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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Moments of Conception 086 -- The Busking Scene from Once

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the busking scene in Once:


What did you learn?

This is what you’ve waited for. Watching a man surrender himself like that, screaming the top of his lungs, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the street, standing out in the cold, is the most moving opening sequence of any movie I’ve ever seen. His voice isn’t perfect, but who cares when you have goose bumps? Glen is a freight train of raw, naked emotion, which is exactly what ever songwriter should aspire to be. In fact, this scene ended up becoming my moment of conception. After we saw Once in its broadway premiere, this musical was responsible for kickstarting a creative transformation in my own life. Glen’s story inspired me to finally publish my original music online. Which urged me to crawl out of music hibernation. Which compelled me to start performing in public again. Which gave me a platform to play weekly concerts in my neighborhood park. Which provided me with a source of power I did not have before. Which inspired me write music that was more muscular and soulful. Which inspired me to write, produce, direct and star in my first concert documentary. All from hearing one three minute song. Too bad I can’t repay him. Guess I’ll just have to pay it forward. Perhaps my work will inspire the next songwriter. Which art inspires your art?

A chance to even up the score. Glen explains that during the daytime, people want to hear songs that they know, songs that they recognize. And if he played this song, they wouldn’t listen. That’s a common conundrum among street performers. We’re tempted to use other people’s songs to lure in the crowds. Bu the reality is, there’s no cover bands in the rock and roll hall of fame. If you want to make a name for yourself, you have to make your own music. And that’s what the songwriter does throughout this movie. Once he lets the animal out of the cage, once he gives himself clearance to be completely free with his art, the one person who needs to hear his song, does. And she changes everything. The whole course of his life pivots on that encounter. She turns love around for him, and she does it in five days. That’s the beauty of performing in public. There are no limits. It’s a permissionless platform. An honest canvas where we can play and sing and purge whatever we want, as loud we want, as much as we want, and we stick around and continue to be yourself, eventually, the correct people will find us. Will you still be around when the world is ready for you?

There are no emergencies. I’m amazed at certain people’s ability to involve themselves with every controversy, news story, celebrity scandal and inconsequential social drama the world has to offer. It’s an addiction. An emotional high. A cycle of feeding off of other people’s misfortune. Almost like they’re leading someone else’s life for a short period of time. And what’s sad is, that time could be reinvested in making art. Bringing something new into the world. But instead, they allow the ambient hysteria to infect their brain and poison their creative well. They allow other people’s drama to bait them into a life of worry. And that’s what I love about this scene. Glen chooses to maintain a serene distance from most of life’s commotion. He knows the more time he spends participating in other people’s drama, the less time he spends on himself. And so, he intentionally steps out of the current. He finds his sanctuary. He doesn’t allow other people’s shit to stand in the way of his art. What a great lesson for any creator. Impose your own order on chaos. Have you found a way to prevent the world inside of you from being contaminated by the world outside of you?

What did you learn?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moments of Conception 085 -- The Focus Scene from Deconstructing Harry

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the focus scene in Deconstructing Harry:




What can we learn?

Your personal pause buttons. When the quality and frequency of your thoughts determines your livelihood, panic is always right around the corner. The life of the mind may be a dazzling and voluptuous operation, but it’s also a territory for which there is no roadmap. And if you don’t have a personal, portable toolbox for reducing the experience of anxiety on a moment’s notice, you can end up overdosing on yourself. Harry feels like a blob and a blur, just like one of his fictional characters. His brain burns with the color of anxiety. And yet, the more he tries to calm himself down, the deeper he descends into an infinite loop of neurotic hell. Cookie, aptly named, knows exactly how to nourish her friend back to life. She has an armory of anxiety reduction strategies to talk him down, including drinking tea, eating snacks, holding hands, making jokes, telling stories, talking about sports, taking deep breaths, all of which help reassure, relax and restore him back into focus. If more of us had a toolbox like that at our disposal, panic would come and go like a revolving door. What are you willing to try to heal yourself?

