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

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The sharp terror of a lost confidence in ourselves

Each of us is subjected to the nonstop jabbering of other people’s unsolicited opinions, advice and feedback. 

We can’t avoid it any more than we can avoid the law of gravity. 

But unless we are properly boundaried, we will quickly become flustered, flattened, enraged. The opinions of others will erode our belief in our inherent worth and activate the sharp terror of a lost confidence in ourselves. 

It’s bad times. 

One way to stop putting ourselves at the mercy of this criticism is by employing a feedback filter. It’s a binary grounding question we ask ourselves to recalibrate and put things in perspective. Here are two examples that have been helpful for me. 

Is this mine, or is this theirs? 

Is this a pattern, or an isolated event? 

Because if somebody’s opinion, solicited or not, comes out of left field and doesn’t track for us in the slightest, then it’s most likely the latter on both accounts. It’s more of a projection than a perception. More of a misfired accusation than a meaningful appraisal. 

Which is fine. We let people be in love with their opinions, but we use our filter to keep from getting get entangled in their emotions. 

Chinese philosophers wrote about this distinction a few thousand years ago, saying that the source of our strength lies not in ourselves but in our relation to other people, and if our emotional center of gravity depends on external opinion, we are inevitably tossed to and fro between joy and sorrow. 

Remember, each of us chooses how much weight we grant people’s opinions. 

Let us not abandon our path simply because others have a problem with it. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What binary filter helps you differentiate between constructive help and the feedback pinball machine?

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

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Our first duty is to ourselves

While eavesdropping on a conversation between two friends on the subway, one woman made a comment that baffled and bothered me. 

She was describing the relationship with her spiritual guru, sheepishly admitting the following:

You surrender your life to this person. They make a lot of big decisions for you. And it’s so easy to give them too much power in your life. 

Sounds more like manipulation than leadership. 

However, there is a porous boundary between the two. 

Because on one hand, masters and mentors have valuable experience to draw from, information and data that we don’t have, and insight and perspective that might be helpful. We humble ourselves at their feet. 

On the other hand, recklessly believing that any one person holds sole authority over the decisions we make is dangerous. Our first duty is always to ourselves. 

Like most things in this world, it all goes back to power dynamics. Especially when it comes to mentors and masters. We get dragged along in a mesmerizing current, swept inexorably toward a decision that could very well destroy us, but we fail to realize it because we are under a spell. 

Maybe because we made a significant emotional or financial investment. 

Maybe because we worship the ground someone walks upon and don’t want to disappoint them. 

Maybe because we have not learned to trust ourselves yet and are temporarily outsourcing our faith. 

The list goes on like a blind man circling the earth. There are as many motivations for giving away our power as there are people to give it to. 

What matters at the end of the day is, there is always a way to maintain our power in a situation. It requires intention, attention, setting boundaries, and carries the risk of upsetting, disappointing and even alienating people. 

Which sounds like lot of work, but nobody said that our duty to ourselves would be easy. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Are you more concerned with making the right decisions or making decisions right? 

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

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Self Compassion — Nametag Scott’s Workshop @ Metric Collective

If we treated others like we treated ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends, probably get fired and maybe even go to jail.

What’s your favorite way to beat yourself up?

If you're like me, you can often be too hard on yourself.
I’ve been working on the skill of self compassion for many years. This is a workshop I recently conducted on the last day of my thirties.

It's compendium of daily meditations with insights, practices, habits and lessons I’ve learned. There's also a book that goes along with it, and if you want a free pdf copy, send an email to scott@hellomynameisscott.com.

Hope it’s helpful for you. 

And if not, don’t be so hard on yourself.




LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What’s your favorite way to beat yourself up?

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

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m right, you’re evil.

Our apparent belief in the power of honest dialogue is deeply delusional. 

Our leaders have built this enduring faith that once we spark a substantive, mature and meaningful discourse across the nation, one that creates an open forum where people can engage in introspection and thoughtful discussion, then we can expect all of our grievances to be righted instantly. 

Excuse me, but when was the last time that strategy worked? When was the last time starting a national conversation not only raised awareness of systemic problems within our society, but also paved the way for real concrete change? 

Because nowadays, these debates quickly spiral out of control and ultimately lead to nothing of substance beyond internet trolling, media sensationalism and mob tribalism. 

I’m right, you’re wrong? More like, I’m right, you’re evil. 

Morris, the award winning journalist and critic, wrote a provocative editorial about how our calls for national conversation are futile:

Anytime things get fractious and tragic, we inevitably hear calls for a national conversation. But the term has become the sad equivalent of the jolly drinking axiom, it’s always national conversation time somewhere. Whenever the mood around an issue ought to change, somebody will say that we need to talk about it. That we should be sitting around and figuring things out. Having real, substantive, difficult exchanges about our personal biases, about our bad policies that reach far and go deep. But we have been nationally conversing for so long, that it’s hard to know what we’re even saying. 

