Election Results for NAPO-WDC’s 2015–2016 Board of Directors

March 18th, 2015

Congratulations go out to the new NAPO-WDC Board of Directors.

  • President – Vanessa Seifert, Squared Away Living, LLC 
  • Vice President – Mary Malmberg, Mary Pops in Organizing, LLC
  • Secretary – Janet Bloom, The Wise Organizer
  • Treasurer – Christine Fopma, Clutter to Clarity
  • Director of Administration – Cara Bretl, Re:Solutions by Cara, LLC
  • Director of Communication and Technology – Cecilia Anderson, Splendidly Organized
  • Director of Membership – Linda Pray, Organization Rehab
  • Director of Marketing – Suzette Smith, White Space 
  • Director of Corporate Partners – Lori Krause, Building Bridges Partners

The incoming board will take office on May 15th, 2015, but are already training for their new positions and planning future chapter meetings and events. Please volunteer your time and talents to a board member, join a committee and learn more about chapter leadership.

March 2015 Meeting Summary

March 9th, 2015

The March 2, 2015 NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held in Bethesda, MD. There were 29 members and 6 guests in attendance. There are now 102 chapter members.

The meeting started with active networking…. Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by Book Bliss Online – Sharon Bliss

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.  

Linda Pray introduced our guests.

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Errol Unikel

Rainmaker Video

Dr. Dale Keeton


Sharon Bliss

Book Bliss Online

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Guests: Ben Knowlton, Olympia Moving

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program:

A “Team Approach” to Selling a Home: Getting Referral Business from Real Estate Agents and Stagers by ReadyStageMove – Jean Marie Herron (organizer), Maria Rini (realtor), Bernadette Flaim (staging/design).

  • How do you find a Realtor?
    • Know one already?
    • Walk in to a local office?
    • Go to the Internet?
    • Visit open houses?
    • Network, network, network?

IMPORTANT: offer to do a presentation at a local real estate office or local Board of Realtors. Stay in touch with your database by asking for their referral to a Realtor. Networking will help your business more than you think!

  • How do you find a Stager?
    • Already know one?
    • Know a designer (who may also be a stager or know a stager)?
    • Walk into a real estate office and ask if they know a stager?
    • Research association website
    • Look at real estate listings online and contact the real estate agent of a staged home
    • Use Google or other search engines
  • How do you take it to the next level?
    • Collaborate
    • Co-sponsor
    • Guest writer or blogger
    • Cross endorse for each other
    • Start a mastermind group
    • Pay it forward – do nice things for your resource and referral relationships
  • Key ingredients to develop strategic partnerships
    • Develop an effective strategy to work by referral (high quality leads with less effort)
    • Build, sort and qualify your database (sphere of influence, friends/family, social circles, etc. to build your level of expertise/viewed as the ‘home expert’, serve as an information hub)
    • You become ‘greater than the sum of your parts’
    • Decide to be “Relational” (trust, value, top-of-mind)
    •  Surround yourself with a team of productive people
  • It’s all about education
    • Never assume they know what organizers do
    • Provide proof of your work (before and after photos; stats)
    • Become a student yourself – learn about strategic partners/partnerships
    • Keep in touch with your partners; referrals and clients

 SYSTEM Saving You Space Time Energy and Money

TEAM Together Everyone Achieves More

Chapter Business Meeting

Website improvement – SEO updates for NAPO-WDC website has gone live. Twenty pages of content were updated.

MARCPO will take place on October 24, 2015 in Bethesda. Volunteers are needed – contact Suzette Smith



MARCH 17 Maryland Book Club Meeting

MARCH 19 Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting – Meeting at More Space Place in Chantilly

MARCH 23 Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

MARCH 11 Arlington/Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

APRIL 6 NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Fairfax, VA

APRIL 9 Virginia Book Club Meeting

APRIL 15-18 NAPO 2015 – Los Angeles, CA


Door Prize Drawing – Cara Bretl

Our door prize winner was Peggy Goetz (guest)


The next meeting will be April 6, 2015 in Fairfax, VA.

