8 (More) Marketing Lessons Learned from My Spam Folder

Email spam – while annoying, unethical, sexually graphic and a colossal time waster – IS quite entertaining.

It’s also a consummate example of smart marketing.

Recently, I spent some time perusing the 1,385 messages in my spam folder.

Not surprisingly, patterns began to arise.

I extracted a collection of subject lines and headers that either grabbed my attention, made me laugh, or caused my body to react in ANY kind of way. After all, emotion is the final arbiter of truth. And your body never lies to you.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: As you read each of these subject lines, set aside your distaste for spam. Forget about the fact that you (probably) don’t need Viagra.

Turn on your marketing brain to learn eight more powerful lessons (read the first eight lessons here!) from the masters of capturing attention and piquing curiosity:

1. Help her blast off with your meat rocket. Out of the sixteen examples on this list, “meat rocket” is one of my faves. Sure, it’s raunchy. And by no means should your marketing reflect such adolescent verbiage.

But you HAVE appreciate the sheer poetry of this headline. Not to mention, it’s hilarious. Plus, what guy wouldn’t want his girlfriend to experience the sexual ecstasy of Apollo 13? Well done.

SPAM SECRET: People want sex. How are you helping them get more of it?

2. I haven’t heard from you. Ah ha! More cognitive dissonance for people who place high value on approachability. Now, admittedly, this headline has tricked me several times over the years. I’ve even clicked through once or twice, only to find myself at a website that gave my computer a virus. Dang it.

I blame my inability to experience myself as being an unapproachable, distant jerk. The other half is, I’ve actually received REAL emails from REAL people using this very headline. It hurts.

SPAM SECRET: People don’t like being perceived negatively. How can you tempt them?

3. Maintain your weight – amputate. Holy Slim Fast. This is, by far, the most absurd, disgusting and embarrassing thing I’ve ever read in an email. Which is exactly why it caught my attention. Now, I’m not suggesting you start telling customers that self-mutilation is the secret to success.

Your challenge is to think about what this headline says about our culture. Yes, it’s ludicrous. Yes, it’s disgusting. But would it (honestly) surprise you if you turned on CNN and the top headline was, “Man amputates leg to lose weight”? Wouldn’t shock me. People will do ANYTHING to lose weight, especially if the strategy requires no work other than locating the chainsaw. Eew.

SPAM SECRET: People want to be thin. Are you helping them get there quicker?

4. That with stirs of feet and wings. This headline sounded so poetic, I just had to google it. Sure enough, that line comes from a poem called The Kitten and Falling Leaves by William Wadsworth.

Too bad the email tried to subscribe me to an online gambling site. Jerks.

SPAM SECRET: Wadsworth was a genius. Are your words that strong?

5. Make her shout like an alarm. Excellent use of simile. Paints a vivid picture. Plus, this headline puts the company’s product in the customer’s future by describing the benefit of the benefit of the benefit. Well done. The only way to improve this headline would be to make a comment about waking up the neighbors. That’s the ultimate.

(Oh, don’t act like you’ve never been on SOME end of that situation before).

I don’t care if you’re male or female, straight or gay, passion is passion. And there’s nothing more gratifying than when the stunningly beautiful Brazilian model that lives in the unit below you knocks on the door one day to shyly tell you that you and your girlfriend should try to, ahem, “keep it down” at night. Hypothetically.

SPAM SECRET: People want sex. Did you forget that already?

6. Your friend, Peter, thought that you would be interested in this album. First, the headline uses a common name. Most people probably have a friend named Peter. Second, the headline implies that Peter took the time out of his busy schedule to recommend a record JUST for you.

Wow. Good ol’ Pete. What a guy. And you wouldn’t want his precious time to go to waste, now would you? Finally, let’s say you delete the email. Then, three weeks later, you run into Peter and his wife at McDonald’s.

“Hey Scott! Long time no see! Say, how’s that album I recommended to you a few weeks back? Did you listen to it? Wasn’t it great? That was the debut LP of my wife’s new band, Death by Marshmallow. They’re huge in Bulgaria!”

Woops. Sorry Pete. Tell your wife I’ll come out to their next show. Just let me go find my passport…

SPAM SECRET: People like recommendations. Did you know that’s how Amazon makes billions?

7. Wrong. Unbelievably powerful. ONE word and I was hooked. Wrong. And the cool part is, this headline appeals to various personalities. First, if you’re the type of person who always has to be right, your ego will be triggered immediately. And you’ll go to the end of the earth to prove that you were NOT wrong.

Or, if you’re like me and enjoy being wrong to stimulate learning opportunities, this headline would entice you to open the letter immediately and excitedly discover where you screwed up.

SPAM SECRET: People cherish their egos. Are you speaking to them?

8. You didn’t even think about it. I saved this one for last. Personally, I think it’s the most powerful, most effective and most emotional headline on the list. First, by using the past tense, it forces the reader to immediately begin traveling back in time, questioning her own reflection abilities. Wait a minute – was there something I should have been contemplating that I forgot? Oh no!

