How to Create Something Worth Being Criticized

If you’re not polarizing, you’re not monetizing.

If you’re making people react, you’re not making a difference.

If everybody loves what you’re doing, you’re doing something wrong.

THAT’S YOUR CHALLENGE: Create something worth being criticized.

Otherwise you’re boring.
Just another slice of average cut from the mediocre multitude.

Otherwise you’re ignored.
Just another non-entity in the infinite grey mass of blah blah blah.

Otherwise you’re forgotten.
Just another flash-in-the-pan, all-shtick-no-substance, one-trick-pony.

AND THE TRUTH IS: Criticism isn’t something you draw – it’s something you earn.

If you want to create something worth being criticized, consider these ideas:

1. Change your reactions to criticism. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield suggests that we recognize criticism (especially the envy-driven variety) for what it really is: Supreme compliment.

“The critic hates most what he wishes he would have done himself he had the guts.”

Lesson learned: Next time someone attacks you, smile. Even if you do so internally. Know that you’ve done your job and that it’s probably got nothing to do with you. In fact, consider keeping Criticism Log. Document daily victories of being hated – even in minor moments – as reminders that you haven’t lost your edge. What’s your definition of (and relationship with) criticism?

2. Assess the risk. There is an inverse relationship between your willingness to risk and the likelihood of criticism. For example, one of the questions I ask myself every morning as I sit down to work is, “What do I risk is presenting this material?”

If the answer is “not much” or “nothing,” I either rework it – or don’t publish it at all. It’s simply not daring enough. Too much ink, not enough blood. And whether you’re a writer or not, the challenge is the same: Create a filter for your own work that reinforces the importance of risk. You might ask, “Who will this idea piss off?” or “How much hatemail will this garner?”

Otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark. How do you assess the risk of what you release to the world?

3. Disturb people. The word “disturb” comes from the Latin emotere – the same derivative as the word “emotion.” 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 or negative or neutral. Doesn’t matter.

The point is: You can’t go down in history if you’re not willing to shake things up in the present. Therefore: Learn to be constructively challenging – but without being ignorantly defiant. Learn to be delightfully disturbing – but without being painfully annoying.

After all, grinding the gears just because you love the sound doesn’t help anyone. And doing something just for the sake of being criticized isn’t worth being criticized for. Are your monkey wrenches well intentioned?

4. Wage an ongoing war against mediocrity. People who maintain a constant posture of challenging the process don’t just get noticed – they get nailed to crosses. Which, if you have thick enough skin – and perhaps some snacks to hold you over until the cavalry comes (no pun intended) – isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Take Bill Maher, for example. In the aftermath of 9/11, he refuted president Bush’s message that the terrorists were cowards: “We have been the real cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away,” explained Maher on Political Incorrect, “And staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, isn’t cowardly.”

Not surprisingly, Maher’s comments became a major controversy. Advertisers withdrew their support. Affiliates stopped airing the show temporarily. Even White House press secretary Ari Fleischer denounced Maher, according to the show’s Wikipedia page.

Sure enough, Politically Incorrect was cancelled six months later. Shortly thereafter, Maher moved to HBO to start shooting Real Time, which has recently been resigned for its ninth and tenth seasons. According to Nancy Geller, senior vice president, HBO Entertainment, “Bill Maher is one of the most sought-after opinion makers on TV, and I’m delighted that this fearless and provocative observer will return to HBO next year.”

Oh, and did I mentioned that since getting kicked off the air in 2002, Maher produced, wrote and directed the seventh most successful documentary of all time? Yep. Lesson learned: Violently refuse to become a follower of the common ways of the mediocre masses. Are you letting the world bring your average down, or are you dedicated to bringing its average up?

5. Negativity sucks – but silence sucks money out of your bank account. Oscar Wilde as right: “The only thing worse than being talked about – is not being talked about.” For example, I’d rather have my readers say that my books are drivel-filled hamster terds – than say nothing at all. And I’d rather my audience members tell me I was the worst speaker on the planet than sit there for an hour sexting their boyfriends.

