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Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Countdown to Memorial Day: Olalah Njenga's Travel Tips

Spring has sprung, and the countdown to summer's unofficial start on Memorial Day has begun! As temperatures rise, I find that travel planning increases so this is the first in my series of interviews highlighting frequent travelers. We'll cover their preferences and best practices, giving you takeaways to try for your next trip.

This week, I am pleased to share my interview with Olalah Njenga, who is an award-winning strategist. As CEO, Ms. Njenga leads a strategy consulting company that helps business owners and business leaders transform dreams and goals into plans and outcomes. She shares her unique perspective about strategy, leadership and the small business economy by presenting to audiences across the United States. Working with Ms. Njenga is high-impact and results-oriented, leading to clients' greater success. Ms. Njenga's career highlights include the distinction of being a Forbes Braintrust® Member as well as a featured small business expert for the Washington Post. She serves as a trusted resource for major media outlets, including The New York Times, the BBC, NPR, Marketplace, Fox News and local affiliates for ABC, NBC and CBS. A Fellow of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership, Ms. Njenga is appointed to hold the designated seat for Small Business on the NCWorks Commission, where she advocates for initiatives that impact North Carolina's small business economy. Ms. Njenga serves as the Commission's Vice Chair, leading its Strategic Planning Committee. Visit http://olalah.com to learn more about Ms. Njenga's efforts to help private, public and non-profit organizations develop proven strategies for building, growing and scaling in their respective markets.

EP: Do you travel mainly for business, pleasure or both?

ON: Both business and fun.

EP: Do you prefer traveling via plane, train, boat or automobile?

ON: I love airplane travel. I don't have the patience for train rides nor long car rides.

EP: What is your favorite destination and why?

ON: Las Vegas is my favorite destination. There's always some trouble to get into, no matter the time of day or night.

EP: What is your preference for airlines?

ON: I don't really have an airline preference. Somehow, I end up flying Delta more often than not because they always seem to have the best departure times for my schedule, especially when I need to do turnaround trips.

EP: What is your preference for hotels or accommodations?

ON: I am a "Hilton girl" all the way. I've got Hilton Diamond status so any of their properties is fine, though Embassy Suites is definitely my favorite for multi-night stays. The Hampton Inn is my second choice, especially when I need a budget-friendly option.

EP: Do you book your own travel or prefer a travel agency?

ON: I always book my own travel because I am way too picky - A travel agent would fire me for all of the combinations of flight times I would likely ask of her!

EP: Do you have any suggestions for making the most of loyalty programs or points?

ON: To make the most of loyalty programs, keep up with the rewards and adjust your travel to take advantage of bonus rewards. I did that for my daughter's wedding and got 3 suites for nothing but the cost of the tax for the rooms simply by using rewards and adjusting the dates of check-in.

EP: Are you loyal to any particular brands?

ON: In terms of travel, I'm not an all-out loyalist, but I will choose Hilton for hotels and Samsonite for luggage every time when offered a choice. When my husband took my luggage on a business trip, the airline lost his luggage; when we got the check to replace the luggage, I bought the same set in my favorite color of purple. It was a special order and worth the wait. Now, I can spot my luggage anywhere on the baggage claim ramp, and my husband wouldn't be caught dead with purple luggage so he no longer borrows it!

EP: When flying, what do you ensure is in your carry-on?

ON: My carry-on bag contains items that are essential to health, hygiene and my peace of mind, which sometimes means my lucky purple socks, my favorite flash-drive (I named it "sunburst" because it's orange and black) and a hardcopy of whatever I'm doing that requires technology (because I'm paranoid). When it comes to travel, my personal motto is "If it can go wrong, it might go wrong so be prepared."

EP: Do you keep an extra bag of toiletries packed?

ON: I keep a "go bag" of toiletries on the ready in the hall closet. I heard "Hotchner" from the show Criminal Minds refer to his go bag, and I was hooked ever since then. Can you tell that I'm a fan?

EP: How do you organize your time and related details while on-the-go?

