Damon L. Jacobs: Tell us about your involvement with NGLCCNY.
Jeffrey Calandra: I became involved with NGLCCNY about four weeks ago. I jumped in with both feet into a position called The Membership Liaison. I will be working hand and hand with Richard Oceguera and Robin Streisand. I will be the liaison between the Executive Committee and membership. I’m really focusing on industry councils and building those up. The first two are legal and real estate. The legal council has gotten off the ground, real estate is on its way. And then we will be building the other councils as they come. I will be helping to continue to expand into advertising, design, nonprofit, and the other industries that start to organically evolve.
Damon L. Jacobs: What inspired you to want to take on this responsibility?
Jeffrey Calandra: I have explored many different types of networking groups and many organizations. I have found that the NGLCCNY was what I was looking for. There was a certain kind of energy and a certain kind of people I really liked. I joined the organization knowing I wanted to get into a role that would allow me to interact with people on a higher level.
Damon L. Jacobs: Tell me about OCD4Life?
Jeffrey Calandra: It stands for, “Organizational Concepts Designed For Life.” It is a professional organizing design service. We basically work with residential customers, and some small businesses. I work with them on maximizing space in their home. It could involved helping them design a complete new layout, which goes into interior design and decorating. I help them get better function out of their space by making it look great and maximizing the space that they have. In New York we all work in really small spaces, so it’s about designing a home for you that is as functional as it can possibly be.
Damon L. Jacobs: Did you run around organizing things in your home as a kid?
Jeffrey Calandra: I did. I was always organizing my closet, or rearranging my room, or rearranging the furniture in my parents’ house. When I was about eight-years-old I went over to a friend’s house and basically took everything out of his closet and told him how he should put it back in. I recently saw him and asked, “Do you remember when I did that?” He said, “Yeah, I was really mad at you that day. We were supposed to be playing G.I. Joes and you were telling me how to put the toys away in my closet!” It’s just something I always did. My entire life I would walk into a space and see how I would redo it to make it look better, to make it feel better, to make better use of the limited amount of space in there. It has been innate for me my entire life and it has just evolved. Over the years I have tried different things that worked with those strengths in the professional sense. But it was always came back full circle for me. One of the things I always wanted for myself was to be able to get out of bed and be excited about what I do. When I stopped to think about what I was truly passionate about and what I really wanted, I knew this was it. That was when I created this company.
Damon L. Jacobs: Most people hear the term “OCD” and think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Was that intentional on your part?
Jeffrey Calandra: There is an element of that. I ran with that thought and spun the context of it into “Organizational Concepts Designed For Life.” The acronym works the same, people recognize it.
Damon L. Jacobs: Do you think you have OCD?
Jeffrey Calandra: I think you would say I have it to some extent, in that I believe in keeping an aesthetic appeal, having things look a certain way, and have great function and flow. So sure, you can say I’m OCD about that. I’ve encountered people who may think of that as a negative connotation but I’ve always seen it from a positive place. It’s about taking what I have and spinning it in a way that helps other people.
Damon L. Jacobs: If I’m living in a cramped apartment in New York, why do I want to have your help?
Jeffrey Calandra: Because I can help you make better use of that space. And it’s not a judgment thing. If you’re inviting someone like myself in, then it’s really to help you figure out a way to come home and have a wonderful relaxing environment where you can store the things you need, and make use of the space so it looks great and is functional.
Damon L. Jacobs: Do you ever deal with clients who don’t want to throw anything away?
Jeffrey Calandra: I do. While I don’t dive into the psychotherapy aspect of things, there is always an element of psychology that goes into every client I work with. We are looking at someone’s space, we are talking about their intimate things, their personal belongings, and how they live. We talk about habits that they have and certain ways they can make shifts. We talk about why they are keeping certain things, why these things are important to them, and how it feels when they let them go. We show how letting go can open up space in your life, space in your mind, and lead you to a place where you can allow more positivity to flow in.
Damon L. Jacobs: Can a cleaner living space help someone have peace of mind?
Jeffrey Calandra: Yes. When you’re in a space that has a lot of stuff around it is overwhelming. When I start to take stuff out of someone’s space they get very anxious. Suddenly they are seeing all this stuff. They don’t know why they have it or what to do with it. When you get rid of some of that you feel relief. In the end they feel much happier, they feel good about getting rid of stuff and giving it to someone who can really use it. It opens them up for opportunities.
Damon L. Jacobs: What is your place like?
Jeffrey Calandra: It’s small, less than 200 square feet. It’s perfect for me. It is organized well. People think it must be immaculate, but I don’t use every trick in the book for myself. I organize myself in a way that is functional and works for me. No matter who it is, it is about making a design and a solution that is right for them. I’ve done that for myself. I keep things neat, but like anyone else, my apartment can turn into a disaster during a crazy week. But I take the time at the end of the week to pull things together so I can feel fresh and productive in my space.
Damon L. Jacobs: How has the NGLCCNY helped you to grow your business?
Jeffrey Calandra: It has definitely opened up more conversations in the last several weeks. Certainly being at the events, talking about The Chamber, which ends up talking about my business, has helped. It is planting the seeds.
Damon L. Jacobs: So many of us are multitasking leading busy lives in New York. What do you do to take care of yourself and maintain your energy?
Jeffrey Calandra: I go to the gym and try to get enough sleep. But the thing that really helps me recharge is going home to my family’s house about two hours away. Going home is honestly the best thing for me. It is a small town, I take the time to unwind and spend time with my parents and my brother. I can use that time to veg, to chill, to recharge my batteries.
Damon L. Jacobs: Do you organize for them when you are there?
Jeffrey Calandra: I do work for them as well. My parents have recently built a house. I’ve done a lot of work from color coordination, to picking out the tiles, helping them design the rooms, the closets, unpacking. But it is still a relaxing quiet environment that is my haven.
Damon L. Jacobs: If you could go back to the Jeffrey who rearranged his friends’ closets and give him one piece of advice, what would that be?
Jeffrey Calandra: Just do what you love from the beginning. Follow that. It was always there, it was just a matter of filtering through other things. But this was not a negative because the experiences that I had have led me to become the person I am now. I have learned so much and met so many great people. If I things had been different, I wouldn’t have that.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City. He specializes in issues related to grief and loss, HIV related concerns, gay/lesbian issues, stress management, depression, addiction, ageism, bullying, caretaking fatigue, as well as couples in non-traditional arrangements. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." To have him speak with your group, or to schedule a counseling visit, call 347-227-7707, or email at Shouldless@gmail.com. An initial free consultation is offered to NGLCCNY members, or people who are referred by NGLCCNY members.