Sevelyn Crosby & Amelia Do on “My Mommy is an Organizational Psychologist”

Sevelyn Crosby is the author of a new children’s book, My Mommy is an Organizational Psychologist and Amelia Do is part of the sales and marketing team for the book.

In this episode we discuss why Sevelyn was inspired to write the book and the process of writing, illustrating, publishing, and marketing it. We also discuss the role of design thinking in the revision process.



This transcript is AI-generated and may not be completely accurate. Please do not quote myself or any of my guests based on this transcript.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  00:00

Hello and welcome to Department 12: An I-O Psych podcast, where we talk about everything industrial-organizational psychology. I’m your host, Dr. Ben Butina and today we’re talking to Sevelyn Crosby, the author of the children’s book, My Mommy is an Organizational Psychologist. And we’re talking to Amelia Do, a member of the sales and marketing team for the book. Let’s meet them.

Sevelyn Crosby  00:21

Hello, my name is Evelyn and I am the author of the children’s book. My mommy is an organizational psychologist. I’m currently a PhD student studying positive Organizational Psychology at Claremont Graduate University. And fingers crossed, I’ll be graduating this May of 2021 and earning that title of doctor. I also am an organizational development and learning consultant where I really enjoy helping companies with things like leader development, change management, and one of my favorites, organizational culture.

Amelia Do  00:53

Hi, my name is Amelia Do, and I am the sales and marketing team member for My Mommy is an Organizational Psychologist. I attended the industrial Organizational Psychology program at Cal State San Bernardino, and much of my experiences in HR and consulting.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  01:10

When I interview the author of a book, I am legally obligated to start that interview by asking the most annoying, obvious question in the world. Where did you get the idea for this book?

Sevelyn Crosby  01:21

The book is really about a boy named Walter, who doesn’t really understand what his mommy does as an organizational psychologist. And for any of you is out there, this is probably something really relatable you might have had a hard time describing to your children or nieces or nephews, what you do for a living. So really what spurred this book was my sister, Carmen, she at the time was working at an after school program for elementary school students. And I happen to come visit her on career day. And she asked me to stand up in front of the kids and describe what I do for a living. And at that moment, I could barely explain to her or my parents or my friends what I did. So I certainly was not up for the challenge of standing up in front of a group of seven year olds and trying to explain. I ended up leaving there. And I’m not exaggerating for weeks, it bothered me that I didn’t try. So I thought what could I have done? What examples might I have given them? And I started thinking about what I would actually say and do if I could go back in time. And that’s really what kind of inspired the entire book is. It’s Walter and he’s at career day and his mom comes to explain her work to the class. I first heard of this book in a tip article that Sutherland co wrote called Making IO visible applying design thinking to grassroots visibility efforts. I know just a little about design thinking. But I wanted to know how several and applied it to writing a children’s book. So actually, when I first heard of design thinking, I was getting my master’s degree in organizational psychology. And I was taking a class where we were asked to design an intervention for a company. Shout out to Dr. Jeff. Yep, thank you for that class.

Design, thinking essentially, is all about coming up with some sort of solution to a problem. But really thinking about the end user and getting into their head as much as you can. So with design thinking, there are five steps, but I don’t think you need to think of it so linear. For me, even though there’s five steps you should take, there are two really big takeaways that I think inspired me during the designing of the book. And one of those takeaways is understanding your audience as best as you can. And doing research. That sounds kind of obvious. But I think that often when people try to design a solution or a product, we kind of skip that phase A little too fast. So for me that was going to my sister’s classroom, that was actually going into Barnes and Noble and looking at Children’s Books and seeing how they relate and how big sentences should be and what kind of words are appropriate. So I’ve just tried to do a lot of research at the front end. I think another big takeaway with design thinking is your first draft is never your last draft.

So it is such an iterative process. And that’s what I love most about design thinking is it’s rapid prototyping, immediate feedback. And then you’re back to the drawing board making edits. For me, that meant creating drafts and bringing them to friends family at the time, my lab members at Claremont Graduate University. Those were my subject matter experts, if you will. And I also had my sister take these rough drafts to her classroom and the kids that she nannied and read the book to them, and then tell me about if they were actually able to sit through the entire story, what parts of the story they liked the most. And so for me, design thinking is all about prototyping, rapid feedback, and going right back to the drawing board over and over. Again,

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  05:01

It’s safe to say that most of us have never written a children’s book. So I wanted to know more about the process.

Sevelyn Crosby  05:07

I actually created some of my initial notes when I was traveling Europe with a couple friends. So I was on planes and trains and ferries. And I just wrote down some key values or principles or things I wanted to depict in the book. And I just wrote some bullet points down on my iPad. And I actually had an IO psychologist, friend with me. So I was able to brainstorm with her what that would look like. And then I had my other friend who’s with me, worked with young children, those children with had disabilities. And so you’ll notice in our book that we actually do represent a young boy who was in a wheelchair. And she’s really what encouraged me to do that. So I think from the very beginning, it was about getting my ideas out there and always getting feedback from other people. When I got back to the United States, I started to get a first real draft of the words that I would use in the book. And then I started to think, okay, now I have to find an illustrator.

