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Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to Make People Flock to You Like Bees to Honey

Today we’re going to wrap up our discussion becoming known as the most approachable person in your organization.

(If you haven’t read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, knock yourself out.)

So, whether you’re an office professional, middle manager, C-level executive or part of the overnight cleaning crew, executing these strategies will accomplish three goals:

(1) Boost the net worth of your human capital
(2) Attract MORE attention, MORE people and MORE opportunities into your world, and
(3) Reduce the possibility that your company will kick your butt to the curb in this crappy economy.

1. Give others space to be who they are. First, set the tone by giving yourself space to be who YOU are. That’s the hardest part. Owning your Truth and letting it shine – even if parts of it aren’t perfect.

Second, honor and respect the distinctiveness of others. For example, when someone shares his passion – especially when it’s something unusual, obscure or completely opposite of what you do (birding, for example) respond with, “Cool!” or “Wow!” These complimentary, yet objective words will invite the other person to share more, thus eliminating the possibility that he will remain mediocre.

Third, shut up. If you want to give people space to be who they are, just stop talking. Silence is the great arbiter of Truth. Your goal is to learn to play the game called, “Let’s See How Long I Can Get This Person To Talk About What They Love.”

This grants people permission to dig deep inside themselves and express what’s alive and true. And the best part is: You always win. And so does the other person. Because once people have clearly communicated who they are, they can relax. Remember: People need to feel assured that they can be themselves around you. Are you granting others space to talk? Are you granting others space to BE? And what would happen to your career if you became known as the best listener in your organization?

2. Meet and touch people where they are. No judgments. No evaluations. No appraisals. That’s approachable. And, I know: “Not judging people” is easier said than done. Fine. Try this: Articulate what’s occurring. Say what you see. Verbalize your observations. Respond to someone’s immediate experience and dance in the moment with language like, “I noticed,” “It looks like,” and “I have an observation.”

Doing so helps you observe without accusing, insinuate without imposing and describe without prescribing. What’s more, “saying what you see” is objective, non-judgmental, non-comparison based and emotionally unreactive. It’s a statement of observation. An impartial piece of feedback that doesn’t challenge someone’s character or attitude, it simply meets them where they are.

Best yet, it prevents the possibility of leaving somebody feeling unheard. What is this person experiencing because of what is happening? How is it possible that this person could think or behave in this way? And under what circumstances would it make perfect sense to do so?

3. Show people that their feelings are legitimate. Avoid phrases like, “You don’t really feel that way,” “Oh, don’t say that,” or “You’re making too much of a fuss about this.” They come off as insincere and patronizing. And while you may THINK you’re listening, you’re actually doing more damage than if you had said nothing.

I’ve dubbed these rote responses “You’re Not Helping Phrases.” Because that’s exactly what they do – detract from the effectiveness of your listening practice. And especially when you’re dealing with a person who’s upset, angry, suffering or highly emotional, you want to respond as genuinely as possible.

Consider saying, “You have a right to feel that way,” “I would be frustrated too,” or “It’s OK to be upset.” Remember: People are entitled to whatever feelings arise. Your challenge is to honor their current experience. So, watch your words. Regulate your rote responses. Steer clear of platitudes, minimizers, empty promises, shorthand listening techniques and false empathy.

Because the last thing you want someone to think is, “Yeah, you’re NOT helping.” How are you showing people that their feelings are legitimate? What if you saw everyone as important? And what needs to be developed in you to better handle your judgment of others?

4. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. Top Ten Scriptures from the Old Testament, in my opinion. (Zechariah 4:10) And, if you interpret this philosophy from an interactional perspective, it takes on a very cool meaning.

Part of being an approachable leader is the unconditional watering of people’s success seeds. This style of attending to others, as psychologist Carl Rogers wrote, “Accepts an individual’s worth and morality, thereby creating the best possible conditions for personal growth.”

My friend and fellow coach Dixie Gallaspie is a walking translation of this attribute of approachability. That’s what I love about having a conversation with her: The word “can’t” doesn’t exist in her vocabulary. She believes in everybody. She’s a booster, not a buster. A liberator, not a legislator.

And Dixie will ALWAYS value people’s dreams, crazy or impossible as they may sound. Ultimately, her confidence in others changes their confidence in themselves, which, for many of her clients – myself included – has launched their career trajectories.

So, here’s the secret: Regularly enlarge people so they feel less invisible and more essential. Deposit good words inside of them like, “I appreciate you,” “I believe in you” and “I value your dream.” You never know what new beginning your words will initiate. What do people get when they get you? How are you enlarging them? And what, specifically, could you say today to water somebody’s success seeds?

5. Make sure people like themselves when they are with you. It’s not how you feel about you; it’s not how they feel about you; it’s about how THEY feel about THEM. That’s all that matters.

A truly approachable person is one with whom another never feels small. One who forces people to have a good opinion of themselves. One who gets people to feel more highly of themselves. One who helps people recall their high performance patterns.

Suggestion: Don’t just take notes on what people say; tell THEM to take notes on what THEY just said. Here’s how you do it: After somebody shares a powerful insight, look at them and say, “That’s great. Have you written about that yet?” or “WRITE THAT DOWN!!!” Odds are, they’ll smile, possibly blush, and learn to honor their brilliance more often.

I practice this with my colleagues at least three times a week, and it never fails to energize people’s postures – both physically and spiritually. That’s the best part. Their shift in body language as they begin writing demonstrates not only gratitude, but also personal pride. Remember: Help people encounter overlooked aspects of themselves so you can leave people in LOVE with themselves. How do most people feel when they’re around you? How do you leave people? And what, specifically, are you doing every day to make others feel essential?

Do people flock to you like bees to honey?

For the list called, "26 Rapid-Fire Strategies for becoming the Most Approachable Person in Your Organization," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

If they can't come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

Buy Scott's new book and learn daily practices for becoming a more approachable manager!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How to Make Loyalty Vanish

1. Act overworked, annoyed and irrational. That way people will stop asking you so many damn questions.

2. Be pervasively unpredictable.

3. Cling to any available shred of power.

4. Completely ignore the self-interest of everyone but yourself.

5. Create an environment where people are afraid to ask questions.

6. Demonstrate complete and utter unwillingness to understand how other people experience you.

7. Exude a constant sense of scarcity by creating a monopoly on information.

8. Focus all of your efforts on keeping people “satisfied.”

9. Form your vocabulary around the following phrases:

Because I said so. Call back later. Do it anyway. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m off the clock; you’ll have to ask someone else. I’m on break. It’s not my fault. Just look on the website. My boss said I couldn’t. My shift is over. No. Not my problem.

That’s against the rules. That’s not my department. That’s not my job. That’s not our policy. That’s the way we’ve always done it. We don’t do that. Don’t bother me right now. Don’t bring me problems; bring me solutions. Here, you handle this problem. I’m busy. I don’t have time for you right now. I don't want to hear it. I know it’s a holiday, but… I know it’s Saturday, but… I know it’s your day off, but…

In case a bus hits you, I want to make sure you and Karen are inter-changeable. My mind is made up. That is THEE stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. We’re replacing you with this robot… You don’t really feel that way. Your office chair didn’t show up so you’ll be sitting on orange crates for the next two weeks.

10. Give people the illusion that they participated in the decision.

11. Give your customers no reason to be proud to be your customers.

12. Give your employees no reason to be proud to be your employees.

13. Instant and incessant compartmentalization of everyone you meet.

14. Instead of digesting people’s information, think about how you are going to impress them with your next comment.

15. Instead of taking the time to understand things, try this: (1) get angry, and (2) create uninformed opinions based on those emotions.

