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Friday, April 30, 2010

How to Sell a Commodity and Still Win

Abrasives. Automotive accessories. Bearings. Building supplies. Cattle. Chemicals. Coffee beans. Computer Hardware. Converters. Envelopes. Fertilizer. Grain. Industrial metals. Insurance. Laboratory equipment. Minerals. Oil. Office supplies. Precious metals. Salt. Soybeans. Sugar. Textiles. Wheat. Wool.

These things are commodities.

Common products customers can buy anywhere.

And if you’re in the business of selling them, you’re in trouble.

Especially now, when the available choices for products and services are infinite.

That’s the danger: When presented with an infinite amount of choices, customers (usually) default to the cheapest.

Unless.

Unless you can wield a way to make price irrelevant.
Unless you can devise a plan to deliver with emotion in mind.
Unless you can start a strategy to sell something much bigger than a bag of sugar.

Here’s a list of emotional, remarkable, compelling (and, most importantly, non-price-based) strategies to sell a commodity – and still win.

As you peruse these examples, I challenge you transfer the attributes and plug your own commodities into the generic equations:

1. Make the mundane memorable. Let’s say your company sells marching band uniforms to high schools. What if you held seasonal fashion shows? You could invite start performers and band directors from each district to strut their stuff, represent their school and model their new uniforms down the catwalk – to marching band music.

Every student in town – including their parents – would come to watch. Local media would foam at the mouth. Viral videos would pop up everywhere. And you could even start a program called “Perfect Pitch,” which applies the proceeds from the events to sponsor high-risk students or underwrite sponsorships for low-income schools.

Soon, you’d move from commodity to celebrity, from product pusher to philanthropist. What are the ten most mundane components to your business, and how could you morph them into memorable, brandable entities?

2. Send a continuous flow of education. That way, your buyers always know how to more creatively, efficiently and effectively use what you sell them to grow their business and make their lives better.

The secret is to brainstorm topics and headlines for articles, whitepapers, videos, presentations and other forms of content to be distributed in person, en masse and/or via your Thought Leadership Platform. A few examples:

*10 Questions Every Soybean Farmer Needs to Ask
*12 Secrets Smart Suppliers Know
*7 Words to Eliminate from Your Engineering Vocabulary
*Don’t Start a Business Until You Read These 9 Facts
*How Scrap Metal Companies Can Get Rid of Their Productivity Problems Once and for All.

Notice the patterns. Replicate them in your business. What did you write today?

3. Master the surrounding universality of your product. If you’re a diamond retailer, study the art of the proposal. Learn what makes amazing marriages work. And discover the secrets to sustained physical passion. Customers will buy, and customers will talk.

If you’re an oil distributor, teach wholesalers how to teach drivers how to lower emissions. Educate them on how to protect the environment. And make monthly playlists of relaxing and enjoyable music for stressed out commuters and truckers. Customers will buy, and customers will talk.

If you’re a coffee bean salesman, master the cultural history of its native country. Collect and share pictures of what people see in the morning when they enjoy their drinks. And immerse yourself in the metropolitan coffee shop culture to understand the end user experience of your product. Customers will buy, and customers will talk.

What universal human experiences and emotions surround your boring product?

4. Define the whitespace around your idea. Go perpendicular. Be intentionally and comically counter-intuitive. For example, maybe your website offers job search advice and counseling services for unemployed professionals.

What if you created a series of promo videos or blog posts about what (not) to do? Topics like, “How to Bomb Your Next Job Interview,” “How to Book a One-Way Ticket to the Unemployment Line,” and “How to Make Sure Your Resume Gets Thrown Away, Every Time”?

Or, what if you encouraged visitors to submit their interviewing/job search horror stories? You could then respond to each vignette with a list of strategies to make sure that never happens again. I smell a Bloggie in your future. What could you do – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?

5. Excel at connecting. Connect with buyers – then help them connect non-competing buyers so they can work together. Try this: Every Monday, set an Introduction Quota. Challenge yourself to introduce two people who need to know each other.

Ask yourself: “What two people do I know – who don’t already know each other – would be benefit from a connection?” Introduce them via email with short bios, plus how you know each of them. Then, either leave it up to them to connect, or, set up a Zero Agenda Conversation with all three of you.

Do that fifty times a year and you won’t be a commodity – you’ll be a connector. How many people did you connect to each other last month?

6. Leverage your vulnerability to earn customer trust. My friend Sean sells screen-printed t-shirts. They product is solid, but that’s not why people buy. Instead, it’s more about their approachability through openness to customer feedback. For example, on their website they have an Uncensored Customer Review Widget.

“It’s like an introduction to someone by your friend. Or a conversation you hear when you walk into a neighborhood store,” Sean says. “New visitors to our website see the comments – both good and bad – all of which were posted just moments before they logged on the site. This demonstrates the transparency and honesty of our brand.”

Sure enough, CustomInk sells heaps of t-shirts. More importantly, they also have hordes of fans. Are you opaque?

7. Be genuinely and assertively responsive. Regardless of which commodity you’re peddling, the medium is the message. The speed of the response is the response. Especially when customers want it yesterday.

The secret is using language that promotes urgency to reinforce emotional reliability. My favorite phrase is, “The best way for me to help you the most, right now, is…” It not only promotes urgency, but also promotes the most effective, most efficient solution.

Even if the only urgent action you can take is to ask someone else. By framing your response with this phrase, you pave the way for expedient service. I’ve had upset customers significantly lower their temperature simply because the response to their complaint was so expedient.

Response time goes a long way. Are you getting back to your customers quicker than your competitors?

8. Build in fun. People buy people first. Your job is to lead with your person and follow with your profession. That means: Values before vocation, individuality before industry and personality before position.

That also means: The more boring your product is, the more fun, engaging and memorable your pitch better be. Otherwise your customers are going to default straight to price. And if you can’t match them, there are three hundred other companies – available instantly – who will happily undercut you.

For example, let’s say you sell office supplies to small local businesses. What if you took a six-week course in handwriting analysis and conducted mini-seminars for each of your customers during their lunch break? You give each of them kits of pens, legal pads, sticky notes and tape.

Next, you ask them to complete short, simple writing exercises. Then, you take them through he basics of graphology like stroke, smoothness, spacing and slant. The key is to make it fun, lighthearted and only (slightly) revealing. You don’t want to cause any additional office drama.

All that matters is you get them using your products in an engaging, unexpected and memorable way. How could you turn your sales presentation into a magic show?

9. Packaging wins ballgames. Just ask the farmers in the southern Japanese town of Zentsuji. They’ve figured out how to grow their watermelons so they turn out square. And according to a 2001 article from CNN, it's not a fad. The technique actually has practical applications.

“The reason they're doing this in Japan is because of lack of space," said Samantha Winters of the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Orlando, Florida. According to the article, a fat, round watermelon can take up a lot of room in a refrigerator. The (usually) round fruit often sits awkwardly on refrigerator shelves.

But, clever Japanese farmers have solved this dilemma by forcing their watermelons to grow into a square shape. Farmers insert the melons into square, tempered glass cases while the fruit is still growing on the vine. The square boxes are the exact dimensions of Japanese refrigerators, allowing full-grown watermelons to fit conveniently and precisely onto refrigerator shelves.

Lesson learned: Superior packaging to suit changing customer needs is a tremendous advantage in a commoditized marketplace. And that doesn’t just apply to plastic wrapping, cardboard boxes and vinyl lining. How have you modified the packaging of your product to adapt to your customers’ evolving preferences?

10. Make the intangible inescapable. Here’s the frustrating reality: Your customers only see 10% of the work you do. The final product. The pay off. The money shot. The other 90% of the work you put in – the sweat, the hours, the training, the effort –remains forever undetected.

Unless.

Unless you find a way to visually substantiate it. I recently discovered how to implement this practice in my own business. If you click over to www.WatchScottWrite.com, you can view a series of time-lapse videos, pared down from four hours down to seven minutes. This depicts the naked truth of my writing, content management and creative processes. 100% transparency. It’s what I do all day, every day.

