How to Kiss Your Leader of the Year Award Goodbye

We’ve been exploring the impending dangers of unapproachable leaders in part 1 and part 2 of this three-part series.

Today, let’s finish up with a collection of practical strategies to circumvent a few more of those dangers. Specifically, how people feel walking away from you:

1. When you’re unapproachable, people walk away with self-esteem damage. Because when you don’t respond objectively, openly and curiously to their ideas, people feel less intelligent after talking to you.

Eventually, they find themselves not wanting to talk to you. And sadly, people will almost feel at peace or relieved if they haven’t talked to you in a while. All because you never took the time to consider “how you leave people.”

QUESTION: What invisible walls have your close-minded attitudes built?
STRATEGY: Learn how to leave a positive imprint on everyone you meet.

2. When you’re unapproachable, people walk away feeling deflated. And they’ll feel that things are hopeless after being around you. This corrodes motivation and hampers commitment. Which lowers their performance. Which heightens animosity. Which makes loyalty vanish. Yikes.

QUESTION: How often do you inspire people to inspire themselves?
STRATEGY: Help people fall in love with themselves by practicing Namaste.

3. When you’re unapproachable, people walk away emotionally numb. Because they were never given permission to relax, be their true selves and exert their distinctiveness. They were forced into compliance. They were haphazardly labeled ENFJ and then stored in a nice little, predictable box. This is what happens if people feel constantly judged by you.

Or if you take issue or ague with everything they say. They perceive your value system to be SO opposed that your ego won’t allow you to listen to them. Eventually, they won’t bother approaching you at all. And that’s when you, as a leader, miss out on their valuable ideas, opportunities and feedback.

QUESTION: How often do you overlook people who might offer meaningful ideas?
STRATEGY: Learn the difference between exploration and accusation.

4. People will walk away feeling devalued. Especially if you didn’t monopolize the listening and make them feel essential. And eventually, they might start asking themselves, “Why do I even bother talking to him anyway?”

QUESTION: How do people experience themselves in relation to you?
STRATEGY: Learn how to make people feel essential.

5. People walk aware worse. Kind of the opposite of the outdoor rule, “Leave the camp sight better than the way you found it.” In this case, people are in a bad mood after being around you.

Which kind of makes them NOT want to be around you very often. And, when they ARE around you, it results in curt communication underscored by a lack of mindfulness because all they’re thinking about his how badly they want the conversation to be over.

QUESTION: Are people diminished, unaffected, or enlarged after their encounter with you?
STRATEGY: Decide how you would like people to experience you.

6. When you’re unapproachable, people walk away having missed opportunities for growth. Without mental flexibility and openness, here’s what happens: People stop learning, which means people stop growing, which means people start dying. Yikes. Not good for business.

QUESTION: How do you add value to people?
STRATEGY: Become a Value Adding Machine by learning the two most important words for listening louder: Take notes.

REMEMBER: The only judgment your people can (honestly) make about you is how interacting with you makes them FEEL.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if YOU think you’re approachable – it only matters if you’re perceived and remembered as being approachable by the people you serve.

If not, I guarantee your organization WILL suffer.

How is being unapproachable hurting your organization?

For the list called, “7 Ways to Radically Raise Receptivity of Those You Serve,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Exponentially Increase Your ROE: Return on Experience

“We learn not from our experiences, but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences.”

My mentor, William Jenkins, taught me that lesson when I was 17 years old.

Little did I know that his wise words contained the #1 secret to becoming a successful Thought Leader.

Develop a system for exponentially increasing ROE, or Return on Experience.

Today we’re going to explore a collection of practices I’ve personally been using for the past twelve years:

1. Allow no experience to be meaningless in your sight. Everything that happens in your life affords SOME value. But only if you enhance your ability to be influenced in the moment.

This requires open mindedness, mental flexibility and the willingness to be mentored by everyone and everything you experience. Read The Mentor’s Spirit for the (life-changing) philosophy behind this practice. What do you see when you see people?

2. Be not wrapped up in the injustice of the situation. “Save the drama for your mama,” as my yoga instructor likes to say. That means not wasting any energy whining about your current experience. Instead, redirecting any frustration you have into learning from that experience.

That also means coping calmly with your inconveniences. Practicing undeniable objectivity – learning to unglue your heart from the problem. Do you have the capacity to respond flexibly to what the world hurls at you?

3. Become conscious of your own development. “You can only know what you’re really doing by making the process conscious,” says leadership professor Warren Bennis. So, here’s the secret: Learn to spy on yourself. During or directly after an experience, practice detaching, disassociating and sort of “getting out of yourself” for a while.

Look inward at your own behavior. Gently poke your inner landscape with an inquiry or two about what’s going on in the moment. Try questions like: “In what ways am I reacting, instead of responding?” “What are the consequences of the choice I’m making?” and “What am I resisting?” How conscious are you experiences?

4. Create a constant source of learning for yourself. This will assure you maintain relevancy, credibility and relatability. Personally, I read five books a week, write for four to seven hours a day, practice listening daily, travel several times a month, and of course, wear a nametag twenty-four-seven.

That’s MY system for constant learning. Your challenge is to build a unique education plan around your passions and preferences. Remember: If you’re not current, you’re not credible. What have you learned TODAY?

