How to Last

Imagine you’re a California prospector panning for gold in 1852.

One morning, you spot something glinting in the pan.

Naturally, the first thing you do is look around to see if anybody else noticed.

They didn’t. Whew.

You take a closer look, thinking to yourself, “This is it! This is my payday!”

Sadly, upon further exploration, your hopes and dreams are crushed when the rock turns out (not) to be gold.

Just a mere flash in the pan.

Damn it!
..
That’s where the phrase “flash in the pan” originated…

Interestingly, a century and a half later, it has a different meaning. According to my trusty Urban Dictionary, a flash in the pan is:

“A project, person or idea that enjoys only short-lived success; something that disappoints by failing to deliver anything of value, despite a showy beginning.”

How many of those have you encountered over the years?

MY GUESS: Too many.

Why?

Well, sustainability is hard.

As an artist.
As a partnership.
As an entrepreneur.
As an organization.

The long haul isn’t just long – it’s laborious.

And if you want to last (and who doesn’t?) you’ve got to start planning to do so today.

Here’s how:

1. Identify your absolute baseline. In a relationship, love isn’t enough. Sure, love gets the job done when you’re in high school – but not when you seek sustainability. Not when you’re trying to build a life together. As much as we’d like to buy into the fairytale, life isn’t a Beatles song. Love isn’t all you need.

Sustainability is a function of: (1) compatibility through common constitution, (2) mutual vulnerability and respect through radical honesty, and (3) shared commitment through the willingness to (not) get lazy with each other.

I know this because I once ended a four-year relationship with someone that I loved more than anyone on the planet. But that was precisely the danger: All there was – was love. And it wasn’t enough to sustain us.

Your challenge is to figure out the minimum requirements for the survival, for the lasting, of whatever endeavor you’re engaged in. Whether it’s a personal relationship, business partnership or entrepreneurial venture, somewhere there is a baseline. Define it. Memorialize it. Reinforce it. Otherwise the soundtrack of your failure is going to be all Beatles, all the time. What isn’t enough for you to last?

2. Passion can be seductive. Passion without purpose is pointless. Nothing but a beautiful, blazing fire that burns you and everyone you touch. What’s more, passion without relevance, marketability and a foundation of skill to support it, won’t last.

My suggestion: Before you empty your entire bank account for (and re-orchestrate your entire life around) your lifelong passion for baking blackened raccoon testicle cupcakes, consider two additional questions:

*Will the thrill of your passion dissipate once it becomes a daily task?
*If you (did) end up making a business out of your passion, how long would it take before you feel robbed of your true talent because you’re wasting most of your time and energy on menial, soul-sucking activities that have nothing to do with your passion?

Remember: Passionate doesn’t (necessarily) mean profitable. Be careful. Are you confusing passion with infatuation?

3. Multiply your reservoir. In Tom Robbins’s seminal novel, Still Life with Woodpecker, the central question of the book is, “How do you make love stay?” And while he answers the question several times throughout the text, the following passage is my favorite:

“When two people meet and fall in love, there’s a sudden rush of magic. Magic is just naturally present then. We tend to feed on that gratuitous magic without striving to make any more. One day we wake up and find that the magic is gone. We hustle to get it back, but by then it’s usually too late, we’ve used it up. What we have to do is work like hell at making additional magic right from the start. It’s hard work, especially when it seems superfluous or redundant, but if we can remember to do it, we greatly improve our chances of making love stay.”

For example, as a writer, every day, I’m constantly adding, organizing, updating, tweaking and fortifying the creative inventory of my idea factory – one sentence at a time. That’s my system for making additional magic right from the start. How will you multiply your reservoir?

That’s the key: Whether you’re sustaining a relationship, organization or career, find a way to create a constant surplus position. What’s your secret for making love stay?

4. Determine what you deem meaningful – then disregard the rest. I’m not suggesting you stop caring. Rather, learn to become selectively apathetic. Be honest with yourself about what really matters to and motivates you. Otherwise you’ll end up over-investing in the inconsequential. And that’s when you learn that (not) doing what you love is the most dangerous thing of all.

A helpful reminder is to constantly ask yourself, your team and your organization two questions: Will doing this matter a year from now? Why aren’t doing what matters to you right now?

Remember: It’s easy to persist when you know who you are. Are you, on a daily basis, doing stuff that matters?

5. If you’re not fully engaged, don’t bother. In the book Success Built to Last, Jerry Porras wrote, “You can run a marathon at gunpoint, but you probably won’t win the race.” I would also add: Nor will you enjoy running it, and nor will people enjoy watching you struggle through it. Plus you’ll probably ruin your shoes.

Here’s the reality: To last is to require full engagement of all your faculties. The exciting part is, once you learn to enlist everything you’ve got, every time, ample stamina become freely available to you. What are the obstacles you create that hinder full engagement?

6. Grow thicker skin. I used to work with a guy named James. When we met, he was the longest living employee of the company. And not surprisingly, his life philosophy was, “Nothing shocks me but electricity.” Lesson learned: Don’t ignore criticism – but don’t sit there and take it like a punching bag.

It all depends on the source, the validity of the comment made, plus the context in which it was made. That way, you balance thicker skin with bigger ears. That’s the best part: Criticism keeps you in check when it’s right, and keeps you in chuckles when it’s ridiculous. Are you an alligator or a goldfish?

7. Take risks for the right reasons. Otherwise you’re not being risky – you’re being reckless. And that’s when people start to get hurt. That’s when things start to get broken. The challenge is, sometimes you have to jump off the high board even if you’re not sure if there’s any water below.

Fortunately, if you take a risk for the right reasons – and even if you do fail miserably – the process will still transform you. Which means you didn’t (really) fail, just enrolled in an instant education. Will you evolve your desire into a tale of heroism, or wimp out and buy tickets to the What I Should Have Said Theater?

8. Focus on what you want to build. A platform? A brand? A body of work? A reservoir of knowledge? A family? A membership? A following? An empire? A permission asset? A validation squad? A critical mass of interest? A greater sense of client intimacy?

Whatever. It matters less what you build, and more that you build. Truth is: The people who build are the ones who last. Forever. Did you work on your legacy today?

9. Instigate a process of self-reinvention. Otherwise, complacency grows. And where complacency grows, inertia flows. As I learned in Trust Agents, “Reinventing the space you’re in naturally helps you stand out. And as people who stand out redefine the industry they are working in; they have an easier time making a name for themselves.”

The hard part is, you have to give yourself permission to become known for something else. It’s a form of letting go, and it hurts. Now, I’m not suggesting disregarding your early accomplishments; rather, accepting the past as prologue, as the thing that brought here, and constantly evolving into something bigger, better and more valuable.

Remember: In the ongoing battle of sustainability, reinvention is the trigger of advancement. Will you surrender to the next phase of your own evolution or become a prisoner of yesterday’s success?

10. Those who leverage, last. “To increase the rate of return of an investment.” That’s the official definition of the word leverage, although I prefer to think of it as “killing two stones with one bird.” Either way, in my experience as an entrepreneur, leverage is the single smartest strategy for making anything (or anyone) last.

The secret is asking leverage questions. Try these on for size: What is the movement value of this idea? Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? How does this fit in with my theory of the universe? Ultimately, it’s a shift from your current mindset into an awareness plan of constant opportunity. How will you increase the rate of return?

11. Practice good-hearted stubbornness. Notice: Not terminal certainty. Instead: Resolute persistence, paired with commitment to boundaries through self-control and self-discipline – but not at the expense of someone’s respect.

In short: Standing your ground without stepping on people’s toes. If you approach your decision-making process from this perspective, you won’t just last – you’ll outlast the waffling majority of chameleonic pushovers who couldn’t stick to their guns if they took a bath in Elmer’s Glue.

Interestingly, the word “stubborn” comes from the Old English term stybb, which means, “stump of a tree.” Funny. Tree stumps last for hundreds of years. How much longer would you last if you planted your feet firmly in ground of your truth?

