The Nametag Guy’s final post of 2006

So, I was hoping to have this AMAZING year-end post that (a) wrapped up everything I learned in 2006, (b) left you with a poignant point to ponder or (c) was really, really funny.

But I got nothing.

It’s been the busiest, craziest, most fun and most educational year of my life. And I’m tired.

However, before I call it a year, I wanted to share one final story.

On October 20th, I received an email from a meeting planner at a Fortune 500. For the record, I changed the person’s name and sex. Here’s what it read: (emphasis mine)

Dear Scott,

I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate you into our world. Annually my group has a national meeting. In the past speakers have not really added ROI for the $$$ we pay to have them.

Have you spoken for any pharmacy companies before? Although I love your “down to earth” approach, you would have to tone that down a bit due to all of our inhouse redtape (diversity, etc.).


Jackson Green, CMP

* * * *

OK. Here’s what I wrote back to him:

Morning Jackson! Great to hear from you.

I actually just took on a new client in the pharmacy industry. Approachability is huge for reps in that arena, so I would love to be a part of your annual event.

However, while I respect the culture of your company, it’s important for you to know something: I never tone down who I am.

If you think the type of style I bring to the stage will offend people or make them uncomfortable, that’s totally cool. I understand and I don’t expect everyone to like me! But if that’s the case, then I’m probably not a good fit for your company.

Take care.


Do you think he wrote me back?

If someone asks you NOT to be yourself, screw ’em.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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See, this is why I love COSMO

A surprisingly great resource for all things approachable is Cosmopolitan magazine.

(My appreciation for this publication started this time last year when I wrote the quiz on approchability.)

In their December 2006 issue, there’s a great article about group dynamics at parties. Perfect content for the holiday season:

• It’s easier to break into larger groups because they aren’t as cohesive.
• Trios are often reluctant to accept a new person
• If you’re extroverted, hang out by the entrance so you can see and greet everyone who comes in the door AND so arriving guests can introduce you to the people they bring
• If you’re stuck in a corner, angle your body toward the center of the party so your conversation partner doesn’t hold you captive between himself and the wall
• Always approach strangers from the side rather than head on. This is an evolutionary tactic to signal you’re peaceful
• Effective opening lines include discussing a neutral object, i.e., food, decorations on the walls around you, furniture
• Territorial by nature, men will stake claim to a piece of furniture and/or any electronics
• If you want to approach a group of men, wait until another woman is already nearby. Men are more gentlemanly in the presence of other women.

Words to live by. God bless Cosmo.

What are your tips for approaching others at holiday parties?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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Boys are stupid throw rocks at them

Perhaps the folks at David & Goliath were right.

I was googling “how to approach” and “approach tips” last night, and I couldn’t help but notice something:

Most of the hits were articles about seducing, picking up and getting numbers from women.

Actually, they weren’t even articles. Most were one page sales letters or extended pictches for seduction ebooks, 6 CD or 12 DVD attraction kits, workshops and the like that promise to teach you How To Approach Any Woman, Anywhere And Know Exactly What To Say To Get Her To Give You Her Number And Go On A Date With You – NOW.

Don’t worry. I’m not player hating. If this stuff works, good on ya.

BUT HERE’S MY THEORY: ever since the release of Neil Strauss’s (amazing) book The Game, the underground world of pick-up artists, seduction gurus and attraction experts has TOTALLY exploded.

I’m not saying this is bad. Most of the information published on seduction-based approachability (most, I say), is well researched, lucid and thought provoking.

But here’s what I think is really, really funny:

If you google the phrase approaching women, 101,000 hits come up.

But, if you google the phrase approaching men, only 16,000 hits come up.

Hmm. Interesting.

What do you this that means?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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The World is a Mirror, Part 17

I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
M is for MUNDANE
Q is for QUICK

Think back to the year 2000.

Let’s say someone approached me and asked why I was wearing a nametag. On average, I would only have enough time to say something like this:

“I always wear a nametag to make people more friendlier and more approachable and because humans love to hear their own names more than any other word – and forget names more than any other context of human memory – a nametag increases approachability by making other people feel comfortable, thus creating a friendlier society.”

Seriously. I would actually say all that crap in one breath.

It usually took about 13 seconds. Which I later realized was WAY too long.

