Posts Tagged ‘President’

Ready For Another Great Year?

Monday, September 1st, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

 Welcome back to NAPO-WDC! September is here – again!! Did the summer fly by at unusual speed or was it just me?! Hopefully you had your share of sun, fun and relaxation and are ready to tackle a new year.

 At NAPO-WDC, we have been busy! The board of directors met for two days over the summer to plan our strategy for a great year. A group of volunteers is working on revising our Bylaws and Operations manual. MARCPO registration is in full swing and volunteers have been working hard to ensure a successful conference. And we have a new community partner and GO month project for next January, with details coming soon.

 I encourage all of you to participate in our upcoming and ongoing activities. The benefits of being an involved member are many – you’ll meet new people (enriching not only your personal life but your business life too), generate more ideas to grow your business, learn new skills, help the chapter stay healthy – and have fun! What’s not to love about that?!

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our next chapter meeting on September 8th in Bethesda. Remember my email ( is always open for suggestions and constructive opinions.

Change in Leadership

Monday, April 28th, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

The NAPO-WDC Board of Director terms end on May 15, and I would like to offer the current board my thanks for a job well done. It has been my complete pleasure to serve as chapter president this year, and to work with such professional and encouraging colleagues. I have learned so much from this experience, and am looking forward to putting my gained knowledge into practice in the coming year.

To our outgoing board members: Tiffany Mensing, Kimberly Gleason and Mary Malmberg – thank you for giving your time, effort and expertise to the chapter. We have all benefitted from your unique talents (and general awesomeness!).

To our incoming board members: Vanessa Seifert, Linda Pray and Lori Krause – welcome!! I’m sure I speak for the entire chapter in thanking you for stepping up to serve. We look forward to the new ideas and enthusiasm you will bring to the table.

Finally, to the board members who will continue to serve for the coming year: Janet Schiesl, Cara Bretl, Janice Rasmussen, Keri Myers, Penny Catterall and Stephen Bok – thank you for your continued support and commitment to maintain a thriving chapter. I am looking forward to another year of working with all of you!

Who’s In Your Network?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
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.

Selling More “You”

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

This month I’m reposting an article by Janet Schiesl, NAPO-WDC’s Immediate Past President. It was originally posted last year, but I love the timeless message. Enjoy!

 Selling More “You”

by Janet Schiesl

As a small business owner, “You” are your company. When you meet a prospective client, you need to sell “You” – your skills, your ability, your personality. Being successful at selling yourself is a requisite to building a meaningful organizing business.

It is a basic business principle that people buy from people they like. Having the ability to connect with others will help you build relationships in the beginning and build your business in the end. Sell more “You” and the rest will happen on its own.

Do you look the part? Your appearance should say you are capable, confident and professional. A smile goes a long way. It sends a clear message that you are able to do the job.

Having the ability to really listen and understand someone else shows empathy. People love to talk about themselves and when you reflect genuine interest, it is much more likely they will like you.

Clients are looking for someone who is knowledgeable. Informing them of your experience and education will add to your credibility.

Sharing your unique stories and ideas makes you interesting. Engaging a prospective client will help them picture what working with you will be like.

People like those they can count on. Are you diligent? Be a person who is known to always get things done and keep promises.

You won’t sell much “You” without honesty. It starts here. Be honest, make it count and proceed to win trust. Violating trust with a client is risky and the fastest way to the bottom of the business ladder.

A bit of laughter goes a long way in building a relationship. Our clients can be stressed, anxious and overwhelmed with their situations. Inject a bit of humor. Making them laugh will help them to relax and they will love you for it.

Always show your best “You”!

Five Organizers Dish on Professional Boundaries

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

As Professional Organizers, we each have to define the amount of personal information we share with our clients.

Each situation is different.  Some of us are extroverts and some are introverts, and the same goes for the people we work with. While there are no hard and fast rules, most of us agree we each need to create personal boundaries – boundaries that keep us within the NAPO Code of Ethics as well as within our comfort zones. But how? 

I recently asked four organizers for their insights on sharing personal information.  While some of their viewpoints differed in small ways, I’d like to share the main points we agreed on. Thank you Tiffany Mensing, Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton, Janet Schiesl and Susan Unger for your input!

First, we all agreed that many new clients want to know how we got started in the professional organizing business. It’s a logical question we’re all willing to answer. Often clients ask about our families, and we’re all willing to share basic information such as the city we live in, number of children, marital status and our age.

We view our answers as information that helps establish a personal connection. After all, we’re in the client’s personal space – going through financial information and/or personal belongings. They’re in a vulnerable position, and part of our job is to help them feel comfortable with us and the services we offer.

When working with long-term clients, we all tend to share more information about our lives – but we keep the conversation client-focused. For instance, we’ll share a personal story that relates to a specific task we’re working on together. Our clients like to know that our homes aren’t always perfect, and that we have organizing struggles too. That said, we all agreed the focus needs to remain on ways the client can use our information to make progress on his or her project.

Like you, we’ve all been asked inappropriate questions. One client asked how much money an organizer had in the bank! Another asked how much an organizer paid her employees. I have a client who consistently asks me for advice on the stock market. We all agreed these questions need to be redirected in a friendly, professional manner.

Finally, I asked each organizer if she spends social time with her clients.  The unanimous answer?  No. In a few instances, organizers took a client out to dinner or coffee after the completion of a difficult job, but kept those meetings on a professional level. Each organizer felt it important to keep the boundaries of client relationships business-centric to protect both the client and the organizer.

