IoD Open House – speaker Sam Conniff Allende says today’s leaders should be more like pirates

IoD Open House speaker Sam Conniff Allende

Be More Pirate is an intriguing new business book which argues that the ‘golden age of piracy’ – from the 1650s to the 1730s – should be a source of inspiration for today’s aspiring leaders.

Author Sam Conniff Allende, who will be speaking at the IoD Open House event, claims that the rogues have become role models. Here are five examples from the book, suggesting what modern leaders can learn from the past…

1. Disrupt

“Three hundred years ago a small group of frustrated and underappreciated, mostly young professionals had finally had enough of living in a society run badly by self-interested and self-serving Establishment. Rather than simply voice their complaints, they chose instead to do something about their situation. No longer prepared to sit quietly and accept the bad deal on the table, they decided to break the rules and then remake the rules. Along the way they came up with a new social code built on purposeful principles such as fair pay, socially equality, freedom and justice. And rum.”

2. Tell a great story

“Blackbeard clearly took fancy dress, I mean branding, to a whole other level. He would cast such terror into the hearts of his victims, that those who lived (which was most of them because, ironically enough, either despite his ferocious reputation or because of it, there are no verified accounts of him actually killing anyone), would be sure to tell that tale… which was the whole point. It’s not enough to just to tell tales, you have to tell tall tales. Build legends, build myths, build a legacy.”

3. Collaborate

“Their ability to scale through collaboration is one of the most important lessons I believe they have to teach our twenty-first century adventurers. And in our day and age, when digital networks offer limitless opportunity to crew up, band together and mutate, we have infinitely more ways to join our small groups together, find inspiration or best practice, gather more people, push for more access and create more change quicker.”

4. Be Agile

“Where their enemies were constrained by ingrained practices and processes, the pirates were agile and deft. Where the establishment was dogmatic and dictatorial, pirates could act autonomously and collectively, with different crews coming together for a battle and then disbanding again quickly into smaller groups. They achieved impressive scale without slowing down; their ability to operate as an agile network is a technique to admire and learn a huge amount from.”

5. Give your brand a reputation

“The pirates ‘killer’ branding was first and foremost a technique that protected their valuable reputation which in turn drove their profitability. Admittedly, the reputation behind the brand has to be protected. But aside from the five per cent or so of psychopaths in their ranks, the terror they are so famous for was in truth used sparingly for brand building and, ultimately to reduce their recourse to violence.”

IoD Open House speaker Sam Conniff AllendeSam Conniff Allende is speaking at IoD Open House on Tuesday 13th March 2018, 2pm. For a full list of speakers and to book your place visit

About author

Ryan Herman

Ryan Herman

Alongside his work for Director, Ryan has written for SportBusiness International, VICE Sports, Populous, Audi and Gallop Magazine and was previously editor of Sky Sports Magazine.

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