of what is written today in magazines, and on blogs, bear his mix of personal perspective and reportable fact.

And what of the corporate world? Strangely, I think many businesses could learn from Thompson. There are strategies to be gleamed in the way he lived: he walked his own path; he did not let others dictate his actions; he followed his muse, even though others discouraged it and even when it was unpopular; and he spoke truth to power. And despite all of the obstacles he found success, artistically and in popularity.

Everyone should reflect on Hunter's death. But they could also emulate how he lived, in some way. I know I'm trying. After all, when the going gets weird, the
weird go pro.

Add New Comment

7 Comments

  • Kevin Ohannessian

    It seems the opinions of Hunter S. Thompson were extreme, either loving him or hating him. But even that it is an indication of his success. He could not be ignored. Maybe his recently writing wasn't as appealing as his earlier work, but it is dismissive to suggest that he used a ghost writer. As for his suicide being cowardly, well it has come out he had some major health problems and had suffered them long enough. I will not defend the act of suicide. But, you should refrain from pontificating until you know all the facts.

    Whether you adore "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" or ridicule "Hey Rube", you have to appreciate the life he lived.

  • Buck-0

    A.J. M. I don't know what you do or who you think you are but it sounds like a bit of jealousy coming from your end. People are owning up to the fact that he blew his brains out which in my opinion, is a suiting end to his life. It's people like you that make this world the way it is. You can't just shrug off the fact that you didn't care for his work, lifestyle, or morals, you just degrade him when he is no longer able to stick up for himself. The man walked to a different beat and I have a feeling you don't, but deep down want to. God bless him for putting a different twist on this world, and everything else he encountered. You will be missed.

  • A.J. M.

    HST was a loser. True talent does not self extinquish. Why can't everyone own up to the fact that the guy blew his own brains out? It's called suicide, not passing away, not untimely death, or other generic terms which make his action sound like some kind of "oops". The guy was selfish. Willing to talk the truth to the masses but unwilling to live it out.

  • Paul

    Get over HST...In the last decade, this guy used more ghost writers than you or I will ever want to know - hence his mealy mouthing drug induced interviews that are only coming to surface. Like his ESPN weeklies were really written by HST. GET OVER IT! He was good but not that good.

  • david

    Truly HST was the last of the originals and one of the last great non-fiction writers ever.

    We are all poorer for his passing.

  • LP

    "There he goes, one of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind, one deemed too dangerous for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die..."