Watch Scott's TEDx talk!

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

HELLO, my name is Podcast - Episode 10: Are Marketing & Dating the Same Thing?

One of the first principles I teach in my books and speeches is that approachability is a two-way street. The word comes from the Latin verb apropriare, or “to come nearer to.” This means that in addition to being proactive in approaching customers, prospects and friends; you also must position yourself, your company, your ideas, your value and your services in a way that magnetizes them to YOU.

A few years ago I was explaining this theory to one of my clients. She interrupted and asked, “Scott, I’ve been wondering this for a few months now: does wearing a nametag 24-7 ever help you get dates?”

Ha! If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that.

But while I explained to Pam that my nametag was a signal for friendship - not a pick-up tool – something dawned on me.

Marketing and dating are the exact same thing.

Listen to (or download) my latest podcast to find out why! Or, if you're not in the listening mood, read the article here.


In what ways are marketing and dating the same?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Thursday, June 29, 2006

What happens when people steal your brand?

OK, maybe "steal" is a harsh word.

But over the years I've accumulated quite a collection of commercials, advertisements and promotions from businesses, organizations and people who have used "HELLO, my name is..." (or some sort of nametag) as part of their branding.

Like this commercial for Paxil (left) from a few years back. I remember the first time I saw it. I was watching TV with my folks. Naturally, my parents said, "Oh Scotty, they should sponsor you!"

Right. Of course they should. Thanks Mom & Dad. I'll just pick up the phone and call the marketing department of that multi-billion dollar pharm company and ask them to sponsor me. (Parents are great, huh?!)

But after that commerical, it started to pop up everywhere. For example, The St. Louis CVB.

The funny thing is, I've given several speeches in the hospitality industry and many of these guys have been in the audience! (They're very cool, by the way.) And what's even funnier is, a lot of people have emailed me asking if we're working together - which we're not. Too bad.

Here are few more...

A recent press release from Yahoo!, Mark Sanborn's website for The Fred Factor and a magazine ad for the Sopranos (these were actually peel-off stickers!)

Then there's all the clothing and merchandise (the first two are from David & Goliath Tees:

Then there's my main man David Cross with a few of his fans:

And lastly, just some cool art (thanks to Isis Rodriquez and Farnsworth Blotto) :

So, back to the original question: what do you do when people "steal" your brand?

Nothing. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Share it with the world. Because honestly, I'm not so arrogant to think I had anything to do with these images. (I'm sure the list goes on, too.) And even though I've been in touch with some of the people who created these images, I've had no luck with any sort of partnership.

And you know what? I don't care. I don't get frustrated when I see stuff like this. I know I own the word nametag, legally or not. I figure these pictures could only help reinforce my own brand.

Look, it's a big pie. We're all gonna get a slice!


Has anyone ever "stolen" your brand?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The World Is A Mirror, Part 4


At least one audience member in each of my speeches usually asks, “Scott, have you ever missed a day wearing a nametag?”

Actually, no.

Sure, I’ve come close many times: walking down the street, jumping into the car or getting out the door and then realizing. “Ah damn it! I forgot to put on my nametag!”

But that’s why I carry 10 spares in my wallet, bag and car at all times.

So, no, I’ve never missed a day in 2,065 days. Which either means I’m incredibly disciplined or incredible OCD.

Probably both.

But here’s the thing: after 6 years of wearing a nametag 24-7, one of the strongest and most noticeable changes in my life has been my discipline. For example, I start work every morning around 6 AM. I write for two hours before any calls are made and before any meetings are held. I also read two books a week, pound out 3-4 articles a month, meditate daily and somehow manage to post on both of my blogs 5 days a week.

The result: three books in three years. (New book August 1, 2006!!)

And while a lot of my colleagues and clients think I’m crazy, I always say, “Yeah, but when you work for yourself, discipline is the only boss you’ve got.”

It’s the same with exercise. Whether I’m here in St. Louis or traveling around the country to give speeches, I always find time to run, walk or swim. Even if the conditions aren’t ideal. Even if it’s really, really hot outside. Even if I get lost in the Rio Grande Park in Albuquerque, lose my room key somewhere in the brush and eventually return to my hotel room 3 hours later.


Still, I think back to the late 90's, or as I like to call it, “BNT: Before Name Tag.” My work wasn’t as dependable. I didn’t exercise consistently. I slept in all the time. And I didn’t read or write unless I had to.