And, admittedly, I only published these videos (initially) because I thought it would be kind of a cool thing to do. But what I discovered was that my readers, audience members and clients loved it. It helped them appreciate the true value of what my unique brain brought to the table. Especially in a marketplace where professional speakers are a dime a dozen.

That’s the real challenge: My profession is approaching commodity status. So, this video series was a huge move in preventing me from become yet another SKU in the meeting planner’s inventory. Your challenge is to take the intangible effort behind your commodity product and make it as inescapable as possible. How could you facilitate a visual understanding of what makes you The Only?

REMEMBER: Just because you sell a commodity, doesn’t mean you can’t win.

It’s not about de-commoditizing your product; it’s about re-optimizing your value proposition.

That way, maybe a bag of sugar will not longer be just a bag of sugar.

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That Guy with the Nametag
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scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Does Your Company Pass The Testicle Test?

“Wow, that takes balls.”

That’s what people tell you.

When you do something crazy.
When you go full time as an artist.
When you take the entrepreneurial plunge.

That it requires balls.

Cujones. Courage. Moxie. The willingness to step up and stick yourself out there.

I agree. I think it absolutely takes balls to change the world.

But.

Having balls (alone) isn’t enough.

As Lawrence Fishburne said in Boyz in the Hood, “Any fool can make a baby – but only a real man can be a father.”

TRUTH IS: Making a name for yourself begins with risk; but the only way to make it last is to blend it with regularity.

Here’s a list of ten strategies to help you hang in there, or, as I like to call it, pass The Testicle Test:

1. Focus is the mobilizing force. In The Tao of Abundance, Laurence G. Boldt reminds us that by learning to do one thing with total focus; you bring a clarity and simplicity to the whole of your life.

The question is: Will you stay focused in the face of incessant distractions trying to pull you away from your dream, or will the beckoning, elusive “door to more” seduce you into walking through?

Don’t let things derail you. Be very careful what you begin. Otherwise, spending your energies on the wrong causes will be the end of you. All that risk will lead to zero rewards, or worse yet, an abundance of rewards that don’t matter. How much money are you losing (not) focusing on your priorities?

2. Call upon untested faculties that await your discovery. Sustainability is a function of adaptability. That is, deploying your gifts in new ways to add new value. A helpful audit is to ask yourself the following questions once a quarter:

*Which of your skills do you rarely get the opportunity to use at work?
*What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to build your business?
*What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to add value to your customers?

Eventually, your arsenal of sustainability tools (backbone) will support your attitude of courageous action (balls). How many new skills have you recently become known for?

3. Mere movement is meaningless. Especially if you’re mistaking movement for progress. On the other hand, if you’re making real advancement – even if you’re moving at a glacial pace – eventually the world is going to notice.

As long as you don’t regret what you have set in motion. Instead, develop faith in the decisions you made. And know every step you take (as long as it’s a smart step) makes the probability of success higher. What are you moving toward?

4. Take personal and proactive responsibility for your own evolution. The first step is learning to recognize and refuse the old image of yourself. That way you’ll know what (not) to regress back into.

Next, be surgical in your improvement. Keep rotation constant. And be willing to trust the process of change. Otherwise, like the phone book, you’ll move closer to extinction with every passing day.

Third, don’t preserve yesterday. Reflect upon it, yes – dwell upon it, no. Learn from it, yes – be shackled by it, no. Remember: No adapt, no advance. You must be a willing participant in that process. What change are you afraid to invite?

5. Deliberately slow down. Success turns into failure when it comes too fast, too early or too abundantly. I experienced this about ten years ago. My career blasted off before I had the chance to get my oxygen mask on. Not surprisingly, my left lung eventually collapsed. Then I really needed oxygen.

That became the lesson about proceeding before you’re ready: Impatience pays off, but only when it’s balanced with intermission. I discovered that all the balls in the world are irrelevant when you’ve got a tube in your chest. Learn to honor what stops you. And if nothing stops you, stop yourself. Are you an expert at pressing the off button?

6. Recognize failure as part of the plan. Otherwise your remarkable inability to learn from past errors will be the seed of your demise. Instead, build the stamina to recover rapidly from disappointment.

Because the question isn’t, “Do you have balls?” but rather, “When the world kicks you in the crotch, how quickly do you get up?” It all depends on your adaptive capacity. Remember: The falling is inevitable – the harm is optional. What gifts have your failures given you?

7. Trust accelerates trajectory. Risk requires trust, and trust requires evidence. That’s the hard part. So, it becomes a process of uncertainty reduction through repeated action. The more venues in which you reveal yourself, the more trust you garner for yourself.

Your mission is to match each moment of risk taking (having balls) with three moments of backbone engaging (sustaining stamina). How did you increase your self-trust this week?

8. Sustaining is a function of restraining. My clients frequently tell me that the discipline that I administer is astounding. To work. To life. To everything. And I’m always grateful for that compliment because most people don’t notice it. They assume boldness solidifies success on its own.

This, of course, is a lie.

Discipline is the hallmark of greatness. The foundation of all creativity. The four-letter word that guarantees success. And it's the differentiator that will set you apart from all other creative professionals. You just need to ask yourself what you’re willing to give up to get what you want.

Remember: Risky becomes stupid the moment it touches inconsistency. Do it everyday or don’t do it all. What waits you in the refining fire of discipline?

9. Poke savagely away. Genius is a great spark, but rededication is the firewood that keeps that fire blazing. Think Mozart or Beethoven were happy with being one-hit-wonders?

No way. They were hundred-hit-heroes. All because they risked initially, but (also) refused to discontinue the passionate pursuit of their craft indefinitely.

You owe your success to a pattern. Step back from the canvas, step back within yourself and steer clear of complacency. Otherwise you’re just another Right Said Fred: To sexy for your shirt, so sexy it hurts. How many hours did you practice yesterday?

10. Be always planting seeds for the future. Small deposits. Every day. With intensity of desire and consistency determination. And, if you don’t have any options – create some. Map it out. Plan your learning trajectory.

I do this every few years with my own business. I’ll map out where I’ve come, where I am, and where I’d like to be. Then I’ll brainstorm a list of seeds that need to be planted to make my envisioned future a tangible reality. What’s growing in your garden of success?

REMEMBER: Action without consistency always falls short of mastery.

Next time someone remarks to you, “Wow, that takes balls,” silently remind yourself of the following truth:

Yes, it takes balls to stick yourself out there – but it takes backbone to KEEP yourself out there.

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That Guy with the Nametag
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scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How (not) to Fade Away



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* * * *
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Stand Your Ground without Stepping on People’s Toes

There’s a fine line between boundary management and self-righteous entitlement.

As Diane Draher wrote in The Tao of Inner Peace, “We must never let a cause, organization or a relationship so complete eclipse our lives that we forget who we are.”

LESSON LEARNED: If you’re going to stand your ground, make sure you’re not stepping on people’s toes.

Consider these ideas for walking the fine line:

1. Commitment can be seductive. The deeper you commit to something, the more likely you are to become so wrapped up and so obsessed with idea of being (and appearing) committed to that something, that your desire actually becomes bigger than what you’re committed to.

And that’s when people start to get hurt. That’s when things start to get broken. There does come a point at which commitment becomes a detriment. After all, what good is being committed if your commitment annoys, harms or offends the people around you? Make sure you don’t become a victim of your own conviction. Is your commitment a detriment?

2. Stop proving yourself and start expressing yourself. Let’s explore the distinction. Proving yourself is doing; expressing yourself is being. Proving yourself is claiming commitment; expressing yourself is embodying commitment. Proving yourself is screaming your truth; expressing yourself is walking your truth. Proving yourself is striving for approval; expressing yourself is allowing for refusal.

What’s more, proving yourself is demanding your rights; expressing yourself is deploying your gifts. Proving yourself is trying to be somebody; expressing yourself is embracing who you already are. And finally, proving yourself is advising people from the outside; expressing yourself is inspiring people from the inside. Which approach do you take?

