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

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I sure hope my iPod isn't reading this post

According to a recent article bashing iPods at work (sniff!) portable music players such as iPods are increasingly showing up on the job, a trend that's being praised as a boon to productivity as well as criticized as a safety risk and employee distraction.

Furthermore, the article explained: "The use of MP3 players isn't music to everyone's ears. While many employees who use the miniature music players believe they help them focus on work by blotting out background noise or revving up their energy, some employers see MP3 players as creating a distraction from work — and a safety and security risk."

  • 40 million+ iPods have been sold as of January 2006
  • 80% of technical and creative workers listen to music more than 20% of their working hours
  • 20% of management level workers listen to music more than 20% of their working hours
  • 40% of clerical workers listen to music more than 20% of their working hours

    ( - ) MP3 use can be inappropriate in some work settings or can stifle communication because employees may have a hard time catching the attention of a co-worker with ear buds
    (+) iPods = music = motivated employees
    ( - ) Some co-workers may play music through speakers, which can annoy colleagues within earshot
    (+) iPods = podcasts = updates on news = aware employees
    ( - ) iPods can pose a distraction and may prevent the wearer from hearing warning alarms and bells or warnings shouted by co-workers

    I work alone. In my own home. So I guess I can't really express my opinion on some of those issues. However, I will say that some of the best stuff I've ever written has been "under the influence" of my iPod. Personally, I'd go nuts without it. And people don't want to read articles, books and blog posts from someone who's nuts. (Or do they...?)

    On the other hand, think about how many times you've seen someone walking down the street, working out at the club, riding the bus to work or browsing the shelves of a library...wearing an iPod.

    Unapproachable? Maybe. But most people are smart enough to think, Ok, she doesn't want to be bothered right now. She's rockin' out. I'll leave her alone. And maybe that's a good thing inasmuch as iPods give people time to themselves, i.e., commuting, working out, etc.

    I suppose you could always buy one of these AWESOME iPod covers from Shuffle Some. (Thanks to Chief Show Officer for this one.) This design is a visual interpretation of one aspect from my current study about Acoustical Privacy: the iPod as a potential indicator for "non-communication".

    Through a playful approach the sticker either strengthens the wish for privacy but also offers the opportunity to break up the silence with the direct demand for conversation, says the website.

    But some people, namely those who refuse to remove their iPod earphones while going through security at the airport, for example...just don't get Ipod Etiquette.

    Folks: it's not that hard to pull those little white nubs out of your ear and be friendly to someone for 5 seconds. Don't worry - your iPod won't be mad at you.

    Although someone waiting in line behind you might be.


    IPods: front porch or back fence?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
  • Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Sometimes the best FIRST impression is a LAST impression

    When I interviewed with the WSJ a few weeks back, the article addressed the narrow window in which people have to make first impressions: 10 seconds? 5 seconds? 2 seconds?

    Whatever. Just remember that it's quick.

    But also remember that some of our most UNFORGETTABLE first impressions come from our LAST impressions.

    By that I mean, "The last words out of your mouth during the final transaction with a customer."

    For example, when I stayed at the Paradise Point Resort in San Diego last week, I made notes about various interactions with the hotel staff. Throughout the weekend, everything was awesome. But when I checked out, one of the concierge staff (Liz) said something I'll never forget.

    "Checking out Scott?"


    "Are you sure...?" she smiled.

    "Ha ha...nice. Yeah, I'm sure. Gotta get back home," I replied.


    In all my years of traveling, I've NEVER heard a front desk attendant say something like that before. I thought it was awesome. Fun, memorable and welcoming. Most importantly, it was the last touch point during my stay. The last chance to project approachability to a guest.

    And it was UNFORGETTABLE.


    How can you make your closing lines more memorable?

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

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Does anyone in San Diego ever work?

    Just got back from a speech in San Diego with my client, Remodelers Advantage. I spent the whole weekend there to soak up the sun and enjoy the scenery.

    On Friday morning I took a barefoot walk down to the beach at about 8:00 AM. I saw people running, biking, wakeboarding, surfing and lounging. And my first thought was: does anyone in San Diego ever work?

    By the time we made it out to La Jolla at 10, I knew the answer: heck no!

    Would you work if this was your back yard?

    (That's why I'm never moving out here...unless I'm retired!)

    I met lots of friendly people. Got a couple of "Hey Scott's" on the beach, passed out plenty of nametags to inquiring strangers around town and even made a few new friends.

    Unfortunately, some homeowners weren't exactly "welcoming."

    All around town I noticed street promoters like my noodling friend over here. Funny story. I leaned out of the car window to take a picture, then the promoter's friend shouted, "Wait, let me take a picture of you taking a picture of us!"

    Good times.

    As usual, we placed Scott's Friend nametags on each of the 420 chairs. And it's always fun to watch the interactions of tablemates when they sit down.

    "Boy, Scott has a lot of friends!" was the most common response.

    "Wait, don't sit there - that seat is saved for Scott's Friend!"

    One lady even came up to me and joked, "So, do I have to be Scott's Friend?"

    "Uhh, not if you don't want to," I sniffed, "But I hear he's a really cool guy!"

    Needless to say, the audience was a lively bunch. I had a chance to get to know a lot of them in person, and let the truth be known: when it comes to remodeling, these guys were the cream of the crop!

    I spent a few minutes in the beginning of the program illustrating a critical key of approachability: encounters that otherwise would not have existed. I offered the audience the Nametag Encounter Equation, which recently increased to 35,420.

