Business Profile – Rachel Strisik, Rachel And Company

Rachel And Company logo
Name:  Rachel Strisik
Occupation:  Professional Organizer
Current City:  Washington, DC
Close up-Pink Dress
Why did you become a professional organizer? I was tired of being a lawyer and was looking for a career where I could use my Type-A personality and put it to good use. I was also looking for a profession where I could help people using the skills that I had and produce life-long results.

What was your favorite project and why? I don’t necessarily have a “favorite” project. For me, it is really about having great clients because they make the project. When a client tells me that our work together has changed their life in some way-helps them save time, save money, live more stress-free or even saved their marriage, those become the best projects.

Where do you shop for organizing your home? My absolute favorite store for organizing products is The Container Store. However, I also shop at several other stores for my home as most stores these days carry products for organizing-even furniture that doubles for things like extra storage.

What is your absolute favorite product to use? Clear shoe boxes. You can get them anywhere-The Container Store, Target, Ikea, etc. and can be used for ANYTHING. I use them for storing things like toys, office accessories, jewelry, pantry items and of course, shoes! My other favorite products are all on my SHOP page. I think they are absolute must have products for different areas of your home: http://www.rachel-company.com/shop/

What do you find most challenging in your business today? Keeping up with the client demand while also trying to explore other ways to expand my business.

What is your favorite part of your business? Working with different types of clients on a daily basis.

What is your dream project/event and why?  I don’t really have a “dream” project but if I had to choose one it would be working with a fabulous client who was moving into a new home, needed all their closets designed and then I helped them move in, in an organized way.

If you could give one message to people, what would it be? Being and getting organized is a way of life, not a one time event. There are truly so many benefits to being organized so starting off slow will be worth it down the line!

“Organizing your home or workspace and implementing systems into your routines will change your life. You can experience less stress, save money, strengthen your relationships and all in all have an easier life that you can enjoy. ” – Rachel And Company

Click here to work with Rachel And Company or to Shop for featured organizational products  recommended by Rachel.

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how to impress and WOW them in an interview.

You’ve prepared for the interview (see previous post) and it’s interview day.

Key tips that could make or break you:

interview dress

Dress professionally.   I always recommend to wear a black suit, for both men and women.  Women can wear skirts, but make sure they are not too short.  You should wear a plain shirt underneath the jacket and for men a tie that’s simple! The interview should be about your skills not your style, or lack of.  Remember that the way you arrive to the interview, is the way you’ll arrive to work at the office or in the field, with clients.  Your interviewer wants to see that you are clean and that you put thought into what you wear.  Shoes should be clean, hair should be in place, nails groomed, and teeth brushed! (you won’t believe that some candidates have such bad breath and this is a huge turn off for employers)

Bring copies of your resume and a list of references. References listed should expect to hear from future employer so let them know in advance.  Three references is standard.  Obviously only list past professional employers who only have the best things to say about you.

Arrive 15-20 minutes prior to the interview.   You want to give yourself enough time to find the address, find parking and prepare mentally.  Last thing you want to do is rush around and arrive last minute.  Not only will you add unnecessary stress to the experience, but you’ll probably be sweating and the employer will notice your energy immediately.  Remember that the way you interview, is also the way you work.  Be your best, always.

When you meet your interviewer, shake hands firmly, smile and wait to sit down when they sit.  You should try shadowing everything they do.  Try to be natural and approach the interview as a conversation.  You are interviewing the company as well.  You want to make sure this is a good fit for you – I think if you have this perspective, you will be less nervous.

Take time to respond to questions, it’s ok to stop and think for a minute – silence is golden and shows that you’re confident.  Try to give detailed examples of previous job experiences that demonstrate your abilities.  Think RESULTS.  The interviewer has a very specific purpose for each question.

For example, when I interviewed sales reps, a common question I’d ask is what are your strengths and weaknesses.  The interviewee had no problem listing their strengths, however, some would say, “mmmm, I don’t really have any weaknesses.” When I heard that, they didn’t stand a chance at getting hired.

Why do you think this question is so important?