What we need, he urges, is empathy. Which is not a realization we come to by having a conversation with the nation, but a conclusion we reach first in conversation with ourselves. National conversations won’t cut it, only personal commitments will. That’s the real work. 

Just like slapping a label on someone is not the same as helping them, repeatedly talking about a problem is not the same as progress and change. 

If things are not the way we want them to be, it’s not because we haven’t marched enough. 

And it’s not because we failed to add yet another national conversation to our mounting agenda. 

It’s because we have become too locked into the positions we already have. 

It’s because we now refuse to admit when we are wrong. 

It’s because we lack the humility to outgrow some of our beliefs. 

Terminal certainty is a public health crisis, and it finally needs to be treated. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

What does it feel like when you change your mind?

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

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Friday, February 14, 2020

We can either shrink in fear, or double down on our love

Selling earnestness in a cynical world is a risk. 

If we decide to become an agency of sincere expression, assert our incorrigible hopefulness and act wildly enthusiastic, for many people, them’s fighting words. To the extent that we might be shamed and alienated for our honest and heartfelt way of experiencing life. 

Happens to me all of the time. I’m a highly sensitive person whose earnest affections have been rejected and misinterpreted ever since he was young. 

Turns out, optimism bothers the hell out people. Especially the ones who believe they have been chosen as the barons of negativity. 

The good news is, we have a choice in how we respond to this resistance. It’s either fear or love. 

The fear response is to shrivel up like a frightened turtle and accept the story that we are hopelessly na├»ve romantics who need to get with the program and don the mantle of a bitter misanthrope in order to avoid getting hurt. 

You were warned about the dangers of our excessive optimism, and now it’s time abandon the last traces of your idealistic vision of the world. Queue forms around the block. 

The love response, is learning to see cynical people with kind eyes. Because they’re hurting. They’re fighting a battle that we know nothing about. And our optimism might trigger their belief that there is a limited supply of love to go around and stir up feelings of resentment. 

And yet, we don’t lose hope that our love might wear them down eventually. Because even if it doesn’t, we can still proudly measure our work by the optimism it left behind. 

We can still go to bed each night knowing that we brought more light than dark. 

Look, social pressure, herd mentality, cultural norms, these are potent forces that are pushing against us. 

People are probably looking forward to harboring their bitter resentment towards us for at least another decade. 

And so, we can either shrink in fear, or double down on our love. 

Happy Valentine's Day.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Have you accepted that your optimism may be the mirror that reflects back to people just how unhappy they really are?

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

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Panicked by the ticking of the clock

Here’s the thing about transition. 

Everything takes longer than we think it will. 

And even though there is a certain amount of peace in knowing that, after a few weeks or even a couple of months, no matter how busy and fulfilled we keep ourselves along the way, there is this creeping dread that seeps under the door like a fog. 

Its number one job will be trying to convince us that we are not enough. That we should be ashamed of ourselves for not arriving at our destination yet. And that our doubts are well founded and should be taken as gospel. 

Such a mindfuck. Like trying to get blood out of a stone. Or trying to fit an octopus into a pair of tuxedo pants. 

Worse yet, it’s not even that scary or painful of a feeling. It just sort of sits there. 

What do we do when our reliable clock of instinct tells us that we’re on a short countdown to destruction? How do we act when the shiver of superstitious dread passes through us? Where do we go to cope with our fear that the horizon ahead feels limited? 

Anywhere. Anywhere but here. 

Sometimes that’s all we need. A heroic dose of displacement. 

Because the more we dread something, the more awful we make it. But the sooner we remove ourselves to go perpendicular to the task at hand, even if only for a short while, the better we are going to feel. 

Everyone needs a detour. Even those who aren’t quite sure where they are heading. 

It’s the best way to stop being surprised every time we see difficult feelings looming on the horizon. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Was the clock ticking that loudly, or was it just your heart getting ready to explode?

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

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nobody really wants us to be happy and healthy

In a conversation between two comedians, one fat and one thin, the larger of the two teases his newly skinny colleague.

You shouldn’t have lost all that weight. There’s nothing funny about a physically fit man. It’s lame. Nobody wants to watch a healthy person do standup comedy. 

Sadly, this is more than a punchline, it’s an honest illustration of how healthy and happy individuals are not interesting, newsworthy or relatable in modern society. 

Despite the irony that the global fitness industry generates eighty billion dollars in revenue each year, not to mention the weight loss industry, which rakes in another twenty billion a year, along with the happiness and mindfulness industrial complex in third place with another ten billion, the sad reality is, nobody really wants us to be healthy or happy. 