16. Keep the constant river of bullshit flowing; yet refuse to acknowledge its existence.

17. Lead from a script and manage from a handbook.

18. Make it hard to complain.

19. Monopolize everything but the listening.

20. Prohibit any shred of playfulness.

21. Refuse to acknowledge, listen to or implement the ideas of ANYONE born after 1980.

22. Refuse to demonstrate any loyalty yourself.

23. Refuse to give people insight into how you operate.

24. Return calls slowly.

25. Return emails slowlier.

26. Say as much as possible without actually saying anything.

27. Sell price WAY before value.

28. Share your wisdom and advice at every possibly opportunity, especially when it’s not asked for.

29. Silently demand that people read your mind instead of actually telling them what you’re thinking.

30. When asked questions, immediately reach for ready-made replies and pre-packaged answers.

31. When customers are lined up outside your door, ready to buy, refuse to open your doors even a MINUTE early.

32. When customers are still browsing, ready to buy, refuse to close your doors even a MINUTE late.

33. When people become upset, immediately tell them to “calm down.”

34. When people tell you their problems, reflexively respond with the following five-word lie: “I understand how you feel.”

How are you making loyalty vanish?

For the list called, "12 Ways to Out Service the Competition," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NametagTV: Frontline Best Practices, Vol. 1

Video not working? Click here for Adobe Flash 9.

Watch the original video on NametagTV!

How are you branding your service?

For a list called, "12 Ways to Out Service the Competition," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Satisfaction not enough?
Customers not telling their friends about you?
Want to learn how to deliver unforgettable service?

Buy Scott's new book and learn how to get your frontline IN line!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to Lead from the Heart, not the Handbook

The formula for authentic, approachable leadership is simple:

Heart Over Handbook, Soul Over Script.

That means you need to be CONSISTENT.
Because consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.

That means you need to maintain INTEGRITY.
Because people are listening to the sound of your actions.

That means you need to articulate your BOUNDARIES.
Because if you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you.

That means you need to put a stake in the ground and OWN YOUR TRUTH.
Because if you don’t make a name for yourself, somebody will make one for you.

Now, if you’re the kind of person who says, “Yeah, but I’m not a leader…”

Think again.

We’re all leaders. Even if the only person we ever lead is ourselves. That still counts.

The challenge is doing so authentically. After all, being yourself is hard. As Emerson famously said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Here’s a list of ten practices for leading from the heart, not the handbook...

1. Be the “You” that you always wanted to become. Straight out of Jerry Maguire. That moment when Tom Cruise prints out hundreds of copies of his corporate manifesto called, “The Things We Think, But Do Not Say.” Sure, he got fired the next day. But at least he stopped living a lie. Man. If only more people had cojones like that. What is still lethal inside of you that wants to be transformed?

2. Behave in a manner that is consistent with your self-concept. Act in harmony with the way you see yourself. Live in a way that honors your soul. You’ll find it’s actually a LOT easier than the alternative. Some people fake it till they make it for so long that they never get around to making it. So for you, just start making it. TODAY. Faking is for losers. How could bring more of yourself to this situation?

3. Calculate the cost of NOT standing up for your boundaries here. Literally. Think about what, specifically, would happen to your body if you compromised your truth. Some people would feel a thud in their gut. Others a ping in their chest. Either way, your body never lies to you. Are you able to hold a courageous conversation to reinforce your boundaries?

4. Give people the tools they need to build the world you envision. Just ask yourself the ultimate Back to the Future Question, “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?” Once you’ve written down a few answers, you can customize a framework for the ideal world you hope to build. Then all you have to do is stay within those parameters. What are you building?

5. Imagine what the earlier version of yourself would do in this situation. Of course, that implies you’ve grown. Evolved. Matured. Ripened. And that process ONLY comes from a never-ending desire to add value to yourself. Which means you should probably stop watching television. Come on. You already know who’s going to win American Idol anyway. My money’s on the cute guy with spikey hair and tight jeans. Do you have a remarkable devotion to personal progress?

6. Keep your actions in alignment with the best working model of your identity. Make a list called, “How I Make Decisions.” Write down all the questions you ask yourself throughout the day. Think of it as an Opportunity Filter. A governing document for daily decision-making. This is a fantastic exercise if you haven’t done it yet. A few faves from my list include, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?” and “Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?” If you were you, what would you do in this situation?

7. Leverage your frustration in this situation as motivation to grow into more of the person you’ve always wanted to be. “Breath through it.” That’s what my yoga instructor always says. That every posture – difficult and pretzel-like as it may seem – can always be practiced effectively if you just breathe through it. That’s the secret: Save the drama for yo’ mama and channel that frustration into something more productive. What mission were you mandated to fulfill?

8. Make choices that add wood – not water – to your internal fire. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. Life’s too valuable to work a job that robs you of your true talent and purpose. And life’s too beautiful to spend watching other people pursue their passion while you sit in a cubicle waiting for your boss to go to lunch so you can go take a nap in your car. Does your calendar reflect your passion?

9. Make sure the message you’re currently preaching is the dominant reality of your life. That’s the difference between orthodoxy, which means, “correct thoughts,” and orthopraxy, which means, “correct actions.” It’s about preaching what you practice, not the other way around. Because people don’t give you credit for what they HEAR you SAY consistently. They only give you credit for what they SEE you DO consistently. What type of person do you have to become on the inside to become the person you want to become on the outside?

10. Release the behaviors that are preventing you from making progress towards becoming the best version of yourself. Example: Shrinking from the opportunity to share your eclectic interests with others. Example: Backing away from posting pictures of you. What are you currently doing that makes NO sense at all?

REMEMBER: Honor thy heart, not thy handbook. Surrender to thy soul, not thy script.

What is your definition of Authentic Leadership?

For the list called, "37 Personal Leadership Questions Guaranteed to Shake Your Soul," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Who's quoting YOU?

Check out Scott's Online Quotation Database for a bite-sized education on branding success!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Nametag Guy LIVE: On Anonymity

How much money are you losing by being anonymous?

For the list called, "101 Ways to Create a Powerful Web Presence," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

5 (More) Ways to become the Most Approachable Employee in Your Organization

Today we’re going to continue exploring practices to help you become known as the most approachable person in your organization. (If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2, knock yourself out.)

So, whether you’re an office professional, middle manager, C-level executive or part of the overnight cleaning crew, executing these strategies will accomplish three goals:

(1) Boost the net worth of your human capital
(2) Attract MORE attention, MORE people and MORE opportunities into your world, and
(3) Reduce the possibility that your company will kick your butt to the curb in this crappy economy.

1. Give people permission to comfortably, confidently and consistently BE their true selves. The easiest way to do that is to comfortably, confidently and consistently be YOUR true self first. Here’s a more detailed equation of how this permission process works...

When you know your boundaries, you know who you are.
When you know who you are, you feel more confident.
When you feel more confident, you aren’t threatened by other people’s differences.
When you aren’t threatened by other people’s differences, yours do not threaten them.
When people aren’t threatened by each other, they accept each other.

Ultimately, when you know (and are cool with) WHO you are, you enhance the sense of self of the people you serve. This leads to a stronger, more diverse organization because when people accept each other, the rules change. Cool. Have you pinpointed the conditions under which you inhibit your own self-expression? Does your truthful self-expression inspire other people to do the same? And how different would your office feel if the people who worked there stopped bullshitting each other realized that it’s OK to be vulnerable?

