(my version of) The 90/10 Rule

I was listening to Yoko Ono’s show on Satellite Radio yesterday.

She’s actually not a bad DJ. Great taste in music, peaceful speaking voice, and of course, insightful comments between songs.

Right after playing Ray Lamontagne’s title track from Trouble (FYI, best album put out by ANY artist in the past five years) she quoted Nietzsche:

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

MAN. That’s GOT to be the most powerful quotation I’ve heard in a long time.

Kind of got me thinking about (my version of) The 90/10 Rule, aka, “You can’t please everybody.”

Especially when you have new ideas.

Because undoubtedly, about 90% of the people you encounter are going to agree with your ideas, your personality, your philosophies and your work. And the remaining 10% are going to think you suck.

The challenge is that most people get so hung up on the 10 that they forget all about the 90.

BIG mistake.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: I used to waste my time with speaker evaluations. (Gosh, what a waste of paper.) And even when the audience response was overwhelmingly positive, even when I’d give the best presentation of my life, there was always someone just WAITING to be offended.

So I’d get hung up on that one person. And he’d drive me CRAZY! Which meant I allowed the minor negatives overshadow the major positives.

Look. You can’t allow that to happen to you. You’re stronger than that.

You need to forget about the 10 and focus on the 90.

And this isn’t about giving speeches, either.

This is about something bigger. This is about life. This is about dealing with The Haters. This is about having the courage to look someone in the eye and say, “You know what? If you don’t like me, that’s cool. But don’t expect me to waste any time and energy trying to change your mind.”

Just keep dancing. If they can’t hear the music, screw ‘em. Their loss.

1. Don’t try to convert the atheists.
2. Unless the majority says you suck, you probably didn’t suck.
3. Screw the 10. Stick with the 90.

What’s your version of the 90/10 Rule?

Post it here!

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

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Insane Author Flashes Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Today’s article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review proves (once again) that I am, in fact, insane:

PITTSBURGH – There have been a lot of changes in the last 2,288 days of Scott Ginsburg’s life — from the constant need to buy shirts to a change in his attitude.

“I’ve always been a pretty friendly, outgoing guy. Now that I’m always wearing a name tag, I’m even friendlier,” said Ginsburg, 26, of St. Louis. “Plus, I’ve had to buy a ton of shirts. I never realized what a name tag can do to your clothing.”

Ginsburg, commonly known as “That Guy with the Nametag,” was the featured speaker at Tuesday’s International Networking Day event at the Hilton Pittsburgh and Towers, Downtown. He’s worn a name tag daily since Nov. 2, 2000, and has built his life around the idea of always being approachable.

Deanna Tucci Schmitt, executive director of Business Network International of Western Pennsylvania, said Ginsburg’s idea of approachability is the crux of what networking is about, something she realized after hearing a presentation by Ginsburg last fall.

She said people often don’t know how to approach networking in a way that doesn’t alienate others. What people should do, Schmitt said, is take a cue from Ginsburg and be friendly and open, and find common ground to break the ice.

“He took this silly little thing of wearing a name tag and has applied it in a global way everywhere else in his life,” Schmitt said. “He must be the most approachable guy I’ve ever met.”

Ginsburg wants people to market themselves, something he does convincingly. In the six years he’s been wearing a name tag full-time, Ginsburg, the author of three books on networking and approachability, estimates he has met 100,000 strangers. Some have become close friends, others have become clients and many he’s never seen again. Ginsburg even took wearing a name tag to a new level when, in November 2005, he had one tattooed on his chest.

“It really wasn’t practical to wear a name tag in some situations. It starts to look like a scene from ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin,’ ” Ginsburg said. “I figured, what better way to solidify my commitment to this as my life than to desecrate my body.”

Mary McKinley, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University and director of its Chrysler Corporation Small Business Development Center, said Ginsburg has the right idea. Approachability, she said, is something many people don’t think about. But it can affect that ever-so-important first impression.

“You only have about 30 seconds to make an impression on someone,” McKinley said. “And a lot can be said in those 30 seconds.”

Ginsburg said his philosophy can work in any aspect of life, whether people are looking to enhance their business or their personal lives.

“You want to take every one of the opportunities you get to engage a person, no matter what the setting. Broadcast your uniqueness,” Ginsburg said. “It’s about being ‘that guy’ and being known for something. Who knows what’s going to happen, or how it will turn out. But you have to try.”

Ever had a steak cooked Pittsburgh Style?

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

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The World is a Mirror, Part 20

I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
M is for MUNDANE
Q is for QUICK
S is for Service
T is for Time

Wanna know something weird?

Wearing a nametag all the time actually gets me better service.

In restaurants, bars, clubs, airplanes and hotels, I seem to get treated better than the average customer.

And I don’t even DO anything to deserve it!

I’m still not exactly sure why this happens. But after seven years of observations, here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Reciprocity. Friendliness is contagious. That’s why it’s hard to give excellent service to someone who’s in a terrible mood. Of course, it works both ways, too. Thinking back to my days as a bartender, I remember purposely giving better service to patrons who were friendly. It’s just human nature.

