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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Easiest Way to Overcome Your Fear of Writing

BIG QUESTION: Are you afraid of the physical act of writing; or are you afraid of exposing your true self on the page and then being judged on it?

For most writers, the answer is the latter.

Probably because of the whole “bleeding on the page thing.”

Because that’s essentially what writing is.

Sitting down every morning, opening a vein and drenching the canvas with your Truth.

“Like walking across a stage naked,” my mentor used to tell me.

Yikes. Good thing I waxed last night.

SO, THAT’S THE CHALLENGE: Overcoming your initial fear of exposing your Truth.

And I say initial because that fear doesn’t last. Not if you don’t want it to.

Early on in my career as a writer, that fear haunted me for about two years.

Picture this...

I had just graduated of college.
I had just finished my first book.
I had just started my own publishing company.

Not bad. Looked like my writing career was off to a great start.

The problem, however, was this new trend called “blogging.”

Now, at the time (2002-ish), blogging was just starting to get big.

But I had a gut feeling about it. I knew it was on the rise. I knew I wanted to do it. And I knew it would become a powerful tool for building my platform, staying in touch with readers and fans, and sharing my philosophy with the world.

There was just ONE problem.

When you post on a blog, ANYBODY in the world can see it.

Which means they can judge it.
Which means they can judge YOU.
Which means they can find out the Truth about who you really are.

And it’s terrifying to think that they might not like what they see.

Double yikes.

Combine that with the fact that the Internet is FOREVER, it’s understandable why so many writers are initially hesitant to share their work with the world.

SO, HERE’S THE SOLUTION: Write anonymously first.

That's what I did.

Whether you publish a blog, post on message boards or submit articles to online databases, anonymity can be a powerful tool for overcoming your writing apprehension. And in my experience of publishing sans noman, I’ve learned five key lessons:

1. Anonymity Enables Detachment. OK. Maybe your thoughts are too personal, too racey or too controversial – and you don’t want to be personally identified with them. That’s cool. Just DON’T sign your name. Or get a pseudonym. Anything to dissociate from the material.

By writing anonymously, you take your ego out of the equation. You remove the threat of rejection. And this disassociation prevents you from becoming overly defensive when someone reacts negatively (or worse yet, not at all!) to your writing.

WRITE THIS DOWN: Criticism hurts less when it’s attached to your work, not your monogram.

2. Anonymity Builds Confidence. I blogged anonymously for six months before I ever DARED to put my real name on anything. I just stuck myself out there. And even though nothing happened initially; over time, people just started to find me. I’m not sure how. They just did. And they started commenting on my posts, thanking me for my honesty, humor and creativity. What a confidence booster!

Eventually, as those small victories accumulated, I abandoned the anonymous blog and started blogging for REAL. And now, six years later, it’s one of the Top 100 Business Blogs on the Web.

My suggestion: Brainstorm a list of twenty online venues in which you can solidify some solid, small victories. Write your butt off! And be sure to keep a list of those victories and revisit it daily. Over time, you’ll approach a threshold level. And eventually, you’ll feel comfortable making the transition from anonymous to famous!

WRITE THIS DOWN: Confidence builds through small victories.

3. Anonymity Encourages “Process” Writing. When you start an anonymous blog, your goal is to simply write for the sake of writing. To get better. To have fun. No pressure. No expectations. This process is called autotelic creativity, defined by bestselling author Dr. Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi as, “Doing something solely to feel the experience it provides, not to achieve a specific goal.”

This is the best part of writing anonymously. Because even if nobody reads your work, even if you don’t get a single comment from a single reader, at least you got a lot of practice. That’s the lowest common denominator.

WRITE THIS DOWN: When you expect nothing, failure is impossible.

4. Anonymity Invites Truth. Ever been in a crowded movie theater and laughed REALLY loudly at something that you would normally NOT laugh at for fear of being perceived as insensitive? Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles is a perfect example of is.

Remember the scene when the cop on the horse yells at Mongo for illegally parking his animal outside of the saloon? And remember what Mongo does? That’s right. He moseys right up to the horse, PUNCHES it in the kisser and watches it tumble to the dirt.

Now THAT'S funny. And if you had seen that movie in a theater, you probably would have laughed … because nobody could see you. Conversely, if you had actually been STANDING outside the saloon and actually SAW someone punch a horse in the face, you probably wouldn’t have laughed, for fear of being perceived as an insensitive, animal-hating jerk.

According to Bob Mankoff, Humor Anthropologist and editor of The New Yorker Cartoon Book, that’s the way humor works. “When we’re anonymous, there’s no need for self-protection,” he said during a speech I attended in 2006.

The point is: Anonymity invites truth. That’s why hatemail is rarely signed. Anonymity subconsciously grants you permission speak from your core without being held responsible. So, when you publish blog posts, articles or threads on message boards without using your real name, you’ll feel free to speak from the heart. And eventually, as your confidence and comfort increases, soon you’ll feel free write from the heart AND sign your name at the bottom of the page.

WRITE THIS DOWN: It’s impossible to LOSE face if nobody can SEE your face.

5. Anonymity Tests Reader Connection. Two common reasons excuses for NOT writing are, “But nobody wants to read what I have to say,” and “Who would relate to MY boring, ordinary life?”

Well, first of all, the more personal your writing is, the more people will identify with it. “More” meaning “higher numbers of people will read your work,” and more meaning “higher levels of identification with your work.”

Secondly, your everyday life is what people relate to. Just turn on the TV. The most popular programs right now are all reality shows. Or, go back to the 90’s. The most popular comedy in the history of network television was a show about NOTHING!

Lastly, the Internet is a pretty big place. And there’s a market for just about everything. So, just post anyway. You’ll be amazed. My philosophy is, “Whatever you have to say, there’s probably a thousand people somewhere on the Internet who agree with you.”

WRITE THIS DOWN: More Personal = More Fans

- - -

To summarize, there's good and bad news:

THE GOOD NEWS IS: There’s never been a greater time in history to be a writer. From blogs to message boards to Twitter to article databases, the tools available for building your online platform and growing your fan base are endless.

THE BAD NEWS IS: The fear of exposing one’s true self on the page is responsible for the daily death of a million masterpieces.

I challenge you to create an anonymous writing practice for the next six months.

Six months. That’s all I ask. And I PROMISE that eventually, you’ll learn to trust your own voice, to embrace your truth. And once you’ve sufficiently drenched the page with your own blood, you’ll have no problem signing your name after it.

REMEMBER: Walking across a stage naked isn’t so bad when you’ve got a bag over your head.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How are you overcoming your writing fears?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Greatest Branding Secret in the History of Modern Marketing

Nope, it’s got nothing to do with Google.

It’s much, MUCH simpler than that.

The Greatest Branding Secret in the History of Modern Marketing boils down to one word:

Honesty.

Yep. That’s it. Honesty.

Call the Marketing Department for an emergency meeting. This is groundbreaking stuff.

“How are you branding your honesty?”

That’s the question you need to answer. Whether you’re a Fortune 1000 on Wall Street, a thirty-person pizza joint in Decatur or a one-man show working out of your living room alongside your snoring pit bull, you MUST brand your honesty.

For three reasons...

1. People are tired of being lied to.
2. People are sick of wading through the ever-rising tide of corporate and political bullshite.
3. People are forever jaded from the countless times they’ve been burned, duped, fooled, conned, scammed and screwed over.