5. Design a system for drawing wisdom from every experience. It all depends on how you talk to yourself during your experiences. I suggest asking questions like:

*What lessons could I learn from what JUST happened to me?
*How does this fit into my theory of the universe?
*What generic attributes of what just happened to me can be extracted and practically applied to anybody?

Create your list of questions today. Start asking them tomorrow. Wisdom will have no choice but to show up. What’s your learning cycle?

6. Don’t grip the bat too tight. Don’t swallow anything uncritically. You might miss openings the world is trying to give you. Instead, allow your experiences to profoundly penetrate you. Freeze situations in your mind. Register the moments. Let the pearls sink.

And please, put away that goddamn camera. Just try experiencing and remembering things for change. I guarantee your learning will double. Are you experiencing the world with your head, your heart or your iPhone?

7. Failure IS an option – not learning from that failure isn’t. Failure becomes success the moment you learn from it. Likewise, failure remains failure the moment you choose NOT to extract value from it. Your challenge is to unglue your heart from failed moments and start asking:

“What lesson am I supposed to be learning from this screw up?”

P.S. Make sure to take charge of your own learning and write that lesson down. Because if you don’t write it down, it never happened. Are you willing to endure the failure that growth requires?

REMEMBER: You are the sum of all your experiences.

Ultimately, the more experiences you have – and the more you learn from them – the more ROE you will build.

What’s your Return on Experience?

For the list called, “7 Ways to Out EXPERIENCE the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Who’s quoting YOU?

Check out Scott’s Online Quotation Database for a bite-sized education on branding success!

What is affecting your ability to be taken seriously?

I know this guy named Dalton.

I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but we’ve met a few times. We tend to speak at some of the same conferences. And I happen to think he’s pretty good, even though his style is much different than my own.

Still, I’ll never forget the day when I overheard one of his audience members tell her friend, “You know, with that mullet, I’ve always had a hard time taking Dalton seriously.”


What about YOU? What is affecting YOUR ability to be taken seriously?

Consider these six questions to make sure people don’t tune you out:

1. What causes YOU to (not) take someone seriously? Here’s a revealing exercise you might noodle with: (1) Make a list of three people you’ve never taken seriously, (2) Write down what, specifically, causes you to feel that way, and (3) Ask yourself if you embody any of those attributes.

Your lack of self-awareness may startle you. As Ken Shelton, founder and editor of Executive Excellence Magazine said, “With a little self-deception, we might believe that we are number one when in fact we’re not even on the charts.”

REMEMBER: Self-awareness creates options.

2. How might you be accidentally diminishing the perception of your expertise? My pal Robert Bradford, founder of The Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, once told me that every time you add a comma to the description of what you do, you suck a little bit more.

What about you? Are you positioning yourself as an expert in seventeen different areas? Are you spreading yourself too thin? Maybe people would take you more seriously if you picked a lane.

REMEMBER: Periods, not commas.

3. What’s your system for keeping yourself constantly relevant? Your customers, audience members, listeners and readers want to know what you’ve done for them lately. They want to know what you learned yesterday.

Your challenge is to create a game plan that keeps new wisdom coming through a revolving door. For example, I read five books a week. That’s one of the (many) ways I stay relevant.

REMEMBER: If you’re not current, you’re not credible.

4. What are you unconsciously doing that’s marring your credibility? The word “credibility” comes from the Latin creditum, which means, “a loan, thing entrusted to another.” That’s interesting. Credibility is on loan. Which means your credibility might take years to assemble, but only seconds to annihilate.

I’d spend some time thinking about situations in which your perception of other people’s credibility diminished. Then ask yourself if you’re mirroring any such behaviors in your own world.

REMEMBER: Credibility diminishes quickly.

5. How unquestionable is your knowledge base? When it comes to your area of expertise, you need to be able to talk forever. Period. In order to make that happen, my first suggestion is to make sure that everything you know is written down somewhere. Everything.

After all, if you don’t write it down – it never happened. Plus, when you write it down, you make it sound. My second suggestion is that you read 500 books about your topic. Simple as that. Thirdly, constantly search for and dissect new dimensions to your area of expertise. This enables you to answer any question, any time, about any area of your subject.

REMEMBER: Experts charge more.

6. What are you doing, saying or being that’s making you unlistenable? I’ve written extensively on the topic of being a listenable leader and becoming the most listenable person you know. And here’s what I’ve learned: Listenable people are taken seriously. Period.

So, here’s a rapid list of practices for doubling your listenability: Listen first. Pamper the short-term memory. Be funny early and often. Articulate strategy and ideas in plain language. Create a zone of respect around you without being overbearing. When it’s a technical matter, (still) speak English. Communicate reasons for changes and decisions. And of course, always speak with MCI, or Meaningful Concrete Immediacy.

REMEMBER: Listenable people are listened to.

In summary, let’s look to Google for a final picture of what it looks like when people don’t take you seriously. I did several searches on the following phrase: “I can’t take her/him/them seriously because…”

The results were astounding. And as you read them, I challenge you to think one last time about what might be causing people to not take YOU seriously:

“I can’t take her/him/them seriously because…”

o “…They can’t walk their talk.” Is your integrity in tact?
o “…He tries too hard to be evil.” Are you overexerting?
o “…There’s nothing real here at stake.” Are you relevant?
o “…I’m so used to them another way.” Are you a chameleon?
o “…I feel she’s too preachy these days.” Are you Billy Graham?
o “…They don’t take their work seriously.” Are you serious enough?
o “…They taken themselves TOO seriously.” Are you self-important?
o “…They change their minds about everything.” Are you wishy-washy?
o “…We are too busy laughing at their stupidity.” Are you an idiot?
o “…They are so obviously just seeking attention.” Are you waiting to be noticed?

