The 3 Habits of Highly Effective Business Pirates

Can pirate mentality and pirateer’s approach to conducting business help YOU?

Robin Hood fits the description of a modern day digital land pirate to a T.

Is your mainstream education stifling your success in today’s Copyleft-ed mindshare?

Can I squeeze more buzz words in the first paragraph?

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The 3 Habits of Highly Effective Business Pirates

While pharmaceutical companies are fighting the generic drug market, and the Record/Movie companies are fighting the proliferation of freely downloadable music and video via Bit Torrent , we are collectively forgetting that America (the most vigorous heavyweight in the fight against piracy of the non eye-patch wearing variety) was in fact founded on the very principals of piracy.

Here is an excerpt from the most excellent work on this issue written by Matt Mason, the author of The Pirate’s Dilemma (aff)

During the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution, the Founding Fathers pursued a policy of counterfeiting European inventions, ignoring global patents, and stealing intellectual property wholesale.

And from another source.

Lax enforcement of the intellectual property laws was the primary engine of the American economic miracle. Writes Doron S. Ben-Atar in Trade Secrets (aff)

The United States employed pirated know-how to industrialize.

Americans were so well known as bootleggers, Europeans began referring to them with the Dutch word “Janke,” then slang for pirate, which is today pronounced “Yankee.”

This goes right along the lines of that other old chestnut. One nation’s terrorist is another nation’s freedom fighter. Or to put it in another way. One man’s copyrighted, super-smash hit that’s making a killing at the box office is another man’s $5.00 DVD at the Canal Street right outside the PATH entrance.


I hope we can put morality aside and take a rational look at the pirate’s way and see if we can learn any useful lessons.

1. Pirates Look Outside of the Market

Entrepreneurs look for gaps inside the market. Pirates look for gaps outside of the market.

  • There was no market for Hollywood films until William Fox established the Hollywood movie industry in the territory that was outside the reach of the copyright laws of the day.
  • There was no market for commercial radio in Europe until pirate DJs (and stations) became well known and started selling legitimate ad space on their programs.
  • There was no market for wine enthusiasts to share their passion and profit from it until Gary Vaynerchuk did it with Wine Library TV

Pirates have proved that just because the market won’t do something, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

2. Pirates Create Their Own Vehicle

Once pirates find a space the market has ignored, they park a new vehicle in it and begin transmitting. Sometimes this new vehicle becomes more important than the message it carries; or as Marshall McLuhan put it, the medium becomes the message.

  • We could even say the platform that pirate DJs created was more important than rock ’n’ roll itself.
  • The idea of the “blog” had a much greater impact (as we can now see in retrospect) than the picture of Cary Grant dropping acid on Justin’s Home Page. (widely recognized as the very first blog est in 1994).
  • We could say that yet another shoe company would receive 0 coverage from the media unless that shoe company had altruism at the core of it’s business model. Google TOMS shoes.

3. Pirates Harness Their Audience

When pirates do something valuable in society, citizens support them, discussion starts, and laws change. It’s the supporters (the audience) that pirates attract that enable them and their ideas to go legit.

  • Kiss FM (started out as a pirate station) got a license thanks to its listeners.
  • Roh Moohyun (who had 0 chance of getting elected) became the president of Korea thanks to citizens using the pirate mentality on his behalf. (a kind of grass roots Social Media effort a la Obama presidential campaign run)
  • Entire nations are supporting pill (generic drugs) pirates because they (pills and Pirates) save lives.

Pirates and Social Media

I find it amazing how neatly pirate mentality fits under the Social Media umbrella.

  • Blogs –and this is only one example- have defined the “Outside the Market” mantra.
  • Youtube has enabled countless comedians, actors, artists and even wine connoisseurs from Jersey to create their own vehicle.
  • New technology has enabled people to turn their passions into global good.

Does engaging in Social Media make you a pirate? Maybe not, but it helps to have the pirate’s mentality.

So do you?

