A few months ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) for it’s podcast series. My topic was Let Go to Grow: Focusing on Your Strengths. Below is a description of the podcast interview, as well as a play button for you to listen in. Hope it helps you in your business!

NAPO Podcast: Let Go to Grow – Focusing on Your Strengths

If the legal aspect of starting or growing your business has you intimidated, lost or overwhelmed, we have got the expert for you. From legal documents to the ins and outs of everyday business, today’s expert has us covered. With a background as an attorney, mediator and trainer of entrepreneurs, Lisa Montanaro is a sought after business expert. She is the owner of Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises, the umbrella organization under which she offers productivity consulting, success coaching, business strategizing and speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa is an inaugural certified professional organizer and a member of the Golden Circle of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Transitioning from another career into professional organizing
  • Pros and cons of subcontracting under established organizers when you are just starting out
  • Great PR starts with believing in what you do, then letting media and other influencers know about it
  • How to grow a speaking and productivity coaching business
  • Tips on getting your name out there when you move to a new area
  • How raising your profile begets more opportunities to raise your profile
  • Understanding different kinds of legal business entities and which one is right for you
  • How to protect both yourself and your client in a business relationship “Let go to grow”
  • Why delegating and outsourcing tasks is a path to exponential growth in your business.

NAPO Podcast

There is a practice that I have been using for years when it comes to my schedule and how I allocate my time. It is a habit I started doing years ago because I am very calendar-focused. I pretty much put everything on my calendar. And by everything, I mean even activities that most people wouldn’t think belong on a calendar. Most people schedule in appointments and planned phone calls, both personal and professional. They also layer on social events, such as parties to attend. But they almost never think to add activities on their calendar such as exercise, meals, sleep, hobbies, errands, etc. Those activities often seem too personal, or are solitary activities and, therefore, often don’t get precious space on the calendar, which means they get placed at the bottom of the priority order.

For years, it seemed natural to me to give space on my calendar to activities that most people typically don’t include. And I started mentioning this to my clients when doing time management and productivity coaching. I also started teaching this tool to my audiences when conducting a speaking engagement about time management and calendar planning. And what I have noticed is that it resonates with many people!

I’ve seen clients and audience members adopt this practice and it has resulted in major shifts in the way they spend their time. It gives them permission to focus on the activities that often don’t get enough attention. They wind up getting more sleep, eating healthier meals (and not skipping meals!), getting their exercise in, and engaging in hobbies and passions and other pursuits that they don’t usually make time for.

Could a simple practice of putting an activity on your calendar really make such a difference? The answer is yes. A resounding yes. But don’t only take my word for it.

Neil Fiore, the author of the book The Now Habit (which is a great little book about how to beat procrastination) calls this practice The Unschedule. Unscheduling is a massive shift in thinking from how most of us use calendars and schedules. It gives structure to unstructured activities and tasks. Instead of starting to build your calendar out the typical way, which is to first place the structured activities on your calendar (meetings, appointments, social obligations, etc.), you reverse your calendar and begin with the unstructured activities.

The premise behind the Unschedule is that you need (and deserve) at least one hour of play and relaxation a day, and at least one day off of work a week. You schedule the unstructured activities first, such as sleep, meals, exercise, commuting to work, hobbies, and other blocks of time you must expend each day. Then you layer on top of those activities everything else. The everything else activities are often the need to do, have to do, should do types of activities, whereas the Unschedule activities are often the want to do and love to do activities.

Can everyone do this? Yes, but to an extent. To be fair, if your calendar is so chock full with work, obligations, and other activities that there is no room for unstructured activities to be added, then this would be a tough practice to try to implement. However, let that be a wake up call. You could start a small version of the Unschedule by at least adding a proper amount of sleep and actual meal times so you no longer eat on the run or skip meals altogether. In time, you could aim to add in some exercise and other activities to start giving yourself some more me-time on your own calendar.

The key to the Unschedule really working is that you don’t only add the unstructured activities to your schedule, but you honor them. My clients and audiences have heard me talk about this often. Honor appointments with yourself the same way you would honor an appointment with anyone else. If you see a slot on your calendar is taken up with an unstructured activity that only involves you, and you immediately give that slot away because it is only “me time” after all, then the Unschedule loses its effectiveness. That’s really the beauty of the Unschedule. YOU get to be a priority on your own calendar, in your own schedule, and in your own life. That is the true power of the Unschedule as a worthy time management tool.

Try to Unschedule your calendar by adding in some unstructured activities and see how it feels. I hope you love the results!

So what is the “The Brand Called You”?

You are a brand. Your personal brand is a way of communicating what is inherently you. Your experience, background, education, methodology, personality, etc.

How do you figure out your personal brand?

There are many ways, but I’m going to give you one exercise.

