Everyone learns from good stories. They capture the imagination and make learning stimulating and enjoyable. Storytelling is such a key part of learning that we weave stories into the majority of our programmes.
Through our years of using storytelling we have found that stories provide a shortcut to understanding. They communicate across cultures, teach the heart, and help learning to stick.
Because we love stories so much we also write our own short stories and business parables. They are used regularly by clients as a self-directed resource, a pre-read or a supporting publication.
We can also be commissioned to write an inspirational story for your business.
Below we provide a brief introduction to a selection of books written by Apex Managing Director, Justin Skelton.
THE DEAD CAT
The Dead Cat tells the story of Jack Creswell, entrepreneur and would-be technology mogul. He works hard, but his ambitious little start-up company has started to plateau, he has problems motivating his staff, and as he approaches middle age finds his enthusiasm starting to wane. An added problem for Jack is that his life is overshadowed by the achievements of his recently retired mother, lingerie tycoon and business superstar Margaret Bravo.
Like all parents Margaret finds it difficult to stand by and watch her son make mistakes she can see coming. But Jack shuts down when Margaret tries to offer advice.
When Grandma gives The Dead Cat to Jack’s five-year-old son Joe, things start to change. This little children’s book seems to hold all the answers to Jack’s problems, and in the course of a week the fortunes of his company begin to turn around.
Jack discovers that a dead cat is a metaphor for a problem that may be unseen, not in the job description, or simply dodged. These dead cats are harming his business, and the businesses of his clients. But once identified and dealt with they form the basis of some very real and very lucrative opportunities.
Humorous and warm hearted, The Dead Cat is an inspiring story that will encourage you to address your own issues and those of your business.
RACE FOR THE WHITE TIGER
Mario Pascali grows up in a small Italian town dreaming of two things: becoming a champion racing driver, and a beautiful, powerful sports car which will take him there – the White Tiger.
He becomes an underpaid racing team mechanic until he is rescued by the enigmatic Silbeo Marche, owner of the glamorous Team Astuto, who offers him a job in sponsorship and marketing.
There he learns from Silbeo, the disarming Scott Gallagher and the vivacious Elaina Kovak their secrets of business, of selling, of negotiating, and of dealing with the rich and powerful. Mario spends his spare time and money on racing, becoming a faster and more skilled driver.
Finally he meets the world champion… and learns the biggest lesson of all.
RACE FOR THE WHITE TIGER II
Mario Pascali has achieved his goal of becoming a professional racing driver at a price. He must continue to sell sponsorship for his team. A promise of help only increases his problems: he must recruit effective sales people, then coach and lead them so they can drive the business into a more sustainable future.
Mario finds two new mentors: team managers Donato Vincenti and Alfredo Tasso, whose development tools for high performance teams help him on and off the track. However, Mario comes up against his greatest challenges yet, encountering deceitful and potentially devastating tactics not just outside his team but also from within.
Can he build and manage a successful sales team while achieving his dream of a life that includes Elaina and the White Tiger?
DUNDEE IN THE RAIN
Andrew Thornton is a naturally creative salesperson who, with problems at home, is now going through the motions, stuck in a short term way of working, assuming customers will do what they have always done.
Frankie Rogers is an experienced, deliberate, controlling negotiator, unable to see that his traditional approach is his weakness.
Alison Pickering, brilliant, instinctive, thinks like a salesperson and sales director simultaneously, conjuring up creative deals. Now though, faced with a stretching sales target, she starts to feel burned out.
What brings them together is a deal. It starts disastrously in a cold, rainy city, but soon it will change their careers and their businesses.
Two young princes growing up in a prosperous country share an idyllic childhood until one day the focus of their world comes crashing down literally. Their grief stricken father retreats into himself, but he appoints a mentor and tutor for each of them.
One is an economist and experienced advisor to governments. The other is a war hero who has come to understand the limits of force.
Their father divides the kingdom between them. Each principality will learn from the other.
At first one easily outstrips the other, but then – in an echo of the West’s economic crash – the picture becomes more complex. The fate of the two princes is inextricably intertwined. Their success, their survival depends on cooperation and fundamental change.
Star is the story of Jacques Belle, culinary genius and owner of The House of Dreams, and his quest to achieve the coveted White Star restaurant award.
To do this he must enable his team to deliver his culinary inventions to his own high standards, and develop his people so the business is less reliant on him and capable of delivering a consistent experience to its customers. His team are multinational, with individual talents, and they struggle to work in a coordinated fashion.
The evening that the White Star’s critic visits does not go according to plan. However, that same evening Jacques meets Katia Lister, a retired business troubleshooter. She helps him to recognise the ‘bottlenecks’ in The House of Dreams, to establish a learning culture and to multiply learning opportunities.
Capability improves dramatically, raising the speed and quality of service and reducing the stresses.
Does he win a White Star? Wait and see… but what Jacques learns along the way becomes more important than any award. He learns how to scale up a business by building capability in people and learns to do it the smart way.
THE BOY WITH THE BIG PICTURE TELESCOPE
The Boy with the Big Picture Telescope tells the story of Sam, a dreamy and thoughtful boy and the things he discovers through the magical big picture telescope.
Sam’s adventures with the telescope teach him to look at life, situations, people and decisions in a range of new and different ways.
It is designed to provoke thought and to help anyone who reads it to consider their own decision-making style and approach.
Good lives are built out of great decisions so it is hoped that this short story inspires you, in some way, to improve your own decisions.
SECRETS OF PROFESSIONAL NEGOTIATORS
The Secrets of Professional Negotiators provides critical information about the way that professional negotiators conduct themselves during negotiations with sales people.
The book is intended to support advanced negotiation skills training or training programmes specifically aimed at sales people who will be dealing with, or currently deal with, professional buyers.
It was to be a make-or-break journey, the trip that either saved their marriage or finished it. Paul and Fiona Sherry’s destination, Honduras in Central America, had the same uncompromising quality – unpredictable, capable of taking away your breath with its charm, generosity and kindness, then turning dangerous and frightening.
Paul and Fiona head for the remote and mountainous east of Honduras but a car crash leaves them hurt and stranded, without food and vulnerable to local bandits.
A mysterious man on horseback rescues them and takes them to his farm in a virtually unknown village. Here they learn the secrets of his way of life, secrets they slowly realise can change their own lives and help them heal the rift that had first led them on their journey.
However, their presence puts their hosts in danger and they must embark on a perilous night escape through jungle and over fast-flowing waters.