“I can’t take her/him/them seriously because…”

o “…She, herself, has done worse things than me.” Are you a poor role model?
o “…She looks like a guest on the Jerry Springer show.” Are you dressed professionally?
o “…80% of the pictures out there of her have her in a bikini.” What happens when someone does a Google image search on your name?
o “…All of the effects and style is so old-fashioned looking to me.” Are you a dinosaur?
o “…When I listen to her try to make her points, I feel like I’m watching a PTA meeting.” Are you boring?
o “…If they were half as smart as they claimed, they’d be able to make their points or get rich without having to hurt people.” Are you compensating?
o “…It’s just shtick, and when she actually says, “No, I’m dead serious,” we still can’t take her seriously because that too is just more shtick.” Do you have substance to support your shtick?
o “…They give me powdered creamers or tiny plastic cream packets soaking in a tub of what used to be ice that’s now melted into grey, dirty water that people have been dipping their dirty hands in.” Are you gross?

REMEMBER: People won’t take you seriously if they’re too busy questioning you.

Especially if you have a mullet.

What is affecting your ability to be taken seriously?

For the list called, “37 Personal Leadership Questions Guaranteed to Shake Your Soul,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

A Checklist for Making Today Famous

This one goes out to my friends at Famous Footwear.

Their AWESOME tagline inspired me to write this piece…

Let actions talk.
Your execution will become the hallmark of eminence.
And people will follow you.
What have you DONE today?

Let content accumulate.
Your intellectual assets will build wealth.
And expertise will grow around you.
What have you PUBLISHED today?

Let everything mentor you.
Your learning curve will vanish.
And experiences will sculpt you.
What have you SPONGED today?

Let genius catch you.
Your life will make room for it to enter.
And you will taste the transformation in you.
What have you ATTRACTED today?

Let ideas sneak up on you.
Your creative fire will become undousable.
And monetizing your brain will become a no brainer.
What have you BRAINSTORMED today?

Let mystery enter.
Your vulnerability will invite greatness.
And life’s surprises will transform you.
What have you WELCOMED today?

Let inferiority evaporate.
Your confidence will surface rapidly.
And people will listen to you.
What have you AFFIRMED today?

Let knowledge lead to action.
Your engine of credibility will chug-a-lug.
And people will believe you.
What have you READ today?

Let life make you happen.
Your struggle to DO will be replaced by your desire to BE.
And the world will say yes to you.
What have you ALLOWED today?

Let life plan.
Your job will become walking the path it chooses for you.
And listening to where it wants to take you.
What have you LISTENED TO today?

Let purpose prioritize.
Your decisions will become a thousand times easier to make.
And your family will thank you.
What have you ALIGNED today?

Let people into your universe.
Your life’s landscape will inspire the evolution of theirs.
And their lives will be inspired by you.
What have you INVITED today?

Let preparation talk.
Your performance will become the living brochure of your unique value.
And the world will applaud you.
What have you PRESENTED today?

Let problems face you.
Your grit will convert them into openings through which love can enter.
And they’ll stop pestering you.
What have you CHALLENGED today?

Let the best have a real chance at you.
Your receptivity will invite historic beginnings.
And you won’t just make money – you’ll make history.
What have you INVOKED today?

Let your body choose for you.
Your ego will take a back seat to unshakable truth.
And your mind will listen to you.
What have you FELT today?

Let yourself burn.
Your fire will ignite all who experience you.
And the architecture of their hearts will be changed forever.
What have you IGNITED today?

Let yourself play.
Your lightness will incite greatness.
And people won’t help but be attracted to you.
What have you FINGER PAINTED today?

How will you make today famous?

For the list called, “40 Questions Every Unemployed Professional Needs to Ask,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

The Chalkboard Factor: 7 Profitable Practices for Positioning Yourself as a Teacher

Everyone loves a teacher.

Unless you attended one of those parochial schools where the nuns used to beat you with rulers while you recited scriptures and cried for dear life as your ass slowly turned beet-red.

But enough about my childhood.

Now that you’re all grows up and all grows up, it’s time to leverage the power of teaching from a business perspective.

GUARANTEE: If you execute it effectively AND eloquently, teaching can become your most powerful marketing, branding, sales, networking and positioning strategy.

Here’s why…

Teaching is attractive. If you teach, people are more likely to like you. And if people like you, they are more likely to buy from you. After all, people DO buy people first.

Just imagine how much more buyable you would become if people pereceived you in that capacity. How many sales have you forfeited because you were selling instead of teaching?

Teaching is the great catchall. Teaching means authority. Teaching means credibility. And teaching means expertise. These are the byproducts of positioning yourself as a teacher.

And the best part is, this position increases the probability that your words will be noticed, listened to, accepted and acted upon. How would your career be different if you were pereceived as a teacher?

