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Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to Translate What You Know into Action

You don’t need more ideas.

Especially because:

Your body is tired.
Your brain is overloaded.
Your notebook is already full of new ideas.

The tricky part is translating what you know into action.

BECAUSE THE REALITY IS: You don't need more intellectual capital – you need more executional velocity.

Here’s how to convert what-you-now-know into what-you-will-do:
1. Creativity is only the beginning. What matters is what you convert your creativity into. That’s the distinction: Creativity is a state of being – innovation denotes consistent action. Both are essential, but the latter is what moves things you know into things you do.

It’s like those people you meet who constantly (and aggressively) remind you, “I’m an idea guy!” And you think, “That’s great, Steve, but have you actually executed anything that matters this week?”

Odds are, he hasn’t. And my suggestion is: Stay away from these people. Even if they’re the most creative, artistic geniuses you’ve ever met.

Their unactionable spirit will infiltrate its way into your life and cripple your ability to execute. Do the five people you spend the most time with, ship?

2. Give your ideas some wheels. The two best questions to ask the moment after you learn something are: “Where can I use this?” and, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

These questions help you pinpoint the movement value of your ideas. And the earlier you identify it, the quicker you can convert what-you-now-know into what-you-will-do.

My suggestion is to write those questions on sticky notes. Keep them in front of your face regularly. This helps drive home the concept of movement value and enhances your awareness of how leverage is the ultimate tool for translating what you know into action. What’s the one question, if asked consistently, would make the biggest impact on your life?

3. Build a philosophy to guide your actions. Take IDEO, for example. At their design and innovation consulting firm, they operate on a core product development philosophy:

“Enlightened trial and error outperforms the planning of flawless intellects.”

This assures that organization doesn’t get too removed from the spirit of action. For me, as a publisher, philosophies like “Don’t be stopped by not knowing how,” and “Finished is the new perfect” guide my daily execution efforts.

Your challenge is to build your philosophy, then memorialize and live it. If everybody did exactly what you said, what would the world look like?

4. Create a lessons-learned manual. If you can’t write about it, you don’t know it. If you don’t write it down, it never happened. And if you can’t find it, you never wrote it down.

Boeing knows this. Their aircraft engineers create lessons learned manual for documenting and sharing wisdom.

Lesson learned: Just because you’ve logged five hundred hours on a simulator doesn’t make you a pilot. You’ve got to get behind the yoke, and you’ve got to share what you learned while you were behind it.

Try this: Keep a stack of index cards by your bed. Write down one lesson learned each night before you hit the sack. At the end of the year, that’s a lot of lessons.

Especially if you’re lucky enough to have a partner your share the bed with. What did you write today?

5. Mobilize your resources. You can’t just man the workbench and crank out a bunch of cool inventions all day. You have to test your ideas, blow a few things up and keep plugging away.

That’s why I love Twitter and Facebook. Perfect venues for testing the waters with new ideas. The only problem is, marketplaces have historically rewarded expertise. And as a result, we’ve been deluded into thinking that being clever is more important than taking action.

Total lie. Out-executing aways trumps out-thinking. Don’t let your mountain of data remain merely an anthology of good intentions that never drive action. Where is your most fertile idea testing ground?

6. Accelerate your actionability. Learning something is irrelevant unless you’re able to silently scream,” I believe this! I can do this! I want to try this!”

To get to that point, consider using the following questions as an audit of actionability:

What are the reasons, barriers, fears, assumptions and blocks that are preventing me people from taking action on this idea – and how can I dispel the myths that will give me the confidence to move now?

What checklist can I create to keep myself accountable and consistent in the future?

What equation, algorithm, formula or system can I create to easily plug myself into?

What is a simple – daily, weekly, monthly, annual, spontaneous – routine that I can discipline myself to do that would reinforce my content?

What jumpstart action items need to be taken in order to build momentum?

What preparatory measures, rituals or practices can I learn that, prior to doing something hard in the future, I can execute to calm my nerves and enable greater success?

What specific phrases, questions or words do I need to add to or delete from lexicon?

7. Making decisions doesn’t mean you’ve done anything. Decisions merely activate the action process. The secret is writing the proper plan to implement the changes in a timely manner. And then, living with consequences – good or bad.

For example, you might try the approach I take with my mentoring clients. At the end of each conversation, refuse to adjourn until they make a list of the first three things they are going to go do immediately after the conversation is over.

This works well with a partner, group – even with yourself. The key is to write it down, put a date on it, and maybe even share it with someone else for accountability purposes.

Anything that activates the driving force. What are you allowing to be an acceptable substitute for action?

REMEMBER: Knowledge that doesn’t lead you to wisdom is nothing but empty calories.

Real wisdom – and real money– comes from doing.

Otherwise you’re just a smart guy who knows a bunch of stuff.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you turning your ideas into money or into more ideas?

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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, July 28, 2010

How to be Timeless, Part 2

“What scares you?”

That was the question I asked my group.

The first answer came from Cameron. And I remember feeling my gut drop to the ground as soon as the following two words came out of his mouth:

“Becoming irrelevant.”

Good lord. What a terrifying concept for any entrepreneur to entertain.

Especially in the minds of your clients, in the eyes of the media and in the opinion of the marketplace – I can’t think of anything that poses a greater threat to the profitability, equity and longevity of your enterprise.

So.

What’s the answer?
What’s the antidote to fading away?

TWO WORDS: Being timeless.

Like a Picasso.
Like a black dress.
Like a Beavis & Butthead tattoo on your left ass cheek.

That’s timeless.

And even though it’s typically a subject comment, there are still a few universal principles that apply to everyone.

Here’s the second part (read part one!) of how to increase the timelessness of you, your brand and your organization:
1. Speak with a transcending tongue. Take Shakespeare, for example. His work is ambiguous enough to fit any context – yet still specific and personal enough to remain universally relatable.

Example: “Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.”

I don’t care what time period in history you come from – that’s powerful. And it will always be powerful. Because Shakespeare transcends time.

Your challenge is to isolate what it is about you, your brand and your organization that is transcendent; and what, specifically, it transcends. Age? Geography? Gender?

Either way: Allow the theme behind what you do to speak louder than the era in which you do it. What lines are you beautifully blurring?

2. Speak straight to the heart of human experience. Every day I post a question on my Facebook page. Recently, I ask, “What makes someone – or something – timeless? As usual, my friend Dixie chimed in beautifully:

“Timelessness comes from the deep connection to human experience – the themes, rhythms and currents of what it means to be human – and a willingness to be fully and unreservedly part of that experience.”

That should get you started. How human are you willing to position yourself as?

3. Draw attention to the universal. I once attended a seminar on male/female communication hosted by author and pastor Mark Gungor. Not only was it hilarious. Not only was it fun. And not only was it educational for my single-minded male brain. But Mark managed to share a message with over a thousand people that was impossible not to relate to.

No heroic adventures of climbing Mt. Everest. No amazing tales of overcoming adversity. Just a guy talking about something universal, i.e., relationships between men (morons) and women (superior alien counterparts).

That’s how you become timeless: You make your audience your accomplice. And you give them permission to plug themselves into your equations. Which important people are you accidentally alienating with the content, structure and delivery of this message?

4. Make a melody, not a groove. Consider a few famous songs: “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “Satisfaction,” by the Rolling Stones, “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen and “Over the Rainbow,” by Judy Garland.

What do they all have in common? According to The Independent, they’re among the most covered songs of all time. Why? Because they contain melodies that ring in our hearts forever – not just groves that ring in our heads for five minutes.

That’s the difference: Melodies stand the test of time – groves end up as catchy jingles for deodorant commercials. What’s more, the word “melody” comes from the Greek meloidia, which means, “a song on a limb.”

That suggests risk. That denotes uniqueness. That means art. “Groove,” on the other hand, comes from the Old English graef, which means, “a long, narrow rut.”

