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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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Ask the Expert: Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene, Tiny BuddhaThe time has arrived for another engaging conversation with the popular “Ask the Expert” feature on The Other Side of Organized blog. We’ve enjoyed spirited dialogues about enlisting help with Janet Barclay, motivation with Dr. Shannon Reece, time management with Julie Morgenstern, clutter with Lorie Marrero, letting go with Geralin Thomas, next steps with Yota Schneider, and change with John Ryan. This month as we shift our focus, I’m excited to bring you writer, student of life and community builder, Lori Deschene to share her wisdom about success.

Lori appeared on my radar through Twitter a few years ago. Her uplifting and honest @tinybuddha tweets and posts that focus on “simple wisdom for complex lives” seemed to always appear at precisely the right time. I quickly became one of her fans along with her 300,000+ twitter followers. Talk about success! My sincere gratitude and thanks goes to Lori for taking the time to join us. Before we begin, here’s more about Lori.

Lori Deschene is the founder of, a community blog that features stories and insights from people from all over the globe. She recently published her first print book (through Conari Press), titled Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions. A native of Massachusetts and an Emerson College graduate, Lori currently lives with her boyfriend in Los Angeles. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebookwebsite, or blog


Linda:  You’re an expert on redefining life success by reflecting on simple wisdom and considering new ways to apply it. What are some of the ways to do this?

Lori:  I actually wouldn’t refer to myself as an expert on redefining life success—but what a wonderful compliment! I write about my experiences and lessons, and publish stories and insights from other people. We all help and support each other by sharing what we’ve learned.

To answer your question, I’d have to first define “life success,” which is different for everyone.  If you’re looking to create your own definition of “life success,” I’d suggest identifying your top five core values, and measuring them against your current choices.

For example, my core values are: family, adventure, freedom, creativity, and meaningful work. Knowing this has helped me build a career and shape a lifestyle that honors the things that matter to me the most.


Linda:  What does success look like?

Lori:  Expanding on what I wrote above, success, for me, involves doing work that feels meaningful, creating in a way that feels personally satisfying, allowing myself enough time to explore and simply be, and seeing my family as often as possible.

I can’t answer this one for anyone else, and I think that’s the key to success: knowing we all define it for ourselves!


Linda:  How does our “fast-paced, always-on world” enhance or derail our success?

Lori:  This depends on what we want, and how we respond to the world around us. Some people require less downtime and enjoy leading fast-paced, constantly connected lives. So long as they’re not compromising their other priorities or their physical or emotional well being, there’s nothing wrong with that. Others spread themselves a little too thin, thinking they “should” do it, and fearing what they’ll lose if they don’t. Others still, like myself, require a greater sense of balance. For me, getting caught up in a busy lifestyle while pursuing success, as defined by other people, would lead to a sense of unhappiness.

I’ve learned that there are very few one-size-fits-all answers. We all need to come to know ourselves and learn to temper our pace accordingly. And we all need to find stillness within so that, no matter the pace we maintain, we don’t lose sight of what we need.


Linda:  Do you have a philosophy about success?

Lori:  At the risk of being redundant, my philosophy is that we each need to define it for ourselves!


Linda:  What has been your biggest personal challenge with navigating success?

Lori:  My biggest personal challenge has been determining what success means to me. For a long time, I had no idea what I wanted, largely because I didn’t know myself—or like myself, for that matter.

Growing up, I always thought I’d pursue acting after studying it (and writing) in college. I gravitated toward theater not simply because I loved it, although I did. A big part of me needed the validation of an audience, and wondered if maybe I’d feel less empty if I acquired fame, wealth, and mass admiration. It took me a long time to consider that maybe I could be happier if I stopped pursuing public approval and chasing wealth.

Now I focus on enjoying my time and honoring the people and things that matter to me. I still have my struggles, particularly when it comes to setting goals for the future. I haven’t been 100 percent sure of what I want to do next. But I know I feel less attached to specifics down the line.

I like the life I created, and I like myself within it.


Linda:  Is there anything you’d like to share about success that I haven’t asked?

Lori:  You asked some thought-provoking questions! I have nothing left to add. Thank you for featuring me here on your wonderful site!

You’re welcome, Lori. Thank you for your thoughtful insights about success and life choices. I love how you describe that we need to define success by our own terms. To do that, first identify your core values and then look at them in relation to your current choices. What a great place to begin. I invite all of you to join Lori and me as we continue the conversation. What are your thoughts about success? 

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Reader Comments (20)

Love the values/success connection. Insightful blog topic and Lori - so wise.

Defining 'success' finally happened for me when a coaching instructor (Cam Gott) asked me my definition and encouraged me to look at my values.

