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Friday, August 31, 2007

Why I love trashcans

A few months ago I was giving a speech to a group of hotel employees in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I told them about the first day I started wearing a nametag (November 2, 2000)...

On that day, I exited an on-campus seminar and noticed everyone throwing their nametags away.

So, I decided to leave mine on, just as an experiment.

And for ONE day, the response was so overwhelming positive, that I decided to leave my nametag on permanently!


As you can see, it ended up working out pretty well. I somehow managed to make an entire career out it!

That was 2,494 days ago.

Anyway, after the training session was over, a young guy approached me and chuckled, “Dude, isn’t it crazy to think that your entire career came from something you saw in a trashcan?”

Huh. Never really thought of it like that.

Which is kind of funny.

I guess some people look into a trashcan and see trash.

While other people look into a trashcan and see opportunity.

What about you?

When you look at the world...

Do you see garbage?
Or do you see gold?

Do you see waste?
Or do you see wealth?

Do you see junk?
Or do you see joy?

The choice is yours. The attitude is yours.

After all, choice and attitude are about the only things in this world you can really control.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
When you see people, what do you see?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your best story of "seeing the opportunity in the trashcan."

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Credit will find you

DID YOU KNOW…
That Einstein’s Theory of Relativity sat in his mind (and his notebook) for ten years before it saw the light of day?

DID YOU KNOW…
That Marcian Hoff’s Intel processor took about eighteen years to come to fruition?

DID YOU KNOW…
That Gordon Gould, the inventor of the laser, waited twenty-seven years before collecting ANY royalties on his patent?

DID YOU KNOW…
That Bob Gundlach’s groundbreaking xerography technology didn’t hit the market until eleven years after the idea was conceived?

LESSON LEARNED: credit will find you.

Which explains why so many artists, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs tend to be as patient as they are creative.

It comes with the territory.

After all, fortune doesn’t favor the fidgety.

However.

Credit doesn’t happen “just like that.”

See, credit will find you IF:

o Your material is brilliant and unique and cool and uses a creative, new approach.
o You’re constantly working hard, smart AND long.
o You’re committed and consistent.

I think Bob Gundlach (the Xerox machine guy) puts it into perspective pretty well:

“Yes, it took over a decade before my product hit the market; but it’s gratifying to know that three billion images a day are now made by my process.”

Stick it out. Experience The Dip. Patience pays off.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you in it for the long haul?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Buy Seth's new book The Dip: short, sweet, life-changing.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ball in Their Court Questioning

PICTURE THIS: you’re chatting with someone you just met.

During a conversational lull, you ask the default question, “So Mike, what do YOU do?”

And all of the sudden, his posture weakens. His eyes avert. And his smile fades.

“Actually, um, I’ve been out of work for the past 8 months, so…”

“Oh.”

Well, good thing I brought THAT up! you think.

A few minutes later on your way to the hardware store to purchase a crowbar to pry your foot out of your mouth, something occurs to you.

You made assumptions.

That Mike had a job.
That Mike was defined by his work.
That Mike had a career he enjoyed talking about.

None of which were true.

And as a result, your connection was botched.

SO, THAT’S THE CHALLENGE: avoiding assumptive language.

Being curious, not judgmental.

And your job as an approachable communicator is to ask questions that are specific, yet STILL give someone permission to direct the conversation in manner that makes him most comfortable.

Because your NUMBER ONE GOAL in every conversation is to make the other person feel comfortable as soon as possible.

An effective tool you can use is called Ball in Their Court Questioning.

For example:

Instead of saying, “What do you do?”
You could say, “What keeps you busy all week?”

Instead of saying, “What’s your job there?”
You could say, “What’s your role there?”

Instead of saying, “Did you get hired yet?”
You could say, “What kind of progress have you been making on the job hunt?”

Instead of saying, “Are you actually making a living at this?”
You could say, “How are you moving forward towards your goals?

Ball in Their Court Questioning. (BTCQ, for short.)

And BTCQ is more than just asking open-ended questions.

IT’S ABOUT PERMISSION...
For someone to engage comfortably with you about topics important to them.

IT’S ABOUT PREVENTION...
From you looking like an idiot, and from the other person feeling embarrassed.

IT’S ABOUT POSITIVITY...
Framing your conversation with a positive, goal-oriented tone.

And ultimately, when you make these minor changes in your verbiage, you create MAJOR results in your conversations.

So, next time you meet someone new; transform assumptive language into approachable language.

And you’ll never need to use that crowbar again.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How long have you been working in the People Business?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your additional thoughts on the nature of this "industry."

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Monday, August 27, 2007

On working in the people business

It doesn’t matter what you sell.
It doesn’t matter what you create.
It doesn’t matter what your job title says.
It doesn’t matter what service you provide.

You work in the People Business.

As such, it’s important to remember several things:



1. People buy people first.

2. People like to do business with their friends.

3. People don’t trust companies; they trust people.

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

5. People only do business with you for three reasons: they’ve heard you, they’ve heard OF you, or someone they TRUST has heard of you,

6. When people like each other, the rules change. (Jim Henderson)

7. The only thing people can judge you on: how engaging with you makes them feel. (Seth Godin)

8. The more we meet and interact with people, the more likely we are to become friends with them.

9. People either check you on or check you off.

10. The more shopper-employee contacts that take place, the greater the average sale. (Paco Underhill)

11. People don’t give to causes; they give to people.

12. People don’t want to hire consultants, speakers, trainers or recruiters. They want to hire smart, cool people who happen to consult. Or speak. Or train. Or recruit. Or whatever. So be smarter and cooler.

13. Which means: lead with your person; follow with your profession. Values before vocation. Individuality before industry. Humanity before statistics. Personality before position.

14. AND REMEMBER: if they like you as a person, they MIGHT hire you. But if they don’t like you as a person, they DEFINITELY won’t hire you.

And last but not least, the summation of the first 14 points:

15. Friendly always wins.

So…

It doesn’t matter what you sell.
It doesn’t matter what you create.
It doesn’t matter what your job title says.
It doesn’t matter what service you provide.

You work in the People Business.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How long have you been working in the People Business?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your additional thoughts on the nature of this "industry."

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Sunday, August 26, 2007

23 (more) ways to speed up your learning curve

It doesn’t matter how young you are.