Using Video for Protecting Your Assets to Preserving Family Memories – a Company Reinvents Itself

March 6th, 2015

Creating video inventories of your home and business possessions provides important protection for your own or your clients assets in the event of major disasters like fire, storms or theft.  Without proof, insurance companies do not replace or pay for all that may be lost and police do not return stolen goods without proof of ownership.  Maintaining video inventories and digitized supporting documentation solves those problems.

Our company, Home Contents Videos was doing that for several years and has now reinvented itself as Rainmaker Video.  We still do the video inventories, but have now discovered a number of other video needs that clients have.

It is amazing how many people think about their parents and grandparents and do not know as much as they would like to about their family history and heritage.  The strongest intention of people is to connect past generations with present and future generations.  There always seem to be laughter and tears in equal proportion.

Besides video for entertainment, another interesting area that has become quite a rage in our lifetimes is video marketing.  We have been watching television all our lives and with the advent of YouTube, personal computers, tablets, smart phones and the like, we are inundated with possibilities to watch videos.  There are over one billion YouTube users.  One statistic says there are over 5 billion YouTube views per day.  And that is only YouTube.  Entrepreneurs and small companies have realized that video needs to be an element in their marketing programs and they strive to connect more personally and effectively with potential customers.  These are not just advertising videos, but they also include valuable content and other information useful to the viewers.

Check out below to see how one company has decided to evolve and reinvent themselves in this most exciting arena.

We are proud to announce the launch of Rainmaker Video, formerly Home Contents Videos LLC. 

We create videos that matter in three key areas:

 1) Life Stories on Video preserve family history and memories.

2) Marketing Videos help you attract new customers.

3) Video Inventories help protect your assets.

Watch our launch video, visit our Rainmaker website, check out our work on YouTube or contact us to find out how we can make videos that matter for you.

Who’s In Your Network?

February 23rd, 2015
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Networking. For some of us, the word conjures images of slick haired sales people pressing business cards into our sweaty palm. It’s about going to Events. Listening to elevator speeches. Making yourself stand out. Stale cheese plates. Ugh.

The truth is that networking is something that happens every day if we choose to take advantage of a more natural, relationship based point of view. Think about these four categories of people with whom you can establish relationships. 

Clients are a natural part of our network. They have paid us well for performing a service, and it’s smart to keep in touch. They may need services down the road, or be able to refer to you people they know. We’ve heard it a thousand times – it’s easier to provide services to existing clients than it is to find a new ones.

Peers and colleagues are another good source of networking partners. Attending NAPO-WDC chapter meetings and neighborhood groups allow us to develop deep professional relationships that grow over time. Colleagues are also good referral sources – many of us consistently use each other for overflow projects or subcontracting.

Mentors and more experienced organizers are a valuable resource for all of us. Whether you’re a newbie or have been in business for years, we all learn from one another. Let’s use our collective experience to help each other be more successful.

Traditional networking groups are also valuable places to gain trusted, like-minded business referrals. Find a group that is a good fit for you, and work at establishing relationships that grow both your business and the businesses of others. People generally love to help someone who is willing to extend themselves for the benefit of another.

Real networking is about cultivating relationships that have mutual value. Find the people in your life who make that happen, and focus on helping each other.

The Secret Weapon to the Success of Your Business: Bookkeeping

February 18th, 2015

Starting and managing a successful business is challenge, I’m sure you would agree. If I were to ask you, what are the key roles crucial to growing your business, you would probably answer:

  • Sales and Marketing, because without that the business won’t make any money.
  • Client Services, because you have to perform the service for the client . . . or the business won’t make any money.
  • Staff Management, because you have to manage the team doing the work to make sure it’s done correct or else you won’t have happy clients . . . and the business won’t make any money.
  • And last and always viewed as least, Bookkeeping

Why is bookkeeping always last? Business owners often put off their bookkeeping because:

  • They are too busy
  • It’s intimidating to them
  • They feel they are not a numbers person
  • They have more important things to do

But what most owners don’t realize is that the most important key to having a successful business is their accounting system and its procedures. Why? Because if you don’t having a good accounting system and procedures in place to manage your funds and track what’s coming in and what’s going out, your business will not grow.

