Sen. Lamar Alexander turned from speechmaker to storyteller at Lipscomb University Thursday.

Addressing a group of 550 young women attending the American Legion Auxiliary’s 67th session of Volunteer Girls State, the Tennessee Republican refrained from talking politics in his 15 minute speech and instead told three stories: one about his own life, one about President Dwight Eisenhower, and the third about author Alex Haley.

He opened telling the women about some advice Haley once gave him — that if he told a crowd ‘instead of making a speech, let me tell you a story’ the crowd might actually listen to him.

“So instead of making a speech, let me tell you three short stories,” he said.

The first related to Alexander’s first day as Tennessee’s governor. He was sworn in nearly a week early to put a stop to some things his predecessor was doing in his last week of office. Alexander described the drama and mental anguish behind that decision.

In the second, Eisenhower’s Cabinet was having an argument. To resolve it, the president asked each person to tell him what they thought was the right thing to do, rather than what was best for their respective departments. The Cabinet quickly agreed on what was right and they did that.

“That sounds like a naive story, but the reason I tell it to you is, people at your age, or any age, really, wonder how decisions are made at the ‘highest level,’ ” Alexander said. “Well they’re made a lot of different ways, but the people whom I know who made the best decisions usually made it about the way President Eisenhower did.”

Finally, Alexander praised Haley and told some stories about his life. Alexander said Haley was always affirming others, and, in doing so, followed the six words the author lived his life by: “Find the good and praise it.”

Alexander concluded by acknowledging the many problems of the United States but affirming the country’s capacity for dealing with them. Part of that capacity, he said, is created by organizations like Girls State.

“This is a week you’ll always remember, and what I’d like to say to you is congratulations,” he said.

“We are proud of you. Find the good and praise it.”