Watch Scott's TEDx talk!

A brand, a business and a career. From a nametag.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Geographic Impotence, or, How Having No Sense of Direction Can Change Everything

Consider four clich├ęs:

If you don’t know where you’re going, you may never get there.
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you’ve finally arrived.

I respectfully disagree.

In my experience:

If you don’t know where you’re going, nobody can stop you.
If you don’t know where you’re going, there’s no destination to scare you.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you may end up somewhere better.
If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s easy to hear unintentional music.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you can pivot and change mid-course.
If you don’t know where you’re going, the wheels of serendipity can set in motion.

My name is Scott, and I am geographically impotent.

Which isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes you have to lose your way to find your home. But personally, I can’t imagine living in a world where you can’t get lost.

Today we’re going to talk about the value of having no sense of direction.

Feel free to let your brain wander:
1. Intelligence is the great impediment. Admittedly, I didn’t put lot of thought into my first book. There was no strategy, no through line, no promise to the reader, no take home value for the buyer and no unique selling proposition for the target market.

I just wrote it because I wanted to write it. I wrote it because I had a story worth telling. And I wrote it because if I didn’t, my heart would never forgive me. So I just shipped the damn thing.

And when the book came out, it’s not like I wised up and got my act together. There was still marketing strategy. No social media push. And no finely orchestrated plan that was in perfect alignment with my personal vision statement and life purpose.

I just handed out copies to every single person I knew, along with two free nametags in the back of each book. That’s it. And because I wasn’t trying to make money – I was trying to make a point – the book ended up making history. All because the intention was pure, the process was organic and the art was completely selfish. Sweet.

Remember: When you know too much, you execute too little. How could you become dumber today?

2. Goals are for soccer players. The problem with goals is that you’re never really happy when you accomplish them. You just keep setting more goals. And you end up living in a perpetual state of dissatisfied expectation. Nothing but an infinite regression of marginally worthwhile accomplishments.

This is not healthy.

First of all, there’s more to life than accomplishing your goals. Being trumps doing any day of the week. And just because you’re not “getting things done” doesn’t mean you’re going to disappear. Secondly, life changes. Quickly. And often times, what you thought you wanted later proves to be irrelevant, redundant or erroneous.

Instead of deadlocking your life to an arbitrary list of pointless attachments, focus on your intention. Decide how you want to invest your life. And let go of your outdated plan that has no relationship with reality. You might also try making a list of one hundred reasons why you do what you.

After all, life’s greatest transformations occur in the moments when we’ve lost our way, but preserved our why.

Remember: Success is not a spreadsheet. And what can’t be measured, matters. Are you a victim of the victories that don’t count?

3. Beware of making gods out of your plans. I don’t plan – I just sort of do stuff that feels consistent with who I am, and go from there. Truth is: Planning is procrastination in disguise. But people do it because it preserves their sense of control. It reinforces the illusion that they know what they’re doing. Which they don’t.

That’s why I’m completely against any permutation of the phrase, “Ready, aim, fire!" Because you’re never ready, aiming is overrated and fire burns people.

An alternate formula you might consider is, “Try, listen, leverage.”

First, you just try stuff. You just do stuff. Don’t plan anything. Don’t overthink it. Just start. Second, listen. To the people who matter. And not for opinions, but for reactions.

Then, be sure to treat everything you hear with deep democracy. Finally, leverage. Kill two stones with one bird. And constantly ask yourself, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

The point is: Failure doesn’t come from poor planning, but from the timidity to proceed. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how.

Instead of holding a meeting to get ready to prepare the execution of your plan for formulating your strategy to begin the initial stages of brainstorming your pre-launch, just go. Are you prematurely committing yourself to an endeavor that might later prove to be unprofitable?

4. Don’t think big – think now. The problem with the big picture is that it fills up your entire wall. And that prevents you from hanging the art that matters most. When the reality is: Just when you get there, there disappears. Just when you think you have life figured out, it changes on you like a traffic light.

And just when you think redheads are your type, your online dating profile matches you with a dishwater blonde that steals your heart like a thief in the night.

That’s been the biggest learning for me: That your currency will change. That you will outgrow things. And that you will have to leave some people behind. That’s why I’m all about getting lost. And that’s why people who try to choreograph everything piss me off.

I’m sorry, but life isn’t that predictable.

The world pivots quickly. And if you don’t meet the now need, you’re going to make the mistake of living your life and not being present for it. As Adam Duritz reminds us, “You have to be in your life or it will pass you by.”

Look: Just embrace the moment. It pays better. Are you willing to leave room for the unexpected, or are you still seduced by the sexiness of what’s next?

REMEMBER: There’s no shame is having no sense of direction.

Try getting lost. Step into the beauty of useful serendipity.

You may end up somewhere that changes everything.

What will your addiction to terminal certainty cost you?

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

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Is your frontline IN line?

Tune in to The Frontline Channel on!

Watch video lessons on delivering unforgettable service!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What It Feels Like to be Heartstrong

I was born on Valentine’s Day.

Which, to some people, isn’t a big deal. It’s just another day.

But throughout my life, I’ve always felt there was some sort of cosmic significance to that particular date. Like it had something to do with who I was, at my core.

I never really gave it much thought.

Until recently.

I realized that, based on my disposition – based on my personal constitution as a human being – I couldn’t have been born on a more perfect day.

My name is Scott, and I am heartstrong.

THE COOL PART IS: You don’t have to share the same birthday to embody the same philosophy.

Anyone can be heartstrong.

Here’s what it feels like:
Heartstrong people defy gravity.
Are you willing to overcome the forces trying to weigh you down?

Heartstrong people break the mold.
Are you willing to question the constitution of the walls that enclose you?

Heartstrong people know their truth.
Are you willing to remember who you are?

Heartstrong people follow their heart.
Are you willing to tear yourself away from the safe harbor of certainty?

Heartstrong people go their own way.
Do you have the courage to follow your inner guide even if you look like an idiot and risk alienating those who don’t understand?

Heartstrong people do their own thing.
Are you willing to step out and expose your dream to the light?

Heartstrong people televise their values.
Are you willing to stay loyal to yourself?

Heartstrong people do their own thinking.
Are you willing to turn off the television and formulate your own opinion of the world?

Heartstrong people slay their inner editor.
Are you willing to live without interference to the expression of your individuality?

Heartstrong people set healthy boundaries.
Are you willing to put yourself at the top of your own list?

Heartstrong people give their river a voice.
Are you willing to bring all of yourself to everything you do?

Heartstrong people play by their own rules.
Are you wiling to become the exception to as many rules as possible?

Heartstrong people commit to what matters.
Are you willing to communicate to the world that you’re fully committed?

Heartstrong people don’t wait for permission.
Are you asking who’s going to let you or wondering who’s going to stop you?

Heartstrong people take the road less traveled.
Are you willing to work without a map?

Heartstrong people advocate against normality.
Are you willing to wage a war against mediocrity?

Heartstrong people walk where there is no path.
Are you willing to leave a bloody trail?

Heartstrong people are their own authority figure.
Are you willing to eschew the judgments of others and do what makes you happy?

