13 Strategies for Creating an Aura of Superiority around Your Brand – Without Looking Like an Arrogant Ass

The word “superior” comes from the Latin superus, which means, “situated above.”

So, for your brand to be superior, you don’t have to be arrogant – you just have to be awesome. Plus, a lot of people have to agree with you. That’s the formula.

What about you? How do you demonstrate superior expertise? And are you turning out work that has a genuine superiority?

If not, today you’re going to learn a list of thirteen strategies for creating an aura of superiority around your brand – without looking like an arrogant ass:

1. Adopt a preeminent mindset. This is the first step in building awareness and exposure to become the default in your space. Mohammad Ali is the perfect reminder. Four words: “I am the greatest.” He said this phrase often enough that (not only) did he convince himself that he was the greatest, but he convinced the world he was the greatest too.

Now, certainly Ali was able to support his assertion with unparalleled fighting skill. He really DID float like a butterfly. He really DID sting like a bee. The question is: If Ali never declared that he was the greatest over and over, would he (still) have become the greatest?

Doubtful. Similarly, if you don’t believe in your own preeminence – in a non-arrogant way – nobody else will either. What are you the world heavyweight champion of?

2. Repeatedly articulate your EST. That’s not an acronym; it’s a suffix. As in: Craziest. Dizziest. Fanciest. Gutsiest. Heaviest. Juiciest. Knottiest. Laziest. Purest. Quietest. Rarest. Got it? Essentially, EST is a stronger, more specific version of the superlative best. And customers can’t help but be attracted to that. Your challenge is to answer the following three questions:

*What’s the ONE THING your company does that nobody else can touch?
*How could you reframe, repurpose or reposition that uniqueness in the form of an EST?
*How many different ways could you leverage that EST in your marketing so you become KNOWN for it?

Remember: Everyone possesses inherent, unique superiority, but not everyone articulates it. How much longer can you continue winking in the dark?

3. Be a recognized innovator. That means you have to be the FIRST at something. Doesn’t matter what it is. As long as it’s relevant and you did it before anybody else. Example: Do you think anyone remembers the second woman to fly across the Atlantic?

Nope. Earhart was the recognized innovator. Everyone else fell to the wayside. Therefore: Your mission is to become the first to do, say or be SOMETHING. What are you recognized as being the FIRST at?

4. Be a shortcut. In Scott Halford’s awesome book of the same name, he wrote, “If you’re not a shortcut, you’re taking up too much space.” Great point. Your challenge is to answer these three questions:

*What are you a shortcut for?
*What are you a shortcut to?
*For whom are you that shortcut?

Remember: We live in a fast paced, instant gratification, A.D.D. hyperspeed culture. Be quicker or be deader. Which one are you?

5. Be a statement of action. The simplest solution for solidifying a position of superiority is to just DO stuff. Every day. Action is the engine of credibility, the conduit of character and the stamp of superiority.

That’s the difference: Creating an aura of inferiority is nothing but a landfill of idea CREATION. Creating an aura of superiority is a like trophy case of idea EXECUTION. The choice is yours. Will you talk or DO?

6. Be proprietary. “Spend a lot of money making it yours. Otherwise you become a victim,” remarked bestselling author Jeffrey Gitomer. “You can’t trust your business to someone who might not BE in business.”

Good advice. Remember: The moment you use something that anybody could use, you are no longer unique. What percentage of the technology you’re using is YOURS?

7. Be the first, not the best. If people don’t think of your name first, they may never get a chance to see if you really are the best. That’s the reality of Google, and it might be hurting your business. In the words of the wise philosopher, Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last!”

Now, obviously if you recall Talladega Nights, you know that mantra is clearly insane.

Or is it? After all, when presented with an infinite amount of choices, customers are just going to pick the best. Which, on Google means “the first.” So maybe Ricky was right. Maybe creating an aura of superiority starts with a little shake and bake. What are you recognized as being the first at?

8. Convince people that you’re doing something important. In the world of fundraising, here’s the big secret: Stop asking for money and start making such a passionate, compelling case, that people ask for the opportunity to contribute to your cause. See? That’s the difference between selling and enabling people to buy. Which one are YOU doing?

9. Don’t be smart – be an intellectual. Here’s the difference: Smart is for students who study content for the purpose of memorization. Which means information comes in one ear and out the other.

Intellectuals are people who absorb ideas for the purpose of democratization. Which means people are extracting truth and redelivering it in a way that’s applicable and actionable across the board.

That’s why intellectuals are superior – because anyone can be smart. Which word would your customers use to describe you?

10. Go name something. In Seth Godin’s The Big Moo, he explains, “Isaac Newton created a word that described something that was already there, something that affected everyone, all the time. By naming gravity, he gave us power over it. He gave us a handle, which permitted both scientists and lay people to talk about and interact with this mysterious force.”

Lesson learned: When you name something, you can gain power over that something. You can do something about that something. You can get people to talk about that something. And you can become the superior voice on that something. Me? I started wearing a nametag everyday and ended up naming approachability. What could you make into a household word?

11. Position yourself as an aggregator of valuable content. Nobody wants to sift through the entire forty-seven-year catalog of The Rolling Stones’ library. They just want to buy Forty Licks and get on with their life. The cool part is: YOU could be that album. You could be the summary. The chronicle. The Cliffs notes. People will think you’re a genius. All because you aggregated.

The secret is learning to see to the heart of the matter quickly. Then, making the effort to uncover the essence of a system, distilling it and then deploying it to people in a simple, actionable way. Do this, and I promise your customers will LOVE this for three simple reasons: They’re busy, they’re lazy and they’re impatient. Thank God for your superior content aggregation. Are you a broker of information and wisdom?

12. Three words: And nowhere else. That means your company is The Only. The One. The unsurpassed stop. THEE go-to place. Fortunately, you may have already accomplished this. Here’s the test. Imagine a new customer calls tomorrow morning. He needs your help bad.