It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are.

You can still learn a LOT at a young age.

Because, as Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the years; it’s the mileage.”

If you want to rack up your “Melon Mileage,” consider these 23 ideas. I’ve been living and working by them for years:

1. Read lots of books. Highlight, underline, take notes and annotate. When you’re done, recopy those notes onto a Word file. Then save them in a folder called “Book Notes.” Refer back to them regularly. And never loan those books to anybody. Start with one book per week.

2. Google everything. Ideas, people, YOURSELF, information, companies, competitors, trends and the like. Do it daily.

3. Ask smart people smart questions. In person, via email, online and ESPECIALLY when you’re in the audience during a speech. Have a handful of smart, open-ended toughies ready to go for any occasion. My favorite example: “What was the biggest mistake you made in your first year of business?”

4. Take notes. Listen closely to (and write down) those smart people’s answers. Keep those ideas in a separate folder called “People Notes.” Refer back to them regularly.

5. Screw up. Big time and small time. Keep a running list called, “Things I’ll Never Do Again.” Consider partnering up for this exercise. Regularly share your list with a safe, accountable person.

6. Daily appointments with yourself
. Take this morning time for reflection, journaling, meditation and thinking. This quiet time will help you listen to your intuition, which will enable you to learn more about yourself. Do it for at least 15 minutes, and do it ever-single-day.

7. Be uncomfortable. Understand, step out of, expand and LOVE your comfort zone. Daily. Because you can’t learn when you’re comfortable. Also, ask yourself, “What three situations make me the most uncomfortable?” Make it your goal to intentionally involve yourself in ONE of those situations over the next 30 days. (As long as it’s safe, legal and appropriate.)

8. WRITE. Chronicle, journal, blog, diary, (whatever … just WRITE) your thoughts, experiences, feelings, emotions, philosophies and concerns. Daily.

9. Just do stuff.
Don’t talk about it. Don’t plan. Don’t take lessons. Just go. The best way to learn how to do something is to DO that something. Action is eloquence.

10. Make lots of lists. Best creativity tool EVER.

11. Eclectic education. Once a month, go to Borders. Buy a cup of coffee or a brownie. Spend an hour or two reading every magazine on the rack. Especially ones you wouldn’t normally read, i.e., Tiger Beat.

12. Hang with super smart, cool and creative people. Ask yourself, “How smart are the five people I spend the most time with?”

13. Find out where you suck. Because that’s the only way you’re going to get better.

14. Learn how you learn
. Visual? Aural? Kinesthetic? Take a personality assessment if you have to. Anything to identify your learning style. This will help you better educate yourself in the future.

15. Mentors.
Three types. Directly, through an official program like SCORE. Casual, with a colleague, friend or advisor. And indirectly, via books, audiotapes and online content. Mentors are GOLD. And don’t forget to take lots of notes!

16. Motivate your melon. How many books on creativity did you read last month? How many courses in creativity did you take last year? Train your brain. Daily.

17. Grill yourself. Pretend you’re on an interview. Ask yourself tricky questions like, “Who can hurt me the most?” and “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?” REMEMBER: questions are the basis of all learning.

18. Bedtime Brain Boosting
. Keep a stack of index cards and a Sharpie next to your bed. Every night before you hit the hay, think of ONE lesson you learned that day. Jot down a few words on the card. Keep them in a pile. Then, once a month, lie in bed with all your lesson cards. Take a few minutes to review everything you’ve learned.

19. Quotations. Any time you hear a great quotation, movie line, proverb, psalm or old saying, write it down. Keep a running list called “Quotations” and file it in a folder next to your “Book Notes” and “People Notes.”

20. Teach. Other that writing, teaching is probably the best way to learn. Share your notes, ideas and lessons learned with others. When you pass your wisdom on, you learn it better yourself. Teach via writing, blogging, speaking, talking or mentoring.

21. Talk. Conversations are laboratories. People are libraries. So, exponentially increate your activity level. Especially with diverse individuals. And maintain an expectation that you will learn at least ONE thing from every person you encounter.

22. Unlearn. Make a list of ten childhood assumptions taught by your parents, teachers and faith leaders … that ended up being totally bogus. Use affirmations and self-talk to reprogram yourself. REMEMBER: part of learning is also UN-learning.

23. Extract. Lessons from others, that is. For example, any time someone tells a story, follow up by asking, “So, what lessons did you learn from that experience?”

Now.

You probably noticed a few commonalities among the items on that list.

Namely, “writing” and “daily.”

Guilty.

That’s because writing is the basis of all wealth. (Gitomer)

And that’s because you can’t change your life until you change something you do daily. (Maxwell)

SO REMEMBER:

It doesn’t matter how young you are.
It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are.

All that matters is that you’re willing to learn.

And if you follow even a handful of these suggestions, in no time you’ll start hearing people say, “How did you learn so much at such a young age?”

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How did YOU learn so much?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your list of secrets here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Things I Don't Understand, Pt. 1

Usually, Hertz is great.

But not yesterday.

I approached the counter, said hello, and asked for a car.

“Do you have a reservation?” asked the desk agent.

“Actually, this is totally last minute. So, no,” I replied.

She checked her computer.

And with a Bill Murray-like deadpan, she said, “We don’t have any cars.”

Say what?

“You … don’t have ANY cars?” I asked.

“No. I’m sorry Sir.”

I tilted my head like a dog that didn’t realize he was being scolded.

“But … you’re a CAR rental company!” I said. “That’s like, what you DO.”

“Yeah, but we’re all sold out this weekend.”

“Oh.”

“But … you’re a CAR rental company!” I joked.

“I know, I know,” she chuckled, “but there’s nothing I can do.”

Wow.

So, let me get this straight:

Your company rents cars to travelers. That’s it. You have one product: cars.

And you’re completely sold out.

THAT, I just don’t understand.

Frustrated (but mainly confused) I thanked them for their time.

Luggage in hand, I slid down to the next counter: Dollar.

“Hi!” I smiled.

“Good afternoon, Scott!” the desk agent greeted.

“So, I know this might sound like a silly question … but do you guys have any cars?”

“You’re in luck!” she cheered. “Let me see what we have here…”

Ten minutes later, I buckled the seatbelt of my shiny red Nissan and headed off to my hotel.

