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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hiding behind your sense of humor

Carlin believed that a sense of humor was a sense, an understanding and a feeling for what didn’t fit, for the incongruous, for that which was out of place or in the wrong scale. 

What a beautiful way to comprehend the world. Laughing our way to clarity and wisdom. 

The challenge, though, is making sure there isn’t an emotional casualty in the process. 

Because when we resort to humor as the default mode to defend against our own insecurities, using jokes to deflect attention away from the deeper issue at hand, we miss out on a moment of true intimacy. 

It’s like the standup comedian who sees a therapist for the first time. Now that he has a captive audience for an hour, he locks into performance mode. And instead of honestly answering the shrink’s questions about his debilitating depression, he uses them as prompts to crack jokes and run bits and do shtick. 

To which the therapist thinks, look, I’m sure you’re very funny, but I’m sure that’s not why you’re here. 

Touché, doctor. 

I’ve always struggled with this issue. The entertainer in me supersedes the feeler. I hide from my feelings by making fun of everything, using humor as a means to avoid difficult issues. 

Just keep them laughing, the entertainer whispers, and that will prevent anyone from seeing just how much we’re hurting inside

And the sad part is, it works quite well. Making a joke is easier, safer, more fun and more convenient than actual having emotions. 

Psychologists have proved this time and time again. Our sense of humor is a mature defense mechanism we invoke to guard ourselves against the overwhelming anxiety of being human. 

It diminishes and eliminates the moment by moment suffering we might otherwise experience. 

The question is, at what cost? What level of human connection might we be missing out on by using humor to keep a tight rein on our emotions? 

Are we trivializing our feelings by using them as the raw material for our next comedy routine? 

Perhaps we should confront the entertainer inside of us and say, look, I’m sure you’re very funny, but I’m sure that’s not why you’re here. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  

What techniques are you using to try not to feel your emotions and cope with how you’re feeling?

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Correcting the habits that have limited us for so long

Happiness is a mental habit. 

Of course, so is depression. Both of these emotional states result from our lifelong practices and sequences and patterns of conscious thought. 

What’s encouraging, though, is that we don’t have to remain biological slaves to our routines. Cognitive behavioral psychology research indicates that any conditioned habit the human brain has learned, can also be unlearned. Even if we’re predisposed to a particular behavior, we can still train ourselves to act otherwise. 

It just takes time. And patience. And forgiveness. And delayed gratification. And the willingness to guard against anything that might weaken our valuable new habit. 

Without those elements, we might never give our bodies and minds the necessary time to memorize the new habits we start. We might never be able to engrave habits so deep that they become natural and instinctual. 

Rubin’s research on the invisible architecture of everyday life offers a solid suggestion.

Don’t focus on rewards to motivate yourself. That undermines habit formation. Instead, she says, find your reward within the habit itself. Give yourself a sense of advancement, but without the risks presented by a finish line. Continuous progress is more important. 


That was my challenge with meditation is for many years. Because as a classic racing brain creative, sitting still was like torture for my mind. But with the help of a brilliant therapist, I learned to stop treating meditation as a tranquilizer that helped me get more ideas for my next project, and started delighting in the daily practice of making the creative container bigger. 

There was no finish line. All that mattered was enjoying the race. 

And so, whatever habit you’re trying to learn, or in most people’s case, unlearn, find your reward within the habit itself. Be patient with yourself. 

Humans always assume things are going to be easier in the future. We think to ourselves, okay, starting tomorrow, I’m going to be perfect for the rest of my life. 

But changing habits takes real work. 


LET ME ASK YA THIS...  
How are you learning to let go of the subtle notions that limit you?

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Friday, December 29, 2017

There is no prize for what I do

Seinfeld was presented an award for his outstanding achievements in comedy. 

Naturally, his acceptance speech was about why all awards are stupid. 

Your whole career as a comedian, he said, is about making fun of pretentious, high minded, self congratulatory, bullshit events just like this one. I really don’t want to be up here. But we feel the need to set aside a night to give out these jack off bowling trophies so all these people can pat each other on the back about how much money they’re making boring the piss out of half the world. 

