The Beauty of Pirate Ships

pirate ship If I had to distill a strategy for navigating the permanent whitewater experience of the coming months and the foreseeable 2009 time frame, I’d say plan on the “means to an end” way that pirates used their vessels. You see, they weren’t as worried about the details of the operation and maintenance of their existing infrastructure. Instead, they had a fierce passion for their goal of acquiring a living from other vessels on the seas. How does this apply to what we/you do? This game is going to get crazy (has already become crazy). We need to focus harder on the goals than we do the infrastructure, the excuses, the labels, and everything else that gets between us and a goal.

We can reframe this any way you want, but the point is this: get hungry. Figure out the goal, that thing you’re going to claw your way towards, and set that goal on FIRE. Make it a blazing beacon that guides you in all decisions. And now, for the hard part.

Throw away all the excuses. Here’s where we tie in the pirate ships. Pirates didn’t give a rat’s ass what their ship looked like, or even whether it was their ship in the first place. They took whatever floated and could carry cannons and men, and they lobbed themselves at targets. It was messy. It was ugly. It was warfare, but they weren’t ones to fret or struggle with their infrastructure. What defined a pirate ship? That the pirates were aboard it. That’s about it.

Can an enterprise do that? Can they lob themselves at targets without worrying about their infrastructure? Not sure. Look at all the burning debris in the “water” of the last few months’ financial turmoil. Big companies are in the wreckage.

In the coming months, there are strategies one can follow to try and survive. Some companies are hunkering down, cutting their spending, tightening their expenditures. Some are laying off, getting lean. Others are slashing their projects and sticking with what they’d been doing for the next year, shifting their efforts into preserving what they have instead of pushing forward.

I think that’s the worst plan in the world. Forget the ship. Don’t preserve the ship. Go after the prize. Take on the far more dangerous-but-rewarding stance of seeking the treasure. If you’re a company, set the targets and launch your ships. If you’re one of the pirates, look for the reward, not the larger story.

Should there be loyalty? Hell, yes. This isn’t about abandoning ship or throwing a mutiny. This is about breaking your perspective open and pointing it towards the REAL goals.

If you’re in marketing, maybe that means going after some big companies while your competitors retrench to support the existing companies. If you’re a software company, this is your call to see where the real goal is, and set course. If you’re a realtor, especially commercial, find the leverage, find the people seriously navigating, and make the deals. If you’re a freelancer out there, do you need an alliance? Do you need a floating armada? Make for the brightest goal, and let all the “rethinkers and re-trenchers” behind you.

This isn’t about chaos. It’s not about throwing everything away. It’s about knowing which parts are vital to moving through the waters, versus the pieces we keep around because that’s what we always did. I wouldn’t always advise something of this nature, and it’s not the right plan for everyone. But me? I’ve got the Jolly Rogers heading up the flag pole soon, and will fire all the guns as soon as my target is in sight.

A lot more fun than moaning about the economy at least. And you, Dread Pirates?

Quick disclaimer: historically, pirates were quite savage, quite brutal, and their “treasure” was often nothing more sexy than things like soap, food, and alcohol. If you’re going to crap on my analogy, it’s okay not to include the history lesson. I know.

Photo credit, earcos

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  • http://www.prusantafe.com Brian Tercero

    I love this post! I also happen to be fond of pirates, so yeah, you got me from the title.

    Too many people complaining about the problem and not enough people pushing forward and preparing for whats next.

    We are a rare company in Santa Fe, we are pushing forward, investing in our web site, marketing online, learning social media marketing and educating our Realtors on what they can do to create business for themselves in this down market.

    Start the ship on fire, and ram-em, full speed ahead!

  • http://www.prusantafe.com Brian Tercero

    I love this post! I also happen to be fond of pirates, so yeah, you got me from the title.

    Too many people complaining about the problem and not enough people pushing forward and preparing for whats next.

    We are a rare company in Santa Fe, we are pushing forward, investing in our web site, marketing online, learning social media marketing and educating our Realtors on what they can do to create business for themselves in this down market.

    Start the ship on fire, and ram-em, full speed ahead!

