You Can Laugh at Your Writer’s Block Worries if You Follow this Plan

Here’s a question my readers, audience members and clients often ask me:

“How do you decide what you’re going to write about each day?”

You don’t.

Creativity doesn’t come FROM you – it comes THROUGH you.

The challenge when you sit down to write every morning isn’t DECIDING what you’re going to write, but rather, LISTENING for what wants to be written.

Naturally, this approach is tricky for a lot of writers. After all, it suggests surrender. And it requires you to relinquish creative control.

But that’s the best part about creativity:

It’s nothing more than active listening followed by active rendering.

Can’t decide what to write about today? Consider three practices to help you listen for what wants to be written:

1. Morning Pages. Along with physical exercise and daily appointments with yourself, Morning Pages are the single most important component to a profitable writing practice.

Here’s how they work: For the first thirty minutes of your day, just sit down and start writing. Whatever is swirling around in your brain, get it down. No structure. No stopping. No grammar. No spelling checks.

Just puke your truth all over the page. No matter how stupid, incoherent or terrible your words sound. Give yourself permission to write three pages of nonsensical garbage. Nobody will ever see it but you.

WHY IT WORKS: When you honor your first awakening thoughts, two things happen. First, you clear away all the crap floating around in your inner world. This is akin to spending an hour at the driving range before playing 18 holes. It’s all about getting the shanks out.

Secondly, you open the floodgates to whatever ideas and thoughts hold the most importance in your brain at that moment. By relaxing into the page, this form of meditative freewriting allows the self-organizing system of your brain to prioritize its best stuff.

2. Invocation. Creativity hinges on your ability to listen (then render) whatever your heart is currently whispering to you. So, approaching this process with a posture of humility and honor is the best way to open yourself to receiving inspiration.

The secret is to introduce a ritual of invocation. Calling on The Muse. The Great Spirit. God. The Collective Unconscious. Whatever. It doesn’t matter what you call it; it only matters THAT you call it. Personally, I found the invocations from Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds to be easy, relaxing and effective.

Of course, you’re free to customize this practice around your own preferences. For example, satanic rituals are perfectly acceptable, as long as you wipe the goat’s blood off your keyboard.

WHY IT WORKS: No matter what you believe – or don’t believe – creativity is spiritual. Period. Not religious, but spiritual. I triple dog dare you to prove me otherwise. So, to listen for what wants to be written, all it takes is a little trust.

Trust that your inner resources will provide for you. Trust that you are richly supported. Trust that when you expect nothing, failure is impossible. And trust that whatever truth needs to be expressed at this very moment will eventually stand up and say, “Here I am! Write me!”

3. Listen to your body. The stupidest mistake a writer can make is to sit down at his desk and stare at a blank page until something comes. I guarantee this will (a) scare your brain, (b) stress out your body and (c) piss off your Muse. Look: You’re making it too hard on yourself. Don’t attempt to start from scratch.

Instead, spend a few minutes in your Content Management System searching through your collection of module ideas, words, phrases and sentences. See what jumps out at you. Listen to your body, not your brain. Listen for reactions, not opinions.

For example, if a particular sentence causes you to react physiologically in any way – a ping in your stomach, a chuckle under your breath, a gasp of amazement – write about that. Heed your physiology. Whatever manifests in your body is probably what wants to be written.

WHY IT WORKS: The idea of “staring at a blank page,” as romantic and classical as it sounds, is not a smart move. By doing so, you significantly decrease the probability of discovering what wants to be written.

On the other hand, when you flood your brain with hundreds of (seemingly unrelated) ideas – even the ones with remote relevance – you allow the unconscious integration process to cognitively distribute those ideas in ways a blank page never could.

You enhance your ability to be inspired and find the one sentence that absolutely defines the moment. And that’s when you think, “Ooh! That’s the one. That’s what I should write about today…”

REMEMBER: Creativity comes through you, not from you.

You can’t decide what to write.

You can only listen for what wants to be written.

What are you listening to?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to 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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

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

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to Stand By Your Value and Sidestep Bloodsuckers – While Still Remaining Approachable

If you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you.

And then they will violate them.
And then they will tell their friends that it’s OK to violate them.
All because you failed to set a precedent of value.

