blog by NAPO Member, Mary Feliz
“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” —Robert Burns
While I don’t hold claim to mystical power, I have harnessed a unique view of the difference between what people think NAPO members do and what you help clients achieve.
A NAPO member since 2015, I’m a mystery writer, not an organizer. I joined for research purposes—to learn from the pros about who you are and what you do.
My series features Silicon Valley professional organizer Maggie McDonald. Why choose organizing? The mystery genre abounds with caterers and crafty sleuths. I wanted Maggie to be crime fiction heroine with a difference. Piqued by the public’s fascination with how-to-organize books, I popped online to learn what I could about the profession. I signed up for a local conference despite fears that pros would take one look and show me the door. I can never find anything in my purse and I frequently lose my keys.
Instead, I was welcomed into a world of smart entrepreneurs savvy about business, marketing, technology, and the human psyche. Attendees were adept at comforting, consoling, and coaching people at their most vulnerable. Maggie and I had come home.
When one presenter asked the conference goers to describe their most difficult customers, I would have cheered if I hadn’t been so busy taking notes. Some of their stories, altered and embellished, found their way into my books. Other attendees added to the narratives, identifying commonalities among clients and describing preferences in sub-specialties.
Eternally grateful for their insight, I wondered what I could offer in return. I realized that in talking to people about organizers and my books, I’ve found an unusual window into what the public thinks about your profession. It’s a window worth sharing.
The tagline for my books is Decluttering can be Deadly. People laugh when they hear it and relax, knowing I won’t criticize if their closets are a mess. They’re surprised when I tell them professional organizers aren’t judgmental. My listeners nod at that news, but remain skeptical.
I tell them you help people gain control over nagging projects. You allow your clients to accomplish chores faster, better, and less painfully, with lasting results. You ease them through difficult decisions and transitions and won’t force them to discard beloved items.
Then I add the kicker—the organizational tips in my books are tools I’ve tried. They work for people who aren’t organizers. That line reels them in. They begin thinking about hiring organizers themselves. I warn them your charges may seem pricey, but that’s because of the immense time savings you offer. You’ll steer them away from pop-culture concepts designed to sell them more stuff while guiding them toward tested solutions that work. With your help, they can accomplish in one weekend what might otherwise take months.
By then, my audience is nodding and smiling and scrolling through phones to find experts in their own regions.
So does this information pay off my debt to NAPO? Not even. But according to Robert Burns, it may still be considered a great gift, and I hope it’s seen that way by NAPO professionals.
Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Address to Die For, the first book in the series, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. All of her books have spent time on the Amazon best seller list.
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