Like my friend Jeffrey Gitomer says, “If you lie to me, you LOSE me.”

LESSON LEARNED: Truth is currency.

Being honest is actually easier. As Brad Blanton suggests in one of my favorite books, Radical Honesty, “Lying the single cause of all stress.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, every time I notice stress in my own life, I just ask myself, “What lie am I telling that’s causing this stress?”

Because your body will never lie to you.

So, honesty is attractive for two reasons:

First, honestly is attractive because it always has been. It’s a classical value. Few virtues have been around longer that honesty. In fact, there IS no Latin derivative for the word honor. Honor is honor. Honesty is about as Old School as you can get.

Secondly, honesty is attractive because it is rare. And unexpected. And underrated. Which, by way of The Law of Scarcity, almost makes it remarkable. Wow. Isn’t that wild? Something as simple and enduring as honesty has become so rare that it’s become remarkable.

Humph.

SO, HERE’S THE SECRET: Honesty is much more than simply “not telling a lie.”

Honesty is about telling THE truth.
Honesty is about honoring YOUR truth.
Honesty is about respecting OTHER PEOPLE’S truth.

Let’s explore a list of nine daily practices you can start executing TODAY to begin branding your honesty:

1. Be abnormally honest. In 1994, Progressive became the first auto insurance company to provide its rates alongside the rates of other companies. That way, consumers could easily compare and decide, even if they didn’t use Progressive.

Think that honesty has paid off?

You better believe it. Fifteen years later, Progressive is still #1. They realize that even when you say no, you’re still marketing. Even when you say no, you can still position yourself as a resource. And even when you say no, you can still strengthen your credibility. How much money are you losing by not being abnormally honest with your customers? Do you know what you AREN’T? Who could you turn away today that would come back in a year?

2. Be microscopically truthful. That’s where honesty shines the brightest. In those little moments where lying would probably be easier and quicker. So, the secret is simple: Character overrides impulses.

Sometimes you have to trade honesty for being right.

Sometimes you have to be willing to look like a complete and inconsistent idiot to practice what Gandhi called “living as close to truth as possible.”

Don’t worry, people will notice. Probably not all of them. And probably not right away. But they’ll notice. And they’ll remember. Will this lie require another lie? If so, will it be worth it? Or, would you be willing to live with the consequences of being honest?

3. Encourage truthful self-expression. In the aforementioned Radical Honesty, Blanton also says, “Freedom comes from refusing to hide.” Once again, I couldn’t agree more.

This reminds me of Avery, my twelve year-old cousin. Coolest kid ever. At his recent Bar Mitzvah, he wore a black suit, a purple shirt, a green tie and white shoes. It looked bad ASS.

And what’s cool is, any other person in the world probably would have looked like a total putz standing on the pulpit looking like that. But Avery pulled it off. Because he knows how to exert his distinctiveness. He knows how to keep it real. And his truthful self-expression inspires other people to do the same. That’s honesty. What is preventing you from living your truth? Why not try it out tonight? Whose permission are you waiting for?

4. Honesty IS authenticity. There’s a word that’s rapidly approaching the end of its product life cycle. Every time I go to Borders and see (yet) another uninspired book on leadership with the word authenticity in the title, I want to pull it off the shelf and use the dust jacket to slice off my pinky toe. Vlargh.

That’s what’s cool about branding your honesty. It’s not some cliché you smear all over your website. You don’t have to try to be honest.

You just are.
You just do it.
You just tell the truth.
You just honor and respect yours and other people’s truths.

Do that, and you WILL be perceived as authentic. What barriers to authenticity are preventing you from being as successful as you could be? How could regular expressions of honesty annihilate them? And if they did, how much (more) money could you be making?

5. Refine your truthfulness. Take a minute to imagine what it would feel like to live from a place of complete, personal truth. Literally visualize how your daily life would be different.

Phone calls. Emails. Conversations. Meetings. Trips to the grocery store. Your intramural softball team.

Think about what would happen if that kind of honesty permeated every nook and cranny of your life.

Think about what would happen if that kind of honesty spilled over and trickled onto other people’s lives.

Then, think about what you would have to change TODAY to move one step closer to that reality. What is preventing you from living your truth? Why haven’t you given it the finger and told it to sod off yet? Wouldn’t that feel great?

6. Reliability implies honesty. Brands are expectations. Shortcuts. Which means it’s your job to prove customers right. To confirm their suspicions about the value you deliver and the values you stand for – namely, honesty. It also means you need to be (somewhat) predicable. In person. Via email. On the phone. Everywhere.

So, try this: In your office, post a bunch of sticky notes that read, “Is what I’m doing RIGHT NOW consistent with the honesty of our brand?” That should paint you and your coworkers into a good corner. (But first, read my post on how to become a Sticky Note Superstar.) What is the truth at this particular moment? How are you using that to increase your emotional reliability? And what system could you put in place to keep yourself visually accountable?

7. Reinforce brand moments. Any time you do or say something consistent with your brand’s honesty, tell people. For example, if you email a prospect and say, “Well, my consulting fees are available on my website,” don’t forget to punctuate that sentence with, “…because that’s the way I do business,” or “…because that’s what clients have come to expect of me.”

They’ll appreciate your integrity. And people respond to policies. Ultimately, consistency leads to familiarity. Familiarity leads to predictability. Predictability leads to trust. And trust reinforces honesty. How many brand moments will you experience today? Will you be ready to express your brand’s truths and values in a sufficiently beautiful way? And when you do, what will people’s reactions be?

8. Take truth serum. At your next Staff Training, make all your employees watch Liar, Liar. Then have a discussion about honesty. Start off by asking: What would happen if you were forced to go an ENTIRE workday without telling a lie? That’ll promote an interesting discussion!

Then, have each person make a list of ten lies they told yesterday. From the littlest white lie like, “Well, I’ve gotta get back to my cubicle, Dave,” to “Yes, Mr. Jackson, my manager tells me those cockroaches come free with your steak.” Another fun team building exercise!

Lastly, require each of your employees to take truth serum. Literally. Challenge them to go ONE DAY without telling a single lie. The results will be staggering. How many lies did YOU tell yesterday? How many of them required a second lie? Isn’t about time you started tellin the truth, Abe?

9. Choose truth over consistency. In the book The Tao of Inner Peace, Diane Draher puts it perfectly: “We must never let a cause, organization or a relationship so completely eclipse our lives that we forget who we are.”

Amen to that. As my mistakes have taught me, there comes a point where commitment can actually become a detriment. After all, what good is being committed if your commitment causes you to dishonor your Truth?

So, we need to be careful that psychological and social pressure doesn’t prevent us from making mistakes. Yes, constantly remind people of your commitment … BUT … let go of the need to do so for sole the purpose of strengthening your own position. Embrace your imperfect humanness! Honesty is more important. Choose truth over consistency. 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?

TO SUMMARIZE: Be abnormally honest. Be microscopically truthful. Encourage truthful self-expression. Honesty IS authenticity. Refine your truthfulness. Reliability implies honesty. Reinforce brand moments. Take truth serum. Choose truth over consistency.

REMEMBER: People are tired of being lied to.

If you REALLY want to stick yourself out there, start by being honest.

