Watch Scott's TEDx talk!

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Seth Godin on nametags

Well, it's finally good to see someone other than me talking about the importance of nametags.

Thanks, Seth!

Aren't nametags great?

Post your best nametag story here!

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

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Why MACO nametags are the best EVER

I just realized it's been WAY too long since I've given a shout out to my favorite nametag company!

For the past 2,308 days, I've been using nametags made by MACO (an Acco brand of Wilson Jones, Inc.)

They rock.

Best nametags in the world. And trust me, I've tried just about everything.

Here's why they're so good:

1. Bold colors
2. Smooth, fax-like paper
3. Unbelievable adhesive.

Pay close attention to that last one. Because these babies STICK. Unlike most nametags (ahem, Avery), MACO's tags actually stay on your clothes. Thus avoiding the ever unfortunate "corner curl," which ultimately makes the person's name impossible to see.

Of course, sometimes I DO forget to remove my nametag before washing my shirts. Which can get pretty disgusting. (OK, so maybe I forgot to read the MACO Nametag Disclaimer, which is clearly printed on the back of every label:)

"CAUTION: Not suitable for leather, suede, velvet, corduroy, silk, vinyl or plastic."


Anyway, MACO doesn't pay me to write this stuff.

I do it because I love their product, which (in 2,308 days) has never failed me.

So, if you want the best nametags in the world for your next meeting or party, take a hint from The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags. Click here and pick up a few cases. I suggest the MNB-264 Red Border.

Tell 'em Scott sent ya.

What's your favorite kind of nametag?

Tell us why!

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

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Friday, February 23, 2007

The World is a Mirror, Part 21

I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
M is for MUNDANE
Q is for QUICK
S is for SERVICE
T is for TIME
U is for UNIQUE

For many years I thought the words “different” and “unique” meant the same thing.

I was wrong.

The word DIFFERENT comes from the Latin word differre, which means, “to stand out.”

The word UNIQUE comes the Latin word unicus, which means “the only one.”

Here’s an example.

Imagine there are two potential hires for your firm’s new IT Director. After the interviews are over, the HR Director reports back to you.

“The first guy was Seth. You would have loved him! He was so unique!”

“The second guy was Phil. Phil was … (sigh) … different.”

Who would you hire?


And there’s a reason I bring this up. See, it seems like most business books I read, most marketing interviews I watch and most entrepreneurs I meet make some mention of “the value of being different.”


No, no, no, NO!

Different is the enemy of unique.

Focus your efforts on being:

o The ONLY one who __________.
o The ONLY company that _________.
o The ONLY organization that ________.

Because when you’re unique, when you’re the only one, you WILL stand out.

Here’s one more example.

January 14th, 2005. I receive the greatest piece of hate mail ever:

Dear Scott:

Let’s face it, buddy: the whole nametag thing is totally stupid. Come on. You’ve already written a book about it. So what’s next? Nothing! You have nowhere to go! You think you’re so unique. But there’s really nothing unique about wearing a nametag all the time. Anybody could’ve done that. And there’s nothing unique about your book. Anybody could’ve written that.

Ouch. That’s cold, man.

I wanted to shake it off.
I wanted to love the hater.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I stayed up all night re-reading that email in my head. Didn’t get a wink of sleep. And those four words kept chiming like church bells:

Anybody could’ve done that.
Anybody could’ve done that.
Anybody could’ve done that.

I never told anyone about that letter.

Maybe because I was ashamed.
Maybe because I didn’t know the answer.
Maybe because I was afraid that guy was right.

That all this time, I wasn’t really unique.

Either way, it didn’t resurface until about a year later.

I had just returned to St. Louis after a giving a speech in Orlando. My Dad and I sat down to dinner to talk about the growth of my business.

I mentioned the letter.

Then, in this almost eerie, yet proud tone that only a father could project, he said with a nod and a smile, “Scott, it’s not about the nametag.”


“It’s not about the nametag,” he laughed.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, you’ve been at this thing going on seven years now. Think about everything that’s happened: the books, the speeches, the company you started, the change you’ve brought about to yours and hundreds of thousands of people’s lives; everything that’s evolved since the day you first stuck that nametag on your shirt. It’s pretty remarkable, doncha think!?”

“Yeah, I…I guess it is,” I nodded.

“You see Scott, the fact that you wear a nametag every day is, well, different,” he chuckled. “Because anybody could do that.”

“But what you’ve DONE with it, well, you’re the only one who could have pulled that off. And THAT is what makes you unique.”

Are you different or unique?

Tell us why in 8 words or less.

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

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

17 reasons why Harry Beckwith rocks

I read about three books a week.

Most of them are good. Some suck. Some are great.

But every once in a while, I read a book that's UNBELIEVABLE.

