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Professional Organizer Linda Samuels, Oh So Organized

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 . . .

Image Professional Organizing Business Models

 

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.

 

Professional Organizing Business Models.

 

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.

 

Image Professional Organizing Business Models.

 

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.

LS: The Container Store. Real Simple. See Jane Work.

 

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?

LS:

  1. Communication
  2. Organization
  3. 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!

 

Professional Organizer  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.

 

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    Comments

    1. Great interview. You have given me some ideas for future endeavors! And I’m totally going to check out See Jane Work. Thanks both for sharing and offering leadership to this ever-growing industry!

      • So glad you enjoyed the interview, Seana and that you stopped by Geralin’s blog to visit. Let me know what goodies you find at See Jane Work. They always find new and wonderful products. Wonderful to have you as part of the “ever-growing industry.”

    2. I really enjoyed reading this! I love the questions and answers, both are honest and well thought out. You two are having amazing fun (agreed with Yoda) and it’s inspirational to read this as a new organizer. With amazing women like yourselves leading the path, sharing your experiences and making them so easily available on the web – professional organizers everywhere can be armed with these “golden nuggets”. I did take the boundaries and ethics ICD class, and found it very helpful with my earlier struggles with boundaries. The ICD is an amazing resource. Linda, I love the thought of you rocking out to R&B! I never knew you did improv acting! Besides being fun, you are an incredible role model and leader thank you for sharing.

      • Wonderful to “hear” your voice, Rachel. It’s hard NOT to have fun around Geralin. She’s a fun generator. I’m thrilled to know that you not only took the ICD Boundaries & Ethics class, but that what you learned helped you navigate challenges you were having with clients. That is the power of the ICD classes. The knowledge is highly relevant and applicable for our work. Agreeing 100% with you that “ICD is an amazing resource.”

        Yes. You caught me. I love R&B. It’s great “car” and dancing music. And with full disclosure, I did comedy improv, not acting. I don’t do it regularly, but took a series of classes that were so much fun and incredibly liberating. If you want to know more about that experience, I wrote about it in this post: http://theothersideoforganized.com/blog/2013/3/26/comedy-knobs-next.html#entry33148962

    3. I love the companies she says she would like to work with! I’m definitely going to check out See Jane Work because the other 2 she mentioned are probably my favorites mag and store of all times. I’m organized, but wish I were so much more! Clutter drives me crazy, but I’m not very efficient most of the time! So I love hearing other people’s tips. Great interview, thank you!!!
      xo ~kim & chloe

      • Oh, Kim. If you haven’t yet “met” See Jane Work, you’re in for a real treat. They find some of the most beautifully designed organizing products. Very colorful and sleek. I’ve been following them (and buying their products) for years.

        Organizing is process. Be patient with yourself. Wonderful to hear that you enjoy reading about organizing and clutter management ideas. I hope you’ll stop by my blog, theothersideoforganized.com. I have an entire section devoted to ideas about clutter (including tips for clutter management.)

    4. You two are having way too much fun:-) Unacceptable!
      I love your questions Geralin! What I admire about Linda is how authentic she is. She is the “little energizer” but she can be so light on her feet. She keeps going and smiling and making things happen! The woman has got style and depth!
      How I’d love to be a fly on the wall during the Linda’s dream power lunches. Can I? Pleeeeaaaase!

      • You know what Dr. Suess says, “Fun is good.” So glad that you stopped by to join the fun, Yota. Thank you for your lovely words. Geralin IS a master question asker. I love that about her…well it’s ONE of the things I love about her. There are so many things to choose from.

        And you’re welcome to not just be a fly on the wall at the “dream power lunches,” but you can sit with us too. I can dream, can’t I?

    5. I loved reading this! Geralin, your questions continue to delight me. Linda, I loved the peek into your mind and am so flattered that you listed my blog among your favorites.

      I really, really, really want to see a picture of your new office when it’s finished. A cobalt blue sparkly desktop, oh my goodness!

      Love this series, Geralin!

    6. Love all the amazing ways you are volunteering and giving back! It’s all about serving others and that you do so with a generous spirit. Loved this interview!

      • Thank you so much, Ellen. Through volunteering, I’ve gotten to know such amazing people in the organizing world, like you, Geralin and so many more. I know you also volunteer and give so much to others and the organizing profession. We are all the better for your contributions.

      • Thanks Nacho.

        I think in my next life I’ll be a journalist because I love asking questions and each time I get someone’s responses, it just makes me giddy.

        PS: If there is an organizer/productivity expert you’d like me to interview, please let me know. And, make sure you stay tuned on Wednesdays for fresh blog posts with some BIG names in the industry with very amusing answers. I’m happy to say that my blog posts (the Wednesday editions) are finished through 2013. Now, to work on 2014!

        • I’d love to read about Hellen Buttigieg Canadian PO, host from Neat. Besides Hoarders and Clean House her show was one of my first encounters to PO or Dorothy Breininger and Linda Koopersmith 🙂

          • Dear Nacho,
            My dear Hoarders show colleague, Geralin, just shared your name and your post on her blog with me. Thanks for being in communication with all of us. I’m so glad you were able to reach out and connect. Doing things in partnership of one another really does make things work better in the world!
            All the best,
            Dorothy Breininger

      • Nacho- Geralin is a master interviewer. I love this series and also the one she does on POs Around the World.

        Geralin- Looks like you won’t have to wait for your “next life” because you’re doing what you love now (with the interview series.) Am guessing you also use these skills in your organizing work too. Fabulous!

        • I know that Linda, I was blessed and honored because she kindly interviewed me several weeks ago as a Mexican Organization Blogger. 🙂 What can I say (still walking on clouds).

          • I like that image, Nacho of you “walking on clouds.” I missed your interview with Geralin. Thank you for pointing it out. I will go and read it. I love knowing about organizing work varies in different parts of the US and around the world. What an exciting industry to be in..people helping people in so many ways.

    7. wow! this was wonderful. I feel like I got to peak inside linda’s head, heart and home. truly inspirational. and i am writing this while sitting in my office with no one around. Thank goodness no one can see what I am wearing! love you both!

      • Leslie,

        If you are wearing that GORGEOUS smile of yours that’s all that matters! BTW, If the organizing industry has a reality show sorta like America’s Next Top Model (but with POs) I’m sending in your name. Consider yourself warned!

      • Leslie- Now I’m curious…what ARE you wearing? Great to “see” you here. Grateful for your kind words. And I agree with Geralin…you have my vote too (you and your gorgeous smile!)

      • Shelly,

        She could have her own booth at conference and the signage [on her booth] would read: “Everyone Loves Linda” Linda is always a good sport as well as a team player.

      • Shelly- Thank you for taking the time to say “hi.” Always great to see you in the various social media venues.

        Geralin- Love your sense of humor and appreciate your invite to join you and your awesome community of MetroZingers (is that a word?) You ask the best (and hardest) questions. Great to be here with you.