Meet Lisa

For Formal Bio, click here. For My Journey, keep reading… 🙂

My Journey

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!

6Pillars-circleonlyMy 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.

Thank You for Claiming Your Free Toolkit:

“Achieve Powerhouse Success with
Purpose, Passion, and Productivity”

Congratulations on taking the first step toward creating your purpose and living your passion — and stepping into your power!

This tool kit includes a lot of valuable content, so to get you moving forward on the right track, make sure to download ALL of your tool kit features, and select the one that speaks to you the most. Then make it your goal to dig into that one part of the tool kit and take action on it before focusing on the rest of the parts.

Why? Because…

Actions = Results!

Getting yourself into action will make a significant impact on your motivation and will inspire you to keep going!

Ready to get started?…

1.Download your free Toolkit: “Achieve Powerhouse Success with Purpose, Passion, and Productivity” (just click on the title  or view download instructions below)

2. Apply for a free 25 minute Discovery Call to see if I can help you create your purpose and live your passion with your business, career, or life.

3. Be on the lookout for your first issue of the Create Your Purpose, Live Your Passion ezine, which is published bi-weekly.

Warmly,

 

Download Instructions

If you’re using a Windows PC, RIGHT CLICK on the link and, from the pop up menu, select “Save Target As” in Internet Explorer or “Save Link As” in Netscape. In the “Save As” dialog box, choose where you’d like to save the file on your hard drive, then click “Save.” Once the download is complete, simply open the file.

If you’re using a Mac, hold the Control key down while clicking on the link. From the pop up menu, choose “Save Link As.” In the “Save As” dialog box, choose where you’d like to save the file on your hard drive, then click “Save.” Once the download is complete, simply open the file. If this doesn’t work, try holding the Option key down instead.

Platinum Level Coaching is an

  • Intensive
  • Private
  • Long-term program

…designed to deliver a high level of accountability, coaching, consulting, mentoring and support so you can get the answers you need to make powerful decisions and take action towards your goals and vision of success for your business.

As an entrepreneur, you may often find yourself feeling alone or isolated – unsure of who to turn to for advice on your confidential business questions and plans, feeling out-of-sync with friends and family members who have a J-O-B, and nervous about sharing too much with a colleague or competitor. You crave someone that can guide and support you, actually give you answers when you’re well has run dry, and co-create a business that is truly customized to you and your needs!

Platinum Level Coaching is what you need to support, inspire, and challenge you to create the business you dream about.

Clients that go Platinum choose that level because they find that the value that coaching brings to their business on a prolonged basis is well worth the investment, and they want a full access pass to me including email support, materials review, consistent coaching calls, accountability, joint ventures, tickets to live events, entry to my group coaching and mastermind programs, etc. (see below for specific details of each level). This is the closest you can get to having me as your business partner!

What can we work on during Platinum Level Coaching?

We can work on almost anything that you need assistance with in your business!

As a ten-year successful entrepreneur who has coached hundreds of business owners, I have the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to assist you in many areas.

And with my Platinum Level Coaching clients, I pull back the curtain and let them peek inside by sharing my journey, lessons learned, tricks/tips/tools, and being open and honest about what has worked (and not worked!) for my own business and the many clients I have been privileged to work with.


How does Platinum Level Coaching work?

See the details here.

What if you could hear the truth from a successful entrepreneur about the mistakes she made along the way and what she learned from them?

Wouldn’t it be nice to peek in as someone tears the roof off her business and let’s you see inside?

Well, you can!

Join me for a free teleclass to discover Lessons Learned: 5 Things I Wish I had Known When Building my Business. I won’t be holding back so that you can hear what it takes to be a success and avoid the mistakes that many entrepreneurs, including myself, have made along the journey. Register here.

This call will be recorded, so if you miss it, you can l isten in at a later date, but I will be taking questions so if you have a burning question and want an answer, be sure to be on the call live!

Tuesday, April 10th at

7:30 – 8:30 pm (Eastern)
6:30 – 7:30 pm (Central)
5:30 – 6:30 pm (Mountain)
4:30 – 5:30 pm (Pacific)

Looking forward to having you on the call and sharing this great content with you!

Register here (for free!).

A Special Note to my Clients, Colleagues, Family and Friends,

Okay, I have big news and I can’t hold it in any longer! I have grappled with when to “go public” about it, but the timing feels right AND I am not the type of person that likes to hold things back, so here goes.