  • http://www.ginalaguardia.com Gina LaGuardia

    “Arrrr, Arrr, Arrr… A Pirate Says “Arrrr!” (As a mommy, I hear the Backyardigans Pirate song in my head as a soundtrack to this!). Alas, what an inspiring, direct post. Great advice, especially when you feel like jumping overboard. Thanks, Chris!

  • http://www.ginalaguardia.com Gina LaGuardia

    “Arrrr, Arrr, Arrr… A Pirate Says “Arrrr!” (As a mommy, I hear the Backyardigans Pirate song in my head as a soundtrack to this!). Alas, what an inspiring, direct post. Great advice, especially when you feel like jumping overboard. Thanks, Chris!

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  • http://www.ThisLandisForYou.com Gina Kay Landis

    Wow – great!

    Entrepreneurial types would likely start with as streamlined a business as possible so they wouldn’t have to constantly monitor their infrastructure – it should just run smoothly and be updated as needed. Could this be the reason for the larger firms going under? Sloppy infrastructure and business practices?

  • http://www.ThisLandisForYou.com Gina Kay Landis

    Wow – great!

    Entrepreneurial types would likely start with as streamlined a business as possible so they wouldn’t have to constantly monitor their infrastructure – it should just run smoothly and be updated as needed. Could this be the reason for the larger firms going under? Sloppy infrastructure and business practices?

  • http://dougist.com dougist

    +1 on the pirates…It’s OK to use myth in analogy and not feel culturally guilty.

    It’s a great post. It also made me feel good about the prospects for the economy, because a lot of people are going to take these kinds of efforts and kick start something kick a**.

    I wrote about Creative Destruction when this all started but I didn’t appreciate the vast impact that Americans have for just getting things done. Your post brought all that back (that, and a 900+ point up day for the Dow)…

    Well done

    Doug
    http://www.dougist.com

  • http://dougist.com dougist

    +1 on the pirates…It’s OK to use myth in analogy and not feel culturally guilty.

    It’s a great post. It also made me feel good about the prospects for the economy, because a lot of people are going to take these kinds of efforts and kick start something kick a**.

    I wrote about Creative Destruction when this all started but I didn’t appreciate the vast impact that Americans have for just getting things done. Your post brought all that back (that, and a 900+ point up day for the Dow)…

    Well done

    Doug
    http://www.dougist.com

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  • http://flashcatinteractive.com flashcat7

    Beautifully written and inspiring (I sound like some kind of praising critic, but it’s true). This line of thinking goes far beyond the business world– it’s a life mantra as well.

  • http://flashcatinteractive.com flashcat7

    Beautifully written and inspiring (I sound like some kind of praising critic, but it’s true). This line of thinking goes far beyond the business world– it’s a life mantra as well.

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  • Sasha

    Your passion and hunger tore through my monitor…

    Reminds me of an incident I had with my cute little eight year old niece. She was studying about pirates in school. I was helping her with a home work assignment. She was suppose to write (5) things that best described a pirate’s life. I went into a long 20 minute explanation about the history, dress, habits and lives of pirates. At the end of my little pirate lesson, my niece looked at me with her huge brown eyes and simply said, “Arrrrrrgh Matey, Pirates like to eat spaghetti. (she was hungry)

    Point being you can talk a blue streak and most people will just grab what is meaningful and what pertains to them….Most people!!

    I am a new follower of yours, because I am relatively new to Twitter and Social Media. While considering myself fairly bright, it is not easy to break thorough the “tribes” already established in the medium. But will follow you and Scrobier for a bit to see if I can pick up quickly.

    Good luck in your new pirate ventures. :)
    be Blessed!

  • Sasha

    Your passion and hunger tore through my monitor…

    Reminds me of an incident I had with my cute little eight year old niece. She was studying about pirates in school. I was helping her with a home work assignment. She was suppose to write (5) things that best described a pirate’s life. I went into a long 20 minute explanation about the history, dress, habits and lives of pirates. At the end of my little pirate lesson, my niece looked at me with her huge brown eyes and simply said, “Arrrrrrgh Matey, Pirates like to eat spaghetti. (she was hungry)

    Point being you can talk a blue streak and most people will just grab what is meaningful and what pertains to them….Most people!!

