Surviving Your Serengeti


Stefan Swanepoel has written an interesting, and business skill book. However, I would not say that the content of the book was a “game changer” per se. Then again, the objective was most likely to do something different and longer lasting that that. What Swanepoel has done is present seven foundational business skills set against one of the seven wonders of Africa, Serengeti. The way it is presented, demonstrates these skills with its occupants as an allegorical example of each of the seven skills. Stefan Swanepoel’s book is Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business and Life.

This book is a very easy read and doesn’t consume too much of one’s time. The idea is that seven of the Serengeti’s animals is analogous of a particular business and particular skill: Wildebeests symbolize endurance, lions illustrate strategy, crocodiles represent enterprise, cheetahs are symbolic of efficiency, and so on. Every animal inhabiting Serengeti demonstrates and uses its specific skill – which is well described by the author as he explains his theoretical perspective pertaining to the animals and their survival skills. At times, as the reader, you may feel like a journeyman of the Serengeti.

Some of the animals’ skills are more clearly illustrated than others. The lions’ strategy is precise and detailed both in theory and in the provided explanation, as the characters observe a lioness hunting prey using her strategy. Other analogies are not quite as clear as this one.  The metaphorical structure of this book is for showing how individuals and their unique skills exist. Each chapter talks about a specific skill, and then provides an end-of-chapter wrap-up, which could be one of the most valuable components of the book. The wrap-up gives a summary of that skill makes it a useful book for a group / team to work through and then discuss the end-of-chapter results.  It was enjoyable as I discovered which animal(s) I resonated with, with specific skills. There is a quiz at the book’s website to help you determine which animal you are, though you must give your email address to get results.

The book is most useful, though, not in self-identification, but in team building and structuring. Surviving Your Serengeti will help you more clearly pinpoint others’ strengths and help you understand how those strengths and skills can be put to use efficiently in a business environment. Though the book is presented as one of “self-discovery” it also, in doing so, helps a manager or entrepreneur to understand the move from being independent to becoming interdependent as they work with team members.  Many a manager could use this book for the purpose of being a more valuable team member and leader at the same time. Team members could use it to better understand what other members bring to the proverbial table how their strengths uphold and impact their own.

I believe that Swanepoel’s story’s purpose is to demonstrate what we understand as our own innate skill(s) and those of our colleagues. What I find new and refreshing of this writing is not the ideas themselves, it is the way this author has presented such ideas about our skills and strengths.