My husband, Sean, officially heard that he matched for a 3-year residency in veterinary internal medicine at the University of California at Davis, so in the words of Led Zeppelin, we are “Going to California…”. Wow! He starts August 1st so we leave mid-July. Our plan is to take our time and road trip across the country in our VW with our 2 dogs in the back seat, stopping to see friends and family, and some great sites along the way.

I am so happy for him and proud of him. He took a big chance and went for it! He asked me my advice as a l ife and career coach, and I told him that if he would have any regrets down the road, to take the chance now and I was in full support of him. Most veterinarians specialize right after their internship and he has been a general practitioner for 11 years so he was a very atypical candidate. Meanwhile, he was like the Superstar of the match and got his first choice!

As you can well imagine, there are some major logistics involved, and some mixed emotions for us. It is bittersweet as in order to embark on this journey, we need to leave our home, friends, and family in this area — not to mention my clients who I get very attached to! So there have been some tears too. But overall, we are looking at it as a great adventure.

I have been moving in the direction of a more global/virtual business model for years with coaching, consulting, speaking and online programs, and this has surely forced me to really change over. BUT I am keeping the business open here in NY (so will have an East Coast and West Coast office, making my business bi-coastal — love that!). I plan to come back East every two months or so to do speaking engagements and book a week servicing my clients in the NY area. So don’t write me off just yet — you can’t get rid of me that easily! I also now have an organizing associate who handles residential organizing for me, so we will see how it goes… it will be an experiment, and surely one I can pass onto my business coaching clients as I learn from it (if any of you are thinking of expanding your business in the future, I got your back!).

All of this is my way of saying that I’d love to continue to work with you even after I relocate, and am set up to do so through my coaching packages and programs via phone, Skype, and e-mail. So if you hear I am jumping ship from NY as of July, I wanted you to know the truth and know that I am still very much in the picture if you want me to be. 🙂 I will travel for speaking engagements, large consulting projects, and will be sure to let my private clients know when I am going to be in their neck of the woods to book in-person sessions with me.

Also, if you want to take a road trip or write off a business retreat to beautiful Northern California, come work with me on the West Coast in person! I will be doing VIP Intensives with clients out there. I’ll be living one hour from San Francisco, one hour from Napa/Sonoma Valley, and two hours from Lake Tahoe — talk about a great area! Indeed, I am planning an entrepreneur retreat in Napa Valley for 2013, so stay tuned.

And if you are in the NY area, and want to double-up on our in-person work together while we have the opportunity, then please let me know so I can book you into my busy schedule over the next few months. 

 

Warmly,  

 

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody — a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns — bent down and helped pick us up by our boots.” ~ Thurgood Marshall

In the quote above, Justice Marshall was onto something really important when he made that statement. He has always been one of my personal and professional heroes and I took that statement very seriously when I practiced law. I left the full-time practice of law years ago, and have had the pleasure of being a successful entrepreneur for a decade. And, yet, Justice Marshall’s words still ring true.

If you speak to successful business owners and ask them to share some of their success secrets, almost all of them will mention that they had help along the way. It could have been from a colleague, mentor, coach, or mastermind group — the type of help and who it is from is not nearly as important as the fact that the business owner sought and received guidance in some form. The successful business owners who found their way completely on their own with no outside support or guidance whatsoever are either not telling the truth, or really took the long and hard path to get where they are.

Accountability is key to success in business! Regardless of the form the accountability and support takes, it will help move us forward and make us a better business owner. Being accountable to a colleague, a mastermind group, or a business coach is a great way to stay on track. Studies show that business owners (and individuals in general) achieve success more frequently when they set up accountability checks.

At different times in our business, we may crave guidance for different reasons. We may want someone to cheer us on, tell us the truth when no one else will, kick our butt, allow us to vent, or lend a shoulder t o cry on.

But do you let just anyone mentor or guide you? Heck no! Think carefully who you will let into the inner sanctum of your business. First, they need to be trustworthy as you will be revealing a lot of personal and professional information to them. Second, they must be non-judgmental so that you are not made to feel insecure or “less than”. Third, they must be truly non-competitive, so that you are not worried that your best stuff winds up on their website. And, fourth, they must have your best interests at heart.