Consider the societal implications of such a state. 

On the macro level, happy and healthy people are harder to control, harder to scare, and harder to sell consumer goods to. Which is a serious threat to our economic and political landscape. 

On a micro level, healthy and happy people are simply annoying. They are subtle reminders of the unhealthy choices of other people’s lives. 

It reminds me of the parody commercial about the depressant drug for the annoyingly cheerful. The lead scientist reports, if you’re in good mood every so often, that’s fine. That’s normal. But for the persistently positive, excessively perky, gratingly upbeat and insufferably cheery, this chemical intervention might be necessary. 

Take it from someone who has been publicly shamed most of his life for being happy and healthy. Take it from someone who feels bullied by people’s urges for be less optimistic and more normal. It sucks.

It sucks being someone others have to figure out what to do with. It sucks that my hopeful attitude is something people tolerate at best and loathe at worst. It sucks that having an unrelenting positive outlook can be can be seen as completely dysfunctional an inappropriate. It sucks not realizing how much my chipper attitude probably affects those around me. 

But it doesn’t suck so much that my hope will be shattered. 

My love will wear the world down eventually.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Who might be harboring a pocket of resentment towards your health and happiness? 

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

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Climb the mountain of rote support

People’s only wish is that some simple, incontrovertible solution will magically appear and solve all of their problems. 

That would take them off the hook. It would absolve them from having to do the dirty work of confronting themselves. 

Unfortunately, human beings are more complicated can that. Nobody is black and white. Each person is alive with longings that cannot be satisfied by simple, prefabricated answers. One size fits one, not all. 

And so, when somebody asks us for help, if we truly want to serve them in the most compassionate, empathetic and useful way, we must connect before we counsel. We must appreciate before we advise. 

Maisel offers meaningful approach to these types of interactions in his book about humane helping: 

If we are willing to step back and get some space between people and the things that are challenging them, we can invite them to crack through their defensiveness and denial and grapple with a complicated reality. 

Imagine a coworker joins you for lunch one day. Clearly overwhelmed, she starts pining for advice about productivity and time management, a topic you have extensive experience with. 

The fast and easy solution would be to offer her a few insights and quotes and book recommendations, a slap on the shoulder, a friendly off ya go mate, and then make your way back to the buffet line. 

Exactly what she would expect. 

But the humane solution would be to make a connection first. Knowing that all human beings rest at the nexus of a vast number of interwoven causes and conditions that influence their behavior, you take some time to find out who this person actually is. 

What makes her tick. How her brain works. Where her motivational and value systems come from. Because the question is never the question. The problem is never the problem. 

There are always several larger and more complicated forces at work. 

Once you make that empathetic leap, then you can give her what she really needs. 

Remember, simplifying things may help people make quick order of a complicated world that is full of shades of grey. 

But there are as many answers as there are different human preferences. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Are you making connections before offering counsel?

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

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Saturday, February 08, 2020

If it moves the issue forward, it’s a successful protest

Packnett, the fashion designer and leader in the police reform campaign, once gave an impassioned presentation on making change in a digital era. 

The definition she offered for the word protest was:

The act of telling the truth out loud in public. 

It’s an inclusive reminder that each of us can take a stand in whatever way suits us. Because if it moves the issue forward, it’s a successful protest. Even if we do so through clothing, not picket signs and petitions. 

Personally, making things has always been the most natural way for me to engage with the world. From art to businesses to communities, each of my projects have been a creative history of stands taken. They allow me to engage with the world and afford me the opportunity to contribute in a way that makes me feel like a responsible citizen of the earth. 

The question, then, is not whether protesting is a waste of our time and energy, but rather, what form of protesting would be the most meaningful use of our time and energy? 

If our goal truly is to leave this cosmic campsite better than we found it, then we all have a responsibly use our unique talents to tell the truth out loud in public. 

Hamlet famously have suspected that the lady doth protest too much. But methinks the issue is not one of volume, but variety. 

There are as many ways to protest as there are protesters. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How are you expressing each of your gifts to make a difference in all parts of yours and other people’s lives?

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

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Friday, February 07, 2020

People who secretly want to punch us in the face

Susanka writes in her groundbreaking book that a discordant or unwelcoming entry sequence convinces us that we don’t like the house even before we have set foot in the door. 

We simply dive in without any consideration of the path we are taking, she says. And the experience of entering our own inner world may takes some time if it’s done properly, but once we have set up the process, each time we enter, we will be welcomed by the same sense of wholeness and integrity that we set in motion with your first explorations. 

As an architect, she uses the language of house design and construction. But the broader message is about how we inhabit our lives, how we define home for ourselves, and how we carry that experience with us everywhere we go. 

