Book Review: King Pin

Book Review: King Pin by Sarah Bartholomeusz

In a true “Adelaide moment”, I met Sarah Bartholomeusz through a friend of a friend. I was looking for an expert on compliance and assurance for the Boardroom Bootcamp course and, as it turns out, Sarah was the perfect person. She is a corporate governance expert, and is the founder and CEO of You Legal.

At the same time I was requesting her expertise on policies and assurance, Sarah was wrapping up work on Kingpin; a book perfect for new and aspiring company directors to learn some important legal lessons from some very shady characters (read: drug lords). She actually uses some of the examples from the book in the Boardroom Bootcamp course – who wouldn’t want to learn from the likes of Pablo Escobar, and Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loeras (better known as El Chapo)?!

This book in a nutshell

Sarah takes you through the life and times of seven of the most notorious kingpins, teaching you how they succeeded through innovation, risk management, market security, supply chain management, and the like. All very familiar things that a board of directors has to deal with.

Although these kingpins tended to use underhanded and illegal tactics to get their way (not to mention that they were largely dealing in narcotics and people trafficking), Sarah highlights how the day-to-day control mechanisms available to all organisations – such as policies, procedures, and assurance frameworks – were used or could have been used to their advantage.

Why should you read it?

If you’re in to Freakonomics, you’ll enjoy this book. It is an easy read that provides you with valuable business lessons, all wrapped up in some fascinating stories from the underworld.

How does it relate to being a director / board member?

As it turns out, the challenges faced by some of the world’s most wanted characters are not so different to the challenges faced by boards. Learning how these people got away with incredibly illegal activities will help you to understand how you can ensure employee compliance, manage supply chains, expand your market, and introduce corporate social responsibility programs (without the illegal activities and murder please).

Best piece of advice?

The last chapter on why kingpins succeed provides you with a great wrap-up of the seven lessons that the corporate world can learn from the fascinating stories in this book.

Sales, products, focus, strict financial management, employee motivation, innovation, and risk vs. reward all feature. Kind of scary in a way!

How it has changed me

It has reinforced to me that successful (whatever your version of ‘successful’ is) businesses are built on tried-and-true fundamentals that apply across industry, country, business size, and product/service. A message to all businesses; ignore them at your peril!

Get your copy

Grab your copy of Kingpin here.

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