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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Listening earns you the right to...

1. Listening earns you the right to speak.

2. Listening earns you the right to be right.

3. Listening earns you the right to clarify goals.

4. Listening earns you the right to offer advice.

5. Listening earns you the right to be respected.

6. Listening earns you the right to be listened to.

7. Listening earns you the right to voice your opinions.

8. Listening earns you the right to share in others’ lives.

9. Listening earns you the right to proceed to the next step.

10. Listening earns you the right to advance the conversation.

11. Listening earns you the right to influence the other person.

12. Listening earns you the right to let your creativity take over.

13. Listening earns you the right to create what wants to be created.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What does listening earn you the right to do?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Finish this sentence five times: listening earns you the right to...

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How to get over yourself

Whatever kind of art you create, remember this:

That art was created by something much bigger than you.

Call it God. Call it The Muse. The Higher Powers. The Spirit. Whatever.

It’s not you.

WHICH MEANS: every artist, at some point, needs to redefine her role.

Because sure -- you’re an artist. A painter, songwriter, craftsman or a writer.

But think about what you’re REALLY doing when you get into that beautiful state of artistic flow:

You’re obeying.
You’re listening.
You’re making notes.
You’re taking dictation.
You’re awaiting guidance.
You’re letting what wants to be created create itself.

It’s not you.

And once you can recognize that, you’ll not only get over yourself, you’ll GET set free.

That’s when your best work will come to the surface.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How did you get over yourself?

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

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Manage the environment

I've been reading Joe Meyers' new book, Organic Community.

And here's what I've learned:

You have (some) control over the environment.

Some.

But you have little or no control over the people IN the environment.

SO, HERE’S THE SECRET: let things organically and naturally occur.

Don’t sell.
Create and manage an environment in which customers are enabled to buy.

Don’t network.
Create and manage an environment in which strangers naturally connect.

Don’t make people friendlier.
Create and manage an environment in which people are likely to become friendlier.

Don't get people to ask questions.
Create and manage an environment where people feel comfortable, empowered and non-threatened so they are more likely to ask questions.

Don’t make art.
Create and manage an environment from which art is inspired.

Don’t become a celebrity or an expert.
Create and manage an environment that constantly augments, reinforces and enhances your celebrity/expert status.

Don’t increase the number of participants.
Create and manage an environment where healthy participation naturally emerges.

Don’t get people talking about your new idea or product.
Create and manage an environment that enables, supports and rewards authentic dialogue.

If you create the right kind of environment, the right atmosphere, the right space and the right energy, the people inside of it will (hopefully) take care of themselves.

REMEMBER: we are not free to determine the contents of experience.

Just the environment.

Thanks, Joe!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you manage your environment?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Read Joe's book. Today.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Point of Dissonance (POD)

Morning guys!

I'm in Raleigh, NC this week, working with a group of Child Nutrition Administrators. Great people.

So, several of them have been asking me:

“Hey Scott, why do you choose to wear the simple, hand-written nametags? Why not get something more customized and permanent?”

I get this question a lot.

And while there are many answers I could offer, here’s the one that matters MOST to you:

Vagueness stimulates curiosity.

See, curiosity is a natural motivator of human engagement.

And there’s a certain dissonance when people observe an unexpected or unexplained behavior.

Especially when it’s inconsistent with their environment.

Like seeing some guy wearing a nametag at the gym, for example.

BUT, THAT’S THE SECRET: because it’s THAT dissonance that increases the probability of an encounter.

Because people just HAVE to ask. They just GOTTA to know.

Why the heck is that guy wearing a nametag?!

So, let’s relate this to the world of marketing.

Because what we’re talking about is stimulating curiosity, breaking patterns and attracting interest.

So, here’s your challenge:

CRAFT A MESSAGE OR AN IDEA … that when people are first exposed to it, they can’t help but respond with, “Huh? Ok, so, I just HAVE to ask…”

Those words are money in the bank.

This crucial moment is called the “Point of Dissonance,” or POD.

And it can occur:

o At your trade show booth
o In your marketing materials
o On your website
o In your conversations
o On the streets
o In our outside of a store
o Even on your person!

The goal of your Point of Dissonance is to create a fulcrum point from which the conversation can advance.

Because before someone gets to the “Aha!” about what you do and who you are, they have to be captivated by the “Huh?”

See, when someone says, “Ok, so, I just HAVE to ask…” what they’ve just given you is PERMISSION.

To deliver value.
To share your ideas.
To use up a chunk of their time.


And this permission is a valuable asset because people’s time and attention are being vied for by an infinite amount of forces.

So, yes, the Point of Dissonance is about generating interest, piquing curiosity, standing out and getting attention.

But there’s more.

This is about leveraging remarkability to trigger an emotional engagement.

GREAT EXAMPLE: when my friend John Moore attends business conferences, he wears a white lab coat.

People come up to him all the time and ask, “What’s with the lab coat?” "I just HAD to come over and say hi..." “Why are you wearing that?” and “Are you a doctor?”

See, that’s the “Huh?”

And he usually answers with the something like: “John Moore with Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice.”

At which point people say, “Oh, I get it! Cool!”

See, that’s the “Ah ha!”

That’s John's Point of Dissonance.

What's yours?

REMEMBER: vagueness stimulates curiosity.