2. Be someone others can be vulnerable and dumm in front of. That’s easy. All you have to do is demonstrate your ignorance and vulnerability first. Several suggestions: Be SMART, but don’t be a Smarty Pants. Practice confident uncertainty. Make questioning easy. Be fundamentally affirmative. Lead with weakness. Admit to temporary brain farts.

Each of these examples a great practice being vulnerable, dumm and naked. THAT’S approachable. Remember: Presenting yourself as better, smarter or cooler than others increases the distance between people. On the other hand, people respect people who are grounded. A person’s faults are what make him or her likable. Does your life take place in the opening or the closing? How naked are you willing to be? And how are you leveraging your vulnerabilities to gain people’s trust?

3. Make it easy for others to be playful around you. In three words: Start with silly. In emails. In conversations. In phone calls. In sales pitches. In meetings. In customer encounters. Incorporate silliness right away. Now, that doesn’t mean trying to be side-splittingly funny with everyone you meet. And that doesn’t mean being a goofball all the time. But the sooner you “lay tile” of comfort and playfulness, the sooner you will take the tension out of your conversations, and the smoother your message will be digested.

Remember: The reason playfulness, excitement and lightness infect people quickly is because humor is the only universal language. So, starting with silly has a cumulative effect: Silliness reduces defensiveness, which increases relaxation, which increases engagement, which increases the likelihood of someone listening to you. Are you getting your first laughs soon enough? When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating playfully? And how much money are you losing by being about as exciting as a pre-season WNBA game?

4. Be empathetic to communication apprehension. If someone is shy, don’t fuel the fire. Humans form their identities based on how others have responded to them in the past. That’s why shy people are shy people. Because other people have consistently TOLD them they were shy people.

If you observe that a person is shy, the last thing you want to do is say, “Don’t be shy!” or “Oh, are you shy sweetheart?” Big mistake. Instead, make yourself accessible outside of group situations for people who are shy in front of others.

Also, as you exit conversations or meetings, remind people that they can still come to you at any time in the future with related questions or ideas, even if it’s after the fact. Ultimately, the goal is to make people better off having communicated with you. How do you treat shy people? Are you someone people could tell anything? And what type of person would you have to become to make even the shyest people willing to open up around you?

5. Be sensitive to others’ experience. Especially when people are highly emotional. Just make sure you don’t to pretend to know what they’re feeling or going through. And just make sure you don’t act like you “get” it. You don’t.

In the words of author Parker Palmer, “Stop peddling a falsehood. No person can fully experience another’s mystery. And stop trying to fix. Be present to their pain. Simply stand respectfully at the edge of that person’s misery.”

Overidentification is counterproductive to effective listening. Instead, acknowledge their emotional experience. Remind them that they’re entitled to their own feelings. And avoid discounting their perception of the situation by placing value or appraising their interpretation as “good” or “bad.”

This is a form of subtle denial, and it REALLY pisses people just. Just let them feel. It’s not good, it’s not bad – it just IS. Are you sensitive to this person’s immediate experience? Are you giving people space to feel what they need to feel? And what values of this person have you violated, and how is that resulting in them shutting down communication?

Are you an Askable Person?

For the list called, "26 Rapid-Fire Strategies for becoming the Most Approachable Person in Your Organization," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

If they can't come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

Buy Scott's new book and learn daily practices for becoming a more approachable manager!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to Influence & Inspire through Imperfection & Inadequacy

Have you ever stared at yourself in the mirror, half-naked, for ninety minutes straight?

It’s painful.

Not physically. But emotionally and spiritually? MAN. It hurts like hell.

That’s why I love practicing yoga: There’s no escape.

No leaving the room. No averting your gaze. No shutting your eyes.

Just a forced confrontation with your physical truth – scars, stretch marks, badonkadonks and all.

And I think that’s part of the appeal. Yoga keeps you honest. Vulnerable. Human.

THE CHALLENGE IS: It’s easy to execute those virtues in a nice warm room with your cushy little yoga mat and nice cold bottle of Gatorade.

But when you get out into the real world, it’s not so easy...

Honesty, vulnerability and humanity threaten the status quo. And in our fear-based, trust-deficient and technology-governed culture, most people aren’t ready to handle that kind of attitudinal shift yet.

Which is a problem, because too many people are becoming alienated from their truth.

THEREFORE: Your duty as a leader is to wake people up by (first) waking yourself up.

You don’t even have practice yoga to do so. Staring at yourself in a mirror, half-naked, for ninety minutes straight isn’t the only doorway to authenticity.

The secret is to influence and inspire people THROUGH your imperfection and inadequacy, not in spite OF it.

Today we’re going to explore eleven ways to do so:

1. Acknowledge and embrace all aspects of who you are. That’s the first step – to admit your truths. The good, the bad AND the hideous. Whether you’re interacting with employees, clients, guests, attendees, colleagues, members, congregants, friends and students – even your own kids – the same universal principle applies.

My suggestion: The earlier, the better. Doing so builds a foundation of credibility and trust, plus it subconsciously grants other people permission to feel comfortable in their truth too. Remember: Living falsehoods is EXHAUSTING. How much extra energy would you conserve if you chose to honor your truth more often? Have you made the choice to take extreme care for your authentic selfhood?

2. Probe your darkness. If you dare, that is. If you’re willing to come face to face with the ugliness that is your Truth. If you’re willing to open the door to yourself and see who the hell you really are. If you’re willing to make friends with all aspects of yourself. Like my yoga instructor says, “Look at yourself in the mirror non-judgmentally. As a reflection and nothing else.”

That’s the next step in developing a working relationship with your screw-ups. It’s not easy but necessary; not fun but fundamental, and not comfortable but constructive. The good news is, once you open the door to your imperfect nature and remove that which blocks the path of truth, the selfhood on which you stand will support you. And you’ll live from the place where nobody can touch you. What shadowy parts of your life are you withholding? Have you made friends with all aspects of yourself? And do you have the courage and ability to show yourself as you truly are?

3. Recognize your shadow. You know that dark spot on your truth? That flawed corner of your character? Love it. Embrace it. Hell, even share it. It’s a crucial component to your humanity, and if you’re not willing to honor and own it, you’re just another chickenshit peddler of personal falsehood.

As Parker Palmer beautifully says, “We will become better not by trying to fill the potholes in our souls but by knowing them so well that we can avoid falling into them.” What potholes in your life are you avoiding? Have you met the darkness within yourself? And what would be the worst thing that could happen if you opened the door to your truth?

4. Be willing to talk about that shadow. You know, the stuff you’re terrified for people to know about you? Yep. It’s time for a Skeleton Party. (I’ll bring cake.) As Sidney Jourard explained in Self-Disclosure, “No man can come to know himself except as a outcome of disclosing himself to another person. Encounters help your to sharpen your sense of your own identity.”

SO: Embrace and endorse your weaknesses. Dare to convey your essence. You’ll establish your acceptance of the imperfect humanness of others. What’s more, when you talk about your darkness, you increase contact with your true self, and, ironically, shed light on what you (really) need to see. Do you have the guts and to show yourself off? When are you most true to yourself? And what are you afraid to know about yourself?

5. Acknowledge your slips. My favorite Nirvana lyric comes from the tune Lithium, where Cobain hauntingly sang, “I’m so ugly, but that’s OK cause so are you.” So, the takeaway is: You’re not perfect. Nobody is. Which, in a sort of Zen way, means that EVERYONE is perfect.

