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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Rock Stars, Heartthrobs, Brainiacs and Organizing Innovators: NAPO 2011 In a Nutshell

Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but Paper Doll seems to have left her voice in San Diego. It's a good thing this blog gives me a chance to shout from the rooftops via (digital) text.

I've just returned from a glorious, jet-lagged week in they-always-promise-sun-but-it-always-rains-on-me San Diego at the 23rd Annual Conference and Organizing Exposition of the National Association of Professional Organizers. (Trivia note: NAPO is actually 26 years old. Imagine existing for three whole years without a conference! It's like not getting birthday cake until you're old enough to use a fork!)

In the coming posts, I'm looking forward to sharing highlights from the expo -- the paper-related organizing products that dazzled and delighted. This year, I hope you won't mind that I indulge a little and share not just organizing tools for the paper realm, but I'm going to broaden the scope so readers can see all the wonderful products for organizing other areas of life, as well. The way I see it, organizing saves time, and time is money, and money is made of paper, so by the transitive properties Mrs. Schultz taught me about in tenth grade geometry...everything is related to paper organizing in some way, shape or form.

Today, however, I'd like to share just a few special attributes of the conference other than the products and services displayed in the expo.


Although we're the National Association of Professional Organizers, we are closely allied with our international colleagues. We had attendees from the United Kingdom, Japan, South America, Germany, South Africa, and The Philippines, and representative members of the Professional Organizers in Canada, the Australasian Association of Professional Organizers, and from an association whose name is especially cool to read, in the Netherlands:


While we love to socialize, eat, and tour the expo, the major element of the annual conference is always education. With six session blocks, each with five concurrent educational offerings, plus keynote speakers, Ask The Organizer panels (not one, but two, to cover everyone from novices to veterans, tag-team led by Monica Ricci and Lisa Montanaro) and general sessions, we learn how to serve our clients, run our businesses and save our (individual and collective) sanity. Some of us even arrive a day early to take half- and full-day courses on subjects ranging from "Residential Needs Assessments" and "The Missing Link: Getting from "To Do" to "Done!"" to "Advanced Social Media Marketing".

This year's educational offerings included:
  • 20 Best Practices for Organizing the Creative Mind
  • Closet Design for Organizers
  • The Emotional Facet of the Client Relationship
  • Navigating the Slippery Slope of Ethical Dilemmas
  • Photo Organizing
  • Organizing Beyond Your Own Personality Style
  • Managing Client Expectations
  • Organizing Students and Loving It
  • Welcome to the Wide, Wide World of Aging Services
  • Creating Organizing Sustainability and Lasting Change With Our Clients
  • Still Someone: Working With People Who Have Memory Loss
And that's not quite a third of the concurrent session offerings, which also included the two-parter I told you about last week, with three classic time management systems and three innovations, and a session called "Getting Your Clients' Financial and Legal Clutter Together -- Today!", for which I was a session host. (I can't imagine why they thought I might be interested in that. A whole session on legal and financial paper clutter? I was like a kid in a candy-store. Or maybe a candy wrapper store?)

One of the rock stars of the professional organizing industry, Julie Morgenstern, gave our opening keynote address on the history and future of professional organizing, while Colette Carlson spoke another day about the importance of sincerity in communicating with prospects and clients. Lee Silber made us laugh with an amazing presentation just for the Golden Circle (veteran) organizers...and then cry, with the documentary he created, Undercover Organizer, for our closing keynote. 


In the age of Skype and satellite communication, it may surprise some of you that professional organizers -- dedicated productivity specialists -- board planes, risk lost luggage and suffer the indignities and inconvenience of travel -- just to come to the NAPO conference every year. Why do we do it? The people! Camaraderie at conference draws us back like moths to a flame (or professional organizers to an unlabeled pile of papers).

Friends and colleagues got together to compare notes about business, to dine, to explore San Diego, to strategize, and to have (or pretend to have) committee meetings -- that's three-fourths of NAPO's Social Media Task Force-turned-Committee, down below:

(And yes, I realize that alongside my partners in crime acting out LinkedIn and Twitter, I've failed to take into account that cameras reverse images and am displaying the social media juggernaut Bookface!)

When we see fellow organizers (even those we chat with each day on Twitter or Facebook or even on the phone -- and yes, believe it or not, phones can still be used for voice conversations), we run across grand ballrooms as if we were small children and not ... um, slightly older than children, who were bemoaning our sore feet and aching shoulders mere moments before. We pick up conversations where we left them a year (or a few years) ago, in hallways, at the luncheons, over powder room stalls. We make each other think and question and we nod over sage advice. And former NAPO president (2001-2003) Stephanie Denton made me laugh so hard with

a whispered aside during one of the keynotes that I not only almost fell off my chair, but I dreamed about it two days later...and woke up laughing! (I'll never think of self-promotion, Charlie Sheen, Taylor Swift or the Grammy Awards in the same way again!)

In one session, our speaker invited attendees up to the microphone to praise and show appreciation to individual colleagues, and the warmth, sincerity and genuine esteem could have melted the heart of the grinchiest Grinch. (Note to Margaret Lukens: recalling your kind words makes me blubber anew.)

Speaking of tears, many of us cried tears of joy, having our own Krista Colvin back in our midst after a year where she was Putting On Her Big Girl Panties and Kicking Breast Cancer in the Ass. Krista's the one in the photo who actually exceeds 5'3" -- the others are yours truly, the blogger extraordinaire and product maven Jeri Dansky and organizing and social networking dynamo Deb Lee.