REMEMBER: Sustainability is hard.

It requires patience, stamina, persistence and labor.

That’s why not everyone lasts.

I challenge you to incorporate these eleven practices into your daily life so you become one of the people who do.

Otherwise, you’re nothing but a flash in the pan.

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Are you an expression of action?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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How to Make People Hate You

When I was a kid, my dad used to bring me to the trade shows to help set up his booth.

The only problem was, we’d have to get there early.

Like, really early. On a Saturday. When nobody else was there yet. When I should have been in the hotel room watching Voltron.

One day I asked him, “Dad, why do we have to get here so early? And why are you here, opening boxes, getting all dirty and sweaty – you’re the president of the company!”

I’ll never forget what he said to me next:

“Scott, look around at the all the other booths: These are my competitors. And if you watch closely on the day before the trade show, you won’t see any other company presidents setting up the booths.”

“Wow Dad! You mean you arrive here early just to show your employees that you’re not too good to get dirty?”

“Well, that’s part of it. But the real message isn’t to MY employees – it’s to my THEIR employees. Because I want them to look up from their dirty, sweaty boxes, and see ME, the president of the competition, across the aisle, at seven in the morning, on a Saturday – making their president look like a putz. That’s why our company is called Closeouts with Class, Scott: Not just classy products – classy people.”

And that’s how you make people hate you.

Now, allow me to explain.

First of all, people don’t hate my dad.

Secondly, I’m not suggesting you want people to (actually) hate you like they hate, say, Paris Hilton or that guy from the Micro Machines commercial.

MY THEORY IS: Being hated is an indicator of success.

And when I say, “being hated,” I don’t mean that people literally want to cause you bodily harm.

It’s more like resentment. Jealousy. Animosity. All of which stem from envy.

Ultimately, being hated isn’t something you do intentionally TO make a name for yourself; it’s something that happens incidentally AS you make a name for yourself.

Here’s how to make that happen:

1. Ask hater questions. If your competitors don’t (currently) hate you, what could you execute in the next week that would get them to want to strangle you with an orange extension cord? Ask this question to yourself and to your team every Monday morning, you’ll have more haters than you’ll know what to do with.

Then again, you’ll also have more customers than you know what to do with. It’s like my mentor Jeffrey Gitomer says, “When my competitors come to my website, I want them to hate my friggin guts because they know their website is a piece of junk!” Does your competition hate you?

2. Be exceptionally educated. My other mentor, Bill Jenkins, once wrote a sermon called, “The Cost of God’s Gifts.” Oxymoronic as it sounded, his theory was right: Knowledge creates its own enemies.

Not that you should memorize the encyclopedia, get a bunch of degrees and introduce yourself with four acronyms after your last name. Education comes from experience, intelligent reflection upon that experience and disciplining yourself to catalogue what you learned from that experience.

If you do that every day of your life, you’ll become a fountain of wisdom and insight. That people will want to pee in. What did you write yesterday?

3. Be the exception. Nothing pisses people off more than when you refuse to imprison yourself by adopting the illusions they blindly accepted as rules. If only they had your obstinate sense of self-protection. If only.

Sadly, most people are other people. They allow the world to dictate what they want and what’s important to them. You, on the other hand, are the exception to every rule. Or, you change the rules so you can win at your own game. Or, you change the game completely so there are no rules.

Either way, people hate you for that. Well done. What rules don’t you subscribe to?

4. Do what you love. In a recent daily cartoon, Hugh McLeod wrote, “Getting a lot of people to hate you is easy: All you have to do is become really successful at doing something you love.”

Lesson learned: Do what you love and the hatred will follow – from jealous people who aren’t doing what they love, that is.

And if you have a hard time being viewed that way, just remember that you’re nobody until somebody hates you anyway. May as well start now. How many hours of your typical workday are spent doing things you love?

5. Just be different. In Lyn Lofland’s A World of Strangers, she reveals: “We don’t like strangers because their differences threaten to contaminate our sense of self.”

Ever felt that way? That someone resented you just because you were different from them? Good. Every time that happens, pat yourself on the back. You’re on your way. What is your Personal Differential Advantage?

6. Make things happen. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who executes exquisitely and consistently. Especially to the population of the world that spends all their time talking their ideas into the ground.

Your mission is to keep asking, “What’s the next action?” To (not) be stopped by not knowing how. And to keep your entrepreneurial eyes peeled for barriers to execution like hesitation, ambiguity and inertia. What could you make happen by lunch today?

7. Manage to get out. Of a toxic relationship. Of a crappy job. Of a sticky situation. Of a go-nowhere town. Of a downward spiral. Doesn’t matter.

Anytime you rise like a Phoenix from out of the flames – and do so with determination, poise and passion – the people who don’t have the stones to cut their own dirty ropes will resent you to no end.

Because while you managed to get out, they chose to remain stuck. Are you quitting when it’s hard or when it’s right?

8. Promote radical ideas. See if you can identify what the following people have in common: Jesus, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln and John Lennon.

Give up? Try this: They were all, at some point in time, hated or resented for their radical ideas.

Sadly, the other commonality is that they were all, at some point in time, murdered for their radical ideas.

No wonder people are scared to voice their opinion – they might be killed! I guess our society isn’t ready for radical thinking yet. Maybe we’ll give it another two thousand years.

Anyway, I’m not suggesting you change you become a martyr. And I doubt you will be nailed to a cross or burned at the stake for voicing your opinion. I just thought you’d like to know history has proved. What are you willing to suffer for?

9. Pursue your dream persistently and authentically. Let’s turn to the book Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Butts, by Peter McWilliams. He wrote:

“People don’t like to see others pursuing their dreams – it reminds them how far from living their own dreams they are. In talking you out of your dreams, they are taking themselves back into their comfort zone.”

Lesson learned: Let your unflinching pursuit of your dreams be a mirror of other people’s mediocrity. Sure, people might resent you. But know that your persistent and authentic quest will serve as a motivators for people’s own journeys. Is it worth being hated if it jolts people out of their drudgery?

10. Self-confidence threatens weak people. I’ve been wearing a nametag 24-7 for the past ten years. And while it sounds so simple, cool and playful, doing so (actually) requires a tremendous amount of confidence in my personhood, comfort in my own skin and commitment to sticking myself out there.

Is it any surprise that complete strangers walk right up to me in the middle of public places, rip my nametag off and tear into a dozen pieces? Yikes. I guess some people’s sense of self is threatened by a sticker. What response will your self-confidence elicit from others?

11. Smile all the time. It’s weird: Some people don’t think other people deserve to be happy. It’s simply not fair how crappy their lives are, and their misery is itching for company.

That’s why smiling all the time drives people crazy. Especially those terminally negative chumps who convince themselves that it’s easier to be miserable all the time.

Your smile reminds them of how sad their lives really are. Almost like a reverse entitlement attitude and victim mentality combined. My suggestion is: Don’t let this mixture infiltrate your life. It’s more poisonous than cyanide.

Instead, let your happiness – as expressed through your constant smile – contagiously infect those around you. How many people went out of their way to avoid you yesterday?

12. Take truth serum. Want a surefire way to boil people’s blood? Practice radical truth telling, challenge injustice and dispel pleasant myths. This type of honesty makes people nervous. Especially when they’re so used to living in a world of lies.

The reality is: When you walk your truth in a world of mostly (fiction), people notice. They might hate you, but they still notice. And because awareness is always the first step toward mastery, attention is a great first step. How are you branding your honesty?

13. Walk your truth. To quote my favorite book, The War of Art, “We see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived our own.”

Lesson learned: When you walk your truth on a daily basis, it serves as an alarm clock for the inauthentic. And understand that when people see those who hold themselves to a standard they don’t, resentment grows. Do not shrink from this. What are you trading your authenticity for?

One final thought.