And that was it. That’s how easy it was for Dollar to 180 me.

1. She offered a friendly greeting.
2. She used a Reassurance Responder, i.e., “You’re in luck!”
3. She sold me the (one and only) product her company offered: a car.

Now. I admit that not having a reservation for Hertz was my fault. And I can certainly understand that priority goes to the customers who plan in advance.

But.

Shit happens. People forget things. And companies need to have backup plans installed into their systems so they don’t lose customers.

For example:

1. Maybe Hertz could maintain a small fleet of “Emergency Cars,” just in case they run out.

2. Maybe Hertz could partner with a local car dealership as a preventative measure.

3. Maybe Hertz could, um, stock more cars.

I don’t know. My knowledge of the Rental Industry is limited. These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.

THE POINT IS: will I ever use Hertz again? Probably. I’ve never had a problem with them up until today. And I’m an extremely forgiving person. Not to mention, an extremely loyal customer.

Because that’s how I roll.

Still.

Because of Hertz’s inability to provide the ONE product they offered:

1. I spent a few hundred bucks with Dollar. So, there’s that.
2. I told this story to a few hundred people at a recent speech. So there’s that.
3. I also wrote this entire article based on how Hertz messed up, and posted it on my blog for (potentially) millions of people to see.

So there’s that.

It’s like my dad always reminds me: “You can’t sell from an empty wagon.”

I mean, isn’t being sold out of your ONE and ONLY product, like, really, really dangerous?

Because if you only have one product to sell...

And you don’t have any of those products to sell…

And you work in a commodity-based, lead-with-price industry with no discernible differences between competitors…


Then customers will have no problem sliding down to the next counter.

But maybe it’s just me.

Maybe this is something I just don’t understand.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What’s one thing YOU don't understand?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your confusion here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Friday, August 24, 2007

What’s YOUR On-Deck Donut?

Remember little league?

Of course you do.

Remember the on-deck circle?

Of course you do.

Remember the On-Deck Donut?

Wait. The what?

The On-Deck Donut was created in the 1950's. This piece of heavy rubber-like material usually weighs a few pounds. Batters swing with it during warm-up in the on-deck circle.

Its original purpose was for a hitter to swing it to loosen and strengthen up. He would then take it off and the bat would magically feel lighter.

This is also known as “deceleration training.”

Interestingly, baseball magazines and message boards support an entire science around these donuts.

According Tim Nolan, creator of the Procut Hitting System, On-Deck Donuts serve several purposes:

o To build arm muscle strength
o To increase bat speed (up to 8 mph)
o To psychologically “quicken” the batter’s swing
o To make the chances of getting a big hit greater
o To increase the amount of power put into the swing
o To make the player’s bat feel lighter during the game
o To release pent-up tension in their arms and shoulders
o To condition muscles to react faster and exert force quickly

So, it’s way more than just a piece of rubber.

It’s a tool.
It’s a ritual.
It’s an essential practice for performance improvement.

HERE’S THE THING: whether or not you actually play baseball, you can still warm up your PROFESSIONAL performance with an On-Deck Donut of your own.

Stay with me here…

Let’s say you just started your new job as account executive.

And you’ve been assigned the client from HELL.

They’re high maintenance, impossible to get a hold of, and worst of all, impatient.

So, during the whole project, you’re thinking, “Why did I get stuck with these jerks? This is SO not worth it!”

Not so fast, Babe Ruth.

HERE’S THE PLAY: think of this pain-in-the-butt client as your On-Deck Donut.

Sure, they’re a little heavier and harder than what you’re going to face in the future.

But that’s good! Because:

You’re quickening your thinking.
You’re strengthening your patience.
You’re conditioning your mental muscles.

AND THE BEST PART: every other client from here on will seem easier to deal with.

Because you’ve already warmed up, prepped your body and psyched your mind.

THAT is how winners play. THAT is how homeruns are hit.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What’s YOUR On-Deck Donut?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Think back to the worst client you ever had. Consider how that experience paved the way for future business.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Focus, focus, focus, focus, focus!

You’re self-employed.
You work out of your living room.
You have no boss, no staff and no rules.

How the heck are you supposed to stay focused?

HERE’S A HINT: start mentally.

Every single morning, take between 15-60 minutes for a “Daily Appointment with Yourself.”

Read, write, relax, breathe, meditate, recite affirmations, and review your goals.

Flood your mind with creative, nurturing thoughts and images that will tap into your intuition and lay a foundation of positivity and focus for the rest of the day.

HERE’S ANOTHER HINT: continue physically.

Regular exercise (at least thirty minutes EVERY day) is crucial for mental focus. The release of endorphins saturates your mind and body with the right thoughts.

What’s more, sweating cleanses your mind and body of the wrong thoughts. Rhythmic exercise, like biking, running and swimming are ideal for focus.

However, if you don’t have much time or energy, even a ten-minute walk around the neighborhood will do the trick.

HERE’S YOUR FINAL HINT: reinforce visually.

Ever heard the phrase, “If these walls could talk”?

Well, here’s the good news: your walls DO talk!

If you allow them, that is.

A great technique for maintaining focus is to post motivational, focus driven visuals to keep you on point. Try writing a few of these questions on sticky notes or whiteboards:

1. Is what you’re doing RIGHT NOW consistent with your #1 goal?
2. What did you write today?
3. Is what you’re working on RIGHT NOW solving you major problem?

REMEMBER: focus is challenging. Especially when there’s nobody but yourself to keep you accountable!

Still, there’s no one-way to maintain focus. Use your own combination of these techniques with your own learning and working style to develop a system that works for you.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What helps you focus?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your three best focusing techniques here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Deliver __________ value.

Deliver ADDITIONAL value.
Because it exceeds customers’ expectations.

Deliver BUZZ-WORTHY value.
Because people who get talked about get business.

Deliver CONSISTENT value.
Because consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.

Deliver DAILY value.
Because nobody wants to read a newspaper (or a website) that’s two years old.

Deliver DOWNLOADABLE value.
Because customers need to be able to take you with them.

Deliver UNEXPECTED value.
Because the most effective way to capture someone’s attention is to b-r-e-a-k her patterns.

Deliver FOCUSED value.
Because niches = riches.

