Author: Ellen TozziGeneral NAPO National Conference


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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:

  • Special interest groups
    Moving, technology in business and publishing
  • Business growth, marketing and leadership
    Coaching, business models, exit strategies, strategic planning and branding
  • Organizing and productivity
    Closets, time management, photo organizing, balance, digital organizing, estate planning and mindfulness
  • Specific needs clients
    Memory loss and ADHD
  • Trends, tech and social media
    Blogging, email marketing, online training and video marketing

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.

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