How to Use Produce To Produce Creativity

It was 8:00 PM and I’d hit a creative wall – hard. But there was so much work to be done! And I just had to get out of the office or else my article would never get finished. So I knew the only way to stimulate my mind was to practice a technique called “displacement.”

You’ve no doubt heard of (and probably practiced) this creativity booster before: take a different route to work, eat at a new restaurant or take an outside break – anything to change your environment. In fact, if you Google the word “creativity,” most of the articles will instruct you to practice some type of displacement technique. They’ll urge you to “stray off the beaten path” because changes in your surroundings will stimulate your senses and enhance your ability to generate new ideas.

But I think Michael Michalko said it best in his famous book on business creativity, Thinkertoys: “Your mind is like vegetation. It flourishes in one soil and droops in another.”

I read that quotation right as I hit my wall last night. Hmm…vegetation, I thought. That gives me an idea! So I took his advice – literally – and went to the one place I’d be guaranteed to find lots of vegetation: the grocery store.

Trust me; this wasn’t my first choice for a place to get some work done. But Starbucks was closed and all the local restaurants were too loud. However, I did remember noticing a line of computer tables in the produce section of the store a few weeks earlier.

It felt awfully strange walking into the grocery store at 8:30 PM with a briefcase in one hand and an Ipod in the other. Then again, I needed some mental stimulation, and I needed it fast. So, what better place to enliven all five of the senses than the produce section?

And it worked! Surrounding me were hundreds of fruits and vegetables of every color; crisp, cool air; and the aroma of fresh flowers and spices. It was everything my baffled brain needed. And within a few minutes, I was back on track with my article. New thoughts poured onto my laptop. Creative ideas came from out of the blue. I climbed over my mental wall!

Now, let’s talk about why this unusual displacement technique worked. Was it something in the air? Was it a coincidence? No. Creativity doesn’t know what the word “coincidence” means. It has to do with our thinking process. It has to do with displacement. Now, maybe the grocery store isn’t for you. But when your brain decides it doesn’t want to get creative anymore – and trust me, it will – you’ll need some techniques to help you break out of the same old mental rut. So, here are a few ways to motivate your melon.

Have you ever noticed how creative you get while exercising for extended periods of time?

That’s not a coincidence, either – it’s biological. According to Molecules of Emotion by Candace B. Pert, continuous exercise like running, long-distance swimming, aerobics, cycling or cross-country skiing appears to contribute to an increased production and release of endorphins. These endorphins are morphine-like substances that have strong affects on the brain and body during exercise. They result in a sense of euphoria that has been popularly labeled as the “runner’s high.”

For example, I run 8 miles every Sunday. It’s my weekly “mental emptying.” Interestingly enough, since I’ve been running for the past 6 or 7 years, I’ve written articles, speeches, even parts of books while jogging at the park! It’s almost like taking a mind expanding drug every week to boost my creativity – except it’s legal, free and safe.

Think of it this way: how in the world did Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison come up with those incredible, timeless songs? They all took drugs. (Okay, they were also incredibly gifted musicians too, but you’ve got to admit: the drugs helped.) Now, we all know what happened to those three guys at the ripe age of 27. So this doesn’t mean anyone should partake in such illegal activities. But remember: exercise is like a legal, healthy drug; and if you use it at the right time, you can come up with some incredibly creative stuff.

MELON MOTIVATOR #1: Take an hour to go for a walk, ride a bike or hike a trail.

Change Your Workspace
Isn’t it ironic that “thinking outside the box” is such an unoriginal and overused cliché that it’s actually become an “inside the box” type of phrase?

That being said; forget about getting “outside the box,” and get the heck out of the office! Wherever you live, there are bound to be dozens of workspaces you never would have thought to utilize. Coffee shops, all night diners, copy stores, 24 hour libraries, hotel lobbies, hospital cafeterias, even grocery stores are perfect to claim as your new “spot.” Just be sure to find somewhere that’s relatively quiet and appeals to the five senses in a manner that differs from your typical workspace.

