Don’t Even Think About Sending Another Message to Your Customers Until You’ve Asked These Nine Questions


According to a 2009 Microsoft Security Report, that’s the percentage of sent emails that are unwanted.

THINK ABOUT IT: If you add up all the spam you received yesterday, plus the hundred or so emails you received from people you don’t know selling you things you don’t want, plus the additional hundred emails from customers, coworkers, superiors, employees, friends and family members that were completely inconsequential and utterly irrelevant to your life, I’d say 97% is fairly accurate.

BUT HERE’S THE QUESTION THAT MATTERS: What’s your strategy for being part of the 3%?

Whether you’re emailing, conversing, tweeting or texting, what – specifically – are you doing to make sure your message don’t end up in the trash?

ANSWER: Not enough.

Today, you’re going to create a filter to make sure your messages are sent in a respectful, approachable and value-driven manner. We’ll explore nine questions to ask yourself before you press the “send” button.

NOTE: As you read them, keep two caveats in mind:

First, don’t ask every question before you send every message. Especially if you’re just pinging somebody who works down the hall. That would either drive you crazy or drive your productivity into the ground. The secret is to increase your awareness of the principles behind these questions.

Secondly, this isn’t about emailing. In fact, emailing is quickly approaching irrelevancy. Ever met someone under twenty-two? They don’t email. According to the students I know, “Email is the new snail mail.” In short: This is about respect. This is about smart communication. And this is about being (not just) approachable – but e-proachable.

I challenge you to think about other channels of communication besides email – Skype, texting, conference calls, meetings, online messaging – where these same ideas can be applied.

1. Have I demonstrated a valid reason for my persistence? The real secret isn’t just being persistent – but demonstrating a valid motivation for your persistence. Otherwise you come off as pushy.

Lesson learned: Set expectational clarity immediately. Punch people in the face with your purpose. Be respectful and intelligent enough to state your reason for messaging within the first two lines or first two seconds.

2. Does this message prove that I care? You can’t bastardize “caring” into a technique. There’s no formula. There’s no handbook. There’s no seven-step system. And it’s not about doing it the right way – it’s more about your willingness to care, you awareness of caring, and consistency with which you do care.

Suggestion: Respond to people’s emotions first. Lead with empathy. Put your person before your profession. It’s amazing: In our increasingly loud, fast and busy world, caring is almost so rare it’s become remarkable. Give it a try.

3. Did I lay a foundation of affirmation? Any message with a fundamentally affirmative orientation is more openable, digestible and memorable. Here are three quick line items:

First, substitute unnecessary apologies for “Thank you.”

Second, preface your answers to inquiries with, “Awesome question!” “Thank God somebody finally asked me that!”

Third, use the two words human beings love more than anything: “You’re right!”

Even if you’re sending an message to inform a guest that his room won’t be ready until they finish scraping the curry stains off the ceiling from last night’s goat sacrifice, these Phrases That Payses insert positivity into even the most negative situations.

4. Is my message low-carb? Joe Friday was onto something. “Just the facts, ma’am” isn’t a one-liner – it’s a lifestyle. Take it from him: Get to the point. Cut to the chase. Don’t waste sentences. Instead, run your message through the filter of MCI, or meaningful concrete immediacy.

Meaningful meaning relevant to the recipient.
Concrete meaning concise and low-carb, aka, “all meat – no potatoes.”
Immediacy meaning applicable and actionable now.

No jargon. No outdated metaphors, bromides or unclear analogies. Zero into the heart of the matter.

5. How have I appealed to self-interest? More specifically: What drives this person? What is this person’s success seed? What is the key to this person’s heart? Who does this person need to look good for? What does this person’s self-interest hinge upon? What could I say in my voicemail that would absolutely piss this person off more than anything?

These are the questions you need to answer to figure out what this person needs to hear to want to hear more.

6. What subject line, header or hook would make me want to open this? Probably something interesting, curious and creative that does not resemble spam in any way. Openable, listenable messages need to appeal to the emotions – and occasionally, the ego – of the other person.

For example, whenever I read a new book that rocks, I email the author. Every time. Normally, my subject line is something like, “13 cool things I learned from reading your book.”

What author could resist? I’m an author myself, and if someone wrote me an email with that subject line, I’d pull over on the side of the interstate just to learn how awesome I am. Next time you send a message, think about what you could say – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite as everyone else.

7. If I waited twenty-four hours to send this message, what would change? Unless it’s a time sensitive issue, consider waiting a day before you press the send button. Maybe you’d edit the message. Maybe you’d completely change the message. Maybe you’d reconsider sending the message at all.

“What a difference a day makes” isn’t a cliché – it’s a reality. Think about it: When’s the last time you heard your coworker say, “Damn it! I really should have overreacted sooner!”

8. Does this email that I’m about to send demonstrate a deep respect for the other person’s most precious commodity? I get a few hundred emails a day. And I’m constantly amazed – almost to the point of being entertained – how often I receive emails from complete strangers who have zero respect for my time.

I’m sorry, but if we’ve never met before, and you can’t tell me what you want in five sentences or less, I’m going to delete your email. Nothing personal. I’m sure you’re a very nice person. And I’m sure your seven hundred word anecdote about how you wound up working in the adult diaper business is a fascinating tale.

But I have books to write.

And I have no remorse about pressing the delete button on a message sent by someone who forgot to press the respect button.

9. What value am I delivering by sending this? If you can’t answer this question, you lose before you even press the send button. Most communications fall under two categories: Value or vanity. Which word describes your messages? Hopefully the latter. Because the goal is to help the other person in a way that she would consider to be substantial.