Here’s the irony: after seven years of wearing a nametag to make OTHER people friendlier, I’ve actually become friendlier myself. “You cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening your own,” as the proverb states. So, since I started wearing a nametag 24-7, my increased friendliness has led to enhanced service.

2. Familiarity. Think Norm from Cheers. He was the epitome of a “regular.” A “regular” is someone whom the staff 1) remembers, and 2) sees often. So wearing a nametag all the time expedites my regular status. Whereas it might take the average customer five or six visits to a coffee shop before the staff recognizes him, my nametag speeds up the familiarity to about two or three visits. In the midst of hundreds of customers a day, I’m just easier to remember.

EXAMPLE: I went into my bank the other day to correct a mistake. During my ATM transaction, I accidentally withdrew $34,000 instead of $3,400. Woops! Usually, there’s nothing you can do about such an error. But when I came to the counter, Holly, the manager, told me not to worry about the accidental overdraft. “Don’t worry, Scott – I know you! I’ll run back and change the withdrawal amount so you’re not charged an overdraft fee.” Sweet.

3. Name. Several years ago, Starbucks began writing the names of their customers on the cups. My guess is, they did this for a few reasons. First, to organize the drinks on the counter so the barista wouldn’t get flustered. Secondly, to use the customer’s name in the transaction. Thirdly, to learn the names of the customers for future reference.

Now, since a person’s name is the single context of human memory most forgotten (says Freud, at least) wearing a nametag every day actually makes the barista’s job easier. Hence, better service.

4. Social Distance. The greatest power of a name is that it reduces the distance between people. Physically AND emotionally. See, when you know someone’s name, you’re immediately closer to that person. For example, let’s say (for some strange reason) you were in the mood to punch someone in the face. You came across two strangers who were similar in appearance, but noticed one of them was wearing a nametag that read, “Randy.” Which person are you more likely to punch in the face?

I know this example is completely ridiculous. (Then again, over the years I’ve had dozens of people try to beat me up for wearing a nametag, so perhaps my Ridiculous Meter is a bit skewed.) ANY way, the point I’m trying to make is: it’s easier to offer bad service to someone you don’t know. And conversely, it’s easier to offer good service to someone you DO know.

Ultimately, my goal in sharing these observations is NOT to offer tips on how to get better service.

I just think it’s interesting to switch the roles for once.

See, companies are obsessed with finding ways to provide better customer service. But they tend to focus on the characteristics of the staff, not the customers themselves.

Maybe a counterintuitive approach is necessary.

Maybe companies should FIRST consider the customer who already gets better service, see WHY that happens to him, and THEN apply those principles back to their staff.

Just an idea.

(FYI, this week happens to be the exception to this rule. My flight was cancelled, I got re-routed to Charlotte, rented an unneccesarily large SUV for $619 because that’s all they had left, drove all the way to Spartanburg and STILL didn’t get my luggage. Special thanks to the Kohl’s on Main Street for actually having stylish, affordable clothes that fit so I didn’t have to give my speech in cargo pants and a t-shirt. God I love Kohls.)

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

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Make music, not noise

Think of the most horrible sound imaginable.

Maybe it’s fingers on a chalkboard.

Maybe it’s a baby screaming in pain.

Maybe it’s someone choking on a piece of broccoli.

Maybe it’s turning over the ignition on your car when it’s already started.

Yecch! Makes your skin crawl, huh?

Exactly. That’s the effect noise has on people.

Now think of the most beautiful music imaginable.

Maybe it’s a song from an opera.
Maybe it’s one of Mozart’s symphonies.
Maybe it’s an ambient mix of keyboards and organs.
Maybe it’s that first song you slow-danced to at your wedding.

Ahhhhhhhh. Puts your soul at ease, doesn’t it?

Of course. That’s the effect music has on people.


The majority of the marketing out there isn’t music.

It’s noise.

And customers are tired of it.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: When you were watching Tivo last night, you just skipped right through those annoying commercials, didn’t you?

ANOTHER EXAMPLE: I took a flight on US Airways from Phoenix to St. Louis a few weeks back. When my delicious, hearty meal was delivered to my seat (by which I mean a cookie), I opened the tray table only to find the entire surface was covered with a colorful advertisement!

On my tray table!

I don’t even remember what product it was for. I think a home stereo or something. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get that ad out of my face.

Because it was just more noise.

FINAL EXAMPLE: I went downtown to the auto show last weekend. Lots of noise: banner ads, booths, tables, demonstrations, emcees giving short speeches about the features of the cars, all that stuff. Sensory overload. To the point of exhausting.

But then I saw something cool. Something musical.

A woman who worked for Chevy stood by a bright red ’07 Corvette. She had a digital camera on a tripod. And sitting in the driver’s seat was an eight-year old boy wearing a smile so big you could see it from the suburbs.

“One…two…three… (CLICK) …and verrrry nice!” She said.

