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A brand, a business and a career. From a nametag.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Don't Mess with Texas, Part 1

I'll give 'em one thing: those Texans sure know how to make a guy feel welcome! Last week I spent a few days speaking at two Hyatt properties. First I went to the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Spa and Resort in San Antonio.

I was scheduled to deliver a speech at an all-staff meeting. The night before the program, I went down to the restaurant to grab some dinner. After I sat down I saw the Chef walking towards my table.

"Scott, I just wanted to come over and introduce myself. My name is Chef Brother Luck!"

Not sure if I heard him correctly, I looked closer at his lapel and saw this:

"That's the coolest name I've ever heard!" I said. "There's got to be a story behind it, right?"

"Well, my dad was a little...different. He legally changed his name to 'Brother.' And I was named after him. But, it's a great name to have. I love it. I've used it my whole life as a conversation starter. And 'Brother Luck' is a perfect way to make guests feel comfortable."

Awesome. That's a front porch if I've ever seen one.

"Anyway, I've been seeing your picture all over the hotel for a few weeks, so that's how I recognized you," Brother said.

"Picture? Of me? What are you talking abou--"

A few seconds later, Theresa from HR came towards my table holding a 6 foot 3, life size cardboard cut-out of the picture from my website.

"Oh HELL no!" I laughed.

"We wanted to hype up our staff meeting, so we made a bunch of these and scattered them around the hotel: in the kitchen, around the offices, even in the heart of the house! Some of them even had little thought bubbles by the head that said 'HELLO, my name is Scott.'"

“Oh…my…God!” I said.

“Yeah, and I think everyone already knows who you are!” continued Theresa. “In fact, some people were a little freaked out when they first saw this cut out in their office.”

THEY were freaked out? How about when I got back to my room after dinner only to find another copy of my exact double STARING RIGHT AT ME when I walked in the door? It scared the holy hell out of me. I didn’t know whether to laugh, crawl under the bed or call security!

Fortunately, it became a running joke for the entire trip. We had a lot of fun with it. And I was even introduced by Tom Smith at the general meeting as “Scott is That Guy with Nametag…you may remember him as the cardboard cutout who’s been scaring the heck out of you for the past three weeks.”

(That was only the beginning. It gets better. Click over to Don’t Mess with Texas, Part 2 to see what happened next.)


What’s the best joke ever played on you?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Don't Mess with Texas, Part 2

After San Antonio, I headed out to downtown Austin on I-410 to the Downtown Hyatt. But before I got too far, I passed by the famous North Star mall where I saw The World's Largest Cowboy Boots.

Wow. I guess everything really IS bigger in Texas. AND...since I had my trusty cardboard cut out in the back of my rental car, I figured Alright…I’ve gotta get a picture of this.

I parked in the lot and walked out to the famous pair of boots with my camera in one hand and my 6 foot 3 cardboard cut out in the other. I planted the Duplicate Scott in a bush directly at the toe of the left boot. It was tough to get a good angle for the picture, especially with the wind. But I think it came out pretty well.

Not surprisingly, several cars that drove by and gave me some pretty strange looks. After all, I was a guy taking a picture of a life size cutout of himself. Lord, they must have thought I was an ego maniac! One car stopped in the middle of the street. The window rolled down and a man said, “Hey Scott! Can I take a picture with you?”

“Um...sure! Come on over!”

His daughters started laughing. His wife rolled her eyes. But this guy’s face lit up like a Christmas tree! He jumped out of the car while I threw my camera to his daughter. We both put our arms around the cutout and started laughing hysterically while his little girl snapped the picture. I reached out to shake his hand and said “So what’s your name man?”

“I’m Adrienne. From New Orleans. You stay cool Scott!”

And he jumped back into his car and drove away!

It all happened so fast. I didn’t know what to think, other than this was the coolest thing that ever happened to me.

