Listen to more business breakthrough interviews at Your Business Breakthrough Radio Show with Dr. Elizabeth Armstrong.


Barbara's Special Offer (23:00)







Audio Transcript

Dr.Liz: 00:00 Hello everybody and welcome to Your Business Breakthrough Radio Show. I am Dr. Elizabeth Armstrong. We are here to inspire you to take your business to the next level. We have an excellent speaker here today. Barbara Hemphill has information to share with you that I am sure you're going to find very valuable. So let's welcome Barbara to the show.

Barbara: 00:27 Thank you Dr. Liz I'm appreciative of the opportunity to be here.

Dr.Liz: 00:31 Has there been a time in your business when perhaps it wasn't going forward, and you had an inspiration that allowed you to take your business to the next level?

Barbara: 00:41 There have been several times that that has happened, because I'm 70 years old and I've been in business for 40 years in the same business. And when you're in any business for that long there are lots of ups and downs so that has happened to me several times. The most recent one was actually when I had my 70th birthday and everyone's saying you know well you know did you want to retire, and my husband's retired, and I thought about it, and it's like, well you know I really like what I'm doing, but maybe it is really time to put it to an end. But the longer I thought about, it the less I was interested in doing that. Because the good news is I love what I'm doing now even more than I did when I was starting 40 years ago. So I thought about and thought OK how will I go forward.

Barbara: 01:31 And I was inspired by George Burns. I remember him saying that he booked himself as the stand up comic at the Palladium for his hundredth birthday and I thought wow that was really cool because then he said well I can't die because I have engagement. So I thought you know I really like the idea of saying I would give a speech when I'm 100. So it's like OK how can I impact the world to make sure that there's really something I want to talk about? And so I looked at what I'd been doing in my business, what did I like and what did I not like. And I realized that for 40 years I have marketed very wide and very shallow. And what I mean by that is I have written any number of books, I've traveled around the world, I've been on television, on radio, in newsprint.

Barbara: 02:17 So there were just people coming to me all the time from different ways asking for different kinds of help. And I decided that I wanted to change that and I wanted to market narrow and deep that instead of doing things virtually and instead of traveling all around, that I really wanted to get to know the business leaders in my community. I'd lived in the Raleigh North Carolina area for over 20 years and I had never actively worked to find out who lived here and what businesses were here and what they did. I decided that for the next stage of my business and phase of my life I wanted to have person to person interaction. And so that's what I've done and it's been very exciting.

Dr.Liz: 03:09 That sounds very interesting. Usually when you start a business they recommend that you do that one on one in the beginning to make those connections. You glanced at it from a different direction by being very productive and people sought you out.

Barbara: 03:24 Well I think the reason that was a little bit different was that I started my business 'cause I had adopted three orphaned children. One of them had special needs and I wanted to make sure that I put my family first and that meant that I needed to work for myself so I could control my hours. And I decided the best way to do that would be to find a problem that people were complaining about the I could solve, that they would pay me for. I would be on the playground with my children and I would hear people complaining about being disorganized: things like we haven't eaten off of the table in a month because it's piled full of papers, or I had to file an extension on my income taxes because I couldn't find the receipts, or I'm fighting with a family member about the clutter in their house, and I thought they didn't have my mom and dad.

Barbara: 04:14 I grew up on a farm and we were all about systems. It wasn't that we were neat freaks but there were just ways that you did things and I realized that a lot of people didn't have the advantage that I did so I took seven dollars out of the grocery money and ran an ad that said "Disorganized? I organize closets, files, kitchens, you name it. Call Barbara Hemphill. And at that point in time there was no organizing industry. No one had ever heard about it. I actually went to the Small Business Administration to ask them to help me start the business and they just laughed at me and said This is not really business. Nobody's going to pay for this. Well now the residential organizing industry alone is I think the last quote I saw was like a 12 billion dollar industry and now I work primarily in businesses because although there's a lot of talk about disorganization in homes there isn't a lot of talk about what disorganization costs companies, and it is really astronomical what that can mean to a company when people are looking for what they need and not being able to find it.

Dr.Liz: 05:19

Dr.Liz: 05:19 I completely agree with you. For me my way of being very productive is I try to put everything back in the same place every time. So I know where to find it. When I was looking for my car keys one time I'm looking all over the place and I thought what a waste of time. So I started putting the keys right back. And it takes a lot of time. And what I'd like is you were a pioneer in this business in the organization business. Nobody'd ever thought about it before and you were very industrious to listen to what people were saying and then put this together to go back to what you mentioned earlier. That's

Barbara: 05:54 the reason that I was marketing wide and shallow because there was really a lot of things that had to happen. I did a number of things. I did individual consulting with people; in order to get the clients, I would speak. I would go to PTAs and church groups and garden clubs and anybody that would give me the platform and then I realized that to promote this I needed to get the word out so I wrote a book called Taming the Paper Tiger. I began to speak for a lot of associations and then I realized that I was just one person. And so if I got up in front of an audience and told them why they needed to get organized, at that point I developed a certification program for other people to learn what I did and to be able to promote it. So then I built that program so that I had other consultants doing the same thing.