And people who get noticed GET business.

Stick yourself out there today.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's your POD?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your Point of Dissonance here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The art is hiding the art

Michael Caine once said:

“Never let ‘em catch you acting. The art is HIDING the art.”

Great advice.

And you can apply this principle to a variety of situations:



Create marketing that’s SO fun, SO cool and SO participative…
That your market doesn’t even realize you’re marketing to them.

Sell your stuff with SUCH passion, SUCH comfort and SUCH service…
That your prospects don’t even realize you’re selling to them.

Perform SO effortlessly, SO naturally and SO emotionally...
That your audience doesn’t even realize you’re performing for them.

Write SO engagingly, SO well-architected and with SO much personality…
That your readers don’t even realize they’re reading.

Build community that’s SO organic, SO authentic and SO inviting…
That your members don’t even realize they’re members of an organization.

Of course, this isn't about deception.

This is about just being yourself.

Delivering value in a way that detaches from outcomes. That focuses on finding flow in the process.

So, never let ‘em catch you acting.

The art is hiding the art.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you seamless?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your best suggestion for "hiding the art" here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is everything you know written down somewhere?

You know what’s ironic?

The fact that ideas are your major source of income; and yet, you’re (still) not writing everything down!

Here are the possible reasons (er, excuses) why not:

1. YOU DON’T WRITE STUFF DOWN…
Because you think you will remember it.

This is 100% self-delusion.

First of all, the human brain simply can’t store that much information. That’s why phone numbers are only seven digits.

Secondly, in our hyperspeed, A.D.D., information overload culture, people CAN’T remember things they don’t write down. There are simply too many forces competing for our attention. The answer is NO. You will NOT remember it.

Is everything you know written down somewhere?

2. YOU DON’T WRITE STUFF DOWN…
Because you don’t see the big picture.

Consider a few universal truths.

o FIRST: writing is the basis of all wealth.
o SECOND: if you don’t write it down, it never happened.
o THIRD: ideas are you major source of income.

Once you realize those principles, trust me: you WILL want to write everything down. Your bank account, your business and your life will thank you.

Is everything you know written down somewhere?

3. YOU DON’T WRITE STUFF DOWN…
Because you don’t think of yourself as a writer.

Wrong answer. Everyone is a writer. Everyone is recording, journaling, organizing and chronicling their lives. More importantly, they’re noting lessons learned while living them.

So, it doesn’t matter if your writing is any good. It only matters that you capture it. That you get it out of your head and your heart and onto the page.

Is everything you know written down somewhere?

4. YOU DON’T WRITE STUFF DOWN…
Because you don’t have access to equipment.

Seriously, if you’re not keeping a pen and paper with you at all times, you’re insane.

If you’re not constantly capturing your ideas every day, you’re insane.

That’s it.

Is everything you know written down somewhere?

5. YOU DON’T WRITE STUFF DOWN…
Because you don’t think your ideas are worthwhile.

FIRST OF: it’s not about the idea. It’s about the creative process. Your patterns of thinking. Leveraging your idea into something bigger.

SECONDLY: you’d be amazed who might find your idea worthwhile. Because of the world-flattening capacity of the Web, posting your thoughts on even the most obscure topic may garner some support.

Of course, you’ll never know until you stick yourself out there.

Is everything you know written down somewhere?

---

OK. Listen to me very closely. I’m 100% serious about this:

You need to go grab a bunch of sticky notes. Like, right now.

On each one, I want you to write a simple question:

IS EVERYTHING YOU KNOW WRITTEN DOWN SOMEWHERE?

Post those sticky notes all around your office.

This question WILL change you life. I guarantee it. I know this because it changed mine.

And if you stare at this question all day, you will eventually reprogram yourself to value the process of idea capturing.

REMEMBER: ideas are your major source of income. And writing is the basis of all wealth.

If you don’t write it down, it never happened.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Why do you hang out with other creative folks?

LET ME SUGGEST...
Post your thoughts here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Monday, October 22, 2007

8 reasons to hang out with other creative folks

1. Other creative people keep you accountable.

2. Other creative people have contagious energy.

3. Other creative people will let you bounce ideas off of them.

4. Other creative people are (probably) the closest things you’ll ever have to coworkers.

5. Other creative people are the only ones who (really) understand what you’re going through.

6. Other creative people think in unique ways; and by learning how they think, your thinking changes to.

7. Other creative people are safe havens for sharing ideas that most people would think are completely crazy.

8. Other creative people’s work will inspire your own, even if (especially if) they work with a different medium.

(The list goes on and on!)

Also, a great resource for Creative Professionals is My Creative Biz.

Kirsten Carey has lots SOLID tools and ideas to help you make a living off your ideas.

Create away!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Why do you hang out with other creative folks?

LET ME SUGGEST...
Post your thoughts here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Friday, October 19, 2007

Eat dessert first

I speak at a lot of conferences.

Naturally, I often find myself seated at meals with strangers.

And naturally, I often find myself face to face … with delicious pieces of cake.


See, at most conferences, the banquet staff is instructed to place the dessert on the table before the meal starts.

I’m not sure why they do this. Probably just to tempt people.

Anyway, I’ve always had kind of a sweet tooth. So, I usually snag my piece of cake as soon as I sit down and dig right in.