Deliver LOCAL value.
Because everybody loves a homeboy.

Deliver MAXIMUM value.
Because … well, just because.

Deliver ONLINE value.
Because if you don’t exist on the Internet, you don’t exist.

Deliver PREDICTABLE value.
Because predictability creates familiarity, which creates trust.

Deliver SOLID value.
Because content is king.

Deliver SPECIFIC value.
Because credibility comes from specificity.

Deliver UNARGUABLE value.
Because customers can’t object to it.

Deliver UNFORGETTABLE value.
Because being “memorable” isn’t enough.

Deliver UNIQUE value.
Because being “different” merely means to stand out, while being “unique” means to be THE-ONLY-ONE.

Deliver UNMATCHED value.
Because the best way to eliminate the competition is to (not) have any.

Deliver WEEKLY value.
Because branding is about repeated impressions.

Deliver WORLD-CLASS value.
Because, as Seth Godin says, being average is for losers. Be exceptional or quit.

Deliver WRITTEN value.
Because writing is the basis of all wealth.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What types of value do you deliver?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Consider this post a checklist. Ask yourself how well you deliver each of these types of value.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

10 Critical Components of Creative Environments

Creative professionals MUST exist in a creative environment.

Here’s why:

1. A creative environment provides stimulation.
2. Stimulation creates, expands and refines ideas.
3. Ideas are your major source of income.

Not to mention, the place where you spend the majority of your time needs to be enjoyable!

If you’re looking to motivate your melon, here are 10 Critical Components of Creative Environments:

1. Appeal to your eyes. Multi-sensory stimuli stimulate more ideas. Cover your walls with beautiful art. Include visual representations of your goals, ideas, motivational words on sticky notes, past work you’re proud of, fan mail and other positive images. Blank walls are the enemy!

2. Appeal to your ears. Crank some tunes. Set the ambiance of your room or studio with the right music. Consider creating your own playlist or mix for certain times during the day, projects or moods. Music sets moods.

3. Appeal to your nose. Light candles, incense or other pleasant smelling tools. Smells, fragrance and aromas also have a direct influence on mood. Follow your nose!

4. Appeal to your mouth. Just as long as it isn’t pure sugar or starch. Stick with protein. And don’t eat too much of it, either. Creativity expert Doug Hall says, “When the body is stuffed with grub, your body is spending too much time and energy processing food and your brain in shortchanged.” Carbs are the enemy.

5. Colors. Use pink and orange sticky notes. Buy the Sharpie 36 pack. Collect ideas and information on multi-colored note cards. Colors stimulate creativity.

6. (Dis) Order. It doesn’t have to be spotless, but sometimes disorder can be helpful. Be chaotically tidy.

7. Lose the clocks. Don’t let time impose limits on your creativity. Make it easy to get lost in your ideas. Get lost in your art.

8. Insulation. No, you don’t need to soundproof your walls. But try to avoid working near distracting noise. Wear headphones all day if you have to do! Just be sure you can easily get into your zone. Get lost in your art ... seriously.

9. Natural Beauty. Be sure you have quick access to some sort of natural beauty, be it plant life or sunshine. Mother nature is a great artist companion!

10. Toys. Or, anything you can play with on your break to motivate your melon.

NOTE: if you’re not one to be cooped up in a studio or office all day, no worries!

You just need to figure out where your brain thrives.

Make a list of five alternate environments for your creative success. Perhaps your art is more conducive to the park, the bus station or sitting in a public square. If so, great! Experiment by displacing yourself regularly.

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to a few options, visit them regularly. Learn to incorporate various components of creative stimulation into your “portable creative environment.”

That way you can thrive anywhere!

Whatever type of creative environment you choose to create, remember one thing: make it yours.

Customize your surroundings to best fit your learning style, creative abilities and work schedule.

And you WILL motivate your melon!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's your ideal creative environment?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Interview five other creative professionals like yourself. Find out how they motivate their melons!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Be UN-

Be UN avoidable.
So customers can’t (not) take a picture of your store.
So customers can’t (not) walk into your store.

Be UN competable.
So you’re the only one who does what you do.
So you’re not only ON your customer’s list, you ARE your customer’s list.



Be UN confusable.
So you’re a category of one.
So you’re the origin, not the echo.

Be UN defeatable.
So you keep showing up.
So you prove your persistence.

Be UN disputable.
So you become THEE, not A.
So you become the obvious choice.

Be UN forgettable.
So your service goes beyond just being “memorable.”
So you stay in customers’ minds forever.

Be UN ique.
So you’re not just “different.”
So you’re somebody who reminds everybody of nobody else.

Be UN predictable.
So you break customers’ patterns.
So you gain customers’ attention.

Be UN stealable.
So if somebody tried to copy you or steal your material, they would fail.
So if somebody tried to copy you or steal your material, people would know.

Be UN stoppable.
So you’re not just another One Hit Wonder.
So you’re constantly expanding your body of work and reinforcing your legacy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's your UN-?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Make a list of as many UN's as you can for your business.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Approachability 2.0

CustomInk is the web's most advanced virtual store for custom decorated merchandise.

Customers are empowered to design and order customized apparel, drink ware and novelties for their businesses, teams, groups and events with greater ease, speed and value than ever before.

BUT WAIT, IT GETS BETTER: they understand Approachability 2.0 better than most Fortune 500 companies.

For example: On their Ink of the Week Blog, each week they award a $100 voucher to the CustomInk customer with the photo showing the most group spirit!

First, customers submit their photo to enter the contest.

Then, blog visitors pick the week's competition winner by clicking and rating their favorite photos!

Coolest thing ever done by a t-shirt company in the history of t-shirt companies!

See, CustomInk gets it. Their Approachability 2.0 idea WINS because:

1. It’s fun.
2. It’s cool.
3. It participative.
4. It’s emotional.
5. It cultivates fans, not customers.
6. It spreads word of mouth.
7. NOBODY else does this.
8. It builds community.
9. It shows and proves instead of just telling and selling.
10. It’s the best testimonial in the world.
11. It shows the benefit of the benefit of the benefit.