Heartstrong people crush the confines of convention.
Are you willing to become the person you were before the world made you into what it wanted you to be?

Heartstrong people inject soul into whatever they do.
Are you willing to bring your humanity to the moment?

Heartstrong people voluntarily opt out of the mainstream.
Are you waiting around to be picked or picking yourself?

THE GOOD NEWS IS: Being heartstrong is an inspiring, attractive and memorable way to live your life.

Even if you’re not born on Valentine’s Day.

Are you spending your time measuring or mattering?

For a list called, "153 Quotations to Inspire Your Success," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment."

--Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott's Brain today!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Turn Your Brand into a Badge

After wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for a decade, my badge became a brand.


The only problem is, you don’t wear a nametag. And you don’t have ten years.

Fortunately, if your story can play an enduring role in people’s lives, it’s no longer a brand – it’s a badge.

And if you want the people who matter most to wear it proud, wear it loud and wear it forever, consider these suggestions:
1. Let people into the moment. Advertising is the tax you pay for being average. The only unit of marketing that matters is human engagement. Ever. Everything else is bothering people into buying you by killing trees. And engagement isn’t just a transaction, either – it’s an ongoing process.

Consider these key elements:

First, open a direct channel to your customers. That gives them an opportunity to engage. How many different ways can people contact you?

Second, build a platform for their voices to be heard. That taps into their creative flair. How are you making it easy for people to express themselves?

Third, leave your door unlocked in perpetuity. That gives people permission to reengage over and over again. What’s your policy for treating repeat business?

The point is, engaging in an ongoing daily conversation isn’t just an opportunity – it's a responsibility. And if your brand doesn’t induce participation, your bank account will endure devaluation. How do you invite people to participate in your brand?

2. Fulfill the need of materialization. Human beings possess an inherent desire to materialize their love and admiration for people and things that are essential to their lives. That’s why they get tattoos of their spouse’s names, stand in line to get celebrity autographs, frame pictures of their pets and embed badges of their favorite companies on their website.

This proves one thing: Joinability is a function of ownability. Which brings up a key question: How can your brand create tangible, ownable assets that you people will regularly and enthusiastically show to their friends?

For example, Maker’s Mark distributes Ambassador Cards to their most dedicated patrons. Nike stores laminate digital headshots and print them on lanyard badges. And both of these engagement tools work because they don’t interrupt and disturb customers; rather, they weave their brand communication into people’s existing social fabric.

Remember: You can’t ignore something if you feel like you’re a part of the action. Make people virtual participants in the scene and your film will rock. Are you helping people with what they're already doing or artificially squeezing yourself into their already overcrowded lives?

3. Design is your friend. Instead of spewing endless commodities that get trashed after one functional use, joinable brands turn their engagement tools into cool, keepable design items. They create marketing that people seek out and are thankful for.

Take my client, Dennis. He works for the Division of Waste Management in Hamilton, Ontario. And as a way to educate, engage and entertain the residents, his team put together a pocket-sized book of cartoons on recycling and composting. It’s lovable, it’s helpful and it’s a value-driven promotional tool to build awareness around his organization’s brand. Not to mention, the book makes waste management cool.

All because Dennis knew: Design isn’t just about aesthetics – it’s about utility. And customers always engage when you give them something useful. On the other hand, the moment you stop adding value to people’s lives is the moment your brand starts losing momentum.

Look: People don’t need another free pen. They need something beautiful they can play with, show off to their friends and keep in the office for the next five years. How quickly is your marketing stored in people’s circular file cabinets?

4. Build emotional resonance. We all build brands for the same reason: To close the gap between how the world is, and how we wish it was. The trick is, it’s not enough to contend for people’s attention – you also have to compete for their emotions. And if you fail to dig deep down into the human psyche to retrieve them, your brand will be ignored.

Take a tip from Tom Himp, founder of Naked Communications. In his book, Next, he revealed the commonalities of the world’s most successful marketing movements. Here’s my personal favorite:

“Pull the heartstrings of the lowest common emotional denominator. Speak to something innate in people and broaden their awareness of a situation they assumed they were immune from.”

I immediately think of Al Gore. After losing the presidential election, he traveled the world for three years showing people that climate change was real and relevant. Not only did he win a Nobel Prize, but his presentation also launched a global movement that combined charity, multimedia and advocacy via his online social community.

All because the emotional resonance of his brand reverberated through people’s hearts. How would your brand change if you stopped making commercials and started fighting a crusade?

REMEMBER: Your story needs to play a long-term role in people’s lives.

That means people need to wear it proudly.
That means people need to brag about it loudly.

Because when they do, it’s no longer a brand – it’s a badge.

What is your branding becoming?

For the list called, "14 Things You Don't Have to Do Anymore," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to Secure a Spot in Someone’s Heart, Part 1

Being remembered has less to do with you, and more to do with how people experience themselves in relation to you.

Because in my experience:

It’s not who you know.
It’s whose life is better because they know you.

It’s not being the life of the party.
It’s bringing other people to life at the party.

It’s not making people fall in love with you.
It’s helping people fall in love with themselves.

That’s how you achieve heartshare, not just mindshare.

THE QUESTION IS: How do you want to leave people?

If you want to secure a spot in someone’s heart, consider these ideas:
1. Leave people shoved. Petition them to take the plunge. Challenge them to play for keeps. And show them what they can’t see for themselves. Did you disrupt their inertia?

2. Leave people speechful. If people are speechless, you’re doing something wrong. Interacting with you should invite people to talk more. Did you excavate their brilliance?

3. Leave people disturbed. Picasso said, “You have to wake people up. To revolutionize their way of identifying things. You’ve got to create images they won’t accept.” Did you evoke emotion?

4. Leave people faithful. Your story should lay naked your belief. Then make them believe. Then make them proud to take the first step. Did you let people pick up where you left off?

5. Leave people essential. Making them feel valued, important and special isn’t enough. They need to know their work matters. That they’d be missed when they’re gone. Did you show them you’d crumble without them?

6. Leave people honored. Respond positively to their unique experience of the world. Look them in the eye and tell them how great their ideas are, no matter how big or small. Did you respond to them with fundamental affirmation?

7. Leave people impressed. Not with you, but with themselves. All you have to do is put their brilliance on display; then give them a front row seat. Did you become a stand for their greatness?

8. Leave people reevaluating. If you can reset the compass in people’s brain so they can better feel what’s important in life, they’ll never forget you. Did you invite them to confront what matters?

9. Leave people alive. Helping someone live life is the ultimate human connection. And if you can help them embed their passion into the pavement of the conversation, they’ll never forget you. Are you asking people about the weather or their passion?

10. Leave people liberated. Create a safe place where individual creativity can shine. Petition people to inject their personality into everything they do. And make no restrictions on self-expression. Who are you asking to edit themselves?

11. Leave people seen. You look with your eyes, but seeing is something you do with the heart. Try this: Instead of handling them, treat them. And instead of manipulating them, harmonize with them. Did you make anyone feel invisible this week?

12. Leave people breathless. Bother to show up when you’re scared. Tell the truth when there’s no reason to be honest. And dare to care when it’s inconvenient. In your rarity, you will become remarkable. Did you make them gasp?

