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Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Every Organization Should Know About Engaging the People Who Matter Most

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s a fine idea to assume your people will engage if they know their work makes a difference to the organization.

But don’t fool yourself.

People don’t care about your organization as much as your organization thinks they do.

They care about themselves, their career, their bank account, their families and their future.

That’s why much of the existing material on engagement, while nice in principle, is myopic in practice.

It fails to address the issue of self-interest.
It refuses to stay sensitive to the needs of the human spirit.
It doesn’t focus on building people, rather, on building the organizational dream and exploiting people to do it.

As Scott Adams said it best a recent Dilbert cartoon:
“We need more of what management calls ‘Employee Engagement.’ I don’t know the details, but it has something to do with you idiots working harder for the same pay.”

The reality is:

People engage when the fruits of their engagement become transportable assets.

People engage when they know they’ll become better in all areas of their life – not just beef up the bottom line.

People engage when their work isn’t a set of tasks, but an opportunity to build a platform that pushes them to something bigger.

People engage when they know that they can recoup their discretionary effort when they leave, as opposed to surrendering years of emotional labor to the organization.

Today we’re going explore a collection of practices to help you engage the people who matter most:

1. Making people feel important is overrated. If you truly want people to engage, you need to make them feel essential. That word derives from the Latin essentia, which means, “essence.”

That’s what being an approachable leader is all about: Honoring, loving and acknowledging the essence of another person. And showing them how quickly the place would fall apart without their contribution.

Sure, telling a person how cute her shoes look makes her feel nice; but telling her how inspiring her energy is makes her feel essential. Try this: Before you start bootlicking, ask yourself:

What attributes of her core self do I admire?
What facets of his personhood are most attractive?
What could I say to honor this person’s uniqueness?

Pay compliments that matter – not just flatter. And if concerned that your comment will “go to their head,” don’t worry – it won’t. It will go to their heart. It will remain there forever. And they will be more engaged than a Midwestern farm girl on graduation day.

Remember: The interpersonal impact of a compliment is directly proportionate to the level of thought required to deliver it. Do your words make people feel important or essential?

2. Make no restrictions on people’s testimony. Engaged organizations don’t need to spend millions on marketing – their people do it for them. They don’t need to sell the world on the quality of the springs; they just give others the chance to jump on the trampoline with them.

That’s what happens when people are fully engaged: They’re not just committed – they’re contagious. They’re living brochures of the organization’s awesomeness. And they voluntarily infect others with their experience in the hopes that those people will jump ship and join them.

Pastor Rob Bell wrote about this in his 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.”

My suggestion is to put a system in place that removes the restriction of their expression. From blogs to message boards to meetup groups to online communities, the available tools – both online and offline – are endless.

The whole point is to give their river a voice, then give their voice a platform. And if you make it easy to spread the word, your most engaged people will make sure that everybody knows it. How are you letting your own people do your marketing for you?

3. Stop asking people to edit themselves. It’s one thing to edit a paper – it’s another to edit a person. Be very careful with this. Editing means correcting the core of something. And the moment you allow that to happen – to the work or to the person who authors it – is the moment of betrayal.

What’s more, editing renders creativity timid and impotent, and it’s not fair to people to let that happen.

My suggestion: Assure that people’s true identity is allowed to emerge. Enable regular expressions of eccentricity. And petition people to inject their personality into everything they do.

Otherwise their truth will feel jailed. And nothing disengages people quicker than interfering with the expression of their individuality. Ultimately, it’s about allowing them to walk their truth, breath their brand and stay loyal to themselves.

And while it’s probably safer to edit, for those who seek to turn their lives into remarkable portraits of brilliant creative expression, safe is a very dangerous place to be. Maybe it’s time to retire that big red pen you’ve been carrying around the office for five years. Whom are you asking to edit themselves?

4. Embed their passion into the pavement that leads the way. People engage when they’re consistently given the opportunity to do what they do best. When their work is united with their sense of life. And when what they do becomes a vehicle for living what is important to them.

The secret is to find out what’s under people’s fingernails. To identify the labor that stays with them wherever they go, becomes part of their language and merges with their very being.

This information is priceless. And it’s not something you create a field for in your customer database. It’s something you learn by listening to people’s hearts. It’s something yon learn by asking people passion finding questions like: “If you were the last human on Earth, what would you still do every day?"

The point is: Knowing what’s under people’s fingernails doesn’t just give you their hot button – it gives you their entire motherboard. Not to manipulate them – but to inspire them to motivate themselves. How quickly do you introduce passion into the engagement equation?

5. Help them develop a deeper sense of why. Knowing how is the path to education – but knowing why is the conduit to inspiration. If you want your people to be engaged every single day, you need to tap into (and reinforce) their why.

Otherwise, what the hell are they even doing there? Your mission is to help them see their work as more than just a job. Here’s how:

First, ask people to answer the question, “Why do you do what you do?” one hundred times. This exercise is hard, but it forces them to calculate their personal currency. (Don’t forget to have them send you a copy!)

Second: Invite them to plaster their workspace with tangible representations of the items on that list. This surrounds them with a monument to their why.

Finally: Encourage them to revisit both their list and their wall decorations any time the creeping feeling of disengagement enters their mindspace. In so doing, you’ll provide them with ongoing opportunities to inspire the hell out of themselves.

Remember: People want to live the dream – their dream. Are you helping them create a go-to space for self-motivation?

6. Accept that people aren’t bound to you. Peter Drucker famously suggested that all organizations treat their people as volunteers. This is a smart, strategic – and realistic approach. And it completely recolors the timbre of your encounters with people.

Volunteers, after all, do what they do because they want to – not because they need to. And if they don’t like the direction things are moving in, they’re gone. As I learned from Incentive Intelligence:

“Managing volunteers isn't about directing effort as much as it is about allowing effort to find it’s best path. You have to ask yourself what you would do differently if all your staff could just walk out tomorrow.”

This is especially applicable to the top producers and high achiever of your organization. Think about it: Recruiters are probably hounding them on a daily basis. And if you haven’t confronted the fact that people are loaning their talents to you until something better comes along, you’re in for one hell of a wake up call.

Considering the culture and economic shifts to a more entrepreneurial marketplace – and the fact that the median time a person stays in one job is four years – you should be grateful they’ve people have given up their most valuable resource to become part of your organization.

Never rest on your engagement laurels. Golden handcuffs notwithstanding, most people they can leave anytime they want. In the words of Chris Rock, “People are only as loyal as their options.” What are you pretending not to know?

REMEMBER: Nobody shows up disengaged.

If they did, you never would have hired them in the first place.

People become disengaged over time.

Which means, at some point between the day they started – and the day you caught them taking a nap under their desk in the middle of the day – something broke.

Go fix it.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Why do you think people engage?

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

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Little Known Ways to Capture Heartshare

As you recall from my recent post about what smart brands know, "heartshare" is defined as follows:

The level of emotional responsiveness your work commands.

And when you capture it, engagement ensues, followership grows and loyalty skyrockets.

Today we're going to explore another collection of ways to make it work for your message, your brand and your organization:
1. Bring the funny. Humor isn’t just the universal language – it’s also the great catchall. Think about it:

Funny arrests attention, anchors emotion and guarantees engagement.
Funny indicates listening, enables relaxing and facilitate approval.
Funny builds trust, earns credibility and fosters influence.

And when you bring the funny – not jokes, but the personal, inherent and inescapable funniness of your humanity – an entire symphony of reverberations echoes through people hearts.

Now, most comedians will tell you that it’s all in the delivery. Which is true. I’d also suggest that it’s all in the approach. Because in my experience, if you want to capture greater heartshare, you have to approach humor holistically, not mechanically.