Just another word for a grave. Yikes. Does the music of your life contain timeless melodies or just a bunch of catchy grooves?

5. Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness. Not perfection. Not flawlessness. Not mistake-free work. Just consistency. Interestingly, the word comes from the Latin consistere, or, “state of being in agreement and harmony.”

That’s how you stand the test of time. That’s how you endure.

When your on-stage performance is congruent with your backstage reality.

When the message you’re preaching is the dominant reality of your life.

When you’re courageous enough to smoke what you’re selling.

Do that, and you won’t be forgotten. What kind of structure can you place around yourself to make sure you remember to do that consistently?

REMEMBER: There’s nothing more frightening than the prospect of irrelevancy.

Whether you’re an individual, a brand, or an organization – it’s always worth investing the time in making yourself a little more timeless.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you doing to keep from fading away?

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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.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to be Timeless, Part 1

“What scares you?”

That was the question I asked my group.

The first answer came from Cameron. And I remember feeling my gut drop to the ground as soon as the following two words came out of his mouth:

“Becoming irrelevant.”

Good lord. What a terrifying concept for any entrepreneur to entertain.

Especially in the minds of your clients, in the eyes of the media and in the opinion of the marketplace – I can’t think of anything that poses a greater threat to the profitability, equity and longevity of your enterprise.

So.

What’s the answer?
What’s the antidote to fading away?

TWO WORDS: Being timeless.

Like a Picasso.
Like a black dress.
Like a Beavis & Butthead tattoo on your left ass cheek.

That’s timeless.

And even though it’s typically a subject comment, there are still a few universal principles that apply to everyone.

Here’s the first part (read part two!) of how to increase the timelessness of you, your brand and your organization:

1. Simplicity isn’t just eloquence – it’s endurance.. The only challenge is: Simplicity is hard. It requires more energy, more brainpower and more courage that pursuing complexity. Especially when that son of a bitch shoulder devil incessantly whispers into your ear, “If you keep it complex, people will think you’re smart.”

Wrong. Simplicity is a fashion that never goes out of style. Fight for every inch of it. Stop creating riddles that take too long for impatient people to solve. Stop making things bigger than they need to be. And stop complicating your message.

Constantly ask yourself questions like, “Is this simple enough that a kindergartner could understand it?” “How easy will it be for people to repeat this?” and “How much more could I distill the essence of this?”

Remember: Simplicity isn’t crushing the complicated – it’s eliminating the extraneous. Start eliminating the non-essential so the necessary can speak. People will listen. Are you backpedaling your way into needless complexities?

2. Resist conforming to short-term trends. Every morning when I sit down to write, one of the questions I keep asking myself is, “Will this sentence be relevant to my grandchildren?” If not, I usually cut it. Because if there’s no hope of my work living after me, what’s the point?

I came to this planet (from some other galaxy, I assume) to leave a literary footprint that leads future generations to the land of executing what matters. Can’t exactly accomplish that goal if the material I write does nothing but gush about the latest fad, complain about the crudest celebrity or whine about the worst sports team.

Not that timely issues aren’t important. The challenge is to avoid getting caught in the seductive undertow of low-level inconsequentialities that have reached the end of their product lifecycle. How much timelessness are you sacrificing by being irrelevant?

3. Choose to champion the beautiful. Seth Godin once wrote, “Beauty is a signaling strategy. Even the most hard-hearted people are suckers for beauty. We treat people and products differently when we think they're beautiful. The reason people and organizations have invested so much in beauty over the years is that beauty pays off.”

Lesson learned: Design matters. No matter what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and whom you do it for, beauty – however you define it – makes you timeless. Period. How much energy are you investing in being a beautiful organism?

4. Don’t grow so much that you get away from the fundamentals. Continuous improvement, personal evolution and complacency prevention are essential elements of success. But your foundation is there for a reason: So you don’t forget who you are.

My suggestion: Don’t let go of the original idea that made you successful. And don’t leave things behind that never should have been left behind. I just learned this (yesterday!) from Mark, another participant in my facilitation group. His comment was that if you forget the rudiments – you forgo the revenue.

Instead, be like Larry Bird. Shoot your hundred free throws, every day. You won’t be forgotten. Are you regularly reinstating your brilliance of the basics?

5. Free yourself from the chains of conventional structure. Break beyond the mold of the generic. And refuse to live anywhere that’s not outside of the normal linear progression. My suggestion: Change the rules so you can win at your own game, become the exception to every rule in the game, or change the game entirely so there are no rules.

That’s how you upset the status quo. That’s how you become timeless.

Take Quentin Tarentino. His post-modern, non-linear movies like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction broke brave new ground in the world of film, thus securing Tarentino’s name among the film elite. And even though the medium might be different by the time future generations view it, his message will still remain.

Remember: The best way to become timeless is to create your own clock. How many rules are you the exception to?

6. Leave an abundance of room for debate. Regardless of your personal beliefs, you have to admit: The Bible is about as timeless as it gets. Doesn’t mean you have believe everything it says. Doesn’t mean it’s better than any other work of fiction. The fact is, it’s the most printed book in history: Six billion copies.

Interestingly, The Bible also happens to be the most debated book in history.

This is not an accident. And if you want to apply this principle of timelessness to your world – be it personal, professional or organizational – here’s the secret: Increase mental flexibility. Constantly elicit feedback from people whose unique experience can contribute new dimensions to your ideas.

Then, remain open to those new ideas – even if they scare you. Especially if they scare you. Otherwise arrogance clamps obstruct the nourishment required to feed your timelessness. How are you creating an environment that enables, supports and rewards authentic dialogue?

REMEMBER: There’s nothing more frightening than the prospect of irrelevancy.

Whether you’re an individual, a brand, or an organization – it’s always worth investing the time in making yourself a little more timeless.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you doing to keep from fading away?

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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

7 Ways to Hustle While You Wait

The Seven Dwarfs never had to deal with a recession.

They suggested you whistle while you work.

Which is a great philosophy, unless you’re not working.

Then what?

SHORT ANSWER: Hustle while you wait.

That’s what Edison preached and, more importantly, practiced. A thousand patents later, his disciplined work ethic paid off and paid well.

THE CHALLENGE IS: Executing what matters while waiting what’s coming.

Here’s how to hustle while you wait:

1. Learn to balance total relaxation and complete exertion. Right after breathing, this is the most important practice in yoga class. And while it sounds paradoxical, it’s actually quite powerful.

For example, in standing bow posture, your left arm is fully engaged, outstretched, reaching for the mirror. But your opposite right shoulder relaxes completely, thus opening your chest cavity.

It feels fantastic. And while this move takes some practice, striking the balance between relaxation and exertion equips you to drop deeper into the posture. Not just in yoga, but in life. That’s the cool part. Maybe you’re starting a business. Or creating an art piece. Or beginning a new project at work. Same principle applies. Your challenge is to relax and exert simultaneously.

Learn to ask yourself, “What unused, underleveraged component of this process can I engage while waiting for the paint to dry elsewhere?” Ultimately, this form of hustling starts with an attitudinal shift from effectiveness to efficiency. Are you willing to remain patient in one arena while relishing impatience in another?

2. Give away your talent to the market until they’re ready to pay for it. You can’t sit around waiting for your big break. You’ve got to learn how to manufacture your own big breaks by making yourself more breakable. Interestingly, the term “break” derives from the Old English brecan, which means, “to disclose.”

Interesting. Guess you can’t manufacture your own big break if you’re not sticking yourself out there. And I know you’re hesitant to give it away. I know you need money. But the world must sample your wares. Otherwise you’ll be waiting so long that you won’t feel like hustling anymore.

Personally, I’d rather work for free for a little while than not work at all. Why are you waiting to get paid doing something you love?

