Oh, Sweet Irony! Unforgettable First Impressions Gone Awry

I recently spoke at The Turnaround Conference at the St. Peters Church of the Shepherd. My keynote address pointed out the dichotomy of Unforgettable First Impressions. In other words, GOOD Unforgettable vs. BAD Unforgettable.

Judging by the audience’s response, the speech went excellent. They were volunteering, echoing, clapping – everything a speaker hopes to hear. I also had the opportunity to meet many attendees afterwards who shared stories and examples about good (and bad) first impressions.

When the day was over I walked out to my car feelin’ great. The cool wind brushed against my face as the sun trickled down the sky. Then, I got smacked with one of the biggest doses of irony in my entire life…

When I opened the door to my Altima, I noticed the console of my 12 disc changer was ripped out of its socket. Hmmm, that’s weird. Must’ve kicked it on accident when I got out of the car earlier.

I started the car and reached for my traditional post-speech celebration music, Counting Crows’ This Desert Life. But it wasn’t sitting in its usual cubby hole. Interesting. Guess the CD wallet fell on the floor.

Well, it didn’t. I looked around the floor for a few minutes, and then it hit me: my car got jacked. Somebody broke into it, tried to rip off my CD console, then stole 30 of my CD’s. And in the parking lot of a CHURCH, no less!


I ran back inside to grab my client, Amanda. She was furious. She couldn’t believe it. She recommended we call the police, although I told her not to make a big deal of it.

“We have to file a report. This is ridiculous!” she said.

And about 20 minutes later Amanda and I found ourselves on the front drive of the church, filing a report with the St. Peters Police Department.

Most people who get their cars or homes broken into say they felt “violated.” Not me. I felt embarrassed. Because inside the church were hundreds of people I’d just given a speech to who probably thought I was being arrested for some ridiculous crime.

Officers Bittle and Molynski of the St. Peters Police asked me all the necessary questions about the incident, namely, “Mr. Ginsberg, was your car locked?”

“No…why would I lock my car? This is a CHURCH, right?” I said with a hint of sarcasm in my voice. We all laughed.

Officer Molynski asked if I worked at the church. I told him no, but rather that I was giving a speech about UNFORGETTABLE first impressions. We all laughed even harder.

Once we finished the report, Officer Molynski gave Amanda and I a few tips on theft prevention. He was thankful for our cooperation. Then I offerd to sign a free copy of The Power of Approachability if he promised to “find those bastards who ran off with my Counting Crows CD.”

I left the parking lot of the church and thought, wow – talk about an UNFORGETTABLE first impression. Unfortunately, not the kind I was hoping for.


What was your most UNFORGETTABLE first impression? (GOOD or BAD)

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaking/That guy with the nametag

Yes…I’d like a large order of Hypocritical Hospitality please

I picked up some delicious Popeyes chicken a few months back, and I’d agree that their recipe is one of the best. But here’s what I found to be slightly annoying/inconsistent with the particular store I went to…

I approached the counter to order. The clerk was busying herself in the register, not even acknowledging my presence. Eventually she closed the drawer, looked up with a scowl and impatiently muttered, “M’helpya?”

(Which, by the way, translates into English as “May I help you?”)

I then looked at her uniform and noticed one of the most ridiculous nametags I’ve ever seen in my life:


You gotta be kidding me. The Cajun Hospitality Team? What team? Where is this team you speak of? And what about the so called “cajun hospitality” I was supposed to receive? Doesn’t hospitality necesiate a warm greeting, perhaps a smile and coherent language?

Simply wearing a nametag that says you’re part of some corporate initiated, non-existent, b/s hospitality team doesn’t mean you’re actually offering hospitality. It just means you’re “telling” the guests when you need to be “showing” the guests.

Great example of a company who SHOWS their guests true hospitality: The Ritz Carlton. And if you’ve ever stayed at a property before, you know what I’m talking about.

But the thing is, their nametags are simple. No positions. No fake teams or committees. Just the name of an employee who is always prepared to blow you away with his incredible hospitality. I’ve actually had several years of work experience in Guest Services at The Ritz in St. Louis. And I’ve discovered that the truest hospitality is the type that comes from the heart. Because no matter what your nametag says, guests know when they’ve received a large order of Hypocritcal Hospitality.


When was the last time you received Hypocritical Hospitality?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Screw the Operator!

I’ve already blogged about ways to leverage your voicemail greeting, but now it’s time to discuss the name announcement. This is the recording someone hears when you leave a message on his or her phone, i.e., “Next message…received on March 21st…from…Scott Ginsberg.”

When you set up your new voicemial program, the operator usually says, “Please record ONLY your first and last name after the tone. When you are finished, press the pound key.”


This is the part where you’re supposed to say your full name so people know that YOU left them a message.