Contrary to what all those superficial, marginally helpful books on communication, leadership, persuasion and storytelling say, you can’t “use humor” like you use hair gel.

Funny isn’t something you add – it’s something you embody.

And the cool part is: Everybody is funny. Everybody has endless humor in his life. And everybody can excavate the constant and inherent hilariousness of his daily experiences.

Which means: If you aren’t funny, you aren’t listening to your life. If you want to capture people’s hearts, there’s no need ventriloquize other people’s humor and pawn it off as your own original material. The fact that you’re a human being is funny enough.

Remember: The quickest path to someone’s heart is through her funny bone. How quickly do people start laughing when they’re around you?

2. Know the emotion you’re selling. That’s what makes people’s hearts engage: When they have a handle to latch onto. But without that specific emotion, they’ll never gain a deeper understanding of which pervasive, expensive and relevant problem your work solves.

Last month, I spent a few hours during my annual company retreat reflecting on this very issue. I thought long and hard about the emotions connected to my brand as a writer, speaker, mentor and entrepreneur. Here's what I came up with:

I delete average. I advocate against normality. I take people’s hiding places away from them. I unload the guilt people have been carrying around for years. I kick people’s addiction to permission. I petition people to inject their personality into all they do.

That’s just a small selection. My final list came out to about a hundred different emotions. Pretty cool exercise. Might want to give it a shot.

The point is: If you want to capture heartshare, you have to peel away the superficiality. After all, your mission is more than a statement. How will you bring your cause to life?

3. Respect people’s right to be. Smart leaders know that they can’t stop people from being themselves. Instead, they capture heartshare by applauding the gifts of everyone. If you want to personify that level of approachability in your own work, I challenge you to honestly ask yourself a few inconvenient questions.

Am I confident in enough in who I am to:

Not care if other people aren’t like me?
Not fuss if other people disagree with me?
Not whine if certain people don’t like me?
Not explode if not everybody likes what I like?
Not mind if other people choose differently than me?
Not complain if people don’t do things the way I would do them?

That's confidence. And insecurity isn’t just counterproductive – it also stains every component of the communication process. And being around people who aren’t okay with themselves isn’t just a pain in the ass – it’s a pain in the chest.

My suggestion is to stand the edge of yourself and salute others without the desire to change, fix or improve them – and without the fear that they are going to change you either. Practice that, and you’ll never fail to give people the dignity of self-definition.

Ignore that, and people’s hearts will have no problem beating for someone else. Are you demanding that the people who love you change their essential nature so you feel more comfortable?

4. Touch the center of why. The petitioning of someone’s why is the ultimate affirmation of the human spirit. Do this, and their hearts won’t be able to say no. Do this, and they’ll never forget you. If you want to use this move to capture greater heartshare, three challenges are required.

First, to touch the center of your own why. And my suggestion is to make a list of a hundred answers to the question, “Why do you do what you do?”

Second, to offer your why as a gift to others. And my suggestion is to physically read every single item on your list to at least five people.

Third, to sit back and listen as other people share their own lists. And my suggestion is that it’s not just about listening – it’s about having the courage to listen and not run away.

The goal of these exercises is to give people the freedom to sing their truth loudly, to push people to be themselves confidently, and to permit people to fall in love with themselves unapologetically.

Remember: A person’s why is the handle of their heart. And if you wrap your fingers around it gently and respectfully, you can take them anywhere. Are you educating people’s heads with how, or capturing people’s hearts with why?

REMEMBER: The emotional responsiveness your work commands is the chief indicator of its relevance, longevity and profitability.

If you want the people who matter most to engage, follow and stay loyal to what you do, stop focusing on marketshare and forget about mindshare.

Capture heartshare.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Does you brand speak to the brain or the chest?

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For the list called, "20 Types of Value You Must Deliver," 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!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to Test and Protect Your Business Idea

My friend Sean Gallagher at StartupFreedom recently interviewed me about execution, idea protection and business sustainability.

Here's what we learned:

Coming up with a creative business idea isn’t the magic solution to making money online.

In fact, coming up with a really creative, innovative business idea may even be harder to make money with.

You may create something that is innovative and unique but nobody in the market may be willing to pay for it.

Enjoy the interview!

LET ME ASK YA THIS:
How do you keep moving forward and maintain your vision when so many people put your idea down or don’t understand it?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS:
For the list called, "99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask," 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!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

6 Ways to be a Better Boss to Yourself

According to recent news release from United States Bureau of Labor, twenty-five percent of all American workers are self-employed.

That means one out of every four of us is our own boss, right?

Wrong.

Everybody is their own boss.

Even if you’re not self-employed.
Even if you’re not employed at all.

You’re still the boss.

Interestingly, the term “boss” comes from the Dutch baas, which means, “overseer.”

Isn’t that what you do everyday?

You oversee your decisions, your career and your self-talk.
You keep yourself going even when you don’t feel like pressing on.
You provide momentum, arouse perseverance and inspire stick-to-itiveness.

But, being your own boss isn’t just about productivity.

It’s about freedom.
It’s about ongoing self-care.
It’s about setting boundaries.
It’s about making smart decisions.
It’s about treating yourself as you wish to be treated.

THE PROBLEM IS: Most of us are sucky bosses.
In a recent blog post, Seth Godin riffed on an idea that inspired me to rethink my own self-bossing practices:

“If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. And if an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.”

If that describes you, consider the following strategies for becoming a better boss to yourself:

1. Declare a moratorium on the unimportant. Have you ever worked for a boss who, on a daily basis, invaded your workspace unannounced and talked your ear off for three hours about absolute meaninglessness – when you could have been executing something that mattered – then later yelled at you for not being productive?

The amount of time wasted on such stupidity could fill the Superdome.

Your challenge, as the boss of yourself, is to assure that interruption doesn’t dominate you. If what you’re doing – right now – isn’t consistent with your number one goal, politely walk away. If what you’re doing – right now – doesn’t matter, peace out.

Next time you look up and realize that you’ve been purposely distracting yourself for the past twelve minutes, pause for a moment, then gently return to the work that counts. What’s your philosophy on personal productivity?

2. Stop saying it’s not about you. Doing so invalidates yourself. Besides, part of being a better boss to yourself is being more selfish with yourself. For example: Are you whining about the failing economy – or focusing on your economy?

Hopefully the latter, because your economy is how you manage yourself in relation to the world. In fact, the definition of economy is, “The disposition or regulation of the parts and functions of any organic whole.”

Maybe it’s time to start asking yourself a few boundary questions:

*Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?
*Who in my life is chronic abuser of my time and attention?
*Am I being asked to create a future that I’m going to feel obligated to be a part of?

Remember: It can’t be about you all time – but it can’t be about you none of the time either. Are you ready to hold a courageous conversation to reinforce your boundaries?

3. A diploma isn’t the end of education. A good boss wouldn’t let you get away with that kind of thinking. Instead, she’d challenge you create a learning plan. To expand your expertise. To form opinions on relevant issues. And to build a school of thought around your unique philosophy.

Besides: When you stop learning – you stop earning. You stop living. And you stop growing. Not exactly the best employee, huh? Consider asking yourself: What’s your personal development gameplan? What’s your method to sustain lifelong education? And what’s your system for retaining relevance in the eyes of the people who matter most?

These are the questions that will help you create an environment where learning is stressed and build a space where you can assimilate, internalize, master and move on. What are the obstacles you create that hinder a full engagement with your learning?

4. Detect the collective conditioning inside yourself. Ten years ago, I told my parents that I wanted to wear a nametag. Everyday. For the rest of my life. Sure enough, they responded with a four-letter word. But it wasn’t the one I expected. Instead of saying, “What?” “Crap!” or “Putz,” they just smiled and replied, “Cool.”

And I never looked back.

