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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Nametag Guy's final post of 2006

So, I was hoping to have this AMAZING year-end post that (a) wrapped up everything I learned in 2006, (b) left you with a poignant point to ponder or (c) was really, really funny.

But I got nothing.

It's been the busiest, craziest, most fun and most educational year of my life. And I'm tired.

However, before I call it a year, I wanted to share one final story.

On October 20th, I received an email from a meeting planner at a Fortune 500. For the record, I changed the person's name and sex. Here's what it read: (emphasis mine)

Dear Scott,

I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate you into our world. Annually my group has a national meeting. In the past speakers have not really added ROI for the $$$ we pay to have them.

Have you spoken for any pharmacy companies before? Although I love your "down to earth" approach, you would have to tone that down a bit due to all of our inhouse redtape (diversity, etc.).

Sincerely,

Jackson Green, CMP


* * * *

OK. Here's what I wrote back to him:

Morning Jackson! Great to hear from you.

I actually just took on a new client in the pharmacy industry. Approachability is huge for reps in that arena, so I would love to be a part of your annual event.

However, while I respect the culture of your company, it's important for you to know something: I never tone down who I am.

If you think the type of style I bring to the stage will offend people or make them uncomfortable, that's totally cool. I understand and I don't expect everyone to like me! But if that's the case, then I'm probably not a good fit for your company.

Take care.

-Scott


LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Do you think he wrote me back?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
If someone asks you NOT to be yourself, screw 'em.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Monday, December 18, 2006

See, this is why I love COSMO

A surprisingly great resource for all things approachable is Cosmopolitan magazine.

(My appreciation for this publication started this time last year when I wrote the quiz on approchability.)

In their December 2006 issue, there's a great article about group dynamics at parties. Perfect content for the holiday season:

• It’s easier to break into larger groups because they aren’t as cohesive.
• Trios are often reluctant to accept a new person
• If you’re extroverted, hang out by the entrance so you can see and greet everyone who comes in the door AND so arriving guests can introduce you to the people they bring
• If you’re stuck in a corner, angle your body toward the center of the party so your conversation partner doesn’t hold you captive between himself and the wall
• Always approach strangers from the side rather than head on. This is an evolutionary tactic to signal you’re peaceful
• Effective opening lines include discussing a neutral object, i.e., food, decorations on the walls around you, furniture
• Territorial by nature, men will stake claim to a piece of furniture and/or any electronics
• If you want to approach a group of men, wait until another woman is already nearby. Men are more gentlemanly in the presence of other women.

Words to live by. God bless Cosmo.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What are your tips for approaching others at holiday parties?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Boys are stupid throw rocks at them

Perhaps the folks at David & Goliath were right.

I was googling "how to approach" and "approach tips" last night, and I couldn't help but notice something:

Most of the hits were articles about seducing, picking up and getting numbers from women.

Actually, they weren't even articles. Most were one page sales letters or extended pictches for seduction ebooks, 6 CD or 12 DVD attraction kits, workshops and the like that promise to teach you How To Approach Any Woman, Anywhere And Know Exactly What To Say To Get Her To Give You Her Number And Go On A Date With You - NOW.

Don't worry. I'm not player hating. If this stuff works, good on ya.

BUT HERE'S MY THEORY: ever since the release of Neil Strauss's (amazing) book The Game, the underground world of pick-up artists, seduction gurus and attraction experts has TOTALLY exploded.

I'm not saying this is bad. Most of the information published on seduction-based approachability (most, I say), is well researched, lucid and thought provoking.

But here's what I think is really, really funny:

If you google the phrase approaching women, 101,000 hits come up.

But, if you google the phrase approaching men, only 16,000 hits come up.

Hmm. Interesting.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What do you this that means?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The World is a Mirror, Part 17

A is for ATTITUDE
B is for BREAK PATTERNS
C is for CONSISTENCY
D is for DISCIPLINE
E is for EVOLUTION
F is for FRIENDLINESS
G is for GOOD WITH NAMES
H is for HAPPINESS
I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
K is for KNOWLEDGE
L is for LAUGHTER
M is for MUNDANE
N is for NAMETAGS
O is for OFF BUTTON
P is for PAINT YOURSELF INTO A (GOOD) CORNER
Q is for QUICK

Think back to the year 2000.

Let’s say someone approached me and asked why I was wearing a nametag. On average, I would only have enough time to say something like this:

“I always wear a nametag to make people more friendlier and more approachable and because humans love to hear their own names more than any other word – and forget names more than any other context of human memory – a nametag increases approachability by making other people feel comfortable, thus creating a friendlier society.”

Seriously. I would actually say all that crap in one breath.

It usually took about 13 seconds. Which I later realized was WAY too long.

As a result, people would respond by:

a) Laughing
b) Thinking I was crazy
c) Walking away laughing, thinking I was crazy

Next.

Think back to 2002. If someone approached me and asked why I was wearing a nametag, I would only have enough time to say something like this:

“I always wear it to make people friendlier, more approachable and to help them remember my name.”

It usually took about 5 seconds. Which I later realized was STILL too long.

As a result, people would respond by asking:

a) “You’re not serious, are you?”
b) “Really? Does it work?”
c) “So, you really want everyone to know your name, huh?”

Hmm. Getting better.

Finally, let’s take it back to about 2003. The year I officially started my company.

Now, if someone approached me and asked why I was wearing a nametag, I would only have enough time to say something like this:

“I always wear it to make people friendlier.”

That’s it. 8 simple words. I always wear it to make people friendlier.

It reminds me of three things:

1) Seth Godin once said, “If you can’t state your position in 8 words or less, you don’t have a position.”

2) Someone else (not sure who) once said, “If you can’t write down your idea on the back of a business card, you don’t have an idea.”

3) One of my favorite movies, The Quick & The Dead.

Cliché, I know. You’re either quick, or you’re dead.

But here’s why I think that phrase isn’t as cliché as it used to be:

In 1974, a book called First Impressions was published. I bought it for a buck on Ebay. And according to the text, humans had 7 minutes to make a first impression.

Seven minutes.

In 2000, a book called How to Get People to Like You in 90 Seconds or Less was published.

90 seconds.

In February of 2006, I was interviewed for the WSJ about an article on first impressions. According to Jeff Zaslow’s research, humans NOW had 2 seconds to make a first impression.

2 seconds.

The Quick and the Dead?

Apparently so.

Dude. That's scary.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How has the quickness of first impressions changed over the past 50 years?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My bad. I'm such a moron sometimes!

You gotta love the opening scene of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

The former presidential candidate takes the stage, PowerPoint clicker in-hand. His famous Global Warming Slideshow appears on the enormous screen in the background. Thousands of bright-eyed college students anxiously await his opening remarks.