In the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, which also was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts, every time Liz, the main character, went to a location, she tried to come up with a word to capture the brand of that location. For example, if I recall correctly, her brand word for Rome was Sex (or maybe Passion!). And at one point, someone turned the tables on her and asked her, “Liz, what’s your word?” And she was stumped. Part of the reason she couldn’t come up with her word at that point was she had lost touch with who she was, and needed to dig deeper, which she does as her journey progresses. But another part of that may have been that it is awfully hard to come up with just one word to describe your entire overall personal brand!

So I’m asking you to come up with 5.

5 words that capture what is uniquely you — your Personal Brand.

For some of you, this still may be difficult.

If you can’t come up with 5 words yourself, then pay attention to how others perceive you. Ask family, friends, colleagues and clients for 5 words that describe you. Please only ask those that will be your “believing eyes.” If you own a business, look at your client testimonials for patterns of words and phrases that repeat themselves. If you are employed in a workplace setting, look at your job evaluations and letters of reference. If you are just getting out o f college, look at your letters of recommendation. You get the picture. You are trying to find the words that others have used to describe your personal brand.

Here are my 5 words: Professional, Intelligent, Warm, Sassy, Productive.

Try to come up with a mix of words that exhibit both hard and soft skills, or tap into left and right brain characteristics. We are all made up of both, so mixing up the 5 words for your brand is a nice way to demonstrate your multi-facetted personality and help you to appear less one dimensional. For example, in my words, you will see that intelligent, professional and productive capture more of my left brain side and hard skills, while warm and sassy capture my more creative, right brain side and soft skills.

A really powerful exercise is to come up with 5 words for someone else.

I was doing this exercise for an organization at one of my speaking engagements earlier this year, and one of the participants raised her hand and said “I got nothing. I can’t think of any words for me.” So I looked around at her colleagues and asked if any of them had some words for her. Slowly, they started calling out words, and we could see that some of them overlapped and some themes started to emerge. It was very powerful to watch the effect it had on her as she learned what her peers considered to be her personal brand.

So I challenge you to list your 5 words. Make sure they truly capture your essence, personality, and what makes you uniquely you.

The next step is to start examining your life and work to make sure that your 5 words match how you showcase your brand to the world. Would someone be able to guess your 5 words? Immediately upon meeting you? Or at least after getting to know you further? If so, your external brand matches your internal brand. If not, your external brand is incongruent with who you really are. This can cause confusion, make others feel disc onnected to you, and result in your appearing inauthentic.

So think of your personal brand as an opportunity to have a deeper internal conversation that says who you are on many levels. Don’t miss that opportunity! Welcome that conversation. Start it with 5 words.

Hello and Happy Summer!

As many of you may know, I have a serious creative side! I grew up as a performer on stage doing singing, acting and dancing in local community and regional theaters. I wrote poetry, short stories, and kept a journal since I was 8 years old. So creativity in general, and writing specifically, has been a big part of my life for many years.

And don’t even get me started on reading! I am a voracious reader across many genres. Last year, I read over 80 books and this year, I am already up to 32. I not only love to read, I love to review books. So that has become a fun hobby of mine.

In 2010, I wrote a non-fiction book called “The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life,” which was published by Peter Pauper Press in 2011. It sold out after a limited print run, so is now out of print, but can still be found as a used book through select bookseller sites. (If any of you have read it and loved it, please consider posting a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Great reviews help an author with their future books. And as I’m busy writing more works in progress that I want to publish in the future, my reviews will be important for an agent and a publisher to look at. So thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Now, I am trying something completely exciting and different… writing fiction! I am learning so much by taking online and in-person classes and workshops on craft, dialogue, description, character development, plotting, story telling and more. To that end, I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, which was an amazing 3-day experience. I have also joined the Women Fiction Writers Association and will be attending their retreat in New Mexico this fall. And I am loving every minute of this creative journey!!

Through my business, I have had the pleasure of speaking to audiences across the U.S. (and around the world!), as well as coaching with private clients, about the concept of life-work balance. And what I hear from most people is that they want to pursue their passion projects, enjoy their hobbies and interests, and be able to live full lives while enjoying their work.

So I am sharing this passion project with you so you can see life-work balance in action. The new LisaMontanaroWrites.com website is an example of life-work balance. This is a side project for me, a hobby I have to make time for when not working on my business, with private clients, or traveling to and from speaking engagements. I love my business and the work I get to do, but I also love my writing. And creating this website is a chance for me to give my writing (and reading and book reviewing!) the place that it deserves.

So without further adieu… I invite you to visit LisaMontanaroWrites.com. I want the website and blog to be a place to spark creativity, including writing, reading, and story telling. It is my creative playground! And I hope you will join me there.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea (or even better, a glass of vino!) and poke around.

Read some blog posts (and while you’re there, subscribe to the blog so you can get updates). Enjoy some book reviews. Share your favorite books while I share mine.