As a result, people would respond by:

a) Laughing
b) Thinking I was crazy
c) Walking away laughing, thinking I was crazy


Think back to 2002. If someone approached me and asked why I was wearing a nametag, I would only have enough time to say something like this:

“I always wear it to make people friendlier, more approachable and to help them remember my name.”

It usually took about 5 seconds. Which I later realized was STILL too long.

As a result, people would respond by asking:

a) “You’re not serious, are you?”
b) “Really? Does it work?”
c) “So, you really want everyone to know your name, huh?”

Hmm. Getting better.

Finally, let’s take it back to about 2003. The year I officially started my company.

Now, if someone approached me and asked why I was wearing a nametag, I would only have enough time to say something like this:

“I always wear it to make people friendlier.”

That’s it. 8 simple words. I always wear it to make people friendlier.

It reminds me of three things:

1) Seth Godin once said, “If you can’t state your position in 8 words or less, you don’t have a position.”

2) Someone else (not sure who) once said, “If you can’t write down your idea on the back of a business card, you don’t have an idea.”

3) One of my favorite movies, The Quick & The Dead.

Cliché, I know. You’re either quick, or you’re dead.

But here’s why I think that phrase isn’t as cliché as it used to be:

In 1974, a book called First Impressions was published. I bought it for a buck on Ebay. And according to the text, humans had 7 minutes to make a first impression.

Seven minutes.

In 2000, a book called How to Get People to Like You in 90 Seconds or Less was published.

90 seconds.

In February of 2006, I was interviewed for the WSJ about an article on first impressions. According to Jeff Zaslow’s research, humans NOW had 2 seconds to make a first impression.

2 seconds.

The Quick and the Dead?

Apparently so.

Dude. That’s scary.

How has the quickness of first impressions changed over the past 50 years?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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My bad. I’m such a moron sometimes!

You gotta love the opening scene of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

The former presidential candidate takes the stage, PowerPoint clicker in-hand. His famous Global Warming Slideshow appears on the enormous screen in the background. Thousands of bright-eyed college students anxiously await his opening remarks.

The applause fades. The crowd falls silent.

And the first words out of Al Gore’s mouth are, “Hello, my name is Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States.”

The students roar with laughter! Cheers, whistles and applause echo from the auditorium for the next 20 seconds. Even Gore chuckles a bit to himself on stage.

At that very moment, you realize something: Al Gore has every single one of those students in the palm of his hand. Instantly, he’s become likeable, funny, and, believe it or not, sort of cool.

BEHOLD! The amazing power of self-deprecating humor:

It neutralizes conflict.
It makes other want to be around you.
It is the fastest way to someone’s heart.
It is a key indicator of emotional intelligence.
It defuses an otherwise tense or difficult situation.
It combines modesty and likeability, while at the same time demonstrating that confidence and self-assurance.

The word “deprecation” stems from the Latin deprecari, which means, “to avert by prayer.” Now, although you probably don’t think of poking fun at yourself as praying, self-deprecating humor does help sidestep three communication barriers:

You avoid offending someone. Let’s face it: people have become WAY too sensitive. It’s almost hard NOT to offend someone! Political cartoonist Paul Rigby said it best: “Everyone is on edge. I think that’s a fault in the human species these days. We are all very scared of critical analysis.”

LESSON LEARNED: use self-deprecating humor as a protective measure. It’s safe, it’s fun, and it works. After all, you’re poking fun at yourself! It’s doubtful that anyone else will be take offense.

You avoid threatening someone. Humans tend to gravitate toward people and situations that are the least threatening and uncertain. This is known as the approach/avoid mechanism. Therefore, self-deprecating humor makes you more approachable, both personally and professionally.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: in the April 1997 issue of Men’s Health, psychologist Michael Cunningham reported, “Self-effacing humor isn’t threatening because it points out that a someone is confident enough to risk looking silly.”

You avoid alienating someone. Even individuals with great power and responsibility use self-deprecating humor to their advantage. Landon Parvin, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, helped George W. Bush write the jokes contrasting Bush’s public voice with his supposed inner thoughts.

AMAZINGLY: Parvin, who was responsible for most of the president’s intentional humor, believed this strategy helped win over skeptical voters by increasing Bush’s likeability. What’s more, CNN and MSNBC reports from the 2004 election indicated that Bush’s approachability surpassed that of John Kerry’s.