It’s the greatest branding secret in the history of modern marketing.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How are you branding your honesty?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "6 Ways to Out Position Your 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Save Your Company $80,000 in Marketing Costs

Marketing is simple:

Create a product that people can stumble upon, obsess over, fall in love with, become addicted to and tell their friends about.

There ya go. I just saved your company $80,000 in marketing costs.

You’re welcome.

- - -

OK, so, maybe marketing isn’t THAT simple.

Today’s post is about how to make your website more findable, more obsessable, more lovable, more addictable and more spreadable. For each of these five attributes, we’ll explore one example, a few strategies and one exercise.

Let class begin...

1. BE FINDABLE. You need to create a Visibility Plan. Not a Marketing Plan. Not a Business Plan. A Visibility Plan. My immediate suggestions: Use Social Bookmarking tags. Blog every day. Tweet several times a day. Use Facebook strategically, not annoyingly. Post articles on www.ezinearticles.com regularly.

As far as SEO? Google Ad Words? Sponsored links? Sure. Go for it. Do what you have to do to get people to your site (unethical and illegal strategies notwithstanding). Remember, people can’t obsess over, fall in love with, become addicted to and tell their friends about something they can’t find.

EXAMPLE: I noticed an immediate increase in traffic, comments and outreach emails from readers of my blog the DAY I added the Share This Tool Bar at the end of each post.

Here’s how YOU can become more findable today:

a. Take every interview. It doesn’t matter if it’s USA Today, some blogger in Taiwan or a local high school journalism class. If somebody wants to interview you, your answer is, “What time is good for you?”

Interviews lead to more interviews. Interviews get traffic. Interviews are great practice talking about your product. Interviews instantly position you in a leadership role. Here's a cool one I did with Dean Jackson the other day.

What’s more, sometimes your best interviews come from the most unlikely places. I know my best interview did. How many interviews have you turned down because the publication didn’t have the words, “New York Times” in the title?

b. Writing attracts traffic. Other than doing hundreds of interviews, my #1 source of traffic comes from writing. 1000+ blog posts. 700+ articles. 300+ tweets. That’s how people find me. LOTS of people.

As such, I’m one of the most googleicious writers on the web. And the best part is, each of the tentacles in my Octopus Marketing Strategy actually delivers solid, unique value. What did you write today? Is everything you know written down somewhere? And how many ideas did you lose last month because you said to yourself, “Eh, I’ll write it down later”?

EXERCISE: How did you “find” the last five websites YOU fell in love with? What were the exact steps that took you to those sites? Make a list, extract the commonalities and then emulate those attributes in your own business.

2. BE OBSESSABLE. The word “obsess” comes from the Latin obsidere, which means, “to occupy.” Hmm. Interesting. I wonder if all this blather about “hits” is a misnomer. Maybe “hits” don’t mean anything. Maybe “hits” is an acronym for “How Idiots Track Sales.”

Perhaps what’s more important is how LONG people stay on your site, if they come BACK regularly, and if they’re the RIGHT people. To quote Seth Godin from Meatball Sundae, “How many eyeballs isn’t as important as whose eyeballs.”

EXAMPLE: My girlfriend is a knitter. She spends at least an hour a day on
Ravelry. She’s obsessed with it. So, out of curiosity, I looked over her shoulder one night to see what this online knitting community was all about.

After only a few minutes, I GOT it. I realized why she obsessed over Ravelry. (Keep in mind – I couldn’t knit a stitch if a Yarn Terrorist was holding me up at needlepoint.) But still, I got it. I saw the light (er, fiber.) So, do yourself a favor. Just go to Ravelry and poke around. You’ll see what I mean. It’s quite obsessable.

Here’s how YOU can become more obsessable today:

a. Be a destination, not a website. A “website” is not going to get people to come TO, hang out AT and tell their friends ABOUT anything. It needs to be much more than just information. It needs to be interactive. It needs to be participative.

It needs to be updated regularly. It needs to be THEE source, THEE go-to-place, the El Dorado, The Mecca … for a certain kind of people who want a certain kind of thing. In short: A destination. Why would someone come to (and stay at) your website for more than 60 seconds? Why would someone return to your website consistently?

b. Make passion palpable. The more your website (er, destination) revolves around passion, the easier it is for you to win. And the easier it is for your visitors to win. The challenge is creating an interactive environment where healthy participation naturally emerges. An environment that enables, supports and rewards authentic dialogue.

That’s the best part. If you create the right kind of environment, the right atmosphere, the right space and the right energy, the people inside of it will take care of themselves. How does your website build community? How many of your customers are talking to each other?

EXERCISE: Which five websites are you obsessed with? Why? How did that obsession grow over time? Make a list, extract the commonalities and then emulate those attributes in your own business.

3. BE LOVABLE. Not cute or cuddly. Attractive. A dream-come-true for your particular niche, audience or customer. Something that when they arrive at the website, they think to themselves, “OMG. This is SO for me!” “Thank you Jesus!” and “Where have you BEEN all my life?”

Essentially, you need to be the answer to the following longing, which I’ve dubbed The Ultimate Dream Statement:

“I wish there was an (x) so I wouldn’t have to (y).”

EXAMPLE: Think about your iPod. You LOVE it, don’t you? Of course you do. Dude, I’m thinking about eloping to Tahoe with mine. (This is payback for my girlfriend’s love affair with her yarn.)

Anyway, I imagine that Steve Jobs was sitting around Apple one day thinking, “Man, I wish there was an easy way to compile all of my music onto a compact, digital storage device so I wouldn’t have to schlep 100 CD’s in my car, to work and on the plane!” 150 million iPods later, I’d say his idea was pretty lovable.

Here’s how YOU can become more lovable today:

a. Pleasure and pain. Those are the only human motivators that matter. Your challenge is to make people’s dreams come true while simultaneously helping them avoid something frustrating. I suggest doing a Google search for, “This site is awesome because,” and “I love this site.” See if you can’t find a few Top Ten Lists of highly lovable sites. Take notes. What sites do other people find lovable? How could your site mirror those qualities?

b. Free research. Listen to what people are complaining about. Do another a Google search for “I wish there was a,” and “so I wouldn’t have to.” You’ll find hundreds of blogs, message boards and forums, each of which will provide a window into the psyche of online buyers. Whom are you listening to? What do people need to hear to fall in love with you?

EXERCISE: Which five websites recently made you exclaim, “Dude, I LOVE this site!” Why? What about them, specifically AND generally, did you love? Make a list, extract the commonalities and then emulate those attributes in your own business.

4. BE ADDICTABLE. Think Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. Think, “I can’t quit you!” That’s what you’re going for. People who can’t quit you. Because if you can get to that point, they’re no longer people. They’re fans. And they’re lightyears beyond “satisfied” or “loyal.” They’re INSISTENT.

EXAMPLE: I get emails about once a week from viewers of NametagTV that say, “I just spent the last two hours watching videos on your site!” or “I think I’ve seen every video you have!” And I’m thinking, “Good. Thank you. Glad you liked them. There’s more where that came from…”

Here’s how YOU can become more addictable today:

a. Update content regularly. Websites are like newspapers – nobody wants to read them if they’re two years old. (Thanks for that one, Greg Peters.) Whether it’s videos, pictures, music, articles or recipes, your need new content. Like, every day. If not every day then every week.