That’s not a comedy bit, that’s a sermon. Because in a world of participation trophies and competitive individualism, real winning is staying in the game. 

Real winning is showing up to play every day. Real winning is doing the work because you’re a junkie for the process. Real winning is rejecting the standard badges of success and embracing the pure delight of knowing that your soul is better off for having created something today that didn’t exist yesterday. 

Awards are just a way for those who don’t count to keep score. 

And any time some blowhard gives an acceptance speech about how honored they are to receive it, what you’re really hearing is the sound of a squealing dinosaur who doesn’t understand the cultural changes exploding around them. 

There is no golden prize we’re all playing for anymore. 

The only thing worth chasing is the privilege of doing more work. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  
Are you forgetting to do work that matters because you’re too busy telling your peers how good they are and bestowing awards on them?

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Endowed with a greater freedom to explore intellectual curiosities

Focus is just another word for don’t innovate

It’s a mandate perpetuated by the powers that be to help keep people in their lanes. To curb originality. To assure that individuals remain small, scared and dreamless in their endeavors. 

Because god forbid anyone should expand their sense of possibility, try something new and show the world that they’re capable of acting in new ways. That might make them hard to control. 

And we can’t have three hundred million people who can think for themselves, now can we? 

I attribute this dangerous phenomenon to the educational industrial complex, where students are pressurized from day one to declare a major. To choose a field of study that represents their principal interest. Without making that critical life decision at the ripe old age of nineteen, their career trajectory is doomed to inevitable failure. 

In fact, some universities even make students ineligible for scholarships and other financial aid if they don’t choose a major. 

Why all the fuss? What’s so critical about choosing a major? 

Nothing. It’s just a story we’re telling ourselves. 

Think about it. If you don’t declare a major, you won’t get a job. If you don’t get a job, you won’t buy a house. If you don’t buy a house, you won’t get married and start a family and lock into the inherited social system. And if you don’t do that, well, who knows what kinds of dangerous and innovative ideas you might come up with in your free time. Better to keep your head down and focus instead. 

American universities pioneered this concept of the academic major in the late eighteen hundreds. And back then, their charge was inspiring. According to the encyclopedia of education, institutions sought to endow students with a greater freedom to explore their intellectual curiosities. Declaring a major was a cherished process that fostered the development, conservation and diffusion of knowledge. 

Of course, that was centuries before schools became systems for churning out a constant stream of parochial and compliant factory workers to support our nation’s mediocre businesses who aren’t actually interested in innovating, only replicating. 

And so, the next time somebody reminds you to focus, tell them that it’s distracting you. 

We’re not supposed to be one thing in life. 

Fuck declaring a major. Choosing is losing. 

Go do everything, and maybe you’ll change something.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  
Are you endowing yourself with a greater freedom to explore your intellectual curiosities?
* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Committed to understanding your point of view

Since a very young age, teachers and parents and other authority figures have warned us never to answer a question with a question. 

That’s an avoidance tactic for dishonest people who are scared of addressing the issue at hand. 

But once we stumble into adulthood, we quickly realize that life is rarely that black and white. Each human being rests at the nexus of a vast number of interwoven causes and conditions that influence their behavior. And sometimes responding to a question with another question is the only way to uncover their true needs in a respectful and compassionate way. 

When I think back to the first few times I was hired as a coach, mentor or consultant, I can’t help but shake my head and chuckle. Because my responses to people’s questions were almost always these simple, tidy pat answers that were solely based on my own narrow experience set. 

After all, these people came to me with money. I was the lord of answers. Which meant it was my job to be an instant dispensary of advice and insight for as long as the meter was running. 

But after a good ten years of experience, I realized that the worst thing we can do with a difficult question is try and answer it too quickly. In fact, by giving people simple answers to complex questions, we rob the questions of the qualities that make them interesting in the first place. 

A restaurateur friend of mine once taught me that the nine most important words you could ever say to a prospective client are:

I don’t know, let me ask you a few questions. 