That brings me back to another element of yoga: It transcends body style. No airbrushing allowed. Walk into any studio around the world an you’ll immediately notice the diversity: Fat people, skinny people; big boobs, small boobs; muscular butts, saggy butts.

And that’s just the men.

Here’s what I’ve observed: The people who come off as too perfect and too disciplined and “too” anything are either annoying or lying. What’s worse, when you’re perceived as TOO good, TOO perfect, TOO calculated, TOO impressive, TOO good looking, TOO whatever – people start to wonder. They also start to question. “Is this guy for real?” “How can I compare to that?” “Who’s supposed to relate to this?”

Remember: If people are too busy questioning you; that means they’re not listening to you. On other hand, when you have the self-confidence to acknowledge your slips, you become kind of person people listen TO and are inspired BY. Are you too perfect? Is your suffering too glorious and therefore unrelatable? And do you listen to the way you speak to yourself when you make mistakes?

6. Lead with vulnerability. The willingness to admit that you’re shaking in your sandals instantly humanizes you. Contrary to popular conditioning, vulnerability is attractive. Vulnerability is approachable. Vulnerability is strength.

And, when you have the courage and candor to integrate that openness into your daily conversations, two things happen: (1) you grant people permission to disclose their own vulnerabilities, and (2) they will respond to, and have more respect for you. Remember: Yikes leads to YES. Are someone others can be vulnerable in front of? Do you give people permission to be imperfect? And how are you turning vulnerability into profitability?

7. Practice self-disclosing weaknesses. Look, incompleteness and imperfection are part of life. The secret is learning to be honest about your inadequacies. When you do this, it increases your credibility. That’s what’s great about the yoga mirror. It’s terrifying and difficult for many to see, but it’s great practice with non-judgmental acceptance for all.

The cool part is, the more often you practice being honest with YOURSELF about yourself – yoga or no yoga – the more often you can do so with others. The challenge, of course, is first being courageous enough to look squarely at your own screw-ups, imperfection and vulnerabilities. What’s your system for practicing constant self-confrontation? When was the last time you sat uninterrupted and quiet with just your thoughts?

8. Practice radical honesty. Honesty is much more than simply “not telling a lie.” Honesty is about telling THEE truth, honoring YOUR truth and respecting OTHER PEOPLE’S truth. My suggestion: Start by being microscopically truthful. That’s where honesty shines the brightest. In those little moments where lying would probably be easier and quicker.

Next, try trading honesty for being right. Be willing to look like a complete and inconsistent idiot to practice what Gandhi called “living as close to truth as possible.” People will listen. People will follow. Are you terminally unique? Is your honesty perceived as being self-righteous? And are you really committed, or are you just trying to avoid cognitive dissonance?

9. Practice self-deprecating humor. Few practices of expressing your imperfection are more effective than making fun of yourself. Personally, I do this on a daily basis. Mainly because I have oceans of material.

And what I’ve learned is, self-deprecating humor neutralizes conflict. It makes others want to be around you. It's a key indicator of emotional intelligence. It defuses an otherwise tense or difficult situation. It combines modesty and likeability, while at the same time demonstrating that confidence and self-assurance. Ultimately, when you own (and share) your truth, nothing in the world is viewed as a threat to your sense of self. What a relief! How seriously do you take yourself? Are you the butt of your own jokes? And when was the last time you one-downed somebody?

10. Practice integrating your humanity into your role. I suggest you learn to communicate less perfectly. Eloquence comes (not) from flawlessness but from communicating your Truth in a way that’s relatable, digestible and influential. See, unless you regularly exert your ordinariness, people wall have a hard time spotting your humanity.

There’s a balance. It’s between being admirable; yet relatable. Not being utterly boring; yet not being terminally unique. For more examples of this leadership practice, check out this handy guide to becoming a human being. Are you a robot? How well do you merge ordinariness with remarkability? When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely and honestly?

11. Reduce the distance. Ultimately, approachability means, “to come nearer to.” So, your challenge is to narrow the gap. To melt away the layers that clog, contaminate or close off the communication channels between you and … whoever.

Suggestion: Stop thinking OF – or presenting yourself AS – better, smarter or cooler than the people you lead. You will lose. People are inspired and influenced by those who are grounded. It is a person’s faults that make her likable. Does your life take place in the opening or the closing? How naked are you willing to be? And how are you leveraging your vulnerabilities to gain people’s trust?

OK! Quick summary of the eleven ways to influence and inspire through imperfection and inadequacy:

1. Acknowledge and embrace all aspects of who you are.
2. Probe your darkness.
3. Recognize and visit your shadow.
4. Be willing to talk about that shadow.
5. Acknowledge your slips.
6. Lead with vulnerability.
7. Practice radical honesty.
8. Practice self-deprecating humor.
9. Practice self-disclosing weaknesses.
10. Practice integrating your humanity into your leadership role.
11. Reduce the distance.

As we finish up, I’d like to share a lyric from another one of my favorite songwriters, Glen Phillips. In the song, I Still Love You, he sings the following:

“I've seen the dark spot on your soul. I've felt you cruel. I've held you cold. I know the parts of you that you don't think you show. But I still love you.”

REMEMBER: You will influence & inspire people (not) in spite of, but because of your imperfection & inadequacy.

That’s your responsibility as a leader: To wake people up.

And it starts with waking YOURSELF up first.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take my orange spandex out of the dryer and head over to the yoga studio.

Is your perfection repelling people?

For the list called, "23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

14 Pillars of a Profitable Writing Practice

1. Be due at the page. Go to your rendezvous point every day, sit down and write. Enter the gentle fire, scrape down to your bones and immediately start dancing across the page. Crank the valve of your inner wellsprings and currents, sit with your search and start mining some nuggets.

Search for dazzling visions of pure truth, then spill them onto the page. Look for what is strong and good and commence the revelation of your own true nature. Assert yourself, your beliefs and your values onto the page. Just be sure to keep your writing hand moving so The Editor can’t catch up. What’s your writing schedule?

2. Digest and OWN your experience fully. All that you’ve experienced informs your work. If you have more experiences, your writing will be that much richer. It’s that simple. Deliberately seek out adventures, then transform and render them. When you paint with the brush of your own experience, tapping the fountain of your personal truth, it is impossible to be anything other than unique. What cool thing did you do yesterday?

3. Do experiments everywhere. With thoughts. With things. With people. Non-stop, every single day, with everything. In fact, don’t just do experiments – BE an ongoing experiment. Turn your life into one BIG, fat, juicy hypothesis that constantly gets proven right AND wrong. You’re not just a writer; you’re a scientist. An inventor. What did you experiment with today?

4. Don’t “find” time to write. Wrong sentence. Wrong philosophy. Writers who are serious and real and brilliant don’t “find” time to write. They MAKE time to write. They constantly steal moments from the crowded day.

It’s simple: If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. If you’re too busy to write, you’re not a writer. If you’re unable to MAKE time to write, you’re not a writer. If you’re not making writing your #1 priority, you’re not a writer. Do you (really) need to watch another episode of Law & Order?

5. Don’t think and THEN write. That’s one too many steps. Do that, and I guarantee your thoughts will never make it in time. Instead, learn to think on paper. To write and think at the same time. To finish writing out your thoughts so you can see what it is you’re thinking about. You write to learn what you know.

Remember: Rants are goldmines. Stop yourself mid-sentence when you’re onto something good. Stop talking and start writing. Don’t waste your breath. Write only if to see where your thoughts were about to take you. Capture them onto the page because if you simply release them from your mouth and into the atmosphere, they may disintegrate forever. Have you written about that yet?