The question is: Has your company earned the right to say, “Mr. Jackson, you didn’t just come to the RIGHT place – you came to the ONLY place”? If so, congrats. You’ve passed the “And Nowhere Else Test.” If not, it’s time to get moving on deploying your matchlessness. What industry or niche are you the standard-bearer of?

13. Raise your thought frequency. Ultimately, that’s what drives your ability to engineer a continuous flow of superior breakthroughs. The cool part is, when you become known as an elegant thinker, people will pay money to watch you do it in action. Better yet, they will bring their friends with them.

As advertising legend Joey Riemann explained in his book, Thinking for a Living, ““Profits go to the prophets. Big thinkers are the most valuable human beings on Earth. And grey matter is real estate –what grows out of it will be your net worth.” How much is seeing the light worth to a company or person in the dark?

REMEMBER: It IS possible to become clearly superior – and to PRESERVE your superiority – without looking like an arrogant ass.

How will you create an aura of superiority around your brand?

For the list called, “12 Dangerous Doozies to Avoid in 2009,” 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
[email protected]

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8 Ways to become More Buyable than a Bottle of Viagra at a Boca Raton Bingo Hall

“I just cannot WAIT to send you a check!”

How cool would it be if your customers thought that? How profitable would it be if your customers SAID that?


And the best part is, this concept has nothing to do with selling; but rather, enabling people to buy.

IN SHORT: Being buyable.

AND HERE’S THE DISTINCTION: Most salespeople constantly run around asking prospects, “Do you want to buy me?”

On the other hand, buyable salespeople don’t run – they position. And they do so in a value-driven, unique role so prospects say to them, “We want to buy you!”

MY QUESTION IS: How’s your buyability?

Not strong enough? Not a problem. Let’s explore a list of eight strategies for becoming more buyable than a bottle of Viagra at a bingo hall.

1. Migrate fans into paying customers. In order to do so, you MUST deliver unique value first. Ideally: Meaningful, concrete and immediate answers that will help your customers grow their business – delivered via email, blogging, a public presentation or an in-person meeting.

And, yes, this migration process may take months, even years. The question you have to ask yourself is: What are you willing to LOSE on the first sale in order to guarantee a relationship? Time? Lunch? Money? Free samples? A few hundred bucks?

It might be worth it. Start building your migration strategy today. How long will it take to turn strangers into friends, friends into fans and fans into paying customers?

2. Try your customer’s head on. First, ask yourself: “If I were my customer, what would I want to buy from me next?” Second, ask your customers, “What new offering would you LOVE to see from me that I don’t currently offer?”

Example: I recently asked that very question to the 20,000 subscribers of HELLO, my name is Ezine. I also offered a free book to whomever offered the best most helpful suggestion. Sure enough, heaps of emails came in. My customers’ feedback was priceless. I even modified one of my future programs accordingly.

Lesson learned: Your customers will tell you how to sell to them. Remember what sales legend Jeffrey Gitomer reminds us, “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.” Are you giving your customers permission to tell you how to serve them better?

3. More isn’t more. All you can eat buffets are great for heart disease, but ghastly for business. Here’s why: Choice saturation paralyzes people into inaction. And confused minds never buy. Conversely, the less you offer, the easier it is for people to refer TO and FROM you.

Not to mention, when you remove choices, you also remove the threat of rejection. Your mission is to arrange things so that selling is easy. And the first step to doing so is simple: Offer less.

In Seth Godin’s very short ebook, Do Less, he writes: “By not cluttering your life and reputation with a string of low-budget process, you actually increase your chances of getting great projects in the future.” What if you stopped giving customers so many choices, or any choice at all?

4. Reopen the wound. Here’s the reality: If there’s nothing bleeding, customers won’t think they need you. This doesn’t mean you should act like an evil pharmaceutical company that manufactures bogus diseases so they can push pills (ahem, Restless Leg Syndrome).

Rather, your job is to serve as a reminder. As if to say to your customers, “I think you’re forgetting that you have this problem, and it hasn’t gone away. So, if you want to eliminate it, you need to call me.” It’s all about framing. Presenting offerings in a way where resistance is impossible. Helping them WANT it. What were you designed to cure?

5. Keep asking: What’s next? According to the owner of Honest Selling and the founder of Yellow Tie International, Gil Wagner, “These are the two strongest words for maintaining control of the buying conversation.”

I agree. Especially on email. Especially when you’ve done your part and you’re waiting for the prospect to make a move. Instead of appearing too pushy, all you have to do is ask, “What’s next?” Period. End of email. You’ll find that it’s is a conversation-advancer, a time-saver and an action-oriented request that demonstrates your willingness to cut to the chase and move forward.

I’ve been using it almost daily since 2005, and I’m constantly amazed how (a) how many sales I’ve closed because of it, and (2) how much customers appreciate it. Remember: The listener controls. Are you asking simple, yet powerful questions to become more buyable?

6. People sell – products don’t. People buy people first. Period. So, if you notice a lack of buyability, realize that customers aren’t resisting the product – they are resisting you. Conversely, buyable people (and businesses) are the ones customers think, “Dude, we would be nuts NOT to hire this guy!” How could you become more irresistible?

7. Become a known-entity. The best way to do so is to achieve what I call “Radar Equity.” And it begins by asking yourself five few questions:

a. Whose radar do I want to be on?
b. What do I want to happen as a result of being on it?
c. Who do I know that is already on that radar?
d. What steps have they taken to get there?
e. What actions could I take to emulate those steps?

Remember: The secret to Radar Equity is that you have to EARN the right to be on it. That means publishing. That means social networking. That means OFF-line networking. Whatever it takes. How can you position yourself so thousands of people whom you never met will get to know you instantly?

8. Put yourself in their future. “I’m going to be happier at the end of this transaction because I gave you money.” This is what your prospects need to think. So, the first step toward reaching that future is to activate mental ownership. And you do this by helping the customers visualize the END.