In 2005, The Beast published an article called, “50 Most Hated People in America.”

On the list, you can find people like Martha Stewart, George Lucas, Tom Cruise, Donovan McNabb, Johnny Damon, Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Friedman and Michael Jackson.

Now, I’m not here to defend or argue the validity of any of these selections. Nobody on this list is perfect. Especially Oprah.

I just think it’s interesting to note the commonalities:

All of these people are wealthy, successful and well known.
All of these people have pursued – and are pursuing – their dreams.
All of these people are making – or have made – a name for themselves.

Maybe you need to spend less time being liked and more time getting people to hate you.

Because if you’re not pissing off (at least) some people, you’re doing something wrong.

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Who hates you?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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Have You Given Yourself Permission to Do These 43 Essential Things?

1. Give yourself permission to ask for what you need. Expectational clarity is a beautiful thing: It saves time, prevents extra work and lowers the probability of future surprises.

2. Give yourself permission to be a student. Even if you already know everything. Especially if you already know everything. Those who refuse to learn, doth burn.

3. Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. Think of it like a calculus equation: Asymptotic, approaching zero, continuing forever. Never quite hitting the line, but getting microscopically closer every day. That’s a reasonable goal.

4. Give yourself permission to be confused. Being dumb is highly underrated. The challenge is that it requires humility and vulnerability. Not everyone has the courage to muster such forces.

5. Give yourself permission to be disloyal to dysfunctional message-givers. Inherited faith fails. Believe what you believe because you (actually) believe – not because someone told you to believe and you mindlessly followed.

6. Give yourself permission to be happy. You’d be amazed how many people refuse to do so. Almost like they don’t believe they deserve to be happy.

7. Give yourself permission to be human. To be imperfect. To be wrong. To change your mind. To be emotional. To have baggage.

8. Give yourself permission to be impatient. As important as patience is, sometimes you just have to declare, “Screw it – I’m going to Nashville.”

9. Give yourself permission to be scared. Not afraid, but scared. Huge difference.

10. Give yourself permission to be selfish. Totally underrated. Practicing rational, healthy selfishness is oxygen to the soul. As I learned from Honoring the Self, “Practice selfishness in the highest, noblest and least understood sense of the word – which requires enormous independence, courage and integrity.”

11. Give yourself permission to be the best, highest version of yourself. Anything less is dishonest living. Besides, nobody wants the coach version of you – they want first class, all the way.

12. Give yourself permission to be. Probably the hardest task on this list. We’re just so used to “doing” all the time that the prospect of simply “being” is terrifying.

13. Give yourself permission to breathe. It’s ok for people to hear you breathe. Breathing keeps you present. Breathing keeps you relaxed. And developing a healthier relationship with your breath is one of the smartest moves you could make.

14. Give yourself permission to capture and express any idea. Good. Bad. Ugly. Doesn’t matter. True creatives treat all ideas with deep democracy. Capture first, evaluate eventually. That way you don’t suffer from premature cognitive commitment. Order comes later.

15. Give yourself permission to change your mind. You’re human. And like Gandhi suggested, your commitment is to truth – not consistency.

16. Give yourself permission to completely let down your guard and relax. No walls, no worries.

17. Give yourself permission to cry in front of people. Tears demonstrate alignment and honesty. Who wouldn’t want to be around someone like that? Let the water works flow.

18. Give yourself permission to delete things from your life. And, to not feel bad about deleting them. Productivity is a process of elimination.

19. Give yourself permission to disappear. For fifteen minutes or fifteen days. Doesn’t matter. Engaging the off button on a regular basis is essential to your health.

20. Give yourself permission to disregard the inconsequential. Ending your pursuit of the trivial and focusing on stuff that matters is unbelievably liberating.

21. Give yourself permission to divorce toxic people. If they don’t challenge and inspire you, give ‘em the boot. Your time is too valuable.

22. Give yourself permission to do nothing. Unproductive time is productive time. Recharging is essential.

23. Give yourself permission to do something imperfectly. Better done and imperfect than procrastinated and flawless. Nobody’s going to even notice anyway, so what’s the hold up? Remember: My crap is better than your nothing.

24. Give yourself permission to expect nothing. That way, failure is impossible. Pretty cool how that works, huh?

25. Give yourself permission to fail. Regardless of what your boss says – failure IS an option. Not learning from that failure isn’t.

26. Give yourself permission to feel miserable. People who are happy all the time scare me. Makes me wonder if they’re even paying attention to life.

27. Give yourself permission to feel positive about your accomplishments. Especially when your inner critic tries to take the wind out of your sails. A victory is a victory. Celebrate it.

28. Give yourself permission to get lost. GPS is the devil. I can’t imagine a world where it’s impossible to get lost. How else will you learn to trust yourself? How else will you stumble upon fascinating discoveries that the map doesn’t include? Learn to travel without plans.

29. Give yourself permission to go perpendicular to your current activity. It’s the perfect way to engage other areas of your brain and stimulate creativity.

30. Give yourself permission to have (and follow) your crazy ideas. If it’s not crazy, it’s not worth pursuing.

31. Give yourself permission to have a bad day. Fine, so resistance beat you this morning. Big deal. Don’t beat yourself up. When the world says no to you, the first word out of your mouth should be, “Next!”

32. Give yourself permission to indulge occasionally. Otherwise your admirable self-discipline will morph into intolerable self-righteousness.

33. Give yourself permission to laugh out loud. Especially at stupid things most people don’t think are funny. Don’t worry – nobody will think you’re a horrible person. Just a human.

34. Give yourself permission to let it out, man. Fine, so I sing Whitney Houston in the car at full volume. Sue me. It feels great, releases my stress and entertains other drivers. Bet I’m having more fun on the highway than you are.

35. Give yourself permission to live a life of your choosing. This is the polar opposite of allowing other people to dictate what you want.

36. Give yourself permission to live creativity in every part of your life. Creativity isn’t something you do – it’s something you are. And like humor, creativity isn’t something you “add” or “use” or “apply” to your life like hair gel. True creativity is embodied.

37. Give yourself permission to make bad art. How else are you supposed to uncover the good art?

38. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. As long as you learn three things from each one. That’s how it ceases to be a mistake.

39. Give yourself permission to make taking care of your life your top priority. Put yourself at the top of your own list.

40. Give yourself permission to matter. I wrote a helpful guide on doing so here.

41. Give yourself permission to pause. They. Can. Wait.

42. Give yourself permission to quit for the right reasons. Just ask Seth.

43. Give yourself permission to take off your nametag. No labels, no limits.

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Where in your life do you need to give yourself permission?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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11 Ways to Wage a War Against Mediocrity

Being amazing isn’t enough.

The other half of the equation is the willingness to wage a war against mediocrity.

THE CHALLENGE IS: Mediocrity is a form of resistance, and it will pursue you like a hungry Jaguar you see on the Discovery Channel.

It’s time to assemble your armor.

Today I’m going to help you devise a battle plan to banish the bland, nuke the normal and annihilate the average in your personal and professional life:

1. Develop a mediocrity filter. Before publishing, displaying, performing, sharing or shipping your work with the world, ask yourself one simple question:

“Is there any part of this that might be considered normal, boring, average or mediocre?”

If so, rework it. If not, let that baby rip. By virtue of asking the question on a daily basis, you’ll hone the accuracy of your mediocrity radar. Soon, averageness will be a thing of the past. Like phonebooks and Jennifer Aniston. What system could you develop – right now – to prevent mediocrity from surfacing its ugly mug in the future?

2. Violently refuse to become a follower of the common ways of the mediocre masses. Five minutes before taking the stage in front of 4000 people, the speaker scheduled to follow me actually said: “Hey Scott, don’t be too good, OK?” Bewildered, I replied with, “Angela, I’m going to be better than I’ve ever been in my life. Deal with it.”