Although it’s often thought of as the least important of the key roles, since it does not directly generate any revenue, bookkeeping is actually a secret weapon that can be used to establish, sustain and grow your business – taking it to the next level.

Maintaining accurate financial records through bookkeeping can help you to gain insight into your business. Bookkeeping is an excellent business management tool because it can:

  • Provide useful financial information
  • Help you run your business proactively
  • Enable you to make important business decisions

Taking a few minutes each month to review your financial reports can help you to be proactive in your business rather than reactive. There are many reports you can run. Among them should definitely be a Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, Item Profitability, and Sales by Customer Summary reports. When reviewing these reports ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much did I make this month? How much did I spend this month?
  • What can I do differently next month to increase my bottom line?
  • Who are my best customers, and what type of businesses are they?
  • What services seem to make me the most money?

Once you are able to answer those questions from your reports, you now have a roadmap as to how you can do things differently moving forward. Just by doing this each and every month, you could change the course of your business, taking it to the next level!

Connie Whittingham is President and CEO of Y-OPA Consulting Group, a firm which focuses on providing bookkeeping, QuickBooks coaching and consulting services. Connie has been working with QuickBooks since 1996 and has been a Bookkeeper for nearly 20 years. She currently holds a certification in QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Enterprise and Online editions. Connie is currently a member of the AIPB (American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers) and the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Connie strongly believes that bookkeeping plays a key role in having a successful and profitable business. She enjoys working with business owners to help them to make bookkeeping a priority in their business, because she knows that it can have a positive and long-lasting impact on their business. It is her passion. In her efforts to make sure that every business owner learns how to avoid costly mistakes that hurt their business, Connie created a FREE CD entitled, “11 Critical QuickBooks Mistakes, and How to Do it the Right Way.”

February 2015 Meeting Summary

February 9th, 2015

The February NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held in Fairfax, VA. There were 29 members and 3 guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking. Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by RainMaker Video – Errol Unikel and ShelfGenie – Joe Johnson

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.  

Linda Pray introduced our guests. We now have 99 members!

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora


Errol Unikel

Rainmaker Video

Joe Johnson

Shelf Genie

Sharon Bliss

Book Bliss Online

Andy Reiman

Modern Image

Guest: Barbara Unikel, Rainmaker Video

Guest: Zibby Koppelman, Paradigm Experts

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partner speaker, Andy Reiman from Modern Image. He described his company’s services to its clients.

  • Meet onsite with client/review/send free estimate
  • Scan documents to PDF; photos to JPG
  • Multiple scanners for multiple purposes – picked up from the client and taken to the Tysons office
  • Time line varies by case
  • Client does not need to remove clips or staples
  • Each page/photo is hand checked for clarity
  • Delivery – uploaded (no taxes) with link provided to client; CD/DVD/Thumb drive (sales tax applicable)
  • Items returned to client or shredded onsite
  • $50 minimum order           

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Connie Whittingham – Bookkeeping: A Business Owner’s Secret Weapon to Success.  Connie is the CEO/Owner of YOPA (Your Own Personal Advisor). Connie described how bookkeeping can be an excellent business management tool by providing useful financial information, and enabling you to make important business decisions proactively.  A full description of her presentation will be available on an upcoming blog post on this site.  She offered a free CD for NAPO WDC members only – “11 Mistakes Business Owners Make” – go to www.y-opa.com to sign up for your copy.

Chapter Business Meeting

Penny Catterall, Director of Communications and Technology, announced that an updated version of the NAPO-WDC website will be going live within the next couple of weeks. It will be SEO optimized for better visibility, increase website traffic and members.

Suzette Smith announced that this year’s Mid Atlantic Regional Conference for Professional Organizers (MARCPO) is set for October 24, 2015 in Bethesda. Registration will open in July with early bird rates of $199.

Janet Schiesl, Immediate Past President, announced that nominations for Board of Directors is now open. Janet urged members to consider to volunteering for a board position. All 10 positions are up for vote. Nominations are still open for Programs and Marketing, as well as a new position of Director of Administration. Meet the candidates at March 2 meeting. 