13. Leave people validated. Not everybody needs information. Sometimes they just need affirmation of what they were already thinking, and verification that they weren’t completely crazy. How do you make people feel not alone?

14. Leave people heard. Put up a verbal mirror so others might experience themselves as you do. Show them their words have weight by taking notes on the conversation, then emailing them a copy five minutes later. Did you reflect their reality back to them?

15. Leave people able. People love to hear how great they are; but they long to hear how great you’ve become because of who they are. Tell them often. Do you make people conscious of their own capabilities?

16. Leave people connected. Position yourself as a catalyst for connection. Because sometimes the best way to secure a spot in someone’s heart is to secure them a spot in someone else’s. Are you a master of the email introduction?

REMEMBER: Memorability pivots on the fulcrum point of better.

Refuse to leave people where they are.

Focus on how they experience themselves in relation to you.

And you’ll secure a spot in their hearts forever.

Whose life is better because you’re a part of it?

For a list called, "134 Questions Every Salesperson Should Ask," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment."

--Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott's Brain today!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Young Leader’s to Guide to Getting Heard

You can’t mute your way to success.

If you want get ahead, you’ve got to get heard.

THE QUESTION IS: How do you have a voice when you’ve barely had any experience?

Well, you could always lie. Or be the ass-kissing, apple-polishing, precocious youngster everybody in the office secretly loathes.

But if you want to become well known (and known well) in your company, you might try a few of these suggestions for getting heard:
1. Be strategically dumb. They’ll never admit it, but all organizations need energetic, curious people who can come in and ask dumb questions they stopped asking long ago. People who can courageously step back from the corporate canvas and say, “Wait a minute. Does anyone else smell that?”

That’s how you rock the boat without sinking the ship. And if you want to create stunned silence at your next meeting, try a few of these: “Why are we doing this again?” “According to whom?” and “What evidence do we have to support that?”

That’s precisely the advantage of being young: Because people don’t expect much out of you, you can usually get away with asking dumb questions. What do you have to lose? They think you’re dumb anyway. May as well prove them right so they can prove themselves wrong.

After all, if you can make but a few people pause, you win. And so do they. Sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. How are you marketing your stupidity?

2. Convince people you can contribute right away. When dealing with skeptical coworkers who doubt your ability, you have to dress your truth in story. That’s the smartest way to make a point and the quickest way to have your voice heard, without involving automatic weapons. As Annette Simmons wrote in The Story Factor, “Storytelling is a pull strategy. It doesn’t tell people who you are, it demonstrates it.”

Your challenge is to tell a story that offers evidence of what people doubt. A story that makes people proud to take the first step with you. For example, if your narrative illustrates specific ways you’ve helped other companies move through problems in the past, people will be more likely to listen to your suggestions.

My suggestion: Keep a victory log. Compile a list of the strongest contributions you’ve made to other organizations in the past. Next, document the urgent, pervasive, relevant and expensive problems you solved. Lastly, practice telling these stories in a compelling, emotional way that demonstrates your ability to contribute. They won’t be able to resist you.

Remember: The earlier you add value, the longer you stick around. What stories are you known for?

3. Instead of ignoring the elephant, try riding it. Hair dye and plastic surgery notwithstanding, age isn’t something you can hide. Face it: You’re young and everybody knows it. The good new is, you can beat people to the punch by speaking directly to the age issue before it gets raised. That way you eclipse misgivings before they escalate into barriers.

For example, when I first started my career as a speaker, I would open my presentations with a quotation from the wise philosopher, Indiana Jones: “It’s not the years – it’s the mileage.”

After a nice chuckle, I’d proceed to share images of my own professional mile markers: Books I published, clients I worked for and results I enabled. And sure enough, people uncrossed their arms and paid attention. And that’s the secret: Before you convince people of your value, you have to understand and neutralize their resistance to that value.

Otherwise your listenability will plummet. How will you disarm the immediate preoccupation of people twice your age?

4. Accumulate acts of value. First, turn yourself into a futurist. Stay abreast of what’s on the horizon. Then, share those trends in a cool way with the people who matter. And be sure to attach why you think it’s meaningful for their world. By doing so regularly, without the expectation of reciprocity, people will view you as a resource – not a rascal.

Second, seek out opportunities to speak publicly about what you love. Both inside and outside the company. By allowing passion to fuel your voice and practicality to fuel your content, your message will become impossible to ignore.

Third, convert your online platform to an ongoing source of education. Instead of blogging and tweeting about your breakfast, ask disturbing questions that catapult people’s thinking. Share lessons learned from mistakes made. By practicing freedom of thought – not just freedom of speech – you position yourself as someone who cares for people and shares with people.

Ultimately, these consistent acts of delivering value will add up. And you’ll create enough good in the marketplace where people will begin got seek you out. Remember: Value is the engine of voice. Are you delivering random acts of kindness or regular acts of value?

REMEMBER: It’s not enough to be listened to.

If you want to get ahead, you’ve got to get heard.

Deploy your voice today.

Are you being listened to or being heard?

For the list called, "11 Things to Stop Wasting Your Time On," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Steve Nash Guide to Not Knowing

I was watching basketball at the time.

When the game was over, the announcer stepped onto the floor to interview my favorite player, Steve Nash.

"It's fascinating to watch you play. You're quick, you're scrappy and you're smart. And I never know where you're going to take the ball: Straight to the basket? Across the paint? Out to the three-point circle? I mean, how do you know where you're going to go?"

"I don't," Nash replied.

The announcer froze.

"Yeah, but you're one of the best point guards in the league. Millions of fans adore you. And your numbers are off the charts. What do you mean you don't know?"

And with a sweaty, confident smile, Steve said something I'll never forget:

If you don't know where you're going, nobody can stop you.

That's the art of not knowing.

And it's not only valuable for basketball players, it's also profitable for businesspeople.

THE QUESTION IS: Are you smart enough to be dumb when it matters?

Today we're going to explore a collection of ideas to help you convert strategic ignorance into a competitive advantage.
1. Reason is highly overrated. When I started wearing a nametag every day, there was no strategy. There was no agenda. It was just something I did. And what always amazed me was how how hard it was for certain people to wrap their heads around that. They simply couldn't accept the fact that I was doing something just the sake of doing it.

In fact, some of them got outright angry, insisting that there must be a deeper motivation behind my actions. Nope. I just feel like wearing a nametag. What do you want from me?

Years later, I read Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He named this type experience autotelic, or engaging in an activity or a creative work that has an end or purpose in itself. The other option is exotelic, which means doing things not because you enjoy them, but rather to accomplish a later goal.

Which category describes your actions?

The point is: Life's too short to surround yourself with people who a demand a reason for everything. Instead, stay in touch with your childlike sensibility. Never discard your playful spirit. And remember that sometimes, digging a hole is just digging a hole. You don't need to find the treasure when digging is the treasure.

After all: Sometimes the best reason is the one you don't have. Are you motivated by the quality of the experience you feel or the quantity of the results you achieve?

2. Position yourself as the curious one. Not knowing has nothing to do with stupidity. It has everything to do with being aggressively skeptical and keeping a posture of incurable curiosity.