Lesson learned: Mediocre people will try to bring your average down. Don’t let them. If you allow yourself to get sucked into their vortex of normalcy, you lose. Instead, let your amazingness bring their average up. They’ll thank you. Are you resisting the pervasive pressure to be normal?

3. Mediocrity isn’t an accident. “The only way to get mediocre is one step at a time,” says Seth Godin, “But you don’t have to settle. It’s a choice you get to make every day.”

My question is: Are you still waiting for permission to be remarkable? Or have you make the conscious choice to become a living brochure of your own awesomeness?

That’s the mistake too many people make: Assuming their averageness is an unchangeable default setting. It’s not. You have the choice make the mundane memorable at least fifty times a day. Will you make it?

4. Create a reason for people to remember you. Differentiate even minimally. You’ll find that making the mundane memorable goes a surprisingly long way. Whether it’s the way you answer the phone, the answers your offer to generic questions, or the style of signage outside your office, remarkability isn’t hard – it just requires risk. Which is exactly why most people shrink at the mere thought of it.

The cool part is, it doesn’t matter how remarkable you are – only that you’re remarkable in the first place. And the best part is, those who leave evidence everywhere they go, leave an impression on the world. What kind of breadcrumbs do you leave behind?

5. Run daily audits of your artistic risk paradigm. As a writer, one of the questions I ask myself every day is, “What do I risk is presenting this material?” If the answer is “not much” or “nothing,” I don’t publish it.

Risk and mediocrity are inversely related. Your challenge is to create a similar filter to keep your creative stream free of sludge. What question could you ask yourself – every day – to assure that your work stays risky, but not reckless?

6. Stop tolerating third-rate inconsequentialities. Mediocre people burn their days agonizing over the urgent and irrelevant. Remarkable leaders invest their days cleaving to the vital and important.

Can you guess which of those two people makes real meaning in the universe? Which one are you? If you’re not happy your response, try this: End your pursuit of the trivial. Keep yourself on task to change the world by setting an alarm on your computer that goes off every hour with this message:

“Does the activity you’re spending your time on – right now – matter?”

That should help put boot to ass immediately. What consumes your time that isn’t making you any money?

7. Greet tough times with a welcoming heart. Be thankful when the economic shit hits the fan – that’s when mediocrity is exposed. What’s more, if you view that situation as an example of natural selection, you’ll discover that the purpose of a crisis is to test whether or not you deserve to be in business.

That’s why I love recessions: They renew the resourcefulness of the remarkable while simultaneously allowing the weak to weed themselves out. How’s YOUR economy?

8. Damn the torpedoes! During a political debate I attended in Chicago a few years back, Bill Maher said that while his positions differed from opponent Ann Coulter’s, he still admired her.

“I admire anyone who isn’t afraid of being booed,” Bill told the audience. Then, about half the crowd booed Coulter when she walked on stage. Which I appreciated, since that meant she was far from being mediocre.

Now, while I don’t agree with Coulter’s politics either – I say, good for her for inviting the haters. Are you prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous remarkability AND take arms against a sea of normalcy?

9. Beware of the rising tide of complacency. Not to mention, the wicked undertow that accompanies it. Because if you’re not careful, you may look up from your raft one day and think, “Oh crap! How did I get this far away from shore?”

But by then, it’ll be tool late: Sharks patrol these waters, and they’re hungry. Sure hope you can swim, Michael Phelps. Otherwise complacency – the gateway drug to mediocrity – will enter your bloodstream quicker than you can say, “Mayday!”

Don’t get cocky. Be not self-satisfied with past glory. View the past as prologue, inasmuch as it brought you here – and that’s it. What invisible forces threaten your peace?

10. Refuse to occupy the middle. There’s a great book by Jim Hightower called There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. That title is so good; you don’t even have to read the book. Instead, try asking the following question I ask myself at least ten times daily:

“What could I do – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?”

Soon, you’ll be so far away from the middle that when you look back, it’ll look like a speck of dust. Are you willing to take a side and stand out loudly?

11. Demand perpetual originality. Not newness. Not novelty. And not clever marketing that camouflages lack of substance. Originality. That means being The One. The Answer. The origin, not echo.

Otherwise, if you’re a copy of a copy of a copy, you lose. And you become just another non-entity in the infinite grey mass of blah-blah-blah. Have you decided to make originality habitual?

REMEMBER: Waging a war against mediocrity is all part of being amazing.

Burn the beige.
Void the vanilla.
Banish the bland.
Nuke the normal.
Annihilate the average.

Those are your marching orders.

Get to work, soldier.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is being average costing you?

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For the list called, “18 Marketing Questions to Uncover Uncontested Waters,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to be a Verb

A verb is anything that expresses action or being.

It could be a word, then again, it could also be an idea.

Or a person.
Or a product.
Or an entire organization.

THE POINT IS: Nouns aren’t noticed.

Verbs are remembered.
Verbs are celebrated.
Verbs are significant.

What about you? Are you a verb?

Today we’re going to explore a list of eleven strategies to transform yourself, your ideas and your organization into a big, sexy, voluptuous verb.

1. Nouns are the enemy. A few years back on Seth Godin’s award-winning blog, he posted the following:

“People care much more about verbs than nouns. They care about things that move, that are happening, that change. They care about experiences and events and the way things make us feel. Nouns just sit there, inanimate lumps. Verbs are about wants and desires and wishes.”

Lesson learned: Refuse to live in a state of low-grade vitality. Save that for the nouns of the world. Since you’re a verb, your only option is to live a drudgery-free existence. Otherwise your muscles will atrophy, hampering your ability to make meaning in the universe.

Now, should you wake up one day and find yourself in noun territory – that is, stalemated and unmotivated – don’t beat yourself up. First, determine why you stopped taking action. Next, apply profitable and productive pressure to yourself. Then, respond spontaneously to the world around you and deploy the hell out of yourself. What are you translating into action?

2. Realize what the drug of inaction cheating you out of. We all succumb to the seductive sirens of inertia. And while plunging immediately into the vortex action is a romantic and simple notion, it’s harder than it looks. Especially if you’re addicted to the sweet, safe and snuggly nectar of idleness.

My suggestion: Start with one foot on the boat and one foot on the dock. Then, as your legs stretch farther and farther apart, think about what opportunities you might be cheating yourself out of by refusing to evolve.

It’s a difficult truth to confront yourself with. But sometimes the only way to embrace your exquisite verbiness is to create a deficit position. Are you a prisoner of inertia?

3. Turn your body into a verb. The richest benefits to practicing yoga are the startling similarities between the studio and the world. I’ve only been a student for three years, but I’ve already found that as my mental and physical flexibility increases, as my emotional stamina deepens, and as my bodily movements become more graceful, so it is with my life. Pretty amazing.

And you don’t read about that kind of stuff on the brochure – you just have to try it for yourself. It reminds me of what my friend Chad, a movement educator, once told me over a bowl of gumbo: “An improvement in movement is an improvement in everything.” Are you ready to step forward into the future and beyond the limits of yourself?

4. Most people will wait until they see you in action to believe you. Fine. Let them wait. The longer they wait, the stronger you’ll be when they finally catch a glimpse. And the best part is, when your visible velocity alters people’s pulses, they’ll wonder why they didn’t believe in you in the first place. Suckers.

That’s one of the leading attributes of people and organizations who are verbs: They strike a balance between patient and impatient. They’re willing to take action immediately; but stick around long enough until the laggards come to their senses. If your life depended on taking action, what would you do differently?

5. Backward progress still counts. Sure, it’s a step back, but at least you’re still stepping. Movement – whether backwards, forwards, lateral or diagonal – is necessary. Some people just stand. Those people are called nouns, and they are condemned to irrelevancy.

Verbs radiate in all directions.
Verbs plant the seeds of movement.
Verbs participate with the action of life.

Be one. Be a man of constant action. Let your inner exuberance erupt through your skin. Shine all of your heart into the world and watch it glow like a gas lamp. Are you worrying about the direction of movement when you should be worshiping the derivative of it?

