Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

While in Toronto in early November at the Professional Organizers in Canada annual conference I attended a workshop delivered by Deanne Kelleher from Kaos Group called “Essential and Powerful Business Tools”.  The session made me realize how many systems all of us small business owners should have in place and perhaps don’t, myself included.  If only I could find the time! (more…)


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The last few weeks I have been volunteering for Junior Achievement Nova Scotia delivering the ‘Our Business World’ program to grade six students.  It never ceases to amaze me that kids are interested in business at such a young age.  And, wow, do they know a lot of stuff – go figure! (more…)

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Yup, that’s right, I did it, I finally moved into this decade – I’ve got myself a brand new Blackberry Style 9670 Smartphone – eeks!

Now, you would think that perhaps that was an easy decision and that my relationship with my new device is a love in.  So not the case, people.   Mostly because it’s been a very long three week journey to get the right smartphone and to get it all nicely synced with MS Outlook.  (more…)

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Here I sit in my office rather late on Sunday evening after a full day of financial paperwork for my business and my husband’s.  Catch up as a result of all the time I have spent at various Conference sessions in the last week or so.

I attended the Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) Conference in Montreal from November 5th to 7th and the Centre for Women in Business (CWB) Conference here in Halifax on November 12th.  I am definitely ‘all conferenced out’, but I have to say it was so worth it.

It’s my once a year chance to rejuvenate myself, learn from others, reconnect with organizing friends from across the country and establish stronger connections with women right here in my own backyard.  Several messages came across loud and clear, funnily enough, at both Conferences, go figure!

Use technology to your best advantage to make your business as efficient as possible but don’t get carried away with the latest online tool just because it’s new and looks cool. 

  • Doodle – for scheduling with multiple people and your assistant
  • Postling – to manage all your social media
  • ReQall –  for voice to text while you’re on the road
  • Dropbox – for online file syncing and sharing on multiple computers
  • Google’s PasswordSafe – for keeping your passwords

The second message that came through loud and clear is the need for business owners, especially us organizers, to relinquish control of our business by hiring some help, outsourcing or bringing in partners and associates who complement our own skills.  My first step will be to hire a part-time personal assistant early in 2011 and then to start thinking about another staff member to work with me on client projects.  It is simply not possible to build a profitable long-term business without getting some help, not matter how hard it will be!

The final message is around the profitability subject and that is to get your finances under total control.  Build a business and personal budget and stick to it, work with a banker who understands small business, get a good tax accountant and incorporate your business as soon as it makes financial sense (for me that was three years ago). 

Yup, you guessed it, my first step before anything else is to book an appointment with a lawyer and get moving on the incorporation!  Ugh, the thought of the work involved in transitioning makes me cringe but I must soldier on.  Wish me luck!

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Well, it seems that Conference season has kicked into high gear yet again this fall.   As usual I have had the good fortune of being booked by several associations to present workshops at their conferences and be a part of their professional development weeks which is always good fun.   I so enjoy being a small part of a much bigger educational opportunity and admire companies and associations who are true learning organizations.

The exciting news this week is that I get to go to my own professional development conference where I’ll be in the audience instead of in front of the room (for the most part).  Professional Organizers in Canada has been hosting their annual conference since 2000.  So exciting to be attending the 10th annual conference and this year we’re in Montreal – yeah! 

Not only will I be continuing my education as an organizer by attending sessions such as ‘Online Tools for Maximum Productivity’, ‘The Impact of Technology on Time Management’ (with time management guru Harold Taylor), and ‘Do I E-Shred This?’ but I will also hear two great keynote speakers.  In addition, I’ve got several one-on-one meetings scheduled with specific people I want to learn more from and I’m sitting on the ‘Ask a Senior Organizer’ panel.  There’s nothing like being grilled by other organizers about your business – yikes!

I know what you’re thinking, three days with a group of over 100 other organizers, you’ve got to be kidding me.  Believe it or not we’re not all Type A personalities (although I think the majority are) and we’re not all suffering from mild OCD (at least I don’t think we are?).  Many of our members have transformed their own lives from chaos to order and are now able to teach others how to do it.

I have to admit I’m glad to be picking up a few more CE credits for my certification, but I have to say that my favourite part of the conference is always seeing my organizing friends from across the country and meeting new friends.  I do love to socialize and being a ‘solopreneur’ can be tough at times. There’s nothing like sharing business ideas and challenges with a group of your peers who really get it.

Speaking of sharing with peers who really get it, upon my return from Montreal I’m heading to the Centre for Women in Business Conference the next week.   This time I’ll be learning about growing my business and sharing with women from all walks of life for one day. 

