How to Get More Creative on the Phone

I once read an article about a seedy bar in North Carolina called He’s Not Here. The name originated from an owner who was accused of attracting customers of the, shall we say, unfaithful nature. And because of the fear of jealous wives rampaging for their husbands, the bartender always answered the phone by saying, “He’s not here!”

Now, although the personal brand of that business isn’t exactly proper, you’ve got to admit – that’s a damn clever way to answer the phone. And consistent. And memorable. And funny.

Sadly, only a small percentage of people do this; either because they’re too lazy, they’d rather just utter the canned “This is Jim…” or they can’t think of anything creative.

A few years ago I was invited to be a guest on a local morning show to talk about my first book, HELLO, my name is Scott. But I knew the DJ’s would give me a hard time. So, when they dialed my number (on the air) and waited for me to pick up, I answered with, “HELLO, my name is Scott…?”

The three DJ’s started laughing so hard, I had to hold the phone away from my ear! They were dying! They even complimented my creative approach to answering the phone. And so, ever since then, I’ve never answered the phone another way – and people still laugh almost every time.


How could you answer the phone in a more memorable and creative way?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

How to Handle Those Awkward Pauses

Doug Hall is known as “America’s #1 Idea Guru.” I watched him speak at a NSA Convention, and he was absolutely brilliant.

One of the key points I recall was “The Hockey Puck Concept.” Here’s how it works: whenever you have a meeting and experience and awkward pause, the leader points to someone says and “Hockey Puck!” Then the selected member has to quickly propose the most ridiculous, obscure and stupid idea he can possibly imagine!

According to Hall, “Hockey Puck” eliminates the discomfort, encourages fun and stimulates new, creative ideas. Pretty cool, huh?

Similarly, my friend Alyssa recently told me about her own version of “Hockey Puck” called The Awkward Box (patent pending.) Here’s how this one works: in the corner of her friend’s apartment sits an empty cardboard box. And whenever there’s an awkward pause in the conversation, someone has to quickly grab the box and throw it across the room! Works every time!

For tips on dealing with awkward pauses, check out this article from Pyschology Today.


How do you handle awkward pauses?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Hip Hop Music Teaches Us A Valuable Lesson about Small Business

I think Murphy Lee said it best in his famous hip hop tune when he asked, “What the hook gonna be?”

That’s the question of the decade, isn’t it? And you know, the more I research it, the more I discover that everyone has their own name for it:

  • The Purple Cow
  • You, Inc.
  • The Brand Called You
  • The Personal Branding Phenomenom
  • Becoming an Expert
  • Your USP
  • What the hook gonna be?
  • Personal Differential Advantage
  • Being “That Guy” (this one’s mine…)

    So no matter what phraseology is used, the commonality is individuality. Uniqueness. Personality. It reminds me of a quotation from one of my new favorite movies, The Incredibles: “Your identity is your most valuable posession.”

    You gotta have it. Without it, you’re just another face in the crowd.


    What’s your hook?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

  • Scott’s Personal MBA Reading List

    I gave a speech a few days ago during which I asked the audience one of my favorite “Let Me Ask Ya This…” questions:

    “What’s the one book that has most influenced your business?”

    The responses were excellent…and varied. People yelled titles ranging from The Bible to How to Win Friends and Influence People to The Yellow Pages (nice creative thinking on that last one.)

    Then I read a post by Seth Godin called Part of the 30, which lists his required reading for his “Personal MBA.”

    Several other bloggers followed suit, The 30 Book MBA in Entrepreneurship, for example, and also Josh Kauffman’sPersonal MBA Reading List.

    And because I’m an avid reader (2 books a week), I thought I’d pull a Seth Godin and share my Personal MBA Reading List:


  • The Sales Bible, Jeffrey Gitomer
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino
  • The Little Red Book of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer


  • The Brand Called YOU, Peter Montoya
  • The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell
  • Purple Cow, Seth Godin


  • The War of Art, Steven Pressfield (my favorite book in the world)
  • A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger von Oech
  • Thinkertoys, Michael Michalko


  • The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale
  • Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life, Larry Winget
  • See You at the Top, Zig Ziglar
  • Love is the Killer App, Tim Sanders


  • Public Speaking for Dummies, Malcom Kushner
  • On Writing, Stephen King
  • How to Give a Damn Good Speech, Philip Theibert


  • Asshole No More, Xavier Crement
  • Conversation, Theodore Zeldin
  • How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less, Nicolas Boothman
  • Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, Harvey Mackay
  • The Networking Survival Guide, Diane Darling
  • Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam
  • Influence, Robert Cialdini


    What’s your Personal MBA Reading List?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

  • Which city is the friendliest?

