The Story Factor

The Story Factor
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Recently named one of “The 100 Best Business Books of All Time,” The Story Factor explores hundreds of examples that show when, where, how, and why story transforms relationships.

The Story Factor

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Recently named one of “The 100 Best Business Books of All Time,” The Story Factor explores hundreds of examples that show when, where, how, and why story transforms relationships.

“The Story Factor is full of entertaining and useful stories to enhance our ability to communicate effectively. It will be very useful to teachers and managers alike.”
Edgar E. Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management, Emeritus, and Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

“From the beginning of history, human life and leadership have been centered on stories—the stories of our past, who we are today, and what we may yet become. Telling stories and listening to other people’s stories shapes the meaning of our experiences and helps us awaken hidden capacity. The Story Factor provides valuable tools for using storytelling as a means for self-discovery and as a springboard for creating a more meaningful and successful future. This is vital new reading.”
Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D., author of Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership & Organizations

“As the author herself notes, you can’t make someone listen; you can only entice, inspire, cajole, stimulate or fascinate. Stories do that; so does this book. It’s a pleasure to dive into and an extremely useful tool for the would-be influencer or change builder.”
Art Kleiner, author of Schools That Learn and The Age of Heretics

“Annette Simmons’ writing has a fairytale quality of generosity that magically reintroduces us to wisdom we already have.”
Cheryl De Ciantis, Artist-in-Residence, Center for Creative Leadership

In these times of diminishing faith and waning optimism, we need to learn more about the power of story. This wonderful book—written from the heart to the hearts, minds, souls and locked up memories of readers—will unleash your capacity to be more effective in whatever your line of work. Everyone who cares about positive change at an individual, organizational or global level should experience The Story Factor.”
Gail C. Christopher, Executive Director, Innovations in American Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

What’s your story? Who are you? Where do you come from? When you seek to influence others you face these questions and more. Whether you’re proposing a risky new venture, trying to close a deal, or leading a charge against injustice, you have a story to tell. Tell your story well and you will create a shared experience with your listeners that can have profound and lasting results.

“the oldest tool of influence is also the most powerful—through the words, gestures, tone, and rhythm of story you can captivate an audience of skeptical, resistant, nay-sayers…”In The Story Factor, Annette Simmons reminds us that the oldest tool of influence is also the most powerful—through the words, gestures, tone, and rhythm of story you can captivate an audience of skeptical, resistant, nay-sayers and simultaneously construct a believable picture for your ideas and goals. In this hyper-competitive, techno-centric, and results-oriented environment it is easy to forget that all organizations are social systems and that work is personal—learning to tap into the personal element through story gives you a key to the social system. Alignment improves, problems get solved, group decisions are easier to make, and trust develops in ways and in places you might never thought possible.

Over one hundred stories drawn from the front lines of business and government, as well as myths, fables, and parables from around the world, illustrate how story can be used to persuade, motivate, and inspire in ways that cold facts, bullet points, and directives can’t. These stories, combined with practical storytelling techniques show anyone how to become a more effective communicator. From “who I am” to “I-know-what-you’re thinking,” Simmons identifies the six stories you need to know how to tell and demonstrates how they can be applied.

As master storyteller Doug Lipman notes in the foreword, Annette Simmons articulates “the emerging realization in the business community that thriving organizations need whole persons working for them – that anything less cheats both the individual and the firm.” Let The Story Factor be your inspiration for transforming your relationships with colleagues, bosses, employees, customers, and even adversaries so that each story you are living right now – work, personal, and community – becomes the kind of success story you will enjoy telling for years to come.

  • “Okay, on three, everyone take two steps to the right.”

    “If they can’t tell us apart, no one gets in trouble.” If you’re afraid to stand alone, you’ll never stand out. A cohesive team can move quickly, but a scared team isn’t going anywhere fast.

  • “Concrete wall.. Dam.”

    Ahhh, the frustration of working in large organizations. If you don’t have a sense of humor you’re miserable and chances are you just make everyone else miserable.

  • “What do you mean I’m not approachable? I AM smiling.”

    Your face tells employees a story. They wonder do I tell the truth? Or do I let some other sucker do it…later?

  • “Have I ever told you the one about the time I grew back from just one arm?”

    There are some stories that get old.  Yes, they were amazing the first time we heard them. Fifteen years later, not so much.