That way, you can recognize the broken patterns most people miss. That way, you're the person who comes in, raises his hand and asks the dumb questions everybody else stopped asking long ago because they already know everything.

Which they don't. They just haven't kicked their addiction to terminal certainty yet, and they need a fix.

That's what I tell the clients who rent my brain: That I'm an outsider. A new pair of eyes. And the reason they're paying me is because I know nothing. Yes, it sounds like a counterintuitive position to take as a consultant.

But in my experience, when you become known as a breath of fresh air, those who matter will come in droves to inhale. And they'll pay big money to sustain that high. Look: People are tired of listening to the same messages from the same people. Try walking in with some perspective. You'll walk out with a check.

Remember: Sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. How are you marketing your stupidity?

3. Not knowing is the great gateway. In the humbling book Being Wrong, author Kathryn Schulz takes the reader on an adventure through the margin of error. Here's my favorite passage:

"We all outgrow some of our beliefs. So instead of parading your own brilliance, try rebuilding your understanding. Otherwise certainty becomes an obstacle to the path toward truth."

That's the cool part about not knowing: It engages a higher part of yourself. That's what keeps you mentally flexible. That's what allows you to trust the process. And that's what affords you the psychological freedom to pivot into new directions. Only from that space of openness, vulnerability and surrender can you make discoveries that change everything.

The only problem is: Not knowing will drive your ego crazy. Even if you know you're wrong -- your head will make sure your heart never gets that memo.

But that's an inner battle you have to fight. And it will annoy you to no end. My suggestion: For one week, stop being right. No arguing, no asserting your opinion and no spinning everything people say into another statement you disagree with. You'll be amazed how differently you treat people when you're not trying so hard to prove them wrong. What insecurity is being disguised by your relentless need to be right?

4. Ignorance isn’t just bliss -- it's boldness. I started my company the day I graduated from college. I wasn't ready, I wasn't smart enough and I had no experience. But I took the plunge anyway. Because I knew that if I waited until I knew what I was doing, I never would have done anything.

That's the advantage of not knowing: It gets you going. And as long as you have the right mindset, jumping doesn’t have to be a reckless endeavor. Risky, but not reckless.

Here's the distinction: Risky is embracing uncertainty; reckless is rejecting ambiguity. Risky is growing increasingly mindful of how your pebbles ripple, reckless is remaining utterly unconcerned about the consequences of action.

All I'm saying is: The less you know, the less you fear. And it’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists. At least that's what the officer told me. If you didn't know the ropes, would that give you permission to to fly?

REMEMBER: Any idiot can be right.

Only a real genius can embrace wrong.

Pull a Steve Nash. Give not knowing a try.

Because life is boring when you know all the answers.

Are you still addicted to terminal certainty?

For the list called, "22 Unexpected Ways to Help People," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Is your frontline IN line?

Tune in to The Frontline Channel on!

Watch video lessons on delivering unforgettable service!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Branding Isn’t, What Branding Is, and How to Make Sure People Join Yours

Here’s what branding isn’t:

It’s not having a cool logo. It’s not dressing for success. It’s not self-serving competitiveness. It’s not converting yourself into a corporate clone. It’s not telling everyone you meet how awesome you are.

It’s not endless self-promotion at the expense of others. It’s not getting ahead of people and moving up the ladder. It’s not memorizing some hollow, hackneyed mission statement. It’s not puking your unique selling proposition all over everyone you meet.
It’s not integrating a sequence of promises that align with organizational initiatives.

Here’s what branding is:

How people experience you, and how people experience themselves in relation to you.

THE COOL PART IS: If your can nail those both, people won’t just buy your brand – they’ll join it.

Here’s how to make it happen:
1. Don’t force your brand into a box. Here’s the problem with our hyperspeed, instant gratification culture: People who fail to summarize their brand’s uniqueness in three seconds are shunned.

Sadly, there’s all this social pressure to know how to articulate your value in a concise, intriguing and relevant manner. As if people who didn’t were the scum of the marketplace.

Excuse me, but branding isn’t that simple.

First of all, the term “branding” is finished. This is about identity. This is about bringing your humanity to the moment. Branding is for cattle. Secondly, while positioning statements are fun to come up with – and make you feel good about your value when they’re staring back at you from your shiny new website – branding isn’t some empty slogan you knock out on a Tuesday afternoon with your mastermind group.

Branding takes time. Years. And yours will evolve, just like your life evolves. Hell, mine took five years to crystallize, only to be upgraded two years later.

The point is: If you can summarize the entire scope of value that you, as a human being, deliver – in five words – then you’re doing your customers a massive disservice. Walt Whitman was right: You are large. You contain multitudes. And if you want people to join you, you have to peel the branding onion slowly. Otherwise, limiting your brand to some arbitrary, one-sentence overarching statement will limit its ability to grow into something better.

Remember: A forced brand is a forgotten one. Have you ever read Apple’s positioning statement?

2. Understand the evolving business landscape. Now, customers have the power. Now, customers make the choices. Now, customers drive the engine of interaction. And now, customers decide how much attention to give you. But if you cling to traditional ways of communicating, your brand will remain an unnoticeable blip on the radar.

One example of this principle in action is my daily fill in the blank exercise on Facebook. After running this mini experiment hundreds of times with thousands of people, I’ve discovered that it engages on several levels:

It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s organic. It taps into people’s creative flair. It meets people where they are. It flips the spotlight. It opens a direct channel. It provides free research. It doesn’t require much thought. It introduces an element of intrigue. It never has a right or wrong answer. It spices up people’s daily journey. And it gives people space to express themselves on my platform.

Look: Customers don’t want to constrict themselves into a predetermined mold; they want to create their own personal media landscape. Let them. Turn down your control freak knob and leave it up to them to close the loop. After all, people buy what they have a role in creating. They’re motivated by their own achievements, not your company’s accomplishments.

The point is, surrendering ownership doesn’t impede profit – it invites commitment. How vulnerable are you willing to make yourself?

3. Appeal to the human appetite for playful experiences. The best part about wearing a nametag every day is how much fun I get to have with people. From jokes about my memory problems to pokes about my identity crisis, the gags haven’t stopped in eleven years. And what I’ve learned from this trend is simple: Play draws people your brand’s orbit.

First, by spicing up people’s daily journey. Because when you bring your humanity to the moment, you make the moment a more pleasant passing of time. Second, play helps customers create their own game experience. That’s what allows them feel adventurous and exploratory.

And third, play creates an encounter in which anxiety is temporarily bracketed. In that safe space, people believe there is no reason not to take risks. Who wouldn’t want to join a brand like that? No wonder the Apple store is always crowded. It’s not a computer shop – it’s a jungle gym. I wonder how you could turn more of your brand moments into playful moment.

After all, branding isn’t just how people experience you; it’s how people experience themselves in relation to you. How are you letting your customers out for recess?

REMEMBER: Good brands are bought – great brands are joined.

Think about how people experience you.
Think about how people experience themselves in relation to you.

And nobody will even care what your logo looks like.

Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

For the list called, "26 Ways to Out Brand the Competition," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Who's telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NametagTV: Sales Questions That Matter 3

Video not working? Click here for Adobe Flash 9!

Or, watch the original video on NametagTV.

How many questions have you invented?

For a list called, "27 Reasons People Aren't Listening to You" send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Sick of selling?
Tired of cold calling?
Bored with traditional prospecting approaches?

Buy Scott's book and learn how to sell enable people to buy!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Throw Your Heart Over the Fence

Commitment changes everything.

Whether you’re starting a new relationship, moving to a new city, going full time with your business or devoting your life to a charitable cause, it’s amazing how many positive results occur when you cross that threshold.

THE PROBLEM IS: Commitment is not a light switch.

It’s not something you turn on when the room goes dark.

Commitment is a daily demonstration.
Commitment is a constitutional core value.
Commitment is a posture that makes you more approachable.

Norman Vincent Peale once suggested that when you throw your heart over the fence, the rest would follow.

But he never told you how. That's my job:
1. Build commitment into your personal constitution. When you bring commitment to the forefront of your value system, throwing your heart over the fence becomes easier and easier.

My suggestion is to write a personal constitution. If you’ve never done that before, here’s an overview of this crucial life document:

Your constitution is the composition and condition of your character. It’s the established arrangement of your non-negotiables and the description of your decision-making mechanisms. It’s the collection of personal characteristics comprising your foundation. And it’s the system of fundamental values governing your behavior.

The best part is: It’s a living document. It’s amenable. And as you grow and develop personally and professionally, various elements of your constitution reserve the right to modify.

For now, your challenge is threefold: Find a place in this document for commitment, read it to yourself every morning, and share it with at least one person every day. This fixes commitment into your unconscious and makes a public declaration of your intentions. Then, when the time comes to throw your heart over the fence, you’ll have the foundation to execute. Will you name commitment as one of your core values?

2. Make the decision not to walk away. My friend Vinny has been married for over thirty years. When I asked him what the secret was, the simplicity of his answer surprised me:

“If there were problems, we dealt with it. If there were tough times, we dealt with it. But we never walked away.”

That’s the beauty of throwing your heart over the fence: Once you’re emotionally committed to a course of action, you’ll always find a way to resolve whatever practical difficulties arise.

Not because they’re easy. Not because there’s a formula. And not because you’re a genius. But because you won’t allow yourself to take no for an answer. You’ve committed, and that’s what committed people do: They deal with it. They never walk away. Even when it hurts. Even when challenges stare them down like a gunfighter.

The question is whether you’re willing to create unacceptable consequences of failing. Whether you’re willing to paint yourself into an accountable corner. And whether you’re willing to commit to not walking away. Because if you’re not, you might end up quitting when it’s hard, not when it’s right. What would your daily life feel like if you made turning back impossible?

3. Activate gravitational order. In Ed Sylvia’s metaphysical masterpiece, Proving God, he writes that motion organizes and creates order. And through motion, all things tend to their equilibrium and find their place in the universe, thus conspiring towards some unifying geometrical situation.

That’s the next secret to throwing your heart over the fence: Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. How is overrated. How is a dream destroyer. And how is the excuse you use to talk yourself out of committing with both feet.

Instead, give uncertainty a hug. Trust the process. And believe that throwing your heart over the fence doesn’t require an intimate knowledge of how the fence was built. All that matters is motion. All that matters is initiative. Even if you’re clueless, terrified and broke – it’s amazing what happens when you just start moving. The universe applauds your faith and bravery and, as Paulo Coelho says, conspires to help you follow your dream.

Look: You don’t need to take the tour and stall for another month. Stop dragging your feet. Just get a guess pass and get into the pool. And let the world say yes to you. Remember: You don’t have to get good to get going; but you do need to get going to get good. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

4. Beware of excessive restraint. Commitment changes everything. I believe this down to my bones. At the same time, there’s a paradox you’d be silly to ignore: The deeper you commit to something, the more likely you are to become so wrapped up with that something, that your desire becomes bigger than what you’re committed to.

And that’s when people start to get hurt. That’s when commitment becomes a detriment.

Take it from someone who’s been guilty of commitment to the point of detriment: Overcommitting can be dangerous. Consider these cautions:

*Don’t disrespect others because you’re too fixated on getting your own way.
*Don’t allow healthy boundary management to morph into self-righteous entitlement.
*Don’t blindly follow outdated plans that have no relationship with reality just to avoid looking inconsistent with your commitment.

Stick to your guns, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Stand your ground, but don’t step on people’s toes. And if you realize that you threw your heart over the wrong fence, that’s cool too.

Own it, clean up the blood and go find another fence. Are you a victim of your own conviction?

5. Boundaries are the bodyguards of commitment. I create and publish a staggering volume of material each year. And my readers, audience members and clients assume that I’m incredibly disciplined. Which I am. But the bigger picture is:

I’m not just disciplined – I’m obsessively committed to what’s really important.

I’ve developed massive intolerance for the inconsequential. And my focus filter doesn’t allow bullshit to enter without a few alarms going off. Here’s one of the questions I ask myself every day: Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?

That’s the ultimate commitment question. You might want to write it on a sticky note and keep it above your desk. Because if you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And out of guilt, you will overcommit to them and undercommit to yourself.

This is not fair to your dream. You need to learn how to say no. You need to practice putting a stake in the ground. And you need to be unwaveringly vigilant about the company you keep.

After all: It’s impossible to throw your heart over the fence if your feet are firmly planted in the ground of other people’s obligations. What people in your life don’t respect your commitments?

REMEMBER: The fence is there for a reason.

It’s there to test your commitment.
It’s there to show you how badly you want something.
It’s there to help you push off and move toward your dream.

Throw your heart over it.

Because even if you rip your shirt, scratch your chest and bruise your ass on the way down, commitment is the reservoir of momentum that will move you forward.

How committed are you?

For the list called, "14 Things You Don't Have to Do Anymore," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Stop Measuring and Start Mattering

Not everything can be comfortably quantified.

Yes, humans operate out of the need to control of their environment and actions. And they have a native desire to label, organize and make sense of their world.

But some things can’t be proved by objective standards.

Like the commonly used business phrase, “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t matter.”

How silly. How corporate. How left-brain.

MY THEORY: What can’t be measured, matters.
For example:

1. Leadership is not a label. It doesn’t matter if you’re a leader. It doesn’t matter if you have a title. What matters is passion. What matters is expressing yourself freely, fully and relentlessly. What matters is how people experience you, and how they experience themselves in relation to you. Master that, and people will follow you. Where does your leadership come from?

2. Humor is not a condiment.. Humor is the only universal language. But it’s not something you just decide to use. Humor isn’t something you add – it’s something you embody. Instead of artificially injecting humor, just be funny. Discover your innate inevitable funniness as a human being, and people will laugh. Can you report accurately and clearly on funny situations?

3. Recognition is not an initiative. The universal motivation of human engagement is the desire to have one’s voice heard. As such, recognition is more than just praising people publicly – it’s being a stand for people’s greatness. It’s about giving them a front row seat to their own brilliance and while inviting the rest of the world to sit in the audience with them. How are you making gratitude palpable and recurrent?