(Which is a lot coming from a compulsive reader who's also an author. Guess I'm a tough critic.)

The book I speak of is called You, Inc. by Harry Beckwith.

I'm not going to do a review of this book. I think reviews of anything - cd's, movies, books, bars - skew people's opinions. So I'm just going to quote it:

1. People tip restaurant servers the most when that severs makes them feel good.

2. Are you a company that your competitors envy?

3. People don’t gather data to make their decisions, they gather data to justify their decisions.

4. A first impression is often the final decision.

5. The more you learn, the more people you can engage.

6. How does your past answer clients' needs now?

7. People's heads go nowhere until their hearts lead them there.

8. We buy how good you are at who you are.

9. Welcomes not only begin a relationship well, but frame the entire experience.

10. Establish common ground by STANDING on common ground. Get off the stage.

11. If it doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable, it’s not an idea.

12. You often cannot see the lines, but you cannot miss the dots.

13. Nobody benefits when someone is in the wrong place.

14. People aren’t loyal to companies, they’re loyal to people.

15. In choosing what to wear, your first thought should be not to impress or intrigue, but to put the other person at ease.

16. Instead of asking, “What do you do?” ask “What is your role there?”

17. Give your time lavishly to people who give, and avoid those who take.

Thanks, Harry.

Read any good books lately?

Post a few quotes (not a review) of one of those books here!

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

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Comparing the two kinds of web traffic

Today's original post contained a comparison between organic web traffic and sponsored web traffic.

I realized (with the help of a few candid friends) that I was way off.

So, instead of me rambling as usual, let's just have a debate:

What's the most effective way to drive web traffic?

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

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Keep It Alive, Part 1

This is the first post in a new series called “Keep It Alive.”

This collection of techniques will help you stay in touch with (and maintain) your network. Even when you think you’re too busy.

I encourage you to suggest your own techniques at the end of this post!

Guess what? Today you will be taking field trip!

No permission slip needed.

THE DESTINATION: your inbox.

Here’s your first assignment:

Start by going back to your oldest saved email message. Maybe it’s from last year. Maybe it’s from last month. Maybe it’s from last century. But spend the next half-hour working your way backwards to today.

By reviewing past emails, you’ll come across people, messages and issues you’ve completely forgotten all about. You might think, “Wow, I wonder what Karen’s been up to lately!” or “Hmm…I don’t recognize Mike’s name. Better re-read his message to refresh my memory.”

Either way, this trip down e-memory lane is the perfect exercise to workout those out of shape networking muscles. And if you can reconnect with just one person you otherwise wouldn’t have talked to, it will be worth it.

OK. Here’s your second assignment:

Another underused feature for staying in touch is the email auto-completer. Depending on which mail client you use, you should be able to do this in a few quick steps:

1. Go to “compose new message.”
2. Punch in any letter of the alphabet.
3. You should be prompted with a dozen or so potential email addresses starting with that same letter. Pick a name and email away!

It’s actually kind of fun. You’ll see names you completely forgot about!

Gmail is good at this. They provide you with a drop down box. It reminds you of every person you’ve ever emailed (or received an email from) over the years.

TRY THIS: every once in a while, take a few minutes and just go through the entire alphabet. You never know whose name might come up! And a simple, “We haven’t chatted in a while, so I just thought I’d drop a line and say hey!” is the perfect way to reconnect with an old friend or colleague.

Ultimately, running a monthly email search is the perfect tool to Keep It Alive with old contacts, friends and prospects.

Maybe it’s a simple “just checking in” note.
Maybe it’s a reply to an old message you forgot about.
Maybe it’s an email update to an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while.

EITHER WAY: people will appreciate your follow up.

PLUS, YOU NEVER KNOW: you might make a sale, reconnect with old friends, even made someone’s day!

AND SURE, it might seem like extra work.

But remember, the last four words in N-E-T-W-O-R-K are W-O-R-K!

How do you keep it alive?

Post your best Keep It Alive technique here!

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

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Monday, February 19, 2007

7 (more) Unforgettable Follow-Up Strategies

“I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

Recognize those words?

Straight from the mouth of J. Wellington, aka “Wimpy,” famous for his appearances in the Popeye cartoons.

Wimpy’s unforgettable character first aired in 1934. Interestingly, 70+ years later, his words still contain a nugget of truth: Tuesday is the day.

A 2007 survey conducted by Pitney Bowes revealed that Tuesday was the #1 arrival day for direct mail for three reasons:

1. It’s the lightest mail day in the U.S.

2. Having your letter delivered to a prospect on the day they receive the least amount of mail boosts your chances of the piece being opened and read!

3. Every other day in the week falls short.

HERE'S WHY: according to a related article in CRM Today, Monday is a bad day for contact because the Monday Blues will be descending and thoughts will be split between the weekend’s activities and the challenges that the week holds in store.