For example, one of the practices I personally employ on a daily basis is to send a continuous flow of education. Not just information. Any schmo can do that. You need to be a broker of wisdom – an impulsive and compulsive finder and messenger of truth. And you have a responsibility to deliver that truth in a three-dimensional, educational way.

REMEMBER: Whether you’re communicating via email, text, Skype, DM or instant messenger, the rules are all the same.

Be mindful.
Be respectful
Be e-pproachable.

And if you keep these questions in the back of your mind before sending your next message, you’ll earn a spot at the top of your customers’ minds when they receive it.

What’s your filter for sending messages to your people?

For the list called, “20 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

The Nametag Guy Live: Workshop Clips from The Smart Jewelry Show, April 2010

How are profiting from insanity?

For the list called,”11 Ways to Out Market the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Create an Unfair Advantage for Yourself without Taking Steroids

Life isn’t fair.

You’ve been told this since you were a kid.

I’m here to tell you something different.

But don’t worry.

I’m not suggesting you cheat.
I’m not suggesting you commit a crime.
I’m not suggesting you pump your veins full of steroids.

JUST REMEMBER: You can play the “life isn’t fair card” and wallow in your self-pity, or, make a conscious to join forces with the unreasonableness of life.

Here’s how to create an unfair advantage for yourself:

1. Study your advantage carefully – it’s not what you think it is. I’ll never forget the day my mentor pointed out my unfair advantage. Completely blindsided me. I thought my advantage (as a writer, speaker, entrepreneur) was based on volume alone. But Arthur explained to me that volume +velocity was the real differentiator.

“Scott, your biggest advantage is that nobody can keep up with you,” he said. “That’s what you bring to the table. You are dangerously prolific. You will out execute anybody. Nobody who does what you do can do what you do, as fast as you can do it. And nobody who does what you do can do what you do, as much as you can do it. And even if they could, they won’t.”

Thanks to a pair of unbiased eyes, Arthur helped pinpoint my unfair advantage: That my velocity and volume are unmatched and uncopyable. That it’s not about intellectual property – it’s about executional velocity.

Your challenge is to gather feedback from dispassionate observers. Ask people with no stake in your company what they think your unfair advantage is. You might be surprised. How are you immune from imitation?

2. Unfair means committing to being the best. Actively seeking reasons for your mediocrity – then defending them to the death with twisted logic – is a one-way ticket to failure. Instead, think about the one task, that if you could do exceptionally well, could propel forward in your business.

Then, ask two questions: What is the next step in becoming remarkably proficient in your ability to perform that task? What three people need to experience you performing that task in person?

Remember: As Seth Godin wrote in The Dip, “Average is for losers. Quit or be exceptional.” Are you spending your time searching for excuses for poor performance, or investing your time in becoming a better performer?

3. Develop deep domain experience. Meet entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, Mark Suster. A recent post on his blog suggested the following:

“You never really have a handle on the minute details of the industry until you’ve lived in it,” Mark writes. “That’s where domain experience comes into play. It brings wisdom and relationships. This gives your business a faster time to market, a better designed product, more knowledge of your customers problems – a higher likelihood of success.”

Now, obviously you can’t change the past. So, if you’re short on domain experience, find someone who’s been there. Pursue a mentoring or advisory relationship. Hell, pay them if you have to. Nothing wrong with investing a few thousand bucks in an unfair advantage.

Just remember: Don’t drown yourself. “Too much domain experience has the potential to harm you,” says Suster. “You might become cynical of all the things that can’t be done because you’ve got the scars to prove it.” How will you out experience the competition?

4. Diminish your unwillingness. Marathon junkies frequently train in Colorado to practice running at higher altitudes. This gives them an advantage over the competition when running in, say, Boston, two months later.

But it’s not being unfair – it’s being geographically strategic. It’s training smart. And it’s going the extra mile (no pun intended) to excel beyond the mediocre masses. Whether you’re an athlete, entrepreneur or artist, you can’t just pound the treadmill in your living room while catching up on season three of Lost.

You’ve got to get out there, practice with distractions and make yourself better. Even if you have to climb a mountain to do so. How are you leaving the pack in your dust?

5. Pork isn’t white meat – it’s green money. The best way to bring home the bacon is to raise your own pigs. Let me say that again: The best way to bring home the bacon is to raise your own pigs. I’m reminded of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Steel Tycoon Orren Boyle argues that competitor Rearden Steel has an unfair advantage because it owns iron mines, while his Associated Steel does not.

Lesson learned: Whatever industry you work in, ask the key questions. What if you bought your own equipment and made it yourself? What if you built everything proprietary and created your own studio? What if you never had to hire anyone ever again because you learned how to do it yourself?

Just a thought. After all: Having done it yourself makes you a more educated entrepreneur. Plus execution occurs faster. Maybe being a pig farmer isn’t as bad as it sounds. How much (more) money could you be earning working solo?

6. Reduce your mass. During a recent post-race interview, NASCAR driver Robby Gordon complained about the unfair advantage of fellow driver Danika Patrick. But not because she made racing history as the first female driver. And not because she’s beautiful enough to make drag queens drool.

According to Gordon, “Danika weighs seventy pounds less that most drivers. Her car is lighter. She goes faster. And I won’t race against her until something is done about it.” Good luck, Robby. NASCAR’s bylaws don’t indicate a weight restriction. Either learn to drive faster or take a trip to the liposuction clinic.

Lesson learned: Lowering mass means raising profits. Cut. Cut fast and deep. Cut down to the bone. Just be sure not to cut an artery. Or muscle. And be sure not to cut so deep that you diminish your capabilities. What do you need to delete from your business?

7. Hack the rules. Don’t break them – hack them. Huge difference. And you have three options: Change the rules so you can win at your own game, change the game so there are no rules, or play the game but become the exception to every rule.