The benefit of the benefit of the benefit of the benefit. The customers of the customers. Not just a mowed lawn – their kids and dogs playing in the freshly cut grass. Not just a rental car – their feeling of getting the hell out of the airport quickly. How are you traveling through time to put yourself in your customer’s future?

REMEMBER: Selling is for amateurs – enabling people to buy is the secret.

Ultimately, buyability is about creating a value-forward relationship within the client environment.

Do that, and they might actually become excited about sending you a check.

Then you can buy all the Viagra you want!

How are you boosting your buyability?

For the list called, “134 Questions Every Salesperson Should Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
[email protected]

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5 Ways to Make Your Business a Friend of Simplicity

Chopin once remarked, “Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”


What about you? Is your business a friend of simplicity?

If it’s not, you’re losing money. Every day. And here’s why:

Simplicity is currency. Especially since we live in hyperspeed, A.D.D., instant gratification culture.

Simplicity is approachability. Because: Complexity = Conflict = Avoidance.

Simplicity is eloquence. Because it’s more listenable, more readable and more digestible.

Simplicity is elegance. Think Oscar Night. Think Joan Rivers: “Who are you wearing?” Which fashions usually win?

Simplicity is sophistication. That was Da Vinici’s philosophy. That simple was nothing but complex in disguise.

BUT, HERE’S THE CHALLENGE: Simplicity is hard. It requires more energy, more brainpower and more courage that complexity.

Seth Godin talked about this idea during a recent interview. He said, “Simplicity has an enemy: Fear. Fear demands places to hide, and simplicity can’t offer that.”

He’s right. Fear comes in the form of that little red shoulder devil, constantly whispering in your ear that complexity is the answer.

But it’s not. Simple is.

So, I invite you to explore these five practices for making your business a better friend of simplicity:

1. STOP being fancy. Trying to appeal to everyone inevitably fails. Simplicity, on the other hand, is a fashion that never goes out of style. Fight for every inch of it.

2. STOP creating riddles that take too long for impatient customers to solve. As your company implements its simplicity strategy, ask yourself five questions:

a. Is this idea simple enough that a kindergartner could understand it?
b. Can this idea be explained in less than ten seconds using less than ten words?
c. How easy will it be for people to repeat this?
d. How much more could you distill the essence of this concept?
e. What three things could be done immediately to make this simpler?

3. STOP rejecting simple. Simplicity isn’t crushing the complicated – it’s eliminating the extraneous. So, start eliminating the unnecessary so the necessary can speak. People will listen.

4. STOP making things bigger than they need to be. Be courageous enough to go with something simple and focused. Your message will have the best chance of getting through (and sticking TO) people.

5. STOP complicating your message. It’s like admitting to your customers that you haven’t reflected upon or extended concern for them. Simplicity, on the other hand, helps customers feel in control.

Ultimately, simplicity IS a valid business strategy.

JUST REMEMBER: The world is loud. People are busy. And they don’t care about you.

Disengage the essential, or live with being ignored.

Is your business a friend of simplicity?

For the list called, “11 Ways to Out MARKET Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
[email protected]

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

5 Ways be a Boss Employees Don’t Want to Beat with a Stapler

Almost everyone has had a boss they hated.

But not everyone has BEEN the boss that employees hated.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, consider these five practices to make sure you stay that way:

1. Bridge the distance. Open door policies are useless if your heart, mind and ears aren’t open too. That’s the difference between being “approachable” and “accessible.” One is about physical space; the other is about personal being. How are you reducing the distance?

2. Calm the furious. As long as you don’t tell them to “try and calm down.” That only ignites someone’s reactivity. Instead, try saying nothing. Try monopolizing the listening. Perhaps their emotional engine will run out of steam. What could you say to this person that would make things worse?

3. Hear the hesitation. It’s a sign of declining receptivity, and you need to do something about it. Suggestions: Listen first. Preserve people’s self-esteem. Lower emotional reactivity. Publicly celebrate mistakes. Make communication a relaxing experience. How will you become more listenable?

4. Identify the disconnect. Listen for gaps. Then ask people if they noticed them too. What are you listening for?

5. Recognize the resistance. Do what you can to increase receptivity and get this person back on your side. Fill people’s emotional bank account with trustable moments. How are you making them feel essential?

REMEMBER: People quit people – not companies.

Don’t let it happen to you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my anal retentive, obsessive-compulsive boss is on my back. I gotta go.

Oh wait. I’m self-employed.


How are you increasing your askability?

For the list called, “79 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
[email protected]

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Do you have character, or are you just a caricature?

Character is the congruency between your values and your verbs.

And that’s not all.

Character is the great catchall. Because when you leverage it, everything else falls into place.

Character trumps technique. Because when you practice it, formulas and systems become useless.

Character wins ballgames. Because when you lead off with it, you always run up the score.

Character makes money. Because when you invest in it, you exponentialize your assets.

Interestingly, the word “character” derives from the Greek kharakter, which means, “The engraved mark.”

Hmm. I wonder what mark YOU’RE leaving on people. Talk about approachable!

OK. Let’s talk about that other word.

Caricature is the exaggerated, unsuccessful version of yourself.

You know, the one you broadcast to the world when you’re trying to prove yourself to people you don’t even like? Yes, that one.

And that’s not all.

Caricatures are performances. And that disingenuous state of being is NOT the way you want people to experience you.

Caricatures are masks. And eventually, people will wonder who you (really) are in unguarded moments.

Caricatures are manufactured. And that translates into a continual process of having to remember who you are.

Caricatures are a lot of work. And after a while, you’re going to realize that putting on an act is exhausting.

Caricatures are one-dimensional. And with such a limited worldview, you mar your ability to relate to others in a healthy way.

Interestingly, the word “caricature” comes from the Italian caricatura, which means, “satirical picture.”

