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Friday, November 30, 2007

Soften your eyes

Remember those Magic Eye posters from the 90’s?

They were totally cool.

You’d stare into the image.
You’d relax your eyes.
And eventually, a “hidden picture” would appear!



The scientific name for this kind of image is an autostereogram. They allow people to see 3D images by focusing on 2D patterns.

According to the Magic Eye website:

“Autostereograms produce an illusion of depth using only a single image. The computer-generated image repeats a narrow pattern from left to right. Then, by decoupling eye convergence from focusing operations, a viewer is able to trick the brain into seeing a 3D scene.”

Now, if you’ve ever found yourself staring at a Magic Eye poster for an extended period of time, you know how frustrating it can get.

Especially when one of your smarty-pants friends walks by and says, “Hey, look! A sailboat! Cool…”

This makes you want to yell, “No, shut up! I haven’t seen it yet! Go away!”

OK. Settle down. It’s just a picture.

ANYWAY, HERE’S MY QUESTION: what was the difference between your vision and your friend’s vision?

Simple: your friend softened her eyes.

See, we live in a hyperspeed, A.D.D., instant-gratification, advertisement-saturated culture. It’s information overload!

And millions of powerful forces are constantly vying for your precious time and attention.

So, “softening your eyes” is more than just a technique, it’s a philosophy. And it’s not just physical, it’s mental and spiritual as well:

It’s about slowing down.
It’s about noticing the novelties of life.
It’s about studying ordinary things intently.
It’s about making the mundane memorable.
It’s about being mindful of your surroundings.

AND HERE’S THE BEST PART: when you maintain a Soft Eyes Philosophy, three cool things happen:

1. You OPEN your mind to the world around you.

Which means your optical guard lets down.
Which means you’re less likely to neglect key opportunities.
Which means you’re more willing to accept multiple perspectives.

RESULT: more ideas for your business.

2. You OBSERVE patterns quicker and more frequently.

This enables you to make connections between seemingly unrelated things.
This enables you to notice things and give them names.
This enables you to have more creative thoughts.

RESULT: better ideas for your business.

3. You ORGANIZE your thoughts with ease and comfort.

Which helps you filter them through your personal theory of the universe.
Which makes them YOUR unique ideas and theories.
Which makes them easier to spread.

RESULT: word-of-mouth worthy ideas for your business.

All from Softening Your Eyes.

Now, as you’ve probably guessed by now, we’re not exactly talking about Yoga here.

(Although, physically softening your eyes is a great relaxation technique!)

So, if you want to put the Soft Eyes Philosophy into practice, consider this list of 13 leverage questions to ask yourself (and your team) on a daily basis:

1. How are these issues related to each other?
2. How could you use this as an example in your work?
3. How does this fit into your theory of the universe?
4. How does this have to do with your expertise?
5. How is this a symbol or example of you expertise?
6. What did you (just) learn from this experience?
7. What does this have to do with you?
8. What else can be made from this?
9. What else does this make possible?
10. What else is like this?
11. What is around you that you can use?
12. What’s the key idea here, regardless of the context?
13. What’s the Universal Human Emotion?

HERE’S YOUR FINAL CHALLENGE: if you truly want to LIVE this philosophy, try this. Write a few of these questions on sticky notes and post them all around your office!

By practicing QREATIVITY regularly, you will train your eyes to soften regularly.

And a result, EVEN in our crazy-busy, information overload culture:

You will slow down.
You will notice the novelties of life.
You will study ordinary things intently.
You will make the mundane memorable.
You will be mindful of your surroundings.

And you will develop higher quality ideas than ever before.

Even if you (still) can’t see that damn sailboat.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What have you recently discovered by softening your eyes?

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Share your revelation here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

15 Ways to Avoid Writer’s (Thinker's) Block
















Writer’s Block is a myth.

There’s no such thing.

See, writing is merely an extension of thinking.

So, if you hear someone complaining about her insufferable “Writer’s Block,” what she’s REALLY complaining about is her “Thinker’s Block.”

Because she’s not asking enough questions.
Because she’s not taking daily time to think.
Because she’s not maintaining constant curiosity.
Because she’s not viewing the world through her unique lens.

Those are just (some) of the causes of Thinker’s Block.

But there's more. And if you want to avoid it, remember these six words:

CREATE A CONSTANT STREAM OF IDEAS!

Here’s a list of fifteen ways to do so:

1. U NEED 2 REED EVERY DAY. This is the #1 reason people suffer from Thinker’s Block: they don’t read. (And no, US Weekly doesn’t count!) I’m talking about BOOKS. Old and new. Every single day. Also, I suggest reading more than one book at once. Keep reading material in your car, bathroom, briefcase, gym bag, desk and anywhere else you spend a lot of time.

2. Copy your notes. Don’t just read; STUDY! Take copious notes. Write related ideas in the margins. When you’re done, re-copy your notes onto your computer. Store them in a folder called “Book Notes.” Revisit them regularly to refresh your melon.

3. Write everything down. Writing is the basis of all wealth. And if you don’t write it down, it never happened. That’s all I have to say about that.

4. Everything communicates something. But are you paying attention? Probably not. And yes, it’s hard. Especially in such a fast-paced society. So, remember the words of Ferris Bueller: “Life move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while – you could miss it.” What does your hurried lifestyle make you miss out on?

