3 Lessons Skateboarding Taught Me about Marketing - Carney

3 Lessons Skateboarding Taught Me about Marketing

Skateboarding’s counter-culture taught me to be an outlier long before I discovered the likes of Seth Godin or Gary Vee.

1. Think Out of Step

If you grew up skateboarding in the 80’s or 90’s, there’s a good chance you owned a copy of Minor Threats’ Out of Step — or at least your brother’s friend did.

Punk rock has always been a staple in the skate community, but the lessons it taught me have forever shaped my approach to business and marketing.

The counter-culture inspired me to be an outlier long before I discovered the likes of Seth Godin or Gary Vee.

2. Hustle vs. #hustle

Minor Threats’ founder, Ian Mackaye, started a record label in 1980 called Dischord that has been rejecting the status quo for over 30 years.

In a 2014 interview, Mackaye talks about never even having contracts or using lawyers. (Not recommending this.) Ian worked multiple jobs to build the label while the band maintained a rigorous touring schedule, investing every dime back into the business.

This is what hustle meant before fake entrepreneurs started inundating Instagram with posts of flashy watches, rented Lambos, and the ever-constant hashtag #Hustle on Instagram.

I realized quickly that if you want to make something happen, it requires less talk and more execution. Without the advantage of social media, bands and brands were forced to work on a ground level to get the word out.

Today, if you apply that same work ethic to technology, you can easily multiply your results tenfold.

“I just have work to do; I just do it.” – Ian MacKaye

3. Quality Content, Not Commercials

Punk and skateboarding went hand-in-hand, and so did their business ethics. Back in those days, marketing without great content was called a “commercial.”

For the bands and brands in this culture, this was not a viable option. They didn’t have the funds to produce something outside of what they actually did. In fact, we enjoyed the ads just as much as the photos and articles.

Here’s how it went down:

You waited for the newest video from your favorite skate company, watched it until you wore out the VHS tape, and scraped together enough cash to buy a new skate set-up.

Today, big brands are just starting to make the shift to using quality content instead of commercials to engage their customers. Turns out those punks had it right all along.


  • Don’t be afraid to think differently.
  • Work insanely hard — and then work some more.
  • Never wait for someone else to make something happen.
  • Stop worrying about numbers and seek cult-like fans.

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