The applause fades. The crowd falls silent.

And the first words out of Al Gore’s mouth are, “Hello, my name is Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States.”

The students roar with laughter! Cheers, whistles and applause echo from the auditorium for the next 20 seconds. Even Gore chuckles a bit to himself on stage.

At that very moment, you realize something: Al Gore has every single one of those students in the palm of his hand. Instantly, he’s become likeable, funny, and, believe it or not, sort of cool.

BEHOLD! The amazing power of self-deprecating humor:

It neutralizes conflict.
It makes other want to be around you.
It is the fastest way to someone’s heart.
It is a key indicator of emotional intelligence.
It defuses an otherwise tense or difficult situation.
It combines modesty and likeability, while at the same time demonstrating that confidence and self-assurance.

The word “deprecation” stems from the Latin deprecari, which means, “to avert by prayer.” Now, although you probably don’t think of poking fun at yourself as praying, self-deprecating humor does help sidestep three communication barriers:

You avoid offending someone. Let’s face it: people have become WAY too sensitive. It’s almost hard NOT to offend someone! Political cartoonist Paul Rigby said it best: "Everyone is on edge. I think that's a fault in the human species these days. We are all very scared of critical analysis."

LESSON LEARNED: use self-deprecating humor as a protective measure. It’s safe, it’s fun, and it works. After all, you’re poking fun at yourself! It’s doubtful that anyone else will be take offense.

You avoid threatening someone. Humans tend to gravitate toward people and situations that are the least threatening and uncertain. This is known as the approach/avoid mechanism. Therefore, self-deprecating humor makes you more approachable, both personally and professionally.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: in the April 1997 issue of Men's Health, psychologist Michael Cunningham reported, "Self-effacing humor isn't threatening because it points out that a someone is confident enough to risk looking silly."

You avoid alienating someone. Even individuals with great power and responsibility use self-deprecating humor to their advantage. Landon Parvin, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, helped George W. Bush write the jokes contrasting Bush's public voice with his supposed inner thoughts.

AMAZINGLY: Parvin, who was responsible for most of the president's intentional humor, believed this strategy helped win over skeptical voters by increasing Bush’s likeability. What’s more, CNN and MSNBC reports from the 2004 election indicated that Bush’s approachability surpassed that of John Kerry’s.

Still, self-deprecating humor isn’t all fun and games. It has the potential to be disadvantageous. After spending a few Googleable hours researching the topic, I’ve discovered three caveats you must consider before ripping yourself a new one:

1. Gender. Although it probably differs from person to person, two pieces of research caught my attention on this topic. The first comes from Jan Frankel Schau of the Southern California Mediation Association. She wrote, “A woman appears to be lacking in confidence when she engages in self-deprecating humor. This is not to censor her use of humor, but only to enlighten it by pointing out the hidden messages that may be revealed, or that are unintentionally displayed.”

On the other hand, attraction expert and dating coach “Swinggcat,” founder of Real World Seduction, says, “A little self deprecating humor can be powerful; but a man who recites an hour-long standup comedy routine about what a loser his is will make women avoid him like a leper.”

According to Swinggcat, self-deprecating humor violates a fundamental attraction maxim: women are attracted to men with “prizability.” If you want to successfully attract a woman, he says, you need to establish the frame that you are the “prize” in the interaction.

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Consider your gender (and that of the people surrounding you) before overdoing the self-deprecation.

2. Intention. Have you ever suspected someone of using self-deprecating humor for sole purpose of getting other people to defend him? According to fascinating report titled The Self-Deprecating Narcissist by Dr. Sam Vaknin, "If a narcissist engages in self-deprecating humor, he expects to be contradicted, rebuked and rebuffed by his listeners (‘Come on, you are actually quite handsome!’), or to be commended or admired for his courage or for his wit and intellectual acerbity (‘I envy your ability to laugh at yourself!’).”

Vaknin concluded with, “As everything else in a narcissist's life, his sense of humor is deployed in the interminable pursuit of Narcissistic Supply."

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Don’t poke fun at yourself simply so someone else defends the opposite. This will appear manipulative and narcissistic.

3. Frequency. Lastly, offering too many self-deprecating remarks may raise questions about your self-esteem. Famous comedy writer and magician Robert Orben says, “Self-deprecating humor should always be two-pronged. It should comically acknowledge a criticism or situation, but also infer that there is no substance to it and that you're in the driver's seat.”

Additionally, saturating yourself with self-deprecating remarks can create a negative, circular pattern. See, humans are what they are because of the way other people see them. So, if you keep telling people that you’re a moron, then people will start to agree with you. After a while, you might start wondering to yourself, “Huh. Maybe I really AM a moron!”

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Words are powerful. Make sure that everyone (including yourself) knows that it’s only a joke.

Woody Allen, the world’s most notorious self-deprecator, once said, “Self deprecating humor is all around. It's a staple of comedians, and should be a staple of people in general.”

Right on, Woody. Besides, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Ultimately, self-deprecating humor is a potent ingredient to enhance your personal and professional communication. With practice, you’ll learn that when the right amount is applied, and done so within the appropriate context, you’ll be sure to maximize your approachability – one conversation at a time.

Besides, if it’s good enough for Al Gore, it’s good enough for you too.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's the most effective way to use self-deprecating humor?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Post your best SDH story here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Monday, December 11, 2006

3 chunks of out-of-print wisdom

On the shelves of my father's library, I recently found a book called Dare to Live, by Joe D. Batten. First published in 1966, this was one of the first titles in Batten's extenstive leadership library. Over the decades, Joe went on to accomplish great things in the world of "Tough Minded Management." He was also Ross Perot's mentor.

Can I finish?

He was also among the first professional speakers voted into the Speakers Hall of Fame and the man who coined the phrase "Be all that you can be" for the Army.

I think Dare to Live is probably out of print, I thought I'd share a few passages I really liked:

Life without work is a shortcut to deterioration.

When we don't have something that makes our heart beat rapidly, that makes our senses quicken, we do not force the blood out to our extremities and we begin to dry up and wither from the outside in.

The true pro gets up in front of the group and he probably has even more tension than the amateur, but this tension is flowing out from him and reaching out and enveloping, affecting and energizing his audience.


Good stuff. Thanks Joe B.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's your favorite out of print or rare book?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Hear Scott on Tim "Gonzo" Gordon's Podcast!

I had a chance to catch up with Oregonian Tim "Gonzo" Gordon this week.

We chatted about nametags, speaking, writing books, mentors, and the "weirdness" of the Rose City.

NOTE: I've been slacking on the podcasts lately, so it's nice to finally post another audio clip. Enjoy!

