Storied Business Strategies

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

Aesop & the CEO: Powerful Business Insights from Aesop’s Ancient Fables by David Noonan (Nelson Books, 2005)

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Remember the story of “The Hare and the Tortoise,” or the one about “The Goose and the Golden Egg”? Maybe you heard them at bedtime as a child or read them in school as you learned about morals and proper behavior. In this book, nearly 50 of these old tales are reintroduced for adults—the audience Aesop originally targeted when he wrote the stories in Ancient Greece. Each brief fable is followed by an account of how it applies to the business world, with examples from well-known figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Rudolph Giuliani. While not specifically targeting the real estate industry, the book provides fun-to-read lessons that ring true for anyone whose job relies on negotiation, marketing, leadership, and communication. Those simple bedtime tales are more applicable to your work than you may think.

Tips From the Book:

  • Test your assumptions to make sure they’re grounded in reality. “The One-Eyed Doe” fable provides a valuable lesson about the dangers of making assumptions. When your business plan is based on critical assumptions about the marketplace, consumer behavior, or your competitors, you need to go forward with plans that are flexible enough to account for significant changes in business conditions or you can put your success at risk. If one or more of the assumptions turn out to be false, your plan may no longer be feasible.
  • When negotiating, never be too eager to come to terms. As the fable “The Lion in Love” teaches us, true negotiating power comes from being able to walk away at any time. If you’re too eager to reach a deal, the other party will sense it and you will lose leverage. When you are willing to walk away, you can make better decisions because not as much is at stake.
  • Good managers praise publicly and criticize privately. In order to build mutual trust and positive rapport with those you manage, the fable “Jupiter, Neptune, Minerva, and Momus” teaches us that it’s important to keep criticism confined to private situations. By reprimanding an employee in public, you will cut into their job satisfaction and you may lose a good worker.