In a recent article from Innovation Network, Jonathan Vehar revealed two examples of famous thinkers’ workspace techniques. “Einstein came up with his greatest theories while sailing. And Edison, a man with over 1,000 patents to his credit, would go down to the dock and fish.” As for me, I like the produce section. What about you?

MELON MOTIVATOR #3: The world is your office.

(To see more creativity techniques that will motivate your melon, read the entire article here.)

As you experiment with these four displacement techniques, remember that creativity isn’t a once a week or even a once a day thing. It’s perpetual. And it’s up to you to be on the lookout for materials you can use to build your ideas and get over that mental wall.

And while you’re at it, also remember that creativity is largely about breaking the rules. So don’t feel restricted in any way. After all, I’m writing this blog post at 11 PM on a Tuesday night sitting in the produce section of my local grocery store.


How do you motivate your melon?

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

The Origination of the Handshake

We do it every day. Sometimes 20 times a day. But how many of us actually know where the handshake originated? According to author/speaker Melvin Murphy

“The handshake has origins more anthropological than historical. Because they carried knives, spears, and rocks, when land was scarce and sacred males would extend their hand to show that they were not attempting to kill their neighbor. To add to that, the classical Greeks were under the impression that the right hands were mysteriously connected to the heart.

The Greeks may not have been very far off point. The handshake is a symbol equivalent of a promise. It becomes a virtue of the word and value of the person extending it. It is an agreement sealed with honor before the lawyers get involved. The handshake is a very valuable tool and, since in business often the communication is one-to-one, it’s flexible and indicates that an agreement has been reached on current dealings. It says that all information and intentions have been disclosed so that the value of the handshake is not diminished. The lesson here is that the handshake historically has carried symbolic importance. It is good to know what your handshake is worth. It’s your word and it says you can deliver on your promises.”

(This excerpt comes from Melvin’s article, What’s In A Handshake?)

If you ask me, I still prefer high fives. But what can I say; I am a child of the 80’s!


What type of greeting do you prefer?

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

Why do people always ask ME for directions?

This story was contributed by Ciprianna Shockley from

After a seminar that I was hosting was cancelled, I didn’t want to waste my entire Saturday, so I went to Times Square in NYC and put my business card inside a nametag holder (left over from a networking event) and started handing out business cards.

It started to rain, so I stepped back against the wall of the subway station. And what do you think happended? As the rain began to stop, people were coming up to me asking me for directions! What was weird was that they had to walk out of their way to get to me to ask me for directions. Guess I forgot that I had the business card pinned to my shirt!

Now, this wasn’t something that I’d normally do, so it was easy to forget that I was wearing it. I stood there for a couple of hours and noticed that more and more people walked over to me instead of someone closer to them. So, I think I can attribute that behavior to the theory that nametags and/or business cards makes a person more approachable.


Are you someone, or do you know someone, who ALWAYS gets asked for directions?

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

Would YOU talk to someone who looked like this?

After a recent speech to Cornerstorne Financial Group’s agency meeting, a woman in the audience talked about one of her self-admitted barriers to communication.

“I’m guilty of crossing my arms. I do it all the time! And I know it’s a communication no-no; but I can’t help it because it’s comfortable and warm for me.”

My response was, “Perhaps…but that probably means it’s NOT comfortable and warm for other people when they’re trying to talk to you.”

Speaking of which, check out this related article from 2003 called Why Aren’t You Talking To Me?


How do you perceive people who cross their arms?

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

I think Mickey Mouse was right

I first met my good friend Ed at one of my networking workshops on August 19th, 2004. He came up to me afterwards and said he’d heard of my nametag idea years before, but wanted to introduce himself in person.

Ever since then, we’ve shared countless lunches, book idea brainstorms, networking opportunities and a valuable friendship for which I am extremely grateful.