6. Don’t write. VOMIT. BLEED. EXCRETE. SWEAT. TRANSMIT. DIVE. EXCAVATE. EXPLORE. Are you partaking in something bigger and stronger than just “writing”?

7. Egg yourself on. Self-motivation is the secret to writing, writing WELL, and writing often. You are the only person who will EVER inch your art further. Nobody has a stake in your writing but YOU. Nobody is going to make you get up and go to work. And if you quit, most of the world will probably never notice.

Oh, and there's no such thing as Writers Block. Only Thinker’s Block. Writers Block is a lie. If you want to avoid writer's block, think more. If you want to write better, think better. How are you fueling your internal motivation?

8. Every word and every sentence has a history. Use dictionaries. Study etymologies. Explore anagrams. Become a wordsmith. Hitch a ride on the invisible timeline of your content. Trust the integrity of your words and find out where they’ve been all you life. How carefully do you chose your words?

9. Everything is fodder. I repeat: Everything. Material. Content. Ingredients. The world is one big-ass idea market, and it’s all F-R-E-E. There is no waiting in line and coupons are irrelevant. If you see something you like and you want, you take it. Then, when you get home, you mix it with related thoughts and conjure something bigger, as you become bigger yourself. From which unusual places do you get your material?

10. Honor and respect. When you feel something, some entity, some beautiful truth, tugging at your soul, don’t you DARE turn your back on it. Adequately respond. Stop what you’re doing, honor it and get it down on paper. Always honor what stops you. Otherwise, you will give it the impression that it’s an annoyance, and it may never bother you again. Oh boy. How many great ideas did you ignore yesterday?

11. Invoke the muse. Art is about getting out of the way and letting the light and truth that lay within be released. So, before you start creating, begin with stillness and silence. Say a prayer. Start chanting. Recite an incantation. Anything that honors and calls that which you are in the service of.

Here's what I do every morning @ 5 AM (sometimes 4) when I start work. It's straight from Eric Maisel’s book, Ten Zen Seconds. The invocation goes like this:

“I am completely stopping … I embrace this moment … I expect nothing … I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge … I am ready to write.”

Then you go to work. You write yourself open. Are you recognizing that you’re at the mercy of your creative impulses?

12. Order comes later. Stop organizing. Just get your ideas down on paper and let them grow slowly and change. Pacemaker inventor Wilson Greatbatch agreed. “I don’t even know what I’m going to do before I try it,” he joked. “The ideal situation is to build something that’s so new and different and exciting, that you ship it out and THEN sit back and say, ‘Now, what have we built?’” Are you suspending the need to organize your work?

13. Penetration. Ultimately, the act of writing your ideas down crystallizes them. And as you re-ingest your new creation that you once yuked out, you now allow it profoundly penetrate you. As a result, your ideas become ingrained upon your consciousness, etched into your brain and solidified into your being. They make you bigger. They become an inseparable part of your person, your expanded soul. And you will never be the same again. What’s penetrating you lately?

14. Steal some snippets. Transplant fragile pieces of ideas – that may not have survived on their own – into your creative world. Like a rescue dog that desperately needs to be removed from an unproductive, growth-prohibiting environment, you save these snippets.

You give them a temporary home. Wash their feet. Nourish their bellies. Then, you stamp them with your seal of approval and send them out into the world (aka, the page), gorgeous and healthy and ready to run like the wild banshees that they are. Are you a creative foster parent?

How profitable is your writing practice?

For the list called, "9 Things Every Writer Needs to do Every Day," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

Rent Scott's Brain today!

Monday, April 20, 2009

How are people changed after having a conversation with you?

Everyone has peeps.

No, not those cute little marshmallow birds you buy on Easter and stick in the microwave until they explode.

I’m talking about your PEOPLE.

Employees. Clients. Guests. Fans. Readers. Listeners. Viewers. Attendees. Colleagues. Members. Congregants. Friends. Students. Hell, even your own kids.

You know, your peeps. Your constituency. Those you serve on a daily basis.

And when it comes to your interactions with these people, there’s a fundamental question that has to be asked:

How are people changed after having a conversation with you?

Too many leaders – and, we’re ALL leaders, by the way – would not be able to answer this question very well.

EXAMPLE: When my company was just starting, I used to valet park nights and weekends at a local hotel to make ends meet...

David, the colossal putz known as my boss, was the kind of guy you'd walk away from a conversation thinking, “You know, maybe chugging three bottles of Armor All isn’t such a bad idea after all...”

Well. I guess that's one way to be changed after having a conversation with someone.

But I digress.

SO, HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: As a leader, you can exert (some) degree of control over the outcomes of your interactions.

Today we’re going to explore a list of eight practices to make sure your peeps are positively changed after having a conversation with you.

1. Open more than just the door. “I don’t understand why people think I’m unapproachable,” leaders say, “I HAVE an open door policy…”

OK, well, that may be true. And that's a good start: Your door may be open. But the real questions people want to know the answer to are: Is your mind open? Is your heart open? And are your ears open? Because if you want to give people permission to come up TO, feel relaxed AROUND, open up WITH, comfortably walk away FROM, and confidently return TO you, some bullshite Open Door Policy ain’t gonna cut it anymore.

Approachability derives from the Latin word apropiare, or “to come nearer to.” Which means being approachable is a combination of three factors:

FIRST: The openness and attractiveness of your personal being as a function of your attitudes, values and core selfhood.

SECOND: The openness and attractiveness of your physical space as a function of your language, behaviors and environment.

THIRD: The openness and attractiveness of your public persona as a function of your reputation, personal brand and visibility.

Keep this philosophy in your mind as you explore the rest of the strategies, as it is the foundation upon which all successful conversations are based. How approachable is your personal being? What about your physical space? And how does that contribute to the approachability of your public persona?

2. Be someone whom others could tell anything. This isn’t some “technique” you use in your conversations. As you already learned, approachability originates from your core. Your truth. Your personhood. Your most honest and vulnerable self. And when you exert that core, your truthfulness leads to trustworthiness. That’s what gives the other person subconscious permission to tell you anything.

Here’s a revealing exercise: Make a list of three people in your life that you feel you could tell anything. Then, for each person, write down WHY you feel that way. Next, ask yourself, “What has she done in the past to achieve that honorable status?” “What attributes of his personality make me feel safe with him?”

Finally, once you’ve extracted all the attributes, honestly assess how you’re embodying and practicing those attributes in your own life. Think about whose “List of People I Could Tell Anything” YOU might be on. Do people feel safe around you? Are you someone others could tell anything? And when was the last time someone told you something they hadn’t told anyone else?

3. Help people like themselves when they’re with you. A truly approachable person never makes another person feel small. He forces others to have good opinions and feel more highly of themselves. People never walk away unheard and always emerge transformed, even in the smallest way.

One of the Phrases That Payses you can use to practice this principle is, “Jim, it’s really beautiful to observe your…” It’s objective and offers proof that you value whatever input they share, be it positive or negative. This gives people permission to come back to you in the future with their ideas, questions, concerns and thoughts. Sure beats someone who constantly demands, “I don’t want problems, I want solutions!”

It’s similar to what Abraham Schmitt writes in The Art of Listening with Love, “Listening IS love, and love always transforms that which it loves.” How are you transforming people by listening and leading with love? How is your open heart building others’ lives? And how do people feel when they’re around you?

