I’m just back from NAPO’s 2017 Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, and my head is teeming with information and ideas that I’m eager to digest and integrate into my business operations and the work I do with my clients!
But rather than share a laundry list of the tips, tools, products and strategies that I picked up at conference – which would be a long list – I’m going to share some reflections that attempt to sum up my overall conference experience. I’m choosing this angle for this article because I want to emphasize the value of “the conference experience” itself.
For me, the highlight of conference is connecting with fellow organizers. Gathering together in community with peers from around the globe is unbelievably affirming ~ making me feel deep and renewed pride in my profession and reminding me of the high value of my services. Reconnecting with old pals and meeting new friends at conference gets me incredibly jazzed and refuels my tank with ideas and energy for the year ahead.
Here I am (center, front) in Pittsburgh with members of our fabulous NAPO Michigan chapter, from left: Linda Fuzi, Susan Hunsberger, Jo Golda, Kari Grady, Leigh MacCready, Sue Elder, Susie Marsh
I’m not a natural networker, but somehow, at conference, the connections seem to arise organically ~ in the elevators, standing in line for coffee, sitting in a session ~ and the conversations that result invariably yield fun and rewarding outcomes. This year at conference I had the opportunity to spend time with four women who I’ve spent the past 2.5 years with on the phone as students in an organizer-coach training program. It was incredibly special to finally “meet” these friends in person and to deepen our personal and professional bonds. Here we are one morning at conference, out for a walk in Pittsburgh.
Here I am (second from right) out for a walk with organizer friends in Pittsburgh
The second most valuable part of conference for me is the opportunity it not just provides – but begs! – for stepping back to consider the big picture. Too regularly in my day-to-day life, I fall into comfortable routines and patterns, failing to make the space and time for looking at my larger goals and dreams. Conference is a fabulous antidote for this. Conference exposes you to speakers who share stories and ask questions that tug at heartstrings and get the stuck wheels of your brain turning again! For me the big takeaway this year – the thing that I am most excited to spend time exploring and working on (both personally, and with my clients) – is writing a personal/professional vision. I’m intrigued and excited by the potential power of the visioning process.
The third most valuable part of conference for me is learning about specific challenges our clients face and how we can better support them through these challenges. Returning home with new awareness, deeper understanding, and actionable strategies that I can immediately put into practice with my clients is a hugely rewarding part of the conference experience. This year, for example, I gleaned information that will help me in my work with clients who have ADHD, clients who procrastinate, clients who tell themselves little lies related to their disorganization, grieving clients, families of deceased clients, and clients seeking to enhance their productivity via technology.
For any organizers reading this who haven’t been to conference, I encourage you to consider attending next year. It can be expensive, yes, and it can be scary to venture into the unknown, but in my experience, it’s an unparalleled growth opportunity not to be missed.
This was written by Nia Spongberg, CPO®, Chapter Member. Her business is Spruced Up Spaces LLC.