Hmm. I wonder if people see YOU as a walking joke. Not so approachable.

Either way: Have character, or be a caricature.

The choice is yours.

Are you engraving your mark or satirically overloading people?

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
[email protected]

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

9 Ways to Make Your Business More Findable than a Smile at a Nudist Colony

Marketing is simple:

Create a product that customers can stumble upon, obsess over, fall in love with, become addicted to and tell their friends about.

Fine. But HOW?

Well, if you want customers to stumble upon you, you need to become more findable.

Here are ten strategies to boost your findability:

1. Definition. Peter Morville is the father of findability. He first defined the term in 2005 in his book Ambient Findability, as “The ability of users to identify an appropriate website and navigate the pages of the site to discover and retrieve relevant information resources.”

Ease and comfort. That’s the secret. And, being findable isn’t just limited to online. When I emailed Peter for a more recent quotation on the topic, his answer blew me away:

“For every company that’s been flushing money down the toilet – by sending radio messages to people on iPods, sending TV messages to people zapping by TiVo, placing ads in death-spiral newspapers, running ads in Yellow Pages that nobody under 70 uses – it’s about time to reconsider the budgets for outbound messages versus making yourself findable by real people in the real world.”

Relevancy and realness. There’s your next secret. And that’s only the beginning.

FIND OUT: Are you winking in the dark?

2. Purpose. “The fundamental goal of findability is to persistently connect your audience with the stuff you write, design, and build,” explained author and blogger Aaron Walter from A List Apart Magazine. So, by persistent he means constantly showing up on people’s radars. By connect he means making your company the conduit. And by audience he means customers, readers, viewers or whomever comprises your constituency.

Walter also wrote, “When you create relevant and valuable content, presented in a machine readable format, and provide tools that facilitate content exchange and portability, you’ll help ensure that the folks you’re trying to reach get your message.”

There’s that word again: Relevancy. I hope you’re noticing a trend.

FIND OUT: What content do you want to become known for?

3. Motive. Here’s the deal: People go to Google for one reason: Pornography. And second, to solve a problem. Your mission is to figure out what your customers are SICK of doing, position your expertise as the key to NEVER doing that again, then make it easy and quick to find. So, take some time to think: What problem do you solve? What is your business the answer to? What is your business the shortcut for?

Find the answers to those questions and the right people will find YOU.

FIND OUT: When someone googles your name, what do you want to happen?

4. Survey yourself. Speaking of solving problems: How did YOU “find” the last five websites, stores, restaurants, products or businesspeople that you absolutely fell in love with? What were the exact steps that took you to those sites? And how did those businesses solve your problem? I challenge you to make a list, extract the commonalities of findability and then emulate those attributes in your own business.

You might be shocked at how findable (or not findable) you already are.

FIND OUT: How do YOU usually find things?

5. Take every interview. As a small business owner myself, the biggest contributing factor to my findability (aside from writing) are the 500+ interviews I’ve done since 2002. From major media appearances on The Today Show, CNN and 20/20, to expert opinion pieces published in WSJ, COSMO, FastCompany & Investor’s Business Daily, to more casual interviews with niche bloggers and podcasters, the point is: Interviews are highly findable. Period. What’s more, interviews position you in a thought leadership role. That way, when people DO find you – you’re perceived as the expert.

My suggestion: Take every single one of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s USA Today, some blogger in Taiwan or a local high school journalism class. If somebody wants to interview you, your answer is, “What time is good for you?”

Interviews lead to more interviews. Interviews get traffic. Interviews are great practice talking about your product. Interviews make you findable. (By the way, if you’re reading this and you’d like to interview me, send an email! I’m yours.)

FIND OUT: How many interviews have you turned down because the publication didn’t have the words, “New York Times” in the title?

6. Divorce your ego. Heather Lutze, author of The Findability Formula, says the key reason why businesspeople fail at findability is that they do not take ownership of how they want to be found, nor do they understand what buying customers are typing into the search engines when looking for that company’s product or service.

“Business owners often hold tight to a concept I call Ego Keywords. These are the broad search terms owners get a physical rush over when thinking about seeing their name listed on the first page of that search results page, such as ‘television,’ ‘stationary,’ florist, etc. These terms get searched hundreds of thousands of times each month, and they get dizzy thinking about all that fantastic exposure.”

Lesson learned: You aren’t your customer. It doesn’t matter what YOU love; it matters what THEY’RE searching for. After all, you can’t spell “google” without “ego.”

FIND OUT: What’s standing in the way of YOUR findability?

7. Research. Speaking of keywords, meet Adam Kreitman. He’s a colleague of mine and the owner of the Internet marketing consultancy, Words That Click. Building off of Heather’s comment, Adam suggests we ask three questions to boost findability:

• Which search terms are the people you want to discover you typing into Google?
• How many people are typing them in each day?
• How many competitors would you be competing with if you targeted those keywords?

Sure, answering these questions will take some thought and some research, Adam says, but taking the time to do so is essential to making yourself more findable.

FIND OUT: What keywords are the tickets to overflowing with Google juice?

8. Nichify yourself. “If you’re a financial planner, it’s going to be tough to get people to discover your generic financial planning blog in the sea of generic financial planning blogs,” Adam warned.

“But, if you blog about small cap international stocks in limerick form, then you’re sure to stand alone.” So, he’s not suggesting becoming a poet. Rather, to think about whatever everyone who does what you do is already doing – then do the opposite. Remember: The more rules you are the exception to, the more findable you become.

FIND OUT: Are you a “same-old-lame-old” business?

9. Demonstrate to people that you’re worth being found. When Adam first offered me this suggestion, I nearly peed myself. What a concept! Be worthy of being found. Wow.

“The best strategy for accomplishing this is to push out a steady stream of original, quality, remarkable content. Make it worthwhile for people to overcome their ‘click inertia,’ visit your website, watch your video (and then, more importantly) come back for more.”