Remember: Familiar structures lead to mental laziness. As a result, people’s brains filter out unchanging backgrounds because, in their minds, there’s no need to pay attention. It’s called The Caveman Effect. Learn it. When was the lat time you refreshed YOUR content? Is your website a dinosaur?

b. Have depth. Don’t have a few videos or pictures here and there. Have dozens. Hundreds. Thousands! The more the better. The goal is to gently and respectfully suck people into your vortex of content so they lose track of time.

Think Vegas. Think Casinos. “No windows, no clocks.” Minus the mobsters, of course. When was the last time someone told you, “I just spend the last two hours on your site!”

EXERCISE: What five sites are you currently addicted to? How did you become addicted to them? And what still brings you back every day? Make a list, extract the commonalities and then emulate those attributes in your own business.

5. BE SPREADABLE. Businesses that get talked about GET more business. Period. And if people aren’t actively telling their friends about your website, it don’t exist. Period. So, the challenge isn’t to “go viral” or “get people to start talking about you,” bur rather, to create an environment in which WOM is most likely to occur.

EXAMPLE: Cake Wrecks is the single funniest blog I’ve ever read in my life. It makes my day, every day. I’m addicted to it, I’m obsessed with it, I love talking about it, and I’m (now) spreading the word about it. Oh, and did I mention Jen averages about 196 comments on each post? Holy Butter Cream Batman!

Here’s how YOU can become more spreadable today:

a. Make it Moo. Build remarkability into your ideas before they go public.
b. Free is key. If you want it to be viral, (some) of your content HAS to be free.
c. Images, not words. Stop lying to yourself. Nobody’s going to read all that copy. Write less. Hemingway said that shorter sentences win. They do.
d. Use RSS. It’s the best tool for building your permission asset.
e. Give fans megaphones. Find people that have big mouths, market to them and then get out of the way.
f. Simple. Simplicity is better, quicker, easier and most importantly, what customers crave.

EXERCISE: What are the last five sites you sent all your friends to, or blogged about? What motivated you to spread the word? And how did people respond once they took your recommendation? Make a list, extract the commonalities and then emulate those attributes in your own business.

- - -

NOTE: The secret to this whole process is remembering to listen.

And I mean REALLY listen.

So, any time people start telling you how they stumbled upon, why they obsess over, how they fell in love with, what makes them addicted to or how many friends they told about your site, STOP TALKING.

Write it down. Right then and there, right in front of them. Capture the exact words they say. It’s not only good market research; it also makes them feel essential, helpful and valued.

REMEMBER: Be findable. Be obsessable. Be lovable. Be addictable. Be spreadable.

That’s marketing in a nutshell.

Enjoy your $80,000!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Who's finding, obsessing over, loving, addicted to and spreading the word about YOU?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Attributes of Approachable Leaders, Pt. 5













Past Posts In This Series
ATTRIBUTE #1: Have conversations that change people.
ATTRIBUTE #2: Meet people where they are.
ATTRIBUTE #3: Vortex people in.
ATTRIBUTE #4: Share the spotlight.

Today's Post
ATTRIBUTE #5: Respond to what IS.

- - -

PICTURE THIS: You’re a beginning Bikram Yoga student.

It’s only your third class ever. The room is sweltering. Sweat pours out of your body like a car wash. Muscles you didn’t even know you had ache and burn. Worst of all, your bottle of cold water is running dangerously low.

To make matters more intimidating, surrounding you are all veteran students, most of whom are contorted into pretzel-like positions you’ve only seen in the Olympics.

How would you feel? Uncomfortable? Hopeless? Ready to walk out of the room?

Me too. In fact, during my first few yoga classes, I felt all of the above.

But I’ll never forget what my instructor, JJ, said me during one particular practice...

I remember experiencing a combination of exhaustion and disappointment. I just couldn’t control my breathing. There was no way I could stay in the posture any longer.

So, I fell out.

Which was no big deal. Happens to everyone.

I plopped down on my mat to take a brief rest. JJ noticed, smiled, and said seven unexpected words:

“Thank you for listening to your body.”

Huh.

Thank you for listening to your body? But I messed up! I fell out of posture. Why would the instructor be THANKING me?

And then, as I lay there trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion, it started to make sense.

Although everyone “falls out of posture” from time to time – in yoga or in life – NOT everyone has the experience of an instructor – a LEADER – who positively responds to them without judgment, evaluation or criticism.

JJ just as easily could have said, “Woops!” or “Ooh, tough break…” or “Scott! Get your lazy ass back in the posture!”

But she didn’t. She thanked me for listening to my body.

And I never forgot that.

So, I share this story because I’m curious how YOU – as a teacher, leader, manager, helper, whatever – respond to YOUR people when they “fall out of posture.”

Are you constructive or harsh?
Are you appraising or critical?
Are you judgmental or thankful?
Are you directive or dictatorial?
Are you fascinated or frustrated?
Are you descriptive or prescriptive?

These categories of responses (not reactions, but responses) dance along the fine line of approachability. The challenge is becoming aware of how your words, actions and attitudes shape the behaviors people you serve.

Let’s revisit JJ’s phrase – "Thank you for listening to your body" - and explore the elements behind it that make it successful:

1. It’s rooted in gratitude. Saying thank you is a form of recognition. It demonstrates empathy and concern. What’s more, it immediately puts a positive spin on an otherwise negative situation. It’s the difference between, “Oh, I’m sooooo sorry!” and “Thanks for letting me know about that…”

ASK YOURSELF: How are your words laying a foundation of affirmation and positivity?

2. It’s non-threatening and diffusing. That means “encountering” people (which fosters awareness) as opposed to “confronting” people, (which elicits defensiveness.) It’s the difference between telling an employee, “Steve! Get your butt into my office right now!” versus, “Hey Steve, I need your help…”

ASK YOURSELF: Do your words alienate or engage? Do your words sound like suggestions or orders? Do your ideas liberate or imprison people?

3. It’s fair and unembarrassing. Over the years, I’ve had yoga teachers that will straight up humiliate you during class. And while I “get” why they do it, I don’t find that style to be particular effective. The challenge, as an approachable leader, is helping people, not correcting them. That means offering suggestions, not criticisms. And that means walking the fine line between accountability and EDIT-ability. (Thanks for that last one, Joe Meyers.)

ASK YOURSELF: Are you giving people permission or shutting people down?

4. It’s unexpectedly complimentary. Whenever you attempt to help, correct or improve someone’s behavior, always open with an affirmation or compliment about something they’ve already done correct. This paves the way with positivity and makes people more receptive to receiving feedback.

ASK YOURSELF: What has this person done right that I could compliment first?

5. It’s based on mutual honor and respect. When JJ said, “Thank you for listening to your body,” it felt like we were having a conversation, not a lecture. So, this approach to leadership is the difference between giving people frameworks (which are flexible) as opposed to formulas (which are reductive.)

Think of it this way: In college, do you remember doing the bobble-head-doze-off-jolt-back-awake move during lectures? How many times did that happen during conversations? Answer: Much less.

ASK YOURSELF: Are you giving lectures or having conversations? Do you require progress or perfection?

6. It’s responsive instead of reactive. Reacting is a reflex; responding is a choice. As an approachable leader, if you want to monopolize the listening, don’t bulldoze. Don’t take over. Don’t try to fix or solve. And don’t add too much value to the conversation. Just dance in the moment and respond to the other person’s immediate experience.