Teachers outshine experts. Experts are morons. Thanks the democratization of information, everyone and their mother is an expert. Which means nobody is an expert. Not a real one, that is.

I challenge you to start at the top. Position yourself as a teacher first. Then, you WILL be an expert. And you will compete on the basis of thought leadership. Not price, not service – thought leadership. And you will do so (not) because you up and decided to do so – but because customers SAID you were so. Huge difference. Are you an expert or a teacher?

Teach precedes selling. If it’s the other way around, it’s going to be an uphill battle. As Brian Clark, award-wining writer of Copyblogger and the creator of Teaching Sells explains, “When you come rushing out of the gate selling, it’s easy for people to resist.

But when you establish yourself as a teacher who people have bonded with, it gets much harder to say no by the time the transaction is proposed.” So: The more you teach, the less you sell. Period. Are you giving a sales pitch or delivering a lesson plan?

SO, HERE’S THE BIG QUESTION: How are you positioning yourself as a teacher?

If your answer is, “I ain’t doin’ so good at that,” let’s explore a list of seven profitable practices for leveraging The Chalkboard Factor:

Poll your past. Think back to the best (non-school) teachers you ever had. Next, make a list of their positive attributes. Then, make a list of the actions those people took to position themselves as teachers.

Finally, ask yourself how well you’re personifying those attributes and executing those practices in your Thought Leadership life. This is the best first step for evaluating your current teacher status. Where do you rank on the teacher scale?

2. Figure out what you’re the answer to. It’s simple: People go to Google for one reason, and one reason only: Pornography. Just kidding. (But not really.) Anyway, people go to Google to solve their problems.

To find answers. Therefore, you need to be the person TEACHING those answers. “Solve problems that are real, expensive, urgent and pervasive,” says marketing genius, David Newman. Because if you’re just spewing a steady stream of “information,” you’re toast. What are you known for knowing?

3. Learn to accept the fact that you’re a writer. As a Thought Leader, the number of people in my industry who don’t write every day constantly floors me. It’s not only stupid – it’s stealing money out of their wallets. Look:

Writing is the basis of all wealth. Period.
Writing makes everything you do easier and better. Period.
And if you don’t write it down, it never happened. Period.

So, here’s your mission: Start with fifteen minutes a day. That’s it. That’s all I ask. 1/100th of your day. If you can’t swing that, positioning yourself as a teacher is going to be a lot more painful than just a nun’s ruler. What did you write today?

4. Be the OG. No, not the Original Gangsta. In the Thought Leadership world, those two letters mean “The Source.” The Origin. The Initiator. The First. The One. The Only. So, in your blogs, articles and tweets, don’t link to items of interest – BE the item of interest.

Don’t retweet all day. Otherwise people will assume you’ve got nothing original to say. Instead, post enough solid value that people retweet YOU all day. That’s what I personally do to become more retweetable. Remember: Broadcasting borrowed attitudes and spouting secondhand wisdom is the vestibule of failure. Are you an echo?

5. Locate your classroom. The choices are significantly higher, cooler and more diverse than they used to be. Blogs. Twitter. Webinars. Teleconferences. Second Life. Take your pick.

You don’t need to stand on a street corner with a giant sandwich board anymore. The world is your classroom. It’s time to put some butts in seats. Even if it’s just one. That’s still an audience. Sister Mary Ignatius would be proud. Where are you teaching?

REMEMBER: Teachers outshine experts any day of the week.

I challenge you to leverage the power of the chalkboard. You will become more credible, more approachable, more buyable and more listenable in the eyes of your customers.

Although you might want to put some ice on those ruler scars first.

How will you take your business write into wealth?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

Are you putting yourself in the way of success?

Yes, you have to decide to be successful.
Yes, you have to believe that you deserve to be successful.
Yes, you have to expect that success will come to you eventually.

But that’s not enough.

If you truly want to increase the probability of success, you’ve got to put yourself in the way of success.

Kind of like Zacchaeus, the tax collector. You may remember this story from The Gospel of Luke.

NOTE: If your faith or spiritual practice doesn’t include The Bible, no worries. It’s still a cool story anyway. You don’t have to agree with it to learn from it…

Anyway, Zacchaeus was a guy who held a despised occupation. He had grown quite wealthy extorting money from the public. Naturally, he was not liked by his fellow man.

So, when Jesus came to Jericho, Zacchaeus just HAD to see what this famous man was like. He’d heard the rumors, but wanted to experience Jesus for himself.

So, he not only dropped what he was doing, but went to great lengths to respond to his inner prompting…

Because something pulled him. And he knew he had to take action.

He knew he had to put himself in the way of success.

The problem was, Zacchaeus was not only short on character, but also short in stature. Literally. The guy was like, five feet tall. And naturally, when he arrived at Jericho, he had a hard time seeing Jesus over the hoards of admirers.

So, as the gospel goes, Zacchaeus tried to run in front of the crowd, but to no avail. Ultimately, he decided to climb a sycamore tree to get a better view.

Then, to the surprise of the tax collector – and to the surprise of the entire city – Jesus paused the parade, looked up in the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

Nobody could believe it. Not even Zacchaeus.

Sure enough, he climbed back down the tree. The crowd watched Jesus embrace the tax collector. And the two friends made their way to Zacchaeus’ home for dinner.

And that’s when the Zacchaeus’ life was changed forever.