More importantly than knowing their weaknesses, I wanted to see how humble the person was, if they’re coachable, and if they are students of their craft.  A person who can’t tell me what they’re working to improve, probably thinks they know everything and this is definitely NOT someone I’d like to have on my team.  We all have things we could do better. In sales, it could be that I want to improve my closing ratio, or that I’d like to craft better questions.  The fact that you are aware of your shortcomings, shows you are a person who reflects and works on constant and never ending improvement. Employers know you’re not perfect so don’t pretend to be.

Ask for the job!  (this could be asked in different ways, if it’s a sales role your’e after, I recommend being more aggressive about it – for example, I’d really love to work for you, what are the next steps? Or, based on our conversation today, do you have any concerns about hiring me? Or, who makes the final decision and when will a decision be made?

Ask the interviewer for their card so you can send them a thank you note immediately following the interview. Ask if you may follow up with them regarding next steps or a decision.

Thank them for their time, shake their hand again, and walk out proudly.

Remember that you can’t control the outcome, but you can control how you prepare and behave during the interview.  If you did the best you could, that’s all that matters!

please my FB coaching page for additional resources.

Are there any questions that you have no idea how to answer? leave your comment below.

prepare for success – interview tips.

arthur ashe

Emotion comes from Motion.  Tony Robbins teaches that if we want to change how we feel, we need to change our physical state.  This is why Tony jumps on a trampoline prior to going on stage at his seminars where he engages 4,000 people for 50 full hours over 4 days.

So what does this have to do with interviewing?

When you go to an interview, you must be confident and enthusiastic.  When an employer judges candidates for positions, of course experience and accomplishments are important, however, the impression and energy  that you leave behind is one of the top factors of whether you’ll get hired or not.  I’ve interviewed many candidates when I was a Sales Manager at a large corporate company and if I felt any negativity coming from the person, no matter what their experience was, they were dismissed immediately.

So how can you build your confidence and change your energy? first you must prepare for the interview, so that you have a reason to feel confident.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Be ready to answer common questions the interviewer will ask. Write down your responses and memorize the main idea you wish to get across.

Do your research about the company – you should be able to answer these questions during the interview:

  • who are the leaders?
  • what is the history of the company?
  • what is their vision? what are their values?
  • who are their clients?
  • who are their competitors?
  • what are their main challenges?
  • what is their vision for the next 5 years?

* TIP – even if you’re not asked these questions, show the employer that you’ve taken time to do your research and include some of this information in your answers – they will be very impressed! *

Additionally, you should always prepare a few thoughtful questions to ask at the end of the interview. This again proves you’ve taken time to prepare, but also shows you are interested in the company. You can also use their responses to learn if this is a good fit for you and perhaps convince them of why they should hire you.

A few examples of good questions to ask:

  • What are your biggest challenges today?
  • where do you see the company in the next 3-5 years?
  • What do you think is necessary to be successful in this position?
  • Do you have any concerns about my qualification for this position?

Once you’ve done this, your confidence level should immediately boost. I would say that 8 out of 10 people do not take any time to prepare except a few minutes before they walk in to the interview, so you already have a huge advantage over the other candidates.

Repeat positive affirmations to yourself regularly and specifically the day of the interview. Say things like, “I am the best, I love myself, I am the best person for this job, I am so good at what I do.” You have to believe in yourself first, if you don’t, nobody will.

Another action you can take is prior to the interview, smile in front of the mirror, raise your hands up high, jump a few times, fix your posture and walk the walk. If you look like a million dollars, you’ll feel like a million dollars.  Walk into the room with confidence, with your head held high, shake your interview’s hand firmly, and smile throughout the interview.  Take time to pause and think between questions, don’t be afraid of silence.  Show that you’re a good listener by nodding and relating your comments to what the other person said.

Most importantly, be natural and be yourself. So get on that trampoline and jump up and down, you are a superstar!

Visit my FB coaching page, would love to hear your comments or questions.

it’s all about the people.

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fun day with my fellow managers, I am one lucky lady!

It’s been about 3 years since I moved to Israel, and about 3 years since I left one of the most special companies that ever existed. I actually got choked up just thinking about it. seriously. I’m cleaning up my inbox and found a few emails that I’ve kept which made me want to honor this anniversary by writing about my career at Yellowbook USA, today known as hibu (formerly Yell Group).