Another factor to consider: Are they at the same level of business you are — or higher? Cultivating business relationships is like playing tennis. If you “play” with people who are better than you, your game will improve. If you associate with people at your level or below, your game will plateau and there’s no forward motion. The people you’re brainstorming and collaborating with should truly add something to your business and vice versa.

So, look for business colleagues or coaches that are like-minded business owners that can support and challenge you, while also serving as a vital accountability check. The company you keep for your business really does matter. As Justice Marshall pointed out, in business, as in life, it helps to have someone bend down and pick us up by our boots.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to
decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

~ Jane Goodall

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 create
LM Organizing Solutions, LLC (LMOS).

My first calling was as a performer. I spent my childhood singing, acting and dancing, 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.

Another great passion of mine was to work with the deaf. My cousins are deaf–a lovely married couple that was a generation older than me. 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. Thus, 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.

Upon my 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. 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 that 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.

In 2002, I launched LMOS, which serves as the umbrella for my areas of expertise, and provides a platform to offer a variety of services to clients.  Through LMOS, I am able to offer organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations.  These three main focus areas allow me to combine my lifelong passion for creating order with my skills gained as a lawyer, educator, and performer.  LMOS gives me the ability to enact positive, proactive change.  My clients rely on me for leadership, guidance, support, encouragement, and coaching.

I now consider myself a multi-passionate entrepreneur. 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 run better companies and organizations. The result has been both successful and rewarding.

Warm regards,

 

Copyright 2009 © Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

Deciding Whether to Go Legal

As a former full-time practicing attorney and now a small business owner, I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to the legal issues a business owner may face. This provides me with the distinct advantage of knowing when to call in an attorney for assistance, as opposed to using another professional, such as an accountant, financial planner, insurance agent, or business coach — or perhaps handling the matter myself. In addition, my background helps me to select an attorney that is the best fit for the business matter at hand. Many entrepreneurs have had limited experience deciding whether a matter needs legal attention and, if so, what type of attorney to retain, how to find the best match, and how to maximize the attorney-client relationship. As an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you understand when to “go legal,” and if you do, how to find and work with an attorney that is the best fit for your issue.

If you are confused about whether your matter needs legal attention or whether you can handle it yourself, try researching the matter on the American Bar Association’s Self-Help online center at www.abanet.org. Go to Public Resources, then Legal Help, and then Self-Help. The section is organized by state and is a user-friendly resource for determining whether a matter is complex and needs a legal expert, or whether it is something you can handle yourself.

In addition, a good business coach, especially one with a legal background, is a great sounding board to assist you in determining whether an issue is truly legal in nature, and if so, which type of attorney to retain. You would be surprised how many issues appear legal in nature, but turn out to be business decisions instead. So don’t be hasty when deciding whether to go legal!

Not All Attorneys Are Created Equal

So, assuming you have decided to “go legal” and retain an attorney, which one are you going to call? If you broke your arm, would you make an appointment with an allergist? If you had an ear infection, would you seek the advice of a surgeon? Of course not! Yet, everyday, many entrepreneurs contact and use attorneys to handle matters for their businesses that are completely outside the realm of what that attorney specializes in. Yes, attorneys specialize.

First, there is the main issue of whether your matter is civil or criminal in nature. Generally (and, thankfully!), the average legal matter an entrepreneur will face is a civil matter. Thus, you will be dealing with a civil attorney (hopefully in more ways than one). However, civil law is a huge umbrella. Typical small business matters may include incorporation, intellectual property (trademark, copyright, and patent), contract drafting and enforcement, employment or labor law issues, etc. Thus, look for an attorney that specializes in the area you need help with. Don’t be tempted to use your cousin, who is a residential real estate attorney, to assist you with a complex trademark issue. While this may be tempting in terms of saving money, it may (and often does) cost you more money in the long run if the matter is not handled properly. So match the attorney to the problem, and you are on the right track.

If you are unsure what type of legal issue you are even facing, speak up! Talk to a friend or business colleague that is an attorney, and ask his or her advice on the type of issue you are dealing with. You can also call the local bar association, or do some basic internet research to find out the area of law you are dealing with There are several sites that provide basic legal information for non-attorneys, such as www.nolo.com, www.findlaw.com,  and www.legalzoom.com. This background research will arm you with enough terminology and basic knowledge to make the best match with an attorney whose legal practice covers the area of your business issue.