Second, the word “even.” As if something as simple and effortless like “thinking” was the minimum requirement, and you couldn’t even satisfy that. Jeez. Way to be an insensitive jerk.

Lastly, I admit that I’ve been guilty of this mistake before. Hey, I’m not perfect. I get lazy. And I’ve had people (whom I LOVE) confront me in person, via email or over the phone and say, “You didn’t even think about.”

It hurts. Badly. Cuts deep down the core. So, while effective marketing (shouldn’t have to) resort to making customers feel like wretched human beings, your challenge is to pinpoint the self-interest of the people you serve, and speak to it.

SPAM SECRET: People don’t like being jerks. Are you calling them out?

Now that you’ve been schooled in the ways of spam, here’s your final exercise.

1. Take five minutes to peruse your spam folder. You might want to do this at home so your boss doesn’t look over your shoulder and wonder why you’re reading emails about “meat rockets.”

2. Record your reactions. Any time a subject headline makes you smile, laugh, roll your eyes or become nauseated, write it down.

3. Extract the lessons. Look for commonalities among all the headlines. Democratize and genericize the centrals marketing themes. Then, write out a list of “spam secrets.”

4. Apply. Execute those strategies in your own marketing practices in an ethical, professional manner.

REMEMBER: This is the best way to help her blast off with your meat rocket.

Hee hee. Meat rocket.

Are you as savvy as the spammers?

For the list called, “88 Questions Every Marketer Should Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


8 Ways to become the ONE Person at Your Company Everyone Wants to Sit with at Lunch

1. Don’t be a needle in a stack of needles. You will lose. And here’s why: Nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays for average. Period. Amen. Q.E.D. As such, your greatest barrier to business success isn’t a bad economy, stupidity, inexperience, or lack of funding – it’s anonymity.

Therefore: Stop winking in the dark and start being ubiquitous. Perhaps begin by formulating a Visibility Plan. Not a Marketing Plan – a Visibility Plan. Huge difference. Are you everywhere?

2. Remember: Talk isn’t cheap – it’s cheat. A poor substitution for action. That’s like having “ready” and “aim” without the fire. Like snap and crackle without the pop. It’s just not the same.

As the wise philosopher, MC Nametag once said, “Talking smack without doing jack is whack.” Do you give customers lip service or foot service?

3. Don’t make waves – make a tsunami. Waves are for water parks. You’ve got bigger fish to fry. It’s time to devastate the corporate landscape, wake the drones up and start asking questions that flip your organization on its ass. Sure, people will be uncomfortable, but they’ll also be disturbed them into action. Thanks to you.

Next time you attend one of those delightful Monday Morning Meetings, I triple dog dare you to ask that ONE question nobody wants to ask. It’s liberating. Or it might get you fired. Either way, you’re free. How much money is your organization wasting by befriending complacency?

4. One size fits all does nothing but make people feel fat. There are just as many paths as there are people to take them. Don’t be scared away by myopic windbags who claim that their way is THEE way. It’s not. There’s a very thick line between “My Truth” and “The Truth.” How narrow is your thinking?

5. Don’t rock the boat – capsize it. Then see who can swim. Then whoever’s left, take ‘em with you to shore and start a new colony. Think Jerry Maguire. Think, “Who’s coming with me?” Hopefully you’ll have more takers than he did. Are you willing to be a rabble-rouser?

6. Out of the blue means into the green. The most profitable ideas tend to be the most unpredictable ideas. Think about it: History’s most famous inventions, innovations and corporation were fertilized in mistake-flavored, accident-rich compost. For example: John Deer grew from an Illinois farmer’s broken saw blade. Greyhound resulted from uncrossable, unpaved highways between coalmines.

Dr. Pepper came from a heartbroken teenager. Goodyear spawned from a frustrated husband leaving boiling rubber on the stove too long while his wife was away. All out of the blue. All into the green. Your challenge is learning to notice, allow and leverage fortunate mishaps. How could you become more accident-prone?

7. Don’t practice what you preach – preach what you practice. People are more likely to listen to you talk about something if you’ve DONE that something first. It’s the fine line between orthodoxy (the correct beliefs) and orthopraxy (the correct actions).

Here’s the process I’ve been following for nearly a decade: Make a list of the things people constantly compliment you on doing exceptionally well. Go back an ask yourself, “OK, so, apparently I’ve been doing (x) really well. How did I do it? Why is that important? Why did it work? How can teach others how to do the same?” Then, start preaching, Mr. Practice. Are you walking first or talking first?

8. Over the top (often) means inside the memory. It’s a noisy world. And outrageousness is rarely forgotten. Your challenge is to be in people’s faces without being on people’s nerves. My suggestion for doing so is to walk the fine line between risky and reckless.