Another game of blame roulette. When a subject starts to become fuzzy and soft and blurry, the default response is to blame the junky camera. Or the dirty lens. Or the inclement weather. That’s the human instinct. We externalize blame. We expect the world to adjust to the distortion we’ve become. We artfully find all the ways everybody else was wrong, which makes you innocent through process of elimination. When the reality is, we are the one that need sharpening. We are the one making ourselves blurry. Which is both the profit and the peril of being a professional creator. Since we’re the only ones here, should we fail to discipline ourselves, fall short on our goals or ship mediocre work when we know we could do better, there’s no assistant to hide behind, no intern to scapegoat and no coworker to blame. Technically, it should be our fault and ours alone. Then again, who’s going to find out? If we don’t take the blame, it not like there’s a boss or a supervisor or a manager standing over our desk, breathing down our necks. It’s almost like our own private version of the honor system. We have to find ways to make the fuzziness our fault. Are you building the emotional muscle of ownership along your creative journey?

We are connoisseurs of chaos. Anxiety makes true creativity possible. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need to make art. And so, we acknowledge and accept that inner turbulence is part of the process. We give thanks for our psychological stirrings. But we also understand that the discipline of creating while anxious is essential to our success. That our sense of interior stability is what allows our work to thrive. Harry can’t keep his peace from being stolen away by anxiety thieves, so he drinks and pops pills. Which certainly helps him return to homeostasis in the short term, but ultimately, it’s a losing system. Because when creators give themselves a crutch they don’t need, they develop a limp they shouldn’t have. And so, what each artist needs is to develop an early warning system. A personal seismograph that helps them take preemptive action against impending inner turmoil, without the aid of outside influences. Because unfortunately, there won’t always be a prostitute on the couch, standing by to give us a pep talk off our ledge of anxiety. Calmness is on us. What positive coping mechanisms do you regularly use to lower your stress level?

What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Moments of Conception 084 -- The Destruction Scene from Star Wars

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the destruction scene in Star Wars:



What can we learn?

Move matters to a higher ground. A pivotal moment in the creative journey is when we finally let go of the illusion that we can control anything. There is no control. There is only the work we make. Our job as creators is to put everything we’ve got into the task of creating, and then let it go. Our job is to focus on the labor, and then let everything else flow from there. Sound frightening? It most certainly is. But it’s also freeing. Because there’s a deep release and relief when we empty ourselves of expectation. And once we stop burning calories worrying about things we can’t control, our mind is free to move matters to a higher ground. Specifically, to principal creation, which is the primary work unit of our creative process. Whether it’s typing words on the screen, writing new melodies on the piano or clicking the shutter on the camera, principle creation, the one thing we can control, has finally become job number one. It’s creative nirvana. The imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been extinguished. Luke is surrendering to the facts of existence. He shuts down his targeting computer and stops obsessing about hitting the target. And in return, he actually gains the energy and desire to achieve the impossible. Are you focusing on outcomes or what needs to be done right now?

Force nothing, allow your work to lead you. Luke has enemy fighters unloading on him from every direction, his master’s words of wisdom ringing in the back of his mind, the base captain screaming into his headset and a limping, smoking droid hanging off the side of his jet. Talk about a crowded environment. Does your creative life ever feel like that? If so, that’s normal. Because number of variables affecting any given outcome is near infinity. If we produce and publish our new landscape painting, for example, there’s no telling how the marketplace will respond. They may give it an active resonance, a dull thud or a shattering silence. It’s completely unpredictable. And so, do we really want to waste time trying to make that calculation? No. We’re better off staying in motion, making more art, making more contributions to the world’s reservoir of truth and beauty. That way, we can allow new opportunities find us through the attraction of working, not the agony of worrying. The point is, we can’t make things happen the way we want. We can only create. When was the last time a more interesting result happened when you decided to go with the flow?

Just when you get there, there disappears.
This four minutes of cinema is better than all of the prequels combined. I remember replaying this scene over and over again as a kid, and it still gives me goose bumps three decades later. What’s interesting is, it wasn’t until my late twenties until I truly understood the productive and calming power of letting go. Taoists call it the law of polarity, whereby any over determined action produces its exact opposite. Like quicksand, the more your struggle to get out, the deeper you sink. That concept will fundamentally alter the way you do your creative work. Learning how to turn toward anxiety, instead of trying to eradicate it. Learning how to view stress as a gift, not a condition. When you work a nontraditional job with erratic income, sporadic employment, feast or famine cycles and lack of job security, these kinds of strategies are the closest thing you’ll ever find to the force. Are you putting your enemy against the wall, only to force him to fight harder?