The boy leaped out of the Corvette and ran over to the girl.

“Thanks buddy! Now when you get home, go to chevy.com, login using the key code on your card, and you’ll be able to download this picture!”

“Cool! Thanks Corvette lady!” he said.

It was like music to that kid’s ears.

LESSON LEARNED: make music, not noise. (Read a similar post about interruption vs. interaction marketing here.)

Does your marketing create MUSIC or NOISE?

Post your best three example of marketing with music, not noise.

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

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SSTOP! How to Approach Complaining Customers

Let’s say a customer comes to you with a complaint.

Maybe in person, via email or over the phone.

What’s the best approach?

It’s simple: SSTOP!

No, that wasn’t a typo. You read it right: SSTOP. And it represents a five-step process for approaching problems, diffusing anger, changing minds and winning the customer back. Let’s take a look.

S is for SURPRISE.

Psychologically, if you respond to a problem, complaint or accusation with surprise, three things happen. First, you begin to diffuse anger. Secondly, your reactive response comes off as natural and sincere. Lastly, the customer is more willing to forgive you.


Really is one of the most versatile words in the English language. It exudes both concern and curiosity. And based on the severity of the problem, changing the inflection of your voice indicates numerous emotions. For example, stop reading right now. Try saying the word really two times: first with a low pitch and second with a high pitch.

Two totally different meanings, right?

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really?”

OK. Great job. You’ve immediately displayed concern for the problem. Let’s move on to step two.

S is for SORRY.

Customers don’t want apologies, they want solutions. Still, saying you’re sorry never hurts. You still need to take ownership of the problem. And an effective technique for doing so is to combine “Sorry” with its polar opposite: thank you.


CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me.”

Good. You’ve showed surprise. You’ve thanked the customer. Now Miss Jackson is reassured that you’re on top of the problem. Let’s continue on.

T is for THAT’S.

Step three is absolutely crucial. This is where you ensure the customer that her problem isn’t normal. That it’s an anomaly. And whatever happened to her is inconsistent with the type of service your company traditionally provides.

PHRASES THAT PAYSES: “That’s not normal,” “That’s horrible!” “That’s strange,” or, if possible, “In all the years I’ve been working here, that’s never happened!”

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me. You know, that’s not normal at my hotel.”

Excellent! You’ve showed surprise, thanked her, even taken ownership and reassured Miss Jackson that her problem isn’t the standard of service. Now it’s time to win her back.

O is for OFFERING.

When I worked at the Ritz-Carlton, every employee was empowered up to $2000.

It was pretty amazing.

If a guest was so upset that an apology wouldn’t even scratch the surface, we had the power to offer them a free night (or weekend!) stay at our hotel. Sometimes the guest would be SO delighted at the offering, they’d actually come out better than if there hadn’t been a problem in the first place! (This is known as the Customer Recovery Paradox.)

PHRAES THAT PAYSES: Combine one of the following reassurance responders with your offering, “The best way for me to help you right now,” “Here’s what I can do,” (or if you want to have some fun), “You’re in luck!” “Well, I have good news for you!” “Today’s your lucky day!” or “Fortunately I work miracles!”

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me. You know, that’s not normal at my hotel. Fortunately, I work miracles!”

Perfect. You’re almost done SSTOPing this problem!

P is for PROMISE.

The three most beautiful words of Approachable Service are PERSONALLY and RIGHT AWAY. Not someone else. Not your boss. YOU. And not “as soon as I can.” Not “as soon as possible.” RIGHT AWAY. As in, I promise to take care of this problem now.

CUSTOMER: “Hi, this is Miss Jackson from room 2321. Um, I asked for a non-smoking room, but I think Joe Camel must have stayed here last night.”

YOU: “Really? I’m sorry about that Miss Jackson, thanks for telling me. You know, that’s not normal at my hotel. Fortunately, I work miracles! And I will personally get you a new room right away.”

CUSTOMER: “Wow! Thanks for taking care of this problem quickly. That’s why I love this hotel. In fact, I am going to recommend that you be promoted to General Manager.”

Wow, GM? Look at you! Well done.

OK. Let’s do a quick review of SSTOP:

SURPRISE – respond as if the problem is news to you.
SORY – apology PLUS thank you.
THAT’S – inconsistent with your service.
OFFERING – to win them back.
PROMISE – to do it personally and right away.

Next time you need to approach a disappointed customer, remember these five steps, and you’ll be sure to SSTOP the problem!

What’s your approach to SSTOP customer complaints?

Share it with us!

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

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If using pictures is wrong, I don’t wanna be right

I figured since everyone else in the world already threw in their two cents about PowerPoint, I may as well do the same.

Here are my (only) two rules:

1. PowerPoint is for PICTURES
2. Slides = 8 words or less

That’s it.

Also, a lot of my audience members have been requesting my slides lately. I thought I’d pull a Tom Peters and just post them here for download.


What are your PPT rules?

If you have some cool slides, link or post them here!

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

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