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Monday, December 22, 2003

Santa Knows EVERYBODY'S Name


I gave a speech to civic club in Portland recently. One of the audience members shared this story about nametags.

"One year I played Santa Claus in the mall. A large group of kids came into the booth, and I noticed they were all wearing nametags. One particular child, Vincent, looked pretty shy, so I said, 'Come on Vincent, and have a seat on Santa's lap!"

He smiled, ran over to me, jumped onto my lap and gave me a big hug. He then asked me, 'How do you know my name?'

Looking down to his nametag, I said, 'Remember Vincent, Santa knows EVERYBODY'S name!'"

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Have you ever made someone's day by identifying and amplifying their name?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Please Be Patient - I'm New!


Does a nametag have to bear the person's name? It better!

I was eating lunch at a local sandwich place when I noticed an interesting nametag - if you can call it that. Because the staff recently had a large employee turnover, many new clerks were on the floor. The girl behind the counter had a plastic nametag with red and white writing that said, "Please Be Patient. I'm New!"

This nametag has both positive and negative implications. First of all, letting customers know that new employees may be slower in their service processes will be valuable for creating empathy and consideration of longer waits. It also is a good conversation starter, even moreso than normal nametags.

Unfortunately, the reason these nametags are completely useless in the realm of standard nametag practice is: they don't give the employees's name! What good is a nametag if it doesn't give the name of the person wearing it! Furthermore, if new employees are possibly going to have adjustment problems, having their names on the tags IN ADDITION to the "disclaimer of possible slow service" would only help other employees and customers make them feel appreciated!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

How do you make new employees feel welcome?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Man carries and plays accordion wherever he goes


What would happen if you walked around playing an accordion all the time, wherever you went? Maybe you should ask Joey "Accordion Guy" Devilla...

"It started off with me and a friend trying our hand at being street musicians, and we soon discovered that neat things happen whenever you take an accordion with you when you go out. Especially when you play songs by Nine Inch Nails, The White Stripes and Fatboy Slim! (As opposed to polkas)

"The accordion has landed me a couple of job offers, (including go-go dancing), gotten many free drinks and picked up a few girls. My life has become a little more interesting and I have learned the value of saying 'yes' when most people would say 'no.'"

Joey also said, "But it's not always easy making people friendlier with something that weighs thirty pounds!"

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

How do instruments affect approachability?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Why did that stranger ask ME for the time?


I'll never forget the first time I rode the bus downtown in Portland. Arriving at a stop, a smiling gentleman approached me on his way out the door. He quickly looked at my nametag and asked, "Excuse me Scott, but do you know what time it is?"

Checking my watch, I replied back, "3:15."

"Thanks!" He smiled at me and then walked off the bus.

This 10 second conversation opened my eyes to WHY front porches are so important. This brief and seemingly menial interaction not only illuminated the reason that I wear a nametag, but showed me that this world truly DOES have potential to become friendlier.

Why?

Because the guy was wearing a watch.

He was wearing a watch. Maybe it was broken and he just happened to leave it on his wrist. Maybe he forgot he was wearing it. Maybe it was running slow. But I think his watch was working fine. I think all he wanted to do was interact with another person.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What memorable moments have you experienced on public transportation?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Monday, June 09, 2003

This would only happen in New York City...



Meet Liz and Bill. They stand around in New York all day, every day with a two-foot tall sign out on the sidewalk that says "Talk To Me", and then other people take it from there. On a daily basis, the scene is nearly nonstop with customers and conversationalists who bring up just about any topic one could imagine. They do this anywhere from 8 to 14 hours a day. They travel on foot from neighborhood-to-neighborhood across the five boroughs, camping out in the areas where they set up that day. In the winter, their territory included bars, clubs, coffee shops, subway stations and hotels in addition to the sidewalks.

I get chills just thinking about this. I must commend these great people for trying to make this world friendlier, and I urge...no, I DEMAND that everyone goes to their website and check out their brilliant front porch. Amazing.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What could you do to encourage conversation from strangers?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

MUCK FARSHALL!!