Disagreement and doubt is a form of engagement. It means people heard you, and that’s what matters. Like Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz once said in a Rolling Stone Interview, “Happiness would be nice. Sadness would suck. But insignificance is the worth thing of all.” Next time your work gets beamed, consider it a victory. Better to be impugned than to be ignored. Are you earning criticism or hearing crickets?

6. Honesty scares people. Creating art is a simple process: Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page. Note well: I used the words “vein, blood and truth.” That’s the difference-maker: Criticism is earned by people who are willing to dance along, happily cross and stretch miles beyond the line.

My suggestion: Go there. “Take a chance – tell the truth,” as George Carlin reminded us. Take your readers, audience members and viewers somewhere they didn’t want to go – or never thought they’d go – but then make them so grateful they’re there that they never want to leave. How are you branding your honesty?

REMEMBER: Anything worth doing is worth being attacked for.

Ultimately, creating something worth being criticized is a risky, demanding and unglamorous process.

But that’s what difference makers do.

Sure as hell beats being ignored.

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

7 Ways to Convert Inertia into Demonstrable Forward Momentum

Execution isn’t a hobby.

It’s an effort.
It’s an attitude.
It’s an approach.
It’s an imperative.

And I know I write about it a lot.

In fact, you might even be sick of hearing about execution.

Too bad.

Inertia is a pervasive, expensive, urgent and real problem – in business and in life.

Here’s a list of eight (more) practices for converting your inertia into demonstrable forward momentum:

1. Accept inertia as an inevitable feature of the entrepreneurial landscape. Meet yourself where you are. Instead of making war with inaction, befriend it. Greet it with a welcoming heart. Put your arm around its shoulder and find out what it’s trying to teach you.

By partnering with inertia and respecting it as a natural part of the entrepreneurial experience, you’re able to move forward from an expanded (not contracted) mindspace. Are you ignoring, discounting or defriending the obvious?

2. Know that success (alone) is not enough to anchor you. Prosperity is the leading perpetrator of inertia. That’s the problem with winning: It often breeds complacency and dampens interest in innovative renewal. Lesson learned: Beware of the arrogance of success. Otherwise you’ll end up a victim of your victories, blinded by the bright light of your achievements, sitting on your butt in a blaze of self-satisfied glory.

My suggestion to build forward momentum mirrors Josh Waitzkin’s philosophy in The Art of Learning, “Make losing part of your regular experience.” That way you’re grounded in reality. Unlike our current educational system, which deludes kids into believing that there are no losers and winners.

Bullshit. Losing is part of life, and it needs to be part of your life too. Otherwise you’re in for a rude awakening the day you graduate. The cool part is, the moment you learn from your experience is the moment it ceases to be a mistake. So, failure actually is an option – but not growing from it, isn’t. When was the last time you were the loser?

3. Get the hay in the barn. My 12th book hits the shelves in the fall of 2010. But I know that if I don’t stop adding new material to it by July 1, it will never be done. Ever. I know me. And while it’s a painful part of the entrepreneurial process, you’ve got to put a creative stake in the ground.

Otherwise you’re consigned to career as a stock boy in the warehouse of inertia. In a recent blog post, Seth Godin riffed on this very topic, “People don’t like deadlines because they force us to decide. But they also create forward motion. And they give you the opportunity to beat the rush. They just have a lousy name. Call them live-lines instead. That’s what they are.”

Similarly, I teach this same idea to the people in my mentoring program. In fact, you might try writing the following reminder on a sticky note: Prepare to declare it done. Otherwise you’ll keep adding and changing and editing and improving until the day you die. Ugh. Why haven’t you put it on your calendar yet?

4. Breathe help in. Success never comes unassisted. You need to admit that it’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t make you needy, incompetent or in the debt of the helper. Learn to ask for it proactively, accept it gracefully, act upon it swiftly and appreciate it regularly.

It could be as simple as, “David, would you be willing to email me once a week as a gentle probe to keep me on point?” or as complex as, “Wendy, can you offer some advice on how to drag my sorry ass out of bed every morning instead of lying like a piece of broccoli listening to Howard Stern for three hours?”

