Punk Rock And What It Can Teach Us About Business

punk rock

Young, angry, and broke.

That was the statement written on my favorite shirt when I was an angsty 15 year old in high school. “Soul Rebel” was on my second favorite shirt. I used to listen to fast-paced, sometimes unintelligible, punk rock music. Or, as my mom calls it, the devil’s music.

Being an independent thinker, a free spirit, and doing what I think is right for myself have always been high on my priority list. Having a rebellious streak, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I gravitate towards punk rock. Punk rock challenges conventional norms and ideas. Punk rock embodies the idea of living life the way you want to. The punk rock attitude exemplifies throwing away everyone else’s opinions out the window. All these characteristics, I believe, an entrepreneur should also possess.

Let’s forget about the anti-corporation credo of a lot of punk rock bands for a second. Instead, let’s focus on the makings of punk rock band and the attitude behind it.

Punk Rock and Business

When you think of a punk rock musician, you probably think about mohawks, a standoffish attitude, and aggression. You might even be a little put off. Personally, I see it as being real and original– trendsetting, if you will. In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to find your own voice and be steadfast in staying true to your principles.

Here are four punk-like credos to help live your truth, channel your inner rock star, and challenge the status quo:

Have An Adventurous Spirit

As a kid, my grandma used to own a very small convenience store right outside of our house that was only open during certain hours of the day. To by-pass this, I used to buy different types of candies, snacks, and chocolates to sell to the neighborhood kids while the store was closed and I would charge more than what my grandma charged. Some may say I was ripping the kids off, but I saw it differently: if they didn’t want to wait until the store opened, they can pay extra for the convenience of getting what they want from my table set up. It’s the basic concept of supply and demand.

Another one of my adventures was during the Pokémon craze back in middle school. I would go around the neighborhood asking the kids which Pokémon card they needed. When they tell me, I would plan a way to sneak out of my house and run to an underground trading card store, purchase the cards, then sell it to them at a higher price.

Finding Your Tribe

A lot of businesses employ the “hook-and-grab” strategy which might be good way to increase followers, but might not be the best strategy to get loyal clients. There’s a reason why some people are turned off by the punk rock culture. There’s also a reason why some people who got into it while they were young remain “punk rockers” until adulthood. To them,  it’s a lifestyle.

This is a good lesson to be had from the punk rock world. Instead of getting people just interested in your brand and product, find the ones who are committed to you, and what your company and product are all about. Ten “die-hard” customers are much better than 100 “fly-by” consumers. I wouldn’t advocate turning the 100 away, but those 10 customers are the ones you can count on to live and spread your company’s message.

Challenge The Status Quo

Entrepreneurs are daring. They love a challenge. You have to embrace making moves without the promise of success. In essence, the punk rock world loves to challenge the way things are. A lot of punk rock bands actually sing about creating a revolution and making the world a better place.

We cannot innovate without being able to challenge the status quo. I once heard a recording from Darren Hardy and he suggested that we ask ourselves how we can make everything better– from taking a shower in the morning to our product creations. I mean, that is how Steve Jobs operated. He always thought things could be better and held an outstanding standard of excellence.

Insane Work Ethic

When you look at punk rockers, the first thought that comes to mind might not be “they’re a very hardworking group of people.” But from writing, producing, and creating their own EPs, punk rockers are very good at figuring things out and doing things on their own. Expert Do-It-Yourselfers, if you may. In business, we just call this “building a startup.”

Mark Zuckerberg has been quoted saying he probably spends only 50-60 hours in the office, but when it comes to thinking about Facebook’s mission, he has spent basically his whole life. I’m always iffy when people say it’s smart work or it’s mindset. I agree, but those are just starting points. Mindset without a good amount of work ethic is wishful thinking. Smart work without hard work just makes you lose out on the brute force and momentum of getting a job done.

Share Your Story.

The punk rock mentality and lifestyle have been with me since I was a kid jamming out to rock songs with my dad. This way of thinking has spread out into other aspects of my life, which creates an intense desire inside of me to be a catalyst for change. Just as punk rockers challenge the mainstream, entrepreneurs and start ups challenge the way “things have always been done.” I’ve always had this tendency to break away from things that no longer contribute to my growth and seek out people and places I can learn from. This “breaking away,” I think, is also an integral part of being an entrepreneur and building a start up because it forces us to look for a better way.

So, that’s that! I welcome feedback and please share some of the things that have shaped you into who you are today.

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!