Paint It Black – How Rock-n-Roll and Other Tools are the Best Problem-Solving Techniques


Get past the fairly weighty title and subtitle and this book features a cleverly-written approach to self-help (a genre that ordinarily has more than its fair share of offerings).

The work of economist Rom Werran Gayoso is not clever in a funny way, but rather in the way the material is presented. It’s done as a series of short stories whose characters are facing various life decisions or situations that we can all relate to.

The author was influenced by the technique of scenario planning, originating during the Cold War. It’s a very simple-sounding yet highly successful approach to one’s life, whether business or personal in nature. The principle is to think through matters by evaluating, “If this happens, then that happens.” It’s more or less a cause and effect way of decision-making. Surely this isn’t the first book to address that topic, but what sets it apart and makes it highly readable is Gayoso’s method of imparting wisdom.

It’s done by way of several short stories drawing readers in and causing them to care about the characters.  Stories include the tale of 17-year-old Josh, whose parents offer him either a motorcycle or an opportunity to join an exchange program abroad. But only half the story is about a bike or a trip – it’s about how Josh arrives at his decision and why.

In “Sophie’s Wedding”, we encounter a couple (Sophie and Abe) who come from very different backgrounds and faiths, but are in love and getting married. They hope to be able to blend the two families along the way – especially the relationship between Sophie and her future mother-in-law. But this is about so much more than a wedding. A helpful technique called “mind mapping” is explained and we learn how better relationships between our characters were formed.

The story of Pedro centers around a young man in Ensenada who is contemplating establishing a hot dog cart in New York City. On the surface, readers may ask what stories such as these and others can mean to them. But stay with it – you may not want to run a hot dog cart, but you may have a decision that is somehow strikingly similar to the one that fictional Pedro faces.

At the end of each story is an interactive round up, where readers are asked a series of questions pertaining to the story, showing how the story may indirectly relate to situations in their life. It thus becomes very personalized.

The book’s title choice may be attention-grabbing, but don’t expect much about the Stones’ song or about rock and roll – there’s only one story that loosely deals with this. However, the material in general is quite informative, in an engrossing way. Enjoy – and learn!




1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews

One response to “Paint It Black – How Rock-n-Roll and Other Tools are the Best Problem-Solving Techniques

  1. Sounds pretty interesting.

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