  • “Personal space? What do you mean I’m in your personal space?”

    Revisiting the original vision story can soothe petty frustrations brought on my late hours, too much caffeine and purported refrigerator thefts.

  • “So I know I’m the new guy, but I have some really great ideas. Seriously, they are great ideas!”

    Enthusiasm is often viewed as naivete’.    Slow down!  Tell a story that builds your credibility.   Let your ideas reveal themselves to your listeners.

  • “What I could teach you, my dear. Come closer and sit awhile.”

    Wasps match some  human behaviors: dominance, deceipt, and opportunism.  All queens start alone, and manage the hive as a hierarchy.  Everyone has a story, don’t be afraid to ask.

  • “Call in the sharks. That new fish is getting on my nerves.”

    People (and fish apparently) will “kill the messenger.”  Wrap the truth in story and avoid the sharks.

  • Most. Boring. Powerpoint. Ever.

    No one will ever complain if you replace a powerpoint slide with a good story.

  • “Here are the chocolate candy samples. Maybe a lighter brown?”

    Not flattering, but we remember “ick” details. Disgust  is one of the original emotions.  Just don’t overdo it.

  • “When they talked about transferring us I really expected we’d have a desk and everything.”

    If you want to improve morale it takes more than telling a new story. The story needs to be true.

    “When they talked about transferring us I really expected we’d have a desk and everything.”
  • “HQ promoted me to be team leader.  Correct me if I’m wrong…but do you see a team here?”

    Before you get mad, consider explaining your frustration with a story to put your listener in your chair and see what you see.

  • Please just look at the new budget.  Pretty please?

    Some stories last a day.  If you asked for too much money, you could plaster this little guy’s face all over the office.  Do your own campaign on frugality.  Wear old clothes.  Tell a story.

  • “Fine. I’ll go to your two day retreat. But I’m not hugging anybody!”

    Story feels too touchy-feely for some.  Don’t force it. They might cry and get snot on your shoulder.

  • You want me to what?  I don’t know any stories!

    Most everyone says this when you ask them to tell a story.  Keep prompting, what happened when…?  Last big crisis…?

  • “I’ve heard it all before, you little monkey.  Try again.”

    New. Original. Unique. Products? Yes.  Human needs? Nope.  You can still use old stories to understand human needs.

    “Yeah right, like a guy with a blue and red nose could possibly get promoted around here.”

    Turf wars are just another form of discrimination. Whether people discriminate on the basis of status, occupation, geography, or industry the ten territorial games are the same. The idea is to fight all forms of discrimination.


  • “We didn’t have any problems until you arrived.  A little sand in our faces, but no problems.”

    Big stories rewrite reality.  Welcome fear, it means people care.


    Keep yelling…or ask to hear the story behind that constant suggestion? Listen it out of them and they will see the error in their thinking or you learn something.

  • “Hey, you can implement any policy you like….it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”

    There are ten territorial games people can play to block implementation.  All are driven by the story they tell themselves.

  • “I’m your new boss.  Allow me to demonstrate the parade rest I expect when I enter the room.”

    Military style management can alienate staff and kill creativity.   Obedience is the lowest form of cooperation.

  • “One more bite and we won’t ask again….promise”

    Some people are never happy no matter how much you give them. The trick is to teach them to fly and find answers by themselves.

  • “Tony, give up already. If they really wanted us to fly…they would have given us wings that work.”

    Doing more with less makes sense as long as you give staff the tools they need. Give your staff the tools of self awareness, storytelling, and dialogue.

  • “Having a positive attitude won’t make you more successful…but it will irritate your enemies enough to make it worthwhile.”

    Sometimes the most valuable thing a group can do is lighten up a little. Creativity is more accessible when people are relaxed and having fun.

  • “Statistics say one in every four people suffer from mental illness. Look around. If the three people closest to you seem okay, it’s you.”

    Sometimes a work group needs some good ol’ fashioned therapy. Telling the truth, hearing the truth, venting emotion. Afterwards everyone is exhausted, incredibly relieved that it’s over, and ready to get back to work.

  • “The entire team had our hair done just like the boss’s. It’s your turn.”

    There is more than one right way to accomplish goals. Diversity isn’t just driven from the top down. All staff play a part in rewarding diversity.

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