What makes a company special, is the people.  At Yellowbook, we used to always say “we got people.” that’s what differentiates us from others.  That, and about hundreds of other things. At Yellowbook, I received an education that you don’t learn at university.  An education on running a business effectively, serving customers, opportunity, success, kindness,  determination, giving, and leading others – in the best way possible.

One of the greatest lessons taught at Yellowbook was that if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want. It means that when you put others first and give, you will also receive.  It means that serving and helping others is one of the best things you can do to help yourself.  It means that we should always put customers first. That we should truly care about other people and treat them like we want to be treated.  That as successful executives, we have the opportunity to make an impact and teach others what we learned that have made us successful.  Yellowbook’s then CEO once said that as the Chief Executive Officer, he felt that since he reached the top, his responsibility was to help pull up the person behind him who’s on the way to the top.  This is a CEO that made it a habit of visiting offices around the nation, meeting with the local managers, and going on ride days in the field with sales reps.  His CSO, VPs and area managers all regularly showed up at our office so that they could learn about the challenges “through the windshield of the sales rep”.  They exemplified class and humility and demonstrated that effective leaders get to understand their clients and their employees by being with them.  They made their decisions based on what they saw, not on what they heard or thought.

When I had the privilege of leading a team of 10 sales reps, my regional manager taught me that my team’s success was my success. And if a rep on my team, who was hard-working and motivated failed, then I failed as a manager.  The responsibility was mine.  When you look at management this way, it changes the way you work.  As a manager, we should appreciate the gift that we’ve been given – the position to make a positive impact and influence others. To serve others and help them get what they want.  Just like a good president serves his nation, a good manager serves his people and helps them rise.  A good manager focuses on their employees’ strengths, catches them doing the right thing, and praises them for it.  A good manager doesn’t treat everyone the same, but treats everyone fairly. A good manager spends time with his people, not behind a desk filling out spreadsheets. Be with your people, speak to your clients, nothing is more important than that.

Effective leaders lead by example.  They are students who constantly strive to improve.  They read and learn and teach and reflect.  They have goals and visions and take risks.  They make mistakes and take responsibility for them.  They are confident and kind and they truly care about their people.

When I left Yellowbook in 2010, the company had well over 6,000 employees.  I got personal calls from the CEO, CSO, VP, and GSM thanking me for my contribution to the company and assuring me that should I return to the states, I could always come back.  They didn’t just say they cared, they showed they cared.

Still today I quote the things I’ve learned from them and more importantly I try to practice these values in everything I do.  I am so thankful for this company – for its people, because that’s what a company is made of. people.

I want to thank from the bottom of my heart Bill, Brandon, Raj, Allan, Charly, Jeff, Tim, Dave, Bob, Russ, Jim, and Joe for giving me the chance to know what it’s like to fall in love with a company and receive so much simply by giving. Thank you for showing me what real leadership looks like.

my last day at YB, locking up the office. I knew I had to capture the moment.

my last day at YB, locking up the office. I knew I had to capture the moment.

women & leadership

I recently read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, FB’s Chief Operating Officer. What an amazing read! I highly recommend that everyone, especially women read this book.

The basic idea is that as women, we often hold ourselves back from advancing in our career and we don’t reach for leadership roles within our organizations.  Part of this is due to underestimating our worth and creating these obstacles ourselves.

Studies show that women judge their own performance as worse than it actually is, while men judge their own performance better than it actually is. Another survey of political candidates revealed that men were about 60% more likely to think they were “very qualified” to run for political office, even though the women had comparable credentials.

When a man explains his success, he will usually credit his innate qualities.  When a woman explains her success, she will attribute it to external factors such as “got lucky”, “worked really hard”, or “had help from others.”  When asked about failure, a man will attribute “not interested in the subject matter” as the reason, while women are more likely to believe lack of ability as the reason for failure.

This shows that we are way too tough on ourselves which could contribute to why we don’t dare to think we deserve a raise, or a promotion.  Our lack of confidence leads to self-fulfilling prophecy and we must make changes if we want to have better opportunities.

Sheryl says that one of the things she tells people is that “there is no perfect fit when your’e looking for the next big thing to do.  You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around.  The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”

This book inspired me to think differently, to take bigger risks, and definitely keep raising my hand.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

Business Profile – Helen John, Helen John Photography

What better way to start then by learning from others?  I’ve seeked out friends with profitable businesses and decided to interview them one by one to learn their ingredients to success.  First successful small business interview – featuring Helen John Photography.

