“The potential for creating novel brilliant solutions is not going to be found at one ivory tower or the other but in the middle, and we have to destigmatize what it looks like to be in the middle.” Annette Simmons

Working with each other, rather than against each other, is what the world needs especially in times of conflict. While competition is inherently human, it can as well be divisive and cause people to pull towards different directions instead of working towards achieving a common goal. Annette Simmons is passionate about having collaborative narratives, and believes that storytelling is a tool that can enable people to see the bigger picture.

 Annette Simmons is a successful consultant and author of five books including her most recent, Drinking From a Different Well: How Women’s Stories Change What Power Means in Action 

 (2021) 

Simmons’ solo career started in 1997 with the success of her first book Territorial Games: Understanding and Ending Turf Wars at Work (AMACOM, 1997) a deep examination of the micro-behaviors that discourage truth telling, information sharing and resource re-allocation.  As a follow up Annette developed a facilitation guide called, A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths:Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear and Distrust at Work (AMACOM, 1998), full of tips for sharing truth in a safe way as well as principles and tools to shift the “truth telling” norms for one-on-one conversations and meetings. Her book about storytelling, The Story Factor (Basic Books, 3rd ed. 2019) introduced the business use of storytelling and was named one of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time (Penguin, 2009). She followed it with a workbook designed to develop a reader’s “six stories” titled Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact (AMACOM, 2nd ed. 2015) 

She started out with a marketing degree from Louisiana State University (1983) and a move to Australia that provided ten years of international business experience with Ericsson and J. Walter Thompson. Annette returned to the USA to earn a Masters Degree in social psychology and adult education at North Carolina State University in 1994. 

Annette has been featured on CNBC’s Power Lunch, NPR’s Market Watch, talk radio programs, quoted in Fortune, Working Woman, Harvard Business Review, The Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and dozens of other respected publications.  In addition to English her books have been published in Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Norwegian, German and Russian.

In today’s episode, Annette talks about the power of storytelling, and why it is important to have collaborative narratives when looking for solutions to shared problems.   

Listen in!

Books by Annette;

  1. Drinking From a Different Well: How Women’s Stories Change What Power Means in Action 
  2. Territorial Games: Understanding and Ending Turf Wars at Work
  3. A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths:Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear and Distrust at Work
  4. Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact 

Social Media Handles

https://annettesimmons.com/  

https://differentwell.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/annettesimmonsstory/

https://twitter.com/thestoryfactor?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/Annette.Simmons.StoryFactor

  • At an early age, I read books that started me on this lifelong quest of believing that if you just work hard enough, you can figure it out.
  • I facilitated this form of dialogue, and then eventually realized that storytelling was the magic tool to help someone to see a situation through another’s eyes.
  • When we’re trying to maximize our potential, we need to be able to combine somebody else’s narrative with our narrative into a bigger picture that includes us both.
  • If we don’t learn how to tell our story, and take someone on a little field trip about what we’ve seen, they can’t see it.
  • I help people learn how to create collaborative narratives, and work together and find opportunities that they just can’t see when they’re in silos.
  • As long as people are arguing from these polar opposites, they are wasting the time that they could be creating solutions.
  • The potential for creating novel brilliant solutions is not going to be found at one ivory tower or the other but in the middle, and we have to destigmatize what it looks like to be in the middle.
  • We’ve optimized this idea that you can solve metrically, and therefore have scored badly in solving the things that just can’t be measured.
  • Creating potential is almost always a function of building collaborative relationships with other people.
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  • The first four books that I wrote were really kind of power with strategies instead of power over strategies.
  • One of the things that I’m finding is that people with the collaborative narrative don’t just want to win, but they want to protect.
  • One of the problems with a strictly competitive is that it makes us think that harm is just the cost of doing business.
  • This particular book takes you through the stories that women tell that men don’t, and takes you through the idea that moral wins actually undercut competitive wins.
  • We need to do is we need to re-define harm avoidance, as something other than risk avoidance.
  • We’ve got to learn how to redesign the way we keep track of who we are, and how successful we are, and women have a talent for it.
  • It is time to redesign what power means in terms of the logistical design of systems so that women will be more attracted to these top jobs.
  • Companies are going to have to provide the opportunity to do good as well as to do well, if they’re going to attract women.
  • My hope for this new book is I want women to not feel like they have to suck up to the guys in charge, but to feel like they have an opportunity to educate the guys in charge.
  • Women have to start believing that they can see things that are invisible from a competitive narrative.
  • Start trusting yourself, and start taking people on a field trip about what you know is true.

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