Barbara: 06:47 So I was working on all of those fronts at the same time, which made it very exciting and interesting. And that company, which is now called Productive Environment Institute, is run by my business colleague. And so we have a certification program for people who want to become productivity consultants. So that business is going on and I'm a major player in that in terms of training and inspiring and encouraging. But personally I'm primarily working here in my own community to work with business leaders to help them make their office what we call a productive environment. There was a study recently that said the average employee spends 19 percent of his or her time looking for items. So if you took a wage of twenty dollars an hour which is pretty conservative for a company with 20 employees that means that waste is costing a hundred and fifteen thousand dollars a year.

Barbara: 07:46 Every year. So, my passion is helping business owners create systems to eliminate the physical and digital clutter that's in desks and offices and computers and storage areas. And we do that by implementing what we call our 7 information management questions and the result for businesses is increased profit, productivity, and peace of mind. I

Dr.Liz: 08:08 love it. I find you to be so very innovative and intelligent to diversify your business, with consulting, speaking, writing a book. So that's what you meant by marketing wide - you created a lot of marketing material, correct, but shallow not really doing a lot of one on one, and now you could stop if you wanted you could retire.

Barbara: 08:28 I could I but I have no interest in retiring at all. Yes

Dr.Liz: 08:31 my mother was 82 and still working full time because she wanted to not be just had to and I guess I have her genes. And I think this is inspiring to our audience as well that when you find something you really love, then you keep going with it. You did say something at one point of being able to serve that you want to make things better for other people.

Barbara: 08:53 My passion has been to help people accomplish their work and enjoy their lives and I feel like I have a right to do that because I've done it myself. I created my business to enable me to put my family first, but to also have a business and I think that's something that everybody should be able to do. Everyone should be able to accomplish their work and enjoy their lives and I think that involves a variety of things. One is really being clear about what that means to you. We have a five step process that we use when we work with clients, that we call the Productive Environment Process. The steps are: State your vision, Identify your obstacles, Commit your resources, Design and execute your plan, and Sustain your success. And you notice the common word in those five steps is "your," because God didn't create any two people the same or any two businesses the same.

Barbara: 09:49 So in order to create systems that will allow you to accomplish your work and enjoy your life, you really have to figure out what it is that you can and want to do. People often say to me when they're talking about trying to get organized, and they'll ask me, what should I do? And I would say that's the wrong question. The question is What will you do? Because when your vision is strong enough and your passion is great enough, then you can find a way to get there and that's what I like to do is help people find a way to get to where their passion is, so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. I

Dr.Liz: 10:23 agreed that no two people are the same. I see it as everybody has this unique shape like a puzzle piece that fits into the universal design perfectly. And so then when you take that uniqueness in somebody then you go deeper and find out what their vision is, and what their passion is. And the one that you love your business, that's what you did, you found your vision and your passion, and you're encouraging other people to do the same. I'm sure there are many people out there that will now step back and say OK what is my vision and passion. So I am loving my business.

Barbara: 10:56 And you know I think a lot of times Dr. Liz, people have a hard time doing that. And I can recall being in that position. I was married for the first time for 14 years and suddenly my husband wanted a divorce and I was absolutely devastated. No one in my family had ever been divorced. I had these three children. I was devastated. I was sitting in a therapist's office and she said to me OK Barbara you have a blank slate. What do you want? I said you know I really don't know. And she made a statement which was life changing for me and which I use with my clients all the time, and that statement was All right, let's start with what you don't want. And oftentimes in order to get to what you do want, you have to, like, peel layers of an onion off and figure out what you don't want and then what you do kind of reveals itself as you move forward.

Dr.Liz: 11:49 And like a reverse engineering it is. That's

Barbara: 11:52 exactly what it is. And you know what prevents us from doing that often is clutter. My newest book is called Less Clutter, More Life. And the premise of it is that physical and digital clutter is a symptom of emotional and spiritual clutter. Often when we are not clear about what our vision, what our passion is then we collect all kinds of things physical things, and digital things, but even emotional things. And one of the questions that I always ask people is, Does this, whatever 'this" is, this can be something physical, it can be something digital, or it can be an idea. Does "this" help me accomplish my work and enjoy my life? And if it doesn't help you accomplish your work, and it doesn't help you enjoy your life, it is by definition clutter and you can't afford it.

