Azam book review: “Be More Pirate” and what real estate investors can learn from pirates.

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Azam book review: “Be More Pirate” and what real estate investors can learn from pirates.

 If you ever write a book and you want me to read just put a quote from Steve Jobs on the cover, that’s why I read the book “Be More Pirate” Sam Conniff.  The quote from Steve Jobs:

“I’d rather be a pirate than join the navy.”


Azam Meo here with and this is a book review of the book “Be More Pirate“.

I’ll tell you the five biggest lessons I got from this and how you can use them to build your real estate bidness… alright so let’s get started. 

So my one sentence book summary would be this:

How the surprising morals and standards of pirates 300 years ago can help us solve humanity’s problems today.

Now here are the five lessons…

Lesson Number One:  Always Look for Missed Opportunities.

The author is obsessed with pirates and the pirate life and anytime somebody writes a book about they are obsessed about I want to read it because the books are usually very good.  The focus of the book is on what’s called the “Golden Age Pirates” which were from around the year 1700.

At this time  Royal Navy men were returning home from war and seeing limited economic opportunity as the elites hoarded all the money and riches that was sailing in from the New World everyday. 

The first pirates made the obvious connection…

… With their skills on the water the Navy men would easily fix their situation with the riches that were floating by everyday.

They were broke and good on the water meanwhile a bunch of money is swimming by everyday, easy connection right?

This opportunity seems obvious today but often the most obvious opportunities are hidden in the camouflage of the obvious and the people that would benefit most from these opportunities are often the most blind to them.

Lesson Number Two:  True Meritocracy and Equal Democracy.

The pirates knew that once they robbed the ships their countries would never look at it as desperate acts of the forgotten middle class but instead they would be banished outlaws and traitors.  Having no home country and constantly running from the law made the pirates developed their own laws and they had to make laws that would attract others. 

So the pirates set up a system…

They built a system where EVERY pirate, no matter your background, age, gender, religion, race, etc. NO MATTER WHAT – on the pirate ship you were an equal with an equal vote.

This kind of equality was unheard of in the 1700s and it was a big reason that they were able to grow and recruit from around the world.  The author does a cool breakdown of things like paid sick leave, workman’s comp, same sex marriage, equal opportunity, woman’s rights (there were actually woman in charge of pirate ships far before the rest of the world had women CEOs and elected officials)…

Badass thinking.

… and he shows how these advancements and other progressive, modern thinking were in place on pirate ships WAY ahead of their time.  Not just decades or generations but centuries ahead of their time.

Today some even say the pirate ship was the last true, free equal, democracy and meritocracy.

I thought that was really interesting and it is how we build teams with all the companies that we work with.  A meritocracy where anybody with hunger can succeed.  If you’re a one-man army this is super important, I often quote Shaw who said:

“A happy family is but an earlier Heaven.”

The cool thing is that you can build that family by picking your team correctly and creating an environment that lets them grow.  Then you’re never “working”, instead you’re hanging out with your family and people you love as you build businesses and change lives. 

Work can be more fun than fun.

Third Lesson:  Brilliant Branding.

The author says that pirate logo on the flags is the oldest logo in the world.  I don’t know if that’s true but I don’t know of a logo that is older.  The famous pirate flag logo is the skull and crossbones or the skull and swords.

Black and white?

The reason it is black and white is because all the other countries were using elaborate and colorful schemes so the simplicity of black and white set them apart.  It made it clear that they sailed for themselves and nobody else.  The pirate life was not complicated, it was very black and white.

To this day the pirate logo is recognized and used by sports team, websites, schools and more as a sign of somebody not following the rules.  The branding still sends a clear message.  It worked 300 years ago and it still does today.

Fourth Lesson:  War Crime.

From reading this entire book there is one sentence that really blew me way more than anything else…

It was something that the author said:

“Non sustainable businesses are nothing short of a war crime.”

By “sustainable” he meant that instead of exploiting foreign labor or sucking resources without producing a net positive back to the community…

… he says unless your business is helping people in some significant way that it is a war crime.