I wonder what would happen if more people had bosses like that. I wonder how much positive change could be created in the world if people practiced healthier self-talk. Especially when it came to the issue of risk.

Because in my experience, if you don’t honor yourself for the bravery of taking risks, the paralyzing self-consciousness negates your developmental progress. And your annual performance review will be a joke. Except you won’t be laughing. Because you’ll be both the boss and the employee.

Remember: The biggest risk is the one you don’t give yourself permission to take. Think about the last time you said, “Screw it – I’m doing it anyway,” how did you feel afterward?

5. Raise hell against redundancy. Recently, my friend Amy told me she’d rewritten her fifty-five page book proposal two-dozen times. Two. Dozen. Times. That’s over than thirteen hundred pages. Of just the proposal – not the actual book.

Seriously? War & Peace wasn’t even that long. And the sad part is: She wasn’t even done yet. “I’m still ironing out the wrinkles,” she said.

Tragic. With the time Amy invested in that project, she could have written and shipped six real books. If only she’d known that finished is the new perfect. If only she’d known that planning is the gateway drug to procrastination.

You think her crime of redundancy would survive in a traditional boss situation? Hell no. Somebody would either get fired or quit.

Lesson learned: Next time you find yourself stuck on the treadmill of the inconsequential, consider the possibility that what’s consuming your time (a) makes no sense, (b) doesn’t need to be done by anyone, and (c) isn’t making you any money. How many built-in redundancies could you eliminate?

6. Maintain your motivational equilibrium. As the boss of you, self-motivation is the lifeblood of your success. Without it, getting out of bed will become a chore rather than a celebration.

The tricky part is: Nobody’s ass is harder to kick than your own. Anyone who’s ever gone out on their own or worked from home can attest to that. Fortunately, everybody has the capacity for self-motivation.

The challenge is twofold: First, remembering that energy follows priority. Because if you’re not doing it, it’s not important to you. Period. But if you know what matters, you’ll be able to motivate yourself anytime, anywhere.

Second, becoming a master of your own disinclination. Allowing discipline to trump desire. And learning to love what’s good for you and your career. What would it take for you to wake up excited tomorrow?

REMEMBER: Being your own boss demands unremitting effort.

And with increasing levels of self-employment, newfound entrepreneurship, mobile offices and global telecommuting, self-care has never been more essential.

But it’s part of your job.
It’s part of everybody’s job.
Even if you don’t have a job.

You are overseer.

Treat yourself as you wish to be treated.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you need to fire yourself?

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For the list called, “194 Books in Scott's Success Library," 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.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Look Good Naked

Dishonesty has a limited shelf life.

According to a recent study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, eighty percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating:

“Flirty messages and photographs found on Facebook are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behavior or irreconcilable differences.”

Unfortunately, the study forgot to mention one thing:

This problem isn’t the computer – the problem is the character of the person using it.

People don’t get divorced because of Facebook – they get divorced because dishonesty is written all over their face. Employees don’t get fired for blogging – they get fired for being stupid. And organizational leaders don’t go to jail because some intern squealed – they go to jail because they’re morally bankrupt cracker-honkeys.
THE REALITY IS: If you choose to live a dishonest life offline – there’s going to be a huge echo online. And your digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel and destroy the things that matter most in your life.

How are you branding your honesty?

That’s the key question.

Because I’m not saying you need to get naked – I’m saying you already are naked, and if you don’t consider the implications of your truth, you lose.

Here’s a list of strategies to help you undress for success:

1. Offer unprecedented access to information. Privacy is so last century. Even if you don’t lay your cards out on the table. People are still going to learn what they need to know about you on their own. May as show ‘em your goods.

Besides, opacity breeds mistrust. Just ask blogger and online marketing Chris Brogan. On the bio page of his website, there’s a disclosure list of every single relationship he maintains: Affiliations, partnerships, board positions, advertising commitments and product endorsements.

His clients love this. Hell, his non-clients love this. And people all around the web are talking about Brogan’s informational undressing. My question is: When was the last time somebody blogged about your contact page?

Lesson learned: Be unusually honest, radically transparent and highly respectful to the organizations and individuals with which you connect. Prove to people that to live the brand is to leave no doubt in their minds about whom, what and why and you. How could you magnify what you can’t hide anyway?

2. Be uncompromisingly public with your thoughts. While blogging is not the answer for everyone, it’s still the smartest strategy for making your organization more approachable and transparent.

The cool part about blogging is: It’s directly related to profit. But only if you recognize both the intentionals and incidentals of the medium. For example: If your intention is to share your thinking – incidentally, you will become a better thinker. If your intention is to educate and build community with the people who matter most – incidentally, you will earn more loyalty.

Interestingly, HubSpot recently conducted a fascinating study on online marketing. They looked at data from fifteen hundred customers, mostly small and mid-sized businesses. According to their results, companies that blog have three advantages over those who don’t.

First, blogging companies have fifty-five percent more visitors – which means more people to convert.

Second, blogging companies have ninety-seven percent more inbounds links – which signals authority to search engines.

Third, blogging companies have four hundred and thirty-four percent more indexed pages – which boosts findability with search engines. What’s your excuse for not blogging yet?

Look: Statistics might lie – but Google doesn’t. The intentional commitment to make your organization more approachable results in the incidental consequence of greater profits. As long as you’re willing to go public with your thoughts. What did you write today?

3. Take it one step further. Twenty years ago, Progressive made insurance history: They started giving their customers access to the competition by offering comparison quotes from other providers. Brilliant.

Three years ago, General Motors made automotive history: They started asking Saturn dealers to provide one or more of the competing models in the showroom. That way, customers could look at it, sit in it, drive it and realize how much better it was that the other guys. Genius.

And last year, Patagonia made green history: They launched The Footprint Chronicles. It’s an interactive mini-site that allows customers to track the impact of five Patagonia products from design to delivery. Awesome.

I wonder what step your organization could take to knock the socks of the untrusting masses. And it’s not like it has to be a big step. All you have to do is quit something average. All you have to do is make the mundane memorable. All you have to do is turn rare into remarkable. Get gutsy or get gone. Are you allowing people to examine your organization’s life habits?

4. Befriend the current. Every organization has customers. Whether you call them users, clients, volunteers, members, or employees – you’re still serving somebody. And the reality is: They already know everything about you. They’re already stalking you. And they’re already sharing private, internal information to their friends and family.

Why not surf that wave? Why not leverage the trend by turning customers into partners? Consider creating an internal system to welcome complaints – and solicit solutions – from the people you serve. Burn your suggestion box. Replace it with a question box.

By remaining steadfast in your willingness to learn where you suck; your organization will only grow stronger. And instead of swimming against the current – at the risk of alienating the people who matter most – you respect the waters. You identify the unavoidable, unstoppable swell. And you allow the current to carry you where the market is going.

That way, you can spend less time swimming and more time listening. Gnarly dude. What are you pretending not to know?

5. Know when the cost of disclosure is too high. Like anything, transparency requires balance. And you don’t want to become a victim of your own approachability. Take it from a guy who's been wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for over a decade: Personal privacy – what’s left of it, that is – is a beautiful thing.

And while I believe that anonymity is bankruptcy; I also believe that boundaries are saviors. Don’t be so transparent that you lose the magic. After all, that’s part of why people do business with you: Because you intrigue the hell out of them. And if you’re too transparent, you run the risk of disappearing completely.

You have to maintain some level of mystique. Otherwise your ability to fascinate will evaporate. The challenge is figuring out where you draw you line. Remember: If you don’t set boundaries for yourself – other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell all their little friends that it’s okay to do the same. All because you never set a precedent of no. Will your transparency degrade into invisibility?

ULTIMATELY: It’s only a matter of time.

Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance.

That’s the reality of the marketplace: Your audience is everywhere, and they’re growing more powerful by the day. Never underestimate them.

