Can Game of Thrones Help You at Business?

Fiction Trumps Fact in a Book Recommendation for Golden Week

GLOBIS Faculty and Alumnus Karl O'Callaghan shares his unusual business book recommendation for Golden Week. Maybe you're reading them already!

Game of Thrones: Book 1 of a Song of Ice and Fire

by George R. R. Martin

Once upon a time, I used to eat up business and self-help books. I plowed through two or three books a month. A few years ago, I even set myself a challenge to read a book a week for a whole year! Silly me! I failed by the way.

There were books on how one amazing start-up went from zero to 567 billion dollars in 25 minutes, and why the regular Joe on the street too can be rich. Covey’s seven habits and Clayton Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life were books that I’d read at least once every couple of years. I was always looking at the pages for inspiration, to try to make myself better at what I did.

But then something clicked. I realized that they were all kinda the same. Do this and you will improve productivity by X%, stop putting off until tomorrow what you can do today.

This Golden Week, I’ll be diving back into Game of Thrones. Not the TV show—the books. I’m on part three now. So how does GoT apply to the real world, or the world of business? Well, the books are all about power and influence, how people get good things and nasty things done.

Westeros is thrown into disarray as (spoiler alert) a king is killed (or was it murdered… while out hunting a boar). Isn’t this just like PEST, where a change in the macro environment affects everybody? Suddenly a whole bunch of new entrants come onto the scene like Google and Apple and Elon Musk and the self-driving market. Porter’s mouth would be watering at the prospect of more than five forces pitching for battle. The supply chain has been cut off because winter is coming, but the only value chain I’ve seen was when (spoiler alert) Tyrion was imprisoned. I’m in the middle of book three and looking forward to a unicorn (or was it a dragon?) to come and rule the world until the end of all time, or at least until the stock market crashes!

Photo by radub85 

Mr. Karl O'Callaghan has lived in four countries. He was born in the UK, spent time teaching in France and Russia, and came to Japan in 1997.
He joined Oxford University Press in Tokyo in 2004 as a consultative salesman, and was soon given wider and more important areas to cover. After managing the Osaka sales office, he next took on the role of Marketing Manager, using his experience as a salesperson, customer and decision maker to learn on the job. The first three years in this job brought lots of trial and error, until Mr. O'Callaghan enrolled in GLOBIS. Then, he was able to apply some rigid frameworks to his planning and thinking, which raised his game as a marketer and manager. Always striving for a bigger challenge, after obtaining his MBA from GLOBIS in 2014, he took on a wider role as Head of Marketing and Operations, UK Trade and Investment, supporting UK and Japanese companies across all sectors in trying to enter new markets. Since October 2015, Mr. O’Callaghan has been teaching Essentials of Marketing at Strategy to GLOBIS Part-Time MBA students on evenings and weekends.
In early 2016, he moved with his wife and three children to Hyogo, Western Japan and—making use of his extensive consulting and external trade experience—started his own market entry consultancy helping Japanese SMEs to market and sell overseas.

Company name: (海外 ドット ワールド)
Company website:
Company contact:
Personal blog: “Suffering is Optional” (

Subscribe to the GLOBIS Insights Newsletter