(Click here to read the third and final segment to Don’t Mess with Texas)


What cool thing have you done today?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Don't Mess with Texas, Part 3

Just finished speaking at the Downtown Hyatt in Austin. Great hotel. Their facilities and view of the city make it obvious why they’re so busy! And as far as the city itself, I think it’s the only airport I’ve ever been to that had a live band by the gates. Guess that whole “Live Music Capital of the World” is no joke.

Thankfully they didn’t play any life-size cardboard cutout jokes on me. That’s probably better because seriously, that thing was starting to freak me out. Instead, Jana, my client from HR, whipped up a few posters for the employee bulletin boards to generate some buzz about the upcoming program.

But, when I looked closely I noticed she created English and Spanish versions of the posters to accommodate their predominately Spanish speaking staff. And then, just when I thought my week couldn’t get any funnier, I read the Spanish version of the poster’s description of who I was:

Scott Ginsberg: “El Hombre Con La Placa Del Nombre.”

That’s Spanish for “That Guy With The Nametag.”

I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. As soon as I read it aloud, Jana and I started joking about how it not only RHYMED, but actually sounded a lot cooler, and more Zorro-like than the English version of "That Guy With The Nametag."

Ten cuidado! Yo soy El Hombre Con La Placa Del Nombre! I said.

We had tears in our eyes for 5 minutes as we stood by the bulletin board taking turns saying “El Hombre Con La Placa Del Nombre” in our most exaggerated, Banderas-esque accent.

Maybe you had to be there. But it was classic. And all I could think about was: God I love my job.


What’s the best part about your job?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Colchester, CT Celebrates First Annual Nametag Day

What makes Colchester, CT so unique? On Monday, September 26th (yesterday) Colchester celebrated its first annual Nametag Day. According to the Nametag Day website, it was an effort to continue to find new and innovative ways to help people make connections and to welcome new people into the community. It was sponsored by Colchester Parks and Recreation, with the creative help of my friend Jay Cohen. And here's the cool part: at the bottom of their website, they have the following note...

"What was your experience while wearing your nametag? Write up a brief summary and email it to parks& to be entered into a drawing for a complimentary 4 pack of movie passes to Gallery Cinemas. Please submit your entry before Monday, October 3rd. Have fun!"

Maybe I'll move from St. Louis to Colchester. It sounds like my kind of town.


If your town had a Nametag Day, would you participate?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Monday, September 26, 2005

How to be That Guy

I am That Guy.

And I didn’t even mean for it to happen. It just did. Because after the first 6 months of wearing a nametag 24-7 to make people friendlier, something changed. People didn’t just call me Scott anymore. They called me “Scott, that guy with the nametag.”

That’s when it all began. That’s when I became That Guy. And I never looked back. So now, as a result, being That Guy has become the single most advantageous factor of my business.

That Guy is an individual, not an actual “guy.” Just ignore the gender of the term, even though I refer to him in the masculine. That Guy is: someone whose unique personality, values and lifestyle consistently pervades everything he does, thinks and says.

In other words: somebody who reminds everybody of nobody else.

Some experts call it personal branding. Knowing thy self. Starting with your strengths. Differentiation. Keeping it real. Standing out. Being unique.


Same skeleton, different flesh. I like the term That Guy (or if you want, THE Guy) because it humanizes the concept of individuality. You can have lunch with That Guy. You can call That Guy for advice. You can tell your friends and customers to go to That Guy’s website. Because That just cool. And as a result, he holds permanent shelf space in customers' mind.

I'll be addressing this topic a lot in the next few months. But for now, here are some resources to get your melon motivated:

Do you know someone who is That Guy?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I swear to God, I'm not a nametag salesman

I had the great honor of attending B.B. King's concert last night. And since it was the first time I'd ever seen him play live, I finally figured out why he's the greatest bluesman the world has ever known: it's because he's not a guitar player. He's not a singer. He's not even a musician! He's a storyteller. And his stories throughout the night captivated an audience of 5000 screaming fans who will never, ever forget their experience "riding with the king." BUT...I didn't post to talk about B.B.. Something happened at the snack bar right before B.B. came on. The line was moving slow. I mean, REALLY slow. So naturally, a group of us started chatting. And I'm pretty sure I was the only sober person around (as usual). The guy in front of me cracked the traditional nametag joke of "So Scott, is that in case you get lost or something?"