    We closed with an important discussion on consistency, referring both to Kevin Costner AND, ironically, a Business Week article I just happened to rip out the day before in the health club called If you build it, they might come.

    Oh, and speaking of irony...

    This is one of the slides I've been showing to my audiences for the past three years. It's a picture of a beatiful front porch I found several years back on Google Images.

    Funny story...

    After the speech was over, Bruce Curtis from Woodrights came up to me and said, "Hey Scott, you know that front porch image you used in your presentation? I built it!"

    "Get the hell outta here!"

    "Oh yeah, it's up in Lansing, Michigan. Worked on the project about 5-6 years ago. That front porch has won awards, been featured in magazines and everything!"

    "Wow!" I said. "I feel like I owe you money or something."

    Instead we settled for a picture. (Thanks for not sueing Bruce!)

    Hey, somebody's gotta work around here.


    What city would you never move to?

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

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    How to neutralize your customers' worst fears

    I used to work in retail, so I know how important approachability can be when it comes to encounters between salespeople and in-store customers.

    That's why when I read this article from called Best-kept secrets of the world's best companies, I also peed my pants.

    Yes, that's how amazing this idea is. Check it out...

    Car shopping as entertainment has always been the draw at Planet Honda in Union, N.J., one of Honda's fastest-growing dealerships. A giant video wall shows footage of the latest models, and new-car buyers get a G-force ride on an 18-foot spaceship simulator.

    The best part of the show? The "tech cafe," where the presence of salespeople is strictly verboten, and where a receptionist asks shoppers if they need help. If you respond the way most do--"Just looking, thanks"--you get a yellow smiley-face badge emblazoned with the letters "JL" to stick on your lapel, which alerts the sales guys to back off.

    Not for long. Planet Honda owner Tim Ciasulli says JLs turn out to be his best customers, because the badge helps to lower their defenses. "The magic is when they peel it off after 15 minutes and they're ready to do business," Ciasulli says. The dealership sold 3,300 new cars last year, more than three times the average for independent dealerships.


    The Approachability Gods have shined down upon thee, oh mighty Planet Honda of Union, New Jersey!

    It's reeeeeally interesting how this works. You could say it's an anti-front porch (back fence) inasmuch as the customers don't care to be approached (yet). But just because they have the stickers on, doesn't mean they can't be approached at all or ever! They just need to be approached them differently.

    And what happens is, there's a sense of comfort on the end of the customer, since he doesn't have to worry about being bugged; yet the salesman can better read the customers he DOES need to approach in order to serve them better.

    Everybody wins because everybody's comfortable.


    What steps do you take to neutralize your customers' worst fears?

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

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    If you build it, they will come...maybe

    Was Kevin Costner accurate in Field of Dreams right when he said:

    “If you build it, they will come..."?


    You can take that quotation in all kinds of directions. And I think one way to transfer his words is into the realm of marketing, or as I call it, professional approachability:

    If you build it = a front porch for you and your company that projects approachability...

    They = customers, prospects, the media, strangers...

    Will come = confidently and comfortably TO YOU in order to learn more, become fans, hopefully buy from you, then tell others how cool you are


    But still, there's something missing. Check this out:

    If you build it (authentically), they will come.
    If you build it (creatively), they will come.
    If you build it (consistently), they will come.
    If you build it (interestingly), they will come.
    If you build it (intentionally), they will come.
    If you build it (fearlessly), they will come.
    If you build it (daily), they will come.
    If you build it (humanly), they will come.
    If you build it (visually), they will come.
    If you build it (concisely), they will come.
    If you build it (transparently), they will come.
    If you build it (participatory), they will come.
    If you build it (uniquely), they will come.
    If you build it (respectfully), they will come.
    If you build it (unselfishly), they will come.
    If you build it (simply), they will come.
    If you build it (magnetically), they will come.


    Can you fill in the blank?
    If you build it (__________), they will come.

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

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    HELLO, my name is Podcast - Episode 6: Clips From Scott's Speech @ WOMMA

    I just got the audio recording of my keynote @ WOMMA's Basic Training Conference in January. A couple of great clips are included in this week's podcast, including (what I think is) the funniest thing that's ever happened to me during a speech.

    Guess you'll just have to listen to find out what it is!


    What's the funniest moment you've ever experienced during a speech?

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

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    "Hey Scott, do you know anyone else who wears a nametag all the time?"

    I get this question a lot. And while I've received lots of emails over the years on the topic of "nametag wishes and sharpie dreams," I've only met a few dozens folks who've really stuck with it. (God the puns are endless with this stuff!)

    But every once in a while an article pops up about some guy (and it's usually a guy, too, for some reason...I don't think women would be as likely to wear a nametag all the time for security reasons) who decides to start wearing a nametag. And I LOVE reading the observations, stories and reactions by their friends and families. For example, this column by Brent Holloway was published in the Southern Utah Spectrum the other day. It's called A nametag is more than an addiction.

    Here are a few excerpts from Brent's article, along with comments from my own experiences:

    BRENT: "As I stood looking in the mirror the other day, I could see that my wife was watching me. Of course, I thought it was pure admiration - until she started talking.

    'Do you really feel it's necessary to wear your name tag?' she asked."

    SCOTT: Welcome to my world, Brent. Every roomate, friend, girlfriend and family member for the past 6 years has made some variation of that comment to me hundreds of times. Especially my brother. He used to be SO annoyed with my nametag that he'd actually rip it off and yell, "Scott, why can't you just be NORMAL for one night?!"