3. There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. Or so says our tea-sipping, cricket-playing British friends. They suggest that even when the outcome of an event seems certain, things can still go wrong.

What’s more, many things may happen to prevent you from carrying out what you intend to do. That’s why it’s imperative to keep hustling till the last minute of your wait time. Be strong. Assume nothing. Otherwise complacency will get he best of you.

My suggestion: Instead of taking laps around the anxiety pool, go find something you can throw your shoulder into. Are you confusing patience with idleness?

4. Practice fertile idleness. This term was originally coined in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, a personal journal published in 1906. And even though the idea is over a century old, it’s still applicable today.

Take the airport, for example. It’s the perfect reminder that life is nothing but a series of lines. You’re not trying to get anywhere. You’re not waiting for the next moment. Life is the line. And once you realize that life doesn’t get any better than that, everything changes.

That’s when boredom ends and the fun begins. That’s when you learn to greet idleness with a welcoming heart and figure out how to leverage your wait time into something valuable.

For example, Japanese teens are masters of fertile idleness. Did you know that fifty percent of their bestselling books are written via text message? Believe it. They’re called shŏujī xiǎoshuō, or, “cell phone novels.” Written mainly by high school girls on trains, busses and other school day commutes, this new genre of art has changed the landscape of writing forever.

All because they hustled while they waited. Are you reading the news or making the news?

5. Refuse the path of emptiness. I started my business eight years ago. Since then, I’ve written eleven books. Each was composed, produced, published and distributed through my own company, as opposed to a traditional publishing model. And I’m proud to say, all of the books have been noticed by the people who matter, featured on national media and bought in profitable quantities worldwide.

Now, considering I’m just a one-man show, I’d say my books have done pretty well as an independent publisher. The exciting part is, I’ve been approached by dozens of major publishers over the years. And while I’m always honored by their generous offers, I still choose to hold out for the right one. I’m not worried. It’s only a matter of time before the right one comes along.

Until then, I’ll still be here at my office, cranking books out on my own. Your challenge is to employ the same philosophy: Ride the smaller waves like a champ, then, when the Big Kahuna comes along, pop up on your board and ride that baby to shore. Are you willing to be a patient incrementalist?

6. Aggressively bite into opportunities. I’m reminded of what the book of Zechariah reminds us: “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” That statement runs my life. Because you never know. And you never will know unless you maintain an attitude of possibility, openness and leverage with everything you encounter.

It’s about making yourself approachable to the world. It’s about beginning with what is – then make something more beautiful out of it. That’s the best part about waiting: There’s always something to do. And don’t give me that, “But I’m so bored,” excuse.

Look: If you’re bored, you’re a boring person. Period. I haven’t been boring since Finance 301 senior year of college. Why? Because I don’t just hustle while I wait – I aggressively bite into opportunities while I wait. Dee-licious.

Remember: Opportunity never stops knocking – you just stop listening. What opportunity is going to pass you buy if you don’t act on it?

7. Don’t commit solely to one course of action. Focus is profitable, but not when executed at the expense of awareness. As I learned from Oriah’s The Dance, “Open the fist clenched in wanting and see what you already hold in your hand.”

Lesson learned: Beware of being too single-minded in your efforts. Otherwise over-focus fuels neglect, and obsession blocks opportunity. The secret is setting healthy boundaries.

For example, let’s say you plan to be out of commission for the five hours working diligently on your big proposal. Set an alarm. Have a friend call you. Anything to jolt you out of your flow state. Ultimately, by establishing a definitive end to your time deep focus, you can switch gears immediately.

Remember: There’s nothing wrong with hustling while you wait, just don’t lose sight of what you’re waiting for. Are you fully immersing yourself without coming up for air?

REMEMBER: The strong wait, but the smart hustle while they’re waiting.

I challenge you to execute these practices as every unforgiving minute passes by.

And you can leave the whistling to Sneezy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is being too patient costing 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!

Friday, July 23, 2010

NametagTV: Raise Your Retweetability

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

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Back Off and Let the People You Love Figure Things Out On Their Own

“Is it your place to fix this?”

That’s the question you have to ask yourself.

Especially when someone you love finds themselves on the precipice of disaster.

Sometimes you have to back off.

Yes, it requires great emotional restraint.
Yes, it requires significant self-control.

But if you don’t let people come to their own conclusions, make their own decisions and make their own mistakes, you fractionize their experiences and rob them of valuable learning opportunities.

Here’s how to back off and let the people you love figure things out on their own:

1. Abandon your need to constantly add value. Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, argues that adding too much value is a variation of needing to win.

“The problem is, you may have improved the content of someone’s idea by five percent, but you’ve reduced their commitment to executing it by fifty percent because you’ve taken away their ownership of the idea,” says Goldsmith, “and I walk out of the room less enthused about it than when I walked in.”

Lesson learned: Be 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. Grant people enough space to be and say what is true.

Remember: Their change is not your war. Lay your conversational weapons down and let the people you love fight the good fight. Is your need to add value crushing people’s commitment to finding solutions on their own?

2. Suspend your need to dominate the conversation. Listening is like midwifing. That means facilitating a natural process, guiding the speaker to make the best choices, nurturing the person’s rhythm and steering people where they deem fit.

Not taking over. Not adding more value. Simply inviting others to listen within – then wait for their inner voice to respond. Even if this process takes six painful months, it still shows them that they can trust their own resource and manager their own lives.

The cool part is, when you approach listening as a midwifing process, you leave people feeling heard. And the echoes of their voice reverberate against their own hearts, impelling them to take ownership and take action.

Remember: The goal of listening is to provide assistance, NOT authority. Don’t take over people’s problems for them. Grow bigger ears by helping the other person give birth to understanding. Are respecting people’s speed of self-discovery?

3. Don’t impose your own direction. I guarantee that you currently have a dear friend whose spouse, significant other or life partner is someone you’d like to see walk into a snake pit wearing a rat skin bodysuit.

I know. It’s painful to watch someone you love have no idea that that person they’ve dedicated their life to is completely wrong for them. And not just your opinion – a literal mismatch from hell.

Unfortunately, it’s not your place to say that.

I don’t care how close you are to a person – you can’t try to convince someone to fall out of love. The power of the heart is simply too substantial. And you will lose that battle.

Even if you did sit your best friend down and say, “Look, Marie, I need to tell you, I’m pretty sure your boyfriend is a serial murderer.”

Do you think she would listen?

No way. She’d say you’re crazy. She’d say you don’t really know him. And she’d say his machete collection is "for hunting purposes only."

Look: Sometimes people aren’t ready to hear things yet. And if you make the mistake of crossing that line before their ears are tuned into the right frequency, you run the risk of shutting them down permanently. And that’s when people really get hurt.

The best thing you do is make observations. That’s it. No opinions. No suggestions. Just things you notice.

Present those things in a respectful, curious and confidential manner – in the hopes that the people you love will eventually realize that dating a convicted killer isn’t the healthiest decision. Are you willing to be an objective observer?

4. Hovering is for helicopters. One thing I admire about my parents is their consistent willingness to let me screw up. Which, from what I hear, is a painful thing for any parent to do.

Because they’re your kids. They’re your babies. And you don’t want them to be in pain.

However, there’s a huge difference between getting hurt and being injured. And I think I’ve (finally) figured out why my parents allow this. It’s because they trust in their own parenting abilities. They believed they raised me right.

And so, when I do screw up, they have faith that I will tap into the foundation of character that they spent the last thirty years of their lives pouring. And wouldn’t you know it? Every time I screw up – which, happens a lot – they back off and let me figure out how to handle it on my own.

Sure, they’re there to help. And guide. And ask questions. And offer suggestions. And, occasionally run over somebody with a tractor.

But they don’t let me get injured. And as a result, my wounds heal under antiseptic of my own actions; the scars of which ultimately help contribute a greater verse to the song of life.

