Julienne B. Ryan began her professional career at age five when she did TV commercials and learned important things like “the teamsters always eat first,” her social security number and how to endorse checks for bank deposit.
Ryan studied psychology in college because she wanted to understand humans. She conducted her “field work” in a variety of roles, hearing the phrases “merger synergies, reorganizations, downsizing and rightsizing for change” more times than she cares to mention.
Later she enrolled in an Ivy League graduate school where she paid oodles of money to validate her prior on-the-job learning experiences. However, she did learn to name drop up-to-date theories and trendy psychologists with alarming ease.
Ryan evolved into working in “Talent Management,” a fancy way of saying “try to find people and keep them moderately happy.” With inadequate budgets and staff allocations, she had to find creative ways to encourage her staff to work effectively. These ranged from begging and borrowing resources, improvising childcare, telling stories and even giving snacks as rewards. She tried to convince herself that working a bazillion hours and “multi-tasking” equaled achievement.
Her work took place in cubicles, conference rooms or, with luck, in offices with a door. Occasionally she would make the time to emerge from her allotted real estate to really talk to people. Ryan learned something transformative in the process:
Yes, she was effective. But not because she used fancy theories – or gave great snacks. Ryan’s success, her staff believed, was a result of her uncanny knack for weaving storytelling with humor to motivate and encourage them. Crucially, they encouraged Ryan to de-emphasize “that normal HR stuff” and focus on bringing her unique storytelling skills to a broader stage.
Thanks to them, Ryan continues to collect, connect and tell stories in her work helping people find their “true selves in the world of work.”
Blogs: guest contributor to My Purchasing Center, SheWrites, TheUnicornwriters, and the Story ORG community.