For Formal Bio, click here. For My Journey, keep reading… 🙂
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”
~ Erma Bombeck
Many people believe that they have one true vocational calling. That may be true. But for some of us, we have multiple areas of expertise and talents and a thirst to share them all with the world. It is this sense of adventure and drive for reinvention that ultimately led me to become an entrepreneur.
I Grew Up on Stage…
My first “calling” was as a performer. I spent my childhood singing, acting and dancing on stage, and wanted to go professional. But as I matured, I started to fall in love with the law, and switched gears as a young adult, pursuing a pre-law course of study.
I never gave up performing but, rather, turned it into a wonderful hobby that continues to this day.
Falling in Love with the Beauty of Sign Language
Another great passion of mine was to work with the deaf. My cousins are deaf — a lovely married couple that are a generation older than me. As a child, when I visited and saw them signing with each other, and with their two hearing children, I was enthralled and vowed to learn this beautiful, expressive language.
When I graduated from college and was admitted to law school, I deferred admission for one year to teach at the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains, NY. I was hooked! I loved teaching deaf students, and developed proficiency for American Sign Language.
A year later, I decided to continue teaching and attend law school in the evening. Sign language and deaf culture remain a great passion of mine, and I am constantly figuring out ways to incorporate them into my business and life.
A Profound Respect for the Law… but Disillusioned with the Reality of Law Practice
Upon graduation from law school, I practiced employment, labor, education and disability law for 9 ½ years. Although I had a profound respect for the law, I did not appreciate the way it was practiced in our society. It became too negative in the hands of those that wanted to use it to fight.
The more I practiced law, the more I realized that the nature of the practice did not suit my personality or my career goals. I started to become restless and knew that there were other ways I could share my talents and expertise with people and organizations to improve the world.
I did a lot of soul searching and arrived at the conclusion that I needed to leave the traditional practice of law and become an entrepreneur in order to truly make a difference.
During that time of career transition, I realized I had been organizing people’s lives on an “amateur” level my whole life, and that my organizing and coaching skills transcended my work as a lawyer, teacher, mediator, writer, speaker, and performer.
While I highly value my legal education and experience, the practice of law was simply not for me.
I made a conscious decision to use my experience as a trusted advisor and a counselor to help people in a productive and collaborative way. That’s how I found coaching, consulting, speaking, and writing, and it is exactly what I love to do and what I was meant to do.
An Entrepreneur is Born
In 2002, I launched LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, which focused primarily on organizing and productivity. I loved helping people get organized and improve their lives. I started off with residential organizing and then added on business and corporate organizing, because the core principles are the same, and let’s face it… people run businesses and corporations. Plus, I came from corporate America, and now successfully run my own business, so corporate and business organizing were a natural addition for me.
Over the years, I developed a level of mastery in organization and became an inaugural Certified Professional Organizer® in 2007, an accomplishment I am proud of as there are only a few hundred of us in the world.
I started training and coaching professional organizers across the U.S., served as the moderator of the popular Ask the Organizer Panel at the annual National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference, presented regionally and nationally to my peers, and became known as a leader in my industry.
I developed and trademarked a unique organizing methodology called DECIDE to be Organized®, which examines and attempts to overcomes the connection between indecisiveness and disorganization. I also wrote a book, The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, which was published by Peter Pauper Press in 2011. You could say I “made it” as a professional organizer.
Expanding my Brand
But here’s the thing… people started asking me for even more. They started referring to me as “not just an organizer” or “more than an organizer.” Helping people be more organized didn’t seem to speak to the specific results that my clients wanted to achieve.
What my clients wanted to achieve was success.
Organizing and productivity were a part of reaching that success, and often described the process that led to it, but was not the result itself. I decided to start giving my clients the result they wanted.
I suppose you could say that my clients added services to my business that they needed and craved in order to truly change behavior, and in turn, they expanded my business offerings, brand, and niche.
Over the years, I realized that it is never about “the stuff.”
In order to become organized, productive, happy, successful and fulfilled, you must be willing to change in multiple ways — your behavior, habits, goals, thinking and mindset.
I enjoyed and was exceptionally skilled at teaching and transferring productivity skills to my clients, and I liked empowering people to do the actual hands-on work themselves. So I slowly moved away from hands-on organizing and now have organizing associates that work with clients that need side-by-side hands-on organizing.
In the second half of my decade as an entrepreneur, I added on coaching, consulting, speaking, and writing, drawing upon my formal education and training, work experience, innate talents and skills, and life experience.
I became eligible for membership in the National Speakers Association (NSA) and had the privilege of presenting before audiences near and far on topics such as organizing and productivity, life-work balance, and business and entrepreneurship. My coaching and consulting practice grew to include individuals and entrepreneurs, as well as corporations and organizations.
I now have the opportunity to use my gift for organizing, productivity and systems in new and refreshing ways because I’m touching so many more peoples’ businesses and lives, as a result of so many more people wanting the real result I offer, which is success.
Defining Moment in Business: An Explosion of Left and Right Brain
A defining moment in my journey as an entrepreneur came in 2008 when I was voted Number 1 Speaker of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference in Reno, NV, and won the talent show for doing the number “All That Jazz” from the Broadway show, Chicago.
Here I was in fishnet stockings singing and dancing on a Wednesday night at the casino, and then wearing business attire and presenting business and legal issues to entrepreneurs on Friday morning. Talk about your worlds colliding!
It made me realize that in order to love my business and life, I needed to stop compartmentalizing everything and just be my authentic self.
What a difference it has made in my business and life.