Here’s how: Risky is succeeding from venturesomeness; reckless is proceeding from carelessness. Risky is treading on thin ice, trotting atop uncertain ground and gracefully balancing out on a limb; reckless is jumping on cracked ice, dancing atop broken ground and scarcely hanging by a thread.

Finally, risky is growing increasingly mindful of how your pebbles ripple; reckless is remaining utterly unconcerned about the consequences of action. Are you memorable for the right reasons?

Who wants to sit with you at lunch?

For the list called, “29 Pieces of Simple, Easy Advice That Will Change Your Business Forever,” 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]

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

Watch Scott Write — 2.4.10

People often ask me about my writing process.

So, instead of trying to explain it, I thought I’d just show it.

This is the second in a series of writing sessions (4-hour time lapse down to 8 minutes!) of my unparalleled content generation, content management and content deployment systems.

Episode 3 — 2.4.10
Soundtrack — “Light Through the Veins” by
Jon Hopkins from “Insides.”

Watch other episodes on the playlist @ www.WatchScottWrite.com!

What did you write today?

For the list called, “29 Pieces of Simple, Easy Advice That Will Change Your Business Forever,” 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]

New website go live this week?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

Are You Guilty of Succumbing to These Six Seductive Disguises of Success?

1. Ambiguity is opportunity in disguise. Love it. Welcome it. Embrace it. And know that NOT knowing paves the way for glorious and unimpeded progress. How do you act when faced with ambiguous situations?

2. Art is infection in disguise. That’s your job as an artist – to infect people. To approach your canvas as a syringe, pumping all who see it full of 300 cc’s of your truth. Interestingly, the word inficere literally means, “to put in.” What does your work put into people?

3. Failure is education in disguise. Getting a big fat F is underrated. We all need to fail. Failure is the great fertilizer of growth. Failing leads to flourishing. As long as you intelligently reflect upon the lessons learned and don’t make the same mistake twice. Therefore: If it’s been more than 48 hours since your last failure at something, you’re not risking enough. How have you made losing a regular part of your experience?

4. Selling is solving in disguise. Before your next sales call, ask yourself three crucial questions: What problem do you solve? What are you the answer to? What were you designed to cure? You’ll never treat customers the same again. What unique aspects of your personality could you enlist to help you sell (solve) better?

5. Simplicity is sophistication in disguise. Ever “tried” to make something simpler? It’s hard as hell. Simplicity requires more energy, more brainpower and more courage that complexity. So, here’s my suggestion: Stop being fancy. Stop complicating your message. Stop creating riddles that take too long for impatient readers to solve. That’s a good start. Are you brave enough to be simple?

6. Success is mediocrity in disguise. Sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. Just watch American Idol. Or read any New York Times bestseller. You don’t even have to be that good. Not anymore. That’s why it pains me to write the following sentence: Even though the cream rises to the top, mediocrity often hitches a ride. Now, personally, I couldn’t do it. Average isn’t acceptable in my world. On the other hand, if you’re at peace with mediocrity, more power to you. In fact, I admire you. Sometimes insisting on awesomeness is a huge pain in the ass. Is average enough for you?

What are you being seduced by?

For the list called, “22 Questions to Sidestep Entrepreneurial Atrophy,” 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]

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


7 Ways to Draw Admirers into Your Orbit without Developing a Messianic Complex

An orbit is the gravitationally curved path of one object around a point or another body.

Usually, the word is used in reference to astronomy.

Not today.

Science class, schmience class.

AS A THOUGHT LEADER: Your mission to draw admirers into YOUR orbit.

Your halo of genius.
Your vortex of value.
Your whirlpool of fascination.
Your gravitational pull of brilliance.

That’s what Smokin’ Hot Pieces of Brain Candy do.

HERE’S WHY: The more admirers you draw into your orbit, the farther your thoughts will travel; and the farther your thoughts travel, the further your career advances.

Today we’re going to learn how to draw admirers into your orbit without being accused of having a messianic complex:

1. Heighten your presence. You don’t have to plaster your mug all over local billboards. No need to imprint your company logo on restaurant urinal cakes. What’s more, you don’t have to be “on” all the time. Nor do you need to be the incessant center of attention.

BUT. (And this is a big but. Like, Oprah big.)

You DO have to arrange to be noticed. If you want to draw admirers into your orbit, you’ve got to place yourself into the spotlight and become The Observed, not The Observer. Even if that’s not your preferred space. As Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz once sang, “I wasn’t made for this scene, but I was made in this scene.”

It begins by believing that you deserve considerable attention. Even if you have to affirm that very statement to yourself every morning in front of the mirror. Fine. Whatever it takes. What specific steps have you taken in the past 48 hours to become less invisible?

2. Trust accelerates trajectory. A well-known professor from my alma matter, Miami University, recently shared her teaching style in our Alumni Newsletter: “People have to trust that you’re going to move their knowledge base forward.”