    I spent a day in Memphis last week. AMAZING city, and if you’ve never been there before, definately try to make it out a soon as possible.

    People were extremely friendly, as I expected. After a slab of ribs at the famous Rendevous I was stopped by a woman on the street.

    “Hey Scott, do you know you’re still wearing a nametag?”

    “Yeah…I always wear a nametag! It makes people friendlier.”

    She gave me a puzzled look, “But…you’re in Memphis!”

    Southern hospitality: you gotta love it. I, of course told the woman I was from St. Louis and ALWAYS wore a nametag, despite the inherent friendliness of certain cities. But, an interesting point, nonetheless.

    This article reports that Sydney, Australia has been voted “The World’s Friendliest City.”


    What’s the friendliest city you’ve ever visited?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

    Show, Don’t Tell for UNFORGETTABLE Communication

    Recently I added images of my two books onto my business cards, and the reactions have been incredible! It looks great, stands out and creates instant credibility and expertise.

    This is a perfect example of “Show, Don’t Tell,” a phrase pounded down the throat of every writer. I learned it from Stephen King in his book, On Writing, where he examines the idea to its fullest extent. Yet, “Show, Don’t Tell” is another one of those concepts that carries over into just about any discipline, insofar as its ability to create UNFORGETTABLE communication!

    Here are some suggestions for showing instead of telling:

    • Instead of telling your customers how great you are, show them a testimonial of someone else who says how great you are.
    • Instead of telling your spouse you love her, write her a love poem.
    • Instead of telling a colleague you want to help him improve his confidence, buy him a book on the subject.
    • Instead of telling a prospect what you can do for her, invite her to come to your office or next event to see you in action.


    In what ways do you SHOW instead of tell?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

    How to make your emails STAND OUT

    Recently, my friend Paul told me to change my “from” line on my outgoing mail. It used to simply have my email address, but then I changed it to say HELLO, my name is Scott, my personal brand, which also happens to be my website URLand the title of one of my books. And as soon as I made the change, Paul said it stood out amidst all the other emails and enticed him to read my message first!

    The “from” line is a perfect, yet underused hot spot to stamp your personal brand. Let’s say you’re known as “The Tax Law Queen.” Great. Put that instead of your email! It will stand out among the hundreds of emails in your recipients’ inboxes.

    (However, still be careful what you write. Email “from” lines are often controversial issues when it comes to spam.)

    Try this quick exercise – it’s deliciously fun. Go to your inbox right now, start at the top, and slowly scroll down through ALL of your emails. Then look at the “from” lines. Which ones stand out?

    Here are some of the “from” lines in my inbox:

    NOTE: My inbox has 511 emails, and these were the only 6 that stood out. That’s exactly 1.1%. What does that tell you?!


    How do you make your email stand out?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

    Don’t Mope at Meetings, MAXIMIZE!

    During a National Speakers Association seminar over the weekend, I discovered two new networking tips for attending meetings:

    1) Sit in the back. You will be able to see the bulk of the people in the audience. This allows you to pre-screen:

    • Who is there you ALREADY KNOW
    • Who is there you WANT TO KNOW
    • Who is there you WANT TO KNOW YOU

    Honestly, I only learned this tip because I arrived about 40 minutes LATE. (Thanks for nothing, Mapquest.) But I wouldn’t have sat in the back otherwise. So from now on, I always will!

    You can also take this opportunity to practice people’s names. I’ve been doing this trick for years. As soon as you take your back row seat, look around the room and say the names of every single person you can (from memory OR their nametags). This way, you’ll feel more comfortable approaching them when you talk later.

    2) Switch seats. After the major breaks, i.e., lunch or session gaps, try a new seat. Get to know another person. Find open chairs, politely ask if the seats are taken and introduce yourself. Don’t worry; the person sitting next to you won’t mind. This will give HIM an opportunity to meet someone new as well. (Of course, be careful not to steal anyone’s place. Choose wisely.) But moving around will help you maximize the number of people with whom you converse.


    How do you maximize your presence at a meeting or seminar?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

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