Now, check this out: almost one year later, I had the opportunity to give a speech to Ed’s company, as per his recommendation. Right before the program began Ed said, “Hey, do you see that guy over there in the blue shirt? That’s Denny. He’s the guy that first told me about your website before we met.”

“Really? I don’t recognize him. Can you introduce me?”

We walked over to Denny. He stuck out his hand and said, “Nice to see you again Scott!”

Where do I know this man from? I wondered.

“Denny, I’m sure we’ve met before, but could you please remind me where?”

“Oh, you don’t remember?” he grinned, “yeah it was about 3 years ago at a Dierberg’s Grocery store in St. Louis. I saw you walking around the aisles wearing a nametag, so I asked, ‘Hey Scott – what the hell are ya doin with that nametag?’ And after you told me, I checked out your site and showed it to Ed. Small world, huh?”

Ha! A small world, indeed.

Maybe Mickey Mouse was right.


What’s your best “small world” story?

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

What the heck does “approachability” mean anyway?

Since the official release of The Power of Approachability on March 22, 2005, things have been going tremendously! The book has been selling quite well around the country, both through the website and at various speaking programs. (If you’d like to read the first three chapters, click here.)

I asked several colleagues, associates and members of my internetwork to share their comments about the book and how approachability plays a part in their businesses.

* * * *

Michael A. Chwastiak, Blue Boulder Internet Publishing
“Are you approachable? – June 10, 2005”

Whether you’re gregarious or introverted, this book offers excellent advice on how to improve your conversational skills, make great first impressions, become a better networker, and become more approachable overall. He also includes…

Read the entire review here.

Julie Hood, The Organized Writer
“One of those books you don’t know you need until you read it – June 9, 2005”

Are you approachable? Hmmmm…. the first time I heard that question, I wasn’t sure. What exactly does it mean to be approachable? The author, Scott Ginsberg, “that guy with the nametag” (who has worn a nametag continuously since Nov. 2, 2000), certainly has the experience to explain it — and uses his Six Power Principles of Approachability to share his insights.

Some of my favorite parts of the book explain how to deal with those tricky networking situations like…

Read the entire review here.

Shepard Hyken, Shepard Presentations
“You can’t pass this one up! – June 1, 2005”

This is all of Scott’s best ideas, articles, tips and more – all put into one book. He is great for making the business concepts simple. He backs the concepts up with stories. Do yourself a favor and buy this book. You’ll be more approachable. That means you’ll be better in all of your relationships – both personal and business!

Philip R. Gerbyshak,
“Excellent book with many practical tips, May 5, 2005”

So many tips, so little space to write about them all. Ginsberg talks about the 5 things this book will help you become, and it really does help you with each of them (become a great conversationalist, become unforgettable in your first impressions, become a networking superhero, and become the epitome of approachability in your business and personal lives). I especially enjoyed the tips on how to become a networking superstar, with valuable tips like remember NOT to put your cell phone on the dinner table when out with friends, NOT to just talk about you, and other insights. For those who are looking to be a better listener and a better communicator, this book is definitely for you. The tips are very practical, and easy to implement. I couldn’t recommend this book more highly!

Kathy Condon,
“He’s got it right! – May 2, 2005”

Since connecting with people/networking is one of my niches, I read books on connecting with a careful eye. I read to see if the writer truly understands that making a person feel significant is truly the key to making and maintaining friendships. Scott has gotten it sooo right!!! This is an outstanding book that provides simple techniques that anyone can use any where at any time.

Karen Hoffman, City of Experts
“The Power of Approachability, April 26, 2005”

Ever read a book that is FUN and you are learning at the same time??? That you actually feel that you are having a one on one conversation with the author, and learning along the way? I consider myself a very good networker, (I love people-that helps!) but I really learned so much from this book! I totally LOVE the 50 questions you can use to engage a conversation! No more-boring weather questions…. This is an inexpensive “course” in increasing our relationship portfolio! Our network impacts our net worth-this book will increase your net worth if you read it and take to heart and actually try some of his ideas and be open to his philosophies.