    BRENT: "'Well,' she replied, 'I can see that, but I wish you'd at least stop wearing it to church. I think the bishop and the members of the congregation already know who you are and most of them know what you do ever since you decided to hand out your business cards during Sunday school last month.'

    Then she sternly added, 'I was relieved when the instructor finally asked you to sit down and behave yourself.'

    SCOTT: Yep, heard that one a million times. Once when I was helping out at a Brian Tracy seminar, I asked to get a picture with the sales master himself.

    Right before the photo snapped, he kindly whispered into my ear, "Alright Scott, better lose the nametag for the picture."

    Yeah. You wish, Tracy.

    Furthermore, churches are the #1 most common place for people to wear nametags. It's almost taboo if churches DON'T provide nametags for members, guests and first-timers! Therefore, I think your bishop and fellow congregation members should commend you for your bravery, approachability and friendliness.

    BRENT: "'I realize that,' she replied. 'But you still need to consider your circumstances and evaluate whether or not a name tag is considered appropriate. In fact, I'll tell you what; I'll help you right now. Under the current circumstances, I would say that a name tag is probably not appropriate.'

    'Why not?' I asked.

    'Well, you're standing in your pajamas and getting ready for bed.'

    You know, I really hate to admit it. But this time, she just might be right.

    SCOTT: No offense Brent, but she's wrong. Don't listen to her. If you want to wear a nametag to bed, you go right ahead. Wear it wherever you want! I've worn a nametag in every questionable circumstance you can imagine: funerals, weddings, the beach, clubs, dark alleys, climbing the Grand Canyon, even on a gorilla suit at Mardi Gras! Nobody gets offended. It's friendly and rarely inappropriate. In fact, as The World's Foremost Authority On Nametags, Scott Ginsberg hereby grants you official permission to do so.

    So Brent: Good luck, Good Nametagging and Godspeed.


    Do you think nametags are innapropriate in certain circumstances?

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

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    OK, I finally jumped onto the MySpace bandwagon

    I admit it: I've been skeptical about MySpace for a while now.

    To me, it just seemed like something that would have been fun to do in high school or college; but as a business person, probably not a prudent use of my time.

    Then I read this article from the USA Today about MySpace that educated me further.

    "Traffic on MySpace has grown 318% in the last year to 37.3 million visitors in February, making it the top social networking site on the Web and the eighth most popular website overall, according to ComScore Media Metrix. In July, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million."

    THEN, I was interviewed by FastCompany (look for my article in the upcoming May issue!), during which the topic of MySpace came up. And I learned how Dane Cook has utilized MySpace as his #1 marketing tool that's catapulted his career tremendously, i.e., because of MySpace, Dane Cook's SNL appearance was the highest rated episode in several years.

    Now, I've also read articles like this that discuss possible downsides to MySpace. In addition, I've heard it gets very addicting and could potentially invite online predators.

    In the end I figured, what the hell - I'll do it. So I sucked it up, took a few hours to get my page together, (with the help of Design Shark Studios), and here it is:

    Now, my page has only been up for a week, but I gotta say: it's pretty damn cool. I'm really enjoying it. I've met some cool new people, re-connected with old friends; even started a second blog called "Adventures in Nametagging."

    This new blog will chronicle daily, short, fun, nametag-related stories ONLY, most of which WILL NOT be posted on this blog. So, definitely check out the new page, subscribe to the new blog, and if you're already on MySpace, I would love to be your friend!

    Ultimately, I guess it just makes sense: MySpace is a virtual front porch. I probably should have gotten on it a long time ago. Oh well! I'm there now!


    What's your position on MySpace in terms of 1) business, and 2) personal capacities?

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

    Survey reveals that "beasts" increase a wine bottle's retail approachability

    Thanks to good ol' Google Alerts, as soon as the words "approachable," "approachability" and the like show up on the internet, I get to read about them.

    I started doing this for research purposes, as well as discover cool stuff to post on this blog. And the one thing I've noticed in the past few years is that whenever "approachable" comes up, at least one of the links is a page about wine.


    From what I've gathered, people who talk in "winespeak" use the word approachable to describe the flavor, smell and age of the wine. I personally have NO idea what the hell that means since a) I don't drink, b) know absolutely nothing about wine, and c) don't really care about wine.

    Although, Sideways is one of my favorite movies, ironically. But that might have less to do with wine and more to do with Virginia Madsen. Yowsa.

    Anyway, I DID come across a fascinating press release about the LABELS of wine as they pertain to approachability. Check it out:

    "According to the marketing information company, ACNielsen, in the super-competitive business of selling wine, animals on labels give new brands an edge."

    And this is my favorite part...

    "Americans buy twice as much of new wines with beasts on their labels as they do other new wines."

    "Animals help labels stand out on crowded wine shelves where a monkey, kangaroo or a loon can be seen against a backdrop of the more mundane."

    "And in addition to using colorful, animal labels, some of the hottest-selling wines are swapping corks for screwcaps."

    "California's FishEye Winery is one of the wines coming in new 3-liter boxes as well as in traditional bottles. Company spokeswoman Laurie Jones says selling wine in boxes makes the process less intimidating. She says approachable wines with memorable labels are able to attract consumers, especially when they're affordable."

    I'll drink to that!


    What do you think makes a product package approachable to retail customers?

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

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Hey Scott, how many people have you actually met by wearing a nametag 24-7 for 6 years?