But as soon as I starting wearing a nametag, things changed. Formerly annoying tasks and habits became the standard. My discipline grew stronger than ever before! And while I’m not solely attributing my discipline to wearing a nametag, it’s certainly helped.

Because discipline carries over.

For example, most kids who play sports in high school get better grades than non-athletes. Why? Because if a coach requires his players to practice for 3 hours after school every day, some of that dedication is going to rub off in other areas.

What about you? What are you disciplined to? Consider your business. Pick one discipline you’ve been practicing DAILY for years. Maybe it’s making calls, reading, writing, rehearsing or showing up at the office 2 hours early before anyone else gets there.

Think about your business/life BEFORE your started doing that one thing and compare it with your business/life AFTER that one thing.

Was there a change? Did the discipline carry over?

If so, awesome! Keep it up.

If not, don’t worry. This is your chance. Pick something TODAY that you will discipline yourself to doing every single day for the next month. Keep a journal. Watch how the discipline rubs off. It’ll blow you away! I’m tellin’ ya, this stuff works!

But don’t take it from me; take it from Plato. He said, "The first and best victory is to conquer self."

That’s exactly what discipline is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to put on my nametag before I go take out the trash.


How has discipline rubbed off on your business/life?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On Being On

Quite possibly the best piece of advice I’ve been given in the past year came from my friend, mentor and occasional therapist, Richard Avdoian.

“Don’t try to be different. In fact, don’t try to be anything. Just be. Be yourself. Be the same person no matter where you go. As a result, you WILL be unique. And people will notice. Because there’s nothing more approachable than authenticity.”

I quoted Richard’s words of wisdom during a recent speech. Afterwards, an audience member asked me: “Because you wear a nametag all the time, do you feel like you need to be ‘on’ all the time?”

On? Like a comedian? An actor? Or a baseball player?

Well, for some people, that would mean every speech, every conversation, every interaction, would have to be like some big performance.

But what does “on” mean, anyway?

For comedians, maybe it means making people laugh.
For athletes, maybe it means scoring runs or baskets.
For actors, maybe it means captivating an audience.

It all depends.

I don’t know, maybe what it really means to “be on” is “to be yourself.”

Here’s a good example. One of my best friends is Bill Jenkins. He’s an author of 25 books, a preacher, a teacher, a former collegiate baseball superstar and most importantly, a great guy. And I think the reason I admire Bill so much is because I’ve read his books, taken his classes, heard his sermons, played golf and had countless lunches with him for over 10 years.

And he’s always the same person. With the exact same voice.

It always sounds like Bill. I hear that same eloquent, selfless baritone in every one of his writings, speeches or even in conversation, and I think, Man, that’s just Bill. He’s 100% authentic.

In other words, he’s always on.

I think Donald Trump said it best: figure out exactly who you are, then go out and be that person every day.


How do you feel about "being on"?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Friday, June 23, 2006

And the winner of the world's largest nametag is...

On April 10th I posted about Goodyear's contest for the world's largest nametag...

...and we have a winner!

According to yesterday's press release from PRNewswire, -- In a gala event held at its Wingfoot Lake Airship Hangar today, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company christened its newest airship: Spirit of Innovation. Matthew Harrelson of Uniontown, Ohio submitted the winning name in the company's "Name the Blimp" contest and is awarded the Grand Prize, the use of a Goodyear blimp for a day.

The winning name was officially selected based upon a nationwide vote by the American public and a panel of Goodyear judges. "The response from the American public was both overwhelming and gratifying, and I was pleased that the name Spirit of Innovation was chosen," said Bob Keegan, CEO and president, Goodyear.

"Innovation has been a critical part of our evolution as a company, from innovation in our new product offerings, to innovation in the way we now do our jobs. The fact
that the American public agreed with their votes is further proof that innovation is becoming synonymous with Goodyear."

"I can't believe I won the Goodyear Blimp for a day," said Matthew Harrelson. "Living in Northern Ohio my family and I have seen the Goodyear blimp many times - but to be able to win it for a day? This is just great!"

Congrats Matthew! Well done.

I guess Goodyear didn't like my official submission: HELLO, my name is...The Best Seat for the Superbowl.


If you had the Goodyear Blimp for a day, where would you go?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eat your heart out Chicago

You think it's windy by Lake Michigan? Try coming out to Ellensburg, WA. Man, I almost got blown over during my afternoon jog yesterday!

Still, it's a very cool city. The mountains are glorious and the weather is a heckuva lot better than the 102 heat index we got back in St. Louis!

