Watch Scott's TEDx talk!

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

Friday, January 27, 2006

Adventures of the The Nametagged Nurses and Their Magical Drugs

Thanks to the good people at NBC who continue to push back my Today Show appearance; I've been experiencing some minor stomach issues.

And by "minor" I mean "chronic pain everyday for three months."

So this week I went into Barnes Jewish Hospital for a minor procedure. First, a nurse prepped me with an IV and connected me to various beeping boxes. When she saw my tattoo under my gown she looked at me like a scolding mother and said, "Scott, now why in the world do you have your name tattooed on your chest?!"

"Well, nametags make people friendlier." I replied.

She laughed. Like, really hard. So hard that she probably thought I belonged in the Psychiatric Ward on the 7th floor! But when she asked about my job, I explained the entire nametag-books-speaking story.

Then she laughed even harder.

Just then another nurse came in and said, "No, wait! Scott, didn't you speak at my daughter's middle school a few months ago?"

"Oh...yeah. Rockwood South. That was me," I sighed.

And just when I thought my level of embarrassment couldn't soar any higher, three more nurses walked in - all of whom were wearing adhesive nametags! I tried to make out the letters. "Uh... Debbie ... Claudia ... Jan ... how's it going?" I said.

"Pretty good Scott! We heard all about you from Dr. Edmundowicz. He instructed us to wear nametags during your procedure."

"Heh heh, good one Doc. Thanks for that. You don't know how great that makes me feel." I said. "Now...can I have some drugs so we can get this god-awful procedure over with?"

And before I could say "Goodbye, my name is..." I felt this strange sensation on the underside of my palm...and BAM! Oooooooh....I was gone. God it was beautiful. I woke up about an hour later feeling like a million bucks to discover the nametag-clad nurses and my Doc standing over me.

Thankfully the tests didn't show anything serious - just stress. And for someone who HATES going to the hospital (doesn't everybody?) it was truly wonderful to have such great people - who even wore extra nametags - taking care of me.

Ultimately the lesson is: even if it means bending the rules, do whatever it takes to make your guests feel comfortable.

So, thanks BJC. Thanks a lot.

Oh, and just send my bill to Katie Couric.


How friendly was your last hospital visit?

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

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Consistency Is Far Greater Than Rare Moments of Greatness

You just never know.

When you answer a phone call from an unknown number...When you engage in a conversation with a guest at your office...When you greet a potential customer who walks into your store...When you make small talk with a stranger you’ve just been introduced to...When you respond to a random email from a friend of a friend of a friend...

You just never know.

And because of that, because any of these individuals has the potential to immediately tell everyone he knows either “That guy’s great!” or “That guy’s an asshole!” you must remember that consistency is far greater than rare moments of greatness.

This means you have a choice. You can be a nice, friendly, approachable, authentic, easy-to-deal-with person ONLY around those “important” people, i.e., customers, coworkers and managers; or you can act that way with EVERYBODY, notwithstanding their apparent insignificance. It brings to mind the words of Roy Beers, who once said, “Your true character is most accurately measured by how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”

Great example: I do a lot of staff training for hotels, namely, Hyatt Regency. One Friday night after hosting an afternoon session, I bumped into a few of my audience members at a nearby bar. (I didn’t know who they were at the time.) But literally, we smacked into each other! And I spilled half of my drink on the floor. I looked up at the three guys and said, “No worries guys - this place is a madhouse. It’s just water anyway.”

One of them said, “Sorry about that Scott. Hey, by the way, we really loved your speech on approachability today! Thanks a lot.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize you guys worked for the Hyatt! Yeah, sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet after the session. But I’m glad you enjoyed it. And it sure is funny running into you now, huh?”

Yeah, funny.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever realized who the person was 20 seconds AFTER you’d made your impression?

It’s kind of scary. Kind of makes you think back and wonder, “Wait, what did I say again? Was it something stupid? And would I have said something different if I knew exactly who I was talking to?”

That’s the big question. That’s where consistency comes in to play. Because odds are, you might not know right away if the person you’re talking to is stranger you’ll never see again, an existing customer, a potential customer, or a friend of an existing or potential customer.

And all it takes is one sentence to make him think, “You know, I think I’ll take my business elsewhere.” Then again, all it takes is one sentence to make him think, “Man, I love this place! I can’t wait to tell everyone back at the office all about it!”