Brad Cohen, Class Performance
“APPROACHABILITY with some PERSONALITY, April 18, 2005”

Great book! This book is about being personal. It is very difficult for some people to interact with others. Scott takes us on a journey of how strangers can meet each other in the most effective way. Yes, Scott is the extreme as he walks around with his nametag on all day, everyday! But that allows us as the reader to figure out where we fit in…

Read the entire review here.

Lawrence T. Twenter, III, Pro Expo Consultants
“Why we need to be approachable? – March 29, 2005”

In the book, Power of Approachability, Scott Ginsberg has written a matter-of-fact guide on how anyone can maximize their own approachability. Scott has put together some incredible materials and insightful information, most of which comes from his own real-life interactions and observations. That is just one of the reasons why the book is so hard to put down. The reader is challenged from the introduction to take charge of their own approachability on a daily basis. Additionally, Scott helps you to fill the gaps between Why we need to be approachable? and How to do it. Anyone who reads this book will learn how to become a better communicator, networker and listener; all of which will lead towards a life of greater personal interactions and personal success.

Thanks to everyone for their comments! And if you’d like to pick up your copy of The Power of Approachability, click here.


How does approachability play a part in your business?

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

Are You Sitting With The Right Company?

When I walked into Dallas’s famous Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, all I wanted to do was to enjoy my New York Strip steak, relax and quietly review my notes for the following day’s speech. Little did I know that a valuable business lesson awaited me at the table.

The only other customer in the bar was a guy sitting in the corner pounding away on his laptop. He didn’t look up when I walked in. The bartender on the other hand noticed my nametag when I arrived and yelled, “Hey Scott! Grab a stool and have a drink!”

I walked over as he flung a coaster down and said, “What’ll you have?”

“Actually,” I said, looking at that man in corner, “I have some work to do. Is it cool if I grab one of those corner tables over there?”

“Sure, sit wherever you want,” he said.

I sat down at the table caddy-corner from Mr. Laptop. He had one of the new Apple G5’s. Nice computer, I thought. Briefly peering over at his screen, I saw that he was working online.

“Excuse me, but do you get high speed access in this bar?” I asked.

“Yeah! I’m set up with a wireless system. And it’s nice because I’d rather work here than in my hotel room.”

“Oh yeah, I know the feeling,” I replied. “That’s why I came here too.”

Pointing down at my nametag, he asked what convention I was attending. I smiled and told him, “Actually I always wear a nametag. It makes people friendlier and more approachable.” He chuckled, as most people often do when I give them my standard answer to this frequently asked question.

“Well Scott, it certainly worked on me! My name is Joachin. It’s nice to meet you.”

Joachin was a tech consultant from Orange County. He also flew in for the day to give a speech to one of his clients. Not surprisingly, we clicked instantly! And for the next hour, Joachin and I had one of those rare stranger conversations that covered just about every topic you could imagine. It was like we were old friends! And both of us seemed to have forgotten all about the work we’d each brought to the restaurant.

God I love it when that happens, I thought.

The more we got to know each other, the more it felt like our conversation could have lasted for hours. But it was getting late, and we both had big days ahead of us. So, after exchanging business cards and agreeing to drop each other a line sometime, Joachin left and returned to his hotel.

Wow! I’m so glad I talked to that guy! I said as I grabbed the notes for my speech. And as I took another bite of my steak, I also thought to myself, now wait a sec – something just happened here…

One of the principles of communication I often discuss in my workshops and books is called Sitting With The Right Company. This idea reminds us that every new encounter represents a choice. For instance, we can walk into a meeting, a party or even a restaurant and immediately seek out the easy seat. That seat could mean sitting all by ourselves or perhaps with a group of people we already know.

You’ll notice this will happen a lot at networking functions. Employees from the same company – who work together 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year – will always sit together.

Because it’s comfortable.

But sometimes, a temporary sacrifice in comfort is worth the value of the conversation that otherwise would not have existed. Sometimes you’ve just got to throw yourself out there. Sometimes you’ve got to break the silence and step onto the front porch of someone new.