Until then, I'd been searching but getting tied up in the money versus meaning conflict.

Before then, I'd left my 18 year "successful" hightech career, "got unmarried," moved, changed states and made other major life changes. My definition of success was rocked to the core. Like an earthquake.

So yes, look to your values to define success.

Linda/Lisa - a beautiful, inspiring post that will touch many - and I HOPE cause people to slow down and reflect on the question of success in their own lives. We move so fast ...

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersue west

Powerful! Lori, thanks for sharing some insightful important ideas about finding and defining what YOU think is success. Taking time to write these ideas, knowing your strengths and priorities, will make a difference for you every day. To me, having a little success and a little joy acknowledging success makes every day a little sunnier!

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

What a candid and rich interview! I love how your advice motivates us to re-connect with our values and be truthful to what really matters to us. There's no higher achievement in life than to know ourselves, which for me is the road to true happiness, ability to love fully and enjoy a rich life.
Thank you so much Linda for bringing Lori to us!

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

So wonderful to see Lori on here & learn about the wonderful mind behind Tiny Buddha. I've followed Lori's writings for some time now & have always been impressed with her ability to 'decode' a sometimes complex issue & transform it into a lucid expression, which is an art in itself. Its refreshing to see Lori distil the essentials of what success is & the importance of owning success on your own terms by recognising your own core values firstly, then working from there. In my own work as a success coach, creating a 'values blueprint' becomes very much a roadmap as you travel down your individual road to success - again Lori amplifies this way of thinking by advising us to compare our top five core values against current choices, which is essential to make progress towards our
own perceived direction of success. I cant really add more favourable insights to this, except to highly recommend Lori's writings to wishing to be inspired in an uplifting & authentic way. Bravo Tina Buddha!

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrant Willcox

Thanks for reading everyone! And thanks again for interviewing me Linda.

When I first started looking at my values, I realized my life wasn't even slightly aligned with them. It's such a powerful exercise to step back and really get clear about what's important.

Grant~ Thanks so much for the kind words about Tiny Buddha and my writing. =)

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLori Deschene

Great interview - I love the comment about being happier by not pursuing public approval or chasing wealth. I co-authored a book about success and Lori's philosophy is right in line with mine - create a life for yourself that let's you be who you were meant to be.

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue Becker

Thank you all for your insightful, thought-provoking additions to the conversation.

@Sue W- Love how you describe that your definition of success was "rocked to the core." From there you looked to align your values with your evolving definition of success. Inspiring.

@Ellen- It's great how you're able to acknowledge the small successes you see each day. Expressing appreciation and gratitude is a life enhancer.

@Helena- Knowing yourself and values is a great starting point. From there, decisions make more sense. Life makes more sense.

@Grant- So glad to hear that you're already a fan of Lori's writing and work. It's difficult to distill complex ideas into salient points, and she does this so well. Even in this interview, she managed to have us come away with a very clear idea about success and creating a personal view through aligning core values with choices. As a success coach, it sounds like you help your clients to do exactly that. Fabulous!

@Sue B- I didn't know you co-authored a book. Please share the title with us. Isn't it interesting how everyone seems to be in agreement about the starting point for figuring out success?

@Lori- You're most welcome. Thank YOU for being with us. Your ideas about values, choices, and success has resonated with everyone. Stepping back, slowing down, and identifying one's values helps bring what's important into focus.

Looking forward to continuing the conversation with all of you.

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Here's the book, LInda:

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue Becker

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your book with us, Sue. It looks great..."Conversations on Success." Will order it and look forward to reading it.

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

What a wonderful conversation! So much of what Lori says resonates with me! My journey has taken me along a similar path . . . from being outwardly focused and working myself to the ground - so that I could meet all kinds of expectations and achieve recognition - to shedding the layers of identity that kept me bound to the fast track.

It took some major life changes to make me stop, take a hard look at my priorities, and make a conscious decision of who I wanted to be, despite the dance around me.

It's not an easy process but it is a delicious one! As we walk our path, one step at a time, we become lighter, stronger, and clearer!

I appreciate Lori's straight forward way of reminding us that it's always our choice and that there is no right or wrong way - as long as we measure our decision up against our sense of physical, emotional, and spiritual well being!

As always, you are a master host and facilitator Linda! Thank you!

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYota

Yota- Your strength and ability to change comes through loudly and clearly. I love how you refer to making changes as not easy but a "delicious" one. That reminds us to appreciate the journey on our way to a stronger, more aligned self. Also, you've highlighted the reminder of Lori's that there is no right or wrong version of success and that we are in the driver's seat of our choices. Just beautiful. I always appreciate hearing your clear, calm voice in our conversations.