The question to ask when faced with one of these so-called rules is, “Can this rule be ignored, modified or changed?” By doing so, you give yourself permission to refuse to accept your current circumstances. This opens the floodgates to diligent work on creating a new set of circumstances.

Learn the rules, learn which of the rules are irrelevant, and then hack the hell out of them. What could I do in this moment that would be the exact opposite of everyone?

8. Work (your ass off) and you shall receive. Snowboarding legend and multi-gold-medalist Shaun White receives constant criticism for his success. But not for his natural athletic ability over his competitors. And not for his trademark mop of flowing red hair. Rather, for his personal training facility in Colorado.

That’s right: White has his own private half-pipe. On a mountain. In the middle of The Rockies. Totally friggin awesome.

And it’s not like his parents cashed in his trust fund to pay for it. It was only after fifteen years of hard, long and smart practice; his commitment to building a personal brand and his ability to command legions of fans that White (finally) earned a major sponsorship from Red Bull. Then, while training for the 2010 they made Shaun’s half-pipe a reality.

Lesson learned: Hard work pays off; but hard patience pays millions. How long are you willing to sweat in obscurity before the right people notice?

REMEMBER: Just because life isn’t fair doesn’t mean you have to be.

As long as you’re not doing anything illegal, unethical or disrespectful – hitch a ride on the current of unfairness.

Take advantage of your advantage without remorse.

How unfair are you willing to be?

For the list called,”11 Ways to Out Market 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Smart Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finishing What You Started

Anybody can start.

Starting cost little money.
Starting involves limited risk.
Starting requires minimal stamina.

But starting isn’t how you win.

You only win when you execute to completion.

And that’s the big problem: Execution is uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Today you’re going to learn how to finish.

Whatever project you’re working on, whatever endeavor you’re committed to and whatever idea you’re drumming up, here’s how to lean into the tape. Here’s how to finish:

1. Develop a relentless bias toward action. This requires a major attitudinal shift. Consider these ideas for initiating the change. First, surround yourself with reminders of the beauty of action. Post sticky notes, messages or signs that read, “Action is eloquence,” or “Those who ship, win.”

Second, surround yourself with people whose bias toward action inspires you. Build edit-ability (not just accountability, but edit-ability) into your relationships. Ask each other what you’ve finished recently. You could even each other every Friday at five with a list of the things you’ve finished that week.

Finally, surround yourself with evidence of your achievements. Post your goals where you can see them every day. Then, once you finish, grab a Sharpie and write, “I did it!” atop each one. How will you develop an attitude of action?

2. Flex the muscle of why. Customers buy why – not what or how. The final product merely gives life to your cause, your mission and your currency. Sadly, too many entrepreneurs begin with a flawed assumption. They don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. Or, they know why they’re doing what they’re doing, and it’s the wrong why.

Either way, starting with the wrong questions means even the right answers will still steer you in the wrong direction. Without flexing your why muscle, you set the whole process in motion into the wrong direction. And with ever step you take, the finish line fades farther and farther away. What’s your strategy for keeping your why alive?

3. Silence the voice of no. People and companies with a history of not finishing need to lower the volume on the voices inside their heads. In a recent presentation, Seth Godin illustrated this point perfectly, “People don’t ship because their lizard brain says, “They’re all gonna laugh at you!’”

Your challenge is to recognize those voices and devise a strategy for overcoming their primal powers. My suggestion is to smile every time your lizard brain takes the stage. Nothing will piss it off more. Except maybe when you finish. What voice are you listening to that’s causing you to swiftly abandon things?

4. Breathe through the pain. During some of the longer postures in Bikram Yoga, I frequently find myself struggling to finish. It’s amazing how long sixty seconds feels when you’re doing a full backbend in 110° heat.

Fortunately, I discovered the secret to finishing. And you can apply this principle on the yoga mat, in your life struggles or to your business ventures. Let your body do the one thing it naturally does best: Breathe. There’s no better way to recenter yourself.

Plus, breathing helps you reignite momentum from a relaxed, non-destructive space. Most people lose touch with their breathe. Then they clumsily plunge forward from a place of contraction and fear. No wonder they never finish. How’s your breathing?

5. Adopt agile development. I read an enlightening blog post on How to Finish Big Projects. They used the software industry as the quintessential example:

“All software developers use a method they crazily call Agile Software Development, aka, ASD. They build a releasable product within weeks. Then, they build outward to create successively bigger product releases. The first releasable product has the most important stuff done. They’ll term it Version 0.1. Next, they’ll expand that version outward with additional features and term it Version 0.2. Gradually, the successive small releases ultimately form one juicy-good completed software item. Completo.”

Lesson learned: Focus on the most important component of your project first. You can fill in the holes later. Is enough as good as a feast for your company?

6. Limitation is the springboard to completion. The word “finish” comes from the Latin finire, which means, “To set boundaries.” Call it a deadline. Call it a limit. Whatever floats your creative boat. The point is to have a definite moment when you give yourself a swift kick in the ass and declare, “The hay is in the barn.”

Otherwise Parkinson’s Law – that work expands to fill the amount of time given to accomplish it – will eat you (and your idea) alive. Remember: Finished is the new perfect. How much longer are you going to wait before shipping something that’s never going to be perfect anyway?

7. When the finish line is in plain site, look out. Every time I go swimming, I conveniently develop a burning cramp during my 40th lap. Right in the calf muscle. Hurts like hell. But I always laugh it off. I know it’s just resistance coming to get me.

Nice try. Too bad I learned my lesson from The War of Art: “The danger is great when the finish line is in site. At this point, resistance knows we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.”

Don’t get complacent. No high stepping with ten yards to go. Stay focused. Otherwise the resistance will slap that pigskin out of your hand and cause a fumble at the one-yard line. Are you giving up one percent too early?

