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Meet Ashley Powell from Bendyworks: The Most Famous Technology Sales Executive In the World!

My children's book, She's a Technology Sales Executive and She's My Mom from the STEM Mom Series is based on a real-life professional woman.  She is such an inspiring woman and has been so supportive of me through this process.Today, I want everyone to meet live and in the flesh (or at least in writing and on your computer) the super awesome Ashley Quinto Powell of Bendyworks.

JJ: I kind of sprung the fact that I was writing a children's book about you. What was your initial reaction?

AP: Ha!  There simply isn't any precedent to such amazing news.  It was a surprise, for sure!  I'm certain I cried. For a while.  Happy tears, of course.  

JJ: Aw, that's adorable. You were shy about sharing the fact that this book was being created. How very un-Ashley of you. What was that about?

AP: Yes.  Again, there really isn't any precedent for this kind of recognition.  Its kind of awkward to start a conversation with, "so you know how I'm amazing, right?  Well, I'm going to be the subject of a children's book!"  I am usually pretty comfortable tooting my own horn, but this is over the top!  I eventually settled on, "hey, you wanna hear something completely BONKERS???"

JJ: I KNOW, the whole thing feels bonkers, I agree and I wrote it! I had very many phases of "what I wanted to be when I grow up" when I was growing up.  I recently shared with you that when I was very young, I wanted to be a cashier (FINALLY, I would be able to touch the cash register) or a hairdresser (I could french braid like the best of them).  I eventually grew into wanting to be a Broadway Star because the world NEEDED to see me sing, act, and dance! I eventually did end up working as an improv comedian where I did sing, act, and dance so I guess I'm winning! What did you want to be when you grew up and where do you think that came from?

AP: I spent some time wanting to be a Broadway star, too!  But I really wanted to be independent and be able to rely on myself for money.  That was something my own career-driven mother instilled in me- to never have to rely on a man.  So I wanted to be a very powerful business person.  I wanted to be on planes, brokering deals, sitting at huge desks, saying things like, "Bring me a diet coke and the financials, Johnny! Let's see if we can get down to brass tacks and save this company!"  

My dad and his company were very involved in Take Your Daughter To Work Day when that was new and revolutionary in the 1990s.  I got to trade (mock) pizza futures on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and listen to Linda Raschke, a trailblazing female trader, talk about what an advantage it is to be a woman in a male-dominated field.   It was incredible!  And very, very formative.  

JJ: Wow, that's really cool. I had worked remotely for so many years that I have never been able to take my daughters to Take Your Daughter to Work Day.  I need to start one! How did you get into technology sales and what makes you good at it?

AP: I started in commission-based sales when I was in high school, working for a leasing company.  I worked my way up to property manager, developing the sales training and internship programs while I was in college.  I left that job to open an online jewelry business with my Mom- and it needed a website!  I taught myself to code with tools like caffeine, desperation, and the internet.  In the end, I created a pretty sophisticated e-commerce backend using some open source software and voila!  I was in tech.  My business was eaten by the recession, but I had earned my stripes in tech.  I got a job selling IT Consulting services for a large consulting firm, and it seemed like a great combination of tech and sales.  That was about a decade ago, and I am very grateful for the journey that led me to this awesome career.

JJ: What's your philosophy about talking to your own kids about their careers?

AP: My kids are pretty young, so half the time they want to be professional ninjas.  I try to expose my kids to as many different types of people doing as many different things as I possibly can.  In the end, they're surrounded by all these amazing, dynamic people- like you!  I have lots of faith in their role models.

JJ: You are one of the co-directors of the Madison Women in Tech. What is that organization about and where do you see it going?

AP: The Madison Women in Tech is a great group of about 1100 women.  We focus on social, networking, professional development, and skill development events at 5 or 6 events a month.  I think the secret is that we know you have to meet women where they are.  We host events at different times of day, different days of the week, different locations and different topics.  Our expectation is that women will come to an event that suits their schedule, interest level, and location.  And while we try to provide childcare wherever we can, we'd rather have a kiddo come to a women in tech meeting than keep her mom at home.  We just want to create an incredibly low barrier of entry so women can find community here.  I hope we can help other communities build robust communities like ours, and I'm excited to expand our membership base.