Because sooner or later, as Seth Godin says, they’re going to see the effects of your actions. And living as if this is certain makes it far more likely that you’ll find a happy ending.

A helpful question to reinforce this principle is: “Do I want to become known for what I’m about to do?”

Try posting that on your office wall.
Try asking that before your next holiday party.

Because if you run around expecting not to get caught, eventually, the world is going to bust you.

REMEMBER: The past always reincarnates in one of two forms – either to pat you on the back or kick you in the ass.

Look – you’re already naked anyway.

May as well look good.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you organization leverage transparency?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "6 Ways to Out Position 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!

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Smart Brands Know About Capturing Heartshare

First, you wanted to grow marketshare.
Then, you wanted to expand mindshare.
Now, you need to capture something bigger.

After all, humans are emotional creatures.

Not integers. Not categories. Not demographics. People.

And if you want to reach the ones who matter most, you need to capture heartshare.

Now, while I’m not claiming squatter’s rights on this particular term, I am going to officially pen the definition of it:

Heartshare is the level of emotional responsiveness your work commands.

And when you capture it: Engagement ensues, followership grows and loyalty skyrockets.

Here’s how to make it work for your message, your brand and your organization:
1. Achieve perfect pitch with your own heart first. People don’t need another book about authenticity – they need leaders whose lives are walking bestsellers.

The question is: Whose reading list is your life on? If the answer is, “Just my mum,” than perhaps it’s time to audit the consistency of your life.

Because if you plan to capture greater heartshare, it’s going to be one hell of a slog if you’re not in alignment. That’s what it means to have perfect pitch: When the message you preach is the dominant reality of your life. When the proclamations of your lips are consistent with the demonstrations of your legs. And when there’s no difference between your onstage performance and backstage reality.

Are you smoking what you're selling?

Commit to closing those chasms, and you’ll build a foundation of consistency that will support your heartshare efforts forever.

Remember: If you want to capture the hearts of the masses, you have to invite them into yours first. But you can’t hit the right notes with your own; you’ll never capture the music of theirs. Is the example of how you live your life a document worth reading?

2. Align with your audience’s fabric. I’ve never had a real job. Started my publishing company the day I graduated college and never looked back. As such, when I give presentations I always make it a point to tell my audiences that I’m not one of them, nor will I pretend to be one of them.

False relatability, in my opinion, is the ultimate crime of public speaking. And when presenters commit it, the collective heart of the audience puts its ear buds in and completely tunes out the message. A helpful formula to avoid this barrier is:

“While I have no idea what it must be like to (x); what I do know is what it feels like to (y).”

If you're addressing insurance salespeople: “I have no idea what it takes to sell insurance – but I do know what it’s like to sit across the table from someone who doesn’t want to be the first one to trust you.”

If you're addressing unemployed professionals: “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be unemployed in a down economy – but what I do know is how it feels to have your career at a standstill.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who your audience is or how many people comprise it. When you share your message from their backyard, when you touch them where they live, you become the mirror into which they can see their own heart reflected. What universal human experience will unite you to the people who matter most?

3. Lay bare your belief. If Martin Luther King’s speech were entitled, “I Have a Plan,” nobody would have showed up. Fortunately, he didn’t have a plan – he had a dream. And he spent those famous seventeen minutes painting a stunning picture of what it looked like.

As a result, he captured the heart of an entire generation. All because he laid bare his belief. And if you want to follow his example, try this: Instead of telling them what needs to change – show them what you believe.

Because as much as people hate change, it’s still (awfully) hard to resist a man on a mission. Especially when that mission reflects their worldview.

The cool part is: When you radiate belief outward and give full scope to your colorful imagination, you’ll challenge people to consider their own dream. What’s more, you inspire them unleash the love to make that dream come true.

As long as you believe what you believe because you actually believe – not because someone told you to believe and you mindlessly followed – heartshare will be yours. Are you selling to people who want what you sell or believe what you believe?

4. Breathe out the love people need. I just finished studying a fifty-year old nursing textbook about social interaction and patient care. Fascinating read. Picked up a few key ideas on heartshare.

First, a good nurse treats the whole person and not just the disease entity. Ask yourself: Are you wholehearted in your support of your people?

Second, in small hospitals, it’s easy to preserve friendliness and informality; whereas larger medical institutions make patients feel like a piece of furniture. Ask yourself: What do you see when you see people?

Third: When you first satisfy a request for a concrete item of physical assistance (bedpans, water bottles) the expression of deeper emotional need usually emerges. Ask yourself: Are you big enough to care about the small?

Look: You don’t need to be a medical professional to provide people with the oxygen their heart needs. But you do need to confront the human condition. And you do need to thread that reality through every experience.

Otherwise your interactions with the people who matter most will be as sterile and bland as the surgery suite. Is your organization’s service environment forgettable or stealable?

REMEMBER: The emotional responsiveness your work commands is the chief indicator of its relevance, longevity and profitability.

If you want the people who matter most to engage, follow and stay loyal to what you do, stop focusing on marketshare and forget about mindshare.

Capture heartshare.

Because when it’s your heart, you don’t need to prove to anyone that you can’t live without it.

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

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Twenty Secrets Smart Leaders Know About Engaging Their People

Let’s talk about your people.

Users. Customers. Clients. Employees. Staff. Volunteers. Members. Students. Followers. Congregants. Audience members. Participants. Listeners. Viewers. Subscribers.

What engages them?

CONSIDER THIS: The word “engage” comes from the French engagier, which means, “to make a pledge.”

Maybe that’s the real question:

Why do people pledge themselves?

To the leader. To the team. To the organization. To the mission.

Why do people engage?

Here’s my theory:
People engage when they feel essential. Are you treating them like vestigial parts, helpful additions or vital components?

People engage when they feel unrestricted. Who are you asking to edit themselves?

People engage when they feel seen and heard. How does your organization stay sensitive to the needs of the human spirit?

People engage when they see themselves reflected. How are you giving them a front row seat to their own brilliance?

People engage when their lives are participated in. Are you fitting them into your nice little plan or celebrating how you fit into their lives?

People engage when they believe they can add value. How are you inspiring others with a vision of what they can contribute?

People engage when they have something to believe in. Are you giving them a compelling reason to follow you into the sunset?

People engage when they develop a deeper sense of why. How do you challenge them to calculate their personal currency?

People engage when they feel part of something that matters. Do yours see their work as a grind or gateway to something bigger?

People engage when they know their role has a direct impact. How are you helping them calculate the value of their contribution?

People engage when the work they do gets under their fingernails. How much of their labor has become part of their very being?

People engage when they’re allowed to publicly display their successes. Are you trying to be the life of the party or trying to bring people to life at the party?

People engage when they do work that unites with their sense of life. How does your organization serve as a mirror of your people's core?

People engage when the fruits of their engagement become transportable assets. Can your people recoup their discretionary effort when they leave, or does all of their emotional energy become property of the organization?

People engage when they’re consistently given the opportunity to do what they do best. How are you embedding their passion into the pavement that leads the way to success?

People engage when they’re treated like human beings – not integers on the annual report. Are you approaching them as unique individuals, or as a means to your organizational ends?

People engage when they’re applauded for their strengths and not berated for their weaknesses. Are you trying to make them fall in love with you, or helping them fall in love with themselves?

People engage when the purpose of their engagement is to help them become better in all areas of their life. Are you building people, or building your dream and exploiting people to do it?

People engage when their work becomes a vehicle through which they are able to live what is important to them. Are you contracting them to erect a building, or commissioning them architect a vital index of their values?

People engage when their work isn’t a set of tasks, but an opportunity to build a platform that pushes them to something bigger. Have you confronted the fact that people are loaning their talents to you until something bet?

