BUSINESS book authors have of late been using fables or stories to spice up the content and perk up the sales of their books like the bestsellers “Who Moved My Cheese?” and “Fish.” This may be a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that readers of business books may already have reached their point of satiety with an abundance of books that make for heavy reading. However, like a rich chocolate cake after a heavy meal, a reader can also get too much of their just desserts with one fable after another offering lessons on leadership and organizational development.
This time, two authors from one of Spain’s most respected business schools, ESADE, try to whip up another fable cum business/ motivational book, as an addition to the existing menu of bestsellers. Their book is entitled, “Good Luck: Create the Conditions for Success in Life & Business” (Jossey-Bass 2004). The two authors also happen to be marketing experts with Alex Rovira being the co-author of the Spanish version of the book, “Understanding the Customer” and Fernando Trias de Bes being the co-author (with Philip Kotler) of “Lateral Marketing.” How they get in touch with readers to inspire them to success through the book is a test of their marketing savvy.
A Different Fable
“Good Luck,” differentiates itself from other books, by providing two inspirational stories a story within a story. The first is a modern story of two old friends who meet by chance 50 years after they last saw each other as children. The two friends are a study in contrast: Max started out poor as a rat and ended up a wealthy businessman while Jim, who inherited a fortune, ended up practically a pauper. Ironically, the unsuccessful friend pointed to luck as the cause for his failure and the success of the other. As they ruminated on their fortunes, Max tells Jim a fairy tale that helped him achieve his success.
The fairy tale seems like any other ordinary fairy tale, complete with knights, enchanted forests and magical creatures. It even has the wizard Merlin thrown in for good measure. The tale begins when two knights out of thousands take up Merlin’s challenge to find a magic clover in the Enchanted Forest. Each of the knights meets several creatures of the forest. Each encounter leads one to failure and the other closer to success with one knight earning the prize of finding the much sought after clover at the end of the tale.
Trite though the characters and the story line appear to be, the reader can get caught up in the story as it unfolds since the tale becomes more and more relevant to the modern world. In the tradition of fairy tales, the book offers moral lessons, ten of them in fact, as a Good Luck Rule is offered after each chapter. Then, at the end of the book, the mother of all lessons is offered, the Moral of the Story being, of course, that “Creating Good Luck consists only in… creating the conditions.”
With all these goody-goody conclusions, amazingly enough, the book doesn’t come off as sentimental muck. It can even soften the most hardened of corporate hearts. Why? Perhaps the reason may be that all of us have very personal experiences of successes and failures at work and in life. Most of us may even view that we have more of failures than successes and that only a few lucky individuals are consistently successful. We may even wonder how we can ever hope to lift ourselves from our failures. Thus, the story can evoke from the reader a strong sense of empathy and the lessons, touchy-feely though they may be, grip our emotions and tug at our heartstrings.
My guess is, the authors might just get lucky and end up with a bestseller. Like fairy tales that are never forgotten even when we grow up, this fable, and its moral lessons, once read, may become corporate legend as it empowers people to hold their destinies.
Good Luck: Create the Conditions for Success in Life & Business, Alex Rovira and Fernando Trias de Bes. Jossey-Bass 2004.
Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer December 15, 2004.
Photo credit: www.sxc.hu