She's a 32-year-old editor, creative consultant and success coach who ran the national magazine Healthy Living Made Simple at the age of 27 and served as a ghostwriter for a Nobel Prize-winning pharmacologist. She's also a mother of two, and recently moved with her husband and kids from her hometown of Boise to Thailand.
He's a 65-year-old business advisor, public speaker, author of several books, and president and CEO of a global executive consultant firm that bears his name.
Together, Stacy Ennis and Ron Price are the unlikely co-authors of Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise and Impact. There are a number of things that make the book a must-read, beginning with the fact that it frames the story at Slow by Slow, the popular slow-pour coffee shop in downtown Boise's BoDo neighborhood.
Perhaps the most intriguing element of Growing Influence is that it doesn't necessarily fall into one book category. It's what Ennis and Price call a "business fable," weaving a very particular tale of a young woman tech manager facing continued workplace discrimination until a retired Boise CEO helps her navigate those professional minefields.
Quite appropriately, Ennis and Price sat down with Boise Weekly inside Slow by Slow to talk about their book.
Right up front, Ron, I'd like to ask you about public speaking. You've done that for decades and have coached thousands of people on what you call "practical optimism."
Price: It's always about speaking about something you believe in. I try to steer people away from speaking about things they've been told to speak about, yet [they] don't have any conviction about those things. The most important thing an audience is looking for is authenticity. One of the problems I have with a lot of professional speakers is that, over time, they grow a facade. They believe that if they fake it well, you'll believe them.
Ennis: There are those unique moments when you can become emotionally engaged with your audience because you care deeply about what you're saying. There's nothing in the world that feels anything quite like that, and you can't get to that moment any other way.
Let's dive into your book. Can I assume that it didn't start out as a fable?
Price: Stacy had helped edit a number of books that I had written or co-written. I had been speaking on leadership models for many years, and a number of my team members kept saying, "Ron, we need to get some of your ideas into another book." I said, "No, I just don't know how to shape it into a book." But they just kept badgering me. In 2015 I recorded one of my presentations and sent it to Stacy. At that point, I thought it was a nonfiction business book. But then one day, I sent her an email that read, "I think I might be crazy, but I just don't think this is impressive as nonfiction."
Ennis: I've written eight or nine nonfiction books, I've edited dozens more, and have been involved in some way with about a hundred books. Nonfiction is very comfortable for me. My initial reaction was, "Okay, I've never done this before, but I love a good challenge." Plus, I also have a background in art, sculpture and painting, so bringing together those skills was pretty special. Writing fiction was very satisfying. I would actually come here to Slow by Slow, order some great pour-over coffee, and begin to feel some immense joy in putting this together.
Your story begins with a young woman, Emily, sitting right here at Slow by Slow.
Ennis: She's a 30-year-old leader in technology. She's in a manager training program, but she's not being promoted. Jobs keep opening but she gets passed over. Friends say, "It's interesting that men keep getting promoted, but you're not." She doesn't want to believe it, but she also feels helpless.
And then one day, sitting here at Slow by Slow...
Ennis: She spills her coffee.
Price: And David is sitting on the other side of the coffee shop. He's about 70 years old, a retired CEO. He comes here every morning, has some coffee and reads the paper. He sees Emily spill her coffee and walks over to see if he can help her.
Ennis: Emily is frustrated because she's in the middle of putting together a big presentation and she has lost some of her notes, and then the big spill happens. She's pretty dismissive to David, pushing him away and saying, "Thank you, sir, but I've got this. No problem." Eventually, Emily heads off to her presentation, and she kills it. In fact, she feels it's the presentation of her life. But her manager tells her that they've offered the promotion to yet another man. She hits a new low.
But soon thereafter, back here at Slow by Slow, David reconnects with Emily.
Ennis: He asks her a very deeply personal question: "Are you fulfilling what you're meant to fulfill in your life?" And she can't stop thinking about the question. That really sets our book into motion.
Price: You know Stacy, I've never said this to you before, but this book is really a love story. Not a romance, but a love story between two people who grow to appreciate one another.
Ennis: I can't tell you how proud I am of this.