How do these viewpoints compare with yours?  Are you more relaxed about sharing personal information?  Less relaxed?  No matter what our individual style, it’s important to identify our boundaries and respect them.  This frees us up to focus on our clients’ needs while building a comfortable, professional relationship.

Time to Join NAPO-WDC Leadership Team?

Monday, December 30th, 2013
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 from January 8 to February 21, 2014. You can also request an application from Janet Schiesl.

Happy New Year!

What To Do When Business Is Slow

Monday, November 25th, 2013
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.

President’s Message: Five Strategies to Avoid Burnout

Monday, October 28th, 2013
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Being an entrepreneur is an exciting and exhilarating life choice. We are creating a business where one did not exist, and we’re motivated by the limitless potential we see each day. We set our own schedules, create our own opportunities and choose the work we love to do. But, running your own business takes tremendous time and energy. We can easily become susceptible to burnout unless we establish safeguards to protect ourselves.

We usually think of burnout when we have more work than we can handle and are working extra hours. However, it can also happen when business is slow and we’re stressed out about finding new clients. Burnout is defined as fatigue and apathy resulting from prolonged stress or overwork. It can totally change our outlook on ourselves, our work and our health. Here are some preventive measures you can take to avoid burnout.

• Weigh the payoff of every task. Make sure you’re working on things that align with your business goals. Finishing a customer proposal is more important than cleaning out your inbox.

• Make progress with small steps. We all have visions of what our businesses can attain, and that’s a good thing. It can also be overwhelming. Keep in mind that the way to reach your goals is by taking small, persistent steps. Remember Nemo’s mantra, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” You will get where you want to go.

• Use your support team. Never underestimate the power of the people in your network. There is a tremendous amount of experience, support and knowledge within our local NAPO chapter as well as from other sources. Take advantage of it.

• Set strong boundaries. It’s hard to turn work “off”, but it’s essential for long term growth and health. Establish your working hours and stick to them. Don’t return phone calls and emails after hours. Set a consistent day off where you are completely engaged in something besides work.

• Do something different. Life is more than our work. Being involved in other activities enriches our lives and makes us more productive. Read a book that isn’t about business. Take a ride somewhere you’ve never been. Even traveling to a client by a different route is good for your brain. Think of ways to shake up your routine.

President’s Message: Tackling Procrastination

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Do you ever worry that some of your organizing skills aren’t as exceptional as they should be? If you’re honest, the answer is yes. That’s OK. We are all works in progress and it’s a sign of maturity to know what our strengths and weaknesses are. For example, I can whip a kitchen into shape like nobody’s business and my filing system is a thing of beauty. And yet I struggle with tendencies of procrastination. My skills and habits have gotten much better with practice, but I sometimes struggle with getting things done on time.

Procrastination is a common problem – in fact, 20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. They may not get their bills paid on time, they miss deadlines at work, and I’m sure you’ve seen the problems it can cause on the home front! Procrastination is physically unhealthy, too. It causes the body to release stress hormones that can wreak havoc with our immune system.

There are five earmarks of chronic procrastinators:
• They overestimate the time they have to perform tasks
• They underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks
• They overestimate how motivated they will feel the next day or the next week
• They think that succeeding at a task requires that they feel like doing it
• They believe that doing a task when they don’t feel like it will make the finished product less than satisfactory.

Procrastinators look for distractions, especially ones that don’t use a lot of brain energy. Checking email is a prime example. It can be a way of staying busy while not getting anything done. Excessive list making and perfectionism can also be used by procrastinators to delay the real work.

So, how do we tackle procrastination? Author Hara Estroff Marano lists five strategies you can use:
• Make a list of everything you have to do
• Set realistic goals
• Break it down into specific tasks
• Make your task meaningful
• Promise yourself a reward
• Eliminate tasks you never plan to do – be honest!
• Estimate the time you think it will take to complete a task and then increase the amount by 50%.

Use these strategies with your clients and with yourself if you struggle with procrastination tendencies. And remember that even though we all have certain organizing weaknesses, it doesn’t mean we don’t provide a great deal of value to our clients. Sometimes they like to know we’re not as perfect as we seem!

President’s Message: Refocusing Your Goals

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, President of NAPO-WDC

Welcome back to NAPO-WDC! I hope you all had your share of sun, fun and relaxation. Although I’m a little sad saying good-bye to summer, I look forward to refocusing on work and business building.  I hope you do too!

Speaking of refocusing, how are you doing with the goals you set for this year? If you’re like me, you’re on target with some.  Others have fallen by the wayside.

Try these tips to refocus a goal that’s floundered:

Check it out.

What’s up with this particular goal?  Why has it floundered when others haven’t?  Is it still compelling?  Important?  Challenging?  If it is, write it down and get started.  If it’s no longer important to you and your business, let it go!

Think positive.

Make a list of the positive results of achieving your goal. If you want to increase your income by 20%, for example, what’s the concrete payoff?  Will it let you hire an employee? Spend more time with your family? Invest in a new workspace? Make sure the payoff excites and inspires you.

See the results.

Find compelling images that represent your outcome, and glue them onto poster board or copy them into a digital file. Images are powerful reminders and motivators.  They keep us connected to our goals.

Share your vision.

Bring others into your vision and help them connect to it. If your friends and family know what you’re trying to achieve, they can support you.  Besides, it’s more fun.

Have patience.

Allow the process to work. Look at your vision board daily.  Let your excitement about your goal grow. Take small steps toward large goals.  And recognize every step you take!


Celebrate each small step leading to your goal.  And when you reach your goal, celebrate big.  You’ve earned it!  Now set your next goal.

Remember:  Achieve, celebrate, repeat!