Gonzo Podcast #54


LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Do you think there varying types of "weird people" out there?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

The World is a Mirror, Part 16

A is for ATTITUDE
B is for BREAK PATTERNS
C is for CONSISTENCY
D is for DISCIPLINE
E is for EVOLUTION
F is for FRIENDLINESS
G is for GOOD WITH NAMES
H is for HAPPINESS
I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
K is for KNOWLEDGE
L is for LAUGHTER
M is for MUNDANE
N is for NAMETAGS
O is for OFF BUTTON
P is for PAINT YOURSELF INTO A (GOOD) CORNER

A while back someone from my audience asked, “But if you wear a nametag all the time, that means you have to, like, be nice to everyone!”

Well, technically, yes. But is that such a bad thing?

See, today is day 2,227. That’s like, seven years! And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “Painting Yourself into a (Good) Corner.”

According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms, to “paint yourself into a corner,” means the following:

• To do something which puts you in a very difficult situation and limits the way that you can act
• To do something that takes away all of your choices

As you can see, this idiom is usually expressed in a negative light.

But does it have to be? Is painting yourself into a corner always bad?

I say no. And let me give you a few examples…

My girlfriend drives a pink car. It’s pretty much the sweetest ride you’ll see on the road.

Anyway, Jackie tells me that since she repainted her Tib, she’s actually become a better, more responsible driver.

“Well, yeah,” Jackie explained, “If I cut someone off, they’ll shake their fist at me and say, ‘Damn that girl in the pink car!’”

So, she’s painted herself into a good corner. And Lord knows we could always use more responsible drivers out there!

Tattoos are another great example.

Let’s say someone gets a peace sign inked across his ankle.

Don’t you think he’d be less likely to walk around getting into bar fights?

(FYI, if you haven't had the chance to see the greatest tattoo in the world, brace yourself and look here.)


Another example: what if someone gets the word “hope” tattooed across her chest? Think she’d slump around all day with woe-is-me posture and depressed eyes?

Not likely. Or at least, not AS likely.

See, if you tattoo something on your body, that baby is for-ever. Plus, you wouldn’t have gotten inked unless you were: a) seriously committed to the message behind the ink, or b) really, really drunk one night in college.

And so, a tattoo paints someone into a good corner because if that person acts in a manner inconsistent with the message behind the tattoo, either he (or someone who sees the tattoo) will question his integrity.

Therefore, the solution to all of the world’s problems is simple: everyone should wear nametags and get tattoos.

Just kidding.

But methinks this IS a step in the right direction.

So, if our society wants to achieve higher levels of personal accountability, integrity, authenticity, blah blah blah, it would be wise for each person to find his or her own way of painting themselves into a good corner.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a pink car waiting outside to take me to breakfast.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you paint yourself into a good corner?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The most important word in any author's vocabulary is...

Nope, it isn't “marketing.”

Wrong, it ain't “credibility.”

And no, it’s not “Oprah.”

The most important word in any author’s vocabulary is: platform.



Here’s what that means:

• A platform is what helps sell books
• A platform is the way you reach readers
• A platform is your expertise on your book’s topic(s)
• A platform is a network of notoriety and exposure
• A platform is how you communicate with your audience
• A platform is that which gives you access to sales
• A platform is what you stand for in the marketplace
• A platform is where you speak your mind beyond what’s already been said in your books
• A platform is where you inform your fans of future books, appearances, projects, news and the like
• A platform is your place in the world
•A platform is your accomplishments

With that in mind, here are the three reasons every author needs a platform.

1. To sell books. It’s tough to move 10,000 copies from the back of a cave. Too many authors – especially self-published ones – work their butts off writing and producing their books, and then do nothing with them! Sadly, writing and producing the book is the EASY part. The key is, building your platform so you can move those darn boxes out of your garage!

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your 12-month platform plan?

2. More media interviews. If media outlets see that you’ve got a platform, they will gladly book you for their shows. Why? Because they know you’ve got fans, customers and loyalists who will tune in. They know that viewers, readers and listeners will say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of this guy before!” And that’s what makes their producers (and advertisers) super happy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How many interviews did you do this year?

3. Credibility is king. Every time you try to make a deal that books you for a speaking engagement, sells copies, secures a TV movie about your life, etc., the potential client is going to ask the question, “Have people heard about you?” It’s EXACTLY like the scene in the recent movie Little Miss Sunshine, in which Greg Kinnear’s book deal goes kaput because the publisher exclaims, “But nobody’s heard of you!”

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have people heard of you?

OK. Now that you understand the value of author platforms, let’s explore two well-known examples.

First, think about the most obvious example in the world: Oprah.

Personally, I’m not a diehard fan of The Big O, but you gotta admit, when she writes a book (or promotes someone else’s book, for that matter), BAM!! Millions of sales at the drop of a hat.

Now, does that happen because these particular books are “good”?

Maybe. But it probably has more to do with the power of her platform: TV show, magazine, radio show, reputation and Harpo Productions.

Another great example is Rachel Ray. How many cookbooks, DVD’s, appliances and other ancillary items do you think she sells each year?

According to a 2006 article in Business Week, about 40 gazillion bajillion.

OK, I might have exaggerated that number a bit. (I think it’s actually higher)

But why does she move so much product? Because her platform is strong. Really strong. Like, Schwarzenegger strong. Sure, she might be an annoying little troll, but you’ve to got to admit: she’s everywhere. TV shows, product endorsements, even her own magazine!

BUT, HERE’S THE CATCH-22…
In order to build a platform so you can get well known, you sort of have to BE well known already.

So, that’s your challenge. How will you get better known and known better?

Here’s a quick list of ways to start building your platform 2-day, 4-free:

• Blog every single day for six months
• Publish an ezine twice a month
• Give one free speech every week
• Publish articles regularly on www.ezinearticles.com
• Walk around conferences and events (filled with attendees who are your target readers) and hand out hundreds of free copies of your book to EVERYONE (This one works. I’ve done it many times!)

Look. I know you’re not Oprah. And I know you’re not Rachel Ray.

But nobody is! Those two women reside in the 0.01 percentile of authors whose platforms are so impossibly strong that they can sell millions and millions of books in short periods of time.

You and me, however, reside in that 99.9% of people who need work our butts creating, expanding and maintaining our platforms on a daily basis.

After all, that’s the single most important word in any author’s vocabulary.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How does the word "platform" apply to non-authors?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The power of FREE

You could argue that free is bad:

That free gives no value.
That free wastes people’s time.
That free is setting your business up for failure.

Or you could argue that free is good:

That free DOES give value.
That free captures attention.
That free brings customers into your sales funnel.

I’m gonna go with door #1. For 6 reasons:

FREE helps others.
Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Give stuff – information, ideas and like – away for free to help people.