Name: Helen John of Helen John Photography, Washington D.C

Helen JohnHelen John logoWhy do you do what you do?

I’m a photographer specializing in modern art portraiture. I mostly photograph babies and families, but now that my children have gotten older I’m able to take on more weddings, which are a lot of fun as I’m an adrenalin junkie. I also love to shoot a variety of subjects including interiors, events, and nature/landscapes.

How did you get into your business? what was the starting point?

My first son was 8 months old when I purchased a DSLR camera for my birthday. I dedicated myself to learning the craft (self-taught) so I could capture my son’s childhood, but started receiving requests from friends to photograph their babies. It all grew organically from there.

How does social media impact your business?

It is HUGE. Facebook is the number one reason I even have a business. The ability to reach large numbers of people via social media is profound. It’s especially helpful in my line of work, because it’s entirely visual. I post a photo and it doesn’t require anything more from the recipient/viewer other than a glance to take it in and understand what I do. I aim to create beautiful, thoughtful images, and my clients, fans, followers, family, friends, etc appreciate it. My work is always positive, which is another reason people are attracted and react emotionally. I do not use social media to rant, vent or feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I’ll commiserate with other parents of young children, but everyone likes to know they’re not alone in this crazy place called parenthood. LOL

What would you say is the one most important thing that made you successful?

Keeping a positive attitude no matter what. That’s one business asset you CANNOT purchase anywhere. In every startup there will be ups and downs. Learn from the mistakes. Grow from the challenges. Laugh at yourself as often as possible. Never take out anything on a client. Let them win. Your reputation and dignity is worth so much more than putting someone in their place, even if you know you’re right!

What is most challenging for you today?

BALANCE. I have two kids 4 and 2 years old, and I sometimes have to decide whether I want to shower or respond to my latest inquiries. Guess which wins? Yep, I work from home, so unless I have a client coming here I can afford to be stinky. I have two little boys, my whole world revolves around dirt anyway. lol

Who is your mentor? What did you learn from them that was most valuable?

I never had a specific mentor. I have always followed a lot of photographers who inspire me for specific reasons. Some for their beautiful imagery, some for their sense of humor, and others for their positive attitude and ability to dodge drama like it’s hot. I wouldn’t mind a mentor, it’s just that I haven’t come across someone who fits into this description for me. I think you can be successful by learning bits and pieces from a variety of professionals in your field. Or even outside of the area where you work. I know that by diversifying my skill set, I am setting myself apart from the mainstream portrait photographers.

What do you recommend to people who are thinking of starting a business?

If you want to be in business, think like a business. You have to have a goal of profit. That is the only reality. If you have a hobby that you want to turn into a business, you have to make sure you’re motivated enough for the business side of things. I consider myself an artist but I also LOVE the business side of what I do. I find it to be a fun challenge, so it suits me to do both ends of it. If you’re not business savvy, consider hiring out for that part. Without a business mindset and profitability, you don’t have a business. And hardwork. You have to LOVE working all the time, at least at first.

What do you love most about your career?

The amazing grateful reactions from clients. It’s so incredibly rewarding when clients come back to me and tell me the first time they saw the images I took they were in (happy) tears. This is more fulfilling than any job I’ve ever had. It took a lot of hard work to get where I am, which makes it that much more rewarding. I also LOVE babies. I am definitely a product of biological programming. The wee ones melt me.

What motivates you?

My kids motivate me to work my butt off. I want to provide a good life for them, and I want them to see that hard work and commitment pay off. My clients also motivate me, especially the ones who are so loyal and grateful to me. I would do anything for my clientfriends!

If you had  an opportunity to speak to a large group of people, what would your message be?

Believe in yourself. When I started my business I believed in myself about 30%. I had a semi-slow start for the first year, as I was astounded each time someone wanted to hire me. But each job made me more sure of myself, and when I started believing in myself, my work got better, and the new business started flowing in. Now I’m up for any challenge, and I’m more confident in my work than I ever imagined. Part of it is experience, but the other half of it is a positive attitude. Don’t let a challenge scare you. Believe in yourself and you can do anything.

To learn more about Helen John Photography visit – website blog FB me twitter IG get my newsletter!