Networking at the NAPO Conference

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Autumn Leopold and Cena Block at the NAPO2015 Annual Conference & Organizing Expo

Attending my first NAPO Conference last year was such an amazing experience that at the time I’d have had a hard time choosing a single highlight. Looking back a year later, I realize that the greatest reward was the opportunity to network face-to-face with a large number of organizers and coaches I’d met before, either in person or online, and many others for the first time. Two of the people I especially enjoyed meeting were Cena Block and Autumn Leopold.

When I was recruiting guest bloggers for this post-conference series, Autumn offered to interview Cena, who participated as both a speaker and an exhibitor, so naturally I was delighted!


Cena Block is a mom entrepreneur productivity expert! She’s a mentor-coach, professional facilitator, author, and motivational speaker who helps small business owners struggling to ‘manage it all’ in the time they have!  She is the founder of and creator of the Time & Space Style Inventory™ (TSSI).

I found Cena online three years ago and love the information she was putting out there on her blogs. So this year when I set out to lay the foundation for my business (two years late…) I sought her out and she took me on as a client. She is now my business and sanity coach. I went through her Plan-a-Paloozah Bootcamp this year and did all of my business planning in about 8 hours. It was amazing! Now I am a member of her newly rolled out Biz Marketing Makeover Coaching Group and it has been fantastic for my business and me personally as well. I am also an affiliate for the TSSI. I can speak from experience that Cena is an expert in her field and just a lovely person!

Recently Cena took time out of her schedule to answer a few questions I had for her:

1. How did your work as an organizer prepare you for your role as a coach?

I have a pretty wide background in coaching with my human resources career and I think had I had the guts early on I probably would have gone for coaching certification first.  However, working with clients as an organizer involved of lot of skills used in coaching.

2. What are the most common problems that clients come to you with?

Most of my clients struggle with time and a high level of stress were overwhelmed because they are juggling so much. Most of my clients are mothers and even though they may have very supportive husbands, they still do the lion’s share of work around the home and childcare. Because I work with people in the startup to growth years, often their businesses have not yet generated the kind of income they had hoped. What they need is better systems and more support, but because they don’t have their income level where they want it, they often do not pay others to help them and think they can do it all themselves. That’s where first step begins with a really deep dive into their time and how they spend their time. As well as taking a deeper look at what their vision is for their business and setting realistic revenue goals that are attainable.

3. How do you manage to run a household and a business, deliver workshops, create new products, support clients, etc.?

For many of the pieces of my business I have support.  Currently I have between five and seven part-time contractors working on different things at different times behind the scenes. I have often paid more to my support people than I paid myself in my growth years of business.  I found that segmenting tasks and hiring very skilled support people has helped me buy my time back so I can focus on the things I do best: coaching, writing, marketing, and selling my services. I really struggled with my business model, my ideal clients, and who and how I was serving people. In my early phases of business I was wearing every hat in the business but I was also jumping from private clients to chronically disorganized brain trauma to corporate associations to training to facilitating to one-on-one coaching. It was very difficult and I have had to restructure my business so I can focus on the people that I feel I’m best matched to help. I’ve also developed signature programs, group coaching events, and a pretty solid coaching curriculum that has made the engagement process more simplified, while providing enhanced learning and value for my coaching clients. And, a big part of the story is that I had to let a lot of pieces of my original company and the clients that went with them, go.

I’ve learned that in order to manage it all, I need to get really clear on my ‘next goal’ – Asking myself – ‘What do I really want” and “How can I serve” are the two big questions that help me get laser focused on that and work it through until it is completed. I used to STRUGGGGGGGGGLLLLEE with BSOS – “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome” – I was overworking, stressed out, running from thing to thing (not doing anything well) – and just barely holding on to my sanity. I’ve learned to get clear on one goal, see it through so it is completed, then IMPLEMENT IT! One of my favorite sayings is – ‘launch and learn’. I’ve let go of perfection – in the place of completion, and I’ll take completion ANY DAY! I’ve also learned how to say no – even though it may disappoint others. I constantly WORK on making time for play and downtime – breaking away from work, and have learned to schedule time away from my computer monthly so I can balance.

One of the outgrowths of my corporate training/performance management background is my belief in a very sound, reasonable plan that takes into account my life, my family, seasons, vacations and the other things I hold dear (besides my business)!  I work from a pretty strong plan – and review that plan quarterly. In fact, I so strongly believe in it that I’ve created the Plan-a-Paloozah for entrepreneurs annually for three years now. It’s a powerful opportunity for a retreat to do just that – Get all the ducks in a row, hold tight to your boundaries – and stay motivated and in action.

4. What is the most important advice you can offer to new organizers?

Accept that you have found this path for a reason. Build as much of your expertise into your business as you possibly can. This will allow you to serve clients more authentically and more fully. Too often new organizers focus on very general clientele but soon realize either through dissatisfaction or through cash flow gaps that they cannot make the kind of income they wished. The ones that excel quickly typically have a very targeted clientele and limited offer. When you’re starting out there’s a tendency to feel like you have to learn everything about every possible client. That is just not true. There will be some client groups that you will feel attracted to and energized by, and others that may zap your energy.

