Every year over 11,000 business books are published. Only a tiny sliver of those books are what I would call “real books”, that is, books that talk meaningfully and authentically about a subject in a coherent way. (Most of them are compilations of tired business platitudes, aimed at selling the author’s consultant services.)

A real book

One of the very few business books that is also a “real book” that I have come across recently is Peter Guber’s new book, Tell to Win. It’s a book about how important storytelling has been in Peter’s life. Peter has an amazing set of stories to tell: how he grew up in New York, went to Hollywood, became a big shot producer with films like Batman, Rain Man and Gorillas in the Mist, and is now the co-owner of an NBA team in San Francisco.

If you looked closely this last Sunday night, you could have seen Peter and his wife at the Oscar ceremony as one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated film, The Kids Are All Right.

In telling the many stories that make up his life, Peter also tells the story of storytelling. What makes this engaging is that Peter, despite his successes, doesn’t take himself too seriously. Many of the stories in the book are less about his brilliant successes, of which there are many, and more about the illuminating stumbles that inevitably occur as one makes one’s way through life.

Meeting the King of Thailand

One of my favorites is about when he was making a film in Thailand and had to see the king in order to obtain permission for what he was doing. So he followed his own advice and practiced, practiced, practiced his story to tell to the king and when he arrived at the palace he felt he was ready. When he saw the king, he taken aback at how impressively the king was dressed. He began his spiel and felt his assistant pulling on his sleeve. He ignored this and pressed ahead with his spiel. Finally, his assistant whispered in his ear, “Peter, that’s not the king. That’s the usher.”