3. Watch your volume. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t gamble. And I don’t go to strip clubs. And admittedly, I used to be a lot more vocal about my choices. But over the years I’ve learned that louder you say no, the more judgmental you sound.

Don’t make a spectacle. If you’re going to abstain from something, just thank people for offering, politely refuse and get on with your life. They don’t want to hear the entire philosophy behind each of your choices. It is possible to say “No” without screaming “No way!” Is the volume of your commitment disturbing the peace?

4. Offer simple, unarguable reasons. Next time someone asks you why you choose (not) to partake in something, try this: Instead of launching into your seven-minute diatribe about why a particular choice goes against your personal constitution or runs crosswire to the grain of your soul, just smile and simply say, “It’s not important to me.”

That’s enough. That’s all people need to hear. Anything more is probably unnecessary. Take it from someone who used to share his personal philosophy on everything, with everybody, in every conversation – even when they didn’t ask. Unless people put in a request for your entire dissertation, keep the explanation of your self-discipline brief and simple. Are you exhausting to be around?

5. Saying no stretches other parts of you. It’s amazing how creative you become once you’d made the decision not to cross a certain line. For example, think about the last time you approached a construction detour in your hometown. I bet you managed to discover several cool, new and exciting shortcuts to get to the same place you’ve been going for years, right?

Creativity works the same way: When you commit to (not) doing something a certain way, your brain immediately searches for alternate routes to accomplish the same goal.

I’m reminded of a time in college when Route 27 was blocked off for severe thunderstorm damage.

Since I was late for a final exam, I didn’t have time to take the detour. So, I revved up my ’95 Grand Am and plowed through the mud like a natural born monster truck. And after a few minutes of spinning my tires and spraying mud ten feet into the air, I actually busted through the barricade and came out on the other side without damaging my car or destroying the land.

Honestly, I don’t know what came over me. I’d never been so impressed with myself. I felt like Chuck Norris in Walker Texas Ranger, but without the tight jeans. Lesson learned: Next time you say no to something, start asking yourself, “What will saying no energize me for?”

It’s almost ironic. Setting healthy boundaries in one part of your life actually stretches you in other parts. Cool. Maybe you’ll discover a new skill you didn’t even know you had, simply by standing your ground. When you stick your stake in the ground, what new terrain might you uncover?

6. Give yourself permission to indulge occasionally. The moment you refuse to do so is the same moment your admirable self-discipline starts to morph into intolerable self-righteousness.

For example, I don’t eat (much) meat or dairy. Not that I’m a vegetarian or vegan. In fact, I’m all for slaughtering animals for delicious human consumption. It’s primarily a digestive issue and a health choice.

Still, don’t put it past me to throw down an occasional basket of buffalo wings like the carnivore I once was. Hey, I‘m realistic. Standing your ground is one thing. But life without buffalo wings? That’s just wrong. Once in a while never hurt anybody. Except maybe the chickens. What did you indulge this week?

7. Bamboo, not wood. As you can tell, I’m a fairly obstinate guy. When I make a certain choice, I stick to my guns. And when I believe in a particular philosophy, I rarely back down. It’s crucial to my value system and central to my fundamental orientation: I practice resolute persistence while staying committed to my boundaries.

Unfortunately, this particular orientation has the potential to alienate people if executed close-mindedly. I’m learning to be more careful. Sometimes a person’s strongest asset can become his deepest liability.

It’s all about walking the fine line between flexibility and determination. Between immovability and adaptability. Because if you don’t, you’ll snap like a twig under the weight of external pressure; when bending like a bamboo would probably be much more helpful.

Remember: Being obstinate is worthless when carried out at the expense of another person’s respect. When you stand your ground, how much foreign terrain are you willing to make room for?

8. Reciprocation is essential. The final component of standing your ground is the respect and openness you must extend to other people when they stand their ground. Even when you don’t agree with them. (Especially when you don’t agree with them!)

You still have to honor other people's truth. You still have to stand on the edge of yourself to salute them, without the desire to change, fix or improve them. Even if you have to “agree to disagree.”

Truth is: Standing your ground without stepping on people’s toes means learning to allow people you care about to challenge your opinions – without becoming frustrated. Instead, becoming thankful for the opportunity to (either) reinforce your own beliefs and stick to your guns, or to realize when you’ve been shortsighted.

Yes, it’s tough to accept influence from others – especially those you love. But sometimes they can see things you can’t. Sometimes they’re the very alarm clock you didn’t realize you needed. Don’t press the snooze button on them. Are you obstinate, yet flexible enough to bend when needed?

REMEMBER: Beware of excessive restraint.

Yes, constantly remind people of your commitment.

But not for the sole purpose of strengthening your own position.

No need to be a jerk about it.
No need to step on people’s toes.
No need to overlook the possibility of reconsideration.

Otherwise your self-restraint might be perceived as self-righteousness.

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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

How to Start

After an hour of deliberation, I couldn’t come up with a clever way to start this blog post.

So, I'm just going to start.

Hope these seven ideas light a fire under your ass and inspire you to start whatever you've been thinking about starting.

1. Poll your past. Think about the last five things you started. From relationships to art projects to work habits to fitness goals. Write the list down. Then, backtrack. Ask yourself three questions:

*How long did it take you finally start?
*What barriers stalled your eventual execution?
*And what actions, specifically, did you take to overcome those obstacles?

When you’re done, step back and look for repeatable patterns based on your learning and personality style. This will provide a framework for future starts. How are you learning from past starting victories?

2. Engage small starts. If you’re at a loss for what to do first, think about three things: What can you do as a beginning? What small part of this could you start doing right now? And what one step could you take – today – to start moving toward to your ideal future?

By achieving small victories first, you create a position of yes. This establishes a proven track record of initiative. Even if it only exists in your mind. Then, that mental state equips you to (eventually) to start something big when the time cones.

Remember: Even if you don’t take a shred of action by asking these questions, your awareness will still increase. And awareness is the gateway to mastery. What small start will you execute before lunch today?

3. Quit something average. That’s the only way to create the space to execute something remarkable. The cool part is, once you stop investing your time, energy and money in the Mutual Fund of Inconsequentiality – by which I mean, “television” – you can redirect those efforts into something that matters.

It’s like my friend Jason once told me, “Sometimes you have to say no to the good to make room for the best.” That’s your goal: Never quit quitting. What could you stop doing today that would help you start something tomorrow?

4. The need for perfection is keeping you from starting. The voice of perfection is piercing and demanding. Unfortunately, perfectionism is nothing but procrastination in disguise.

Nothing by a tired excuse assembled by your ego to prevent execution.

Nothing but a trap set by your neurotic compulsions as feeble effort to prohibit progress.

Nothing but a campaign against creativity, waged by the authoritative voices in your head.

My suggestion: Heighten your tolerance of ambiguity. Exert your flawed humanity and become the biggest imperfectionist you know. And seek progress, not perfection. After all, the word “start” comes from the Old English term, stiertan, which means, “a sudden movement.”

Doesn’t say anything about being perfect, or even good. Just sudden. What are you assuming that is stopping you?

5. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. The most common excuse for not starting something is ignorance. “But I don’t know what I’m doing!” you cry. What’s your point? Since when is knowledge a prerequisite for execution?

My suggestion: Check inside first. Instead of focusing on how little you know about something; turn inward and focus on how important it is to do that something. You’ll find that “Why?” trumps “How?” every time.

Don’t worry: Confusion is healthy. And “How?” comes eventually. For now, put boot to ass and touch the center of your true intention. How much profit have you squandered because you’re at war with HOW when you should be in love with WHY?

6. Surround yourself with starters. Bikram Yoga is my religion. Literally. The word “religion” comes from the Latin term religio, which means, “to link back.” So, religion is the one thing in your life that every other thing in your life links back to. Regardless of what you believe, or, even if you don’t believe. Everybody’s got something.

Anyway, when I started practicing on January 6th, 2008, I was a beginner in every sense of the word: Never done it, never wanted to do it and never thought I’d actually be doing it. Especially since I heard the classes were ninety minutes in a 105° room.

