I watched an awesome movie called Gattaca over the weekend. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a quick summary:
Gattaca is set in a future when one’s life is determined by genetic engineering rather than education or experience. Citizens in this impersonal future-world are fashioned as perfect specimens, so those in the natural-born minority are viewed as inferior to the pre-planned perfect specimens (aka “Valids”) who dominate. One of the natural-borns (aka “In-Valids”), Vincent, has several defects, yet he develops a different outlook on his pre-ordained fate. He dreams of a journey into space as a Gattaca Corp. navigator.
He is disadvantaged in a way (genetically) that cannot be simply overcome by sheer force of will power or just hard-work — Yet that’s exactly what he goes on to do. To help accomplish his goal, he enlists the aid of DNA broker and connects with Jerome Morrow, who was paralyzed in an accident and is willing to sell his superior genetic materials. Vincent assumes Jerome’s identity and is scheduled for a flying mission.
There were two themes in the movie that stood out and inspired me.
1. “There is no gene for the human spirit”
This is one of the most memorable quotes from the movie. It’s Vincent’s “human spirit” or “drive” that allows him to outperform his pre-determined path and ultimately accomplish his goals.
I think drive is one of the most valuable intangibles that one can have. It’s something that you can’t teach – and you can’t test for in a resume or even a job interview. Some people have it and other’s don’t.
In a startup, you’re often trying to accomplish something frighteningly ambitious – and it takes drive to keep pushing yourself when, for example, a deal falls through or you need to meet a deadline.
Frankly, I’ll take drive over an ivy-league degree any day.
2. “At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you”
I first heard this quote from Andrew Weinreich, talking about his journey as an entrepreneur, and it’s one of my favorites. In the movie, it was amazing to see how Vincent’s commitment to achieve his goals wins over the support of Irene, who helps him avoid getting caught, Dr. Lamar, who ignores Vincent’s urine test that reveals him as an in-valid prior to his flight, and Jerome, who goes above and beyond his agreed upon commitment to Vincent.
It’s amazing how when you commit yourself doing something, opportunities just seem to start presenting themselves, and when people understand what you’re doing, they get inspired to help.
Conclusion: Gattaca is an inspiring and under-recognized movie. While set in the future, the themes are definitely relate able in today’s society. I highly recommend it!