AND HERE’S THE WEIRD PART: every time I do this, the other people at the table almost always react strangely.

They look at me like I'm crazy. Or they laugh. Or they stare.

And I’m like, “What?”

“Are you eating your dessert FIRST?”

“Um, yyyyyeah … is that a problem for you?”

“No, it’s just that you don’t usually see people doing that.”

Hmm. Now why do you think that is? I wondered.

Right. Because that’s what we’ve ALWAYS been taught: dessert comes last.

And, look. Here's the thing: I don’t choose to eat my dessert first so I can get attention.

I just REALLY love cake.

So, what fascinates me is that people don’t make comments in a reprehensible tone, but rather in an astonished tone.

Like they can’t believe someone just did this!

“Psst,” they chillingly say to the person next to them, “that guy’s eating his dessert first!”

I don’t know. I guess some people are just SO shocked when they see a mainstream pattern being broken, they can’t help but be taken aback.

Because there’s just too much dissonance.

For example, I sat down to lunch after a recent speech in Chicago.

And the dessert looked AMAZING: Chocolate Mousse with Oreo crust and peanut butter whipped cream.

Seriously, how do you NOT eat that first?

So I started eating it. And a few bites in, the guy across the table starts starring at me.

And after a few seconds, do you know what he did?

He grabbed his cake and started eating it too!

ALAS! THE ONCE INSURMOUNTABLE BARRIER OF CONFERENCE DESSERTS HAD BEEN CONQUERED.

And then, this was the best part. I swear to God, I’m not making this up:

The woman next to me grabs her cake.

She takes ONE bite, savors the deliciousness and then grabs my arm and says:

“Scott … thank you for giving me the courage to eat my dessert first.”

For real. In the most sincere tone possible, she actually said that.

So, here’s my question:

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What lessons does this story imply?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Post them here! And then go eat some dessert.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The advantage of being an outsider

In the month of October alone, my clients include: inner-city librarians, municipal landfill owners, funeral directors, paper shredding companies, school lunch ladies and recruiters.

God I love my job!


Anyway, this made me realize something: objectivity is equity.

And this is GREAT news for you if you're a consultant, speaker, facilitator or other form of independent contractor.

See, my clients tell me that employees are tired of listening to their bosses.

Same old information. Same old company. Same old industry.

BOR-ING.

They need fresh air.
They need new perspective.
They need someone from the outside.

And that’s where you come in.

SO, REMEMBER THIS: being an outsider is a position of value.

Here’s why:

1. OUTSIDERS … can be truly objective.

o Because they have little or no bias.
o Because they can recognize patterns immediately
o Because they have no stake in the company or organization.
o Because they don’t bring vested interests to an existing problem.
o Because they can explore the structure of an organization with fresh eyes.
o Because they’re not viewed as a threat, which diffuses defensiveness and increases the willingness to listen.

2. OUTSIDERS … don’t face traditional barriers.

o Because they are unaware of common creative blocks.
o Because they’re not subject internal politics of the organization.
o Because they can explore assumptions the organization that were never thought of or taken for granted

3. OUTSIDERS … can deliver independent thought.

o Because their thinking patterns are different.
o Because they’re detached from the outcomes.
o Because they’re not so close to the situation and therefore have limited agendas.
o Because their wealth of diverse background experience applies cross-industrially.

So, next time you’re trying to secure a new client, just remember: it's OK to be an outsider.

Outsiders observe, think and speak from a position of value and equity.

REMEMBER: it’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you an outsider?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Post your best story or example in which being an outsider enabled you to help your clients!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Voted Best Buffet!

I was strolling down the Reno strip this week when I noticed an interesting pattern.

Lots of buffets.

Every hotel had one.
Every street corner had one.


AND HERE’S WHAT STRUCK ME: they were all voted #1.

Seriously. It seemed like every restaurant I passed had a sign that read, “Voted Best Buffet!”

And it made me wonder:

1. Voted Best Buffet … BY WHOM?
A sample of 1000 customers? Zagat? CitySearch.com? The guy who owns the place?

ASK YOURSELF: How do you measure “best”?

2. Voted Best Buffet … WHERE?
In the world? In Reno? On Main Street where there’s only two other competing buffets?

ASK YOURSELF: What’s your territory?

3. Voted Best Buffet … FOR WHAT?
“Best” could mean a lot of things: Best Buffet for the money? Best Buffet for Kids? Best Buffet for drunken college students at 3 AM?

ASK YOURSELF: Who’s your target customer?

4. Voted Best Buffet … WHEN?
This year? Last year? Back in 1987?

ASK YOURSELF: What have you done for me lately?

Think of it this way. Imagine two billboards:

1. “Come to Harrah’s! We’ve got the buffet around!”

Or…

2. “Come to Bally’s! Voted #1 Reno Buffet for Kids, Zagat 2006!”

Which one would YOU eat at?

Exactly. The second one.

And here’s why:

Specificity = Credibility
Specificity = Persuasion
Specificity = Approachability

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How vague is YOUR marketing?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Next time someone claims to be #1, ask them, "Says who?"

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NametagTV: Pursue the Passion

Pursue the Passion is a group of three recent college grads who embarked on cross country roadtrips to interview passionate professionals about their career paths.

