We had the good fortune of connecting with Janice Stokes-Naumann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janice, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
I think the most difficult decision I ever had to make it giving up a job I loved because I felt that my oldest son needed me. After having triplets, I was not a “stay at home” mom, I liked my job teaching middle school Art. Before I found out I was having triplets, I was planning on continuing to work the job I loved. I was only planning for one baby. After the initial shock of knowing that sibling rivalry was always going to in my future, I came to acceptance however, I was not leaving my job. We hired an Aupair to take care of the triplets so I could continue working. This arrangement was wonderful until the trips turned 4 years old and balancing it all was getting more and more difficult. My oldest was 16 at the time and failing out of high school so we decided to try a home school program for him. I just knew in my heart that I could not leave him every day and go to work and expect him to just do his schoolwork while I was at work. It was August right before school started and I went to my school to request a leave of absence. They would not grant me a leave of absence, so I had to make a decision to give up the best job I have ever had in my life. That was 15 years ago and even though I miss teaching Art, I love being self-employed. I love sparking the love of reading in children whether I sell someone an Usborne Book, recruit a team member, host a party for a hostess or teach someone with dyslexia, I love that I am making a huge difference in the world. My oldest is now 30 and a proud father of my precious 3.5 granddaughters and doing amazing in his career. It turns out, it was the best decision I ever made. I really believe my relationship with him today is as good as it is because of my special time with him.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My unique brand is ReadMeAStoryToday because I believe in the power of reading aloud not just any books but the best books! It all started in Oct 2011 when I decided to become a consultant with a direct sales company called Usborne Books & More. I was looking for something I could believe in for ME and I needed more money as a “stay at home” mom. My triplets were in school during the day but I did not want to go back into teaching. I felt I was being called to “dream big.” I enjoyed earning trips with Usborne Books & More, helping others start their own businesses, and having a career where I could still meet the needs of my three precious gifts from God. Nevertheless, when they entered high school, I got to thinking about what my life would look like after they went to college. For 30 years my focus was being the best mom I could be. All three triplets struggled with dyslexia in one way, along with my firstborn. I discovered, like my mom that I had always been an advocate for them. I got more and more interested in understanding more about dyslexia. I picked up the book called, Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shawitz. I could not put this book down. Not only did it help me understand them, but it helped me understand myself. It was three years ago that I decided like my mom to be trained as a dyslexia therapist.
What sets me apart from others is that I know first hand what it feels like to have dyslexia. I understand what my clients are going thru. I get them! I also understand that just having books in your home is not what is going to spark the love of reading in children. It is having the books that scream “get off that couch and look at me” and a parent who is willing to take the time to read aloud to them and continue to read books to their children even into middle school. It also may mean having a person trained in a systematic multisensory approach to teaching reading. What sets me apart is my passion for kids and my personal mission of sparking the love of reading in children.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start off the week by taking my friend to the Heights area. We would start out with coffee at the Second Cup because I like that the profit they make goes to fight human trafficking. Then we would walk down 11th street and visit all the shops. Next, we would go to lunch at the Burger Joint. After that, we would probably go to the Museum of Fine Arts to see one of their exhibits. Later in the week, I would have to let them devour original Tex Mex so my favorite place to go would be Chuy’s. One morning, we would have to visit the original Shipley Location too. Hopefully, depending on the time of the year for the visit we would visit Miller Outdoor Theater, an Astro’s game, or the Houston Rodeo. These are my favorite memories growing up. Not like my childhood growing up, if the Women’s Dash Soccer team was playing we could have to go see them. I am an all-out “soccer mom.”
We would end the week by going to eat at the original Carrabas location in the Galleria area, where my second born used to work. They took a chance by hiring him when he was 18. He learned so much about himself.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a Shoutout to my Mom, Annette Cooke Stokes. She is now 84 and there is so much I admire about her. She was my advocate growing up. She always believed in me. We did not know at the time that I had dyslexia. In the 1970s little was known about dyslexia. She had some outside testing done and was told that I would be lucky to graduate from high school. Compared to my sisters, who did not struggle with schoolwork as I did, I am sure she worried every night. It’s like a mystery when you can’t figure out what is wrong with your child. After I went to college, she found the Neuhaus Education Center. She finally understood what was “different ” about me. She went on to become a dyslexia therapist and worked in the field for 15 years. Now, I follow in her footsteps.
I also would like to give a Shoutout to my dad, Gordon Stokes. He will be 87 next month. He was always in sales, so I think my success in Usborne Books & More is because of his influence on me. I grew up watching him earn trips, lead his team to do amazing numbers, and meet company sales goals, which I do today with my always growing team.
Last, of all, the women on the UBAM Tractors are phenomenal women who are changing the world thru literacy and books. We have only just begun! I could not accomplish my personal mission without their help.
LinkedIn: Janice Stokes-Naumann
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