251 The Best Storytellers are the Best Listeners – Ann Kowal Smith

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Listening, Storytelling, Audience, Leadership, Vulnerability


Storytelling is not one-way communication. Instead, it involves a great deal of listening, whether you are telling a story on a stage or with your team in the workplace. On this episode, our guest reveals why listening is such a vital part of storytelling, and how to use it as a tool to invite people into powerful stories.

Ann Kowal Smith is the Founder & Executive Director of Books@Work, a workplace program that builds community and deepens social connection to support inclusive, productive, and collaborative organizations. Books@Work’s novel approach has been recognized in the Harvard Business Review and Forbes, honored by the National Book Foundation, and discussed on WBUR’s On Point.

We’ll explore: 

  • How to use stories to create opportunities for you and your team to see each 
  • How a story can trigger your own stories, and how your own stories and then in sharing your own stories, you begin to see things in your leadership style that needs some work.
  • Why listening is so vital to leadership.
  • How to be a great storyteller and leader in your everyday life.
  • Ann’s role models in storytelling and leadership.
  • Why vulnerability makes a great story.
  • The biggest mistake leaders make when telling their story.

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