I've been following their story for about a year now.


Their tour recently took them through St. Louis.

I had a chance to meet Brett Farmiloe, James Whiting, Noah Pollock and Zach Hubbell in person.

We had a blast talking about passion, commitment, and of course, not making any money in the beginning! (This pic is from the inside of their (sweet) RV!)


Anyway, totally cool guys with a totally cool idea.

I had some trouble embedding the video into this post, so you can watch the clip on the website of their sponsor, Jobing.com.

Watch the video montage HERE.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What would you be doing if you weren't doing what you're doing?

LET SUGGEST THIS...
If you can't imagine doing anything other that what you're doing, that's a good sign!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Monday, October 15, 2007

Where to draw the line

Boundaries are saviors.

I know this because I didn’t used to have any.

See, that’s what happens when you wear a nametag 24-7: you open yourself to anyone, anytime, anyplace.

And if you don’t set boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you.

Now, in my 2,539 days of nametagging, I’ve experienced my share of boundary violations:

I’ve had stalkers.
I’ve had time wasters.
I’ve had bloodsuckers.

I’ve had prank phone calls at 2 AM.
I’ve had people start fights with me.
I’ve had hatemail and death threats.

I’ve had cult members attempt to persuade me.
I’ve had religious zealots attempt to convert me.

I’ve had dozens of salespeople try to suck me into their pyramid schemes.

I've had hundreds of people walk right up to me and rip my nametag right off my shirt.

I’ve had complete strangers walk up to me in the middle of airports and physically poke me in the chest.

All of this from wearing a nametag!

(I mean, wouldn’t that get to YOU after a while?)

THE POINT IS: when it comes to approachability, setting boundaries is a MUST.

Is IS possible to be TOO approachable.

Especially when you're devoting your time to unaligned pursuits.
Especially when your precious time, physical space and personal safety are at stake.

AND THAT'S THE CHALLENGE: figuring out where you draw the line.

In her bestselling book, Where to Draw the Line, Anne Katherine defines a boundary as “a limit that promotes integrity.”

I think that’s a great definition.

Because ultimately, that’s what boundaries are about: staying true to yourself.

Devoting your time, attention, energy and focus to pursuits that match your interests.

So, straight from the mouth of a (formally) boundary-deficient person, here are a few things I’ve learned about boundaries over the years.

NOTE: I am not a therapist, psychologist or a PhD.

I am a practitioner. Just a guy who’s learned how to draw the line.

Hope this helps!

Boundaries REINFORCE integrity.
You elicit more respect because people respond to policies.

Boundaries DEFINE who you are (and who you aren’t).
Which helps you become the world’s expert on yourself.

Boundaries FREE you to be who you are.
There’s nothing more liberating than developing the strength to say no.

Boundaries IDENTIFY your responsibilities.
Because you’re not just saying no to others, you’re saying YES to yourself.

Boundaries TEACH people how to treat you.
This assures that boundary violations won’t occur again.

Boundaries DEVELOP your discipline and maturity.
People will admire your stick-to-itiveness, commitment and consistency.

Boundaries HELP you avoid manipulative people and situations.
As Mr. Miyagi once said, “The best way to block a punch – no be there.”

AND HERE’S THE BEST PART: boundaries are reciprocal.

This goes back to the etymology of the word approachability, which derives from the Latin apropiare, meaning, “To come nearer to.”

So, in your relationships (with friends, family members, colleagues and customers) here’s how it plays out:

1. When you know your boundaries, you know who you are.
2. When you know who you are, you feel more confident.
3. When you feel more confident, you aren’t threatened by other people’s differences.
4. When you aren’t threatened by other people’s differences, they’re not threatened by yours.
5. When people aren’t threatened by each other, they accept each other.
6. When people accept each other, the rules change.

Boundaries. Are. Saviors.

Got it?

Cool.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a strange man at my front door holding an ice pick who says he’s an old friend of my mom’s. Better go see what he wants...

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you draw the line?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your best boundary management technique here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

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Friday, October 12, 2007

How to use an open book to open a conversation

Looking for a GREAT way to start a conversation with a stranger?

(Without talking about the weather, traffic or the long line you’re stuck in?)

Try making a reference to the book they’re reading.

It’s easy. It’s approachable. And it’s a great way to discover the Common Point of Interest.

NOTE: before you do this, remember a few ground rules:

1. If the book addresses a controversial, dangerous or potentially awkward topic, don’t do it. This could backfire BIG time. (Especially books like The Kama Sutra and 101 Ways to Murder Complete Strangers on Airplanes.)

2. As with any approach to a stranger, first take note of the person’s posture and non-verbals. If she doesn’t look receptive to casual conversation, don’t bother her. People’s personal bubbles deserve respect. Waiting until the reader takes a break is usually a good time to jump in. That way you’re not interrupting.

OK! Now that you’ve decided to say hi, here are six ways to use an open book to open conversation:

1. How do you like The Da Vinci Code so far? A positively framed, open-ended question. Gives people permission to open up.

2. I’ve heard that book is great! What do you think? Also positive AND compliments their taste.

3. You’re lucky to be reading that book; I just finished it and could read it again! Excites them about their book.

4. Excuse me; I was actually thinking about buying that book. Would you recommend it? Appeals to a human being’s inherent helpful nature. What’s more, it’s kind of hard to get shut down with this approach.

