A friend and I were discussing how to write business books. We both write, speak and train for the corporate market, and producing thought-leadership material is immensely beneficial for our careers. His question to me was an interesting one: 'Where do I find enough corporate examples to fill a book?'

The answer is: 'You don't have to.'

In fact, the less you fixate on dull corporate corridors and stories about boring boardrooms, the more total range your writing can display. The imagery will be richer if you can get out into the world, and bring the world back with you into your writing. 

It's not the settings we're after in our examples, after all. It's the principles. And principles can be drawn from anywhere. 

My last book for corporate leaders, 'They're Your Rules, Break Them!' opens with an example from Game of Thrones: 'Chaos is not a pit,' said Littlefinger. 'Chaos...is a ladder!' It then went on to reference true stories and insights from sources like:
- The Israeli Defence Force
- NASA moon missions
- The growth of the Indian nation
- A boxing match in Apartheid South Africa
- Pixar's Town Hall meetings 
- The children's sci-fi book 'Ender's Game'; and 
- My young nephew being told how to do a cutting out exercise by an overly prescriptive nursery school teacher, to name a few.

I've come to believe that the setting for our story-examples is not nearly as important as the underlying idea, which can be drawn from anywhere, be it an insightful phrase from Elon Musk, or a clever thing your two-year-old once said. And the greater the range and vastness of the imaginary landscape from which you draw, the greater the breadth and beauty of your writing. 

Next time you write a speech, pen an article, or set out to write an entire book, remember not to limit yourself with this unnecessarily restrictive belief. By all means, tell your audience through direct instruction how to apply this principle in their immediate scenario. But why use stories set in cubicles to explain the idea itself? 

Be just a little more imaginative, and you could own your industry. 


Douglas Kruger is a business author published by Penguin, and a professional speaker who has been inducted into the 'Speakers Hall of Fame' by the PSASA. He presents on issues around culture, leadership and innovation. See him in action, or book him to speak at your next conference or convention, at www.douglaskruger.com