Pass the site onto others. Interact, comment, and stay awhile.

I hope you like it. But more importantly, I hope it inspires and motivates you on your own creative journey, whatever that entails. Make time for your own passion projects! And when you do, share them with me as I want to see YOUR life-work balance in action.

You have probably heard the phrase, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Some of you may live by that mantra. Others may feel the fear and let it paralyze them, never taking risks, living a life of safety and complacency. Fear is a natural emotion that we all feel at times, and that can keep us safe when facing danger or something that we are ill prepared for. Fear can prompt us to do more research when embarking on a new venture, and it can serve as the impetus for better planning. But fear can sometimes also stop us dead in our tracks, serving as a barrier to personal and professional growth. Is there a happy medium? Yes!

The Intersection of Fear and Excitement

When clients come to me for coaching around specific issues that they want to do or try but fear is holding them back, I almost always coach them around the intersection of fear and excitement. Let me demonstrate.

Think about something you would like to do, try, or embark on that you haven’t yet because fear has reared its ugly head. For one reason or another, you have fear around trying this activity, doing this task, or embarking on this journey. It makes no difference whether it is personal or professional. It could be as big as starting a new business, changing jobs, or relocating, or a smaller undertaking like startin g a blog or trying a new hobby.

Now, see if you also have excitement around trying this task, activity or new journey. Can you answer yes to the excitement part? If so, great! If you were to look at this potential undertaking as a pie, how much of your reaction and emotion around doing it is fear and how much is excitement? In order for you to overcome the fear, there has to be some excitement to balance it out! And if excitement is a bigger piece of the pie, even better. You will be able to move forward with more confidence knowing that your excitement will help guide the way and cancel out some of the fear.

What if the fear is an overwhelmingly larger piece of the pie than excitement? Does this mean you are doomed to stay stuck forever? Not necessarily. You may not have done enough research or due diligence to get excited about it yet. Excitement often comes when we can start to actually “see” our dreams and future plans take shape, and that can take more time to work out in our minds before the excitement sets in. But if you never feel any excitement about this undertaking and fear is the big black cloud hanging over this, chances are, it is either not the right path for you… or your fear is too large to overcome at this time. So then, what do you do?

Do a Trial Run

You can do a trial run of your undertaking but in a way that feels safer, and perhaps smaller. For example, before opening your business, spend some time interning or shadowing a professional that does what you want to do for a living. This will give you a taste of what it would be like to be a business owner doing that work be fore you actually start it. Likewise, if you want to write a book, but fear keeps holding you back, start by writing a blog or a series of articles. Usually, doing a smaller version or trial run of the undertaking will quell some of the fear and get you pumped up!

Just Do It

In the words of the popular Nike advertising campaign, just do it! Yes, I mean it. Just close both eyes and dive into the deep end. Or in my case, keep your eyes wide open and hands on the wheel, as my fear was driving over bridges. I love to drive and have been doing so since my teenage years. I drive long distances and cover a lot of miles for speaking engagements and personal travel. However, for years, I was afraid of driving over bridges. Strangely enough, I am not afraid of heights, but something about bridges just freaked me out. So what did I do? I drove over a lot of bridges! It helped allay my fears, “conditioned” me to get used to it, and realize I can do it successfully. Doing the actual activity that I was afraid of took a lot of the power out of the fear that I had been giving to it. The fear got less and less until one day I was driving over a bridge a few years ago and realized I no longer felt the fear.

Did I develop excitement about driving over bridges? I wouldn’t go that far! But I did get excited about where driving over bridges could take me. I have become a huge fan of road trips and take them often.

So, what would you do if you could overcome your fear? Figure out if your pie includes at least equal parts excitement and then take a big old bite out of it and dig in!

Isn’t it always more fun to do something with a friend? And you get double the support and accountability too!

That’s why we’re offering a “Bring-a-Friend” Special Offer for Speak Up Summer Camp: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations to Boost Your Business. Register with a friend or colleague and you can BOTH save an additional $200! (And yes – you can “stack” any of the coupons mentioned for even more savings). Please be sure to use the Bring-a-Friend link when registering. (Do not use the regular registration button and select two registrations. You will not get the special offer rate if you do it that way!)

And I’m excited that my colleague (and friend), Monica Ricci, will once again co-facilitate with me. Monica and I have shared the stage together a few times now with amazing results!


So.. if you:

  • Want to become a dynamic public speaker or hone your existing speaking skills…
  • Have to give a presentation and need help writing and organizing it, or coaching on how to present it…
  • Or want to learn how to use speaking as a powerful marketing vehicle or actual income stream…

Join us for this 8-week teleclass-based group program kicks off on Thursday, June 1st and we conclude on July 20th. The class meets virtually for 1.5 hours at 4 pm Pacific/5 pm Mountain/6 pm Central/7 pm Eastern.