Because he put himself in the way of finding what he sought.

And the best part is, in so doing, Zacchaeus found more and better than what he sought.

MY QUESTION IS: What are YOU seeking? What’s YOUR game plan for putting yourself in the way of success?

Today we’re going to explore four strategies to help you do so:

1. Find your pool of prospects and start swimming there regularly. Think about the type of people connected to your goal. Then, ask yourself four questions:

(a) Where do they hang out?
(b) Who do they serve?
(c) Who serves them?
(d) And where do they grow?

For example, if “self-employed, tech-savvy businesspeople” are your bread and butter customers, get out of your basement and start going to Starbucks. At the same time, every day. If that’s where your people hang out, it needs to be YOUR hangout too. That’s how you put yourself in the way of success.

2. Get richer friends. Stop hanging out with people who don’t move you forward. Stop associating with people who haven’t learned how to value you yet. And stop spending time with people who diffuse your focus and hamper your goals.

You need to “walk with wise,” to use another scriptural reference. To surround yourself with cool, smart, connected people that will make achieving your goals natural. So, ask yourself two questions:

(a) What three people would help you take the first steps toward this goal?
(b) Who are the keepers of the current wisdom in the area of your goal?

Identify those people. Buy them lunch. Kiss their asses. Ask lots of questions. Take lots of notes. Keep them updated on your progress. And be sure to thank them endlessly. That’s how you put yourself in the way of success.

3. Practice Strategic Serendipity. It’s not luck. It’s not chance. It’s not accidental. Strategic Serendipity means approaching your daily life with an attitude of expectation AND an action plan of visibility. So, wherever you go, evaluate your surroundings. Be prudent about geography. Position yourself in noticeable locations.

For example, if you’re attending an event, conference or trade show, ask yourself the three questions:

(a) Where will I be the most visible?
(b) What landmark does everybody HAVE to walk by?
(c) And where are people most likely to engage with me?

That an approachability mindset. That’s increasing the probability of an encounter. That’s how you put yourself in the way of success.

4. Remember that behavior is the broadcaster of attitude. Ultimately, this process of “putting yourself in the way of success” depends on what you see when you see people. It depends on whether or not you treat every experience as offering (some) kind of value.

Here’s a four-point philosophy to keep in mind:

Everything is a performance.
Everybody is watching.
Every conversation matters.
Everybody is somebody’s somebody.

Stick with that. That’s how you put yourself in the way of success.

REMEMBER: The door must be opened from the inside.

If you want people to notice you, you’ve got to become impossible to ignore.

If you want to advance in the direction of your dreams, you’ve got to act upon those dreams SO much, that eventually they will have no choice but to become a reality.

And if you want the world to say YES to you, you’ve got to sing the song that is natural for you to sing, in the way that is natural for you to sing it, and it in front of the fans that most need to hear it.

Ultimately, if you want to encounter success, you’ve got to put yourself IN THE WAY of success.

That’s what sticking yourself out there is all about.

And you don’t even have to be a tax collector to do it.

How are you putting yourself in the way of success?

For the list called, “13 Sweeping Generalizations, Gross Assumptions $ Ridiculous Oversimplifications about Life and Work,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

8 Secrets Most Professional Writers Overlook – Even the Pros

1. Write what you know about, run into, have a passion for and obsess over. Do this, and I promise you two things: (1) You will never run out of material, (2) Writing will be easy. Otherwise your work is going to be boring to write and laborious to read. Zoinks! What percentage of your writing is infused with your passion?

2. Writer’s Block is a lie. Doesn’t exist. It’s nothing by comfy little excuse touted by undisciplined, mediocre writers who sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Here’s the reality: Writing is an extension of thinking. So, next time you experience “Writer’s Block,” recognize that what you’re really experiencing is Thinker’s Block.

Lesson learned: If you want to write more, think more. If you want to write better, think better. People who bitch about Writer’s Block are either: (1) lazy, (2) boring, (3) stupid, or (4) terrible listeners. Remember: Creativity is nothing but active listening. If you can’t find anything to write about, you’re not a writer. Period. What did you write today?

3. Writing is a little like eating. During my brother’s wedding, my parents’ friend Ed told me, “Scott, eventually you get to a point when it’s not about the food, but who’s at the table.”

Great point. And similarly, the more you learn to trust your inner voice, you care less about grammar, punctuation and structure, and the more you care about being courageous enough slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your writing is good – it matters if your writing is your truth. It doesn’t matter if your writing is popular – it matters if your writing disturbs people into action.

Look, you’re not going to win a Pulitzer. Let go of the need to be “good at writing.” Instead, invest your time and energy in making your pen a lightning rod for channeling honesty. People will notice. Does your writing have to be good?

4. Writing is like camping. Because you never put your ideas back the same way you found them. Your goal is to train yourself to pick up a thought or idea and then play with it until it’s bigger, better, sharper, and more useful. How much better will the literary campsite be when you’re done with it?

5. Writing makes everything you do BETTER and EASIER. Go back and read that sentence four more times. It changed my life, it changed my clients’ lives, and it will change your life, as long as you’re willing to accept it. Because that’s not an opinion. That is a truth.

Writing helps you make sense of the changes in your life. Writing helps people adopt a piece of you into their world. With the exception of Bikram Yoga, I can’t think of anything healthier in the world that writing. What does writing do for you?