    I am a new follower of yours, because I am relatively new to Twitter and Social Media. While considering myself fairly bright, it is not easy to break thorough the “tribes” already established in the medium. But will follow you and Scrobier for a bit to see if I can pick up quickly.

    Good luck in your new pirate ventures. :)
    be Blessed!

  • http://bcoelho2000.blogspot.com BCoelho2000

    Hi Chris!

    I love the Pirate’s theme and I’m also a big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean triology!

    I’ve realized that the Pirates in the movie managed their ships and crews just like a CEO of a startup and I’ve taken many cool tips and advices by watching and learning from the movies and all the other pirate’s resources avaiable.

    However, your view gave me a new fresh prespective on how we should stop thinking about how to do it and DO IT!

    Set sail!

  • http://bcoelho2000.blogspot.com BCoelho2000

    Hi Chris!

    I love the Pirate’s theme and I’m also a big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean triology!

    I’ve realized that the Pirates in the movie managed their ships and crews just like a CEO of a startup and I’ve taken many cool tips and advices by watching and learning from the movies and all the other pirate’s resources avaiable.

    However, your view gave me a new fresh prespective on how we should stop thinking about how to do it and DO IT!

    Set sail!

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  • Adam Spey

    Great Post!

    Did you know that some pirates (the smart ones) were known to leave breeding pairs of pigs on islands in the Pacific? That way they could return and restock their food supplies, planning for the long term and the short term.

    -Adam Spey
    Pirate Pig Campaigns

  • http://@AHSpey Adam Spey

    Great Post!

    Did you know that some pirates (the smart ones) were known to leave breeding pairs of pigs on islands in the Pacific? That way they could return and restock their food supplies, planning for the long term and the short term.

    -Adam Spey
    Pirate Pig Campaigns

  • http://www.fg2.com Steve Golab

    This pirate metaphor is really serving you well, limey. I thought Boston had more to do with Tea Parties than high-sea robbery. :)

  • http://www.fg2.com Steve Golab

    This pirate metaphor is really serving you well, limey. I thought Boston had more to do with Tea Parties than high-sea robbery. :)

  • pat

    Chris,

    I know a few pirates, there out they’re right now. They sail out of the port of New Orleans, they’re from Lafyette, Louisianna. Ya know? From Jon Layfette’s old neigorhood. My grandfather remarried a voodoo queen from there. I’ve talked to them recently. They want me to join.

    Forget the romanticism of the pirate. It’s not like Johnny Depp. It’s for real. First, one has to die to become one. You can’t exist. You disappear.
    Second, as he told me, the pirates code is, “you never trust another pirate”. A dogma but good advice, non the less. Finally, “you must be prepared to kill”.

    Quit fantacising, all of you. The pirates aren’t.

    Pat

  • pat

    Chris,

    I know a few pirates, there out they’re right now. They sail out of the port of New Orleans, they’re from Lafyette, Louisianna. Ya know? From Jon Layfette’s old neigorhood. My grandfather remarried a voodoo queen from there. I’ve talked to them recently. They want me to join.

    Forget the romanticism of the pirate. It’s not like Johnny Depp. It’s for real. First, one has to die to become one. You can’t exist. You disappear.
    Second, as he told me, the pirates code is, “you never trust another pirate”. A dogma but good advice, non the less. Finally, “you must be prepared to kill”.

    Quit fantacising, all of you. The pirates aren’t.

    Pat

  • http://www.eatmedia.com David Cutler

    Did I ever tell you that I referred to you as the “Errol Flynn of the high seas”…!?

    See http://tinyurl.com/cqv4tv

    DC

  • http://www.eatmedia.com David Cutler

    Did I ever tell you that I referred to you as the “Errol Flynn of the high seas”…!?

    See http://tinyurl.com/cqv4tv

    DC

  • John Bohn Jovi

    whats the thing at the front of the ships called.. the angel ie.?

  • John Bohn Jovi

    whats the thing at the front of the ships called.. the angel ie.?

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