4. Soul is not an organ. It’s the art of owning your gift, deploying intense humanity and exhibiting naked personhood. It’s about staying in touch with your own story, proudly showing people what’s under your fingernails and delivering something nobody can touch. And it’s about exposing the place where you really live, fearlessly opening the closed room and bring all of yourself to everything you do. Sound like you?

5. Caring is not an algorithm. You can’t bastardize caring into a technique. There’s no formula. There’s no handbook. There’s no seven-step system. What matters is your willingness to care, your awareness of caring, and consistency with which you do care. And, that you care for the right reasons. Do you really care, or just care about looking like you care so you can meet your sales quota?

6. Authenticity is not a strategy. First of all, if you have to tell someone you’re authentic, you’re probably full of shit. Secondly, authentic isn’t something you try to be – it’s something you allow yourself to share. Third, authenticity comes from the Greek authentikos, which means “original.” Which means being authentic is about standing on the foundation of your rarity. How’s your balance?

7. Happiness is not a goal. It’s a dividend. It’s the incidental consequence of the intentional commitment to fulfill your whole capacity for living. And when you focus your energy on that first, it just shows up. Because happiness isn’t the target – happiness is what you get for hitting the target. What will make you happy that has nothing to do with ego or image or status?

8. Creativity is not a department. Everyone is creative. The difference is, not everyone knows how to explode the barriers set in place by a lifetime of conditioning to express that creativity. If you’re one of those people, take Hugh Macleod’s advice: Bring new light to what life might be. That’s creativity. What parts of your life are you not giving yourself permission to live creatively?

9. Honesty is not a policy. If you have to tell your people to tell the truth, you need new people. Here’s the reality: If someone plans to live a dishonest life offline, there’s going to be a huge echo online. And their digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel to destroy their reputation forever. Are you willing to live with the consequences of being honest?

10. Purpose is not a task. It’s the way you choose to live your life. It’s the amalgamation of everything you do and say, each day, which validates your existence as a human being. And if you’re not sure what your purpose is, no problem: Finding your purpose can become your purpose until you find your purpose. Get to work. What three things are you doing regularly that don’t serve or support your vision, calling or purpose?

11. Love is not a combination lock. There’s no how-to book. There’s no formula. If you want to make love stay, it’s simple but not easy: Never get lazy with people. Make love the question you answer with your life, every day, until it’s over. Because in the end, your life is measured by how well you love, not how far you get. What are you trying to figure out that can't be figured out?

12. Humanity is not a crime. Being a real person is good for business. And companies that lack humanity leak profit. Naturally, I have no data to measure this. I have no research to prove this. I have no statistics to support this. Nobody does. But you don’t need to look very far to find evidence of the profitability of approachability. Is there enough evidence to convict your organization?

13. Integrity is not a buzzword. It’s a way of life, a way of being and a way of treating people. It’s what happens when your onstage performance mirrors your backstage reality. It’s what happens when the message you preach is the dominant reality of your life. And it’s what happens when your life enshrines what your lips proclaim. Are you smoking what you’re selling?

I’LL SAY IT AGAIN: What can’t be measured, matters.

After all, when it’s your heart, you don’t have to convince people that you can’t live without it.

Are you spending your time measuring or mattering?

For a list called, "153 Quotations to Inspire Your Success," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment."

--Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott's Brain today!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Young Artist's Guide to Playing for Keeps, Pt. 8

You’ve chosen an uncertain path.
You’ve adopted an inconvenient lifestyle.
You’ve embarked upon an unconventional journey.
You’ve felt the voice inside you growing more urgent.
You’ve committed yourself enough so you can’t turn back.

IN SHORT: You’ve decided to play for keeps.

This is the critical crossroads – the emotional turning point – in the life of every young artist.

I’ve been there myself, and here’s a list of suggestions to help you along the way: (Read part one here, part two here, part three here, part four here, part five here, part six here and
part seven.

1. Be more selfish with your work. Everything I write is a conversation with myself. I write to me, and I write for me. And to my surprise, that’s precisely what makes it so readable. In fact, I once received an email from a reader who thought I was stalking her. She said my work directly related to her life, almost as if I was in the office with her on a daily basis.

Which is ridiculous. I only showed up once a week.

The point is, the more personal your material, the more universal your message. If you want to play for keeps, play for you. Life’s too short to enroll yourself in a system bent to the desires of others. Plus, when you’re selfish with your art, when you make it for you and nobody else, the passion you bring to the work will carry it to market.

And even if it doesn’t, at least you still like it. As Miles Davis once said, “An artist’s first responsibility is to himself.” Are you following the script people envisioned for you, or follow your own artistic inclinations?

2. Practice creative promiscuity. In the art world, volume is the only vehicle that matters. Prodigiousness is the only path that counts. That’s been my strategy since day one: Out execute the competition. Because even though I wasn’t the best, even though I wasn’t the smartest and even though I wasn’t the most experienced, I still deployed more work than anybody. And by virtue of volume, my brand automatically elevated.

That’s the advantage of contributing to an ongoing body of work: It doesn’t just create credibility, it enables access. It provides multiple entry points for your audience. And that’s when people in China start talking about your work.

Unfortunately, most young artists trap themselves on the treadmill of better. They let perfection become the gateway drug to procrastination. If only they thought like Stravinsky. He said, “I would go on eternally revising my music were I not too busy composing more of it.”

That’s how he constituted a respectable artistic output, even at a young age: By hunkering down, shipping imperfect work and moving onto the next piece. Be honest with yourself: Do you really need another round of edits on a book nobody’s going to ready anyway? Just get it done. Get it to where you can smell it. Otherwise it’s not real.

Remember: The infinite regression of better is the enemy of done. What are you waiting for?

3. Fight the forces that fragment your focus. From digital distractions to shiny object syndrome to excessive planning to attending pointless meetings with amateurs who do nothing but brainstorm art projects they’re never, ever going to execute, you can’t allow yourself to get sucked into the vortex of the inconsequential.

Otherwise, by the time you finally do sit down to create, you’ll be rendered powerless to express anything that matters.

The solution is to carve out a ritualized creative schedule, and commit to sticking to it every day. Even if you’re tired, sick, annoyed, blocked or busy – you still have to show up. That’s what it means to play for keeps. As Tchaikovsky said, “Composition is a daily function that I feel compelled to discharge. I compose because I am made for that and cannot do otherwise.”

What’s more, installing a daily artistic regiment has myriad benefits. First, you create a healthy amount of self-pressure. This keeps your accountable to yourself. Second, you establish a good working rhythm with your creativity. This helps you spot entry points for entering into flow. And third, you train your body to respond to your environment. This keeps you in tune with your surroundings, listening for what wants to be written, instead of deciding what to write.

Remember: Distraction is a highly addictive drug. Don’t fix at the expense of your focus. Is what you’re doing, right now, taking you away from your art?

4. Mash life into art. Don’t tell me there’s nothing new under the sun. The damn thing 864,938 miles in diameter. If you can’t say something new, you’re not trying very hard. Here’s the reality: If you can build a unique enough inspiration pool that nobody can replicate, your work will be unrivaled. If you can ask yourself a unique enough question, nobody else’s answer will be able to compare.