6. Writing stuff down isn’t enough. You know my mantra: “If you don’t write it down, it never happened.” And that may be true. And writing (still) may be the basis of all wealth. But there’s more to it than that.

Writing is about three things: Content Generation, Content Management and Content Delivery. And if you don’t have a customized system for plucking, organizing and deploying your ideas, you lose.

As George Carlin – the master of Content Management – once said, “Good ideas don’t mean anything if you can’t find them again.” Remember: Your brain is a moron. Do you have a paper memory?

7. Yes, it IS possible to have too many ideas. Ironically, this becomes a barrier to creativity because eventually, you won’t be able to keep anything in your head straight. Sure, resisting the urge to evaluate, appraise and assign value to every idea is important during the initial creative process.

In the beginning stages, the goal is to prevent Premature Cognitive Commitment, thus keeping your options open. Eventually, however, there comes a point in the idea process where you’ve got to stop creating and start judging. Do you have too many ideas?

8. Your everyday life is what people relate to. Finally, the more specific you are, the more relatable you are. Take Dave Berry, for example. Back in his heyday of writing a syndicated humor column, his funniest pieces were the ones about mundane events like his kids, his house and his hometown.

Here’s a one-liner I just randomly Googled that proves this point: “My teenage son, Rob, says the only time he ever wraps a gift is, quote, ‘if it’s such a poor gift that I don’t want to be there when the person opens it.’”

Ha! Love it. And nobody else in the world could be so funny talking about something so boring. Think it’s a coincidence Dave won a Pulitzer? Think it’s a coincidence Dave wrote twenty bestsellers? Think it’s a coincidence Dave gets $50,000 per keynote speech? Nope. How will you leverage the ordinary in your writing to make history?

What did you write today?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

8 Ways to Take Your Business Write into Wealth

1. Stick to your writing schedule. This forces you not to rely on inspiration. This keeps you disciplined. And this instills a blue-collar, working stiff, clocking in/clocking out mentality that MUST exist for the Muse to even consider stopping by.

The secret, according to my hero, Julia Cameron, is thinking of yourself as being “due at the page.” Same time. Every day. No matter what. Because a writer writes. Always. When are you do at the page each day?

2. Strengthen your ability to look at one thing and see something else. The foundation of creativity. The key to entrepreneurship. That’s the secret to writing. It’s called “Attribute Transferring,” which is the practice of picking out something that seems marvelously successful and ask yourself questions to find out what makes it that way.

I wrote a module called, Thank you for listening to your body that perfectly demonstrates this practice in action. Many writers do this, some writers recognize this, but almost NO writers practice getting better AT, or write ABOUT this idea like I do. I don’t mean to brag, but … well … ok … actually, I DO mean to brag about this. Cause I’m damn good at it. What attributes are you transferring?

3. There will be more. Try not to get frustrated with yourself if you walk away from three hours of writing with ONE measly sentence. It happens to me all the time. And the secret is to consider this capturing of “one true thing” a victory.

After all, sometimes you won’t even get that. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “You have to go to work everyday with the knowledge that you might not get it everyday.” So, just trust your resources that there will be more. That you will come back to that “one true thing” tomorrow, next week or next year, and round it out a little more.

Then a little more. Then a little more. And you’ll keep plugging away and thinking about that idea until some flesh comes onto those bones. And eventually, when your idea decides that it’s meaty enough, it will tell you. And you will be ready to share it with the world. Are you willing to spend half of your workday on one sentence?

4. Think on paper. Don’t just sit there mulling over things. Get your ass out of bed and go think on paper. Write it. Type it. Mind map it. Flip chart it. Whiteboard it. Doesn’t matter. The attempt to draw out an idea will automatically show up its weaknesses and complexities.

Thinking on paper will show you what’s wrong with your idea and lead you to a simple and obvious solution. What’s more, writing out your problems on paper and then drawing arrows between various elements will show you which problems result in other problems. Kind of hard to do that stuff in your head. Do you think in your head or on paper?

5. Toggle people’s brains. You do that with your questions. With your odd, unexpected juxtapositions of words. With your sentences and phrases that are so “out there” that they take people with them. As Ned Flanders once said, “Well sir, as far as melon ballers go, that’s a noodle scratcher!”

Hopefully, your readers are thinking that same idea. That you’ve rocked their worlds. Turned their brains upside down. Stretched their minds like a bar of Laffy Taffy, never quite returning to their original size. It’s part of the job description. How are you toggling people?

6. Watch yourself write. Because you weren’t looking for the formula of how you writing the first time, you need to go back and figure out what you did. What your thought processes, questions and assumptions were. That way you can perfect your process it and repeat it.

So, regularly back away from your creative journey and revisit the progression of your ideas. Here’s how:

(1) TRACK the experiences or moments that inspired your original idea
(2) THINK about the questions you asked yourself, didn’t ask yourself or should have asked yourself during the writing process
(3) NOTE each moment of resistance, how it made you feel and what steps you took to overcome it
(4) REVISIT tangible records of the progression of your idea.

Lay them all out in front of you and then travel back in time. See what comes up the second time. Perhaps a few new patterns will emerge. This process will teach you invaluable lessons about how you think, create and write. Are you stepping back from what you do to study what you do?

