Steve Jobs famously said that “Good artist copy, Great artist steal”.
Way back in the day, if someone copied something someone else said, did, or the clothes they wore, etc we said they ‘bit it’. They wore copy catting. Remember that old Doug E. Fresh rhyme “They bite…they never rite…that’s not polite…am I lying…no you’re quite right”?
But is stealing someone’s style, thoughts, words really such a bad thing? I don’t think so and in this article we’re going to explore several reasons why, and show you how you can steal your way to the top.
No one is born with their own unique take on the world, or their own unique way to doing something, so biting, copying, and stealing ideas is how everyone gets started. You steal until you develop your own style, your own voice, your own tribe.
“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing” – Salvador Dali
How to Steal Your Way To The Top
- The first thing is to find someone to steal from – a mentor. Learn everything you can about them. Eventually focus more on how they think not what they think.
- Then, don’t plagiarize by attempting to pass someone else’s ideas off as your own, instead give credit. Say things like I was listening to _______ (you fill in the blank), and that led me to consider the possibility of ________(you fill in the blank).
- Think of biting or stealing as prep work necessary to expand you own thoughts and ideas.
- Once you find someone to steal from (stealing from several people is even better), find out who influenced them (who they stole from), and then steal from them.
Don’t Worry About Stealing
The Bible gives you permission to steal. That’s what Solomon meant when he wrote “There’s nothing new under the sun”.
Hip-Hop is a whole industry, and movement built on biting and stealing. They call it sampling.
Did you know that almost every rap artist of the 80’s and 90’s sampled James Brown and George Clinton to the point where they are both among the most sampled artist in recording history.
Don’t steal to copy, but to learn, to expand on, to further an idea, to get your own creative juices flowing. Warren Buffett furthered the teachings of Ben Graham, but he started by stealing everything he did.
A Few Famous Thief’s
- Warren Buffett stole from Ben Graham
- Muhammad Ali stole from Sugar Ray Robinson
- Bruce Lee incorporated Ali’s fighting style into is own
- The Beatles, James Brown, and Otis Reading all stole from Little Richard…in fact nearly every rock and R&B artist has
- P-Didy bit from Berry Gordy
- Martin Luther King stole from Gandhi
- Nearly every American President steals from Lincoln, Kennedy, and Regan
Bite or Steal Me
You have my permission. If I’ve somehow inspired you, moved you, or encouraged you to do something worth doing…please ‘bite me’.