5. So, what’s the best thing you learned from that book so far? Good for non-fiction and business books.

6. Don’t you just love Norman Vincent Peale? Who doesn’t?

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you use open books to open conversations?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Try one of these today!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Detach from outcomes, pt. 2

(To read part 1, click here.)

When you detach from outcomes…

You relax more.
Which lowers your guard.
Which lowers other people’s guards.
Which enables you to produce better quality work.

AND HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: this principle can be applied to various disciplines.

In the world of SALES:

o DON’T focus on … persuading, manipulating or reaching quota.
o DO focus on … serving, solving and delivering value.

And you WILL sell a lot.

In the world of CREATING ART:

o DON’T focus on … perfection, recognition or even selling your work.
o DO focus on … finding flow, being yourself and listening to your Muse.

And you WILL create great stuff.

In the world of MARKETING:

o DON’T focus on … being cool, interrupting people or manufacturing a need.
o DO focus on … broadcasting your uniqueness, telling a remarkable story and building community.

And you WILL spread the word.

In the world of CONVERSATION:

o DON’T focus on … networking, controlling or influencing.
o DO focus on … establishing comfort, maintaining authenticity and growing bigger ears.

And you WILL make valuable connections.

So, whatever you’re doing, do it for the process. The journey. For the love of the game.

Detach from outcomes.

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Scott Ginsberg
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Grow Bigger Ears: Don't Add Too Much Value

Adding value is essential to growing bigger ears.

But be careful.

Because it’s (really) easy to add TOO MUCH value to a conversation.

FOR EXAMPLE: imagine your colleague, Karen, is enthusiastically telling you about her great new idea. She’s excited, optimistic and really “getting into” her explanation.

So, a few seconds into the conversation, you can’t help but interrupt with suggestions to make it better.

“You know that’s a great a idea Karen! Here’s what you should do. Start by going to this website and buy these two products. Then, talk to Mark, he’s good with this kind of stuff. Oh, and instead of selling ads online, you know what would be a BETTER idea? Well, one time I told one of MY clients…”

And all of the sudden, the momentum is reversed.

And Karen is thinking, “Wait, um, wasn’t this MY idea?”

Well, it WAS, until you hijacked the conversation by trying to add too much value to it!

Which means you did three things wrong:

1. You weren’t listening -- you were too busy trying to contribute.
2. You weren’t collaborating -- you were too busy trying to prove yourself.
3. You weren’t helping -- you were too busy trying to take ownership of someone else’s idea.

BIG mistake.

Because even if you DID make Karen’s idea a little better, you still took away some of her ownership of that idea -– which made her feel A LOT worse.

Not a good trade off.

AND HERE’S THE PROBLEM: some people don’t even realize THAT they try to add too much value.

(I should I know: I used to be one of them!)

SO, REMEMBER THIS: while adding too much value is not always intentional, it’s still an unconscious display of disrespect.

And the people you’re engaging with will know it.

Because it’s rude, frustrating and unapproachable.

So, if you want to avoid adding too much value to your conversations, remember these DO’s and DONT’s:

DON’T … match or one-up people’s points.
DON’T … try to solve the problem too quickly.

DO … give them the glory.
DO … trust in your ability to add value after (not during) listening.

DON’T … feel the need to prove yourself every ten seconds
DON’T … respond too soon or rush to give answers.

DO … allow the speaker to set the pace of the conversation.
DO … let the other person fill in the empty spaces.

DON’T … impose your own structure on what is being said.
DON’T … project your own meaning onto the speaker.

HERE’S YOUR CHALLENGE: post these caveats in a visible location somewhere in your office. That will help you become more mindful of this dangerous interpersonal habit.

AND REMEMBER: listening is not the same thing as waiting to talk.

So, next time a colleague comes to you with a new idea or a business challenge, don’t try to add too much value to the conversation.

Grow bigger ears by biting your tongue.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The three types of mentors

Who are your mentors?

Notice I said mentor(s), not mentor.

That’s because there are three types: casual, formal and indirect.

The word mentor first appeared in Homer’s Odyssey as character who served as a wide advisor.

My first “wise advisor” (other than my Dad) came in the form of a high school English teacher named William Jenkins.

It started with the occasional after-class discussion.

Mid-semester, it blossomed into a friendship.

By the time I graduated, he was my full-time go-to guy for advice on college and relationships.

And by the time I entered the Real World and started my career as a writer, he became the professional resource I needed to further my career.

That’s an example of a CASUAL mentor.

You chat informally.
You meet on an as-needed basis.
You have lunches, hang out and take walks together.

They talk; you listen.
They share ideas; you write them down.
They ask tricky questions; you spend months pondering the answers.

Then there’s a FORMAL mentor.

You meet on a regular basis.
You have structured discussions.
You set goals, parameters and expectations for the relationship.

They give you assignments; you return with homework.
They expect a certain degree of commitment; you do what they say.
They (sometimes) charge a fee; you gladly pay them for their wisdom.

Lastly, there’s an INDIRECT mentor.

You rarely meet in person.
You learn by reading and gleaning.
You might not even know each other.

They write books; you read, highlight and learn.
They do stuff really well; you watch, take notes and relate.
They set the standard in your industry; you follow their lead.