Still, self-deprecating humor isn’t all fun and games. It has the potential to be disadvantageous. After spending a few Googleable hours researching the topic, I’ve discovered three caveats you must consider before ripping yourself a new one:

1. Gender. Although it probably differs from person to person, two pieces of research caught my attention on this topic. The first comes from Jan Frankel Schau of the Southern California Mediation Association. She wrote, “A woman appears to be lacking in confidence when she engages in self-deprecating humor. This is not to censor her use of humor, but only to enlighten it by pointing out the hidden messages that may be revealed, or that are unintentionally displayed.”

On the other hand, attraction expert and dating coach “Swinggcat,” founder of Real World Seduction, says, “A little self deprecating humor can be powerful; but a man who recites an hour-long standup comedy routine about what a loser his is will make women avoid him like a leper.”

According to Swinggcat, self-deprecating humor violates a fundamental attraction maxim: women are attracted to men with “prizability.” If you want to successfully attract a woman, he says, you need to establish the frame that you are the “prize” in the interaction.

Consider your gender (and that of the people surrounding you) before overdoing the self-deprecation.

2. Intention. Have you ever suspected someone of using self-deprecating humor for sole purpose of getting other people to defend him? According to fascinating report titled The Self-Deprecating Narcissist by Dr. Sam Vaknin, “If a narcissist engages in self-deprecating humor, he expects to be contradicted, rebuked and rebuffed by his listeners (‘Come on, you are actually quite handsome!’), or to be commended or admired for his courage or for his wit and intellectual acerbity (‘I envy your ability to laugh at yourself!’).”

Vaknin concluded with, “As everything else in a narcissist’s life, his sense of humor is deployed in the interminable pursuit of Narcissistic Supply.”

Don’t poke fun at yourself simply so someone else defends the opposite. This will appear manipulative and narcissistic.

3. Frequency. Lastly, offering too many self-deprecating remarks may raise questions about your self-esteem. Famous comedy writer and magician Robert Orben says, “Self-deprecating humor should always be two-pronged. It should comically acknowledge a criticism or situation, but also infer that there is no substance to it and that you’re in the driver’s seat.”

Additionally, saturating yourself with self-deprecating remarks can create a negative, circular pattern. See, humans are what they are because of the way other people see them. So, if you keep telling people that you’re a moron, then people will start to agree with you. After a while, you might start wondering to yourself, “Huh. Maybe I really AM a moron!”

Words are powerful. Make sure that everyone (including yourself) knows that it’s only a joke.

Woody Allen, the world’s most notorious self-deprecator, once said, “Self deprecating humor is all around. It’s a staple of comedians, and should be a staple of people in general.”

Right on, Woody. Besides, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Ultimately, self-deprecating humor is a potent ingredient to enhance your personal and professional communication. With practice, you’ll learn that when the right amount is applied, and done so within the appropriate context, you’ll be sure to maximize your approachability – one conversation at a time.

Besides, if it’s good enough for Al Gore, it’s good enough for you too.

What’s the most effective way to use self-deprecating humor?

Post your best SDH story here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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3 chunks of out-of-print wisdom

On the shelves of my father’s library, I recently found a book called Dare to Live, by Joe D. Batten. First published in 1966, this was one of the first titles in Batten’s extenstive leadership library. Over the decades, Joe went on to accomplish great things in the world of “Tough Minded Management.” He was also Ross Perot’s mentor.

Can I finish?

He was also among the first professional speakers voted into the Speakers Hall of Fame and the man who coined the phrase “Be all that you can be” for the Army.

I think Dare to Live is probably out of print, I thought I’d share a few passages I really liked:

Life without work is a shortcut to deterioration.

When we don’t have something that makes our heart beat rapidly, that makes our senses quicken, we do not force the blood out to our extremities and we begin to dry up and wither from the outside in.

The true pro gets up in front of the group and he probably has even more tension than the amateur, but this tension is flowing out from him and reaching out and enveloping, affecting and energizing his audience.

Good stuff. Thanks Joe B.

What’s your favorite out of print or rare book?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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Hear Scott on Tim “Gonzo” Gordon’s Podcast!

I had a chance to catch up with Oregonian Tim “Gonzo” Gordon this week.

