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Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to Get to Know Somebody

I don’t care how brave you are.
What I really want to know is how you greet your fear.

I don’t care how strong you are.
What I really want to know is what lie you tell yourself so you won’t have to feel the pain.

I don’t care what you do.
What I really want to know is how you think, why you live and whom you love.

I don’t care what you’ve done.
What I really want to know is where you’ve failed, how you’ve enlarged and where you’ve mattered.

I don’t care what books you read.
What I really want to know is what ideas do you belong to.

I don’t care what your job title says.
What I really want to know is what your life is dedicated to.
I don’t care what your website is.
What I really want to know is what makes you forget who you are, and how you go about remembering whom that person is.

I don’t care how early you wake up.
What I really want to know is what inner fire keeps you from pressing the snooze button.

I don’t care what your background is.
What I really want to know is what it looks like when you follow your deepest desires.

I don’t care how long you’ve been here.
What I really want to know is a story that helped you see yourself clearly.

I don’t care how tough it is.
What I really want to know is what will carry you to the other side of the wall.

I don’t care what you have faith in.
What I really want to know is if you’re willing to admit the truth of something you don’t have the courage to believe.

I don’t care where you came from.
What I really want to know is what path brought you here.

I don’t care how talented you are.
What I really want to know is the sound it makes in your heart when you crash the wall of your own limitations.

I don’t care what television shows you watch.
What I really want to know is what feeds your spirit, what ignites your soul and what melts your heart into a puddle of goo.

I don’t care what charities you belong to.
What I really want to know is how, where, when and to whom you give yourself away.

I don’t care what bar you go to after a hard day.
What I really want to know is a detailed description of the landscape that sustains you when your spirit is tired and sagging.

I don’t care what clubs you belong to.
What I really want to know is what you’re a messenger of and what you’re a monument to.

I don’t care if you’re having a tough year.
What I really want to know is if the depth of your desire can outrun the height of your hardship.

I don’t care how powerful your vocabulary is.
What I really want to know is if you’re willing to let silence swallow you whole.

I don’t care how much hatemail you get.
What I really want to know is how well you occupy your stillness when the world works overtime to make you tremble.

I don’t care what you wanted to be when you grew up.
What I really want to know is if you’re courageous enough to take the one, consistent thread that’s been running through your life since childhood and spin that baby into something devastating.

I don’t care where you’re going in your life.
What I really want to know is who you’re becoming as you get there.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do you get to know people?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "18 Lessons from 18 People Smarter Than Me," 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

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Has Your Brand Picked a Lane Yet?

A brand without focus is destined to be forgotten.

Try to make everybody happy, and you lose.
Try to make everybody like you, and you lose.
Try to make everybody want you, and you lose.

Success, therefore, is a process of elimination.

It’s learning what your brand can live without.

MY SUGGESTION: Stop your driving your brand all over the interstate.

You’ll either get pulled over, cause an accident or piss off the other drivers. Plus, it’ll take forever to get to your destination. And if you’ve got three screaming kids in backseat, you’ll want to get there as soon as possible.
INSTEAD: Remember what you learned on day one of geometry class.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

This is a mathematical truth.

AND SO: If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, doesn’t it make sense – that when you’re cruising down the branding expressway – to just pick a lane and stay there?

Well, if you want your brand to arrive first it does.

THE CHALLENGE IS: How do you know which lane to pick?

That’s easy. Just fire up the only true GPS in the world – your heart. And consider asking yourself, your company and your brand these questions to figure out which lane to pick:

1. Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?

2. Does this choice add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it?

3. Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?

4. Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or will it bring me short-term gratification?

5. If I make this choice, what will I be saying no to?

FINAL CAVEAT: While picking a lane leads to branding freedom, staying in that lane forever leads to branding failure.

Look. People change lanes all the time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The secret is to stay in your lane for as long as your brand can handle it. Then, when the time comes, move into another one.

Who knows? Maybe for you, it’s time to flip on your turn signal.

Or, perhaps it’s time to set the cruise control to eighty, crank up some Van Halen and drive your brand into the sunset.

Just pick a lane.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your brand focused or forgotten?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "25 Questions to Uncover Your Best," 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!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Every Leader Needs to Know About Infecting Their Followers

Not with a fatal disease, of course.

We’ll leave that to the zombies.

Instead, let’s talk about your role as a leader.

The word “infect” comes from the Latin infectus, which means, “to put in.”

THAT’S THE BIG QUESTION: What are you putting into people? What are you infecting them with?

Fire?
Love?
Creativity?
Negativity?
Inspiration?
Indifference?
Enthusiasm?
Salmonella?

It might not matter. With the exception of most diseases, what you infect people isn’t as important as how you infect them.

Try this:
1. Be a mirror. Sometimes the best way to infect people is to staple your tongue to the roof of your mouth and let them infect themselves.

In my leadership council, we regularly employ the practice of “becoming a verbal mirror” for the presenter. By reflecting their reality back to them – using their exact words, not by summarizing – we allow them to see themselves as we see them.

Often, that’s all they needed to become infected: 50 ccs of self-awareness. What do you reflect back to people?

2. Help people become impressed with themselves. Lead them towards the answers they need to find. You might try using leading, one-word questions like, “But…?” “And…?” or “Because…?”

This puts the conversational ball in their corner, equipping them uncover their own solutions. It also shows people you trust them enough to find their own answers. Finally one-word questions reinforce their sense of self-reliance.

All of which infect them with a steady stream of self-belief. Have you mastered the economy of words?

3. Inspire others of a vision of what they can contribute. The night before delivering a career-changing keynote, I handed my friend Dixie Gillaspie a note. I told her not to read it until she went to bed.

It read: “You own tomorrow. I believe in you.”

Twenty-four hours later, she did. Big time. And all it took was seven words. I wonder who you could deliver a simple, handwritten note to in the next week that would become infected. How will you help people taste the sweet liberation of what’s possible?

4. Infect through being. In my thirty years of experience as a human being, there are four channels of infection: Thoughts, Words, Actions and Being. All are effective, but you’ll find the fourth to be the most beautiful, most sustainable and the most efficacious.

As Ram Dass wrote in All There Is, “The only thing you have to offer to another person, ever, is your state of being. The degree of consciousness with which you’re protesting determines how well they can hear what it is you’re really saying.”

My suggestion is: Next time you’re having a conversation with a friend, employee, volunteer or complete stranger – thrust your whole self into that encounter.

When you passionately and respectfully present people with a compelling vision of the future – and, the choice to be both participant and creator of it – you indirectly make them want to ride along with you. Is your personhood infectious?

5. Go out of your way to gush. I’m also board member of a small organization comprised of professional speakers, consultants and other thought leaders under the age of forty.

Once a quarter, we meet in a convenient location for an energizing day of brainstorming, masterminding and bullshit-free discussion. Now, although we’ve only been active for a few years, I’ll never forget what happened immediately after our inaugural meeting.

I went straight back to my hotel room at midnight and emailed three of my good friends who were unable to attend the session. “Holy crap guys,” I said, “my brain, heart and spirit are simultaneously overflowing. We have to have lunch within the next week so I can gush about today’s meeting.”

We got together a week later and I spent the better part of an hour infecting them with my energy and passion. Not to sell them on the group. Not to convince them to come to the next meeting.

And not to create a convenient deficit position that could only be filled by the thing I was selling. Just to gush. Just to let the infection cascade out of my pores like an Amazon waterfall.

To the delight of the group, all three of my friends committed to attending the next meeting. Which they did. And which they loved it just as much as me. Who could you set up an agenda-free gush session with next week?

6. Mood matters. According to a twenty-year study published in a 2008 issue of Time, emotions can pass among a network of people up to three degrees of separation away.

“Your joy may, to a larger extent than you realize, be determined by how cheerful your friends’ friends’ friends are, even if some of the people in this chain are total strangers to you.”

Lesson learned: Moods are contagious. The question is whether you infect people with the right one. Consider asking yourself: When you walk into a room, how does it change? When you walk out of a room, how does it change?

