One of my favourite books of all time is The Great Gatsby. I must have read it half a dozen times over the years, but while eagerly waiting for Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of the novel (coming out this May), I decided to read it again.
One of the reasons why I love Fitzgerald’s masterpiece is that each time I read it, a totally different scene sticks with me for weeks, sometimes months. This time, it’s when Nick Carraway says “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” I find it such a beautifully complete way to describe the dynamics between people or organisations.
Take the startup ecosystem for example: you have the pursued (Stripe, Evernote, Spotify, etc); you have the pursuing (investors, VCs, lawyers, etc) who are generally pursuing the prior category; you have the busy (startups with flat growth being busy to get out of flat growth) and the boring (hipsters in Starbucks). So how do you become a pursued startup, according to F. Scott Fitzgerald?
It’s not that hard to deconstruct, really: take Gatsby (pursued by Nick): he’s successful (read: has traction), throws great parties (read: has great network) and is mysterious (read: is intriguing, unattainable), or Daisy (pursued by Gatsby): she’s beautiful (read: has traction), she’s part of the upper class (read: has great network) and she’s married (read: intriguing, unattainable). I don’t know about you, but I see a pattern here.