6. Foot service, not lip service. Winners win through swift action, not swell argument. And although I hesitate to draw another simplistic, narrow-minded chalk line that divides the entire human race into two convenient categories, what the hell. Here goes nothing. There are two kinds of people in the world: People who talk shit, and people who do shit.

In short: Nouns and verbs. Decide which one you are. Remember: True success is a function of action taking, not promise making. Are you investing your time in shuffling your feet or flapping your gums?

7. Strike a passionate pose. At the risk of sounding like (yet another) self-help, motivational fluff artist, a verb without passion is nothing but a noun in drag. However, here are a few thoughts about passion that you’ve probably never considered.

First, passion without purpose is pointless. Otherwise your passion becomes nothing but beautiful blazing fire that burns you and everyone you touch. Secondly, ask yourself the following questions to gauge the relevancy of our passion:

*Is your passion cool, but irrelevant to the marketplace?
*Is your passion inherently interesting, but difficult to sell?
*Is your passion intrinsically appealing, but something you suck at?

Keep these thoughts in your mind and you’ll prevent striking a passionate pose that nobody notices. Are you currently operating out of your passion in the most profitable, healthy way?

8. Resist the pressure to take action inconsistent with core values. Earlier you learned about the “seductive sirens of inertia,” and how idleness is the enemy to being a verb. Which is true.

Just remember: Movement for the sake of movement doesn’t matter if it upsets your non-negotiables. Otherwise you become a verb people delete from their vocabulary. After all, nobody wants to hang with someone whose value system changes quicker than a NASCAR pit crew. Are you negotiating the fine line between stillness and exertion?

9. Surrender to the next phase of your own evolution. Earlier this year when I turned thirty, I made the decision (not) to mope around like most people do when their thirtieth birthday comes around. Instead, I memorialized the shift into the next chapter of my life.

I didn’t celebrate my thirtieth birthday – I viewed it as an upgrade to “SDG – 3.0.” I even ordered a hundred orange silicon bracelets to commemorate this life change, which I plan to wear daily until my next birthday.

It’s been a fun experiment. More importantly, I’ve learned a few cool lessons about being a verb: Stay in stride with the upward, progressive movement of your life. Then, with buoyant spirit, with firm foundation and with immediate intent, reorient yourself in new directions. People will notice. Will you use your situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve, or will you use it to beat yourself up?

10. Find the pivot. In physics, a pivot is the object on which something turns. Which means the pivot has paramount significance on any given situation. Especially when it’s time to change direction.

So, as a verb, your challenge is twofold: First, locate the pivot as quickly as possible. And second, move along crisply. Strike out into uncharted territory, springboard into the unknown and navigate like a pro.

Don’t worry: Life has a way of giving you just enough to move forward. Have faith in that, and every step will be a funky adventure. How are you increasing circumference of your life?

11. Be more vehicular. The earliest translation of the word “vehicle” derives from the 1612 French term vehicule, which means, “a medium through which a drug or medicine is administered.”

Cool. Can you imagine how much change you could create in the world, how much meaning you could make in the universe, if you viewed yourself in that way?

It all goes back to the questions, “What were you designed to cure?” and “What are you the answer to?” Practice answering those questions with your actions, every single day, and you’ll be more of a verb than Merriam Webster. What drug do you administer?

For our final thought on verbs, let’s turn to Buckminster Fuller’s 1970 book, I Seem To Be A Verb:

“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.”

REMEMBER: The only way to win is to make better decisions that everyone else.

So, make the decision to express action and being.

Embrace your inner dictionary.

Become a verb today.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you an expression of action?

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For the list called, “11 Ways to Out POSITION Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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8 Ways to be Strategically Impatient

Authors love to pontificate about how many publishers rejected them before they made it big.

Personally, I never chose to participate in that literary pissing contest. I’ve always practiced Miyagi’s Law, which states that the best way to block a punch is to not be there.

Want know how many publishers rejected my book?

None.

Because I did it myself.

In fact, I did it myself eleven times in eight years. That’s more books than some authors publish in their lifetime.

SO: To what strategy do I attribute my supernatural productivity?

Two things.

Number one, I’m single.

No explanation needed there.

But number two, I’m impatient.

And I don’t mean, like, I roll my eyes and huff under my breath at supermarket cashiers who take ten minutes to count my change.

I’m talking about strategic impatience.

Ask any entrepreneur in the world – it’s in our blood.

We don’t wait for things. We just go. We just do stuff.

Today I’m going to challenge you to practice strategic impatience as a viable, profitable approach for achieving your professional goals.

1. What’s next? Without a doubt, these are the two most important words in the impatient professional’s vocabulary. I urge you to ask yourself this question throughout the day to resurrect declining momentum and require forward action.

Now, that doesn’t mean abandon whatever current project requires your attention. It’s like rock climbing: You secure a grip in your right hand while searching for the next hold with your left hand.

Then, as soon as you lock your fingers into place, you swing forward into the next action. Always ascending with one hand secure, but never dwelling on the rocks of the past.

Apply that principle to your professional efforts, and you’ll scale the entrepreneurial mountain in no time. What is your legacy of taking action?

2. Assess the irrelevant – then discard it. From “crazy-idea-for-a-book” to “actually-in-my-hand-so-I-can-smell-the-book,” my first title, HELLO, my name is Scott, took over a year to complete. My second book took two years. My third book took eight months. My fourth book took six months. And now that I’m well past my tenth title, I average about five months a book, or three a year.

What happened? What divine force was at work?

Simple: I learned which corners I could cut.

That meant: No big publishers. No useless planning. No more getting ready to get ready. No more making pointless outlines. No more rewrites. No more soliciting blurbs from “experts” whose testimonials added zero value. No more endless rounds of quasi-editing from unqualified people whose opinions don’t matter anyway. And no more killing myself over the perfection of every single sentence until the book was flawless.

As my layout designer so eloquently put it, “Scott, this is your thirteenth draft. Let it be.”

Whew. What a load off.

Remember: The quicker you decide what doesn’t matter, the less debris stands in your way of execution. If you didn’t spend all your time managing and stressing over counterproductive time-wasters, what might you accomplish?

3. Go it alone. Thoreau was right: “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” That’s the problem with collaboration. Or teams. Or partnerships. Or committees. The more people you have, the longer it takes to move.

Not that you should be opposed to working with others. No man is an island. But don’t allow your dreams to be realized at a significantly slower pace because you’re too busy looking over your shoulder. That’s how once-great ideas fizzle.

Sadly, since day one of preschool, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that teamwork is the secret. That working together is the answer.

This is a force-fed fairytale that’s annihilating your ability to execute.

Ultimately, your romantic notion of the value of teams is shooting you in the foot. He who travels alone travels fastest. How much money are you losing by waiting for somebody you don’t even like?

4. Put yourself out of your misery. Waiting can feel like a slow death. Especially at the dentist. But inasmuch as patience is a virtue – and I consistently practice this idea in many domains of my life – impatience can also be a huge victory. Especially when practiced purposely.

Interestingly, the root of the word “patience” is pati, or, “to suffer.” Which means the word “impatience” literally means, “without suffering.”

That’s the freeing part. When you give yourself permission to be impatient, you end your own suffering. The secret is creating a deficit position for yourself by honestly asking questions like:

*If you don’t do this – will the world end?
*How much money is being (too) patient costing you?
*Are the tasks on today’s agenda worthy of your life?
*What is the need for perfection preventing you from doing, being and having?

Admit it: It’s time to grab your shotgun, walk patience out to the barn and put that little bastard out of its misery. Are you willing stop waiting and swing into action?

5. Develop massive intolerance for the inconsequential. As long as I’m pitting against timeless virtues, I may as well talk smack about tolerance too. So, no offense to the Dalai Lama, but what a crock. Tolerance? Yet another veil that needs to be pulled back.