4. Make people better off having communicated with you. You can do so by pointing out what people are too close to themselves to hear. This helps people listen to the loudest message their lives are screaming. A few Phrases That Payses might include: “As I silently listened to you, I heard some messages that you yourself couldn’t hear…” and “Mary, here’s what I heard emerging out of everything you shared…”

When you practice this, people don’t just LIKE themselves when they’re with you; they LOVE themselves when they walk away from you. And the best part is (as my friend Dixie likes to remind me), “When people are in love with themselves, they will love whoever made them feel that way. And we do anything for the people we love.” How do you leave people? How are you helping them fall in love with themselves? And what would happen if everyone who walked away from a conversation with you felt better about their truth?

5. Make time spent with you seem longer. Look, I know you’re busy. So, whether you’re interacting with employees, clients, guests, attendees, colleagues, members, congregants, friends and students – even your own kids – the secret is to make their (limited) time with you seem longer. Here’s how:

SIT DOWN. A 2003 study from Columbia University reported that doctors who physically sat down during their consultations were perceived by patients as being in the room three times longer than the doctors who stood up. Wow.

WATCH YOUR EYES. Avoid any movement that seems like you are checking on how much time has passed. No matter how busy you are. No matter how badly you have to pee. Be aware of how often your eyes avert from the speaker and scan clocks, phones, pagers or computer screens. People WILL notice. If you absolutely HAVE to look, do it discreetly or wait until the other person isn’t watching. D’oh!

AVOID THE WORD “ONLY.” In Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness, he explains, “Only is a negative presumption. By simply saying, ‘Come in, I have ten minutes,’ versus, ‘Come in, I ONLY have ten minutes,” you are perceived as someone who gives others enough time.” Otherwise there will be a perpetual undercurrent of resentment. And that tension will give people the impression that your time is more valuable than theirs. Yikes.

Remember: Approachability is about the openness and attractiveness of your physical space as a function of your language, behaviors and environment. What behaviors are accidentally reducing the perceived time spent with you? How could you make that time seem longer? And what would happen to your reputation as a leader if you became known as someone who made time for everyone?

6. Compliment people’s being, not doing. Scrap those cheesy, ass-kissing techniques of complimenting people's clothes or hairstyles. The interpersonal impact of such compliments is directly proportionate to the level of thought required to deliver them: NONE. Besides, you know they look fat in that new suit anyway.

Instead, ask yourself, “What could I say to honor this person’s uniqueness?” “What attributes of her core self do I admire?” and “What facets of his personhood are most attractive?”

The secret is, making someone feel “important” and “valued” and “needed” is no longer enough. If you truly want to win with people, you need to make them feel ESSENTIAL. It’s a word that derives from the Latin essentia, which means, “essence.” And that’s what being an approachable leader is all about. Honoring and loving and acknowledge the essence of another person.

SUGGESTION: For the love of God, don’t place your cell phone on the table while you’re having a face-to-face conversation. Don’t even look at it. I had a client do this four times during a 30-minute consultation last month. Blech. All that signals to people is, “I might be receiving a call from someone who is more important than you.” What impressive part of this person’s BEING could you acknowledge? How will you make her feel essential? And do you really think complimenting her new hairstyle is REALLY going to score any points?

7. Leave a permanent imprint on everyone you meet. Constantly ask yourself the question, “What new world could I open up for this person?” If you allow that challenge to underscore your daily conversations, you WILL alter people’s pulses.

The secret is to give people experiences, not conversations. I’m not talking about a performance. Just an experience. Maybe it’s the experience of feeling deeply listened to without judgment or evaluation. Maybe it’s the experience of having a conversation that wouldn’t usually take place in this person’s life. Or, maybe it’s the experience of mutual vulnerability and humanity via the honest exchange of personal truth.

Just give people experiences. Memories. Moments. What imprint do you leave on people? What memory could you create with this person? And how do you want them to describe the experience of interacting with you?

8. Decide how you want to leave people. Meetings. Interviews Phone calls. Speeches. Brainstorming sessions. Performance reviews. Hallway conversations. Heart to heart discussions with your kids. Whichever interaction you constantly find yourself in, you do have (some) control over how you leave people. Here’s a rapid fire list of examples:

You can leave people wondering. Because you enlisted their creativity.

You can leave people wanting more. Because you emotionally engaged them.

You can leave people curious. Because you built a frame of interest and intrigue.

You can leave people laughing. Because you helped them evoke the humor in their own lives.

You can leave people inspired. Because you enabled them to give birth to their own realizations.

You can leave people thinking differently about themselves. Because you challenged them apply something to their own lives.

You can leave people in love with themselves. Because you honored, respected and made them feel essential.

You can leave people thinking. Because you asked provocative, creative and penetrating questions.

You can leave people reevaluating. Because something you said made them confront themselves.

You can leave people relieved. Because you actually listened to them.

Make your choice. How do you leave people? What do they say as soon as you leave the room? Are they diminished, unaffected, or enlarged after their encounter with you?

OK! Quick recap on today’s lesson:

1. Open more than just the door.
2. Be someone whom others could tell anything.
3. Help people like themselves when they’re with you.
4. Make people better off having communicated with you.
5. Make time spent with you seem longer.
6. Compliment people’s being, not doing.
7. Leave a permanent imprint on everyone you meet.
8. Decide how you want to leave people.

REMEMBER: Part of being an approachable leader depends on how people feel when they walk away from you.

The choice is yours.

Your peeps are waiting.

How are people changed after having a conversation with you?

For the list called, "26 Rapid-Fire Strategies for becoming the Most Approachable Person in Your Organization," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Nametag Guy LIVE: On Brain Candy

Are you Brain Candy or Eye Candy?

For the list called, "10 Ways to become a Smokin' Hot Piece of Brain Candy," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

approachability, approachable, aspect software user conference, business execution, motivational speaker, nametag guy, professional speaker, scott ginsberg, stick yourself out there

Thursday, April 16, 2009

29 Ways to Build a Reputation as an Askable Person

“Nobody ever comes up to me..."

"Nobody ever asks me any questions..."

"What’s WRONG with these people...?


Maybe it’s YOU.

Maybe the reason nobody ever asks you any questions is because you’re NOT perceived as an Askable Person.

Whoa. There’s a counterintuitive thought. Being Askable. Huh.

SO, HERE’S THE SECRET: Forget about “getting” people to ask questions.

Instead, identify and embody the attributes of Askable People, and the rest will fall into place.

Whether you’re a manager, executive, teacher, counselor, parent – or hold any other type of leadership position (ahem, that’s ALL of us) – your approachability is a function of your ASK-ability.

Today we’re going to explore a list of 29 Ways to Build a Reputation as an Askable Person:

1. Acceptance. Recognize that someone has an opinion, even though it may not be your own. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to disagree. Just honor it. Honor = Respect = Trust = Willingness to Ask More Questions.

Otherwise you’ll start to resemble Dilbert’s Pointed Haired Boss, whose management mantra is, “I’m not going to comment – I’ll just look at you until you agree with me.” What is your ego having a hard time accepting?

2. Acknowledge the discomfort. That’s where the difficulty comes from. That’s why people are hesitant to approach you: The topic makes them feel uncomfortable. You need to saddle up on that white elephant and move on. Remember: No Conflict = No Avoidance. What immediate preoccupation do you need to disarm?

3. Assuming blocks openness. She’s too young to talk about this … He’s too old to address this issue … They’re not ready to deal with this yet … Really? According to whom? Your ego? Your insecurity? Google?

Look. Stop justifying. That attitude will seep into your words and actions and, as a result, people won’t want to approach you with their questions. What lies are your assumptions guarding?