Remember: As a leader, people are looking to your face to see where the organization is going. If you asked the five people who spent the most time with you, what one word would they use to describe your mood?

7. Punch a few stamps on their sandwich card. During high school, several of my friends worked at a local sandwich shop. As you might expect from teenagers, they tended to get a little “stamp happy” on my sub club card.

Yes, this habit was unethical, dishonest and probably cost the store thousands of dollars in free sandwiches over the years. But you have to understand: The sandwiches were really, really good.

Not that that makes it ok. But the image of the sandwich card is a helpful reminder of how to liberate the inner motivation of others. According to Dan & Chip Heath’s bestseller, Switch:

“One way to motivate action is to make people feel as though they’re already closer to the finish line than they might have thought.”

As a leader, your mission is to figure out how to throw people that lifeline. For example, whenever new students come to practice at my Bikram Yoga studio, I always make it a point to congratulate them in the locker room for sticking it out the whole ninety minutes.

“Hey, at the minimum,” I’ll tell them, “at least you stayed in the room the whole time. Not all first timers do. Consider that a victory!”

Every time I’ve said this, new students never fail to become energized. What could you say to someone to reinforce her self-belief that she’s progressed (significantly) more than most people her exact same situation?

8. Instinctively respond favorably. That way, no matter what people say, you lay a foundation of affirmation. This increases their level of receptivity, which increases their infectability.

Even if you don’t know what, specifically, to say to someone, you can always respond with the word, “Wow.” It’s a neutral, versatile, empathetic, non-judgmental and emotionally unreactive term.

It buys you some time, until you can define your official response. It also helps you maintain composure when presented with unexpected, difficult or crucial information.

Ultimately, it creates objective space in the conversation, which grants the speaker permission to continue. How positive are your default responses to people?

9. Take people to the depths they desperately need to explore. Even if that means going to a completely unexpected place. Meet people where they are. Sit there with them for as long as they need.

Then, challenge them to go somewhere even better. Ideally, they’ll walk away from you as an upgraded version of themselves. All because you steered the rudder as they paddled like hell. Are you an interpersonal archaeologist?

REMEMBER: Infection has nothing to do with being sick.

It’s about transferring emotion.
It’s about putting something into people.
It’s about influencing them your state of being.

Spend your days doing that, and you won’t even need the zombies.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Whom are you infecting?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “37 Personal Leadership Questions Guaranteed to Shake Your Soul,” 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.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Monday, September 27, 2010

8 Ways to Scare Yourself for the Right Reasons



Ever seen a dog fart so loud that he scares himself?

I love it when that happens.

It’s a helpful reminder of two key life lessons:

1. Everybody farts.
2. Scaring yourself isn’t always a bad thing.

Think about it:

To scare yourself is to motivate yourself.
To scare yourself is to challenge yourself.
To scare yourself is to understand yourself.

Not that you should do anything dangerous.

I’d hate for you to scare yourself to the point that you wind up in the hospital. Or violate your values. Or contaminate your personal constitution.

The secret is to scare yourself for the right reasons. Here’s how:
1. Victory is the great vexation. I don’t know about you, but I’m not scared of failure. Hell, I fail all the time. What petrifies me most is success.

Here’s why: First, you never learn as much about yourself when you’re winning. It’s only through biting the big one that you enter into the arena of self-understanding.

Secondly, success is scary because there’s nothing more terrifying than getting exactly what you want. Think about it: If you do get what you want, you might lose it. Or you might realize it’s not enough. Or you might discover it’s not actually what you (thought) you wanted.

The point is, sometimes it’s easier, safer and more fun to just want things. It’s the getting part that terrifies us.

Finally, the reason success is so scary is because with success comes power, and with power comes responsibility. As a writer, I deal with this on a daily basis. Especially since I’ve been publishing books and blogging for eight years now. People aren’t just reading what I say – they’re actually taking my advice.

I even had a reader email recently to say that one of my blog posts gave her the much-needed final push to end her toxic marriage.

Woops.

Um, you’re welcome?

Jesus. I think I liked it better when the only person reading my blog was my mom. But I guess that’s part of the deal. That’s the price of success. Yikes. Are you more scared of victory or defeat?

2. Give your fear a voice. You think you’re scared? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Try looking into the eyes of the people who matter and honestly sharing why you’re scared. That’ll make you wish you wore a diaper to work.

I tried this during a recent board meeting as the president of my local association. At the onset, I asked everyone to share what they were scared of and why.

Now, as the leader, I went first. “Guys, I’m scared that our chapter has outlived its usefulness. I’m scared we’re approaching irrelevancy quickly. And I’m scared this ship is going down on my watch. Who’s next?”

And for the next few minutes, everyone went around the table and voiced their fears too. It wasn’t pretty, but we made it through the exercise.

The cool part was, even though sharing our individual concerns was scary initially; the simple act of doing so assuaged much of our doubt. And after a healthy, honest discussion, it turned out there wasn’t as much to be scared of as we thought.

Huh. Maybe that’s the secret. Maybe the best way to save yourself from your fears – personally or professionally – is to share them publicly. I wonder how many of your relationships could be saved by an honest exchange of mutual scared-shitlessness. When was the last time you emptied your purse on the table?

3. Pursue the path of wholehearted surrender. As a lifelong control freak, I’ve always found the idea of surrendering to be a terrifying proposition. I guess to me, it always seemed safer to choreograph everything.

Not true. In fact, it’s actually the opposite: He who risks not, risks most.

That’s my next suggestion: Surrendering what you are for what you could become. Not a bad trade. The secret is creating a daily practice to support your surrender. Personally, I recite the following incantation several times a day:

“I expect nothing … I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge.”

I’ve found that the stillness created through this breathing exercise softens the blow of the fear. It doesn’t eliminate it. But then again, that’s not the point.

Scaring yourself is about greeting your fear with a welcoming heart – then using its momentum against itself to breathe right through it. And if you can be brave enough to make yourself vulnerable to the process, you’ll initiate a breakthrough.

Either that, or you’ll have a panic attack. Just remember: If you’re not scared, you’re not stretching enough. To change the world is to change your underwear. What are you doing – right now – that requires faith?

4. Never underestimate the scariness of self-questioning. Questions aren’t just questions – they’re catapults. And when asked strategically, they get your hamster wheel moving at full speed to entertain dangerous thoughts.

Also, questions aren’t just questions – they’re swords. And when asked honestly, they penetrate deeper and truer than any old affirmation. Three scary examples from my experience as a writer.

*Instead of posting on a sticky note in my office saying, “Writing is the basis of all wealth,” I ask, “What did you write today?”

*Instead of drawing on a whiteboard with, “Stay focused,” I ask, “Is what you’re doing right now consistent with your number one goal?”

*Instead of writing above my desk, “If you don’t write it down, it never happened,” I ask, “Is everything you know written down somewhere.” See the difference?

It’s about self-confrontation, self-accountability and self-motivation. Doesn’t get much scarier than that. Your challenge is go back to your office and reconsider what’s written on your wall. What questions do you ask yourself every day?

5. Walk through a doorway and let it close behind you. If you stand at the threshold, keeping the door safely ajar, you’ll never make any progress. But if you invite the unsettling echo of the creaking hinge to profoundly penetrate you, I guarantee you’ll scare yourself into doing something worthwhile.

That’s the interesting thing about fear: It intensifies emotion; but it also solidifies commitment. Thus, scaring yourself is a healthy form of self-pressure. Even if it’s as simple as changing your Facebook status from “single” to “in a relationship.” It’s amazing how many positive results can occur when you cross that threshold.

Unless your ex-girlfriend starts leaving vicious comments on your wall about how you’re a the devil. Not cool.

My suggestion: Let the door hit you on the way out. Hard. Right in the ass. Otherwise you’ll never scare yourself into executing what matters. How will communicating that you’re fully committed disturb you into taking action?