5. What is the one area of business you struggle with the most?

Because I have been building an innovative new assessment tool, the two areas that have caused the biggest struggle are the technical pieces and cash flow during the build phase. At times while I was building the Time & Space Style Inventory, it felt as though I were loading wheelbarrows full of money and dumping them over a cliff because I couldn’t see any results yet. That triggered some deep mindset and money blocks that I didn’t even know I had. I believe that the process of building your own business is as much a physical and emotional journey as it is a spiritual one.  I’m so thankful for the support of received from my own personal coaches mastermind groups, colleagues, family, and friends. These struggles inform my coaching, and allow me to hold the space for clients when they have similar blocks they need to release.

6. What is your next big goal for your business?

I am thrilled with the success of the TSSI! It has been so rewarding to see my vision come to fruition even though difficult. My next big goal is to see the TSSI get some traction in the coaching, education, and corporate markets. I am also developing a licensing and or certification program that will allow professionals and practitioners to use the content in their own marketing and training events.  I’m also thrilled with the success of my new group program: “The Business Marketing Makeover 6 Month Group Coaching Program”. It provides all the content I’ve developed over these many years with the power of a mastermind in the sound advice of a coach. The group meets every two weeks and it’s thrilling to watch people implement, confront their fears, and take action toward their goals. The next program that will be rolled out in addition to the licensing and certification of the TSSI, I’ve been building a premier two-year immersion program for startup mompreneurs: the Magnificent Mompreneur Mastermind Academy. I’m excited to continue to build that and launch in the near future.

Is there something you’d like to ask Cena or Autumn? Feel free to post your question in the comments!

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Autumn is the creator of Smart~Happy~Organized (SHO), a wife with a wonderful and handsome husband, a mother of a beautiful and precocious six-year-old son, a proud USAF veteran, a writer, and a professional organizer with her northern-Colorado company, Windfall Organizing.

She is an active member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and a Board Member of NAPO-CO.

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  1. Avatar Autumn Leopold on April 30, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Janet, thanks so much for the opportunity to guest post first of all! It was such a pleasure to to talk with Cena and get to know her passion and love for what she does and a Mompreneur coach. Next I’ll have to interview you for my blog! 😉

  2. Lucy Kelly Lucy Kelly on April 30, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Lovely interview Autumn! Cena, I liked hearing how your work has evolved as you’ve grown your business. My mantra for 2015 is “focus”!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Lucy, FOCUS is my word for 2015 too! When I chose it, I was thinking about being mindful, working on one thing at a time, studying one topic at a time, and so on. However, I recently took a coaching program with Elizabeth Hagen, and she shared some ideas about focus from Mark LeBlanc that really opened my eyes to things like focusing on my ideal client, the services I’m most passionate about, and so on. I’ve ordered his book and can’t wait to read it!

    • Avatar Cena from on May 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      Great mantra for 2015 @Lucy! So happy to hear this because it really will help you get crystal clear and start creating bigger results. One of my favorite sayings is: “How do you eat an elephant? – One bite at a time!” this is all about focus. Just when you think you have it all under control things can shift – and having the ability to get laser focused on what matters is so important! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Avatar Ellen Delap on April 30, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Fabulous interview! I especially love your sharing the challenges you and others face in starting their businesses. I know that when we learn what others have done to face these situations, we become resourceful.

    Networking is one of the most important reasons to attend a conference. I am thrilled that Autumn shared how valuable this is for her.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 30, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      You are so right, Ellen. There’s so much that goes on, but when we get back to the “real world” the relationships we form continue to grow, especially now that we can all stay in touch via social media.

    • Avatar Cena from on May 1, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      I think there are a lot of incredibly powerful people out there who are really struggling with some of these very real issues of running a business. My philosophy (although some might say TMI) is that our struggles help us move forward. If I can share it and you can learn from it – great! Thanks for stopping by and great to see you at conference !

  4. Avatar Kim on May 1, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Great interview with some really great insights!! I agree that our work evolves and what we need to start with will change over time as we get more confident and have more skills and knowledge. Also, just figuring out where we fit well within our work is so amazing and beautiful. I can relate to the BSOS syndrome – there is so much that we can do and it is challenging to narrow it down. For me, at this time, I am focusing on one blog post a week 🙂 Love this group of amazing women. Thank you

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 1, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Kim, I know so many people who started off as generalists before discovering their niche, and Cena’s advice is spot on. Not only is it not necessary to learn it all, it’s basically impossible to stay on top of developments in every single aspect of organizing (or other fields)!

    • Avatar Cena from on May 1, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      great to hear Kim – yetp – One bite at a time. I started blogging this way and it has certainly paid off over time! Great… Slowly but surely – things move in a positive direction when we put our energy toward them!

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