LESSONS LEARNED:

1. Customers need to see PICTURES of other customers using, wearing and enjoying your products.
2. It’s 2007. Get a blog.
3. Approachable always wins.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Why aren't you blogging yet?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Start a blog TODAY, but don't be like 50% of all bloggers in the world and abandon your blog after two months. Stick with it! It pays off. Eventually.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Always have something to give

PICTURE THIS: you plop down next to a friendly guy on the plane.

After a brief greeting, he asks about your work.

“I’m an author,” you say.

“Cool! What kind of books?” he asks.

So you tell him. And he becomes very excited. Obviously, he’s a perfect reader for you.

“Wow, that sounds great,” he replies. “My entire office needs to read your book! You wouldn’t happen to have an extra copy in your bag, would you?”

“Oh, uh … no. Sorry,” you say. “But I’m sure your local Borders has it in stock.”

“Oh.”

Yeah. “Oh” is right.

LESSON LEARNED: being in the right place at the right time does you no good…

Until you deliver VALUE.

That’s one of the keys to sticking yourself out there: always having something to give.

As an author, I don’t go anywhere without at least one of my books.

Because you never know whom you might meet.
You never know who might ask for one.
And you never know what business opportunities might arise by one.

Of course, this isn’t just about authors.

This is about ANY entrepreneur, artist, solo practitioner, consultant, writer, speaker, performer or musician … who wants to make a name for himself.

Always have something to give.

See, people need visuals. They need proof that you’re the real deal.

Unfortunately, first impressions don’t take very long. That’s why having something to give the perfect shortcut.

I remember a few years ago, I was chatting with a guy while waiting in line at Kinko’s. Turns out he was an up-and-coming DJ.

When I asked him if he had any of his music handy, he said, “Sure, follow me…”

We walked over to his car, he popped the trunk, and this guy had five boxes of CD’s ready to go!

“Here ya go! I always keep a few copies handy, just in case,” he laughed.

Think that guy is going to be successful?

Absolutely!

Because he’s always ready to pitch on a moment’s notice.

Because he always has something to give.

See, Strategic Serendipity is about preparation.

And if you want to make a name for yourself, consider all the potential things YOU could be ready to give!

1. Philosophy cards
2. Tip sheets
3. Demo Videos
4. Copies of your CDs
5. Copies of your books

…all of these items deliver value, support your brand and enable a conversation to go from mundane to memorable.

So whether it’s in person, on the plane or even waiting in line at Kinko’s, remember this:

Being in the right place at the right time does you no good…

Until you deliver VALUE.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Do you always have something to give?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Make a list of 10 potential freebies you could give away at a moment's notice. Try one a week.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Nametag Guy's 600th Post Spectacular!

Today is a very special day.

THIS IS MY 600th POST!

Which means I've been at this blogging thing for about five years. (If you're trying to do the math, I didn't use to post every day like I do now.)

Anyway, I can honestly say, blogging is one of the best things (if not THEE best thing) I've ever done for my business. Ever.

Why?

Well, this would be a really long post if I tried to explain all the reasons.

But I think mainly, blogging has afforded me the opportunity to create, meet, build community for and have conversations with my fans.

God, it's so weird to think that I have fans.

2,480 days ago when I slapped on my very first nametag, I NEVER could have guessed THIS would be the result.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: thank you.

THANK YOU ... to all the people who share their comments, stories and opinions on this blog. Your feedback motivates me.

THANK YOU ... to all the people who share link love on their blogs. Your WOM honors me.

THANK YOU ... to all the people who write emails, expressing their gratitude for what they've learned by reading this blog. Your letters make me smile.

THANK YOU ... to all the people who actually implemented the things they learned on this blog. Your letters make me jump up and smile!

THANK YOU ... to all the people who write me hatemail. Your (interestingly) anonymous hatred keeps me on my toes, and of course, makes me laugh.

And lastly...

THANK YOU ... to anybody who's EVER read a single post on this blog in the past five years. Your support keeps me sane. As a writer, it sucks when you stick your stuff out there, only to have nobody read it.

Therefore, I, Scott Ginsberg, hereby declare that for as long as I possibly can, I will continue to post valuable, practical and fun ideas on this blog (that you can actually apply to your businesses and lives) ... every single day.

If you're reading this post...

If you've read ANY post...

I love you.

You make getting up every morning at 5 AM worthwhile.

Here's to 600 more posts!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
When was the last time you thanked your fans?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Go on your blog right now, and do it. They deserve it.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

Read more blogs!
Rent Scott's Brain!
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Even when you say no, you're still marketing

PICTURE THIS: you get an email out the blue from a prospect.

But not just ANY prospect … the perfect customer.

Exactly the type of client you want to work with.

The good news is; they want to hire you!
The bad news is; you’re booked solid.

Looks like you’re going to have to turn down their business.

What do you do?

Well, first of all, saying no isn’t really BAD news. After all, it means...

You’re in demand.
You’re staying busy.
You’re attracting the right type of clients.

That’s a great place for any company to be!

BUT HERE’S THE CHALLENGE: how do you say no to new business … while STILL marketing?

Take a lesson from Progressive Insurance.

In 1994, Progressive became the first auto insurance company to provide its rates alongside the rates of other companies.

That way, consumers could easily compare and decide … even if they didn’t use Progressive!

I remember when their commercials first came out. EVERYBODY was talking about them.

“So, Progressive will give you the insurance rates of their competitors? That’s so cool!”

Cool, indeed.

Not what you'd expect from an insurance company, right?

Exactly. Which is precisely why that sentence became their widely recognized tagline.

Also, I snooped around online and found this great excerpt from their annual report:

“Fast. Fair. Better. That's what you can expect from Progressive. Everything we do recognizes the needs of busy consumers who are cost-conscious, increasingly savvy about insurance and ready for easy, new ways to quote, buy and manage their policies, including claims service that respects their time and reduces the trauma and inconvenience of loss.”

Wow.

Progressive LOVES and RESPECTS their customers SO MUCH, they’ll do whatever it takes to make them happy.

Even if it means forfeiting new business!

See, Progressive found a way to say no to its potential customers … while STILL maintaining (and reinforcing) brand integrity.

That’s the way the game of marketing should be played.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you just HAVE to turn new business away, remember this:

Don’t just say no and then hang up!

“Well, we’re sorry sir. Can’t help ya out today. But, we wish you good luck fishing that dead raccoon out of your chimney. Bye!”