FREE pays it forward. How many times have you been give priceless pieces of wisdom? Did you pay for it? Doubtful. Return the favor. Except, don’t return it; pay it forward. Great example here.

FREE gives value first. Huge rule in business. Free information shows that you have knowledge and expertise. I’ve given dozens of free speeches in my life, and subsequently booked paying gig as a result. So, give it away for free the first time, and the people who received value from it will come back to you the second time. And the third, and the fourth, and the fifth…

FREE wins fans. How many times have you heard a song on the radio, LOVED IT, then went out and bought the album? Probably lots. Because you were a fan of the music. Hence, free creates (and ultimately helps retain) fans. Think iTunes’ free music Tuesday. Brilliant. It's a simple formula: break the silence, make the mundane memorable, turn strangers into friends, friends into fans and fans into sales.

FREE tests the waters.
Maybe you have new ideas that you’re not sure about yet. I say, post them on a blog and get free feedback before you break the bank. Maybe people will see stuff you never thought of. Maybe people will love your ideas! Maybe people will say, “That sucks!” Either way, it’s good to know.

FREE culture of dishonesty. Thanks to Enron, James Frey and a multitude of other big name liars, customers are skeptical before buying stuff. So, give something to them for free first, disarm their immediate preoccupation, and win them over. If they like you, they'll be back.

The reason I posted about this today is because a woman called me recently and said (jokingly, I think), “Scott, you have way too much free stuff on your website! I’ve been there all afternoon!”

First of all, thanks! All afternoon? Wow. Most web users stay on the average sit for 90 seconds. Nice.

Secondly, are you complaining?

Thirdly, maybe you’re right. Maybe 100+ articles, 5 FREE ebooks and several videos are too many things to give away for FREE. Maybe I’m afraid to sell. Maybe I’m afraid that charging people will lose people.

Maybe.

All I know is, in the history of my business, FREE has been the absolute #1 most valuable marketing technique for spreading WOM, attracting fans and increasing visibility, thus increasing sales.

So there.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What are you giving away for free?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Email scott@hellomynameisscott.com with your best "free offering," and I'll post the top three on this blog next week.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Monday, December 04, 2006

How much info should be printed on your nametag?

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me the following question:

"How much information should you put on your nametag?"

I say: nothing but your first name. Here's why...

It's simple. Too many nametags are jam-packed with too much information, thus decresing the font size of each word, thus making the nametag harder to read. First name is enough.

It's easier to remember. Sigmund Freud explained that "a person's name is the single context of human memory most apt to be forgotten." Why make someone remember ANOTHER name?! They have a hard enough time with one! First name is enough.

Pidgeon holes. You can put your company name or job title on your nametag, after all it IS free advertising. But in so doing, you give people a chance to size you up: "Oh, so you're only a sales rep? Well then..." or "Wow you're the CEO! Amazing!" I believe in leading with yours PERSON before PROFESSION. Because people buy people first. First name is enough.

Sterotypes. Face it: when someone looks at your last name, they can get a pretty good idea of your ethnic background, religion and the like. Now, I'm not saying last names are always accurate, but you're just asking for stereotypes. First name is enough.

Security. I've been emailed by several retail employees in the past few years who've encountered stalkers, thanks to the last name on their nametag. In fact, I even had my own stalker a few years back - and I didn't even have a last name on my tag! First name is enough.

That's my two cents.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How much information should be printed on someone's nametag?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Friday, December 01, 2006

The World is a Mirror, Part 15

A is for ATTITUDE
B is for BREAK PATTERNS
C is for CONSISTENCY
D is for DISCIPLINE
E QTis for EVOLUTION
F is for FRIENDLINESS
G is for GOOD WITH NAMES
H is for HAPPINESS
I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
K is for KNOWLEDGE
L is for LAUGHTER
M is for MUNDANE
N is for NAMETAGS
O is for OFF BUTTON

Lately, many of my clients, audience members & readers have been asking, “Scott, what happens when you don’t feel like talking to people?”

Good question.

There are really two answers:

1) Yes, I certainly have those days where the last thing I want is some random dude coming up to me in the middle of Target saying, “Hey Scott, you got a memory problem or something?” However, it’s a rarity that I’m in such a foul mood that I can’t be friendly to a stranger. In fact, that’s one of the great things about wearing a nametag: it almost forces me to be in a good mood most of the time. And not in a fake way, but rather like “painting myself into a good corner.”

2) I don’t leave the house.

You think I’m kidding about the second answer, but I’m not.

See, Mr. Miyagi once said, “Best way to block punch = no be there.”

It’s what I call Pressing the Off Button. And in the past 2,221 days of wearing a nametag, I’ve learned to CHERISH my off button.

Whether it’s eating dinner alone (take that, Keith Ferrazzi!) taking a Friday off, turning off my cell phone, or just sitting at home playing the guitar all night, learning to press the off button is one of the most important skills I’ve learned.

And it IS a skill. I only know that because, for a few years, I couldn’t bring myself to press the off button! I was constantly at the behest of the Almighty Nametag. Always talking to people. Always working. At nights, on the weekends, even on vacation!

Then I learned I wasn’t alone. First by talking to other entrepreneurs with the same problem, then by researching the topic. For example, a recent article from MSNBC reported that the number of Americans who work during their vacations has nearly doubled in the last decade.

But it’s not just businesspeople: this goes for students, entrepreneurs, CEO’s, managers, parents, salespeople, and pretty much anyone else who has an incredibly demanding personal and/or professional schedule.

We must all learn how to press our Off Buttons, and to do so more often.

Which reminds me, I think there’s a SVU marathon on TV. Maybe I’ll just take the rest of the day off. What the hell. It's a snow day anyway.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you press your Off Button?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Do it more.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

HELLO, my name is Manifesto

When I read Seth's manifesto on Gaping Void yesterday, it truly inspired me.

I’ve actually been wanting to finish my own manifesto for a while now. Thanks to Seth, this week I finally got around to it:

HELLO, my name is Manifesto

1. Friendly always wins. Because it's easier. Because, shockingly, not enough people are friendly. And because our world needs it.

2. Consistency is far greater than rare moments of greatness. Don't pick and choose the people with whom you are genuine. Maintain congruency of character.

3. Make the mundane memorable. Do something cool every day. Break the silence. Break people’s patterns. Turn strangers into friends. Turn friends into customers. Turn customers into FANS. Be unforgettable.

4. Fans, not customers. Customers, schmustomers. Fans are the people who “love your stuff,” will go to the ends of the earth to work with you, will tell all their friends about you, and don’t need to be sold. Obtain them, love them, stay in front of them.

5. Be That Guy. Even if you’re not a guy. Branding is about becoming somebody who reminds everybody of nobody else. It’s about owning a word in the mind of the people you serve. It’s about being unique, not different.