    Special thanks to all my new friends at T-Mobile (namely, Dennis Smith) who invited me to speak at their monthly teleseminar yesterday. We had a great time talking about recruitment, an industry for which approachability is absolutely essential.

    During Q & A, Dennis posed an interesting question that I'd actually been wondering about myself recently. "Scott, have you ever tried to quantify the approximate number of people you've met by wearing a nametag that you otherwise wouldn't have encountered?"

    Of course I have!

    The Nametag Encounter Equation

    (x) people met in person per day
    (y) people met via internet, email, phone per week
    (z) audience members spoken to per month
    (1,962 days straight)


    ≈ 35,000 people!!

    35,000 people I wouldn't have met otherwise.


    Now, you might wonder, "Yeah, but Scott, how many of those 35,000 people actually became your 'friends'?"

    Good question.

    First of all, who do you define as a "friend"? And does that really matter? Isn't everyone just a friend you haven't met yet anyway?

    Secondly, it's not just about making friends. It's about making friendLINESS. It's about how great someone feels after talking to a new person; not whether or not they get together for coffee the next day, or ANY day!

    Lastly, according about 500 networking books that I've read, the average person knows approximately 250 people.

    That's "people," not "friends."

    So let me just say this. Out of those 35,000 people:

  • many I never saw again
  • many I became acquaintances with
  • many I became good friends with
  • many I became great friends with
  • many became my clients or customers
  • and yes, a few of them I ended up dating ;)

    The point is, approachability is about encounters that otherwise would not have existed. It's about NOT missing those opportunities by breaking the silence and giving people permission to talk to you in a comfortable, confident environment.

    BOTTOM LINE: 35,000 is a LOT of people. And I'm grateful every day that I've had the opportunity to meet all of them, notwithstanding the level or result of the encounter. So whether it's a fleeting conversation, a mutually valuable friendship or a date for friday night, it all matters. In the words of my hero Glen Phillips, "Everything matters. Every word is a seed that scatters."


    How often do you go out of your way to meet new people?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
  • Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Eat Your Heart Out Hitch! Try Silent Speed Dating with Liz Kelly

    Shhhh...Silent Dating is the hot new dating trend that started in London - and is now moving across the US. Liz Kelly, Dating Coach and Author, is now hosting Silent Dating Parties where there is only one rule - No Talking Please!

    This event coordinates with the release of her new book, Smart Man Hunting. Based on her dating and corporate communications expertise, Kelly explains, “Because 80% of communication is non-verbal, why not practice your body talk and meet new singles at a party?” Liz adds, "Silent Dating can significantly increase your dating numbers and love odds because people are bolder on index cards." Singles will be pleasantly surprised by what can be communicated via silent scribbles, flirty text messages and body talk signals.

    Liz also suggests the idea of writing your cell phone number on your nametag. Nice. Read the full press release here.

    This Silent Dating thing sounds cool. I would definitely attend if the event if it came to my city. You know, for research purposes only ;)

    But now that I think about it, I can't imagine trying to explain on a notecard to a strange woman I just met that I wear a nametag 24-7 to make people friendlier. Maybe I'd just show her my nametag tattoo and smile.

    Oh wait, the point is to actually GET a date. Right. Well, scratch that idea.


    If you were participating in Silent Speed Dating, how would you tell someone that you fancy him or her?

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

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    What's in a name? (Part Tres)

    At least once a week, I receive an email, link or even a package in the mail with some type of nametag related paraphernalia, for which I'm always grateful. I mean, after all, who else would care so much about stuff like this?!

    Recently, fellow speaker and friend Justin Driscoll sent me a very cool feature in the Pittsburgh City Paper called Game of the Name. I've included a few excerpts from the main page, plus several in-depth articles that continue to answer the question, "What's in a name?"

    "The more self-centered our culture has become, the harder it is to say who we really are. Even the most seemingly stable thing about us – our name – has become slippery, subject to endless change. Blame technology, if you want. It’s rarely been easier for the government to find out all about you, but our identities have also never been so easy to steal. The Internet lays bare our bank accounts and medical records, while chatrooms and MySpace allow us to pretend to be whomever we wish."

    "But it’s more than that. For generations we’ve been willing to sacrifice our names for love – increasingly, however, we’re willing to do it for our religion, or even for a few bucks. Some do it to reflect a change in who we are; others do so in an effort to bring that change about."

  • Head Games - a name change can make life a lot easier, especially when your child is just ASKING for ridicule
  • Naming Rites - for many African Americans, a name change can liberate
  • A Conversation with tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE - yes, that's his real name. Kind of reminds me of my old friend Chef Brother Luck, who works with my client, Hyatt Regency Hill Country.
  • Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! - local musicians navigate an age-old dilemma
  • Names for Sale? - prospects for selling naming rights have cooled


    If you could change your name to anyone (or anything), what would you choose?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
  • Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    You are what you read. Or eat. Or hang out with. Or experience. Or...whatever

    I'm not sure where this post is coming from, but recently I've been thinking a lot about the whole "You are what you..." type of comment.

    I listened to Wayne Dyer's new book on tape while driving to Columbus, and he said some pretty powerful stuff.

    So, here are all the examples I've heard before:

    You are what you do consistently.
    You are what you believe.
    You are who you love.
    You are your experiences.
    You are your job.
    You are what you acquire.
    You are what you charge.
    You are what you wear.
    You are what you eat.
    You are what you watch on TV.
    You are what you do for a living.
    You are what other people say about you.
    You are what you think about most of the time.
    You are who you hang out with.
    You are what you listen to.