When my alma matter Miami University played Marshall, their long time rival, we had t-shirts made that said, “MUCK FARSHALL.”

It quickly became one of my favorite articles of clothing, in addition to a growing campus trend. And when I graduated, I vowed never to throw it away. I would wear it with pride for years to come, even outside of the stadium.

Today, a few years later, I was walking downtown on 5th avenue in Portland. A car screeched and pulled over to the curb in front of me. A man jumped out of the passenger seat, rushed over to the sidewalk and stopped me in my tracks.

“Hey Scott, where did you get that shirt?”

“Oh...uh....well, we made these back in college when Miami University played Marshall in football,” I said.

“No, you don't understand. I NEED THAT SHIRT. My name is Marshall! I’ll pay you 20 bucks for it! Fifty bucks! Anything!” he begged.

Marshall sure seemed sincere. But I loved my shirt. It reminded me of some great times in college. On the other hand, I had worn it for several years, and maybe now it was time to pass it on to someone who could use it in a new and different way. It was a tough decision. But after some persuasion and deliberation - and after he showed me his driver's license to validate that his name was Marshall - I took my shirt off and give it to him!

"Here...maybe you need it more than I do," I offered.

"Can you at least give me a ride home so I don't have to walk around shirtless?" I asked.

"No problem! You just made my day, Scott!"

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Have you ever used an article of clothing as a front porch?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Saturday, May 03, 2003

HELLO, my name is Squirrel Man


Something like this would only happen in New York City.

My folks and I were walking around Battery Park. We noticed a man sitting on a park bench feeding nuts to squirrels. I looked at him, and he looked at my nametag and waved me over, "Hey Scott, come sit down next to me...feed the squirrels. It's a lot of fun!" I was hesitant at first, but he seemed like a nice old guy...

"Sit down here, and I'll show you how to do it." So he puts a nut in my right hand and tells me to hold my left hand palm up and to simply wait, and let the squirrels come to me. Before I knew it, I felt a thud on my back and a squirrel was scurrying across my chest and onto my hand. Oh my god. There's a freakin' squirrel on my hand! Don't squirrels have rabies!?"

"Don't squirrels have rabies or something," I asked the man. "No, they're very tame and friendly. I've been doing this for 20 years and I promise they'll be very nice to everyone! In fact, this squirrel here - his name is Joey." He went on to tell stories about squirrels from years ago, his life story and great people he had met over the years. He knew everything about the types of squirrels, trends of their eating habits and names of about 50 regulars who always showed up!

"I buy about 4 pounds of nuts a day, and come out here 4-6 days a week." Wow, that's a lot of nuts. "My name is Scott," I said. "Hi, my name is Ira, but everyone knows me as the squirrel man."

To make yourself more approachable, find a front porch that best manifests your personality so other people feel more comfortable. However, rodents that may potentially transmit rabies should only be used by trained experts.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What types of pets or animals encourage you approach others?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Did I just see a television in the elevator?


I'm in New York right now at the Parker Meridien Hotel.

CBS was kind enough to put me up in such a great place. Great rooms, beds, sweet TV and mini bar, but there is one large problem: in the hotel elevators there are televisions on the top of the door! Usually you'd see the floor lights, but now there is a small TV playing Merry Melody cartoons.

This is insanity! Are we so non-communicative that we have to resort to elevator involvement shields so that for 30 seconds people won't have to look at or talk to each other? While riding this elevator I made a comment about it. The man next to me didn't say anything, but I think deep down while he watched Daffy Duck's bill get blown away by a shotgun on that elevator TV, maybe he considered the disgrace that existed within.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What is the most common communication barrier you see each day?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Pottery Barn necklace creates a customer for life


I walked into Pottery Barn about a year ago for nothing in particular, just to browse. The first person who greeted me was an employee wearing a string of large red plastic chili peppers around her neck. I immediately saw a great opportunity to talk to her, so I commented about it.

"I like your necklace!" I joked.

(Obviously the decoration was traditionally used for a kitchen, but this employee wanted to have some fun with the accessory.)

"It's not really a necklace," she explained, "but I guess this accessory is whatever you want it to be."

I commented about her creative conversation starter. We went on to talk about a variety of communication related topics for the next twenty minutes. And although I didn’t buy anything that day, on every occasion I visited the store, I always came back and talked to Sioux. She made such an UNFORGETTABLE™ first impression on me that, if I ever needed anything – I had a friend who was willing to help. I became a loyal customer.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

How do you engage with new customers who walk into your office/store?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Using nametags to get discounted Red Bull


I once brought a box of nametags to a party hosted by a few of my Persian friends. Babak (the host) and his wife had a great idea: write everyone's names in Farsi! Everyone loved their new nametags - even if they couldn't read them!

After a while we realized our Red Bull supply had run dry. So my friend Laszlo ran out to the local Plaid Pantry. When he pulled up to the convenient store, he realized his Farsi nametag was still on his shirt. Oh well...

He grabbed four cans and made his way to the cash register. The clerk, "Surinder," greeted him with a beaming smile when he saw the Farsi nametag. (The actual translation was "Laszlo the King.")

Surinder, who happened to be Arabic, asked Laszlo where the nametags were from. When he told the clerk about the party hosted by our Persian friends, he instantly became overjoyed!

"I speak Arabic, I am from almost same place!" he grinned. He then said "For you, this Red Bull? I give you special price: 4 for 5 dollars!"

Laszlo gave Surinder a hearty thanks, and walked out the door a happy man.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

How do you discover the CPI (Common Point of Interest) with new people and customers?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Using nametags to make yourself available to customers


A nametag doesn't always have to be a tag, per se.

When I was a furniture salesman in Portland; I encountered many customers who wore a myriad of nametags for their respective jobs. One of my favorites was a woman I met a few years back. She approached me at the checkout counter, said hello and quickly shifted her body to make her right arm visible.

I noticed she was a bus driver for the Portland Tri-Met. And her light blue uniform had an embroidered nametag that read “Laura” on the right sleeve!

"Scott, I thought you'd appreciate my nametag. It's not exactly standard, but it still serves its purpose of increasing approachability!"

“Nice to meet you Laura. That’s great that you have your name on your shirt!” I said.

Laura's example makes complete sense: commuters only see the right side of the bus driver when they step onto the platform. Tri-Met employees wear uniforms with the embroidered name on the right sleeve to make their names accessible to people when they step on to the bus! Brilliant! So, whether you wear a badge, a sticker, a lanyard or embroidered clothing - a nametag called by any other name is still a nametag.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What other "alternative nametags" can be used to increase approachability with your customers?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Adventures of the coat check bandit


Assumption: nametag=employee.

I was eating dinner tonight at a place in St. Louis called Kreis' Steakhouse. (Wearing my nametag as usual) Before sitting down I grabbed mine and my grandpa's coat and headed to the coat check closet by the entry way. Right after hanging the two coats a gentleman walked in the door. He was about 50 or so and was removing his coat to check it in the closet.

Never missing another quasi employment opportunity, I said, "Can I take your coat for you sir?"

"Sure," he said as he handed me the black leather bomber and scarf.

As I hung his coat amidst the others he asked, "Don't you have to give me one of those tickets so I can claim the coat later?"

Thinking quickly I grabbed half of one yellow stub and turned around to the man.

"Uh...yeah...here's your stub sir, number 819...and welcome to Kreis' Steakhouse."

Just then about a second later my Aunt Donna walked in the same door and yelled hello to me. Nice timing. I think she blew my cover!

The guy looked at me kind of weird. Especially since a few minutes later I walked right past him and sat down at a table right next to him!

But it made me think...let's say a customer is in need of assistance. And you're in the right place at the right time. I believe in lateral service - even if it's not your job.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Have you ever helped a customer - even if it wasn't your job?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com