By Tuesday the weekend has quickly become a distant memory and minds are focused.

Any day thereafter, the mindset may be, “Well, I’ll deal with it next week.”

So, Tuesday is the day.

HERE’S THE CHALLENGE: what pieces do you send to prospects, customers and potential clients that are unique, memorable and persuasive?

I’m glad you asked. Here’s a list of seven ways to convert Touchpoint Tuesday into Wealthy Wednesday. (If you haven't read the first version of this post, check it out here.)

1. Event Postcard. When my St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 2006 (woo hoo!) I bought a box of limited edition postcards and sent them out to my top 50 prospects. On the back of the card I wrote “GOOOOOO CARDS!” Half of them called me back within two days. One client even booked me to do another round of training for his hotel! Going…going…GONE!

What well-known, hometown event/holiday could you leverage to make your prospects think of you?

2. Article. If you come across an article that’s relevant to your prospect, his company or his industry, send that baby out! Emailing a link works best, although snail-mail and faxing works too. Just be sure to leave a little note (on your stationary, of course) that reads, “Thought of you when I saw this!”

What publications are your prospects reading?

3. (Your) Article. Better yet, send them an article YOU wrote. If it’s online, shoot them an email with the link. If it’s in print, send a copy in the mail. If possible, use your prospect as a positive example in your article. Then highlight that section when you send it to them. Appeal to their ego.

What did you write today?

4. Travel Postcards. Every summer I spend a few weeks in Geneva, Switzerland, speaking at a youth leadership camp. One of my traditions is to stop by the local souvenir shop, pick up a few dozen postcards, grab a seat with a view of the Alps and spend the next half hour telling my prospects, “I wish you were here!” NOTE: the key to this technique is to offer Social Proof. Don’t forget to “mention” in your postcard that the reason you’re traveling is because you’re working with an existing client.

When is your next business trip? To whom are you going to write home about it?

5. Mindshare. Sales isn’t about MARKETshare, it’s about MINDshare. So, complete the following sentence: “If my prospects saw (x), they would think of me right away.” Now send them one.

What item immediately makes people think of you?

6. Blog Posts. Similar to emailing an article, try sending a blog post to your prospects. I do this every time I return from working with a client. I’ll blog about the speech by showing pictures and sharing stories from audience members. Sometimes my client will even comment on the post! Then I’ll email that blog post to similar prospects and say, “Just got back from another successful program in Pittsburgh! Thought you’d like to see a few pictures…”

What’s your excuse for not blogging yet?

7. Pictures. If you store your pictures online at Flickr or Photo Bucket, email the links to your prospects. CAUTION: be sure your pictures are 1) high quality, 2) professional and 3) show you doing what you do. Demonstrate value by sharing pictures of you and your existing clients laughing, having fun and working well together. Think of it as a testimonial, minus the words. Let the picture do the talking. And make your prospect think, “Man, maybe WE should be working with these guys!”

Do you have pictures that show you doing what you do?

BOTTOM LINE: people who get noticed get ahead. Don’t get caught in the Normality Trap by using the same old, tired follow-up. Make your approach unique and unforgettable, and you’ll be certain to turn Touchpoint Tuesday into Wealthy Wednesday.

Wimpy would be proud.

Post your most unique, most unforgettable follow-up technique here!

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

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Friday, February 16, 2007

8 thoughts on bad business cards

The other day I was sifting through about 1000 business cards I've collected over the years.

I noticed a few things that frustrated me:

1. No email address. Come on. It's 2007. People aren't going to look online for your email, or worse yet, guess what your email is.

2. Mismatched email. You have a website, yet your email is Where's the consistency? Furthermore, using AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo takes your level of professionalism down a few clicks.

3. Tiny print. I'm only 27 and my eyes hurt looking at some of these cards. Remember, there's two sides. S-P-A-C-E---I-T---O-U-T!

4. TMI. Too much information. (That's what websites are for!) Pick a few important things and keep it simple.

5. Folded cards. I understand the allure of folded cards: more surface area and it stands out in people's stacks. But I have to be honest, every time I get a folded card and it doesn't lay flat on my stack, I either throw it out or rip it in half. I dunno. Maybe it's just me.

6. Duh! One man who works in real estate has a little heart on his card that says, "I LOVE REFERRALS!" Well DUH! Who doesn't? And once again, maybe it's just me, but seeing that little icon makes me NOT want to give him referrals. Almost like he's desperate.

7. Ironic. I remember one card that was particularly unattractive: flimsy stock, bad colors and hard-to-read lettering. Take one guess what that woman's job was: graphic designer. Ouch.