REMEMBER: Woody Allen was wrong.

80% of life isn’t showing up – it’s following through.

I know it’s inconvenient.
I know it’s uncomfortable.
I know it’s harder than starting.

But those who ship, win.

Go finish something.

How are you executing to completion?

For the list called, “27 Ways to OUT the Competition,” 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

6 Ways to Rally without Being Ready

Let’s start with the bad news:

You’ll never be ready.

You’ll never be smart enough.
You’ll never be mature enough.
You’ll never be prepared enough.

You’ll never have enough time.
You’ll never have enough money.
You’ll never have enough experience.

You’ll never be ready.

But don’t be discouraged.

TRUTH IS: Nobody’s ready. Nobody’s ever been ready. If they were, they would have taken action earlier.

Which brings us to the good news:

Whether you’re thinking about starting a business, writing a book, having a baby, going full time as an artist, moving across the country, getting married – in short, doing anything risky and terrifying…

It doesn’t matter if you’re ready.

It matters if you’re real.
It matters if you’re consistent.
It matters if you’re committed.
It matters if you’re willing to fail brilliantly now so you can shine spectacularly later.

AND HERE’S THE COOL PART: The sum of those components will outweigh your need to feel ready.

If you’re currently dripping your toes into the chilly waters of adventure – business, personal or otherwise – keep the following ideas in mind:

1. Flex the muscle of why. Readiness comes from knowing why you want what you want. Without this primary data, your flawed assumptions might set the whole process into motion – misguided motion. Take running for office, for example. Two approaches: Either you’re trying to get a vote, or you’re trying to gain a lifetime of support. Which baseline motivation do you think makes a candidate feel more ready? Precisely. The latter.

On the other hand, if you’re not fueled by an honest why – and you’re not willing to work like hell to keep your why alive – all the readiness in the world won’t camouflage the gaping void of purpose and meaning in your life. Remember: Any number multiplied by zero is still zero. Why do you want what you want?

2. Go back to the future. In a 2006 issue of FastCompany, Marcia Conner wrote, “Find the end at least once. By working back from the end, you gain the skills and leeway to forge your own path.”

Try this: Imagine what you need to become in order for your goals to manifest. Ask yourself questions like, “Looking ahead six months, standing there, what decisions would you make today?” “What three small acts you could take today to prepare for the life or work that you’d like?” “What if, overnight, a miracle occurred, and you woke up tomorrow morning and the problem was solved – what would be the first thing you would notice?”

By speaking from the future – then looking back to identify the steps will lead there – you paint a compelling, detailed picture of your dream. Then all you have to do is make meaningful strides toward it. Are you a time traveler?

3. Go back to the past. When I wrote my first book at the age of 21, I wasn’t ready. When I did my first interview on CNN at the age of 22, I wasn’t ready. And when I gave my first paid public speech at the age of 23, I wasn’t ready. But I took massive, forward action anyway. I stopped wondering, “Who’s going to let me?” and starting asking, “Who’s going to stop me?”

Your challenge is to go back in time . Think back to three situations in which you rallied without being ready. What were you thinking? What attitude did you maintain? What actions did you take? The point is to find out where the rock created the ripple – then start throwing more rocks. Every damn day. Will your failures become the product of poor planning or timidity to proceed?

4. Gauge readiness internally. As Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations, “Readiness comes from a man’s own judgment – not from mere obstinacy.” Translation: True readiness is felt in your body. For example, when you think about taking the plunge, do you get short of breath? Does your energy shift? Does your stomach sink?

Listen to your body. It will never lie to you. Whether you’re ready (or not ready) your body will let you know. Even if it speaks in silence. That’s still an answer. The secret is trusting that you can meet the demands of challenging situations. Knowing in your bones that you can remain flexible enough to handle the unexpected. What message is your body leaving you?

5. Planning is the gateway drug to procrastination. You can prepare forever – but remember: To be ready is to begin. As Aristotle once said, “The things you have to learn before you can do them, you learn by doing them.”

Eventually, you’re just going to have to jump into the pool with your clothes on and trust that you’ll figure out how to swim before the water fills your lungs.

But only if you recognize that readiness is a process of accretion. And that you don’t become ready and then take action; you become ready as you take action. Momentum is a beautiful thing. What is waiting getting in the way of?

6. Learn to be an incrementalist. Achieve small victories first. As the aforementioned Marcia Conner suggested, “When you get ready, create similar conditions to those you’re aiming to encounter, adding in each new factor slowly so you can adjust with each step.”

My suggestion: Keep a Victory Log. Make daily entries. Before you know it, your series of minor tasks accomplished in advance will boost your self-belief and raise your readiness. After all, the word “ready” comes from the Old English term geraede, which means, “arranged.” How are you arranging small victories to convince yourself that you’re ready enough?

REMEMBER: Readiness is highly overrated.

Stop waiting for a train that doesn’t even come through your town.


Will you win without planning?

For the ebook called, “25 Questions to Uncover Your Best,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Make Ideas Happen at an Alarming Rate

Marry Poppins was an entrepreneur.

She summarized business execution in six simple words:

“Enough is as good as a feast.”

What about you? How skilled are you at executing?

Let’s explore a list of strategies to help you make ideas happen at an alarming rate:

1. Convert your workspace into a progress-rich environment. It’s emotionally invigorating to surround yourself with evidence of your achievements. What’s more, keeping past progress in front of your nose stimulates focus – even if it’s incremental.

As I learned in Making Ideas Happen, “As a human being, you are motivated by progress. When you see concrete evidence of progress, you are more inclined to take further action. Surround yourself with it. Celebrate it.” What’s on your wall?