    My fav: You are the books you've read and the people you've met.


    How do you finish the sentence, "You are what you..."?

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

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Adventures in Nametagging: Buckeye Style

    I just returned from a four day trip to Ohio, part of which included delivering the keynote speech at the Association for Career and Technical Education conference. The name of their annual program was called "Communicate the Dream."

    The speech went quite well, considering it was the first time I'd worked since my lung collapsed three weeks ago. Good thing I made it through without an oxygen tank! Also, since we were in Columbus, there were a lot of Ohio State Alumni in the audience. Now, I wasn't looking to start any trouble, but since I mentioned Miami University a few times during my speech, it became a running joke for the next two days about which school was better.

    (Look, all I have to say is: Ben Roethlisberger.)

    Actually, funny story how I ended up working there. When I first began speaking (literally, one of the FIRST speeches I ever gave!) I met a woman named Susie Rutkowski. She's the woman in the blue, standing up at the back left side of the table.

    When we met in 2003, we connected right away and hoped to work together in the future. Unfortunately, we had limited contact over the next few years. But to my delight, she dropped me a line a few months back looking for a speaker!

    Now, because ACTE's conference was called "Communicate the Dream," the staff went all out. The whole conference area was decorated with beds. They constantly blasted songs like "Dream Weaver," which kept reminding me of that famous love scence from Wayne's World.

    And of course, everyone wore pajamas. How cool is that? Check out these slippers!

    Met lots of awesome people. Starting with Zane, my youngest new friend. He grabbed the nametag off my lapel and started messing with it. Then, when I pulled a spare out of my wallet, he wanted that one too. What was I gonna do, NOT give it to him?

    So I just kept taking nametags out of my wallet and sticking them to his hands, arms and of course, on his face. He giggled incessently. It was the cutest damn thing I ever saw.

    Babies + Nametags = Good Times

    As usual, several audience members took it upon themselves to take their Scott's Friend nametags and slide them inside their badge holders. It always cracks me up when people do this. And when I saw her walk past me, I jumped out from behind my book table, shouted, "Hey Scott's Friend!" and she stopped by to let me snap this pic.

    On Friday I drove a few hours south of Columbus to meet with the University of Rio Grande to talk about doing summer/fall programming with their students. My friend Jamie asked if I wanted to see the historic Bob Evans Farm, (uh, yeah!) so we drove down the dirt road and ended up here.

    Wow. So that's where all that sausage I ate during college came from.

    Now, although we didn't have time to eat, we also stopped by this restaurant: it's the ORIGINAL Bob Evans! Now, today, there are 585 locations in 19 states around the country.

    But I think it's safe to say this location is the best one.

    Finally, on the way back to Cincinnati to see some old college friends, I passed through a town called, believe it or not, Shyville. I pulled over to get gas and snapped this picture. When I went inside to pay, I wondered how "shy" the town really was. So I tested it out.

    "Good morning ladies!" I said to the cashiers.

    "Mornin'," one of them replied. "Do you know you're still wearin' your nametag?" she asked.

    "Oh yeah. I wear it all the time to make people friendlier. Sometimes two," I said as I showed her my second layer.

    "Ha! It's that bad, huh?" she asked.

    "Well, you know...people always forget names. I'm just trying to make it easier."

    They both nodded. And right when I noticed that the second cashier wasn't wearing a nametag, she said, "Yeah, I forgot my nametag today..."

    "Oh no! She's fired!" I joked.

    She giggled and said, "I can tell you my name if you really want..."

    "Yes. What is your name?"


    "Well, it's nice to meet you, Pamela. Thanks for the Slim Jims."

    "Your welcome. And have a great day...Scott."

    God I love Ohio.


    What's your favorite state?

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

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Hey! You're the "No More Excuses Guy"!

    During a recent chapter meeting of the National Speakers Association, Sam Horn and Sam Silverstien riffed back and forth about branding, marketing, developing expertise, visibility and the like. During one particular rant, Sam #2 told the following story:

    "It was the night before a recent speaking engagement. I was checking in at the hotel when two women must have recognized me from the conference program.

    'Hey, aren't you our speaker for tomorrow?' they asked.

    'Oh, well, yeah - I'm Sam Silverstien. Nice to meet you!'

    'Yeah, yeah!' they gleamed, "You're the No More Excuses Guy!

    * * * *

    See, that's exactly what I'm talkin' about.

    That Guy: any businessPERSON, entrepreneur or service provider whose visibility, credibility, uniqueness, authenticity, memorability
    and approachability fuse together to form something so incredibly
    valuable, so incredibly cool; that customers not only magnetize to
    that person, but will actively tell all their friends about that person.

    Big props, Sam. Way to go. Way to be that guy. Way to be somebody who reminds everybody of nobody else.


    Do you know anyone who is "That Guy" (or "That Girl")?

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

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    What's in a name? (Part Duex)

    Interesting article from Elliot Back about how people name their blogs. He quotes the Blogwise directory, which hosts a list of 33,810 blogs. According to Back, extracting the names of each blog from the directory itself took some work, but the results were quite fascinating. For example, the top word used in 9.986 percent of the blogs surveyed was “blog.” (Damn it. Guilty!) The next most popular at 2.619 percent was “life.”

    In a related story, I read a piece about airports changing their names to attract more customers. For example, about three years ago, the Savannah airport became the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Almost half its passengers go to Hilton Head, S.C., where there's a smaller airport. Now, when people search Internet travel sites for Hilton Head and airport, the Savannah airport appears as an option.