8. Quote. One person's card had a quote from Oprah Winfrey. I don't remember what the quote was, and I also don't remember whose card it was. All I remember was Oprah. So my question is: WHY WOULD YOU QUOTE SOMEONE ELSE ON YOUR OWN BUSINESS CARD?!! If you have to quote someone, quote yourself!

What are your Bad Business Card pet peeves?

Post your list here!

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

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

17 Reasons to Write a FREE Ebook

If you've been to this blog before, you've probably read my position on the power of free.

Anyway, to keep the tradition going, here's 17 reasons to write a FREE ebook:

1. Storage. You have all that great material already, right? Blog posts, articles, rants, whitepapers, etc. It’s time to put them together into a nicely packaged document that delivers more value. Content = useless until it’s accessible to all.

2. Reach. Sure, you could charge $7, $17 or $47 or whatever other shrewd pricing strategy you learned from those Internet marketing dudes. But if it’s free, more people are going to see it. And if your ebook ROCKS (and has some, but not too much, cross pollination of your additional services) the revenue will bounce back ten fold. Er, seven fold.

3. Differentiation. Most ebooks out there, especially the ones people charge for, suck. Very little value given. Just a teaser to get you to buy something bigger. And I’m all for using ebooks to cross-promote, but don’t chince out. Don’t give away one or two good ideas; pack it full of dozens of ideas and content that is SO good, people want more.

4. WOM. Seth Godin wrote the best-selling ebook in the history of ebooks. Funny thing is, he didn’t charge for it. At least, not if you didn’t want to pay for it. He offered people a choice: get it for free, pay a small donation, or pay full price. Your choice. BRILLIANT! More people talked about that ebook than anything else ever written!

5. Value. You’re smart. You’ve got lots of good ideas, tips, techniques and philosophies that can help others. Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Share it with the world. Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas.

6. Fans. Your duty to your company, yourself and the people you serve is to cultivate fans. NOT customers. Fans. The people who loyally love your stuff and tell everyone about you. Free ebooks = new fans.

7. Free. Statistically speaking, research proves that people like free stuff.

8. Traffic. Kind of a no-brainer, but yes. Ebooks drive traffic. I’ve written ten of them and received more website (and blog) traffic that I can possibly keep track of. NOTE: remember, however, that “hits” is an acronym for “how idiots track sales.” So before you post that ebook, make sure your website ROCKS and is CONVERTIBLE. Still, the ebook will enable you drive web traffic the “old school” way: content. Forget ad words, sponsored links and pay per click. That’s interruption. You need interaction.

9. Sales. I don’t believe in selling. I believe in enabling people to buy. And that’s exactly what a free ebook does. You deliver value FIRST in a manner consistent with your brand and philosophy. As a result, readers are interested, educated and excited about you. That’s why at the END of the ebook, be sure to include plenty of info about what ELSE you do. And not some ridiculous five-page sell sheet. Just a note that says, “Hi! Hope you learned a lot from my ebook. Actually, I’m more than just a writer. I also do these other things. If I can help you, drop me a line.”

10. Time. As an author myself, I know cranking out (real) books is an arduous process. In 2007, I’m putting out five new paperbacks. It’s not going to be easy. That’s why ebooks are a nice “placeholder” for your content. You don’t have to go all the way and publish a real book per se. You can simply do the ebook, post it on your blog and wait until you’re ready for the BIG one to do it for real.

11. Testing. OK, so you’ve got these ideas, stories, tips, etc. You want to test the waters before writing a real book, right? Cool. Write the ebook, post it for free, and see what people say. Maybe you’ll get glowing emails from around the world saying how great it is! Or, maybe nobody will download it except your wife and even she’ll tell you that it sucked. Either way, you’ll have a better idea of how the market responds to your content before spending $5000 on the real thing.

12. Content. Content is king. People might forgive sub-par packaging, but they’ll never forgive crappy content. Work hard on making your ebook meaty and chunky. Like Campell’s. Full of great stuff. People LOVE that. Plus, writing a content-rich ebook will put you in the 90% percentile, since most ebooks are total fluff.

13. Authorship. Writing an ebook doesn’t make you an author. Author = actual, tangible books. However, it’s one step closer. You’ll feel like an author. And once you write an ebook (that everybody loves) perhaps you’ll be inspired to get that real book out of you.

14. Practice. I’ve written four paperback books so far. And I don’t think I discovered my true voice until the third one. So, practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes polished. And starting with an ebook or two is going to let you sweat out some potential sub-par stuff until you get it right. The more you write, the more clear your voice becomes.

15. Credibility. Providing that your ebook gives useful, sound advice, you will be perceived as an expert. An authority. Maybe not THE expert or THE authority. But the more you write = the more credible you become.

16. Build your list. It doesn’t matter what you sell. If you’re reading this right now, odds are, you’re in the business of NAME ACCUMULATION. You need to build a following and stay in front of these people (your fans who love you) on a regular basis. Your ebook will help accomplish that. Especially if you give it away as a bonus to anyone who signs up.