Human generated related posts:

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi 🙂

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  • Coast2coast179

    Hi Dino, I really enjoyed that article, you have a intelligent twist to your writing that stops is being just another ” how to”, ” things to learn from ” – type of post. I never new the word Yankee originated from the Dutch word “Janke”. Interesting stuff. Thanks

    • Dino Dogan

      Glad you enjoyed it. I found that the origins of the word had particular relevancy to the topic..I had to include it 🙂

  • Ryan Renfrew

    Dino m’ man,

    I love your renegde mentality. Its the way forward! And as you said, we need to harness our pirate personality. Everyone is different, unique and quirky, we need to embrace these characteristics and let them fill our sails as we cruise the rocky pirate infested waters in search of plunder.


    • Dino Dogan made me spit my coffee all over the keyboard …seee ???? not the keys are all sticky lol #mystoryandstickingtoit

  • The JackB

    I think you are right about looking outside of the box. That term may be tired, but it is applicable because a good entrepreneur creates a need and then fills it.

    • Dino Dogan

      “outside of the box” is one of those terms I have a love/hate relationship with. I hate that it has become a trope and a meaningless phrase, but I love what it represents…so…I guess what Im saying its up to you and I to come up with a new, better phrase. Whacha got?

  • Brankica U

    Although half of the time I have no idea what you are saying cause you write on a different level 😉 I love reading this.

    You know, next time you post something like this, you better give me an address of the store I can buy an eye patch in. Cause if I am gonna act like a pirate I wanna look like one. Except holding a parrot on my shoulder I will put my dog on my shoulder 🙂

    Joke on the side, I agree with Ryan, this is great!!!

    • Dino Dogan

      A true pirate makes his/her own eye path….arrrrr :-p

  • hanelly

    “I hope we can put morality aside and take a rational look at the pirate’s way and see if we can learn any useful lessons.”

    I hope we can, too. Shouldn’t be a problem with this crowd!

    Honestly though, pirates tend to be disruptive to the status quo. They see an opportunity and they take advantage of it. Sometimes it’s revolutionary, sometimes it’s criminal. But it’s always disruptive. I think the key is to think like a pirate when thinking about how you can disrupt a current way people do things. But truly, if you want to be sustainable, you can’t blatantly disregard the law. You can use the pirate techniques to gain an advantage, but you better make sure what you’re doing won’t attract the attention of the fuzz, or else you’ll just be a footnote in history, like Captain Morgan. Oh wait.

    • Dino Dogan

      I was a rabble rouser as a yout (My Cousin Vinny anyone?) but I kinda expected it to subside as I got older…it didn’t. Pirates bring anarchy and I love me some good ol fashioned anarchy man….

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  • Janet Callaway

    Dino, loved the analogy of the Pirate Mentality and the Social Media Umbrella. Dino, you are truly a gifted storyteller. With you watching over us, we opened the box and had the contents, wrapping everywhere. You brought it back together and tied it up with a nice big bow. So enjoyed listening to you speak your blog. Mahalo and aloha. Janet

    • Dino Dogan

      Thank you 🙂 I love that youre making yourself at home here Janet, and thxn for your comments, always great to read your reaction 🙂

  • Elise M

    Oh sweet, another podcast. Will add this to my collection of stuff to listen to for tomorrow 🙂

    I like this whole idea of pirates and social media. I totally agree. Excellent analogy, look forward to listening to the podcast too.

    • Dino Dogan

      Awesome…let me know what you thought.

  • Bryan Thompson

    Love the Gary Vaynerchuk reference – learned so much from his Crush It book. It’s true, pirates think outside the box – and, in fact, the box drives them crazy. They are self-thinkers and they are quick to utilize the great ideas we all have so many times.

    • Dino Dogan touched on a very important factor. The speed of implementation is def a pirate thang. Also small, nimble businesses are able to do it, but not big ass corps. ANyways…Gary Vee is awesome of course and when I think of a social media pirate I thin of him 🙂

  • Robert Dempsey

    Sounds like finding a niche to get into 🙂

    • Dino Dogan

      yup…Pirates, the original niche marketers lol

  • Eugene

    I think all progress happens by building upon something that is already in existence. Google wasn’t the first search engine. Ipods weren’t the first mp3 players. I think anything ground breaking has a little pirate in it.