What about you?

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

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Five Ways to be a Force of Calm in a Time of Turmoil

Intensity is highly overrated.

In times of crisis, people turn to people who are calm.

Not emotionless.
Not uncommunicative.
Not borderline comatose.

Calm.

Calm is what builds trust, mitigates stress, remedies confusion and inspires followership.

THE ONLY PROBLEM IS: You can’t really calm people down.

All you can do is turn yourself into a force of calm, in the hopes that you’ll infect people with the energy they need to do the same.

Here’s how:
1. Oxygenate the conversation. People who incorporate deep, slow breathing into their daily actions never fail to become the calming force. Doing so is like taking your foot off the gas and engaging the conversational brakes.

According to a recent report from the National Institute of Mental Health, your breathing rhythm is a method to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones.

Next time one of your coworkers starts freaking out, try this: Instead of telling them to take a deep breath – which runs the risk of sounding like their third grade teacher – try engaging your own lungs first. You’ll find that actions of calm will inspire people to relax, whereas instructions for calm sill incite people to react.

Linda, my massage therapist, is a master of this. Whenever I come in for an appointment, she treats our sessions as meditations. She doesn’t say a word – she just rubs and breathes. And after a few minutes, I am reduced to jelly.

Lesson learned: When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace; but when you inspire others to own their breath, nobody will want you to leave the room. Fast heart, slow lungs works every time. How’s your breathing?

2. Make communication a relaxing experience. During a recent outpatient procedure, my podiatrist administered three shots of local anesthetic to my foot. Ouch. But as much as it hurt, I’ll never forget hearing the following words:

“It’s over Scott. I’m not going to hurt you anymore.”

Definitely one of the great calming remarks I’ve ever heard. That’s what I love about Dr. Kauffman: He’s a light and comfort to everyone he encounters. Nothing could be more relaxing.

On the other hand, some medical professionals mere presence stresses patients out. Yikes. And if you want to avoid this label, the key is to ask yourself two key questions:

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

If you’re not satisfied with the reactions you’ve been getting, don’t criticize the room. Instead, look in the mirror. Because whatever change occurs to a room as you enter and exist in is a tangible representation of how your character, actions, words, reputation and personality have both preceded and affected the people around you. What affect does your presence you have on the completion of the room?

3. When people panic, give them instructions. Consider the recent emergency with Qantas Flight 32. According to the Associated Press article, a jet engine as big as a bus had disintegrated, blasting shrapnel holes in the super jumbo’s wing. The odds of that many failures occurring simultaneously were one and a hundred million.

But veteran pilot Richard de Crespigny handled the chaos exquisitely. I even listened to the announcement recorded on a passenger’s cell phone several times, and The Captain was perfectly collected. Here’s the transcript:

“We have a technical issue with our engine. We have dealt with this situation. The aircraft is secure. And we’re going to have to hold for a little while as we lighten our load and perform a number of checklists. Thanks for your patience and we promise to keep you posted.”

Thanks to his calming force, the aircraft averted what could have been a catastrophe. And whether you’re flying a plane, leading a team, consoling a teammate or delivering a presentation to a frightened audience, the lesson is the same:

People want to know what action you’re going to take to fix their problem.

This preserves their sense of control and realigns the balance of power. Explain every step of the process. Even the things that could possibly go wrong. Timeliness reduces anxiety. Will your calm influence infect the people around you?

4. Refuse to take ownership of their emotions. Let’s say you work with someone who creates more drama than a high school prom. Perfect. Next time they start freaking out, don’t waste your breath telling them to calm down. This does nothing but compound their frustration.

Your job is to become a body of water. Instead of steeling yourself – still yourself. Keep your vocal pitch and volume low. Limit your physical movements. And avoid anything that might fuel already escalating emotions.

This practice, while it takes significant self-control, will invite people to see the reflection of their own reactivity and enable the release of negative energy. And hopefully, as their emotional engine runs out of steam, your stillness will serve as a subtle bell of awareness to bring people back to center.

Either that or they’ll club you over the head with a stapler.

Remember: You can’t put people at ease if you’re not at easy with yourself. Is your silence a positive motivator?

5. Calm comes from experience. Getting audited sucks. Happened to me earlier this year. And because it was my company’s first run with the Internal Revenue Service, my initial reaction was anything but calm.

Fortunately, I had two mentors in my corner to keep me relaxed. First, my accountant: Lisa. Her exact words were, “This is the best thing the IRS could ever ask you to do.” Thank God. Her silver-lining philosophy lowered my heartbeat immediately.

Second, my father: Mark. His exact words were, “It’s no big deal. We get audited all the time.” Whew. As a fellow entrepreneur, his nonchalant reassurance lowered my blood pressure immediately.

If you want to do the same to the people who matter most, use whatever relevant experience you have. Don’t over-identify. Don’t bring it back to you. And don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Just make sure people undergoing times of turmoil can turn to you – someone who’s been there before – and think to themselves, “I am not alone.”

Remember: There’s nothing more calming than communicating your mutual humanity. Are you positioned as someone who remains unreasonably peaceful in times of chaos?

REMEMBER: People who exhibit calm temperament in a troubled world are always in high demand.

They get seen, get hired and get promoted.
They get noticed, get remembered and get business.
They make the cut, make the day and make the room better.

And the best part is: You don’t even have to do anything – you simply have to be.

Be a paragon of stillness.
Be balm to a troubled world.
Be the calming force in times of turmoil.

People will turn to you.

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Why are you rushing?

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jump, or, How to Stop Dragging Your Feet and Dive into What Matters

Twenty years ago, my dad jumped.

He broke ties with his corporate owners and went out on his own.

And for the first year, he was working from home, struggling to build inventory and scrambling to find customers. Not exactly our family’s finest hour.

But, he still cites that move as his best decision ever. And two decades later, his company still remains the best in the business.

Now, of all the memories related to that transition, here’s the one forever etched upon my heart:

I was twelve years old, and my dad brought me to work to see his new warehouse. It was the single biggest thing I’d ever seen. Something like three hundred thousand square feet.

But the building was empty. The place was a ghost town. And there was no merchandise.

Except for one palette.

One lonesome skid of inventory in the entire warehouse, shrink-wrapped to perfection –with a big white sign on it that read, “Sold.”


Try to picture yourself standing it that warehouse.
If that’s not risk, I don’t know what is.
If that’s not faith, I don’t know what is.

AND THAT’S THE POINT: When you jump, when you stop dragging your feet and dive into what matters, you have to trust yourself, your resources, your abilities, the process, the people – along with the universe that contains them all.

Otherwise you’ll find a millions reasons not to take action. You rationalize your way out of risk. Like the people who make lists of all the reasons to avoid committing with both feet.

Sure. That’s the perfect way to procrastinate my way to mediocrity. Well done.

On the other hand, you could jump. You could start taking massive, relevant action – today – to minimize or eliminate barriers to your boldness.

Here’s a collection ideas to help you stop dragging your feet and dive into what matters:

1. Accept that you’ll never be ready. Admit it: The reason you’re still dragging your feet is because you’ve still convinced that having a plan is necessary.

It’s not. Failure isn’t the product of poor planning – it’s the product of timidity to proceed. You can’t allow yourself to be stopped by not knowing how.

Try this: Lower the threat level of your jump by pulling a partial. Ask yourself: What is an easy, inconsequential version of this scary action I could take right now?

Challenge yourself to execute three of those a day. Repeat that enough, and you’ll either get the whole thing done incrementally, or sustain enough small victories to pull the trigger when the time is right. Not perfect, but right.

Look: I know you’re scared. I also know that constant, determined action cures fear, builds confidence, develops courage, generates inspiration and vaporizes stress. What other risky (but reasonabl) jumps can you make today to move forward?