17. Google. FINALLY…post that bad boy on your blog, website, myspace page and everywhere else you possibly can. Go back after 1, 3 and 6 months and search on Google. Just watch the hits come up!

Good luck. May the e-Schwartz be with you.

Oh, and to spice up this post, here's my latest free ebook:

Sticky Note Success:
25 Self-Motivating Messages to Pump Up Productivity and Stimulate Sales

What's your favorite ebook?

Share your favorite ebook with us. Post a link to it here!

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

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Sticky Note Your Way to Success, Part 3

This is the final post in this series. Read Part 1 and Part 2 first if you haven't already!

To quickly summarize, the following motivational, thought provoking questions are to be written with a big fat Sharpie on a sticky note and posted in your office, car or bathroom.

WARNING: this exercise may lead to incredible success.

1. Did you get their email address? Many marketers would agree that all businesspeople are in the “Name Accumulation” business. Whether or not you send out a newsletter, your email list of contacts is probably the most important and valuable resource you will ever own. Be sure to expand it regularly.

2. Did you listen twice as much as you talked? My dad once told me, “Scott, you have two ears and one mouth. Talk and listen proportionately.” This sticky note is a perfect way to keep your phone conversations accountable.

3. Did you look at your goals today? I don’t need to remind you how few people actually do this on a daily basis. It’s an absolute must. It takes less than five minutes. Be sure to examine both personal and professional goals.

4. Does everyone you know know what you DO? For a living, that is. What you do as a professional, for companies, for customers. Be sure your positioning statement clearly defined and posted where everyone can see it. And if a stranger asks your aunt Patty what you do for a living, ask yourself: will she do your business justice?

5. Does everyone you know know what you’re DOING? Right now, current news and projects, upcoming events. Do you have a calendar, rss feed or "upcoming events" section of your website and ezine? Are people anticipating your arrival?

6. Does everyone you know know what you’ve DONE? Past clients, past successes, whom you worked with, how you helped them. How many testimonials do you have?

7. What did you learn today? Just to be sure you’re always practicing life long learning.

8. What mistake did you learn from today? My mentor William Jenkins always said, “We learn not from our experiences, but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences.” Be sure to make mistakes often.

9. What rules did you break today? One of my goals is to break a rule every day. Nothing illegal. Nothing harmful. But by breaking rules, you are training your mind to develop an attitude of creativity, boldness and action. These small rule-breaking instances are going to accumulate and expand. Eventually, you will start thinking about the bigger picture of your career and life. The status quo. The standards. The boxes the world tries to put you in. And you will learn that Rule Breakers rule.

10. What would Grandma say? When I worked in college radio, my station manager always stressed the Grandma Rule: if you can’t say it to your Grandma, don’t say it on the air. The same rule goes for phone, email and other channels of communication. Keeping it clean never hurt anyone. Try inserting the word “Grandma” after something you’ve just said to a customer. See if it sounds acceptable.

11. Who did you refer this week? The best way to get unsolicited referrals is to give them first. Just imagine if you referred one person a week. By helping others get what they want fist, the results will come back to you tenfold.

12. Who did you WOW today? Make it your goal to delight, WOW or blow away one customer a day. After a year, that makes about 250 customers. And each of them will probably tell at least 5 other potential customers. That makes 1,250 people a year. That’s a lot of wowing.

13. Why do you love your job? A lot of audience members ask me if I love my job. My response is, “You couldn’t pay me NOT to do this job! And the day I no longer love it, I’ll quit.” So, keep looking at this reminder on a daily basis. And if you get to a point where you can’t answer it, perhaps it’s time to rethink your job situation.

14. Would you write that on the front page of The New York Times? This is an old technique. I’ve read about it in various business books over the years. Similar to the Grandma Rule, it keeps you moderately clean. What’s more, this powerful visualization technique helps you think big. Interestingly, 10 years ago it wasn’t as relevant. But not, it’s absolutely possible. One thought posted on the web from your living room could instantly be seen by millions of people across the world. Potentially, you’re only one blog post away from the front pages of the Times. Careful what you write. The Internet is forever.

15. Who did you meet today? In order to exponentially increase your activity level, setting an Encounter Quota is a great technique. Decide how many new people you’d like to meet every day (or week) and hold yourself accountable. After all, if people buy people first; and if people do business with their friends; and if people only do business with you because they’ve heard you, heard of you, or someone they trust has heard of you, doesn’t it just make sense to make friends with everybody?

16. Who did you give your business card to today? Similar to the last example. Consider setting a Card Quota. Even if it’s dropped in a sub shop bowl, stuck on a bulletin board or left on the counter, or given to someone in person, this stuff works. Especially if your card is cool. Of course, if your card isn’t cool, get a new card before you try this quota thing.