You know the types of conversations I’m talking about. Those unsolicited phone calls, emails or in-person requests from people you barely know (or don’t know at all) that want to abuse your expertise for their own personal gain without reciprocating any value in return.


Today I’m going to teach you how to handle these situations in a professional, approachable, value-driven way that (still) maintains your integrity, wastes minimal time and effort for both parties – all while simultaneously educating people on your boundaries.

1. “I just have one quick question.”

No, they don’t. Their “question” is rarely quick and usually requires a lengthy answer that you probably don’t have the time to offer.

An example of “one quick question” is, “What was the name of that satanic death metal band we listened to last night?” NOT, “How did you get your start as a writer?”

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “I’m glad you asked! My free ebook addresses that issue in great detail. Download it here, read it, and if you still have questions when you’re finished, get back to me.” Delivers value and challenges them to work.

o “You know, that question would take about an hour to answer. When would you like to set up a one-on-one coaching session to do so?” Sets a precedent of value.

o “That’s a great question. And I definitely have a great answer for you. How much money would it be worth to you to have that answer?” Risky, but makes them put a price on their problem.

o “I’d be happy to sit down with you and share my thoughts. My One Quick Question Fee is $250. How about Thursday at 10:30am at the Starbucks on Walnut and Main?” Sales closer.

2. “I’d like to get together to talk about an opportunity.”

Odds are, it’s an opportunity for them to sell you something. Or make money off of you. Which I’m not saying is a crime – salespeople have to eat too.

But your job as the master of your boundaries is to require specific information about this “opportunity” before proceeding to waste two hours of your day sitting in a coffee shop listening to some glossy-eyed housewife pitch you on her amazing system for becoming your own boss and making a six-figure income selling non-FDA approved herbal supplements that may or may not cause rectal bleeding.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “Can you email me a copy of the meeting agenda?” Odds are, they won’t have one.

o “If we got together, what, specifically, would the agenda be for our meeting?” Asks for clarification.

o “Are you affiliated with any direct selling or network marketing organizations?” Weeds out the pyramid people.

o “Could you give me a specific description of this opportunity in twenty words or less so that I can make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed?” Forces them to be more concise.

3. “I’d love to buy you lunch.”

Riiiiight. That way you’d be committed to (at least) twenty minutes of facetime so this bloodsucker can ask every possible question he can think of, listen carefully to your advice, and then take ZERO action on any of the gems you gave him because he didn’t pay.

No. You’re not a lunch whore. “Will work for food” is not part of your business plan (barring extenuating circumstances). Not anymore.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “What is your positive motivation for wanting to meet with me?”Calls their bluff.

o “What specific questions do you have? I bet most of them could be answered via email more efficiently.” Saves time, mixes the medium.

o “Thanks for the invitation! I’d love to get together if my schedule wasn’t so darn full. My lunches for the next few months are either client/prospect meetings or coaching/consulting sessions. And I need to make those my priority during that time slot to optimize my time and reach my goals. If you would like to book a one-on-one session, attached is my fee schedule and availability. Otherwise, I respectfully decline.” Sets boundaries, retains value.

4. “Could we chat on the phone sometime?”

In the words of Scott “Dilbert” Adams, “Nothing good can ever come from answering the phone. It’s always someone asking you to do work. Incoming phone calls rarely involve people volunteering to help you.”

Interesting point. And in many cases, true point. See, it’s harder to set boundaries, restrict time or say no to someone on the phone. Nobody likes rejecting or being rejected in person OR on the phone. Email, on the other hand, is much easier, accessible and efficient. Plus it’s less threatening.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “We (could) talk on the phone, but you’ll have a better chance of reaching me and a MUCH quicker response if you send an email.” More efficient.

o “Actually, I hate the phone. Here’s my email address…” Honest, efficient, mixes the medium.

o “Well, what’s your burning question? I bet I can answer it right now…” Time saver.

5. “I’d like to set up a meeting with you.”

First of all, meetings are useless. They waste time, kill productivity and bore people to tears. And the fact that most businesspeople still have meetings every day is an indication that evolution never happened.