FIND OUT: Do you have something worth finding?

– – –

REMEMBER: Create a product that customers can stumble upon, obsess over, fall in love with, become addicted to and tell their friends about.

Make yourself more findable today.

Of course, that’s only the beginning.

Then you have to ask the bigger question: “What happens AFTER people find you?”

But that’s a different topic altogether.

How are you boosting your findability?

For the list called, “101 Ways to Create a Powerful Web Presence,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
[email protected]

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Inspiration is Overrated: 6 Ways to Cash in on Creative Discipline

“Inspiration is for amateurs.”

I learned that from Dave Barry, who, last time I checked, wrote over twenty bestselling books and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Guess he was right.

HERE’S MY QUESTION: How can you create more than enough creative ideas so that you NEVER need to worry about running out?

ONE-WORD ANSWER: Discipline.

Discipline is the hallmark of inspiration.
Discipline is the foundation of all creativity.
Discipline is the four-letter word that guarantees success.
Discipline is the directed willpower that will eliminate artistic blocks.
Discipline is the differentiator that will set you apart from all other creative professionals.

Here are six ways to cash in on creative discipline:

1. Art requires structure. For that reason, you need to be “due at the page.” Or the canvas. Or the studio. Or the wheel. Whatever your primary creative venue is, commit to the schedule of “being due” at same time, every day.

Even if your mother in law is in town and wants to get together for coffee at 7:30am, you tell her, “Sorry Phyllis, I’m booked up during that time slot every morning. Can we make it 10:30?” It’s all about setting boundaries.

Because if you don’t set them for yourself, other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And it will be your fault. As Julia Cameron explained in Walking in this World:

“It is impossible to say yes to our art and ourselves until we learn to say no to others. People don’t mean us harm, but they do harm us when they ask for more than we can give. When we do ahead and give it to them, we are harming ourselves as well.”

Remember: Choose your creative time wisely. Let nobody steal it from you. What’s your creative schedule?

2. “Finding” the time doesn’t work. “Find” comes from the Old English term findan. Which means, “To come upon, alight on.” Which implies a search. Which means it’s possible that you might NOT find the time to create.

“Make” comes from the Frisian term makia, which means, “To build.” As in “BUILD into your schedule.” As in “BUILD your entire day around it.” Which implies a commitment. Which means it’s NOT possible that you WON’T create.

As Cameron explained in Vein of Gold, “The reason there is never enough time is because our time is not our own. We do not make it that way. Therefore, we do not experience it that way. When we believe there is “no time,” that is what we experience.”

Remember: You’re a creative ninja who sneaks in a little art at every opportunity. And you’re never too busy to create art. What did you make the time for today?

3. Patient faith, not inspiration. Creative scheduling notwithstanding, maybe nothing will come. Maybe you’ll get one measly idea all day. Maybe you’ll sit there, staring at your screen for two hours, scratching your butt – accomplishing nothing.

That’s OK. It happens to me sometimes. It’s all part of the deal. As Leonard Cohen reminded us in his amazing documentary, I’m Your Man, “You have to go to work everyday with the knowledge that you might not get it everyday.”

So, just show up anyway. Maybe it won’t be so bad. How patient and faithful are you willing to be?

4. Don’t believe your creative drought. Next, remove the term “writer’s block” from your vocabulary. It doesn’t exist anyway. Writing is an extension of thinking. You don’t have writer’s block – you have THINKER’S block.

Therefore: If you want to write more, think more. As Julia said in Finding Water, “Once we stop calling our writer’s block ‘writer’s block’ and begin using words like ‘resistance’ and ‘procrastination,’ we are suddenly no longer in rarefied territory.” What’s stopping your creative flow?

5. Don’t be so artsy fartsy. Cameron also says, “We do a disservice to ourselves is to make our work TOO special and TOO different from others. We need to normalize our days. The minute we identify with the rest of humankind, we are on the right track.”

My suggestion is to think of yourself as a blue-collar worker. Punching in, clocking out, every day. A union grunt who sports one of those work shirts with the embroidered nametag on the front. Just a working stiff, cranking out a double shift at the idea factory, trying to earn your keep to put bread on the table.

This kind of attitude humbles you and welcomes the muse to join you in the creative process. Is your big-shot artist posturing assassinating your ability to be a disciplined worker?

6. Lay a certain amount of track each day. George Carlin committed to writing twenty pages EVERY day. He did that for fifty years and went down in history as one of the greatest thinkers and comedians of all time.

Personally, I write for four hours a day. Minimum. Often times closer to seven. And when I clock out at quitting time, I always ask myself the same question: What did you write today? And if I can’t answer that question, I have failed as a writer.

The crazy thing is, people are always astonished when I share this hourly quota with them. Sometimes they’ll say, “God, do you have a life?” And I say, “Yes. I DO have a life – the life of a writer. And a writer writes. Always.” Did you hit your creative quota today?

REMEMBER: Famed poet Beckian Fritz Goldberg once said, “Discipline is the highest form of love.”

So, creativity is like breathing. All that matters is if you’re doing it NOW.

What awaits you in the refining fire of discipline?

For the list called, “49 ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
[email protected]

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

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

9 Secrets REAL Thought Leaders Know

My official definition of a Thought Leader is as follows:

“A trusted source who moves people with innovative ideas.”

Does that describe you?

If it does, cool. You probably know a lot of this stuff already.

If it doesn’t, that’s cool too. You’re about to learn what REAL Thought Leaders know.

1. Be a world-class noticer. When you notice more, you learn more. And when you learn more, you earn more. The cool part is, every single day; your environment gives you small nudges. And you have a choice to either to let them pass you by, or leverage them into new dimensions for your Theory of the Universe.

Check out my system for doing this called Freeze, Reflect and Identify. And remember: Opportunity never stops knocking – only YOU stop listening. What are you noticing?

