Ask Annette a Question or read her reply to others.

Our Infrequently Answered Questions are responses to some of the most common discussions I hear during my conferences and seminars. Please browse through the answers, and if you don't see your question below, feel free to submit your own!

Hanging Out in Our Underwear

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stories get told when extra-ordinary events happen, and these change relationship only when they feel personal.  Read on….

During a recent visit to Austin, I met a ring-tailed tooter named JoAnn.  As true Southern ladies, we got to know one another before mentioning anything tacky like the property I called to discuss.  We shared our personal histories in two minutes and I found out, among other things, that JoAnn’s husband was a Texas politician during the 1960’s and 70’s when when John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas turned Texas’ own Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) into the U.S. President overnight.

This is just one of JoAnn’s stories.  Yes, Texas stories can be heavy on the hyperbole…but I think this one is more true than not.

When LBJ was first in Washington, legislators lived in dorm like facilities.  They didn’t bring their families and set up homes like they do now.  They shared bathrooms just like any dorm with long lines of sinks with shower stalls in the back.  They were all men at the time, (of course).  In the morning, the men wandered around in their underwear, lining up at the sinks to shave, brush their teeth, or tend to their coiffure.

LBJ knew that you don’t get bills passed without relationships.  He was new in Washington and he needed to develop his relationships.  He used an ingenious strategy.  He kept track of the early birds and the men who slept in.  When the first early bird stood at the sink, he was there with his tooth brush.  He was also there – perhaps  shaving this time - when the next important contact stepped up to a sink. Not every time,  but often enough they’d get to talking.  It really didn’t matter.  Standing next to someone in your underwear bleary-eyed, preparing for the day family style creates a bond of familiarity.  According to JoAnn, when he had the opportunity he spent whole mornings in his underwear working the sinks.

As JoAnn put it, “It’s hard to keep your defenses up when you are standing there in your skivvies.”  Lyndon B. Johnson started life-long relationships that held firm as he championed historic advances in social and civil rights. Telling stories is only half of our storytelling practice.  Living stories, creating stories that live in the minds of others is perhaps more important than the telling.  LBJ created opportunities for mutual stories to happen.  By the time he became President, enough people knew him – not in the Biblical way, but in the underwear way – sort of like a Texas cousin.

Experiences are the best teachers, right?  We need to create experiences, maybe not literally hanging out in our underwear with customers, contacts, political leaders, funders(unless you can organize a camping trip!) but we can certainly drop our agenda long enough to metaphorically “hang out in your skivvies” and together live a story worth remembering. Biographer Robert Dallek, in Portrait of a President (2004) summarizing Lyndon B. Johnson’s career called him a “tornado in pants.”  I guess he never saw him in his underwear.

P.S. I was happy to read Jim Signorelli’s new book Storybranding because he makes a strong case that story telling requires that your story happens, first.  Same thing.

Comments(7)

  • Jim Genet February 16, 2012

    Love the story and the connection you have made to real connection. I may have to look for some partners and launch a new “underroo’s networking class”. I’m fairly confident that our local chamber of commerce will support it.

  • Harriet Daggett February 18, 2012

    What a great story. Proves, once again, that if you take time to talk to someone, you will probably come up with an interesting story.

    A good politician is really just a good salesman and knows how important it is to get to know people if you want them to see things your way. As Granddaddy Jacobs always said, “Make over people, they love it.

  • Annette March 10, 2012

    Thanks, Mom. Did you ever time your arrival or departure to talk to someone you wanted to talk to?

  • Annette March 12, 2012

    Jim,

    Your Chamber of Commerce could start a nation-wide trend. Make me proud, man!

  • 5 Everyday Lessons From LBJ | Mojoify May 15, 2012

    [...] Wanting to know as many fellow legislators as he could, he pantomimed getting to ready for work multiple times each day, figuring that he had an opportunity to build relationships by standing next to fellow legislators [...]

  • 5 Everyday Lessons From LBJ | Bootstrap Ventures May 16, 2012

    [...] Wanting to know as many fellow legislators as he could, he pantomimed getting to ready for work multiple times each day, figuring that he had an opportunity to build relationships by standing next to fellow legislators [...]

  • 5 Everyday Lessons From LBJ | moneyrabbit.info May 16, 2012

    [...] Wanting to know as many fellow legislators as he could, he pantomimed getting to ready for work multiple times each day, figuring that he had an opportunity to build relationships by standing next to fellow legislators [...]

Leave a comment






Privacy Policy

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Maecenas iaculis tristique felis, vitae consectetur enim tincidunt at. Pellentesque ut nibh arcu, bibendum fringilla enim. Integer dui diam, elementum in interdum non, dictum nec tortor. Aliquam diam turpis, volutpat vitae rhoncus sit amet, congue ultrices ante. Maecenas dictum placerat nulla id aliquet. Donec tincidunt libero lobortis lacus tempor dictum. Duis iaculis, purus sed dignissim tincidunt, libero justo eleifend magna, id mattis odio sapien ut tellus. Suspendisse eget viverra diam. Pellentesque porta, arcu vel imperdiet laoreet, ligula nisi faucibus leo, ut auctor elit augue et elit. Phasellus fermentum neque eget lectus rhoncus varius. Cras at enim porta urna feugiat fermentum. Vestibulum mattis suscipit sollicitudin. Cras ac magna sed velit posuere pretium quis eget eros. Maecenas viverra venenatis ante, vitae dapibus lectus pellentesque quis.

Vestibulum orci enim, sodales sed faucibus at, placerat ut nunc. Donec ullamcorper gravida neque, id sollicitudin risus lobortis nec. Maecenas commodo, nisl a pretium adipiscing, nibh felis tempus quam, eget rutrum ipsum mauris quis est. Curabitur ac mauris non velit semper varius et sit amet velit. Fusce nec tincidunt urna. Fusce at turpis ut quam varius mattis et sit amet sem. Nullam laoreet venenatis purus, eget convallis nunc feugiat in. Phasellus nec viverra nisl. Quisque elementum porttitor sagittis. In pharetra, lectus eget blandit pharetra, nulla lorem aliquam dolor, vel aliquam tellus leo sit amet felis. Aenean eget arcu vitae sapien suscipit convallis et vel tortor.

Duis purus velit, ultricies non bibendum semper, imperdiet nec diam. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Praesent feugiat, augue in tristique adipiscing, purus nisi malesuada dui, sed faucibus tortor arcu a urna. Pellentesque id purus sed velit placerat sodales quis sit amet lacus. Vestibulum rutrum ipsum vel magna rhoncus elementum. Morbi hendrerit lorem nec augue convallis eu faucibus est sollicitudin. Quisque ullamcorper dolor non turpis placerat scelerisque. Sed libero arcu, sagittis sed auctor ac, luctus at massa. Nam placerat ultrices velit, pharetra ullamcorper mi sagittis ac. Donec venenatis tristique fringilla. Integer nunc ipsum, pharetra ut ultricies non, luctus et eros. Etiam eu diam at nunc semper dictum. In vel odio est, quis pharetra arcu. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Suspendisse potenti. Aenean sit amet nisl at sem volutpat lobortis lobortis in ligula. Vestibulum id orci vitae diam rutrum varius ut vitae nibh. Aliquam lacus odio, ultrices ac molestie et, scelerisque id ipsum. Duis et tellus purus, vel auctor diam. Phasellus suscipit placerat convallis.