All because they had enough self-control and self-trust to stop hovering and start heeding. Who thinks you’re a helicopter?

5. “I told you so” leads to, “I resent you so.” Okay: You’ve backed off. You’ve listened. And you’ve let the people you love figure out things on their own. Well done.

Now, there’s only one thing left to do: Smother your smugness. Because saying – or implying – any version of “I told you so,” negates all the hard work you’ve put in so far.

Don’t do it. It makes you look arrogant and make them feel small. Instead, trust that she knows you knew – the whole time – that she never should have married that jerk. No need to rub it in her face.

Do what my mentor does. For the past fifteen years, I’ve watched Mr. Jenkins practice this beautifully with each of his students – myself included. Instead of reminding us that he’s always right – which he is – he just waits. Sometimes years.

And when we, his students, eventually figure out how stupid we’ve been the whole time, Mr. Jenkins just smiles and asks us what we’ve learned. And then we reflect together. The learning cycle come to a close, and we move onto the next lesson. How patient are you willing to be with the people you love?

REMEMBER: You can’t convince people to change – you can only give them more information.

Let people learn things on their own.

Otherwise your desire to fix becomes a barrier to being helpful.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Whom are you trying to make just like you?

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For the list called, "22 Unexpected Ways to Help People," 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?

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www.stuffscottsaid.com.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to Stay Accountable to Yourself When There’s Nobody Around to Hold Your Feet to the Fire

You can’t beat self-employment.

Working from home.
Working in your pajamas.
Working your own schedule.
Working the way you want to.

No commute.
No office politics.
No pointless meetings.
No bosses breathing down your neck.

Sounds like a dream job, right?

Well, it is. Most of the time.

EXCEPT FOR ONE PROBLEM: You’re the only person who can hold yourself accountable.

And if you don’t hold your own feet to the fire – eventually they’re going to freeze.

And frozen feet don’t make money.

This is about discipline.
This is about self-motivation.
This is about commitment to consistent action.

Whether you work at home, work by yourself or work in an independent role, consider these ideas to make sure you motivate yourself to execute what matters:
1. Shake hands with yourself. Somewhere down the line, you’ve had manager, boss or supervisor – that you wanted to strangle with an orange extension cord. And my guess is: You weren’t especially motivated by their words, right?

Lesson learned: People rarely remain accountable to people they hate.

If you plan to be the person holding your own feet to the fire, the first key is simple: You better like yourself. Otherwise it’s going to be extremely hard to listen. And if you think that sounds corny, you’re right – it is. But corny doesn’t mean ineffective.

The second key is to establish expectational clarity with yourself. After all, the enemy of accountability is ambiguity. And a flawed assumption about yourself can set the whole process in misdirected motion.

The final key is to isolate your why. To assess your own motives. Because when you know why something is important to you, you never fail to impose the accountability required to execute it. What kind of relationship do you want to have with yourself?

2. Ask yourself focus questions. If what you’re doing – right now – is not consistent with your number one goal, you lose. Keep asking yourself if it is. And if what you’re doing right now isn’t supporting your own strategic intent, you lose. Keep asking yourself if it is.

This process of self-questioning is the single most effective strategy for self-accountability. It’s confrontational, it’s creative and it’s guaranteed to give you a much-needed kick in the ass.

As long as you don’t forget: Motivation without execution is nothing but consuming empty calories. Like eating seven pounds of iceberg lettuce and a Diet Coke. Blech.

Instead, commit to clothing your resolutions in concrete actions. Are you honest with yourself about what really motivates you?

3. Paint yourself into an accountable corner. When I first started my publishing company, I was still living in my parents’ basement. Not exactly an environment conducive to productivity and professionalism.

Ever try to make a sales call to a Fortune 500 company when your mother is screaming from upstairs to find out if you want broccoli or asparagus with your salmon?

Yikes. That’s why I made the commitment to leave the house every morning at 6AM, dressed and ready to go to work. But I didn’t go to an office; I went to a coffee shop. Just to have somewhere to go. Just to get into the right mindset.

And I’d spend the next two hours reading, relaxing, journaling and prepping my day. The cool part was, I’d see the same people each morning. And if I got lazy and slept in, they’d always ask, “Scott, what happened yesterday? We missed you!”

Over a period of two years, this daily commitment sharpened my discipline and laid a foundation of self-accountability that became essential in my career.

I don’t go to the coffee shop anymore, but I still start work at five. Sometimes four. It’s hardwired into me. What ritual will you build into your daily schedule to convince yourself that you actually have a real job?

4. Design your ideal day. If you don’t impose (some) structure into your otherwise chaotic schedule, the entrepreneurial undertow will carry you out to the sharks.

And when I say sharks, I’m referring to the chorus of meaningless distraction, seductive attention magnets and other ruthless villains of your time. Your challenge is to introduce enough structure to fight that undertow.

After all: Routine is healthy. Routine prevents insanity. Routine curtails procrastination. What’s more, ritualizing your days prevents you from saying, “Why the hell am I doing this?”

Without such structure, you wind up (artfully) creating constant distraction that prevents you from seeing the pointlessness of your activity.

On the other hand, I’m not a proponent of over scheduling.

I’ve been guilty of this in the past. Ruthlessly regimenting every minute of your day might keep you accountable to yourself, but it also might cause an ulcer. Your challenge is learning balance structure with spontaneity. What’s a typical day like for you?

5. Establish metrics that matter. While facilitating a recent leadership retreat, one of my participants said – and I quote – “The other day I cut the grass just to feel like I did something.”

Good lord. But, I guess good for him for executing that task. Too bad that task didn’t matter. That’s the rub with self-accountability: If you’re going to kick your own ass, you better wear a relevant shoe. Otherwise you wind up executing – exquisitely – something inconsequential.

Consider this: First, establish weekly criticals. These are the five key tasks that absolutely need to be executed by the end of the week for that week to be considered a success. Otherwise you’ve just wasted seven days of your life.

Second, develop daily essentials. These are the three highly valuable activities that absolutely need to be accomplished for that day to be considered a success. Ultimately, the effectiveness of this practice comes from the small-scale, non-threatening nature of the metrics.

What’s more, if you focus on small wins, the larger victories will happen by themselves. I’ve been logging these two metrics daily for eight years. It works. Are you winning a game that (actually) matters?

6. Create a nonstick surface. When you used to bake cookies with your mother, what was the first step in the process? Right: Dust the counter with flour. Why? So the dough didn’t stick.

Same thing goes with self-accountability. If you want to avoid getting stuck in trap of self-employed sluggishness, you need to take measures to create a nonstick surface.

My suggestion is to take short breaks every ninety minutes. This helps your body and mind refuel. Especially if, during your break, you go perpendicular to the task at hand.

For example, to break from writing, I pick up my guitar. Why? Because after eighteen years of playing music, I don’t have to think anymore. I just start jamming.

And when your occupation is to think for a living, nothing could be healthier for keeping your schedule on task than to give your break a break. Are you punctuating your day to unstick yourself?

7. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall short. Just because you’re self-employed doesn’t mean you’re not human. (Except for a few of my robot friends, but they’re probably not reading anyway. Lazy punks.)

Anyway, in your quest to stay accountable to yourself, recognize that you will miss the mark from time to time. Learn to be okay with that. As my yoga instructor constantly reminds us:

“Try not to pass judgment on yourself. When you interrupt stillness or fall out of posture, just notice it.”

Try this: Next time resistance gets the best of you – let’s say you unexpectedly oversleep till ten on a Tuesday – use that moment as a bell of awareness to send vibrations of self-accountability through your bones.

Instead of smashing your head into the maple bedpost telling yourself how much of a worthless, lazy excuse for an entrepreneur you are, brainstorm how you might be able to recoup that missed time later in the day or week.