I shared those exact words with my instructor Rebbecca the first time I walked into the studio. She smiled and said, “Yeah, that’s what I said thirteen years ago.”

And now, here I am, practicing four days a week. Why? Because I initially surrounded myself with veteran starters. What about you? Are you hanging with people who move? Or people who watch Jersey Shores?

Remember: Life’s too short to surround yourself with people don’t challenge and inspire you. Who do you need to delete from your life?

7. Document as you develop. When I built NametagTV in 2006, I started from scratch. I knew nothing about shooting or editing. Nothing about setting up a multimedia studio. And nothing about leveraging video to add value to my clients and grow my business.

Which was fine. Because what I did know was that I had a cool, profitable idea that made me want to get out of bed an hour earlier. So, I started anyway, with the knowledge that it would take 12-18 months to overcome my learning curve.

Which I did. More importantly, which I documented. Everything I learned, everything I tried and everything I screwed up, I wrote down. That way, I could combine learning and doing.

Here are three more questions you can ask yourself to do the same:

*What did I (just) learn from this experience?
*What happened to me during this experience?
*What fundamental principles might be at work here?

Your challenge is to objectively step out of what you’re doing and look at your start-up situation from a different plane of consciousness. This turns the learning/doing process into a self-feeding, self-repeating cycle.

Remember: We learn not from our experiences, but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences – PLUS – consistent documentation thereof. What did you learn yesterday?

FINAL THOUGHT: Just stop waiting.

Stop waiting for permission.
Stop waiting until you’re ready.
Stop waiting until you know what you’re doing.

Otherwise you’ll keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

And then, before you know it, it will be too late.

Instead, I challenge you to plunge immediately into action.

Don’t take the guided tour and stall - go get a guest past and start.

Whatever it is. Just start.

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If everything you’ve done up until now is just the beginning, what’s next?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "6 Ways to Out POSITION Your Competitors," 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.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Five Things “They” Say, and Why I Disagree

1. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

I say:

“Put all your eggs in one basket, then guard that basket with your life and make sure the savages with frying pans and eggbeaters stay away.”

Meanwhile, make sure you dance the fine line between risky and reckless.

One is sticking yourself out there – the other is leaving yourself out there.
One is adventure accompanied by danger – the other is danger disguised as adventure.
One is increasing the probability of temporary hurt – the other is guaranteeing the promise of permanent injury. Careful.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: How could you bet the farm without losing your ass?

2. “Take everything with a grain of salt.”

I say:

“Take everything with a mountain of salt.”

One grain isn’t going to cut it. There’s just too much bullshit out there. So, don’t be afraid to challenge, dismantle and recast people’s outworn, hidden assumptions. And shrink not from the opportunity to stop in your tracks, tilt your head like a curious Beagle and hold someone accountable for speaking rectally.

Remember: Learn to become aggressively skeptical and you’ll EARN to become progressively profitable.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you on a high sodium diet?

3. “With age comes wisdom.”

I say:

“With page comes wisdom.”

As my mentor William Jenkins taught me, “We learn not from our experiences, but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences.”

That’s the cool part: If you learn to document your reflections, reactions and interpretations of various life experiences, you won’t have to wait until you’re fifty to be a broker of wisdom.

You can start early. And people will listen. Wise beyond your years will be an understatement. Remember: Introspection leads to income collection.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What did you write today?

4. “The first cut is the deepest.”

I say:

“The first cut is the cheapest.”

Make mistakes early, quickly and quietly. Then learn from them. Then teach the lessons learned to someone else. Then move on. Odds are, you won’t make the same mistake twice. Great way to save your company a few bucks.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you slicing strategically?

5. “The cream rises to the top.”

I say:

“The cream rises to the top, but mediocrity often hitches a ride.”

Marketing overshadows talent. Think about it: Brittney never would have made it in the 60’s. Which kind of sucks, but that’s the reality. So, the secret is to remind yourself of the following scripture from the book of Galatians: “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap a great harvest if we faint not.”

Learned that one when I was sixteen. And it’s guided my life ever since. Lesson learned: Patience, grasshopper. If you’re amazing, your time will come. And so will the people. And will the money. But only if you work hard, long and smart.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: How long are you willing to simmer before the cream rises?

That's what they say, that's why I disagree.

What about you?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What do you disagree with?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the ebook called, "101 Lessons Learned from Wearing a Nametag 24-7," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to Follow Up After a Job Interview without Coming off Like a Stalker

“Morning Karen! I just wanted to personally thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule yesterday to talk to me about the Senior Toilet Cleaning position with The Packlebush Proctology Clinic.

After speaking with you and the group – and considering the other four loser applicants I saw in the waiting room – I believe I’d be the perfect candidate for the job.

And I hope you don’t mind, but I’m currently camping out in the parking lot of your office, halfway through a two-liter of Mountain Dew and a box of Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. I’m eagerly anticipating your decision. When do I start?”


And you were wondering why you heard police sirens in the distance.

LESSON LEARNED: There’s a fine line.

Between enthusiasm and desperation.
Between needing a job and being needy.
Between demonstrating initiative and deserving a restraining order.

Today we’re going to explore five ways to follow up after a job interview without coming off like a stalker:

1. Be persistent – not pushy. Pushy leads to suspicion. Suspicion lower trust. And lower trust forces people to check you off. Here’s how to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

First, understand the difference. The word “pushy” actually means “obnoxiously forward or self-assertive.” The word “persistent” actually means “insistently repetitive or continuous.”

Next, the (real) secret isn’t just being persistent – but demonstrating a valid motivation FOR your persistence. Otherwise you come off like a try-hard, working overtime to drum up rapport.

Remember: Following up for the sake of follow up is time wasting and sour tasting. Are you pushy or persistent?

2. Use gentle reminders. You don’t want to be a pest. But you do want to follow up in a non-threatening, non overly salesy and value-driven way. For example, let’s say a certain prospect hasn’t returned your calls or emails. Maybe she’s busy. Maybe she forgot to reply. Maybe she has more important tasks to get to that week.

No problem. Your mission is to gently remind that person who you are and how you uniquely deliver value. Consider sending a link to a relevant blog post you read. Or, better yet, send a link to a relevant blog post YOU wrote.

Wait: You are blogging, right?

Remember: Gentle reminders sure beat leaving another annoying, predictable and unremarkable voicemail saying, “Hey Mark, did you get a chance to look at my resume?” Are you gently reminding people?

3. Strategic subject lines. Since you will most likely be following up via email, remember to use engaging, noticeable and emotional headlines. That’s how people will decide whether to open or delete your message.

Fortunately, that’s also the secret to immediately differentiate your letter in their inbox. Here are a few examples:

*You were right
*I need your help
*I took your advice
*Your ears should be ringing
*I need your opinion on something
*I did what you said - and it worked!
*Somebody paid you a compliment yesterday
*Here are five lessons you taught me during yesterday’s interview...

Remember: The subject line is the most important component of your follow up email. How will your message stand out among the other 397 they received that week?

4. Grow bigger ears. Also for your follow-up thank you note, don’t just gush about how grateful you were to have had the opportunity to connect. And don’t just morph your message into mini-movie trailer summarizing why you’re so awesome.

Instead, PROVE to people that you – unlike every other sub-par candidate they met that day – were the one person who (actually) listened to them. Suggestion: Attach a copy of your notes. I do this daily with prospects who inquire about booking me as a speaker for their conferences, and have discovered several benefits to doing do.

First, taking notes is proof. That you’re actually interested. That you’re actually paying attention. And that you’re actually making an attempt to understand (not just) what they’re saying; but also what they’re trying to communicate.

Next, taking notes honors someone’s thoughts. Because they’re worth capturing. Because they’re worth considering. Because they’re worth saving and revisiting for further contemplation.

Finally, taking notes is respectful and reinforces openness. Because you allow people to see how they affect you. Because you allow people to experience that they can change your mind. And because you allow people to come back to you in the future with their ideas. How will you use your ears as a follow up tool?