JJ: I've loved every Madison WiT event that I've attended. I always meet someone I've never met before at your events (which doesn't sometimes happen at other events I go to in our community so that's cool). And it's been fun that we've been able to collaborate on Wine with Games events with Madison Women in Tech and the organization I'm affiliated with, the Wisconsin Games Alliance to open up our video game community to more female talent. What makes you so passionate about STEM?

AP: Isn't it amazing that you can be paid well doing something you love?  The best thing about working in STEM is that you get to work with smart people.  There are so many opportunities in this industry to make a local (or even global) impact while earning a good wage and supporting your family.  I think that's downright beautiful, honestly. 

JJ: I couldn't have said it better. Ashley, you are such an impressive force of nature and I'm so happy you are along for this ride with me!

She's a Technology Sales Executive and She's My Mom is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at online bookstores worldwide.

Jennifer Javornik
The Children’s Book My Children and This Working Mother Needed

Sometimes, I can be very deliberate and analytical about my choices in life.  I want X, so let me figure out the most optimized path to getting X in the most efficient manner possible. My brain often sounds and behaves as simple as that.  

At other times, something presents itself to me in my intuition so clearly and so strongly that I don’t think about it, I don’t judge it, and I just do it. (I’m pretty sure that’s years of being a professional improv comedian, folks - I highly recommend it).

When the idea to write a children’s book about the ever-so-talented Ashley Quinto Powell showed up in my brain one night, I almost knew immediately what it would look like, what the rhythm of the book would be, what the energy of the book feel like and where the laughs would come from. Once I felt the book, the easy part was doing the work to make it happen. Oooo fun project, I thought to myself when I started. I bet Ashley is going to get a kick out of this (she did!).

It’s only weeks and months after I started this kooky-one-off-side-hustle project that the reasons why I was so tickled by this project started revealing themselves to me. And one of the main reasons? This is the book I wish my children and I had when they were younger.  

For me, I needed a book to help me talk to my children about why I worked outside of the home and normalize the idea that many moms have big careers through which they make meaningful and valuable contributions to our world. I didn’t have the perspective when I was raising young children that I needed to change the conversation from I’m a mom who HAS to work (too bad!) to I’m a mom who values working, that my talents and skills are rare and sought after, and this is how I choose to contribute to the world so it’s a better place for all of us (so cool!).

For my children, I needed a book that introduced them to other children who were proud and inspired by their working moms and urged my children to be proud and inspired by their own working mom.  I needed a book that reframed their perception that moms that work leave their children to be miserable all day to moms that work go out and do big, amazing, and important things. And lastly, I needed a book (or more likely a whole bookshelf of books) that encouraged them to dream about what they might do when they grow up and why their talents and skills will be needed to make the world even better.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Jennifer Javornik
Official Book Launch for She's A Technology Sales Executive and She's My Mom

Today is the day that everyone's favorite children's book, She's a Technology Sales Executive and She's My Mom about STEM Mom extraordinaire, Ashley Quinto Powell, hits virtual bookshelves worldwide! It's been such a hoot working on this book and it's only been pure joy. I'm so excited that this is the first time that everyone will be able to take a peek inside.

I would so appreciate it if you bought my book ... right now. Like, RIGHT now. Like get online and google that sucker.  And when you do and after you've received it, I would really REALLY appreciate it if you left the book an online review. That's how the world works these days so it would be awesome if you can help me out with that. The major US online retailers who are carrying the book are Amazon and Barnes&Noble.  Check them out!

Then after you've read it, if you want an A+, it would be awesome if you could tell your friends about it! With your voice and with your fingers (on a keyboard for heaven's sake!) will do just fine.

Thanks for your support and enjoy the book!

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Jennifer Javornik
September 30th is The Official(ish) Book Launch Date!