Three kinds of mentors. Three kinds of wise advisors.

Casual, direct and indirect.

And you need them all.

Because one mentor is no longer enough.

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How many mentors do you have?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Monday, October 08, 2007

Lowest common denominator thinking

Call it optimism.
Call it glass half-full.
Call it a positive attitude.

Because at the lowest common denominator, there’s always ONE thing you can get out of everything.

This represents a sort of “takeaway attitude” you need to have about business, about life, about everything.

I call it Lowest Common Denominator Thinking.

For example, let’s say you just spent the last three hours reading the latest best-selling marketing book.

And you thought it sucked.

Ask yourself, “Did I at least get ONE nugget, ONE idea, ONE quotation, ONE thing from that book?”

If the answer is yes, congrats! You’ve just discovered the Lowest Common Denominator. Which, when remembered, written down and applied, should be worth the price of the book and the time you spent reading it.

Here's another example. Let’s say you just finished attending a lecture at your local college campus.

And you thought it sucked.

Similarly, ask yourself, “Well, it might have been boring, but the one thing I still took away was…”

If your answer is a worthwhile idea that wouldn’t have popped into your mind without attending that lecture, good on ya! You’ve discovered the Lowest Common Denominator.

One final example.

You crawl into bad at about 11:30 PM.

And you thought your day sucked.

Ask yourself, “Yeah, but did I at least do ONE thing that was cool, help ONE person get better, accomplish ONE highly valuable activity or experience ONE moment that validated my existence?”

If your answer is yes, prepare to sleep well. Because you’ve discovered the lowest common denominator.

Here are a few more Phrases That Payses to enhance your LCD Thinking:

“Well, if anything, at least I learned…”
“The one thing I got out of that was…”
“Although it wasn’t my favorite, I still found a way to…”

Call it optimism.
Call it glass half-full.
Call it a positive attitude.

Because at the lowest common denominator, there’s always ONE thing you can get out of everything.

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Scott Ginsberg
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Sunday, October 07, 2007

A few incomplete sentences that need revision

1. “If you build it, they will come.”

ORIGINATOR: Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams.

WHY IT’S INCOMPLETE: because just building it is not enough. You’ve got to get people talking about it.

A BETTER VERSION: “If you build it consistently, remarkably and with unique value … they MIGHT come.”

REMEMBER: doing business without marketing is like winking in the dark.

2. “Positive thinking begets success.”

ORIGINATORS: The Bible, Normal Vincent Peale and James Allen

WHY IT’S INCOMPLETE: because just thinking about is not enough. You’ve got to work your ass off too!

A BETTER VERSION: “Positive thinking PLUS positive doing equals success.”

REMEMBER: ideas are free, but execution is priceless.

3. “Think and grow rich!”

ORIGINATOR: Napoleon Hill.

WHY IT’S INCOMPLETE: thinking without action is self-delusion.

A BETTER VERSION: “Think and ACT … and grow rich.”

REMEMBER: action is eloquence.

4. “What’s in a name?”

ORIGINATOR: Shakespeare.

WHY IT’S INCOMPLETE: because you have more than just your name. You have your name PLUS what people say after it.

A BETTER VERSION: “What in AND after a name?”

REMEMBER: if you don’t make a name for yourself, someone will make one for you.

5. “Ask and you shall receive.”

ORIGINATOR: The Bible.

WHY IT’S INCOMPLETE: the world isn’t an order form. Asking only gets you so far.

A BETTER VERSION: “Ask and ACT … and you shall receive.”

REMEMBER: never underestimate the power of working your ass off.

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Be clearly superior

Be clearly superior.

In other words: be the –est.

The finest.
The fastest.
The coolest.
The bestest.
The craziest.
The greatest.
The funniest.
The smartest.
The smoothest.
The friendliest.

Be the –est.

Be clearly superior.

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What's your "-est"?

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Share it with us here!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Friday, October 05, 2007

Surrender creative control

I hate to say it, but you’re really no big deal.

Sure, you’re the one who PHYSICALLY writes, paints or creates the art.

But it’s not all you.

ARTISTS MUST RECOGNIZE: creativity is the product of a million unseen helping hands.

Call it The Muse. Call it God. Call it Intuition.

But whatever these Powers are, they’re stronger and smarter than you.

So you must respect them. Because they can make or break you.

And you must align yourself with them. Because you are at their service.

As creativity guru Mihlay Csikszentmihlay says, “The Muse communicates through a glass darkly. She has your number, but your don’t have hers.”

Therefore, your role as an artist is partly about being a receptor.

A facilitator. A carrier. A lens.

Someone who listens, takes dictation, attends to the stream of mental experiences…

And creates what wants to be created.

In The War of Art (best book of all time), Steven Pressfield explains, “The professional is acutely aware of all the intangibles that go into inspiration, and out of respect for them, he lets them work.”

SO, THAT’S THE CHALLENGE: How do you surrender creative control?

In my experience as an artist, I’ve discovered several tools for letting the Powers do their thing:

1. Gratitude. Start by grounding yourself artistic humility. Every time you write something – good or bad – give thanks. For the idea AND for the process.