"Nope," I chuckled, "I always wear it to make people friendlier!"

"No way!" yelled a couple behind me. "Let me see that!"

The woman behind peered her head in front of my shirt to verify I wasn't making it up. She started laughing. Probably a little too loud. And then everyone else in line started laughing too.

"Yeah, seriously. I actually wear this all the time," I defended.

"Do you have any more nametags?"

"Of course I do. Here ya go!"

The woman passed nametags around to everyone in line. Then she started sticking them on random peoples' chests and writing out their names.

"Hey Scott, can I have a nametag that reads, 'HELLO, my name is Ed Hill - if found, please return to Sweet Home Chicago.'"

"Um...okaaaay," I said. "Here ya go Ed."

Then a guy whose nametag read "Rick" asked, "Hey Scott, where can I get some of those nametags? That's a great idea."

"Actually I have about 10,000 of them in my basement. MACO, the company who makes the nametags, is my sponsor. I can send you some if you want."

They all busted out laughing before I could even finish the sentence. Not surprisingly, this happens all the time. So either these people were really drunk, or this whole nametag thing is just THAT unbelievable. Anyway, I gave Rick one of my business cards. He used his cell phone to illuminate it. "Wow, you weren't kidding. What are these, books that you've written?"

"Yeah. I write books and give speeches about wearing nametags. It's a symbol of increasing approach..."

More roaring laughter. Damn it! I was NOT getting through to these people!

Eventually they calmed down and let me explain that I wasn't a nametag salesman. By the time we got to the front of the line one of the women said, "Scott, you're awesome. Are you married?" as she grabbed my ringless left hand.

"Heck no!" I said.

"Well good. Because I might just have to leave my husband for you."

Whoa. That sounds like trouble. Hmmm...maybe I should email this story to B.B. King. It sounds like the start of a great new blues song. In which case, I'm gonna need a catchy title. Any ideas?


What should this blues song be called?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Friday, September 23, 2005

On the field, La Russa is all business; off the field, he's all approachability

In light of the St. Louis Cardinals' recent division clinch (woo hoo!), I wanted to say a few words about Tony La Russa.

This picture perfectly captures Tony's demeanor during every Cardinal game. He's like stone. Dark glasses. Very little emotion. A perfect baseball poker face. Now, he does that strategically. And that's one reason he's the second highest winning coach in Cardinals history.

Off the field, however, Tony is different. Ask anyone who's ever met him in person, and they'll say he's totally real, totally approachable. In fact, I used to talk to Tony all the time when I worked at the Ritz.

But I'll never forget October 28th, 2004. That was the day AFTER the Cards got swept by the Red Sox. And that was also the day Tony's Escalade pulled up to the front drive when I was the only employee out there.

Oh shit.

He went inside without much to say. I parked his car on the drive and anxiously awaited his return from the Cigar Bar.

Geez, should I say something? I thought.

A few hours later he came out for his car. And I decided I HAD to say something.

"Mr. La Russa, I just wanted to say...uh, thanks for a great season. It was unforgettable."

And then he said three words I'll never forget:

"Call me Tony."


Do first or nick names change someone's approachability?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Is it possible to use your customer's name too many times?

When I worked in guest services at The Ritz Carlton, I noticed some employees had a tendency to overuse guests' names. Unfortunately, after a certain point, it worked in reverse. (Especially in conversations under 7 minutes)

Name overkill doesn't just happen in the hotel industry - it's everywhere. Sure, we know people love to hear their names more than any word in the dictionary. But there comes a point where customers are thinking to themselves, "Alright, I got it. You know my name. That's enough!"

