The Cult of Tidying Up and What It Reveals for Stopping Your Members from Quitting and Turning Them Into a Vibrant Tribe

Look at the clothes in your closet. Are your clothes happy? Or are they squished and poorly kept? How about the clothes in your dresser? Does everything have its own space, or are your clothes squeezing out of the drawers?

Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has sold more than 8 million copies and has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 101 weeks and counting. Her name has even made it onto Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People. Her second book, Spark Joy, released earlier this year, has been on the best-seller’s list for 26 weeks. If you haven’t had someone tell you about Marie Kondo in the last few months, then you only need to briefly Google her name to see the vibrant tribe of followers her books have generated.

Marie Kondo’s premise is that feelings of pain and of being overwhelmed come from having belongings that don’t bring you joy. Her solution is two-pronged. First, take a look at each item you own. If it brings you joy, keep it. If not, give it a heartfelt and generous goodbye via verbal communication, and release it to its next life (trash it or donate it). Next, you organize everything that brings you joy in a place that’s visible, accessible, and easy to get and put back.

Where Kondo has distinguished herself is her profound understanding of her customer. Before writing her book, Kondo was a consultant for many years, visiting clients at their homes and working with them to organize their belongings. She empathizes with the struggle they are going through and meets them where they are.

When she writes, “Tidying Orders the Mind,” Kondo knows your mind is cluttered, your life is overwhelmed, and your sanity is strained. She meets you there and gives you hope that with a few difficult choices, you can feel clarity, relief, and joy. What an amazing, transformational promise. How do you meet your member where they currently are? What transformation can you deliver?

Kondo states that her mission is to “tidy up the world.” She accomplishes her mission by teaching you how to tidy up your portion of it. By tidying up, you’ll experience joy — after all, the only possessions you are surrounded with will be those that bring you joy. The opposite of joy isn’t sad-ness; in Kondo’s world, the opposite of joy is chaos.

Most of us instinctively begin tidying by just picking a room and going for it. Kondo instructs us to tidy by category instead. Start with the category that is least emotional: clothes. Books are next, while family mementos and photographs come much later. Kondo instructs us to put all of our clothes into one pile. The items that bring you joy get to stay. Everything else gets an earnest good-bye.

In addition to her clear step-by-step approach, Kondo also provides us with a list of important beliefs that are necessary to internalize prior to eliminating everything that no longer gives us joy. For instance, ‘it might come in handy” is taboo.  Learning how to think about your belongings al-lows you to let go of the things that don’t bring you joy. Your customers have beliefs that are holding them back from implementing what you teach. Are you addressing those beliefs and retraining them from the beginning?

All change is difficult. Kondo anticipates this by dedicating a section of her book to what to do when you feel like quitting. First, she tells you it’s completely normal to feel this way. Second, she tells you about others who have felt that way and who have overcome the feeling to achieve joy. And finally, she gives you a specific task to do when you feel like quitting. This is pure genius, as everyone who tries to learn a new skill becomes overwhelmed at some point. How do you anticipate your customers’ frustrations with learning a new skill and help them continue on, even when they feel like quitting?

One of the most important aspects of Kondo’s approach is that there is no judgement or distain toward the person seeking help. These feelings are replaced with complete acceptance for your current situation. Kondo provides leadership to help your get where you want to be. She doesn’t lead by shaming; — she leads by becoming her reader’s cheerleader. She’s cheering for you to find joy by encouraging you to bid farewell to everything in your life that doesn’t make you feel joy.

The way in which Kondo delivers her training is an informative study in how to build a vibrant tribe. She incorporates everything I published in my report Member Retention (, including understanding your customer, embarking on a mission, creating a 10x solution to a problem, instilling clear values, formulating an easy win, and now, promoting a community. This combination has propelled Kondo’s books to the New York Times best seller’s list and made her a world-wide phenomenon. This combination can be equally powerful for you. Consider using Kondo’s strategies to tidy up your life, and her training style to tidy up your membership. These things will bring joy into your life.

About Robert Skrob

The problem with subscription membership programs is that members quit, I fix that problem. For more than 20-years I have specialized in direct response marketing for member recruitment, retention and ascension in diverse subscription members environments including non-profit associations, for-profit publishers/coaching, subscriptions and SAAS companies. For an evaluation of your current churn rate and how I can improve it, contact me here. I discover there are often two or three quick wins you can implement within a week to lower churn immediately, let’s talk about your quick wins.
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