The NAPO National Conference was held in Pittsburgh, PA this year, and I was fortunate enough to attend. While there, I couldn’t help but reflect on how grateful I was to have the opportunity to travel with my colleagues and learn from some of the best! My motto is to always have an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ and below are a few of my ‘takeaway’ gifts.
The first gift I received was back in December 2016 at our NAPO-GPC holiday party when I was chosen as the recipient of the NAPO-GPC scholarship. This scholarship enables one qualifying member to attend the conference. Most don’t realize that although I had sent in payment, early on, to reserve my spot, I had been debating on pulling out of going due to other family commitments. Upon the advice of my friend and colleague, she suggested that I wait until after our holiday gathering to make my decision. I am so grateful that I took her advice!
The second gift I received was the undisputed educational opportunity to grow personally and professionally. The keynote speaker was Jones Loflin, and he presented “How To Blossom Even In Times Of Change.” He spoke about the need to cultivate, prune, and accept change. He also spoke to us about the ability to harvest even in times of change. I walked away from his address with a newfound appreciation for growth, and I am looking forward to implementing his examples and expertise. I had the opportunity to choose from many ‘breakout sessions’ and a few of my favorites were the TED Talk Discussion – ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’ facilitated by our very own Debbie Lilliard, ‘How to Get and Keep Media Attention’ by Paula Rizzo and Terri Trespicio (the dynamic duo), ‘Busily Unproductive’ by Zachary Sexton, and ‘9 Technology Tools to Skyrocket Productivity’ by Amy Payne and Brooks Duncan. Honestly, it was not an easy decision as there were well over 45 sessions to choose from.
Lastly, and most importantly, the greatest gift I received was the ever-present ‘collaboration over competition‘. I have always felt this with my local GPC chapter, but to experience this with well over 600 attendees was astounding. Our NAPO National motto has always been “together we are better,” and to be amongst my peers and feel their sincere desire to see me grow professionally and personally is the greatest gift by far.
Do you ever wonder how Professional Organizers get their training?
There are quite a variety of ways – books, webinars offered by NAPO (The National Association of Professional Organizers) and other professional organizations, local NAPO chapter and virtual monthly meetings, full and half-day training sessions and the annual NAPO conference. The latter is the most rewarding way and the one I’d like to share with you.
In May, one third of our Greater Philadelphia Chapter (approximately 25 of 75 members) went to Atlanta to spend three and a half days learning and networking. The majority of the 500 conference attendees were from the US, but there were organizers from all over the world – Canada, Brazil, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, Japan and Australia.
Ever wonder what a NAPO conference is like?
The annual conference begins with an Expo, where businesses and individuals share their products and services to help us help our clients. Big names such as Target, the Container Store, 1-800-GotJunk and Smead were there, as well as solo-preneurs such as authors and coaches. We get a chance to have in-depth conversations, which is beneficial to both parties.
The conference committees bring in great keynote speakers and this year’s speaker, Scott Greenberg, was no exception. Scott discussed the importance of mindset – the way we manage thoughts and emotions. You know how we all have that inner critic? If we declutter our minds and stop hoarding negative thoughts and memories, we can focus better on giving to others and being more courageous and grateful. One of my favorite lines from Scott was, “Don’t spend your life proving yourself, spend your life improving yourself.”
You presume we have break-out sessions, right?
Of course. At each of the six sessions there are five options. The breadth of the education is impressive, as is the expertise of the speakers. I could write pages on the sessions but since “less is more,” I’ll merely list the tracks and specific topics:
In addition to these 30 options, there was an Ask-the-Organizer panel, which is one of my favorite offerings. Five organizers are interviewed by a very personable moderator about various aspects of being an organizer. I love this not only because I learn a lot, but I see common threads amongst all of us, yet we all have the freedom to manage our businesses as we see fit.
Do you think we have fun after the sessions?
Of course! We either meet in the hotel’s restaurant/bar or we check out the city’s offerings. This year, NAPO’s president, Ellen Faye (a member of our Philly chapter!), hosted a great party where we ate, danced, and sang some karaoke.
With all of these offerings do you wonder what was the highlight of the conference?
We were asked this in one of our sessions and the vast majority replied ‘networking’ or ‘connection.’ When organizers are together we say: “I’m with my tribe.” It’s true — and I’m proud and delighted to be part of a group of people who care so passionately about helping people make their lives work better. We view ourselves not as competitors but as collaborators and together we are truly better.