Accountability works. Ask for it. Are you willing to let it be okay that you need other people?

5. Decide how much discomfort you can absorb. Moving forward, establishing momentum and executing are uncomfortable and inconvenient actions. But you can’t expect to thrive only when things are safely within your comfortable grasp. All motion carries (some) risk of injury.

As Marshall McLuhan wrote in The Global Village, “Pain is the natural accompaniment to innovation.” So, overcoming inertia is a function of how uncomfortable you’re willing to make yourself. Not to the point of hurting your body, obviously. But knowing yourself well enough to recognize your pain threshold.

That’s why I love yoga: You stretch yourself (literally) to the point where pain is a possibility, but not a reality. And that awareness prepares you to handle future discomfort. What are you pretending not to be uncomfortable about?

6. Believe you have everything you need to begin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Failure to move forward stems less from poor planning and more from the timidity to proceed. It’s a question of self-belief. And a practice I’ve found helpful over the years (from Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds) is to recite the following incantations each day:

“I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge … I am ready to proceed.”

Just accept the fact that you’re never ready, you’re never going to be ready, and that waiting until you are ready is like waiting on a train that doesn’t come through your town. May as well get on your bike and just start peddling. Remember: Who you already are is enough to get what you want. Have you ever asked yourself why you procrastinate?

7. Maintain alignment or risk wasting your energy. My friend Jim writes about this in Personal Brilliance: “Pursuing a goal that’s in conflict with your value system is kind of like trying to squeeze your feet into shoes that are a size too small.”

To prevent this from happening to you, I suggest creating a governing document for daily decision-making. This exercise changed my life – and my business – forever. And the secret behind it is, when you convey a thorough understanding of yourself, create a good working model of your own identity and maintain consistency of your actions, moving forward becomes substantially easier.

After all, it’s a hell of a lot easy to persist when you know who you are. Have you considered how you decide?

REMEMBER: Moving forward might be hard – but standing still is just plain stupid.

Fight the overwhelming influence of inertia.

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

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9 Ways to Make Your Company More Human

“Nothing should be called good that fails to enlarge our humanity.”

Marcus Aurelius. Meditations. Twelve hundred years ago.

Too bad more companies aren’t living that philosophy.

Especially now.

As technology accelerates to shocking velocities.
As competition saturates to near-commoditized levels.
As customers and employees become more isolated and disengaged.

NOBODY CAN ARGUE: Being human is good for business.

People demand it.
Customers expect it.
Employees deserve it.
And trust can’t exist without it.

THE PROBLEM IS: Not unlike caring, you can’t bastardize “being human” into a technique.

What you (can) do is increase your awareness of – and maintain the consistency with which you deploy – your own humanity.

Here’s a list of nine ideas for doing so:

1. Lead with your person and follow with your profession. People buy people first. Period. That means: Values before vocation, individuality before industry, personality before position and humanity before statistics. That also means: Mortals, not markets; divine beings, not demographics; people, not numbers.

Your mission is to begin with a conscious awareness of this philosophy. Be human. You won’t just be ahead of the game – you’ll be one of the few companies (actually) playing it. When you put your best foot forward, are you wearing wooden shoes or going barefoot?

2. Small is an acceptable destination. The corporate veil of bigness and anonymity no longer appeals to customers. That’s what sucks about being a behemoth: When you make mistakes everybody, notices. Dang it. Your small company, on the other hand, can make mistakes quickly, quietly – even largely – and hide the ashes before the fire engines come.

Plus, the less you own, the greater your mobility. And the less you have, the less you have to worry about. Being human is great! Are you ruthlessly small?

3. Turn error pages into smiles. When my web team at CIO Services recently redesigned my new website, they insisted on creating a cool error page. Great idea. And since I had the perfect picture to accompany it, here’s what we came up with.

Personally, it’s my favorite page of the entire website.

It’s playful and relaxing, makes the mundane memorable and rewards users with an exclusive message when they make a mistake. Almost like a secret club you can’t get into unless you’re imperfect. Cool.