Not to mention, “meetings” are often code for “sales pitches.” Stay away from these vortexes. Their undertow is designed to suck you in. Protect of your time.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “Dang it! I’m all booked up. Email me with your issue and we’ll solve it online together.” Next best option.

o “I would, but meetings are the bane of my existence. And I maintain a personal policy that doesn’t allow meetings. So, what the best way I can help you the most, right now?” Honesty, levity, brevity, integrity.

o “What, specifically, is your burning question? I bet I could answer it quickly without the need for a meeting.” Forces clarification and compactness.

6. “Can I pick your brain?”

For years I allowed people to “pick my brain.” We’d eat, brainstorm, chat, laugh – even sometimes map out their entire ideas. And it was a lot of fun, except for two things. One: I felt like a prostitute. And two: People NEVER, EVER took a modicum of action of any of the ideas because (a) most people don’t execute in general, and (b) people didn’t pay me.

What I’ve discovered is that when people don’t pay me – they don’t hear me. So, I started charging enough money that people would not only listen to me; but also do what I said. And they did. Funny how that works.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “Fantastic! I’d be happy to let you pick my brain. My brain-picking fee is $2000. How about Monday at 2:00pm at Panera on Brentwood?” Value, sales closer.

o “Actually, you can’t PICK my brain – but you can rent my brain. Go to for details.” Smart branding, unexpected, stands by value, changes the conversation.

o “Actually, my brain’s all booked up right now. Fortunately, my website has over 700 pages of articles and probably contains the answers to most of your immediate questions. Good luck!” Redirection with value.

REMEMBER: Your time isn’t valuable – it’s billable.

The good news is:

You can still reject people without being an unapproachable jerk.
You can still maintain the integrity of your boundaries without being a lunch whore.
You can still restrict the access to your brain without being selfish with your knowledge.

As long as you start by asking yourself: “Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?”

Because if you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you.

Will you stand by your value?

For the list called, “66 Questions to Prevent Your Time from Managing YOU,” 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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

8 Ways Make Your Message More Spreadable than Syphilis in a Slovakian Steam Room

Businesses that get talked about GET more business.


And if people aren’t actively telling their friends about you, your products and your services, they don’t exist.


Enter “spreadability.”

No, this has nothing to do with Ritz Crackers.

THE SECRET IS: You can’t “go viral” or “get people to start talking about you.”

What you CAN do is create an environment in which word of mouth is most likely to occur.

And you do that by making your message more spreadable.

Here are eight ways to do so:

1. Sell without selling. Spreadability is the result of subtly pitching your product in SUCH an entertaining way that customers never feel like they’re being sold. Joe Pulizzi from The Content Marketing Revolution wrote, “Stop thinking about pushing your product and start thinking about what your customers would do after engaging in your marketing. If the inclination is to spread the message, then you’ve done something right.” Are you SO good that people will voluntarily sign up to watch your marketing?

2. Think like a doctor. Marketers should hang out with doctors. Not because marketers are sick (even though some people might argue otherwise), but because there’s some overlap between the two disciplines. For example: “You can’t spread a disease that’s dormant.” That’s a medical truth. Interestingly, the word “dormant” comes from the Latin dormire, which means, “to sleep.”

Here are my questions: Which of your marketing efforts are asleep? Which of your marketing efforts are putting customers TO sleep? And who in your marketing department needs to wake up FROM their sleep? “Paging Dr. Bankruptcy, Dr. Bankruptcy. You have a patient waiting in Surgery 2.” How dormant is the disease you’re trying to spread?

3. The flu has feelings too. As cyberculture journalist Douglas Rushkoff suggested, “People don’t engage with each other to exchange viruses; people exchange viruses as an excuse to engage with each other.” And often times, they do so unintentionally.

And, as social networking blogger Izzie Neis explained, “From a marketers perspective, if you can engineer the perfect viral campaign, the people will be powerless to resist. They’ll be diffusing your ideas before they know what hit them.” How could you spread your virus to people without them even knowing, but without them even caring that they have it?

4. Reward the spreaders. Provide an incentive for users, customers, readers and viewers to spread your content. Give away freebies. Offer samples. Maybe even allow customers to tally a scorecard for every time they spread your idea. You could even structure an incentive system based on the customer’s number of “spread points,” much like airlines miles. Whatever it takes to ensure people truly believe they have something to gain by spreading the message. Because if they don’t, they won’t. What carrot can you dangle in front of your spreaders noses?

