NAPO2017: My First Organizing Conference
Hi everyone! This post will differ from my other posts in that I won't cover actual organizing. I just returned from my first NAPO conference in Pittsburgh. For those of you wondering what that is, it is the National Association of Professional Organizers (yes, its a thing!). Every year they hold a conference for all of its members, that include continuing education sessions, an expo, and lots of networking with other organizers from around the country and world. You've heard the expression - "I've found my people" - right? That's what NAPO is for me, as well as everyone else involved as well.
Here are 5 things that I am taking away from the conference:
1. We all have the same backstory.
This is honestly my favorite thing that I learned. Everyone has a similar backstory, no matter what industry they came from. We have always had a passion for organizing and helping others, and something in our lives just wasn't right. Most people wouldn't take unhappiness and trade it for risk - the risk of starting their own business in a not well known industry. This is the common thread in everyone I met.
2. Organizing is not about organizing.
Before you call me crazy - bare with me. Being organized or not is often the visual representation of deeper things within the person. Getting organized is not always about a lack of time or the inability to be organized - it is often about the why.
3. NAPO is a community.
NAPO is one of the most welcoming environments I have ever been a part of. You would think walking into a room of small business owners would be competitive - you would be wrong. Everyone is welcoming and supportive and excited for anyone just starting out. They give advice and tips and say how exciting the beginning is and all of the things you have to look forward to.
4. NAPO is full of inspirational leaders.
How can a room of over 550 small business owners not be inspiring. These women (I would say about 99.5% women) have started, opened and successfully ran businesses anywhere from 1 year to 30 years. They are entrepreneurs, authors, leaders and are an inspiration for anyone wanting to be their own boss, regardless of industry.
5. Anything can become your career.
If you love it, make a career of it. If it doesn't exist - make it exist. One of the founders of NAPO spoke at the conference, Stephanie Culp. She said that she made up the phrase "professional organizer," it wasn't a career in the 1980's but thats what she was doing and that's what best described it. Over 30 years later, thousands of people around the country and world are making a career of it.
Follow your passion. Be inspired. Organize. Lead. Anything is possible.