Pirates are good, actually?
Drawing on inspiration from The Golden Age of Piracy—a period of piracy where pirates were doing good deeds amidst the bad— Sam Conniff Allende's "Be More Pirate Or How To Take On The World And Win" is a pep talk in book format for making change happen the pirate way, at work or otherwise.
It's a fun metaphor because it delivers this: "If you’re looking for change, big or small, if you’d like things to look different tomorrow or next year, then you need to take a deep breath and break some rules, because it’s only among a little chaos that we find the best beginnings of new creation and opportunity." Be More Pirate isn't about becoming a pirate, it's about using tactics popularized by tactics to break through the status quo.
(In fact, he highlights an argument that the founding of these here United States was deeply influenced by golden age pirates. Provocative!)
Here are his five rules to be more pirate, along with each rule's workshop challenge to get you into a pirate frame of mind.
Draw strength by standing up to the status quo, something we've all done before, and it's recalling those experiences that can help us do it again. It's a rebellion! Ha! He writes: "The point is that we all have the power we need and we’ve all felt it; we just allow it to be forgotten, we choose not to live with it, and as you’re going to be using it soon, it may need a kick start." When did you first stand up to power?
Bend, break, and ultimately rewrite the rules. "Being more pirate is about questioning, challenging, bending, testing, and ultimately writing better rules." So, in the context of your piracy quest: If you could break any rule, what would it be? And how would you remake it?
Collaborate to achieve scale rather than growth, by bringing people into your movement by demonstrating a better way. Who out there would you most like to take down? "Not take out, but take down, perhaps a peg or two, perhaps more." Make a list. Focus is better than being comprehensive. "Remain open as to who can be on there: individuals, institutions, organizations, platforms, or businesses."
Redistribute power—"When you commit to redistributing power and fighting for fairness, you take the single most radical and effective step toward making your change a long-lasting success. When you give power away, it will flourish and multiply." Power redistribution is happening in organizations already, and Sam illustrates the impact: "If we’ve learned anything about pirates, it’s that their practices are often an accurate prediction of how waves coming from the edges of society will influence the mainstream." What principles, values, or ideals are you willing to fight for?
Weaponize stories and tell the hell out of them. Stories make people think. Stories give people a reason to belong. Stories give people a reason to talk with each other. Sam takes it a step further and encourages taking your stories to the lion's den—the places where your story will "create more traction, action, and reaction than any ... traditional promotion to a friendly audience could achieve." Who is the scariest, most difficult, controversial, or provocative audience for your story?
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