7. Write because you can’t (not) write. Not because of the money. Not because of the fame. Not because chicks dig writers. And not because you want to “have written.” Write because you have something that needs to be said.

Write because there is some lie you want to expose. Write because there is something you’ve gone through that people need to hear about and learn from. What must you write about or you shall die?

8. Write things that make no sense, then improve them. Remember: There will be more. Who cares if your first draft is completely wonky? What matters is that you write that “one true thing” down the moment it comes up. What matters is that you honor whatever surfaces.

And, what matters is that you trust your inner resources, having faith that the idea will make sense when you’re ready to learn it. Are you willing to write gibberish now for jackpots later?

How will you take your business write into wealth?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

8 Ways to Build, Boost and Better Your Writing Practice

1. Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? I call this “The Ultimate Leverage Question.” I ask it to myself all day, everyday. And it comes from Edward DeBono, who defines the movement value of an idea as, “The ability of one idea to lead to another.”

So, every time you finish writing ANYTHING, you need to ask yourself the following question: Now that I have this, what else does this piece of writing making possible? A new list? A new chapter? A new module? A new podcast? A new website? A new blog post? A new book idea? A new video clip? A new philosophy? A new area of study? A new niche market? A new program idea?

A new type of reader? A new marketing idea? A new level of thinking? A new product category? A new type of customer? A series of related modules? A new joint venture opportunity? A new reason to email a prospect? A new set of smaller sub-modules? A new reason to email a customer? A new dimension to your philosophy?

A new expanded version of an old idea? A new submission for a contest or award? A new domain of your existing philosophy? A new series to supplement your flagship program? Good writers leverage everything. Do you?

2. Package truth as nuggets. Thanks to the evil overlords at CNN & USA Today, we live in a soundbite society. And people are DYING for someone to cut out the crap and just give them the meat. They’re too busy, too self-involved and too inundated with information to remember anything beyond eight words.

So remember the secret: Meaningful Concrete Immediacy. Keep it relevant, compact and credible. Make it short, memorable and repeatable. Ooh! There’s a few soundbites right there. I should be a writer. Is the packaging of your words reflecting the cultural reality of your readers?

3. Personalize autobiographical elements without being self-indulgent. Remember that nobody cares about you. Remember non-brilliance is forgivable; but time wasting isn’t. And remember that if you’re going to tell a personal story, there HAS to be a tangible, practical; use-today takeaway that people can distill easily, quickly and obviously.

Yes, stories are powerful. Yes, stories beat statistics or quotes any day. And yes, stories are the most effective way to communicate any message. But without punctuating them with universal human experiences, immediately take-home value and/or calls to action, your stories will remain inherently impressive and interesting, yet obviously irrelevant and inapplicable. Why are you telling this story?

4. Publish thoughts and ideas that mountains of interpretation will accumulate around. This was a suggestion of Seth Godin, one of my favorite writers. And I think the key behind this strategy is to write about ideas in a way that leaves the readers with multiple dimensions to explore and add on to.

To approach your topic, expertise or school of thought in a Van Gough-esque, “no great work of art is ever finished” kind of way. The hard part is, this practice requires humility, editability and the willingness to accept new and different interpretations of ideas you’ve been writing about for years. Are you open to looking and your own ideas differently?

5. Render everything you experience. You are a writer. An artist. The authentic recorder and reporter of your own experience. And your job is to find the sentence that absolutely defines the moment. It’s part patience, part listening, part remembering and part capturing.

But once you find it – once you hear a sentence that hits you like a ton of books (i.e., “Writing is the basis of all wealth,” or “Action is the engine of credibility”) – that’s when your rendering process begins. And your life never quite returns to its original shape. This is the kind of thing that should be happening to you ALL day. What have you rendered this week?

6. Say what most people are already thinking, but say it better than they are thinking it. This was the suggestion of Scott Adams, another one of my favorite writers. “Most people don’t want to risk having their mind changed,” he said. I agree. And I think the challenge is to perfect your process.

For example, here’s my approach for writing about an old idea in a new, better way:

(1) SUMMARIZE IT: Trim the fat. Make it shorter
(2) DEMOCRATIZE IT: Extract the generic principle that applies cross industrial
(3) AWESOMEIZE IT: Make it stronger, more vivid and more vibrant
(4) ME-IZE IT: Put the stamp of my uniqueness on by using my branded language
(5) RHYTHM-IZE IT. Make it musical, melodious, singable, symmetrical
(6) BITE-IZE IT: Final delivery in an easily digestible and repeatable way.

How can you write about this idea better than anybody?

7. Serve your readers; don’t strut to them. That means don’t overwhelm readers with your knowledge. That means don’t overly cross sell your other services. That means don’t needlessly drop names of big-shot clients you worked with once and never talked to again.

And, most of all, that means don’t gratuitously use twenty-five cent words like “propinquity,” “cogitate,” and “pedagogy.” Nobody understands them and you DON’T sound like a professor – you sound like a poser who just discovered Does your writing leave a feeling of vanity or value in your readers’ minds?

8. Start with one true thing. That’s what Hemmingway did when he sat down to work. At the top of the page, he’d write ONE thing. One sentence. One phrase. One thought. One truth. And Ernest knew that if he did that, the rest would follow. The Italian term for this process is called un ligne dogne, and it’s a crucial element to becoming a great writer.