Could you have a working lunch? Could you read while you exercise? Could you catch up after dinner instead of watching the three-hour finale of “So You Think You Can Dance?”

Look. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It happens. Will you be kind to yourself when you fall short?

8. You are the result of yourself. That’s the thorny, self-confrontational reality of self-employment: If you don’t do what you told yourself you were going to do, the only person around to notice, is you.

Which means there’s nobody to blame. Which means the onus is, was, and always will be, on you. Because even if you work alone, even if you spend every day sitting in your living room wearing your pajamas, you’re always in a relationship with yourself.

You still have to sleep with who you are, every night. Don’t create a reputation for unreliability. As Sir Josiah Stamp once wrote, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”

Ultimately, assuming success is somebody else’s fault is the hallmark of an immature mind. And immaturity pollutes practically all behavior. Never forget that you are sole source of your own job security. Have you allowed yourself to fully and confidently face your own responsibility for your career?

REMEMBER: The long-term survivability of your business is dependent on your ability to kick your own ass.

Yes, laziness becomes extremely attractive when you know the masses will never know the difference.

But as an entrepreneur, holding your own feet to the fire is part of the job description.

So, stay committed to being committed.

Because sometimes, you have to administer the medicine to yourself, no matter how bad it tastes.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you willing to open wide and swallow the syrup of self-accountability?

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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!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How a Book on Quantum Physics Taught Me Everything I Need to Know about Entrepreneurial Execution

“Motion organizes and creates order. It is by motion that all things tend to their equilibrium and find their place in the universe. And unrelenting motion is what helps conspire towards some unifying geometrical situation.”

That’s the Theory of Gravitational Order, as written by my friend Ed Sylvia in his metaphysical masterpiece, Proving God.

But here’s the really cool part.

If you soften your eyes and re-read Ed’s words with a mental posture of deep democracy, the Theory of Gravitational Order (also) happens to be the secret to execution excellence.

Let’s explore it more detail:

1. Optimize your efforts. Stop worrying about getting things right and start focusing on getting things moving in the right direction. As Michael Stanier explained in Do More Great Work:

“Your goal is not to find the perfect place to start. That might paralyze you, forever delaying action because it’s not just so. Instead, find a place to start. Take your best guess. And choose something that will do for the time being. Something that has potential – somewhere that’s a good enough place to start.”

Look: You don’t have to move on and know where you’re moving on to at the same time. Those who are stopped by not knowing how scare themselves into hiding. Go start something. What events will serve as your catalyst to start a favorable chain reaction?

2. Lower the threat level. Nobody’s asking you to finish and ship the whole thing today. Or even tomorrow. Instead, consider pulling a partial. Ask yourself: What is an easy, inconsequential version of this scary action I could take now?

For example, let’s say you’re not ready to publish your (entire) book yet.

No sweat. What if you posted a new chapter each week on your blog? Taking small action like this makes it significantly safer – and substantially easier – to convert your internal efforts into outward motion.

And if you do it enough, you’ll either get the whole thing done incrementally, or sustain enough small victories to pull the trigger when the time is right. Not perfect, but right. What other risky (but reasonably) baby steps can you take today to move forward?

3. Reluctance to make a decision is a form of resistance. At the same time, don’t wait too long to pull the trigger. Otherwise, by the time you’re ready to bust a cap, your target will be long gone. And you’ll be left with nothing but a sweaty finger.

Sadly, most people can’t overcome the paralyzing uncertainty of taking that crucial first step. That’s why I suggest the following: Violently refuse to get snared into an endless tangle of anxiety, regret and second-guessing.

You can’t go through life regretting every decision you make just because it might not have been the best possible choice. It’ll eat you up inside like a tapeworm.

Better to just make a choice and get on with your life comfortably – as opposed to being plagued by doubt, wondering about what could have been a marginally better option.

Maybe Shakespeare was right. Maybe delays really do have dangerous ends.

Remember: Opportunity is limited only by the courage to act. Where is resistance beating you??

4. Beware of the trap of thought. Reflecting, planning and thinking – when you should be acting, experiencing and learning – is costing you money by the minute. Come on. Enough with the thinking. It’s time to view your enterprise as a decision factory.

The secret to becoming a great chooser is something I learned from The Paradox of Choice:

"Having high standards; yet giving yourself permission to be satisfied once your experience matches those standards. Otherwise, if you keep looking, you’ll always find something better. And the tyranny of small, irrelevant decisions will keep you trapped in purgatory thought."

Remember: Constantly searching for perfect solutions leads to frustration, or, worse yet, inaction. Are you picking or choosing?

5. Scare yourself out of irrelevancy. Knowledge that does not lead you to wisdom is nothing but empty calories. A six-pack of Diet Coke, at best. And likewise, ideas that do not lead you to execution are nothing but meaningless arpeggios.

Honestly ask yourself two questions:

*Is this fun but not moving you toward your goal?
*Is this a distraction that keeps you busy but doesn’t expose you to risk?

If the answer is yes, stop yourself in your tracks.

Embrace the credo of creatio contina, or constant creative action. And go do the work that scares you. Engage in perpetual effort. With no hint of dissipation. Insist on rapid (but non-reckless) movement that matters, and you win. Do you have enough self-control to tweet and get on with your life, or will you get swept into the undertow of inconsequentiality?

6. Practice deliberate indifference. Not caring is highly underrated. In fact, considering the amount of vomitous noise you’re exposed to everyday, not caring is your god-given right.

Take email, for example. Personally, I have no remorse about pressing the delete button on a message sent by someone who forgot to press the respect button. Period.

You should try it sometime. It feels great. And you’ll discover that concentrating on the essential without distraction from the irrelevant contains all the gravity you’ll ever need.

Remember: Stay intrinsic to action and you’ll remain allergic to inertia. Are you execution driven?

REMEMBER: Unrelenting motion is the prerequisite of exquisite execution.

As Seneca once noted, “Matters lies inert and inactive, a substance with unlimited potential, but destined to remain idle if no one sets it in motion.”

I challenge you to leverage these principles of gravitational order.

Who knows? Maybe one day, you’ll conspire towards some unifying geometrical situation.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What did you execute this week?

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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!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Approachable Leader’s Handbook of Being Heard, Vol. 3

For those of you human beings out there (and I think you know who you are) here’s a quick list of assumptions.

You want to be:

Valued. Needed. Wanted.
Affirmed. Appreciated. Accepted.
Respected. Recognized. Remembered.
Taken seriously. Given a chance. Part of something that matters.

IN SHORT: You want to be heard.

Because if you’re not – if people can’t hear you – they can’t follow you.

And if they can’t follow you, you lose.

Today we’re going to explore another selection of practices (read part one and part two here!) to help you be heard by the people who matter most: Employees, staff, customers, kids, volunteers – whomever you serve.

1. Approach people as audience members. Not customers. Not employees. Not volunteers. Not associates. Audience members. When you see people in that context, you’re forced to transform your message from a petition into a performance.

But not in that annoying, always-on, doing-shtick, Robin Williams kind of performance. You’re method acting. The character you’re playing is you. Which, if you know who you are, is the easiest character in the world to play.

Remember: The word audience simply means, “The persons reached.” Who’s sitting in your audience, and on what basis do you claim their attention?

2. Risk being real. Honesty is so rare – it’s become remarkable. As a writer and speaker, I’m constantly amazed at how easy it is to have your voice heard, simply by telling your truth. Notice I said “your” truth – not “thee” truth. Huge difference.

One is unarguable – the other is unprovable. And I’m not talking about “authenticity,” or whatever other twenty-five cent lifeless buzzword currently pollutes the professional development lexicon.

This is about keeping rein on your individuality, integrating all of your polarities into a unified whole, then sharing that music with the people who matter. How are you branding your honesty?