That’s your mission. For people to think, “You know, I’m not sure where she’s going with this, but I don’t care because I’m so insanely interested AND having so much fun along the way.”

Remember: Trust is a process of uncertainty reduction enhanced by your commitment to self-consistency. What are you doing to earn and ensure your status of trusted advisor in the mind of the customer?

3. Be delightfully ambiguous. Predictability engenders customer confidence; but only after ambiguity activates the attraction switch. The secret is to invite layers of interpretation beyond surface appearance. To make what you offer rare and hard to find.

And, to wrap yourself in mystery while emanating an aura of delightful spontaneity. That way you leave the public always wanting more, wondering about your next move. Take it from the only person on the planet wearing a nametag 24-7 for ten years: This practice is infinitely profitable.

In fact, I’ve recently discovered (like, within the past month) how to use online video to propagate this very principle. Prepare your melon to be motivated by mystery at www.WatchScottWrite.com. I wonder what a little ambiguity could do for the admirers in YOUR orbit. Are you leaving the public always wanting more, wondering about your next move?

4. Display calmness in the face of unpleasantness. Do not despair in difficult moments. As I learned from The 48 Laws of Power, “While other people get flustered, you’ll look stronger and more attractive by contrast.”

That’s how you profit from idiots: You let them beat themselves. That way, the only thing left to do is take a relaxing stride past the pile of bodies and cross the finish line alone. Are you a paragon of equanimity?

5. Get people to spend time in YOUR environment. I once invited a colleague who was in town to tour my workspace. Not thinking anything of it, she apparently thought it was the coolest office she’d ever seen. So much so that she called me a few months later on behalf of our industry publication to feature my workspace in an upcoming issue of Speaker magazine.

I was ecstatic. What’s more, once the piece went to print, I received dozens of emails, calls and comments from new fans that wanted to learn the strategy behind my creative environment. Which I happily shared with them. For a lot of money. I wonder what would happen if more people regularly experienced your creative territory. Who has a love affair with your turf?

6. Be a strong a vibrant vehicle. For what, I’m not sure. It might not matter. In fact, I’m almost certain it doesn’t matter. Sometimes the conduit is more important than the content. Sometimes the medium trumps message.

Your mission is to OWN it. Are you wasting your time meddling with the message or mastering the medium?

7. Remain in the public eye at any cost. Edison didn’t beat Tesla because he was smarter. Or a harder worker. Or a better inventor. He beat him because he was ubiquitous. Edison. Was. Everywhere. And two things happen when people see your name everywhere:

(1) They assume you’re successful,
(2) They want to know how you managed to get there.

Lesson learned: Visibility trumps talent. Lesson learned: Never allow yourself to fade in the background. Even when the limelight casts a narrow beam. Be there or be broke. Because when you slowly fill people’s minds with thoughts of you, it becomes increasingly difficult to endure your absence. Remember: The unseenable isn’t counted. Are winking in the dark?

REMEMBER: An orbit is the gravitationally curved path of one object around a point or another body.

As a Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brain Candy, drawing admirers into your orbit is part of the job description.

In the spirit of Neil Armstrong, let us be reminded:

“One series of small steps for man, one giant leap for man’s bank account.”

Who is being drawn into your orbit?

For the list called, “26 Ways to OUT Brand the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

13 Ways to Call Bullshit on Yourself

I was in the middle of yoga class when it happened.

Ouch … Crap … I can’t do this … I should quit … Maybe I’ll just sit out until the next posture …

“Bullshit,” said a voice from within, “You can do this.”

I met my eyes in the mirror, drew a deep inhale and relaxed into exertion.

Five seconds left.

“Change,” said the instructor.


I did it.
The posture was over.
I actually pulled on through.
Despite my ego’s attempt to stop me.

But wait.

“Did I just call bullshit on myself?” I wondered.

I guess so.

Cool. I didn’t know you could do that.

Apparently you can. As long as you remember that it’s not about beating yourself up:

It’s about becoming accountable TO yourself.
It’s about finding the direct line to the truth OF yourself.
It’s about developing a radically honest relationship WITH yourself.

The cool part is: You don’t need to take yoga to do so.

Today we’re going to explore thirteen ways to call bullshit on yourself:

1. Sidestep self-manipulation. “When our lives are not working, there is always at least one thing we’re not facing.” I first read those words in Gay Hendricks’ book, Living Consciously. Then, several months later during a mentoring session, his concept crystallized.

Here’s what happened: My mentee, Rochelle, offered insight into the struggles of a job search as a 50+ single mother. At the end of one particular story, she eipilogued with the following question: And then I asked myself “Did I just get away with not having to face something again?” Wow. Can you imagine how much self-awareness that requires? Good for her.

Here’s the lesson: Look first at what you’re not facing. Honor the existence of what you’ve been evading. Then, engage in a regular practice of healthy self-confrontation. Mirrors work. Yoga works. Writing works. Begin customizing your practice today. Remember: Looking away from what you need to face burns more energy than actually facing it. Where have you been avoiding confronting yourself?