Because you just never know.

And yet, some people still don’t understand the power of this idea. Probably because they’ve never had a business-changing encounter – positive or negative – that swiveled on the hinges of serendipity.

But they will. And so will you. Both bad and good. Hey, I once started a friendly conversation on a bus with a complete stranger who eventually passed along my business card to a local reporter whose news story kicked off my career as an author and a speaker! Then again, I once made a terribly rude comment about my former boss without knowing he was a customer of my father’s! Ouch!

So whether you’re prospecting, greeting guests or just making small talk around the office, remember this: it’s just easier to be consistent. Kind of like the old adage, “If you tell the truth all the time, you won’t have to remember anything.” Because ultimately, consistently is greater than rare moments of greatness. And people only give you credit for that which they see you do consistently.

Because you just never know.


What's your best (or worst) "you never know" story?

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

HELLO, my name is Podcast - Episode 3: The Sweetest Sound in the World

So far this week, there's been a lot of buzz about WOMMA's Basic Training Conference; which makes sense since they're the Word of Mouth Marketing Association! But while I attended (and spoke at) the event, my mind kept returning to an idea that I knew I wanted to come back and address: names.

Of course, each person attending the event wore a nametag. Some people wore two. (And I sported my usual 3, including the tattoo.) But still, you couldn't remember everyone's name because, as Sigmund Freud explained in his basic writings, "A person's name is the single context of human memory most apt to be forgotten."

A few people throughout the conference asked me how I remember names so well. And honestly, I have no idea. I guess there's just pressure to reciprocate since everyone already knows my name!

Still, there are lots of great articles and resources on name-remembering out there. And in today's episode of HELLO, my name is Podcast, you'll hear some tips and techniques on how to do so; in addition to a few examples from the WOMMA conference on the connection between names and approachability.

(If you haven't subscribed to HELLO, my name is Podcast yet, you can do so here. To listen to Episodes 1 & 2, click here.)


What's your best name-remembering technique?

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I didn't know Dana Carvey worked at Disneyworld!

Halfway through the WOMMA Basic Training Conference I received a strange voicemail on my cell from a (407) area code. Hmmm. Must be someone in Orlando, I figured. The reception was fuzzy and choppy, so this was all I heard:

"Scott... name ... Eddie Crandall ... WOMMMA .... African ... nametag ...Dana Carvey... call back ... meet in person ..."

What the hell?!

I called the number back. "Yeah, Eddie there?"

"Scott?! Hey thanks for calling back!"

"Hi. Um, can you remind me who you are?! I couldn't make out your message."

"Yeah, sorry about that. My name's Eddie Crandall. I'm a cast member at Disney. I met a bunch of your friends from WOMMA last night at dinner. Anyway, when I went to the WOMMA homepage to learn more about your conference, I found your information and thought your nametag idea was really cool! And I was wondering if I could meet you in person.

"Oh. Yeah, sure. Come on over. I'm just chillin with some friends on the beach in one of these hammocks."

"Ok cool! I'll be right over."

Not sure if it was a crank call, I put my phone away and rejoined my group at the beach. And as irony would have it, my friend Sean Murphy from Customink was telling a story about the Dana Carvey impersonator he'd met the night before.

"Wait, Sean, are you serious? Because I just got a phone call from some guy named Eddie who actually DOES Dany Carvey impersonations...and he's coming over here right now!"

"No way!"

Sure enough, we turned around to see a Disney Cast Member wearing this nametag. And he looked EXACTLY like Dana Carvey!

Eddie introduced himself to me, and to Liz and Lisa from Edelman. Then he walked over to Sean and said, "Hey, I remember meeting you last night..."

"...Sean, right?" Eddie asked, "you're the t-shirt guy!"

"Yeah, that's me!"

Word. Nice job being that guy Sean.

Anyway, Dana (Eddie) told us his backstory. Quick summary: he first watched SNL years ago, noticing his strong resemblance to Dana Carvey. Then people began to notice the same thing. He eventually saw Dana in concert and got backstage passes because someone in security thought he WAS Dana, then met the real actor in person and got a pic and a signed DVD which read, "You look just like me! Love, Dana."

When Eddie started working for Disney, fellow cast members told him he should start doing Dana Carvey impressions. (Which is kind of funny it and of itself: a guy doing impressions of a guy doing impressions. Ha!) But Eddie's sister, Dana, who also worked for Disney, gave him her nametag. He now wears it as his Cast Member ID and has a blast entertaining guests at the resort on a daily basis.

