It’s hard to make an impact in the cluttered storm that is SXSW Interactive. But Nathan Martin did just that. He’s the founder of the disruptive marketing company Deeplocal and a former punk rocker/former artist (look him up, and marvel at his lack of criminal record). Based in Pittsburgh, Deeplocal got on the marketing/tech map with the Nike/Livestrong Chalkbot at the Tour de France. It’s a branding stunt that had everyone talking. Nathan talked about 10 WAYS a punk rock approach can make you a better leader, but the takeaway was bigger than that. A more punk rock approach can make your company more nimble, and get people talking.
Below, Nathan’s 10 punk ideals:
1. Be First
Doing something original and quickly can get a punk band noticed. Take the Sex Pistols, for instance. They spawned many imitators, but whom do we remember? Same goes for a company or brand. Being first can make all the difference.
2. Be Remarkable
Live a life worth telling stories about. Take risks, and do audacious things. Whether you’re screaming onstage, or planning a brand effort, aim for the newsworthy, the attention-getting, the surprising, and the borderline illegal. It makes people think. And it makes people talk.
3. Be Prolific
Punk bands know this; they’re constantly cranking out new songs. Look at a typical Ramones record with twenty-two-minute tracks on it (heck, that’s even how The Beatles cut their teeth before they were famous). Get your company producing many, many things; it’s key to a hit rate. Don’t be too precious about one project. Do a hundred. It trains you to always be producing, a good habit that works out any kinks in your process.
4. Be Nice
While punks make angry music, in person they are some of the most compassionate, authentic, and genuinely happy people you can meet. Why? They’re free, and they’re fearless. More importantly, they know that like-minded people will become friends; friends will become collaborators. It’s critical to create your ecosystem of allies: people who have your back, think like you do (even against the masses who don’t), and vice versa. Be good to people. You may meet them again years from now. In the meantime, the people you work with are talking about you. You reputation is building behind your back.
5. Be Passionate
Too many people spend their days doing things they don’t want to be doing. Of course, this drastically lowers your chances of success. Listen to your heart, follow your passion, and your success rate goes up - because you’ll love spending tons of time on it. Punks will spend hours in their rehearsal space. You may spend a weekend at work. And you might love every second of it.
6. Reinvent the Wheel
Don’t be afraid to blow up your model. In other words, you should feel zero allegiance to the projects you’ve done before. Replicating success is never guaranteed, but replicating disruptive results with totally new projects is always possible. Don’t look back.
7. Gain New Perspectives
Expose yourself to unrelated fields; learn about the larger world around you. Because a routine life leads to routine outputs. Put yourself in situations you’ve never been in before. You’ll naturally make unexpected connections - to other people and other ideas. In so doing, you’ll set yourself and your approach apart from others. For example, many punks are interested in politics, or children’s’ books. It may seem weird, but these outfield connections spark creativity in your core pursuit.
8. Be Authentic
You can’t fake inspiration. Singers can’t fake that they believe what they sing. The audience can always tell. CEOs can’t fake that they believe in their vision and approach. People can always spot a fake.
9. Work Hard
Sure, some people get lucky and succeed without much effort. But 99.9% of us won’t. So working extremely hard is the only way to gain traction. Imagine how much harder a punk band has to work, rather than, say, a cover band: booking their own tours, living out of a van, schlepping in their own gear, sleeping on floors. This means you may work harder than you ever thought you would - certainly harder than anyone else is, and more than anyone expects. Make all your own merch, drive all night to your next gig, and do that every night - that kind of work pays off and is deeply fulfilling.
10. Don’t Get Comfortable
Success (i.e., money) can lull anyone into complacency. Fight it. Stay hungry. Angry-hungry. #hangry - If you’re not waking up each day on a mission, then you might be getting a bit comfortable.
In other words, dear leaders of the tech and marketing worlds - be more punk rock. It will only serve you well.