2. Investments in bullshit pay pitiful dividends. I have a good friend who’s a former alcoholic. He once told me that many of the AA members he sponsors are people who go out of their way to stock alibis and make excuses – when they (really) need to scrutinize alternatives and make choices.

“That’s why I always challenge my guys to tell me the biggest thing they’re willing to give up to get sober,” Marty says. “It teaches them to invest in their threshold level of commitment, not their standard-issue line of bullshit.”

Here’s the key: Learn to identify the stories you’re telling yourself. Retain ongoing openness to your misguided perceptions. And be aggressively skeptical about the things your ego tells you. Otherwise, you’ll wind up saluting your illusions for so long that you actually start believing in them. Yikes. How strong is your emotional dividend portfolio?

3. Believing is overrated. Don’t believe everything you think. Your mind is a moron. Don’t believe your own in-house press. The reports are rarely accurate. And finally, don’t believe everything your ego says is good for you. The reptilian brain operates on dangerous assumptions.

In reality, certain beliefs you hold outlive their usefulness in your life. You need to learn to be OK with that. Don’t worry – new learnings will emerge. As long as you intentionally create a space for them by calling out your outworn beliefs first. What falsehood are you trying to defend because you want it to be true?

4. Smell something fishy. A fun exercise to better understand the lies you tell yourself is to ask, “What’s my favorite excuse?” Common answers might be: “I couldn’t find the time…” “That’s just who I am…” or “Technically, the warning label on that bottle of Absinthe never said it was illegal to break into the city zoo and steal a family of chinchillas for my church’s chili cook off, Officer.”

Whatever the excuse is, identifying unaccountable behavior is a perfect start to call bullshit on yourself. What’s your favorite justification?

5. Become a master of your own disinclination. I exercise everyday. Been doing so for many years. And at age thirty, it’s no longer a habit – it’s a non-negotiable. Like writing or meditation, exercise is just something I do. Everyday. Period. What about you? What’s your daily non-negotiable?

Here’s the secret: Even when you’re not in the mood – ESPECIALLY when you’re not in the mood – you do it anyway. Because discipline trumps desire. Next time you feel the excuse barrage slowly creeping in, call bullshit on yourself by saying, “I don’t have to LIKE it – I just have to do it.” It’s like flossing your teeth: You learn to love what’s good for you, even if you hate it. How well do you kick your own ass?

6. Break the noise patterns. Call bullshit on the buzz of competing voices fighting to drown out your intuition. Don’t let them win. Don’t participate in their fear of the world. And (definitely) don’t allow their negativity to infiltrate your atmosphere.

These voices are additional incarnations of The Resistance. And they’re terrified of intuition because intuition is the language of the body, and the body never lies. So, pick one: Your ego or your anatomy. One talks truth, the other talks trash. Which voice will you listen to?

7. Be not locked into limited concepts of who you are. A simple way to call bullshit on yourself is to calmly, curiously and continuously ask, “What is my evidence to support this belief?” Odds are, you won’t find any. And here’s why: Limits aren’t limits. They’re self-imposed constraints. Paper-thin barricades feeding on a steady diet of your fear of them.

The cool part is, once you start challenging yourself to legitimately defend yourself – i.e., “God I suck at this!” … “Whoa, wait, what is my evidence to support this belief?” – you start to realize that it’s all just noise. Mental mayhem. Whatever it takes to steal you away from the present moment, which is exactly what your ego is most terrified of.

Don’t let it happen. You’re stronger than that. What fictional story have you told yourself so many times that it’s evolved into journalism?

8. Hold an Honesty Pow-Wow with yourself. I learned this move from my peacefully honest friend, Chrissy. It’s simple but not easy. Here’s how it’s done: Drop the veil and openly acknowledge that you have chosen to be where you are, right now. “You are the result of yourself,” as Pablo Neruda once said. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

o Am I part of this evil?
o What have I done to cause this to happen?
o How have I arranged it so I’m having this experience?
o Have I done anything to bring this misfortune upon myself?
o And what is about me or in me that has invited or attracted this into my life?

Remember: The only constant in life is YOU. You are the superintendent of your own soul. The architect of your own future. The artisan of your own happiness. The biographer of your own evolution. And the counselor of your own crisis. It’s always your fault. How do you stay true to yourself under increasingly difficult situations?

9. Get out of your familiar misery. Make it a point to (only) surround yourself with people who challenge and inspire you. Life’s too short to waste on people who don’t set you on fire. For example, I have several close friends who can level me like a piece of farm machinery. With one word. Or one question. Or one dirty look.

The key is, they serve as a trigger – not the gun. They say what they need to say – then I’m disturbed into action to do the majority of the work.