Because we have no idea what their experience is. And unless we take the time to dig deeper into that individual’s intentions, motivations, temperaments and contextual situations, our answer will be ill informed and therefore, unhelpful. 

Gide, the legendary philosopher and author, said it best:

The color of truth is grey, and man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. 

All the more reason to answer a question with another question. It’s a respectful, thoughtful and empathetic way to demonstrate a commitment to understanding the other person’s unique needs. 

Maybe schools should start teaching that. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  
What type of answers are you known for giving?

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A wealth of compassion to send outward

Compassion is, at its core, at act of imagination. 

It’s the ability to think otherwise. The willingness to step back from our own experience and expose ourselves to the complete possibility of what might be. 

This principle transformed my ability to connect with other people. It’s simply a matter of training yourself to view interaction as an exercise in creativity. A spontaneous game of improv theater that gives you permission to engage the greatest asset you have, your imagination, into a context that you might not have considered before. 

For example, whenever I encounter people whose behaviors and attitudes and decision making processes utterly baffle me, I try to interrupt my judging mechanism with curiosity. I try to use creativity as the engine of compassion. 

As the empathizer, you must begin to imagine how and why the other acts or feels the way they do. This imaginative process activates an associational network of memories, images and meanings in your mind, which, in turn are mapped to build a semblance or representation of those attitudes in your own mind. And even if it’s not completely accurate, this representation still brings empathy to life. 

Who knew creativity could have such powerful interpersonal applications? 

And so, if you’re trying build a wealth of compassion to send outward, consider these communication practices. 

Instead of using people’s pain as an opportunity to tell them how to live their lives, try joining them in their process of suffering. 

Instead of taking out your blame thrower to make people feel stupid about their decisions, accept that there are horrible things that happen to everybody through no fault of their own. 

Instead of interpreting people’s behavior as a personal affront to your existence, remember that every emotional response is reasonable and logical based on that person’s personal history. 

Remember, the courage to imagine the otherwise is our greatest resource. 

Imagination useful for painting pictures, but let’s not overlook the opportunity to employ it in the service of empathetic relating. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  

Which communication hacks help you connect with people more effectively?

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Adventure is your attitude toward adversity

During times of transition, the impatient and stubborn part of us tries so hard to live through my changes, that we forget to actually experience them. 

There’s simply no time. What with all the hunkering down and sucking it up and riding it out and thinking to ourselves, sweet merciful crap, I just want this to be over

But that’s the ultimate cosmic joke. Wishing ourselves out of this world doesn’t make the clock tick any faster. 

In fact, it makes it move slower. 

Because we resist. Because we avoid. Because we’re unwilling to surrender our sense of urgency. Because we want nothing more than a speedy conclusion to this season of suffering. 

Einstein’s theory has never been more relevant. 

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. But sit with your beloved for an hour, and it seems like a minute. 

That’s relativity. And life’s transitions work the same way. 

If we discover in our circumstances the opportunity for growth and expansion, time goes faster. If we believe that we’re gifted by the ability to receive love through difficult experience, time goes faster. If we use our misfortune to stoke inner growth, time goes faster. If we surrender to our struggle as a threat to be faced and a change to be survived, time goes faster. If we actively seek the benefit hidden within our hardship, time goes faster. 

Remember, if the only thought you’re allowing yourself to have is, more than anything, I just want this moment to be over, you learned nothing. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  
Are you integrating your experiences in such a way that even adversity is ultimately incorporated into the process of growth?
* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Lose your story, find your truth

My coach reminds me that ego is an automatic way of being designed to protect ourselves. 

But despite its evolutionary function to build confidence in our abilities develop a sense of personal worth and be proactive with setting boundaries, it’s only a small fraction of the entire being that we are. 

In fact, ego will almost always find something to cut the legs out from underneath our success. And until we declare, okay, this war is over, it’s going to keep showing up, more goddamn believable than the day before. 

The secret is, the ego stays alive through a story. Our brains scramble to create narratives that make sense of complicated and difficult life situations. 