Dr.Liz: 12:43 Well I can understand that completely. And what I'm thinking about as you were speaking, was the online environment. I can go into Facebook and there are so many opportunities, so many things going on, it can be very distracting.

Barbara: 12:57 Well that's true and it's even true of your e-mail inbox. The inbox is really other people's agendas. It's what they want you to do for them. So it's really important that you identify what is important to you and make sure that you walk that first. It's like the old story. I don't know who initiated it but I first heard it from Dr. Stephen Covey when he wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And I remember very clearly watching him speak and he had this jar. He had these rocks in it and he said you know is it full. And the audience said you know it looks pretty full. Well not really. So then he put in some stones and then he said is it full. And then he put in some sand and then he put in water and he said what's the lesson here and people said things like Oh there's always room for more.

Barbara: 13:51 He said no if you don't put the rocks in first, there'll never be room for them. And so a lot of people don't know what the rocks are, so they're busy filling up things and there isn't room for the rocks. So it's really important to identify what those things are that you want to accomplish. I say to people a question, what's the one thing that has to happen in the next year for you to be happy with your progress? And the answer to that question will put you on the road to being able to accomplish your work and enjoy your life.

Dr.Liz: 14:20 Again that reverse engineering, is where I want to be a year from now and then filling it up with everything with the rocks and so forth down to the water, that really is genius. I

Barbara: 14:30 can't take credit for inventing it but I certainly did accept it as a good way of doing things in order to be productive and peaceful.

Dr.Liz: 14:38 Now I go back to when I go on Facebook there are so many opportunities. So it is not easy for people to determine exactly what it is that is going to drive them and make them happy and make them still want to be doing it in six months, a year, five years from now.

Barbara: 14:56 Well there's a good technique I use when people are coming in as trainees to be consultants. One of the things that we work with them on is finding their target market, what services they're going to offer to whom. Because the thing about organizing is that it applies to absolutely everyone personally and professionally.

Barbara: 15:17 Very easy to be you know all over the place and people often have a hard time narrowing it down. So one of the questions that I ask, that's very important, is what were you doing when you were like 10, 11, 12 years old? And that's a very good key to where your passion is. Because that's what you were doing before somebody told you oh you can never make a living doing that. And a lot of times people say well I don't know and so I'll challenge them go back and ask your siblings, ask your parents, ask your friends, and you'll find out some very interesting things and what you find out is inevitably linked to what your passion is.

Dr.Liz: 15:57 Well you are very inspiring because as I sit here and listen to you speak the ideas are coming into my head. I mean what was I doing when I was 10 years old or thereabouts as a teenager. So I went back to that point and realized what I was doing, and now I see that is how my business is unfolding. It's always kind of like leader, and organizing everybody, and saying, OK let's go do this now, we're going to go do this now. And with the radio show that's what I'm doing, is finding a way to help people and bringing in the information. And to a degree leading. Again genius.

Barbara: 16:30 Well that illustrates one of the other principles that I write about a lot in my books and that is, together we are better. I think that we are meant to be interdependent people and so when we find what we're good at then we need to partner with other people who are good at what we're not good at. Everybody wins.

Dr.Liz: 16:53 I completely agree. I talk a lot about the hearts and awareness that we are supposedly evolving to hearts and consciousness and the heart is that feminine that involves collaboration, intuition, nurturing, compassion, and it seems like when I do speak with people like when I'm speaking with you, you're talking about well I wanted my business so I could be there for my children. Compassion, nurturing, and now you're speaking of working together with people in collaborative relationships. The more and more that I speak with people the more and more I'm finding that a lot of these feminine traits are starting to shine and help people be successful.

Barbara: 17:35 I think in terms of history and culture right now there really is a need for a lot of those feminine traits. The collaborative approach is something very different from the way business has been approached in the past. And I think the time is right.

