THE BLOG
05/31/2016 03:25 pm ET Updated Jun 01, 2017

Women in Business Q&A: DOROTHYtheORGANIZER

"Dorothy The Organizer" is America's Innovative Professional Organizer. Known to millions as the fearless-yet-endearing problem solver on the Emmy-nominated TV show on A&E, "Hoarders." Dorothy is also the best-selling author of five books, including her latest, Stuff Your Face or Face Your Stuff. Dorothy is also the organizing expert for Zillow.com, MariaShriver.com and the Huffington Post.

Owner of three companies, Dorothy is the creator of the "Curb The Chaos" on-line video course which helps individuals conquer their clutter in a pleasing and fun way, as well as the most trusted cloud based storage and organizing system, "Digital Lifecloud," and her "DorothyTheOrganizer" Professional Organizing Services.

Dorothy is a member and lecturer for the National Association of Professional Organizers (past national board member and past Los Angeles President) and Institute for Challenging Disorganization and is a highly sought-after international speaker who energizes and inspires her audiences to produce results and take immediate action.

In addition to being featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and O Magazines, Dorothy appears regularly on the Today Show, the Dr. Phil Show, the VIEW, The Doctors, QVC and PBS. Dorothy lives with her husband in Los Angeles.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Hands down, more than any institution, my life experience made me the leader I am today. One embarrassing divorce (then finally finding Marty my new hubby), near financial ruin from that divorce (then repaying all of my ex-husband's debt and regaining financial stability again), public humiliation for having gained and lost 75lbs five times (but having kept it off for five years now), endless business mistakes (which have become an asset in terms of coaching others), traveling the world for a year, losing a parent, caring for a a sibling with stage 4 cancer - all have prepared me to be the organizing coach that I am today. I had a strong will to do the right thing, transform myself, and create organizing systems to bail myself -- and later pass those ideas on to. These tough problems have allowed me to create success in all areas of my life and teach others to do the same - allowing me to impact nearly 2 million television viewers a week and hundreds of thousands of seminar attendees, readers and listeners through books, magazines, radio, and social media.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure as DorothyTheOrganizer?
As an executive assistant to CEO's, Dean's, and Chancellors of big name universities and corporations, I was well regarded as a very organized and diplomatic professional. With repeated success, I was able to help my head honchos travel anywhere with the right materials, at the right time, to meet the right people to get the job done. I was always the one who was offered an upgraded or new position because of my organizing skills. I learned directly from my bosses what it took to predict their needs, organize their lives, and follow up after every meeting, trip, gig or interaction. Indeed, my previous employment gave me the hard skills to become successful in the world of organizing.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure as DorothyTheOrganizer?
Bringing the impact of hoarding to the attention of millions of people each week and assisting in the shift of our mental health and judicial systems because of it has been very rewarding. Some highlights were: co-authoring a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book with Jack Canfield and publishing 6 more books thereafter, my first (and subsequent) appearances on the Dr. Phil show. (Ahhhh, but the challenge? The thousands of calls received after I appeared on the show!) Other highlights include appearing on the View, The Doctors, on PBS and selling out our Cherished Memories product on QVC. Being featured in Time Magazine, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education and hundreds more of today's popular magazines and newspapers. Becoming an expert and producer on the Emmy nominated A&E hit tv show, "Hoarders." Winning the "Most Innovative Organizer" in my industry four years in a row along with winning an SBA national Champion Award presented by the President of the United States. Unfortunately, the challenge for me was unlearning my workaholic tendency. This work addiction cost me relationships, good health, vacations, financial stability, and caused a lot of loneliness in the early years.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Pick the area of your life and work in which you are most proficient and start your organizing business around that expertise. Get clear on three hardships you have had to overcome and teach others how to do that too. Do not undercharge - especially once you are established.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Apologize quickly, do what you can to make things "right," and allow yourself to renegotiate deals that do not serve you.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
After forty years of making mistakes, I've finally landed in a healthy place of work life balance. I do this by having my life values organized in a priority order (and that's what I instruct my clients to do as well). Sleep is the "make or break" balancer in my life. When I get proper sleep, I continue to eat healthy and make better, clearer decisions each day. When I make clearer decisions, I am able to demonstrate higher creativity and energy which allows me to achieve my goals and serve a wider audience - plus it keeps any resentments at bay. I also meditate to manage any feelings of anxiety and overwhelm during the day which allows me to keep a positive attitude - which is really good for business, friends, family and especially me.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
As I observe my clients and listen to my audiences around the world, my understanding of their issue in the workplace today is overwhelm due being part of the "sandwich generation." These women are working, managing their home lives and who are sandwiched between two generations - their parents (which likely need some form of caregiving) and their children (which definitely need parenting and care). These women are coming home utterly exhausted and are experiencing early burnout or surprising mis-steps at work. Plus, women are typically the "connectors" and "relationship builders," who in addition to caring for the physical aspects of children and parents, they also attend the social gatherings, write the cards, and uphold the holiday traditions. Which is why the role of a professional organizer has become so important in the family unit.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Having worked for successful businessmen and women as their executive assistant back in the day, I was able to maintain those professional relationships through the years and have been very lucky to get the private mentoring and advice from those relationships. These people taught me how to manage my time, make health a priority, and turn difficult moments into profitable products and services. Additionally, they have opened doors and even invested in my company.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Debby Bitticks - Co-founder of Digital LifeCloud, Exec. VP Intergenerational Healthcare & Non-profit Marketing. As Founder and CEO of several companies, Debby has had extensive experience in the world of business and was presented with The Blue Chip Enterprise Award given by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. Employing hundreds of people, she has operated multi-site child care centers, developed elder day care programs, and created innovative intergenerational curriculum. Debby also co-authored "The Elder Care Review: A guide for Quality Control", and spoke at the annual meeting of The National Council on the Aging in Washington D.C. Debby has co-authored the BioBinder™ series including "Cherished Memories - The Story of My Life," "Time Efficiency Makeover," and the "Senior Organizer." She has also co-authored a book in the "Life Lessons" series with Chicken Soup for the Soul authors, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen: "Life Lessons for Busy Moms - 7 Essential Ingredients to Organize and Balance Your World." Both "Time Efficiency Makeover" and "The Senior Organizer" have been published in paperback by Health Communications Inc.

What do you want to accomplish in the next year?
Okay world, are you ready for my next television show?