What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Moments of Conception 083 -- The Monty Hall Scene from Twenty One

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the classroom scene in Twenty One:



What can we learn?

The product of picking a good system. I love this movie because it’s not about luck, it’s about math. That’s why every artist should watch it. Because luck, more often than not, is simply a matter of volume. Basic probability. For example, if you pick from a bag that has forty red marbles and eighty blue marbles, which color are you more likely choice? Blue. Because there are twice as many. And so, the goal for creators is to build a system that increases our number of blue marbles. To pursue a conscious strategy that makes it easier for luck to find us. Jonathan Mann creates and publishes a new song and video each day. He’s been doing this for years. And due to his vast quantity of material and speed of composition, he’s built a massive body of work, earned critical acclaim and secured his career as a working professional songwriter. That’s not luck, that’s volume. In his career, each song is another blue marble. Mann has anchored what he creates to probability. His success is a product of picking a good system and following it until luck finds him. It’s an inspiring reminder that our economy rewards generosity. That there is no gift if there is no art. And that giving the first creation away makes the second one possible. If you work that way, there’s no need to gamble. Have you chosen a system that vastly increases your odds of getting lucky?

Overcoming emotion with statistics. Artists tends to be emotional, impulsive creatures with a hypersensitive relationship to the world and a penchant for exaggeration and drama. But as the professor explains, if you don’t know which door to open, it’s best to keep emotions aside and let simple math get your ass into a brand new car. Our version of simple math, then, is getting our units up. When in doubt, create. Because on the neverending list of things to do, creating more real work, executing more actual product and shipping more lasting value, in the unique way that only we can deliver, is always the our best bet. Again, simple probability. If we want to be in the right place at the right time, we need to be in a lot of places. Consistency plus volume. It’s the only surefire path to creating a market wide hunger for our work. Even if we aren’t necessarily creating all day, as long as we’re creating everyday, art won’t take as long to pay for itself as we originally thought. Conroy once wrote that he used books as instruments to force his way into the world. Perhaps each creator needs their own version of that to let the best have a real chance at them. When you don’t know which creative door to open, what’s your default strategy?

Mentoring is the real jackpot. Ben solved the statistics problem flawlessly. Then again, it could have been a fluke. One answer does not a genius make. So the professor investigates further. And after noticing a stunningly high score on his latest term paper, he connects the dots. He’s found a winner. His next card counting superstar. And so, he coaxes him into join his blackjack team. And the rest is history. What’s interesting is, Ben’s character was based on a real student. A kid whose extracurricular gambling antics afforded him the opportunity to launch several startups, develop an engineering software product and work as a consultant to professional sports teams. All because the professor saw something in him. That’s another form of luck. Finding mentors at a time in your life when you’re capable of listening. Encountering guides that give you new contexts from which to relate to the world. Of course, it’s not entirely luck. There has to be something about you that will allow great mentoring to happen. If you were starting your career over again, in what area would you want more mentoring?

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Moments of Conception 082 -- The Recruiter Scene from Risky Business

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the recruiter scene in Risky Business:



What can we learn?

Creators have to cut their own channels. This movie reminds me of an inspiring story about a wild food forager. His local farmer’s market wouldn’t permit him to become a vendor because he wasn’t he primary producer of the food sold. And so, he crated his own market. Literally. He began offering wild food walks in the region, wild mushroom adventures and workshops, acorn classes, local fishing tours, and most excitingly, community supported foraging. This underground marketplace that was a private, members only club, that charged a nominal entrance fee and offered a wide selection of locally foraged foods. Within six months, the market had exploded to thousands of members, ultimately creating a middle ground for vendors who didn’t want or weren’t ready to sell their foods through larger institutions. It may have been risky business, but the dividends were worth it. Is your work created in response to demands of the market or demands of the gift inside of you?

Don’t let the market call the tune. Joel doesn’t have the grade point average, test scores or class rank to gain admission to the ivy league. The recruiter is visibly unimpressed by his resume. Then again, let’s not forget his work at the school of hard knocks. Joel deals in human fulfillment. He grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night. That’s one hell of an extra curricular experience. What’s interesting is, at the end of the movie, Joel’s father comes up to him and excitedly informs him that the recruiter was satisfied with the interview and said their university could use a guy like him. Not because he was ivy league material, but because he was a fully functioning, independent adult. Time of your life, huh kid? Joel hired himself. He created an environment of unlimited possibility instead of accepting an blueprint of inherited options. He acted without feeling dependent on circumstances, without having to wait for events to align in his favor. A reminder that it is our work that creates the market, not the other way around. Are you letting the market call the tune of your creative symphony?

