When I was a professional storyteller I was struck by how rare common storytelling has become in our culture. Prior to the Internet it was not unusual for family gatherings to center around stories that rekindled relationships, affirmed values, conveyed important life lessons, delivered an appreciation for what had come before and pointed toward the future. But, these days that kind of sitting and listening seems to be mostly gone.

Much of my work is about “story listening” as a natural complement to storytelling. This is about taking the time to really listen to what people are saying, diving into their experience by asking probing questions, and providing the teller with a curious ear to draw out the story.

On Dec. 2 I will be doing this kind of story listening with Dawn Sweeney, the CEO of the National Restaurant Association, as she approaches retirement at the end of 2019.  The event is called, Engaging for Impact. It is open to CEOs and other senior leaders – if you’re interested you can find out more here and even register.

Dawn is a mover and a shaker, an inspiration and resource who has made major contributions to our entire country – but you would never know it if you were looking for attribution because she is an expert at leading from behind. She has personally influenced thousands of restaurant menus in America, making sure that kids have a healthy and affordable meal option, as just one example.

Dawn has been instrumental in my career, providing me with a personal introduction to Dr. Christina Economos, who led the research that identified 10 Key Elements to a Social Movement. I use these elements in my work helping leaders of Grand Challenges and other broad change initiatives.

I made my appointment with Dawn, to give her my full, undivided attention. Have you made an appointment with someone whose stories you value? Why not schedule it this week?


“Part of being successful is about asking questions and listening to the answers.” – Anne Burrell