Also, I'm staying at the famous Inn At Goose Creek. As you enter the Inn at Goose Creek a wave of nostalgia and rustic comfort greets you. It's like a bed and breakfast...on steroids. There are only 10 rooms, and each one has its own unique flavor. Some of the motifs include: I Love Christmas, English Ivy, Forever Spring, Ellensburg Rodeo and All-Star Sports Fan.

I happen to be staying in the Timber Creek Lodge, which you can actually see a picture of here!

Anyway, back to the conference. My speech(es) are for the Washington Initiative for Supportive Employment, an organization dedicated to "guiding and inspiring people to realize their potential and achieve fulfilling vocational goals." Last night we kicked off the conference with my opening session, The Power of Approachability. What an awesome audience! I've never spoken to a room of 500 people who had more energy and excitement!

Then, just when I thought the party was over, Wally Tablit hosted karaoke night in the ballroom immediately following the general session. And if you think it's tough to give a speech for 90 minutes, try singing Maria Carey for 5 minutes. (I'll take the speech any day!)

Great singin' guys! See everyone at the workshop at 10:15!


Would you rather give a speech or sing karaoke?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Nametag Guy goes back to PDX , where it all started...

I'm back in Portland for a few days this week. Hanging out with some old friends, namely my bud Tony Cameron from The Punk Group.

Then I'm off to Seattle for a few speeches on Wed/Thur. I'm SO excited/honored to be working with another old friend, Kathy Condon. She and I met on July 23, 2003 at an event in Portland. We've stayed close since then, but now FINALLY get a chance to watch each other in action!

Peace, love and sushi from the Rose City!


How do you stay in touch with old friends from across the country?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Monday, June 19, 2006

Before you go back to work, enjoy free cookies and water!

BIN 36 Chicago is open for breakfast lunch and dinner daily and features contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and wine pairing.

I ate a quick lunch at BIN 36 last week. At the end of the meal, my client Kerry told me, "Oh, and don't forget to grab cookies and water when we're done!"


"Oh yeah, they give you free cookies and a bottle of water for your walk back to work. Isn't that great?"

Yes. Yes it is. Possibly the greatest thing ever.

That's what I'm talkin' about. Here's a business that gets it. Don't just make a FIRST impression on the way IN, but make a LAST impression on the way OUT. All customer/guest experiences, conversations and encounters need to be the same way.


How else could businesses leave the customer with a UNFORGETTABLE impression?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Friday, June 16, 2006

Adventures in Nametagging: Toledo Style

Just finished up a full day of workshops for my friends up in Northwest Ohio's Workforce Development.

Now, I say Toledo; but technically I spoke in Bryan, OH, home of Sauder Furniture. Man, I actually used to sell that stuff when I worked in retail 4 years ago!

It's also the birthplace of Spangler Candy, makers of Dum-Dum Pops.

At check in there was a plentiful supply awaiting my arrival. (Homer Simpson drooling sound.)

I got to my room with a mouthful of lollipops and noticed this DO NOT DISTURB sign.

Sweet! I wonder what time period it was made in? I wanna say the 50's, maybe 60's? I dunno. Do people still call them maids?

Anyway, the motel (yes, motel, not hotel) was kind of nice for a change; especially since I'd just come straight from speaking @ Burnett in Downtown Chicago. My room didn't even have wifi, which, I gotta say, was also pretty nice. Woo-hoo! I don't have to get up an hour early and blog tomorrow! More sleep!

The event was held @ NW State Community College, which had some of the best facilities I've ever worked with. Both of our sessions focused on front line and networking/interviewing approachability for displaced workers.

"Lead with your person, not your profession!" I said over and over.

We ran the same word ownership exercise from Leo Burnett. Saw lots of great examples: helper, teddy bear, genuine.

COOL OBSERVATION: most common word that people "owned" and proudly wore on their nametags? Trustworthy. Interesting.

And once again, not to play favorites, but how could you not LOVE this one: Budaful.

No, she didn't misspell it. That's her last name: Buda. It's Hungarian - awesome!

Oh, and for those of you who love your job...

Last but not least, a bunch of the students from the Youth Leadership Program stopped by to hang out. We took two pictures, one "normal" and one where I instructed each of them to "make a face like an idiot."

God I heart my job!


Why do you heart your job?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Adventures in Nametagging: Leo Burnett Style

You might know Leo Burnett as the worldwide ad agency famous for creating such icons as the Jolly Green Giant, the Marlboro Man, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Tony the Tiger.