ASK YOURSELF: Is this an observation or an accusation? Is this an observation or an interpretation? And are you granting this person enough space to BE and SAY what is true?

7. It’s using non-judgmental, non-evaluative, non-critical language. Every yoga teacher is different. Different words, different teaching style, different everything. And while I respect each instructor’s unique personality, when you have a teacher that’s overly critical or intimidating, your practice suffers as a result. I wonder how YOUR personality is affecting people’s performance levels…

ASK YOURSELF: Is this an observation or a judgment? Are you giving advice, evaluation, or feedback? Are you informing people or controlling them?

OK, let’s recap:

The Phrases That Payses was, “Thank you for listening to your body.”

Now, unless you’re a yoga instructor, I doubt you’re going to say that sentence with any frequency. On the other hand, as a manager, teacher, parent or whatever other role you find yourself in, remember the elements behind those seven words:

1. Gratitude.
2. Non-threatening and diffusing.
3. Fair and unembarrassing.
4. Complimentary
5. Mutual honor and respect.
6. Responsive instead of reactive.
7. Non-judgmental, non-evaluative, non-critical language.

Imagine what would happen to your organization if your daily leadership activities revolved around THOSE practices.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get to yoga class.

I hope JJ is teaching...

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What do you think makes an Approachable Leader?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "8 Phrases That Payses to Reduce Emotional Reactivity," 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Monday, February 23, 2009

How Thought Leaders Can Create an Unquestionable Knowledge Base

As a Thought Leader, you need to be a master of your subject.

That means staying relevant.
That means always challenging yourself.
That means constantly updating, refining and deepening your expertise.

IN SHORT: You need to be able to talk forever.

That’s always been one of my favorite pieces of wisdom: You need to be able to talk forever. And I’ll never forget the first time that sentence profoundly penetrated me:

Denver. February 12, 2007. National Speakers Association Winter Workshop.

A man named Mike Harrison, a veteran from the broadcasting industry, delivered the lunch keynote. Irreverent, brilliant, grizzled, Mike shared powerful wisdom from fifty years of award-winning broadcast excellence.

Namely, his days working at a radio station with Ronald Reagan.

As Mr. Harrison explained, during one game between the Cubs and Cardinals that was tied 0-0 in the 9th inning, the telegraph went dead.

Without as much as blinking, Reagan smoothly improvised a fictional play-by-play until the wire was restored. He wasn’t even there and millions of listeners had no idea.

Because Ronald Reagan could talk forever.

What about you? Could YOU talk forever?

I hope so. Your role as a Thought Leader depends on it...

Here’s a list of four strategies for creating an unquestionable knowledge base.

1. “Have I written about that yet?” The moment you learn something new, pause and ask yourself this question. The moment an insightful thought comes out of your mouth casually (yet brilliantly), pause and ask yourself this question. And the moment someone else says something relevant that hooks you in, pause and ask yourself this question. See the trend? (Dean Jackson and I talked about this in our latest podcast on Marketing Monday. Check it out!)

Now, most of the time, you’ll know immediately whether or not you’ve written about something yet. See, writing comes from a deep place: Your Being, Your Core. Your Truth. So, whenever you’ve written something – that is, clarified, explored and expanded your thoughts on paper – those ideas become permanently etched into your consciousness. They’ve entered the matrix, so to speak, and they’re there forever.

IN SHORT: When you write it down, you make it sound.

Because if you don’t write it down, it never happened.

Ever. That’s the converse. And it’s the number one mistake made by creative professionals, writers and thought leaders worldwide: They don’t write everything down. If there’s one piece of feedback I’ve given to every client I’ve ever coached, this is it.

Now, that doesn’t mean you need freak out if you come across a thought or idea that you haven’t written about yet. Just pause for a moment, capture the key point or theme in your journal or on a napkin, then return to what you’re doing. You’ll write about it later. For now, all that matters is that you get it down. What did you write today? Is everything you know written down somewhere?

2. Create a system for staying constantly relevant. The word “expertise” contains the same Latin root as the word “experience.” This means that, as a Thought Leader, you actually have to DO stuff, every day. You actually have to leave the house, venture out into the world and broaden your thinking. Expand your references. Practice.

Let me share my personal plan for staying constantly relevant. As you read these strategies, ask yourself what YOU could be doing to maintain an unquestionable knowledge base:

o I wear a nametag 24-7. This keeps me constantly relevant for when I conduct workshops and seminars about approachability. What do YOU do everyday?

o I write for 4-7 hours everyday. This keeps me constantly relevant for when I coach other writers on content generation and content management systems. What did YOU write today?

o I grow my business a little every day. I make career development a daily activity. This keeps me constantly relevant for when I publish articles and blog posts about how to grow your business. What specific action did YOU take today to grow your business?

o I read five books a week. This keeps me constantly relevant as I elevate my position as a Thought Leader. What did YOU read today?

o I meet new people; make friends, post blogs, tweet and network everyday. This keeps me constantly relevant for when I produce video modules and customized learning systems on internetworking, entrepreneurship and marketing strategy. Did YOU leave the house today?

REMEMBER: If your knowledge base is dependent on some outdated accomplishment that’s no longer impressive OR applicable – like when you won the bronze medal for the Triple Jump in the 1988 Olympics – people aren’t going to listen to you. Because you’re not relevant. What you did twenty years ago doesn’t help your clients make money TODAY. What have you done lately? What did you do YESTERDAY that deepened your expertise?

3. Read everything else written on your topic. You need to know – or at least, know OF – related ideas of other Thought Leaders in your industry. That doesn’t mean you need to agree with them. That doesn’t mean you need to memorize their books line by line. But you DO need to be aware of them.

HERE’S WHY: If someone asks you, “So, you consult on patient care, huh? Have you read the book Healing Words by Dr. Larry Dossey?” and you say NO, your stock just went down in their mind. You are no longer the perceived expert in their mind, which results in their questioning of your knowledge base.

So, here’s simplest, most practical secret for sidestepping this Thought Leader landmine. It’s the strategy I personally implemented in my own business about seven years ago and hasn’t failed me since:

Read five hundred books.

Yep. You heard me. Five hundred. I guarantee you that whatever your area of expertise is, between Amazon, used bookstores and local book fairs, you should be able to find (at least) five hundred titles on that topic. Easy.

Here’s a fantastic exercise to get you started: Go to Borders. Put your stuff down at a table. Head over to your favorite section and pull out EVERY book that catches your eye or looks interesting. Try not to think. Just react.

Next, bring the books back to your table. (You may have a few dozen.) Then, take out your notebook and start scanning. Not READING – scanning. Not plagiarizing - scanning. Big difference. Look at subheadings, chapter titles and boldface passages. Skim around, extracting key ideas that relate your expertise. Fifty books in three hours? Not bad.

NOTE: You’re not actually going to buy any of these books. This is a library day. It’s research. I call it “Fishing.” And it’s a perfect practice for flooding your brain with hundreds of ideas to deepen your expertise.

That being said, you should probably buy some coffee and a muffin, just so you don’t feel like a complete cheapskate. What did you read today? How many books did you read last year?