6. Networking works. Because you just never know. That’s why, simply put, you should talk to everybody. And not because you want to get referrals, make sales or pass out 147 business cards; but because you want to develop and maintain mutually valuable relationships. After all, you can’t spell networking without W-O-R-K.

7. Interaction, not interruption. Make direct contact with your customers and prospects. Build community. Stop trying to sell stuff to everybody. Don’t interrupt or annoy people, rather, interact with them. Customers are excited about interacting and participating with cool stuff, cool people and cool ideas that make them feel comfortable and respected.

8. Don’t sell; enable people to buy. Concentrate your marketing efforts on creating a sense of attraction, a sense of gravity; that magnetizes customers, prospects and fans toward your company through a process of delivering value via your brand. It’s not who you know; it’s who knows you.

9. People buy people first. Before your company, before your products, before your services, before your ideas, before your suggestions, before your work, they buy YOU first. So, put your values before vocation, beliefs before business, person before profession, individuality before industry. And remember, Since you must sell yourself before selling your product, you must sell yourself on yourself. So believe in yourself.

10. If you don’t make a name for yourself, someone will make one for you. You can participate in the creation of your profession reputation, but you can’t control it. And you no longer have just your name, you have your name – PLUS - what people say after it.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Do you have a manifesto?

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Email scott@hellomynameisscott.com with your manifesto (500 words or less). Submit no later than December 11, 2006, and I'll post my favorites on this blog!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

27 ways to grow bigger ears

Last week I briefly talked about growing bigger ears.

Since then I've received tons of awesome feedback on the topic of listening. (If you still have tips and ideas, email scott@hellomynameisscott.com)

So, here's my ever-growing list of Ways to Grow Bigger Ears:


1) Be less worried about what you're planning to say next.

2) As soon as your follow-up question or rebuttal is formed, jot down just the major ideas (usually just nouns and verbs) to jog your memory when it's your turn to speak.

3) In a pinch (i.e. sans paper), assign the thought to a finger which and tap gently on the desk or the arm of your chair.

4) The key is to free up your thought processes to be able to hear,
interpret, and internalize the content of an incoming message. It will
make you a better listener, and should deter you from jumping in too
early with a response.

(Thanks, Peter Marinari)

5. When in a restaurant, sit with your back to the TV so you aren't distracted.

6. Ask questions on the information being presented.

7. Avoid turning the conversation back to you. If you use the word "I" alot, you are breaking that rule.

8. Listen for the suble difference between "I need you to solve my problem" vs "I am just telling you what frustrates me."

9. Don't anticipate the direction of the conversation in order to push it along faster than normal.

10. Don't cut people off. Let them finish.

(Good stuff, Tony Chimento)

11) I always know that I am listening intently when I can see the size of my conversation partner's pupils change size as the conversation happens. Don't know why, but it works for me.

(Bravo, Debby "CNP Guru" Peters)

12) Aggressive Listening – listens to gather evidence for a position of view that is already fixed and confirmed. Listens with an agenda, and starts from the conclusion. This type of listening is closed, rigid and certain. It seeks to win a victory.

13) Learning Listening – listens in order to discover something new, to learn and understand – to be changed. Listens in order to focus on the other, and give them the gift of being truly heard. This type of listening is open, flexible and uncertain. The aim here is to win a relationship.

14) Restraint – Focus on the other person and avoid introducing your own story. Allow the other person’s story to stand on its own merit, without your commentary.

15) Questioning – To demonstrate your listening and to listen better ask open-ended questions that help to clarify (“What does that mean? Help me to understand this better…”), dig deeper (“Can you tell me more about…” “Please expand on this…”) or create a new angle. This can also the other person to understand their own story better!

16) Self-reflection – Often when we listen to others, our own body and mind begin to “resonate” with what we’re hearing. We listen with more than just our ears, intuitively we connect with the other person at a very deep level, and this can sometimes be “felt” in the “gut” or the “heart”. We may feel a particular emotion, or we may find ourselves getting agitated or tired. As we listen to the other person, we can tune in to what is happening within us, and this can help us to understand far more deeply than if we just use our ears.

(Solid content! Thanks John van de Laar)

17) (L I S T E N) has the same letters as (S I L E N T).

(Sweet. Thanks Michelle!)

18) Don't jump ahead mentally to compose your response.

19) Include the speaker's non verbals into how you "take in" what they are saying. The classic example of this is when someone says "Whatever" with body language that signifies that the outcome of whatever the debate/question had been is actually something they are heavily vested in.

19) Eye contact. I know this is one of those obvious basics, but I have a 7 year old who (like his father) doesn't make eye contact readily. When I was lecturing him on why he received a "needs work" evaluation regarding his listening skills at gymnastics, he said, "just because I'm not looking doesn't mean I'm not listening." People don't know that eye contact is critical.

(Cool, gracis to Paula E. Kiger from Florida Healthy Kids Corp.

20) Listen with your emotional ears, too.

21) Listen for the little pieces of info that can spur further questions.

22) 1 way NOT to grow bigger ears: DON'T grow a bigger head! It WON'T work ! :)

(From my old friend Allison, from KidSmart)

23) If it is more than a casual encounter take notes.

24) If at the end of twenty or thirty minutes of talking you've only got a few lines filled in, you probably talked more than you listened.

25) Want a real kick in the ass? Give a notepad to your client or guest and see who comes up with more notes at the end. If it’s them, how does that make you look?

26) I always repeat back someone's name to them when we first meet, or else I'm likely to forget.

27) Throughout the event/party/meeting, I will look around the room and say to myself the names of the people I've met, just to reinforce it. It's like I listen to the person the first time, then I listen to my mental repetitions after that!

(Good call, Coach Lisa.)

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What are your best tips for growing bigger ears?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
If you'd (still) like to contribute your tips for growing bigger ears, please email your best listening tips to scott@hellomynameisscott.com.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

5 ways to punch your customers in the face

WARNING: This article does not encourage readers to actually punch their customers in the face.

Here's what I mean...

In the process of breaking the silence, making the mundane memorable, turning strangers into friends, and turning friends into fans, you must IMMEDIATELY inform people of your credibility.

Get their attention quickly and blatantly. Like punching them in the face.

Here's WHY I mean this.

We live in an untrusting culture. Customers and prospects are already skeptical before going to your site, reading your stuff or hearing you talk. You must disarm immediate preoccupation.

Everyone's an expert. Or so it seems. And sometimes it's hard to tell the gurus from the wannabe gurus. Which is why you must differentiate yourself.

More choices, less time. It's the paradox of our generation. (It sucks, but it's reality.) So, consider the fact that people form first impressions of you and your company within a few seconds.