Got a few minutes more? Take a peek at the gorgeous (seriously, they photographically removed all evidence that Paper Doll is not still 29 years old) photos the HD Photobooth Team took during our first full day at conference. See how delighted we all are to be together again!


It's a common misconception that all NAPO members are women, but we have some powerhouse guys in the industry, including former NAPO presidents Tom Nevermann and Barry Izsak and media fave Peter Walsh. Pictured below, you see witty and debonair

John Trosko and Chris McKenry, West Coast stars of the NAPO-LA chapter (the driving force behind the LA Organizing Awards) and our fearless Conference Committee chair,

Scott Roewer, who is beloved not only for his leadership but for his remarkable philanthropic passion.


From big name companies like Rubbermaid to up-and-comers like Pliio (and all the neato companies in between, about whom you'll be hearing in the next few posts), NAPO's expo features the products and services that make organizing easier and more delightful.

Speaking of delightful, I'm flanked by the fabulous duo of bride-to-Be Lauren Spahr and Erin Gentry.

NeatFreak Group's Mimi Dhar returned to show off the Closet Max System.

(Oh, are you going to LOVE hearing about how Pliio's Clare Kumar has invented a way to file clothes!)

Smead's Jim Riesterer posed with a cross between the typical file folder and the Angry Birds app!


So yes, we've got global flair and we've got BFFs, we've got brains and we've got boys. We also have rock stars of our industry walking among us. We've got brilliant bloggers, technologists and yes, even TV stars, sometimes all on one panel:

While you may be pardoned for assuming this is the cast of the new Charlie's Angels TV series, it's actually the panel for the session "Bridge the Digital Divide: How to Organize & Be Productive in the Information Age", with session host Helene Segura, SOHO Solutionist Brandie Kajino, CPO-CD and star of TV's "Hoarders" Geralin Thomas, digital productivity specialist Lauren Halagarda and triple-threat organizer-blogger-speaker Josh Zerkel. (Lookie, yet another princely fellow!)


Combining our expertise with our expo partners' thingiebobbers and innovations (and you readers and clients, of course), organizing is beautiful...even if travel is sometimes not. Below, we see some members of the NAPO-Georgia chapter (pictured here with Edgewater Grill server and diet Coke savior, Paul) mere moments after

after struggling with a taxi driver who had a few issues related to hygiene and personality, such that the girls were tempted to start singing, "I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair..."

Tune in next time for the start of our in-depth report on the fascinating products and services presented at the 2011 NAPO conference and expo.

posted on: 4/12/2011 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by Andi Willis on 4/12/2011 11:32:13 AM:

Yay! I made it into a Paper Doll post at least in photographic form! I feel like a rock star!! Great week in San Diego and I can't wait for Baltimore!

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/12/2011 11:45:56 AM:

Hee, Andi, we have a character limit (which includes each letter of HTML code), and I bump up against it every week. If I'd named our chapter members (even without linking to them), I'd have had to take out at least a paragraph, maybe more, of text. Next time you see yourself in Paper Doll, the world will know your name. :-)

by Janice Simon on 4/12/2011 2:14:23 PM:

This post cracked me up! Loved seeing the pics of my peeps from NAPO.

by Geralin Thomas on 4/12/2011 11:43:11 PM:

Clever! That's what you are. Your posts are like no others; always witty, clever and informative. You writing is sparkle-icious!

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/12/2011 11:48:43 PM:

Janice, we missed you at conference, but you were sooo there in spirit. We were talking about you. :-)

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/12/2011 11:49:55 PM:

Geralin, you always manage to say the nicest things, in the hippest ways. May I endeavor to always satisfy you in my level of sparkle-iciousness.

by Kim Oser on 4/13/2011 12:24:31 AM:

Julie, thanks for the great post. You tied together all of the tweets I read during conference. And THANK YOU for explaining the pic of you, Brandie & Deb. I thought it had been a case of too much learning and fun and not enough sleep. Once I understood Bookface, it makes perfect sense. I look forward to your upcoming posts!

by Margaret Lukens on 4/13/2011 1:02:10 AM:

Julie, you've let me relive some of the best parts of this year's conference in words and pictures - thanks! (But I've gotta know what Stephanie Denton said that cracked you up so completely!)

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/13/2011 1:13:47 AM:

Kim, thanks for saying that. I was hoping to give a sense of it to the people who couldn't attend, whether organizers or not. And Margaret, thanks for your kind words. As for what Stephanie said...I'll never tell! ;-)

by Melanie Dennis on 4/13/2011 9:13:24 AM:

Great post! As always I love reading your stuff. You are intelligent, funny, and I loved meeting you all.

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/13/2011 2:59:03 PM:

Awww, Melanie, thank you for such kind words! I'm all warm and fuzzy now. It was great getting to hang out with you three-dimensionally!

by Joshua Zerkel on 4/13/2011 10:02:30 PM:

Julie, I laughed so hard while reading this! NOBODY does it like you do. Don't we all just look so cute in these photos?

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/13/2011 11:45:34 PM:

Josh, you made my day. Though I'm not sure anyone would want to do it like I do. :-) And yes, I like the B&W photos so much, I'd like the hdphotobooth.com people to move in with me!

by Janet Barclay on 12/7/2011 4:02:51 PM:

Great post! The next best thing to being there...

by Angela Esnouf on 12/13/2011 3:32:49 PM:

Julie, you are such a great writer, I just love the way you use words. Thanks so much for mentioning AAPO too. I hope one day you'll be able to attend a conference down under. (Psst, Melbourne in July 2012)

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 12/13/2011 10:18:28 PM:

Angela, you make me blush. I would love, love, love to attend AAPO in Melbourne in July. I'll start buying the lottery tickets! :-)

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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