4. Constantly add and explore new dimensions. Go deeper. Return to your work and figure out what’s evolved since you first wrote it. Recast working assumptions. Go back and discover what you’ve changed your mind about. Add new angles. Make it into a sequel. Hell, make it into a trilogy. Better yet, make it a series! Add textures and contours and layers to the matrix of your idea. Think broadly by seeing as many relationships as possible between (seemingly) unrelated concepts.

This practice is called cognitive flexibility, in which you gain the ability to see at least three angles to any idea.

For some Thought Leaders, this is a challenge – and it’s because of their gargantuan egos.

They’re afraid to admit that they didn’t cover everything the first time. That they don’t know everything there is to know about (x). That someone else might have additional insight they overlooked.

BIG mistake. Even Van Gough once said, “Great art is never finished.”

So, you expand your idea as much as you can until there’s nothing left and nowhere else to go – at least, for now. Then, when you go back to introduce these new strings of thought, your idea becomes richer, more whole and more resonant.

HERE’S THE STRATEGY: Listen to your casual fans. Friends. Strangers. Relatives. Watch how they respond as you accidentally (or intentionally) “try out” a new thought, observation or chunk of material.

Think of it as informal, unscientific market research. Write down what worked; take not of any additional dimensions your fans add. See what people laugh, marvel, shake their heads or flinch at. These little test runs are the perfect venue to validate the potential of your new ideas.

NOTE: Just make sure you’re not overtly rehearsing or practicing or “doing shtick” all the time. Be conversational. No need to go into your entire new routine in the middle of dinner. Just hurl a few noodles and note what sticks. What’s your sequel? What dimension of your idea haven’t you addressed yet? And how often are you returning to old ideas in order to grow them?

REMEMBER: The prerequisite for Thought Leadership is being a master of your subject.

I challenge you to: (1) Write everything down, (2) Create a system for staying constantly relevant, (3) Read EVERYTHING and (4) Constantly add and explore new dimensions to your ideas.

If you can do that, you’ll develop a knowledge base that is unquestionable.

You’ll be able to talk forever.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you adding value to your knowledge?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "17 Ways to become a Thought Leader," 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to Fully Integrate Your Humanity into Your Profession

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer famously suggested the following:

“Search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.”

Now, although that quotation is over forty-five years old, it couldn’t be more relevant today.

In a business world that’s getting faster, less personal and more anonymous, we owe it to ourselves, to our customers and to our employees to STOP BEING ROBOTS.

With the exception of Johnny Five, robots are chumps.

People buy people first. Period.

SO, THE QUESTION IS: How are you fully integrating your humanity into your profession?

Whether you’re a salesperson, entrepreneur, leader or service provider, let’s explore five practices for becoming less robotic and more authentic YOU...

1. Communicate less perfectly. This isn’t Toastmasters. If you use vocal fillers like “uh” and “like” and “you know,” nobody is going to crucify you. Just let it go. Stop telling yourself that eloquence comes from flawlessness. It doesn’t.

Eloquence comes communicating your Truth in a way that’s relatable, digestible and influential. Even President Obama says “uh” in every single interview he does.

THE TEST: Before sending every (major) email or memo, read it aloud twice. Then be honest. Ask yourself if it sounds like you. Ask yourself if it sounds like a human wrote it, or if it sounds a template from Microsoft Word wrote it.

THE RESULT: Customers will be less likely to delete your messages.

THE QUESTION: When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely and honestly?

2. Lead with vulnerability. The willingness to admit that you’re scared, exposed and even in some cases, helpless, 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
(2) they will respond to, and have more respect for you.

THE TEST: If business is a little slow right now (which, unless you’re a foreclosure company, it probably is), own that slowness. Demonstrate your commitment to honesty, not your commitment to appearing successful. And the next time someone casually asks, “So, how’s business!” respond with:

“Actually, business is a little slow right now. But you know – I welcome that challenge. And the good news is, I’ve been putting in overtime on elevating my visibility. And I’m confident that, with a lot of hard work, I’m going to overcome this slump.”

THE RESULT: People will respect and, more importantly, REMEMBER, your integrity.

THE QUESTION: Are you someone others can be vulnerable in front of?

3. Pepper in ordinariness. It’s true that nobody notices normal. It’s true that uniqueness is what attracts people’s attention. It’s also true that 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.

THE TEST: Remove everything from your purse, bag or wallet. Spread it out on a table in an orderly fashion. Then take a picture of it and post it on the “About Me” page of your website. Check out this killer photo stream. I've always thought it is a remarkable, yet regular expression of people's humanity. Totally cool.

THE RESULT: Your customers will get to know the REAL you. (NOTE: If you’re one of those people that always carries an ice pick in your bag, consider skipping this strategy.)

THE QUESTION: How well do you merge ordinariness with remarkability?

4. Publicly celebrate mistakes. Doing so makes other people – especially your employees – more likely to open up to you with their ideas, thoughts and concerns. Why? Because you’ve PROVEN to them that you support failure.

It's only when you’re willing to surrender to your own humanity that people trust you more. And the cool part is, the more you practice this, the less judgmental YOU become in the future when THEY screw up.

THE TEST: At your next sales or managers meeting, go around the room and require each person to (1) share a mistake they recently made, (2) offer three lessons they learned FROM that mistake, and (3) suggest the practical application of those lessons to the other people in the room. Then, later that week, create a hard copy of all the mistakes and lessons shared during the meeting. Staple a $20 bill to it and send it to everyone who attended. And what you do is, attach a sticky note that says, “Thanks for being human!”

THE RESULT: You’ll make company history. (And nobody will ever miss another meeting again!)

THE QUESTION: When was the last time you rewarded someone for making a mistake?

5. Scrap your title. Nobody cares. Nobody even remembers it. Titles are worthless. Their sole function is to give people a reason to pigeonhole, avoid or judge you.

Instead, practice leading with your person and following with your profession. That means values before vocation. Individuality before industry. Personality before position. Humanity before statistics.

THE TEST: Whenever possible, wear hand-written nametags. They’re easier to read, more human and more fun. They’re also less threatening than those fancy, corporate badges. And by virtue of your unique handwriting and design, they allow you to exert your distinctiveness. Ultimately, handwritten nametags level the playing field by eliminating title hierarchy. As The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags, I wrote a neat little treatise on the topic here.

THE RESULT: You will prevent that let’s-see-how-many-extra-ribbons-I-can-add-on-to-my-badge-pissing-contest between competing members and employees.

THE QUESTION: What unnecessary title is preventing people from getting to know the REAL you?

- - -

REMEMBER: People buy people first – especially the people that act like REAL people.

Not robots. Not monuments of flawlessness.

People.

So, that's your assignment. To be more human. To be more YOU.

In a rapidly changing business world where approachability is so rare that it’s become remarkable, I guarantee that if you start doing this – if you start BEING this – people will notice. And people will remember.

Search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you fully integrating your humanity into your profession?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For a list called, "11 Ways to Out Google 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scott Goes Behind the Scenes of NametagTV!



I've done segments for CNN, The Today Show and 20/20, and I'd say this one turned out pretty darn good, considering it was produced by the students of Ladue High School!

Watch the original video on SchoolTube. (Ha! Like YouTube, but for school video projects. Nice.)

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How are you taking people behind the scenes?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For a list called, "26 Ways to Out Brand 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NametagTV: The Word on WOM

Video not working? Click here for Adobe Flash 9.

Watch the original video on NametagTV!