5. Sticky is for suckers. Sticky doesn’t necessarily mean viable. Spreadable, on the other hand, is powerful AND profitable. Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Media Studies at MIT, wrote a fantastic article on spreadability in 2009. He explained: “In the era of convergence culture, spreadable content is designed in a way to be circulated by grassroots intermediaries who pass it along to their friends or circulate it through larger communities.”

Lesson learned: Surrender control. Enable people to take YOUR idea into THEIR own hands. Openly embrace a “fan” mentality and transfer ownership to the customer. Find people that have big mouths, market to them – give them megaphones – then get out of the way. That’s how spreadability becomes long-term viability. Are you (truly) spreadable, or just sticky?

6. Unspreadable is the enemy. Ever tried to spread refrigerated butter? It’s near impossible. You almost always puncture a hole in the bread, right? Not exactly an efficient way to make a sandwich. Interestingly, in my research on spreadability, I came across an article from the Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry. It’s called, Melting Properties of Butter Fat, The Consistency of Butter and The Effect of Modification of Cream Ripening and Fatty Acid Composition.

Fascinating stuff. According to the Hungarian professors who wrote the piece, there is a close relationship between the consistency of butter and its product characteristics:

“The cold, unspreadable consistency of butter after taking it out of the refrigerator is a rightful objection on behalf of consumers. And it can only be improved by the combination of the heat-step cream ripening and enrichment with low melting point triglycerides to achieve stable consistency at room temperature.”

Now, if you’re like me, you probably have no idea what the hell that means. But stay with me here. Because this article proves, scientifically, that spreadability is directly related to high quality ingredients. And that doesn’t just go for butter. In marketing, the same principle applies:

Shtick isn’t enough – you’ve got to support remarkability with substance.

Otherwise customers aren’t going to tell their friends about you. What does your product have going for it that surpasses baseline remarkability?

7. Medium AND message. As Duncan Watts says in the bestselling Six Degrees, “The structure of the network is perhaps more important in predicting the spread of content than the nature of the content.” Lesson learned: Viral marketing is a social animal. So, whatever message you’re spreading, don’t just focus on the content – but on the needs of the people you’re asking to spread that content. What do your followers crave?

8. Propagation planning. “Plan not for the people you reach, but for the people they reach,” says Griffin Farley, noted spreadability thought leader. That’s the central idea behind propagation planning, something I recently learned about from reading Griffin’s blog.

I also learned about propagation planning from Ivan Pollard, who said:

“Plant the message or bits of the message in various places in such a way that people pull the entire message or components of the message down. Let them play with the stuff you give them. Get involved with it. Package it back up again in a way that reflects their take on it (even if it is just adding a comment), then pass it on to people in their network or circle.”

In the process of doing this, says Ivan, the message gets stronger and more powerful as it moves on – not weaker and more fragmented. Think mash-up. Think parody videos. Are you forgetting about your customer’s customer?

REMEMBER: If you don’t spread – you’re dead.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all this talk about being spreadable is making me hungry.

I see a box of Ritz Crackers in my future.

How are you boosting your spreadability?

For the list called, “123 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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

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

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to Make Your Business More Sellable than a Case of Coors Light at Denver Broncos Tailgate Party

You could be the greatest salesperson in the world.

But if you’re trying to sell an unsellable product, that doesn’t matter.

Any number multiplied by zero is still zero.

The real issue isn’t, “How can I get people to buy?” but rather, “What could I do to make my business more sellable?”

Let’s explore five strategies for boosting sellability:

1. Be picture perfect. In an article called, “How to Make Your Car More Sellable” on, I learned an interesting factoid: “Online car buyers like photos. Very rarely does a person spend a consistent amount of time viewing a listing without them. If they’re willing to drop several thousand dollars, they will want to see what they’re putting their money into.”

Lesson learned: Buyers need proof. No matter what industry you’re a part of. We live in a sales resistant culture that demands you show people your bonafides. Secure the legitimacy of your product by proving you’ve got nothing to hide. Pictures, pictures, pictures. Is your product camera friendly?