If you were that customer, how would YOU feel?

INSTEAD, TRY THIS: create a policy, procedure or protocol for saying no. Have options or a decision tree on-hand. Find a way to STILL serve the customer, even if he’s not your customer. Position yourself as a resource, and they’ll come back next time!

THEN, TRY THIS: consider your network of colleagues to whom you’d gladly refer client overflow. Whoever you think would be a good fit, send them a heads-up email or phone call first. Then offer their name to your prospect. Finally, follow up about a week later to see if it worked out. It’s good karma.

ULTIMATELY, REMEMBER THIS: when you forfeit new business to vouch for a colleague’s credibility, your credibility will increase as well. Clients will respect your discretion, honesty and generosity. And those characteristics will stay in their mind for the next time they (or someone else) needs you.

Because, as I learned from Seth Godin, even when you say no, you’re still marketing.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Do you build marketing in your no's?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share an example of how saying NO at one point ... enabled a customer say YES at a future point.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

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Make a name for yourself here...


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

ALL YE WHO ENTER BEWARE!

You’re a creative professional.

That means you make a living off of your ideas.

SO, HERE’S THE BIG QUESTION: how do you deal with people stealing your material?

Tough issue. Has been for a long time.

Plagiarism comes from the Latin plagiare, meaning, “to kidnap.”

It’s defined as “the practice of claiming, or implying, original authorship or incorporating material from someone else's written or creative work, in whole or in part, into one's own without adequate acknowledgment." (From Wikipedia.)

Because idea piracy is such a big issue, here’s a list of seven potential solutions to deal with it:

1. Take legal action. This is an expensive, frustrating and timely pursuit. However, it could pay off in a BIG way if you win. Not to mention, become a deterrent for future offenders. HINT: ask more experienced creative professionals (or lawyers) if you have a case first.

2. Catch it early. You can’t control your online image. You can only monitor and participate IN it. That’s where Google Alerts come in handy. And if you’re tracking the right search terms, you’ll be the first to know when someone is stealing your material. Do you know every time someone is talking about you?

3. Kill ‘em with friendliness. Sometimes “stealing” and “using” isn’t the same thing. Still, it’s your job to find out. For example, last year my Google Alerts informed me that someone WAS using one of my taglines. So, I found they guy’s email, dropped him a line and cordially asked him to stop using my registered trademark. He was totally respectful and apologetic. He had no idea! So, if this happens to you, be friendly first. No need to get nasty or defensive.

4. Karma. Be honest with yourself: have YOU ever stolen someone else’s material? Just something to think about.

5. Protect thy content. On your blog or website, include a piracy notice or reprint policy. Tell visitors they are welcome to use your material if they:

a. Email you to ask for permission
b. Give you full credit with your specified BIO
c. Send you a copy or a link for the inclusion

Most people will respect this, especially if you drop Creative Commons on them.

REMEMBER: people respond to policies.

6. Validate. OK, let’s say someone DOES steal your material. Ask yourself three questions:

a. Will this person’s dishonesty, unoriginality and lack of creativity cause their execution of the idea to fizzle anyway?
b.Is this SUCH a minor incident that I shouldn’t even bother worrying about?
c. Is there really anything I can even do about it?

REMEMBER: Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” Eventually, most thieves get caught.

7. Let it go. The nature of the Internet makes it VERY easy for people to steal material. The question is: how concerned are you?

Creativity Guru Lee Silber says, “Very few people have the intent, ability, follow-through or malice to steal your ideas. Don’t let this fear hold you back. Do what you can to protect yourself and your ideas, and then go out and spread the word.”

So, this isn't about naivety, this is about reality. Is it really worth losing z's about? And is it a problem or a predicament?

Those seven approaches notwithstanding, here’s my answer to the idea-stealing issue

The best way to block a punch … no be there.

Those were the words of Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid II.

IN OTHER WORDS: if you don’t want people stealing your material and using your ideas, make them unstealable.

Create and position your material in a manner that is SO unique to you, your brand and your voice … that nobody COULD steal it.

And if they did, people would know it.

That's what I would do.

Ultimately, whichever approach you choose, just know this: idea piracy DOES happen.

Your challenge as a creative professional is to create a plan that effectively and efficiently deals with it when it does.

And, if you’re one of those unfortunate artists who DOES get her ideas kidnapped, remember this old scripture: (I learned this from my high school English teacher)

“And let us not be wearing in well doing: for in due season we shall reap a harvest if we faint not.”

Because at the end of the creative day…

People who steal ideas are cowards.
People who steal ideas are unoriginal.
People who steal ideas are uncreative.
People who steal ideas are going to get caught.
People who steal ideas are not going to sustain themselves.

So, don’t let it get you down. Piracy is flattery.

After all, if your idea was so good that somebody wanted to steal it, maybe that should tell you something ;)

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you prevent and/or deal with idea pirates?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your best piracy story here, along with how you handled it.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

Read more blogs!
Rent Scott's Brain!
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The importance of having a HOT body

The most successful artists, innovators, entrepreneurs and inventors of the world aren’t One Hit Wonders.

Rather: they have HOT bodies.

...of WORK, that is.

Let's explore five examples across several disciplines and decades.

(Keep your eyes open for commonalities...)



HOT BODY #1
When you think of the word “inventor,” one name comes to mind: Thomas Edison.

Talk about a HOT body! He holds about 1,800 patents. It’s also no surprise that his archives amount to 3500 notebooks and four million pages.

LESSON LEARNED: writing is the basis of all wealth.

HOT BODY #2
Linus Pauling was an American quantum chemist and biochemist.

According to Wikipedia, Pauling is widely regarded as the premier chemist of the twentieth century. He pioneered the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry, and in 1954 was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work describing the nature of chemical bonds.

What’s more, Pauling is well known for his philosophy about having a HOT body. He once said, “The best way to have a great ideas is to having a lot of ideas!”

LESSON LEARNED: quantity leads to quality.

HOT BODY #3
Julia Cameron, best known for her book and philosophy, The Artist’s Way, also has one HOT body.

She’s not just an author, either. Cameron works as an artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, and composer.

In her book The Sound of Paper, she wrote, “Each day’s work is part of a larger body of work, and that body of work is the work of a lifetime. Unless we are able to take this long view, we will be derailed by rejection.”

