Monday, February 12, 2024

Q&A with Jane Boulware




Jane Boulware is the author of the new book Worthy: From Cornfields to Corner Office of Microsoft. A former Microsoft executive, she lives in Washington state.


Q: What inspired you to write Worthy?


A: I shared my journey from the cornfields of rural Iowa to the corner office of Microsoft in relatable stories that are funny, vulnerable, and scathingly honest because I didn’t see any books that did that.


People see my title and “accomplishments” and think there is something unique about me, that I have a ‘secret sauce’ to success. There isn’t and I don’t.  


By openly sharing my struggles as well as successes, I want others to know they aren’t alone, aren’t an imposter, and they too can overcome expectations, failure, and fear. I want people to see themselves in my stories and be inspired to rethink what is possible for themselves. 


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Oooh…good question. I considered many titles before deciding on Worthy. Many suggested I change it to something more aspirational that spoke to career achievement…but feeling worthy is my greatest achievement and central to any success I achieved.


The book is actually called unWORTHY, with the un crossed off because many of my stories are about undoing the uns in my life… unworthy, unconfident, unable, uncourageous, etc.


Often it’s the uns in our lives that limit us more than the circumstances and others…because telling ourselves what we are not doesn’t leave us much room to become what we ARE meant to be and do.   


Q: The writer Ingrid Ricks said of the book, “Jane's honesty about her inner struggles with guilt and self-worth while she outwardly soared is refreshing and compelling--making Worthy a very worthy read.” What do you think of that assessment?


A: I think Ingrid’s quote is a wonderful compliment. I did not sugarcoat my experiences or feelings…many aren’t pretty…but all are true and honest about what I did and felt.


I turned myself inside out in a unique way that is both funny and heartbreaking, trying hard to have the courage to put it all out there. I believe Ingrid’s comments reflect that. 


Q: What impact did it have on you to write the book, and what do you hope readers take away from it?


A: I found writing Worthy humbling, scary, fun, courageous, and gut-wrenching, depending on the day and the story. I had to face my own struggles, my (and other’s) role in success and failure.


I read several stories to/with others and found mutual healing and understanding. Yikes...that was a difficult, wonderful, and unexpected outcome.


My hope is to inspire others to overcome the people (including themselves) and limitations that tell them they are unworthy and judge what they shouldn’t, won’t or can’t do.  


I hope they discover they are worthy as they are, that worth and “success” isn’t defined by others but by what we make and give of what we got.  


These stories are what I got to give so I gave what I got and am giving 100 percent of the proceeds to Boys & Girls Clubs to pay forward what others have given to me. 

Q: What are you working on now? 


A: Honestly, I am focusing my time and effort on getting Worthy into as many hands as possible because its stories of hope and inspiration are needed in the world today. The more books are sold, the more people will claim their worth and the more scholarships will go to kids at Boys & Girls Clubs who need it most. 


And yes, I am listening to feedback and evaluating content for my next book.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Today’s culture tells us to airbrush our life, to show only the parts of me that are pretty, perfect, plastic. Yet strength and beauty are found in the bits and pieces we hide from others, in the parts of our lives never posted on Instagram.


Only when I share what is imperfect in me will you share what is incomplete in you so that together we peel away the veneer of perfectionism to reveal what is real and true, proclaiming all our bits and parts worthy and valuable.


Some Worthy stories represent to me the chaos of the soul, the days when my worth felt like bits of scraps, unvalued, discarded, just parts and pieces with no rhyme or reason.


Surely, I’m not the only one to feel that there is beauty in my bits and pieces, that my scraps are not worthless, despite what others may see at the moment.


My hope is that people read Worthy and know everyone’s bits and pieces are valuable, not because of what they have done/achieved but because of what we can and will do together. That is my hope for Worthy.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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