And so, the story we tell ourselves doesn’t have to be intractable. It can fall away in the light of our awareness. 

Brene’s pioneering research on the science of vulnerability suggests we preface our thoughts with the following phrase. 

The story I’m telling myself is. 

Challenging our inner monologues in this way achieves several emotional victories. We’ve responded to ourselves with compassionate acknowledgment. We’ve called the ego on the carpet for what it really is. We’ve taken ownership of our own narratives. And we’ve acknowledged the chasm between perception and reality. 

This ritual of metacognition, this awareness and understanding of our own thought processes, helps us transcend the confines of our limited and isolated minds. It allows us to find a different story that takes us out of the torture, so we’re no longer enslaved by the narratives of the past. 

The business applications of this principle are limitless. 

When yet another prospective client denies, rejects, or worse yet, abandons our proposal, feelings of frustration and hopelessness will inevitably settle in. As they should. 

But what we can’t do is succumb to the temptation to globalize our disappointment. Because if the story we’re telling ourselves is that the entire marketplace is populated by cheap, conformist, unsophisticated donkeys who wouldn’t know real value if it sat on their faces, the ego has won. Again. By a landslide. 

The story we’re telling ourselves is but one version of reality. If we’re willing to engage in a practice of metacognition, we might discover that reality is almost always kinder than the story we tell ourselves about it. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  
Are you deluding yourself that your toxic story of self is serving anything other than your own ego?
* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Give that energy a project

We live in a productivity obsessed world where dozens of studies, hundreds of books and thousands of articles and have been published on the science of minimizing distraction. 

But we shouldn’t underestimate the value of being able to intentionally distract ourselves. Applied judiciously and within the appropriate context, doing can make all the difference in the world. 

Consider those individuals with chronic pain or crippling anxiety. Having experienced both states myself, I can attest that a person gets caught in a vicious cycle. 

Because of the pain, you don’t feel like going out into the world to do things and enjoy activities. You’re too worried about your own condition and what it might attract into or repel from yours and other people’s lives. 

And so, you end up staying at home and isolating yourself, doing nothing other than worrying about your pain. Which, in turn, only makes it worse. It’s a human powered perpetual motion machine. 

On the other hand, if somebody decides that their life purposes are going to trump their temperaments, that the meaning they intend to make is more important than the mood they try to measure, they will find ways to distract themselves back to a state of wellbeing.

If, instead of focusing on how much their body hurts or how incompetent they feel, they can firmly turn their attention to something else. And if, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for themselves, they give themselves distractor tasks designed to occupy the conscious mind, life won’t seem so gloomy. 

I’m reminded of a study published in a pain management journal. Scientists showed that the participants who were able to withstand pain for longest amount of time were the ones allowed to shout out the phrase owww! 

Turns out, people’s pain tolerance was higher because shouting that word interfered with pain messages traveling to the brain, making the experience in and of itself potentially analgesic. 

The point is, distractibility doesn’t necessarily have to be the devil. 

It can be used as a weapon to wage peace. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  

What negative energy do you need to give a project?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Shoot your gracious tension to the stars

The scary part about having goals is, once we’ve written them down, we’ve created structural tension. 

Existential pressure. A gap between who we are and who we want to be. 

Which means, we’re on the hook. There’s an apparatus of accountability that now exists the world, and if we don’t take action toward those goals, it’s going to drive us crazy. 

My ritual is to set one hundred goals every year. It’s a creative, inspiring and empowering exercise, especially when I get to take the list out of my wallet each month to monitor my progress. 

But what’s interesting is, whenever I get stuck in one of my sad slumps, when the season of life is one where joy doesn’t come easily, I won’t even look at my goals. Because I just know there will be a sense of disappointment that will make me feel disgusted with myself. 

It’s like the fear of stepping on the scale the day after the superbowl. Why even bother when that number is going to be seven pounds heavier than you want? 

That’s how we psyche ourselves out. 