Finding an Attorney

So, now that you know the area of law, how do you find a good lawyer that practices in that area? The same way you find any other professional to assist you with your business. Referrals from friends, family and colleagues are a fantastic way to find a reputable attorney. You can also ask your local chamber of commerce, local law school, and local and state bar associations. Still can’t find an attorney that is a great match? Try Martindale-Hubbell’s Lawyer Locator online at www.martindale.com.

Money Matters

If you’ve never worked with an attorney before, here are some basics of the legal profession with regard to money matters. Most attorneys charge by the hour, so ask what the hourly rate is, and an estimate of how many hours the matter may take. If the matter is small, or a typical one that the attorney handles often, there may be a flat fee for the entire transaction instead of an hourly rate. Be prepared to pay a fee for the initial consultation, which is standard, but not a hard and fast rule. In some cases, the attorney may require a retainer, which is money that you provide upfront that the attorney works off of as the matter progresses.

One thing to consider is that law firms are typically broken down into partners and associates. Partners are essentially co-owners of the firm, while associates are employees, albeit high level professional ones. Who demands the highest rates? Usually, the partners. Thus, ask yourself if you truly need a partner, or can an experienced associate handle the matter. Do you need the best litigator in the firm? Often times, the best litigator may be an associate that is still active in the courtroom, as opposed to a partner that may be more of a rainmaker bringing in business for the firm.

In some cases, for very small matters or legal research, even a law clerk or paralegal may do. Ask who is the best match, and don’t assume it is always the person whose last name is on the door.

Maximizing the Attorney-Client Relationship

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of accurate, concrete, and timely record keeping and documentation when preparing to work with an attorney, and during the relationship. An attorney will need to go on a fact-finding mission in order to best represent you and your business. Help your attorney do his or her job better by coming to the table with all of your ducks in a row. Be prompt in providing requested information, as often legal timelines are at play. Honesty is also vital when working with an attorney. The best attorney-client relationships are built on mutual trust and, thus, withholding information can make or break your case. An attorney needs all of the facts in order to make tough decisions with you about the best course of action for your business matter.

Copyright © 2009 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

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You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

Just Say No!

Knowing Your Limits When Taking on Volunteer Leadership Roles

As an entrepreneur or any other type of business professional, you are probably often asked to take on volunteer leadership positions, such as a Board member, a committee chair, etc. These roles can be incredibly satisfying from a personal and professional standpoint. However, it is often difficult to know when to say “no” when faced with too many opportunities and too little time with regard to volunteer leadership roles.

Recently, I was asked to take on two separate leadership positions for two different organizations that I am a member of. While both offers were extremely tempting, I knew right away that there was no way that I could say yes to both positions, and do both with finesse. Every time we say yes to something, we say no to something else. Therefore, I made a difficult phone call to the incoming President of one of those organizations to explain that although the offer was tempting and I appreciate his faith in me, I needed to turn down the offer in order to accept the leadership position for the other organization.

This made me think about how in all aspects of life, we sometimes have to ‘just say no’ to some offers in order to do the best job that we can with the things we say yes to. I realized a long time ago that we can’t do it all. Well, not if we want to do the things we commit to well. In order to give 100% to every volunteer leadership position that you take on, you need to carefully consider what that role involves and whether you are able to bring your all to the table. If you can’t, the better answer (albeit often the harder one to give) is “No.”

The following guidelines have helped me to make the tough decisions as to what to say yes to and what to say no to with regard to taking on volunteer leadership positions for business or civic organizations. I hope they assist you, as you decide what falls within your ‘absolute yes’ list and what you will ‘just say no’ to.

Is it a Cause That You Believe in? – Sometimes you take on a volunteer position not so much for the position itself, or even for the tasks you will be doing, but because the organization’s work or agenda furthers a cause that you so deeply believe in or value. For example, many people serve as board members of organizations that specialize in cancer research, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, etc. The list goes on depending on the causes that you believe in.

Does it Improve Your Business or Further Your Industry? – When I first joined my local and county chambers of commerce, I was the first and only professional organizer to be a member. Not only did this bring an amazing amount of exposure to my business and what I did, it also helped further the professional organizing industry as a whole.

Will it Enhance Your Reputation? – Think about whether it will enhance your reputation in terms of aligning yourself with this group. Also, what if you take on the position and do not do a good job? Think about whether you can give 100% and shine in the position. If you can’t, then it may have a negative effect on your personal and professional reputation.