Dr.Liz: 17:51 I hear you. I think the time is right. Absolutely. And in the right place at the right time and I do feel that that is where a lot of women are right now. Let's face it when we can have over five million people come together for the women's march I think is a testimony to the importance of incorporating these skills because I think it's not only women that have these feminine traits I think men have feminine traits as well. I agree. Now you did talk about it is a symptom of emotional clutter. And when I think of emotional clutter I also think of spiritual and wondering if there could be as well having spiritual to help bring us out of a lot of these situations we find ourselves in by being overwhelmed with clutter. Well

Barbara: 18:40 I think that's actually you really hit the nail on the head in that that is the answer. I believe very strongly that God created each and every one of us for a specific role and the clearer we are about that role the easier it is to eliminate clutter. The thing that has enabled me to continue for these 40 years and love what I do is that I spend more and more and more time in meditation and prayer and being alone and really listening for what I believe God wants me to do. The outcome is that it's a lot easier to eliminate the clutter. So often when there's so much of everything we don't slow down enough to get feedback or to really analyze things. We're just running like gerbils in a cage. I did that for years and years to the point that at one point I ended up in the hospital with chronic fatigue because I just drove myself crazy and that was another one of those times I mentioned at the beginning that I had to reinvent myself several times.

Barbara: 19:49 And that was one of those times that I had to reinvent myself. And I think we all do. You know one of the things I've often said is that in order to thrive, change is a condition of a healthy individual or a healthy organization. I have four questions. When somebody wants to know if something is organized, there are four questions. Let's say organized about a certain thing, so it might be about their e-mail or about their calendar about their laundry or about their career or whatever it is and so those four questions are number one is does it work is what you're doing working. Two is do you like it. I was in an office of a CFO of a movie production company.

Barbara: 20:33 He wasn't a client or anything but he said Oh I know what you do. He said I'd love to have a clean desk. But every time I have a clean desk I can't find anything. So his desk worked but he didn't like it. So that's always a question. The third one is, does it work for the other people it affects. Because if we're going to live in community we really do have to pay attention to how what we do affects other people. And then fourthly is can we recover quickly because messes happen. You get sick or you lose an employee or you're traveling or something doesn't work the way it's supposed to be - it happens all the time. But if you have systems in place - and I'm a big believer in systems. I use the acronym Saving You Space Time Energy and Money, because that's what the SYSTEM does.

Barbara: 21:21 Any time there's something that you do repeatedly you need to have a system in place to do that and it will save you space time energy and money. Every time you have to repeat something you want to have a system and you know whether the system is right if you can answer yes to those questions: Yes it works. Yes I like it. Yes, it works for the other people that are affected. And yes, when the system breaks down temporarily, as it inevitably will, I can recover quickly. And prevent stress. Absolutely. Stress is a big one. Or at least they - you can't - I don't know that you can prevent stress, but you can, you can cope with it. I believe that organization is about controlling the things you can control, so you can cope with things you can't.

Barbara: 22:07 You mentioned early on in the interview about losing your car keys. That's something we can control. I always put my car keys as you said in the same place. One of the other things I do is when I buy a handbag, it always has to have one pocket that I know is where the car keys are going to go, and I have to tell you a funny story. I had this beautiful handbag. I really loved it. But it had a whole bunch of pockets in it and I kept forgetting which pocket I had put the keys in. And I was going to give it away and I thought no wait a minute I'll superglue it. So I literally got the superglue and glued some of the pockets shut so I could only have one where I put my car keys. Too funny.

Dr.Liz: 22:52 That is cute. You found a solution. I

Barbara: 22:53 did. I did as my daddy used to say on the farm, half of any job is using the right tool. And sometimes superglue is a great tool. I like superglue.

Dr.Liz: 23:03 Barbara you have provided great information. I have enjoyed this conversation. Do you have something you want to offer our audience there?

Barbara: 23:11 Absolutely. This was supposed to be the paperless world. A lot of people still have a lot of paper lying around especially at home. It seems to accumulate there. And so I've created something I believe that people should turn their filing systems into a finding system. It's very easy to file things. The question is how can you find it. And so we've created something called a finding system. So we have an online training course called the Finding System Basics.

Barbara: 23:42 You can get that by going to the link that you will provide them in your program. For those listening right now.

Dr.Liz: 23:42 It is https://ProductiveEnvironmentInstitute.teachable.com/pe/ProductiveEnvironmentFindingSystemBasics.

Barbara: 24:09 That may be too complicated for people to remember. I would suggest one other thing that they can do is if they just go to BarbaraHemphill.com and they can reach me on the Web site and just say Dr. Liz and I will connect them with the link that they need. That

Dr.Liz: 24:25 sounds great and there will be a sales page that will have this link on it. And then there is a coupon code. It looks like the original price is $197, although the course now is $97.99. Right.

Barbara: 24:39 And they can use the code is going to be a BHVIP which stands for Barbara Hemphill Very Important Person, because if you're wanting to purchase this you are a very important person to me. Barbara

Dr.Liz: 24:51 thank you so so very much for being here. AUDIENCE Thank you for being at the Your Business Breakthrough Radio Show. Again I'm Dr. Elizabeth Armstrong. We look forward to hearing from you.


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