I was so overcome with emotion on Monday when I announced the book and book launch party to my Facebook posse. Thanks to each and every one of you who liked, hearted, and wow’ed my post and left all of those kind messages! It does feel pretty amazing to tell everyone and release this puppy into the wild. Then Ashley posted it to her LinkedIn and the response there was also super pumped so that was super awesome too.

I wanted to talk launch date because there seems to be some confusion about that...

In the true fashion of a first time self-publisher, I seemed to have officially jumbled the launch dates for my book. Ooops! See, with my distributor who is handling my physical books, I got to set the date I wanted to release my book in each format.  Here is what I have confirmed so far:

Hardcover (Everywhere): September 30th

Paperback (Everywhere except Amazon): September 30th

Paperback (Amazon): Still a work in progress (Amazon’s automated file checker keeps rejecting my file for secret robot reasons that make no sense to me so now an Amazon human needs three days to check it. Stay tuned!)

Ebooks are another deal. I can’t actually remember if I had the option to set a date or not but I didn’t.  I think I was so frustrated with all of the technical revisions that once it passed I was like “HERE, TAKE IT!”. So World, eBooks are totally available for download NOW on Kindle and everywhere else eBooks are sold. It officially hit the airways on Amazon on September 23rd and hit everywhere else on September 22nd.  Geez, I wish I had marked the occasion somehow but OH WELL.

I also set up an eCommerce site on this website if you’d like to purchase directly from me.  I did this mostly for friends and family but truth be told, I’d rather you buy it from a merchant and leave a review. I don’t have the books yet in my possession but they are on-their-way so I’ll start shipping as soon as I can.

Thanks to everyone for being so supportive! I can't wait for you to get the book in your hands!

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Jennifer Javornik
Where the Journey Began...

Like all good ideas, I came up with the idea for Formation Books when I couldn't fall asleep one night.  My kids and I had spent the week in Orlando visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and our beloved Walt Disney World.  The trip had come about hastily.  I had hired a babysitter for the summer who needed a particular week off so she could go to Country U.S.A. and, like most great inventions, the trip came out of necessity given I didn't have the faintest clue who would watch my kids for the week.  Nonetheless, the trip was a great opportunity to make good on my promise that when they had finished all 7 Harry Potter books, we would visit the great Hogwarts itself (more on the significance of Harry Potter in our lives another time!).

It was the end of the trip on the last day and I was sharing a bed with my oldest daughter. We had to get up the next day at 4:45 AM to get the airport, return the rental car and make our flight so I had that night-before-the-airport anxiety.  I was tired from a long week of theme parking and from the humid heat but grateful that we had spent the week together while I marveled at how grown up they had become. The trip had been alot of fun. I had been able to mostly disconnect from work due to the lack of working internet in our VRBO.

I was not-sleeping-trying-to-sleep when slowly but surely the idea for She's a Technology Sales Executive and She's My Mom suddenly popped into my head. It started, I think, because I was thinking of going home. I started thinking of my friends that I admire and the always plucky Ashley Powell popped into my head. I thought about how she's seemingly every where all of the time and always seems to be having a blast.  I thought of her children whom I had never met but assumed they were vivacious and full of life like her mom (and her Dad who I had met!).  It all started a bit like a love letter to her - celebrating all of her accomplishments and drive. So that night, I  told myself not to forget all of the fabulous ideas I had had and gently fell asleep (<== or rather, I got out of bed and took an Ambien because there was no way I was going down that night given this new project idea!).

Luckily on the plane ride to Orlando the week before, Ingrid had negotiated the window seat so it was her turn to sit in the middle between me and her sister.  I asked her for the blank notebook that I had packed in her backpack and she obliged without any questions. I furiously started jotting down page ideas and sketching out Ashley in all of her adventures. It wasn't too long before Ingrid was VERY interested in what I was doing and started coming up with her own ideas of what I should be writing about but more importantly had the kookiest joke ideas.  And its on that plane back home, Ingrid and I discovered that together we actually had some pretty good ideas and I was happy that we had something productive we could do together as she navigates that time in her life when she feels too old for toys and too young for teenager stuff.  And so it began...