My clients respect and admire that I am able to live a life of passion and creativity, while running a thriving professional and successful business. They tease me that I am like an explosion of right brain and left brain… and I take that as a compliment. So I call 2008 the year I fully embraced my Renaissance spirit and allowed it to infiltrate my business in surprising and refreshing ways!
My Signature System:
The 6 Pillars of Powerhouse Success
Now my business is a wonderful combination of assisting clients with being more productive, successful, profitable and improving personal and professional development and effectiveness.
I take a holistic approach through my business, life and career coaching and serve as, what I call, a coach-consultant, as I believe my clients have some of the answers, but that they also sometimes look to me as the “expert” and want me to provide the answers to them so they don’t drown in frustration.
I tailor my coaching and consulting to each client’s unique situation, but have discovered themes among my clients, which led me to create my Signature System – The 6 Pillars of Powerhouse Success. The system is powerful, easy-to-follow, and captures the most common stages that a client needs to go through in order to achieve success.
My Expanded Business:
A Holistic and Multi-Faceted Approach
I am always one to live life to the fullest, so when given the opportunity to move clear across the country from New York to California in July 2012 for my husband to advance his career as a veterinarian, I said, “Let’s go for it!”
The move allowed me to relocate personally, but also to expand professionally on so many levels: geographically, yes, but much deeper than that.
It prompted me to finally “catch up” to the expanded business that I had been successfully running, even though I had not rebranded it publicly. So I formally expanded the brand to Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises, LLC (LMGE) in the summer of 2012, and launched a whole new website, blog, and ezine in fall 2012.
This allows me to fully capture the holistic approach my work takes in improving personal and professional development. To my clients, this formal expansion did not come as any big surprise as they already worked with me on so many levels, experiencing the depth and breadth of my areas of expertise and delivery methods.
But to someone that may have only known me as a “professional organizer,” the new brand may be a shock. Hopefully, a pleasant surprise and one that warrants further inspection and reflection.
I finally feel like my business mirrors my true personality and allows me to be a multi-talented and multi-passionate entrepreneur. My business is both a profession and a passion.
I took a leap of faith and created a business that allows me to meld together many different, but related, “callings” at the same time, while helping people live better lives and enjoy more a satisfying business or career. The result has been both successful and rewarding. I have successfully created my Purpose, and very much live my Passion, and now I am making it my mission to help others do the same.
The Inside Scoop:
Ten Little Known Facts About Me
You can read the Formal Bio. You can even read My Journey here. But if you want the inside scoop, read these ten little known facts to get to know me better …
I grew up on stage as a “triple threat” — singer, actress and dancer.
As a young adult, I had to make the difficult decision whether I wanted to devote my career to performing (read: starving actress waiting tables in NYC…) or to make performing a hobby and pursue a different career. This was a significant choice and is the core of some of my coaching/teaching about being a “shadow artist,” choosing a path for a career, and incorporating your passions into your life.
I am a lawyer, who “defected” from the practice of law after becoming disillusioned with the negative side of how it is practiced and the constant fighting involved in the profession.
I use my legal analysis, critical thinking, problem-solving, and counseling skills in a positive manner now to help people on a daily basis.
I am proficient in American Sign Language.
My cousin and his wife are deaf and I grew up obsessed with Helen Keller and the Miracle Worker. In order to fulfill my dream of teaching the deaf, I worked as an instructor and interpreter at the NY School for the Deaf for 3 years while attending law school in the evening. It was one of the best experiences of my life and helped solidify that the teacher archetype is strong within me. To this day, I feel that no matter what I am doing, it involves, at its core, some aspect of teaching.
I studied abroad in The Netherlands focusing on government, culture and art, with an emphasis on international law.
This was a significant experience and started my life-long love affair with Europe. It is one of my dreams and intentions to live in Europe at some point in the future with my husband. For now, I enjoy traveling to Europe on vacation and am hoping to book a speaking engagement there soon, and hold my first Entrepreneurs Retreat in Tuscany. To prepare, I am taking Italian language classes weekly. Fantastico!
I have been coupled with my husband, Sean, since I was a freshman in college!
We met when I was a swim team coach and instructor, and he was a lifeguard, at the town pool where Sean grew up. I still consider him my soul mate, best friend, and partner in life and love.
I am child free by choice.
I love children, am a former special education teacher, and have many nieces, nephews and God children, but chose to focus my maternal instincts on animals (I have two awesome dogs and am married to a veterinarian), other people’s children, my clients, my business, and the Earth.
I love chocolate, especially high-quality dark chocolate.
On my honeymoon in France, despite dating my husband for years, he was still surprised to learn that I needed to have a small amount of chocolate every day!
I am an avid active enthusiast, who loves to mix it up and move my body with dancing, kickboxing, running, walking, hiking, bike riding, rock climbing, and many other active pursuits.
I have completed a marathon, a half triathlon, hiked the Grand Canyon, and biked through Provence. Exercise and outdoor activities are so important to me that I make an appointment with myself on my calendar to get my exercise and outdoor activity on my schedule, and then treat those appointments with as much respect as the ones I make with others, meaning… I keep them!
I lost my beloved Mom in 2010 at the young age of 63 to pancreatic cancer.
It was the hardest thing I have ever had to bear. We were best friends in addition to being mother-daughter. This tragic loss has made me even more determined to live life to the fullest.
The view out of my office at my last law job was of the Twin Towers, and I lived in Manhattan at the time.
The terrorist attacks of 9-11 affected me personally and served as a catalyst for jumping ship from my law career and becoming an entrepreneur.