If you’re in the organizing industry you probably already know my guest. But, for those of you who don’t know her, she’s an author, coach, artist, improv actress AND an organizing supah-star. Her name is Linda Samuels
Before getting to the interview, let’s take a minute to reflect back on the history of the organizing industry, shall we? Founded in the 1990s by five women from Los Angeles, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) was created to distinguish professional organizers from housekeepers. Those five founders created a catalyst for the continuing evolution of the professional organizing industry. As of last year there were over 4,000 members of NAPO. The professional organizing business continues to evolve and many organizers are putting their own modern twist on organizing. Professional organizers often specialize in a niche of organizing, productivity, and decluttering. Many experts and specialists continue to shape professional organizing through different styles and models of business.
I know by now you’re thinking “Get to the point, Geralin!” But, before I do, I want to connect the dots and explain that this series of blog posts highlights just a few of the alternative business models within the professional organizing industry. By interviewing some of the best-known organizing pros, who just happen to be doing things a bit differently, I hope to show you there are many ways to have an organizing business. People featured in this series are challenging the traditional model of professional organizing and creating huge fan bases. Through social media, their innovative business techniques have made them pioneers of a new kind of professional organizing.
So, now tis time to introduce you to my guest this week, Linda Samuels Linda has always been, and continues to be, an absolutely rock-solid wonder woman in this industry. She’s someone who radiates positive, charismatic energy. She’s an early adapter and very active on social media. If you’re new to the industry and see her at a conference – approach her! She’s warm, direct and very welcoming. On to the questions . . .
GT: Linda, share some juicy information about your business and the real YOU!
LS: I’ve been organizing for over 20 years and started Oh, So Organized! when our daughters were babies. That first year was exciting and challenging as I was raising a family, also working in the computer graphics industry, and having Cajun dance parties at our house on the weekends with 60-80 guests. I grew up in a house where there was always lots of music, visitors, and activity. My husband and I have continued that tradition in our home.
GT: Please describe your office or where you typically return phone calls and work on your business.
LS: In my office, both practical and fun things that I love surround me. There are glittery toys and inspirations. Soon my space will be transformed. My husband has designed a new office area complete with a cobalt blue sparkly desktop and beautiful lavender glass knobs for the cabinets.
GT: What about your business makes it different than other POs?
LS: There are several ways that my business generates income. These include “hands-on” organizing, coaching, blogging, speaking, writing, book sales, and mentoring other organizers for the Institute of Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Specialties include working with the chronically disorganized population. Investing in professional development continues to be a top priority. I am a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Program Mentor, and Master Trainer through ICD, and a graduate of the Organizer Coach Foundation Training Program.
GT: Explain how and why your business has shifted in this direction.
LS: From the start of my business, I organized, wrote, and spoke. Professional development has always been a priority. After I published my book, The Other Side of Organized, in 2009, I began engaging in social media to create a larger audience. Blogging has been the cornerstone for building the audience. In addition, I’ve been interested in the relationship between coaching and organizing for years. Last year, I completed the coach foundation training from Coach Approach for Organizers so that I could integrate coaching skills with my organizing work.
GT: Describe your social media schedule and blogging calendar plan; how do you manage it all? Is it all preplanned and scheduled well in advance or spontaneous? Do you use a ghost-writer, a virtual assistant, a high school intern?
LS: I am an active social media engager. I have no assistants at this time. While I hired a book coach and publicist before and after my book was published to help with social media planning, management, and training, they are no longer involved. My blogging calendar is planned out one year in advance. The blogs are posted each week and range from interviews with industry experts such as the spectacular Geralin Thomas (yes you!), collaborative posts featuring multiple experts, and other pieces written exclusively by me. Hootsuite enables me to manage and schedule several of the social media channels. I check in daily during non-client time to engage, comment, update, and share on the various platforms.
GT: Talk about other conferences you attend and industry leaders you look to for advice. In other words, who is in your tribe?
LS: Each year I attend two conferences- NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) and ICD (Institute for Challenging Disorganization.) Both conferences have speakers that include leaders in the organizing industry and related fields. Two of the thought leaders I admire and consistently learn from are Denslow Brown and Judith Kolberg. They are brilliant, insightful, generous, and funny.
GT: Which blogs/journals/ do you read and when do you read them?
LS: Magazines and books I usually read in bed at night. No electronics, just black ink on actual paper pages with yellow highlighter in hand. Blogs I read sporadically in the morning and early evening, getting snippets of information and ideas. There are no specific ones I visit regularly. Instead, I am either invited to read something, or a headline (on Twitter or Facebook) or image (on Pinterest) will capture my attention and then I visit. I do have a few favorite blogs that never disappoint. They include Lori Deschene’s Tiny Buddha, Yota Schneider’s The Art of Pausing, and Janine Adams’ Peace of Mind Organizing.
GT: Name 3 people or businesses you hope will read this interview and contact you with a, “dream proposal” after reading this.
GT: What do you see yourself doing in five years?
LS: Five years from now, I will have completed my term as President for ICD. That experience will change my life and business, but it’s impossible to know exactly how. There will be both personal and professional growth. This leadership opportunity will allow me to exchange ideas with other leaders, work with talented colleagues, and travel. Five years from now might be the perfect time to get out the hammock, enjoy some iced tea, a good book, and a quick nap. It will be a short break to rejuvenate and regroup as I prepare for what I decide to do next.
GT: Could you describe at least 3 ways you’ve grown your business?
LS: I’ve grown my business by volunteering for industry associations NAPO and ICD, hiring a book coach, publicist, and web designer, engaging in social media, blogging, speaking, networking, and advertising.
GT: Do you consider yourself successful and why or why not?
LS: Yes. I’m grateful for my community of loving family and friends, having work that I’m passionate about, living in a beautiful part of the Hudson Valley, raising two creative, independent daughters with my husband and best friend, and knowing that my learning continues. Life is full with what I value most.
GT: Rate (1 strongest, 3 weakest) your strongest to weakest skills: marketing, administrative tasks, financial tasks?
- Resisting Chocolate
GT: How do you recharge your creative batteries; what inspires you?
LS: To recharge I like to be near water, write in my journal, travel, visit museums, have spa services, do or learn something new, listen to live music, go dancing, talk with family or friends, or have a “blob day” where I don’t do anything.
GT: Name one business guru/marketing or branding genius you’d like to vacation with and where you’d like to go.
LS: Seth Godin…anywhere he wants to go.
GT: Describe your dream power lunch.
LS: Power lunch one includes my two grandfathers and dad (all deceased), my brother, husband, and myself. We are at Lou Siegel’s on 38th street in Manhattan (no longer exists,) and I’m ordering a cup of matzoh ball soup and a pastrami sandwich on rye. We’re loud. We’re bold. I’m soaking in the wisdom. And I’m laughing and smiling so much that my ears hurt.
Power lunch two is with my two grandmothers (both deceased), my mom, her two sisters and my daughters. We’re having afternoon tea in Palm Court at The Plaza in Manhattan and we’re all having “The New Yorker” high tea with finger sandwiches, scones, mini pastries, and tea. We are talking, listening, laughing, and most definitely crying. My heart is full as I feel the strength and love from these amazing, wonderful women.
GT: Share a rookie mistake you made. In other words, if you were mentoring someone you’d advise her/him not to do what you did.
LS: Perhaps the biggest rookie mistake I made was that I didn’t have clear enough boundaries. I found myself in uncomfortable situations too many times. It took me a while to establish guidelines so that there would be no unwelcome surprises for my clients or myself. I used the difficult situations as learning experiences, but it would have been better if I had anticipated at least some of these issues ahead of time. One of the most valuable classes, which I’ve taken multiple times, to help me think about these issues was “Boundaries and Ethics”, which was co-created by my colleagues Sheila Delson and Terry Prince for the Institute of Challenging Disorganization (ICD). There is also a publication called The ICD Guide to Challenging Disorganization. It has a wealth of information including material about boundaries and ethics.
GT: What is the ‘next step’ regarding growing your business and your brand?
LS: The next step for business and brand growth is to decide how to continue providing value while creating additional streams of income.
GT: Name 3 business tools that are essential to your success?
LS: iProducts: phone, computer, and pad.
GT: Tell us what your three best friends would say your superpowers are.
LS: Non-traditional superpowers: Laughter. Positivity. Compassion.
GT: Describe this day: You’re working in your home office, on a snowy/rainy/ day and there’s not a chance that anyone will see you . . . What are you wearing?
LS: If I’m working in my home office on a snowy weekend day, and there’s not a chance that anyone (aside from my family) will see me, this is how you might find me. I have on no make-up or jewelry, my hair is doing funny things because I’ve been pulling on it as I write, and I’m in my favorite loose tank top, PJ bottoms and nothing else. My feet are bare and perched on my purple velvet footstool. I sip a hot cup of decaf coffee with milk from one of my favorite ceramic mugs. As the day progresses, I switch to drinking water, decaf Earl Grey or Relaxed Mind tea. I might snack on Brie or Cheddar cheese, some pretzels, or berries. I prefer quiet while I’m writing, planning, or thinking. Music or other sounds make it difficult for me to concentrate. When I’m cooking, organizing or driving, I love listening to music. Bring on the R&B!
Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® is a compassionate, enthusiastic professional organizer and coach, founder of Oh, So Organized! (1993), author of The Other Side of Organized, and blogger on organizing and life balance. In July 2013, Linda will join the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) board as President-Elect. She has been featured in The New York Times, Woman’s Day, Bottom Line Personal, Westchester Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and Enterpreneur.com. Connect with Linda on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, or website. Sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter with bonus tips at ohsoorganized.com.