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.