And why?

Because the operator told you to.

Well you know what? Screw the operator.

Because just like the from line on your email, why not leverage this opportunity? Think of all the possibilities to make this two second recording stand out and be more creative and unforgettable. You could say:

  • The World’s Greatest Accountant
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Landscaper
  • AMAZING Dave Tabbot
  • The Queen of Quilts
  • HELLO, my name is Scott!

    Have some fun with this. Remember, professionalism doesn’t always mean roboticism.


    How could you make your name announcement stand out?

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

  • Self-Promotion for the Creative Person

    A few weeks ago I finished Self-Promotion for the Creative Person: Get the Word Out about Who You Are and What You Do, by Lee Silber. It was fantastic! Here are some of my favorite one-liners:

  • If nobody knows you exist, it doesn’t matter how good your work is.
  • The most effective form of self-promotion is tooting your own horn, loud and clear. Talking, speaking, having a website, writing articles – these are effective ways to show the world that YOU believe in YOU.
  • A man in Dallas actually changed his name to DotComGuy!
  • In a world of infinite choices, your uniqueness is a sorting device
  • Branding yourself creates loyalty. It creates a following of people who appreciate what you do. They know what to expect, and making a decisino to buy becomes a no-brainer.
  • (Networking for) an hour a day keeps the real job away.
  • Dedicated and motivated fans will do the bulk of the marketing for you.


    What’s your favorite method of self-promotion?

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

  • The Power of Approachability receives another great review!

    Exciting news! The Riverfront Times – St. Louis’s alternative newsweekly – ran an interview/review about my new book, The Power of Approachability.

    I’ve been a loyal reader of the paper for many years. And I wasn’t surprised to find my article printed in the Unreal section. Because now that I think about it, the fact that I’m know as “The World’s Foremost Expert on Nametags,” is, in fact, pretty unreal!


    What have you done that people would consider “unreal”?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

    His Voicemail is SO Good, People Call Every Day Just To Hear It

    Last weekend I gave a presentation to the First Impressions team at a Cincinnati Church. We began talking about creative voicemail techniqueswhen Rick, one of the team members, offered his own outgoing message as an example:

    “Every single day I change my voicemail by putting a new quotation in the message. I’ve been doing it for years now and some people even call every day just to hear my new quotation! It’s my way of spreading some positive words and having fun at the same time.”

    Wow, mobile approachability at its finest. People call Rick every day, just to hear his message! That’s incredible. Now, it may take Rick a few extra minutes in the morning to record his message. But isn’t it worth it to make an otherwise mundane encounter a little more personable?


    How could you make your outgoing messages more personable?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with a nametag

    Oh My God! The Drive Through Attendant Was Actually Nice to Me

    Next time you’re driving down US 40 between Effingham and Indianapolis, stop off at Exit 62 and go to the Hardee’s on Vandalia Road. Here’s why:

    It was 8:00 PM. This Monday night. I just finished hosting a seminar in Cincinnati and still had 4 hours to drive before returning to St. Louis, at which point I would pass out for 5 hours, wake up and give another speech. Ahh, life on the road.

    So I was pleasantly surprised to hear the following greeting talking box from the talking box at the drive through: “HELLO, my name is Mollie. Welcome to Hardee’s! What can I get for you this evening?”

    Wait a sec. Did the drive through attendant just introduce herself to me? No way! I’ve been eating fast food my whole life, and that has NEVER happened!

    I ordered my Thickburger and pulled up to the window. Sure enough, Mollie was waiting there with my order, smile and all. She quickly glanced at my nametag and said, “Here ya go, Scott, enjoy!”

    She started to close the window when I said, “Hey Mollie…?”


    “You are without a doubt, the nicest drive through attendant I’ve ever had!”

    Her faced turned as red as the ketchup on my Friso Burger. She thanked me and chuckled her way back into the booth. Now that’s what I call friendly and memorable service!

    Take that, McDonald’s.


    What was the friendliest moment of service you ever experienced?

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

    You’d just have to say hi to this guy…

    John Moore works with Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice – a marketing consultancy dedicated to not only alleviating the pain and suffering marketing problems are inflicting upon companies … but also dedicated to leading companies on a path to live a healthier and more prosperous life.

    So, it’s no surprise that at the WOMMA Summit – at which most attendees dress in dark suits – John stood out by wearing lab coat. Not to mention a stunning, laminated doctor’s nametag!

    Well done, Doctor. Well done. That’s a front porch if I’ve ever seen one.

    Had in been in attendance, there’s no way I could have resisted saying hello to this guy!

    Which reminds me, Gitomer does a great job with the same concept: he wears “Sales Maintenace” shirts wherever he goes. Check out his picture here.


    Can you think of someone whose appearance matches their marketing?

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

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