We chatted about nametags, speaking, writing books, mentors, and the “weirdness” of the Rose City.

NOTE: I’ve been slacking on the podcasts lately, so it’s nice to finally post another audio clip. Enjoy!

Gonzo Podcast #54

Do you think there varying types of “weird people” out there?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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The World is a Mirror, Part 16

I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
M is for MUNDANE

A while back someone from my audience asked, “But if you wear a nametag all the time, that means you have to, like, be nice to everyone!”

Well, technically, yes. But is that such a bad thing?

See, today is day 2,227. That’s like, seven years! And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “Painting Yourself into a (Good) Corner.”

According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms, to “paint yourself into a corner,” means the following:

• To do something which puts you in a very difficult situation and limits the way that you can act
• To do something that takes away all of your choices

As you can see, this idiom is usually expressed in a negative light.

But does it have to be? Is painting yourself into a corner always bad?

I say no. And let me give you a few examples…

My girlfriend drives a pink car. It’s pretty much the sweetest ride you’ll see on the road.

Anyway, Jackie tells me that since she repainted her Tib, she’s actually become a better, more responsible driver.

“Well, yeah,” Jackie explained, “If I cut someone off, they’ll shake their fist at me and say, ‘Damn that girl in the pink car!’”

So, she’s painted herself into a good corner. And Lord knows we could always use more responsible drivers out there!

Tattoos are another great example.

Let’s say someone gets a peace sign inked across his ankle.

Don’t you think he’d be less likely to walk around getting into bar fights?

(FYI, if you haven’t had the chance to see the greatest tattoo in the world, brace yourself and look here.)

Another example: what if someone gets the word “hope” tattooed across her chest? Think she’d slump around all day with woe-is-me posture and depressed eyes?

Not likely. Or at least, not AS likely.

See, if you tattoo something on your body, that baby is for-ever. Plus, you wouldn’t have gotten inked unless you were: a) seriously committed to the message behind the ink, or b) really, really drunk one night in college.

And so, a tattoo paints someone into a good corner because if that person acts in a manner inconsistent with the message behind the tattoo, either he (or someone who sees the tattoo) will question his integrity.

Therefore, the solution to all of the world’s problems is simple: everyone should wear nametags and get tattoos.

Just kidding.

But methinks this IS a step in the right direction.

So, if our society wants to achieve higher levels of personal accountability, integrity, authenticity, blah blah blah, it would be wise for each person to find his or her own way of painting themselves into a good corner.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a pink car waiting outside to take me to breakfast.

How do you paint yourself into a good corner?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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The most important word in any author’s vocabulary is…

Nope, it isn’t “marketing.”

Wrong, it ain’t “credibility.”

And no, it’s not “Oprah.”

The most important word in any author’s vocabulary is: platform.

Here’s what that means:

• A platform is what helps sell books
• A platform is the way you reach readers
• A platform is your expertise on your book’s topic(s)
• A platform is a network of notoriety and exposure
• A platform is how you communicate with your audience
• A platform is that which gives you access to sales
• A platform is what you stand for in the marketplace
• A platform is where you speak your mind beyond what’s already been said in your books
• A platform is where you inform your fans of future books, appearances, projects, news and the like
• A platform is your place in the world
•A platform is your accomplishments

With that in mind, here are the three reasons every author needs a platform.

1. To sell books. It’s tough to move 10,000 copies from the back of a cave. Too many authors – especially self-published ones – work their butts off writing and producing their books, and then do nothing with them! Sadly, writing and producing the book is the EASY part. The key is, building your platform so you can move those darn boxes out of your garage!

What’s your 12-month platform plan?

2. More media interviews. If media outlets see that you’ve got a platform, they will gladly book you for their shows. Why? Because they know you’ve got fans, customers and loyalists who will tune in. They know that viewers, readers and listeners will say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of this guy before!” And that’s what makes their producers (and advertisers) super happy.

How many interviews did you do this year?

3. Credibility is king. Every time you try to make a deal that books you for a speaking engagement, sells copies, secures a TV movie about your life, etc., the potential client is going to ask the question, “Have people heard about you?” It’s EXACTLY like the scene in the recent movie Little Miss Sunshine, in which Greg Kinnear’s book deal goes kaput because the publisher exclaims, “But nobody’s heard of you!”

Have people heard of you?