2. Take massive, rapid and consistent action. That’s how momentum accumulates. Just like Newton said: A body in motion stays in motion. My suggestion is to shoot for five High Valuable Action Steps. Every day.

Even if you take an occasional step backwards – at least you’re still stepping. Movement (backwards or forwards) is necessary to prevent atrophy. Some people just stand there. They’re called nouns. Verbs, on the other hand, move. Which one are you?

3. Increase executional velocity. As a writer, my biggest advantage is that nobody can keep up with me. I am dangerously prolific. Nobody who does what I do can do what I do as fast as I can do it. And, nobody who does what I do can do what I do in the quantity that I can do it.

Lesson learned: Making ideas happen is less about intellectual property and more about executional velocity. Contrary to what your lawyer tells you, there’s very little you need to protect. If somebody wants to steal your ideas, fantastic! Let them.

First of all, that’s a great compliment. Robbery is the sincerest form of flattery. Secondly, by the time they execute your idea – which they probably won’t – you’ll already be ten ideas down the road. Screw ‘em.

Lastly, if people want to hijack your brain, tell them to go right ahead. Just remind them: “You can steal my ideas – but good luck stealing my initiative and execution.” William Wallace never thought of that. Remember: The creations of innovative persisters will always dwarf the accomplishments of the copying and surrendering masses. Who’s faster than you?

4. Structureless environments paralyze. Not that you need to regiment every element of your creative process. But structure allows growth. And the impact of an idea is directly proportionate to how well it is organized.

My suggestion: Preserve the sanctity of your workspace. Not an office – a workspace. Call it an office and slice your creativity in half. Call it a workspace – a factory of creativity – and you make ideas happen. Is your content as brilliant as the system that manages it?

5. It’s not what you do – it’s what you avoid. People frequently ask me how I manage to be so productive. My answer is very logical and simple:

No meetings. No employees. No interns. No busywork. No filing. No copying. No excuses. No hurdles. No bullshit. No asking permission. No begging for forgiveness. No memos. No status reports. No kids. No television. No surfing the web. No mass media. No coworkers. No putting out fires. No gossip. No worrying. No headaches. No managing people.

No walking on eggshells. No task requests. No micromanaging. No useless planning of things that don’t matter. No processes to weigh me down and diminish my energy. No waiting for people. No endless list of people trying to reach me. No distractions. No decision-making hierarchy. No distance between the owner and decisions that matter. No awkward staff lunches. No committees. No socializing. No compromising.

No doing activities that aren’t focused on my #1 goals. No doing activities that don’t leverage my gifts. No doing activities that aren’t income generating. No office politics. No office. No clothes. No shoes. No commute. No traffic. No interruptions. No paperwork.

After deleting all of that noise, what are you left with? Work. That matters. Think about it. If that were your daily environment, you’d make ideas happen at an alarming rate too. Remember: Productivity isn’t about what you do – it’s about what you avoid. How many of your amazing ideas will never see the light of day because they’re gasping for air under the weight of irrelevant time-wasters?

6. Align your action with accomplishment. Bob Parsons, CEO of, recently published a helpful productivity module on his video blog. In order to keep productivity at bay, he suggests asking two questions: Is this conversation directly leading to what I need to accomplish? Is this immediately relevant to my success?

If the answer is no, respectfully remove yourself. Focus on finding what matters instead. What questions do you ask yourself to stay on point?

7. Commission you inner doodler. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey said in a recent presentation, “Start drawing your idea. Get it out of your head and see it from a completely different perspective.” Even if you suck at drawing. Even if you’re more left-brained than a computer science professor at MIT. Draw it anyway.

Tap into the unused creative faculties collecting cobwebs in the back of your brain. Produce visual understanding by letting the idea hatch before your eyes. My promise is that you’ll get so jazzed about the organic growth of your idea, that the thought of (not) executing it will give you indigestion. What have you drawn today?

8. Attitude is soil. And if it’s saturated with too much fertilizer, anything that grows in it – not matter how big and beautiful and profitable it may be – will always have a stinkshit core. I’m reminded what Seth Godin wrote in a recent blog post:

“No one ever succeeded because of execution tactics learned from a Dummies book. If your attitude at the top of the hierarchy is messed up, no amount of brilliant tactics or execution is going to help you at all.”

Lesson learned: Exquisite execution doesn’t last when underscored by an excremental attitude. When you make ideas happen, how does your breath smell?

REMEMBER: Many of your execution failures are not due to poor planning but to your timidity to proceed.

Mary Poppins was right.

Enough is good enough.

Go make your ideas happen.

How are you increasing your capacity to execute?

For the list called, “27 Ways to OUT the Competition,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Official Nametagscott Guide to Stick-to-itiveness, Part 1

Aka, “Stick to it”
Aka, “Stick with it
Aka, “Stick in there.”

As a Gen-Xer, I come from a commitment-averse generation.

Four examples:

1. Because of our instant gratification culture, we’re impatient.
2. Because of our privileged upbringing, we developed a mediocre work ethic.
3. Because of our self-reliant, entrepreneurial bent, we don’t offer loyalty easily.
4. Because of our abundance of choices, we’re quick to quit and pursue something better.

No wonder we can’t stick with anything for very long.

From college majors to new jobs to romantic relationships, stick-to-itiveness isn’t exactly our forte.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: Stick-to-itiveness can be learned.

All you have to do is shift your attitude completely – work hard, smart and long while nobody notices – and design a daily practice of self-determination and commitment.

Hey. I said it could be learned – not that it was easy.

Up to the challenge?

Cool. Consider these ideas as stick-to-itiveness training from someone who, literally, makes a living “sticking to it” every day:

1. Engage your why. Then work like hell to keep it alive. Otherwise you’ll collapse in existential agony. Good luck executing from that position. Truth is: Failure to communicate why is a diamond-studded path to self-doubt.

