Sharing About Privacy

presentation abstract - full text is in the conference brochure link in my resources page

People talk about privacy laws and confidentiality requirements with worry and annoyance. I see it differently, and love talking about it in ways that inspire people. I got to do just that last week at a conference in Toronto. 

I don’t have many specific goals in life – I’ve written about this before – but I do have ways I like to live my life, and last week a whole bunch of them came together. Be outdoors, love people, take care of my mind, move my body, and *change the world* 😊 I’m a certified Privacy Officer at my full-time job, and have been talking and teaching about it for over a decade. The best feedback I get is people saying they were dreading my workshop (that their employer said they had to attend), and they ended up loving it, happily making easy changes to their work right away. I enjoy doing workshops on other topics too, so why did I pick privacy this time?

Professional Organizers (and Lake Ontario)

Not too long ago, I heard about the job title “Professional Organizer” and I was intrigued – it seems like a natural fit with my work on personal productivity. As I learned more about them, I found out that the Professional Organizers in Canada were holding a conference in Toronto, at a waterfront hotel. I grew up on Lake Ontario, in the east end of Toronto and miss the lake every single day. I found out that if I did a presentation at the conference, I could attend for free, so I wondered, what do I have to offer these professionals? I thought of all the privacy issues arising when someone lets you into their home, their workspace, their lives, so that you can help them. The intimacy of what they share, what an organizer will see goes beyond simple personal information. So, I submitted an application to present on Privacy: Beyond Compliance and was thrilled when it was accepted. I booked a hotel a short walk from the conference, to allow for lots of little bits of fresh air and also because it has a pool and I realized my kids could come after school and join me for the Friday night. 

picture of snowy boardwalk and lake ontario
wintry day at the lakefront ❤️

Here’s what I learned: 

  1. I thought they might be a little … um … uptight … but I was wrong! The organizers were welcoming, fascinating to talk with, and lots of fun. I met people from all over Canada and one woman who came all the way from France.
  2. Do what you love. Always take the risk. Always. I was so very happy doing my presentation and having all the follow-up conversations it generated. I am just pumped by the whole experience! 
  3. There are complexities I hadn’t imagined in the business of professional organizing – I’m still processing my notes and ideas and lessons from the great talks I attended. 
  4. Drink lots of water after drinking lots of wine.  

What about privacy?

My message about privacy? It’s all about respect and communication. The more clear we are with ourselves and with our clients about why we are gathering each bit of information, how we’re going to use it, store it, delete it, the better our services will be. We’ll ask helpful questions, and when we check that the information we have about someone is accurate, we’ll open the door to conversations about what we heard well, and what we might have missed. People share their stories with us and trust us to care for them. When we ask ourselves, Whose story is it to tell? We give our clients’ stories the respect they expect.

And I walked along the waterfront a lot, spent time with friends from high school, and had a day of sight-seeing adventures with my awesome kids. Now I’m going to see who else wants me to come and share my enthusiasm!

3 thoughts on “Sharing About Privacy

  1. It sounds like such a great experience, Karen – I can tell you’re buzzing about it. It’s fantastic that you just got out there and did it. Privacy is an important topic that affects us all, and you’re right – it’s about clarity and respect. I love the photos and especially your final point under “What I Learned” (good tip!).

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