Out of sight, out of mind. This isn’t happening. Let’s just sweep those pesky little goals under the rug and avoid the confrontation. 

But the good news is, most things in life are never as bad as they seem. Only as bad as we convince ourselves they are. 

Behan once wrote that many of our fears are tissue paper thin, and a single courageous step will carry us clear through them. And that’s the beauty of setting goals. No matter how scared we are to gauge our own progress, odds are, we’re already closer to the finish line than we might have thought. 

I recently pulled out my goal sheet for the first time in three months. But instead of childishly covering my eyes like a fleshy blindfold, I faced reality. And to my delight, the year was going better than I had anticipated. 

Taking stock of the distance I had traveled gave me a deep sense of pride, momentum and encouragement. 

Proving, that when we report the truth to ourselves, we strengthen structural tension, which helps us mobilize energy we can use in creating. 

It’s time to stack the cards in your favor. 

Have a good look at yourself and find ways to appraise your situation positively. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...  

How are you practicing tolerating all of the uncomfortable emotions associated with conflict and confrontation? 

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Scott Ginsberg's Innovation Audit: 40 Questions to Take Your Company's Product to the Next Level


During my stretch as a strategist at an innovation agency, my first side project was to create an innovation audit.

It was an exercise to help our clients, and ourselves, think more creatively about our projects.


Once I presented it internally to the team, my innovation audit elicited a string of dread filled groans and eye rolls. It was met to the tune of yawns and yeah yeah yeahs.


So much for that idea.

But I am still proud of it. And it occurred to me that I never actually shared it.

So here you go. Happy innovating.



Scott Ginsberg's Innovation Audit

PLATFORM: Make it seamless for people to express themselves.


How does this give people another reason to stop by?
How can visitors browse an entire collection of experiences?
How can we directly wire this into an existing online ecosystem?
How do we make an event happen beyond the walls of the venue?
How do we curate situations that bring discovery of cool new things?
How can we let people engage with the project as it’s being produced?
How do we create a system that makes audiences equal members of the stage?
How does this give users an addictive reason to keep revisiting and refreshing?
How can we build a soapbox open to anyone and everyone as a place to speak their minds?
How can we create a project that grows incrementally with each online interaction and reaction?

CULTURE: Create something of cultural meaning above and beyond the product.

How can we let the brand’s fans define something?
How can we bring a dying role into the next century?
How can we create an entirely new product category?
How can we approach an industry in an entirely new way?
How could the very things that most companies fear fuel us?
How can we wrap the product story and human story into one?
How do we build a platform that features evocative narratives?
How does this take an activity to a scale never before achieved?
How do we instill new habits in people and align the brand with them?
How can we document people’s paths to becoming something or someone?

CONNECTION: Give people access to each other, emphasizing the brand’s social function.
How does this use the brand to connect people?
How does it deliver a healthy dose of gamification?
How can we come closer to an existing community?
How can we act as the middleman between two relevant parties?
How does this offer new ways to fulfill the human desire to belong?
How does this both appease problems and act as marketing in itself?
How does this quickly identify unsatisfied customers and reach out to help them?
How does the chain of customer influence use casual approval instead of critical acclaim?
How do we let people share moments with each other so they can experience things together?
How do we leverage an unpredictable testing ground for new ideas that allows us to be truly open with the community?


EXPERIENCE: Integrate the brand to fit into people’s lives.
How does this precisely complement people’s way of life?
How can we give people a huge digital sandbox to play in?
How do we put the product in the context of people’s daily world?
How does this turning a painful process into a pleasurable practice?
How is this an excuse to spend more time doing something mundane?
How can we let technology enhance an experience from start to finish?
What idea, that people are convinced is dead, can we bring back to life?
How do we create an experience that makes people believe in something again?
How does this reward people for everyday interactions that they’re already having?
What experience, that people avoided as a badge of honor, are they now obsessed with?


Remember, every innovation you love came from a question.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...   
Are you innovating, or just creating?

* * * *


Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

Buy my latest devotional! 

A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat


Now available wherever books are sold.


Namaste.