5. Soften your eyes. Literally AND metaphorically. It’s about slowing down and noticing the novelties of life. It’s about being more mindful of your surroundings. Studying ordinary things intently. Are you making the mundane memorable? (More on Eye Softening tomorrow)

6. Think on paper. That way you won’t have to remember anything. So, based on your learning style, use flip charts, whiteboards, voice recognition software, note cards or mind maps to record your thoughts.

7. Capture, capture, capture. Don’t (just) write stuff down. Take pictures. Rip articles out of magazines. Pick up trash and keep it. Save voicemail messages. Keep key emails and letters. Constantly update a folder full of scraps and ideas you jotted down on vomit bags three months ago. You never know when a bad idea might come in handy!

8. Write Morning Pages. These are the single best tools I’ve EVER discovered as a professional writer. They prime the pump, get the creative shanks out and allow your best material to surface. And if you make them a habit every single morning, you will NEVER have Thinker’s Block again. Read how to do Morning Pages here.
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9. Exercise every day. Aka, solvitas perambulatorum. Even if it’s just a fifteen-minute walk. It’s the best way to get the endorphins and dopamine flowing. Best legal high in the world. Best source of ideas in the world. Plus it’s, like, good for your health and stuff.

10. Easy Does It. Keep running lists of quotes, one-liners, great ideas, cool words, websites, pieces of advices and short thoughts. Start documents called “Quotes” and “Ideas.” Just list them and updated them daily. No explanations. Just list. By recording your incomplete, fragmentary association process, you stimulate and inspire highly saturated streams of thought.

11. Perpetually hunt for insight. Inspiration comes unannounced! And your constant stream of ideas flows everywhere. So, actively respond to life. Maintain childlike curiosity and ask, “Why?” to everything you see, hear and experience.

12. Prime your brain. Each morning, affirm that new ideas, concepts and thoughts will come into your mind. Maintain a receptive and creative posture for your mind. Meditate daily. Have daily appointments with yourself to mentally prepare your mind to accept ideas from all sources. Prime your brain and the ideas will come to YOU!

13. Stop organizing. Premature organizing stifles idea generation. Just get it down. Make lots of lists for EVERYTHING. Order comes later. First, puke everything out. Then, don't stop until your cashed. Finally, review (and update) the list over time.

14. Ask and you shall receive. Questions are the basis of all creativity, discoveries, innovation, knowledge, learning and understanding. So, you need to have a readily available list of questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.

15. Punch yourself in the face. Consider writing your motivational questions on sticky notes or on your wall. By keeping them in front of your face at all times, you will challenge yourself AND keep yourself creativity accountable. Potential questions include, “What did you write today?” and “Is everything you know written down somewhere?” REMEMBER: questions are ideas waiting to happen. Learn how to punch yourself in the face here.

With these fifteen ways to create a constant stream of ideas, you melon will be motivated from every possible angle.

And you’ll never have to worry about Writer’s (er, Thinker’s) Block again!

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How do you combat thinker's block?

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Share your tips here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The problem with WHY

Why?

It’s THE crucial question.

It fuels creativity.
It generates answers.
It promotes discovery.

In fact, asking, “Why?” has probably enabled more businesses, more organizations and more people to explore more ideas than any other question in the universe.

That being said, I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about the potential dangers of the word WHY.

Because as routinely as that word is used, it's valuable to understand the possible negative implications. Especially if you hold a managerial or leadership position.

1. WHY? … can be seen as criticism.
Especially if you use the wrong tone of voice or body language.

2. WHY? … can make people feel defensive.
Especially if it conveys judgment, not curiosity; accusations, not observations.

3. WHY? … can force someone to justify his actions.
Which can be tough, because people don’t always know why they do stuff. They just do. And sadly, they (sometimes) don’t give much thought to their motives.

4. WHY? … can be internalized as a personal attack.
This goes WAY back. See, during a child’s socialization process, he hears things like: “Why did you do that?” “Why didn’t you listen to me? “Why did you disobey me?” And these feelings are ingrained in their minds forever.

5. WHY? … can be easily countered with "because."
Because I just DID! Because I just don’t understand! Because I felt like it! Because I said so! Sound familiar? Sound frustrating? See, these “because” answers, while valid, still offer very little information. Plus, they sort of leave you nowhere to go in the conversation. It’s best to avoid the possibility of “because.”

SO, THAT’S THE BIG CHALLENGE: what do you say instead of, “Why?”

I’m glad you asked.

HERE’S THE FIRST SECRET: instead of asking, “Why?” ask, “What?”

WHY … produces generalizations, rationalizations, justifications.
WHAT … uncovers information, specification and motivation.

What, not why.

HERE’S THE SECOND SECRET: use variations like "what," "how," "when," "which," "where."

They’re more objective, less defensive and enable you to depersonalize the question.

What, not why.

HERE’S THE FINAL SECRET: consider these alternative Phrases That Payses:

DON’T ASK: “Why did you…?”
DO ASK: “What was your reason for…?”

DON’T ASK: “Why would you…?”
DO ASK: “How could you have done it differently to avoid this error?”

DON’T ASK: “Why didn’t you…?”
DO ASK: “Where could you have gone to follow the proper procedure?”

DON’T ASK: “Why couldn’t you…”
DO ASK: “What, specifically, were you confused about?”

