How to use nametags to break down cultural barriers

This story was contributed by my brother Steve.

I never thought I could pass for being Portuguese, but this weekend proved me wrong. Some friends and I walked into a bar called Zella’s in downtown Chicago only to be unexpectedly greeted by two people at a registration table.

“Are you here for zee Euro Party?” she asked in a beautiful French accent.

“Uhh…yes. Yes we are.” I said.

“Very good. Zee cover is $10, and don’t forget to take zees nametags. Write your name and country of origin. Have fun!”

Excited to take on new identities for the night, my friends and I wrote our foreign information as follows:

  • Sergio from Rio de Janeiro (aka Steve)
  • Hans from Belgium (aka John)
  • Issac from Jerusalem (aka Mike)

The bar was filled with hundreds of people from around the world! I’ve never seen such a diverse crowd in my life. From Croatia to Italy, Slovakia to France and Iran to Madrid, the world was well represented! I even saw one guy from Estonia. I didn’t even know that was a real country.

Throughout the night we tried our best to maintain our accents and represent our nations. At one point, two beautiful women approached me whose nametags informed me that they were from Spain. Thanks to my amazing Spanish speaking tongue, I introduced myself as Sergio and began talking about what it was to live in Rio de Janeiro.

“Oh yes, we’ve always wanted to go to Rio,” they swooned. “And you have such a natural, blue eyed, dark skinned Brazilian look, Sergio! Hee hee hee! Maybe some day you teach us girls how to Samba dance, no?”

I couldn’t believe this was actually working.

(Neither could my international friends Issac and Hans, whose luck with the ladies was limited. But then again, how can anyone compete with Sergio the Brazilian Casanova?)

After a long night of Euro food, Euro dancing and hundreds of diverse Euro partiers, we decided to call it a night. What an experience! Those nametags changed the entire course of the evening for us!

Then, somewhere around 3 AM as the cabbie approached my condo I realized something: in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Portuguese is the native tongue, NOT Spanish!

Dios mio! Sergio es muy estupido!”


How could you use nametags to break down cultural barriers?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

The Smiler’s Discount

One November my friend Liz went to the grocery store to pick up a turkey for Thanksgiving. As she approached the checkout, she noticed the cashier’s nametag, smiled and said, “Hi Jenny – Happy Thanksgiving!”

Jenny smiled back at Liz and swiped her turkey. When she gave her the total, Liz couldn’t help but notice an unusually low price.

“I thought the price was more than that…is this turkey on sale or something?” Liz asked.

“No, it’s not on sale,” Jenny replied, “But I always give 30% discounts to customers who smile at me!”


What’s the best smile-related story you’ve experienced?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guyn with the nametag

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