Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, November 03, 2008

Things Even the Author Didn't Know

First, let me just say that Doug Wright of KSL radio in Salt lake has got to be one of the most genuinely nice people ever. I had the opportunity of being on his Sunday morning interview show this week, and it was great. I’ll let you know when I have the link available to listen to. Now on to my “literary” post.

For the last fifteen years or so, I have been in one sales management position or another. At many of those companies I have asked my salespeople to read a book. But it might not be what you expect. It wasn’t Bryan Tracy, it wasn’t Og Mandino. It wasn’t even The Little Red Book of Sales. The book I used a training tool for my teams of successful sales reps wasn’t even a sales book. It was a novel. I asked all of them to read Enders Game, by Orson Scott Card.

I know, it sounds like a weird choice for a sales training book, but if you’ve read the novel you may remember that there are several different teams that Ender is a part of. Each of these teams has a different management style. One has a dictatorial leader that demands strict obedience by each team member. Another allows for gorilla-style tactics by giving each team member free rein to do what the want. Each of the team management styles has pros and cons. The strictly controlled group can not respond to unexpected changes of a loss of the leader. The gorilla-style group doesn’t communicate well enough with each other to coordinate against organized offenses.

When Ender creates his team, he not only creates a new management style (with sub-captains) but he allows uses unorthodox methods to offset unfair settings that are thrown at him. After my salespeople read the book, I like to talk with them about what kind of sales team they want to be a part of, and how the approach can help them succeed.

I don’t think that Scott Card imagined Ender’s Game as a sales training tool. And yet, it fills the role admirably. So my question for you today is, “What books have inspired you in ways that you don’t think the author intended?” And authors, “Have you received e-mails or letters from fans who got something out of your book that you didn’t realize was there?”


At 11/04/2008 12:08 AM, Blogger lachish said...

I don't know if this really counts, because I am pretty sure the author intended a far different message, but in all of my life when I have heard about this particular book, the comments or reviews have always been about the adventure aspect of the story.

I believe the readers at large, the people who tried to imitate the plot in various films, and especially the school teachers who mentioned the novel, never, ever figured out the real message of the story.

But, perhaps I am just nuts. I'll let you decide.

The book is a fantastic tale of a man who offends his father, makes decisions he later deeply regrets, loses his wealth, reads the bible, is converted to Christianity, develops a deep conviction of the power of repentance, saves others from death, and finds peace in his life.

The book is "The Adventures of Robison Crusoe" by Daniel DeFoe.

At 11/04/2008 1:24 AM, Blogger Nancy Campbell Allen said...

First of all, I love Ender's Game. I'm an unashamed OSC fan.

I'll have to give some thought to having read a book and took away something from it other than what the author intended. Interesting question...

As for my books reaching someone in a different way, I do have one experience. I write primarily to entertain, with the exception of my Faith of our Fathers series, which is straight historical fiction.

That said, my 3rd book was a romance set in Guatemala on an archaeological dig. My heroine was a recovering anorexic. She had surges of the disease come back to haunt her as things in the story got stressful. I had a concerned mother email me after she'd read the book and tell me she noticed things in her daughter that reminded her of my character and she asked for my advice. I was able to point her to a good treatment center and I'm hopeful they were able to get the help they needed.

I guess that kind of caught me off guard, because I never imagined my books might have some socially redeeming value. ;-)

At 11/04/2008 1:12 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

BTW, it's not "gorilla-style tactics", it's guerrilla-style. Unless, of course, he beats his chest savagely and goes for crushing holds.

Here's my hidden treasure - I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X (Haley) and, while I enjoyed the history of the man, and the civil rights movement, what has stayed with me is the description of the dances. I wanted to learn more about the Lindy-Hop and the various swing dances the author describes. Unfortunately, I can't say that I went on to actually learn how to do any of them, but I certainly gained a greater appreciation of them. (And I learned a little Swing, too.)

The scene I always remember from Ender's Game is the one where he brutally beats up the bully. I wonder how effective that is in real life. (Not that I would necessarily advocate it, I just wonder.)

At 11/05/2008 6:58 AM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

The book was Go Ask Alice by anonymous. Said to be the diary of a real teenageer, Compiled by Beatrice Sparks. Lately there have been acusations that it was fiction from Sparks' imagination.

Either way, it was recommended reading by the teachers. They even rented the movie for us to watch. The Idea was to scare us away from the lifestyle talked about in the book. unfortunatly, it had the opposite affect for most of us.

The story is written in away that glorifies the lifestye. I blame this book for many of the wrong choices I made in my teenage years.


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