Be More Pirate

Be More Pirate – my Swansea to Paddington train reading material

When Ben (my boss at Urban Foundry) returned from his much needed holiday raving on about a lurid pink book called Be More Pirate, I decided to test out my new and very expensive varifocals by having a read.

Written by social entrepreneur Sam Conniff Allende, it claims “Pirates didn’t just break the rules, they rewrote them. They didn’t just reject society, they reinvented it. Pirates didn’t just challenge the status-quo, they changed everyf*ckingthing”.

It reveals pretty early on that pirates were not (all) the raping, thieving, lawless vagabonds that popular culture paints them to be. In fact, rather the opposite. They broke away from the restrictive, ridiculous constraints of their society to create their own self-serving community ships. Their code was collaborative, fair and liberal (plus profit making). And they had cocktails – Sam suggests that the pirates invented the Mojito – I’m feeling more pirate already. Their acceptance of women, same-sex marriage, disabilities was before its time – I’d probably even say its comparably advanced to today’s thinking.

An enthusiastic crew of pirates

Urban Foundry, where I work for part of my life, is a mini mutiny of sorts. Ben has always sought to advise on or start projects that set off their own ripple of change. So it made sense to invite Sam to Swansea to help start off a whole series of rebellions. On a chilly March evening, 65 wannabee pirates swarmed into an empty shop on Swansea’s Castle Street (thank you Huw from Coastal Housing for organising our shop-ship). Over some tasty Gower Brewery IPA, Sam took us through the process of becoming more pirate. He’s a very compelling and playful speaker. He starts us off with a process of soul searching and identifying what personally holds us back from following our passions. It seems most of us are constrained by the chains of mortgages, fear, society and self-doubt. We identified causes and appealed to fellow mutineers to stand with us in our mini fights. Sam shared tales of his own uprisings – often hilarious – such as his gorilla approach to marketing his own book.

Sam inspiring us with pirate style change

I felt fired up and a bit gobbier after the workshop. I’m not sure if I can identify a cause I’d be prepared to kill for, but I have taken many of his ideas to heart. In particular translating CAN’T to CAN and DON’T to DO (I think a little bit of me does this regardless but Sam has given me permission to do it now – it’s his fault!). Rather than jump through pointless red tape and form filling barriers, just do it anyway. DEMONSTRATE that it’s a great idea. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness and all that…

Be More Pirate is a must (and easy) read. Meeting the author Sam and his assistant pirate Alex was a real bonus.

Whether you’re Captain or Crew, I think that we can all benefit from being more pirate.

You can find out more about Sam Conniff Allende at

You can find out more about Ben Reynolds and Urban Foundry here

And finally, you can find out about our 51.6 series of events (such as this one) at

Dedicated to all the pirates I have met in my life. You know who you are.

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