2. Be prepared to express yourself. Not prove yourself, but EXPRESS yourself. That means not trying to look good for others. That means not playing to the crowd. Instead, start BEING. More specifically, start being … on paper. Start being … on stage. Start being … online.

To build the strongest possible Thought Leadership position, people need to experience YOU—BEING—YOU … in as many different media and dimensions as possible. Remember: Proving = Doing. Expressing = Being. Bring all of who you are to the statement you make about the world. Are you filling up your time with mindless efforts to prove yourself?

3. Become the world’s expert at learning from your experiences. You are a sum of all that you’ve experienced. Now it’s time to become a master at the individual integers that comprise that sum. FACT: You don’t fully own your experiences until you’ve thought about, written about and talked about the lessons you learned from those experiences.

Your challenge is to create your unique system for entertaining ideas. That way you profit from EVERY experience, so your followers can do the same. How are you letting your experiences change you?

4. Bring a new view into existence. Not even world-class eloquence can rescue a shallow, unsupported, unactionable point of view. Instead, establish a new approach. Pioneer in obscure areas. Maintain contrarian positions to as many subjects as you can. How original, fertile and unexpected is your Theory of the Universe?

5. Differentiate yourself by defining a process your competitors haven’t. This is how you develop a competitive mental angle. By NOT following predictable lines of inquiry. By defining problems differently than anyone else. That way, you differentiate through your diagnosis.

Now, I’m not suggesting you ONLY keep a hammer in your toolbox and start seeing everything as a nail. Rather, I challenge you to clarify, trademark and become known for your unique approach to solving problems. What equation do you use that nobody else knows?

6. Formulas are the enemy. They’re non-updatable, unshakable and inelastic. They’re inflexible, choreographed, canned, insincere, inauthentic and preplanned. They’re often resisted, debated and creates defensiveness. And their rigid, rote learning limits people’s possibilities and stifles their creativity.

PRACTICES, on the other hand, work. They come in the form of simple, doable and human actions. They insinuate instead of impose. They’re adaptable and apply to various situations and people in their own unique way. They’re also easily digested, self-evident, non-threatening and encourage people’s creativity. Which of the two are YOU teaching?

7. Have a paper memory. Your brain is a moron. And if you don’t write it down, it never happened. So, the secret is simple: Take a serious inventory of your thoughts. Chronicle your thinking. Make sure everything you know is written down somewhere. Because, as George Carlin once said, “What good is a good idea if you can’t find it?” What’s your Content Management System?

8. Perfect your philosophy. As a Thought Leader, you don’t need some cutesy shtick – you need a philosophy. Poverty of philosophy prevents profitability. What’s more, confusion over where a leader stands causes stress in his followers. So, here’s the ONE question to ask yourself:

“If everybody did exactly what you said, what would the world look like?”

This distills the essence of your approach and becomes the architecture to help people see your philosophy more clearly. What’s more, once you’ve uncovered the 5-7 bullet point answers to that question, you now have a framework to guide your Thought Leadership practice. All you have to do is keep yourself accountable every day by asking this follow-up question: Is the message I’m delivering right now giving people the tools to build that world?

9. Practice questioning answers instead of answering questions. Answers are overrated. Answers are what “experts” provide. You’re a Thought Leader, and as such, your job is to have more questions and fewer answers. Here’s why: Questions are bridges. Catapults. Fuel.

Question earn respect, invite dialogue, reveal character, earn respect and transform organizations. Any moron can spew out an answer. Only a REAL Thought Leader can bust out a question that disturbs people into action. Which do you provide?

REMEMBER: Be out IN the marketplace with your ideas or be out OF the marketplace completely.

That’s what REAL Thought Leaders know.

How are you establishing a sustainable Thought Leadership Position?

For the (full) checklist called, “45 Recession-Friendly Strategies for Entreprenerial Evolution,” 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
[email protected]

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

10 Ways to Enable Employees to Ask You for Help

“Why aren’t my people asking me for help?”

Well, that depends: Are you an askable person?

Consider these ten practices for pumping up your askability:

1. Don’t force solutions. While the willingness to find answers is essential to your askability, remember that you can’t force it. Especially when the answer isn’t immediately clear. Doing so only works in reverse. And any time you try to instantly compartmentalize everything that enters into your mindspace, key ideas often get overlooked.

So, here’s the secret: Don’t be afraid to bookmark. If someone’s question is (currently) unanswerable, try one of the following responses:

o “Great question! And you know, I have absolutely NO idea. So, let me think about that for a while. Can I email my answer to you by the end of the day?”

o “I would need to know more information about (x) to make an informed decision. If I went and did some research, when would be a good time to get back to you with my answer?”

o “I’m not sure. And because I’d rather not answer at all than try to answer poorly, would it be cool we continued this conversation after I’ve had some time to think about your important question?”

These types of responses reveal your imperfect humanity. They demonstrate honesty and a willingness to learn. Most importantly, they honor, affirm and respect the question AND the questioner. This assures two things: (1) You will have enough time and resources to find the best answer, and (2) People will come back to you with questions in the future.

Are you daring to be dumm?
Are you fitting people’s unique needs or trying to prescribe them a packaged answer?
And do you possess enough self-control to NOT answer a question until you’re ready?

2. Be an imperfectionist. Your employees, students, members (or whomever you want to perceive you as being askable) need to experience your vulnerability. Your imperfect humanness. Your occasional wrongness. See, two of the leading reasons people DON’T ask questions is because (1) they don’t want to look stupid, and (2) they don’t want to appear in need of help.

By being an imperfectionist yourself, you provide people with a safe place to be vulnerable. And that’s what gives them permission to start asking the REAL questions. Otherwise, you come off as too perfect or too smart or “too” whatever. Then people think you’re either annoying or lying. And the problem with that is, if people are too busy silently questioning your character, there won’t be any time left for them to verbally question key issues.