How do you self-motivate?

Post your 3 best sticky-note success statements here!

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

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

(my version of) The 90/10 Rule

I was listening to Yoko Ono’s show on Satellite Radio yesterday.

She’s actually not a bad DJ. Great taste in music, peaceful speaking voice, and of course, insightful comments between songs.

Right after playing Ray Lamontagne’s title track from Trouble (FYI, best album put out by ANY artist in the past five years) she quoted Nietzsche:

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

MAN. That’s GOT to be the most powerful quotation I’ve heard in a long time.

Kind of got me thinking about (my version of) The 90/10 Rule, aka, “You can’t please everybody.”

Especially when you have new ideas.

Because undoubtedly, about 90% of the people you encounter are going to agree with your ideas, your personality, your philosophies and your work. And the remaining 10% are going to think you suck.

The challenge is that most people get so hung up on the 10 that they forget all about the 90.

BIG mistake.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: I used to waste my time with speaker evaluations. (Gosh, what a waste of paper.) And even when the audience response was overwhelmingly positive, even when I’d give the best presentation of my life, there was always someone just WAITING to be offended.

So I’d get hung up on that one person. And he’d drive me CRAZY! Which meant I allowed the minor negatives overshadow the major positives.

Look. You can’t allow that to happen to you. You’re stronger than that.

You need to forget about the 10 and focus on the 90.

And this isn’t about giving speeches, either.

This is about something bigger. This is about life. This is about dealing with The Haters. This is about having the courage to look someone in the eye and say, “You know what? If you don’t like me, that’s cool. But don’t expect me to waste any time and energy trying to change your mind.”

Just keep dancing. If they can’t hear the music, screw ‘em. Their loss.

1. Don’t try to convert the atheists.
2. Unless the majority says you suck, you probably didn’t suck.
3. Screw the 10. Stick with the 90.

What's your version of the 90/10 Rule?

Post it here!

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

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Insane Author Flashes Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Today's article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review proves (once again) that I am, in fact, insane:

PITTSBURGH - There have been a lot of changes in the last 2,288 days of Scott Ginsburg's life -- from the constant need to buy shirts to a change in his attitude.

"I've always been a pretty friendly, outgoing guy. Now that I'm always wearing a name tag, I'm even friendlier," said Ginsburg, 26, of St. Louis. "Plus, I've had to buy a ton of shirts. I never realized what a name tag can do to your clothing."

Ginsburg, commonly known as "That Guy with the Nametag," was the featured speaker at Tuesday's International Networking Day event at the Hilton Pittsburgh and Towers, Downtown. He's worn a name tag daily since Nov. 2, 2000, and has built his life around the idea of always being approachable.

Deanna Tucci Schmitt, executive director of Business Network International of Western Pennsylvania, said Ginsburg's idea of approachability is the crux of what networking is about, something she realized after hearing a presentation by Ginsburg last fall.

She said people often don't know how to approach networking in a way that doesn't alienate others. What people should do, Schmitt said, is take a cue from Ginsburg and be friendly and open, and find common ground to break the ice.

"He took this silly little thing of wearing a name tag and has applied it in a global way everywhere else in his life," Schmitt said. "He must be the most approachable guy I've ever met."

Ginsburg wants people to market themselves, something he does convincingly. In the six years he's been wearing a name tag full-time, Ginsburg, the author of three books on networking and approachability, estimates he has met 100,000 strangers. Some have become close friends, others have become clients and many he's never seen again. Ginsburg even took wearing a name tag to a new level when, in November 2005, he had one tattooed on his chest.

"It really wasn't practical to wear a name tag in some situations. It starts to look like a scene from 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin,' " Ginsburg said. "I figured, what better way to solidify my commitment to this as my life than to desecrate my body."

Mary McKinley, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University and director of its Chrysler Corporation Small Business Development Center, said Ginsburg has the right idea. Approachability, she said, is something many people don't think about. But it can affect that ever-so-important first impression.

"You only have about 30 seconds to make an impression on someone," McKinley said. "And a lot can be said in those 30 seconds."

Ginsburg said his philosophy can work in any aspect of life, whether people are looking to enhance their business or their personal lives.

"You want to take every one of the opportunities you get to engage a person, no matter what the setting. Broadcast your uniqueness," Ginsburg said. "It's about being 'that guy' and being known for something. Who knows what's going to happen, or how it will turn out. But you have to try."

Ever had a steak cooked Pittsburgh Style?

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

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The World is a Mirror, Part 20

I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
M is for MUNDANE
Q is for QUICK
S is for Service
T is for Time

Wanna know something weird?

Wearing a nametag all the time actually gets me better service.

In restaurants, bars, clubs, airplanes and hotels, I seem to get treated better than the average customer.