5. Amplify your assertiveness when needed. If you’ve attempted to contact someone and that person hasn’t gotten back to you yet, it means one of three things:

(a) He never got your message.
(b) He did get your message, but has been too busy (or forgot) to reply to you.
(c) He did get your email, but chose not to reply to you because you’re not a good fit for the job. Or he suspects you’re having an affair with his wife.

Here’s what I suggest. Send a friendly follow up email or voicemail saying:

“Morning Tom! Looks like it’s been difficult for us to connect lately. Look: I don’t want to be an annoyance. Still, I do want you to know that I’m nothing less than completely professional in my follow up. So, if you would kindly pick from one of the following options – that would be great:

(a) Yes! I would love to chat on the following date
(b) Right now I’m totally slammed, so I’ll get back to you by ______
(c) If I get one more message from you, I’m calling security.

Thanks Tom. I’ll be standing by."


If, after both of these attempts, you still haven’t heard back, it’s highly probably that Tom doesn’t like you. Or his wife squealed. Time to get over it and move on. How assertive are you willing to be?

REMEMBER: There’s a fine line between following up and stalking.

Don’t violate people’s boundaries.

Otherwise, Senior Toilet Cleaner might be the only position left.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you following up or stalking?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “40 Questions Every Unemployed Professional Needs to Ask," 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to be Risky as Hell without being Reckless as Hell’s Angels

Being an entrepreneur is risky.

That’s actually the definition of the word: “One who undertakes risks.”

The challenge is negotiating the fine line between riskiness and recklessness.

If you don’t, you may end up going bankrupt.

Today we’re going to explore the distinction between these two ends of the entrepreneurial spectrum:

RISKY is sticking yourself out there.
RECKLESS is leaving yourself out there.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you balancing vulnerability with healthy boundaries?

RISKY is embracing uncertainty.
RECKLESS is rejecting ambiguity.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you comfortable with not knowing?

RISKY increases the probability of temporary hurt.
RECKLESS guarantees the promise of permanent injury.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you willing to sit out one game to avoid sitting out the entire season?

RISKY indicates accountability for actions.
RECKLESS suggests irresponsibility in thinking.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What are you hesitant to own?

RISKY is growing increasingly mindful of how your pebbles ripple.
RECKLESS is remaining utterly unconcerned about the consequences of action.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you an island?

RISKY is treading on thin ice, trotting atop uncertain ground and gracefully balancing out on a limb.
RECKLESS is jumping on cracked ice, dancing atop broken ground and scarcely hanging by a thread.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What are you afraid to consider as a sign?

RISKY is succeeding from venturesomeness.
RECKLESS is stumbling from carelessness.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Who can help you so you don’t make (too many) wrong moves?

RISKY is marked by heartstrong action.
RECKLESS is stained by headstrong action.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you thinking with the right organ?

RISKY is for bad asses.
RECKLESS is for broke asses.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Which ass are you?

RISKY is enterprising.
RECKLESS is compromising.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you making money, but making your family crazy?

RISKY is on a trajectory for prosperity.
RECKLESS is on collision course with bankruptcy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What consumes your time that isn’t making you any money?

Ultimately, taking risks comes with the entrepreneurial territory.

And sure, sometimes you have to go off the high board even if you’re not sure if there’s any water below.

So if you do, just make sure there’s a phone nearby.

Because while drawing a little blood is risky, filling the entire pool with it is reckless.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you risky as hell, or reckless as Hell's Angels?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the ebook called, "45 Recession-Friendly Strategies for Entrepreneurial Evolution," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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, April 19, 2010

10 Ways Talk Yourself Out of Your Next Great Idea

Do you want to dramatically shrink your creative output?

Are you seeking to smother your brain’s finest impulses?

How about removing any shred of hope for innovative thinking at your organization?

Fantastic!

Consider incorporating the following ten silent dialogues into your daily lexicon of self-limiting language. Soon, you’ll be talking yourself out of your next great idea quicker than you can say, “That’ll never work!”

1. “That’s stupid!” Always prejudge the quality of your ideas by assigning value to them early. This forces premature cognitive commitment, which prevents your creativity from expanding into unexpected territory.

After all, the last thing you want is your imagination to run wild. That’s sounds like something Einstein or Edison might do.

And what did those two geniuses ever contribute to society? Nothing but a bunch of revolutionary ideas that changed the face of mankind forever. Pshht. Crappy geniuses and their stupid creativity.

Here’s another pattern of detrimental thinking guaranteed to secure your spot in line at your local unemployment office...

2. “That’ll never work.” Never experiment with anything. It’s too expensive, too risky and too dangerous. Instead, feed yourself a steady diet of misguided assumptions and bureaucratic propaganda to poison what’s left of your childlike playfulness.

This assures the lowest possible level of movement value in your ideas, thus rendering your creative abilities to an embarrassingly low level, the likes of which your tax account would be legitimately impressed by.

The next suggestion for initiating a massive destruction of whatever creative energy hasn’t already been sapped by Fox News...

3. “I’m not allowed to do that.” The last thing you want to do is think for yourself. So, before taking any sort of creative risk, be sure to stop and consider the dozens of unwritten rules that you can’t prove and have mindlessly accepted since childhood.

That’s the key to embracing inertia and becoming creatively constipated for years to come: Holding fast to your assumptions in the face of zero evidence.

Another time wasting, bullshit argument to have with yourself while the more intuitive people (actually) execute their ideas into money is...

4. “I should really wait until I have hard data.” Smart move. After all, trusting your intuition means relying on dependable, physiological indicators like feelings and bodily reactions. And all those things will ever do is tell you the truth.

That’s no good! Who has time for honesty when your DVR is 96% full? Look: When you’re trying to talk yourself out of a great idea, instinct is about the stupidest road you could travel. Dishonesty is the best policy.

Next, consider the following excuse as a your one-way ticket to the Left Brain Hall of Fame...

5. “That’s not logical.” Talking yourself out of any great idea is a function of your insistence to think literally. The secret is to create a filter of rationality to myopically evaluate every idea that comes into your brain. That way, anything that resembles a threat to the status quo can be put to rest before it sneaks its way outside of the creative box.

This enables you to preserve a cozy state of predictable mediocrity while simultaneously thriving in hopeless condition of execution-free inconsequentiality. Those great ideas won’t stand a chance.

Here’s another deflating assumption that promises to keep you incarcerated in General Population at the Prison of Inertia...

6. “Yeah, but I can’t just…” These five words are as good as money out of the bank. I suggest you recite this golden nugget of growth-limiting self-talk on a daily basis.

Soon, your self-confidence will be lower than a chemical engineer's at a Toastmasters convention.

As long as you remember the following truths: You’re not good enough. You shouldn’t trust your resources. And you have no right to demand originality in anything you do.

Next, if your self-confidence has risen to a dangerously high level, be sure to lower your shoulders in self-loathing defeat as you whine the following sentiment...

7. “Who am I to…?” Nobody, that’s who! Save the creative ideas for the marketing department.

You’re not paid to think – you’re paid to drag your unmotivated carcass into the personal hell known as your cubicle so you can spend the next nine hours of your miserable life staring at videos on YouTube that slowly dissipate your brain’s capacity to achieve independent thought.

Which reminds me; don’t forget to TiVo Dancing with the Stars tonight. I think that guy from Real World Seattle is going to win.

Also, it’s important to remember to poison your cognitive capabilities – as well as the (formally creative) environment around you – with the following condescending assumption...

8. “I’m never wrong.” Be very careful. If you’re stupid enough to be vulnerable, you’ll never talk yourself out of any great idea. My suggestion is to maintain a constant posture of terminal certainty.

Not only will this create an arrogance clamp that prevents new information from penetrating your mental defenses, but it will piss off your coworkers to no end. This will be helpful in blocking their creativity as well.

Hell, maybe you’ll get fired. Hope you like sleeping in on weekdays!

Here’s another repellent one-liner guaranteed to inspire your coworkers to force your genitals into the color copy machine...

9. “That’s not the right answer!” In life, every problem has one answer, and one answer only. That’s it. How dare you leave space for ambiguity? Life is a scantron test, not an essay contest.