Naturally, I’m not talking about tolerating people of difference cultures. Rather, I’m refereeing to the intolerance for:

Senseless barriers and constraints. Non-stop interruptions. Delay and opposition. The need to get approval or permission. The illusion that you have to be “amazing” or “experienced” or “ready.” The fairytale that you need to know what you’re doing.

Tolerating any of these things will not bring you closer to your dream. Ever. What unnecessaries are you courageous enough to commit a hate crime against?

6. Tap into your natural sense of urgency. Because I was born in 1980, you might suspect that my impatience is a generational attribute. And I think there’s some truth to that.

Still, inasmuch as my generation favors the A.D.D., instant-gratification, hyperspeed mindset, I’d say impatience is more of an entrepreneurial bent.

Here’s proof.

Consider Dr. Edith Martin, born in the 1950’s, whose resume will astound you: Doctoral Graduate of Georgia Tech, former VP of Boeing’s High Technology Center and CIO of the DC-based satellite system, Intellesat.

In a recent alumni newsletter, she said the following: “Impatience is an important part of being an entrepreneur. The complement of impatience is motivation. It’s having a vision of what can be done, having a desire to realize that vision, and not being tied to how things occur traditionally – but a willingness to break new ground. That’s willingness, not a need – just willingness. And you don’t do it just for its own sake.”

Lesson learned: Even if you’re not thirty years old, and even if you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur, you can still embrace restless expectation, eagerness for change and be raring to go. What do you need to give yourself permission to stop waiting for?

7. Learn to dislike anything that causes delay. Delay is injustice. Especially when you’re changing the world, which I imagine you are. The trick is to (either) discard anything that looks like a delay before it consumes your clock; or to plan for delay by execute multiple projects simultaneously.

For example, I have writer colleagues who stalemate themselves by only working on one book at a time. “Well, I haven’t gotten much writing done this month since my new book is being edited…”

Bullshit. Why aren’t you working on your next book in limbo? Do you think your current book is going to get jealous?

Books don’t have feelings – they have ink. And the opposite of impatience isn’t patience – it’s idleness.

Get in the habit of asking yourself, “What essential tasks can I accomplish while I’m waiting?” Soon, the only delays you’ll experience are the long lines at the bank when you’re depositing your checks. How will you leverage wait time to take massive, productive and immediate action?

8. Victory fuels impatience. In 2009, Bill and Melinda Gates made a historic presentation to the US Government entitled, Living Proof. During her opening remarks, Melinda said the following:

“The world is getting better – but not fast enough. Unfortunately, it’s not getting better for everyone. But we’ve seen the living proof that global healthcare really can work. And that’s the kind of thing that makes us impatient optimists.”

What about you? I wonder what would happen if you pinpointed a little living proof in your body of experience to prove the payoff of impatience. How could you reinforce that proof to fuel your immediate progress?

REMEMBER: Patience might be a virtue – but impatience pays the mortgage.

Stop waiting.

Just go.

The Dalai Lama will forgive you.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is being impatient costing you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

NametagTV: Catapulting Customer Love

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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Are You Making Meaning in the Universe?

Significance is the sweetest success.

Sure, making millions is nice for the wallet; but making meaning in the universe is necessary for the soul.

That’s what you, as an entrepreneur, thought leader or artist are seeking.

To count.
To matter.
To be significant.
To leave your mark.
To make a name for yourself.

Otherwise you reside in the hell of meaninglessness; which, from what I hear, charges a pretty sick rent. Plus the carpet smells like cat pee.

Instead, consider these ideas for making meaning in the universe:

1. Practice unrelenting single-mindedness. When you choose focus over fuzziness, making meaning in the universe becomes a natural byproduct. Take SMT, or Single Mindedness Theory, for example. I learned this concept from Salaimartin and Mulligan, two scientists who are smarter than me.

Their work explains Single Mindedness as: “The groups of people who are more able to focus on the minimum number of issues to gain greater power, thus enabling them to eventually get what they require.”

The universal secret is asking yourself focusing questions:

*What daily energy keeps you from keeping focused?
*How much time are you wasting (not) focusing on your priorities?
*Are you subconsciously keeping yourself busy to avoid the important?
*How much time are you spending on things that diffuse your focus and hamper your goals?

Self-probes like these help you stick a stake in the ground. Even if that means polarizing a few people, even if that means sweating in obscurity before you can cry in the spotlight. Each of those realities is payment for making meaning in the universe. After all, it’s awfully hard to resist a man on a mission. What do you have to give up to focus single-mindedly on what will set you apart?

2. Specialize in the impossible. Here’s how: First, think back to the last time you (or your organization) accomplished something most people told you was impossible. Second, ask yourself what steps you took – and what mindsets you maintained – to accomplish those impossible goals. Next, extract one-sentence lessons you learned from each experience into a bullet point list.

Finally, have your graphic designer convert that list into a one-page PDF that can be used as a handout, marketing piece or free download. You might even title it, “How We Specialize in the Impossible.” It’s a great reminder. People will notice. People will talk. And making meaning in the universe won’t seem so impossible. What do you think used to be impossible that has now become probable?

3. Trust that there is a place for your gifts in the world. Otherwise, why else would you have them? To impress your dog? Come on. Your dog is impressed when you fart. Look: You’re amazing at something for a reason. And you’ve been given your own plot of soil to cultivate.

Your challenge is to unite those inner elements and regift your originality to the world. Because whether or not you believe it, the world needs to hear your voice. So, go give it a chance to sing. Don’t be the annoying girl in the back of the karaoke bar who, every week, violently refuses to drag her lazy ass up on stage.

Sing. Sing your heart out. Sing like Whitney in The Bodyguard. Show the world what you can be at your best, and your voice will be the great maker of meaning. What corner of the universe is yours to transform?

4. Make a public and purposeful choice to play big. I started wearing a nametag twenty-four seven in 2000. I started my career as a writer, speaker and entrepreneur in 2002. But my company didn’t start to see profit until 2005. Why?

Well, success does take time. You’d be hard pressed to find a wealthy entrepreneur to disprove that argument. But what’s really spooky is that the year I finally started making real money – and, more importantly, making real meaning in the universe – was the same year I finally sacked up and got the nametag tattooed on my chest.

Lesson learned: When you publicize your willingness to commit with both feet – that is, to commit enough so you can’t turn back – providence will move to orchestrate the perfect conditions. And at that point, making meaning in the universe will be an unavoidable result. Is your commitment unquestionable?

5. Decide what are you doing this in the name of. Whether you’re an artist, entrepreneur or non-profit warrior, without a why, the what and the how become irrelevant. So, before you progress any further in your quest, I challenge you to unite with a higher order by thinking these items over:

*What were you mandated to cure?
*What are you on a mission to eradicate?
*What cosmic injustice have you committed to fighting?

That’s your currency. Your fuel. Your why. Root yourself in it. Otherwise your efforts remain hollow and misdirected. Why do you want to make meaning in the universe?

6. Loosen your grip on life. One of the reasons you’re not making enough meaning in the universe is because you’re blinded by the illusion that you control it. You don’t. You can only respond to it attractively. The hard part is letting go of your need to run the show. Consider auditing your control tendencies as follows.

First: Calculate how much time and energy you’re wasting on things over which you have absolutely zero control. Then re-prioritize.

Second: When circumstances are beyond your control, choose to experience them differently.

Third: If things you can’t control are controlling your life, discover what about your situation (is) within your control – that you can realistically change – and change that.

Remember: The minute you stop trying to control life and start allowing it to flow abundantly through you, meaning will make itself. Do you actually think you can go on controlling life indefinitely?

7. Go looking for trouble. Victory goes to the highly imaginative, the infinitely curious the partially insane. Therefore: Turn over lots of rocks. Be a hunter of patterns and explorer of problems. Become a pillar of curiosity and a ceaseless asker of stupid questions.