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What are you doing to stimulate, harness and increase WOM?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For a list called, "11 Ways to Out Google 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Monday, February 16, 2009

How to Dance in the Rain of Our Current Economic Storm

Last night my friend Andy sent me a killer quotation from one of our favorite philosophers, A. Nonymous:

“You can't sit around and wait for the storm to be over. You've got to learn how to dance in the rain.”

I immediately thought of our current economic condition.

Yes, business sucks.
Yes, layoffs are abounding.
Yes, job stability is wavering.

The challenge is learning how to dance in the rain.

So, put on your parka and roll up your jeans. Here’s a list of four business growth strategies to weather our current economic storm:

1. Leverage your downtime. Take advantage of your downtime to accomplish projects and activities you wouldn’t be able to do if you were booked solid. With this approach, you’ll probably end up accomplishing more than ever...

For example, if you’re not spending as many billable hours with your clients this quarter, use that extra time to start blogging more. When leveraged correctly, your blog posts can actually attract new clients. Here’s how.

Or, if you’re working a little bit on the weekends, consider spending some of that time at a local coffee shop or hangout of your choice. When positioned strategically, your presence at that hangout will elevate your visibility. Here’s how.

Lastly, if you’re not traveling as much as much as you’d like, leverage the in-town time to get involved with more networking or community activities. When approached with the right attitude, these opportunities will help you be at the right place at the right time, simply by being in a lot of places.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What is this downtime an opportunity for? How can you use this situation as an opportunity to learn something about yourself and change for the better?

2. Keep support flowing. Connect with people you trust AND who are experiencing similar struggles in their business. If you don’t already have one, create a monthly accountability or mastermind group. Set a plan for staying in touch, supporting each other and brainstorming strategies to dance in the rain of our current economic storm.

Keep mind, the purpose of this strategy is NOT to sit around and bitch about how terrible the economy is. Misery might love company, but that doesn’t mean you have to invite it over. Be careful not to allow your conversations to carry a negative, futile, woe-is-me tune. Maintain a healthy balance between optimism and realism.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Who else can you talk to about this? Whose thinking sparks your own? Who else has failed in this way before, and how can you get that person to help you?

3. Stir the pot. Please forgive me for including the following motivational fluff in this article: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ll always gotten.”

Corny? Yes.

Valid? Hell yes.

So, your first step is to begin asking yourself questions like:

o How could you build something you’ve never built before?
o Are you listening to what your customers are not telling you?
o What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to build your business?

This will get your mind thinking in the right direction.

Next, brainstorm a list of business growth activities that that your either HATE, or would otherwise be avoided during prosperous times. For example:

o Terrified of talking to strangers? Maybe networking an additional two hours a week is the answer.
o Suck at making phone calls? Set aside time each morning for follow up activities to acclimate yourself to the process.
o Scared of writing? Get up an hour earlier to begin journaling your thoughts or and accumulate a few small victories.
o Apprehensive about working with the media? Hire my Go-To-Guy for PR, Paul Krupin, to write a killer press release and set up a few interviews to elevate your visibility.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What’s the one aspect of your business that you brag to your coworkers about never having to depend on for success? What if you tried actually doing that for a while?

4. Use every crisis. In the midst of crisis, your coolness, honesty and accessibility CAN have the power to support and reassure your customers. But only if you leverage it properly. Here’s an exercise you might try:

o Start a blank document. Make a list of twenty specific ways your customers can weather the current economic storm. (If that seems like a lot to you, it’s not. Setting an idea quota like this will make the brainstorming process fly by.)

o Approach the page like you were writing an article. This means each of the twenty items is as a subtitle, under which there are a few supporting points, ideas, stories, quotations and the like.

o Forget about grammar, punctuation, structure. Or, whatever other Bullshite English Major Barrier to Creativity stands in your way. Just relax into the page. Have fun. Write the first ideas that come to your mind. LISTEN. Write what wants to be written. And don’t feel the need to appraise whether or not your writing is good or bad. It just is.

o When you’re done, go back and clean it up. Add any additional examples or supporting ideas that might make it better. Read it out loud a few times to make sure it sounds human.

o Next, ask yourself the question: “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?” For example, you could convert that document into a whitepaper and post it on your website or blog. You could send a hard copy in the mail to every one of your customers. You might also consider extracting one item a week from your list and sending it out to your customers via email.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What did you write today? Is everything you know written down somewhere? And if you spent an additional fifteen minutes a day writing, how could that process help you add new value to your customers and prospects?

REMEMBER: You can't sit around and wait for the storm to be over. You've got to learn how to dance in the rain.

Accept what IS.
Leverage your downtime.
Keep support flowing.
Stir the pot.
Use every crisis.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you dancing in the rain?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "11 Ways to Out Market 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

The world's FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott's comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just Go, or, Why Being Impatient is the Most Profitable Decision Your Company Could Ever Make

Impatience is underrated.

Now, before you flip out, let me explain.

Patience – as a virtue – is a beautiful thing. Maybe the beautifulest.

And I’m sure I could easily bore you with a bunch of predictable quotes from The Bible, The Koran and The Gita about how patience is love and patience is the fruit of the spirit, blah blah blah.

But I won’t.

Instead, let’s talk about the value of being im-patient.

Especially in business. ESPECIALLY in entrepreneurial business.

See, after seven years of self-employment (five of which have actually been profitable!) I’ve learned that I’m an incredibly impatient person.

And I don’t mean, like, I snap at supermarket cashiers who take ten minutes to count my change.

Or that I say “Hurry up” when my girlfriend takes forever to get ready.

Or that I stand in line at the airport with my hands on my hips, pointing at my watch so the single mother with six kids in front of me knows to move the line along.

No. When it comes to situations like that, I like to think my mental, physical and spiritual resources allow me to endure. And I've practiced enough meditation, taken enough yoga, worked enough retail – and worn enough nametags – to learn how to project impossible patience, even in the face of tremendous annoyance.

On other hand, there IS some validity to experiencing healthy instances of impatience...

For example, check out the following definitions of the word impatient:

1. Restless expectation.
2. Eagerly desirous.
3. Changeable, hot and passionate.
4. Not accepting delay or opposition.
4. Intolerant of interruptions.
5. Raring to go.
6. Eager for change.
7. Eager for something expected.
8. Dislike of anything that causes delay.
9. A constant desire for change and excitement.

Huh. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

I wonder what would happen to YOUR business if you were a little more impatient?

In my experience as an author, speaker, coach and entrepreneur, every project, every endeavor, every THING I’ve ever gotten myself into since 2002, has been approached with an attitude of impatience.

As such, my entrepreneurial philosophy is pretty simple:

Just Go.

Any questions on that?

Good.

“Just Go.” That’s it. That’s everything. That’s the secret to your success as an entrepreneur. Just Go.

And I mean that in the most non-motivational-speaker-you-can-do-it-fluff kind of way.

THAT’S THE COOL PART: There is no metaphor. There are no seven steps. It’s not some “system.”

Just Go. I couldn’t make it any simpler if I tried.

Today I’d like to share a collection of ideas, reflections and lessons learned from practicing this philosophy in my own business and life.