I know them as my clients and my friends! And we had a fantastic program at their Chicago office yesterday. It all started in the reception area. As I eagerly awaited the arrival of my friend Kerry (pictured), I was cheerfully greeted by several employees. First, two girls walked by and asked, "Hey, aren't you that 'Scott' Guy?" And then a man named Tom asked, "Hey, aren't you The Nametag Guy?"

Yes. Yes I am.

We had a great turnout for the popular "Burnett Fuel Session." Our program focus was to learn how to be that guy in (and out) of the agency.

These were some of the coolest, brightest and friendliest people I've ever worked with. From strategic planners to creative geniuses to PR folk, all areas of the ad world were well represented.

A big part of my corporate workshops is to get the entire audience to wear nametags - at least for a little while! The first exercise is to stick a tag on your chest with your name AND a three word description of who you are. We had some classic monikers such as "The Googling Expert," "Makes Advertising Sane," and my favorite (see to the left) "That Guy Who Always Smiles."

Another activity on the topic of word ownership was to answer the following question: "When clients think of me, this is the first word that pops into their heads."

The exercise is to write that word in big, bold letters on your nametag and proudly wear it for the rest of the day. We had some great examples, like my friend Klista who wrote the word "teeth."

(Check out that beautiful smile and you can see why!)

Another one of my fav's was my friend and fellow Miami Redhawk Jenny, who appropriately wrote "upbeat."

Amen to that! It's not easy being upbeat in the advertising world these days!

The highlight of the workshop was when everyone closed their eyes and I walked around the room shouting out the words from various nametags: Passionate! Intern! Bubbly! Lanky! Dedicated! Organized!

And our favorite of the day...KUTA!

(It's a bit of an inside joke. Guess you had to be there...)

Thanks to all my new friends at Leo Burnett!


Who's your favorite product icon?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Here's me turning off my cell phone

Last week I had lunch with my friend Edward Khatskin, co-owner of K & G Financial. We were talking about cell phones when he gave me a classic approachability technique:

"When I start a meeting with a new (or prospective) client, I make sure they're looking at me, then take out my cell phone, turn it off and toss it on the table. I'll say something like:

'I am now turning off my cell phone. For the next hour, I am giving you my full attention and will not be accepting any phone calls. I do this is because you are just as important to me as my other clients, and I want to make sure that I am giving you my undivided attention.

Also, so you know, my clients can always reach me on my cell phone, however, in the future if you call me and I do not pick up, it is because I am talking to someone just like you. Does that sound agreeable?'

This helps me set tone of professionalism and reiterates how much I value their relationship."

Well done Edward! Man, I might have to try that one sometime...


How do you show personal availability to people during a meeting?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

Monday, June 12, 2006

The World Is A Mirror, Part 3


People either love it or they hate it.

Oscar Wilde once said, "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." Robert Owen stated, "Without consistency there is no moral strength." Then there's the old cliche (not sure who said it originally), "The only consistent thing in life is change."

Me, I'm big on consistency. In all areas of my life. And I don't claim to maintain it 100% of the time - nor should anybody - but I do make it a priority. And I think wearing a nametag 24-7 (today is day 2,049, by the way) has ingrained this idea of consistency into my brain. So, I always seem to notice little inconsistencies wherever I go.

For example, the other day I was relaxing in the hot tub after swimming laps at the Y. Two young kids splahed each other next to me. The lifeguard came over and asked, "Hey, how old are you guys?"

They didn't say a word.

"Well, our policy is: you have to be 16 to use the hot tub. Get out."

As the kids frustratingly dragged themselves out of the hot tub, I noticed a sign on the wall right above the lifeguard's head which read:

"Nobody under the age of 14 is allowed in the hot tub."

Hmmm. That's weird.

I couldn't let it go. The consistency bug started ticking. So when I dried off, I stopped by the lifeguard stand and asked, "Doesn't the sign say you need to be 14 to use the hot tub?"

"Um, does it really say that?" the teenager replied.

"Yeah, look - it's right there."

"Oh, well, uh, I was told it's 16."

"Oh, ok. Well, that's cool. I was just curious."

Maybe it's no big deal. But in my humble opinion, the Y's pool area either needs to change their sign or change their policy. Because where does it stop? Who's to say that a small inconsistency like this won't lead to something bigger?

Another example: I once called a fellow author/speaker to introduce myself and praise her work. I also emailed the same message, just to make sure she got it.

She never called me back. No message. No email. Nada.

You know what the best part was? She was an "expert" on customer service.