When we all said goodbye, Dana (Eddie) whipped out a bunch of papers from his pocket. Apparently he'd printed out a bunch of screens from my website, namely the Approachability Map. "This is so cool Scott! Approachability is very important for Cast Members at Disney. I guess the whole Dana Carvey thing is like my front porch!

Well isn't that speeeecial?


How do you build a front porch to your front line?

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

Monday, January 23, 2006

Highlights from the 2006 WOMMA Basic Training Conference

It's the Monday after WOMMA's first annual Basic Training Conference in Disneyworld. I think I'm still recovering. But, that only means it was a great weekend! Andy Sernovitz and his team did an awesome job. So for those of you who missed out, here's a brief overview:

I always seem to make a friend on the plane...
"Group 3, you are now ready to board." That's me! I walked up to the line filled with excitement as the WOMMA conference drew closer. The woman next to me noticed my nametag and asked, "So you have a memory problem or something?"

"Nah, I just wear it to make people friendlier and more approachable."

"Really? Huh. That's a good idea. You know, my college roommate wrote her thesis on that."

"No kidding! Are you serious? Wow. Well, look - I wear a nametag 24-7. Have been for 6 years. I write books and gives speeches about approachability - I need to meet your friend!"

Amy promised to pass along my information to her friend. And we hit it off right away! She was a rep for Trimline Medical Products. We spent a few minutes chattin' it up on the plane about our respective jobs. I gave her both books and we exchanged cards. (This chance encounter would come full circle a few days later. Read on to find out...)

Beware of the Turf People...
Our conference was held at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort alongside of the Sports Turf Managers Association. These guys were SO cool. And talk about an odd juxtaposition of businesspeople! Marketers vs. turf managers. Grass vs. word of mouth. The Sports Section vs. blogs. This is my new friend Kevin Gordon from Hunter aka "The Irrigation Innovators." I met him waiting in line as the shuttle staff directed us to our busses with giant white Mickey Mouse (or maybe it was Michael Jackson) gloves. That certainly led to some interesting conversations at the bar! Because Turf People are good people.

I've read your books and blogs, so it's nice to meet you in person...
This conference was attended by some of the world's most notable marketing minds. And after reading about these people on the internet for so many years, it's nice to finally meet them in person! Some of my favorite marketing experts included, but were not limited to George Silverman, Steve Rubel, Diane Darling, and of course Brand Autopsy's John Moore.

The funniest speech moment of my entire career thus far...
During my keynote on Thursday, I asked various audiences members which word they owned. A woman raised her hand and said, "Scott, I'm not sure you want to hear my word."

"That's ok, go right ahead!" I encouraged.


"Dickless?! I replied.

I've never heard 500 people laugh harder in my life. Then, I've never heard 500 people get quieter in my life. So I stood there aghast and completely thrown off by her comment, trying to decide whether or not I should say something clever or just let it go.

"Moving on..." I said. Probably a good idea.

It became one of those conference moments everyone talked about. And we later learned that Dick*less Marketing means exactly what you think it means. Marketing to women. (Were you thinking it meant something else?) Special thanks to Yvonne Divita for that one. Damn it was funny. You can't rehearse that stuff.

And the award for best program goes to...
Tough call. Lotta good speakers. But here are my top three.

1) Customer Evangelist Jackie Huba hosted, hands down, the best workshop of the entire program. She talked about the various elements of creating customer evangelists mixed with an interactive workshop/question and answer period that lasted for two hours. We couldn't get enough! Not to mention, I picked up a signed copy of her book on CD. Score!

2) We heard from humor anthropologist Bob Mankoff from The Cartoon Bank, a division of The New Yorker Magazine and the world's leading licensor of magazine-style cartoons. His speech about humor was unbelievable. And funny, obviously. I also spent some time talking with him before the program. And I've decided he is the coolest, funniest, most interesting and intriguing person I've ever met. He also shared his favorite joke, "You know Scott, I want to die peacefully like my Grandfather...not kicking and screaming like his passengers." Nice.

3) Although his session was small, short and sweet, Greg Stielstram, author of PyroMarketing blew the audience away. As the former marketing director for The Purpose Driven Life - which sold 18 million copies in 18 months - Greg talked about how to make your book a best seller via word of mouth marketing. And as a speaker, let me describe Greg's delivery in the following way: "Like Bob Costas delivering a sermon on marketing."