My suggestion: Consider the three people in your life who currently serve in a bullshit-calling capacity. Email them. Thank them. Let them know how essential they are to your detection of the veneer that’s in place. Then, recommit yourself to remaining open to their proddings.

Sure, it hurts. But growth is the residue of discomfort. And until it causes excessive misery, the bullshit isn’t going to stop. What do you need to unsweep under the carpet?

10. Energy always follows priority. If you’re not doing it, it’s not important to you. Stop kidding yourself about what you “need to start making time for.” Look at your planner from last week. The activities you spent your time on were the things that were important to you. Period. No room for bullshit there. Calendars don’t lie.

Here’s the distinction: Priorities are the things you MAKE – not find – the time for. “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. “Make,” one the other hand, 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 do it. I challenge you to call bullshit on yourself by reminding yourself of that fine line. How do you know what’s important to you?

11. Don’t refuse to look into yourself. Stop keeping secrets from yourself. Inspect what you expect. Know what charms you. And avoid overlooking the inconvenient. As Brad Blanton explained in one of my favorite books, Radical Honesty,

“Life goes on and the truth changes; this just happens to be the way life is. What was once true is often no longer true just a little while later. Yesterday’s truth is today’s bullshit. Even yesterday’s liberating insight is today’s jail of stale explanation.”

Remember: The mirror is your friend. It will never lie to you. Are you willing to listen to all of yourself?

12. Decide if the squeeze is worth the juice. One of the few things I learned in college was the concept of opportunity cost. The next forgone alternative. The point of diminishing returns. In short: Tradeoffs. What you give up to get something. So, next time you’re not sure if something is going to be worth it, consider (honestly) asking yourself these questions:

o What is this getting in the way of?
o Is this an expectation I can reasonably meet?
o Am I being fair to myself by continuing this relationship?
o Is this person helping create a future that I’m going to feel obligated to be a part of?

The whole point is to induce self-squirming. Better now than five years later when your hand is so cramped from squeezing that you can’t even pick up the glass to enjoy the juice. Is this an opportunity or an opportunity to be used?

13. Don’t let your ego write checks your body can’t cash. Another mantra from my yoga instructor. Helpful in (and out) of the studio. Especially when it comes to time management. Like my friend Kim says in her book There’s An Adult in My Soup:

“Busyness isn’t a badge of honor – it’s the new four-letter word. The modern culture’s obsession with the ‘I’m so busy’ mantra turns into a crutch that enables people to avoid taking 100% responsibility for their lives.”

Lesson learned: Trying to impress yourself is an exhausting upstream paddle. Slow down. Otherwise your body is going to call bullshit on you before you get a chance. Will your body have sufficient funds in its account to cash the ridiculous check your ego is trying to write?

In conclusion, let’s turn east to Steven Mitchell’s Second Book of the Tao:

“If assumptions are questioned deeply enough, they let go of themselves.”

REMEMBER: You’ll never make a name FOR yourself until you’re held accountable TO yourself, BY yourself.

I know it’s hard. I know it hurts.

But refusing to call bullshit on yourself is like cheating at solitaire.

Sure, nobody will know.

But you’ll still lose.

How will you remind yourself who you are?

For the list called, “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!

The Cure for Cobbler’s Children Syndrome, Or, How to Take Your Own Advice

Bad news.

You are not impervious to the peril you advise others against.

If you’re a teacher, writer, speaker, coach, consultant, thought leader (even a parent), admitting that you need to take your own advice – and then, actually TAKING that advice – can be about as enjoyable as getting kicked in the face with a golf shoe.

THE POINT IS: We teach what we most need to learn.

And sometimes it’s tough to be true to your own insight.

If you’ve ever suffered from The Cobbler’s Children Syndrome, today we’re going to explore a series of practices for HOW to take your own advice:

1. Self-questioning. This is the best place to start. As a writer, speaker and thought leader myself, I’ve found great success (honestly) asking reflective questions like this on a regular basis:

a. If I were me, what would I do in this situation?
b. Does my life enshrine what my lips proclaim?
c. What does it look like when somebody pulls a “me”?
d. What key issue am I currently blinding myself from seeing?
e. Is the message I’m preaching the dominant reality of my life?
f. What outworn belief system is informing these bad decisions?
g. How deep is the gap between my onstage performance and backstage reality?

My suggestion is to pick a few from the list – or make your own list – then write the questions on sticky notes. Then post them in your office. Or bathroom. Or car. Anything to keep them in front of your face as reminders to take your own advice. What questions do you ask yourself?

2. Self-reeducation. Revisit material you’ve published but haven’t read in a while. Perhaps the distance away from your own content will help you to view it more objectively. For example, I’ve reread modules I wrote years ago that pleasantly surprised me of their relevance today. Almost like a reminder of what I believe about an issue.

Of course, I’ve also read old material that made me want to gag myself with a flyswatter. Which was an excellent education in my own evolution. Are you willing to disagree with what the earlier version of yourself believed?