DON’T ASK: “Why weren’t you…”
DO ASK: “What factors went into your decision to…”

What, not why.

Practice using these alternatives to the often accusatory, potential dangerous “Why?” And as a result, you’ll give people permission to feel comfortable volunteering the information you need to know!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What do you use instead of "Why"?

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Share your Phrases That Payses here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Study ordinary things intently

All creativity begins with curiosity.

About how things work.
About how things could work BETTER.
About why things are the way they are.
About why people do things they way they do.

But don’t MY word for it. Let’s hear what three of the world’s most notable creativity gurus had to say about the value of curiosity…


1. Leonardo Davinci. He called it curiosita, defined as, “An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.”

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding,” Davinci remarked. “Therefore, be always curious and observant.”

2. Edward DeBono. He encourages people to embrace curiosity by constantly saying, “Now that’s interesting…”

“Be able to find interest in almost anything,” DeBono says in How to Have a Beautiful Mind. “Be curious. Explore things. Bring up a discussion. Get people’s opinions, ideas and values. Explore, elaborate and make connections.”

3. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. He reminds us to fascinate ourselves with the ordinary.

“Evaluate critically every novelty you encounter,” he wrote in his book Creativity. “One of the surest ways to enrich life is to make experiences less fleeting.”

LESSON LEARNED: study ordinary things intently.

When you can learn to do this – every single day – three things will happen:

You will BOOST your creativity.
You will FLOOD your mind with new ideas.
You will BUILD a solid foundation of curiosity.

And the combination of those three results will mold your melon into an attractive, valuable commodity that your clients will want to access to.

See, clients don’t want to hire consultants or marketers or coaches – they want to hire cool, smart people who happen to do those things.

So, if you want to use curiosity to attract more ideas (and more clients!), follow this four-step game plan:

1. NOTICE. On a daily basis, take the time to stop what you’re doing and say things like, “Huh. That’s weird,” or “Now that’s interesting…”

2. EXPLORE. Study ordinary things intently. Then, start a dialogue. Ask other people questions like, “So, why do you think she said that?” “Hey, did you guys notice that?” and “It would be interesting to see if…”

3. RECORD. Remember, if you don’t write it down, it never happened! So, consider keeping a Curiosity Journal. Make daily entries about things you noticed and what you learned from them.

4. EXPAND. Continue to learn, ask and research these new ideas you’re curious about. Constantly run them through your personal filter of expertise by asking, “How does this fit into my picture of the universe?”

With these four steps, your curiosity will become a weapon!

Both for you AND the customers you serve.

Now … isn’t that interesting?

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What ordinary thing have you recently studied intently?

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Share your observations here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Things I've recently unlearned, part 3

(Read part 1 of this post series here!)
(Read part 2 of this post series here!)

11. Well-roundedness is overrated. Let go of your past programmed, liberal education mindset. Instead, just get really, really good at one (maybe two) specific things.


THEN, be known for them.
THEN, be the first hit on Google for them.
THEN, let them become your leading attributes.
THEN, keep doing more OF and getting better AT those things.
THEN, let them become your number one income generating activities.
THEN, delegate or outsource the rest.

You have better things to do.

12. You don’t have to please everybody who comes to your website. If you get an angry email from an 81 year-old WWII vet who’s having trouble reading the articles on your website, and that type of person is NOT your target customer, who the hell cares?

Let it go. Just please the people who PAY.

13. You don’t have to prove yourself every ten seconds. This was a BIG realization for someone like me, who tends to be the youngest person in the room.

Let your actions and credentials do that for you. Don’t be so intentional. Relax. People will (eventually) discover how smart and cool you really are. Unless you're a putz.

14. You don’t have to use all your bullets. For example, you don’t have to ask people questions every ten seconds. They might get the feeling you’re interrogating them. Or that they did something wrong. Or that you’re too lazy to think of anything good to say.

See, effective questioning is about the questions, yes; but it’s also got a lot to do with timing.

Two perfectly pitched questions usually beats five rapid-fire questions.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What three things have you recently UN-learned?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Post them here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Friday, November 23, 2007

25 words that were recently added to the dictionary

I just think stuff like this is interesting.

Kind of a neat mirror of our culture.

According to Webster's, these are some of the words that were added to the dictionary last year:

1. bada-bing
2. beer pong
3. belly-up
4. bling
5. breakout
6. Central Casting
7. cross-training
8. de-pants
9. Disneyfication
10. drive-by
11. gay-friendly
12. gross-out
13. hard-ass
14. ill-deserved
15. liposculpture
16. looky-loo
17. low-rent
18. microbrowser
19. off-label
20. Photoshop, v.
21. run-and-gun
22. self-harming
23. self-selecting
24. telemeeting
25. Wi-Fi

(Number 8 is my favorite!)

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What three words would you like to see added in 2008?

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Share your words here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

9 ways to TOTALLY piss off your competition

Ever meet someone who thinks EVERYTHING is a competition?

Kind of silly, isn't it?

I mean, there's nothing wrong with having a competitive spirit.

But it always seemed like a waste of energy to me.

A lot of misplaced, macho anger.

I think that when it comes to your competition, there’s no reason to be mean.


No reason to put them down.
No reason to slash their tires.
No reason to undercut pricing.
No reason to poach their customers.
No reason to talk smack about them on your blog.