Personally, this process has opened up countless new worlds, philosophies and schools of thought for me. Sentences like “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness,” “Don’t be stopped by not knowing how,” and “Impatience is underrated” have been a few of the un ligne dognes that I’ve written at the top of blank pages, expanded upon, and changed my whole life as a result. What one true thing could YOU start with today?

How are you boosting your writing practice?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

You Don’t Have to be Drunk Like Hemingway to Write Like a Legend

Instead, all you need to do is follow these eight practices:

1. Harmonize the influences within you. Everything you’ve ever read, seen, heard, touched, tasted, watched, experienced and learned. All of this brainstuff is your creative soil waiting to be tilled in those golden flashes of inspiration.

That’s why the art form of writing is so cool. You can’t “prepare” to write – your life IS your preparation. You’ve already done most of the work. All you have to do is listen and take really good notes. All you have to do is start with one true thing at the top of the page, and then respond with everything you’ve got.

As such, writing is more reacting that it is inventing. But only if you learn to make use of that which has already entered into your mind. What do you need to harmonize?

2. Honor your first awakening thoughts. This is the VERY first thing I do every morning when I clock into work at 5 AM. I sit down with my laptop and a nice cup of peppermint tea. And for the first thirty minutes of my day, I just start writing. No structure. No stops. No grammar or spelling checks. I just start writing.

Whatever is running through my mind at the moment. Whatever I dreamt about the night before. Whatever I thought about while I was showering in the dark. It doesn’t matter. I just puke it all out for about three pages, save the entry in a folder, recite my two-minute Writing Incantation, and then go to work.

The process is called Morning Pages, and it’s the single most important element of my professional writing practice. Learn it. What would happen to your writing if you spent the first half-hour of your day at the mental driving range, getting the shanks out?

3. Idea generation without idea execution is idea annihilation. That means you can’t just sit in your office all day and write a bunch of articles. You’ve actually got to publish it – perhaps on your blog or Twitter. You’ve got to share it – maybe by emailing it to a few colleagues.

And you’ve got to test it out – during conversation or during a presentation. Otherwise, you’ll morph into one of those crotchety, curmudgeon, has-been, armchair writers who spends all his time reading other writers’ books only to complain, “But I wrote about that idea years ago!” Yell, well, maybe so. But it’s too bad you never executed that idea, Grampa. How many of your amazing pieces will never see the light of day because you’re too lazy or too scared to publish them?

4. Infect your readers. That’s what Tolstoy practiced. “Art is infection,” he once said. Which means there’s a certain contagiousness to your work. A certain transference of emotion. And whatever the emotion, whatever the virus, it needs to ooze off (or become airborne from) the page, screen, stage, or whatever your canvas is, and seep its way into the body and soul of the reader/viewer/audience. Are you writing or infecting?

5. It’s not where you get your ideas – it’s what you do immediately when you get them. Me? I write them down. I google them for verification. I explode them into a puke list of 101 items. I expand them onto mind maps and flip chart drawings. I buy the domains of titles that I want to protect. I do Wordsmithing. I write about them some more. I release them on the testing grounds of Twitter.

I write about them some more. I add new dimensions. I share them in conversations with people who think completely differently than me so I can see the holes and flaws in my ideas. And I ask questions like, “What stories prove that this idea is true?” “How does this fit into my theory of the universe?” and “What does this have to do with my expertise?” What do you do immediately when you get your ideas?

6. Let your readers breathe. First, by varying your sentence length. Second, by decreasing your paragraph length. Third, by asking the reader questions. Fourth, by breaking the fourth wall by actually talking to your readers, making requests like: “Take a minute to reflect on this idea…” or “Pause for a moment, take a breath, then read on!”

Your readers are NOT going to do it on their own, so they need your help. Remember: The more oxygen your readers get, the more relaxed they become, the more they enjoy their reading experience, and the better they comprehend your work. Are your readers gasping for air?

7. Look into your heart and write whatever concerns you at the moment. That’s your Truth. That’s your experience. That’s what you need put on the page. So, let go of the need to label your thought as “good,” “bad,” “weird,” “insightful” or “brilliant.”

This form of premature cognitive commitment will rob your idea of its true potential. Remember: Idea appraisal is the enemy. At least in the early stages of creativity. When your heart speaks, do you take good notes?

8. Make it your responsibility to go out and find things. “Constantly cast about for new material,” George Carlin suggested. Personally, I take that piece of advice literally as a writer – I go fishing.

Idea fishing; that is. I drive to Borders, pick out about fifty books, sit down in the café, and start taking notes. Not copying. Not plagiarizing. Just reacting to what I read through the lens of my personal philosophy and theory of the universe. Then I write those reactions down, citing sources when appropriated.

Now, on a typical fishing trip, I’ll sit there for a few hours and fill up maybe TEN pages of handwritten notes. Then I’ll walk out of Borders without actually buying anything. Mainly because I’m a cheapskate, but also because Borders is overpriced and they have most of my money anyway.

Hey, I think I’ve earned my fishing trips. Besides, it’s not like I’m a total mooch – I DO buy a chocolate covered graham cracker while I’m there. Cut me some slack. Are you going out to find things?

Will you become a legendary writer?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

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