6. Administer a heroic dose of reflection. One of the ways my clients use me is as a small group facilitator. It’s a nice break from being the guest speaker, as I don’t have prep as much. Instead, my life is my preparation. All I have to do is show up and make sure people feel heard.

During a recent retreat with forty company leaders, we ran an exercise called “Lifelines.” It required participants to divide their lives into thirds and extract powerful lessons from pivotal moments along the way. Unexpectedly, what amazed me about this process was how uncomfortable it made certain people.

Turns out: Not everybody reflects. For any number of reasons: Some people don’t value reflection. Some prefer not to dwell on the past. Or, some people simply aren’t as introspective as others. On the other hand, some people choose not to reflect – probably subconsciously, I imagine – because they’re scared of what they might learn about themselves.

It’s the same reason people refuse to journal daily. It’s the same reason people in my yoga class refuse to meet their own eyes in the mirror. And it’s the same reason I have stacks of footage from past speeches that I will absolutely never, ever watch.

But maybe that’s the solution. Maybe administering a heroic dose of self-reflection is the only way to scare yourself into the next version of yourself. When was the last time you watched yourself on video?

7. Bear the responsibility for what you’ve become. There’s nothing more existentially agonizing than noticing a part of yourself that you don’t like; and then realizing that you’re the primary reason it’s there. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t just hurt the heart; it scares the soul.

But then again, this might be the best thing that ever happens to you. Maybe reaching the point where you can’t stand yourself anymore is the only way to upgrade. After all, from great suffering comes great awakening. That’s what happened to me: I reached a point where the distaste for who I’d become (finally) scared me enough to change everything.

And I crawled out of the minefield alive. Stumbling but surviving.

My suggestion: Stop hypnotizing yourself. Don’t allow yourself to jump back into the dark hole you’ve made to hide in. Grab your liabilities by the lapel and drag them out into the daylight. As I learned from Mirror of Truth:

“When you eventually take responsibility for what you’ve become, you stop pulling punches, making up mitigating circumstances, and start to understand a little more about yourself. And you realize that you’re not that different from everyone else. You’ve just admitted to yourself that you have a lot of work to do before you’re ready to look at yourself in the mirror again.”

Remember: You are the result of yourself. If you don’t like the final product, go back and run a quality control check on the production process. Even if you pee your pants on the factory floor. Do you have the courage to take full responsibility for everything you think, feel and do, without blaming yourself?

8. Dance on the perimeter of your boundaries. I don’t mean violate them – I mean test their elasticity. Huge difference. One is a gap in integrity; the other is an experiment in flexibility. But that’s the nature of boundaries: You set them for yourself out of an inherent need to preserve your sense of control.

The funny thing is, once you get there – and you realize that you didn’t need to build the wall as high as you originally thought – the music starts to take over. And before you know it, your feet are moving. Your hips are gyrating. And your face hurts from smiling so much.

Sure, your heart’s beating three times faster than normal. But you sort of don’t care. Because you look back at the excessive walls you spend your entire life building for yourself and think, “Well I’ll be damned. Look at me, dancing night away. Guess those bricks weren’t as necessary as I thought.”

Wow. Feeling out of control never felt so good.

Bottom line: You’ve got to extend your arm. Otherwise you’ll never grow into anything better. When was the last time you stretched your boundaries without compromising your foundation?

REMEMBER: Scaring yourself (for the right reasons) is the gateway to personal growth.

I challenge you to look in the mirror, to breathe through the fear and to proceed anyway.

And yes, I know being scared means being uncomfortable.

But uncomfortable people are the only ones who ever change the world.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you need to wait for Halloween to scare yourself?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "100 People (Not) To Listen To," 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!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

5 Ways to Make a Mark That Matters

Few forces in the world burn brighter than a human being’s inherent hunger to contribute.

However, contrary to what Al Gore says, making your mark in the world doesn’t have to mean leaving carbon footprints.

What it does mean is getting off your ass, getting into the game and cementing your legacy.

That way, you can leave this cosmic campsite better than you found it.

To do so, consider this list (read part one here!) of attitudes, behaviors and action items to help you make a mark that matters:
1. Use persistence as your principle instrument. Speaking of hardship, check out what my friend Chris wrote in a brilliant blog post:

“The difference makers aren’t the people who are indifferent to what the crowd does or thinks – but the people that create the world and mold it regardless of resistance. People that ignore the persistent tether of the mediocre and don’t brag about seventy hour weeks, but brag about how much of their mind, soul and spirit they engaged to solve a problem that counts.”

Keep in mind, however, that success never comes unassisted. Ever. And if you want to make your mark on the world, you better be sure your support system is in tact while you persist.

Because whether it’s friends, family, faith, colleagues, online communities – or a combination thereof – you will need people to turn to. And you will need to get comfortable asking for help. Stick-to-itiveness can get pretty bloody. Do you value spontaneity over itinerary?

2. Stop saying it’s not about you. First of all, doing so invalidates you efforts, according Ayn Rand in The Virtue of Selfishness. Secondly, refusing to admit that you’re (at least a little) self-serving is form of false humility. And people can smell from a mile away.

For example, my readers and audience members often ask me why I write books. And my answer is simple, “For me. Because I want to read them. And because I need to learn this stuff.”

Now, I’m not trying to be a jerk. Obviously, I’m writing the books for them too. I’m nothing without my readers.

But first and foremost, my work is for me. Period. Yes, I’m selfish – and I’m cool with that. Besides, anyone who tries to tell you that they’re completely altruistic in all their efforts is either: Lying, from outer space, or high on paint thinner.

Ultimately, making a mark means stepping into spotlight – even if only for a short while. You need to be willing to do so. Otherwise, if you refuse to take center stage and stand unprotected to the searing headwind of the masses, you’ll never make it out alive. And the mark you’re trying to make will melt like a sandcastle in the surf. Who’s your audience?

3. Profit is an enabler. Emerson once said that in the end, all that matters is cash value. He was right. But he wasn’t talking about the Benjamins. The word “profit” comes from the Latin profectus, which means, “progress.”

Therefore: Making your mark isn’t about making money – it’s about making meaningful change. And your challenge is twofold:

(a) To figure out it which currencies are required to underwrite the fulfillment of your dreams, and
(b) To earn enough of that currency – money, attention, permission, whatever – to enable you to build what you need to build.

Anything above that is just showing off. Remember: Earn a profit – enable a movement. How do you define cash value?

4. Follow your unintentionals. One of the coolest books I’ve ever read is Unintentional Music, by Lane Arye. His philosophy is that the things we normally consider to be garbage can enrich us. And that when we choose to see disturbing or unwanted materials as potentially meaningful to our work, the final recordings of our life’s music is that much more beautiful.

“Rather than ignore or try to get rid of the things we don’t like,” Lane says, “we can transform them into things of beauty or shift our focus and realize that they are what we have been seeking all along.”

The best part is, this isn’t just about music. This is about refusing to overlook the value of the unintentional notes in your life. Accidents, schmaccidents. As you make your mark on the world, listen for the music that wants to be played. Then, accept that whatever note is played, is reality. And embrace it. Even if it sounds off key.

Then, as often as possible, let that baby blast through the speakers until the neighbors come knocking. I’m reminded of what my mentor told me last month:

“The stuff you stumble into will be more of who you are than the stuff you carefully guided your footsteps for.”

Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up making your mark on an unexpected canvas. Are you allowing, embracing and using your accidents?

5. Turn your career into a courtship. It recently occurred to me that I’m not really a writer – I’m a man having a love affair with writing. Huge difference. And I challenge you to rethink the relationship between you and your work.

Because in my experience, loving what you do isn’t enough.

You have to elope with what you do. You have to be pathologically obsessed with what you do. You have to get a tattoo of what you do’s name on your ass. Only then can you make the mark that matters.

What’s more, when you turn your career into a courtship, the work stays with you wherever you go. It gets under your fingernails. It becomes a part of your language, embeds into your actions and threads through your very being.

And the separation between you and the work you do grows narrower and narrower with every passing microsecond. If that’s not a chisel, I don’t know what is. Think your partner is cool with polygamy?