3. Be frictionless. When people ask me about the genre of my writing, I like to say, “Non-friction.” What I mean by this is a message that’s findable, readable, breathable, digestible, memorable and actionable. That’s how I write. Material that an impatient, thirty-something entrepreneur like myself would actually sit down and read.

Your challenge is to think about how much friction your message contains. For example:

If it’s not easy to access, it’s not findable.

If it’s not somewhat grammatically and structurally well written, it’s not readable.

If people can’t quickly scan it and get the gist without their eyes bleeding, it’s not breathable.

If the small portions don’t go down smoothly and you just puke one long run-on sentence for two pages about an inconsequential topic, it’s not digestible.

If the ideas don’t cause people to react emotionally in some way, it’s not memorable.

And if the concepts can’t be executed with practical application through a mindset of, “I believe this! I can do this! I want to try this!” it’s not actionable.

How frictionless is your message?

4. Express yourself three-dimensionally. I recently watched a documentary called A Sense of Life. It’s the first authorized film about the life and work of the controversial Russian-born author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand.

What moved me most during the movie was Rand’s approach to audience questioning. Known for staying on stage hours after her lecture was scheduled to be over, Ayn wouldn’t just answer people’s questions. She would also take the time to learn what was in her readers’ minds. She would answer their questions, point out the errors that led to those questions, suggest the new set of questions that would come tomorrow, as well as use each question as a springboard to another explanation.

And as a result, her voice, her message and her life altered the philosophical landscape forever. Lesson learned: When you penetratingly come straight at everything people say – your voice is always heard. How askable are you?

5. Avoid being met with rolled eyes. Rolled eyes lead to closed ears. Before sharing your next message, set up a deliberate interruption attempt to disprove your own ideas. Go counterintuitive for a few minutes. Ask yourself, “Will this start or stop dialogue?”

If your latter is the answer, rework it. Silence is the enemy. Messages with massive impact aren’t just mind-boggling – they’re heart boggling. Make sure you’re aimed at the right organ. Like John Maeda expressed in The Laws of Simplicity, “Good art makes your head spin with questions.”

That’s right: Your message is art. Get used to it or get out of the business. How provocative are you willing to be?

6. Consciously pursue the unexpected. There’s a reason your people aren’t being reached: Every other message they receive during the day is just another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication they delete immediately. At best, peruse remorsefully.

Fortunately, you have an opportunity to positively break people’s patterns. To respectfully violate their expectations. And to creatively upset their schemas. All you have to do is ask, “On a scale of 1-10, how dramatically different is this message from the same recycled drivel people have already chosen to tune out?” If you score less than a five, change it.

That’s it. That’s how to be less predictable. Do this, and you’ll find that the courage to be different is the voice that is heard loud and clear. Unless you live in communist China. Can’t help you there. Is your message nothing but an unremarkable skin on an outdated skeleton?

REMEMBER: If they can’t hear you, they can’t follow you.

And if they can’t follow you, you lose.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What's the cost of being unheard?

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* * * *
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, July 15, 2010

How to Communicate That You're Fully Committed, Part 2

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall?”

Most people have heard this riddle before, although few know the origin of the phrase.

It comes from a book published in 1710 by George Berkeley called A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

The existential question he poses throughout the text is: Can something exist without being perceived?

Berkeley says no.

His theory is that if you have a message to share – but never share it – you never really had it in the first place.

The tree never (really) fell.

I agree.

And I think for anyone in a leadership position – personally or professionally – the “tree in the forest theory” is especially relevant when it comes to the topic of commitment.

Look: I know that you know...

Commitment is hard.
Commitment is essential.
Commitment is worth money.
Commitment is the cornerstone of good character.
Commitment is the keynote of inspirational leadership.

BUT HERE’S WHAT MOST PEOPLE MISS: Commitment requires consistent, visual and emotional reinforcement.

Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark.

THEREFORE: The problem is not a fear of commitment; the problem is a failure to communicate that you’re fully committed in the hearts and minds of the people who matter.

Today we’re going to explore part two (read part one first!) of a collection of practices to help you communicate that you are fully committed:

1. Money doesn’t talk – it speaks. It’s not a panacea, but boy is it effective for attracting people’s attention to your commitment. In two different ways.

First, let’s go back to the nametag tattoo example. Remember how I started making money when I (finally) committed with both feet? Interestingly, something else happened when I started making money: People stopped making fun of me for wearing a nametag.

Especially after I was interviewed on 20/20. To my surprise, the news anchor unexpectedly reported that my nametag idea “converted a simple idea to a six-figure enterprise,” as he said.

And wouldn’t you know it? That single fact was the one part of the interview most viewers commented about. Yep. People pretty much shut their mouths after that.

My question is: How are you quantifying your success financially? You don’t have to lead with it. But it’s a nice ace to have up your sleeve when you feel the occasional need to prove your ruthlessness.

The other side of the coin (rim shot!) is when you offer money as a gift – or put money up as an investment – to communicate your commitment. Whether you’re donating to a cause, investing in a business or putting down a deposit on a loan, if you want to watch money speak volumes, write someone a check.

After all, commitment isn’t just about the money you accumulate – it’s about the money you allocate. How differently will people react to your commitment once money comes into the equation?

2. Invest your time; earn people’s trust. Another currency that speaks volumes is when you give up the precious commodity you have: Time.

Here’s the equation: When people see you consciously investing (not frivolously spending) valuable, billable time on actions that support your commitment, they start to doubt your devotion a whole lot less.

That’s one of the reasons I remind my audience members that I spend ten to twenty hours prepping each presentation: Because I have a responsibility to rock their faces off.

Similarly, that’s one of the reasons I spend four to seven hours, every day, writing: Because I’m dedicated to my craft.

What about you? How can you quantify your time investment (hours, days, years) and displaying it publicly? Take my friend Sal, a magician, who publicly logs tens of thousands of practice hours for each of his individual tricks on his website. I wonder if his clients believe in his commitment to performance excellence.

Remember: The real magic trick is when you publicly and transparently articulate the effort required for your accomplishments. That’s the best way to help the people who matter hear your commitment message. What time can you invest to communicate your commitment to the people who matter?

3. Commitment becomes durable when built daily. The next secret is to regularly review your contract with yourself. This may include writing a commitment statement, i.e., “I commit to being due at the page, every morning, at five,” or “I commit to spending thirty minutes a day walking around the factory floors with zero agenda and infinite curiosity.”

Hell, enter it into your daily calendar. Or post it publicly. Might be a cool way to keep yourself accountable. Also, remember to declare – and document – your boundaries. This ensures your commitment isn’t compromised.

You might consider keeping a Commitment Log, in which you make nightly entries indicating moments in which you stuck to your commitment throughout the day. I’ve done this every morning of my life for the past eight years.

Not only is it a ritual reinforcement of healthy boundaries, it’s a confidence booster when adversity rears its hideous little head. How will you remind yourself of your daily commitments?

4. Confront your fear of the ring. As a Gen-Xer, I come from a commitment-averse generation. For example:

Because of our instant gratification culture, we’re impatient.

Because of our privileged upbringing, we developed a mediocre work ethic.

Because of our self-reliant, entrepreneurial bent, we don’t offer loyalty easily.

And because of our abundance of choices, we’re quick to quit and pursue something better.

No wonder my generation can’t stick with anything for very long. From college majors to new jobs to romantic relationships, commitment isn’t exactly our forte. The secret is: Whether you’re a Gen-Xer or not, ask yourself one question:

Which of your fears are diminishing your willingness to communicate your commitment?

Are you afraid of failing publicly? Terrified of being held accountable privately? Concerned that your sixty employees will eventually discover your secret obsession with World of Warcraft?

Here’s a hint: You can’t pretend that people aren’t noticing. Your commitment – or lack thereof – colors and shapes every choice you make. What are your actions silently telling people you’re (really) committed to at this moment?