Don’t get sucked into the vortex of uncertainty. Otherwise you’ll have to depend on the very creativity faculties that your agenda-ridden teachers, dogmatic punch-drinking religious leaders and power-hungry authority figures have spent the last four decades trying to beat out of you.

Instead, learn to think only in absolutes. Otherwise you’re going to die. Tomorrow.

And finally, don’t forget to write the following affirmation on a sticky note and post on your bathroom mirror so you can die a little inside each morning as you tearfully recite it aloud...

10. “I’m not creative.” Good. Stay that way. Creative people are weird, unpredictable and wear funny shoes. Plus they rarely make any money. They’re always too busy “creating art” or “changing the world” or “following their passions.”

Pshht! What a galactic waste of brain cells. It’s almost as if they don’t even care what’s on Law & Order tonight. Are you kidding me? Fred Thompson’s making a guest appearance as a paraplegic pedophile! I smell Emmy…

REMEMBER: Most great ideas are just waiting to be talked out of.

I challenge you to incorporate these ten phrases into your uncreative life today.

Who knows? With a little apathy, a lot of self-disbelief and a proven track record of requiring permission to think for yourself, you, too, could be the lucky person to discard the one idea that somebody else picks up and uses to change the world.

Good luck.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What ideas did you slaughter yesterday?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thanks for Buying Gitomer's Little Book of Leadership

Welcome all Gitomer groupies!

If you've landed on this page, you've just bought a copy of Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Book of Leadership.

My name is Scott Ginsberg. Jeffrey and I are friends. And he asked me to offer a special gift as a thanks to you.

I write books and give talks on approachability.

And, since I'm usually the youngest person in the room, I've written an ebook on being a young leader:

What Most Young Leaders Overlook


Thanks for reading!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to Last

Imagine you’re a California prospector panning for gold in 1852.

One morning, you spot something glinting in the pan.

Naturally, the first thing you do is look around to see if anybody else noticed.

They didn’t. Whew.

You take a closer look, thinking to yourself, “This is it! This is my payday!”

Sadly, upon further exploration, your hopes and dreams are crushed when the rock turns out (not) to be gold.

Just a mere flash in the pan.

Damn it!
..
That’s where the phrase “flash in the pan” originated...

Interestingly, a century and a half later, it has a different meaning. According to my trusty Urban Dictionary, a flash in the pan is:

“A project, person or idea that enjoys only short-lived success; something that disappoints by failing to deliver anything of value, despite a showy beginning.”

How many of those have you encountered over the years?

MY GUESS: Too many.

Why?

Well, sustainability is hard.

As an artist.
As a partnership.
As an entrepreneur.
As an organization.

The long haul isn’t just long – it’s laborious.

And if you want to last (and who doesn’t?) you’ve got to start planning to do so today.

Here’s how:

1. Identify your absolute baseline. In a relationship, love isn’t enough. Sure, love gets the job done when you’re in high school – but not when you seek sustainability. Not when you’re trying to build a life together. As much as we’d like to buy into the fairytale, life isn’t a Beatles song. Love isn’t all you need.

Sustainability is a function of: (1) compatibility through common constitution, (2) mutual vulnerability and respect through radical honesty, and (3) shared commitment through the willingness to (not) get lazy with each other.

I know this because I once ended a four-year relationship with someone that I loved more than anyone on the planet. But that was precisely the danger: All there was – was love. And it wasn’t enough to sustain us.

Your challenge is to figure out the minimum requirements for the survival, for the lasting, of whatever endeavor you’re engaged in. Whether it’s a personal relationship, business partnership or entrepreneurial venture, somewhere there is a baseline. Define it. Memorialize it. Reinforce it. Otherwise the soundtrack of your failure is going to be all Beatles, all the time. What isn’t enough for you to last?

2. Passion can be seductive. Passion without purpose is pointless. Nothing but a beautiful, blazing fire that burns you and everyone you touch. What’s more, passion without relevance, marketability and a foundation of skill to support it, won’t last.

My suggestion: Before you empty your entire bank account for (and re-orchestrate your entire life around) your lifelong passion for baking blackened raccoon testicle cupcakes, consider two additional questions:

*Will the thrill of your passion dissipate once it becomes a daily task?
*If you (did) end up making a business out of your passion, how long would it take before you feel robbed of your true talent because you’re wasting most of your time and energy on menial, soul-sucking activities that have nothing to do with your passion?

Remember: Passionate doesn’t (necessarily) mean profitable. Be careful. Are you confusing passion with infatuation?

3. Multiply your reservoir. In Tom Robbins’s seminal novel, Still Life with Woodpecker, the central question of the book is, “How do you make love stay?” And while he answers the question several times throughout the text, the following passage is my favorite:

“When two people meet and fall in love, there’s a sudden rush of magic. Magic is just naturally present then. We tend to feed on that gratuitous magic without striving to make any more. One day we wake up and find that the magic is gone. We hustle to get it back, but by then it’s usually too late, we’ve used it up. What we have to do is work like hell at making additional magic right from the start. It’s hard work, especially when it seems superfluous or redundant, but if we can remember to do it, we greatly improve our chances of making love stay.”

For example, as a writer, every day, I’m constantly adding, organizing, updating, tweaking and fortifying the creative inventory of my idea factory – one sentence at a time. That’s my system for making additional magic right from the start. How will you multiply your reservoir?

That’s the key: Whether you’re sustaining a relationship, organization or career, find a way to create a constant surplus position. What’s your secret for making love stay?

4. Determine what you deem meaningful – then disregard the rest. I’m not suggesting you stop caring. Rather, learn to become selectively apathetic. Be honest with yourself about what really matters to and motivates you. Otherwise you’ll end up over-investing in the inconsequential. And that’s when you learn that (not) doing what you love is the most dangerous thing of all.

A helpful reminder is to constantly ask yourself, your team and your organization two questions: Will doing this matter a year from now? Why aren’t doing what matters to you right now?

Remember: It’s easy to persist when you know who you are. Are you, on a daily basis, doing stuff that matters?

5. If you’re not fully engaged, don’t bother. In the book Success Built to Last, Jerry Porras wrote, “You can run a marathon at gunpoint, but you probably won’t win the race.” I would also add: Nor will you enjoy running it, and nor will people enjoy watching you struggle through it. Plus you’ll probably ruin your shoes.

Here’s the reality: To last is to require full engagement of all your faculties. The exciting part is, once you learn to enlist everything you’ve got, every time, ample stamina become freely available to you. What are the obstacles you create that hinder full engagement?

6. Grow thicker skin. I used to work with a guy named James. When we met, he was the longest living employee of the company. And not surprisingly, his life philosophy was, “Nothing shocks me but electricity.” Lesson learned: Don’t ignore criticism – but don’t sit there and take it like a punching bag.

It all depends on the source, the validity of the comment made, plus the context in which it was made. That way, you balance thicker skin with bigger ears. That’s the best part: Criticism keeps you in check when it’s right, and keeps you in chuckles when it’s ridiculous. Are you an alligator or a goldfish?

7. Take risks for the right reasons. Otherwise you’re not being risky – you’re being reckless. And that’s when people start to get hurt. That’s when things start to get broken. The challenge is, sometimes you have to jump off the high board even if you’re not sure if there’s any water below.

Fortunately, if you take a risk for the right reasons – and even if you do fail miserably – the process will still transform you. Which means you didn’t (really) fail, just enrolled in an instant education. Will you evolve your desire into a tale of heroism, or wimp out and buy tickets to the What I Should Have Said Theater?

8. Focus on what you want to build. A platform? A brand? A body of work? A reservoir of knowledge? A family? A membership? A following? An empire? A permission asset? A validation squad? A critical mass of interest? A greater sense of client intimacy?

Whatever. It matters less what you build, and more that you build. Truth is: The people who build are the ones who last. Forever. Did you work on your legacy today?

9. Instigate a process of self-reinvention. Otherwise, complacency grows. And where complacency grows, inertia flows. As I learned in Trust Agents, “Reinventing the space you’re in naturally helps you stand out. And as people who stand out redefine the industry they are working in; they have an easier time making a name for themselves.”