REMEMBER: You’re not too boring to contribute something worthwhile.

If you truly want to make a mark in the world – you, alone, are responsible for movement.

As we wrap things up, let’s turn to Indecision, who sings in the song “To Live and Die in New York City:"

“To make your mark is to die face up on flaming asphalt while your corpse speaks for itself.”

Take that, Al Gore.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Will your mark matter?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "27 Ways to Overcommunicate Anything," 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!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Watch Scott Ginsberg's Speech to The Million Dollar Roundtable: Seoul, South Korea



In March of this year, I had the opportunity to speak in front of 4,000 insurance agents at the Million Dollar Roundtable Korea.

One of the coolest experiences of my career.

This playlist contains all four parts of the speech. Enjoy!

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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, September 22, 2010

How to be a Role Model

In his final HBO comedy special, seventy-one year old George Carlin walked onto the New York stage to a standing ovation and opened his show with the following comment:

“I'd like to begin tonight by saying: Screw Lance Armstrong!”

“I’m tired of that idiot. And while you're at it, screw Tiger Woods, too. There's another idiot I can do without. I’m tired of being told who to admire in this country. Aren’t you sick of being told who your role models ought to be? Being told who you ought to be looking up to? I'll choose my own heroes, thank you very much.”


THAT’S THE GOOD NEWS: You don’t have to be a professional athlete, international humanitarian or slick politician to become a role model.

People who earn the title of role model rarely do so because of their achievements – they do so because of their attributes.

It’s not about performance – it’s about personhood.
It’s not about what you’ve done for yourself – it’s about what you breathe into others.
It’s not about being in the public eye of the world – it’s about being in the private hearts of the people.

HOWEVER: Becoming role model isn’t something you just “decide” to do.

Being a role model is the residue of mattering consistently.
Being a role model is the after shock of contributing persistently.
Being a role model is the incidental consequence of the intentional commitment to operate from the best, highest version of yourself.

Maybe the real question isn’t, “Are you a role model?” but rather, “When people listen to your life speak, do they take notes?”

Here’s a collection of ideas to make sure they do:
1. Refuse to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. The reason delaying gratification is such an admirable quality is because so few people possess the patience to do it. We live in a world of Veruca Salts: Accepting periods of minimal progress along the windy road to success isn’t a favored pastime.

Instead, people are addicted to short cuts. Which, last time I checked my GPS, don’t work. Shortcuts cause stress, rarely succeed and often backfire. They never go unpunished. They are a refuge for slackers and a lazy man’s panacea. Not exactly role models.

My suggestion is to stop looking for the easy win and start running the developmental gauntlet. Be patient with, have confidence in and add value to your own resources. As a result, you won’t just become successful – you’ll be emulatable. Are you willing to risk today’s time for tomorrow’s treasure?

2. Be a human being. Nobel Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer famously suggested, “Search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.”

A few examples: Communicate less perfectly. Disclose your vulnerability. Pepper in ordinariness. Publicly celebrate mistakes. Scrap your title.

The cool part is, the collective consequence of actions like these infects people with possibility. Namely, the possibility that your success could happen to them too. Not without hard work, of course.

But by fully integrating your humanity into your profession or position, you compel people to declare, “I believe in this, I can do this, I’m willing to try this!” What about your life speaks straight to the heart of the human experience?

3. Idolatry is insufficient. I recently read a fascinating article by Steven Resnick on The Bleacher Report. His claim was that professional athletes weren’t role models as much as they were idols.

“On the basketball court, Jordan could do pretty much what he wanted: He could shoot, he could pass, he could defend, and he could literally fly through the air. But does that really make Jordan a role model?"

No. It’s not to say that professional athletes do not do good things for their communities. But to say that athletes are role models just because they are in the spotlight is a ridiculous assertion. The biggest part to being a role model is the personal interaction you have with the person.”


Lesson learned: It’s not about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people to life at the party, then convincing those people that they were the ones who turned the switch on. Whereas idols are regarded with blind adoration, role models are regarded with substantial connection.

It’s not about performance and perfection; it’s about personhood and connection. And within the relationships that matter, your challenge is to make that move. From the superficial to the substantial. Otherwise you’re just a statue. Do people idolize you or identify with you?

4. Succeed in spite. Another attribute shared by many role models is their uncanny ability to win notwithstanding the surrounding chaos. And it takes all kinds, too. Around the world, role models are the people who succeed:

In spite of overwhelming poverty. In spite of devastating toxicity. In spite of endless hurdles. In spite of gnawing self-doubt. In spite of efforts to crush their spirit. And in spite of countless people calling them crazy.

That’s the secret: Deciding what’s (not) going to be part of equation for you, making yourself the exception to the rule and giving the middle finger to the forces of mediocrity that attempt to crush your spirit. Do you demand abstinence from all that proves to be poisonous?

5. Character isn’t enough. My mentor always taught me that character was the degree to which your actions mirrored your values. Which kind of makes it like tofu: Character absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce it’s cooked in.

The problem is, if you’re a man of great character – and the values mirrored by your actions are dangerous or disrespectful – you lose. And the people around you lose.

Take Saddam Hussein, for example. He was a man of great character. Too bad the values he stood for were responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people.

Therefore, your challenge as a role model is to assess both the consistency and the content of your character. Will your commitment to your value lead to development or detriment?

6. Enable others to build their success around yours. In 2007, David Letterman’s production company became the first to cut a deal with the striking Writers Guild of America. This enabled his show to resume production with their writing staffs.

“We take care of our people. And we're happy to be going back to work, and particularly pleased to be doing it with our writers,” Letterman told the New York Times in 2007. “But this is not a solution to the strike, which unfortunately continues to disrupt the lives of thousands. But I hope it will be seen as a step in the right direction.”

Furthermore, Letterman also agreed to pay his other non-working staff members (hair, makeup, grips, prop guys, etc) until the end of the strike – out of his own pocket.

Now, you might not have a production team of a hundred people. But I imagine there’s a constituency that gravitates toward you, hoping you leadership will help enable their success. Who’s warming their hands by your fire?

7. Be just as much of a rockstar when you’re off. Off stage. Off court. Off duty. Off campus. Off air. Off camera. That’s the real stage. That’s the true catwalk of being a role model: When your applause is a distant memory, when all the reporters have gone home and when there’s nobody left but you and that poor guy who drove two hours through the hail just to see you.

The question is: Will you blow him off so you can rush back to the tour bus for the groupie party? Or will you stick around for an extra ten minutes just to make that guy’s trip worthwhile?

Role models stick around. Role modules remember that one person is still an audience. And role models know how unbelievably easy it is to make people happy.

That’s consistency. And it’s far better than rare moments of greatness. Practice that, and you’ll get a standing ovation every time. How many different versions of you do people see?

REMEMBER: A role model is a person others want to emulate.

And you don’t have to be a celebrity to make that happen.

Focus on personal attributes – not professional achievements.
Focus on expressing yourself fully – not on proving yourself incessantly.
Focus on commitment to values that matter – not on conquests of wars that don’t.

Do that, and your example will be worth copying by the people you love.

Take that, Lance Armstrong.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
To whom are you a hero?

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For the list called, "10 Reasons Your Business Doesn't Really Exist," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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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!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Trust the Process, Even If You Don't Know What the Hell You’re Doing

To trust is to surrender.
To surrender is to open yourself.
To open yourself is to risk getting hurt.
To risk getting hurt is to increase the probability of success.

LESSON LEARNED: When you assemble the courage to trust the process, you access the power to transform the world.

Your world. Your partner's world. Your customer’s world. Your employees’ world. Your organization’s world. Maybe even your dog's world.

Today we’re going to explore eight daily practices for trusting the process, even when you have no idea what the hell you’re doing:
1. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. How is overrated. How is the enemy of progress. How is the barrier to trusting the process. And I’m not saying it hurts to know what you’re doing once in a while. But if you always waited until you knew what you were doing, you’d never do anything.