On the other hand, people tend to cultivate their capabilities in activities that give them a sense of self-worth, according to Bandura’s book, Self-Efficacy. Remember: The thrust of your ultimate endeavors predicts the threshold of your eventual success. When will mattering trump money?

2. The road to mastery is marked by periods of minimal progress. The world is not arranging itself for your convenience. Nor is the world is waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say. So, enjoy your plateaus. Celebrate small gains.

Run in place today to cross the finish line tomorrow. That’s the level of patience required to make a name for yourself. How long are you willing to do it before the right people notice?

3. Zero out your board. Have recovery strategies ready. This suggestion comes from The Power of Full Engagement, in which author Jim Loehr suggested:

“The rhythmic movement between energy expenditure and energy recovery is called oscillation. This is the optimal cycle for sustaining high performance consistently.”

How are you making recovery part of your regiment?

4. Resistance either creates or compresses stamina. Against the backdrop of seeming hopelessness, stamina is hard. Especially the stamina to recover rapidly from disappointment. A helpful question I ask myself is, “Is this being done to me or for me?”

With an attitude of leverage, positivity and growth, the answer is always “for me.” Just learn the lesson, let go of the emotion and get your ass out of there. See this as a workout for becoming wiser. What could make this experience easier?

5. Commit to a long-term process of education. My friend @ChadMoves is a movement educator. He once told me, “You only age if you choose not to use your body.” In the same vein, you only fade away if you choose not to use, develop and preserve your brain.

Here’s a simple exercise: Each day, do and document one concrete activity that made you a better thinker. Every month, review your log with a friend who’s doing the same. You’ll become a smokin’ hot piece of brain candy in no time. How are you creating an environment where lifelong learning stressed?

6. Curb your craving for certainty. Sure, it would be nice to have firm footing. But the sooner you learn to live without (always) knowing how, the longer you ultimately last. As I learned in The Having of Wonderful Ideas:

“We all need adequate time for our confusion if we are to build the breadth and depth that give significance to our knowledge.”

Are much money is your intolerance of ambiguity costing you?

7. Create a sustainable circle of support. It’s called the long haul for a reason. Whether it’s a long-distance relationship, a new career, or an outside-of-work creative pursuit, sticking with anything is never a one-man show. More like a chorus line.

Here are the people you need to keep: Family (because they aren’t going away), Friends (the ones you can call at 2am), Mentors (who will gladly slap you on the back of the head) and Spouses/Partners (since they’re riding shotgun). Who (aren’t) you currently surrounding yourself with that can help sustain you?

8. It’s not about avoiding ruts. Instead, it’s about developing the self-awareness to know when you’re in a rut, understanding the thinking patterns that got you into it, and then strategizing how to get yourself out of that rut quickly.

It all depends on how you explain the rut to yourself. And while this process requires a tremendous amount of emotional effort, your willingness to expend it will help you bounce back impressively. How are you sharpening your rut-fighting skills?

9. Persevere through the low. Yes, peaks follow valleys. But recessions renew resourcefulness. As Nicholas Cage taught me in Bangkok Dangerous, “The best way to defend yourself is to know when something is about to happen.” If you spot a valley on the horizon, write an action plan for how to leverage it.

That’s exactly how I thrived (and how my company thrived) during the Great Recession. If you want to do the same, remember these ideas: Accept what is. Leverage your downtime. Keep support flowing. Stir the pot. Befriend the current. Use every crisis. Foster a pervasive tone of gratitude. Double your dosage of daily inspiration. And keep pulling your triggers for joy.

Even when thee economy sucks, your economy can still rock. How will you traverse the tough times?

REMEMBER: It takes guts to stick yourself out there – but it takes gusto to keep yourself out there.

Read part two of this piece here!

What’s your secret for sticking with it?

For the list called, “13 Ways to Out Develop 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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

NametagTV: Build Name Equity

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Watch the original video on NametagTV!

What do people think when they hear your name speak?

For a list called, “37 Words That Should Not be in Your Company Name,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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

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

The Toby Keith Guide to Closing the Execution Gap

Thank God for country music.

Especially Toby Keith’s song, “A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action.” Sing it with me:

“I was getting kinda tired of her endless chatter. Nothing I could say ever seemed to matter. And I knew somewhere amid all this distraction, was a little less talk and a lot more action.”

LESSON LEARNED: Too many businesspeople are accustomed to a steady diet of blah-blah-blah; when what they (should) engage in is a daily discipline of go-go-go.

What about you? Do you give people lip service or foot service? Here’s a list of ideas to help you close the execution gap:

1. Plan is a four-letter word. Planning paralyzes action. Planning straightjackets success. Planning blinds vision. And failure doesn’t come from poor planning – but from the timidity to proceed. And yet, people still obsess over it. Why? Because planning preserves their sense of control.

The problem is, planning is a big decision. And big decisions cause you to prematurely commit to a trajectory that (might) later prove to be unprofitable. What’s more, over time, the more you plan; the harder it becomes to invite healthy derailments. And that’s how you miss unlabeled opportunities to grow: When you’re too busy managing the stress of planning to count the money of executing.

The secret isn’t to evade the future. Or refuse to admit that obstacles will mount. Rather, to plunge forward planless – but with a compelling vision as your parachute. As I learned from Rework, “Just get on the plane and go. You can pick up a nicer shirt, shaving cream and a toothbrush once you get there.”

Remember: Planning is the polar opposite of improvisation. And when you stop improvising, you stop monetizing. Are you blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality?

2. Take no for an answer. Did you know that the word, “No” is a complete sentence? Yep. If you want to close the execution gap, learn to bring this beautiful sentence to the forefront of your vocabulary. And, learn to stop being apologetic for what you delete from your life.

