Fast Company

The Power of Narrative

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a pomegranate farmer who couldn't get anyone to buy his fruit, because it was so leathery-skinned and strange-looking, and so difficult to get the tiny seeds out. The farmer knew that pomegranates are even healthier than green tea or red wine, and delicious as well, but when he told his customers they just laughed, and still wouldn't buy the ugly fruit.

Then the farmer remembered the story of an old myth: When the goddess Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken to the Underworld as his wife, her mother Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, demanded that she be returned or no green thing would grow on the earth again. But the rule of the Fates decreed that anyone who ate or drank anything while in the Underworld must stay there forever. Persephone ate and drank nothing for a long time, but just before he released her, Hades gave her a single pomegranate, the last one on Earth, he said. Persephone succumbed to temptation, and though she ate only six seeds from the pomegranate, that was enough to condemn her to return to the Underworld for six months of every year.

So the farmer put up a sign at his fruit stand: POMEGRANATE: FOOD OF THE GODS, and he told everyone how the fruit was so tempting that a goddess was willing to spend six months in hell just to eat a few seeds. The farmer sold all his fruit that day, and as the story spread, people started coming from miles around to buy pomegranates. The farmer had to hire three assistants to help run the fruit stand and his new online fruit store, and he grew rich and eventually retired a happy man.

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