Book Review: Stealing Fire from Gods

What an amazing title for a book right? And an amazing book indeed! You know, when you’re into entrepreneurship and stuff, you find out soon enough that although a good idea is crucial, there’s also the art of storytelling that does the trick sometimes. So, having a good idea, “good for you” but if you’re unable to phrase it in the proper way and make it as sexy as hell, you got nothing.

With this in mind, I set out to read the book “Stealing Fire from Gods“, partly cause of my love for entrepreneurship-related topics and partly cause I consider myself an aspiring storyteller and author. In the beginning of the book, the author states that after finishing the book, movie watching will never be the same for you. And he was right! He actually lets you in, in so many inside secrets and tricks that movies almost become transparent. Their plot, the way the characters are depicted, the hero’s or antihero’s journey etc.

It was really like Prometheus did, when he stole fire from the olympian gods and gave it to the people. I just hope that I don’t end up like him, having my insides eaten each night by a giant eagle, while being chained to a rock!

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As for the movie buffs out there, you may want to check out the movie “Prometheus” which is actually not that bad! Although remotely related to our topic, you may find it a good way to spend a weekend evening with friends!

Related to the book in hand, it is a treasure. It’s one of these books that you can’t actually read and get done with it. You will keep coming back for more. The theory and approach to the concept of storytelling is really elaborate and well-explained, so it’s kind of difficult to learn it by heart! Nevertheless, as I went through it, filled with movie examples, I really understood lots and lots of things that I didn’t at the time of watching a movie.

What was really nice was that once you relate some of these things to projects, products, companies, etc., they really make sense. They really add the concept of the story-based economy that we are living into. The experience-based economy to be exact. We have moved to an economy of experiences as I have discussed in a previous post and we are not really caring about commodities or goods or services for that matter. It’s all about experiences, that is stories about products and services that help us experience the world in a different way, and in consequence bring a change to us, raising us to another level, a higher one. Stories about wine, about coffee, about clothes, you name it. You don’t want to drink a cheap coffee from any place you find in front of you, but you do want to drink a coffee that comes from some high altitude region of Andes, collected by some indigenous population, using a specific technique and then being roasted in a facility that is eco-friendly, etc. So this is why this book should also be read by all of you entrepreneurs out there. It will teach you how to tell captivating stories to captivate your customers.

I am not sure that I can give you my highlights-takeaways from the book, as it’s quite a “whole fat” read, but these are some things that stuck with me:

  1. Everything that works in stories does so cause it triggers an emotional response to the audience“,
  2. Great stories are designed to guide us to our full potential“,
  3. It’s enough to perfect a couple of the dimensions of a story to create a great story, so don’t worry about getting everything perfect,
  4. Enjoyed the part that talk about our conscious and unconscious selves and how these work together and connect in any great story – also loved the explanation of how all the great stories were created through the collective unconscious,
  5. The importance of sugar coating to many many things. How sex is actually about reproduction and survival and orgasm is just a sugar coat to get us to do it (!),
  6. Great stories, stimulate our fantasies, give us a taste of what would happen if we did something, provide us with a treasure map that guides us to the final destination, they create meaningful connections to real life and provide incredible insights and wisdom all along,
  7.  Realized the power of metaphors and really understood the concept of archetypes as well as their importance in our lives as well,
  8. It was amazing to see how structured it can all be, from an inciting action that starts a story to the state of misfortune that carries it forward, the principal action, the hero’s journey to the higher state and then again the reversal to the downside and so on. All of it, kind of freakishly connected to real life,
  9. I liked the nine (9) character archetypes (Anima/Animus, Ego/Hero, Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, Physical, The Shadow, The Trickster and the Threshold Guardian) that made perfect sense when mapping them to myself or people around me,
  10. Liked the way that the hero’s journey was explained as well as the practical tips towards the end of the book for any aspiring story teller.

Overall, this book is all about craftmanship. And it may be daunting at the first read but once you go past this and you read it over and over again (or at least parts of it), then it will become a toolbox at your disposal. A toolbox that is as easily revoked as a guitar player remembers his/her chords when the verse comes up. It’s not easy but it’s one of the safest ways to become the best story teller you can become. 😉



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