You're never really ready. Nobody is. Whether you’re starting a business, starting a relationship or starting a new career, trusting the process means traversing the periphery of your competence.

That’s exactly what I did when I started my publishing and consulting company right out of college. Hell, I didn’t know anything. I was twenty-two. But for some reason, I trusted the process anyway.

And here’s what I learned: Eventually, you’re just going to have to jump into the pool with your clothes on and trust that you’ll figure out how to swim before the water fills your lungs.

Let’s go. It’s time to put down that margarita and make a splash that matters. Remember: You don’t have to get good to get going; but you do need to get going to get good. Whose permission are you waiting for?

2. Restore the equilibrium. The reason it’s so hard to trust the process is because it’s a form of surrendering; and for most people, that’s a terrifying preposition. Human beings have an inherent need to preserve their sense of control. And any time they feel it being taken away from them, they freak out.

I’m reminded of the Arabian proverb, “Trust God, but tie up your camel.” That’s the real secret: To restore the equilibrium. To balance letting go with preserving control.

For example, when you enter into a new relationship, make a handshake agreement with your partner:

“Look, I know we’re both scared. I know we’re both skeptical. So, let’s agree that for every path we pave for our hearts to follow, we’re going to take regular rest stops for our brains to reflect. That’s where we’ll check in with honest, open and clear updates on the process.”

When you ease into that exchange slowly, you hold yourself over until you’re more comfortable tipping the scales. How can you balance control with surrender?

3. Bow to the door of next. Next is my favorite word in the dictionary. For many reasons: Next fortifies action. Next symbolizes progress. Next means complacency prevention. Next means continuous improvement.

Next is the monetizer of momentum. Next is the fervent architect of creative reinvention. Next is the critical trigger of entrepreneurial advancement. Next is the rocket fuel of your career.

Ultimately, the secret is not just to use the word next – but also to bow to the door of it. Bow meaning honor. Bow meaning respect. Bow meaning recognize. Remember: Without incremental progress, there is no incidental profit. Are you standing on a springboard or struggling in a straightjacket?

4. Fall in love with why. When you infuse your process with deep purpose, it’s noticeably easier to trust it. That’s why rituals are so critical. They carve a pathway. They create a sacred container around what you’re about to engage in. And they prevent you from asking, “Why the hell am I even doing this?”

This helps you fall in love with the process, not just what the process produces. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s defined this dichotomy in his book Creativity:

“Exotelic means you do something not because you enjoy it but to accomplish a later goal. But autotelic means there is no reason for doing something except to feel the experience it provides.”

Lesson learned: Trusting the process is a spiritual discipline. An investment in the stability of the universe. Why do you do what you do?

5. Don’t be so hard on yourself. In Leonard Cohen’s documentary, I’m Your Man, he shares his philosophy on the writing process: “You gotta go to work everyday, but know that you’re not going to get it everyday.”

Initially, that was a bitter pill for me to swallow. The idea of accepting a blank page as part of the process was devastating to my creative spirit. But over time, I learned to stop beating myself up when I didn’t get it.

That’s part of trusting the process: Knowing when you’ve got it, knowing when you’ve lost it, knowing when there’s no way in hell you’re going to get it, and knowing when you’re going to have to take measures to get it back.

My current strategy is: When I sit down to write every morning, I give myself an hour. That’s my cut off. And if the faucet never turns over to hot, and if I realize that I’m just not going to get it that day – I go back to bed. Simple as that. Then, an hour or two later when I wake up, I hit the page refreshed and renewed.

Works every time. What’s your strategy for returning to the work that matters?

6. Believe in the dividends. Every time I start working on a new idea, I constantly remind myself: “There will be more.” More details. More resources. More answers. More everything.

This affirmation builds my confidence, relaxes my brain and alerts the Muse that she can move at her own pace. And even if I only make minimal progress today, I believe in my heart that more art is on the way.

That’s the posture to practice when you trust the process: Easy does it. Keep it casual. Establish gentle flow. Soon enough, your rhythm will develop. And the dividends will come.

The cool part is, once you achieve a few victories with this strategy, your experience bank fills with success stories to dwell upon. That’s when trusting the process gets fun. All you have to do is roll the mental footage of the last time it paid off. How strong is your belief in the dividends of your process?

7. Don’t fight the contractions. Pregnancy is a process. And according to a 2004 study from University of Hawaii, it’s a process that’s happened approximately ninety-six billion times since the dawn of time. Not bad. Maybe those mothers are doing something right.

My guess is: Epidural.

Just kidding. The real secret to trusting the process is to honoring the natural rhythms. Easing your judgmental tendencies and embracing the contractions no matter how much they hurt. As Quaker author Eileen Flanagan writes in Listen With Your Heart:

“By speaking honestly, listening non-defensively and waiting patiently, we help create the space where love can reveal itself.”

The best part is: You don’t have to be pregnant to practice this. Take writing, for example. Readers often ask me, “How do you know what you’re going to write everyday?” And my answer is always the same: “I don’t. That’s not my job. Instead, I listen for what wants to be written.”

Stop fighting the contractions. The baby will come when it’s ready. Even if you’re stuck in that godforsaken hospital bed for the next forty-seven hours. What are you allowing yourself to give birth to?

8. Don’t abandon the process just because it gets tough. Trusting the process doesn’t mean being passive. The secret is to understand the principle of threshold level.

That’s the moment in the process where you’re so close to completion, you can taste it.

The moment when the entire the world is doing everything they can to prevent you from finishing.

That’s when you hit it hard. That’s when you take every ounce of trust you have left and invest it in the process that brought you to the threshold.

Because in the end, trusting the process is about doing the footwork. Even if you don’t recognize the road before you. Even if it hurts like hell. Carry out the task to completion. And let growth unfold incrementally. The world will reimburse your efforts. Are you willing to hustle while you wait?

REMEMBER: This might be the perfect time to let go.

To achieve success and significance with your newest idea, project, initiative or relationship, you know what needs to be done.

Employ your faith.
Learn to trust the process.
Surrender to your primal self.
And allow it to do what it needs to do to lead you in the right direction.

You’ll be fine.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What will you have to let go of to become something different?

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For the list called, "7 Ways to Out Experience the Competition," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, 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, September 20, 2010

Scott Ginsberg's CBS Interview on Being More Listenable, Referable and Promotable



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How are you increasing the probability of success?

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* * * *
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!

Friday, September 17, 2010

8 Ways to Make Yourself, Your Brand and Your Service More User-Friendly

“How do people feel about using your system?”

That’s the question that matters.

Whether you write software, own a retail store, run a non-profit, counsel married couples – even if you’re trying to land a job in a down economy – everyone has users.

Everyone. Even if you don’t call them users.

And if you can’t deliver your value with an abundance of user friendliness, you lose.

HERE’S THE REALITY: We live in an experience economy, a commoditized marketplace and hyperspeed culture.

That means people are no longer satisfied with good, fast and cheap – they want it perfect, now and free.

Today we’re going to explore a list of ways to make yourself, your brand and your service more user-friendly:
1. You aren’t your customer. It doesn’t matter if you like it – it matters if users get it right away. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s cool – it matters if users enjoy using it. And it doesn’t matter if you get excited about it – it matters if users tell their friends about their positive, friendly experience of using it.

My suggestion: Stop superimposing onto your users what you think they should want. You may as well be winking in the dark. Instead, just ask people what they need. I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you. Like Jerry Maguire, learn to say, “Help me help you use me.”

Without solicitation of user feedback, you end up sitting in an office having a love affair with your own marketing. And the intangible asset known as your brand decreases in equity with every transaction. How have you made it easier for people to interact with you?

2. Never underestimate the profitability of findability. If they can’t find you, they can’t use you; and if they can’t use you, it won’t matter how friendly you are: Visitors will leave before they get a chance to become customers.

Peter Morville is the father of findability. He first defined the term in 2005 in his book Ambient Findability, as “The ability of users to identify an appropriate website and navigate the pages of the site to discover and retrieve relevant information resources.”

