We were lucky to catch up with Janice Stokes-Naumann recently and have shared our conversation below.
Janice , thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Your ability to build a team is often a key determinant of your success as a business owner and so we’d love to get a conversation going with successful entrepreneurs like yourself around what your recruiting process was like -especially early on. How did you build your team?
Developing a team in my business is different than hiring employees. All of my team members have their own businesses and may choose to do the business in different ways. When I first started creating a team, I felt responsible to train them and if they did not do well, I somehow felt it was my fault. When I first started creating a team, I wanted them to be successful and I felt like I had to “help’ them. One team member did not even have a car and I felt I could help her by taking her every. I learned along the way that by doing this, I was not empowering her to solve her own problems.
I also thought there was a special training manual to follow and I needed to just follow that. However, just like there is a curriculum to follow with teaching, great teachers adjust the curriculum to the learning style of the student. I needed to trust my instincts.
Along the way, I have learned to just treat each team member as a unique person and each has their own goals and dreams. I see my role now as a facilitator more than a trainer.
I still guide new team members and help them, but it is kinda like when a child is first learning to walk, slowly they start taking steps on their own when I let go. Sometimes they start running, sometimes they walk very slowly and sometimes they soar or sometimes they don’t ever move again. The choice is theirs to make.
My job is the paint the picture of what they can be! Allow them to make mistakes along the way and be their constant cheerleader. If they ask for my advice I will give it to them, but they may choose not to take my advice and that is ok.
Today, I have five leaders on my team and they are each leading their own teams. And guess what? My way is not the only way! We are all very very different but still successful.
Janice , before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My passion and personal mission is to spark the love of reading in children and families. I am an Executive Leader with Usborne Books & More and a licensed dyslexia therapist, M.ED, CALT (certified academic language therapist)
Through Usborne Books & More (UBAM) I get to provide the best children’s books on the planet to children and families thru home parties, book fairs, reading incentive programs, and fundraisers for schools. I also have the privilege of working with amazing women all over the county who are committed to our company’s mission -“The future of our world depends on the education of our children. We deliver educational excellence one book at a time. We provide economic opportunity while fostering strong family values. We touch the lives of children for a lifetime.”
Over the years, I have built a career that I love. With UBAM, I have earned lots of money, books, and free trips for my family. I now lead the Tractor Team, which consists of 80 dedicated consultants. Together, we held a book drive and sold 300 packs of books to promote literacy among families and organizations such as Literacy Now in Houston. That is the one thing I am the proudest of in my business.
Helping children with dyslexia has become a big part of my personal mission. I understand how these children struggle with reading because four of my kids struggled with reading and some still do today. I also struggled with reading as a child. I know that even when you give your child the best books and you read to them all the time, some will still struggle with reading. They need intensive structural instruction. I decided three years ago to become a certified CALT, I get to provide these services for clients with the best books at my fingertips.
As my triplets go off to college next year, I have been thinking about what I have been able to give them these last 19 years. I love how having an Usborne Books & More business in my home has allowed me to serve as a role model for my kids. They have learned about serving customers, setting goals, and working hard to achieve their dreams. What’s more, they have gained first-hand experience by helping me create video graphics, load books, and set up and run event booths.
I am living my dream of helping other children and families along with my own. I love planting seeds in the hearts and minds of people and nurturing these seeds to help people grow. I am the leader of the UBAM tractors team! #ubamtractorsteam #ubamtractors
Do you have any insights you can share related to maintaining high team morale?
There is an old saying, “you get what you attract.” At the beginning of my business, I used to say, that I can’t get team members who are going to work. I used to play the victim. It was just not happening for me. If only I could train like “so and so” so I would research and study to be just like them. I had to learn to change my mindset.
I also realized that I was trying to be like someone I was not. The more I learn about dyslexia the more I understand myself. I am a big picture thinker. I don’t see the details, so you may see a misspelled word in this article that is not a typo but I do see the relationships. I know how my presence can make people feel. That is actually what makes me such a great leader is I can sense their emotions. (not their minds!) I can sense when someone needs an encouraging word. I can sense when I need to paint that picture for them of who they can become.
I choose to see the potential in people individually and as a team. I choose to think in a positive way. It is my faith in God, that can give me this hope.
Becoming a “Meemaw” has been the best thing for me, When you have adult children and they are on their own you have to accept that they may not make the same choices that you make. It is hard and ever not do easy BUT-it’s all I am in control of is me!
When I am leading a team, these same principles apply. I have to let them be who they are and believe in the possibilities of who they can become but ultimately it is not up to me.
Someone told me a long time ago, that if someone in your company is doing it, it is possible!!!! My job is to figure out how I can get there. How important is it to me? Am I willing to sacrifice something to make it happen? Or do I need to sacrifice something to make it happen? Who do I need to learn from? Who do I need to ignore? (these concepts I try to teach my team too)
Open up the world of possibilities because It is all up to me! This is why we are called the ubam tractors team! We plant seeds and believe in the possibilities of growth but we just don’t sit back and hope. We focus on making it happen!
Have you ever had to pivot?
I know what it is like firsthand to feel as if you don’t understand something when others do. At times, even as an adult, I wonder how some people can catch onto things so quickly and it does not happen to me.
Going back to being trained as a dyslexia therapist, I had to open myself up to those same emotions I had buried from grade school. I had to experience what it was like again for others to shout out the answers way before I could even process the questions. I had to go back to asking the “stupid” questions that no one else thought to ask. I was just different.
The more I learned about dyslexia, the more I understood the reasons why I was so good at being a consultant with UBAM. I learned (and I am still learning to value my strengths) I learned to trust my instincts because they are good.
When I pivoted my business thrived both with UBAM and as a therapist.
Now, I love it when when I hear one of my clients say- “I would not be reading this without your help!” Or, “I can now read!” Or “we are sleeping with the Race Car book every night!
My heart is so full when I see these wonderful pictures of these incredible UBAM libraries that my team members are providing for their kids! And I see the kid’s happy faces and know I helped give them that smile because I shared our career opportunity with them.
This July, there will be three families from my team enjoying Atlantis in the Bahamas together- all because of a trip we earned with UBAM. I can’t wait and I just know there will be many more trips in the future. My joy inside is almost up there to being the best thing ever, as my precious grandbaby!
Life just can’t get any better!
(maybe more grandchildren :) but again, that is not up to ME!)
- Website: www.readmeastorytoday.com
- Instagram: @ReadMeAStoryToday
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- Twitter: @readmeastory2
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXj7hOl0lSJC0OcmwkbwASA