And I think that everyone has some strengths and weaknesses. And my weakness is artwork, I have never really had a talent for drawing people or drawing things. So I knew I would have to outsource for that. I actually happen to be in Claremont out to dinner with some friends. And a colleague of mine, like Beckman was with me. So I realized, Wow, he could be a perfect person to partner with because he has his master’s in organizational psychology. He’s currently getting his PhD in evaluation. And he’s a brilliant artist, specifically at the time, he was most known for his paintings. So I kind of pitched this idea to him if we could partner on this book, and you can do the illustrations, and he was up for it. Interestingly, he didn’t at that time, know how to draw people. So he had to teach himself how to draw people before he could help me with this book. And I think part of revising the book was also making sure that the images were the right fit to. So kind of our process for going about that is, I would give him my vision for the page with the words.

So for example, in the very beginning of the book, I really want it to start with Walter waking up out of his bed and his mom saying, good morning, wake up, it’s time to go to school, something like that. So he would draw a black and white version, show it to me, I would point out the features I liked and the things that I think I would maybe change or fit better, he would come back, do it again, do it again, and do it again. And then finally, once I gave him the complete thumbs up, he would actually add color to the image. All the while, I’m taking those black and white images, and I’m literally copying and pasting them into a PowerPoint deck, and putting text over them, printing that. And that’s what I’m bringing to my lab members for feedback. And that’s what my sister took to her classroom to get feedback from the students. So as kind of multiple pieces and all going at once that had to get pulled together.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  08:06

What does it take to write a children’s book, get it published, and then sell it? It seems pretty hard. How hard is it?

Sevelyn Crosby  08:15

When I first came up with this idea, I thought it would be a fun summer project, and ended up taking about a year and a half from start to finish. So it was way more work than I could have imagined. Not only was it pulling the book together for illustrations and the text, there are things publishing a book that I didn’t even know about, such as an ISP and number, buying copyrights, getting into the Library of Congress, their decisions on how much you should price your book, there were several points when I wanted to leave this project behind. I almost threw my computer because I was so frustrated. I don’t know how to write a book. I don’t know how to develop a website. And I was on a budget and I pulled for my student loans to afford this project.

So I tried to do anything and everything myself that I possibly could. And I remember being on tech support through wix.com, trying to figure out some sort of way to add promos or bonuses, and I was on tech support for three hours. And then the phone got disconnected. And I just started crying. And luckily, he was my boyfriend at the time. My now fiance, he just hugged me and said we’ll get through this I’ll call tech support with you. You can go on a walk with our dog and chill out for a little bit. There were many points I wanted to quit, but I think it was the social support and people being there to help pick me up when I felt low. That helped get me through the process I knew would all be worth it one day. Another example of a time when I wanted to quit was when we were almost at the finish line. We used a publishing company and when I got the books, I opened them and there was a huge mistake, luckily not on our part. But in the binding you could see a gap between the images. So when you open page, there wasn’t a seamless transition to the next page, there was like some sort of weird color, or gap in it, I paid so much money on 2000 copies of this book, and there was a huge flaw. Again, I wanted to just throw it in the recycling bin and be done with it.

Luckily, I had hired that consultant, and he kind of went to the publishing company on my behalf, and negotiated for them to redo the printing at no cost to myself. So ended up all working out. But it really was roadblock after roadblock after roadblock. I mean, these are things that I just didn’t know. So I actually did hire a consultant, Joel Harper, to help me with this process, because he has a lot of expertise in self publishing. And so he held my hand through this process. And I mean, it seriously was so much work. But I think I built a camp of people, a good support system to get me through it. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have been able to do it.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  10:58

Amelia has been helping with the sales and marketing of the book. And I wondered how she got involved.

Amelia Do  11:03

Sevelyn and I were actually connected through one of my friends from my graduate program. And she was telling me about how one of her colleagues wrote this amazing book that helps explain IO. And at that point, I was, you know, out of grad school and really looking to kind of have the connection with the field and seven, I met and clicked we have, you know, a lot of the same ideas about IO and the passion for explaining the field. And it’s just worked since then, before all of the pandemic and lock downs have happened. And we had this amazing plan of how we were going to get out into the community and go to bookstores and do read alouds in person. And when everything happened, we totally had to change our plan and our strategy for getting the book out there and marketing to people. Fortunately, social media was there. And we were able to connect with the IO community that way, which was really cool. When we first started adapting our strategies. We reached out to people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. And thinking back to that point, the field was still it seemed really small. It was hard to find IO pages or big names and IO that were really active in social media.

So we really kind of took like a grassroots approach of Hey, can we partner with you or we have this book. And it ended up working out really well. Fortunately for us, it worked out and we’ve been able to meet some really cool people and develop really great partnerships as well as market our book and teach people about industrial organizational psychology. Even though our book is marketed as a children’s book, it really is helpful for people of all ages. So we’ve been able to reach populations in elementary school all the way to undergraduates and even sharing the book with our adult family members who have no idea what we do. So it’s a really good way for people to understand and be able to visualize what organizational psychology is and what people in organizational psychology do.

You can find our book on our website My Mommy is an Organizational Psychologist dot com. You can also find us on social media on Instagram and Facebook. We are my mommy is an org psych on LinkedIn, My Mommy is an Organizational Psychologist and on Twitter and Tick Tok, org psych mommy.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  13:27

I want to thank Sevelyn and Amelia for joining me. You can find all the links Amelia just mentioned in the show notes for today’s podcast. You can also find a link to the episode page on Department12.com which has a full transcript of the show. Thanks for listening, and I’ll talk to you next time.