    • Dino Dogan

      True…you reminded me of that other oldie but a goodie. All great ideas start off as word of mouth lol

      • Eugene

        I once saw a Tweet by a DJ about creating new sounds and new music (yes..I follow people I am actually interested in on Twitter..go figure). He basically said there are no virgin births, and all new ideas just build up on, or combine, or improve existing ones.

        The “no virgin births” really got me. Great line. So much so that I had to write a post about it.

        • Dino Dogan

          That IS a great way of phrasing it. No Virgin Births. Excellent line. And its true. From Printing Press to Disney to Lady Gaga…not a virgin birth among them.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Dino! I’ve seen your name on various blogs in the comments section (Spin Sucks in particular) and wanted to make my way over to your blog to check out all that is Dino Dogan. You’ve got a lot going on here…a bit of a Pirate yourself, aren’t you? First of all, I like it all and will take some time to peruse more thoroughly here shortly. Second, I love your blog titles. Very engaging. And finally, LOVE the pirate concept. I aspire to be one and I’m grooming my kids to embrace the pirate inside (:-). At any rate, glad to meet you and I look forward to reading more – you’re now on my iGoogle page.

    • Dino Dogan

      It makes me happy that youre teaching your kids to embrace their inner pirate. It takes a specially creative individual to see an opening in the market that doesnt even exist yet, and its not the meek that shall inherit the earth, its the creatives.

      Make sure you hit me up on twitter so I can see what you’ve been up to. Your DisqUs profile doesnt have a blog address…and I like to know what my readers are getting themselves into 🙂

  • Anonymous

    The thing I love about the pirate anology is that pirates don’t ask for permission. They see something they want and go for it. In the business, I see websites that maybe have a good idea, but the execution is all wrong. Thats where I’m like, “I want to have that site, but a better version”. So I go out and build my own version. I don’t need to ask all my friends if they think it’s a good idea, I just start building.

    I totally hear you about the platform. Facebook isn’t a household name because of their design or special features, it’s because the platform itself allowed people to make their own world. I’m hoping fluttrs will do the same, but we’ll have to wait and see there. 🙂

    Great post man.

    • Dino Dogan

      Its better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. And that idea of platform is so powerful. When you start thinking in terms of leverage the whole new world of possibilities opens up. BTW..speaking of facebook, our next podcast is going out on wed.

      • dancristo

        Excellent. I’m looking forward it.

  • Tim

    Piracy has its contrary sides! It’s good for ordinary people and it’s like a disaster for people of high condition ( I mean movie industry, singers etc.) By the way I like here I can find everything I want

    • Dino Dogan

      ooh..thnx for the tip 🙂

  • Nia

    This was awesome! You touched on facts many in won’t talk about publicly. Here’s a quote I heard more than once while studying “Why Reinvent The Wheel”.

    Americans proud themselves on taking an existing idea, tweak it, call it something else, find another usage for it, brand it, and VOILA! You’ve got yourself the ingredients for economical prosperity.

    I won’t even start about Patents on ideas/designs, and etc. Let’s just say the masses are for it (mostly Attorneys) for $$$$$. Attorneys don’t openly share the education in the complexity of enforcing encroachment of counterfeiting/piracy during consults regarding “Patents” with their small business owners. So would it be beneficial for the small biz owner to investing $5-20K on a Patent, only to have a bootleg version of their product copied, followed by years of litigation. Doing the math on this could cost the small business more then their Start-up capital.

    • Dino Dogan

      lol..I knew this would resonate with you 🙂

  • Bill Dorman

    Define mainstream education………..yes, I have me one of those sheepskins (which is a miracle in and of itself), but I don’t know if mainstream would have been a good description of my college experience.

    However, for the most part I am so mainstream now it hurts at times. How in the heck did that happen?

    I definitely think the pirate mentality creates opportunities where you might have not even thought to look. Sometimes the pirate mentality hurts mainstream enterprise when this happens but eventually the change becomes the new ‘norm’. Then it comes full circle because the pirates get suits and now they are mainstream.

    Yes, I also think the internet and social media allows some of that pirate mentality; you are putting yourself out there and using all the tools available to you in ways you would have never even thought of even 5 years ago.

    It’s a great big world out there full of opportunity; with a little creativity and a swashbuckling attitude you can go far my son……………………Arrrrrrrr matey.

    Good post.