How to Break The Rules | A Q&A with Social Entrepreneur Sam Conniff
Sam Conniff Allende is a multi-award winning serial social entrepreneur, and as co-founder and former CEO of Livity, Sam has mentored thousands of talented young entrepreneurs. Sam has also realeased a book, Be More Pirate, a look at what we can learn from the golden age of pirates. We chatted to Sam at our most recent Knowledge Guild event to find out more about his book, as well as his thoughts on how the younger generation today is ripping up the rule book.
Hi Sam - could you tell us about yourself?
Hello! My name is Sam Conniff Allende and I am the author of ‘Be More Pirate’.
What are the key current and emerging trends in youth culture, and how does this play a part in the future of business?
There’s a lot said around the trends of youth and youth culture, but I think the key ingredient – the key thing to know – is this shift towards a more enterprising mindset. But to call it enterprising or entrepreneurial would be to miss the point. This belongs to the side-hustle generation. Try to find someone in their twenties who is not involved in a project, a plan, a scheme, some kind of activity outside of their normal working hours, putting it together and bringing their idea to life. I’ve tried. I can’t find them. What I can find is a source of inspiration, of innovation, of imagination that far too few employers are able to harness for their own businesses. It’s taking place outside of their businesses, that’s where I would look.
Who exactly are Generation Z, what will their role be in the future of work?
“Generation Z” is a distraction of a term made up by marketeers and people like me to sell ourselves in as consultants to people like you. The truth is, there is a really interesting shift in mindset and I have observed it very much in the last couple of years.
So what can businesses can do to attract and retain Gen Z workers?
For nearly 20 years I’ve shared every single working day with young people – young entrepreneurs, young artists – and there’s something going on. Something quite different. It’s partly the access to technology, it’s partly the uncertainty, it’s partly the sense of being let down by the big institutions of housing, health and education, but also by what’s on offer. What is really on offer in the workplace? I think the biggest competitor to nearly all businesses trying to recruit the best talent out there is not any other business, it’s the opportunity for young people to do their own thing.
Tell us about your book, ‘Be More Pirate’, what can we learn from the golden age of pirates?
Be More Pirate reveals the secrets, the strategy and the success of the golden age of pirates. Be More Pirate is half the untold history of pirates – and half the future. There’s so much that I’ve discovered in my research that many people think I must be making up. It’s such a bold claim to say that pirates should be regarded somewhere between the suffragettes and the civil rights movement. They were working class heroes, social revolutionaries and innovators. But we fail to hold them up there. In fact, more often than not we let them be the theme for a 5-year-old children’s party and that’s missing the point entirely. One point that’s never properly landed is that amongst these rascally rogues, thieves, bandits and merchants of chaos, what you actually find is one of the most accountable, networked group of individuals in history. They stood up to odds that put them at nearly 30/1. And they didn’t just stand up to the status quo, they changed the rules of everything because by breaking the rules and then rewriting them as a team, not waiting for permission, you become deeply accountable to one another and deeply accountable to the success of your new way of doing things. It’s worth taking a look at the surprising, troublesome truth of the accountability of pirates.
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me is a surprise to me. The book is more of a success than I expected, and I think even than my publisher expected! We’ve just closed on a US deal which went to a bidding war. Closed on a Russian and various international deals. It sold consecutively well across every print run, the fourth print run has just gone in, and we’re only six weeks in. But the most interesting thing are the rebellions borne in response to the book. People are getting in touch with me every single day in increasing numbers to tell me of the change that they’ve brought about in their life. The difference they’re making in their area. The revolution they’re bring to where they work. All inspired by this book. So, I feel an obligation and a duty to meet this sense of energy and transformation with as much energy myself so I’m going to try to start a rebellion fund so I can enable some of these people to do more. I’m beginning a pirate network so I can connect these like-minded rebels. I’ve been working in marketing the last three years so I’m guilty as anyone in the creative industries of pitching the idea of a movement, but I’m going to see what happens when one really begins…
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