On the other hand, there ARE some respectful things you can do (as incidentals of your company’s hard work and success) … that WILL really piss them off.

Such as:

1. Just be really, really good.
2. Call your customers back within the hour.
3. Email your customers back within ten minutes.
4. Have a really, really AMAZING product. (Something I learned from Frank Lucas.)
5. Be the first ten hits on Google.
6. Publish an article or column in the paper your competitors read every week.
7. Give informative and entertaining speeches at the civic clubs and chambers THEY belong to.
8. Have an AMAZING website that's fun, not overly-salesy, builds online community, enables WOM, is content-based and gets LOTS of return hits.
9. Just be really, really good. (Did I mention that already?)

If you do those things, you will (indirectly) destroy the competition.

And you will win.

BECAUSE ... you will have spent your time, energy, efforts, talents, money and skills delivering as much value as possible, not over-aggressively trying to win some corporate pissing contest.

In cone-clusion, I’d like to share a quotation from Richard Connaroe. He’s the author of one of my favorite rare books, Bravely, Bravely in Business.

“Stop making war on the competition and start making love to the customer.”

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's your theory on competition?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
In 25 words or less, post your theory here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's never too early to begin...

It’s never too early to begin
… basting that turkey.

It’s never too early to begin
… being really, really successful.

It’s never too early to begin
… being useful to the world.

It’s never too early to begin
… bending the ears of smart people.

It’s never too early to begin
… building word-of-mouth into your ideas.

It’s never too early to begin
… career exploration.

It’s never too early to begin
… chronicling your adventures and lessons learned.

It’s never too early to begin
… contributing.

It’s never too early to begin
… creating a positive context for your life.

It’s never too early to begin
… developing a professional portfolio.

It’s never too early to begin
… developing yourself.

It’s never too early to begin
… financial education.

It’s never too early to begin
… getting really, really smart.

It’s never too early to begin
… giving back.

It’s never too early to begin
… giving money.

It’s never too early to being
journaling your thoughts.

It’s never too early to begin
… laying the foundation of self-preservation.

It’s never too early to begin
… managing expectations and outcomes.

It’s never too early to begin
… meditating.

It’s never too early to begin
… networking.

It’s never too early to begin
… planning for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It’s never too early to begin
… retirement planning.

It’s never too early to begin
… teaching kids about character.

It’s never too early to begin
… thinking about internships.

It’s never too early to begin
… thinking about usability.

It’s never too early to begin
… validating your existence.

It’s never too early to begin
… writing out your goals and dreams.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Finish this sentence five times: It's never too early to begin...

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Post your thoughts here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't take this wrong way, but...

Framing is everything.

So, when approaching your staff, employees, volunteers or members, be careful of using “Kill Phrases.”

These types of setup comments negatively influence and/or negate whatever comes out of your mouth next.

For example:

1. “With all due respect…”

PROBLEM: people use this as a Get Out of Jail Free Card. A conversational passport to say whatever they want. As if insulting someone is OK if you say this first.

SILENT DIALOG: Oh, great. I bet he’s going to say something disrespectful to me next...

2. “Don’t get defensive…”

PROBLEM: mentioning the mere idea of defensiveness usually causes it.

SILENT DIALOG: Yeah right! Now I probably WILL get defensive about what she says next!

3. “Let me give you some advice…”

PROBLEM: this assumes superiority, even when advice wasn’t requested.

SILENT DIALOG: Um, did I ask for your advice?

4. “Try not to take this personally…”

PROBLEM: creates immediate self-consciousness.

SILENT DIALOG: How can I NOT take this personally?

5. “Don’t take this the wrong way…”

PROBLEM: puts people on the defensive.

SILENT DIALOG: Yep, here comes the insult…

6. “I’m only telling you this for your own good…”

PROBLEM: based on the assumption that the other person KNOWS what’s good for you.

SILENT DIALOG: My own good, or YOUR own comfort?

* * * *

SO REMEMBER: framing is everything.

If you can avoid these Kill Phrases, you will be sure to lay a foundation of approachability for the people you lead.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What other Kill Phrases should you avoid?

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Post your examples here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Friday, November 16, 2007

What's YOUR resume?





The problem with your resume is that YOU wrote it.

Which means it’s kind of biased.

You may as well call it a resu-MEE.

Because that’s what it is: ME saying why ME is so great.

If you want to persuade potential employers, prospects and customers to hire you, remember this: your resume is most effective when someone OTHER than you writes it.

In fact, the word resume comes from the Latin resumere, which means, “to sum up.”

So, your resume is anything (or anyone) that sums up why you rock so hard.

For example:

Your resume is your Google ranking.
Your resume is your comments section on your blog.
Your resume is your testimonial page on your website.
Your resume is your media room on your website.
Your resume is your book review section on Amazon.com.

Your resume is what people are saying about your name.
Your resume is what people are saying AFTER your name.
Your resume is what people are saying behind your back.

Now.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having an actual, traditional resume.

It’s still a valuable professional tool.

JUST KEEP IN MIND: it’s almost 2008.

If someone wants to hire you, she’s going to validate your credibility from multiple sources.

Not just from one piece of paper that YOU wrote.

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

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Next time someone says, "Send me your resume," send them a link like THIS.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things I've recently unlearned, part 2

(Read part 1 of this post series here!)