Ease and comfort. That’s the secret. Relevancy and realness. That’s the next secret. And demonstrating to users that you’re worth being found. That’s the final secret.

Then, the only thing issue left to consider is: “What happens after users find you?” Because what your users experience isn’t as important as the friendliness with which they experience it. Findability enables approachability. How findable are you?

3. Respond to the idiosyncratic needs of each user. If you force everyone to conform to the same style, you run the risk of losing people who matter. Instead, position your offerings in ways that make it easy for all types to access you.

For example, I recently made two changes to my accessibility options by offering users a menu of mediums. First, I changed my cell phone voicemail to say, “Here are the three ways to get in touch with me the quickest: Leave a message, send a text to this number, or email scott@hellomynameisscott.com.”

The second change was made to the contact page of my website, which reads, “Everybody communicates differently. I am available and at your service and via whatever channel you prefer to use the most: Phone. Text. Email. Instant Message. Skype. Twitter. Facebook. Face to face.”

Remember: It’s not that users don’t like you – it’s that you’re not speaking on their frequency. If you want your message to be heard in a friendlier way, you have to also consider how people hear. Are you customizable?

4. Preserve people’s sense of control. In the psychology manual, The Handbook of Competence and Motivation, the research proved that human beings operate out of a model to feel autonomous and in control of their environment and actions.

Thus: The feeling of being in control is a basic human need. And your challenge is to make sure your users don’t lose that feeling.

For example, at the beginning of my presentations, I give my audience members my cell phone number. And I tell them that if they have any questions, comments or feedback, to text me. Then, time allowing, I’ll address as many of them as I can.

This approach wins for three reasons. First, it’s a cool way to interact with audience members, aka users. Secondly, by introducing anonymity, it creates an askable environment that makes people feel comfortable speaking up. Finally, the option of texting allows users to offer feedback at their own pace.

Ultimately, these three things reinforce people’s sense of control over the direction of the discussion. How will you do the same?

Remember: The two things that matter are how people experience you; and how people experience themselves in relation to you. And if “in control' isn’t part of that equation, the only people who win are your competitors. How do you keep the ball in your user’s court?

5. Pamper people’s memories. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for the past ten years, it’s that most people suck at remembering. Not just names, but everything. Partly because they don’t pay attention. Partly because they don’t write everything down. And partly because human memory is a mysterious beast.

The point is, if something as simple as a nametag can increase interpersonal friendliness, consider how you might pamper people’s memories within your user experience.

For example, the human memory can handle about seven bits of information at a time. Do everything you can to accommodate that capacity. Make it easy for people to organize and remember material.

The friendliness of their user experience will skyrocket. Even if they don’t realize it. Do your users’ brains love you?

6. Boring is bankruptcy. A friend of mine recently purchased an online sales training course for his employees. When I asked him why his salespeople liked the program so much, his answer surprised me: “Because it’s fun,” Don said. “Look, we can get good content anywhere. But the personality of this program is what makes it so cool.”

Lesson learned: Nobody buys boring, nobody notices normal and nobody pays for average. As my friend Rohit so eloquently suggested in his must-read book, Personality Not Included, “People don’t sue doctors they like.”

Your challenge is to figure out which unique attribute of your personality, life experience and expertise you can leverage in a remarkable way. That means: Values before vocation, individuality before industry and personality before profession.

After all, people buy people first. How are you leading with your person and following with your profession?

7. Reward people for making mistakes. User errors happen. Every day. My suggestion: Acknowledge them. Affirm them. Reward them. Correct them. And do it in a fun, brand-consistent, unexpected way. This humanizes people’s mistakes and makes for a more user-friendly experience.

Speaking of my website, the error page is my favorite. It’s a picture of me with a giant, broken nametag crushed over my head. And the text reads:

“Whoops. The page you were looking for no longer exists. Try searching Scott's brain using the form to your right!”

You can view this at www.hellomynameisscott.com/error. It’s playful and relaxing, makes the mundane memorable and rewards users with an exclusive message when they make a mistake. Twitter popularized this same concept with their whale/bird graphic, which, in and of itself, became a powerful word of mouth marketing too. When your users screw up, how do you positively respond?

8. Uniformity is beauty. After wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for the past ten years – and then, somehow making a career out of that – I’ve learned that consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness. First, consistency between: Your actions and your attitude. That’s what enables your users to listen to you.

Second, consistency between: Your choices and your core. Your decisions and your dominant reality. Your message and your mentality. That’s what enables users to trust in you. Third, consistency between: Your practices and your principles. Your projects and your philosophies. Your vocation and your values. That’s what inspires users to follow after you.

And finally, consistency between: Your ventures and your visions. Your situations and your strengths. Your terminology and your truth. That’s what impels users to talk about you.

If you want to achieve the beauty of uniformity, write the following question on a sticky note and look at it daily: Is how you’re behaving right now consistent with the user-friendly experience you strive to provide?

REMEMBER: Everyone has users. Everyone.

And because people buy people first, the organizations that win are the ones who make the collective experience of their users friendlier.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What’s the nametag of your service process?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "12 Ways to Out Service the Competition," 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, September 15, 2010

Watch The Nametag Guy's 72-Minute Keynote on How to Get Hired in a Hellish Economy


LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you become more hireable?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “15 Ways to Out Learn Your Competitors," 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!

How to Make Your Mark on the World Without Leaving a Carbon Footprint

Few forces in the world burn brighter than a human being’s inherent hunger to contribute.

However, contrary to what Al Gore says, making your mark in the world doesn’t have to mean leaving carbon footprints.

What it does mean is getting off your ass, getting into the game and cementing your legacy.

That way, you can leave this cosmic campsite better than you found it.

To do so, consider this list of attitudes, behaviors and action items to help you make a mark that matters:
1. Smoke a peace with why you are. During a recent workshop with a group of student leaders, I was asked if I knew what I was doing when I started my business right out of college. “Hell no,” I told them, “In fact, I still don’t know what I’m doing – I just have a deeper sense of why I’m doing it.”

Lesson learned: Making your mark means not being stopped by not knowing how. Instead, commit to a consistency of why. The how will come in time. Promise. After all, that’s what people really want to know about their leaders: Not just how they are, not just who they are – but why they are.

That’s the verb that matters. That’s how you fulfill your function. That’s how you put a check mark next to your divine assignment. And if you betray the mission you were mandated to fulfill, you commit a form of spiritual suicide.

Look: I know how hard it is to surrender to something larger. You feel vulnerable, uncertain and out of control.

And while I don’t preach the predominance of any particular supernatural agency, there is always value in making peace with something that’s big enough to crush you like a walnut. It’s an essential step for building faith, instilling the proper humility and trusting your higher resources.

Plus, chicks dig it.

Remember: The best way to leave ineradicable imprints on the world is to live a life that makes an unmistakable statement about what you believe. Have you subordinated yourself to something larger than yourself?

2. Open yourself to life. Stop winking in the dark. The world is way too beautiful to waste time hiding. Or sleeping. Or watching television. Instead, stick yourself out there. Every damn day.

Now, odds are good that when you do so, there will be a growing chorus of voices trying to sway you. And your paralyzing fear of criticism might prevent you from acting decisively.

My suggestion is to stop listening and start choosing. Take you finger off your chin and press the buttons that activate the nitrous tanks. Otherwise the only mark you’ll make is the perpetual ass print on your couch.

Remember: It’s impossible to make a make your mark without taking a step. Even if it’s a step in the wrong direction, at least you’re still stepping.

Sure beats sitting on the couch all night, eating Triscuits and stalking your ex-girlfriend on Facebook. Who's that loser she's dating now anyway? Do you remember the last time you traveled without plans?

3. Build a physical space to explore your imagination. Time recently ran a fascinating profile on Thomas Edison’s workspace. They explored the physical components to his laboratory, from lighting to furniture to architecture to staffing policies.