Expressing gratitude to the intangibles will help you get over yourself. NOTE: Avoid the temptation to be like those blocked artists who do nothing by complain about their lack of inspiration. Less complaining, more thanking.

WRITE THIS DOWN: when you become grateful, you become FULL … of great ideas.

2. Morning Pages. First thing in the morning, start a blank document. Spew out every single thought and/or idea that’s running through your mind. Keep writing until you’ve filled up three pages.

Then, save it in a folder called “Morning Pages.” This exercise will help you to listen to what The Muse is trying to tell you. Which will “dump the junk.” Which will get your creative shanks out. Which will enable your best work to surface. (Read more on Morning Pages here.)

WRITE THIS DOWN: creating art is about LISTENING.

3. Daily appointments with yourself. This is the perfect way to create daily alignments with your Powers. Every day after your Morning Pages, isolate yourself. Take 15-30 minutes to lay a positive mental foundation for the rest of the day.

Use music, candles, journals, goal sheets, personal mission statements, positive reading material, headphones, pens, coffee and anything else you need to make this appointment the most comfortable. (Read more on Daily Apps here.)

WRITE THIS DOWN: the most important appointment every day is the one with yourself.

If you can practice these three principles every single day, three things will happen.

1. You’ll accept the fact that it’s not YOU creating the art.
2. You’ll humble yourself to the Powers that be.
3. You’ll create (er, dictate) higher quality and higher quantity art that ever before.

Surrender creative control.

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Before we make our move, let’s call...

You’re not an expert.
You’re not a consultant.
You’re not a commodity.
You’re not a salesperson.

You are a trusted adviser.

(At least, that should be your goal.)

And people need to feel like they couldn’t go into the marketplace without your opinion.

Now, by “people” I’m referring to customers, prospects, clients, colleagues, friends, competitors and especially the media.

Whenever they have a problem within YOUR domain, they need to be thinking, “Wait. Before we take the next step, we better call Dave…”

AND THAT’S THE SECRET: positioning yourself as a resource.

The Go-To-Guy. The answer.

I'm actually reading two great books on this topic right now: The Trusted Adviser and Clients for Life.

(FYI, I read five books a week. And I rarely recommend any of them on my blog because, frankly, few of them are worth recommending. But these two are home runs.)

Anyway, to get started becoming a trusted adviser, ask yourself these questions:

1. If everybody did exactly what you said, what would the work look like?
2. If someone paid you $5000 to sit down with you for one hour, what would you tell him?
3. If someone was going to pay you $1000 an hour, what are the questions they’ve got to ask you to get their money’s worth?
4. What are you recognized as being the best at?
5. What are you the obvious expert on?
6. What do I know that other people find valuable?
7. What ideas do you have that you’re afraid people will steal?

OK. Now that you have a blueprint for your expertise, here’s the second step…

DON’T BE SELFISH WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE!!!

Share it with the world! Start a blog, publish a newsletter, hand out philosophy cards, offer free 15-minute consultations, give free talks in your local business community, anything to maintain top of mind awareness!

After all, positioning isn’t about MARKET share; it’s about MIND share.

Become the person people think to call before they take another step.

Become a trusted adviser.

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Are you That Guy?

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Share your three best tips for positioning yourself as a trusted adviser.

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Scott Ginsberg
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

21 definitions of a customer

1. A customer is someone who has a need.

2. A customer is someone whom you deliver value to.

3. A customer is someone who uses what you produce.

4. A customer is someone who has a problem you can fix.

5. A customer is someone who benefits from what you do.

6. A customer is anyone with whom your business engages.

7. A customer is someone who buys your good and service.

8. A customer is someone who participates in your business.

9. A customer is someone who follows, listens to and obeys you.

10. A customer is someone who you depend on for your success.

11. A customer is someone who depends on your for her success.

12. A customer is someone whom you are dealing with right now.

13. A customer is someone you complete a sale or transaction for.

14. A customer is someone who admires or supports your business.

15. A customer is someone who seeks to benefit from your expertise.

16. A customer is someone who advances the cause of your organization.

17. A customer is someone who reads your blog or comes to your website.

18. A customer is someone who has a stake in your company or organization.

19. A customer is someone who can potentially create a perception of your
company.

20. A customer is someone who is affected by the decisions or actions of your
company.

21. A customer is someone who is connected to your organization and can enhance the value of its product and services.

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Scott Ginsberg
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

43 reasons to make lists for EVERYTHING

1. Lists are easy to read.

2. Lists are easy to write.

3. Lists are fun to write.

4. Lists are easier to memorize.

5. Lists are efficient ways to transfer value.

6. Lists force you to clarify your thoughts.

7. Lists beget shorter sentences, which get read FIRST.

8. Lists allow us to easily put information which belongs together in one place.

9. Lists give people who don’t like to organize a great way to organize.

10. Lists make it easy to expand and stretch your main idea.

11. Lists aren’t obsessed with order.

12. Lists make people happy. See, with the acceleration of our culture, when reading online, people don’t even read anymore. They scan.

13. The “architecture,” or creative design and page presentation of a list is easily digestible.

14. Lists “breathe” well. This is a term borrowed from the music world, referring to the space, time and breaths between notes. It’s easier on the ears, or in this case, easier on the eyes.

15. Listing is the simplest, quickest and most efficient way to capture your ideas before they fly away to But You Never Wrote Me Down Land.