2. Post your fee publicly. I’ve been doing so since I started my company in 2002, and I’ve NEVER regretted it. For several reasons. First, posting your fee demonstrates transparency. It helps you brand your honesty in a low-trust environment. For example, instead of just quoting your fee spontaneously (and running the risk of prospects wondering if you just pulled that number out of your ass), just email them a link to your fee schedule page.

Second, public fees qualify your leads and cut out no-money prospects you don’t want to waste your time talking on the phone with anyway. It’s a great time saver AND saves you from rejecting prospects in person, which nobody likes. Finally, posting your price helps you maintain fee integrity when someone asks you for a discount. For example, “Come on Scott! Can’t you do it for less?” a customer asks. And you respond with this:

“As you know, Mr. Jackson, my fee is posted on my website. So, in order to be fair to everyone – and to maintain the integrity of my value – I cannot offer you a lower price. I hope you understand my position.”

So, I’m not suggesting you NEVER negotiate. I certainly do. The secret is setting a precedent of value. Are you willing to stick yourself (and your fee) out there?

3. Make your product a blank canvas. Sellability is crucial in the real estate industry – especially for residential properties. British real estate columnist Serena Cowdy explained in a recent article on Wallet Pop UK, “One person’s ‘eclectic chic’ is another person’s ‘big old mess’. Viewings aren’t the time to display your quirky set of African burial relics or your enormous collection of comedy mugs.”

Lesson learned: In our highly individualized, “customer first” culture, buyers seek permission to stamp their own personalities on a new product. Your challenge is to make it easier for them to imagine doing so by presenting a blank canvas. Sellable equals customizable. How are helping your customers make it THEIRS?

4. An Apple a day keeps the bankruptcy away. According to a survey by, when the first version of the iPhone was released in January of 2007, it took seventy-five days to sell one million units. When the new iPhone 3G came out eighteen months later, it only took four days.

What happened? Increased sellability. And Apple accomplished that by offering faster data speeds, assisted GPS, boosted the camera megapixel rate, added video capability and enabled voice control. I know that’s why I bought one. What new features and benefits would skyrocket your sales?

5. Unsellable art. In February of 2008, three masked men pulled off one of the largest art heists in decades. According to the article in The Washington Post, they stole four paintings by impressionist and post-impressionist masters Cezanne, Degas, Monet and Van Gogh. The art was worth an estimated $163 million.

Interestingly, museum director Lukas Gloor explained, “The stolen paintings were so well-known that, on the open market, these pictures are unsellable.”

Wow. Maybe getting known and being famous (in certain contexts) can work against your sellability. Maybe being TOO good and TOO perfect and TOO rare scares buyers away. Is your status your enemy?

REMEMBER: You can’t make people buy.

All you can do is increase the probability of a sale by becoming more sellable.

How sellable are you?

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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

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

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

8 Ways to become Ridiculously Referable without becoming a Pushy, Self-Promotional Putz

Here’s a quick summary of every book, article or blog post ever written on the topic of getting more referrals:

Just be really good … Have integrity … Show up on time … Do what you say you’re going to do … Become likable … Earn people’s trust … Identify your perfect customer … Give referrals first … Ask for referrals more frequently.

Good advice? Yes.
Actionable advice? Not really.

If you’re like me, you probably want something more concrete, tangible and doable. A strategy you can (actually) execute TODAY that will help you become more referable – without coming off like a pushy, self-promotional putz.

Not just some predictable, vague platitude like, “Have integrity.”

HERE’S THE REALITY: You can’t make people refer you.

All you can do is actively create situations that will increase the probability of being referred.

Here are five ways to do so:

1. Whom do YOU refer? During a recent speech, one audience member shared, “I always refer my chiropractor – she’s great looking and has strong hands!” Naturally, I made an appointment immediately. So, try this: Make a list of five people you’ve referred in the past month. Then, next to each name, note the various attributes that made that person referable.

Next, re-read your final list of attributes. Rate yourself from 1-10 on each one. Finally, if you’re not happy with your current referability, set a goal to raise each category by two points in the next six months. Or, if you REALLY want to blow your hair back, email ten customers and ask them to rate you on those same attributes. You may be amazed at the disparity. How referable are you perceived as being?