The revolution of the willing. Losing your virginity isn’t about sex and it isn’t about loss. It’s about coming of age, pardon the pun. And so, the larger story of this movie is about a guy, inexperienced and uninformed, who uncovers a stepping stone to a new level of awareness and maturity about himself and the world in which he lives. Joel’s personal transformation is a beautiful thing. A rite of passage. A healthy human milestone. And while it is the end of the innocence, it’s also the beginning of opportunity. And that’s why this is such a powerful scene. We’re literally witnessing a person crossing the threshold into adulthood. The ringing phones, the loyal customers, the zealous fans, the sexy girlfriend, the lit cigarette, the cool guy glasses, they’re all markers. Artifacts. Symbols of transformation from a shy mama’s boy into an enterprising, savvy young man. This is his moment of conception. Joel is like the metal alloy that, once yielded, will never return to his original shape. He joined the revolution of the willing and he’s never looking back. How aware are you of priceless learning opportunities?

What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!


Friday, August 22, 2014

Moments of Conception 081 -- The Bar Scene from Into the Wild

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the bar scene in Into the Wild:



What can we learn?


Use baitless hooks. Edison famously built his own private fishing pier so he could have a place to be alone with his thoughts each day. What’s interesting his, he never used bait. Just a hook. That’s how process oriented he was. That’s how detached from outcomes he was. To him, fishing wasn’t about reeling in dinner, it was about reveling in the experience. Alex seeks a similar existence. A life of single minded immersion. His dream is to trade his traditional achievement orientation––working as a means for achieving an ends––for his coveted adventure orientation, which is living in the moment and being one with nature. And so, the question becomes, can the modern artist live this way? Can the creator of ideas, a responsible person who wants to make art but also wants to pay the bills, afford to fish with baitless hooks? It’s hard to say. Because you can’t neglect your basic needs. Everyone has to resolve the problem of livelihood. And that’s the challenge with transcendentalism. It’s romantic and admirable and interesting, but not always the most practical way to live. How do you balance your need for achievement with your desire for adventure?


Love the work more than what it produces. Making an idea real takes consistent, persistent application of energy toward that idea. And that takes time. Lots of it. And so, for the sake of our sanities, we may as well discover the ecstasy within the process itself. We may as well embrace the sublime joy of seeing things come together to produce an artistic whole. Detaching from outcomes in this way help keep us focused on the creative process, not what creativity produces. In fact, contemporary flow research shows that creators and performers are actually motivated by the quality of the experience they feel when they are involved with the activity, not the end result. They operate from an autotelic mindset, meaning they enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Alex is an inspiring example of someone completely engrossed in the moment. Someone who knows the journey is the destination. I’m reminded of something my mentor used to say. It’s not the book, it’s the person you become by writing it. And the best part is, that principle applies to any creative project. Because the medium we’re working with is ourselves. Is the present moment your friend or your enemy?


A look back at all those times the world didn’t end. This movie stirs up boundary issues for me. Alex reminds me to always wonder, is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used? Is this going to bring me closer to success, or is this everyone else’s agenda for my time? Boundaries, after all, determine how others will treat us. They define what we are and are not responsible for. And if we don’t set them for ourselves, others will set them for us. Most artists struggle with this issue at one time or another. They’re terrified of containing the access people have to them, depriving themselves of the many pulls on their time an attention. But the thing about boundaries is, it’s not being irresponsible to our work or our relationships, it’s being responsible to ourselves. In my late twenties, I used to take mini sabbaticals. I’d spend a few days in a cabin in the mountains, free from the burdens of technology, completely cut off from the world. And it was difficult. As someone who’s genetically wired for hard work, one of the hardest things to do is nothing. Especially when that next email might be a paying client. But what I realized is, my life doesn’t need to revolve around one pseudo digital crisis after another. Most of the world is not sitting on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating my every move. What would a radical level of self care look like for you?


What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!