According to the story, Edison’s workspace was among his greatest assets. That’s one of the reasons he was able to pound out 1,093 patents in his lifetime, many of which marked the world in ways he never could have imagined.

Lesson learned: Structureless environments paralyze. Structure allows growth. And the impact of your ideas is directly proportionate to how organized the space is that surrounds it. If you want to make your mark, begin by preserving the sanctity of your workspace.

Not an office – a workspace. Call it an office and slice your creativity in half. Call it a workspace – a factory of creativity – and you execute ideas that matter. Is your content as brilliant as the system that manages it?

4. Invite people to have bigger conversations. Spending four hours arguing which contestant on The Biggest Loser deserves to win is not going to help you make a mark that matters. If truly want to create lasting change, you have to get people talking about bigger things.

Scott Adams recently wrote about this very topic on his widely ready blog. “Arguably, the most important function of human language is to protect the smart from the strong,” says the Dilbert creator.

“Humans use words to create sentences, and sentences to create concepts, such as our notions of duty and honor. Powerful concepts control behavior. And without our language and concepts, the strong would kill the smart, and humans wouldn't evolve to be any smarter. I think you could say that human evolution is being guided at least partly by the power of ideas.”

Lesson learned: Elevate the dialogue. Next time somebody asks you what your favorite reality show is; respectfully ask them if you can shift the conversation to a topic that counts before you club them in the head with a fire extinguisher. That way you’ll definitely make your mark. Are your conversations laboratories?

5. Shrink not from hardship. First, stop deluding yourself that you can outsmart getting hurt – you can’t. Stop believing that you can build immunity against life’s sorrows – you can’t. And stop thinking you’re superior to the wounds and upsets of life. I’ve tried all three, and none accomplished anything but exacerbating my misery.

Secondly, remember that you can breathe through most pain, decapitations notwithstanding. Oxygen is the new Tylenol, and with a healthier relationship with your breath, you will be floored at how much of the impact your lungs can displace.

Third, pain is an invitation to excel and a deliverer of wisdom. Consider making friends with it instead of trying to eradicate it. You’ll discover that pain is like that weird guy you went to college with.

You know the one: He turned out to be a really cool, interesting, fun guy – but only after you set aside your judgments and gave his voice a chance to be heard.

Finally, pain is a natural part of the human experience. It makes you feel alive. But if you’re the kind of person who lives a trouble-free life, you’re not actually living – you just exist. And it’s pretty hard to make a mark from such a dormant posture.

Ultimately, Parker Palmer said it best in A Hidden Wholeness: “Don’t become alienated from your truth. Feel it, name it – but don’t numb it. The pain will crack the closed system open and force you out from behind the wall toward healing.” Remember: Pain is part of the equation. Where have you gotten hurt this week?

REMEMBER: You’re not too boring to contribute something worthwhile.

If you truly want to make a mark in the world – you, alone, are responsible for movement.

As we wrap things up, let’s turn to Indecision, who sings in the song To Live and Die in New York City:

“To make your mark is to die face up on flaming asphalt while your corpse speaks for itself.”

Take that, Al Gore.

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Scott Ginsberg
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scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

9 Ways to Upgrade to the Next Version of Yourself

This year, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday.

But instead of spiraling into the typical self-loathing, woe-is-me, I’m-not-satisfied-what-I’ve-accomplished-in-my-life-so-far pity party that most thirty-year olds resign to, I made a choice:

I’m not turning thirty – I’m upgrading to the 3.0 version of myself.

Pretty cool concept. I don’t know where I came up it, but here’s what it means:

Commemorating a major life change.
Staying in stride with upward, progressive movement.
Surrendering to the next phase of your personal evolution.
Letting go of the person you were in order to grow into the person you needed to be.

So far, it’s been an enlightening, complex and exciting journey. And although it’s not over yet, I’ve learned a few cool lessons I’d like to share with you – each of which support the following thesis:

Those who upgrade, win.

It shatters complacency.
It invites opportunity.
It enables victory.

Plus, chicks dig it.

Whether you’re an individual, a corporation, an organization or global micro-brand, consider these strategies for upgrading to the next version of yourself:
1. Constantly question your own value. As my friend Rebel Brown explained in Defying Gravity, “If we have a faulty assumption, we have a faulty derivative. And when that derivative is used to create even more derivative numbers, the impact of that single wrong assumption multiplies geometrically.”

And it’s painful to admit, but maybe all this time you were confused between (a) what got you in the door, (b) what brought you to the table, and (c) what kept you in the room.

Because those three things are not the same. And that’s the problem: It’s rare that you define your own value. You’re simply too close to the subject to make an honest, objective assessment.

For that reason, evolving beyond the previous version requires objective feedback. Ideally, from the people who love you enough to tell you how dense and blind you’ve been in the past. This helps create the best possible circumstances in which your growth will be supported, enhanced and fulfilled.

Trust me: Ask them today, or risk remaining the same tomorrow. Have you identified the truly distinct values that will fuel your future momentum?

2. Find evidence of your wrongness. Which isn’t as hard as it sounds. My cousin Collin, a tuberculosis researcher, talks about this phenomenon the time. It’s called confirmation bias, and the simple definition is, “Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find,” he says.

This is a good thing – it should be easy to find evidence of your wrongness. I challenge you to spend some time asking yourself which of your assumptions might be misguided. Yes, questioning your own logic is probably more confrontational than you’re used to.

But as Rebel Brown reminds me, “Humans have the knack of proving things right when it’s important to them.” Lesson learned: Make it important to you and you will make it right. Or in this case, wrong. How will you beat your own math?

3. Familiar is a form of baggage. Investing in the old version of yourself pays meager dividends. I’ve tried it. The cost of supporting past weight is simply too expensive.

My suggestion: Never forget to focus forward. Save your resources for upgrade-rich activities only. Jettison the drag and employ enough velocity to soar into the next version of yourself. Otherwise, using your past to define your future is like wearing bell-bottoms to an interview for a job on Wall Street.

Eventually, you’ve got to upgrade, or you’ll get creamed every time. Especially if your boss is Michael Douglas. Are you wasting eighty bucks having your old shoes fixed when you could just spend a hundred on a new pair?

4. Grow leaner. Rebel broke this down simply and powerfully in her book: “The bigger we get the slower we are to respond. We carry more weight, making it even harder to change course. And we view change as a disturbance in our carefully laid plan rather than as an opportunity for high-velocity growth.”

Maybe that’s the secret to upgrading: Having less so you can be more. After all, big isn’t necessarily better. In the words of raconteur Henry Rollins, “Life is a process of learning what you can live without.”

Which means: You have to destroy who you were to become who you need to be. Which means: Throttling up your growth starts with throwing away your trash. What habits do you need to jump out of to reinvent yourself?

5. Rewrite your definition of victory. When you start out as a writer, you just want to be read. And liked. And talked about. And maybe paid.

Then, after a few years, things change: Now you just want to be taken seriously. And trusted. And not just read widely – but heard deeply. And maybe paid a little more.

Eventually, however, once you’ve stabilized your career, moved out of your parents’ basement and figured out how to earn a real living doing what makes your heart sing, you come to the realization that all of the vainglorious crap you used to want was nothing but the preamble to what your soul truly aches for:

To matter. To be essential. To become necessary to the world. To make meaning in the universe. And to serve something bigger by regifting your talents to the masses.

Now, I don’t know what it’s like in your industry, but that’s how it works for me. And I challenge you to think two things: First, how your definition of victory has changed over the years, and second, what new strides you’re going to have to take get there. What does winning look like to you?

6. Destroy yourself to reinvent yourself. “Keep doing what you’re doing and risk staying where you are.” I learned this very early on as a professional speaker. Because you can’t keep telling the same stories. You can’t keep using the same material.

Otherwise you bore people. Worse yet, you bore yourself. And that’s when you know you’re really in trouble. I’ve actually done that before, and let me tell ya, there is nothing more existentially agonizing that growing tired of your own act.

Lesson learned: If you don’t obsolete your own stuff, you risk allowing someone else to do it for you. Which means you become obsolete too. On the other hand, if you make your own material obsolete, at least you’re still you. Thank God.

My suggestion: Look at what you’re doing today, think about how you can destroy all of that to create a new you and watch the previous version of yourself melt like a snowball in the sun. What are you afraid to let go of?

7. Creative destruction is a necessary and courageous strategy. You know all those earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and mudslides? Not an accident. And it’s not the fault of the New Orleans sinners living a life of homosexual transgression.

It’s just nature being nature. It’s just nature doing what she’s done for billions of years: Devastating her own landscape. Why? Because devastation stimulates new growth. Not only in nature – but in business and in life.

The problem is, most people choose not to creative destroy themselves. Partly because of complacency. Partly because of ego. And partly because of assuredness. People think, “I’m sure that what I’m doing is the right path, so why keep looking?”

That’s the irony: If you don’t devastate your own landscape regularly, you hold yourself hostage by something that, while it might be working, is limiting your growth.

Try this: Constantly ask yourself questions like, “What will this destroy?” “Will it be worth the risk to destroy this?” and “What can I create that will destroy what I already have that’s successful?”

Ultimately, it all goes back to entropy: If it’s not growing, it’s decaying. Which one do you experience more?

8. Nothing fails like success. Failure is the fun part. I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing that wakes me up shivering in a cold sweat in the middle of the night wishing I still had my Teddy Ruxpin, it’s success. Blech. Winning? Are you kidding me? Can anyone imagine a more terrifying prospect than getting exactly what you want?

Two examples. First, it’s like the fear of having your books (actually) being read, instead of being ignored. Why does that scare us? Because with great success comes great responsibility. And who the hell wants to deal with that?

Second, the other reason I fear success is because my mentors educated me early on in my career: The arrogance of past victory becomes the aerosol of future failure. As such, you need to recognize that legacies not only jeopardize your growth, but also fuel the gravity that handcuffs you to the past version of yourself that’s not gonna cut it anymore.

Ultimately, complacency is the great growth-destroyer. Avoid it like the clap. Will the next version of you drown in its wake?

9. Discard what doesn’t jive with your future. Upgrading means saying no. Sometimes to good opportunities. Sometimes to great opportunities. But that’s the only way you’re going to invite the best opportunities: By knowing what you don’t want, what doesn’t matter, and who you aren’t.

The challenge is that self-knowledge of this variety doesn’t come easily. It’s a function of your willingness to get very honest with yourself. It’s dependent on your self-control to say no when saying yes would go undetected by the masses.

And it’s reliant on your discipline to ask questions like, “Is this an opportunity or an opportunity to be used?” “Will this contribute to the best, highest version of myself; or create a mediocre future that I’m going to feel obligated to be a part of?”

The equation is simple: Get pickier – grow profitabler. What have you said no to this week?

REMEMBER: Upgrading benefits everybody.

It forces you to drive out complacency.
It enables you to turn the page on the next chapter.
It permits you evolve into the best, highest version of yourself.

Whether you’re a person, company, organization or brand, remember one thing:

Those who upgrade, win.

Sincerely,

Scotty G 3.0

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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Monday, September 13, 2010

How to be a Hero to the People Who Matter, Part 2

Put away your red cape.
Forget about your alter ego.
And cancel the order on those purple spandex.

Being a hero isn’t what the comic books portray it as.

Here’s the reality:

To live heroically is to consistently commit to (and act from) the best, highest version of yourself – every day.

That’s the real superpower.

Today we’re going to another collection of ideas (read part one!) to help you become a hero to the people who matter:
1. Be the example you want followed. There are four ways to influence people: Through your beliefs, through your words, through your actions and through your being.

Now, while all are effective, only the fourth is heroic. Primarily because it’s a form of embodiment, and embodiment is the highest, truest form of communication.

That’s why you can’t just set the example – you have to be the example. A walking translation. A living brochure.

That’s why Martin Luther King was such a hero to so many millions of people: He didn’t just have a dream – he was the dream. What do people think when they hear your life speak?

2. Clarify what support people can count on. The word “hero” comes from the Greek heroe, which means, “defender and protector.” Which doesn’t mean you have to punch out bad guys in back alleys.

But as a hero, it does require that you give people a continuous flow of support in the best way you can. Try these two questions I ask to clarify what kind of help people can count on:

*What’s the best way I can support you?
*How can I help you the most, right now?

Then, once people start to explain their needs, you can tailor your support accordingly. For example:

“Alright, David. Sounds like you need a night out with a friend who will listen. I’m slammed Monday and Tuesday, but you can count on me for either Wednesday or Friday. What works?”

Remember: Clarity evaporates fear. Stay with people. Even when they desert themselves. Are you using a clear, sharp and committed voice to be heard by the people who matter?

3. Courageously break stupid rules. Especially the ones that nobody had the right to create or enforce in the first place. In so do doing, three things happen.

First, you remind people that most rules aren’t really rules – they’re devices deployed to control you. To keep you average. To preserve the status quo.

Secondly, the willingness to break stupid rules demonstrates the willingness to think for yourself. And in a world where most people delegate the task of thinking to the mediocre masses, doing so is an act of heroism it itself.

Finally, being a rule breaker pulls people out of their petty preoccupations. It helps them overcome physical and psychological barriers that once stood between them and their goals.

Ultimately, it makes them look in the rear-view mirror of their life and think, “Really? That’s it? That’s what I’ve been scared of this whole time? Psht!” What stupid rules badly need to be broken?

4. Advertise your absence of hesitation. With the proliferation of steroid abuse, unsportsmanlike behavior and other character deficiencies, it’s nice to know that (some) athletes are still truly heroic.

Take Albert Polios, for example – my hometown hero. His legacy comes not from his bat, but from his battle.

The Pujols Family Foundation is a non-profit organization is dedicated to the love, care and development of people with Down Syndrome and their families; as well as the provision of medical and dental care to poor citizens of the Dominican Republic, Albert’s home country.

The best part: Albert never hesitates. On or off the field. And from his shining example, each of us could learn a few lessons. First: Heroes don’t hesitate to be pinch hitters. Whom could you go to bat for this week?

Second: Heroes don’t hesitate to be the sacrifice that would count. Are you prepared to give up something for what you know is right?

Third: Heroes don’t hesitate to play the hardest position. When your team needs a catcher during the hottest day of the year, will you step up to the plate?

Remember: He who hesitates isn’t just lost – he’s cost. What icy river do you need to suck it up and jump into?

5. Give voice to concerns that count. I recently listened to a fascinating NPR interview with actor Louis Gossett, Jr. The reporter said:

“One of the things that's interesting about you is that you have an experience and then you often convert it into activism. Like when you were diagnosed with prostate cancer you then started talking about prostate cancer and telling people to get tested. Is that part of your own spiritual journey?”

In response, Gossett explained, “I think we all have to. It comes from the old days almost before integration. ‘Each one, teach one,’ I like to say. Because we’re on this planet not for what we can get but what we can give. And if I learn something successfully, I want to pass it on.”

What about you? I wonder experiences (that gnawed your heart away) you could use to help give voice to concerns that count. What are you turning your problems into?

6. Give yourself away. My definition of the word “hero” was forever changed when I read David Dunn’s 1943 classic Try Giving Yourself Away. To me, it was one of those books you didn’t even need to read because the title was so good.

Of course, I still read it. And loved it. Especially passages like this:

“If you start to give of yourself, be it ever so simple a fashion, the world will observe your spirit and show you many needs that you can supply. There are a hundred ways of giving away little margins of time you will never miss, which could be riches to someone.”

If that’s not a description of a hero, I don’t know what is. Lesson learned: Heroism is the ancestor of generosity. What’s your game plan for giving yourself away to the people who matter?

REMEMBER: The world will always need heroes.

From customers to employees, from children to family members and from readers to listeners, I challenge you to commit to being somebody’s hero today.

Who knows? Maybe you won’t even need those purple spandex after all.

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

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