Other cool moments included...
*Sitting with Geoff Ramsey on the buss on the way to our "African Feast."

*Eating the best club sandwich of my life at 11 PM while rehearsing for my speech. Seriously. We're talking 14 pieces of bacon. Mmmm....

*Departing the hotel at 6 AM after NOT sleeping, driving an hour in the dark to the WB Studio in Lake Mary so I could do a 3 minute interview on The Daily Buzz, then driving back another hour so I could return in time to finish the conference. God I hope somebody actually saw that interview.

But my favorite part of the weekend was...
Coming back to St. Louis on Friday night and running into Amy, the women I'd met on the plane three days earlier whose friend wrote the thesis on wearing nametags.

"Scott, you look like you need some sleep!"

"Yeah, it was a long weekend. WOMMA sure knows how to put on a show!"

"How did your speech go?"

"Excellent. We had a great discussion and program about spreading word of mouth."

"Well in that case, here's a perfect story for ya," Amy said. "I finished your book on the plane. When I got to my meeting on Thursday, I whipped it out and suggested people take your advice on making your brand more approachable. Then some guy in the board room said, 'I know that guy!'"



How do you get people to talk about your stuff?

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Read Scott's feature article in the Associated Press!

ASAP is AP’s new multimedia service featuring original content designed to appeal to under-35-year-old readers, a coveted but elusive audience, and to connect with them - on their terms.

(Click the article's banner to see a high quality version. It's an awesome graphic by P. Hamline - too bad it's no longer available on asap's site!) And check out the eagerly anticipated feature called Hi my name is...written all over my chest, by Matt Sedensky. You can view shocking tattoo pics such as:

...and even listen to some great audio clips from the interview!

This article just went online TODAY, so keep your eyes on your local paper and see if they pick it up in print!


Isn't the AP wonderful?!

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

Nice to meet you! I've heard a lot about you...

This comment tends to make people feel uncomfortable. Or curious. Or suspicious. Because when you're introduced to someone new and he or she says, "Oh I've heard a lot about you..." you're probably thinking to yourself: What does this stranger know about me? Is she just saying that to be polite? If not, how did she find these things out? Did Steve tell her? And if he did, was it the bad stuff? Should I go home and get rid of the bodies underneath the house?!

But most people respond with one of the following answers:

  • "Oh, well...I hope only good things!"
  • "Nothing bad, right?"
  • "Thanks...I think?!"

    ...and the like.

    This brings up some interesting points about conversation. First of all, should you even make this comment when being introduced to someone new?

    Well, I guess it depends on what you heard. But not unlike the question So, what do YOU do...? this comment just seems to be the logical thing to say when meeting someone new (if you've heard about him before.) So maybe there's no way around it.

    In which case, maybe this is your opportunity to have a little fun in the conversation. Lord knows we need more of that. After all, "I've heard a lot about you" is such a cliche, you can pretty much say whatever you want in response without worrying about conversational consequences. Here are some suggestions:

    STRANGER: "I've heard a lot about you..."
    YOU: "Oh no! Don't believe the lies!!!!"

    STRANGER: "I've heard a lot about you..."
    YOU: "It's all true."

    STRANGER: "I've heard a lot about you..."
    YOU: "I swear that guy was already dead when I got there."


    How do you respond when people say "I've heard a lot about you..."?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    If I were a single, shy guy, this is what I'd want to hear

    Today I read the following advice column in the Miami Herald by Dr. Andrea Corn called 30-something guy chases women - away:

    Q: I don't have a problem interacting with the opposite sex where I work. However, in social settings my friends tell me women think I'm unapproachable. What advice can you offer this 30-something male?

    A: Smiling, making eye contact and sounding warm and engaging all demonstrate interest and enthusiasm that is attractive and appealing to women. Studies have shown initial impressions can be formed automatically, long before one's core personality traits are actually known. Women may be misinterpreting your signals as disinterest.

    Besides becoming more aware of how you present yourself, what is likely to have a bigger impact is minimizing your negative thinking. Being introverted doesn't have to be a social liability, but self-doubts could be holding you back more than you realize. You could be pre-empting interactions by unintentionally appearing unapproachable.