ON: I use my mobile phone to manage "where" I'm supposed to be and "who" I'm supposed to meet, but I use my Franklin Planner agenda to manage "what" matters most and "when" it needs to get done. I save everything to my Outlook calendar --- notes, drawings, directions, etc. Then, I sync everything in my mobile phone. Duplicity offers assurance, and that gives me peace of mind.

EP: Do you use technology to help stay productive and organized? If so, what's your favorite program, app, website or tech tool for surviving the chaos of daily life? And what's your favorite for being your best while traveling?

ON: Personally, I don't use a lot of technology because I don't like the eye strain of staring at a screen a million times a day. That might seem strange coming from a former Cisco girl, but I keep things "tech simple". I use Dropbox for storing and retrieving any and all docs. I also use the Dropbox app on my mobile phone. However, for overall productivity, I find that my Franklin Planner (compact size) is invaluable for keeping me on track and productive.

EP: Across all your travels, which restaurant did you enjoy most, why was it your favorite and what was the best food?

ON: A favorite restaurant is an impossible question, but, if hard-pressed, it would be the Grandover Resort in Greensboro. I ordered breakfast via room service, and it was so delicious that I nearly forgot that I was supposed to be on stage to speak to a few hundred people. Yes... It was THAT good!

EP: If you could have one super power to make traveling (or life in general) a little better, what would it be?

ON: Oh, that's easy... My super power would be warp speed movement. As I said, I'm impatient.

Thanks for sharing so many excellent tidbits, Ms. Njenga!

Readers, do your preferences mirror hers? Do you use any of the tools or hacks that she's mastered over her countless travels? Which tip do you plan to implement in the future?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Countdown to Memorial Day: Coach Dave Clawson's Travel Tips

Spring has sprung, and the countdown to summer's unofficial start on Memorial Day has begun! As temperatures rise, I find that travel planning increases so this is the third in my series of interviews highlighting frequent travelers' preferences and best practices, giving you takeaways to try for your next trip.

Coach Dave Clawson
This week, I am pleased to share my interview with Dave Clawson, head coach for the football program at Wake Forest University since December 10, 2013. Known for his prowess in building football programs, Coach Clawson has shown dramatic improvement at every stop: Albany, Buffalo, Lehigh, Villanova, Fordham, Richmond, Bowling Green and, now, Wake Forest. Yet, with all that football success, Coach Clawson faces a tremendous amount of traveling on a regular basis, whether for recruiting, getting to game day and everything in between. Add to that traveling with his wife, Catherine, and two children, Courtney and Eric, and Coach Clawson has plenty of travel experience to share. For more on Coach Clawson, please view his bio here, and continue reading for travel insights to use over your next adventure.


EP: Do you travel mainly for business, pleasure or both?

DC: I travel for both. Recruiting requires me to travel quite a bit for work in December and January. During the season (August - December), we have to travel to away games, but, in the summer, I really enjoy taking at least one trip a year with my family. Each year, we go to a different part of the country or internationally.

EP: Do you prefer traveling via plane, train, boat or automobile?

DC: None! Hahaha! I have to say that the actual traveling is the worst part of travel. Still, if it's further away than a 5-hour drive, I like to fly; other than that, we typically travel by automobile.

EP: What is your favorite destination and why?

DC: I have been to Paris twice, and I absolutely love that. Additionally, I love going down to the beaches of the North Carolina and South Carolina shore.

EP: What is your preference for airlines?

DC: Delta or American, but that's only because those are the two I end up flying the most.

EP: What is your preference for hotels or accommodations?

DC: I prefer both Marriotts and Hiltons because of their consistency - You know what to expect, and their service is usually very good.

EP: Do you book your own travel or prefer a travel agency?

DC: For personal travel, we usually book the travel on our own; however, for work, the athletic department uses Anthony Travel.

EP: Are you loyal to any particular brands or have suggestions for utilizing loyalty programs?

DC: I usually try to travel based on the lowest price for when I need to be going so I don't gravitate towards any specific brand simply because it's the brand. I go to a brand if it's the best price.

EP: When flying, what do you ensure is in your carry-on?

DC: I like to bring a good book and, usually, my iPad.

EP: What's your favorite book?