Instead of making waves – make a tsunami. And instead of rocking the boat – capsize that mofo. These actions will help you figure out what you’re the answer to. What you’ve been designed to cure. Just try not to end up in jail. Unless you’re Nelson Mandela or Hurricane Carter, making meaning in the universe is tough to do from a cell. What did you disturb this week?

8. Stop wasting your brilliant mental effort on negativity. When you misuse your energy like this, you don’t make meaning – you make people want to slap you. Plus, if you deplete your energy by staying mad at the world for not giving you what you want, you won’t have any resources left to actually get what you want.

Next time you feel the ghost of Debbie Downer rattling the chains of your heart, ask yourself questions like:

*How can I find this situation funny?
*What might I have done to invite this misfortune upon myself?
*How can I use this to become more of the person I want to become?

Remember: When you find purpose in your pain, it morphs into wisdom. What are you turning your problems into?

9. Success is more than one right decision. I learned this lesson on a recent flight from Tokyo to Atlanta, where I had the pleasure of sitting next to Brian Littrell from The Backstreet Boys. I thought his philosophy was brilliant in its simplicity. Especially coming from a guy who sold 100 million records.

“We’ve been around for seventeen years,” Littrell said, “and we’re the only boy-band left. We must be doing something right.”

Remember: Significance is incremental. Cumulative. One pebble at a time. Be patient as your mountain of meaning piles up. How do you make decisions?

10. Walk where no path exists. Forget what the sign says about preserving the landscape. To make meaning, you must leave tracks. Muddy ones. As long as you remember these four words: Move with more speed.

JFK articulated those very words in 1961 during a famous television interview with Sander Vanocur. “It’s either that,” he said, “or sit and wait while the world around you collapses.” Take your pic. Do you follow the path already taken, or go where there is no path and leave a trail?

11. You must learn to command attention. It’s impossible to make meaning unless you own (some) of the spotlight. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your private life. And that doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever.

But making meaning is a function of followership. And the more attention you attract, the more of it you can ultimately make. Without that attention and visibility, you’re just winking in the dark. How are you constantly renewing your membership to the limelight?

REMEMBER: Success without significance sucks.

If you (truly) want to count, to matter, to make a name for yourself, execute these practices today.

And if you need me, I’ll be here, in my office, specializing in the impossible.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you making meaning in the universe?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “For the list called, “7 Ways to Out Leverage Your Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to be a Pillar of Curiosity

Curiosity might have killed the cat – but it also made me a lot of money.

Show me a person who isn’t curious, and I’ll show you a fundamentalist, mindless, lifeless human being whose brain, heart and soul never expand.

HERE’S THE REALITY: History proves time and time again that the most successful, most celebrated and most influential people on the planet were the ones who asked dangerous questions despite overwhelming efforts to silence their enthusiasm and deflect their curiosity.

You need to be one of those people.

Here’s a list of sixteen daily practices for becoming a pillar of curiosity:

1. Start by (actually) caring. The word “curious” comes from the Latin cura, which means, “to care.” That means your mission is simple: Practice caring what things are, why things are and how things are. Even if you’re not all that interested.

Curiosity doesn’t discriminate. That’s why it’s called curiosity: It’s an equal opportunity explorer, treating all experiences with deep democracy. Start there and you’ll be ahead of 50% of the uncurious world. Simple but not easy. Do you have the courage to care?

2. Embrace the muscle of huh. Two ways: First, the Scooby Doo approach. That’s when you tilt your head at a curious experience, think, “Huh?” with the utmost surprise.

Second, the Edward Debono approach. That’s when you squint your eyes ever so slightly and mutter, “Huh…” as if your mind was just sent off to the creative races. Both are necessary fibers of the same muscle. Are you flexing them?

3. Scanning.Learn to find interest in anything. See yourself in everything. Study ordinary things intently and unfold and reveal the things most people wouldn’t think to capture. Plug whatever you perceive into the equations of your theory of the universe.

Ask yourself how it relates to you, why it’s interesting, how it’s an example or symbol of something that’s important to you. What mundane things do you find fascinating?

4. Refuse to discard hunches. Cherish all moments of brow furrowing. That means you’re seeing something. I urge you to (always) trust that peripheral perception. To remain awake to (and respect the integrity of) the words and ideas and experiences that seize you and refuse to let you go until you’ve given them careful consideration.

Remember: The most important three words of curiosity: “Now that’s interesting…” Are you stalking your hunches to the point of restraining orders?

5. Become a questionnaire. He who asks the most questions, wins. If someone stops you mid-sentence and says, “You sure ask a lot of questions!” congratulations, Curious George.

On the other hand, if that never happens to you, consider the following exercise: Stop making to-do lists and start making to-ask lists. It’s a paradigm shift. It’s hard to do. But it’s worth it. Are you a human question mark?

6. Dare to be dumb. Sherlock Holmes once said, “There’s nothing more elusive than an obvious fact.” I say, “There’s nothing less attractive than a person suffering from terminal certainty.” Either way, it pays to ask the questions most people would avoid for fear of looking stupid.

It’s like Shawn Mullins sings in Shimmer, “I’d drink a whole bottle of my pride and toast to change.” Are you willing to forego having all the answers?

7. Explore, then consider. Believe what you believe because you investigated the truth and decided (by yourself) to believe – not because someone told you to believe and you mindlessly followed. It’s like Seth Godin once said during a speech, “The opposite of fundamentalism is curiosity.”

Your challenge is to resist rule captivity. To ask the world if this is really a rule, or some mindlessly accepted pseudo-truism used by dangerous people who want to control you. Remember: If there’s no sign, it’s not a rule. Are you a fundamentalist or a curiosityist?

8. Speak in curiosity-based prefixes. For example: “I wonder what would happen…?” “What if…?” “Wouldn’t it be fun/cool/crazy to…?” “Have you ever thought about…?”

These phrases marshal curious forces, turn questions into quests and reinforce the right mindset needed to become a pillar of curiosity. Practice them daily and soon they’ll become second nature. Are you using curious language?

9. Keep a running list of questions. I’ve been adding new questions to my list daily for the past eight years. I’m up to about seven thousand. More importantly, I’ve created a classification system for my questions. This enables me to search and find (within about ten seconds) the exact question I need for the myriad situations I experience, write, consult, coach or speak about.

It’s truly one of the most valuable intellectual assets I possess. That’s why I rarely show it to anybody, keep it password protected and back it up monthly. How many questions are on your list?

10. Run sentence completion Google searches. I do this every day. It’s a fantastic research tool that’s easy, quick and fun to do. For example, let’s say you were writing an article on safe driving. Google the phrases “Safe drivers always” and “Safe drivers never.”

The answers that populate will stimulate your brain, answer your questions and propel your creativity. Are you googling strategically?

11. Stop making an ass out of you and me. Three truths: (a) Curiosity is the foundation of creativity, (b) creativity is nothing but active listening, and (b) active listening is blocked by assumptions. Therefore: Assumptions murder curiosity. If you want to stop them dead in their tracks, consider running regular assumption audits for yourself or your organization.

Ask questions like: What assumptions are operating here? What is the history behind our assumptions? What are we assuming that may be hurting us? What are we assuming that might be stopping us? What are we assuming that is preventing us from thinking well? Are we assuming that could be limiting our ideas here?

When you dismantle old assumptions, you rebuild new profits. Are you open to examining the assumptions behind your reasoning?

12. Dwell in situation novelty. Learn to freeze the fodder that surrounds you. Here’s how: When you see something, take a Mental Polaroid of it. Then clothespin it onto your psyche for further evaluation. Slowly, as it freezes, view it from all angles.

Walk 360 degrees around it. With a Davinci-like thumb on your chin, investigate it. Ask it questions. Poke it a little. Tease it apart and gently untangle its essence. Rip its clothes off, strip it of every outer layer until its naked truth plops down on that imaginary interrogation chair, staring at you. Sharon Stone style. Are you freezing your observations?