Bolster entrepreneurial awareness by asking yourself, “Is this an opportunity or an opportunity to be used?” and “Is this an opportunity or a distraction in disguise?” That’ll keep the bloodsuckers, timewasters and energy vampires away.

That’ll also prevent you from shooting yourself in the foot. Because when you refuse to take no for an answer, you waste valuable time trying to force a yes that never going to happen. What attractive offer have you wisely turned down this week?

3. No more overanalyzing the inconsequential. It saps your energy, steals your time and spoils your initiative. Plus it drives your colleagues crazy. My suggestion: Stop investing energy in your fears. Let them go. Just because everyone else is freaking out about meaningless trivialities doesn’t mean you should too.

Instead, free yourself from the overwhelming sweep of collective panic. Don’t let widespread jealousy infiltrate your outlook. It’s a form of resistance, and it will creep into your attitude if you’re not careful. What consumes your time but doesn’t make any money?

4. Forget about your so-called competitors. Who cares what they’re doing now? Who cares what they’re doing next? Stop obsessing. Save the time and energy you would have spent worrying about things you cant control and reinvest it in making yourself stronger and smarter. Otherwise, by fixating on someone (or something) beyond your sphere of control, you lose unrecoverable time that could be devoted to becoming uniquely great.

But, if you remember the credo of Optimists International, you’ll be fine: “Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.” Focus less time making war on the competition and more time making love to the customer. You’ll win. When was the last time the competition stayed up all night worrying about you?

5. Locate your compass for finding what matters. Then, invest meaning there. You can decide on details later. For now, just go. Be intelligently impatient. Even when it seems senseless to others. Even when mistakes are inevitable. Don’t let yourself get lost in what doesn’t count. Nothing threatens your bottom line more than a preoccupation with the irrelevant.

The secret is to constantly ask yourself, “Ten years from now, what will I wish I had spent more time doing today?” Remember: Just because you work (diligently) on something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to change anything. Are you creating things to do – right now – to avoid the important?

6. Establish a choice-making rhythm. First, decide how you’re going to decide. Physically write out your core operating values. Your personal constitution of daily non-negotiables. Then, create a governing document for daily decision-making. This exercise builds congruency in your behavior and assures stronger, more consistent and more aligned choices.

Once you’ve done the required prep work, the hard part is to keep the beat going. Like a metronome. Tick. Tick. Tick. And if you want to maintain your choice-making rhythm, keep asking yourself, “What can I (easily) do – right now – that’s good enough?” It’s that kind of imperfectionist attitude that closes the execution gap the quickest. Are you a great decider?

7. Abolish the excuse barrage. What’s your favorite excuse? Personally, I like to give people the old, “I have no excuse” excuse. Works every time. But all kidding aside, here’s the next strategy for closing the execution gap: Let action eclipse excuse.

Consider these three questions to help you do so. First: Is there anyone else who has the same excuse as you, but is moving ahead successfully nonetheless? Odds are, there’s at least three people out there like this. Have lunch with them. Find out what they’re doing differently that you could glean from.

Second: What lies are your excuses guarding? Yikes. Self-confrontation’s a bitch, huh? Still, it’s a solid move for pinpointing the lies you’re telling yourself. And if you’re willing to isolate the excuse-ridden undertow leading you out to sea, you’ll be one step closer to execution.

Third: Whom are you using an excuse? It’s dangerously easy to use other people as excuses for not accomplishing your goals. Your challenge is to walk the fine line between helpful feedback and hurtful resistance.

Otherwise you’ll bounce from excuse to excuse line a pinball machine. Except you won’t score any points and Pete Townsend won’t write a song about it. Test your excuses. That’s the only way the barrage will be beaten. What excuse are you falling in love with that’s preventing you from getting started?

8. Persevere through the low. In 2009 when The Great Recession kicked in, I actually considered the option of panicking. Fortunately, I didn’t – although I did think about it … hard. Instead, I learned to persevere by accepting what is, leveraging my downtime, keep support flowing, stir the pot and to find a use for every crisis.

Ultimately, economic downtime was the perfect vehicle for renewing my resourcefulness. What about you? Will you persevere through the low, or sit in a corner crying until the high makes a comeback?

I hope the latter. Because hardship is at the heart of execution. Better you hit bumps in the road and be projected forward than sail smoothly without realizing you’re (actually) standing still or worse, going backward. How are you building your resiliency?

REMEMBER: Even if you have zero competition, at a bare minimum, you’re always competing with inertia.

Maybe Toby Keith was right:

A little less talk if you please.
A lot more loving is what you need.
Let’s get on down to the main attraction.
With a little less talk and a lot more action.

How are you closing the execution gap?

For the list called,”11 Ways to Out Market 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

I Triple Dog Dare You to Start a Business without Asking Yourself These Fifteen Questions

“I love to cook. And people really seem to enjoy my food. Maybe I should open my own restaurant!”

Not so fast, Rachel Ray.

Before you take out a loan and start scouting locations for your hot new Sautéed Squirrel on a Stick Bar & Grill, a few issues need to be addressed.

Consider asking these fifteen questions to help put a foundation under your fantasy:

1. Is your dream passionate, but irrelevant and unbuyable? Be careful not to waste your time on something no customer is asking for. Or, worse yet, waste your energy on customers who don’t even appreciate or deserve your dream in the first place.

Inherently interesting doesn’t necessarily mean easy to sell.

2. Are there at least ten other people out there who are successfully making money from a passion similar to yours? It’s close-minded and shortsighted to assume that your amazing idea is the first of its kind. Don’t let your ego mistake originality with practicality.

In fact, a stronger reason for concern is if Google says that nobody else is making a living doing what you want to do. Eeks. That screams red flag to me.

