Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business and Life is a motivational business fable by real estate expert Stefan Swanepoel. Billed as “a fable of self-discovery,” the book follows a married American couple’s learning experiences over two days in the Serengeti.

Swanepoel covers seven skills for life and business: endurance, strategy, enterprise, efficiency, grace, willingness to take calculated risks, and communication. Each of these he associates with an animal indigenous to the Serengeti.

Most of the information in the book is contained in several-page summaries at the end of each chapter. On the whole, Swanepoel’s message is good, if general. But Swanepoel is a businessman, not a writer, and it shows here. The storytelling is amateurish, the dialogue stilted and expository. There’s not much at all going on in the “story.” I’m not entirely sure why this book was written as a business fable instead of a conventional skills book – perhaps because it simply wouldn’t be book-length otherwise.

Surviving Your Serengeti has as much (or more) to say about Africa as it does about business; it’s obvious that Swanepoel loves the savannah. And there are some interesting tidbits on the subject here. Unfortunately, Swanepoel’s parallels between the animals and business feel forced nearly as often as they work.

Whoever edited this book deserves some criticism as well. Whenever a character’s monologue goes more than one paragraph, the second paragraph of dialogue has no opening quotes (the rule is that the first paragraph doesn’t need closing quotes). This can be confusing.

The end of the book makes something of a big deal about figuring out “what animal you are” – there’s even a website where you can take a quiz – which seems to undermine the book’s previous point, that you should apply as many skills as you can to your life and business.

If you’re looking for business and life skills, Surviving Your Serengeti has about thirty pages of solid material. If you’re interested in Africa, get a book about Africa. While there’s certainly some good stuff here, Surviving Your Serengeti feels too general, amateurish, and shallow, and the union of business and story just doesn’t work well here. You might check it out at the library and just read the summary sections.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”