6. People don’t care what you know or (even) what you’ve done. They care ABOUT, are interested BY and want to learn HOW … you think. Period. That’s the key differentiator.

That’s why your clients keep coming back AND telling their friends about you. Because of the way you think. Because you Have a Beautiful Mind (ahem, top three books I read this year.)

Which means that ideas are your greatest source of income. Which means you better recognize your own thinking patterns. Which means everything you know should be written down somewhere.

7. Principles, not techniques. Techniques, seven-step systems, formulas and tactics can (and will) fail. And many of them are manipulative. And people don't like them. And people can oppose them AND because they CAN come off as contrived and choreographed.

Principles, on the other hand - that is, universally accepted truths - are more effective tools for getting your point across.

And, as usual, are less threatening.

8. Seekers beware. My mentor/friend Arthur Scharff says, “Seeking leadership destroys the journey.”

So, don’t worry about whether or not you’re a leader. Instead, focus on being passionate.

And as a result, people WILL follow you. Hell, they may even call you a leader!

9. The Smarty Pants Wins. Consultants, trainers, speakers, authors, experts … forget about it. All commodities.

Companies don’t want to hire consultants.

They want to hire cool, smart people who happen to do consulting. Or speaking. Or training. Or recruiting. Or financial planning. Or whatever.

LESSON LEARNED: be cool and smart.

Stop boxing your value in with some stupid role or job title.

Don't be "Dave the Consultant."

Be "Dave That Really Smart, Creative, Cool Guy Who Always Has Awesome Ideas That I Think Owns His Own Consulting Firm."

10. That, not what. For example: it doesn’t matter WHAT you write, it only matters THAT you write.

It doesn’t matter WHAT you create, it only matters THAT you create.
It doesn’t matter WHAT you laugh about, it only matters THAT you laugh about.
It doesn’t matter WHAT you do when you’re together, it only matters THAT you’re together.

You get the point. That, not what.

(Read part 3 of this post here!)

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What three things have you recently UN-learned?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Post them here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Boundaries are saviors















Social acceptance ranks among the highest of human needs.

Which is why it’s natural to want to say yes to everybody.

Still, your time is the most precious commodity you have.

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

Which, unfortunately, is why you CAN’T say yes to everybody.

And that’s the big challenge of approachability: choosing your company wisely.

Now. Over the years, I’ve always had trouble saying no.

To friendships.
To lunch offers.
To people’s requests.

I guess I was afraid that if I told people no, they would think of me as "unapproachable."

(Which is sort of a problem if your occupation is to teach approachability!)

So, for many years, I said to yes to pretty much everybody.

And I ended up wasting a lot of time, energy, attention (even money!) on people, projects and pursuits that didn’t match my interests. (For a few extreme examples on this, read Confessions of a Lunch Whore.)

Now, in retrospect, I don’t regret the choice to become more discrete about the company I keep.

Because even though my boundaries were floppy for a long time, I’ve now come to realize a few truths:

You DON’T have to accept every invitation.
You DON’T have to respond to every attention magnet.
You DON’T have to answer every single email you receive.
You DON’T have to stay friends with everyone you’ve met.
You DON’T have to go to lunch with every person who asks.

You DON’T have to pick up the phone every single time it rings.
You DON’T have to work with every client who comes to you for help.
You DON’T have to collapse your agenda for anyone who comes along.
You DON’T have to be friends with every single person you encounter.
You DON’T have to join every organization that wants you as a member.
You DON’T have to give your time to pursuits that don’t match your values.

You get the point.

It’s OK to say no.
It’s OK to turn people down.
It’s OK to choose your company wisely.

That doesn’t make you a snob.

This isn’t about snobbery; this is about discretion.
This isn't about rejecting people; it’s about setting clear boundaries.
This isn't about saying no to others; it’s about saying YES to yourself.


And especially in our hyper-speed, A.D.D., instant-gratification culture, setting boundaries is harder than ever before ... because there are more magnets for your time and attention than ever before.

So, what's the solution?

Well, nothing I can summarize in one blog post!

However, here's a list of required reading to help you master the art of discretion.

NOTE: these six books have been absolutely life changing in the past year.

And I read a LOT.

So, listen up. These dudes are smart:

1. Boundaries, by Cloud & Townsend
2. Where to Draw the Line, by Anne Katherine
3. Crazybusy, by Dr. Edward Hallowell
4. The Power of a Positive No, by William Ury
5. Value Based Fees, by Alan Weiss
6. Finding Water, by Julia Cameron.

Read those books, and you too will learn that boundaries are saviors.

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stick yourself out there!














If you build it, they (might) come.

For that reason, you MUST stick yourself out there.

In three ways:

1. STICK YOURSELF OUT THERE … IN PERSON.

YOUR GOAL: to expand your comfort zone.

In the hallways. In the elevators. In your conversations. At networking events. At conferences. During meetings.

Be willing to do something crazy.

To break people’s patterns.
To violate their expectations.
To be unexpected and unforgettable.
To walk into a room and attract (not seek) attention.

EXAMPLES: your 10-second commercial, your company name, your greetings and your goodbyes.

2. STICK YOURSELF OUT THERE … ON THE WEB.

YOUR GOAL: to expand your web presence.