Lesson learned: Mistakes happen. Acknowledge them. Affirm them. Reward them. Correct them. And do it in a fun, brand-consistent, unexpected way. People will talk. You big human, you. How are you humanizing your website’s error pages?

4. Improv beats scripting. The minute you start robotically reacting to customer requests with scripts, policies, stock-phrases and pre-rehearsed answers, you lose. And so do the customers. Hell, a robot could do that. You’re a human – may as well put that humanity to use.

After all, people don’t want scripts – they want sensibility. They don’t want lines pulled from your handbook – they want words scraped from your heart.

In short, they want to feel: Valued. Needed. Wanted. Essential. Affirmed. Appreciated. Accepted. Respected. Recognized. Remembered. Taken seriously. Given a chance. Part of something that matters.

And employee training and orientation can only simulate so many “real life customer interactions.”

Learn to improvise, react, respond and riff with each individual’s experience. Like a jazz drummer, minus the jazz cigarette. When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely, honestly and personably?

5. Don’t let emotions take a backseat. Humans are problem-solving creatures. And naturally, our default response to a customer issue is to launch right into problem solving mode. Now, while searching for an immediate solution is a smart move for demonstrating a sense of urgency and resolve – don’t sacrifice sensibility for speed.

Clear the air first. Own the affect before you fix the effect. Attend to a person’s emotional needs before you start fixing their physical ailments. Otherwise they won’t be receptive to help, won’t walk away feeling heard and won’t come back feeling excited.

Remember: Your humanity is marked (not) by your elevation above people, but your identification with them. How does your company preserve sensitivity to the human spirit?

6. Exponentially increase your (human) activity level. From tweets to emails to phone calls to lunch meetings, how many real interactions did you have with your customers last week? What if you tripled that number next week? Think that might contribute to a stronger sense of loyalty?

Damn right it would. As I learned from The Uberye Marketing Blog: “The more personal and human interactions customers have with your company, the more forgiveness they’re willing to show, the more passionate they’ll be with your cause and the more affection they’ll feel towards your company.” Remember: Trust grows with repeated impressions. What emotional foundation is your company pouring?

7. Do some quick math. Next time there’s a challenging situation, try this: Take a look at the sum total of the customer experience. If you judge it to be worth far more than amount of money it would take to remedy a simple problem that (slightly) bends the rules – but amazes the customer – do it.

Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. Besides, what’s your boss going to say?

“Ginsberg! What the hell were you thinking? You mean to tell me you paid five dollars out of your own wallet just to make that customer instantly happy? Why didn’t you instruct him to wait at the front desk, call me first, fill out an incident form, run the paperwork past HR and solve the problem seventeen minutes later like we taught you in our sterile, unrealistic orientation program four years ago?”

That’s called “taking ownership of the problem,” and more companies need to trust their employees to do so. Seth Godin was right: “Only one an act of human initiative makes a huge difference.” How creative are you allowing your frontline staff to get with their customer problem solving approaches?

8. Evidence of humanity is everywhere – study it. When The Cluetrain Manifesto came out ten years ago, nobody knew it would become a global phenomenon. Not even the authors. But those four guys were (substantially) ahead of their time. They predicted where the web was going, and they were right. Here’s my favorite excerpt:

“Business, at bottom, is fundamentally human,” wrote Doc Searls and friends, “And natural, human conversation is the true language of commerce – because the human voice is the music we have always listened to, and still best understand.”

Has every person at your organization read that book? If not, go buy a case. Hand ‘em out to everybody. The book is just as relevant today as it was in 2000. And if you keep your mind open (then take action on its content), the architecture of your company will change forever. After all: When you humanize, you harmonize. And when you harmonize, you monetize. What’s your computer’s emotional intelligence score?

9. Rededicate your company’s commitment to being human. Everyone and their mother is an expert on social media. Whoopee. Excuse me while I hoark all over my keyboard. The real question is: Have you become too obsessed with technology to see your company’s humanity?

Maybe you don’t need another ebook, six-hour audio system or three-day boot camp on how leverage the power of LinkedIn.