OK. Now that you understand the value of author platforms, let’s explore two well-known examples.

First, think about the most obvious example in the world: Oprah.

Personally, I’m not a diehard fan of The Big O, but you gotta admit, when she writes a book (or promotes someone else’s book, for that matter), BAM!! Millions of sales at the drop of a hat.

Now, does that happen because these particular books are “good”?

Maybe. But it probably has more to do with the power of her platform: TV show, magazine, radio show, reputation and Harpo Productions.

Another great example is Rachel Ray. How many cookbooks, DVD’s, appliances and other ancillary items do you think she sells each year?

According to a 2006 article in Business Week, about 40 gazillion bajillion.

OK, I might have exaggerated that number a bit. (I think it’s actually higher)

But why does she move so much product? Because her platform is strong. Really strong. Like, Schwarzenegger strong. Sure, she might be an annoying little troll, but you’ve to got to admit: she’s everywhere. TV shows, product endorsements, even her own magazine!

In order to build a platform so you can get well known, you sort of have to BE well known already.

So, that’s your challenge. How will you get better known and known better?

Here’s a quick list of ways to start building your platform 2-day, 4-free:

• Blog every single day for six months
• Publish an ezine twice a month
• Give one free speech every week
• Publish articles regularly on
• Walk around conferences and events (filled with attendees who are your target readers) and hand out hundreds of free copies of your book to EVERYONE (This one works. I’ve done it many times!)

Look. I know you’re not Oprah. And I know you’re not Rachel Ray.

But nobody is! Those two women reside in the 0.01 percentile of authors whose platforms are so impossibly strong that they can sell millions and millions of books in short periods of time.

You and me, however, reside in that 99.9% of people who need work our butts creating, expanding and maintaining our platforms on a daily basis.

After all, that’s the single most important word in any author’s vocabulary.

How does the word “platform” apply to non-authors?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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The power of FREE

You could argue that free is bad:

That free gives no value.
That free wastes people’s time.
That free is setting your business up for failure.

Or you could argue that free is good:

That free DOES give value.
That free captures attention.
That free brings customers into your sales funnel.

I’m gonna go with door #1. For 6 reasons:
FREE helps others. Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Give stuff – information, ideas and like – away for free to help people.

FREE pays it forward. How many times have you been give priceless pieces of wisdom? Did you pay for it? Doubtful. Return the favor. Except, don’t return it; pay it forward. Great example here.

FREE gives value first. Huge rule in business. Free information shows that you have knowledge and expertise. I’ve given dozens of free speeches in my life, and subsequently booked paying gig as a result. So, give it away for free the first time, and the people who received value from it will come back to you the second time. And the third, and the fourth, and the fifth…

FREE wins fans. How many times have you heard a song on the radio, LOVED IT, then went out and bought the album? Probably lots. Because you were a fan of the music. Hence, free creates (and ultimately helps retain) fans. Think iTunes’ free music Tuesday. Brilliant. It’s a simple formula: break the silence, make the mundane memorable, turn strangers into friends, friends into fans and fans into sales.
FREE tests the waters. Maybe you have new ideas that you’re not sure about yet. I say, post them on a blog and get free feedback before you break the bank. Maybe people will see stuff you never thought of. Maybe people will love your ideas! Maybe people will say, “That sucks!” Either way, it’s good to know.

FREE culture of dishonesty. Thanks to Enron, James Frey and a multitude of other big name liars, customers are skeptical before buying stuff. So, give something to them for free first, disarm their immediate preoccupation, and win them over. If they like you, they’ll be back.

The reason I posted about this today is because a woman called me recently and said (jokingly, I think), “Scott, you have way too much free stuff on your website! I’ve been there all afternoon!”

First of all, thanks! All afternoon? Wow. Most web users stay on the average sit for 90 seconds. Nice.

Secondly, are you complaining?

Thirdly, maybe you’re right. Maybe 100+ articles, 5 FREE ebooks and several videos are too many things to give away for FREE. Maybe I’m afraid to sell. Maybe I’m afraid that charging people will lose people.


All I know is, in the history of my business, FREE has been the absolute #1 most valuable marketing technique for spreading WOM, attracting fans and increasing visibility, thus increasing sales.

So there.

What are you giving away for free?

Email with your best “free offering,” and I’ll post the top three on this blog next week.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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