Christian Bjerring is a Danish writer, business adviser, and former executive. He holds a master’s degree in Nordic literature and focuses on strategy, change, and organizational as well as individual leadership development in his consulting work.
His award-winning communications and advertising campaigns have resonated with large groups of people at home and abroad to become shared cultural reference points and household memes. Also, Christian had worked as an external professor at Copenhagen Business School and at The University of Copenhagen. In 2002, he was knighted by the Queen of Denmark for his contributions to Danish commerce.
by Neal Ashley Conrad Thing
Why is the story not set in a specific time or place?
In an effort to make the story and its advice universally applicable, I have tried to not establish it too definitely in any specific time or place. Also, I wanted to write an enduring story that would provide food for thought regardless of a reader’s age and circumstances in life. That’s why there are no elements too obviously tied to a certain era or way of living. I believe the way the story floats in time and space adds an element of magic to it.
There are several references to older texts and mythology. Which of those were most important to you in developing the narrative?
A story about a king or a man who has everything but comes to lose it is archetypal. It demonstrates that nothing is for keeps. King Croesus was the first to issue gold coins, and he is famous for his wealth. He was guilty of hubris—for the ancient Greeks, hubris warranted punishment of mythical individuals and gods—and so living in a state of excess became Croesus’s downfall. It led to the death of his son and to his own demise.
The King of Salem or King Melchizedek first appears in the Old Testament as a priest of peace and justice and is described as an eternal being with no beginning and no end. Among other things, he is said to have given bread and wine to Abraham. Some historians of religion consider him an early version of the messiah forgotten and replaced by Jesus. This is why we cannot remember his name.
As for Iris, in Greek mythology she is the personification of the rainbow and the messenger of the gods. She can see what others cannot.
You will be able to find inspiration from sources as different as the old Testament, Buddhism and Zen Buddhism, Greek mythology, Ayurveda, Zoroastrianism, quantum physics, and Hinduism.
King of Change has been compared to Momo, The Alchemist, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Were you inspired by those books?
Years ago I traveled through Andalusia by train from Madrid to Seville. A friend had given me a copy of The Alchemist, and I had it with me. Since the story is set there, I figured I ought to read it while riding through that landscape. The Alchemist was the first book ever to make me reflect on myself and my place in life in a trusting manner. I say “trusting” because The Alchemist, with its simple story of a shepherd’s journey, didn’t give me instructions to follow, but subtly inspired me to reflect and have faith that I would find my own way.
The King of Salem appears as a minor character in The Alchemist, and I hope his reappearance in King of Change playing a much greater part can be seen in homage.
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