Maybe you need to sit in a room with ten people who matter and talk about how to make customers feel essential.

Maybe instead of telling customers that their call is important to you, you could just answer the phone sooner.

Maybe you need to take field trips to successful, cool, humanized companies like Crown Candy and figure out how to apply their genius to you organization.

Have you made a conscious choice to humanize your work, workforce and workplace?

FINAL THOUGHT: If customers wanted a picture, they’d buy a camera.

But they don’t want pictures.

They want art.
They want emotion.
They want humanity.

And that’s that kind of result you get when you work with a painter. An artist.

Not a machine.

Because being human is good for business.

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How are you making your company more human?

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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

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7 Ways to Execute without Remorse

Finished is the new perfect.

You’re never fully ready.
You’re never completely done.
You’re never entirely sure of yourself.

What matters, what counts, is that you execute – without remorse – every single day.

Here’s how:

1. Battle the excuse barrage. Instead of getting ready to prepare executing your plan for formulating your strategy to begin the initial stages of brainstorming your pre-launch, just start. Less aiming, more firing.

Otherwise your bullets will rust, your gun will crack and your trigger finger will atrophy. And those sons of bitches from your biggest competitor will coast right past you, waving their hands in the air, grateful for your endless excuse-making. What lies are your excuses guarding?

2. Send your guilt to the guillotine. Remorse comes from the Latin remordere, which means, “to bite back.” Translation: When the inevitable guilt caused by the execution process starts to creep in, bite back. Show that chump who’s boss. Refuse to be held hostage by guilty feelings like, “What if people hate this?” “What if I bomb?” or “What if someone finds a bug?”

The reality is: All of those things are probably going to happen anyway. No sense getting acid reflux over minor eventualities. Instead, be shameless. Be an imperfectionist. And remember that flawless execution doesn’t exist anyway. Off with the head! What do you need to murder to pave the way for exquisite execution?

3. Get comfortable with the risk of failure. If you screw up early enough, quickly enough and quietly enough – then make a conscious effort to extract lessons learned from those biffs – only a few people will notice. Truth is: Mistake is the mentor of man.

The challenge is attending to your failures with a mindset of personal growth, life-long learning and never-ending improvement. Do this, and disappointment will slowly dissipate. Do this, and discomfort will become less threatening.

Then all you have to do is ask the two big questions:

*Why did the universe want me to make this mistake?
*What would I have to learn about this mistake to make it no longer a mistake?

Remember: Failure IS an option – not learning from that failure isn’t. How are you exponentially growing from your screw-ups?

4. Build in accountability. In a recent blog post, Seth Godin said, “Make shipping an obligation. Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly.”

Here’s how: I suggest pairing up with a fellow entrepreneur or creative professional. At the end of each day, call, text or email each other with the question, “What did you execute today?” If you can’t come up with an answer, lunch is on you.

Better yet, sign a series of blank checks for each other. And if someone fails to ship, the other person reserves the right to fill in – and cash – that person’s check in with any amount he wants. Think that would your execution ratio?

5. Intentionally surround yourself with obstacles. Great way to challenge yourself. Helps keep your chops up. It’s also good practice withstanding external pressures that attempt to deter you from your productive path. I learned this from the United States Tennis Association:

“Systematically practice with distractions present,” they suggested in their 2002 guidebook. “Otherwise, training under ideal conditions won’t mentally and physically prepare you to cope with unusual events.”

Remember: Resistance is healthy. Make friends with it. How are you using pushback to strengthen your capacity to execute?

6. Constraints kindle execution. As a writer, my favorite feature of Twitter is the 140-character constraint. This structural limitation expedites execution in several ways.

With 140 characters, content is easier to manage and deploy.
With 140 characters, creativity and conciseness is challenged.
With 140 characters, you’re forced to minimize extraneous clutter.
With 140 characters, writers don’t trap themselves the purgatory of wanting to add more.

Ultimately, Twitter’s character constraint crushes the single biggest barrier to creative execution: Staring at a blank page. So, with every tweet you publish; your executional victory bank grows incrementally larger.