Now, it's possible the email never went through. Or maybe she never got my voicemail. But check THIS out: I know several other people who had the same problem contacting this person.

LESSON LEARNED: consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.


What was the last inconsistency you noticed?

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

Friday, June 09, 2006

HELLO, my name is Podcast - Episode 9: Food for Thought

My Grandfather, Frank Ginsberg, tells the greatest stories and jokes you've ever heard. His favorite story to tell goes back to the Great Depression; a time when suffering families used old newspapers as insulation for their ever-deteriorating homes.

As the tale goes, one day, my then-young Grandpa Frank stumbled upon a profound clipping crunched behind the walls of his house. He asked his father (my great-grandfather) to read it to him.

The poem was called “Food for Thought,” and it became a Ginsberg family heirloom for generations to come.

Listen to the poem here.


What's your food for thought?

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

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

56 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic

You can always count on my buddy Seth Godin to share ideas on increasing blog traffic.

If you can do any (or all!) of these 56 things, people will be stepping onto your blog's front porch in no time!

Check it out:

1) Use lists.
2) Be topical... write posts that need to be read right now.
3) Learn enough to become the expert in your field.
4) Break news.
5) Be timeless... write posts that will be readable in a year.
6) Be among the first with a great blog on your topic, then encourage others to blog on the same topic.
7) Share your expertise generously so people recognize it and depend on you.
Announce news.
9) Write short, pithy posts.
10) Encourage your readers to help you manipulate the technorati top blog list.
11) Don't write about your cat, your boyfriend or your kids.
12) Write long, definitive posts.
13) Write about your kids.
14) Be snarky. Write nearly libelous things about fellow bloggers, daring them to respond (with links back to you) on their blog.
15) Be sycophantic. Share linklove and expect some back.
16) Include polls, meters and other eye candy.
17) Tag your posts. Use
18) Coin a term or two.
19) Do email interviews with the well-known.
20) Answer your email.
21) Use photos. Salacious ones are best.
22) Be anonymous.
23) Encourage your readers to digg your posts. (and to use furl and reddit). Do it with every post.
24) Post your photos on flickr.
25) Encourage your readers to subscribe by RSS.
26) Start at the beginning and take your readers through a months-long education.
27) Include comments so your blog becomes a virtual water cooler that feeds itself.
28) Assume that every day is the beginning, because you always have new readers.
29) Highlight your best posts on your Squidoo lens.
30) Point to useful but little-known resources.
31) Write about stuff that appeals to the majority of current blog readers--like gadgets and web 2.0.
32) Write about Google.
33) Have relevant ads that are even better than your content.
34) Don't include comments, people will cross post their responses.
35) Write posts that each include dozens of trackbacks to dozens of blog posts so that people will notice you.
36) Run no ads.
37) Keep tweaking your template to make it include every conceivable bell or whistle.
38) Write about blogging.
39) Digest the good ideas of other people, all day, every day.
40) Invent a whole new kind of art or interaction.
41) Post on weekdays, because there are more readers.
42) Write about a never-ending parade of different topics so you don't bore your readers.
43) Post on weekends, because there are fewer new posts.
44) Don't interrupt your writing with a lot of links.
45) Dress your blog (fonts and design) as well as you would dress yourself for a meeting with a stranger.
46) Edit yourself. Ruthlessly.
47) Don't promote yourself and your business or your books or your projects at the expense of the reader's attention.
48) Be patient.
49) Give credit to those that inspired, it makes your writing more useful.
50) Ping technorati. Or have someone smarter than me tell you how to do it automatically.
51) Write about only one thing, in ever-deepening detail, so you become definitive.
52) Write in English.
53) Better, write in Chinese.
54) Write about obscure stuff that appeals to an obsessed minority.
55) Don't be boring.
56) Write stuff that people want to read and share.


What's your best tip for increasing blog traffic?

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

Why do gentlemen prefer blondes? Maybe because they're more approachable...

I've read a number of articles and surveys claiming that blondes are more approachable. (Usually referring to women.) One particular article called Blondes: a dying breed caught my eye. This is really cool...

"According to a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), natural blonds are likely to be extinct within 200 years, because there are too few people carrying the blond gene. The WHO study claims that the last natural blond is likely to be born in Finland during 2202."

"I think men are definitely more drawn to blondes, simply because dark haired girls come across as serious and conservative, while blondes appear more fun and easy and sexy,” vouches Ozy Mamodeally, working in media sales.