With blogs. With websites. With videos. With pictures. With articles. With Social Networking.

After all, if you don’t exist on the Internet, you don’t exist.

So, make sure you’re Googleicious.
And easy to find.
And perceived as THE (not “a”) expert.

EXAMPLES: start a blog, publish an ezine, post pictures of you “doing what you do” on Flickr and get a MySpace and Facebook page.

3. STICK YOURSELF OUT THERE … TO THE WORLD.

YOUR GOAL: to expand your opportunities.

To get help. To get better. To get new customers. To get connected to the right people. To get sponsors, champions and mentors.

Fortunately, the universe is responsive and participative.
It is ready at all times to guide and mentor us.
Ask, believe, (work your ass off) and you shall receive.

EXAMPLES: share your goals with others, define your perfect customer and share that with people who can refer you, continually ask, pray and EXPECT the world will deliver your requests.

Stick yourself out there.

CAUTION: when practicing this philosophy; remember that negative outcomes ARE possible.

Beware of haters, piggybackers, bloodsuckers, time-wasters and opportunities disguised as tricks.

All those dangers arise when you stick yourself out there.

But the good news is, fortune favors the bold. So, when you stick yourself out there – in person, on the web and to the world – you will get them to come to you.

"Them" meaning the media.
"Them" meaning new customers.
"Them" meaning your employees, friends and fans.
"Them" meaning opportunities, wealth and lucky breaks.

That’s what approachability is all about.

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Monday, November 12, 2007

How to be TOO approachable

Yes, it IS possible to be TOO approachable.

Here's how...

1. Over actively listen. If you nod TOO much, smile TOO much and agree TOO much, your conversation partner is going not going to like you … TOO much!

Avoid focusing ALL your attention on “coming off as a good listener.” Just relax.

The moment you TRY to be authentic is the moment you STOP being authentic.

Listening is about focusing on the OTHER person’s words; not YOUR own abilities.

2. Early vulnerability. Yes, vulnerability can be approachable. Admitting that you don’t know the answer or have been completely terrified before is a surefire way to encourage comfort.

HOWEVER: don’t be too vulnerable too quickly.

It may come off like you’re trying TOO hard to build rapport. And intentionality often reduces authenticity.

3. Ask too many questions. First of all, it can come off as too goal-oriented, too forced and too planned.

Secondly, it projects a rapport-seeking attitude, instead of rapport-attracting attitude.

Thirdly, it will appear that you have nothing of value to share yourself.

And lastly, asking too many questions makes the other person feel like she’s being interviewed or interrogated.

4. Force the kinesthetic. Lightly touching someone’s arm, elbow or any other non-threatening body part during the conversation is a good tip for building rapport.

Just don’t do it TOO much. People will check you off immediately.

5. Use names too often. If you repeat the person’s name TOO often, it comes off as sales-y, forced and inauthentic.

Depending on the length of your conversation, try to use the other person’s name once at the introduction, once in the middle and once at the goodbye. That’s enough!

Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

NOTE: if you talk for more than seven minutes, it’s OK to
increase Name Drop Frequency.

6. Forced familiarity. Discovering the CPI (Common Point of Interest) is essential for connecting.

But, don’t try TOO hard. Unnecessarily fishing for commonalities can make you look desperate if you’re trying to hard to stretch it.

If you have nothing in common, let it go. Don’t force familiarity.

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Things I’ve recently unlearned, part 1

The only thing cooler than learning is UN-learning.

Changing past programming.
Reconditioning your brain.
Rethinking old-school assumptions.

So, here’s a list (part 1 of 3) of some things I’ve recently UN-learned:

1. Don’t create FOR. Not for anyone or anything. Just create. Detach from outcomes. Be autotelic, not exotelic. And stop trying to label everything. Just do stuff for the purpose of doing stuff. Do it because you love doing it.

This will lower your inhibitions and enable your natural creativity to flow organically.

Heck, you’ll probably create some pretty cool stuff in the process.

And eventually, (hopefully), the “for” will appear on its own. It will be a nice added bonus when someone wants to buy your work. (However, even if they don’t, at least you enjoyed making it!) It’s a win-win.

2. Don’t get, CAUSE. Whether it’s sales, management, creativity or facilitating a group discussion, don’t “get” people to buy. Or listen. Or participate. Or ask questions.

Instead, cause them to do so. Maintaining a “get” mindset creates a pushy attitude.

“Causing,” on the other hand, sounds a lot less threatening.

3. Don’t make your website scream, “Hey! Look at me!” Instead, make it scream, “Here’s exactly what you were looking for!”

I’ve recently realized how the user-generated, “My” Culture created by Google, YouTube and Tivo proves that THEY (meaning customers) call the shots. Not us. (Thanks for this one, Seth Godin)

4. Effective speakers don’t always have to speak. This isn’t just about making powerful pauses; this is about audience engagement. After all, their combined knowledge is probably greater than that of the speaker.

And ironically, the longer amount of time a speaker has to speak (one hour vs. half-day session) the LESS the speaker should be speaking. Weird.

5. Environment, not people. You can’t control people. You can only manage the environment in which they interact.

So, your challenge is to create a healthy, organic, friendly atmosphere that is conducive to whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

(Read part 2 of this post here!)

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

If your clients are not actively telling their friends about you…

Oscar Wilde once remarked, “The only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.”

