Author calls motherhood "ultimate management course"

Shari Storm wanted to be an author since she won young author contests at Kennewick’s Westgate Elementary School in the ’70s.

“I was so certain when I was in elementary school that I was going to be an author,” she said.

But it wasn’t until after starting a career and a family, that the Kennewick native’s dreams become reality.

Her recently published first book, Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to be a Better Boss, describes how some mothers have used what they’ve learned as a parent to manage employees.

Storm, who now lives in Edmonds, said the idea was sparked when she had her first daughter, Rebekah, now 6.

She found she was better able to multitask and manage different situations. But when she looked for books that shared those experiences, she wasn’t able to find them among those discussing postpartum depression and the gender-wage gap.

But it really crystallized when she suspected an employee was lying to her while working at a Seattle credit union as a vice president and chief marketing officer. It was the same deceptive look she’d seen from Rebekah, then age 2.

“Human nature is the same if you are 2 or 62,” said Storm, who now has two more daughters, ages 4 and 2.

After she got an agent and a book deal with St. Martin’s Press and sat down to write, Storm decided to use the experiences of 60 other working moms in addition to her own.

Though she’d taken management classes to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and her master’s from Seattle University, it was motherhood that was the ultimate management course.

People want a safe and predictable environment, whether it’s with a parent or a boss, that’s also fair and consistent, Storm reasoned.

“They want to understand what’s expected of them,” she said.

With so many stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce, Storm said she hopes her book can reassure them that their years focused on motherhood stand them in good stead.

“I really want moms just to feel more empowered,” she said.

One of favorite story came from a woman who started at a new company but was having trouble clicking with her workers.

Storm said that while at a company event, the woman’s young daughter was licking a trash can. The woman told her child to stop and then continued talking with co-workers. Her employees started laughing, and it broke the ice.

Storm said when she become a parent she learned how important direct communication is. So she tries to use that, and other principles she learned as a parent, to be a better manager.

Although writing the book was fun, getting the first copy of it and realizing people were going to read it was scary, said the 1988 Kamiakin High grad.

“It’s been an exciting experience and an adventure,” she said.

She’s even had inquires about TV rights for her book, which is also being translated into Portuguese.

And although Storm was aiming for an audience of moms, she said she’s also had plenty of dads at her book signings. She’s even been asked why she didn’t include fathers.

“Maybe that will be my next book,” she joked.

Storm will sign copies of her book at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Adventures Underground bookstore, 1391 George Washington Way, Richland.

She also will give a presentation to the Richland Rotary Club that day.