4. Be wrong more. Frequent wrongness demonstrates vulnerability, honesty and humanity. That’s the kind person you want to ask questions to because, similar to yourself, he doesn’t have all the answers. When was the last time you said, “I don’t know”?

5. Beware of Emotional Reactivity. The word “emotion” comes from the Latin emotere, which means “disturbance.” Which actually makes sense. See, emotional reactivity is contagious, undermines trust, blocks understanding, creates defensiveness and prevents questions from being asked. Yikes.

Here’s the secret: Next time you get a question that might normally drive you crazy, pause. Take a deep breath before responding. (In through your nose for five seconds – pause – out through your nose for five seconds.) This lowers your heart rate, oxygenates your blood and prevents the activation of the flight/fight response. Otherwise, your reflexive interruptions will fuel the emotional fire. Works in yoga, works in business. How’s your breathing?

6. Body cancels mouth. People don’t just learn from what you say, but how you BEHAVE and react to situations. That’s why it’s easier to tell the truth. Because your body might rat you out. What do people hear when they listen to what you do?

7. Create a Question Friendly Environment (QFE.) A safe space. A non-threatening atmosphere where people (1) feel comfortable, and (2) feel like they have permission to ask anything that's on their minds. I don’t have the space to write more than that, so here’s a more detailed examination on creating a question friendly environment. How do you define the atmosphere needed to ask an answer people questions successfully?

8. Dig deeper. If you can tell that someone HAS a question, but isn’t asking, trying asking yourself: What is behind their reluctance?

Maybe they don’t want to look stupid.
Maybe they think it’s the wrong time to ask.
Maybe they think the answer will be threatening.
Maybe they think their questions aren’t good questions.
Maybe they fear making a big mess and getting in trouble.
Maybe they were ridiculed when they questioned in the past.
Maybe they haven’t discovered a safe place to be vulnerable.
Maybe they don’t want to hold up the discussion/meeting/class.
Maybe they don’t want to appear in need of help or risk ridicule and rejection.

The list goes on and on. Make one for your own leadership situation. I triple dog dare you. Why might your people NOT ask questions?

9. Do your research. Being informed gives you confidence and, therefore, lowers your level of discomfort in an interaction. And, because emotions are contagious, this lowers the other person’s level of discomfort as well.

My suggestion: Make a list called, “101 Questions My (x) Will Probably Ask Me.” (The “x” in that equation stands for your peeps, i.e., students, employees, children.) How much time do you spend preparing to listen?

10. Don’t act embarrassed. If someone asks you a question about a potentially uncomfortable topic (sex usually does the trick) don’t try to diffuse the discomfort by making a joke out of it. That tactic only works in reverse and makes the conversation more uncomfortable.

Instead, work on your poker face. Honor their question despite the fact that you might be giggle like a little schoolgirl on the inside. This form of openness will show the Asker that it’s both acceptable and comfortable to discuss such issues. Does your immature reaction to a word like “penis” prevent people from EVER asking you another question again?

11. Don’t ask, “Why do you want to know?” First of all, never begin a question with the word why. It immediately puts people on the defensive and forces them to justify their question.

Secondly, the motivation behind the question isn’t as important as your willingness to open a dialogue about the question. Third, if you’re respectful, accepting and understanding, don’t worry. The “why” be revealed to you at the right time. What words govern your questions?

12. Don’t be too busy to explain. This communicates two messages to the other person: (1) My time is more valuable than yours, and (2) Your question is not important.

Suggestion: Stop whatever you’re doing and give yourself fully to the other person. Or, if they catch you off guard, book “blank time” in your schedule. How many important conversations does your busyness prevent from ever occurring?

13. Don’t dodge difficult issues. Similar to your ability to handle good news/bad news and positive/negative feedback, also practice handling easy/difficult issues. Both are equally important and require your attention.

Even if you don’t have an answer, by responding with early intervention, you solve small problems before they snowball into big problems. This also proves to the other person that every difficult situation is NOT a crisis.What questions are your people afraid to ask you?

14. Don’t laugh. In almost every episode of The Office, Michael Scott will respond to crazy questions by laughing hysterically or degrading The Asker. This instantly shuts down the communication channel and destroys the desire for future encounters. Plus it makes you want to reach through the television and strangle him.

Similar to “embarrassing” questions, also learn to hold your poker face when you’re asked a question that’s completely illogical. Treat all questions with deep democracy. And don’t laugh at irrational inquiries. Even when you’re convinced the person should be locked up in a mattress-lined cell. Why are you laughing?

15. Don’t pretend you don’t know. First of all, people can tell. You’re not that good of a liar. Secondly, skirting the issue only makes people more reluctant to ask questions in the future.

Thirdly, bad advice and/or failure to communicate leads to uninformed choices, which leads to more work for you down the line. Try saying, “I don’t know, but I can find out…” or “Let’s go google that together.” Are willing to expose your ignorance?

16. Don’t just start answering non-stop. That’s a reaction, or a reflex. You need to respond, which is a choice. Make sure you’re only talking about 30% of the time. Seek to monopolize the listening.

Here’s a good test: If the other person finishes their meal before you, you weren’t listening enough. Or they eat too fast. Are you answering or vomiting?

17. Four words: “I told you so.” This sentence – or any permutation thereof – discontinues communication and makes people start wondering why they even bothered to ask you. Look. People don’t need to be reminded how badly they screwed up.

They need to be reassured that you’re going to (1) love them when they DO screw up, (2) help them prevent the same mistake from being made again, and (3) partner with them to brainstorm lessons learned from those mistakes. Are you giving people permission to fail?

18. Give Askable Reminders. Make it a point to tell people (employees, customer, kids, whomever) that you’re available if they have any questions or problems – no matter how tough they may be.

It’s unwise to assume people feel comfortable seeking you out on the difficult issues. Good verbiage: “What questions do you have?” versus “Do you have any questions.” How are you reinforcing your askablity?

19. Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable. So, it’s a touchy subject – fine. Deal with it. You never learn when you're comfortable anyway.

My suggestion: Channel that discomfort into your breathing or your enthusiasm for the person who asked the question. Don’t try to conceal it, or it will find a home somewhere in your body. Are you willing to stick yourself out there?

20. Go deeper anyway. Be willing to keep talking until they’re satisfied with your answer. Let what you say have an impact on them. Patiently let the pearl sink. Allow your words to profoundly penetrate them. This practice respects their speed of discovery and encourages them to come back to you with question in the future.

On the other hand, if you explain something too quickly – via your head, not your heart – the other person’s level of understanding will resemble the digestive ability of Cookie Monster: All chewing, no swallowing. (Ever notice how he never actually eats any of those cookies? Weird.) How are you speaking to people where they are?

21. Lay a foundation of affirmation. If you want people to come to you and come BACK to you with their questions, respect and trust MUST come first. Here’s why. Acknowledgement is a universal human need. So, listening is initially about affirmation. Making people feel (not just) valued, validated and important; but ESSENTIAL.

Suggestion: Always prime your responses with, “Great question!” or “Wow, that’s a very intelligent question.” Make the question-asker feel smart for asking, no matter what the question. How early are you complimenting people?

22. Lectures lose people. When someone asks you a question, remember these tenets: No advice. No fixing. No platitudes. No “shoulds.” Just cut to the chase. Just give people the meat. Speak to self-interest with meaningful concrete immediacy. Otherwise you’ll make the person instantly regret approaching you with a question and therefore less likely to do re-approach the future.