    Try turning your focus to what is in your control, which would be to develop your communication skills and bring out your strengths and personal interests. By trusting yourself you can alleviate your inhibitions and make a constructive change in your social life for 2006.

    * * * *

    OK. Her response was extremely intelligent, well thought out and, since she is a licensed psychologist, quite scientific and deep. However, it lacked specific, simple techniques that this shy guy needs to use immediately (tomorrow at happy hour, for example) to increase approachability with women. As a guy myself, here's what I would have liked to hear:

  • As soon as you walk into the door of restaurant, bar, gym, etc., smile for the first 10 seconds. Most people (women AND men) check out each person as they walk in. This immediately says to them, "He looks fun, approachable and cool." They'll remember this when you walk past them later.

  • Be super friendly, funny and talkative to servers, bartenders and especially other men. The most effective way to qualify your approachability with women is to let them see you engaging with other people first. Remember, a person who is not nice to a waitress is not a nice person.

  • Ask engaging questions that start with, "What was the best..." and "What's your favorite..." so you can discover the CPI, or "Common Point of Interest" as soon as possible.

  • Just have fun. Don't be so goal oriented. Be playful. Acting laid-back and cavalier = increased confidence = increased approachability = increased attractiveness.


    What advice would you offer to this shy guy?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
  • Friday, January 13, 2006

    St. Louis Career Academy Adopts Scott's New Ebook!

    What pieces of advice would you impart on the next generation of business people? Just ask my good friend Chris, aka "Mr. Drury." He teaches at the Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis.

    After downloading a copy of my latest free ebook, 66 Priceless Pieces of Business Advice I Couldn't Live Without, he decided to get creative with the images and post them all around his classroom!

    Some of the students pictured include LaShawna, Chris, Alexis, Briana, Jasmine, Yolanda, Bridgette, Cecilia, and Annis. (Click on the pictures to see a larger image.)


    What advice would you impart on the next generation of business people?

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

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    If there was ever a story to convince people that wearing a nametag 24-7 is not a good idea, this would be it

    His name was Steffan. He was a 55 year old recovering-alcoholic-mechanic who had an abusive childhood and suffered from Social Anxiety Disorder.

    I only know these things about Steffan because he was a complete stranger who called my cell phone in the middle of the night on December 30th, 2002 and TOLD ME.

    And that's how he became my first stalker.

    "Um...yeah...I read that article from the Portland Tribue about your nametag idea...I think it' great," said the creepy voice on the line.

    "Oh...thanks," I said as I stumbled around my dark room. I was home for the holidays at my parents' house in St. Louis.

    "Yeah, you know, I've always been...well, afraid to talk to people. Especially since I was young. I come from a pretty...uh...'rough' past, if you know what I mean."

    I didn't know what he meant. I didn't want to know what he meant. But he just kept talking.

    "Oh, I see," I replied, "yeah that sounds pretty rough. I couldn't imagine." I was still half asleep. The clock told me it was 12:47 AM.

    Steffan continued to ramble about his fear of talking to strangers, an abusive/alcoholic father, and how my article about making people friendlier was an inspiration.

    "Well, I just wanted to...uh...say thanks. I think what you're doing is a good thing."

    "Yeah...well uh, no problem. You're welcome. Hope you have a Happy New Year," I said as I crawled back into bed.

    "I hope so too. See you around Portland, Scott."


    Holy shit.

    Three dozen Ambien couldn't have put me to back sleep after that phone call. God almighty! Who was this guy? Was he crazy? Just a fan? Or would he be waiting at my apartment when I returned to Oregon a few days later with an ice pick?!

    Eventually I made it through the night. I didn't tell ANYBODY. And when I returned to Oregon a few days later, he wasn't waiting for me. However, there were three messages waiting on my machine:

    "Hey Scott, it's Steffan. Just uh...wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I'm not gay or anything. I just like what you do. You can call if you want, if not, that's ok."

    "Hey Scott, it's uh...Steffan again. Hope you're doing well. Thought I might catch you at home today, but, uh...looks like I missed you. Oh well."

    "Hey there Scott. I don't want you to think I'm crazy or gay or anything, but I just wanted you to know that I loved reading that article again. You're doing a great thing. If you want I can drop off a few extra copies for you."

    Oh - my - God.

    Fearing for my life, I hopped onto Google and typed in serial killer personality. Sure enough, I learned that most serial killers were middle aged white males with alcoholic or abusive pasts.