16. Lists get pinged, WOW’ed, talked about, linked to, digged and blogged about.

17. Lists appeal to the hyperspeed, A.D.D and quick fix nature of our society.

18. Writing is the basis of all wealth. And listing is the easier form of writing. So, I guess you COULD say, “LISTING is the basis of all wealth.”

19. Lists, unlike the majority of the web’s content, aren’t laborious and annoying to read.

20. We live in The Attention Economy. You don’t REALLY think people are going read paragraph after paragraph after paragraph, do you?

21. Lists demonstrate value and content. For example, which sounds more valuable: “Advice for Small Business Owners,” or “79 Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners”?

22. As Julia Cameron said, “Writing teaches you something: that you never write just what you know. You write what you learn as you’re writing. Ideas come to you and trigger other ideas.”

23. So, lists don’t just benefit the reader. They benefit the writer too.

24. Listing stimulates creativity. Ideas connect with one another, crystallize and produce insights you never would have discovered by writing a five paragraph essay.

25. The human brain is a self-organizing machine. Listing subconsciously creates patterns, groups and “piles” of material that seem to come together on their own.

26. Did I already mention that writing is the basis of all wealth?

27. Which leads me to the next point: lists enable you to “call back” and reemphasize important points in a poignant, yet humorous way. (See #23 and #10)

28. LET ME ASK YA THIS: why are you reading this very list, right now? Did you see it on Digg? Did someone email you the link? Did the title entice you? Make a list of your answers. That will help you understand why lists work.

29. Lists don’t prioritize, segment, take sides or bias any one item; but rather allow you to simply get it all down on paper. And sometimes that’s the hardest part of writing. Because if you don’t write it down, it never happened.

30. Look at the most popular articles, blog posts and tagged stories on the Internet: all lists. Coincidence?

31. Lists help you examine your ideas, thoughts and problems visually in ways that other forms of writing architecture fall short.

32. Lists often force you to come up with an idea quotient. This is a perfect way to motivate your melon!

33. Lists are easy to reuse. You can break up certain items and expand on them in other modules.

34. Lists are really, really easy to print out and distribute to everyone in your office. And they’re conducive to sharing, i.e., “Hey Steve, check out this list of 31 ways to play jokes on your boss!”

35. WHICH REMINDS ME: if you want to see some of the best listers on the web, check out these examples by Gitomer, Godin, Peters and McLeod. (Also, if you want to read ALL of my lists, go here.)

36. Listing is for everybody. Because even if you’re not a good writer (or a writer at all) ANYONE can make a list!

37. Listing sifts through the bullshit. It gives people the guts, the meat, the good stuff, the essence and the cliff notes of your idea. Which is good, because most readers don’t have time (or care) to read anything else.

38. Speaking of readers, remember this: you can’t depend on your readers to connect the dots. Listing punches them in the face. In a friendly way.

39. Also, when you make a list, you don’t think – you react. And that’s when the best stuff usually comes out. Just like in the world of improv.

40. Lists are predictable. When someone sees a blog headline called, “17 lessons learned from this weekend’s bachelor party,” he knows exactly what to expect. And people like predictability because it leads to familiarity, which leads to trust.

41. Lists are edit-friendly. Following the “easy does it” approach to creativity, you can easily add an item or two to your list at your own discretion.

42. Lists are impervious to writer’s block. Because even if you can’t think of anything good to write, you always add an item or two to your list.

(And finally, the 43rd reason to deliver your content with lists…)

43. THINK ABOUT THIS: most of the major religions in the world were founded on lists: The Ten Commandments (Judaism/Christianity), The Five Pillars (Islam), The Four Noble Truths (Buddhism). Now, say what you want about religion. But billions of people have been living by, adhering to, spreading, rewriting and teaching lists for centuries. That’s gotta mean something.

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Scott Ginsberg
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Monday, October 01, 2007

You don't need lessons, pt. 2

(Read part one of this series here!)

Vincent Van Gough took ONE art class during his entire life.

The rest was self-taught.

Pretty shocking, huh?

Similarly, many notable innovators have agreed that lessons weren’t critical to the successful execution of their ideas.

Take Edison, for example.

He went to school for only three months. His teacher thought he couldn’t learn because he had a mental problem!

From that day forth, Edison realized, everything he needed to know about science would be learned from reading books and tinkering with chemicals and telegraph equipment.

Lessons, shmessons!

Now, I don’t mean to reduce the value of having a solid foundation in your area of study. Inventors, innovators, artists and entrepreneurs still need to be brilliant at the basics.

The challenge is to maintain balance.

I like what pacemaker inventor Wilson Greatbatch said:

“I don’t think the problem is too much training. The problem occurs when your training is too narrow and you get yourself on a rigid path of thinking and lose flexibility. Me? I got a masters degree, but the rest was osmosis.”

I also like what Apple founder/creator Steve Wozniak said:

“Teachers were largely a negative influence on me. I read very widely when I was a small kid, and that had the greatest influence on me. We live in a culture that makes it difficult for creativity to express itself properly. I believe in life long learning and self-education. After all, if you could solve all problems with textbooks, there wouldn’t be any real invention.”

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do you balance lessons and being self-taught?

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You don't need lessons. Just go.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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