So, if your customers are not ACTIVELY telling their friends about your business…

1. That means you’re probably selling a dead brand.

2. That means you’re probably different, not unique.

3. That means you’re probably doing something wrong.

4. That means you’re probably perceived as a commodity.

5. That means you’re probably not word of mouth worthy.

6. That means you’re probably creating customers, not FANS.

7. That means you’re probably not getting much new business.

8. That means you’re probably not doing something important.

9. That means you’re probably not as great as you think you are.

10. That means you’re probably boring, unremarkable and normal.

11. That means you’re probably not making the mundane memorable.

12. That means you’re probably spending too much money on marketing.

13. That means you’re probably not expanding your overall customer base.

14. That means you’re probably poorly positioned in their minds, not in the market.

15. That means you’re probably creating customer SATISFACTION, not customer loyalty or insistence.

Look. Word of mouth is everything. And anonymity is your greatest barrier to business success.

SO REMEMBER: businesses that get talked about get more business.

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Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

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If you're clients are not actively telling their friends about you, what (else) does that mean?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More content = more value

Let’s say you publish one article.

And someone reads and enjoys it.

Odds are, that person will think, “Wow, that was a great article!”

Cool.

OK. Now, let’s say you publish a couple HUNDRED articles.

And someone reads and enjoys them.

Odds are, that person will think, “Wow, this guy is brilliant!”

Very cool.

See, they’re no longer complimenting the PIECE.

They’re complimenting the CREATOR.

LESSON LEARNED: more content = more value.

Now, this isn’t just about writing articles.

This is about contributing to a body of work.

A HOT body of work. Your greatest resource as a Creative Professional!

So, let's explore a list of why content is KING:

The more content you have … the better the search engines rank you.
The more content you have … the better an authority you will be.
The more content you have … the bigger your reservoir will grow.

The more content you have … the deeper your expertise will go.
The more content you have … the easier and quicker it will become to compile your projects.
The more content you have … the greater your opportunity for client diversity.

The more content you have … the higher the perception of your expertise.
The more content you have … the higher your average sale will be.
The more content you have … the higher your number of subscribers will be.

The more content you have … the less likely you are to be viewed as a commodity.
The more content you have … the less likely you are to be viewed as a one-trick pony.

The more content you have … the more equity you maintain.
The more content you have … the more hits you will get.
The more content you have … the more money you will earn.
The more content you have … the more options you will have.
The more content you have … the more pre-qualified prospects will seek YOU out.
The more content you have … the more your website will come up in organic searches.
The more content you have … the more the media will come to you.
The more content you have … the more value you can provide.
The more content you have … the more likely customers will find you
The more content you have … the more advertisers will come to you.
The more content you have … the more you can customize every encounter.

The more content you have … the more you will develop and perfect your voice.

The more content you have … the smarter you look.
The more content you have … the stronger your portable sales force is.
The more content you have … the stronger your web presence is.

That’s what happens when you accumulate a HOT body of work.

Because more content = more value.

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How hot is your body of work?

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Brainstorm a list of your three biggest advantages to having more content. Post it here!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Get rich slowly

The other day I saw an advertisement for this intense, three-day Wealth-Building Seminar.

The headline read, “Become a millionaire in ONE WEEKEND!”

And my initial reaction was: Wow, are people really THAT impatient?

But I guess it’s not entirely surprising.

After all, that’s our world: a hyperspeed, A.D.D., instant gratification culture.

So, here’s my counterintuitive thought of the week:

Get rich slowly.

I first heard someone say these three words a few months ago. And they really stood out in my mind.

Get rich slowly.
Slow down. Take your time. Practice impossible patience and let wealth (not money) accumulate.

Get rich slowly.
Not quickly. Not within 18 months. Not by the end of the year. When you’re ready.

Get rich slowly.
Make the transition from “making a lot of money” to “making a contribution” and “growing your business.”

Get rich slowly.
Earn money incidentally, not intentionally. Detach from outcomes and focus on serving, solving and providing value. Don’t worry; the money will come.

Get rich slowly.
After all, if you’ve got something cooking, something worth waiting for, something worth talking about, it’s only a matter of time before you become rich. May as well spend a few years getting your shit together first.

Get rich slowly.
Install long-term, efficient business systems, master your craft and perfect your voice. That way when you DO become rich, you won’t blow it all.

What’s your rush anyway?

It's only a matter of time.

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Monday, November 05, 2007

38 questions that REALLY make you sit back and think

1. Are customers asking to buy a product you don’t presently sell? And if so, what does that tell you? And what are you going to do about it? Listen closely.

2. Are you making people WANT to stand in line and pay higher prices than they know they should? Think Nintendo Wii. Not customers; fans. And not satisfied or even loyal -- insistent. Who loves YOUR stuff?

3. Are you the one with the most information? As Bill Gates said, “Leaders in business are the people and organizations who do an outstanding job with information.” How much intellectual property to you own?

4. Does this person enrich your life in any way? If not, ditch ‘em. Sure, it hurts, but you’ve got to be fair. To yourself AND the other person.

5. Does this statement give you any insight about yourself? It probably does. After all, you learn not from your experiences but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences.

6. How are you closing the credibility gap? Ask yourself this question daily. Because defensiveness always exists.

7. How are you helping your customers build their business? That’s really the end-goal. Improving the client’s condition.