How imperfect are you willing to be?
How are you leveraging your vulnerability to earn people’s trust?
And how many questions were never asked because people perceived you as being “too”?

3. Make questioners feel essential. People also choose not to ask questions because they’re afraid of feeling stupid or rejected. So, immediately compliment someone’s question with affirmations like, “Now THAT’S a great question!” or “Wow, I’ve never heard that question before…” or, “You know, Paula, that’s a really important question. Can you repeat it again – slowly – so I can write it down and give it the though it deserves?”

It’s beyond making people feel valued, important, special and loved. It’s about making them feel essential. Like you couldn’t do without them.

How do people experience you?
Whose essence are you honoring?
And how do people experience themselves when they’re with you?

4. Make passion palpable. Not about the answer, necessarily, but passionate about the idea of answering the person, himself. After all, answers are overrated. What’s more important is the search. What the answer points to. And what the process of discovery helps the other person become.

Askable people are excitable people. They love questions, they revel in curiosity and they value strategic thinking. Do that, BE that, and your positive emotions will instantly transfer to the asker.

Are you passionate about questions?
How are you transferring your love to others?
And discovery process are you leading people through?

5. Practice psychological safety. Another reason people shrink from asking questions is because they fear that their questions (and the answers TO those questions) will later be revealed publicly. That’s why comfort, safety and in many cases, confidentiality, is HUGE for being askable.

My suggestion is to build a Question Box. Not a Suggestion box, a Question Box. This keeps it informal, anonymous and organized.

How psychologically safe do people feel around you?
What fears about questioning are your people plagued by?
And how could you introduce anonymity into the conservation?

6. Be willing to share information. Which means you can’t maintain a monopoly on information. Knowledge hoarders are company hurters. Don’t come across as someone who has a sense of scarcity. Share LOTS of relevant answers without the fear that it would reduce your perceived value.

What did you write today?
Whom did you share it with?
And what secrets are you afraid to tell?

7. Advice is the enemy. People don’t want advice. They want feedback. They want answers. They want you to listen. Besides: Advice creates defensiveness. And it’s rarely followed because it’s usually delivered from an assumed position of superiority.

Make sure NOT to say, “Can I give you some advice?” or the dreaded, “Here’s a friendly piece of advice…” This immediately lowers your askability. Instead, ask your people, “How do you want to be listened to?” or “Do you want me to just listen to what you have to say or do you want my input?”

Are you a disrespectful dispenser of advice?
What type of information do you tend to answer with?
And how could you respond to people’s questions in a way that levels the playing field?

8. Become perceived as a problem solver. That means be a resource for people. For example, the aforementioned Arthur, my mentor, never fails to live this strategy. Whenever I approach him with a question, he always concludes his answer by whipping out his Blackberry and saying, “Here, I want you to write this down.”

And, Arthur will help you populate a list – right then and there – of the people you need to connect with. Or books you need to read. Or websites you need to visit. Problem solved!

What resources do you offer people?
When you don’t know the answer, where do you send your asker?
And wouldn’t be great if everyone who asked you questions could walk away with tangible resources to get more answers?

9. Help people process their answer. Finally, once you’ve given people your answer, try this: Pause. Sit quiet. Build space into the conversation so your words can profoundly penetrate people. Then, help them process by answering any follow-up questions, silly as they may sound.

Also, if you’re taking notes, consider emailing those ideas to your Asker later on that day. This might help them visualize the conversation so they can more effectively find solutions.

Are an idea midwife?
How are you helping the answering process?
And how often is it the OTHER person that discovers the solution?

10. Thank the asker. After a conversation in which people DID ask you questions, follow up via email, text, handwritten letter, etc., with an expression of gratitude. Thank people for courageously asking. Thank people for their specific questions.

And thank people for honoring you with their openness. This lays a foundation of affirmation AND subtlely reminds people that they can comfortable and confidently return to you with questions in the future.

Do you thank people for their questions?
Do you send people emails with the notes you took?
And what would happen to your askability if you combined it with affirmation and gratitude?

REMEMBER: If you want people to ask you for help, you’ve got to make yourself more askable.

How are you increasing your askability?

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
[email protected]

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

7 Steps to Becoming More Bookable TODAY

“I need more bookings!”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said that before.

My hand is up. Is yours?

Of course it is. Especially in 2009. Every salesperson, entrepreneur, small business owner or entertainer expresses that frustration at some point.

Unfortunately, many of us are too quick to blame this problem on some external force beyond our sphere of control. For example:

Bookings are down because the economy sucks.
Bookings are down because the industry is changing.
Bookings are down because budgets are cut and nobody’s hiring.
Bookings are down because everyone in the world is stupid except me.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said one of THOSE before.

My hand is up again.

Well, here’s the good news (which, simultaneously, is also the bad news):

Part of the reason you’re not booked SOLID right now is because you’re not a bookable person.

Today I’m going to share seven steps to increasing your bookability:

1. Focus – don’t spray. Small Business Marketing Specialist, David Newman, regularly publishes and speaks about bookability. In fact, attending a seminar of his in 2009 sparked this very post. So, I asked him a few questions about the topic.

“First, it’s about specificity,” Newman said. “Someone is bookable if they solve specific problems for a specific audience around a specific issue.” Newman also explained, “Articulation and distinction is the secret. Someone is bookable if they’ve distilled down their marketing message with sharpness and clarity. It’s all about how they talk about (articulation) what they do differently (distinction) to improve the lives of the people who buy from them.”

MAKE BOOK: Have you stuck a stake in the ground and told the world about it in a meaningfully, concrete and immediate way?

2. Be easier and faster. In June 2008, a press release called “Improved Bookability,” was published by the international travel website, Eurostar. Their new initiative offered interactive seat requests, which gave customers the ability to request seats in real time and receive an instant acknowledgement and seat map from the website. Cool!