Here are five situations in which you must punch people in the face with your credibility:

EXAMPLE 1: Websites
When someone comes to your homepage, what are you doing to project credibility within the first few seconds? Check out SNAP's homepage. The first thing you see are the awards they've won. Nice.

EXAMPLE 2: Products
I believe in The Sticker Theory. By that I mean, "What little sticker could you put on the front of your product that enhances its value through increased credibility?" As seen on TV? Featured on Oprah's book club?

EXAMPLE 3: Presentations
Within the first few minutes of your speech, sales presentation, etc., you need to prove your credibility to the audience so (a) you lay a foundation to validate future points, and (b) your audience listens to you. Remember, every presentation of some kind involves at least one person wondering, "What does this have to do with me?"

EXAMPLE 4: Bios
At the end of your articles or on your marketing materials, you probably have some sort of "bio." And it's usually short. What key words and phrases could you include? Have you been recognized as an expert? Worked in your industry for 30 years? Been inducted into the Million Dollar Club? Whatever it is, put it on there. For more ideas on this, check out The Dolly Parton Theory.

EXAMPLE 5: Entrances
Ever see that little Zagat sign in the window of a restaraunt? Or a CitySearch award on the wall of a club? Or the coveted 5-star award behind the concierge of a hotel? If so, you've just been punched in the face. Therefore, if you own a store, club, restaraunt, hotel or any other place of business that has a lobby or entryway, consider hangning "decorations of credibility" for all your customers to see!

NOTE: I'm not suggesting interruption marketing here. (If you read my recent post on that idea, you'll see that's not how I roll.)

This isn't about annoying, abusing or assaulting customers. It's about informing them of your credibility quickly, obviously and honestly so they feel more comfortable working with you in the future.

The thing is, in our fast paced, choice-saturated culture, sometimes you just gotta punch people in the face.

In an approachable way, of course :)

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you punching customers in the face with your credibility?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Email me (scott@hellomynameisscott.com) with a list of all the ways your company punches customers in the face with your credibility. I'll compile them for a future article!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Monday, November 20, 2006

God bless Triple D's

Potential customers, fans, friends, family members, audience members, readers of your material, website visitors, and pretty much anyone else that comes into contact with your business needs to know three things.

This is what I call “The Triple D Factor.” (And no, it has nothing to do with Dolly Parton.)

PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU:

i. DO – for a living, as a professional, for companies, for customers. So, is your positioning statement clearly defined and posted where everyone can see it? And if a stranger asks your aunt Patty what you do for a living, will she do your business justice?

ii. DOING – right now, current news and projects, upcoming events. Do you have a calendar, rss feed or "upcoming events" section of your website and ezine? Are people anticipating your arrival?

iii. DONE – past clients, past successes, whom you worked with, how you helped them. How many testimonials do you have?

DO, DOING, DONE. Triple D’s. Got it? Good.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! See ya next week.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you use the Triple D Factor?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Grow bigger ears

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the art of listening is essential for making a name for yourself. Still, here are my four cents:

1) Listening is not waiting to talk.

2) You have one mouth and two ears. Listen and talk accordingly.

3) “You can’t learn if you’re speaking.” --Alan Weiss

4) A great way to show someone you’re listening is to say, “Wait, I don’t know what that means.”

Thank you.

That is all.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What are your best tips for growing bigger ears?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
I am writing an article called "50 Ways to Grow Bigger Ears." If you'd like to contribute, please email your best listening tips to scott@hellomynameisscott.com and I will credit you in my upcoming column. Thanks!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lessons learned from a job that sucked (part duex)

If you haven't read my first post in this three part series, probably do that first.

During that wonderful period after college, or as I like to call it, "The Two Years When My Business Wasn't Making Money So I Lived in My Parents' Basement and Worked a Part Time Job," I took a nights/weekends position as a valet parker at a local hotel.

(Read how I got hired for this job at yesterday's post.)

This job wasn’t nearly as bad as bartending or slinging couches, but it still sucked.

And whether I was running full speed for two straight hours during an 80-car wedding in the 105-degree heat, or standing by the lobby door until 2 AM layered in every piece of clothing I had during the biting cold of a St. Louis January, I learned a lot about customer service, business and life:

Whatever the Guest Wants
During training, I was actually instructed to "go to the ends of the earth" to accomidate the guests. A few months later, a guest nobody had ever seen before pulled into the drive in red Chevy Cavalier. I opened the door for him and he said, "Man, this car is a piece of junk!"

I replied with, "Don't worry sir, you've come to the right place - I'll get you a nice Benz from our garage."

He laughed and said, "Scott, make it a Bentley and we got a deal!" as he handed me a hundred dollar bill. (sweet)

Later that day I went to the Bentley store and used his tip to buy a toy Bentley replica. I gave it to him the next day. He was so blown away that he 1) gave me ANOTHER hundred dollar bill, 2) became a weekly guest at the Ritz for a year.

I later found out that his name was Nicholas Innerbichler, Forbes Magazine Award Winner and CEO of Fortune 500 company, ESSI Engineering.

LESSON LEARNED: consider the lifetime value of a guest, go to the ends of the earth to make an unforgettable first impression on him and win a loyal customer for life. Because you never know.

Safety Always Comes First
It was late Saturday night. A really, really drunk man stumbled out the front door, looking for his car. He asked for his keys to the white BMW parked in spot #2. I fumbled for a sec, then asked, "Sir, how far away do you live?"

He told me five blocks. I told him to get in the car. I drove him home, parked his car in his driveway, then ran five blocks back to the hotel before anyone knew I was gone.

LESSON LEARNED: better me running than him driving.

5 Minutes Adds Up
My coworkers used to take an average of three smoke breaks a day. That's 15 minutes a shift, 75 minutes a week, 3,750 minutes a year, 62 hours a year. I, on the other hand, didn't smoke. (I didn't get to take breaks like that.) So, I explained to my boss that it wasn't fair, and asked him if I could request 62 hours of "smoker's pay" added to my check at the end of the year; or request 62 hours of "smoker's fee" be docked from my coworker's checks at the end of the year. He suggested I either took up smoking or stopped whining. I stopped whining.

LESSON LEARNED: smokers suck.

Names Hold the Key
As the SUV came to a stop, I opened the trunk and pulled out the guest's suitcase. I noticed from the luggage tag that the man's name was Mr. Potashnick. When he opened the car door I said, "Good morning Mr. Potashnick!" He smiled and asked, "Now how in the hell did you know my name?"

I smiled back and said, "Sir, that's why we call it Guest Service!"

He handed me a twenty.

LESSON LEARNED: get that name quick, and get it however you can.