3. If you did end up making a business out of your passion, how long before you start to 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? This scenario sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually quite common. The thrill of the passion dissipates once it becomes a daily task. Then, as entrepreneurs watch their dream become a chore, it absolutely crushes them. What used to bring purpose, meaning and mattering to their lives now does nothing but induce stomach ulcers.

Make sure your passion is a sustainable, scalable entity.

4. What price are you willing to pay to make this dream into a reality? Undress your stock alibis and stale excuses. Consider the biggest thing you’re willing to give up (or the lowest you’re willing to sink) to get what you want. This will teach you to invest in your threshold level of commitment, not your standard-issue line of bullshit.

Whether that means canceling your cable, waking up an hour earlier or discontinuing time spent with negative people who bring your average down – somewhere, something, (or someone), has to be deleted.

5. Do you go three-for-three? Plug your dream into the following equations: If your idea is intrinsically appealing, but something you suck at, you lose. If your idea is sellable, but something you would hate doing for thirteen hours a day, you lose. Finally, if your idea is your passion, but doesn’t have a viable market, you lose.

Hopefully your dream satisfies all three criteria.

6. Are you willing to work hard, smart and long? That’s the minimum requirement for successfully converting your big idea into big profts. As I learned when I started my publishing/consulting company in 2002, “If you don’t plan on treating it like a business, don’t bother.”

Remember: Turning your dream into a moneymaking reality will be the single hardest endeavor of your life. Unless you have teenage girls. Make that the second hardest.

7. Will this become a legitimate business or just an expensive hobby? George Carlin once said, “I don’t have hobbies – hobbies cost money. I have interests.” Not that there’s anything wrong with having hobbies. But there is something wrong with deluding yourself into believing people will buy something just because your husband likes it. Family members don’t count as focus groups.

Revenue is the aftershock of usefulness. If you want to make money, make something that solves people’s expensive, urgent, pervasive and relevant problems.

8. To what extent are you willing to compromise yourself? There’s also nothing wrong with giving in a little. Bending. Selling out, ever so slightly. But breaking? No way, Jose. That’s a violation of your integrity. I learned this during Dave Chappelle’s interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio. He told James Lipton:

“The first thing you do is figure out the highest price you’re willing to pay. That way, the moment someone asks you to pay more, get the hell out.” It simply depends on what you’re willing to put it all on the line for.

9. Can you handle people hating you? Sorry. It comes with the territory. Do what you love and the hatred will follow. Namely from jealous people who resent you for doing what you love because it threatens their sense of self. Now, if you have a hard time being viewed that way, I totally respect that.

Which means you have two options: Get used to it, or get out now. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are as real as a heart attack, but require more oxygen to handle. Arm yourself. Your breath is your bodyguard.

10. Are you willing to give up (some) control of your idea in exchange for being able to let grow and expand it better and faster? Not that you have to outsource your entire operation to India. But surrendering a certain amount of control enables people (fans, customers, members, whoever) to take your idea into their own hands.

And by openly embracing a “fan” mentality and transferring ownership to the user, spreadability becomes long-term viability. Remember: Vulnerable is the new safe. Imperfect is the new beautiful. Recognize the fact that your customers are in control. They decide how much attention they choose to give to you.

11. Are you willing to describe your dream in detail, put it on paper and tell others about it publicly? Otherwise the dream isn’t real. There’s no ownership. You haven’t committed with both feet. Not that you have to have a “plan.”

Rather, you have to engage, share and stand by your why. Your vision. Your mission. Failure to communicate that is a diamond studded path to doubt, which will lead to the eventual demise of your dream.

12. How long will it take the market to recognize your trustworthiness and reward you with new business – and are you willing (and able) to wait that long? “You won’t make any money for five years.” I read that statement in a book by Donald Trump when I wad 22. Scared the crap out of me.

So, although I turned my dream into a business in 2002 – my company didn’t turn a profit until late 2005. And I worked harder than anybody, damn it! I even held a part time job crashing parking cars nights and weekends. Lesson learned: Expecting profit immediately will disappoint and deflate your spirit. If you plan to put all your eggs in one basket, don’t just guard that basket with your life – also make sure the savages with frying pans and eggbeaters stay away.

13. Is success probable or possible? Notwithstanding any major violations of the laws of thermodynamics, (almost) anything is possible. Probable, on the other hand, is a completely different ballgame. Your challenge is to honestly assess which category your dream falls under.

For example, starting your own marketing consultancy is definitely possible. Specializing in a prosaic form of advertising like Yellow Pages isn’t very probable. See the difference?

14. Will you be the best? Here’s the reality: Nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays average. Marketplaces reward the exceptional and ignore the rest. Especially in the midst of infinite choices. So, if you don’t plan to build remarkability into your product from the get-go, don’t even bother.

After all, why spend all your time, money and energy just to wind up being another non-entity in the infinite mass of blah blah blah? Instead, wage a war against mediocrity and you will win big.

15. What purpose underscores your passion? If you’re trying to make real money, passion without purpose is pointless and leaves you penniless. Without a strong why, your passion is nothing but blazing fire that burns you and everyone you touch. Keep in mind: The word “passion” comes from the Latin passio, which means, “to suffer.”

Ask yourself, “What are you willing to suffer for?” and, more importantly, “What would cause you suffering if you did not do it?” The answers to those questions represent the intersection of passion and purpose.

REMEMBER: As delicious as Sautéed Squirrel on a Stick sounds, maybe it’s time to take an more honest look at your dream.

If you want to make real money, ask these questions to install a foundation under your fantasy.

After all, I’d hate for you to strike a passionate pose that nobody notices.

Have you asked yourself the difficult questions about your business?

For the ebook called, “38 Ways to Make Customers Gasp” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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