    Veeeeeeery interesting. Even a business like an airport(!?) can actually become more approachable.

    Like, literally.

    Think about it: the word "approach" is an essential part of the aviation lexicon.

    But NOW, it's not just about a customer landing; it's about landing a customer.



    Is that cool, strategic, funny or just plain ol' ironic?!

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

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    After wearing a nametag 24-7 for 1,953 days, I've come to the conclusion that...

    ...approximately 5% of people's comments will be negative. Like this one...

    I sat down in Starbucks with a pile of receipts and my laptop. Yay! Expense account day! Anyway, an older man in a grey suit grabbed a seat next to me.

    He was one of those people who "self-narrated" his actions.

    You know these types. When they're in public places - usually lines or crowded waiting spaces - they talk to themselves in a voice loud enough for surrounding company to hear; yet not actually directed at anyone in particular. (I don't know why people do this.) The man said:

    "Let me just plug this cord in here...and stretch it out...get my cup of the Blackberry out...alright, let's get to work."


    He looked over at me and said, "Expense account time, huh Scott?"

    "Yep. It's the end of the month. Time to get the financials in order," I replied.

    "So what's with the nametag?"

    "Oh, I always wear it to make people friendlier."

    "Ha ha ha! Yeah, right! Sure ya do...," he said rather condescendingly.

    "Actually, I'm serious. Whaddaya think of this?" I asked as I opened up my jacket to show him back-up nametag # 2.

    He looked over and didn't say a word.

    Hmmm...that usually gets a laugh. Or at least one of those "this-guy-is-out-of-his-mind-smiles." Not sure if I like this guy's attitude.

    He went back to work, as did I. Eventually he asked, "So Scott, what do you do?"

    "I'm an author and professional speaker."

    "Yeah, well what do you speak and write about?"


    "Ooooh, approachability!" he joked with a sarcastic, jazz hands gesture, "Boy does THAT tell me a lot," he laughed.

    Alright buddy. Now you're startin to piss me off. Time to lay it down.

    I took a minute to explain what approachability meant and why wearing a nametag was a symbol of it. He seemed to be "getting it," but his next smart ass response was, "But why would anyone want to come hear YOU speak if they didn't want to be approached?"

    OK Scott. Deep breath. Just relax. Let's help this guy understand...

    "First of all, I don't do public seminars. Companies and associations hire me to speak to and train their staff. Secondly, approachability is a two way street. It's not just about 'being approached," it's also about 'approaching' others. Know what I'm sayin'?"

    "OK. I gotcha."

    And that was pretty much the end of our conversation. He obviously had work to do, as did I. And he obviously didn't care, nor did I feel like preaching to an atheist.

    I finished tallying my receipts about an hour later. As I packed up, I grabbed one of my business cards. (Often times I have to give them to strangers not for networking purposes, but rather for "this-guy-isn't-bullshitting-you" purposes.) Which kind of sucks, but, I suppose it comes with the territory.

    "Well Bob, hope you have a good week. And here's one of my cards, just so you know I'm not pullin' your leg."

    He read my card and said, "That guy with the nametag...ha! OK Scott, see ya around."

    Yeah. See ya around.


    How do you handle the haters?

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

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    On becoming your own adjective

    What do Quentin Tarentino, Bob Dylan and Seth Godin have in common?

    They’ve all become their own adjective. Think about it:

  • When you hear any folk song recorded after 1970, there’s always that faint trace of Bob Dylan’s influence in between the notes. And you think, “Hmm…this song has a Dylan-esque sound.”

  • When you watch a movie that has noticeably strange, slow dialogue and a non-linear plot structure, you comment, “Ah yes, very Tarentino-like.”

  • And when you see an advertisement, website or idea that’s so incredibly remarkable, so cool and so word-of-mouth-worthy, you smile and say, “Ha! That’s such a Seth Godin thing to do!”

    These individuals have become their own adjective because, over a period of years, their uniqueness, artistry, school of thought, talents, style, visibility, expertise and consistency have become so recognizable, so memorable and so prevalent in their respective industries that people actually begin to use their NAMES as adjectives which describe other things IN that industry.

    This is a fascinating personal branding phenomenon. The roots of the idea actually date back several decades ago when certain brands that were the first of their kind experienced something called genericide.

    Genericide is defined by WordSpy as, “The process by which a brand name becomes a generic name for an entire product category.”

    Take Trampoline, for example. Originally, it was the actual brand name for a fun, spring-like toy on which people could bounce up and down. But as its popularity grew, and as more and more companies created copycat products with different brand names; customers still referred to any other toy in the same category as a “trampoline.”

    And ultimately, the success of the product was the difference between Trampoline, the proper noun that was the brand name; and trampoline, the adjective of a certain kind of toy.

    One letter made all the difference. God I love the English language!

    Now, the list of brands associated with this phenomenon goes on and on. And while the topic of genericide has been researched in detail through notable products such as Kleenex, Scotch Tape and Rollerblade; the personal branding movement has slightly altered this concept.

    Because now, since YOU are the brand, since YOU are the company - YOU need to become your own adjective.

    Andrea O’Neill, Brand Strategist and Executive Marketing Coach, strongly believes in the power of becoming your own adjective. “It means you live your values, talents, tastes or style so passionately and openly that others know exactly what you stand for without needing to ask you,” says O’Neill, “...and if you express your passions honestly in your every day actions, those around you will know exactly where you stand.”