2. Deliberately alter your course. Nashville rocks. Literally. Affectionately known as “The Music City,” it’s packed with millions of passionate songwriters who, at one point, stopped dragging their feet and jumped.

My favorite part of the town is the energy. It’s as electric as the guitars. And I’ll never forget my first trip there. My client took me out on the town after my workshop.

When we walked into one of the hundred honky-tonk bars on the strip. And I noticed a bumper sticker on the bathroom stall that read: “Screw it. I’m moving to Nashville!”

There’s no better way to personify the risk of jumping than those six words. Because if you put yourself in the shoes (er, boots) of somebody who once said that to himself, you understand what this is all about:

Accumulating enough frustration, passion and fire that you simply can’t take it anymore. That moment when you notice a deficit in yourself because every waking minute of your life is an insult to the gifts you’ve been granted.

That’s when you jump. Even if you’ve screwed up everything so far. You jump anyway. And if you haven’t reached that point yet, don’t worry: You will. You’ll know what to do when you get there. It might not be moving to Nashville, but it will involve altering your course. Will you allow today’s possibilities to be shaded the failures of yesterday?

3. The world is your mentor. There’s a phenomenally simple book by Mike Hernacki called, The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want. It can be summarized in one sentence: You have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

Whatever. It. Takes.

The challenge, it will be different for everybody, depending on what you’re diving into. My suggestion: Find twenty people who have jumped off the same cliff you have. Email them. Briefly introduce yourself. Tell them you’re a fan of their work. Tell them you’ve decided to jump. And tell them you’re willing to do whatever it takes to become the walking execution of your vision.

Then, ask them if they’d be willing to offer themselves – in any capacity – as a resource for your success. Not everyone will respond. But the ones who do – the ones who see something in you that someone once saw in them – will be happy to oblige. How many mentors do you have?

4. Grow a thicker skin towards the naysayers. Believe it not, not everybody wants you to become successful. In fact, much of the world will do everything they can to prevent you from diving into what matters.

Maybe because they’re jealous. Maybe because they’re scared they’ll lose you. Or maybe because they know your success will expose their averageness. Either way, you have to accept this reality. You have to be okay with the fact that not everyone you encounter wants you to jump.

But, your ability to withstand criticism without crumbling is a leading determinant of your success. And at the same time, don’t ignore the naysayers. It depends on the source, the validity of the comment and the context in which the criticism was offered.

My motto is: Criticism keeps you in check when it’s right, and keeps you in chuckles when it’s ridiculous. And as you prepare to jump, just remember: You’re nobody until somebody hates you. Besides, if everybody loves what you’re doing, you’re probably doing something wrong. Is your skin as thick as a reptile or as thin rice paper?

5. You’re never unpartnered. Although not everybody wants you to succeed, success never comes unassisted. That’s the cool thing about commitment: Once you stop dragging your feet and dive into what matters, the world begins to yes to you.

That’s what happens when you put yourself in the way of success and advance in the direction of your dreams: Eventually they will have no choice but to come true. Providence will move to orchestrate the ideal conditions for you to win.

As Paula Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “If you follow your dream – your personal legend – all the world will conspire to help you.” When this happens, it’s almost spooky.

In fact, I remember spotting this trend when I first jumped. Help came out of nowhere. Opportunities presented themselves to me. And I was smart enough to leverage every opening the universe gave me.

But the door must be opened from the inside.

And you have to be fueled from the heart – not for the wallet. Otherwise your misguided intention will fill the room like a garlic fart. Ultimately, if you want the world to say yes to you, you’ve got to sing the song that is natural for you to sing, in the way that is natural for you to sing it, and it in front of the audience that needs to hear it the most. Are you paying homage to the voices that shaped you?

6. Conserve your oxygen. Don’t waste your breath on useless chatter. Next time you find yourself surrounded by people consumed with small thoughts, walk away. Set that boundary. Otherwise their mental shallowness will infiltrate your world.

My suggestion is to work exclusively in environments that allow you to escape the crutch of small-mindedness and think more importantly.

That means hanging with people who ask big, dangerous questions that catapult your thinking. That means talking about big, relevant issues that challenge your thinking. That means learning about big, new concepts that stretch your imagination.

The hard part is keeping yourself accountable. Try this: Be unwaveringly vigilant about the company you keep by asking the question, “Does this person add gasoline to or sprinkle water on my internal fire?”

Also, be persistently discerning about the media your consume and the ideas you focus on by asking, “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?” In the end, life’s too short for television. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. And life it’s too short not to do something that matters, as Hugh McLeod says. What do you need to delete from your life?

7. Do this and nothing else. Enough dabbling. Either go full time or go home. Go pro or go away. Be dedicated or be eliminated. That’s what it takes to win. You have to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the game.

Sadly, the number one reason people can’t dive into what matters is because they insist on keeping one leg firmly planted in what doesn’t matter. Bad move.

I’ve made it myself. When I first started my publishing company, I had a full-time job selling furniture. Writing books and giving speeches was just something I did at nights and on the weekends.

But after a year, I scaled back to part time. And I started parking cars a few shifts a week to make ends meet. Which worked for about a year. But the problem was, sometimes I’d work eighteen hours a day. And while my business slowly grew, so did my ulcer.

It was simply too much. And that’s when I finally jumped. That’s when I said, “Alright. This is it. I’m going to do this, and nothing else. Let’s go.” And I never looked back.

That’s the cool part about focus: It’s the first step toward freedom. It’s the fuel that drives the engine of wow. And it’s the solitary suggestor of success. It’s time to take your index finger, cover up the tip of the hose, and shoot out a frozen rope of concentrated effort.

Otherwise you’ll never shed your amateur status. How much time are you spending on things that diffuse your focus and hamper your goals?

Okay. Enough dabbling. Amateur hour is over.

It’s time to jump.
It’s time to put an end to half-measure living.
It’s time to stop dragging your feet and dive into what maters.

I know you’re terrified.

But sliding down the side of the mountain on your ass isn’t going to bring you closer to your dream.

If you’re going to jump – jump with all of your might.

Because there’s no going back to the top of the cliff.

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Nametag Guy Live: How to Preserve Customer Control



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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!

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Friday, December 10, 2010

What Every Young Leader Should Know about Showing the World They’re Serious

If you’re under the age of thirty-five, the default posture of the world is not to believe you.

I know. Total bummer.

But it’s not your fault – it’s just human nature. Age equals credibility. And there’s no way to speed it up.

Actually, I take that back. My friend Tom Reilly once suggested: “If you want people to take you seriously, either go grey or vacate.”

Not a bad idea. Certainly worked for Taylor Hicks.

But outside of follicular augmentation, the smartest move for a young leader is to position her attitudes, behaviors and language in a consistent manner that shows the world she’s serious. That shows the world she’s not messing around.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, entry-level employee, college intern or new kid on the block, consider these suggestions:
1. Beware of the copycats. Commitment is an easily confusable entity. And if you don’t learn to discern the difference between commitment and its cheap imitations, everything you do will be like winking in the dark. Honestly ask yourself these questions:

Are you truly committed – or just curious?
Are you truly committed – or just involved?
Are you truly committed – or just concerned?
Are you truly committed – or just interested?
Are you truly committed – or just legally obligated?
Are you truly committed – or just not unhappy enough to change?
Are you truly committed – or just biding your time until something better comes along?

Approach these questions as a personal audit. Use them as an accountability tool to sustain your level commitment. And if you think it sounds like a lot of work, you’re wrong.

It’s not a lot of work – it’s a ton of work. But that’s the whole point: The reason commitment costs so much is because it pays so well. Are you willing to make the investment?

2. Choose ubiquitous over anonymous. If attention is currency, anonymity is bankruptcy. Which brings us to the central question: Are you everywhere? If so, the world already knows you’re serious.