DC: I love reading presidential biographies. The ones about John Adams and Andrew Jackson are two of my favorites.

EP: Do you keep an extra bag of toiletries packed?

DC: Yes, I do. I always have a bag of toiletries under our sink that is packed, and, any time I travel, I just grab that bag and throw it in my suitcase. It's packed and ready to go.

EP: How do you organize your time commitments and reservation details while on-the-go?

DC: I put everything in my iPhone's calendar. If I'm going to a hotel, I'll put the hotel name, address and reservation number or details in the calendar so I can look it all up with just one click.

EP: Any tools or tactics you use to keep your accommodations organized?

DC: I rarely stay at a hotel for more than one night with my recruiting travel schedule, but I immediately set up my iPad on my desk and try to have it duplicate my work set-up as much as possible.

EP: Do you use technology to help stay productive and organized? If so, what's your favorite program, app, website or tech tool for surviving the chaos of daily life? And what's your favorite for being your best while traveling?

DC: I use the calendar app on my iPhone and iPad a lot; that's probably the technology I depend on the most.

EP: Across all your travels, which restaurant did you enjoy most, why was it your favorite and what was the best food?

DC: Whenever I travel, I enjoy food. I like watching Food Network shows so, whenever I go to a place on the road, I never like to eat in chains. I always like to find what the local restaurant is and what the local food is. If I'm near the shore, I love to get seafood; if I'm in western North Carolina, I like to get the barbecue. It's like when you're in New York and you love to get Italian. When eating at a place that's local, it usually has fresh ingredients and fresh food.

EP: If you could have one super power to make traveling (or life in general) a little better, what would it be?

DC: To eliminate the travel part of travel! If I could just get beamed somewhere, going to the shore could take 5 minutes instead of 5 hours, and that would make life much, much better.

Thanks for sharing so many excellent tidbits, Coach Clawson, here's to a hugely successful season this fall... Go, Deacs!

Readers, do your preferences mirror his? Do you use any of the tools or hacks that he's mastered over his countless travels? Which tidbit do you plan to implement yourself?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Get Top Tech Tools for Rocking It at Work and in Life


One of my most popular workshops is coming up in Raleigh next week, and I know you don't want to miss out on reserving your spot for 6-8pm on Thursday, April 20th or 10am-noon on Saturday, April 22nd if you are local to the Triangle in North Carolina. If you feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done and you might be losing time that you'd like to get back, technology could help. Don't waste your time searching all over the Internet for the tech tools to perfectly fit your needs; I have done the research and heavy-lifting for you, saving you time by sharing the best of the best. Adjust how you approach work, home, community involvement and taking care of yourself to organize for greater success so you better achieve your goals, quickly find what you need when you need it and always know what must be done. With what you learn in this workshop, you will be able to take full advantage of available software, apps and tech tools to achieve enhanced efficiency, greater productivity, larger profitability, an organized workspace and better harmony across all aspects of your life. Space is limited so hurry on over to http://bit.ly/NCLearning, select which of the two offerings works best for your schedule and get registered.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Countdown to Memorial Day: Geralin Thomas' Travel Tips

Spring has sprung, and the countdown to summer's unofficial start on Memorial Day has begun! As temperatures rise, I find that travel planning increases so this is the second in my series of interviews highlighting frequent travelers' preferences and best practices, giving you takeaways to try for your next trip.

Ms. Geralin Thomas
This week, I am pleased to share my interview with Geralin Thomas, an organizing consultant who owns Metropolitan Organizing and is best known for her appearances on A and E's television show, Hoarders. Ms. Thomas is an author, speaker, instructor, consultant and career coach. Prior to becoming a professional organizer, Ms. Thomas worked in the travel industry; now, she travels heavily for television appearances as well as public speaking opportunities. Click for Ms. Thomas' bio on her website, including her list of Free Checklists that offers "Packing For a NAPO Conference", and continue for her most valuable travel hacks.

ESP: Do you travel mainly for business, pleasure or both?

GT: When on the road for business, I try to squeeze in a little fun distraction. Sometimes, it's a visit with a nearby friend or family member. Sometimes, it's a city tour or museum visit. Often, I reach out to someone with whom I socialize on social media, but I make sure to include pleasure with my business while traveling.