REMEMBER: Commitment is nothing other than persistence with a purpose.

But.

Commitment is useless if not consistently communicated.
Commitment is irrelevant when the thing you’re committed to hurts people.
Commitment is worthless without the effective capacity to invest in and implement it.

On the other hand, commitment is a lifestyle that, if executed daily, becomes an equitable reputation – a tree falling in the forest – that the people who matter, hear.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you communicate that you're fully committed?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "62 Pieces of Advice Busy Executives Need to Know, but Don’t Have Time to Learn on Their Own," 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

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

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How to Communicate That You're Fully Committed, Part 1

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall?”

Most people have heard this riddle before, although few know the origin of the phrase.

It comes from a book published in 1710 by George Berkeley called A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

The existential question he poses throughout the text is: Can something exist without being perceived?

Berkeley says no.

His theory is that if you have a message to share – but never share it – you never really had it in the first place.

The tree never (really) fell.

I agree.

And I think for anyone in a leadership position – personally or professionally – the “tree in the forest theory” is especially relevant when it comes to the topic of commitment.

Look: I know that you know...

Commitment is hard.
Commitment is essential.
Commitment is worth money.
Commitment is the cornerstone of good character.
Commitment is the keynote of inspirational leadership.

BUT HERE’S WHAT MOST PEOPLE MISS: Commitment requires consistent, visual and emotional reinforcement.

Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark.

THEREFORE: The problem is not a fear of commitment; the problem is a failure to communicate that you’re fully committed in the hearts and minds of the people who matter.

Today we’re going to explore part 1 (read part two next!) a collection of practices to help you communicate that you are fully committed:

1. Differentiate between commitment and its substitutes. Just because you’re interested doesn’t mean you’re committed. Just because you care doesn’t mean you’re committed. Just because you show up doesn’t mean you’re committed. Just because you join doesn’t mean you’re committed.

And just because you feel obligated doesn’t mean you’re committed. In fact, just because you worked your ass off doesn’t mean you’re committed. Bummer.

But, it’s helpful to know the difference between commitment and these varieties of replacements thereof. Think of it like a breakfast table: The chicken is involved – but the pig is committed. What evidence have you given to people – this week – to assure them that you cluck instead of oink?

2. Chose your vehicle wisely. Like one of those racecar video games where you get to pick from any number of high-performance European cars before starting the race. Best part of the game. And this isn’t even about automobiles – this is about the vehicle of your commitment.

Look: I know you’re hesitant about what – specifically – you need to commit to. But if you listen deeply enough when the path to true commitment falls into your range of vision, the decision will make itself.

For example, I got a tattoo of a nametag on my chest. It symbolizes my commitment to my truth, my name, my identity, my philosophy and my life purpose. Plus chicks dig it. Hey: When in doubt, desecrate your body, right?

Anyway, there’s something exceptionally inspiring about committing yourself to the point of no turning back. Interestingly, I got my tattoo in 2005, which was right around the time my company first starting making money.

Huh. That’s interesting. I guess once you choose to commit with both feet, the world says yes to you. Providence moves to orchestrate the ideal conditions for you to make a name for yourself.

Remember: When you only commit with one foot, the other foot searches for reasons to discontinue efforts. Are you prepared to push all your chips to the center of the table?

3. Employ a commitment rich vocabulary. Strengthen your language when you talk about your commitments. For example, instead of saying, “I’ll try to,” or “I’ll get around to,” say “I commit to.” Instead of writing, “Our promise is,” write, “Our commitment is.”

Also, any time you take action that’s in line with your commitment, reinforce it by saying, “As promised, here is my…” or “As per our agreement, enclosed is…” Language like this demonstrates self-reliance and caring; articulates the gravity of your commitment and sticks in people’s memories forever. How do the words of your mouth reinforce the covenants of your heart?

4. Take a tip from the terrorists. You’ve got to hand it to those suicide bombers: They sure are committed. Too bad their efforts can’t be redirected into something that doesn’t murder thousands innocent people. Oh well.

Lesson learned: Commitment is a neutral article. Like good tofu, commitment takes on the flavor of whatever sauce it’s immersed in. This is a helpful analogy to keep in mind as you communicate that you’re fully committed to the people who matter.

Because if the cause you’re committed to is rooted in dishonesty, disrespect or depravity (thanks to my friends @ UIA FED for the link), all the commitment in the world won’t be able to stop you from hurting people. Including yourself.

Commitment becomes a detriment when values it’s in direct alignment with are rooted in evil. How are you laying an ethical foundation that builds your commitment?

5. Avoid compromising situations. Mr. Miyagi once said, “The best way to block a punch, is to not be there.” If you want to increase the probability that your commitment is consistently communicated, remember that truth. Also, remember this: What people think when they hear your life speak determines your leadership legacy.

The challenge is keeping yourself accountable. Here. Try posting these two questions in a visible location at your office: Do I want to become known for what I’m about to do? Have I been anywhere this week that might be seen as a compromise?

The good news is: This exercise requires the least amount of work – because all you have to do is say no. The bad news is, this practice requires the most amount of self-control – because saying no becomes seductively easy when saying yes would go undetected by the masses.

I learned this from experience. You only have to walk into a strip club wearing a nametag once. Would the person you want your people to see you as, do what you’re about to do?

REMEMBER: Commitment is nothing other than persistence with a purpose.

But.

Commitment is useless if not consistently communicated.
Commitment is irrelevant when the thing you’re committed to hurts people.
Commitment is worthless without the effective capacity to invest in and implement it.

On the other hand, commitment is a lifestyle that, if executed daily, becomes an equitable reputation – a tree falling in the forest – that the people who matter, hear.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you communicate that you're fully committed?

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

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to Trust Your Resources

“My life is my preparation.”

I’ll never forget the first time my mentor told me that.

“I’ve developed deep faith,” Mr. Jenkins said, “that everything I’ve experienced in my life – up until this very moment – will sufficiently support whatever I do in the next moment.”

That’s called trusting your resources.

Now, when I say “resources,” I’m referring to:

Your talents.
Your abilities.
Your finest faculties.

Your resources. Got it?

Here’s how to trust them:
1. Recognize when the hay is in the barn. Remember cramming for college exams? You put in hours and hours of studying. And by the end of the night, you reach a point where you think, “Well, I guess if I don’t know the material now, I never will.”

That’s when the hay is in the barn. When there’s nothing else you can do to increase the probability of success except to call it a night. As my Virginia Tech friend Jim Flowers says, “Amateurs practice until they get it right – masters practice until they can’t get it wrong.”

That’s your barometer. Whatever you’re preparing yourself for, you’ll know when the hay is in the barn. That’s when you have to let everything go and trust your resources. Are you willing to call it a night?

2. Practice tapping your reservoir at a moment’s notice. First, you’ve got to grow your reservoir with constant water (inflow of inspiration and ideas) into your life. How many books did you read last month?

Second, this requires the confidence and vulnerability to trust your inner resources. Do you believe with all your heart that you can respond intelligently and immediately to whatever is said?

Finally, this takes practice and practice and practice. How often are you making yourself available for questions?

Just imagine: If you focus on living a beautiful, admirable and character-rich life – that you’ve consistently reflected upon – you won’t to have to steal the show because it will already be in your possession. What’s your preparation process?

3. Small victories first. To trust your resources is to have confidence in your abilities. To have confidence in your abilities is to celebrate past instances of those abilities bearing fruit.

Try this: Every morning during your daily appointment with yourself, make five entries into your victory log. Think back to yesterday: What did you conquer, beat, overcome or subside? Did you book a gig? Beat your personal best in the gym? Say no to that eighth piece of pizza?

Write it down. Do this every morning and your confidence (along with your trust) will soar. How often do you celebrate your victories?