Fortunately, the world around you is just waiting to be sampled. You simply have to live life with your eyes open and comment penetratingly on what you observe. As Stravinsky once wrote, “I stumble upon something unexpected. It strikes me. I made note of it. And at the proper time, I put it to profitable use.”

Never forget: Creativity is the highest form of active listening. If you’re not inspired, you might want to have your hearing checked. How could you live your life in a way that your art naturally gets done over and over?

5. Create a mythology around your art. When brandtag was released, I worked just as hard on the promo video as I did on the art itself. And here’s why: People are buying more than just your work; they’re buying the humble beginnings that first ignited your work.

Did you live in your car? Traveled to Africa alone? Work tirelessly out of your garage with your business partner? Shack up with your parents for two years, eight months and twenty-nine days? Awesome. Find the unique experience that first fueled your creative work and package and deliver it. Ideally, in the form of a creation myth. This infects people with your vision, helps them see the world as you do and enables them to join your brand – not just buy it.

As cartoonist Hugh Macleod wrote, “We humans seem to need creation myths, somehow. They manage to articulate who we really are, somehow. The help explain our core values, somehow. And for whatever reason, really successful people are even more likely to have them, even more likely to need them, somehow.” What’s your Garden of Eden?

6. Remain a vivid presence. Toward the end of his career, the general public no longer gave Stravinsky’s music the enthusiastic reception of his early days. And even though he experienced frequent bouts with depression, he still said something that has always stuck with me:

“The attitude of the public never made me deviate from my path.”

Therein lies attitude of someone who plays for keeps: He’s willing to suffer quietly. He’s willing to persist when nobody shows sympathy or understanding for what he’s doing. And he’s willing to stand up in the face of hostile indifference and remind people that he’s not going away.

Along your artistic path, maintaining your presence will depend on how you respond this resistance. It will depend on what happens when you hear that inner voice of hesitation telling you throw in the towel. What would happen if you abandoned yourself during trying times?

REMEMBER: When you’re ready to play for keeps, your work will never be the same.

Make the decision today.

Show the world that your art isn’t just another expensive hobby.

Have you committed with both feet yet?

For the list called, "52 Random Insights to Grow Your Business," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The King George Guide to Speaking Human

Authenticity is not a strategy.

It’s not a parlor trick.
It’s not a corporate initiative.
It’s not a tactic you learn at a conference.

Authenticity is simply what happens when you speak human.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: When you speak human – and follow that voice without hesitation – everybody hears you. And when customers taste a trace of your humanity, they come back for seconds, every time.

The problem is, the humanity has been boiled out of us. Companies have become international experts at depersonalizing every encounter.

Here’s a collection of ideas to help your company speak human:
1. Imperfection is not a liability. No movie better captures this principle than The King’s Speech. My favorite scene is right after Colin Firth finishes his war address to the nation. After months of emotional distress and intense training to overcome his speech impediment, therapist Geoffrey Rush, says:

“You still stammered.”

But with a relaxed smile, the king replies:

“I had to throw in a few so they knew it was me.”

That’s how you speak human: By letting people experience you experiencing failure. You’re not The Pope. It’s okay to market your imperfections. Next time you mess up, simply apologize for your error and show people how you’ll avoid it in the future. They’ll relax, respond with empathy and think more of you than if you hadn’t messed up in the first place.

What’s more: They won’t sue you – they’ll pursue you. Again and again. And next time, they’ll bring their friends. Because you’re one of the few people big enough to flaunt your imperfection.

Remember: Mistakes are a chance to make the company smarter. Are you afraid to admit them because you see every customer as a potential plaintiff in a malpractice suit?

2. Preserve an air of freshness. It’s impossible for customers to feel heard, feel seen and feel essential when your service is delivered in a monotonous, empty tone. Like a great stage actor, your job is to make sure that every member of the audience feels like they’re hearing your words for the first time.

Even if it’s only one person – that’s still an audience.

Take it from a guy who’s worn a nametag every day for eleven years: People make the same five jokes every single day. But I never let my responses get stale. I don’t snap at people. And I certainly don’t roll my eyes and say, “Yes, Captain Obvious, I’m aware that I’m still wearing a nametag. Thanks for the tip.”

Instead, I have fun with people. I change my answers every few months, just to keep it fresh. And your challenge is to do the same. Next time someone asks you a question you’ve heard a thousand times, don’t reach for ready-made replies.

Instead of being rigidly scripted and annoyingly canned, dance in the moment. Respond to the unique needs of the individual, not from the mechanical instructions of the employee handbook. Will you surrender to thy script or thy soul?

3. Adjust yourself to the personality of the guest. No, I’m not talking about mirroring or matching or whatever sleazy, neurolinguistic-programming tactic you learned at some weekend seminar. That’s manipulation, and customers can smell it like burnt hair.

Instead, stay true to yourself while remaining appropriate to the situation. Learn to customize every conversation. Here are a few examples I’ve learned from my clients:

*Not all women want to be called “ma’am.” It makes them feel old.
*Not every customer needs help shopping. It makes them feel suffocated.
*Not every guest needs to be put on the spot to introduce themselves to the group at their first meeting. It makes them feel awkward.
*Not every first-timer needs to give to the collection plate. It makes them feel pressured.
*Not every passenger needs to be pampered with hot nuts, six bottles of water and a Swedish foot massage. It invades their privacy and disturbs their work.
*Not every caller needs to hear his name repeated back to him seventeen times. It makes them feel patronized.

The point is: Communication isn’t the goal – meeting people’s needs is. Adjust yourself accordingly. How does your approach change with different customers?

4. Personal expression trumps professional polish. As a public speaker, it eats away at me to watch speakers who are too polished, too rehearsed and too choreographed. That’s the problem with Toastmasters: They focus so much on the mechanics that they forget about the humanity.

And the result is a population of public speakers who become so rigid that they couldn’t order dinner without a script.

Here’s the reality: Speaking with the human voice means honoring the moment. Tapping into your expressive faculties and sharing from place of imperfect truth. Even if you’re not a regular at the podium, the suggestion is still the same:

You don’t need public speaking lessons; you need to learn how to cut your soul open.

That’s who people relate to, that’s who people sit down for and that’s who people tell their friends about. The one person brave enough to bare his truth. If you do that, people won’t care how many times you say “um.” Have you already crossed the fine line between preparation and automation?

5. Anchor yourself in the concrete foundation of your humanity. In a recent presentation, Leo Burnett’s executive Mark Tutssel explained, “The great brands of this century are the brands that don’t speak to consumers, but instead speak with people. As benchmark for the creative thinking within our company and for our brands, speaking human is at the heart of everything we do.”

Can you say that about your organization? Can customers and employees say it?

I certainly hope so. Because if your humanity doesn’t have a palpable presence in your labors, the fruit of your labors will taste like chalk.

My suggestion: Make the conscious choice to blend your humanity into every message you send. Create an instant filter to execute against before leaving voicemails, sending emails, publishing blogs and updating social media statuses. You might ask questions like, “Would a human being say this?” or “On a scale of one to ten, how much humanity does this message contain?”