Yeah… a WAR CRIME.

Is that too much?

Not at all.

The consequences of not creating sustainability can be just as bad or even worse than actual wars.

The pirates understood this and a big reason they survived so long is that the people protected them and gave the shelter from the governments that were hunting them.  This is because the pirates acted much like Robin Hood and they always made sure to share their riches with local communities.

To not help communities is a war crime, I love that line…

… it is something that I totally agree with, do more good.

In real estate so many people just hire a VA overseas and have them SPAM.  They’ll buy buy a list of homeowners (not sellers, just home OWNERS) and then they’ll have the VA just spam the list with emails, texts, phone calls, etc.

They never stop to think about what good – if any – they are really doing…

How are they really helping the VA’s community overseas? 

How are they helping their own community…?

The “sellers” they spam…?

We often quote Voltaire:

“Every man is guilty of all the good that he did not do.”

Do more good.

Fifth Lesson:  To grow any organization you just need the right story and performance.

This is the MOST important lesson I took away from the book.

So the world’s most famous pirate was Blackbeard.  You’ve probably heard of him and what you’ve probably heard is that he was a bloodthirsty, murderous killer.  A madman with no mercy or loyalty to anybody except to his own men… right?

Yeah, about that…

Blackbeard is depicted as a terrifying figure in history…

… but what if that was all orchestrated by Blackbeard himself.

So as the leader of the pirates, Blackbeard knew and explained that the only way this would work is if people around the world were enamored with the idea of leaving their lives behind and becoming pirates. 

So he understood that it was the STORY that would grow their numbers and they had to tell the right story, and that was going to take practice.  So Blackbeard would order his men together and have them practice telling and re-telling stories of adventure and danger on the high seas and glorify the pirate life as well making the pirates feared so that they would never have to actually fight.

Power perceived is power achieved.

Blackbeard knew the pirates were outnumbered and out skilled but he also knew that if they told the right story then they would never have to fight. 

“A good story and we’ll get people wanting to join us not fight us.”

Blackbeard looked at everything as a performance so he would get on stilts and have his mean shine light from behind him.  Then he would light sticks of sulfur in his beard so it would smoke.  This way when the pirate ship came the first thing people saw was a giant, smoking and scary silhouette…


On top of that and this actually was a shocker for me to learn but many historians question whether Blackbeard ever actually killed anybody…



It is possible that the most feared and viscous pirate never actually killed anybody and instead he was below deck running around like a diva…

… Yelling and clapping…

“Places everybody, where are my lights, get my smoke ready hey guys do I look tall and scary enough be honest you guys!”

In the famous movie The Princess Bride the main character gets kidnapped by the Dread Pirate Roberts who is famous for killing everybody and never leaving any survivors.  Only to find out that the main character himself IS the Dread Pirate Roberts who is just a made up name and role with a line of people who assume the identity.

That’s why nobody ever hears from the people again.

It is NOT because they are dead or killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts but rather because they ARE the Dread Pirate Roberts.  By the end of the movie we see the main character passing the baton to the next guy.

Supposedly, the director Rob Reiner based this idea on Blackbeard that idea that a feared and immortal killer is really just a guy who wants to retire…

A story about how important the performance is…  

Years ago I needed a place to meet clients and I didn’t have an office space or a special needs house or anywhere else to meet.  So I used to meet with people at my local library.  This was partly because I was on the board and I was in charge of ordering books on business and other entrepreneurship stuff.

I would get dozens of copies of the same book sent to me for free and one copy would be out on the shelf while I stored the others in the back.  Then, when I would meet with a client I wanted to impress them and really go over the top with a gift.  So I would do a little research about them ahead of time and when we would meet I would have books that I specifically selected just for them. 

I would give them the books as a gift and they could keep them, take them home and read home. 

So before I met a client I would get the books and then I would go to the last page and tear out the page that the library used for tracking.  Then I would replace that book with another copy, put the tracking page in on that new book and then put it on the shelf. 

Makes sense right? 