    Perfect. That was him. I was dead.

    Steffan continued to call me every day for the next two weeks. And every time the caller ID read, "Portland Mechanics," a chill ran down my spine. I never picked up the line. I figured if I ignored him, he'd go away.

    But he didn't. And a few weeks later, he showed up at my work.

    At the time I sold furniture at a downtown store, while speaking and writing books part time. And one day I heard a customer call my name from across the isle. I turned around and noticed an older man in a mechanic's jumpsuit walking towards me. His name tag read, "Steffan."

    Holy shit.

    He held out his right hand to shake, but averted his eyes. (People with SAD are known to do this when meeting new people.)

    I froze. I didn't touch his hand. He continued to avoid eye contact.

    "I uh...just wanted to meet you in person."

    "Oh. Well, cool...but uh, I'm really busy. I have some customers I'm working with, so I gotta get back."

    "Oh yeah, of course. Well, anyway...nice to meet you. Have a good day Scott."

    And that was that. He walked out of the store and I never saw or heard from him again.

    * * * *

    Honestly, just thinking about Steffan gives me the creeps. (FYI, his name was changed for anonymity reasons...ironically.) And I know it was a pretty long post, so I'll finish up in a sec. But this story has so many lessons embedded in it, that I wasn't sure which one to close with. The value of anonymity? The ease with which the Internet allows people to contact each other? Why people shouldn't wear nametags 24-7? The seriousness of SAD? The dangers of stalking and victimization?

    I dunno. You pick.


    What can we learn from Steffan's story?

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

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    On Eating Alone

    Ever eat lunch alone?

    I know, it sounds contrary to the entire concept of networking and approachability. Especially if you’ve read Keith Ferrazzi’s best selling book, Never Eat Alone. But hear me out on this one. Because eating alone (every once in a while) gives you an opportunity to do something you often forget to do while dining out with a client or coworker: observe.

    Now, don’t think of it as eavesdropping, snooping or spying. It’s research. And it’s amazing what you can learn about approachability if you just immerse yourself in it, watch, and then listen.

    So, I tried it yesterday. I ate at my favorite lunch spot, all by my lonesome. Just me, some gumbo and a book by John Maxwell. The smell of seafood filled the air, dozens of businesspeople talked about their plans for the week and servers frantically hustled around the floor to deliver their guests’ meals.

    And here’s what I observed...

  • Two businesspeople seated to my left fumbled through folders and papers. The man in the red tie did most of the talking while the woman across the booth hung on his every word. He asked engaging questions. She gave creative answers. At one point, I sensed confusion in the women’s voice, but then felt reassurance in the man’s voice as he leaned closer and softened his tone. I also heard him say “Heather” three times. Nice. Then I heard laughter. Very nice. And of course, I saw smiles on both sides of the booth. Awesome!

  • At another table I saw two guys carefully examine a spreadsheet. They deeply immersed themselves in the numbers while completely ignoring the poor waitress who worked her butt off trying to deliver their dishes on time. And they barely acknowledged her existence, much less offered a simple “thank you” for their multiple ice-tea refills.

  • I also noticed five women seated around a booth laughing hysterically with their server. One of them wiped away tears of hilarity with her bev-nap, while two others high-fived each other at a joke I sort of wished I heard.

  • And on the way out the door I heard someone’s cell phone go off. Oh no! I thought. Sure enough, I watched a woman gave her client the “Just A Minute While I Talk To Someone More Important That You Index Finger,” while she took the call. Ten seconds later she returned to the conversation and said, “Sorry, what were you saying?”

    I paid my check, took my mint and thanked my server for doing a great job. When I got back to the office I hopped online to see if I could dig up some statistics on lunch meetings. Interestingly enough, I came across a great survey about lunch meeting etiquette developed by The Creative Group. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes 250 responses from advertising executives and marketing executives among the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

    Respondents were asked, "Which one of the following actions do you think would most hurt a professional's chances of impressing a current or potential client during a lunch meeting?"

    "Displaying poor manners when interacting with the wait staff -- or anyone -- during a business meeting will prompt prospective clients and business partners to question whether they and their staff members will be treated the same," said Tracey Turner, executive director of The Creative Group. "Showing up late is a similar sign of disrespect."

    Added Turner, "The key to a successful lunch meeting is making people feel comfortable. Behaving graciously throughout the meal will go a long way toward forming a positive working relationship."

