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Are You a Pirate or an Emperor?

When the winter arrives in the Northeast, so too does my longing for adventure. Since I have three small kids and I get motion sickness, this usually manifests itself through a trip to the library. I recently started reading Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt.

In it I discovered this great passage from St. Augustine, where he writes of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great:

The Emperor angrily demanded of him, “How dare you molest the seas?” To which the pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor.”

Though there’s certainly a negative connotation to this quote, it made me think about the impact scale has on our perception. I see this all the time with startups.

Two years ago when we told people the vision of York IE, they would give us a little (proverbial) pat on the head and say that’s cute. But just because something is small, doesn’t mean it’s small. Now, two years later, those same people have seen what we’ve built and they realized we’re chasing down that vision. Eventually, scale will catch up with your idea if it is good enough.

Think big and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’re either a pirate or an emperor. The choice is up to you.

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