Well one day I was running and I met a client I had the books but I didn’t have time to tear out the last page…

So as I handed him the books I said…

“Oh wait a second…”

(in front of him I skipped to the last page and ripped out the library tracking page)

Client: “Wow… (whispered)… are you allowed to do that?”

“Yeah, I’m on the board of the library…”

“Oh okay, but you don’t have to do that just for me…” 

“No worries I want to make sure you have this.”

As I gave him the books he had this look of just graciousness that I had never seen from somebody that I had just give books to.  It was a moment of such happiness as he was really blown away with this gift that I gave him.

Later that night…

Something happened that night that had NEVER happened to me before…

The client called me and THANKED me again for the books and told me how much of them he was READING… 

That had never happened before.

Remember I had been doing this everyday with people but that was the first time that somebody actually called me later THAT very same night and not only thanked me for the books but was actually reading them. 

The next day he became an official client. 

I knew I was on to something so I started testing this out more and more.  Instead of having the books ready to go I would rip out the pages in FRONT of my clients.  To my amazement their reactions were always the same…

They were blown away. 

It was almost like they move in slow motion…

“No Azam… You can’t do that… no…”

When I did rip the page out they would be almost physically react.  They were so taken back it was like they stepped on a landmine in zero gravity…


“Whaaat… noooo waaayyy… THAAAAANK YOOOUUUU AZAAAAMMM…”

It was great.

I kept adding and adding to my little performance and eventually I wouldn’t even get the books before we met.  I wouldn’t even write down which books to get.  So if you and I met I would come up with the list of appropriate books WITH you then you and I would walk around and pull the books off the shelves with you.

THEN  I would rip out the last page in front of you.

With every piece of the performance that I added, people were more and more amazed.

These people were reading more than they had in years.

My closing rate went through the roof. 

It was amazing because I wasn’t doing anything different I was just doing it in FRONT of them.  By adding this little choreographed performance it didn’t just improve their experience but it changed it entirely. 

It not only helped my business but it helped them get a lot more out of our time together.  All that benefit from this tiny little performance.

Remember I wasn’t actually DOING anything different it was just WHEN I was doing it.  By changing the sequence, I added an audience…

… and that made all the difference.

On our team we have taken this idea of adding a choreographed performance and grown companies by leaps and bounds with it.  We worked with a gym and based on whether new clients wanted to lose weight or learn to fight we would walk them by pictures of champions with belts and/or before and after pictures of people with weight loss. 

That walk was a performance.

A tire shop doesn’t just tell the client what’s wrong but shows them what good brake pads looks and here’s what yours look like…

When I would look at houses I knew the price and cost of work ahead of time BUT I would do a walk through with the seller or realtor and takes notes on a visibly blank sheet of paper.  Then I would use my giant calculator to come to the price in front of them…

Every business that I’ve ever worked with can benefit from thsi: find the top producer and take note of everything they do and say, then choreograph it for other to perform exactly so we have what’s called “Uniform Execution”.

Uniform Execution is brilliant.   

That is what Blackbeard understood.  Blackbeard knew that the only way that the pirate movement was EVER going to grow was with the right story, and that required a series of choreographed performances.

Also the real Captain Jack was a Muslim, bet you didn’t know that.

Okay, so that’s my book review of Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff.

Hope that helps…

Thanks so much!  = )

– Azam

Want more (brilliantly) EPIC posts of real estate investing and bidness badasssery...?

There is a great post and class on the 38 Ways to Buy Apartment Buildings Zero Down with Pet Policies, and here are some other helpful and EPIC posts... for starters as a real estate investor if you ever want to build a business that makes you 30 grand a month then you MUST do this...

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Plus make sure you check out Azam's post on how to hire a realtor that makes you $10,000 a month... while you sit back with your shoes kicked up on your desk and fingers folded behind your head.  Also there is a great post on how to make five grand a week from putting out signs.

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Stay here at and you’ll become allergic to being an LC and addicted to improving the world and creating Income Ascension and Social Mobility for you and yours… 

Thanks so much!  = )

Make the Universe Smile.

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