Take a minute right now and make a decision as the early bird rate of only $697 ends May 15th.

Plus, to thank you for being a loyal newsletter subscriber, you can use coupon code SPEAKUP50 to get an additional $50 off of your registration even during the early bird sale.

If this sounds like a good fit for where you want to take your business or career, register now.

Questions? Send me an email at Lisa@LisaMontanaro.com and we can set up a time to chat.

Want to become a dynamic public speaker or hone your existing speaking skills? Have to give a presentation and need help writing and organizing it, or coaching on how to present it? Want to learn how to use speaking as a powerful marketing vehicle or actual income stream?

Many of my clients come to me because they want to add revenue to their business and find ways to increase their visibility. Speaking – and getting paid to do it – is one of the top strategies I recommend when working with my business/entrepreneur clients.

Even my clients that work for a corporation or organization often come to me for speaking training and coaching, as they too need to hone those ever-important speaking skills.

That’s why I’m introducing Speak Up Summer Camp: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations to Boost Your Business. And I’m excited that my colleague, Monica Ricci, will once again co-facilitate with me. Monica and I have shared the stage together a few times now with amazing results!

This 8-week teleclass-based group program kicks off on Thursday, June 1st and we conclude on July 20th. The class meets virtually for 1.5 hours at 4 pm Pacific/5 pm Mountain/6 pm Central/7 pm Eastern.

Take a minute right now and make a decision as the early bird rate of only $697 ends May 15th. And . . . the first five people to register get BONUS gifts!

Plus, to thank you for being a loyal newsletter subscriber, you can use coupon code SPEAKUP50 to get an additional $50 off of your registration even during the early bird sale.

NEW! This year we have a “Bring-a-Friend” Special Offer. Register with a friend or colleague and you can BOTH save an additional $200! (And yes – you can “stack” any of the coupons mentioned for even more savings).

If this sounds like a good fit for where you want to take your business or career, register now.

stageThis is your last chance to join me and my fabulous colleague Monica Ricci for the Speak Up Online Program, which starts this Thursday, September 8th.

This program will not only help you become a better public speaker, but a better overall communicator. And who wouldn’t want to be better at communicating?! Whether you run a business, or have a job, you have to master the art of speaking and communication to effectively engage with your clients, customers, co-workers and the public.

And just to give you a taste of what we will cover, and our smart but sassy style, here is an article that Monica recently wrote called Three Things You Should NEVER Do When Making a Presentation. It’s great content, funny, and will give you some immediate takeaways.

Want the whole kit and caboodle? Join us for Speak Up!! It’s not too late to snag a spot and be on the line live with us on Thursday September 8th.

Isn’t it time to Speak Up? 🙂

PS. You may have noticed in Monica’s article she offers a $75 off coupon, but because you’re part of my network, you can save $100 with coupon code SPEAKUPSPECIAL.

We have a great group of participants registered for Speak Up: Crafting & Delivering Killer Presentations to Boost Your Business or Career that starts next week, but we still have room for a few more to join us!

If you haven’t peeked at the details for this 8-week program, take a quick look here, https://www.lisamontanaro.com/speakup

You know, as my career has evolved, I’ve always been fairly poised and confident in front of an audience. But there was a time when I would get butterflies in my stomach, or worry that no one would pay attention to my presentations.

It took coaching and feedback to get to the point where I’m at now… presenting to large groups, speaking internationally and getting paid really great rates!

It was a journey… and I got help along the way. For example, here’s a clip that I’m very proud of speaking at “The Big Event” in Sacramento, CA in 2014.

The_Big_Event-Video-screenshot

It took a lot of work to get to this stage, but with some coaching and training, I got there! Maybe you’re like I was, a bit overwhelmed, not knowing how to pull it off? Fear no more! If you want to become a great public speaker or hone your existing speaking skills, you can!

Join us for Speak Up starting next week, September 8th with classes on Thursday evenings throughOctober 27th.

Speak Up is a coaching and training program for aspiring speakers, as well as speakers with experience that want to “up their game” and knock it out of the park!

And… you get two-for-one! My co-presenter will once again be Monica Ricci, an accomplished speaker extraordinaire. I hope you’ll join us.

Get the details here.

P.S. Use coupon code SPEAKUPSPECIAL to get $100 off the registration fee!

testimonial-Jennifer_Lava

I had the pleasure of being a guest expert on Fox 40 News Morning Show in Sacramento on August 15, 2016 to discuss the power of personal and professional branding.

I was interviewed by Mae Fesai about what makes up your personal brand and what this means for your career and any future job searches or business marketing. We also discussed how big of a role social media and your online presence plays in defining your personal and professional brand, and that you have a responsibility today to mold, protect and promote your overall brand.

Watch the segment below: