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Friday, October 29, 2010

Are You Making Use of Everything You Are?

Last week I wrote a post called, The Starving Artists's Guide to Making Use of Everything You Are.

I couldn't fit everything into one piece, so today we're going to explore the second volume of strategies for doing so:

1. Honor your dominant architecture. Remember what happened when the Green Bay Packers offered Brett Favre twenty million dollars to retire? Right: He turned the money down.

To me, that was a great moment in sports history. Favre basically said:

“Excuse me, but, do you know who the hell I am? I’m sorry, maybe you’ve heard of me before: I’m Brett Favre – the greatest quarterback in the history of ever. And you’re seriously asking me (not) to make use of everything I am? Peace out, cheese heads.”

That’s what it sounds like to be in tune with your heart. That’s what it sounds like to honor the dominant architecture of your life.

The cool part is, when you do this, the example of how you live your life will become a walking book for people to read. And those lucky enough to watch the chapters being written right in their midst will be changed for better and for always. When you figure out what’s under your fingernails, will you design it into something that devastates the world?
2. Visualize the aftermath. During one of his thousands of spoken word concerts, Henry Rollins said, “I want to make life run for its life. I want to be a pain in life’s ass. I want life to celebrate the day I die. I want life to finally get a breather once I’m dead.”

What do you want to happen once you’ve made use of everything you are? What do you want people to remember? Personally, when I die, I want life to give me a standing ovation. And I don’t want it to even think about sitting down until its ass is numb and its knees start buckling.

For you, it’s worth asking two questions: What will be the afterlife of what you do? What is the field on which you will leave everything you’ve got? Remember: Your purpose isn’t a task – it’s the way you live your life. It’s what your life is committed to.

Don’t die with unlived parts of within you. Welcome the dust of the daily battle. Unlock more of your hidden capacities and underutilized talents each day. Set yourself on fire and let the world sit back and watch you burn. What is the result of you?

3. Expand your role repertoire. Speaking of Henry Rollins, I love the opening line of his Wikipedia entry:

“Henry Rollins is an American singer, songwriter, raconteur, stand-up comedian, spoken word artist, writer, publisher, record label owner, actor, radio DJ, and activist.”

Now that’s how you make use of everything you are. I hope that by the time I’m fifty, I’m recognized in such a diverse way. What about you? How diverse dare you be?

My suggestion is to expand your role repertoire. Here’s how: Next time a new, risky or unexpected opportunity comes along, ask yourself: “Is this another chance to do more of the things I love?”

If so, take it. Stay engaged with life’s possibilities and stretch deep inside yourself for this new role. That’s how you invite victory in every game you play. Not by winning all the time – but by having fun, playing new games, playing your heart out and learning from the process.

Don’t worry: You will be rewarded for the value you’re able to create. As long as you remember that you need to renew to become great. Even if not everybody likes you. Screw those wankers. Better to be hated for what you are then loved for what you aren’t. Where do you want to grow next?

4. Uniquely define your curriculum. The most formative years of my childhood were first through sixth grade. That was when a handful of us were pulled out of class to spend a portion of our time in Gifted and Talented Education.

The programs varied from critical thinking drills, creative exercises and other subjects typically not covered in the classroom.

Interestingly, none of us knew why we were being pulled out class. We were just told that were part of a unique group. And when the gifted teacher, Mrs. Ray, visited our classroom, it was time to pack up and go get creative.

It was the absolute highlight of elementary school: We learned how to think, we learned why to think and we were all given an irrevocable license to create.

Lesson learned: If you want to make use of everything you are, locate your territory for expansion. Enter it with constructive ambition. Creatively engage whatever you have and empty yourself into adventure.

That’s how you leave room for genius to enter. Where are you practicing creative deployment of self?

5. Act from embodiment. Eventually, you start to become the thing you’ve been teaching. That’s what my mentor tells me. That after a certain number of years, every leader wakes up one morning, looks in the mirror and thinks to himself:

“Wow. I am the message. I am my own best case study. The word has become flesh.”

Are you there yet? If not, be patient in learning to live physically what you know intellectually. It takes time to become the physical embodiment of your understanding.

Meanwhile, my suggestion is to smoke what you’re selling. Audit your own consistency by asking tough questions like:

*How well do you resemble what you worship?
*Is the message you’re preaching the dominant truth of your life?
*Are you living your faith out in the world or lip servicing your beliefs from behind a desk?

Remember: When you align your onstage performance and backstage reality, it’s easy to act from embodiment because your life becomes your preparation. As I remind my clients, “It took my entire life to write that sentence!” Does your life enshrine what your lips proclaim?

ULTIMATELY: Making use of everything you are is a spiritual imperative.

As Leonard Cohen sang:

“I never had a choice. I was given the gift of a golden voice. And I’m just sitting here every day, paying my rent in the tower of song.”

This is the life that now calls you.
This is the life you were created to have.

You contain enough instruments of expression to staff a symphony.

The question is whether or not you will write music for each one.

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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!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Otis Elevator Guide to Preserving Your Customer's Sense of Control

Did you know that most “close door” buttons on elevators don’t work?

It’s true – they’re called placebo buttons.

They’ve been around since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed about twenty years ago. And according to the act’s homepage, the button is there for workers and emergency personnel to use, and it only works with a key.

Also, according to the Otis Elevator Company, most door close buttons can't override the minimum required amount of time doors can stay open. Whether or not you press the buttons, the doors will eventually close.

THE QUESTION IS: Why the dummy buttons?
I read a fascinating article on You Are Not So Smart that cleared things up:

“Non-functioning mechanisms like this are called placebo buttons, and they’re everywhere. If you do press the buttons, and later the doors close, a little spurt of happiness will cascade through your brain. Your behavior was just reinforced. You will keep pressing the button in the future, even though any direct benefit from them is only imagined.”

WHICH MEANS: The buttons do work, just not for the elevators.

Their real function is to preserve people’s sense of control.

Here’s why that matters.

In the psychology manual, The Handbook of Competence and Motivation, their 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 the minute you reinforce and preserve that control, your organization wins.

What’s your close door button? How are you preserving your customers’ sense of control?

Let’s look at five practices for doing so:

1. Allow customers to write their own ticket. My friend Mark runs weekend retreats for small business owners. At the end of his seminars, he literally passes around a hat and asks people to pay an amount commensurate with the value they received.

It’s a risky pricing model, but Mark has conducted over one hundred of these retreats, every year, for the past twenty years.

Lesson learned: Risky pricing lead to regular profits.

Your challenge is to enable your customers to take your price into their own hands. Yes, this practice requires tremendous self-trust and confidence in your own value.

And it’s not for everybody. But that’s the cool part about vulnerability: It doesn’t just enable profitability – but also builds long-term viability. Transfer control to the customer, transfer money to your bank account. Forever. What if your customers wrote your price tags?

2. Remember the customer of the customer. As a public speaker, I travel a lot. Naturally, I experience my share of airline delays. Fortunately, when my ride picks me up at the airport, she’s never uncertain about my flight status.

Why? Because she parks in the Cell Phone Lot. It’s a new feature offered at Lambert International that beautifully preserves customer control. Located a few blocks from the main terminal, it opens early and closes late.

And with a giant screen indicating flight statuses, airline records and other relevant information, picker-uppers can relax in their cars without worrying about when (or if) their loved ones are going to arrive.

The cool part is, this example doesn’t just focus on the customer – but the people closest to the customer.

Which, if you think about it, is a customer too. Your job is to figure out whom your customer needs to look good for. Whom they need to make happy. Whom they’re coming home to. Are you forgetting about the people who matter to the people who matter?

3. Asking activates control. First, ask people how they will be affected by the decision. Listen closely as they tell you how to serve them better. Second, ask people what they would like to see happen next. Odds are, their request will be reasonable.

Third, ask permission for everything. It can’t hurt. And it helps you avoid additional guesswork. Fourth, ask customers to do something to help facilitate the problem solving process.

By putting them at the center of the decision, you not only preserve control but also enable new solutions to surface that you otherwise would have missed.

Ultimately, these four examples of asking restore the balance. That’s your goal: To give people enough control so they don’t worry that their basic needs won’t be met, but not so much control that they’re wasting time and energy making unnecessary choices. Are you asking the same questions as your competitors?

4. Provide a virtual steering wheel. My friend Chris Johnson sells flat rate web jobs. One of the cool things about working with his company is the very moment your transaction is complete, you’re prompted with a video. It doubles as a thank-you note and multimedia tutorial:

“Thanks for your purchase,” says an enthusiastic voice on the screen. “This brief video will explain exactly how to use the program you just paid for. That way you can get the most out of our services.”

This is a perfect tool for preserving customer control for several reasons. First, it’s immediate. No waiting. No wondering. And no window between when you buy and when you start using.

Second, the video closes the execution gap. Instead customers just paying money and then fading into the ether, Chris equips them with step-by-step instructions to optimize their purchase.

Finally, the video assures that customers know exactly what they are buying. And that level of expectational clarity is priceless. How are you guiding your customers along the uncertain path?

5. Provide clear, consistent contact points for managing progress. As a lifelong control freak, I’m fortunate to have a web team whose amazing client service appeases my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Check this out: Every time I put in a request for a programming modification, they email me with a copy of my Support Ticket. It includes my original request, a status report and the name of the tech involved with my project.

Over the life of the project, I’m emailed with occasional, non-annoying updates that keep me posted on the ticket’s progress. Eventually, when the ticket is done, I can offer feedback on the process.

Lesson learned: The speed of the response is the response. Even if you’re not able to solve your customer’s problem right away, consistent assurance that you’re on the case preserves their sense of control. How are do you update your customers on their statuses?

REMEMBER: All customers are control freaks.

Whether you serve them online, offline, in the air or in person – make a conscious effort to preserve their sense of control.

Until then, I’ll see you in the elevator.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How well do your customers know you?

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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!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to Live the Brand Without Annoying the Bejesus Out of Everyone You Meet

You never know when your brand will need to rise to the occasion.

That’s why consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.

But.

Living the brand isn’t what you think it is:

It’s not about dressing for success.
It’s not about converting yourself into a corporate clone.
It’s not about memorizing some hollow, hackneyed mission statement.
It’s not about puking your unique selling proposition all over everyone you meet.
It’s not about integrating a sequence of promises that align with organizational initiatives.

All that does is annoy the bejesus out of everybody you meet.

HERE’S THE REALITY: To live the brand is to leave no doubt in people’s minds who you are, what you and why you are.

Let’s explore a collection of strategies for doing so:
1. Act from embodiment. My mentor, Bill Jenkins, constantly reminds of me the following truth: “Eventually, you start to become the thing you’ve been teaching.”

This happens to every great leader. After a certain number of years, you wake up one morning, look in the mirror and think to yourself: “Wow. I am the message. I am my own best case study. The word has become flesh.”

It’s a glorious moment, albeit an unpredictable one. The tricky part is, in order to become the physical embodiment of your understanding – in order to truly live the brand – you have to be patient with yourself. Learning to live physically what you know intellectually doesn’t happen over night. Or over month. Or over year.

But, when your life begins to enshrine what your lips proclaim, the world doesn’t just pay attention – it pays dividends. As long as you’re willing to hang in there. Is the message you’re preaching the dominant reality of your life?

2. Be disarmingly predictable. People trust brands that are predictable. Which means it’s your job to prove customers right. To confirm their suspicions about the value you deliver and the values you stand for.

That’s all branding is anyway: An expectation. A shortcut. A predictable infection. And your challenge is to decide what you’re going to breathe into people – then sustain that spirit through every touchpoint.

For example, I’m a Walgreen's junkie. Always have been. Not because of their prices, which are usually high. And not because of their service, which is usually average. I pick Walgreen's first because every store – across the country – sustains emotional predictability.

No matter which location I walk into, I immediately feel at home. I know exactly where everything is. And I always get in and out quickly. In fact, I recently heard a cashier say to the customer in front of me, “Every Walgreen's is your Walgreen's.”

I totally agree. And I know I’m not the only one. How predictable is your brand? Because every interaction you have with somebody either adds to – or subtracts from – the overall perception of your brand. What can customers expect about your behavior?

3. Polarize people purposely. The last thing you want is everybody to like your brand. For two reasons. First, you’re nobody until somebody hates you. At least that’s what my therapist says. Second, if everybody likes you – that means nobody loves you. And that’s a deadly combination.

The secret is to practice strategic urination. To intentionally piss off the right people. After all, if you don’t risk turning anybody off with your brand, you’ll never turn anybody on with it.

Take my friend Ellen. She never ceases to become annoyed whenever I mention my one of my books. Then again, she’s not even close to being my target reader. So who cares? I’m happy to piss her off any day of the week. And we’ve been good friends since college, so it’s cool. Ellen knows I’m just doing my job.

That’s strategic urination. And keep in mind; you don’t want to polarize the people who matter most.

Take the hospital by my house, for example. Every day when I pass by, I notice a cloud of smoke coming from the side door. That’s where stressed out nurses take their nicotine breaks. Unfortunately, it’s also where patients drive by every day. And those are not the people that hospital wants to polarize.

For your organization, the challenge is to live the brand in a way that pleases the people who pay your bills and polarizes the people who don’t speak your language. Who did you piss off today?

4. To live is to let go. My grandfather, Frank, has been living the brand every day for thirty-seven years. As a result, his company, Closeouts With Class, has been a major player in the wholesale industry since the early seventies.

Recently, he celebrated his eightieth birthday. And my father made a speech to commemorate his leadership – both to the company and to the family. Somewhere between the tears and laughs, here’s what he said:

“As our leader, Frank never asked us to fill his shoes – he just fabricated the foundation: The sole. And from that foundation, he gave each of us permission to make our own shoes. His only request was that we wore them loud, wore them proud and wore them daily.”

That’s a helpful lesson for anyone in a leadership position: If you want your people to live the brand, allow them to do so through vehicle of their own uniqueness. Don’t worry – it’ll still be consistent with the core of the organization.

You just have to trust that if you provide your people with a solid foundation, everything that grows from it will stay in alignment. How are you enlisting people to take the brand into their own hands?

5. Make the invisible inescapable. Let’s talk about your fans. The people who have an ongoing love affair with your brand. The reality is: They don’t care what you know – they only care how you think, and how your thinking will help them become better.

The question you have to ask yourself is: How do you express how you think?

The good news is, the available tools for doing so are both easy to access and easy to apply. From blogs to social media outlets to public visibility, your goal is to take what’s in your head and get it onto people’s radars, under people’s skin and into people’s hearts.

Without that, your thoughts will remain just that: Thoughts. And all gorgeous gray matter will go to waste. And every branding effort thereafter will be nothing but winking in the dark. How are you thinking in three-dimensions?

6. Trust your genius to speak eloquently. Living the brand means never interrupting your work while it speaks for itself. Stepping on your own toes is a form of self-sabotage, and it’s costing your organization money. Daily.

Instead, here’s my self-promotional suggestion: Take advantage of every opportunity to let your genius speak. Let nothing go unstamped by your personality.

Don’t worry: You’re not bragging. You’re not showing off. And you’re not annoying the bejesus out of everyone you meet. It is possible to be in people’s faces without being on people’s nerves. You’re just living the brand by letting your truth speak in a remarkable way.

The tricky part of letting your genius speak for itself is that it threatens average people. And they will try to degrade your brand into something less.

You cannot let this happen. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. Find new friends or find your brand forgotten. Are you a living brochure of your own awesomeness?

7. Brands that make upgrades make money. A brand is a living, breathing, changing thing. And if you don’t change along with it, you’ll be about a relevant as a two-year-old newspaper. In his book, Utopia or Oblivion, Buckminster Fuller revealed his secret for lifelong growth:

“Ask yourself a little larger and more difficult question each day.”

Here are few to get you started:

*What habits do you need to jump out of to reinvent your brand?
*Have you identified the truly distinct values that will fuel your future momentum?
*How much self-reflection do you need to administer to scare yourself into the next version of yourself?

That’s the upgrade formula: To return to your own experience inventory for answers. Because if you want your brand to be one constant rebeginning – one universe of continual transformation – you’ve got to participate regularly and responsibly in your own evolution. How will you upgrade your brand into ever more devastating weaponry?

Okay. One caveat before we finish up…

As you live your brand in all your unedited glory, you still have to beware of the potential downside: Terminal uniqueness.

This is thinking you’re uniquely qualified, excessively entitled or self-righteously appointed to behave a certain way at the expense of others.

That’s living the brand to the point that you end up killing it.

Don’t be that guy.

If you truly want to live the brand: Be cool. Be smart. Be honest. Be you.

And most of all: Be consistent.

Because you never know when your brand will need to rise to the occasion.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you have a brand or are you living the brand?

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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, October 26, 2010

Has Your Company Had These Six Sales Epiphanies Yet?

The sales landscape has radically changed.

Customers have the power.
Customers make the choices.
Customers drive the engine of interaction.
Customers decide how much attention to give you.

THE QUESTION IS: Has your organization adjusted to these new realities yet?

Today we’re going to explore six epiphanies to help you make sales, make money and make a difference:
1. Gratitude trumps desire. Sometimes, customers don’t buy because they want it – they buy because they want to say thank you. Instead of the psychological default of ownership, the cognitive processes of gratitude drives the sale.

Take Radiohead, for example. Their album In Rainbows was released independently through their own website. No labels. No brokers. No stores. And fans were invited to pay as little or as much as they wanted for the record.

Personally, I gave them fifty bucks.

That’s four times the amount of what I’d normally pay for an album. And why did I do it? To say thank you. Because I love Radiohead’s music that much. Because their art has been such an important part of my life. And because I literally want to give them more of my money to keep them contributing to the soundtrack of my life. Are your customers thanking you?

2. Listening is the new selling. My doctor, Steve, once told me that there are two levels of listening. “When I listen with my ears, the patients provide their own diagnosis. But when I listen with my heart, the patients provide their own cure.”

What body part are you listening with? And when you do, are your customers telling you how to solve their pervasive, expensive, urgent and real problems?

Take social media, for example. In my opinion, it’s not a mechanism for closing sales – it’s a platform for listening to why people buy. I learned this lesson last week when a group of my audience members asked me for a copy of my slide deck.

“Really? You actually want that?” I thought.

“Absolutely!” they said. “You have the best slide show I’ve ever seen.”

Naturally, I listened to my customers. I uploaded my presentation onto SlideShare. And dozens of audience members shared their experience with their friends.

Who knew? Maybe I’ll start doing this more often. How many sales are you missing because you’re listening on the wrong level?

3. Companies that teach, win. Seth Godin wrote, “The more the people you sell to that are more informed, inquisitive, free-thinking and alert they are, the better you will do. And the competition will have hard time responding with a dumbness offensive.”

Lesson learned: Instead of handling, managing or dealing with customers, try educating them. Stop thinking of them as people who pay your salary and start attending to them as pupils who enrolled in your class.

At the end of your transactions, instead of asking, “Is there anything more I can do for you?” or “How else may I be of service to you?” start asking your customers, “What else can I help you learn?”

This question is unexpected, thought provoking and revolves around your ability to educate your customers. How are you making your customers smarter?

4. Sell to your audience; don’t sell your audience to others. Most customers have been advertised to, marketed to, duped, fooled, conned, scammed, sold and screwed over too many times – and they’re tired of.

They’re not your little targets anymore. And approaching the sale in such a way degrades your model. Take blogs, for example. Readers don’t want to have to barrel through banner ads, pop-ups, sponsored links and other interruptions, just to get to your content.

Instead of making customers feel sponsored – make them feel special. Create products they actually want and sell to them directly. Nothing has more wallet-opening power than mattering. What do you share that people (actually) give a damn about?

5. Stop pitching and start offering. Pitching, according to Dave Barry, is a Hollywood term for, “Trying to sell your project by acting like a low-cost prostitute.”

That’s no way to sell. Not in this decade. Remember: You’re starting with a negative balance with most customers. This puts you in a deficit position. If you want to lower the threat level of a sales conversation, trying offering instead.

Rob Bell addressed this in his groundbreaking book, Velvet Elvis. “I am far more interested in jumping than I am in arguing about whose trampoline is better. You rarely defend the things you love. You enjoy them and tell others about them and invite others to enjoy them with you.”

Sell like that. Are you pitching people on the springs or offering them a change jump with you?

6. We don’t trust what people say about themselves. We trust what the web says about them. We trust what their current customers say about them. And we trust what our closest friends say about them.

But we definitely don’t trust them. Why? Because nobody wants to be the first person to trust somebody. It’s too risky. That means your challenge is to help customers, employees, member – or whomever you serve – to verify your trust via predictability.

That’s where it comes from. People trust people who are predictable. Period.

Fortunately, that’s all branding is: An expectation. Which means it’s your job to prove customers right. To confirm their suspicions about the value you deliver and the values you stand for. How predictable is the value your company delivers?

ULTIMATELY: When the sales landscape changes, your sales approach needs to change with it.

Remember these epiphanies or risk being left behind.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What sales epiphanies have you had recently?

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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!

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Convince the People Closest to You That Your Crazy Idea Isn’t Just a Pipe Dream

The other night I received an instant message from one of my readers.

She told me that her parents’ attitude continually crushed her entrepreneurial spirit.

They didn’t take her seriously.
They weren’t interested in her progress.
They only seemed to notice the negativity of her endeavors.

Can you imagine how disheartening that must be?

I can.

Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to have an endlessly supportive family, I can still relate to the ostensible futility of trying to convince the people you love that your crazy idea is isn’t just a pipe dream.

AFTER ALL: I did live in my parents’ basement when I first started my company.

For two years, eight months and twenty-nine days.

But who’s counting?

THE POINT IS: When you convince the people closest to you that your endeavors are worth enduring, they’re usually happy to offer the crucial support you need.

Not that you need anybody’s permission to make a name for yourself.

But.

Without buy-in from your loved ones, you’re only making it the journey harder.

If you’re stuck trying to define your dream for the people who matter most, consider these ideas to help you along the way:
1. Manage the ratio between enthusiasm and empiricism. People need to see the passion in your face. Every day. I learned this from my grandfather, who constantly reminds our family that the worst bankruptcy is the soul that has lost its enthusiasm.

But that doesn’t give you license to be all energy and no evidence. You have to manage the ratio.

For example, let’s say you plan to spend twenty minutes at tomorrow’s family dinner gushing about your next big business idea. Cool. My suggestion is: Plan to spend at least seven minutes graphing out the specific actions you’re going to take to execute that idea.

That’s a three-to-one ratio. And it’s a preemptive measure to satisfy the inevitable skepticism that will arise.

Remember: People aren’t trying to pummel your dreams – they’re trying to protect you from failure. How will you build firm confidence in the efficacy of your efforts?

2. Money is the great mouth closer. I’ve never been a financially fueled entrepreneur. It’s just not that important to me. Making a name for myself, yes – making money for myself, not so much.

All I ever wanted to do was earn enough revenue to support my lifestyle, underwrite my addictions, sustain my enterprise and bankroll my capacity to contribute to the world. That’s it. Everything else is just an indulgence.

However, about two and a half years into my entrepreneurial endeavors, I noticed something: When I started making money, people stopped asking questions.

It was like I was instantly and unarguably legitimate in their eyes. Especially the people closest to me. And whether you’re driven by the dollar or not, the reality is: The quickest way to shut people up is to show people zeroes.

Often times, that’s the Queen of Spades. That’s what closes cynical people’s mouths. But don’t worry: It doesn’t make you greedy – it makes you genuine.

As long as the money card isn’t the only one you play, I say slap that baby down on the top of the pile and shoot the moon with every bullet you’ve got. How will you use profitability to prove your legitimacy?

3. Align individual dreams with mutual values. Enrolling your loved ones into your dream is a continual process of constitutional alignment. That’s the secret to bringing people on board:

Helping them understand that the thing you do is in direct connection with the person they are. Otherwise they’ll never cross that threshold.

My friends Kim and Jason Kotecki come to mind. Their company, Escaping Adulthood, educates people worldwide on how to add fun to and subtract stress from their lives.

But it didn’t start out that way. Originally, it was just Jason’s comic strip. Ten years later, their characters (both in person and in print) took on a life of their own.

Now, Kim and Jason deliver strategies to their audience via multiple channels: They write books. Deliver workshops. Create artwork. Conduct interviews. Produce videos. And build learning systems to cure people of Adultitis.

The cool part is, Jason and Kim personify a healthy alignment between their dreams and values. “Although we hold very different roles in our enterprise,” Kim told me, “both Jason and I share the core mission of wanting to serve children. That way, whether we work with parents, educators – or the kids themselves – we’re able to combine our vision with our values.”

Lesson learned: If you want to make something more meaningful to people, align individual plans with shared purposes.

As best-selling author Tom Winninger once told me, “The finish magnifies the quality of the wood. And when people see themselves in the reflection, they will buy your furniture.” Do your loved ones see their values reflected in your vision?

4. Forego approval and start firing. One school of thought is to execute without permission. To just go. To say, “Screw it! I’m moving to Nashville.” If this applies to your situation, consider three counter-intuitive suggestions made by friends of mine.

First, Jamie, the owner of a local fitness club. He suggests to make your dreams so big and so out there that no one can touch them but you. “If someone can reach your dream or take it away,” he told me, “then it wasn’t big enough in first place.”

Secondly, consider what my Facebook friend Alejandro advises: “Just keep insisting until they eventually get tired of trying to stop you.”

Finally, you might attempt what my colleague Gil recommends: “Don’t even try. You have only so much energy to expend. Don’t burn it trying to blow away the black clouds in your life.”

Naturally, these suggestions aren’t the most practical. Especially when you’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed. And while not everyone has the luxury of maintaining such a drastic mindset, it’s still a valid point to make: Approval is overrated.

It all depends how on much permission you require. Who knows? Maybe convincing the people you love that your crazy idea isn’t a pipe dream IS the pipe dream it itself. And if that’s the case, screw ‘em. Are you asking, “Who’s going to let me?” or wondering, “Who’s going to stop me?”

5. Mount an evidence campaign. Few things are more existentially agonizing than the prospect of not mattering. And what sucks the most is that you’re rarely the first one to find out.

It’s only through research and feedback and Google Alerts that you’re able to uncover the evidence that validates the importance of what you do. My suggestion is: Don’t just accumulate it – articulate it. Especially to the people who love you the most.

For example, I recently received a wonderful piece of fan mail from an audience member. But it wasn’t addressed to me – it was for my parents. Naturally, I called my folks as soon as I got back to the hotel room and read them the letter:

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Ginsberg: From one parent to another, congratulations. You did an exceptional job giving your son all the tools and love to equip him to become what he is today. Thank you.”

Lesson learned: Anytime you move the dial with what you do, memorialize your accomplishments. Your evidence will take them miles beyond reasonable doubt. How are you constantly reminding the people you love that what you’re doing matters?

6. Patience might be your only proof. “If I attempt to turn this crazy idea into a reality,” you think, “my family will disown me, my spouse will leave me and my children won’t want to be seen in public with me.”

First of all, don’t be ridiculous: Your children never wanted to be seen in public with you in the first place.

Secondly, your fear response is perfectly healthy and normal. Hey, it happens to the best of us – even me.

After wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for ten years, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m a social liability. God, can you imagine how insane that’s going to drive my future children? Poor kids.

But that’s part of the deal. Sometimes you have to allow patience to triumph on its own time. That’s what legendary author JK Rowling explained in her 2008 commencement speech to Harvard University:

“My parents thought that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage or obtain a pension.”

A half billion books later – that’s billion with a “b” – she showed them. Harry Potter might have been fiction, but the irony wasn’t.

Lesson learned: Sometimes the only way to get through to people is to become ridiculously successful despite their efforts to dissuade your dream.

Just make sure you don’t become smug in the aftermath of your own achievements. Otherwise you’ll blow any chance you had of reaching the people who matter most. How patient are you willing to be?

ULTIMATELY: You can change the world with your crazy idea.

And I know it’s not easy soliciting the support of the people closest to you.

But success never comes unassisted.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

8 Ways to Get Rid of Your Follow-Through Problems Once and for All

Woody Allen is famous for saying, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.”

I adamantly disagree.

In my experience, eighty percent of life is following through.

That’s what people notice.
That’s what people remember.
That’s what people are counting on.

And since so much of the world sucks at it, today we’re going explore a collection of strategies to help you do so beautifully.

But.

This isn’t about goal setting.
This isn’t about time management.
This isn’t about keeping your promises.

This is about execution. Taking final action on what matters. And positioning yourself as someone that can be counted on – even if only by yourself.
1. Remove the threat of success. There’s nothing more terrifying than getting exactly what you want. Because if you do, consider the result:

You might lose it.
You might realize it’s not enough.
You might discover it’s not actually what you (thought) you wanted.
You might succeed and then miss your emotional goal of expected failure.
You might be afraid of the changes that success would bring into your life.

To avoid these inevitable anxieties, remember these words of The Tao De Ching: “Possess nothing, expect nothing.” Whatever you follow through with; don’t label it as failure as success. It’s neither one. It just is. Nothing but the consequences of your experiments.

Doing so makes the process less threatening, which makes the result more educational. Are you accepting life as it comes or trying to squeeze it into a convenient little box called success?

2. Ensure your capacity to deliver. All of your customers, employees, members – or whomever you server – are silently asking the same question: Will these guys deliver? Especially if they happen to be the person who hired, booked, engaged or commissioned you.

That means their ass is on the line. Which also means: They don’t want to look stupid. They don’t want to lose their job. They don’t want to be the first person to trust you. They just want you to follow through. That’s all. And you need to be aware of this reality of the human experience.

What’s more, you also need to be aware that you get zero brownie points for delivering what people didn’t ask for or need. Delivery becomes debris if it doesn’t align with the needs of its recipient. Are you following through with a compelling need, or superimposing onto people what you think they ought to want?

3. Build in reflection time. Some people are so excessively focused on following through that they bury their heads in the heart of exertion, only to miss the very finish they crave.

It’s like swimming your legs off for ten straight minutes only to realize you’ve gone five hundred meters in the wrong direction. Woops. And not that there’s anything wrong with focus. But it’s almost impossible to gauge your progress if you never come up for air.

My suggestion: Book blank time. Reflect on how far you’ve already come. This form of comparative analysis will fuel you with the executional confidence you need to follow through beautifully.

What’s more, reflection time instills a renewing and reenergizing spirit that helps you return with strength. Are you staying committed to your own personal reflection needs?

4. Establish expectational clarity. This is a phrase I coined a few years back. And when it comes to follow-through, it couldn’t be more relevant. One way to eliminate guesswork is to put a timeline on every action. This creates an end game and helps motivate you to move to completion.

Also, here’s set of helpful questions to ask yourself as you make progress:

*What will success feel like?
*When you work on an important project, what do you usually do that might jeopardize its successful completion?
*What if, overnight, a miracle occurred, and you woke up tomorrow morning and the problem was solved – what would be the first thing you would notice?

Ultimately, even if you’re the only person attempting to follow through – and even if you’re the only person who will ever know if you don’t follow through – what matters is that you know what a win looks like.

Speak from the future. Look back to identify the steps will lead there. Paint a compelling, detailed picture of following through. Then make meaningful strides toward it, every day. How are you telegraphing your reliability with yourself?

5. Deliberately move your goals from nice to necessary. People always make time for what’s important to them. Period. And if you’ve been having trouble following through with something in particular, you might consider asking yourself how much that thing actually means to you.

Because if it’s not high enough on your list, it’ll get buried under the tyranny of the urgent. Your challenge is to end the war with how and begin the love affair with why.

Don’t worry: How will make its appearance when it’s ready. You’ll figure out the formula for following through later. Yes, how is a great educator – but why is the ultimate motivator.

Instead of thinking about what you’re committed to, try thinking about why you’re committed to it. How did you learn about what was important to you?

6. Become a master of the mundane. “Fully extend your dominant arm.” That’s what good coaches will tell you. Whether you’re shooting hoops, slinging slap shots or slamming aces, nothing beats an unbent elbow. It’s just a basic tenet of most sports.

The interesting part is how well the pros execute this strategy. Even the ones who get paid millions of dollars a year. They’re never too good, too rich or too successful to master the mundane.

My friend Steve Hughes, a presentation coach, teaches his clients this very principle: “You’re looking for the trick play when you need to just work on basic blocking and tackling.”

Remember: Never underestimate the power of continual application of the fundamentals. Forget the rudiments and forego the revenue. Are you brilliant at the basics?

7. End your obsession with convenience. The reason follow-through is so rare, so difficult and so valuable is because it requires patience. Heaps of it.

And since most people are so addicted to the sweet nectar of instant gratification – not to mention, have the attention span of a goldfish – it’s no surprise that execution is so rare.

The two key questions are: How patient are you willing to be? And how hard are you willing to hustle while you wait?

Ideally, your answers to both questions should be the same word: Very. That’s the rarity that becomes remarkability. That’s what gets people telling your friends about you: When you’re committed enough to follow through despite a ticking clock. How much customer loyalty are you sacrificing by wearing a perpetual cloak of convenience?

8. Stay passionate despite success. Isn’t it frustrating when the waitress stops caring about your table once you’ve gotten your food? As if that was the last thing you’re going need until the check. Humph.

That’s what happen when you get complacent: Your customers get complaining.

Lesson learned: Don’t disappear once your people have been served. Make sure all the dots in the process are connected. Follow up, follow through and keep your eyes on the target – even after the shot’s been fired. Because that’s not the final point of action.

In fact, there is no final point of action. In the same way that fashion never finishes – business never bails. You’re always following through with something.

Don’t get so excited about the fact that you’ve delivered that you forget to ask people if they like what’s inside the box. How will success affect your frequency of follow through?

ULTIMATELY: I think my yoga teacher said it best: “The exit is part of the posture.”

That’s how you execute what matters. That’s how you follow through beautifully.

Otherwise you’re just some guy who shows up.

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That Guy with the Nametag
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to Blow People Away with Your Commitment

Every speech I give is two speeches:

(1) The speech my audience thinks they’re getting when they walk in the door, and (2) the speech my audience realizes they got when they walk out the door.

The first speech changes each gig.
Depends on the audience, depends on the venue and depends on the needs of the client.

The second speech rarely changes.
It’s almost always about commitment, consistency and stick-to-itiveness.

Because that’s what my message is ultimately about.

It’s not about sticking a nametag on your chest; it’s about tattooing your commitment to your chest and wearing it proudly, every day.

How do you communicate to the world that you’re fully committed?

Here’s a list of strategies to blow people away with your commitment:
1. Take the longcut. Commitment is a constitutional core value. And the capacity to sustain it over a long period of time is not something you’ll learn from a book. Or a weekend seminar. Or a membership website. Or even this blog.

It’s cultivated by surrounding yourself with people who are commitment personified, listening to the music of their lives – then replaying that music over and over until you know every word, every note and every beat by heart.

Then, over time, allowing that music to profoundly penetrate you – down to the core – and making a conscious decision (not a choice, but a decision) that commitment is something you’re going to commit to.

And, that commitment is something that matters to you. Otherwise you’re not committed – you’re just interested. And your efforts to blow people away will be filled with nothing but hot air. Like my friend Kristi writes in Grounded Optimism, “The fastest and most habit-forming route is to make something more meaningful to you.”

Remember: Commitment isn’t something you can game. It takes time. It takes work. And it takes the deepest parts of you. How are you laying a foundation that builds commitment?

2. Don’t make choices without mirroring decisions. My friend Judson lectures to college students about change and choice. During a recent freshman orientation program, he talked about the difference between choices and decisions. Apparently they’re not the same thing.

Finally, after a two-week long, in-depth conversation, Judson inspired me clarify the distinction: The word “decision” comes from the Latin decisio, or “agreement.” Which means it’s a function of values. Which means you gave it serious thought. Which means it’s part your core.

The word “choice” comes from the German kausjan, or “test.” Which means it’s a function of context. Which means you give it minimal thought. Which means it’s an extension of your core.

For example: I made the decision long ago that I would remain in full control of my faculties. As a result, when I’m presented with the choice to do something that violates that decision – like drinking alcohol, for example – self-control is a walk in the park.

Therefore: Decisions are about precedent; choices are about preference. Decisions are made by you; choices are presented to you. Decisions are directions from the heart; choices are selections from the head. And decisions are agreements with yourself; choices are tests of those agreements.

The cool part is: Once you understand this distinction, you’ll begin to make both decisions and choices wisely. And people will be blown away by your commitment. What are you deciding?

3. Be known as someone who owns. Not like, a condo. I’m talking about owning your truth. Living your name. And remaining unwilling to edit yourself to appease the insecurities of others.

That’s what really blows people away: When you communicate to the world that you are fully committed to the person you’ve become. And in this case, to “own it” means to display, embrace it and enjoy it. It also means to participate in the creation of it, to take responsibility for it and to make all the decisions about it.

Even when doing so makes you uncomfortable and/or alienates people. Small price to pay for committing with both feet. Besides, better to be hated for the person you are than loved for the person you’re not. What are you known for owning?

4. Commitment is a coronary condition. I don’t know about you, but my heart is a nuclear reactor. And when I feel its inner alarm reverberating through my bones, not a force in this world can keep me down.

That’s the secret to committing: To stay in tune with your heart. That way, you’ll know when it’s time to press forward. “With great haste and without a moment’s hesitation,” like Goethe suggested.

And while you probably don’t want to recklessly surge forward at top speed, you do want to execute fast enough to scare away the insufficiently committed chumps watching from the sidelines. After all, few things are more powerful than a person ignited entirely by her own instinct.

Come on. Be heartstrong. Say it with your chest. What will be the domain of actions in which you engage?

5. Establish enduring sources of vitality. If you want to blow people away with your commitment, you need to go looking for oxygen. A wellspring of support that energizes and nourishes you.

For example, I practice yoga four days a week. I play music and sing every day of the week. And when I travel, I’m lucky enough to have a girlfriend that fuels me from afar.

What are your sources of vitality? What breathes life into you? After all, vitality comes from the Latin vita, or, life. And when the air gets thin, you’ll need those sources to help you (and your commitments make it out alive).

After all, it’s kind of hard to blow people away with a collapsed lung. At least that’s what my thoracic surgeon told me after he removed my chest tube that one time. What contains the energy you need to catapult you out of this commitment rut?

6. Sustain a deliberate commitment practice. Before he sailed the ocean blue, Columbus had to make a fifteen-year long sales pitch to Ferdinand & Isabella. Can you imagine being that patient? That persistent? There’s a man on a mission of cosmic significance.

If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is. And if you want to mirror that same level of commitment for the people who matter most, try this: Activate a firm sequence of consistent, similar actions.

Do this, and your life will become a constant demonstration.
Do this, and your commitment will be perceived as unquestionable.

Remember: Consistency isn’t an accident. Sometimes the easiest way to blow people away is to refuse to go away. Will you be the last man to abandon the hill?

7. Be a public spokesperson for your values. The single most powerful personal development exercise I’ve ever done is to write my own Personal Constitution. This is a list of non-negotiable values and decision-making mechanisms. I carry it in my wallet wherever I go.

And while I don’t show it to that many people, simply by virtue of carrying it on my person helps me become a public spokesperson for what matters to me. To write one for yourself, keep a few things in mind:

First, the word “constitution” derives from the Latin constitutio, or, “ordinance.” However, it’s a living document. Which means it’s amenable. And as you grow and develop personally and professionally, various elements of your constitution reserve the right to modify.

Secondly, your constitution is the composition and condition of your character. An established arrangement of your fundamental values governing your behavior. The aggregate of personal characteristics comprising your foundation.

The challenge is sitting down and sorting everything out. But if you’re willing to reflect on yourself (and have a confrontation with yourself) you’ll have no doubt in your mind what you’re committed to and why.

Remember: Commitment requires a clear and rigorous definition. How will you make sure people are clear on what you say you care about?

FINAL WARNING: There’s a difference between unquestionable commitment and petty vindictiveness.

If you plan to blow people away, make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons.

Otherwise the wind is going to bounce back twice as strong.

ULTIMATELY: Those who are committed aren’t just commended – they’re compensated.

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That Guy with the Nametag
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scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Rich Entrepreneurs Know About Execution

"Ideas are free; execution is priceless."

That's my next book.
That's my company mantra.
That's my personal philosophy.

Today we're going to talk about a few things rich entrepreneurs know about execution:

1. Slow footedness is the enemy. My biggest takeaway from The Social Network was when Facebook nemesis Divya Narendra exclaimed, “Zuckerberg knows that getting there first is everything!”

Sure enough, he was right. And that’s exactly how Narendra’s company got beat: Because they finished second.

Lesson learned: Those who are late to the game don’t just get bad seats – they don’t even make it past the gate.

It all depends on what you’re willing to give up to cross the finish line before anyone else. Perfection? Quality? Security? Control? Ownership?

How about it, lead foot? Will you master the simultaneity of surrender and initiative, or kill yourself trying to execute flawlessness in something that never finishes?

That’s what smart entrepreneurs practice: Quick eyes and even quicker feet. How nimble are yours?
2. Execution is a check you can cash. My mentor once told me that my biggest advantage is that nobody could keep up with me. And after some serious reflection, I realized he was right.

I am dangerously prolific. I refuse to slow down long enough for anyone to catch up. And that means I will out execute everybody. For four reasons:

First, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do, as fast as I can do it.
That’s executional velocity: Take action quickly.

Second, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do – as much as I can do it. That’s executional volume: Take action prodigiously.

Third, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do – as well as I can do it.
That’s executional value: Take action exquisitely.

Finally, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do – as long as I can do it.
That’s executional vitality: Take action consistently.

I challenge you to think about your executional velocity, volume, value and vitality. Are you talker or a doer?

3. Discern a definite pattern. Intelligence comes from pattern recognition, not information memorization. Here’s an equation I used in my workshops that you can plug your unique value (and your perfect customers) into. It’s called “The Ultimate Dream Statement,” and it goes like this:

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

The (x) in the equation is dream focused, solution oriented and optimistic, i.e., “A portable music player with unlimited digital shelf space.”

The (y) in the equation takes away pain by helping people save time, money, energy, paper or manpower, i.e., “Schlepping ten years of compact discs around my apartment.”

That’s the secret: Figuring out what your customers are sick of doing, then positioning your value as the key to never doing that again.

Remember: Life is easier, simpler – and ten time more profitable – when you get good at identifying patterns. What profitable patterns are just waiting to be discovered?

4. Focus on what’s first – not what’s next. Look: I’m an entrepreneur. And I’m all for thinking about the future. But sometimes that’s a trap.

Sometimes you get sucked into the vortex of passionately pondering the potential of your big idea that you forget to take the necessary first steps to execute it. And that’s usually right around the time some snot nosed punk from Harvard steals the idea from under your nose.

My suggestion: If you want to take initiative on an idea that’s fair game to the world, don’t let the movement value of that idea seduce your ego into believing it’s the only thing that matters.

Execution is a matter of focus. Either you’re concentrating on the tide approaching shore, or the sand between your toes. Both are essential; but only one matters in the beginning. Are you bowing to the door of next or kissing the feet of first?

5. Trust every purposeful action. When something evolves on its own, it’s almost impossible to fully understand its biology until you look back.

That’s the recipe for entrepreneurship success: Heaps of uncertainty and leaps of faith. And most of the time, it’s a bloody painful reality to confront.

The secret is maintaining deep belief that your initiative will be rewarded. One way to do so is to practice preemptive nostalgia. To look forward to looking back.

For example, when I built NametagTV in 2006, I knew it would be expensive, I know it would require thousands of hours of work, and I know it wouldn’t make any money for at least eighteen months.

But I kept asking myself, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

And the answers that slowly arrived were bigger than I ever imagined. Sure enough, four years later, NametagTV has opened more doors, taught me more lessons and earned me more profit that I ever expected. Where are you afraid to trust yourself?

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Starving Artist's Guide to Making Use of Everything You Are

“I am large. I contain multitudes.”

Walt Whitman wrote that in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass.

Now, the way I see it, his words challenge the reader to do two things:

First, recognize how much potential you actually have.
Second, spend the rest of your life making use of everything you are.

Here’s how:
1. Beware of editors. When I was a kid, my older brother used to make fun of me for thinking. Not for thinking a certain way. Or for thinking about certain things. Just for thinking. Like, it wasn’t cool to just sit in your room and dream.

But I didn’t care. I was going to think no matter what. That’s just who I am. The cool part is, now people actually pay good money to rent my brain. Sounds like all that thinking paid off – literally. What’s more, sounds like choosing (not) to listen to every negative comment that came my way paid off.

Who’s trying to edit you? Who, in your life, is actively attempting to discourage you from being your truest self? Your challenge is to assess if their comments are constructive criticism or destructive projections.

That’s all self-esteem is anyway: Deciding whom to listen to. It’s how you estimate yourself. The overall appraisal of your personal value.

And if you want to make use of everything you are, you have to begin with fundamentally positive self-regard. Who are you allowing to edit you?

2. Don’t dismiss or deny your native background. During a presentation last year, one of my audience members insisted on correcting the grammar on one of my slides. “I can’t help it,” she admitted to the group. “I’m an editor. It’s in my blood.”

Then, from other side of the room, someone asked, “Have you considered a transfusion?”

The group got a good laugh out of it. But I can’t help but wonder if the woman was a bit hurt by that man’s comment. I know I would be. And I think that’s something we need watch out for. Because it’s a disservice to yourself to dismiss or deny your native background.

On the other hand, making use of everything you are flows from a complete openness to yourself – even the parts you view as liabilities. And if you don’t remain true to that basic nature, you’ll render yourself a traitor.

Try waking up with that taste in your mouth every morning. Blech. What dormant parts of you await permission to be expressed?

3. Yield to the impulse of expression. A song that ignites my creative spirit every time I heart it is “No Choice,” by Edwin McCain. It goes like this:

“It was a love so big that it filled his heart, until it swelled and finally burst apart. And where the love spilled out they called it art. But he never really had no choice."

"There was a beautiful fire inside of him as he balanced his way out on that limb. Could have burned right through that branch so thin, but he never really had no choice. Oh, he had no choice. When he gave his river a voice. He never really had no choice.”


Perfect reminder: If you want to express all that you have to contribute, you have to believe that something valuable will emerge. You have to believe you have the ability to build something substantial.

Only then can you get touch with your natural rhythms, surrender to the river – the unbounded vital force – and be creative without limitation.

And if somebody tries to interrupt you, just say, “Can’t talk. In pursuit of something meaningful.” Where will the current of your truth carry you?

4. Remove what robs you. I attended college at Miami University. But not the fake Miami in Florida. The real Miami: In Ohio. Anyway, I went to school around the same time as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. We actually had class together.

Although, not surprisingly, Ben never came to class. And I’ll never forget what my professor told me when I asked about Ben’s academic status:

“I pray I never see him in class. I hope he’s at the gym. I hope he’s studying plays. I hope he’s watching game film. Let’s be honest: Do you think Roethlisberger wants to make forty thousand dollars a year working in marketing; or make ten million a year playing in the NFL?”

Sure enough, Ben was drafted two years later. And he led his team to the Superbowl. Bet he didn’t lose much sleep over missing class.

Lesson learned: Remove what robs you; embrace what optimizes you. Especially the moment when you realize that you’re hardwired to become something bigger.

Otherwise, if you choose not to cater to your deepest desires and strongest urges, the existential agony will eat away at you like a one-celled bacteria. What robs you of your true talent?

5. Be not obliged to the mirage of limitation. Don’t brainwash yourself into believing that you’re a one-trick pony. Employ a little artistic diversity. Integrate everything in your life into your expressions. And taste the full scope of your creative power.

I started practicing this heavily a few years ago. I was curious about myself, so I decided to explore new ways to make use everything I was. From shooting educational videos to writing poetry to creating innovating new media through which to deliver value to my clients, expressive limits became a thing of the past.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

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

You might be pleasantly surprised at the firepower of your creative arsenal. Where do you limit yourself?

ULTIMATELY: Making use of everything you are is a spiritual imperative.

As Leonard Cohen sang:

“I never had a choice. I was given the gift of a golden voice. And I’m just sitting here every day, paying my rent in the tower of song.”

This is the life that now calls you.
This is the life you were created to have.

You contain enough instruments of expression to staff a symphony.

The question is whether or not you will write music for each one.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Aren't you tired of starving?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "7 Ways to Out Attract Your 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

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

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Find the Inner Fortitude to Get Up One More Day and Try Again, Even When the World Kicks You in the Crotch With a Golf Shoe

I’m sick and tired of people saying, “This, too, shall pass.”

Worst. Consolation. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice cliché and everything.

But it doesn’t change the fact that for a lot of people right now, life sucks. And the last thing they need is another marginally helpful, fluffy aphorism that sounds like the title of some heartwarming mini-series on Lifetime.

People know this, too, shall pass.

What they need is a gameplan for how to successfully navigate life as it passes.

Here’s a collection of ideas for finding the inner fortitude to get up one more day and try again, even when the world kicks you in the crotch with a golf shoe.
1. Employ the diversity of the human spirit. One of the organizations volunteer with is The Go Network. They provide job search resources and education to displaced workforce professionals.

The cool part is, unlike other organizations that support unemployed workers; this group’s spirit is exceptional. Every time I host a workshop for them, I’m overwhelmed by their massive optimism, bottomless faith and respectful camaraderie.

Not just in themselves, but in each other. It’s not a misery-loves-company pity party. It’s a weekly pep rally. It’s west Texas high school football game. And the collective and diverse human spirit of the group is the very oxygen that fuels each member’s inner fortitude to get up one more day and try again.

My question is: What kind of company do you keep: People who drag you into the soil or people who drive you into the stratosphere?

2. Learn to be radically patient with yourself. The most reassuring thing my therapist ever told me was, “It took a long time for your body to get this way.”

At the time I was internalizing my stress in unhealthy ways, resulting in chronic stomach pain. Apparently if you don’t release your stress, it will find a home in your body. Woops.

Fortunately, Dr. Lipsitz’s suggestion helped me gain a greater sense of patience with – and gratitude for – the low points of life. Because no matter what hailstorm you’re currently driving through, you gotta believe:

Your perserverance will be rewarded. That you will not labor in vain. And that the dust of the daily battle can be brushed off with ease and confidence. How patient are you willing to be?

3. Compare yourself to the best in yourself. Although many of my readers are unemployed, I’m constantly amazed at their ability to endure harrowing times. It’s inspiring, really.

Instead of being excessively preoccupied with how devastating the economy is, these guys invite a constant stream of excitement. They dig more into their hearts and, as one woman wrote me, “Think back to their finest hours.”

Killer suggestion. What better way to find the inner fortitude to get up one more day then to think back to the last time getting up one more day wasn’t a struggle?

By regularly replaying mental reruns, you bolster your self-confidence and stimulate your self-belief. Do you remember what you were like as the best, highest version of yourself?

4. Attribute important meaning to your pain. First, by changing your relationship with your pain from confrontation to infatuation. That’s right: I’m telling you to fall in love with your pain. It’s amazing how little power something has over you when you love it.

Second, by recognizing that whatever pain you’re enduring is a regular part of the life experience. And undergoing such feelings is what makes you feel human, what makes you feel alive.

Finally, by thanking your pain for showing up to teach you something. After all, we rarely discover things when we’re comfortable. May as well set up the learning moment, right?

Ultimately, inner fortitude is a function of befriending your discomfort and cooperating with things that are bigger than you. Are you brave enough to welcome the sting?

5. Force an opening and enter into the spiral of acceleration. In The Ninety Percent Solution, author David Rogers writes, “Lasting change rarely occurs when we ease our way into the future – it comes when we leap.”

Lesson learned: Hop down off your horse and pursue the beast on foot. That’s what movie heroes do. They enter into the territory their noble steeds won’t even look at.

“I will die before my conviction does,” they think. And they act as proactively as humanly possible.

For example, anytime I give a presentation to people who are looking for work, I remind them: “Until you find a job, looking for a job is your job.” That’s the winning mindset. That’s what gets you hired.

Remember: Never underestimate the importance of sustained movement. How will you outweigh the drag?

6. Relax into the reality of your life. Denial is drug more addictive than crack and meth put together. I know this because I used to be a heavy user.

For me, pretending that something wasn’t really a problem was ten times easier than confronting the result of my own immature decisions. Too bad the aftermath of such denial was taking its toll on my body, my attitude and my relationships.

If only I’d been smart enough relax into my realities and face them head on.

Fortunately, making that mistake over and over taught me to continually ask the question: What am I pretending not to know?

This courageous inquiry makes denial melt under the stare of self-awareness. And that’s where inner fortitude grows: From your willingness to stand up to yourself.

Don’t avert your eyes. Confront your truth. Ease your way into it. And remember that all trouble carries with it the capacity to conquer it. What are you pretending not to know?

7. Lay some pavement. Hypothetically, let’s say your life sucks. Understood. Instead of trying to camouflage your agony, try sending your breath to where it hurts.

That’s what my yoga instructor, Natalie, would tell you: To thread your breath through every action. The cool part is: You don’t have to sit in a smelly, sweaty room for two hours with a bunch of half-naked strangers to make this practice work.

You just need to find something to pave yourself with. Prayer. Affirmation. Meditation. Whatever helps maintain a sense of inner control in the midst of outer chaos. Whatever cultivates a state of mind that entails equanimity and forbearance.

Personally, I use all three simultaneously. My daily practice combines meditation, affirmation and breathing, and it’s helped me find the inner fortitude to navigate even the most devastating storms. What paves you?

REMEMBER: Whether or not this, too, shall pass is irrelevant.

What matters is how you navigate life until this passes.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you find the inner fortitude to get up one more day and try again, even when the world kicks you in the crotch with a golf shoe?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “19 Telltale Signs of the Perfect Job," 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!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Does Your Brand Pass The Nametag Test?

Know your customer.
Know your customer.
Know your customer.

Since day one, you’ve been beaten over the head with those three words.

And while they’re important, there’s actually something bigger at stake:

How well do your customers know you?

ANSWER: Not enough.

And if you think you don’t have customers, look harder. Everyone has customers. And they need to know who you are, where you are and why you are. Otherwise your message fades into the echo chamber with the rest of the noise.

Ultimately, it’s a question of trust, which is a function of self-disclosure. That’s a basic tenant of human communication, first researched and proved by psychologists like Sidney Jourard and John Powell.

But you don’t need to read books to know how trust works.
In fact, that was one of the first realizations I encountered in the early days of wearing a nametag twenty-four seven: Strangers trusted me more once they knew my name.

Not that much more. It’s not like they gave me their ATM passwords or anything.

But there was enough additional trust to be noticeable.

It was weird. I didn’t really do anything. Just wore a nametag that said, “Scott.”

AND THAT’S THE SECRET: When trust is the only currency that counts – and it is – if your customers don’t know you, you lose.

It’s not about nametags – it’s about making yourself more knowable.

Here’s how:

1. Communicate yourself to the world. Branding is finished. Not as an idea, but as a word. I don’t care what industry you work in. It’s not about branding – it’s about identity. The best and highest version of yourself.

And it’s not about company name – it’s about constitutional knowledge. The non-negotiable values and decision-making mechanisms that drive your daily world. That’s what customers want to know: Why you are, who you are and who you aren’t.

If you’re not communicating that to the world with consistency, intimacy, honesty and immediacy, your customers will pick someone else. Somebody cool. Somebody transparent. Somebody they feel like they already know.

I’m reminded of my friend Harlan, who owns a production company. He once told me, “Video is the second best way for people to meet you.”

What about you? Other than in person, how else are you enabling people to meet you? From online profiles to multimedia introductions, the opportunities are endless. What’s more, the tools to execute them are affordable and accessible. What are you using to make your identity more knowable?

2. Photography is priceless. A picture doesn’t just say a thousand words – its earns a thousand dollars. Literally. In my experience, a cool, interesting, unique and brand-consistent headshot has the power to book new business, secure media interviews and capture the eyes, hearts and wallets off the masses.

But only if you do it right. Only if you pay a real photographer real money (like Bill Sawallich, who I use) to capture the real you. Otherwise your headshot comes out as the same bland, fist-to-chin, Sears Portrait Studio tripe that every other amateur uses on the profile of her Facebook page. Blech.

On the other hand, when your pictures rock, the world doesn’t just pay attention – it pays dividends. For example, I’ll never forget the time I gave a speech in Biloxi, Mississippi. While commuting from the hotel to the conference center, I unexpectedly drove past my own headshot on a highway billboard.

I was so stunned that I nearly swerved off the road. Talk about surreal. But apparently my client loved the picture so much; she wanted to share it with the entire city. And I was happy to let her. Is your headshot billboard worthy?

3. Emphasize your expanded role. Do your customers truly know all the different ways they can engage your services? Or do they just assume you’re a one-trick pony like everybody else? That’s the secret to helping customers get to know your business:

Transitioning from “Should we hire this guy?” to “How should we use this guy?”

I made this transition a few years ago. My role expanded from some guy who wrote books and gave speeches to a trusted resource. Now my clients use me in seven different ways: Speaking, Facilitating, Books, Online Learning, Rent Scott’s Brain, On-Camera Talent and Private Commissioned Art Pieces.

This not only diversifies my business and positions me as a valued asset, but educates my clients on who I am through the depth of what I can deliver.

Your challenge is twofold: First, physically map out a chart of every single possible way somebody can use you. Second, articulate that diverse offering to emphasize your expanded role. Customers won’t just know you – they’ll know how to use you. How many different ways do you make money?

4. Make the mundane memorable. Sam Walton was the first retailer to require all of his employees to wear nametags. The nametags helped the customers get to know the people they bought from, said Walton.

How do your people get to know you? Here are a few ideas that might stick:

*What if you did video interviews with each of the company executives about their individual leadership visions?

*What if you removed everything from your purse, bag or wallet – spread it out on a table in an orderly fashion – then took a picture of it and posted it on your blog?

*What if, instead of your boring resume, bio or curriculum vitae, you published a downloadable and printable copy your Personal Constitution, Professional Philosophy, Theory of the Universe?

Try one of these strategies to make mundane memorable and show your visitors who you really are. What’s your nametag?

5. Embed your personality into your premises. I once worked at a mom-and-pop furniture store in Portland. The owners leveraged self-disclosure to its fullest extent. You couldn't step five feet into their store without seeing pictures of their family, nostalgic newspaper articles and personal memorabilia from the early days of the business.

These decorations engaged transient customers, contributed to the personality of the business and brought the store to life. What’s more, there was no doubt in the customer’s mind: You knew who these people were. You knew exactly whom you were buying from. It’s no surprise they averaged fifty million a year.

Lesson learned: Stop telling your customers how you are and start showing them who you are. Especially if you have an office, store, branch or location with high traffic. Take advantage of those eyeballs.

Make sure they don’t leave until they have an accurate picture of who you are and why you are. Make sure they’re clear about what you say you’re committed to caring about. Otherwise they won’t tell their friends about you. What makes your walls come alive?

6. Get over your product and get behind your personhood. In a recent blog post, cartoonist Hugh McLeod wrote, “Nobody’s reading your blog because of your art. Or because they have an inherent love for purple dogs and green sofas. They’re reading your blog because the person you are inspires them. Not because they’re thinking of buying your paintings. But because the way you approach your work motivates them. It sets an example for them. It stands for something that resonates with them. It leads them to somewhere that they also want to go.”

Lesson learned: Stop explaining who and what and start demonstrating how and why. That’s the ultimate instrument of your expression. Your life. Your being. Your truth. Try writing with that pen.

Customers, readers and fans – that already enjoy your art – will go absolutely crazy when you reveal the unique process behind it. That’s how you get over your product and get behind your personhood. Do you believe that you’re more than just a pretty picture?

REMEMBER: Hiding the true picture of who you are is a form of reputational risk you can’t afford to take.

Look, we live in a low-trust culture. And people will try to discredit you with anything they can find.

But, if you tell them who you are first, you win.

After all, branding nothing more than committing to and acting from the best, highest version of yourself – every day.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How well do your customers know you?

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

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!