LESSON LEARNED: think library, not book.

HOT BODY #4
Mechanical inventor Jerome H. Lemelson was granted over 600 patents, making him one of the 20th century's five most prolific patent grantees.

In the book Inventors at Work, author Kenneth Moore asked him what his favorite invention was. Lemelson replied, “My favorite invention is always the next one.”

“Sometimes you think you have exhausted your last idea,” he continued. “But you really have an endless stream of ideas in there. You just have to be willing to go in and look for them and bring them out to the light of day.”

LESSON LEARNED: always ask, “What’s next?”

HOT BODY #5
Bluegrass Goddess Allison Krauss has one of the hottest bodies I’ve ever seen.

Her anthology includes dozens of albums, production on countless soundtracks and several live DVD’s. During her career so far (she started when she was 10) she has won twenty Grammy Awards - more than any other female artist in the world.

And she’s still under 40! Which means she’s constantly asking herself, “What’s next?”

LESSON LEARNED: it's never too early to get started.

Five people.
Five different disciplines.
Five unique ways of delivering value.

And yet, three commonalities exist in each of their HOT bodies:

H – Have LOTS of ideas. Write mass quantities of content.
O – Open your mind’s floodgates. Let the ideas flow.
T – Think about what’s next. Keep a focused eye on the future.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you a One Hit Wonder, or are you developing a Body of Work?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Write the phrase, "Library, not book," on a sticky note and post it on your desk. Look at it daily.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

Read more blogs!
Rent Scott's Brain!
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Make a name for yourself here...


Monday, August 13, 2007

Are you building a following?

Artists.
Authors.
Rockstars.
Cult leaders.
Presidential candidates.
American Idol contestants.

What do all these people have in common?

They’re all building a following.

HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: so can you!

That’s the beauty (and ironically, sometimes the horror) of the Web: anyone with an idea can share it with the world and build a following around it. And they can do so quickly, powerfully and through a variety of media.

Unfortunately, the idea of “building a following” may sound too grandiose, too celebrity-ish and too impossible to the average businessperson.

“Who am I to build a following?” you think.

Wrong question.


Instead, ask yourself, “Am I being selfish with my knowledge?”

See, the dictionary defines a following as, “A group of people who admire or support somebody or something over a period of time.”

OK. Couple of key points in that definition:

FIRST: “A group of people.”
That doesn’t mean millions, thousands, or even hundreds. Don’t be intimidated by a false necessity to accumulate hordes of followers.

SECOND: “…admire or support…”
That doesn’t mean people are bowing down to you. Building a following isn’t about ego; it’s about shared values and mutual goals.

THIRD: “…somebody or something…”
That doesn’t mean it’s all about one person. It’s about an idea, a value, a movement, a cause and a vision.

FOURTH: “…over a period of time.”
That doesn’t mean you’re a fad, a trend, a hot topic or the new flavor of the month. You build a following one person at a time.

Actually, wait. That last point was wrong.

I shouldn’t have said, “one person at a time.”

I should have said, “one FAN at a time.”

Because that’s what building a following is about: loyalty.

Not just to you, but to the bigger idea.

So, if you want to get started (or continue) building a following, remember three key ideas:

1.Writing is the Basis of All Wealth
You can’t build a following around an idea if you haven’t first expanded, explored and clarified it on paper. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, penning your thoughts is the single greatest starting point for building a following.

ASK YOURSELF THIS: If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?

This question will help you build a template for your philosophy.

AND REMEMBER THIS: Guy Kawasaki, an author/entrepreneur with an incredible following said, “It’s impossible to build community around mediocre writing.”

The more you write, the quicker you uncover your unique VOICE.

2. Fanagement
You can’t build a following without fans. The challenge, then, is creating, maintaining and staying in front of them. Here a few suggestions:

*Ask for their email. The crux of permission marketing is to get your fans to opt-in. Be sure you’re regularly asking new people in person AND online. Now, while giving someone your email address is technically “free,” there’s still the concern of getting spammed. So, be certain people understand your intentions at the onset. Respect always wins.

*Consistently deliver a value message. Whether it’s through an ezine, podcast or blog, you MUST deliver value. Remind your fans WHY they follow you. Also, ask for their input, ideas, feedback and comments. REMEMBER: the more involved they are, the more ownership they take. The more ownership they take, the more people they tell. And the more people they tell, the bigger your following grows.

*Gratitude. Because a following is nothing with out followers, make sure you regularly remind them how much you value their loyalty.

3. Be Approachable
Lastly, members (and potential members) of your following MUST have access to you and your ideas. In order to project approachability, remember these ABC’s:

*Access. Make yourself accessible through several media, i.e., email, phone and instant messenger. See, each of your fans maintains a different communication style. So it’s valuable to offer them several contact options. REMEMBER: If someone can’t come up to you, how will they ever get behind you?

*Boundaries. On the flip side, set realistic expectations and personal policies for the accessibility of your time and information. Every “yes” to one thing is a “no” to another.

*Content. Since you’re writing regularly now (right?) you need to make your content accessible for reading, downloading and sharing. This is ESSENTIAL for building a following. Post your ideas on a blog, website, even on public article databases. (NOTE: if you’re concerned about piracy, relax. Just be sure to write in a voice that is SO unique to you, that you become SO identified with; that someone wouldn’t dare steal it. And if he did, people would know it.)

THE BOTTOM LINE: building a following is not an easy task.

It doesn’t happen overnight.
It doesn’t happen without work.
It doesn’t happen without consistency.

However.

If you regularly deliver value through writing…
If you create a fanagement system for your followers…
If you maintain approachability within your own boundaries…

Then you WILL create a group of people who admire or support you and your ideas.

Even if you’re not a cult leader.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you building a following?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your best Fanagement Techniques here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

Read more blogs!
Rent Scott's Brain!
Download articles and ebooks!
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Make a name for yourself here...


Friday, August 10, 2007

How to convince yourself that you actually have a real job

You’re self-employed.
You work out of your home.
You’re the only person at your company.

So, how do you convince yourself that you actually have a real job?

Good question.


As a Professional Fake Employee for the past five years, I’ve discovered many secrets for doing so. Let’s take a look at eight “GETS” for self-employed success:

GET UP! An hour earlier. Doing so will instill a sense of urgency and importance at the onset of your day.

