My initial impulse was to write a text on global entrepreneurship but quickly realized this traditional format could not capture the rich mosaic of how and why entrepreneurs make important strategic decisions. Plus my years in the trenches taught me that you couldn’t divorce the personal story from the business story. Even real “business books” are mostly antiseptic – rightfully shorn of personal detail to preserve privacy. I found myself hybridizing characters and firms to a point that it looked more like a novel than a text. Why not mix it up? Call it edutainment. Writing fiction that is highly fact-based and meticulously researched seemed to fit the need to enlighten while being entertaining.
I confess to another motivation to write a business fable. Talk to a practicing lawyer over a few beers and it becomes obvious that your drinking companion routinely contemplates leaving the profession disenchanted by the gap between the heart-racing John Grisham-LA Law image of a heroic lawyer and the actual drone-like drudgery of this celebrated guild. The mirror opposite is true of business – where men and women are commonly portrayed as banal, boring automatons in stultifying jobs or as corrupt, power hungry amoralists. Reality is quite different. Life inside a business is an adventure – disruptive change, personal risk, surprises, soap operasque twists are common. And business people are smart, engaging, committed and multi-dimensional. They are for the most part terrific human beings and definitely more fun than lawyers. They may not look like George Clooney but they certainly don’t behave like JR Ewing. It is about time someone brought this to light.
This book needs to be written by someone at sometime. So, if not now, when? We are recipients of an ancient Chinese blessing “May you live in interesting times.” A thousand variations of this storyline are being played out as another generation of entrepreneurs from America to Zimbabwe dream big, risk all and write the first draft of the 21st century world economic history. So this IS the time. And if not me, who? Years in corporations big and small in roles ranging from intern to management consultant to general manager; advanced degrees in engineering and business; feet, friends and family in three continents; research and teaching in B-schools – ought to be useful for something. Moi? Why not?