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Heed the Villagers’ Warnings

Bram Stokers Dracula
Or: Puritan Meets Prince of Darkness

Castles set among misty mountains, bats flitting through moonlight and garlic strung around an ill woman’s neck – these images are synonymous with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For more than a century, audiences have delighted in witnessing an innocent, unassuming Englishman stumble into the deadly world of the Undead, along with all the chaos that ensues. But what can a gothic tale of vampires and Victorian gentlefolk teach us today? As with Count Dracula himself, there is more to this spine-chiller than meets the eye.

What It’s About

A band of friends become the target of Count Dracula’s wrath. The group sets out on a mission to kill the vampire and save themselves.

Three Life Lessons

1. If You Hear a Strange Noise, Don’t Head Towards the Basement

On Jonathan Harker’s journey to Transylvania, he dreamt of howling dogs. Villagers crossed themselves at the mention of Count Dracula’s name and an old woman threw a crucifix around his neck. Wolfpacks circled his carriage. Locals whispered words like “Satan,” “hell,” “witch,” and “vampire” while darting sideways glances at Harker. Finally, his carriage driver implored him not to stop at the castle.  

Image of: Dracula
Book Summary


Join Dr. Van Helsing and his band of vampire hunters in their desperate battle against the evil forefather of all bloodsuckers.

Bram Stoker
Read Summary

Really, there were a few warning signs that things were about to go south for Jonathan.  

Young Harker was either too naive or too English to let a few fearful peasants frighten him away from his legal work on Dracula’s estate. And people paid dearly for his foolishness. In any horror flick, there is always one mug who hears a bang in the basement and thinks to him- or herself let’s go have a looksie – typically unarmed and scantily clad. Don’t be this chump, literally or metaphorically. In life, there are always warning signs when a bad deal is approaching – be it at work, financially or in a relationship. Keep your eyes open.  

Image of: Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal?
Book Summary

Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal?

Suddenly a series of small errors creates a catastrophe. You could have averted it, if you’d known how to read the signs.

Robert E. Mittelstaedt, Jr. Wharton School Publishing
Read Summary

2. Keep an Open Mind

When Arthur Holmwood’s fiancée Lucy withers away and dies, it would be easy for her loved ones to chalk it up to some Victorian illness. People die, after all, every day. But, when Van Helsing explains that she was, in fact, a victim of a vampire, they don’t scream, laugh or throw the man out on his backside. They consider his proposal. They weigh the idea against all they have experienced and, against all odds, believe him. They then use this new information to form a plan of attack. Had they chosen the alternative, more deaths would have reigned upon them.  

Sometimes, your friends, family or colleagues come to you with wild and improbable ideas. Don’t slam the door in their faces. Keep an open mind, hear people out and consider what others would dismiss as crazy. It may change your life.

Image of: Smart Thinking for Crazy Times
Book Summary

Smart Thinking for Crazy Times

In business, there’s nothing worse than solving the wrong problem.

Ian I. Mitroff Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Read Summary

3. Work as a Team; Use Your Skills

By the end of the novel, the gang is finally working together to defeat Dracula. Each person has a unique skill that group capitalizes on in their battle. Van Helsing is a virtual walking vampire Wikipedia. Quincey Morris is brave and selfless. Jonathan has insider knowledge on Dracula. Holmwood is loaded and pays the bills. Mina Harker is, for a time, half woman, half vampire and can track Dracula’s whereabouts. Dr. Seward has a scientific mind which helps the group better understand how Dracula functions. Alone, they had no chance, but together they formed a formidable opponent that could destroy a supernatural beast. 

Image of: Extreme Teams
Book Summary

Extreme Teams

Companies with the most effective teams have “five practices” in common.

Robert Bruce Shaw AMACOM
Read Summary

In life, as in Victorian horror novels, problems are easier to solve with a great team than alone. When facing your own Dracula, assemble your very own mystery gang to help you fight it. Chances are, you know a Van Helsing and hopefully even a Holmwood, too.  

You may not run into any vampires (although, hey, in 2020 you never know), but we all face formidable foes at some point or another in our lives. The secret is to stay calm, keep your head (or you may end up losing it), be smart and work together. If we all do that, we can tackle anything the world throws at us. And these days, the world is pitching like Sandy Koufax so we need all the power and determination we can get. 

Dracula says: “I want to suck your blood… But first, do you have symptoms? Fever? A cough? Loss of taste?”

Mina says: “Hey Dracula, you gonna need to wear a mask. I don’t care if it gets in the way of your fangs.”

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Researched Abstracts
4 We have curated the most actionable insights from 4 summaries for this feature.
4 We read and summarized 4 books with 757 pages for this article.
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