GET DRESSED! After your shower, don’t crawl back into your PJ’s. Instead, dress as if you had an important meeting that day. Put on your business casual best, a three-piece suit or whatever works for you. Just remember, act as if you were the person you’re trying to become. By looking great, you’ll start to feel great.

GET OUT! Now that you look like you actually have a real job, grab your briefcase, laptop and other materials … and get out of the house. Announce to your spouse, kids, sweetie or pets, “Well, I’m off to work!”

GET A SPOT! Of course, you’re not actually going to work … yet. But, by getting up an hour earlier than usual, you’ve earned some “prep” time. So, head over to your local coffee shop. Settle down with a drink and perhaps some breakfast.

Do not read the newspaper. It's negative, it's crap.

Instead, use this time as your Daily Appointment with Yourself. Read positive materials, review your goals and affirmations, listen to positive music, meditate, whatever works to set the stage for your day.

GET CRACKIN! Now that you look and feel important, it’s time to “officially” start work. Leave the coffee shop and head over to the office, aka, your living room. Take a look at your goals, tasks, appointments and to-do’s for the day. Get started on whatever is most urgent.

GET VERBIAGE! As you email clients and talk on the phone with prospects, watch your words.

*Don’t say, “I’ll be at home all day.” Instead, say, “I’ll be in the office till five.”
*Don’t say, “My policy is…” Instead, say, “My company policy is.”

There’s a big difference! Also, be careful how you use the Royal We. The point of verbiage is not to refer to yourself or your job in a misleading way. Instead, challenge yourself to reframe your verbiage in an honest, authentic tone that convinces both you AND your clients that’s you’re not actually running a business in your parents’ basement while two annoying dogs yap at the mailman all day. (Hypothetically)

GET COLLEAGUES! Unfortunately, words like “coworkers” and “fellow employees” don’t exist in your self-employed vocabulary. So, focus on establishing relationships with colleagues. Find like-minded professionals who work similar Fake Jobs in similar Fake Industries as you. Force yourself to get out of the house at least three times a week for lunches, brainstorming sessions or lead sharing meetings.

GET SUPPLIES! Just because you’re the sole employee at your company and spend most of your days sitting in a La-Z-Boy recliner in your underwear, checking email via Wifi while you watch Sportscenter and play fetch with your Cocker Spaniel named Ginger (hypothetically), that doesn’t mean you can’t project a professional image.

Equip yourself with the necessary supplies: stationary, PO box, a dedicated office and fax line and an email account that isn’t (kaylaysmommy@aol.com or hotlips99@gmail.com) NOTE: an unprofessional email is the first dead giveaway of someone who doesn’t have a real job!

All kidding aside, these eight “GETS” of self-employed success revolve around one key idea: attitude.

Not because “attitude is everything,” but because attitude underscore everything.

Ultimately, your challenge is to think, act and present yourself in a way consistent with the person you’re striving to become.

Because eventually - if you maintain the right attitude - you will actually become that person!

And that's the best way to convince yourself that you actually have a real job.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Cocker Spaniel waiting to play fetch with me.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you convince yourself that you actually have a real job?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your self-employed secrets here!

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

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott's interview on 20/20!

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Are you the echo or the origin?

There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Why?

Because cover bands are imitations.

Copies. Replicas. Fakes. Designer imposters.

In other words, echoes.

An echo is defined as a “repetition or close imitation.”

And if you take a quick look around, you’ll notice a WHOLE lot of companies, products, people and ideas are just that – echoes.

FIRST EXAMPLE: in the mid 90’s when David Spade was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live, he did a great bit on Weekend Update called “Hollywood Minute.”

My favorite episode from the 1994-95 season featured a picture of grunge rockers Stone Temple Pilots.

Spade’s punch line was, “Yeah, these guys were great the FIRST time I saw them … when they were called Pearl Jam.”

The audience howled!

See, Spade was suggesting that STP was the echo, not the origin. (Don’t get me wrong - I loved STP.)

But this isn’t just about music.

This is about being first.
This is about being unique.
This is about finding your voice.

And it goes for books, movies, products, companies, ideas and services.

SECOND EXAMPLE: a few weeks ago I was flying home to St. Louis after giving a speech in Orlando. The flight attendant took the passengers through the usual preflight routine.

Here’s what she said:

o “If you haven’t ridden in a place since 1957, this handy little tool is called a ‘seatbelt!’”

o “If the person next to you starts freaking out, please don’t be alarmed…”

o “In the event of a water landing, don’t forget to grab your Speedos and bikinis along with your seat cushion!”

The entire plane was laughing. Passengers actually gave her a round of applause after she was done!

NOW, HERE’S MY QUESTION: what airline do you think it was?

(Think of your answer before reading on.)

Most people would guess Southwest Airlines, as they are well known for their fun, casual and mundane-to-memorable customer service.

But it was actually US Airways.

Didn’t see that coming, did you?

Of course not! After all, Southwest was the first airline to actually make their preflight announcements fun.

Which makes them the origin.

But over the years, other airlines (namely, US Airways) have made the connection between Southwest’s philosophy and their profits … and copied their fun announcement idea.

Which makes them the echo.

And that creates a problem.

Because just like in music, the echo is never quite as beautiful, never quite as cool, and never quite as effective as the origin.

To find out which one you are, take The David Spade Test:

STEP 1: Think about a specific idea, product or service your company offers.

STEP 2: Next, imagine David Spade (in his typical wise-ass form), was parodying your company on Saturday Night Live.

STEP 3: Ask yourself, “Who or what would the cynic compare us to?” Imagine how Spade might insert your product or idea into one of the following punch lines:

1. “Yeah, it was great the first time I went there, when it was called…”
2. “Yeah, it was great the first time I bought it, when it was called a…”
3. “Yeah, those guys were great the first time I hired them, when they were called…”

The goal is to come up with nothing.

To find no possible way someone could jokingly compare you to a competitor.

To be the only one who does what you do.

Because if you're just an echo, you won't be around very long.

REMEMBER: there are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you the echo or the origin?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Complete this exercise and figure out what David Spade would say about you. Then brainstorm arguments as to why he's wrong.

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

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott's interview on 20/20!

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