2. Find your pure audience. “Put yourself in front of people who can say yes to you and deliver value first.” That’s the mantra of world-renowned sales trainer, Jeffrey Gitomer. And you better believe he’s made millions adhering to it. So, here’s how you can adopt this same philosophy to your own business.

FIRST: Identify a concentrated pool of perfect prospects that meet regularly. Associations are a great place to start. There’s one for everything.

NEXT: Find out what it takes to position yourself in a visible Thought Leadership capacity. Speak at their meetings. Contribute to their publication. Leave value-driven comments on their blog.

FINALLY: Create a Call to Action. Combine outreach with attraction. Ask these people to email or call you to receive additional value. Lists work. Ebooks work. Complimentary fifteen-minute phone consultations work.

In six months, you’ll have so many referrals you’ll have to hire an intern. How will you deliver value in front of the people who can say YES to you?

3. Stop referring selfish jerks that don’t say thank you. First of all, you shouldn’t be hanging out with those kinds of people anyway. Secondly, if someone you refer doesn’t show you (at least SOME) gratitude for doing so, odds are they’re not a good commercial for your business anyway.

And third, referring “zero-burgers,” as my mother likes to say, violates the trust someone put in you to help them solve a problem. So, not only does the person your referred look stupid, but you look stupid as well. And people don’t refer stupid people. Are the people YOU’RE referring making you look referable?

4. Keep the beat going. Growing your permission asset is the single most important secret to generating ongoing demand and becoming more referable. No matter what your business card says, you work in the name accumulation business. Period. Followers become dollars. Period.

Your mission is to regularly deliver value TO and continuously re-earn the respect FROM the tribe of people who admire and support you and your ideas. Period. Remember: When you build a following, you build a bank account. How many people are anticipating your marketing?

5. Offer less. Speaking of periods. Specialists are easy to refer because there’s no mystery. As strategic planning thought leader Robert Bradford says, “Every time you add a comma to the description of what you do, you suck a little bit more. Commas get gigs, but not repeat gigs.”

Lesson learned: Put a period after your name. Stick a stake in the ground, let people gather around, then do everything you can to prove that the stake is sound. Remember: The less you offer, the easier it is for people to refer you. Have you picked a lane?

REMEMBER: You can’t make people refer you.

All you can do is actively create situations that will increase the probability of being referred.

Well, either that, or you could just “have integrity.”

But let’s not get carried away here.

How referable are you?

For the list called, “12 Dangerous Doozies to Avoid in 2009,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

I didn’t realize how much I sucked until you told me!

Halfway through a recent business coaching session, my client stopped mid-sentence, laughed to himself and confessed the following:

“You know Scott, I didn’t realize how much I sucked until you told me!”

We had a good laugh about it.

Now, I WILL say that although my coaching style has never been to “give people a breakdown so they can achieve a breakthrough,” Patrick’s comment WAS a valuable insight.

He demonstrated that he felt safe enough in the space that we’d created together to share his vulnerability.
feel that he did suck, either.

Rather, my job as his coach was to disturb him into action.

How many insights from clients or employees are you missing out on because you’re not giving them permission to feel dumb and vulnerable in front of you?

For the list called, “33 Daily Practices for Boosting Your Managerial Magnetism, ” 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!

Do You Fulfill This Six-Part Definition of a Thought Leader?

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

That’s the definition of a Thought Leader.

Let’s unpack the six elements of that definition:

Which means you become a Thought Leader because the marketplace recognizes you as such – not because you just decide to be one. Remember: Trust requires evidence. What are you known for knowing?

Which means you have to be The Origin, not The Echo. The Initiator, not The Imitator. What long-term dialogue are you leading in your marketplace?

Which means your job is to inspire, influence, challenge and disturb. How are you spurring people to purposeful action?

Which means you are responsible to the individuals that comprise your constituency, regardless of who, where and how many there are. How are you building a following?

Which means you deliver actionable lessons that passed through the test of your personal experience; not regurgitated wisdom or plagiarized insight. Are you speaking with Meaningful Concrete Immediacy?

Which means your mission isn’t just idea generation – but idea proliferation and idea execution. What did you create, manage or deploy today?

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

I hope that describes you.

Because you have the choice to be in the Thought Leadership business.

Or, you have the choice to BE ignored and, therefore, BE broke.