Here’s the secret: Back and forth. Like a ping-pong match. An answer here, an answer there. Share values without preaching. Establish gentle flow. Remember: If they don’t come to you, they will seek answers elsewhere. Possibly from total idiots, or, worse yet, The Internet. Oh boy. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

23. Practice receiving good AND bad news equally. Otherwise you will scare people. And they’ll assume the only time they can ever approach you is when their ideas are positive.

As such, your unapproachable appearance will stop question asking in its tracks. Are you willing to suspend your judgment and evaluation of what people tell you until you’ve taken adequate time to process their information?

24. Respect confidentiality. Let them know the question is between the two of you. Or, if anonymity is optional, allow people to write their questions on index cards and turn them in. This enables shy people to honesty speak up because their name isn’t on the line. Do people trust you NOT to be a blabbermouth?

25. Seek extreme clarity. Ask people to clarify their question EVEN when you think you understand. Then, wait until you fully understand the question fully before you answer. Don’t view other people’s speech as a tedious interruption of your ideas.

Remember: You rarely hear people complain, “Damn it! I wish you wouldn’t have been so clear in your answer!” How is what you (think) you know thwarting what you need to hear?

26. Turn the table. Consider how YOU would feel asking such question. Or, think about how you DID feel when you asked that same question. Go back in time. Awareness of your own attitudes, values and tendencies is necessary before you can effectively communicate with others. How can your past make you more Askable?

27. Unconditional positive regard. If you log on to the very cool parenting website,, you’ll find a helpful piece on being an Askable Parent. It suggests following:

“Don’t withdraw love or support if what is asked is inappropriate or disappointing.”

Now, even if you’re not a parent, the lesson is still applicable: Love people anyway. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid people who don’t ALLOW questions. (Thanks to Carl Rogers for this one!) What types of questions piss you off?

28. Validate their feelings. Never say, “You don’t really feel that way.” Everyone is entitled to whatever feelings arise. You need to honor whatever surfaces. It’s like in A League of Their Own when manager Tom Hanks yells, “Are you crying? There’s no crying! There’s no crying in baseball!”

Wrong response. Tell people they perfectly deserve to feel the way they do. This is another way to lay a foundation of affirmation. What feelings are you not allowing people to have?

29. Welcome criticism and praise equally. Learn to respond to positive AND negative questions in a supportive, helpful and non-emotionally reactive way. Otherwise people either (1) only ask easy, positive questions, or (2) not ask any questions at all. How open are you to questions that reveal your screw-ups?

REMEMBER: The reason people aren’t coming up to ask you questions (might) have nothing to do with them.

It might have more to do with your Askability. Or lack thereof.

Forget about “getting” people to ask questions. Instead, I challenge you to identify and embody the attributes of Askable People, and let the rest follow suit.

Any questions on that?

Are you an Askable Person?

For the list called, "37 Personal Leadership Questions Guaranteed to Shake Your Soul," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

If they can't come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

Buy Scott's new book and learn daily practices for becoming a more approachable manager!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

12 Ways to Jumpstart Your Creative Metabolism

1. Bathtubbing. That means writing and writing and writing until you get something good. Letting the shanks, the crap, the not-so-good material come out first and swirl into the drain. This allows you to release it without committing to keeping it.

Eventually, once you’ve found your rhythm – the groove and the tempo of your creative nature – and once you stop pumping out cold water and start releasing the hottest, best stuff you got – THEN you jam that rubber plug into the drain and bathe in its beauty. (Here's a great journaling exercise to make this happen.)

The challenge is, you’ve GOT to be in it for the long haul. Because the longer you write, the more likely you are to discover things that weren’t available to you at the onset. Like waiting for the water to turn hot. You’ve got to stand there, naked by shower, holding your hand under the spigot every few minutes, just to see if it’s turned yet. Are you constantly moving until meaning and truth manifest?

2. Be innocent and ignorant. Curiosity, innocence and youth = creativity. So, even if you’re not that sweet little untainted whippersnapper anymore, your goal is to temporary suspend your adult habit of self-criticism.

To silence that goddamn crotchety grownup inside of your head and let your inner child – so beautiful, honest and pure – broadcast his creative spirit and come out to play. Are you growing UP or growing OLD?

3. Creativity is about being uncomfortable. Develop your a tolerance for ambiguity. Fear only the KNOWN. Comfort zones are overrated, anyway. Take fanatical risks. Let’s get glorious! Explore the magnificent foreign terrain of your mind.

And, be comfortable NOT knowing what something is at the beginning, trusting that you’ll figure it out when you get there. Have unshakable faith in those unplaceable thoughts that catch your inner attention. Sure, some ideas may come without any visible anchors, but they DO have a destination. How are you practicing intentional discomfort?

4. Glug, glug, glug. Take a swig and drink in the world. Swish it around for a while like a dental patient and spit it back into the steel basin that is your canvas. What are you drinking in?

5. Observe inner patterns. Never ignore the persistent imagery that touches your soul. It’s a clue. It’s what you should be writing about. So, honor that which constantly invades the landscapes of your dreams, follow it down the rabbit hole and see where it leads. Are your dreams trying to tell you something?

6. Paint, schmaint. Your medium is YOU. The human soul. Not paint. Not clay. Not the written word. YOU. Your life. Your truth. You are the stuff art is made of. What medium are you creating with?

7. Oontz … oontz … oontz. Let the rhythm grab hold of your heart. Boogie all across the page. It’ not a canvas or a page – it’s a dance floor. And the music never stops. Only YOU choose to change the volume. How often are you dancing?

8. Pitch black. You create in the dark, not knowing what else is in the room. But then, when you least expect it, the light suddenly flickers on. And all around you – on the walls, floors and ceilings – you see an illumination of beautiful truth.

BUT, only if you trust your pen, passion, abilities and the inherent geometrical organization of your ideas. Only if you’re willing to (eventually) uncover the intrinsic poetry in your thoughts. Are you willing to create blindly?

9. Refuse to discard hunches. Cherish that moment when your eyes squint, your brow furrows and your head tilts to the side like a curious dog … because you’re noticing something. You’re SEEING something. Something good. Always trust that peripheral perception. (Learn my creative capturing process called "Freezing.")

Be awake to (and respect the integrity OF) the words that seize you and refuse to let you go until you’ve given them careful consideration. And remember to say the most important three words of creative discovery: “Now THAT’S interesting…” What irregularities are you finding to be interesting?

10. Render everything you observe in some way. “Render” comes from the French word, rendre, which means, "To give back, present, yield.” So, you see something. It collides with your brain. Merges with your heart. Co-mingles with your creative soul.

Then, it bounces off of you, returning to the world though the new guise of your own personal filter of truth and passion. Through YOUR eyes. How are you rendering everything you observe?

11. Start anywhere, then go back and let it lead you somewhere. That means transforming vague, non-directed and unharnessed ideas into expanded chunks of creative perfection. That means taking something that (initially) makes no sense, then returning to legitimize it.

Think of it this way: You let the hose run for a while, allowing whatever type of water that wants to come out … to come out. Then, you go back later and jam your thumb into the spout. This narrows, focusing and lasers your idea, casting it into a healthier, more coherent structure. Are you reworking generality into genius?

12. Writing = Wring It. Literally. Another anagram. And what a great word, too. Wring. That means you write and write and write until there’s nothing left to write, at least, for the moment.

You take an idea and squeeze out its essence. Twist out the juice. Gripping so forcefully that the veins in your forearm pop out, mangling your material until SOME meaning comes. Ah, yes, art: The Glorious Squeegee. What did you juice today?

How are you jumpstarting your creative metabolism?

For the list called, "10 Best Books on Creativity You've Never Heard Of," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

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Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

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