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels


Thank you for giving us the gift of your interview with Lori. Your timing is perfect, as I am in the process of preparing to let go of some things in my life that once helped to define me, but no longer serve me. These things once helped me feel successful, but now they drain me instead of providing me with energy. What is so wonderful is how many times throughout our lives we are given the opportunity to reassess our definition of success and to upgrade / retool ourselves in response to changes in that definition. Thank you for the timely reminder.

I look forward to looking into Lori's book and reading her tweets.



September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

Andrea- How wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for your positive words. Lori's book is great and so are her tweets and TIny Buddha website. She provides a steady source of inspiration and reflection. I am so glad to know that this post has arrived at the right time for you. With the amazing background you have in coaching, I can only imagine how well equipped you are to move forward on your letting go process. I'm excited for you.

And thank you for helping me on my journey. I know I've told you this before, but your words of wisdom from the coaching class of "learning vs. performance agenda," is still prominently placed on a post-it note in my line of sight. Those words continue to help me let go of the nonsense and refocus back to what's most important.

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thanks Linda. I love your phrasing..."let go of the nonsense and refocus back to what's most important." Thinking about letting go of my "nonsense" in the next couple of months brings a smile to my face. Have an awesome weekend.


September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

Well stated to both of you! I could not agree more. "Success" is subjective. It becomes meaningful when it aligns to who you really are. I spent a number of years driving success in a corporate career. From the outside, everyone was amazed and thrilled for me. Great job, amazing income, travel, benefits, responsibility, big home, awards, etc. . . trappings of success. Inside, I was miserable. So much so that I also made myself quite sick.

I realized that what I was driving did not match WHO I was and I walked away. At first, my family (parents, siblings, friends, etc.) thought I was crazy for walking away from that "success." They did not see what I knew to be true. I'm grateful that I figured that out at a very young age. I'm grateful that I had a husband that could see a better path too. I'm grateful that I now live a life with redefined success on my terms and aligned to my values. The wonderful thing to realize is that we can redefine as often as meets our needs.

Thanks for sharing.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie LH Calahan

Sue~ Thanks so much for sharing the link for your book! I'm fascinated!

Yota~ That's wonderful that you were able to reevaluate and redefine what you wanted. I know it's not an easy process, but what you wrote is so true, about becoming lighter, stronger, and clearer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Andrea~ I love what you wrote, about the chances we get. I think one of the most empowering realizations is that we truly can start over at any time. We're never bound to a role or choice.

Stephanie~ I'm sure it wasn't easy to walk away when everyone else seemed to think your choices were right for you. I think that can be the hardest part--recognizing when we don't want what other people think we should want. How wonderful you're now living a life aligned with your own priorities and values. =)

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Feeling so incredibly inspired by all of you. There is such strength individually and collectively. The idea that we have the ability to start over at any point is quite freeing. Knowing that many of you have done this successfully is uplifting. For the stuck, unhappy, or dissatisfied among us, there is hope. I'm grateful for each of you that have taken the time to share with us.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Stephanie- Bravo to you for having the confidence and insight to go after success on your terms. I'm sure it was challenging to hear your voice when everyone around you had opposing messages coming your way. It's a testament to your strength, flexibility, and determination. I appreciate you stopping by to share your story with everyone.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Hi Linda, Lori and all,
Thanks for a great interview, full of unpretentious insights, followed by a range of thought-provoking comments. I've been reading the Tiny Buddha blog for a while and look forward to reading the book soon, too.
Lori, your emphasis on the role of core values resonates with me - it's something that I discuss with clients when coaching and/or decluttering. What often strikes me, however, is the difficulty that people have when it comes to defining their values. It's both a cause and a symptom of the clutter that we accumulate - in our homes, our schedules and our minds. Our lives become so full, both literally and metaphorically, that we lose touch with what really matters. So while clarifying values is vital to wellbeing and success, it isn't always a simple matter!
Looking forward to reading more from you.
Yours positively, Juliet

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuliet Landau-Pope

Juliet- I'm so glad that you took the time to stop by and share with us. It's always nice to meet another Tiny Buddha fan. You'll love Lori's book!

You bring up some interesting points. You said that defining our values isn't always simple, yet it's vital to our wellbeing and success. And also that there seems to be a connection between the challenge with clarifying our values and with managing the clutter in our minds, spaces, and schedules.

Most change isn't simple. A good beginning point is identifying what those values are. Then all the decisions that follow become clear.

There are many exercises and ways that we can look at values and needs. I'm curious if anyone that has responded above has found a method or way of doing that, which has been particularly helpful? Would love to hear more.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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