Do you fulfill this six-part definition of a thought leader?

For the list called, “17 Reasons to Write a Free Ebook,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

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

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Little Known Ways for Creating an Open MIND Policy

Doors are for amateurs.

Approachable leaders need to have open MINDS.

Because even if you surgically remove the door from your wall, that might not reduce the psychological distance between you and your people.

Here are four little known ways for implementing and Open Mind Policy at your office:

1. Create an environment of openness. People need to feel they’ve been given PERMISSION to (1) come up to, (2) feel relaxed around, (3) open up with, (4) comfortably walk away from, and (5) confidently return to you.

Don’t be too busy to explain anything. If that’s the perception people maintain of you, you’ve communicated two dangerous messages: (1) Your time is more valuable than theirs, and (2) Their question is not important. Suggestion: Stop whatever you’re doing and give yourself fully to the other person.

Or, if people catch you off guard, book “blank time” in your schedule so people know for certain when they can get you. Another suggestion is to post a “Lunch with Mark” sign-up sheet outside your office or on your door. Let people choose the day that best fits their schedule. That way they can come shoot the breeze with you on an informal, unstructured, non-threatening, one-on-one basis. They WILL open up. How do you initiate movement toward people?

2. Be someone who can be trusted with sensitive information. Becoming someone that anyone can tell anything will reduce the likelihood of your company kicking you to the curb.

Exercise confidentiality when dealing with sensitive issues. Create a Question Friendly Environment (QFE.) A safe space. A non-threatening atmosphere where people (1) feel comfortable, and (2) feel like they have permission to ask anything that’s on their minds.

Consider trashing your “Suggestion Box” and replace it with a “Question Box.” People will open up. Honesty will flourish. Feedback will flow like wine. Especially if people don’t have to sign their names. Do people feel safe around you?

3. Engage in more “What if?” discussions. Approachable leaders are giant question marks.

There are only two possible responses to a “What if?” discussion: Either you pause and openly consider the question with an attitude of curiosity and enthusiasm — or you reflexively launch into a defensive routine of “Yeah, but…” backpedaling in order to preserve your precious ego.

And the challenge is, ONE of those response patterns draws people TO you, while the other repels people FROM you. I wonder which one YOU practice. Perhaps a sticky note with a giant X through the words, “Yeah, but…” would reinforce this behavior. What words govern your questions?

4. Eagerly pursue new knowledge, skills, and methods. Approachability is a function of teachability.

In the book Beyond Counterfeit Leadership, Ken Shelton explains, “Continuous learning is the best protection against pride. A person who is vigorously learning can’t be egotistical about what he or she knows, because each increase in understanding reveals a larger area of ignorance.”

The secret to being teachable is daring to be dumm. Demonstrating a willingness to put your ego on the shelf and approach everyone and everything as your teacher, mentor and resource. Without such mental flexibility and openness, here’s what happens: You stop learning, which means you stop growing, which means you start dying. Yikes. Not good for business. How many books did you read last month?

REMEMBER: Nobody cares if your door is open – they only care if your mind is open.

That’s what being an approachable leader is all about.

What’s your company’s Open Mind Policy?

For the list called, “33 Daily Practices for Boosting Your Managerial Magnetism, ” 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!

You Don’t Have to be The Ritz Carlton to Provide Unforgettable Service

When my publishing/consulting company was just starting out, I worked nights & weekends at The Ritz Carlton to make ends meet.

My job was s a valet crasher parker.

AND HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED You don’t have to be The Ritz Carlton to provide unforgettable service.

Consider incorporating these nine practices into your customer interactions:

1. Decide how you want customers to describe their experience with you. Have each employee write down his top three words. Tally them up. Vote on the three most popular. Then print them on posters, wallet cards and inner-office materials. This will keep the service philosophy in front of people’s faces, thus holding them accountable TO and giving them ownership IN to a decision they contributed to. What’s your service philosophy?

2. I’m sure we can find a way. This sentence will put upset customers at ease. It’s solution oriented, positive and flexible. And even if you don’t know off the top of your head what the heck you’re going to do, say it anyway. You’ll think of something. Will you find a way?