    Adjectivity first exists in the minds of the people you know best. O’Neill uses the example of clothing. “Have you ever walked through a department store, saw an outfit on display and said, ‘Oh, that dress is SO Mary’?”

    That’s because, in someone’s mind, “Mary” has become her own adjective.

    But we’re not talking about clothes. This is about marketing. It’s about top of mind awareness. Therefore, adjectivity must next exist in the minds of your customers, prospects and fans. So, as it relates to the 6 tenants of professional approachability; that is, MAGNETIZING more business to YOU, think of adjectivity in this way:

    Becoming your own adjective is like word ownership...raised to the 10th power.
    You don’t just own the word, you ARE the word.

    Becoming your own adjective is like being that guy...on marketing vitamins.
    You aren’t just that guy, you’re the STRONGEST guy.

    Becoming your own adjective is like telling your story...on the FRONT PAGE of the New York Times.
    And everyone’s reading it.

    Becoming your own adjective is like doing something cool...that instantly becomes the HOTTEST new trend.
    But it doesn't fade away.

    Becoming your own adjective is like creating fans, not customers...who love your work SO much, they’d move heaven and earth to support you.
    Then they’d tell all their friends how great you are.

    But of course, this only happens when you market yourself daily. When you constantly put yourself, your ideas and your business out there for the world to see, all of which must be consistent with who you are, what you do and how you do it.

    That’s how you become your own adjective.

    In closing, I’d like to share a line from David McNally’s book, Be Your Own Brand:

    “Don’t STAND out, SHINE out. Don’t MEET the standard, SET the standard.”

    Yeah, I know. Closing an article with a quotation is such a “Tony Robbins” thing to do...(*wink*)


    Do you know anyone who is his or her own adjective?

    * * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
  • Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Insert catchy post title *here*

    I'm about a week behind, which means I have a lot of thoughts, links and ideas that I wanted to knock out all in one post. Also, you might be wondering why you're looking at a picture of a Canadian woman holding an enormous crab, right?

    I have no idea. I couldn't think of an appropriate picture to include with today's post. But when I came across that image, I just thought: man, that's one big ass crab!

    Anyway, here's what I got for ya on this stormy Monday:

    How to Tell A Great Story
    Aneeta Sundararaj from an organization in Malaysia called The Great Storytelling Network interviewed me about writing, speaking, storytelling and the like. Read the full text here.

    Email, Phone or In Person?
    Ron Ameln, fellow blogger, friend and my editor over at the St. Louis Small Business Monthly had a great post that referenced a survey which showed the preferred medium of communication for executives: email, phone or in person. Cool stuff. It reminds me about another article which explains that people are less likely to lie via email than the phone or in person.

    God Bless Old Folk
    I read an article last week - which I'm sorry to say I can't seem to find the link for - that said the following:

    The more chronologically gifted (age) I get, the worse it comes to remembering names. Everyone should wear a name tag at all times. Or, when born, have their first name tattooed to their forehead. U.S. Rep. Jim Leach once advised, “When someone comes up and says, ‘You remember my name, don’t you?’ and you don’t, a good response is: ‘Of course, how could I forget a millionaire?’ ” I’ve used that one. It works!


    Dell The Staff I'm Busy
    And finally, this morning ANOTHER article popped up on my Google Alerts (keyword = unapproachable) about Michael Dell. It's called 6 character traits essential to business integrity

    You know, it's funny. I've been using Google Alerts for a while now, and almost every week, there's something about Michael Dell and how he's had various problems with approachability, according to several surveys from Dell employees. Interestingly enough, I've actually met people from Dell who've said that their Big Cheese's lack of approachability isn't exactly a myth. Interesting.


    What's your best link, idea or thought of the day?

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

    What's your favorite thing to do on a Sunday?

    This is a great question to ask someone you just met. I use it all the time. And you can learn a great deal about who that person is simply by throwing it out there. Now, for me, the answer is: going to Borders with a fully charged Ipod, grabbing about 35 books, sitting by the window, reading through every one of those books, taking notes, and then buying one or two of them.

    But that's just me.

    Anyway, since I'm a bit of a quotophile, (hence the picture) I wanted to share a few great one-liners that struck a chord in my always-thinking-about-approachability mind:

    "Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening." --Dorothy Sarnoff

    "When people laugh at your jokes, they are involuntarily agreeing with your message." --Jim Richardson

    "Communicate so that others can't help but pay attention to you." --Bo Diett

    "Everybody is somebody's somebody." --Jeffrey Fox

    Oh, and while we're on the subject of "questions," here's a great article featuring Deborah Fine about the relationship between small talk, asking questions and approachability.


    What's your favorite thing to do on a Sunday?

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

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Psychology Today reports that bowling with strangers can...get you high?

    According to an article in this month's issue of Psychology Today by Willow Lawson, "Given a choice between an outing with good friends or an evening with strangers, most people would choose their friends. But according to a new study, we might have a better time—and go home in a better mood—if we chose to make new acquaintances."

    "Tayyab Rashid, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, randomly assigned college students to bowl by themselves, with close friends or with complete strangers. He was inspired by the 2000 best-selling book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam, the Harvard researcher who argued that the disintegration of close-knit American communities causes low levels of personal happiness—even in the face of economic prosperity. He singled out bowling, which, though more popular than ever, has morphed from a team sport to solitary pursuit."