FEB. 12 – Virginia Book Club Meeting

FEB. 19  – Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting

FEB. 23 – Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

MARCH 2 – NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Bethesda, MD

MARCH 11 – Arlington /Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

MARCH 17 – Maryland Book Club Meeting

APRIL 15-18 – NAPO 2015 – Los Angeles, CA

Door Prize Drawing – Cara Bretl

Our door prize winner from Shelf Genie was Jackie Kelly.

The next meeting will be on March 2, 2015 in Bethesda, MD.

What To Do When Business is Slow

January 27th, 2015
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

The dreaded lull in business. Depending on our client base and business specialties, some of us can predict slow times of the year. For others, it seems like there’s no telling why some weeks and months are busier than others. The important thing to remember is that it happens to all of us, and we can choose to use the down time to our advantage. Here are some tips:

Touch base with past clients by sending a card or email. You may trigger their desire to start a new organizing project. Even if they don’t have work now, staying in touch will keep you in mind for the future.

Renew connections. When business is slow, it’s easy to panic and go on a networking whirlwind. Cultivating relationships is important, but make sure it’s focused. Set up meetings with your best referral partners. See if there’s anything you can do for them, and ask for help in return.

Reach out to your trusted colleagues. There is no shame in going through a slow period, and yet we have a hard time admitting it to others. Develop a small group of organizer “buddies” with whom you can share your business ups and downs. One of them may be able to use you for subcontracting work, or refer you to a client with whom they would rather not work.

Work on your marketing materials. Make sure your website and Facebook pages are up to date and speak to your target market. There may be other marketing avenues you’ve been exploring, but haven’t gotten to. Now’s the time to take action.

Do some pro-bono work. There are always people in our lives who could use some extra organizing help. Use the lull in your business to help someone out. It’s good karma.

Expand your knowledge base. Take a class, attend a conference, read a book. There is always something new to learn. You never know where your next big idea will come from!

Stay positive. When we learn to expect lulls in business, they don’t seem so disastrous. Use the down time to focus on filling your client pipeline, keep in touch with your clients, and do the all-important business planning that can get overlooked when you’re busy.

Top 3 Takeaways From Organizing Roundtable Discussions

January 19th, 2015

The first NAPO-WDC meeting of 2015 was roundtable discussions led by chapter members who are experts in their fields. Each table featured a different topic, and it was fabulous! In case you missed the meeting or didn’t get to all the tables you wanted to, here are the top 3 takeaways from each discussion.


Using Scanning Technology to Organize and Store Your Electronic Filesled by Penny Catterall

  1. Invest in a dedicated document scanner such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap for fast and easy scanning.
  2. Start by scanning just the new paper that comes in, including receipts, doctors’ bills, medical records, recipes, business cards, school records, and more.
  3. Save them to a cloud-based service such as Dropbox or Evernote, or onto your hard drive. 


How To Avoid the Pitfalls in Working with Chronically Disorganized Clientsled by Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton

  1. No matter how long you have been organizing, you can always learn from your peers.
  2. Whether you like it or not, you will likely be contacted by clients that are Chronically Disorganized. Learning how to work with that population will only make you a better organizer for your already-organized clients.
  3. Chronic Disorganization requires unconventional organizing. I highly recommend everyone read Judith Kolberg’s book, “Conquering Chronic Disorganization.”


Seven Counter-Intuitive Things About Sellingled by Jane Campbell

  1. People become your customers for life when you listen to their unique issues instead of talking about you or your product.
  2. You need to obtain permission before launching a sales conversation.
  3. If a competitor can also solve a prospect’s problem, acknowledging that will lend you credibility.


Photo Organizing: Tips to Help Client So It Doesn’t Have To Be Scaryled by Jody Al-Saigh

  1. Everyone seemed to really like the recommendation I had for an app for your iPad that works as a light table to view slides. The one I have is called “The Light Table,” but there are a few freebies as well.
  2. One question that came up was what to do with negatives. My advice: toss them! You likely have the prints if you have the negatives, and there’s nowhere left to process negatives anyway.
  3. I highly recommend Rick at Digital Recollections for scanning photo/slide/video/audio transfer. I also recommend our Corporate Partner, Andy Reiman with Modern Image, to scan paper or photos.