The hard part is, you have to give yourself permission to become known for something else. It’s a form of letting go, and it hurts. Now, I’m not suggesting disregarding your early accomplishments; rather, accepting the past as prologue, as the thing that brought here, and constantly evolving into something bigger, better and more valuable.

Remember: In the ongoing battle of sustainability, reinvention is the trigger of advancement. Will you surrender to the next phase of your own evolution or become a prisoner of yesterday’s success?

10. Those who leverage, last. “To increase the rate of return of an investment.” That’s the official definition of the word leverage, although I prefer to think of it as “killing two stones with one bird.” Either way, in my experience as an entrepreneur, leverage is the single smartest strategy for making anything (or anyone) last.

The secret is asking leverage questions. Try these on for size: What is the movement value of this idea? Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? How does this fit in with my theory of the universe? Ultimately, it’s a shift from your current mindset into an awareness plan of constant opportunity. How will you increase the rate of return?

11. Practice good-hearted stubbornness. Notice: Not terminal certainty. Instead: Resolute persistence, paired with commitment to boundaries through self-control and self-discipline - but not at the expense of someone's respect.

In short: Standing your ground without stepping on people’s toes. If you approach your decision-making process from this perspective, you won’t just last – you’ll outlast the waffling majority of chameleonic pushovers who couldn’t stick to their guns if they took a bath in Elmer’s Glue.

Interestingly, the word “stubborn” comes from the Old English term stybb, which means, “stump of a tree.” Funny. Tree stumps last for hundreds of years. How much longer would you last if you planted your feet firmly in ground of your truth?

REMEMBER: Sustainability is hard.

It requires patience, stamina, persistence and labor.

That’s why not everyone lasts.

I challenge you to incorporate these eleven practices into your daily life so you become one of the people who do.

Otherwise, you’re nothing but a flash in the pan.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you an expression of action?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "11 Ways to Out POSITION Your Competitors," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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, April 15, 2010

How to Make People Hate You

When I was a kid, my dad used to bring me to the trade shows to help set up his booth.

The only problem was, we’d have to get there early.

Like, really early. On a Saturday. When nobody else was there yet. When I should have been in the hotel room watching Voltron.

One day I asked him, “Dad, why do we have to get here so early? And why are you here, opening boxes, getting all dirty and sweaty – you’re the president of the company!”

I’ll never forget what he said to me next:

“Scott, look around at the all the other booths: These are my competitors. And if you watch closely on the day before the trade show, you won’t see any other company presidents setting up the booths.”

“Wow Dad! You mean you arrive here early just to show your employees that you’re not too good to get dirty?”

“Well, that’s part of it. But the real message isn’t to MY employees – it’s to my THEIR employees. Because I want them to look up from their dirty, sweaty boxes, and see ME, the president of the competition, across the aisle, at seven in the morning, on a Saturday – making their president look like a putz. That’s why our company is called Closeouts with Class, Scott: Not just classy products – classy people.”

And that’s how you make people hate you.

Now, allow me to explain.

First of all, people don't hate my dad.

Secondly, I’m not suggesting you want people to (actually) hate you like they hate, say, Paris Hilton or that guy from the Micro Machines commercial.

MY THEORY IS: Being hated is an indicator of success.

And when I say, “being hated,” I don’t mean that people literally want to cause you bodily harm.

It’s more like resentment. Jealousy. Animosity. All of which stem from envy.

Ultimately, being hated isn’t something you do intentionally TO make a name for yourself; it’s something that happens incidentally AS you make a name for yourself.

Here’s how to make that happen:

1. Ask hater questions. If your competitors don’t (currently) hate you, what could you execute in the next week that would get them to want to strangle you with an orange extension cord? Ask this question to yourself and to your team every Monday morning, you’ll have more haters than you’ll know what to do with.

Then again, you’ll also have more customers than you know what to do with. It’s like my mentor Jeffrey Gitomer says, “When my competitors come to my website, I want them to hate my friggin guts because they know their website is a piece of junk!” Does your competition hate you?

2. Be exceptionally educated. My other mentor, Bill Jenkins, once wrote a sermon called, “The Cost of God’s Gifts.” Oxymoronic as it sounded, his theory was right: Knowledge creates its own enemies.

Not that you should memorize the encyclopedia, get a bunch of degrees and introduce yourself with four acronyms after your last name. Education comes from experience, intelligent reflection upon that experience and disciplining yourself to catalogue what you learned from that experience.

If you do that every day of your life, you’ll become a fountain of wisdom and insight. That people will want to pee in. What did you write yesterday?

3. Be the exception. Nothing pisses people off more than when you refuse to imprison yourself by adopting the illusions they blindly accepted as rules. If only they had your obstinate sense of self-protection. If only.

Sadly, most people are other people. They allow the world to dictate what they want and what’s important to them. You, on the other hand, are the exception to every rule. Or, you change the rules so you can win at your own game. Or, you change the game completely so there are no rules.

Either way, people hate you for that. Well done. What rules don’t you subscribe to?

4. Do what you love. In a recent daily cartoon, Hugh McLeod wrote, “Getting a lot of people to hate you is easy: All you have to do is become really successful at doing something you love.”

Lesson learned: Do what you love and the hatred will follow – from jealous people who aren’t doing what they love, that is.

And if you have a hard time being viewed that way, just remember that you’re nobody until somebody hates you anyway. May as well start now. How many hours of your typical workday are spent doing things you love?

5. Just be different. In Lyn Lofland’s A World of Strangers, she reveals: “We don’t like strangers because their differences threaten to contaminate our sense of self.”

Ever felt that way? That someone resented you just because you were different from them? Good. Every time that happens, pat yourself on the back. You’re on your way. What is your Personal Differential Advantage?

6. Make things happen. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who executes exquisitely and consistently. Especially to the population of the world that spends all their time talking their ideas into the ground.

Your mission is to keep asking, “What’s the next action?” To (not) be stopped by not knowing how. And to keep your entrepreneurial eyes peeled for barriers to execution like hesitation, ambiguity and inertia. What could you make happen by lunch today?

7. Manage to get out. Of a toxic relationship. Of a crappy job. Of a sticky situation. Of a go-nowhere town. Of a downward spiral. Doesn’t matter.

Anytime you rise like a Phoenix from out of the flames – and do so with determination, poise and passion – the people who don’t have the stones to cut their own dirty ropes will resent you to no end.

Because while you managed to get out, they chose to remain stuck. Are you quitting when it’s hard or when it’s right?

8. Promote radical ideas. See if you can identify what the following people have in common: Jesus, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln and John Lennon.

Give up? Try this: They were all, at some point in time, hated or resented for their radical ideas.

Sadly, the other commonality is that they were all, at some point in time, murdered for their radical ideas.

No wonder people are scared to voice their opinion – they might be killed! I guess our society isn’t ready for radical thinking yet. Maybe we’ll give it another two thousand years.

Anyway, I’m not suggesting you change you become a martyr. And I doubt you will be nailed to a cross or burned at the stake for voicing your opinion. I just thought you’d like to know history has proved. What are you willing to suffer for?

9. Pursue your dream persistently and authentically. Let’s turn to the book Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Butts, by Peter McWilliams. He wrote:

“People don’t like to see others pursuing their dreams – it reminds them how far from living their own dreams they are. In talking you out of your dreams, they are taking themselves back into their comfort zone.”

Lesson learned: Let your unflinching pursuit of your dreams be a mirror of other people’s mediocrity. Sure, people might resent you. But know that your persistent and authentic quest will serve as a motivators for people’s own journeys. Is it worth being hated if it jolts people out of their drudgery?

10. Self-confidence threatens weak people. I’ve been wearing a nametag 24-7 for the past ten years. And while it sounds so simple, cool and playful, doing so (actually) requires a tremendous amount of confidence in my personhood, comfort in my own skin and commitment to sticking myself out there.

Is it any surprise that complete strangers walk right up to me in the middle of public places, rip my nametag off and tear into a dozen pieces? Yikes. I guess some people’s sense of self is threatened by a sticker. What response will your self-confidence elicit from others?