    "To Rashid's surprise, he found participants who bowled with strangers were happier than students who hand-picked buddies to accompany them (and, as expected, people who bowled by themselves). For those who made new friends, the experience was similar to a successful date. Says Rashid, "They were euphoric." Although college students tend to be an outgoing bunch, Rashid says one's level of extroversion didn't predict who would see the greatest uptick in mood. The study was presented at the annual Positive Psychology Summit."


    When was the last time you joined a group of strangers?

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

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    HELLO, my name is Podcast - Episode 4: Five Ways to Magnetize More Business

    Since I've been dangerously sick for the past two weeks, I've had a lot of time between episodes of Law & Order to read and relax. Now that I'm on the road to recovery, I finally got around to recording another episode of HELLO, my name is Podcast.

    This week's clip focuses on MAGNETIZING more business. I really like the word magnetize. It's the epitome of professional approachability: enabling the customers to come to YOU, as a result of your networking, branding and marketing efforts. It's about giving value first, demonstrating credibility and authenticity to make people think, "Yeah, I wanna work with someone like that!"

    So, enjoy. And if you haven't already subscribed to my podcast, you can do so here.

    Oh, and a special thanks to everyone who offered their kindness, prayers, cards and gifts while I was sick. You're the reason I'm back to work. You're the reason I'm feeling better. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.


    What technique do you use to MAGNETIZE more business?

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

    First Words Make (or Break) First Impressions


    “Checking in…?”

    “Here or To-Go?”

    Isn’t it frustrating when those are the first words that come out of a front line employee’s mouth? As if they didn’t want to take the time, or couldn’t care less about offering a friendly, approachable greeting to the customer. Meanwhile, the next guy waiting in line thinks to himself, “Gee, thanks for the warm welcome. Nice first impression.”

    SAD BUT TRUE FACT: the first impression window is narrowing.

    I've been thinking a lot about this social trend since I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal on the topic. The reporter and I discussed this "window," and I mentioned my research on hundreds of books on first impressions.

    MY THEORY: As years go by, we seem to have less and less time to make a first impression.

    Consider these numbers:

    •In the 80’s and 90’s, NLP authors like Nicholas Boothman claimed you only had 90 seconds to make a first impression

    •By the time the new millennium hit, you only had four seconds, according to hundreds of articles

    •In 2005, Malcom Gladwell’s bestselling book Blink explained that people made first impressions in TWO seconds

    •This year, an article from The BBC quoted a study which explained that Internet surfers form an impression “in one 20th of a second of viewing a webpage”

    It kind of makes you wonder: as technology accelerates and as time goes on, will people eventually have ZERO seconds to make a first impression?

    Ok, just kidding.

    But think back to the guy waiting in line at the counter: if employees only have a few seconds to make a first impression anyway, why would the first words out of their mouths be so unfriendly?

    I used to work at the Ritz Carlton. We were trained to eliminate the word “Hello” from our vocabulary. It was always “Good morning!” or “Welcome in!”

    What ever happened to phraseology like that? Have we become so rushed, so programmed, so unfriendly, so unapproachable and so robotic that we can’t sincerely take the time to offer a customer a warm welcome?

    Nevertheless, the following list of substitute phrases will make the first words out of your mouth UNFORGETTABLE:

    Instead of “Next,” try:

    •“Step right up!”
    •“Come on down!” (that one's for you, Bob Barker!)
    •“Don’t be shy!”

    Instead of “Checking in?” try:

    •“You finally made it!”
    •“Welcome to paradise!”
    •“Everyone’s been waiting for you!”

    Now, if your company has a standard protocol for greetings, that's understandable. You don't want to piss of your boss. On the other hand, if you say, "Step right up," and your customer starts laughing before he even begins the transaction, I seriously doubt your boss will say, "Johnson! Stick with the script!"

    Look, these phrases work. I’ve used them thousands of times in my retail, food and guest service experience, and customers love them. They’re funny. They’re memorable. Most of all, they’re different. And that’s the whole point: not only to give your customers a brief encounter or experience that’s both friendly AND memorable; but also to communicate in a way so others can’t help but pay attention to and remember you.

    After all, if you only have two seconds anyway, you may as well have a little fun!


    What's your best two-second customer greeting?

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

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    This is the kind of stuff that actually makes guests want to come BACK to your hotel

    Last year I spent several months researching seven key areas of personal approachability. These categories came from over 300,000 articles, resources, journals, case studies, evaluations, training modules and college course notes from various disciplines; and ultimately led to the creation of The Approachability Indicator™.

    Now, the one word which seemed to show up the most in all these resources was availability. But there seemed to be two kinds: personal and physical. And during my extended stint in Columbus last month (thanks a lot, Mother Nature), I encountered my new favorite example of physical availability...

    At about 4:30 PM I checked in at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. The front desk attendant printed my key card, inserted it into the envelope and said, "Mr. Ginsberg, I'm Chris. I'm writing my name down on this card, that way if there's anything you need, you can ask for me directly!"

    He handed me the key card as I looked back with a huge smile on my face.

    "Wait, do you guys always do that? I mean, when someone checks in, are you trained to write your name on the card like that?

    "Yes sir. We're feel it's important to introduce and make ourselves available to the guests."

    "Really?! That's great! I'm going to use that in my speech on approachability tomorrow!"

    "Go right ahead!" Chris said.

    "One last question," I asked, "I've stayed at a lot of hotels. Especially Hyatts, who are one of my biggest clients. So, do all Hyatts do this?"

    "Not that I know of. It's just something we do here in Columbus to make our guests feel more welcome."

    Bravo, Chris. Bravo. 5-Star.


    How do you make yourself physically available to your guests and customers?

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