I think I’m going to be all ‘conferenced’ out by that time and ready to get back to work on my business and working with my clients equipped with all the tools to provide even better service than ever.

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This past week I spent an amazing morning with a group of women who meet regularly to share ideas on how we can be better at our work as trainers working with adults.

One of our group members did a presentation for us on Adult Learning.  So, here’s the fascinating part of some of the research she did for us.  When you search online for ‘adult learning styles’,  you come up with many models.  Here are a few:

  • Adventurous Learner/Social Learner/Practical Learner/Conceptual Learner
  • Visual/Auditory/Tactile
  • Accomodative Learning Style/Diverging Learning Style/Convergent Learning Style/Assimilating Learning Style
  • Abstract Perceivers/Concrete Perceivers/Reflective Processors/Active Processors
  • Step-by-Step/Social/Curious/Creative
  • Feeling/Doing/Watching/Thinking
  • Auditory/Tactile/Visual/Verbal

All I have to say is, now I’m more confused than ever!  No wonder teaching adults is perceived as such a challenge.  Although we all thought that these models apply to children just as much as adults, perhaps we just don’t have time in the classroom to recognize and teach to all of these styles?

Anyway, now that I’m no more clear than I was before, one thing I am more clear on is the importance of having time to reflect in a training session or workshop.   I am actually practicing reflection as I write this blog.  In an attempt to assimilate what I learned and how I can put it into practice I am writing and talking about what I learned.  However, not all of us are able to reflect about new information in this way.  Some of us need to ‘feel’ or ‘see’ what we have learned. 

During a training session we might benefit from closing our eyes and imagining a picture of what we are learning.  Some of us more creative types might like to act out what we have learned or sing about it. 

As a trainer, the important part of any session is to give participants time to reflect on the information.  I was told at one time that we should stop every 20 mins. and have a quick reflection before moving forward.  The challenge with this is that if you have a limited amount of time and are trying to cover enough subject matter to actually teach something constructive you don’t always have the luxury of doing so.

One thing I have started to do differently over the years is to include much less content in my workshops and give everyone in the session a little time to discuss and digest what we are covering as well as trying to always be aware that we all learn differently and need to be given the chance to do so in our own way.  So, the next time I see someone doodling in a workshop, I will know that they are using that as a technique to reflect on what they are learning.

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Last Friday we had a meeting of the Nova Scotia Chapter of  Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), our first one since June.  We had a number of guests at our meeting who were new to the business or thinking about getting into the business.

Anyway, we got into a long discussion about being qualified, which courses to take, how many designations, if any,  one should have and so on.  Not an easy question to answer so it turns out.  People will often ask me how I got into this business and sometimes I do get the direct question from a fellow business person, “So what makes you qualified to be a Professional Organizer?”  Of course, since I received my Certified Professional Organizer® designation I think I have a good answer for that.  However, in my mind it’s not as much about the exam and book knowledge as it is about the eight years experience.

Some members of our group were adamant that we should have as many designations as we can and be constantly taking courses and upgrading our skills.  Some of our potential members were on the opposite end of the scale where they are not interested in taking any courses, they just want to start organizing.  The latter scares me just a little, I must say.  Without some foundational priniciples for organizing and an understanding of the unique challenges our clients face I don’t think we can provide the best possible service.

But where is the cut off?  How many courses should a person take?  Where is the trade off between book learning and actual experience? I can only speak for myself.  I have to take 15 hours of continuing education every year to maintain my certification so I’m always on the hunt for the latest discovery around productivity or the newest time management technique to help my clients manage their time more effectively. 

In addition, I do love to read a good organizing book now and again.  My weakness, however, is looking a pretty organizing products – I admit it, I’m a junkie!  We all know how many gorgeous things you can find on the internet – I just love to check out all the pretty products even though half of them I can’t even get in Canada, darn it. 

There I go again, off topic.  Well kind of off topic.  Knowing about the newest and prettiest organizing products is part of the service I provide so in a sense is part of my continuing education and it’s fun too boot! 

As a business owner I think there is a happy compromise in there somewhere.  We all need to keep on top of what is going on in our industry but we also need to earn a living.  I suspect if we narrow our focus and get really good at a few things, educate ourselves on an ongoing basis, and learn by doing, we’ll provide the best service we can to our customers. 

I’m not sure that immersing ourselves in studying and attending conferences and putting more letters behind our name is always the best way.  Unless, as one of my clients always reminds me, you’re building bridges and then I would be inclined to advise all those engineers out there to take lots of bridge-building courses


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