11. Smile all the time. It’s weird: Some people don’t think other people deserve to be happy. It’s simply not fair how crappy their lives are, and their misery is itching for company.

That’s why smiling all the time drives people crazy. Especially those terminally negative chumps who convince themselves that it’s easier to be miserable all the time.

Your smile reminds them of how sad their lives really are. Almost like a reverse entitlement attitude and victim mentality combined. My suggestion is: Don’t let this mixture infiltrate your life. It’s more poisonous than cyanide.

Instead, let your happiness – as expressed through your constant smile – contagiously infect those around you. How many people went out of their way to avoid you yesterday?

12. Take truth serum. Want a surefire way to boil people’s blood? Practice radical truth telling, challenge injustice and dispel pleasant myths. This type of honesty makes people nervous. Especially when they’re so used to living in a world of lies.

The reality is: When you walk your truth in a world of mostly (fiction), people notice. They might hate you, but they still notice. And because awareness is always the first step toward mastery, attention is a great first step. How are you branding your honesty?

13. Walk your truth. To quote my favorite book, The War of Art, “We see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived our own.”

Lesson learned: When you walk your truth on a daily basis, it serves as an alarm clock for the inauthentic. And understand that when people see those who hold themselves to a standard they don’t, resentment grows. Do not shrink from this. What are you trading your authenticity for?

One final thought.

In 2005, The Beast published an article called, “50 Most Hated People in America.”

On the list, you can find people like Martha Stewart, George Lucas, Tom Cruise, Donovan McNabb, Johnny Damon, Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Friedman and Michael Jackson.

Now, I’m not here to defend or argue the validity of any of these selections. Nobody on this list is perfect. Especially Oprah.

I just think it’s interesting to note the commonalities:

All of these people are wealthy, successful and well known.
All of these people have pursued – and are pursuing – their dreams.
All of these people are making – or have made – a name for themselves.

Maybe you need to spend less time being liked and more time getting people to hate you.

Because if you’re not pissing off (at least) some people, you’re doing something wrong.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who hates you?

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Have You Given Yourself Permission to Do These 43 Essential Things?

1. Give yourself permission to ask for what you need. Expectational clarity is a beautiful thing: It saves time, prevents extra work and lowers the probability of future surprises.

2. Give yourself permission to be a student. Even if you already know everything. Especially if you already know everything. Those who refuse to learn, doth burn.

3. Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. Think of it like a calculus equation: Asymptotic, approaching zero, continuing forever. Never quite hitting the line, but getting microscopically closer every day. That’s a reasonable goal.

4. Give yourself permission to be confused. Being dumb is highly underrated. The challenge is that it requires humility and vulnerability. Not everyone has the courage to muster such forces.

5. Give yourself permission to be disloyal to dysfunctional message-givers. Inherited faith fails. Believe what you believe because you (actually) believe – not because someone told you to believe and you mindlessly followed.

6. Give yourself permission to be happy. You’d be amazed how many people refuse to do so. Almost like they don’t believe they deserve to be happy.

7. Give yourself permission to be human. To be imperfect. To be wrong. To change your mind. To be emotional. To have baggage.

8. Give yourself permission to be impatient. As important as patience is, sometimes you just have to declare, “Screw it – I’m going to Nashville.”

9. Give yourself permission to be scared. Not afraid, but scared. Huge difference.

10. Give yourself permission to be selfish. Totally underrated. Practicing rational, healthy selfishness is oxygen to the soul. As I learned from Honoring the Self, “Practice selfishness in the highest, noblest and least understood sense of the word – which requires enormous independence, courage and integrity.”

11. Give yourself permission to be the best, highest version of yourself. Anything less is dishonest living. Besides, nobody wants the coach version of you – they want first class, all the way.

12. Give yourself permission to be. Probably the hardest task on this list. We’re just so used to “doing” all the time that the prospect of simply “being” is terrifying.

13. Give yourself permission to breathe. It’s ok for people to hear you breathe. Breathing keeps you present. Breathing keeps you relaxed. And developing a healthier relationship with your breath is one of the smartest moves you could make.

14. Give yourself permission to capture and express any idea. Good. Bad. Ugly. Doesn’t matter. True creatives treat all ideas with deep democracy. Capture first, evaluate eventually. That way you don’t suffer from premature cognitive commitment. Order comes later.

15. Give yourself permission to change your mind. You’re human. And like Gandhi suggested, your commitment is to truth – not consistency.

16. Give yourself permission to completely let down your guard and relax. No walls, no worries.

17. Give yourself permission to cry in front of people. Tears demonstrate alignment and honesty. Who wouldn’t want to be around someone like that? Let the water works flow.

18. Give yourself permission to delete things from your life. And, to not feel bad about deleting them. Productivity is a process of elimination.

19. Give yourself permission to disappear. For fifteen minutes or fifteen days. Doesn’t matter. Engaging the off button on a regular basis is essential to your health.

20. Give yourself permission to disregard the inconsequential. Ending your pursuit of the trivial and focusing on stuff that matters is unbelievably liberating.

21. Give yourself permission to divorce toxic people. If they don’t challenge and inspire you, give ‘em the boot. Your time is too valuable.

22. Give yourself permission to do nothing. Unproductive time is productive time. Recharging is essential.

23. Give yourself permission to do something imperfectly. Better done and imperfect than procrastinated and flawless. Nobody’s going to even notice anyway, so what’s the hold up? Remember: My crap is better than your nothing.

24. Give yourself permission to expect nothing. That way, failure is impossible. Pretty cool how that works, huh?

25. Give yourself permission to fail. Regardless of what your boss says – failure IS an option. Not learning from that failure isn’t.

26. Give yourself permission to feel miserable. People who are happy all the time scare me. Makes me wonder if they’re even paying attention to life.

27. Give yourself permission to feel positive about your accomplishments. Especially when your inner critic tries to take the wind out of your sails. A victory is a victory. Celebrate it.

28. Give yourself permission to get lost. GPS is the devil. I can’t imagine a world where it’s impossible to get lost. How else will you learn to trust yourself? How else will you stumble upon fascinating discoveries that the map doesn’t include? Learn to travel without plans.

29. Give yourself permission to go perpendicular to your current activity. It’s the perfect way to engage other areas of your brain and stimulate creativity.

30. Give yourself permission to have (and follow) your crazy ideas. If it’s not crazy, it’s not worth pursuing.

31. Give yourself permission to have a bad day. Fine, so resistance beat you this morning. Big deal. Don’t beat yourself up. When the world says no to you, the first word out of your mouth should be, “Next!”

32. Give yourself permission to indulge occasionally. Otherwise your admirable self-discipline will morph into intolerable self-righteousness.

33. Give yourself permission to laugh out loud. Especially at stupid things most people don’t think are funny. Don’t worry – nobody will think you’re a horrible person. Just a human.

34. Give yourself permission to let it out, man. Fine, so I sing Whitney Houston in the car at full volume. Sue me. It feels great, releases my stress and entertains other drivers. Bet I’m having more fun on the highway than you are.

35. Give yourself permission to live a life of your choosing. This is the polar opposite of allowing other people to dictate what you want.

36. Give yourself permission to live creativity in every part of your life. Creativity isn’t something you do – it’s something you are. And like humor, creativity isn’t something you “add” or “use” or “apply” to your life like hair gel. True creativity is embodied.

37. Give yourself permission to make bad art. How else are you supposed to uncover the good art?

38. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. As long as you learn three things from each one. That’s how it ceases to be a mistake.

39. Give yourself permission to make taking care of your life your top priority. Put yourself at the top of your own list.

40. Give yourself permission to matter. I wrote a helpful guide on doing so here.

41. Give yourself permission to pause. They. Can. Wait.

42. Give yourself permission to quit for the right reasons. Just ask Seth.

43. Give yourself permission to take off your nametag. No labels, no limits.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Where in your life do you need to give yourself permission?

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For the list called, "31 Uncommon Practices that Lead to Wealth and Wisdom," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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