Or, Names Hold the Poison
Another time I inspected the luggage tag and noticed his name was Harrison. "Welcome in Mr. Harrison," I said as I opened the door. A few seconds later I went around to the passenger side and opened the lady's door. "Mrs. Harrison, welcome in!"

She looked at me with the dirtiest scowl I've ever seen.

Because she wasn't Mrs. Harrison

Eep!

LESSON LEARNED: only use their name if you're ABSOLUTELY sure.

The Extra Mile is Rarely Crowded
During a 200 person wedding, the father of the bride gave me party favors for all the guests. They were little glass slippers, as the theme for the wedding was Cinderella. He told me to hand them out at the door at the end of the night. Knowing I would be too busy to attempt it later, I spent two hours during the wedding when I had no cars to park placing the shoes on the dashboards of every car. When I opened the door for the guests as they left I said, "Thanks for joining us, and here's a little gift from Cinderella and Prince Charming."

My boss receive 8 phone calls from wedding guests who said it was the best valet service they ever had.

LESSON LEARNED: make sure every guest leaves with an unforgettable LAST impression.

Numbers Don't Lie
During a busy month, I had a problem with my schedule. See, I was a part time employee, yet working WAY too many shifts and hours, proportionate to the other full time employees.

So, during a staff meeting with the GM, I asked for five minutes to explain my problem. I made handouts of my department's schedule and passed them out to the entire staff. It showed that, for a period of 10 days, I worked 9 days straight, for a total of 54 hours. Then it showed how every other employee in my department worked no more than 7 shifts and 49 hours (including full timers.)

After my 5 minute tyrade, the room fell silent. The GM didn't know what to say. So I walked out, went back to work for the rest of the day, then quit the following week.

LESSON LEARNED: always stand up for unequal employee treatment.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What lessons have you learned from jobs that sucked?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Stand out without selling out

Five down, one to go.

I was so close to getting the job I could taste it!

All I had to do was ace this last interview and I was a shoe-in for my new position at the Ritz Carlton.

“OK Scott, this last question is kind of a tough one. Most applicants usually have trouble with it, so just take your time:

Do you have any weaknesses?”

Damn. That IS a tough question.



Should I lie?
Tell him I don’t have any weaknesses?
Or give him the answer he wants to hear?

Well, here goes nothing...

“Sure, I’ll give you four of them,” I said confidently.

“Number one:
I’m not a great driver. I know I’m applying for a valet position, but sometimes I make stupid decisions behind the wheel. Heck, I can barely even drive stick!

Number two: I have big eyes. What I mean is, I will scope out every girl that walks through the lobby without realizing that I’m staring. That might get me in trouble with the guests.

Number three:
I’m not the most punctual employee. Now, I’m not saying that I’ll be late every day, but you’ll rarely see me come in early.

Number four: I have a big mouth. I often say silly things that might come off as offensive to others.

But the truth is, sir, all four of those weaknesses I just listed – they can be changed. But the one thing about me that will NEVER change is my honesty, and THAT is exactly why you should hire me to work at this hotel.

The next thing I heard was the sound of his jaw hitting the carpet. He looked at me like I just told him I was abducted by aliens from planet Zantar.

After a brief silence, he wrote something down on his legal pad, shifted his weight and leaned back in his chair. He grabbed a quick drink of water and crossed his arms.

I thought I was a goner for sure.

He responded with four words: get outta my office!

I’m just kidding. What he really said was: you got the job!

Initially, I couldn’t believe that answer actually worked. But in retrospect, I realize what happened:

I stood out without selling out.

Interviews. Performance evaluations. Meetings. All that stuff. These are opportunities for you to stand out a make a name for yourself.

Which means (as usual) you have a choice:

1) Sacrifice who you are and what you believe, shrink from the opportunity to showcase your individuality and give the guy on the other side of the desk the answer he expected to hear. Or,

2) Summon the courage to be yourself, say how you really feel, fly in the face of convention and stand out like the unique person that you are.

Do. Not. Go. Quietly.

Ever.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
When was the last time you stood out without selling out?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I can't believe I'm actually blogging about this...

I recently sat down to dinner with my girlfirend at the famous Forest Park Boathouse. As usual, we checked out the design of the sugar packets on the table.

<------And this is what we saw

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm about to say something I never thought would end up in my blog: these are the coolest sugar packets I've ever seen!

Our sweet friends at Equal have created a perfect example of EVERYTHING I've been writing about in the past year:

Mundane into Memorable: it's a damn sugar packet! Doesn't get more mundane than that. But Equal decided to transform an ordinary confection into brand-breathing brilliance!

When was the last time you took home your sugar packet and showed it to your friends? Or blogged about it?

Do Something Cool: After I read the first few packets on my table, I started walking around to every other table in the restaraunt and stealing their sugar packets. (The other customers probably thought I was diabetic.) But these packets were so cool, I wanted to collect them all! Kind of like baseball cards or McDonald's Happy Meal toys.

Have Fun: Try to visualize the marketing department of Equal, sitting around a board room table, brainstorming slogans like: Banish the Bland, In Favor of Flavor, Do Your Drink Justice, Embrace the Taste, In Taste We Trust, Power to the Packet! Come on. That's freaking hilarious. It's almost so ridiculous, it's cool.

Remember when UPS started embracing their brand (echh! the color brown?) by asking customers, "What can brown do for you today?"

Same thing. Equal is becoming unforgettable and unique and cool and fun in an otherwise boring market where there is no discernable difference between competing products.

(Oh, and did I mention: it's a damn sugar packet!?)

Sweet & Low? Regular sugar? Fughettaboudit!

I'm an Equal guy now.

Power to the Packet!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yet another free ebook from The Nametag Guy

Last month I released a free ebook about speaking.

It was downloaded a few thousand times, which ain't bad.

Because I got so many positive emails, calls and comments about it, I decided to write a companion ebook for authors and self publishers. Here she is:


203 Things I've Learned about Writing,
Selling and Marketing Books



Three of my favorite tips are:

#37: I would recommend you give away at least one free downloadable ebook a year and post it on your website/blog. It gives value, increases traffic and often results in future sales via click-throughs. (Kind of like I'm doing RIGHT NOW.)

#84: If you don't want to make this a business, don't bother.

#196: People don’t want to rent a car; they want to get out of the airport. Think about it: what does your book REALLY DO for your readers?

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What does your book really do for your readers?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Why can't I start a conversation with you?

Picture this: you’re standing in a room full of strangers, not talking to a soul. You’re hoping to make at least one connection, but can’t seem to get the ball rolling. Eventually you think, “This is ridiculous. Why can’t I start a conversation with anyone?”

The answer to that question runs deeper than you might think.

Starting conversations not only depends on your communication skills; it’s also a function of your self-confidence. In this article, we will explore 9 common barriers that stand in your way of conversational approachability. (It's a pretty lengthy piece, so half is here and the other half is on my website.)