And I don’t even DO anything to deserve it!

I’m still not exactly sure why this happens. But after seven years of observations, here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Reciprocity. Friendliness is contagious. That’s why it’s hard to give excellent service to someone who’s in a terrible mood. Of course, it works both ways, too. Thinking back to my days as a bartender, I remember purposely giving better service to patrons who were friendly. It’s just human nature.

Here’s the irony: after seven years of wearing a nametag to make OTHER people friendlier, I’ve actually become friendlier myself. “You cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening your own,” as the proverb states. So, since I started wearing a nametag 24-7, my increased friendliness has led to enhanced service.

2. Familiarity. Think Norm from Cheers. He was the epitome of a “regular.” A “regular” is someone whom the staff 1) remembers, and 2) sees often. So wearing a nametag all the time expedites my regular status. Whereas it might take the average customer five or six visits to a coffee shop before the staff recognizes him, my nametag speeds up the familiarity to about two or three visits. In the midst of hundreds of customers a day, I’m just easier to remember.

EXAMPLE: I went into my bank the other day to correct a mistake. During my ATM transaction, I accidentally withdrew $34,000 instead of $3,400. Woops! Usually, there’s nothing you can do about such an error. But when I came to the counter, Holly, the manager, told me not to worry about the accidental overdraft. “Don’t worry, Scott - I know you! I’ll run back and change the withdrawal amount so you’re not charged an overdraft fee.” Sweet.

3. Name. Several years ago, Starbucks began writing the names of their customers on the cups. My guess is, they did this for a few reasons. First, to organize the drinks on the counter so the barista wouldn’t get flustered. Secondly, to use the customer’s name in the transaction. Thirdly, to learn the names of the customers for future reference.

Now, since a person’s name is the single context of human memory most forgotten (says Freud, at least) wearing a nametag every day actually makes the barista’s job easier. Hence, better service.

4. Social Distance. The greatest power of a name is that it reduces the distance between people. Physically AND emotionally. See, when you know someone’s name, you’re immediately closer to that person. For example, let’s say (for some strange reason) you were in the mood to punch someone in the face. You came across two strangers who were similar in appearance, but noticed one of them was wearing a nametag that read, “Randy.” Which person are you more likely to punch in the face?

I know this example is completely ridiculous. (Then again, over the years I’ve had dozens of people try to beat me up for wearing a nametag, so perhaps my Ridiculous Meter is a bit skewed.) ANY way, the point I’m trying to make is: it’s easier to offer bad service to someone you don’t know. And conversely, it’s easier to offer good service to someone you DO know.

Ultimately, my goal in sharing these observations is NOT to offer tips on how to get better service.

I just think it’s interesting to switch the roles for once.

See, companies are obsessed with finding ways to provide better customer service. But they tend to focus on the characteristics of the staff, not the customers themselves.

Maybe a counterintuitive approach is necessary.

Maybe companies should FIRST consider the customer who already gets better service, see WHY that happens to him, and THEN apply those principles back to their staff.

Just an idea.

(FYI, this week happens to be the exception to this rule. My flight was cancelled, I got re-routed to Charlotte, rented an unneccesarily large SUV for $619 because that's all they had left, drove all the way to Spartanburg and STILL didn't get my luggage. Special thanks to the Kohl's on Main Street for actually having stylish, affordable clothes that fit so I didn't have to give my speech in cargo pants and a t-shirt. God I love Kohls.)

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

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Make music, not noise

Think of the most horrible sound imaginable.

Maybe it’s fingers on a chalkboard.

Maybe it’s a baby screaming in pain.

Maybe it’s someone choking on a piece of broccoli.

Maybe it’s turning over the ignition on your car when it’s already started.

Yecch! Makes your skin crawl, huh?

Exactly. That’s the effect noise has on people.

Now think of the most beautiful music imaginable.

Maybe it’s a song from an opera.
Maybe it’s one of Mozart’s symphonies.
Maybe it’s an ambient mix of keyboards and organs.
Maybe it’s that first song you slow-danced to at your wedding.

Ahhhhhhhh. Puts your soul at ease, doesn’t it?

Of course. That’s the effect music has on people.


The majority of the marketing out there isn’t music.

It’s noise.

And customers are tired of it.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: When you were watching Tivo last night, you just skipped right through those annoying commercials, didn’t you?

ANOTHER EXAMPLE: I took a flight on US Airways from Phoenix to St. Louis a few weeks back. When my delicious, hearty meal was delivered to my seat (by which I mean a cookie), I opened the tray table only to find the entire surface was covered with a colorful advertisement!

On my tray table!

I don’t even remember what product it was for. I think a home stereo or something. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get that ad out of my face.

Because it was just more noise.