In order to mold your melon into the right condition for receiving those ideas; let's begin by assessing your current level of impatience. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Are you willing to look bad on the road to immortality?
2. Are you willing to plunge forward plan-less?
3. Have you ever asked yourself why you procrastinate?
4. How impatient can you afford to be?
5. How much money is being (too) patient costing you?
6. How quickly do you take action on your new idea?
7. What are you currently procrastinating on?
8. What is the need for perfection preventing you from doing, being and having?
9. What one step could you take now to start moving forward to your ideal future?
10. Why are you waiting to be paid to do something you love?

With that in mind, here’s my philosophy:

Just Go, or, Why Being Impatient is the Most Profitable Decision Your Company Could Ever Make

Don’t ask how it’s been done before. Don’t ask how everyone else is doing it. Don’t go to Google first, read a bunch of articles and then formulate your decision based on those influences. Instead, decide how YOU want to do it. And then do it.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

Don’t ask for permission. Who cares if you’re not ready enough or smart enough? Who cares if you don’t have enough money, experience or credentials?

What are you waiting for? Just go.

It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. All that matters is that you’re fueled by passion and fire, and that you channel that energy into making other people’s lives better.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

You don’t need somebody else’s platform. Screw YouTube. Start your own online television network. Change the rules so you can win at your own game.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

You don’t need the approval of anybody. You don’t need somebody twice your age who knows NOTHING about who you really are to validate your existence and stamp your creative passport.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

Talent is overrated. You don’t have to be great to get started; but you DO have to get started to be great.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

You don’t actually have to be good right away. In fact, you need to be willing to SUCK for a little while in the beginning. That means daring to do it badly. That means seeking progress, not perfection. That means creating work that isn’t very good.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

You don’t need lessons. You don’t need another degree. You don’t need to buy a bunch of books, listen to hours of audiotapes or attend a bunch of Tony Robbins seminars. And NO, you don’t need to pay $697 for some bullshite six-week online certification course that blindly assigns you a pointless acronym manufactured by someone who isn’t actually successful at doing what you do; but rather, spends all his time teaching OTHERS how to do what he never COULD do.

(Oh, and by the way, nobody even knows - or cares - what the hell those three letters after your name mean anyway.)

What are you waiting for? Just go.

Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. “How” is dangerous. “How” is a dream destroyer. “How” is the difference between talkers and doers. Focus (first) on the WHAT, and the HOW will eventually appear.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

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 career exploration. It’s never too early to begin chronicling your adventures and lessons learned. It’s never too early to begin contributing.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

It’s never too late to be happy. It’s never too late to change old habits. It’s never too late to be who you might have become. It’s never too late to go after your dream job. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. It’s never too late to start over. It’s never too late to start singing a brand new song.

What are you waiting for? Just go.

REMEMBER: Impatience is underrated.

In fact, being impatient might be the smartest decision your company could ever make.

So, stop reading this blog post. Right now. I’m totally serious.

Just go.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How much money are you losing by being too patient?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "99 Ways to Think Like an Entrepreneur, Even If You Aren't One," send and email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Who's quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

When YOU walk into a room, how does it change?

TWO WORDS: Michael Scott.

If you watch The Office, you know what I mean.

Poor Michael. As the branch manager of Dunder Mifflin, every time he walks into the room, something bad happens.

People stare.
People stop talking.
People walk the other way.

Even in one particular episode, Stanley's stress monitor started beeping faster and faster as Michael approached him.

Yikes.

What about you?

When you walk into a room, how does it change?

For the most part, this reaction isn’t under your direct control...

Whatever change occurs to the room is a tangible representation of how your character, actions, words, reputation and personality have both preceded and affected the people around you.

The following list explores several possibilities of how a room might change when you walk in the door. As you explore them, ask yourself which of them best applies to you, or which ones you’d LIKE to apply to you:

1. Does your entrance shift the dialogue UP? If so, that could mean a few things: (1) people love to greet you, (2) people were just talking about you – probably positively – and now they’ve escalated the conversation because they’re excited to involve you, or (3) people were just talking about a particular topic they would LOVE to get your thoughts or opinion on.

RESULT: Everyone is engaged, creating excitement in the air.

EXAMPLE: Hey Norm!

SOLUTION: Learn the strategies for building a following.

2. Does your entrance shift the dialogue DOWN? If so, that could mean a few things: (1) people were just talking about you – probably negatively – but now they’ve stopped the conversation for fear of getting busted, (2) people were just talking about a particular topic they either don’t want – or are afraid to ask – your opinion on.

RESULT: Everyone is walking on eggshells; creating anxiety in the air.

EXAMPLE: Every boss I've ever had.

SUGGESTION: Learn the strategies for creating a Question Friendly Environment.

3. Do people stare? If so, that could mean a few things: (1) something about your attractiveness – either physical or psychological – catches their eye, (2) something about your memorable presence and unique personal style immediately captivates their attention, (3) they were just talking about you - either positively or negatively – and now they can’t help but burn a hole in the back of your shirt.

RESULT: You become The Observed, not The Observer.

EXAMPLE: The Mystery Method.

SUGGESTION: Learn the strategies for becoming the bulls-eye, not the arrow.

4. Are people curious or wondering about you? In this case, they’re not really staring, yet they are noticing you. If so, that could mean a few things: (1) you look like an interesting person, maybe because you’re smiling, laughing, or just appear fascinating and intriguing; (2) you’re wearing something unexpected that breaks their normal pattern of observation.

RESULT: You increase the likelihood of an encounter.

EXAMPLE: John Moore of Brand Autopsy.

SUGGESTION: Learn how to become the most interesting person you know.

5. Do people start buzzing about you? In this instance, people have heard about you. They’ve seen your name before. They might even recognize your face from a website, publication or video interview. Either way, they are talking about you. Could be good or bad. So, just remember the words of Oscar Wilde: “The only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.”

RESULT: Word of Mouth has sparked.

EXAMPLE: David “Rise to the Top” Garland.

SUGGESTION: Learn the marketing strategies for moving people's eyebrows.

6. Do people come up to you? Some people move shyly in your direction. Others smile and walk towards you. Sometimes a mob of raving fans will run full speed with open arms, hoping to be the first to hug you! Either way, you’re approachable. People flock to you. They want to sit in your radius.

RESULT: You’re the kind of person who always has one or two engaged people around you.

EXAMPLE: Lethia Owens.

SUGGESTION: Learn the strategies of Hangout Marketing.

7. Do they walk away from you? “Oh no, look who’s here. I better go into the other room…” “Gotta run. Don’t want to be seen by HER…” “Excuse me, but I just can’t stand that guy. I need to go outside for a few minutes…” Wow. Sounds like someone laid some poor quality track.

RESULT: People who DON’T know you begin to question your credibility and character as they observe other people's reactions.

EXAMPLE: That pushy insurance salesman who cornered you at last month’s Chamber of Commerce networking events.

SUGGESTION: Learn the secrets for making communication a relaxing experience.

- - -

NOTE: These are only a sampling of examples of how a room might change when you walk in. The outcomes will be different for everybody.

The challenge (as a reminder) is that this moment has little to do with the room itself.

REMEMBER: Whatever change occurs to a room as you walk in is a tangible representation of how your character, actions, words, reputation and personality have both preceded and affected the people around you.

And if you’re not satisfied with the reactions you’ve been getting, don’t criticize the room.

Instead, look in the mirror.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
When you walk into a room, how does it change?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "19 Ways to be the One Person at Your Next Conference That Everybody Remembers," 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Who's quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.