3. Self-reflection. Sometimes you’re too close to yourself to see clearly. What you need is a friend to reflect your thinking style back to you. Try this: Find someone you’ve given valuable advice to in the past. Sit her down. Explain your situation.

Then ask her what advice she would expect YOU to give HER if the roles were reversed. Who knows? She might know a certain part of you better than you do. Who can you have lunch with that will function as a mirror?

4. Self-assessment. Try this exercise. At the top of a blank sheet of paper, write the following question, “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?” Then, brainstorm your answers in the form of bullet points.

Take your time. Think hard. After all, you ARE writing your Personal Philosophy. Ultimately, the goal is to use this document as a template for future actions. Just remember to ask: Is what I’m doing right now giving people the tools they need to build that world?

5. Self-appointment. During your daily appointment with yourself, ritually revisit your values. Reread your Personal Mission Statement. Review your Personal Constitution. And explore your governing document for daily decision making.

By doing so each morning, it’s almost like giving yourself a pep talk. Reminding yourself who the heck you are, how you roll and what’s important to you. When was the last time you took fifteen minutes out of your day to just think?

6. Self-awareness. Physically ask people, “What is the best piece of advice I ever gave you?” Their answers might surprise you. You might be smarter (or dumber) than you think. You might also ask people if you can see their notes.

Or they’d be willing to email you their best keepers from your presentation. All helpful for increasing self-awareness. How do other people experience you?

7. Self-research. Google your name in quotes along with the word “says” or “said.” I just did this search on myself for the first time. Pretty interesting. Saw a few quotes I liked, a few quotes I forgot, along with a few quotes I’m embarrassed to ever have said.

But that’s not the point. What will REALLY blow your hair back is when you go one step further: Take all the past advice you’ve published and ask yourself how well you’re executing that advice in your own life. You may be surprised. Are your walkings consistent with your talkings?

REMEMBER: Staying true to your own insight takes a tremendous amount of self-reflection.

I challenge you to use these practices to help take your own advice.

And maybe The Cobbler’s kids won’t have to walk barefoot after all.

Are you smoking what you’re selling?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” 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!

NametagTV: Put Customers at Ease

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Are you putting customers at ease?

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

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If You Still Have Execution Problems After Reading This Blog Post, You’re Either Drunk, Braindead — Or I’m a Terrible Writer

People frequently ask me how I manage to be so productive.

My answer is very logical and simple:

1. No meetings.
2. No employees.
3. No interns.
4. No busywork.
5. No filing.
6. No copying.
7. No excuses.
8. No hurdles.
9. No bullshit.
10. No bureaucracy.
11. No asking permission.
12. No begging for forgiveness.
13. No items to submit for approval.
14. No extraneous layers of management to slow things down.
15. No memos.
16. No signatures.
17. No status reports.
18. No kids.
19. No television.
20. No surfing the web.
21. No mass media.
22. No coworkers.
23. No putting out fires.
24. No waiting for people.
25. No gossip.
26. No worrying.
27. No headaches.
28. No managing people.
29. No managing logistical problems.
30. No walking on eggshells.
31. No task requests.
32. No micromanaging.
33. No useless planning of things that don’t matter.
34. No processes to weigh me down and diminish my energy.
35. No wasting time defending past decisions to preserve my ego.
36. No time burned on making unnecessary effortful cognitive choices.
37. No tinkering with broken processes.
38. No endless list of people trying to reach me.
39. No distractions.
40. No bloated decision-making hierarchy.
41. No distance between the owner and decisions that matter.
42. No awkward staff lunches.
43. No committees to go in front of.
44. No socializing.
45. No compromising.
46. No doing activities that aren’t focused on my number one goals.
47. No doing activities that don’t leverage my gifts.
48. No doing activities that aren’t income generating.
49. No office politics.
50. No office.
51. No clothes.
52. No shoes.
53. No commute.
54. No traffic.
55. No interruptions.
56. No paperwork.

After deleting all of that noise, what are you left with?

Work. That matters.

If that were YOUR work environment, you’d be pretty productive too.

Now, I’m not trying to use my situation as a reason. Or use your situation as an excuse.

But we are exactly where we are because we choose to be there.

JUST REMEMBER: Productivity isn’t about what you do – it’s about what you avoid.

I think Mr. Miyagi said it best:

“The best way to block a punch is to not be there.”

What consumes your time but isn’t making any money?

For the ebook called, “66 Questions to Prevent Your Time from Managing YOU,” send an email to me, and you win the ebook for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


How to be Less of Putzbag in a Group Meeting

There’s nothing more annoying than someone who has all the answers.

Especially in a group setting.

I met a guy like this last year. Spent the whole day with him. Dude drove me up the wall.

In fact, based on the body language of the other eleven group members, I think he drove them up the wall too.

Hell, we should’ve just had the meeting on the wall.