ESP: Do you prefer traveling via plane, train, boat or automobile?

GT: In real life, I travel almost always via car or plane. I like direct, cross-country flights because I can accomplish a lot of work in 4 or 5 hours of uninterrupted time alone.

ESP: What is your favorite destination and why?

GT: My two favorite vacation places are Positano and St. Barts. Both places offer the best chefs preparing the very freshest meals with simple ingredients, the sea, the sun, fashion and local hospitality.

ESP: What is your preference for airlines?

GT: Delta Airlines is my preferred airline because I feel like they try harder in every single way to make the trip a little more pleasant.

ESP: What is your preference for hotels or accommodations?

GT: When it comes to hotels, I'm not quite as brand loyal. Instead, my priorities are a safe neighborhood, a clean and updated room, WiFi as well as plentiful elevators!

ESP: Do you book your own travel or prefer a travel agency?

GT: I used to be a travel agent so, almost all of the time, I book my own. However, if I were going on a river cruise or something like that which is outside the realm of my experience, I would most likely use an experienced agent.

ESP: When flying, what do you ensure is in your carry-on?

GT: My packing list for vacation travel is included on pages 168 and 169 of my book, Decluttering Your Home Tips, Techniques and Trade Secrets, including sections for the basics, personal items, carry-on items and a few extras. Alternatively, for business travel, especially to a National Association of Professional Organizers' (NAPO) Conference, my business trip packing list is on my website.

ESP: Do you keep an extra bag of toiletries packed?

GT: I have a hanging bag with compartments that stays stocked and ready to roll 24/7. However, my cosmetics are kept in a bathroom drawer and packed according to destination, season, clothing capsule colors, etc.

ESP: How do you organize your time while on-the-go?

GT: While I use an electronic calendar for all recurring events, I still prefer a paper planner when it comes to daily, one-on-one, phone or video appointments. In my paper planner, I get very creative. I not only take notes and make sketches, but I play with colors and shapes that suit each client. Most of my "career coaching" with professional organizers and "wardrobe wisdom" coaching is done virtually. That means that, even while on the road, I can easily honor appointments with clients from numerous time zones.

ESP: What tools or tactics do you use to keep your accommodations organized while traveling?

GT: Small, separate, zippered cases are my sanity-saving secret, and it's not just on the road. I use them at home, too. Everything gets bundled and, then, is popped in and out of bigger tote bags as I need them. Here are a few examples:
- travel documents
- receipts
- phone charger
- ear buds
- computer charger
- pool / beach goodies
- fitness necessities
I do this with my "wardrobe wisdom" clients as well, bundling their jewelry in small mesh bags and hanging each bag with whichever garments that jewelry will be worn.

ESP: Do you use technology to help stay productive and organized? If so, what's your favorite program, app, website or tech tool for surviving the chaos of daily life?

GT: I regularly use Evernote, Hipmunk, Momondo, Skyscanner and GateGuru.

ESP: What are your "must haves" for being your best while traveling?

GT: I must have a good night's sleep. For me, that requires the following:
- a comfortable mattress, pillows and bedding
- no ambient light at night
- a quiet room away from the elevators and ice machines
Additionally, I must have a well-lit bathroom, towels that are thick and absorbent, great water pressure in the shower, plenty of outlets in the room so I can charge my devices as well as easy access to hot tea and coffee in the early morning hours.

ESP: Across all your travels, which restaurant did you enjoy most, why was it your favorite and what was the best food?

GT: Don't get me wrong; I've eaten at some very fine restaurants, but I think of myself as more of a relationship person --- not a foodie. I find that a very average meal becomes extraordinary when shared with an enjoyable dining companion. It's usually not so much about the food but more about the company I'm keeping. Some of the very best times of my life were had while eating ho-hum food with interesting, charismatic or hilarious friends, acquaintances or strangers.

ESP: If you could have one super power to make traveling (or life in general) a little better, what would it be?

GT: While traveling, I've often thought that, if I had the ability to understand and fluently converse in all languages, it would be a huge asset.

