Who, What, Why: Penn Grad Talks winner Andrés Oliveros González

The Penn Grad Talks 2024 winner discusses the three stories everyone should be able to tell about themselves.

Andres Oliveros Gonzalez posing with crossed arms in GSE building with lights reflecting off to the side.
Andrés Oliveros González, a student in the Master of Behavioral Decision Sciences Program, is one of five Penn Grad Talks 2024 winners.
    • Who

      It was 10 minutes before his Penn Grad Talk was set to begin, and Andrés Oliveros González was anxious. 

      Despite thorough preparation and practice, he was blanking on his lines. To clear his mind, he went for a walk through the galleries of the Penn Museum, where he encountered a kind friend from his cohort in the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences (MBDS) program in the School of Liberal and Professional Studies, who gave him a wink and reassured him he’d “crush it.” 

      He did: Oliveros González was one of five winners of Penn Grad Talks 2024, for the Professional Master’s category. And for Oliveros González, who’d come to the U.S. from Mexico feeling like he’d entered “Hogwarts” by stepping onto Penn’s campus as a student, it was a big deal.

      “It was such a milestone, having the opportunity to be here [at Penn], and then being selected and winning,” says Oliveros González. “It’s kind of a validation that people are interested in this topic.”

      Oliveros González came with his wife and two kids from Mexico City to Penn for the MBDS program in August 2022 and will graduate in May. Oliveros González initially studied to be a corporate lawyer and worked for a multinational retail company in Monterrey, Mexico. Eventually, he noticed that company leaders struggled with sharing important information internally and wondered why this was so seemingly pervasive. So, he decided he could do something about it: In collaboration with a friend, he co-founded Astrolab in 2012 to teach business leaders oral storytelling—particularly in Latin America.

    • What

      Oliveros Gonzalez’s winning talk theorized that there are three stories people should learn to tell about themselves: an origin story, sharing a moment that shaped who you are professionally; an insight story, which shares a moment when you helped to solve a problem and built creativity and expertise; and a connection story, which should be an authentic, relevant, bridge-building story that is typically more improvised—but builds trust. All these stories should be short and communicable within five minutes.

      His theory is constructed from science that supports the benefits storytelling has for engagement, emotion, memory, and alignment with others.

      “The message is not necessarily, ‘Hey, we can all become storytellers,’” he says. “It’s, ‘Hey, we all need to become storytellers.’”

    • Why

      Oliveros González wants to take his approach to storytelling to scale, reaching people who can hone their communication skills to improve how they connect with and influence others. Ideally, he says, he’d like to work with professionals and entrepreneurs across America and help them have more impactful five-minute meetings and conversations. 

      “We’re always a storyteller. With friends and partners, you don’t share bullet points from an Excel—you tell stories,” he says. “But then we get into corporate America or a big organization, and people start switching to PowerPoint. And you need some limits, right? But hey, include that personal anecdote that will only take you 30 seconds to increase trust and likeability. Give yourself the opportunity to do that and see what happens.”

      Oliveros González says he’s been humbled by the welcoming environment he’s been met with at Penn and Philadelphia, describing a tight-knit international circle of friends who’ve become like family. While he intended to return to Mexico after finishing his program, he now plans to stay in Philadelphia.

      “I honestly think coming here is changing, and is going to change, my life,” he says. “I don’t know how different it will be after this, but I know for my kids it will be life-changing coming here.

      “Great stuff is going to come out of this.”