If not, here’s my suggestion: Approach everything you do as a form of marketing. In 2001, a survey conducted by The Washington Post that indicated the following:

“Self-employed businesspeople spend an average of forty-three minutes a day marketing themselves.”

If you do the math, that’s eight percent of your entire day. Which leads to my next question: What the hell are people doing for the other four hundred and thirty minutes?

Answer: The wrong things.

Here’s the reality: Marketing is everything and everything is marketing. The challenge to twofold. First, to change your definition of marketing to “transferring emotion.” That’s it.

And second, to find a way to (respectfully) transform everything you do into some form of marketing. Emails. Phone calls. Meetings. Blog posts. Everything.

Remember: People who only do marketing “here and there,” will only get new business here and there. How many minutes did you spend on marketing yesterday?

3. Ship only great work out the door. Piano man Ben Folds reminds us in the song One Down, “People tell me to just make up junk and turn it in. But I was never okay with turning in a bunch of crap. And I don’t like wasting time on music that won't make me proud.”

Sadly, many of my colleagues fall victim to that trap. They publish average books with average content. They give unremarkable speeches with unremarkable slides. They write boring blog posts using boring examples.

And it’s not like they’re going broke – they’re just not going for broke. That’s the next way to show the world you’re serious: By refusing to execute mediocrity. Because without making this baseline decision, without setting this standard of excellence, you leave yourself vulnerable to attack. And the sexiness of average will seduce you like six-foot blonde in a black dress.

Remember: Being amazing isn’t enough. The other half of the equation is the willingness to wage a war against mediocrity. Burn the beige. Vaporize the vanilla. Banish the bland. Nuke the normal. Murder the average. Are you giving the future something to rah-spect?

4. Consistency is the ultimate commitment device. Every time I find a blog that hasn’t posted since the Clinton Administration, a small part of me dies inside. Seriously: If you’re not going to stay up with it, don’t bother. Something isn’t always better than nothing.

If you want people to take you seriously, remember my personal mantra: “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.” Whether you’re publishing online content, leading a Wednesday night bible study, interning at your dream job or trying to be a better parent, consistency is not an accident.

It’s a sequence of intentionally consistent, similar actions. It’s a timeline of credibility. Personally, I wear a nametag everyday. Plus I got one tattooed on my chest. Plus I post a “number of consecutive days” counter on my website. Those are my commitment devices. What are yours?

Because if you want to win, you can’t just commit – you have to communicate to the people who matter most that you’re fully committed. Remember: Commitment without evidence is pantomime. How will you reinforce your positive pattern of execution?

5. Consider what affects your ability to be taken seriously. In Napoleon Hill’s classic work, The Laws of Success, he writes that the world will forgive you if you make mistakes – but it will never forgive you if you make no decisions. That’s the secret: To achieve definiteness of decision.

Interestingly, 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. And which means it’s a part your core.

The challenge (according to many of my clients) is actually pulling the trigger. Overcoming the paralyzing uncertainty of taking that crucial first step. And that’s why I suggest the following: Violently refuse to get snared into an endless tangle of anxiety, regret and second-guessing.

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

Shakespeare was right: Delays have dangerous ends. Ginsberg was right too: Reluctance to make a decision is a form of resistance.

And the bottom line is: People won’t take you seriously if they’re too busy questioning your decision-making ability. It’s time to put a stake in the ground. What are you unconsciously doing that’s marring your credibility?

6. Real commitment is unthwartable by circumstance. As a musician, I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t matter if you break a string – it matters how quickly you return to the music.

This same principle of stick-to-itiveness applies to the song of life. If you want to show people you’re serious, try not walking away from the eyes of the world when they roll at you. Instead of acquiescing to your circumstances, yield to your core. Use your values as navigators.

When things go wrong, when people lash out at you, or when you screw the pooch in public, ask yourself, “If I were me, what would I do in this situation?” Doing so will initiate an instant calming sequence that draws people to you.

After all, in times of crisis, people turn to people who are calm. Calm is what builds trust, mitigates stress, remedies confusion and inspires followership. And it’s the perfect way to show the world you’re serious.

As long as you remember: There’s a direct correlation between the ability to make a name for yourself and the willingness to make an idiot of yourself. Are you impervious to embarrassment?

In conclusion, we remember to the immortal words of Bill Cosby:

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it's very hard for people to stop you.”

JUST REMEMBER: Commitment isn’t just an obligation – it’s a demonstration.

It’s a constant exertion of your values.
It’s a consistent extension of your truth.
It’s a consummate expression of your core.

That’s how you show the world you’re serious.

And the best part is: When you do, your commitment doesn’t just become noticeable – it becomes billable.

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

How to Die

Everything on this planet has a life cycle.

Products. Services. Industries. Plants. Planets. Animals. Ideas. Blogs. Relationships. Recessions. Religions. Philosophies.

Nothing is immortal.

Except for Keith Richards. Seriously, that guy just doesn’t die.

But when it comes to organizations, the same rule applies:

Non-profits. Faith communities. Charities. Clubs. Trade associations. Membership organizations. Volunteer groups. Outreach programs.

They have life cycles too. And whether or not you want to admit it – and whether or not it happens on your watch – closing down shop is inevitable. As often as you update, as frequently as you reinvent and as strategically as you promote, eventually, everything outlives its usefulness.

Everything has to die. And if your organization has degraded to the realm of uselessness, I triple dog dare you to consider the following strategies for shutting your doors:
1. You can’t force feed involvement. People always make time for what’s important to them. Always. And sadly, it doesn’t matter how many phone calls you make, how amazing your meetings are or how inspiring the board of directors is.

Any number multiplied by zero is still zero. No matter how big that number is.

And if increasing your efforts won’t be enough to make a difference anyway – why kill yourself? Declining membership, poor volunteer support and lack of organizational vitality might have nothing to do with you.

It doesn’t mean people don’t like you – it just means they have different priorities. Or they’re tuned into different frequencies.

The ugly truth is: You might not fit into their lives anymore. And if your organization is struggling to become a regular part of your members’ schedule, that should tell you something.

If mediocrity is the highest you can get, you’re not being fair to yourself, your people or your organization. Are you throwing a life jack to something that’s already sunk to the bottom of the ocean?

2. Detachment mitigates the pain of quitting. As a leader of your membership-based organization, you’ve contributed your share. From dollars out of your own pocket to time away from your family to energy out of your own reserve, it’s not like you aren’t devoted to the success of the group.

And that’s exactly why it’s so hard to confront the mortality of your organization: Because you’ve already invested so much emotional labor. That’s the real issue: Not the shame of failure – but the emotional attachment to the thing that’s failing.

But, when you divorce your heart from of the problem, the solution becomes a no-brainer. That’s when you realize that just because something sucks – it doesn’t mean you suck.

And as a result, walking away doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Especially if you’re the only one putting in any effort. Or if three people are doing the work of ten. If that’s the case – or if that’s been the case for a while – maybe it’s time to stop fooling yourself.

Working overtime to convince yourself that this group going to work is a waste of your time and talents. This thing isn’t something to overcome – it’s something to outgrow. Are you preserving the illusion of something that’s not actually there just because you’d feel guilty if it wasn’t?

3. Celebrate your victories and walk off the field. In a recent article in FastCompany, non-profit thought leader Nancy Lublin writes, “Organizations don’t exist simply to exist. They should wear a termination notice as a badge of honor.”

What’s there to be ashamed of anyway? You had fun, did the best you could, learned a ton, helped the community, deepened relationships with key people and fulfilled your mission for as long as you could.

Don’t overstate the possibilities and exaggerate the potential of your organization out of guilt. The stress and frustration will slowly drive you insane.