Thanks for sharing so many excellent tidbits, Ms. Thomas!

Readers, to learn more about Ms. Thomas, click-through to her Wikipedia page. Do your preferences mirror hers? Do you use any of the tools or hacks she's mastered over her countless travels? Which of her tips do you plan to implement?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Countdown to Memorial Day: Laura Doerre's Travel Tips

Spring has sprung, and the countdown to summer's unofficial start on Memorial Day has begun! As temperatures rise, I find that travel planning increases so this is the first in my series of interviews highlighting frequent travelers. We'll cover their preferences and best practices, giving you takeaways to try for your next trip.

Ms Laura W. Doerre
To kick things off, I am pleased to share my interview with Laura W. Doerre, who has served as Executive vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of JELD-WEN, a leading window and door manufacturer with operations in 19 countries, since September 2016. Prior to that, Ms. Doerre was Vice President and General Counsel for Nabors Industries, the world's largest land-based drilling contractor with operations in over 20 countries, where she worked for 20 years. A frequent traveler, Ms. Doerre has visited over 60 countries and is currently on a quest to run a half marathon on all seven continents. Ms. Doerre serves on the boards of The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (2011-present), Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity (2010-present; current President) and Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation (2010-2012; 2014-present). She is a member of Women Executives of Charlotte as well as the International Chamber of Commerce Commission on Arbitration and co-chairs the Corporate Counsel Subcommittee of the U.S. Council for International Business' Committee on Arbitration.

ESP: Do you travel mainly for business, pleasure or both?

LWD: Both.

ESP: Do you prefer traveling via plane, train, boat or automobile?

LWD: Plane - It's so much more efficient.

ESP: What is your favorite destination and why?

LWD: Paris with its wonderful food, shopping and wine.

ESP: What is your preference for airlines?

LWD: American because I live in a hub city and, with all my traveling, have earned a higher status.

ESP: What is your preference for hotels or accommodations?

LWD: I have a few options that I prefer: Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton for their superb quality as well as Marriott and Hilton for the loyalty points garnered from each stay.

ESP: Do you book your own travel or prefer a travel agency?

LWD: I prefer to book my own travel. I usually find better alternatives and better deals.

ESP: Do you have any suggestions for making the most of loyalty programs or points?

LWD: To determine the best values, apply the rule that one point must equal $0.01.

ESP: Are you loyal to any particular brands?

LWD: In addition to the aforementioned American, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Marriott and Hilton, I would include United because I have earned lifetime status with them.

ESP: When flying, what do you ensure is in your carry-on?

LWD: Everything! But, if I'm checking a bag, I make sure my carry-on includes my valuables, essential toiletries and a change of clothes. Oh, and Bose headphones as well as compression socks for the flight.

ESP: Do you keep an extra bag of toiletries packed?

LWD: Absolutely! I started doing this years ago, and it has definitely decreased the aggravation of forgotten items.

ESP: How do you organize your time while on-the-go?

LWD: iCalendar synced between my devices.

ESP: What tools or tactics do you use to keep your accommodations organized while traveling?

LWD: Technology is very helpful. I like using iCalendar along with the app for the hotel where I'm staying. Additionally, to prevent scrambling once you reach your destination, international travelers need to have a curling iron or other frequently used appliances in 220 V versions to take on those trips.

ESP: Do you use technology to help stay productive and organized? If so, what's your favorite program, app, website or tech tool for surviving the chaos of daily life? And what's your favorite for being your best while traveling?

LWD: My iCalendar keeps me on track, particularly with separate color-coding for each aspect of my life.

ESP: Across all your travels, which restaurant did you enjoy most, why was it your favorite and what was the best food?

LWD: Joel Robuchon Atelier in Paris - My visit was a great night with great food and great wine. The seared foie gras with poached apricot is unbelievably good!

ESP: If you could have one super power to make traveling (or life in general) a little better, what would it be?

LWD: Teleportation.

Thanks for sharing so many excellent tidbits, Ms. Doerre!

Readers, do your preferences mirror hers? Do you use any of the tools or hacks that she's mastered over her countless travels? Which tip do you plan to implement in the future?