4. Consciously quiet your mind and body. This allows your resources to come to the surface gloriously unimpeded, ready to explode. Without this stillness, it’s awfully hard to dig down deep and excavate your best stuff.

The secret is to develop a centering practice. “Being centered is a state, not a trait,” says author and psychotherapist Eric Maisel.

Your challenge is to create enough muscle memory that you can snap into stillness at a moment’s notice. It’s amazing what a little breathing can do to your ability to trust yourself. What’s your light switch of calm?

5. Summon massive, instant strength. Announce to yourself that you are well equipped with sufficient internal assets to be successful. Try phrases like, “I trust my resources,” “I am richly supported,” “I am equal to this challenge.”

To quote the aforementioned Eric Maisel, “The resources that you’re trusting are internal (brainpower, heartpower, accumulated experience), external (people), even cosmic (mysterious forces). And they guarantee nothing, but they allow for the possibility that you can perform in a creative, centered way.” How do you tap into your wellspring of inner strength?

6. I am the person who can do this. This sentence changed my life. Once I started affirming it to myself daily, I found trusting my resources to be substantially easier.

Keep in mind, however, that this practice isn’t without its efforts. Note well that I didn’t start reciting that sentence to myself until I was thirty years old. And that’s what made the technique so successful for trusting my resources: I superimposed the affirmation over ten thousand hours of practice.

As a result, I conquered anxious thoughts, reminded myself that I truly was prepared – then began to believe that the time had come to trust my skills, training and experiences and proceed with confidence. How will you remind yourself that you have what it takes to succeed?

7. Distill inner water. During a recent executive leadership retreat, one of my participants told me that by spending fifteen minutes writing her thoughts first thing in the morning, she found it exponentially easier to tap her reservoir of wisdom, experience and insight.

Almost like she was a performer and could be “on” right away, thus showing up with a stronger and more efficacious presence for her two hundred employees.

“I no longer to worry about responding ineffectively or incompletely to my staff because I’ve already clarified my thoughts on paper,” Sheila explained.

The answer is writing Morning Pages, every day. Do it for a week and you’ll experience noticeable, profitable changes almost immediately. After all, tickets to the What I Should Have Said Theater are extremely expensive. Have you been writing your morning pages?

REMEMBER: Don’t underestimate your resources.

They’re stronger than you remember.

All you have to do is trust them.

After all, your life is your preparation.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are your resources trustworthy?

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

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to be a Heretic Without Hurting People

And now for a few words from some dead white guys:

“Modest doubt is the beacon of the wise.”

William Shakespeare, English playwright.

“A heretic is a man who sees with his own eyes.”

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, German philosopher.

“Heretics are the only bitter remedy against the entropy of human thought.”

Yevgeny Zamyatin, Russian author.

LESSON LEARNED: If you want to make a name for yourself, you have to think for yourself first.

Otherwise accepting unfound conclusions without evidence, explanation or personal consideration becomes a betrayal of the self.

Today we’re going to talk about being a heretic without hurting people.

1. Be constructively challenging. I’m not suggesting you throw a monkey wrench just to watch the gears grind. Instead, maintain a meaningful purpose.

Like my mentor Bill Jenkins. He constantly reminds me that his purpose as a writer, educator and minister is to challenge people to see if all the thoughts in their head get along with each other. Always loved that about his approach.

And of course, he still nails me regularly, for which I’m forever grateful. What’s more, through Bill’s willingness to expose inconsistency through the bright light of courageous questioning, I’ve learned how to practice the same.

I prefer to use challenging questions like, “Why?” “Why not?” “According to who?” “Since when?” “What evidence do you have to support that belief?” Give those a shot. How challenging is your language?

2. Own your thinking. The definition of the word heretic is, “Anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine or principle.” Not bad, although I prefer the Latin origin approach. The word “heretic” comes from the Latin hereticus, which means, “able to choose.”

Here’s what that means: Consciously (and consistently) decide for yourself what to think, when to think it, why it matters to think it and who you’re going to share that thinking with. That’s what a heretic does on a daily basis.

Otherwise, if your thoughts aren’t your own, that makes you an automaton. Not very inspiring. Where are you (not) at full choice in your life right now?

3. Create your own religion. It’s easy: Choose a God. Pick a prophet. Perform a miracle. Settle on a name. Adopt a symbol. Agree on a sacrifice. Formulate the rituals. Determine your enemies. Outline the dogma. Write a bible. Start a website. Construct a building. Select a funny hat. Recruit a following. Spread the gospel. Hold a conference in Orlando. Convert anyone with a pulse. And see ya in the afterlife!

Done and done. It’s cakewalk, right?

Wrong. The word “religion” comes from the Latin religio, which means, “to link back to.” Therefore: Your religion is the one thing in your life that every other thing in your life links back to.

Figure out what that one thing is, and you’re all set, Reverend. Man, that was easy. You didn’t even have to kill anybody. What church are you the founding member of?

4. Don’t keep your doubts to yourself. During his 2010 Spoken Word Tour, Henry Rollins came through St. Louis. And during his three-hour talk – through which he didn’t take a single break or a single sip of water – Rollins said, “People frequently say I’m opinionated – to which I reply, ‘Well, that’s just your opinion.”

What about you? How opinionated are you willing to be? And how do you respond to people who dislike to your heretical thoughts? Don’t be shy about making your positions known. After all, conclusions weren’t meant to be kept quiet.

You don’t need to scream and yell at the establishment to be a heretic – but you do need to publicly and respectfully dissent. Tattoos optional. Are you offering propositions in addition to making protests?

5. Amplify your work with a platform. It’s hard to be heretic if you don’t have a way to reach the people who matter. Even if your following only consists a handful of hopefuls. You can’t assemble a movement to overturn stale thinking if you’re winking in the dark. People have to see and hear and touch you, your message and the voice that delivers it.

Fortunately, the number of available platforms is endless, both online and offline. The secret is five fold: Deliver content consistently, solicit dialogue constantly, respond to communications quickly, engage with people honestly and reinforce your philosophy daily.

Doing that is akin to plugging your message into a Marshall Half-Stack and letting that E chord rip until your neighbors bang down your door with shotguns. Whatever. If it’s too loud, you’re too old. What’s your mechanism for reaching your people?

6. Be aggressively skeptical. But not annoyingly cynical. Huge difference. Cynical people are sneering and peevish, while skeptical people are inquiring and reflective. Cynical people are maimed by negativity, while skeptical people are marked by doubt. And cynical people do it all for show, whereas skeptical people do it all for truth.

Got it? Remember: Heretics are the people with clear minds, strong hearts, curious eyes, furloughed brows, intrepid tongues and persistent fingers. Question first; believe second. That’s the heretic's code. Do you refuse to swallow anything before examining it?

7. Reject rigid discipleship. Yes, your goal is to build a platform and enlist a following around your vision. But asking the people who jive with your message to immediately become traveling mini-versions of you is antithetical to the entire heretical philosophy.

If your plan is to wage a ruthless and continuous battle against the status quo, you have to extend that same latitude to the people you serve. Think of it this way: The word “disciple” means “pupil who grasps intellectually and analyzes thoroughly.”

Let your people do that. Let them be as free as you are, and they’ll help carry your vision to the ends of the Earth. Or at least all way to Effingham. Whom are you trying to make just like you?

ULTIMATELY: Being a heretic isn’t about (not) believing.

It’s about believing because you went and found out for yourself fist.

It’s about believing because you explored the naked truth before mindlessly ingesting it.

It’s about believing because you dedicated yourself to a conscious, consistent posture of inquiry.

It’s about believing because you chose to believe – not because you were told to believe and blindly followed.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems smarter – and safer – to keep a heavy finger on the pause button before announcing to the world, “This, I believe!”

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you willing to be a heretic without hurting people?

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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.

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