Try it for a week. See what happens. Because the point is not to spend extra time debating your message, rather, to create a point of pause that heightens your awareness of the humanity in your message. What structure would you have to put in place today to deliver a human voice?

6. Ante up the emotional temperature. The only thing people can make a judgment about is how interacting with you, your brand, your website, your store, your company and your people – makes them feel.

As such, branding is about two things: How people experience you, and how people experience themselves in relation to you. Everything else is just an accessory.

In my experience, the differentiator is language. That’s the distinction between human companies and emotionally anemic corporate monoliths: They speak with soul instead of dehydrated jargon.

Try this: Make a list of the twenty most annoying, tired, vague, empty, overused eye-rolling words and phrases customers hate to hear. Convert the document into a poster and hang it all around the walls of your organization.

Then, any time you hear one of those words being used, charge that employee dollar. Not only will you raise enough money to throw a monthly party, simply by process of elimination, people will begin to speak with a more human, more emotional voice.

Remember: It’s not enough to compete for people’s attention – you have to campaign for their emotions. Is your service vulcanized?

REMEMBER: Speaking human is the music people have been waiting their whole lives to hear.

Follow that voice without hesitation.

Let your authenticity wash over them like a spring rain.

King George would be proud.

How human is your voice?

For the list called, "22 Unexpected Ways to Help People," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

5 Ways to Jumpstart the Joinability of Your Brand

Este Lauder once said, "Women don't buy brands -- they join them."

When I first heard that quotation, my inner geography changed forever. And I eventually came to a conclusion that has yet to be disputed:

Good brands are bought, great brands are joined.

Like my friend Jay Siefert, owner of Studio Element (pictured above).

Because of his passion for fitness, health and human potential, clients join more than his club -- they join his brand.

Who's joining yours?

Consider these ideas to jumpstart the joinability of your brand:
1. Run a joinability audit. Traditional marketing is wallpaper. It’s invisible, inaudible and inconsumable. It’s appallingly uninteresting and instantly forgettable. And it interrupts people, disturbs their attention and pollutes the public space.

If you want to avoid that reality, the first step is to ask yourself five crucial questions.

*Does your brand interrupt people or involve them?
*Does your brand ask people to care, or invite people to participate?
*Does your brand demand and disturb people's attention, or respect and reward it?
*Does your brand offer purpose-driven human uniqueness, or just a patchwork of weirdness?
*Does your brand offer real, human, experiential value at the point of consumption, or just dispense a message?

These questions aren't just questions: They're springboards. And they can be used in a few ways: As strategic planning tools to benchmarks to build the joinability of your brand; as benchmarks to sustain the joinability of your brand; and as filters to research the joinability of other company's brands.

The best part: If you ask these questions enough, you'll internalize them. And soon joinability will become second nature.

Remember: You can't bother people into buying from you. All you can do is invite them to join you by expressing yourself fully and freely. Do the benefits of your brand transcend the transactional?

2. Identify and promote your brand's human purpose. "All of our brands are designed with human purpose in mind," wrote Leo Burnett. "And when our story plays a long-term role in people's lives, it's no longer a brand -- it's a badge. And that's how we create lifelong emotional relationships with them."

The cool part is, the consequence of your brand's human purpose will be people's participation. That's where true joinability lives. And whether that involves in-person conversation offline, or user-generated content online, the result will be the same: Customers will move from being observers of your brand to achievers with your brand.

Why do you think Obama won the presidency? Certainly wasn't his political resume. It was because his brand hinged on the human purpose of hope. And he knew that in tough times, people wanted to be told what was possible.

So he told them. And although he didn't solve all the world's problems immediately, he still ran the most successful campaign in our country's history. Sixty-four million people joined him. They proudly wore his brand as a badge. And his story will have a long-term role in each of their lives. That's the power of human purpose.

Remember: Your brand is your stand. What happens when people step onto it?

3. Participation is the only unit of marketing that matters. For the past eleven years, I've invited hundreds of thousands of people to join my brand. But not by asking them for money. And not by persuading them to join my overpriced, marginally helpful membership site.

Rather, by creating spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection.

That's what my brand does: It makes this moment, right now, a more humane, pleasant passing of time. From my handwritten nametag to my trademark philosophy card to my daily fill in the blank exercise, my goal is create simultaneous engagement and entertainment, both online and off.

What does your brand do for people? And do those people care enough about your brand to take a moment, take a picture and make a memory?

If not, you're in trouble. Because people won't value your brand if the experience of it doesn't add something to their lives. And people won't participate in your brand's communication if they're not rewarded them for the time they spend with it.

Your mission is simple: Let people into the moment. Induce participation. And intuitively respond to the human thirst for connection. People won't just buy you -- they'll join you. Forever. Are you providing an opportunity for people to participate in a way that speaks to their individual needs?

4. Provide people with opportunities to act. Let's talk more about participation. According to Leo Burnett's book, Humankind, an act is anything that creates an emotional connection that deepens over time.

Something simple, inclusive, accessible and relevant to people's lives. Something that gives people the gift of a quiet moment of joy. Something that connotes and reflects the brand's human purpose. Something that enhances a moment of happiness. Something that creates excitement where apathy lives. And something that changes the momentary experience.

To identify your brand's act, try their formula:

"I seek to create act of _______ in moments of ________."

Creative directors Tom Bernardin and Mark Tutsel provide a list of powerful examples. Consider a few of these to begin brainstorming your brand's act:

Interest in moments of timidity.
Confidence in moments of doubt.
Progress in moments of stagnation.
Coolness in moments of social risk.
Connection in moments of isolation.
Inspiration in moments of weakness.
Liberation in moments of constraint.
Casualness in moments of seriousness.
Encouragement in times of insecurity.
Togetherness in moments of loneliness.
Friendships in moments of indifference.

Remember: You don't need advertisements, you need invitations to act and engage with your brand. Are you selling to people or connecting with them?

5. Let customers take the steering wheel. Joinability comes from vulnerability. That is, surrendering certain parts of your brand as the cost of growth. And a few years back, Jeff Jarvis famously wrote three words on this topic that changed everything: Become a platform.

According to his research, that's what winning brands do: Join the post-scarcity, open-source, gift economy and remember that their best customers are their partners.

Here's a few ways to do so for your organization: First, give users and fans the ability to create and improve your online content. They'll become your brand spokespeople just by being themselves.

Second, enable your customers to build communities and networks under the umbrella of your platform. They'll multiply your audience beyond what you could have accomplished alone.

Third, encourage people to build their own products and businesses connected to your brand. They'll become your mobile sales force, global marketing department and perpetual listening platform.

As a result, they'll elevate your platform to the point that it becomes a catapult. And then, as your brand becomes an infinite source of infinite opportunity, they won't give joining a second thought.

Remember: Surrender is the new control. Customers want to be pilots, not just passengers. Let them control their brand experience and they'll thank you by telling everybody. How vulnerable are you willing to be?

REMEMBER: People love to buy -- but they love to belong even more.

If you want to make money, make a difference and make history, help people join your brand.

Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

For the list called, "26 Ways to Out Brand the Competition," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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