This article is about Entreporn and Mojito Island, and the emotionally manipulative fantasy narratives of “success.”
It’s not my style at all. Is it your style? It really doesn’t matter, does it – it’s gorgeous. Even if you wouldn’t want to live in it, it pleases the eye. (And if you would love to live in it… it probably makes your heart swell a little bit, at the thought of having it.)
Now imagine it’s not a photograph, but words:
Luminous gold tone wallpaper, with white, grey and teal flower motifs scattered about; framed in glossy white wood paneling; tall white windows, with full-length white curtains spilling to the classic honey herringbone parquet floor; a long, piano black dining table with turned legs, stately but modern brass lamps that harmonize but don’t go so far as to match each other, mirrors, tasteful low bookcases with fascinating objects, a collection of jadeite jugs with fresh flowers, a soft white highboy anchoring the room with much-needed height, an overstuffed and very casual blue velvet chair; sleek, matte Panton dining chairs, a textural and sculptural contrast to the matching holstein cowhides they rest on.
The cherry on the sundae is the gorgeous brass and crystal swag chandelier, which takes what could be a cavernous ceiling height and instead makes it feel luxurious.
A welcoming, easy elegance… a mixture of high, low, and in between, neoclassical and modern, no pretensions.
Oh, I could write pages.
Given my (detailed, and spirited) description, words only, could you buy the things you needed and design and arrange a room that looked anything like the photograph?
If you’re starting to nod your head “Yes”… buddy, I got news for you: You’re lying to yourself. It seems easy because you’ve seen the photograph.
But there’s no way. I couldn’t, and I even lived in an apartment with bones just like that one, and I know what herringbone parquet, jadeite, and Vernor Panton chairs are!
NOW IMAGINE IT’S NOT ABOUT A ROOM, BUT AN ENTREPRENEUR:
Working on your deck at midnight; supercharged meetings with your co-founder. Important work dates at your local coffee shop, heads together, collaborating on the future.
Days of excitement, of thrills, and of course, of drama… but drama from which you emerge, triumphant. Large bank wires to your account. People believe in you, to the tune of 6 zeros… or more.
The press likes you (or maybe the press hates you…but you’ll show them!). A day when you feel down in the dumps, filled with doubt, is it all a fantasy? Can you ever do it?
But the new day dawns and you crawl, bleary eyed, out of bed, because you know what you’re doing is important. Or at least profitable.
And after a year, or two, or three — on the outside — you hit the climax. All those long hours, the fancy delivery Szechuan (not any ordinary Chinese), the Blue Bottle coffee, the artful white-boarding, the stress, the hiring, the natural way you assume leadership of your team — the threads finally come together into a big fucking bow of a denouement:
You receive the offer.
YOU’VE READ THE DESCRIPTION. CAN YOU PAINT THE REALITY?
No. It seems like you could, but you can’t. You can’t do it for honey parquet floors and a piano black dining table with turned legs, you definitely can’t do it for the life of a startup.
The story isn’t actually a story — it’s a pastiche. And the thing about pastiches is two-fold:
- They’re vague, even when they seem detailed.
- They’re designed to seduce, and to discourage questions.
They’re the deceptive Karate Kid montage all over again: Wax on, wax off.
When you saw that montage the first time, some part of you was going “YEAH!” Because part of you thought, Yep, that’s how it’s done! (As if you knew.) And you were also thinking, I could do that. (And some part of you believed it.)
That’s entreporn, in a nutshell.
Startup stories especially are long on ra-ra-ra!! independence, make your own way, be your own boss, change the world…and yet remain silent on what happens afterwards.
It’s the same reason why still photographs can’t convey the reality of living & working in a “beautiful” room. Why there are never toothpaste tubes or kids’ toys or litter boxes in fancy home tours, much less mess and clutter.
Why nobody shits in the movies. Or gets divorced 10 years after the triumphal orchestral swell.
They’re lies. They’re deception. They’re airbrushed, abridged, amended. They’re porn.
*Featured post photo by Amy Hoy