Been There, Done That – Will it be a repeat performance? For example, the offer I just turned down would have been my second term in the same exact position. I’ve watched this organization grow and expand, and feel it is in a good place right now, and that my time has already been well served. It is time to move onto leadership positions within other organizations and take on new and exciting projects to bring in fresh ideas and energy. The organization I am saying yes to is one I have been involved with for several years, but I have never held a leadership position within it, so this is a new experience and one I look forward to.

Can You Afford the Financial Commitment? – Most organizations expect their board members and other leadership volunteers to give freely of their time and expertise. But some organizations take that a step further and also expect their members to give a certain amount of financial commitment. One example is Rotary International, where the members give financial support and choose worthy causes within the community to be the recipients of those funds. Be sure to ask what level of financial commitment is expected, and ask yourself whether you can realistically meet it before saying yes.

When in Doubt, Follow Your Gut – Regardless of the above criteria, you will probably know if you should ‘just say no’ based on your gut reaction to the request to serve. If you are asked to serve in a volunteer capacity or leadership role for an organization, and you cringe at the idea, with no trace of excitement, follow your intuition and say no! Yes, a certain level of fear or anxiety may be normal when asked to serve as a volunteer in a leadership capacity for an organization. You may be nervous about being in the spotlight, meeting new people, how to juggle this new role with all of your other responsibilities, etc. But, often times, people say yes purely out of obligation when the ‘real’ answer is quite obviously staring them in the face based on their gut reaction. If your gut screams no, follow it!

Copyright © 2009 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

How many of us have heard the old familiar phrase, “The shoemaker’s children always go without shoes?”This phrase has become synonymous with almost anyone neglecting his or her own business. We are all guilty of it now and again. We get so busy working in the business that we forget to ‘mind the shop’ in meaningful ways. Unfortunately, in the process, we wind up losing one of the best experts we have on staff – ourselves! So, take a step back, and hire someone with superb expertise – you.

Let’s say, for example, you are a financial planner, but your finances have become a mess. Or perhaps you are a professional organizer, but your office is in complete disarray and you can’t find anything. What type of image does this project to your clients, and the world at large (assuming anyone knows about it!)? Not a very good one. But more importantly, you suffer because of it. You spend all of your best time and energy on your clients, and don’t take your own advice. This is not a great model for running a successful business. You should ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to the business advice you dispense to others. You should be a role model for your clients and other like-minded entrepreneurs.

In the book, Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor (fabulous book that is really about life, not only cancer), author Kris Carr writes about how a good model for healthy living has been established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): wear your seat belt, don’t smoke in the bathroom, and if the plane goes down – put YOUR oxygen mask on first! Great advice in general, but also for an entrepreneur running a business. If you aren’t taking care of business inwardly, you can’t expect to succeed and exude a positive, productive image to the world.

So, how do you avoid the shoemaker’s shoes trap? Start treating yourself like a prized client! You must start doing the inward focused work that you often neglect to do in order to move forward in your business.

Audit your business based on your particular area of expertise. All of you have a unique area of brilliance that you excel in. Don’t give it all away to others! Save some for yourself. Audit your business based on your area of expertise and figure out what is lacking, what needs improvement, etc. Couldn’t you benefit from hiring you? Most likely, yes!

  • Set aside the time for a private boot camp or corporate retreat. You probably advise your clients to take time for their businesses, but when is the last time you booked uninterrupted time for your business? Every year, I book a boot camp or “corporate retreat” for my business. I write an action plan of what I want to focus on, and then I go to town and get it done. It is a great way to pump out projects that have been lingering, brainstorm what the direction of my business will be in coming months and years, and develop a future action plan. It is a time to both be productive and plan ahead.
  • Put your business through any checklists, systems, or processes that you put your clients through. You all have them: those great systems, approaches, and processes that you develop and share with your clients. Now, take some time to put your own business through the same systems. Not only will your business benefit, but also you will understand the systems more, see if there are any holes that need to be plugged, and any ways the systems can be improved upon. Therefore, you benefit, but so do your future clients.
  • Continue to hire yourself as needed. Once you’ve done the inward work necessary to keep your business running in tip-top shape, don’t neglect it again. If you start to see the shoemaker’s shoes trap rear it’s ugly head in the future, hire yourself to keep it at bay!

Copyright © 2009 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.