Because you just never know. You never know whom you will meet, what you will learn or how it will reciprocate. Unfortunately, too many people are held captive by this comfort. And it is those people who are missing out on opportunities to enhance the net worth of their social capital. Sure, it’s easier to talk to people we already know. But there’s also something to be said for digging your well before you’re thirsty.

After I paid my check and hopped back into the cab, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. The cab driver probably thought I was drunk! But for some reason, the conversation I had with Joachin gave me more energy than the seven dinner rolls I’d just eaten!

And MAN that was beautiful.

Now, will we become life long friends? I doubt it. Business associates? Certainly, that’s a possibility. But…will we either of us regret spending our meal talking and connecting with an exciting new person instead of sitting alone in a corner burying our noses in work?

No way. And in the end…

I was SO glad I didn’t sit at the bar.
I was SO glad I didn’t work on my speech.
And I was SO glad I DID sit with the right company.


Have you ever experienced a moment of sitting with the right company?

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

American Foundation for the Blind Evaluates Blogging

According to a recent review by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), becoming a blogger can be a frustrating task for people with vision loss.

“What we found through our evaluation is that the world of blogging is out of reach for many blind and low vision computer users,” said Jay Leventhal, editor of AccessWorld®, AFB’s online technology magazine. “With 40,000 new blogs cropping up each day and some nine million web logs already in existence, blogging is revolutionizing the way we share and communicate information, which is why AFB wants to ensure that blogs are accessible to everyone.”

AFB’s Evaluation of Blogs

How to Make Your Blog Blind Accessible

Wow! Kind of sheds new light on the term “approachability,” huh?


What do you think makes blogs more or less accessible?

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

Consistency is far greater than rare moments of greatness

I had the opportunity to give a speech at the Hyatt Regency’s Annual Employee meeting this week. The program centered on Hyatt’s service essentials, one of which is using the guests’ names.

During the meeting GM Barry Kaplan spoke for a few minutes. He forewarned the employees about the possibility of inspectors coming through the property to evaluate their adherence to Hyatt service essentials. Then, when he came to the point about using guests names, he said “There is NO excuse for a failure to use a guest’s name. And even if an inspector is coming in, it shouldn’t change anything – because consistency is far greater than rare moments of greatness.”

Nice! Well said, Mr. Kaplan.

In business, in life, in relationships…consistency is HUGE. It plays a vital role in everyone’s lives; albeit in different ways. And it’s one of those abstract terms people could talk about forever. I like MW’s definition of the word: “harmony of conduct” or “firmness of character.”

I also like what the Roman philosopher Horace once said: “Let your character be kept up the very end, just as it began, and so be consistent.”


In what way does consistency play a part in your life?

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

In the history of conversation, nobody has ever been “fine”

During a recent keynote at a conference for the International Association of Workforce Professionals, I spent several minutes telling the audience about one of the most horribly overused words in the English language: fine.

“After looking up the word ‘fine’ in 23 different dictionaries, I noticed that it was never listed!” I joked with the audience.

“Upon further research, it was brought to my attention that ‘fine’ was actually an acronym for…”


“Why? Because nobody’s fine! In the history of conversation, nobody has ever been fine. People only say “fine” to shield how they really feel and, more often than not, avoid conversation.”

After a brief moment of head nodding and chuckling, my audience spent some time practicing various front porch behaviors that helped them avoid “fine” and become more personally available. You may have read about one of these techniques before called Giving Flavored Answers to Fruitless Questions.

A few hours after the keynote, a woman from the audience stopped off at my booth to tell the following story:

“After your speech about 10 of us went out to lunch. When the waitress came over to introduce herself I asked, ‘How are you?’ to which she replied, ‘F.I.N.E.’ All 10 of us nearly spit out our sodas we were laughing so hard. It was great! I don’t think any of us will think about that word the same way again!”


When someone says, “fine,” what does that mean to you?

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

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