    That was the word I was looking for: comfort. After all, comfort is the axis upon which approachability rotates. Comfort is the reason strangers become friends, friends become prospects, prospects become clients, and clients become fans. And fans are the people who “love your stuff,” tell their friends about you and maintain confidence in your ability to give them unique value.

    Still, it kind of made me wonder: “What table did I sit at during my last lunch meeting?”

    Was I the engaging businessperson at an enjoyable, yet productive lunch? Did I sit across a table from an inconsiderate cell phone junkie? Was I the workaholic who shunned the outside world at the expense of my server’s frustration? Or was I the group of friends who saw lunch as a much needed vacation from the stresses of a typical workday?

    Either way, Yogi Berra was right. “You can observe a lot by just watching.” So this week, I challenge you to go out to lunch at the most crowded, popular, loud, and packed-to-the-walls-with-businesspeople restaurant in your area.

    And I want you to go all by yourself.

    Now, I know that might sound a bit awkward to you. But trust me, it’s great field research. So just give it a shot! You’ll learn a lot about approachability. And if you want, you can even bring along a good book to read during your lunch. If so, I highly recommend Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone.


    What did you learn last time you ate alone?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    If everyone did exactly what you said, what would the world look like?

    OK. I'll give props to MySpace: it's great for giving people a voice, connecting new and old friends, even helping upcoming bands/comedians/artists promote their work. On the other hand, most people who use it will admit: "Yeah, but it DOES get really addicting."

    Wouldn't know. I don't have a MySpace page. Although I have considered getting one. But for now I think I'll just stick with good ol' Blogger...AND my new favorite, Squidoo. It's Seth's new project, launched about a month ago. To me, it's like MySpace, but for experts. The motto is, "Everyone's an expert at something. Spread your ideas, make yourself known, and earn a royalty. What's your topic?"

    I set up my own lens, which took about 3 hours. It was a piece of cake. And when it was done, I thought to myself, "Man...every author, speaker, expert, blogger, entrepreneur and businessperson would be crazy NOT to do this!"

    Now, unless this is your first time at HELLO, my name is Blog (if so, Welcome!) then I'm sure you've figured out that I'm big on creating one's own philosophy, school of thought, point of view, etc. Which is why I think Squidoo is so cool. It gives ordinary businesspeople like you and me a chance to share our philosophies.

    Of course, not everyone has a philosophy. At least, they don't think they do. But my best friend, mentor and former 10th grade English teacher, William Jenkins, once asked me an extremely powerful question:

    "Scott, if everybody did exactly what you said,
    what would the world look like?"

    If you can find the answer to that question, you've got your philosophy. And if you've got your philosophy, you've got your uniqueness. Then all you have to do is make sure each of your actions provides your customers with the tools they need to build that world.


    If everybody did exactly what you said, what would the world look like?

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

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    How to turn hate mail into great mail

    John Moore of Brand Autopsy posted a great article by Rick Nobles called Congratulations - Someone Hates Your Brand!

    A few excerpts:

    "Having someone hate you lets you know you're doing a good job of branding."

    "When you put a stake in the ground and say 'this is who I am,' you are also saying 'this is who I'm not.' Identity is all about creating parameters, drawing lines among the wealth of possible attributes out there, shaping what your brand values and what it doesn't. So when you get a hostile member of society that takes time out of his busy day to let you know about it, be glad—you're conveying a definite sense of brand self."

    "Here's the deal: If your brand is clearly defined enough to have the power to attract enemies, it also has the power to attract raving fans. And the raving fans of your brand are the ones who return again and again. They're the ones who will tell their friends about you. They're the ones who will wear your logo. They're the ones that almost enjoy the annoyance of your brand-haters and will keep coming back for more."

    * * * *

    The reason this article caught my attention is because I've received a lot of hate mail in the past six years. For those of you who remember the old days of The Guestbook, you've probably shared a good laugh with me while reading some of those letters.

    But I guess I never understood why someone would send hate mail to a guy wearing a nametag to make the world friendlier. Doesn't seem logical. But then again, to some people, wearing a nametag 24-7 doesn't seem logical either! Interestingly enough, the word hate mail IS in the dictionary. It means "correspondence that expresses the sender's animosity, disapproval, or prejudice, often in offensive language." Here's some of my favorite hate mail letters from over the years:

    "I don't get it. So you wear a nametag for attention? You must be an only child. Props for making money off something so dumb."