If it’s not worth it anymore, if the efficacy of your efforts is outweighed by the frustration of the people who exert it – and if the point of diminishing returns has come and gone like a busboy in a burger joint – it’s time to throw in the towel.

Take whatever chips you’ve won, fold the hand and get on with your life.

People will be thrilled you read their minds, sacked up and made the call instead of them. Are you willing to confront your organizational expiration date?

4. When growing is no longer possible, give up. In Seth Godin’s book The Dip, I learned that people quit for two reasons: Either because it’s hard, or because it’s right. Let’s explore two examples:

If you shut your organizational doors because you don’t feel like getting up on Saturday mornings to attend meetings, you’re quitting because it’s hard.

But if you shut the doors because you regularly find yourself standing around when the music stops only to look up and notice that you're the only one dancing while the rest of party either grabbed a chair or went home, you’re quitting because it’s right.

Ultimately, the decision to close shop is simply a matter of severity. It’s either a problem or a predicament. And your challenge is to discern the difference.

If it’s a problem, that means you can create a solution. Cool. But if it’s a predicament, all you can do is manage the response. Also cool.

Look: Every group runs its course. Don’t try to revive an organization that’s not important to people who aren’t even coming anyway. Dive into death. Are you using the shovel to make the hole bigger with one foot in the grave?

REMEMBER: There’s no shame in shutting your doors.

Especially if the hinges have been accumulating cobwebs for some time.

It’s never pleasant when you realize you’ve outlived your usefulness.

But it happens. Actually, it happens a lot.

And if that’s the case for your organization, my suggestion is simple:

Accept it, enjoy the ride and get on with your life.

Keith Richards would be proud.

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

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Guide to Going Where There is No Path and Leaving a Trail

I know who you are.

You’ve chosen to follow an uncommon road.
You’ve elected to pursue a perilous and uncertain course.
You’ve decided to go where there is no path and leave a trail.

Let me be the first person to say: Hell to the yes.

You are going to grow geometrically.
You are going to evolve exponentially.
You are going to learn comprehensively.

Pshht. Paths. Overrated.

But.

HERE’S WHAT SUCKS: You can’t navigate what isn’t there.

And after your initial excitement dies down, the nagging question will become, “Oh crap. If I’m the only person who’s ever gone this way before, how the hell will I get directions?”

ANSWER: You won’t.

Fortunately, I’ve accumulated a body of experience in this area. And I have some ideas I’d like to share with you that will be useful to your journey.

Emerson suggested we do not go where the path may lead, but instead go where there is no path and leave a trail. Here’s how to do it:
1. Success never comes unassisted. I’m not saying you need your hand held through life. But reaching out doesn’t make you a weakling or a failure.

If your world comes crashing down and you need to fly to Iowa for the weekend to have a good cry with your parents, do it.

If you feel like an abject failure, and you need a friend to sit with you for two hours of venting, do it.

Your peeps. Your crew. Your network of healing. Your expectation-free support structure. These are the people who help clear the trees along your untraveled path.

Let them. That’s why they’re there. The people who love you most want nothing more than the opportunity to come through and show you so.

Save islands for vacations. Ask for help early and often. Who do you know that would help you take the first steps down your path?

2. Mental torture isn’t worth it. The reality us: No matter how successful you become, you’ll always find ways to feel bad about yourself. You need to be okay with that. You need to not to be so hard on yourself.

Instead, change the way you attend to those feelings. Try greeting them with a welcoming, non-judgmental heart. And express gratitude for the opportunity to feel what you feel. It means you’re human and alive, and that’s a good thing.

Ultimately, you’ll find that if you experience these feelings without acting on them – and if you sit with these emotions and let yourself fully experience them – they can’t hurt you. They have no power over you. And that will make your walk down the uncertain path significantly less stressful.

Remember: When you go it alone, you mind is your basic means of survival. Attend to it compassionately and creatively. How do you mentally handicap yourself?

3. Go pro or go home. Going where there is no path requires commitment with both feet. And if you haven’t reached that point yet, allow me to describe it:

It’s that moment when you notice a deficit in yourself. When every minute that goes by, you feel more and more robbed of your true talent. When your spirit kneels bare handed. And when it becomes so existentially agonizing that you can’t take it anymore, you stop what you’re doing one day and say, “What the hell am I doing here?”

That’s when you jump.

That’s when you push all your chips to the middle of the table and say, “Screw it. I’m all in.”

Make no mistake: This will be the most liberating – and most terrifying – moment of your career. But it’s all part of the path. You have to go pro. You have to start showing up every day, no matter what, and risk exposing yourself to the judgment of the world.

Otherwise your amateurism will block your progress. You always sin when you deny yourself a purpose below your responsibilities. What’s preventing the world from taking you seriously?

4. Acquaint yourself with delayed gratification. The fewer footprints on your path, the more patience will be required to travel it. Fortunately, while hard work pays off – hard waiting pays millions.

And besides, it’s not like you’re idle. There’s a difference between sitting on your ass, playing video games, hoping your ship will come in – and hustling while you wait to extend the reach of your dock.

The first secret is to be patient with your mistakes. And you have to remember that a mistake ceases to be a mistake the moment you choose to learn from it. As Joseph Campbell reminds us, “Our treasures lie where we stumble.”

The second secret is to be patient with your profits. Personally, my company didn’t make money for the first three years. Knowing this would be the case; I worked nights and weekends parking cars at a local hotel to make ends meet. Hey: You do what you have to do. Even if that means crashing a few Beamers. Woops.

The final secret is to be patient with your progress. Look: I know you’re worried that you won’t be able to build on your current situation. But be careful not to get addicted to the sweet nectar of progress. You can’t start on next if you suck at now.

The good news is: While going where there is no path takes longer, at least the scenery is better. Remember to enjoy it. How patient are you willing to be, and how productively are you willing to work in the meantime?

5. You can’t aim one arrow at two targets. Focus is the mobilizing force. More than goals. More than plans. More than anything. Almost every client in my mentoring program – most of which have gone where there is no path – have experienced some kind of focusing challenge. And I tell them all the same thing:

“Focus is a function of punching yourself in the face.”

It’s true. For almost a decade I’ve had a sticky note on my desk that asks, “Is what you’re doing right now consistent with your number one goal?” And if it’s not, I don’t do it. Period. End of story. It’s confrontational but constructive. And I urge you to try this exercise in your own workspace to reinforce focus.

Also, keep one more thing in mind: Your focus will undoubtedly change over time. Especially since you’re traveling where there is no path. As such, what matters most is not the thing you’re focused on – but the unquestionable, laser-like focus you maintain on that thing until it’s time to pivot.

Remember: The dog who chases two rabbits doesn’t just go hungry – he looks stupid while starving. Are you a victim of your own lack of disorganization?

6. Enlist your rational faculty. “Sanity is highly overrated.” I believe that with all my heart. The challenge is striking a healthy balance between being out of your mind and being out of money.

This happens a lot to people who go where there is no path. Because the bottom line is: You can’t remove the teeth from the cruel bite of reality. When you’re broke, you’re broke.

A helpful mantra my family likes to say is, “You can’t eat like an elephant and shit like a bird.”

The funny thing is, I’ve been saying that for years. But it wasn’t until my business got audited that I had to stop talking this philosophy and start living it. Damn it. I hate it when that whole integrity things comes back to bite me in the ass.

The point is: You have to use your brain – especially the left side of it. Especially if you make significant financial investments to your endeavors. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said, “You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful.” How can you spend no money next year?

REMEMBER: Going where there is no path requires courage, consistency and clarity.

Yes, it’s guaranteed to be the hardest, longest and most uncertain way to travel.

But it’s also guaranteed to have the best scenery, the deepest learning and the richest rewards.

See you out there.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What path are you taking?

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!