10 of History’s Most Successful Pirates (and What They Teach Us About Work)

From Lifehacker:

Pirate ships were the start-ups of their day. During the “golden age of piracy” (approximately 1650-1720), countless thousands of sailors and underground entrepreneurs tried their luck at high-seas robbery, launching criminal operations with very little capital and a massive potential for profit, just like that app you want to make. But like modern start-ups, buccaneering was risky—most pirates failed, and failure as a pirate didn’t mean going back to grad school; it meant a noose around your neck and a short drop. The few who found some success in this difficult, competitive field can teach us all something about how to run a better business or best the scurvy scalawags on your company’s Slack. Read on to learn from these real-life successful pirates.

Any list of pirate lessons has to start with the negative example of Stede Bonnet, the most ridiculous (but kind of amazing) pirate in history. Most “golden age” pirates got into their line of work because they didn’t have many other options, but not Stede Bonnet. The Gentleman Pirate was from a rich family, and lived the settled, comfortable life of a family man in Jamaica. But one day around 1716, for reasons lost to history, Bonnet left it all behind for the dangerous, violent life of piracy. He bought a ship, named it The Revenge, hired 70 experienced men to run it, and set out to sea.

It did not go well.

After a few small victories mostly thanks to his experienced crew, Bonnet was severely injured after attacking a Spanish Man-o-War. He then entered into a “partnership” with Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, a terrifying actual pirate. The team-up ended with Teach double-crossing Bonnet and stealing The Revenge and all the sweet, sweet booty they’d stolen together. Rather than returning home to lick his wounds, Bonnet vowed revenge against his former friend, got a new ship, and started doing more pirating. He seemed to be getting the hang of it too, until he was captured by pirate hunters, tried, convicted, and executed in 1718.

What we can learn: Your work friends aren’t really your friends.

If nothing else, Calico Jack was a progressive pirate. He’s not known for his huge hauls—Jack was a bit of a small-timer—but he’s remembered for two of his crew members: his lover Anne Bonny and her lover, Mary Read. Bonny joined Captain Jack’s crew after fleeing from her husband. Read was a pirate already, who disguised herself as a man in order to sail. Everything was pirate-y cool until 1720, when pirate-hunter Jonathan Barnet surprised the crew of Captain Jack’s sloop in Bry Harbour Bay in Jamaica. Rackham’s pirates were mostly drunk, but those who were sober enough to fight were led by Bonny and Read. They all got captured anyway. Calico Jack was tried and hanged, but Bonny and Read each pleaded “pregnancy” and were spared the noose. When asked about Rackham, Bonny famously replied: “If he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang’d like a Dog.” Cold-blooded.

What we can learn: There’s a reason HR says managers can’t date their employees.

Link to the rest at Lifehacker