3. In a commoditized world, the key differentiator is service. That’s why you’re reading this article. Because you KNOW that it ain’t the products, it ain’t the website, it ain’t the warranty and it ain’t the commercials. It’s YOU. Your service. Your people. Your culture. That’s what customers are buying. And the more unique it is, the more of it they will buy. Otherwise they have about a zillion other choices in the click of a mouse. How are you branding your service?

4. Increase customer pride. Create an exclusive club, special level or elite status. Enable people to become card-carrying members of SOMETHING. Then, your customers will take pride in the fact that they’re your customers. Hopefully by showing that card to their friends. My friends @ Brains On Fire did this in a cool way. They designed a special website for people who weren’t exactly customers, but whom they loved anyway. These people were called “Kindred Spirits.” And BOF even handed out little business cards (selectively) that thanked certain people for being special. Totally awesome. How are you making your customers prouder?

5. Friendliness isn’t enough. You need to be (specifically) friendly. See, the word is defined as “Favorably disposed; inclined to approve, help, or support.” So, your frontline needs to be idea friendly. Question friendly. Emotion friendly. Complaint friendly. User friendly. Employee friendly. Get the picture? How friendly are you?

6. Reveal your authentic self in your service. As you’ve already discovered, customers don’t like robots. They like people who are uniquely imperfect, just like them. They like people who aren’t afraid to exert their distinctiveness, even in mundane moments like answering the phone or replying to a tech support email. How are you integrating your humanity into your profession?

7. What are they going do wrong next? This is the standard issue posture of 80% of the customers who walk into your hotel. Or restaurant. Or club. Or wherever you work. This exists because people are SO used to getting crappy service from dishonest, unreliable businesses, they now expect it from everybody. As such, you’re starting with a negative balance with ALL of your customers. Fortunately, this preoccupation is the PEFECT opportunity for you to prove them wrong by delivering unforgettable service. Are you going to be unexpected or just like everyone else?

8. What else can I help you learn? Try asking this question in place of, “Is there anything else?” or “How else may I be of assistance?” It’s unexpected, thought provoking and revolves around your ability to educate your customers. Try it. I triple dog dare you. Are you teaching?

9. Your company. Your company = YOU! Your company = The words you use. Your company = The words you OWN. Your company = What Google says about it. Your company = The person who answers the phone. Your company = The stories you tell. Your company = The stories customers tell about you. What’s YOUR company?

REMEMBER: Anyone can provide unforgettable service.

Even if you’re not The Ritz.

How unforgettable are you?

For the list called, “12 Ways to Out SERVICE 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

9 Secrets Most Small Business Owners Overlook – Even the Pros

1. Advance the conversation. Stop the bloodsucking and start the billing. Otherwise move on. Your time is too expensive. Are people picking your brain or renting it?

2. Assault the minute. Optimize your time. Ask yourself, “What are you wasting your time and energy on that isn’t making you any money?” That’ll change your agenda pretty quickly. Is what you’re doing right now consistent with your #1 goal?

3. Ban the bland. Fact: Nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays for average. So, stop waiting for permission to be remarkable and start becoming a living brochure of your own awesomeness. Are you the echo or the origin?

4. Buy the domain. The word “domain” comes from the Latin dominium, which means “property.” Thus: Owning the domain = Own the idea. How many million-dollar ideas are you sacrificing by not registering domains?

5. Discard the irrelevancies. If you assume people care about you, you lose. But, if you deliver your message with meaningful concrete immediacy, people will listen. And you will win. Are you willing to explore the negative space around your idea?

6. Dispel the stereotype. Prove to people that you’re the exact opposite OF, and the one exception TO, everyone else who does what you do. They’ll never work with anyone else again. How much money are you losing by perpetuating people’s prejudices?

7. Gain the nod. As in, “I like it, I get it and I’d like to try it.” As in, “This guy is good.” As in, “We should hire him.” Otherwise, the alternative is for customers to yell, “Next!” Are you unnextable?

8. Lose the fads. Anchor your expertise in that which is timeless. Your Thought Leadership position will be stronger, more relevant, more credible and more sustainable. Will your intellectual asset become an endangered species?

9. Spend the money. Don’t cheap out. It will be worth the cost when people start to call it beautiful. Is your teenage daughter (really) the best person to be redesigning your website?

What small business secrets are your overlooking?

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

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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