BARRIER #1: I don’t want to be rejected.
This is the big one. The number one hindrance to approaching someone else: the fear of rejection.

In Triumph Over Shyness, Philip Zombardo states, “Shy people are often attracted to those who do not return the affection, which is a very painful way of creating safety.”

Yes, it can be scary. But the truth is, rejection is part of life. You can’t evade it forever. Also, assuming that you can’t handle rejection is a mistaken belief. Besides, more often than not, rejection isn’t as bad as you think. After all, what’s so bad about being rejected by someone you hardly even know? Don’t let a few no’s stand in your way of stepping up to bat again in the future.

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Win a few small victories first. Go to the mall and practice approaching cashiers, clerks, salespeople, kiosk operators and the like. They can’t reject you! These smaller successes will build your confidence and equip you with positive experiences to dwell upon in the future.

BARRIER #2: I don’t have anything good to say.
First of all, 93% of all conversation is nonverbal. So, don’t get too hung up on your words. Concentrate on having approachable, open body language first. Smile, don’t cross your arms, maintain open posture, keep your hands away from your face and maintain eye contact with everyone within 4-10 feet of you. Many people – even extroverts - miss the boat on this crucial component of communication.

Secondly, consider this: the only thing people can judge about you is how engaging with you makes them feel. It’s like Mother Theresa said, “People won’t remember what you said, or what you did; but they will never forget the way you made them feel.”

And finally, who says there’s a “right” thing to say all of the time? Not everything you say has to be supremely witty, brilliant or quotable. Again, the secret isn’t in what or how much you have to say, but in how you make people feel. Focus less on YOUR self, YOUR insecurities and YOUR discomfort, and more on the conversational needs of others. Be a great listener. Ask open-ended questions that begin with “What’s your experience?” and “What’s your favorite?” An increased focus on others will help you overlook your own insecurities.

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
If you don’t think you have anything good to say, make a “Conversation Cheat Sheet” before you leave the house. Grab an index card and write out the following: three great questions, three interesting pieces of information, trivia current points of interest and three of your favorite stories you’ve told a million times. That should be enough material to last for weeks!

BARRIER #3: I don’t want to waste that person’s time.
This belief is based on the mistaken assumption that you’re not worth talking to. That you’re not good enough for a few minutes of someone’s precious time.

Wrong. An attitude like this characterizes a negative self-image, which often stems from negative past programming. For example, it’s possible that someone you know – a parent, a teacher, a boss – probably told you “you’re not good enough,” “you don’t matter” or “you’re worthless” in the past.

Sadly, harmful comments like these have a profound effect on the future of your approachability.

HERE’S THE SECRET: in Shad Helmstetter’s What to Say When You Talk To Yourself, he explores the power of your thoughts. His work proves that if you first flood your mind with positive thoughts, you will enhance your self-belief. If you enhance your self believe, you will change your attitude. And if you change your attitude, you will change your actions.

Therefore, the key is simple: change your programming.

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Every morning for one month, read a series of positive, attitude building affirmations. It might sound like a silly exercise, but this stuff works! Try phrases like “I am a confident communicator,” “shyness is not a problem for me,” “I am willing to step out of my comfort zone,” and “I feel relaxed when I communicate with new people.” These affirming phrases are almost certain to raise your confidence level.

BARRIER #4: I have a toothache.
Not that kind of toothache! Here's what I mean: you’re TOO tall, TOO old, TOO ugly, TOO new, TOO young, TOO inexperienced and the like.

Really? According to whom? Is that what YOU believe; or is that what your friends, parents, the media and others have told you about yourself?

Either way, consider these three facts:

FACT #1: You are what you are because of the way other people see you. We never call ourselves a name until someone else offers us that label first. Interestingly, that happens to be the leading characteristic of most shy people: others tell them that they’re shy.

FACT #2: Change in attitude = change in how you act = change in how people see you = change in how you see yourself. So, cliché as it may sound, it all starts with a positive attitude about yourself. I think Norman Vincent Peale said it best: “Since you must sell yourself before selling your goods, you must sell yourself on yourself. So believe in yourself.”

FACT #3: You are your own worst critic. You are a biased observer and will see what you want to see, not what other people truly see. Remember that.

(Read the remaining 5 barriers here.)

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's your #1 answer to the question, "Why can't I start a conversation with you?"

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Make a list of all of your “toothaches.” Then, reverse them and put “I believe” in front of each along with a positive attribute. Instead of “I’m too old,” write “I believe my age gives me wisdom and experience that can help others.” Read this list to yourself every morning. These affirmations will reprogram, reinforce and rebuild your self-image.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The World is a Mirror, Part 14

A is for ATTITUDE
B is for BREAK PATTERNS
C is for CONSISTENCY
D is for DISCIPLINE
E QTis for EVOLUTION
F is for FRIENDLINESS
G is for GOOD WITH NAMES
H is for HAPPINESS
I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
K is for KNOWLEDGE
L is for LAUGHTER
M is for MUNDANE
N is for NAMETAGS

I need to apologize.

See, sometimes I get so wrapped up in the big picture of approachability, be that guy, make a name for yourself, that I lose sight of why I started this in the first place: because nametags rock.

Plain and simple. Heck, that was the whole point of my first book!

But last month, something happened that really got to me.

After giving a talk at a hospitality conference in Columbus, I noticed a woman I’d met a few months prior. Unfortunately, I couldn’t recall her name. So, when I first approached to say hello, I was hoping to read her nametag to jar my memory.

But her hair was covering it.

“Forgive me for blanking on your name,” I said, “but, well, your nametag is sort of covered!”

“Oh, sorry about that,” Sarah said as she moved aside her brown locks.

“You should make your nametag more visible,” I joked.

“Well, I could,” she whined, “but my hair looks just hideous when I put it up!”

Oh. I see.

And then it hit me: nametags are not about you.

Nametags are about everyone in the world BUT you.

Nametags are about making someone else feel comfortable; maybe because they’re shy, or maybe because they’re bad with names.

And yet, so many people still complain about wearing them:

“I feel silly wearing this thing.”

“My nametag doesn’t match my outfit.”

“Everybody at this meeting knows me already.”

That may be true, but the problem with these (common) objections to wearing a nametag is this: they’re all about you.

If you’re attending a meeting or event – especially if you’re an existing member – one of your duties is to make guests and newbies feel comfortable. So whether you're extroverted or shy; friendly or caustic; aloof or gregarious, at least some part of that goal can be easily accomplished by one simple act: wear your nametag!

Because sometimes you have to put the comfort of your guests in front of the comfort of yourself.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's your best objection to wearing nametags?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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