The Nine Lives of Cristal Global

In many ways, The Nine Lives of Cristal Global (working title) is one of those rare books that is both exciting to read and full of practical, inside information virtually everyone in business – and especially business leadership – needs to understand. (Yes, I know, I’m prejudiced, but I’m also certain you’ll agree).

With the working title of “The Nine Lives of Cristal Global” (and the use of my “novelistic non-fiction” methodology), the story dynamically spans the against-all-odds creation of new industry in the Mid-East and it’s multiple near-death experiences at the hands of fierce international competition and dirty tricks. As its young founder struggles to pull his company back from oblivion over and over again, one of the key methods that saves the day is a management/leadership style seldom used in Mid-East, and completely foreign to the established petroleum-based industries of Saudi Arabia: taking care of your people.

The central character – educated in the U.S. at the University of Maine with both his undergraduate and Masters (and later a PhD from another American university) – is Talal al Shair, known from the first of his industrial career as a quiet, careful, and genuinely caring young man who evolves into a major business leader in Saudi Arabia even as he battles the philosophy of Theory X, which holds that employees are mere commodities.

I have written and published one other major business biography – Golden Boy, about Texas billionaire Harold Simmons – yet “The Nine Lives of Cristal Global” is significantly more expansive and exciting. Spanning a half century, this story follows Talal al Shair’s struggles to establish and grow his corporation, which eventually becomes one of the world’s premier producers of titanium dioxide (a difficult to produce but important ingredient in paint and many other products). As the story clearly shows, Talal’s emphasis on employee inclusion and well-being as a corporate philosophy made Cristal Global a unique legend in corporate productivity and resiliency – a major lesson the present day leaders of Saudi Arabia desperately need to adopt if their trillion dollar push for international manufacturing diversification has any hope of success.

This is a fast read, and a unique work on four levels: Talal’s story from student to successful industrialist; Cristal Global’s amazing story of survival and profitability; The value of a “Family Values” philosophy in an industrial environment which normally discounts humanity; and a serious example to Saudi leadership on how much more can be accomplished when your own people are the driving force.

Our publication date is May 6, 2023, and I’ll be back to all of you in a few months on advance orders and more background information about the research and writing of the book.