FINAL EXAMPLE: I went downtown to the auto show last weekend. Lots of noise: banner ads, booths, tables, demonstrations, emcees giving short speeches about the features of the cars, all that stuff. Sensory overload. To the point of exhausting.

But then I saw something cool. Something musical.

A woman who worked for Chevy stood by a bright red ’07 Corvette. She had a digital camera on a tripod. And sitting in the driver’s seat was an eight-year old boy wearing a smile so big you could see it from the suburbs.

“One…two…three… (CLICK) …and verrrry nice!” She said.

The boy leaped out of the Corvette and ran over to the girl.

“Thanks buddy! Now when you get home, go to, login using the key code on your card, and you’ll be able to download this picture!”

"Cool! Thanks Corvette lady!" he said.

It was like music to that kid’s ears.

LESSON LEARNED: make music, not noise. (Read a similar post about interruption vs. interaction marketing here.)

Does your marketing create MUSIC or NOISE?

Post your best three example of marketing with music, not noise.

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

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Friday, February 02, 2007

SSTOP! How to Approach Complaining Customers

Let’s say a customer comes to you with a complaint.

Maybe in person, via email or over the phone.

What’s the best approach?

It’s simple: SSTOP!

No, that wasn’t a typo. You read it right: SSTOP. And it represents a five-step process for approaching problems, diffusing anger, changing minds and winning the customer back. Let’s take a look.

S is for SURPRISE.

Psychologically, if you respond to a problem, complaint or accusation with surprise, three things happen. First, you begin to diffuse anger. Secondly, your reactive response comes off as natural and sincere. Lastly, the customer is more willing to forgive you.


Really is one of the most versatile words in the English language. It exudes both concern and curiosity. And based on the severity of the problem, changing the inflection of your voice indicates numerous emotions. For example, stop reading right now. Try saying the word really two times: first with a low pitch and second with a high pitch.

Two totally different meanings, right?

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really?”

OK. Great job. You’ve immediately displayed concern for the problem. Let’s move on to step two.

S is for SORRY.

Customers don’t want apologies, they want solutions. Still, saying you’re sorry never hurts. You still need to take ownership of the problem. And an effective technique for doing so is to combine “Sorry” with its polar opposite: thank you.


CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me.”

Good. You’ve showed surprise. You’ve thanked the customer. Now Miss Jackson is reassured that you’re on top of the problem. Let’s continue on.

T is for THAT’S.

Step three is absolutely crucial. This is where you ensure the customer that her problem isn’t normal. That it’s an anomaly. And whatever happened to her is inconsistent with the type of service your company traditionally provides.

PHRASES THAT PAYSES: “That’s not normal,” “That’s horrible!” “That’s strange,” or, if possible, “In all the years I’ve been working here, that’s never happened!”

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me. You know, that’s not normal at my hotel.”

Excellent! You’ve showed surprise, thanked her, even taken ownership and reassured Miss Jackson that her problem isn’t the standard of service. Now it’s time to win her back.

O is for OFFERING.

When I worked at the Ritz-Carlton, every employee was empowered up to $2000.

It was pretty amazing.

If a guest was so upset that an apology wouldn’t even scratch the surface, we had the power to offer them a free night (or weekend!) stay at our hotel. Sometimes the guest would be SO delighted at the offering, they’d actually come out better than if there hadn’t been a problem in the first place! (This is known as the Customer Recovery Paradox.)

PHRAES THAT PAYSES: Combine one of the following reassurance responders with your offering, “The best way for me to help you right now,” “Here’s what I can do,” (or if you want to have some fun), “You’re in luck!” “Well, I have good news for you!” “Today’s your lucky day!” or “Fortunately I work miracles!”

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me. You know, that’s not normal at my hotel. Fortunately, I work miracles!”

Perfect. You’re almost done SSTOPing this problem!

P is for PROMISE.

The three most beautiful words of Approachable Service are PERSONALLY and RIGHT AWAY. Not someone else. Not your boss. YOU. And not “as soon as I can.” Not “as soon as possible.” RIGHT AWAY. As in, I promise to take care of this problem now.

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me. You know, that’s not normal at my hotel. Fortunately, I work miracles! And I will personally get you a new room right away.”

CUSTOMER: “Wow! Thanks for taking care of this problem quickly. That’s why I love this hotel. In fact, I am going to recommend that you be promoted to General Manager.”

Wow, GM? Look at you! Well done.

OK. Let’s do a quick review of SSTOP:

SURPRISE – respond as if the problem is news to you.
SORY – apology PLUS thank you.
THAT'S – inconsistent with your service.
OFFERING – to win them back.
PROMISE – to do it personally and right away.

Next time you need to approach a disappointed customer, remember these five steps, and you’ll be sure to SSTOP the problem!

What's your approach to SSTOP customer complaints?

Share it with us!

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

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