    "Pathetic. That is the only word I can think of to describe you and your idea."

    "You are nuttier than a bag of trail mix!"

    Oh well. Guess you can't make everybody happy. Still, I think Peter Montoya said it best in The Brand Called You: "If everybody likes your brand, you're doing something wrong."

    Which reminds me, I've always wanted to write an article called "How to Turn Hate Mail into Great Mail." I'd love to hear your stories, ideas and lessons learned to be used in an upcoming column.


    How do you turn hate mail into great mail?

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

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself

    "Don't tell 'em what you did, tell 'em what you learned."

    Ok then. Here's what I learned in 2005:

    * * * *

    BE the change you want to see in the world. Be brilliant at the basics. Be the first one. Be the only one. Be unforgettable. Be interesting. Be a sleeper. Be that guy. Be the world’s expert on yourself. Be better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow. Be confident enough to be humble. But be somebody who reminds everybody of nobody else in the world.

    AND DON’T wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t sell, enable people to buy. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Don’t be weary in well doing, for in due season you will reap a great harvest if you faint not. And don’t wait for the mainstream to validate your voice. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Don’t complain if you haven’t earned the right. And don’t be different, be unique.

    BECAUSE YOU are what you charge. You are what you believe. You are the books you’ve read and the people you’ve met. And you are an empty sheet of paper in the minds of every person you encounter.

    AFTER ALL, the world cannot resist a man on a mission. The best swimmers are always in the pool. The sculpture is inside the stone. And the two greatest days in your life are the day you’re born, and the day you realize why you were born.

    AND if you are successful you will always have too much to do and too little time. If you aren’t being criticized, you aren’t doing much. And if everyone says you’re out of your mind, you just might be onto something.

    EVEN THOUGH, IT’S not easy being yourself. Then again, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. And it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.

    SO, WORK hard, work long and work smart. Work like you don’t need the money. And work from technique, because you never know how you will feel.

    AND DON’T FORGET THAT success leaves clues. That confidence is king. That credibility comes from specificity. That listening is not waiting to talk. And that a nice person who is mean to a waiter is not a nice person.

    ALSO, TO tell the truth, to tell it all and to tell it now. To give value first. To paint yourself into a good corner. To allow customers to participate in your brand. To do the work once and benefit many times. To give yourself away. To respect people’s no’s. To take massive action. And to act as if you already were the person you’re trying to become.

    THEREFORE, ALWAYS stand up, stand out or be counted out. Discover your Personal Differential Advantage. Own a word. Learn to love your zone of discomfort. Greet each day with love in your heart. Show, don’t tell. Make daily appointments with yourself. Never apologize for your art. Remember your Victory Dance. Work harder on yourself than your job. Find your one big idea. And always validate your existence, be yourself and do something cool – every single day.

    BECAUSE life isn’t about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.


    What did you learn in 2005?

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

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    The Cleveland Marriott gets my vote for best employee nametags ever

    I stayed at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center last weekend for a wedding. As soon as I checked in, I noticed the employee nametags had something noticeably different on them: another name. (Sorry the pic is tough to see...not an easy shot)

    "Why does your nametag say 'The Boss' on it?" I asked Jonathan.

    "Oh, Bruce is my favorite! See, we all have a different musician underneath our name - you know, to promote the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame."

    "Ahhh...nice. Great idea. So, what's your favorite Springsteen song?"

    "I'd say 'Born to Run,'" Jonathan said.

    "Good call! 'Glory Days' is my jam," I said.

    "Yeah, that's a great one too...well, here's your room key, Mr. Ginsberg. And let me know if I can do anything else for you. Enjoy your stay!"

    * * * *

    I stay in hotels a fair amount. But rarely do I tell everyone I know about a conversation I had at the check-in counter.

    And why?

    Because they usually suck. Or don't exist. Or begin with "Name?"

    But in about 30 seconds, this frontline employee made an UNFORGETTABLE first impression. And a big part of that was discovering the CPI, or Common Point of Interest via his employee nametag.

    Upon checking out, I wrote Jonathan a glowing comment card. That's the first time I've ever done that in my life. After I handed it to him he said, "Mr. Ginsberg, I noticed you wore a nametag all weekend - even on your tux! You must really like nametags, huh?"

    "You have no idea."


    When was the last time a frontline employee stepped onto your front porch?

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