An explanation on why golden locks, fair skin and blue eyes make the typical blonde such an attractive creature is attempted by Peter Frost, a Canadian anthropologist. According to Frost, it all goes back 11,000 years, where a genetic mutation resulted in blond hair. He says north European women evolved blonde hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males - since a lot of males died during the long and grueling hunting trips of the time.

“The high death rate among male hunters increased the pressures of sexual selection on early European women and led to rapid change as women struggled to evolve the most alluring qualities - with one possible outcome being an unusual complex of colour traits,” says Frost.

* * * *

Huh. That's crazy. Going all the way back to the cavemen days?!

All I know is this: I've been getting my hair cut by the same stylist for 4 years. She's a blonde. And about 9 months ago, she radically changed her hair to jet black. When I unknowingly walked into the salon and Sara jumped out from behind the corner, I took one look at her and yelled, "Holy crap!"

"So, whaddaya think?"

"Wow. THAT is different. know, I gotta say, you look kind of...evil."

"Really? Man, that's what everybody is saying! Sara replied. "Gosh, maybe blondes really are more approachable!"

Who knows. That's why I stick to the redheads.


What perceptions do certain hair colors give off?

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

Welcome to Tag Town, USA

I know this is my third DC-related post in the past week, but I just couldn't pass up this absolutely fascinating article (thanks to Christin Berry from ASAE):

Washingtonians love their game of tag...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The dark suit is impeccable, the hair conservatively cut, the shoes a refined statement of solidity. But the outfit isn't complete for a Washington insider without an identity tag or two -- or more.

While some know this city as "the capital of the free world," its denizens recognize it as Tagtown.

Virtually everyone in downtown Washington wears some kind of credential during working hours. For some, it may be a simple pass that unlocks a garage or an office security door. But for those who work with the sprawling U.S. federal bureaucracy, it is literally a badge of honor.

There are tags for Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Treasury, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, individual trials, museum openings and even some news conferences. And instead of taking off the tags when the workday is done, as people elsewhere might do, Washingtonians tend to keep them on, especially if they hint at a close relationship to power.

Anthropologist Edward Smith recalls that when he worked as a White House speechwriter, there was a rule against wearing the White House tag after work. He also recalled it was widely flouted. The willingness to be labeled fits with the Washington mindset, said Smith, a professor at American University and a third-generation Washingtonian.

"People wear these things as if they were bars on their uniform," Smith said. "I think that some people, particularly young people, want that extra patina of prestige. In Washington, you are much more recognized as a position than as a personality."

* * * *
You know, it's funny. Whenever I speak to businesspeople, I stress the importance of "leading with your person, not with your profession." For example: whether you're prospecting, networking or just meeting someone new, you DON'T always have to revert to the default "So, what do you do?" conversation.

Rather, it's more valuable to find the CPI. To make a friend in 30 seconds. Get to know someone for who they are, not just what they do. It reminds me of an episode of Inside the Actor's Studio featuring Dave Chappelle. The almost-too-famous comedian told James Lipton, "I went to Africa on sabbatical because nobody knew me as a celebrity, as a comedian; but just as a guy. As Dave."

Personally, when I meet someone new, I try to go as long as possible without asking the question, "So, what do you do?"

In other words: person before profession.


Are certain cities/countries more apt to lead with "person" vs. "profession"?

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

Monday, June 05, 2006

The coolest retail store I've seen in five years

When I was speaking in DC a few weeks ago, I spent a few hours cruising around Georgetown.

This particular store caught my eye. At first I walked right past it. But when my nose twitched from the sweet aroma of bath products, I stopped, started laughing and thought, wait a minute...what did that sign say?"

Upon closer inspection, here's what I saw:

Ok. That's just cool. So cool that I walked inside, found the manager and asked, "Your store is awesome! Do you have a card?"

Of course they did. I learned that Lush has been around since the late seventies, although their first official shop opened in 1994. Today they have 370+ shops around the world and also operate mail order businesses from the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany, Taiwan and the United States.

They hand-make the cosmetics in UK, Italy, Canada, South America and Japan (in their own production facilities) so that every product available in their shops or sent to you by mail is as fresh as it can possibly be. Why? Because fresh products work better and use fewer preservatives.

Their aim is to have the youngest, freshest products in the history of cosmetics.

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Lush's version of being that guy is "Those Hand-Made Soap People." They also own a word (maybe it's happy, soap, hand-made, or lush).

Great stuff.


When was the last time a cool storefront made you stop and walk in the door (when you normally would've kept walking)?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag