Your Message, My Voice:
Commission Scott to Write Custom Material
to Help You Reach People Who Matter Most

The Client: Your company, organization, association, non-profit, school or group; serving anywhere from five to five thousand people.

The Challenge: You want to be heard – but your people (employees, staff, team, volunteers, members, constituency) aren’t being reached. Every message they receive from you is just another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication they delete immediately or peruse passively.

The Danger: They can’t hear you. If they can’t hear you, they can’t follow you. And if they can’t follow you, you lose.


Your Message: Your unique vision, strategy, culture, story, direction, values, ideas – or whatever else you want to communicate to your people.

Your Writer: Award-winning author — of a dozen books, two thousand articles and twelve hundred blogs, written with an unmatched voice. International professional speaker — delivered four hundred presentations to over a quarter of a million audience members worldwide. Renowned Thought Leader — conducted over five hundred interviews with major media outlets in print, radio, television and online. This man knows how to be heard.

Your Deliverable: 100% customized, private, exclusive, never published before/never published again, non-inventory piece(s) of content – newsletters, memos, employee communications, posters, change communications, articles, orientation and training manuals, executive summaries, annual reports, strategies, intranet sites, etc. – written by an outsider with fresh eyes and a fresh voice, untainted and unjaded by stale, corporate thinking.


Our Process: Discovery conversation/interview. Identify challenges. Scott reviews your current communications. Offers a proposal with samples. Set expectations and joint accountabilities. Agreement. One round of feedback. Delivery. Turn around time depends on client.

Our Investment: Commission fee range falls between $500 and $50,000. It all depends on how badly you want your people to hear you.

Our Result: First — Readable, listenable, accessible, followable, human, inspiring, interesting, engaging, entertaining, infectious, bloody and actionable writing. Second –cut through internal clutter, arrests your people’s attention, meets them where they are (but refuses to leave them where they are) and conveys your message. Third — excite them about listening, following and remaining loyal to your organization.


LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What is being unheard costing you?

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Email scott@hellomynameisscott.com before it’s too late.

How to Make Your Point Faster, Stronger and Gooder

“Wow, you sure know how to make a point!”

When was the last time you received that compliment?

ANSWER: Too long ago.

Today we’re going to explore a list of strategies for making your point faster, stronger and better.

1. Attribute transferring. I’ve been a member of National Speakers Association for about eight years. Greatest organization on the planet. My career wouldn’t be the same without it. Part of that has to do with the collegial attitude shared by the members. When we attend conferences, the old joke is, “You learn more in the hallways than in the breakout sessions.”

The only problem with that is: Hallways are narrow. And at a four-day conference, there’s only so much time to schmooze.

So, in 2010, a few of us started a sub-group called NSA/XY, a collection of like-minded (and like-hearted!) speakers under forty who get together regularly for just that: Hallways. As a board member, the metaphor I use is, “When an airplane crashes, what’s the only thing that survives?

Right: The black box. So, my question is: Wouldn’t you make the entire airplane out of the black box? And the same idea applies to our association conferences: If the hallways are the best part, wouldn’t you make it all hallways?” Lesson learned: Transfer the attributes. Use metaphors from unrelated, unexpected sources to prove your point perfectly. Are you thinking laterally?

2. Create conceptual comprehension. In a 2006 study of Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, a week of prime time programming on the broadcast networks yielded 4,347 commercial messages, of which 536 (12.3%) contained some form of physical or verbal aggression.

Now, I’m not suggesting you make your point by hurting someone or yourself. But it is interesting to note the increase in destruction and aggression – mostly portrayed in a humorous way – to prove a point. For example, take Will It Blend? This viral marketing campaign consists of a series of infomercials with Tom Dickson, the Blendtec founder. He attempts to blend various items in order to show off the power of his blender.

From golf balls to marbles to iPhones to cubic zirconium, Tom made his point beautiful: Yes, it will blend. Sure enough, Blendtec went down in history for its viral video campaign. And I bet they sold a few blenders too. How could you provide striking testimony – on video – for everyone to see?

3. Hit them in the wallet quicker. Money gets attention. Period. Benefits, schmenefits. Whatever you’re selling, find a way to connect it to obtaining (or losing) money. And do it immediately. Because despite what people say, money is important. And while your point doesn’t need to be completely focused on money, having a faster financial connection strengthens your point noticeably.

For example, I used to ask people, “How approachable are you?” Good question. Makes ‘em think. But doesn’t hit them in the wallet. So, I started using financially framed questions and statements. Examples include: “Anonymity is bankruptcy,” “How much money is being unapproachable costing you?” “How many prospects went out of their way to avoid you yesterday?” and “Make a name for yourself and you’ll make a bank account for yourself!” Are you kidding yourself about what your customers really want?

4. Illustrate the cost of inaction. In March of 2003, Jesse Lee posted a special report on the White House Blog called The Cost of Inaction. It includes statistics that illustrates skyrocketing medical costs to the persistent gaps in health care quality.

A few that caught my attention were: “Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expense,” and “Lost workplace productivity and greater risk of illness and death cost employers $65 to $135 billion per year.”

Sure enough, Obama’s historic healthcare reform was passed one year later. So, even if you hate Obama, even if you think Obamacare is a government conspiracy trying to rob you of your freedom, recognize how well their made their point with this special report.

Remember: The cost of inaction tends to be much more expensive than action itself. The Costs of Inaction highlights the flaws in the health care system and demonstrates the cost of maintaining the status quo. Are you proving your point by demonstrating the cost of preserving the status quo?

5. Let the room vote. A little hand raising goes a long way. And instant group consensus is a beautiful thing. For example, let’s say you wanted to make a point about the irrelevancy and ineffectiveness of television advertising.

Try this: First, pose no-brainer question that everyone is likely to answer affirmatively, i.e., “Raise your hand if you have Tivo.” Then, just as people’s hands go up, immediately ask an opposing question that reverses the momentum of the room, i.e., “Keep your hand up if you still watch the commercials.”

Most of the hands will go down. This mini-exercise is drastic, entertaining and immediate. Plus, the visual of the hands combined with the kinesthetics of raising/lowering the hands makes for a memorable, emotional and, most importantly, personal experience.

Think of it as informal market research. Letting people prove your point for you. Are you persuading people with your words, or helping people persuade themselves with their own words?

6. Let your words breathe. Otherwise the point you’re trying to make will drown in the noise. Kind of like a caveman hunting for dinner. He stands there. Waiting. Spear in hand. And if there’s no movement around him – no change – that means there’s no threat. So he doesn’t respond.

Interestingly, this anthological tendency manifests in the business world daily.

Where do you think human attention originated? You guessed: Ug. And here’s why: Familiar structures and predictable rhythms lead to mental laziness. And you the human brain filters out unchanging backgrounds. Which means there’s no need to pay attention if nothing moves.

Sadly, most communicators mess this up. They don’t use enough line breaks in their content. They don’t pause enough when they speak. They don’t let their words … breathe. And as a result, readers, listeners and customers tune them out. Your challenge is to keep your communication oxygen rich. To let the pearl sink. To allow your words to profoundly penetrate people.

Otherwise you’ll step on the silence, smother the sparks of your message and cripple the impact of your point. Is there enough space between your words?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a master of point making?

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For the ebook called, “7 Ways to Radically Raise Receptivity of Those You Serve,” 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

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

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Are You Delightfully Disturbing or Painfully Annoying?

Ever since I was a kid, being a disturbance has always been one of my favorite pastimes.

And I don’t mean cruising my pimped out ’67 Impala down Washington Avenue bumping a Dr. Dre record at testicle-rattling volume.

Not that kind of disturbance.

DID YOU KNOW: The word “disturb” comes from the Latin emotere – the same derivative as the word “emotion”?

Yep.

That’s all you’re doing when you’re being a disturbance: Evoking emotion. Interrupting the quiet. Unsettling the peace. Upsetting the mental landscape. Could be positive, negative or neutral. Doesn’t matter. Like a good pot of soup, the ingredients are equally as important as the consistency with which you stir.

Today we’re going to talk about how to be delightfully disturbing without being painful annoying:

1. Bite your tongue. Don’t say anything until the last five minutes of your next meeting. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently. By looking around, listening and learning first, your comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance.

Then, you come out of nowhere when the meeting leader says, “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?” You raise your hand and say: “I had an observation…” All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the one person who hasn’t said anything all morning – you.

Then, you articulate your idea. And even if you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. Ultimately, your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in. In the words of Barack Obama, “Power grows through prudent use.” Does your tongue have teeth marks on it?

2. I respectfully disagree. The power of this statement is inversely related to the number of other people in the room courageous enough to challenge the speaker. That’s why it’s especially powerful during a meeting with your superiors.

My suggestion: Don’t save your opinion for later. You may never get a chance to voice it. Be a relentless boat rocker. A courageous wave maker. A persistent envelope pusher. They’ll change your job title to DOD: Director of Disturbances. Are you willing to be the only contrarian in the room?

3. Laugh out loud – loudly. My friend Neen James has the most contagious laugh on the planet. Every time her funny bone takes a hit, the people around her are immediately disturbed in the best way possible way. It’s truly a sight to see. And Neen taught me that too many people get into the habit of suppressing their laughter, not wanting to draw attention to themselves. Particularly if they have a loud or unique laugh.

“Stop suppressing your chuckles,” she suggests. “Make it loud and don’t worry about who hears you. Laughter is contagious.”

You don’t have to wait and see if the king laughs first. Nobody is going to think you’re a terrible person if you let it out. All they’re going to do is start wondering what’s so darn funny. Mission accomplished. When was the last time you purposely constricted your laughter in public?

4. Learn to sniff out falsehood. There’s fine art to calling bullshit on people in a compassionate (yet challenging) way. I find that posing penetrating, thought-provoking questions is an effective practice for doing so. Try these: What evidence do you have to support that belief? Why is that important to you? What lies are those excuses guarding?

Interestingly, calling bullshit is a lot like yoga: Whichever posture hurts the most is the one you need the most. Similarly, the people who become the most disturbed when you call them out are the ones who probably need it the most. How acute is your nose for falsehood?

5. Maintain a constant posture of challenging the process. Be the greasy wrench in the rusty gears of the status quo by asking, “Why do we have to do it that way?” Ask that question over and over until the majority answer is, “We don’t.” You’ll discover that when you show up in full voice and speak the unspokens – you send people on mental journeys.

And even if they didn’t want go to there in the first place, once they arrive, they’ll be glad you took them there. Or they’ll have you terminated. Either way, it’s gonna be a great weekend. But only if you’re willing to ask a question that will positively upset someone’s whole day. Might be worth it. What unwritten rules are driving you crazy?

6. Make people confront you, as well as themselves. The two questions at stake are: How do people experience you? And, how do people experience themselves when they’re with you? The best confrontational strategy is to lovingly challenge people to quit escaping reality. Even a gentle suggestion can be devastatingly effective.

For example, while listening to someone complaining about his problems, you might offer the following: “Dave, I wonder if that’s what your boss (actually) said, or what YOU interpreted your boss as having communicated.” Be playfully terrorizing. Let some truth slip, make people squirm in their seats and jolt them out of their petty preoccupations.

You’ll find that the discomfort of self-confrontation will disturb people into action. Are you a putting up a verbal mirror so others might experience themselves as you do?

7. Pursue your passion publicly. In the book Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Butts, Peter McWilliams write, “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.”

Similarly, Steven Pressfield writes in The War of Art: “When people see you living your authentic life, it drives them crazy because they know they’re not living their own.”

The point is: You can disturb people without even saying a word. All you have to do is validate your existence and fulfill your mandate, thereby reaching your quota of usefulness for each day. Just make sure you do so in broad daylight, where nobody can miss it. How could you shine your light so bright that even the people who look away (still) feel it?

8. Transform your emotional risk paradigm. Start by making the conscious choice to develop a working relationship with your emotional reality. Next, remind yourself that practicing courageousness of heart produces gorgeousness of spirit.

Then, remember the trifecta: (1) Brand your honesty, (2) Leverage your vulnerability to earn people’s trust, and (3) Fully integrate your humanity into your profession. Your presence will become so emotionally attractive that it will become remarkable. And what’s remarkable is disturbing. What emotions or states of being do you need to be able to access for long-term success?

9. Wherever you go, compel people to make a choice. Jesus always struck me as a delightfully disturbing man. Wherever he went, he created a crisis by compelling people to do something. His demanding vision asked people to commit. To drop everything. To make an immediate decision. “Come, follow me,” he said. “Develop deep faith, put your body on the line and give up all that is secondary.”

Wow. That would disturb the hell out of me. I wonder what would happen if you set a goal for this year to become a more crisis-producing person. Do you love people enough to upset them?

REMEMBER: When you delightfully disturb people, you constructively challenge them.

Go evoke some emotion.
Go interrupt some quiet.
Go unsettle some peace.

Be a disturbance.

Now if you’ve excuse me, my ’67 Impala is waiting outside to take me to today’s speech.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you delightfully disturbing or painfully annoying?

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!

How to Evangelize without Making Strangers Walk in the Other Direction

When I was in kindergarten, our class has a Tasting Party.

Every student had to eat one of everything. Everything. Even if they didn’t like it – they had to try it.

I remember putting a green olive in mouth.

Then I remember immediately gagging and vomiting.

It was the worst thing I’d ever tasted in my five short years on this planet.

I never ate another green olive again. Ever. And now, twenty-five years later, I still refuse to eat them. I just can’t escape the taste of that traumatic childhood experience.

Nothing personal against olives. I’m sure they’re delicious. And it’s not their fault I don’t like them.

THE (REAL) PROBLEM IS: Force fed truth almost always tastes terrible.

But we’re not talking about olives anymore.

When you try to evangelize by cramming things down people’s throats – without consideration or consent – you lose. And so do they.

Now, by “they,’ I’m referring to the people you’re currently evangelizing:

Employees.
Customers.
Coworkers.
Strangers.
Guests.
Perspective members.
New recruits.

Now, I understand the word “evangelize” typically defaults to the religious arena. But the strategies you’re about to read have been democratized for your secular enjoyment. Feel free to plug yourself into the equations as you see fit.

Let’s explore a compendium of practices for sharing your gospel (that is, the “good news” about your organization, idea, group, whatever) in a more approachable way.

1. Take the first step. My friend Jim Henderson, author of Jim & Casper Go to Church, takes a counterintuitive stance on evangelism:

“Are you getting people to join you, or are you trying to join them first?” he asks. In this instance, proactivity is the secret. Sticking yourself out there is the way. After all, approachability is a two-way street. Your mission is to give people permission. Who is just waiting to be joined first?

2. Indulge in your humanity. Personality typing is overrated. Here’s the reality: All of us are Type H – Human. That’s the only label that matters. Treat people accordingly. My suggestion: Volunteer to be mortal. Even if that means something simple like taking a breathe between moments of gushing about your organization.

It’s okay to let people hear you breathe. Evangelism without inhaling fails. Create more space in the conversation, and everything changes. Are you a master of the pause?

3. Assess and disclose your vulnerabilities. By being more open about your failures and sins; maybe your critics would be more apt to listen to you. Like Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, the man who set up “confessional booths” at college campuses across the country.

Check this out: When curious students walked in, he apologized to them for being a crappy Christian. Interestingly, his reverse approach diffused the situation and helped strangers open up about their own shortcomings. How are you leveraging your vulnerability to earn people’s trust?

4. Love makes things easier. In Rob Bell’s tremendous book, Velvet Elvis, he said, “You rarely defend the things you love. You enjoy them, tell others about them and invite others to enjoy with you.” Evangelism is that easy: Show people the picture of what you love – then give them the opportunity to see what you see. No need to spit scripture or force-feed statistics. Just transfer emotion.

Infect people with your passion by allowing it to overflow into the conversation. Allow expression to flow unhindered and unencumbered. But, stay away from proclamational evangelism (crying out publicly, wearing a sandwich board around your neck).

And steer clear of confrontational evangelism (creating conflict interpersonally, scaring people into hiding). Instead, shoot for incarnational evangelism (embodying your truth, consistently and lovingly). Are you defending or infecting?

5. Maintain a posture of grace. Let’s say you’re faced with a few Doubting Thomases. No problem. The secret is to accommodate their unbelief, without running after people begging and pleading to reconsider. Act with propriety. Present your message – your gospel – in a way that’s (just) challenging enough to disqualify the disinterested, yet provoke the desirous.

And if you still sense that it’s a lost cause, let them go. Stop chasing after the disinterested. Spend time with people who want to be with you. Remember: You can’t make someone believe – all you can do is give her the option. Are your fingers pointing or clenched in a fist?

6. Pinpoint the influences. In the book Gentle Persuasion, author Dr. Joe Aldrich shares a helpful list of factors that influence a person’s receptivity. Adjust your evangelism efforts accordingly:

• The existing loyalties of this person. Where else are they affiliated?
• The transitions facing the individual. What changes are they going through?
• The condition of the soil of this person’s soul. What is their heart leaning heavily toward?
• The nature and stability of this person’s relationships. Whom do they love, and who loves them?
• The previous attempts to approach or invite this person. Who burned, scared or scarred them in the past?
• The caricatures that distort someone’s grasp of something. What existing prejudices do they hold?
• The nature and frequency of past contacts with this person. How many times have they already been bugged?
• The circumstances under which someone learned something. Do they believe what they believe because they actually believe, or because someone told them to believe and they mindlessly followed?
• The people this person has known and their influence upon him. Who are they hanging with?
• The degree of satisfaction or lack thereof with this person’s life. Are they happy?
• The spot this person sits on the continuum between opposition and acceptance of something. What are they resisting?

Whomever your current interpersonal situation involves, I challenge you to connect those people to these factors. Establish a profile of perfect receptivity. Map out a few of the answers to clarify the true nature of people’s reluctance.

Remember: There’s nothing you can do unless someone invites the challenge. There’s no magic pill you can slip in a customer’s cocktail to guarantee they’ll say, “I’ll meet you in the bathroom in five minutes.” Ascertain fit first. What barriers to communicating freely and openly exist between you and this person?

7. Reverse the approach. Don’t finagle a way to steer the conversation toward your agenda. Don’t unnaturally sneak your idea into every conversation. And don’t telegraph an attitude of “finish up and finish telling me your problem so I can give you the solution I already thought of.”

Be the opposite of every evangelist you’ve ever met. Practice nonprescriptiveness. Loosen your arrogance clamp. And know that if your feet are too firmly planted, you won’t be able to walk. After all, most people are tired of the “told, sold and scold” approach. They prefer to be invited, inspired and included. Which path are your evangelism efforts taking?

8. Reprogram people’s experience banks. Once you’ve seen a ghost, you’re always afraid of the dark. That’s the problem with traditional evangelism: Force-fed truth causes people to develop allergies toward that truth. Which means the bodily reaction anytime that truth is encountered will be rejection. Yikes.

Lesson learned: If you force-feed people once, and they may never swallow again.

As I mentioned, I’ve haven’t eaten a green olive since I was five years old. Who knows if I’ll ever eat one again? Your reprogramming challenge is two fold: (1) Watch for psychologically negative experiences, then, (2) Provide consistent, positive examples to help shift people’s attitude about your organization, product or idea. Are you aggressively investing in making remarkable moments that move customers?

9. Miracles capture attention.As I become president of my local chapter of National Speakers Association, I plan to introduce a program called, “Without NSA.” It was simple: At the beginning of every meeting, one member is selected to share a “miracle,” aka, something that never would have been possible without the organization’s assistance. Call it a testimony. Call it a story. Call it the price of admission. Whatever.

The point is: We invited people to share their personal experience. The benefit of the benefit of the benefit of membership. The kind of stuff you can’t find on the website or in the brochure. The kind of stuff that makes first-timers and guests think, “And where, exactly, is this many-splendored thing they sing about?” How are you soliciting, sharing and capturing the miracles of being part of your organization?

10. Don’t inform – form. Surprise creates anxiety in the air, which is the best time to give someone new ideas. So, anything that makes people pause – that is, to consider your idea and become a little more conscious – is always worth the time.

Try this: Ask people to remember a time in their life when they sad, “I’d never do that!” Then ask them to tell you the story about when they did it. You’ll find people to be significantly more receptive to your ideas once they’ve just proven to themselves that they’re (clearly) willing to explore new things. How could you make the whole song a chorus?

11. Orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. Focus your efforts on the right practices – not the right beliefs. Instead of practicing what you preach; try preaching what you practice. Be good news before you share it. Make sure the message you’re preaching is the dominant reality of your life.

Note any gaps between your onstage performance and your backstage reality. Announce your intentions through your actions. That way your evangelism efforts will be a function of insinuation, not imposition. Remember: people respond to people who have been there. Are you smoking what you’re selling?

12. Caring (actually) works. But not as a technique. You can’t bastardize caring into a strategy. There’s no formula. There’s no handbook. There’s no seven-step system. 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.

Consider these two ideas: First, people who feel unnecessary won’t give you their attention. It all depends on what you see when you see people. You have to make them feel essential. Not just important, valued, special and heard – but essential.

Secondly, people won’t to respond to a voice that doesn’t care. Especially if you only care about looking like you care. That doesn’t count. If your motivations for spreading the gospel are misguided, something isn’t better than nothing. In fact, nothing might be better than anything. Caring has a smell, and people know when it’s missing. Will you dare to care?

REMEMBER: Evangelism is a contact sport. No contact = No impact.

As Novelist John Lecarre once said, “A desk is a dangerous place to watch the world.”

So, get out there.

Stop force-feeding truth.
Leave behind your arsenal of deception.
Give clear direction of what you want people to follow.
Get across what you want to say in the most direct way possible.

And know that cramming something down people’s throats – whether it’s an idea, a product, a business, a belief system or a green olive – simply doesn’t work.

Which reminds me: Maybe I’ll send this blog post my kindergarten teacher.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do you evangelize?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.

12 Ways to Sharpen Your Instincts to a Razor’s Edge

“What were you thinking when you decided to wear a nametag every day for the rest of your life?”

Well, that’s just the thing – I wasn’t thinking.

I was feeling.
I was listening.
I was trusting.
I was testing.
I was risking.
I was reacting.

But I definitely wasn’t thinking.

And, interestingly enough, that decision turned out to be the single most important one of my life.

LESSON LEARNED: Thinking is overrated.

Allow me explain that ridiculous blanket statement before I start getting hatemail from Mensa.

First of all, thinking is (technically) my occupation.

As a writer, speaker, mentor, consultant and entrepreneur – I literally make a living off of my brain.

At the same time, part of being a Professional Thinker – that is, one who dedicates his life to the persistent and honest pursuit of ideas – is recognizing when to stop thinking and start instincting.

This reminds me of John Cusack, whose character in the movie High Fidelity confesses:

“I’ve been thinking with my gut since I was fourteen years old, and frankly speaking, between you and me, I have come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.”

Ever felt like that before?
Like your instincts were about as sharp as Fisher Price butter knife?

I know I have. It’s sickening. All you want to do is be able to trust your gut, but every time you roll the dice, you crap out.

THE REALITY IS: Instinct is not a self-sharpening blade.

As much as you’d like your instincts to be as sharp as the Miracle Blade – which, if you recall, could slice through a steel hammer, a leather boot and a tomato, back to back, with no hassle (and no shipping and handling!) – then you’ve got to be willing to hone your intuitive muscles.

Here’s a collection of practices for doing so:

1. Look back at the path that you followed to victory. That way you can see the sequence of moves that led you where you are. Try this: Make a list of three situations where you trusted your instincts. Maybe it was a key business decision. Or the choice to end a relationship. Or that time you took a left down a gravel road even though the annoying British voice on your GPS kept telling you to turn around.

Whatever your situations were, write the answers to the following questions for each one: What were your intuition triggers? Where did you feel a sense of self-trust in your body? What questions did you ask yourself? How long did it take to make your final decision? And most importantly: How did that situation ultimately turn out? You’ll be amazed. Are you polling your past successes?

2. Look back at the path that you followed to failure. Next, I want you make a list of three situations where you ignored your instincts. And I want you to write down the answers to those same questions from the first example. My guarantee: Simply by making these two lists, you will immediately double the sharpness of your intuition through the power of self-awareness.

In the same way that getting the appointment is making a sale in itself; simply asking yourself these questions like pressing the ON button of the intuition sharpening saw. Remember: Self-evaluation is the impetus of self-improvement. Would your instincts be sharper if you became a more contemplative person?

3. Audit your instinctual abilities. Now that you’ve brainstormed a series of experiences, the next step is to give yourself an overall intuitive evaluation. Ask questions like: How do you treat your own intuitive promptings? In what areas of your life are you most intuitive? Under what conditions are you most intuitive? Who murdered your intuition?

This provides further insight into the origins of your instincts. Very helpful. Are you allowing yourself to trust your more spontaneous instinctual abilities?

4. Make paying attention to your intuition a priority. This is the crucial mindset for achieving deeper intuitive validity. Affirm to yourself, “I’m committed to listening to my body,” “I trust my resources,” and “I’m committed to honoring whatever arises.”

That’s how you plant the intuitive seed within yourself. And if you keep watering it, over time, you’ll yield a bountiful harvest of instinctive goodness. Are you dedicated to listening to your deepest self?

5. Be always guided by your body’s wisdom. It will never lie to you. And don’t have to climb to the top of a mountain or pay thousands of dollars for some weekend seminar to attain that wisdom. All you have to do is listen to what your body trying to tell you.

Here’s how: Think about where you manifest stress. Back pain? Stomach acid? Migranes? Then, notice patterns in how you feel when doing certain activities. Anticipatory waves of anxiety? Immediate biofeedback? Emotional hangovers? These are all the clues you need. And you’ll find that when you put yourself in direct touch with the one thing that will always tell you the truth (and that you can always learn from), your instincts will thank you.

But only if you become a consistent congregant of your bodily temple. If your cells could speak, what would they say to you?

6. Commit to stillness. After three years of practicing yoga, I’ve found my instincts to be sharper than ever before. Here’s why: The most challenging component of practicing yoga is the stillness. Especially in Bikram, when it’s 110° and sweat gushes out of every pore of your body for ninety minutes straight. Kind of hard (not) to wipe, itch, scratch, pick, pull or adjust something.

But that’s the whole point: To be able to practice perfect stillness amidst surrounding chaos. That’s when you’re confronted with who you really are. That’s when you can’t hide from your truth. Sounds simple, but it’s actually the most challenging part of class.

Hell, anyone can touch head to knee. But to just sit there and do nothing for sixty seconds? Ha! Most people are so voluntarily overbooked and crazybusy that the mere thought of absolute stillness gives them an ulcer. The cool part is: If you can practice stillness in the studio, you can practice stillness anywhere. Muscle memory is a beautiful thing.

The best part is: From stillness comes lucidity. And from lucidity comes the ability to listen to your intuition. Ask anyone who does yoga: The highest benefits are found outside the studio. Them instincts will get sharp as steel. How much time did you spend yesterday just sitting?

7. Float a trial balloon. Set a goal to achieve one small intuitive victory a day. Whether you’re deciding what shoes to wear, choosing which route to take to work or listening for which specific thought wants to be tweeted, the sharpening will continue.

And by practicing instinctive/intuitive behavior in small moments, you’ll start to become more receptive to future whispers about bigger moments. How many intuition reps do you usually get in each day?

8. Regularly ask yourself intuition-tapping questions. In no particular order, try these:

*What do I need to remember to be most aware of right now?
*What direction do I need to go right now?
*How do I need to take care of myself right now?
*What is it that I don’t want to know about myself?
*What remains unexpressed within me?
*What message is my body trying to give me right now?
*What are the signs I need to look for in myself that tell me I need to do something different?
*What is within me that’s trying to come through right now?

You might post these questions on sticky notes. Or ask them to yourself as you fall asleep. Or make a list of one hundred answers to each question. Or repeat them as mantras during meditation. Or write them in blood on your bathroom mirror. The point is to use whatever works for your learning and motivation style – then allow the solutions to your problems suggest themselves. How do you punch yourself in the face?

9. First thoughts, best thoughts. When you start writing, it doesn’t matter what you write or how you write – as long as you’re writing, the truth eventually arrives. The page doesn’t lie. It just takes a while. Usually about twenty minutes. Give yourself permission to keep writing, to write what you feel, and to write what wants to be written. The truth has a sneaky way of slipping out.

Often times, right under your nose. Ever experienced that before? The moment when you look up from your laptop think, “Holy crap. Is that how I really feel?” Well, here’s the reality: It is. You just needed that container of honesty, safety and patience to invite that naked truth to make an appearance.

Remember: Off the top of your head usually means from the bottom of your heart. Beatnik author William Burroughs was right, “Rewrites are a betrayal of your own thoughts.” Don’t edit yourself. Words contain truths. Are you using them as intuitive weapons?

10. Beware the dulling forces of intuition. You can’t train your instincts if the velocity and volume of your life never recedes. Here are two practices I’ve found great success with. First, keep your distance from people whose sole purpose is to pollute your head with toxic noise. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you.

Second, learn how to disappear from the world. Press the mute button on life. Be quiet. Listen. Your questions will be considered, if not answered. Sometimes that’s all your intuition needs – to be nudged out of hiding and onto center stage for a sound check. What rust do you need to remove from your life?

11. Behind every problem there’s a question trying to ask itself. Your challenge is to spy on yourself in the spirit of self-inquiry. To step back from life’s situations and figure out what the question of the moment is. And to call upon untested faculties awaiting your discovery.

Then, to make yourself available to any spontaneous feelings that begin to arise. The cool part is: By asking yourself questions about your current experience, you attune yourself to promptings of inner wisdom. Have you established an ongoing inner dialogue with yourself?

12. Discern the voices. There’s nothing wrong with hearing voices inside your head. What matters is listening to the right ones. What matters is courageously identifying the angry voice of your ego that is making it difficult to hear the subtle voice of intuition. Which do you hear?

REMEMBER: Instinct is like creativity – the more you use it, the more you have of it.

Employ any (or all) of these practices, and you’ll be sure to sharpen your instincts to a razor’s edge.

That way, you won’t even have to think.

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

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How to be More Efficacious

Pharmaceutical companies are well known for having an abundance of three things:

1. Drugs.
2. Money.
3. Chotchkies.

I learned this in 2006 when I delivered the keynote speech at a leadership conference for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

Not that I know anything about healthcare. My presentation was on how to make a name for yourself.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice the heavy usage of a word I’d never heard before: Efficacious.

As it pertains to drugs, the term indicates the capacity for beneficial change or therapeutic effect of a given intervention.

Cool.

MY QUESTION IS: What about people? Can an individual become more efficacious?

Albert Bandura believes so. He wrote a book in 1997 called Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. It’s a monster: Six hundred pages of psycho-speak on everything from cognition to creativity to gender roles in athletics.

Interesting stuff.

He defines self-efficacy as: “Beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action require to produced given attainments.”

IN SHORT: You’re richly supported. You trust your resources. You’re equal to this challenge and ready to act.

Right – but how? How can you become more efficacious?

The good news is: You don’t need drugs.

Instead, try popping a few of these personal and professional development pills:

1. Carry your own standards for judging your artistic talents. Creativity is the highest form of human expression. As such, don’t let the validity of your talent hang in the balance of some critic’s opinion. Or some jealous hater that couldn’t create art if he was dropping acid at a finger-painting convention.

Keep in mind that the more innovative your brain, the more you invite rejection. Your challenge is to override the disbelievers. To start with the why. And to figure out what your currency is. Then, enlist your motivation and go from there. You’ll find that while self-belief doesn’t guarantee success –lack of self-believe does guarantee failure.

Remember: The creations of innovative persisters will always dwarf the accomplishments of the surrendering masses. Which one describes you?

2. Prolonged laborious effort. Endeavors that matter demand the persistent investment of time & toil. That’s the 90%. The hard, long and smart work that most of your customers will never see. And if you want to make the remaining 10% as beautiful as possible, better bust your ass. Because perserverance means greater efficacy, and greater efficacy means higher probability of success.

Ultimately, the road to mastery is marked by periods of minimal progress. You need to learn to be okay with that. Even when progress is discouragingly slow. Just remind yourself that the ongoing process of mastery is your reward. That commanding personal efficacy comes from a resilient sense of self and an amazing reserve of stamina. And that money isn’t target – money is what you get for hitting the target it. What time did you start work today?

3. People who leverage, last. The possession of knowledge rarely guarantees the proficiency of action. Sure, you had a great opportunity – but did you convert? If not, you lose. Because an idea generation without idea execution is idea annihilation.

My suggestion is to constantly ask yourself leverage questions like, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?” and “How can I make this last forever?” and “How can I reuse, resurrect or reposition something people threw away or quit on?

Remember: Your ability is only as good as its execution – and the leverage thereof. How will you kill two stones with one bird today?

4. Believe that outcomes are determined by your behavior. As Pablo Neruda once said, “You are the result of yourself.” And as Scott Ginsberg once said, “Most wounds are self-inflicted.” Either way, the secret is developing an efficacious frame of mind through a fundamentally affirmative attitude. Taking ownership of your experience.

Deleting the phrase, “It is what it is,” from your defeatist vocabulary and instead wondering, “What have I done to invite this into my life? Ultimately, you can either be the architect or the victim of your life’s course. As you water-ski in the wake of the choices you’ve already made, ask yourself: How choppy is the lake?

5. Seek meaningful life pursuits. Even when the competing attractions look so good you could taste them. Stay focused on what counts. Don’t get lost in what doesn’t matter. Instead, partake in what Bandura’s textbook referred to as, “Developmentally enriching experiences.” Do things simply because they’re essential to your economic vitality.

Then, intelligently reflecting on those experiences. Extract and document the lessons from those experiences. And mobilizing your knowledge by teaching those lessons to others. If you can do so so with an attitude of nonprescriptiveness, nothing will be more meaningful. How minutes of your last hour were aggressively invested in irrelevant action?

ULTIMATELY: Self-efficacy is a function of self-belief.

Like I remind myself every morning:

I trust my resources…
I am richly supported…
I believe in my capabilities…
I am equal to this challenge…

You don’t have to be a pharmaceutical drug to be more efficacious.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you dare to care?

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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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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12 Ways to Increase Your Capacity to Execute

You know what you need to do.
You know how you need to do it.
You know when you need to start.

So what’s the problem?

WELL, MAYBE: Increasing your capacity to execute isn’t just about what you do – it’s also about what you avoid, what you stop doing and what you stop thinking.

Consider these ideas for turning ideas into action:

1. You don’t need to respond to every attention magnet. People who dissipate themselves in useless activity or let their agenda collapse too easily are forever doomed to an execution-free life. All because they haven’t trained themselves to be ruthlessly self-protective with their time. Nor have they made the conscious decision to put their own needs at the top of their own list.

And I get it. I’ve been there before. I’m busy too. But overburdening yourself is easy because it makes you feel busy, important and needed.

Too bad that’s all a lie. Too bad checking your inbox forty times an hour doesn’t make you any money. Too bad spending your evenings fiddling around on Facebook, stalking ex-girlfriends from college – who, by the way, look five times better than they did a decade ago – isn’t helping you turn your ideas into action. Does distraction overwhelm and enslave you?

2. Decide who to ignore. Feedback is enormously profitable, but only when it comes from people who matter. Otherwise, it’s nothing but procrastination in disguise. Just another confusing, unnecessarily discouraging, self-doubt-producing, undue-stress causing waste of energy and tears.

My suggestion: Don’t torture yourself over feedback from someone whose opinion doesn’t count. Execution is the byproduct of listening to the right people while ignoring the wrong people. It’s about self-trust and healthy impatience.

Stop exposing yourself to harsh, unsolicited feedback and start trusting your voice. Demanding excessive reassurance is a one-way ticket to entrepreneurial purgatory. Whose advice have you outgrown?

3. Beware of the over commitment trap. It’s like owning a truck: The week you buy it, everyone you know needs help moving. And you don’t want to feel like a bad friend, so you allow yourself become entangled in other people’s pointless wars. No wonder you never execute. You haven’t learned to be respectfully discerning about whom you give permission participate in your life.

Like my mentor taught me, always ask two filtering questions, “Is this person asking me to create a future that I’m going to feel obligated to be a part of?” and, “Is the level of help this person is asking me to offer commensurate with the type of relationship I have with them?”

Remember: If you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell all their little friends that it’s okay to do the same. All because you never set a precedent of time valuation. Are you sacrificing your life by spending too much time being everybody else’s dream machine?

4. Decide for yourself first. The world will attempt to superimpose onto you its prefabricated definition what success should be. Please avert your ears. Don’t become one of those people who give mass consciousness permission to think for them. Otherwise your execution track record will be about as consistent as Shaquille O’Neal’s free throw percentage.

My suggestion: Stop listing all the reasons why you should avoid taking a risk. Waiting squanders momentum. And when you let your desires stay sobbing, awaiting your hand to take action upon them, momentum becomes a statistical improbability.

Instead, don’t wait until you have five years experience. Don’t wait for instructions. Don’t wait for overwhelming evidence before you trust yourself. And don’t wait to be rewarded to do it. Just go. What are you rationalizing your way out of?

5. Refuse to exist in an inhibited condition. If the innovation of others intimidates and inhibits you, you lose. The secret is to use the success of others to fuel your own execution. Two examples come to mind. First: When I sense the warning signs of an approaching storm of creative blockage, I just read Gaping Void or Seth’s blog. Their innovative spirit and cutting edge philosophies never cease to light a fire under my (occasionally) uninspired ass.

Second: When I notice the declining momentum of one of my mentees’ executional patterns, I do what good mentors do – model. Take Carrie, for example. She’s been bragging to me for the last three years about her new book. Which I’ve read. And which I think is tremendous. The problem is, she can’t pull the trigger. She can’t make the book real. She can’t ship.

Instead of getting on her case, hounding her every week or trying to solve her execution problems for her, I just write another book. Then I mail her a copy. Then she wants to kill me. And then I ask her to channel that frustration into her project. And then she does. So much for existing in an inhibited condition. How can you fire inspiration into yourself (or others) today?

6. Capitulation is the enemy of execution. I’m all for delegation. But when you deliberately plant your entire idea in the hands of another person, he owns you. Which makes him the sole shot-caller. Which means execution just made one hell of a pit stop.

From now on, try this: Diversify the baskets you put your eggs in. That way, if one person moves like molasses, you can reach out to someone who moves like Speedy Gonzalez while you’re waiting. For example, my book production team consists of four people: Jeff for layout, Sue for cover art, Jess for edits and Chris for printing.

Now, after twelve books, I’ve learned that each person has their own individual pace. Which is fine. I respect that. So, in order to get the books done in a timely manner, I shotgun the assignments. Like a golf scramble. Everyone starts at a different time. That way, my books finish at (roughly) the same place in the process.

Your challenge is to figure out the time sensitivity of the people you’re working with. Otherwise the sole basket in which all your eggs lie might get chopped down by deforestation. Not exactly the kind of execution you had in mind. When was the last time you over delegated?

7. Complacency is the BFF of inaction. Declaring victory too soon is an exercise in entrepreneurial foot shooting. The best policy is to wait till the check clears. Or to hold off until the product is delivered. Or to stand by before you start telling the world about your new website. Otherwise you look like a putz trying to explain yourself to people when that error 404 page comes up.

Julia Cameron addresses this issue in her Artist’s Way series: “The first rule of magic is self-containment. You must hold your intention within yourself, stoking it with power. Only then will you be able to manifest what you desire.”

I made this mistake several times early in my career. From interviews on major media networks to new book projects, it seemed like the more people I told, the less likely the idea was to come to fruition. Woops. Looks like I shot myself in both feet. Lesson learned: Think long and hard before waving your “Mission Accomplished” banner on the poop deck of your career. What is the cost of inaction?

8. Celebrate quickly and quietly. Preserving yesterday is fun for about a week. But eventually, it’s time to get back to work. Otherwise you become so addicted to your victory dance that your sore knees atrophy your ability to execute again in the future.

Truth is: When you overvalue prior successes, the arrogance of the past comes back to bite you in the ass. As John Mayer explained during a 2009 interview with Esquire, “To evolve, you have to dismantle. And that means accepting the idea that nothing you created in the past matters anymore other than it brought you here. You pick up your new marching orders and get to work.”

Remember: If you’re too removed from action, you’ll never be able to see what’s wrong. Are you sabotaging your own ability to repeat past performance?

9. Lower your expectations. Never execute as if you’re going to get it right on the first try. You won’t. Nobody does. What’s important is that you reflect on your experience, document your reflections and then internalize those lessons so you don’t screw up as badly next time.

Otherwise you’ll continue to let yourself down. Which murders your confidence. Which prevents you from taking positive action in the future. Remember: When you expect nothing, failure is impossible. Is your addiction to perfection adding undue pressure that nobody is going to notice anyway?

10. Don’t mistake knowledge for wisdom. 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: Those who take the tour, and those who get a guest pass. Which one are you?

Look: Reading a thousand books might make you an expert, but that doesn’t change the fact that you (still) haven’t executed anything. Learning (reading books) builds knowledge, but doing (taking action) builds wisdom. Ultimately, filling yourself up with irrelevant knowledge is akin to eating an entire can of Texas BBQ Pringles: They taste great, they fill you up, but their nutritional output isn’t the worth the time investment or the orange stains on your fingers. What percentage of your brilliant mental effort is invested in the immaterial?

11. Don’t share your execution goals with negative people. All they’re going to is deflate your enthusiasm, piss you off royally and inspire you to throw in the towel. Invest your energy elsewhere. Life’s too short to surround yourself with mediocre people. They rarely challenge and inspire you, plus they tend to smell like hot trash.

You need to play wit people who are better than you. You need to hang with people who, by virtue of their presence in your life, make executing your goals a natural byproduct. How much time are you wasting on relationships you’ve outgrown?

12. Comfort is rarely part of the equation. To increase your capacity to execute, it’s possible you’re going to have to choose an inconvenient lifestyle. Sorry. It’s part of the deal. Waking up at 5am might be a pain in the ass, but it’s also a pleasure for your bank account.

That’s the crucial moment: When discipline trumps desire. When you refuse to let your stamina become stifled by your endless excuse barrage. As my friend Sam Silverstein explains in his new book, “An excuse a story you tell to yourself about yourself. And you always convince yourself to buy that excuse before you try to sell it elsewhere.”

Lesson learned: When you ignore the inconvenient, you allow the lust for what is familiar block the beauty of what is possible. How, specifically, did you make yourself uncomfortable yesterday?

FINAL WORDS: Vision without execution is hallucination.

Edison said that.

Which brings me to my updated version of the same maxim:

Talking smack without doing jack is whack.

Ginsberg said that.

Look:

You know what you need to do.
You know how you need to do it.
You know when you need to start.

The world is standing by.

Life is curious to see what you will do.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you increasing your capacity to execute?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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How Ignoring Feedback Can Save Your Business

I contribute regular columns for a few dozen print and online publications.

Last year, one particular article must have struck a nerve: I received over two thousand reader emails within 48 hours of its publication.

Awesome!

Unfortunately, my writer buzz was severally harshed when my editor forwarded me an email from an upset reader:

“Scott, this letter came for you from an English professor at Princeton. Apparently, he didn’t care for – or approve of – your writing style. Please see the attached three-page critique of your article.”

Imagine that was you. What would you do with that email?

TWO WORDS: De-lete.

LESSON LEARNED: Feedback is enormously profitable, but only when it comes from people who matter.

Otherwise, feedback nothing but procrastination in disguise. Just another confusing, unnecessarily discouraging, self-doubt-producing, undue-stress causing waste of time and tears.

HERE’S MY SUGGESTION: Don’t torture yourself over feedback from someone whose opinion doesn’t count. Execution is the byproduct of listening to the right people while ignoring the wrong people. It’s about self-trust and healthy impatience.

Today I’m going to help you create your own personal feedback filter to make sure you discern helpful advice from harmful absurdities.

1. Decide who’s worth ignoring. Let’s begin with a quick exercise to get you in the right headspace. Start a blank document. Title it, “Don’t listen to people who…” Then, list twenty answers to this question.

First of all, it’s easier than you think.
Secondly, it’s more fun when done with a partner.
Third, it’s most profitable when shared with a group.

By making this list, you’ll learn that self-confidence is learning who to listen to; whereas arrogance is assuming you don’t need to listen to anybody. Have you decided whom to ignore?

2. Love the haters. Nietzsche once remarked, “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music.” Next time people give you shit for being crazy, dust ‘em off. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Especially if they’re the type of people whose imagination can’t encompass what it is that you want to do.

Instead, be grateful for their challenge to your commitment to craziness. Understand that they can’t hear the music you hear, nor will they ever hear the music you hear. Be okay with that. Maintain this attitude throughout the feedback process, and you’ll make it out alive. How will you use the haters to fuel your fire of insanity?

3. Excavate the gold. Todd Henry, founder of Accidental Creative, is an arms dealer for the creative revolution. In his awesome blog post, On Feedback, he wrote:

“One of the disciplines we need to learn is extracting truth from emotion. There is a tremendous amount of fear, apprehension and ego-protection that weaves its way into the feedback process; we need to learn to listen beyond the words that are being spoken. In turn, we can be tempted to react strongly in opposition to what we hear. But the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

For example, I’ve received my share of hatemail over the years – all for wearing a damn nametag everyday. Interestingly, however, most of the hatemail messages I’ve received were sent anonymously. Huh. I guess it’s easy to hate from a distance.

Anyway, occasionally a piece of hatemail contains truth. Like the email I received the week after my website went live in 2002 from a visitor who said, “Scott, I clicked on the ‘Funny Stores’ page of your website, and, those stories aren’t funny.” Good tip. I quickly changed the menu item to just “Stories,” and got on with my life. Thanks for the feedback! How will you find (and use) the gold within the grime?

4. Practice self-questioning. Starting an internal dialogue with yourself is essential for leveraging the feedback that matters.

First, try these questions: Do I trust and value this person’s opinion of my performance? What might be the motivations behind this person giving me feedback? Do I seek feedback to get better or get approval?

Secondly, filter the feedback by testing it against your values: “Which one of these pieces of feedback most honors my values?”

Finally, consider this line of questions from Accidental Creative:

(a) What about this feedback do I like? What do I dislike? Why?
(b) Is the person offering the feedback (whether good or bad) protecting something? What is it? How is it affecting their feedback?
(c) What am I reacting against or rationalizing in an unhealthy way because I’m protecting something?
(d) Does this person have a track record of offering me honest positive and constructive criticism?
(e) What is actionable about their feedback? Is it anything that I can change right now and improve my work?

5. Unsolicited negative feedback is (usually) a manifestation of insecurity. Especially when someone prefaces her supposedly brilliant wisdom with, “Let me give a friendly piece of advice…” Wrong. It’s rarely friendly and it’s not advice – it’s projection in disguise. There’s a fine line between helpful, gentle criticism and vindictive self-projection.

The question you have to ask yourself is, “Does this person offer feedback from the desire to see me become better or from a desire to see me fail?” Hopefully the former; because as we’ve all experienced at some time or another, there are some people out there who simply don’t want to see you succeed. Jerks. Are you willing to tune out people who don’t have you best interests at heart?

6. Strike a healthy balance. Feedback-free environments are not conducive to learning new skills. But feedback bloated environments are not conducive to executing old skills. Your challenge is discernment. As Alan Weiss explained in Thrive:

“In major decisions, involve others. Whether personally or professionally, avail yourself of the intelligence and experience of others. Conversely, never accept unsolicited feedback. It is always given for the benefit of the sender, and it will cause you to be bounced around as if you were in a pinball machine. Act only on patterns, not random events. Once is an accident, twice a coincidence, three times a pattern. Whether positive or negative, don’t bounce around in the feedback pinball machine.”

Ultimately, it’s like playing in a rock band. Feedback can make your performance better, louder and stronger – but too much of it can also blow your amp and ruin the show for everybody. Are you a master of discernment?

7. More feedback doesn’t always equal better performance. I recently hosted an entrepreneur workshop Florida. During the first module, I instructed the group to write down three questions they asked themselves every day. Next, when we scattered the index cards across the floor, one question in particular caught my attention: “What if my boss is right about me?”

Silence fell across the room. And the young woman to my left, Karen, sheepishly said, “Um, that was mine.” Turns out she worked for a company that, until recently, she loved. But when her new manager took the reins, everything changed. “This bully of a boss gives me non-stop feedback – most of which is negative and nit-picky,” Karen said. “And that does nothing but cause me stress and make me second guess my performance.”

Lesson learned: Micro-managing insecure employees with too much feedback has an adverse effect on job performance. If you find yourself in a situation like Karen’s, speak up early. Otherwise you might convince yourself that your boss is right about you – even if she’s not. What one person in your life gives you too much feedback?

8. Learn to trust your voice. When I started my career as a speaker, I used to collect evaluations at the end of my presentations. The problem was, I’d receive two hundred glowing reviews, and one crappy critique.

Which one would you focus on?

Of course. The negative one. Because they always weigh on your heart the heaviest. To the point of obsessive compulsiveness. Meanwhile, all your positive feedback becomes overshadowed.

Lesson learned: Resist the pull of negative feedback. It drags you away from positive. Trash the evaluations. Learn to trust your inner judge. Decide for yourself how well you did and let rest go. All those negative reviews will do is bring you down to an annoyed, depressed version of yourself.

This reminds me of a speech I gave in 2006 that received horrible evaluations across the board. Except for Jody. She loved the program. So much so that she booked me (four years later!) for a gig in South Korea where I spoke to three thousand people. Hmm. I guess bombing is relative. Maybe pleasing the people who pay is what matters. Are you immobilized by unsolicited opinions that don’t count?

9. Avoid the paralysis of prioritization. Dwelling incapacitates you. Especially when the feedback is negative. My suggestion: Stop spinning round and round in circles and over-complicating things, when, if you get right down to it, simply doesn’t count. Overanalyzing is a waste of time. Don’t let words from someone who doesn’t matter stress you out and make you second-guess yourself.

Looking for too much feedback may ultimately result in waste time and a failure to prioritize in a timely manner. Romance author Charlene Teglia said it best:

“In order to succeed as a writer (or really, in any area) you have to have a peculiar balance of confidence and humility. You have to know when you don’t know it all and be willing to learn from those who know more. But you also have to have the confidence to know who you shouldn’t listen to, because somebody can be right – and at the same time, dead wrong for you.”

Lesson learned: Feedback from the right people (and the ability to make subsequent changes) leads to enhanced performance. What paralyzes you?

In conclusion, we turn to singer Amy Grant, who sang a beautiful song called, “Who To Listen To.”

Don’t take a ride from a stranger.
No way to know where they go.
You may be left on a long dark road, lost and alone.
Don’t you recall what your Mama told?
You’ve got to learn hot from cold.
When you’re afraid that you might get burned,
Where do you turn?

You’ve got to know who to, who not to listen to.
Well, you know, they’re gonna hit you from all sides.
Better make up your mind who to, who not to listen to.

How can you learn what is true and just? How to know who to trust?
Here comes a man with a scam to sell. How can you tell?
You’ve gotta know there’s a bigger plan, room to fall, room to stand.
Pray for the plan to begin in you; keep your heart true.

Everyone will have their words to say.
Find the word to help you find your way.

ULTIMATELY: Ignoring feedback is hard.

It takes heaps of self-confidence, plenty of self-control and vast self-knowledge.

But it sure beats the alternative. Because demanding excessive reassurance is a one-way ticket to entrepreneurial purgatory.

I challenge you to stop exposing yourself to harsh, unsolicited feedback; and to start trusting your voice.

Start listening to the people who matter.

Even if they didn’t get an English degree from Princeton.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you really need more feedback?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the ebook called, “101 People (not) to Listen to,” go here.

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

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

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

How to Win without Planning

I started my company the week after I graduated college.

Mainly because the prospect of getting a regular office job like the rest of my friends made me want to gouge my eyes out with a broken Coke bottle.

Anyway, because I hadn’t yet woken up from the compliant, self-hypnotic stupor of higher education, I actually went to the library one day to, ahem, write my business plan.

Ugh. It was awful. I’m pretty sure I died a little bit inside with each page I wrote.

But, I still wrote it. Probably for the same reason most businesspeople obsess over plans:

Because planning preserves the illusion of control.

Or, in my case, because planning helped underwrite the illusion that I knew what I was doing.

Which I didn’t.

I just wanted to feel like a grown up. A professional. A real entrepreneur.

Interestingly, I never once looked at that business plan. Ever again.

And eight years later, my company is thriving in ways I never could have imagined.

LESSON LEARNED: You don’t need a plan to win.

Especially early on in the game.

As I learned in Rework, “When you do write a plan, usually it’s before you’ve even begun. And that’s the worst time to make a big decision.”

Now, it’s not that I’m against planning completely. Rather, I’m against the assumption that planning is always necessary for success.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” right?

Well, let me suggest this:

Failing to plan is planning to prevail.

Let’s explore six strategies to win without planning:

1. Strengthen your why. Planning is a form of how, and how is not your responsibility. Why is what counts. Why is what matters. Why is what makes money.

Decide details later and start focusing on the true motivation behind your current endeavors. Ask questions like: What core values motivated my decision? What do I want this idea to become? With what attitudes do I need to approach this endeavor for me to look back ten years later and still be okay with my decision?

Remember: When you enlist a strong enough why, your plan – your how – will write itself. Otherwise, no amount of planning in the world can compensate for misguided motivations. When was the last time you took inventory of your why?

2. Plans are the preventers of progress. The danger of planning is that it’s a big decision. And big decisions often cause you to prematurely commit to an endeavor that (might) later prove to be unprofitable. Which makes the cognitive dissonance of exiting extremely painful.

That’s another keeper I learned from Rework: “Plans let the past drive the future. They put blinders on you. ‘This is where we’re going because, well, that’s where we said we were going,’ you say. And that’s the problem: Plans are inconsistent with improvisation.”

Be careful. Don’t let the lust for what is familiar block the beauty of what is possible. Are you a victim of your own past commitments?

3. Planning isn’t controlling. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. Especially when you blindly follow a plan that has no relationship with reality. In that instance, it’s no longer a plan – it’s a straightjacket. And unless your name is Houdini, that’s not good for business.

Your challenge will be surrendering control. Focusing more on listening and responding – and less on planning and managing. How vulnerable are you willing to make yourself?

4. Less talkie, more walkie. When I started my publishing and consulting business in 2002, my friend Kate offered me the best piece of advice an author could get: “Stop planning and just write!”

Wow. I didn’t know it was that simple. But she was right. I started to (slowly) learn that great authors don’t “plan” what they’re going to write – they simply show up at the page every morning and listen for what wants to be written.

That’s all creativity is anyway: Active listening.

What’s more, I learned the more you plan; the harder it becomes to invite healthy derailments along the way. And that’s how you miss unlabeled opportunities to grow: When you’re too busy managing the stress of planning to experience the benefits of executing. Don’t close yourself off by making Gods out of your plans. Learn to trust whatever surfaces. What is planning getting in the way of?

5. Practice non-planning when the stakes are low. Try traveling without plans. I recently spent five days in Tokyo with no plans, no agendas, no contacts and no obligation. Didn’t know the language. Didn’t know the culture. I just showed up and let the Japanese winds carry me as they saw fit.

Sure enough, it turned out to be an unforgettable week of getting lost, exploring a perpendicular culture and listening for serendipity to present itself.

Lesson learned: Fewer plans = Greater flexibility. Next time you take a vacation, challenge yourself to cut your planning in half. No need to cut it out completely. Just half. Make plans for the first few days – then go planless for the remainder.

Then, compare the two halves of the trip. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Or you’ll end up stranded on an island in the South Pacific inhabited by cannibals. Where could you practice non-planning?

6. Redefining the approach. Ready, aim, fire! Ready, fire, aim! Fire, fire, fire! Several problems with these all-too-common approaches. First of all, you’re never really ready. Nor do you need to be ready to take action. So stop waiting for permission.

Secondly, aiming has the tendency to override spontaneity and alienate unseen targets. That’s the big problem with having a plan – you might hit it. Which means you probably weren’t stretching enough. You weren’t uncomfortable enough.

Third, firing is a dangerous word. It’s too violent, highly unfocused and overly aggressive. Plus, if all you ever do is fire, you might find yourself up to your ass in blood and shells. And that’s not the kind of execution you want.

Instead, consider this alternate approach that wins: Try, listen, leverage!

First, you start. You just do stuff.

Second, you listen. Or watch. Or observe. And you note the trajectory of your idea to see if the flight plan needs tweaking.

Finally, you leverage. You identify movement by asking, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

Then, you document everything as it happens. And you reflet on your experiences by extracting lessons learned. Finally, you catalogue those lessons and refer back to them when the time comes to try again. What’s your version of the “Read, Aim, Fire!” approach?

ULTIMATELY: Failure doesn’t come from poor planning – but from the timidity to proceed.

Planning is the gateway drug to procrastination. Don’t get hooked.

JUST REMEMBER: When you don’t know where you’re going, nobody can stop you.

No labels, no limits.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Will you win without planning?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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