APDO’s President, Katherine Blackler (SortMySpace Ltd), and Head of Conference Management, Sammy Ryan (Strictly Organised), have recently landed back on UK soil after attending the annual conference of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).
Now in its 32nd year, the event drew over 514 attendees from 44 states of America and international delegates from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The conference kicked off on Thursday afternoon with best-selling author Michelle Prince as the first keynote speaker. In her 20s, Michelle had jump-started her career working for Zig Ziglar, the popular author and motivational speaker. In her address, she encouraged us first to identify our story and then to brand ourselves consistently and authentically in our work and in our personal lives. This inspiring talk was followed by drinks and nibbles on the terrace where we were able to get to know our transatlantic counterparts.
Themed breakout sessions
The sessions started at 8.30am each day and ran through until late in the afternoon. There were six specific breakout sessions scheduled throughout the event which counted as Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for those working towards or maintaining, their Certified Professional Organizer (CPO) or Certified Professional Organizer – Chronic Disorganisation (CPO-CD) status.
For each breakout session, delegates needed to make a choice between five key themes: Business Productivity, Technology, Residential, Business Growth and Challenging Needs. Choosing between these five offerings every session was incredibly hard as they all sounded valuable and interesting. To maximise the learning opportunities, Sammy and Katherine divided the sessions between them and reported back the salient points!
Each day was supplemented with information sessions such as hearing the latest research into public perceptions of our industry, discussing possible future trends, meeting representatives from International Federation of Professional Organizing Associations (IFPOA) to compare cultural difference and similarities, or getting to know the conference partners exhibiting onsite.
Special Interest Groups
The conference also included scheduled opportunities for attendees to gather together for their Special Interest Groups (SIGs). These groups represent those NAPO members more experienced in specific areas ranging from services such as moving and relocation, holistic organising, environmentally-conscious organising and include hoarding, technology or business productivity specialists. The SIGSs also cover supplementary revenue streams for members who are published authors or professional speakers for the industry.
The Saturday afternoon gifted us with a second top-drawer keynote speaker, Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Her new book Outer Calm, Inner Peace continued the theme of the importance of decluttering and designing your environment to improve your sense of wellbeing. Gretchen also expanded on four behavioural tendencies (upholder, obliger, rebel and questioner) which can help explain our own and our clients’ responses to the world. Sammy, having identified herself as a ‘questioner’ spent the rest of the weekend quizzing Katherine on anything and everything, while Katherine, an ‘obliger’ in Gretchen’s definitions, tried desperately to keep Sammy content with her responses!
The social highlight was the President’s Reception on Saturday evening at which we were actively encouraged to embrace the Texas location. After the intensity of so much stimulating food for thought during the days, everyone was delighted to don western attire and let their hair down. Some of us tried line dancing, with mixed success, but we’re pleased to report no previous (or future) APDO conference speakers were trampled in these attempts!
Bringing it all home
Leaving NAPO, Katherine said “We felt we’d been through the spin cycle of an industrial washing machine! It’s taken a good week or so to percolate all the information and ideas we absorbed over the five days, whether for our own businesses and clients, for our personal development or the great ideas and connections we made on behalf of APDO”.
“Next steps for both of us are to make time to review our notes and slides, implement the learnings, hold each other accountable for the goals we’ve set. Oh, and to make the APDO 2020 conference even BIGGER than Texas”, a bold statement from Sammy Ryan as APDO’s Head of Conference!
Watch this space!
You can find out more about Katherine and Sammy’s roles on the APDO Board, and the other Board members, here.