Each point on this graph represents a single moment when a customer hears his name in a short (about 7 minute) transaction. Here's how it makes him feel:

A, nada - "They didn't even use my name once. I don't feel valued."

B, once - "Ahhh...the cashier said 'Mr. Lynch.' Man, you gotta love this store."

C, twice - "Whoa! Two times! This salesman has a great memory. Now that's what I call service!"

D, thrice - "Alright (mild chuckle) - I got it. You know my name. Thank you very much."

E, four times - "No, seriously, you don't have to keep using my name. The first two times were enough."

F, five times - "This is ridiculous. And annoying. I no longer believe you are sincere. And now I've become uncomfortable. Please go away."


Do you think certain people overuse customers' names more than others?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mangers need to keep it real

I spent last Thursday hosting several staff training sessions at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. It was incredible! From the housekeepers to the bellman to the sales force, all employees at the property made it obvious why they're one of the most profitable Hyatts in the country.

About halfway through one of the afternoon sessions, I noticed a man sitting in the front row. Literally, he was sitting IN the front row. The 6 foot 5, suit clad man casually kicked up his legs across a few chairs, smiled, nodded and kept an interested eye on me at all times.

Who is this guy? I wondered.

After we adjourned he approached me and said, "Scott, thanks very much for your presentation! I've been hearing great feedback from everybody. I'm Jerry Simmons, the General Manager of this hotel."

Ohhhhhh...the GM. Wow. Didn't see that one coming.

"And I'm so glad you talked about approachability to our staff. You see, too many managers think it's wrong or 'not cool' to be approachable. Like they should be isolated from the rest of the staff. But they need to be real. So I think your ideas are just what they needed to hear."

It turns out Mr. Simmons started his career as a wide receiver for the Steelers, Falcons, Saints, Broncos and Bears in the 60's and 70's. Then, after a Hyatt Regency asked him to talk to their employees about leadership, he took on a part time position in the off season in the hotel restaurant. Nine years later he became the General Manager of one of the biggest Hyatts in the country.

What a story. What a guy. What a hotel. Not to mention a shining example of someone who knows how to keep it real. Now I know, you've heard the phrase "keep it real" ad nauseum. And it could mean a lot of things to a lot of people.

But to me, keeping it real (being yourself, showing vulnerability, eliminating superficial hierarchy and maintaining congruency in your character) is a direct indicator of one's approachability.


Who do you know that keeps it real?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Friday, September 16, 2005

This has to be THE strangest reaction I've ever got after 5 years of wearing a nametag

I was standing on the front drive of the Hyatt Regency McCormick place right after we finished a productive day of staff training. While waiting for my airport-bound taxi, a woman with a small rolling suitcase passed me. She then stopped in her tracks, looked at my nametag and backed up.

"Hey Scott!" she whispered as she peered around the drive like she was under video surveillance.

"Are you the next American Idol?"


"How did the audition go?"

"Audition...for what?" I asked.

"You mean, you aren't a singer?"

"Oh, no. I was actually here on business," I chuckled.

"Ah, too bad. Well, see ya later."

* * *

WHAT??!! You gotta be kidding me. I don't even look like a singer!


Do you think this woman was serious?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Costs Macaroni Grill thousands of dollars in...printing costs?

You aren't gonna believe this one.

When the waiter at Macaroni Grill came to the table to greet my Grandmother and me, he informed us of a most shocking statistic.

"Our special this month was 'Chicken Corrina,' but unfortunately we’ve received about 10,000 complaints nationwide from customers who think that such a name for a dinner special is too close to ‘Katrina.’ So, the corporate office instructed all stores in the US to tear out the dinner special leaflets from every one of the menus until we reprint the inserts with the new title of ‘Chicken Sienna.’"

“Get outta here!” I said. “How many stores are there in the country?”

“130,” replied Jason, “and there are at least 200 menus at each store.”

