Think Like a Pirate : Matt Mason's advice

by Shashi Bellamkonda on July 13, 2009


If you read my previous post on Matt Mason’s talk at Pop!tech you would have known in the tone of the post that I am a fan. I read Matt Mason’s  book ” The Pirate’s Dilemma – How youth culture is reinventing capitalism” over and over again.  While it is not a business book   you will find tons of adventure and excitement. Matt talks about  about an  island off the English coast that was declared a country  to more familiar topics of  nerds sitting in Toyota Prius and jamming loud signals from other cars .  Along with adventure there is a whole element of education and strategy. This lis of effective habits can apply to your strategy.

Three habits of effective Pirates

  1. Look outside of the market: Matt mentions William Fox and Hollywood movies. Before Hollywood started making movies there was no market for them. Before the Ipod did all of us think we neededa mobile device  ? “Pirates look for gaps outside the market”
  2. Create a vehicle: Remember Marshall McLuhan’s “medium becomes the message” , Did we think we would be reading Blogs or creating them even 10 years ago ?
  3. Harness your audience: When pirates do something valuable then the community supports them. Use your audience to support yoiu specially by doing something that benefits them

There are lot of comparisons made to pirate radio stations specially in the UK in the book. The Pirate radio stations stood for a symbol of change in culture and  apitalism.  Matt’s recipe for a “mouthwatering concept”:

  • Big idea ( even if borrowed)
  • Who else is on your dance floor
  • chop a handful of other people’s idea
  • a pinch of originality

Read the book for the full recipe.

I  learnt a new term “blowback” which as a fan of spy novels I should have known. In this case this is the Graffiti war in New York. Another gem from the book ” Good fences make good neighbors , but take the fence away and you have a bigger lawn” . I agree with this, my house does not have a fence so i imagine the tot lot adjacent as part of my house :)

How to look after a virus: ( nurturing viral campaigns)

  • Let the audience make the rules
  • Avoid the limelight and talk only to your audience
  • Feed the virus according to the size
  • Let it die

As I write this post I am tempted to write all the tips that I marked down in the book  ” The Pirate’s Dilemma – How youth culture is reinventing capitalism” but in the interest of time and helping Matt sell more books I highly recommend you read this book.

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