8. How do you avoid being perceived as one-dimensional? You know, typecast. One hit wonder. One trick pony. After all, diversity is equity. What’s your sequel?

9. How long does it take for your ideas to become tangible things? Because ideas are free; but execution is priceless.

10. How many free samples of your work are out there? People need to see you doing what you do. That way, they’ll get hooked and think, “Cool! I want him to do that for me too!” Be like a Drug Dealer.

11. How many listening lessons have you taken? Poor listening is widespread. That’s why very few people can answer this question. And all it takes is a little Googling.

12. How many of your customers are seeking expertise elsewhere because they don’t realize you possess it? Ouch. Kind of makes you want to start blogging, huh?

13. How many thinking lessons have you taken? TWO WORDS: Edward DeBono. Read up.

14. How much time elapses between when your gut tells you there is tension (in a relationship, conversation, etc.) and when your partner hears you talk about that tension? Hopefully, as little time as possible.

15. How quickly do you take action on your new idea? Some people talk a big game. Others actually play in that game. Still, Shakespeare was right: action is eloquence. The choice is yours.

16. In what areas of your life are you most intuitive? A good thing to know about yourself. Also a good thing for other people to know about you.

17. In what ways are you currently obsolete? Ya big dinosaur. Come on. It’s 2007. Almost 2008. Get with the times.

18. Is your life working? Man. Think about THAT for a week.

19. What “does it” for you? For me: Tabasco Slim Jims, non-fiction business books with short chapters and mind-numbing action movies that may or may not star Bruce Willis.

20. What are the questions you (still) can’t believe your customers actually asked you? A great list to make with a few of your coworkers.

21. What are you becoming? Another homerun to think about all week.

22. What are you building? Maybe it’s a house. Or a family. Or an enterprise. Or a following. Or a church. Or a model train. But in the end, we’re all building SOMETHING.

23. What do you know that other people find valuable? Make a list of 101 of them. I triple dog dare you.

24. What do you know that people would pay money to learn? For example, if someone were to pay you $5000 for one hour of your time, what questions would they have to ask to get their money’s worth?

25. What else does this make possible? The ultimate leverage question. Ask daily. Because everything you do should lead to something else you do.

26. What have you recently UN-learned? Think about what you’ve been programmed, conditioned and taught to think over the years. How much of that is bullshit?

27. What ideas are you in love with that might prevent you from seeing clearly? This is especially difficult for artists. Especially when your ideas are your brainchildren. Be honest with yourself.

28. What kind of person do you definitely NOT want to become? A good suggestion is to take a look at the veterans of your industry. Look at their lifestyle, work habits and daily routines. Ask yourself if that’s the kind of person you want to become.

29. What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to add value to your customers? They exist. There’s something (or things) inside you that have not yet been used. Don’t waste them.

30. What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to build your business? Like, what are you really, really good at … that you aren’t presently being paid to do?

31. When was the last time you brought new skills to your clients and prospects? Competence is assumed, friends. Be sure to deliver new value regularly.

32. When was the last time you created new value? Last week? Last month? In 1997? Come on. Do something new.

33. When was the last time you listened, all the way through, to an idea that made you uncomfortable? It’s good for the soul.

34. When you realize it doesn’t apply to you; do you keep listening? Lots of people tune out the speaker in this situation. And that’s why they don’t learn much.

35. Where and when are you an automatic NO or YES? Worth making a list for this one. Something to carry with you at all times. Helps you become the world’s expert on yourself. REMEMBER: people respond to policies.

36. Which people in your life don’t respect your time? Ditch ‘em. Your time is the most precious commodity you have. Stop wasting it on people who don’t respect you. Let them suck the blood of someone else.

37. Who creates fires you waste time putting out? Not an easy list to make, but still a worthwhile investigation.

38. Who values you and your knowledge? Maybe it’s your readers. Or your staff. Or your family. Or a bunch of random strangers on the Internet.

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Here's to SEVEN YEARS of nametagging!

Man, has it really been SEVEN years already?

Wow.

Can't say I ever could have imagined all of this.


2,557 days straight. That's how long I've been wearing a nametag.

Good lord.

Well, here's to seven more years!

-Scott

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Circle of Write

A common barrier to putting the pen to the page is:

“…yeah, but I don’t really LIKE writing.”

That’s cool.

I still suggest you get started.

And here’s why…


1. The more you write, the more you will like writing.

2. The more you like writing, the more you will want to write.

3. The more you want to write, the more thought, time and effort you will put into your writing.

4. The more thought, time and effort you put into your writing, the better your writing will become.

5. The better your writing becomes, the more confidence you will have.

6. The more confidence you have, the more you will write and want to write.

And then the pattern repeats itself. Forever.

I call this “The Circle of Write.”

Creativity guru Mihály Csíkszentmihályi refers to this type of process as a Feedback Loop of Mutual Causation and Reinforcement.

This means, as he explains in Finding Flow, “If you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. And if you are interested in something, you will focus on it.”

So, the effect becomes the cause.

And the cause becomes the effect.

WHICH MEANS: the key to writing is to addict yourself to it.

So, follow The Circle of Write.

And that whole “…yeah, but I don’t really LIKE writing” excuse will become non-existent.

Hakuna-matata!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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