“So that’s 26,000 inserts that have to be reprinted, packed and shipped to all the stores?”

“Yeah. And I’ve been yelled at more than 5 times this week from customers who can’t believe we’d name a chicken special so close to the name of the hurricane.”

Corrina. Katrina.

"It's not that close!" my Grandma said.

"Yeah," I replied, "and it's not like after September 11th, people stopped calling 911!"

"I know, I know..." sighed Jason.

And I thought I had it tough when I was a waiter.

On a related note - ONE HOUR AGO! - George Bush actually took the blame for a slow Katrina response. Check it out on


How has Hurricane Katrina personally affected you or your business?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Approachability Indicator

If you walk into your local bookstore and pick up any random title on interpersonal communication, the majority of the books will simply remind you to "always be approachable."

Wow, you think, thanks for the advice.

But when you walk into a room full of strangers, attend a national conference or start a new job, that advice doesn’t help maximize your approachability.

In the book The Power of Approachability, my goal was to help the reader change his or her paradigm of communication and think of every interaction – big or small, online or off – in terms of approachability.

Now, as the research continues, I’ve created a new model. It’s called The Approachability Indicator™. For the past five years, I’ve examined thousands of case studies, scientific journals, books, interviews, surveys, assessments and articles on what the world thinks approachability means. And although the research showed that various disciplines and people viewed the word differently, there were several fascinating commonalities among all the sources.

Because the word “approachability” derives from the Latin verb apropiare - which means “to come nearer to” - it is a two way street. Fig. 1 represents both inbound and outbound channels. Outbound, or proactive approachability, is stepping onto someone else’s front porch. It’s about being bold. It’s about breaking the silence. And it’s about taking initiative. Inbound, or reactive approachability, is welcoming others onto your front porch. It’s about openness. It’s about availability. And it’s about making yourself accessible to others.

As you see from Fig. 1, all types of approachability fall into one of seven categories:

    1) Social Capital: willingness to develop new relationships
    2) What You Say: dynamics of conversation
    3) What You Don't Say: non-verbal communication
    4) Keeping It Real: authentic and attractive personality
    5) Drop Me A Line: easily reached
    6) Physical Availability: openness of personal space
    7) Personal Availability: openness of mind and heart
This model also revolves around five benefits of maximum approachability. These factors answer the question "Why is approachability so important?"

    1) Opportunity
    2) Confidence
    3) Permission
    4) Comfort
    5) Trust
To read about these factors AND a comprehensive list of 62 ways to MAXIMIZE your approachability from the aforementioned model, click here.


Which president was the most approachable? Why?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Survey results reveal the most important word in marketing

Last Wednesday's post asked a challenging question:

"What's the most important word in marketing?"

The response from the blogosphere was overwhelming! Ideas poured in from authors, consultants, marketing experts and small business owners from around the world. Selected words ranged from the emotionally charged to the pragmatic; from the right brain to the left brain and from the customer focused to the company focus.

It generated so much buzz that WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) even posted a link to the original post, along with a similar question of its own.

AND NOW...for your reading pleasure, I have compiled the data from this popular survey into a comprehensive article called What's The Most Important Word In Marketing?

So read it, enjoy it, and email it to anyone who works in marketing.

They need to hear this.


What's the most challenging question you could ask yourself or your company?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Monday, September 05, 2005

Fallen nametag helps Albuquerque police aprehend computer theif

The Sunday edition of the Boston Herald ran a hilarious column by Mike Pingree called Please officer, I was only kidding, honest. It cites several police incidents that were, well...stupid.

This one was my favorite:

"A man broke into a school facility in Albuquerque, N.M., and stole some computer equipment, but he left behind the nametag he wore at the restaurant where he worked. The name was 'Sam.' The cops went to the restaurant and arrested a 19-year-old guy named Sam." (Oringinal article from the Albuqurque Tribune here.)

Damn it! So much for becoming a bank robber.


Have you ever been wearing a nametag...and wished you weren't?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag