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|Wednesday, March 01, 2006|
Call to order
Vicki Norris aims to organzize the world, and become a one-woman brand doing it.
By Christina Williams
The organization expert is laughing as she answers the front door. Real laughter — more giggle than guffaw. Charlie, the small beige mop of a Lhasa apso who was barking at the bell, has been restrained.
For all her levity, Norris is very serious when it comes to mapping out her career trajectory. She wants to be a nationally — maybe even internationally — known organizational expert. She’d like Vicki Norris to have the same kind of brand cachet as Martha Stewart or Jenny Craig. Don’t laugh.
“What I don’t want to be is Ask Eloise,” says Norris, rolling her eyes. “The world doesn’t need another home economist. I want to be a thought leader on setting priorities.”
Today, Norris is holding her monthly consultant training, gathering her company (three consultants and two administrative types, most of who work remotely) around the table in her roomy, cement-floor office behind the kitchen. A bowl of Wheat Thins and another of miniature chocolate bars anchor a table runner while Norris presides over the white board. She asks the team to review together the organization services they provide for different kinds of business customers — the home-baser, the sole proprietor, the corporate executive.
She started her business, Norris says, “in typical me style.” It’s a phrase she uses often. As in: “In typical me style, I went from zero to three employees.” Or, “In typical me style, I volunteered to be a vice president of the professional organizers group my first year in business.”
When she wanted to put label holders on her office supply line, she bought a $3,000 mill to cut out the prototypes. The retro design is very 1950s library card catalog.
But it’s with a completely straight face that Norris says: “I cannot fail. This is what I’m called to do.”
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As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.
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