Using Evernote to Create and Simplify Workflows for Small Businessesled by Pierrette Ashcroft

Evernote provides novices and power users a valuable knowledge base. Its potential increases as your skill level grows.
  1. Install the Web Clipper button to most browsers. Use it to clip content from any webpage to a note that is automatically saved to your Evernote account.
  2. Sync your Notes and Notebooks in the cloud. It’s automatic and gives real time access from a desktop or mobile device.
  3. Communicate with clients and colleagues through shared folders where you can collaborate on projects.


Green Organizing: Why It’s Too Good to Wasteled by Terri Fischer & Alonso Zamora

  1. Help your clients set up a convenient system for recycling near the point of use, probably the kitchen. If it’s not simple and convenient, it won’t happen.
  2. If you don’t know how to recycle something, Google “recycling, (item name), city and state.”
  3. Yes, you CAN recycle that single sock, the pants with the rip or the shirt with the ink stain. When donating, label these as “rags.” The items can be used for fibers in insulation, carpet and so on.

January 2015 Meeting Summary

January 12th, 2015

The January NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held in Bethesda, MD. There were 34 members and 5 guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking. Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by More Space Place – Robert Myers and Junk in the Trunk – Linden Coyne and the Ask the Experts table.

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.

Linda Pray introduced our guests.

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora


Linden Coyne

Junk In The Trunk

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Robert Myers

More Space Place

Guests: Ben Knowlton, Olympia Movers

Lori spoke to the group about getting to know the Corporate Partners. She challenged everyone to have at least 2 one to one meetings with a Corporate Partner and get know how they can help each other. She has offered a $25 gift card to the member who has the most one to one sessions by the February meeting.

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Round Table Discussions.

Each member will be able to choose 3 discussions and will have 15 minutes to attend each session.

Table 1 – “How to Avoid the Pitfalls in Working with Chronically Disorganized Clients” –

Cris Sgrott Wheedleton

Table 2 – “Using Evernote to Create and Simplify Workflows for Small Businesses” –

Pierrette Ashcroft

Table 3 – “Seven Counter-intuitive Things About Selling”- Jane Campbell

Table 4 – “Green Organizing: Why it’s Too Good to Waste”-

Terri Fischer & Alonso Zamora

Table 5 – “Using Scanning Technology to Store and Organize Your Electronic

Files”- Penny Catterall

Table 6 – “Photo Organizing: Tips to Help Clients So it Doesn’t Have To Be Scary.”

Jody Al-Saigh

Chapter Business Meeting

GO Month/Community Partner – Stephen Bok and Max Levitt with Leveling the Playing Field

The new warehouse is ready to be organized this Saturday January 10. Max thanked everyone who has volunteered to help out.


JAN. 10 – GO Month Volunteer Activity

JAN. 15 – Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting

JAN. 20 – Maryland Book Club Meeting

JAN. 21 – Arlington /Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

JAN. 25 – Golden Circle Meeting

JAN. 26 – Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

FEB. 2 – NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Fairfax, VA

FEB. 12 – Virginia Book Club Meeting

Door Prize Drawing – Cara Bretl

Our door prize winner was Janice Rasmussen.  

The next meeting will take place on February 2, 2015 in Fairfax, VA.

Time to Join NAPO-WDC Leadership Team?

December 29th, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Every January NAPO-WDC begins the New Year with its board election process.

Just as many of us make yearly goals for our businesses, it’s time to consider how we can each contribute to our local chapter. There are many ways to volunteer throughout the year, but being part of the leadership team helps us maintain our excellence and grow our chapter.

There are many reasons members decide to take on leadership roles. We want to provide direction for the group. We want to be part of a team that respects each other and takes pride in the work we do. We realize that our chapter needs to change and adapt as our industry does, and we want to be part of it.

While volunteering can be demanding at times, the benefits far outweigh the effort. Leadership team members learn new skills in a trusting environment. We learn to communicate better and become more tech savvy. We use our talents to improve our professional association. We make new friends and expand our network.

Last but not least, we have fun!

Is this the year you’d like to run for a position on the leadership team? If so, applications are available on the Members-only section of the NAPO-WDC website now to February 21. 2015. You can also request an application from Janet Schiesl

Happy New Year!