Instead of getting upset about this guy, I asked my standard question, “How can I channel my frustration towards this person into an actionable piece of writing that makes me money AND helps other people sidestep douchebaggery and make their lives better?”

What can I say? I’m a writer. Piss me off and I’ll get you back on the page where you can’t defend yourself.

Here we go. Names have been changed to protect the incompetent:

1. Be right less. Just stop. Seriously. Have some self-control. Even if you KNOW you’re right. Stop. Let someone else be right for a while. Not being right all the time doesn’t mean you’re wrong – it just means you practice restraint. Turn it into a game. See how long you can hold it in. Start with five minutes. I bet you can do it.

And I bet you’ll discover that the comment you intended to share was actually incorrect, irrelevant or non-contributory. Remember: Don’t break the silence unless you plan to improve it. Do you have an arrogance of being right that clouds your priorities?

2. Practice a 5:1 question/answer ratio. Talk as much as you want. But for every comment, statement or observation you make, ask five questions. This holds you accountable to an exploratory attitude of curiosity and vulnerability. Plus it opens up the discussion, toggles people’s brains and engages their thinking.

What’s more, 5:1 makes you sound smarter (in a roundabout way) simply because of your willingness to be dumb. Nobody ever left a group meeting saying, “Man, remember that guy who asked all those great questions? What an idiot. Sure annoyed the hell out of me!” Are you a great asker?

3. Allow ideas and experiences to profoundly penetrate you. Let the pearl sink. Register the moment. Allow the idea to slowly sink from your head down into your heart. Now, this practice of creative, patient listening is difficult for many people. It takes a tremendous amount of self-control.

Keep in mind: The quicker you understand something, the more likely it is to be a superficial understanding of that thing. Think of it this way: Instead of taking two hundred pictures of the Grand Canyon, why not just sit on the edge of it, take two hundred deep breaths and just experience it?

Remember: Pictures fade – memories of how you FELT last forever. Do you experience with your head or your heart?

4. Ask yourself WHY you’re listening. To receive people? To honor their truth? To create a loving space where others feel comfortable sharing? Or, are you listening to fix? To one-up? To insert your clever little jokes? To use other people’s comments as backboards against which you can try out your snappy new material, or to relive standup routines from fourteen years ago that probably weren’t funny in the first place?

Remember: Listening isn’t a performance. Ask WHY you’re listening. Most people haven’t thought about this. Have you?

5. Turn other people into Christmas trees. Notice who hasn’t contributed in a while. Then, when the time feels right, try this move: “Hey Tony? Didn’t your son have some experience with that last year? I’d be interested in hearing your experience…”

That’s what good leaders do: They make other feel essential. And sometimes all people need is permission. Well, that AND someone to shut up the one guy who monopolizes the whole bloody discussion. Whom could you put into the spotlight??

6. Stop going first. Your hand doesn’t have to shoot up like the teacher just asked the class, “OK, children: For a BIG piece of chocolate, who can answer this next question…?” Play the game called, Let’s See How Long I Can Go without Raising My Hand. Oftentimes, someone else will touch upon what you had originally planned to say, rendering your comment unnecessary.

Better yet, you might gain a completely new dimension to your idea that you wouldn’t have known otherwise, thus making your ultimate answer stronger. How much insight are you robbing the group of by being impatient?

7. Slaughter your yabbits. You know what a yabbit is, right? One of those little, white fluffy creatures that oozes out of people’s mouths when they unconsciously merge the words “yeah” and “but.” Kill them. Use their fur as a hat. Make them an endangered species.

Here’s why: “But” is the most dangerous work in the English language. It puts people on the defensive. It makes them think there’s a catch. It negates everything said before. And it reduces the positivity of an argument. Fortunately, I wrote a list of twenty-one yabbit alternatives. You can read them at www.WascallyYabbit.com.

Ultimately, phrases like these WIN because: They focus on solutions. They maintain positivity. They ASK instead of TELL. They foster creative thinking. And they encourage open dialogue. Study them today. Refer to them periodically. Use them often. Are you yabbiting?

8. Empathizing is highly overrated. In 2008, I met a guy named Cajun Dan. He’s a veteran grief counselor from Baton Rouge. After delivering a workshop to his association, I asked him to share (as a Professional Listener) what the biggest mistake was most people make in the listening process.

He said, “The three most dangerous words any listener could ever say is ‘One time I…’” Lesson learned: Stop empathizing. Stop circling back to remind people how vastly experienced you are at their reality. Everything doesn’t always have to come back to you.

Next time you’re in a group setting, try this: Instead of showing the speaker how deeply you feel his pain by interrupting his poignant story to share (yet another) selfish, inconsequential diatribe about the bowel movements of your three-legged Beagle, practice listening like a REAL leader – with your mouth closed. Good lord, man. Does this person need empathy or silence?

REMEMBER: In every group meeting, there’s always one putzbag.

Don’t let it be you.

Are you a meeting master?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” 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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