No matter how quirky or bizarre it appears to other people. 

My friends and colleagues secretly want to punch me in the face when they hear about my daily routines. But routine works for me. It’s what gives my soul a sense of warmth, ensures that my days have a cadence and rhythm and put me into contact with my own capacity for devotion, which ultimately helps me stay fulfilled. 

People can roll their eyes all they want, but building a clean and harmonious user interface for my brain is what manipulates my energy most meaningfully. 

This is about wholeness. This is about knowing who you are, knowing why you are, and knowing how to remind yourself of that everywhere you go. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Do you have a system for loving the house before you set foot in the door?
* * * *

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

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Thursday, February 06, 2020

To the tune of yawns and yeah yeah yeahs

The fact that the universe is not built to care about us, the fact that our deepest dreams are often met by silence, the fact that the door of the world is regularly slammed in our face with heartless indifference, and the fact that many of us feel like biological riff raff spinning senselessly on a tiny rock in a corner of an uncaring universe, none of these realties have to make us cynical or hopeless. 

They can actually become vehicles of liberation. It’s simply a matter of perspective. 

If we accept the fact that most people are not aware of our photography blog, and that the ones who are aware of it probably won’t read it, and the ones who do read it are going to love it no matter what, then why are we killing ourselves trying compose the perfect article that will placate some invisible jury that we will never meet? 

Better to just write what we love, press the publish button and get on with our day. 

If we accept the fact that the organizations to whom we are submitting our resumes are bombarded daily with literally thousands of other qualified candidates, and they most likely going to either promote from within or extend the job offer to an applicant who happens to be a friend the boss’s son, then why would we spend three hours crafting the cover letter?

This is not about being cynical, this about setting boundaries. Making peace with the indifference of the universe in order to unshackle ourselves from a metric fuck ton of pointless emotional and physical labor. 

Attachment researchers have a helpful term for this. 

Over investing. It’s when we devote too much of our emotions in a losing situation the risk of draining away our own resourcefulness. It’s when the investment we put in is disproportionate to both the value of what something is actually worth, and the probability of its reciprocation. 

There’s a hilarious tshirt that summarizes it perfectly:

Sorry I can’t be there for you, but I used all of my coping skills to emotionally over invest in television shows. 

It’s true. The universe is not built to care about us. 

But this is our key to liberation, if we allow it to be. Let us put boundaries in place that help us not to over care. Let us not emotionally over invest in losing situations and make inappropriate attachments. 

Unrequited love is the folly of suckers and maniacs. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Are you harboring a deeply irrational desire for everyone you meet to share your same dream?

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

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Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Acknowledging the sheer absurdity of the moment

Seneca wrote that greatest peril of misplaced worry is that in keeping us constantly tensed against an imagined catastrophe, it prevents us from fully living. 

This insight is particularly appropriate for the experience of making mistakes. Because for many of us, committing simple errors, gaffes and blunders can make us so absorbed in thinking about how completely fucked we are, that it compromises our ability to be present in the moment. 

And that’s no way to live. 

Take it from someone with a lifelong habit of beating himself up into a bloody, pulpy mess. It’s never a fair fight. Nor is it a useful fight. It’s just torture. 

One technique that helps me from tumbling down the ruminative abyss is something called a mindfulness sequence. 

Here’s how it works. 

Imagine traveling halfway across town for a big job interview, only to show up and realize you had the wrong address the whole time. 

The first step in the sequence is the release valve. Allowing ourselves to feel and express our anger or frustration in the moment. Perhaps literally shaking our fists to the heavens and cursing loudly. Fuuuuuuuck! 

Once that raw energy is discharged, the next step is acknowledging the sheer absurdity of the moment. Allowing ourselves to laugh about how this crazy world works. We might exclaim to ourselves, wow, isn’t this ridiculous? Isn’t life just so unbelievably baffling sometimes? Christ on a cracker. 

The next part of the sequence is proving to ourselves that the consequences of our slipup are not life and death. We can recall situations in the past when we made similar mistakes, but survived nonetheless. Reminding ourselves that being late for job interview will probably not result in us going broke, getting divorced, losing our families, getting kicked to the curb, becoming homeless, having a mental breakdown and eventually dying a horrible painful lonely death. 

Finally, we close the loop of our mindfulness sequence by oxygenating the conversation inside our heads with optimism. Perhaps using our imagination to perceive the positive contribution of the moment. Where is the gift in this? Could any good, however fleeting, come from this? 

This mindfulness sequence, discharging, laughing, remembering and questioning, might sound like a lot of work. But then again, being constantly tensed against an imagined catastrophe is work too. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...


What’s your favorite way to beat yourself up?

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

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