13. Commence an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. This is known as curiosita, according to Michael Gelb’s book, How to Think Like Leonardo Davinci. That’s what Davinci practiced, and he created the Renaissance. Not bad.

I wonder what would happen if you gave yourself permission to be curious in every domain of your life. Who knows? You could create the next cultural movement. Worst-case scenario: Your creativity triples. Sounds like a win/win to me. What’s your personal philosophy about curiosity?

14. Remain aggressively skeptical. Grow in your willingness to keep looking, even when you think there’s nothing left. When you leave your brow never (fully) unfurrowed; and when you expect to find more – you will. Curiosity is always rewarded. Always.

Just ask those pesky kids from Scooby Doo. Remember: There’s a fine line between aggressive skepticism and annoying cynicism. Which side of that line do other people believe you’re on?

15. Engage multiple senses. Ace Ventura comes to mind. As a pet detective, he practiced vigorous curiosity by touching, smelling, even tasting all the relevant evidence in his cases.

Sure, it appeared disgusting, peculiar and unprofessional to the pet’s owners. But Ace always got his man. Or in this case, man’s best friend. Are you tapping your sensory powers to heighten curiosity?

16. Follow your curiosity. Curiosity alone fails. It must be augmented with exploration, reflection and documentation. Otherwise you’re just a really tall five year-old. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hell, we could learn volumes from those little rug rats.

But five year olds don’t have mortgages. You do. And because curiosity drives profitability, make sure you’re not just asking a bunch of clever questions and then calling it a day. Explore. Reflect. Document. Repeat. Every day. Is your curiosity more than just a mental one trick pony?

REMEMBER: Curious people count.

Be one of those people, and you can buy all the cats you want.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What did you explore yesterday?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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Are You Profitably Patient or Destructively Passive?

There’s nothing more threatening to the competition than someone who isn’t going anywhere.

It’s like Indiana Jones said in The Last Crusade: “I’m like a bad penny – I always turn up.”

The tricky part is negotiating the fine line between patience and passivity.

Here’s how:

1. Practice natural selection. My friend Josh is a professional poker player. He practices dangerous patience in a brilliant way:

“Once I buy into an online tournament, I wait twenty minutes before playing a single hand. Not to study the current players, but to let the weak weed themselves out. Otherwise I might get sucked into their undertow of careless amateurism and make a costly mistake.”

In business and in life, the same goes for you: The longer you wait, the higher the quality of the remaining players. Darwin was right. How much self-control are you willing to practice?

2. People who tell you to “work smart, not hard,” are lazy. Working hard (or smart, for that matter) isn’t enough. You have to work hard, work smart and work long. That’s the trifecta of success nobody wants to face because it involves more sweat and less sleep. Most people want the proven formula of how to “do more in less time with less stress and zero money.”

Sorry, Captain Shortcut. Doesn’t work that way. Life is marathon – not a sprint. Sure, you might see some success in the first few laps. But if you’re solely functioning on a steady diet of “work smart, not hard,” eventually you’re going to get creamed.

You have to pay your dues and take your lumps like everyone else. Otherwise your weak foundation will not sustain you. What fairy tails have you been poisoned by?

3. Remember the Galatians. “Let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap a great harvest if we faint not.” My mentor first shared this scripture with me when I was a sixteen, and it’s guided my patience ever since. The painful part, of course, is having faith.

Especially in the beginning when you’ve got zero proof that this principle actually works. When everybody you know is becoming more successful than you, faster than you. And you’re sitting there, KNOWING you work just as hard – if not harder – and deserve the same success.

All I can say is: Hang in there. The playing field levels out eventually. And as you watch the truth of this statement play out, you’ll achieve the small victories necessary to fuel your patience. And when that time comes, you’ll accelerate into pole position while all of the hacks, one-hit-wonders and bullshit artists fall to the wayside. Will you faint not?

4. Patience isn’t idleness. Every time I submit a manuscript to my editor, I expect (not) to see that book for about a month. My ritual is to spend those next four weeks organizing the architecture of my next book while I’m waiting. And since I write for four to seven hours a day, every day, I’m usually about five books ahead of my publishing schedule.

Your challenge is to get into the habit of asking yourself, “What essential tasks can I accomplish while I’m waiting?” And I don’t mean checking your Crackberry six times while waiting in line at the post office. Rather, calculating a rough estimate of how long you need to wait. Weeks? Months? Years?

Then, leveraging that time to take massive, productive and immediate action. This enables you to be patient in one arena while simultaneously impatient in another. That’s called killing two stones with one bird. How patient can you afford to be?

5. Patience is wisdom. By waiting, you let other people screw up first. That way you learn from their failures, which helps prevent making the same mistakes in your own life. I learned this from my older brother when I was growing up. When we were in high school, he’d sneak out of the basement window, stay out past curfew, even throw parties when my parents were out of town.

Sometimes he got away with it; sometimes he got grounded for two weeks. Either way, I made mental notes of his victories and failures to strategically prepare my future adolescent delinquencies. How could you learn what (not) to do by silently watching others pay tuition?

6. Keep moving until the right action arises. Otherwise perfectionism will insist you wait for something that never comes. The secret is striking a balance between dangerous patience and profitable impatience. For example, my morning ritual as a writer is to spend twenty minutes dumping, puking and emptying my mind on paper before I do anything else. No deleting, no editing and no thinking.

Most of what I write is complete and utter garbage with occasional spacklings of nonsensical drivel. The cool part is, once I’ve cleared away the crap, my best, highest, bloodiest and most creative ideas come to the surface. It just takes a while. Kind of like drawing a bath: The faucet defaults to cold for a few minutes before the hot water comes out. Patient, yet impatient.

Your challenge (especially if you’re not a writer) is to figure out where your bathtub is. Where can you keep moving (while overlooking quality) until the right action arises?

7. The strong wait. Self-control. Self-discipline. That’s what it takes to be dangerously patient. And every time the clock seems to be moving in reverse, keep saying to yourself, “The longer it takes, the stronger I’m gonna be when I get there.” Besides, you might not even be ready to handle success yet. Like when my first book came out in 2002 and was featured on CNN and USA Today, yet I had no idea how to leverage that coverage.

Or in 2006 when I was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and became so stressed out that my left lung collapsed. Lessons learned, but what a waste. It’s like my mentor reminds me, “The greatest relationship tragedy is finding the person you want to marry before you’re ready.” What about you? Are you willing to forego short-term gratification for long-term fulfillment?

8. Be in it for the long haul. One of the professional mantras I live by is, “It’s only a matter of time.” Here’s why this will work for you: Based on how smart/hard/long you work, based on your personal constitution, and based on the secret weapon of your attitude, you’ll soon become confident that certain payoffs; victories and accomplishments will inevitably come to pass.

It’s statistical probability, and it’s only a matter of time. This mindset is a result of two things: Self-believe and stick-to-it-ive-ness. Because you’re not going anywhere. And every day, you’re only going to get stronger and better. Is that the way you talk to yourself?

OK. Before I finish, one caveat:

Don’t be patient for the wrong reasons.

Although patience can be extremely profitable, four caveats exist.

1. Be careful not to wait so long that it becomes too late to take action. Patience isn’t a virtue if it’s really procrastination in disguise.

2. Beware of investing valuable time waiting for something that’s never going to get better. Any number multiplied by zero is still zero.

3. Don’t expend all your energy patiently getting better at something that isn’t useful. Like getting a tutor so you can earn a degree in philosophy.

4. If being patient IS the smart choice for you, do plan to go the whole hog. Going through all the trouble (and time) to get halfway there is a waste.

REMEMBER: It’s a dangerous proposition for your competition to realize that you aren’t going anywhere.

Yes, taking a long time to do something is often necessary, but rarely admirable.

But as Einstein once said, “I’m not smarter than anybody else – I just stick with it longer.”

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you dangerously patient or destructively passive?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the ebook called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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