Lessons learned: Simplify your interface. Streamline the booking process. Provide reliable expectations. Offer peace of mind with automated confirmation, up-to date information and firm reservations.

MAKE BOOK: Are you bookable enough to publish a press release about it?

3. Your fanbase may help OR hinder. In December 2008, The Huffington Post ran a fascinating article called, “Bush’s Memoir: Publishers say no thanks.” On the comments section, a reader suggested, “Bull-horn carrying protesters will follow Bush around as he makes the conservative lecture circuit. This makes him an un-bookable speaker.” Wow.

Bookability isn’t so much about the company you keep; but rather the company you attract. This reminds me of the scene in Happy Gilmour when PGA executive, Doug Thompson decides to keep Adam Sandler on the tour – extreme antics notwithstanding. “That Happy Gilmore is a real crack-up! He’s bringing in some big crowds and we’re attracting new, youthful sponsors. It’s great for the game of golf!”

So, becoming more bookable isn’t a function of beating people with nine irons, wrestling alligators and doing the bull dance across the tee box. Rather, it’s about considering what types of people are the natural byproducts of your presence.

MAKE BOOK: Once you get booked, whom will YOU attract?

4. Beware of the unbookable bug. When asked to riff about the dangers of being unbookable, the aforementioned David Newman shared three excellent reminders. “First, don’t make clients deal with your ego. They’ve got enough on their plates as it is.

Second, if you’re not serious about what you’re doing now – STOP – and go do something about it. Get serious, get help, or get out. As Yoda says, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’

And finally, remember that lack of integrity travels fast. You’ll be out of friends so fast your head will spin. And no friends = No business = Game over.”

MAKE BOOK: Are you in danger of being unbookable?

5. Share your schedule online. Posting your client calendar, tour schedule or media appearances on your website WILL get you more bookings quickly. For five reasons:

First, it proves that you’re busy by offering tangible evidence of success. Social proof is a powerful force.

Second, it invites existing and potential clients/fans to come out and see you. That way they can plan their schedules around you.

Third, it demonstrates your reach. So, when someone comes to your website and sees all the different cities, organizations and media outlets you’re working with, they’ll be thinking two things: (1) This guy MUST be good, and (2) Well, if he’s good enough for THAT company, he’s good enough for MY company too!

Fourth, posting your schedule online motivates you to fill it up. When I first posted my speaking calendar in 2004, I only had ten bookings for the entire year. And because I didn’t want people to think I sucked, that became a great kick in the pants to fill the schedule up.

Fifth, when you post your schedule online, customers start to target YOU. That’s when it starts to get cool. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the phone with a prospect who said, “Well Scott, I checked the schedule on your website and it looks like you have March 19th available to work with us. Is that OK with you?”

To which I always reply, “Um … Sure! … I guess I could fit you into my schedule…” (Even though I’m actually thinking to myself, “YES! Of course I’m available! Oh please book me! Pretty please with sugar on top!”)

MAKE BOOK: Are you the arrow or the bulls-eye?

6. Be one step ahead. On www.CatererSearch.com, I read an article titled, “Information centers get ‘bookability’ to win back customers.” The piece reported that six of England’s Tourist Information Centers (TICs) were to be converted into Holiday Shops that offered a full booking service.

“Many information centers already offer comprehensive information on the availability of holidays and accommodation, so it’s the logical next step for them to provide a booking service as well,” said ETB head of marketing, Andrew Maxted. Your challenge is to think about what the obvious next step to your main product is – then decide if it’s worthwhile to start offering that as well.

Think FedEx Kinko’s. They sold printing for decades. Then, in 2004, they expanded their offering by providing their customers with the most obvious, logical follow-up service: Mailing the stuff they printed to someone across the country. Hallelujah!

MAKE BOOK: Are you one step ahead of the people booking you?

7. What would Oprah do? Susan Harrow is a media coach, writer and consultant with a unique specialty: Getting booked on Oprah. She’s produced dozens of resources, tools and manuals explaining her system for attracting media attention. Interestingly, when I googled the phrase “getting booked,” her famous article “How to Get Booked on Oprah” came up hundreds of times. So, let’s examine each of her points. And I’ve added a challenge question to each one so you to plug yourself into Susan’s equation, just in case getting booked on Oprah isn’t your main goal:

a. Tape and watch Oprah for two weeks. Are you familiar with the content, format, rhythm and pace of the person/organization booking you?

b. Get to know Oprah’s preferences. What biographical information do you need to know to press (or avoid) hot buttons of the person/organization booking you?

c. Pitch a hot topic. Does booking you solve a problem that is relevant, pervasive, serious and controversial?

d. Put together a winning press kit. How could you punch people in the face with your viability?

e. Create six dynamic sound bites. Can you spontaneously spit out the most important ideas, concepts, and points you want to make as they relate to the idea you’re pitching?

f. Be more blurbable. Will the people booking you be able to remember and repeat your ten-second pitch to the person who missed the pitch meeting?

g. Get booked on local shows first. How much time have you spent fine-tuning your sound bites so they’re delivered in a relaxed, competent way?

h. Build credentials through public speaking and teaching. How can you sharpen and quantify your expertise in a concrete way that resonates deeply with the person booking you?

i. Wow the producers with brevity. Have you rehearsed enough so that when you open your mouth and start auditioning, your selling points come off as succinct, natural and inviting?

Ultimately, whether you’re trying to get booked FOR an interview, BY a hot prospect or WITH a new organization, Susan’s nine essentials will help you become more bookable in any capacity.

MAKE BOOK: Did you pass the Oprah test?

REMEMBER: External forces notwithstanding, you can’t “make” people book you.

All you can do is increase the probability of getting booked by making yourself a more bookable person.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Oprah’s producer is on the other line and I need to go change my underwear.

How bookable are you?

For the list called, “34 Cultural Trends that (should) Change Your Business,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
[email protected]

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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