Educate March 2019

Book Review: The Punk Rock of Business


Written By: Mike Loizzo

Imagine getting a plum assignment at work: Your employer – a Fortune 100 company – picks you to set up its first retail store in a major U.S. city. This is the envious position Jeremy Dale found himself in with Motorola in 2006. Instead of elation, though, Dale was panicked. He was given just 12 days to pull off this Herculean task. The rush was caused by Motorola joining with other companies to help fight AIDS in Africa through the Product (RED) initiative. The announcement would feature U2 singer Bono during a special appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s television show.

With no time to fail, Dale rolled up his sleeves, assembled a team to work on the store concept and pounded the pavement to find prime retail space on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. Needless to say, Dale pulled it off. This impressed Bono so much, he gave Motorola a shout-out on Oprah and dubbed the company The Punk Rock of Business.

That experience and the rock star’s words stuck with Jeremy Dale. He took on more of a punk rock attitude in his work. Now he shares those elements that make such a lifestyle possible in “The Punk Rock of Business” (Greenleaf Book Group Press).

The point of punk rock, as Dale explains, is to get right to the lyrics – the heart of it all – without any long, melodic introduction. So, in the book, he wastes no time identifying the eight elements he believes make up a punk rock attitude. He defines each and provides anecdotes from his career to bring the key concept to life along with the lessons we can learn and make a call to action to put them into practice.

While none of the eight elements are that surprising (be authentic, put yourself out there, build a movement), the way in which Dale describes the elements give them life. His successful career with Motorola, UK tech firm Orange and Microsoft prove he and his punk rock attitude are not smoke and mirrors. Dale shares his experiences of creating radical ideas for products and services, owing those successes to being punk in his approach.

The book wraps up by recommending more than a dozen “key requirements” to adopt a punk attitude. This chapter alone is a great reason to get the book, because everyone should follow these simple suggestions. These include believing in yourself, tackling projects with energy and enthusiasm, and empowering others at work – rules that even the non-punk among us can agree are keys to success.

The book is an easy, interesting read chock-full of stories highlighting Dale’s corporate career. You can put it down and pick it up without missing a beat, or skip around to find what interests you most. And, no, it is not written just for fans of Sid Vicious or The Ramones. Someone whose ears ache at the sound of punk rock will gain something from reading Dale’s experiences.

Likewise, I think the book will appeal to those who do not consider themselves part of the corporate world. Many readers will see ways they can be more punk rock in their personal lives with family and friends or in their community service and volunteer work. At one point, I found myself thinking of how my wife and I need to be more efficient with managing our household (Element Four – Speed and Action). And I promise, you will not see me with a blue, spiked mohawk. 

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