Then over time, those minor victories accumulate. You start to believe in your ability to ship. And before you know it, you’re executing bigger and bigger projects that are way more than just 140 characters.

Remember: Constraints provide focus, and focus paves the way for execution. How are you using structural limitations to execute faster?

7. Build executional capacity into your idea from the beginning. “It’s hard to stay motivated and excited about executing crap,” wrote Guy Kawasaki. “But it’s easy if you’re changing the world. If you and your team are having a hard time executing, maybe you’re working on the wrong thing.”

The secret is to run an Execution Audit at the onset. Ask your team questions like, “Will the time/money/energy investment required to execute be less, equal or greater to the benefits of executing?” “How well does our team represent idea people and execution people?” and, “If we don’t end up executing this, will anybody even notice?”

Questions like these save time, save face and save money. How are you entering into your project with execution on the brain?

REMEMBER: Execution isn’t an action you take once – it’s a mindset you maintain for the rest of your career.

As Seneca once observed: “There is no person so severely punished as he who subjects himself to the whip of his own remorse.”

Go ship something.

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

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

NametagTV: Getting Called Back

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

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

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The Official Nametagscott Guide to Stick-to-itiveness, Part 2

Stick-to-itiveness can be learned.

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

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 would be easy.

Up to the challenge?

Cool. Fortunately, I’ve already published nine ways to do so.

Today we’re going to explore the remaining strategies for sticking with it – whatever “it” is:

1. Refuse to be watered down. Starting one thing after another doesn’t make you committed – it makes you a comma. Strangled by indecisiveness, you score (yet another) “incomplete” on the report card of life. My suggestion: Focus like hell. Don’t permit your time to be ruled by other people’s priorities.

And beware of falling in love with everybody’s plans but your own. Instead, pick a lane – then stay in that lane – no matter how closely the truck behind you is riding your ass. Like my friend Robert Bradford reminds me, “Every time you add a comma to the description of what you do, you suck a little bit more.” Is this an opportunity or an obligation?

2. Reject the good to invite the best. Winston Churchill was a putz. He’s well known for saying, “Never, never, never give up!” This is a dangerous suggestion. In reality, sometimes quitting is the smartest move in your playbook. Especially if you’ve been persisting down the wrong path for too long. Which happens all the time.

People get all self-congratulatory for exemplifying stick-to-itiveness – only to discover that their ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. Your challenge is to answer two questions before popping your bottle of Dom: (1) Does sticking with this mean inviting the best?” and (2) “If I chose to quit, what will the reason be?” What are you willing to say no to?

3. Risk today’s time for tomorrow’s treasure. Stop looking for the easy win and start running the developmental gauntlet. Science fiction novelist Tobias Buckell made a poignant observation on this issue: “Mastery is found not in the easy initial spurt of learning, but in the journey along the flat plane before the next major leap.”

It’s about being patient with yourself, having confidence in yourself and adding value to yourself. Remember: No incremental progress, no incidental profit. Are you willing to invest time on endeavors that you won’t benefit from until next year?

4. Beware of oncoming excuse barrages. It’s easy to tell people, “No more excuses!” Especially if you’re my high school football coach. He loved that line. To bad our team went 2-13. Unfortunately, that mantra – even thought it looked cool on a t-shirt – wasn’t the most practical suggestion for reinforcing commitment.

The (real) first step is to administer a shot of self-awareness when you make an excuse – which, by the way, is a self-legitimized story you tell yourself about yourself. A helpful question to ask yourself is, “What lie is this excuse guarding?”

I know. It stings. And calling bullshit on yourself requires tons of courage. But when you let action eclipse excuse, commitment becomes a non-issue. Is there anyone else who has the same excuse as you, but is moving ahead successfully nonetheless?

5. Surround yourself with persisters. Their enthusiasm will infect you. Their action will motivate you. And their velocity will inspire you. Here, try this experiment. Think about the five people you spend the most time with. On a scale of 1-10, estimate how well each person personifies stick-to-itiveness.

Then, grab a calculator and take the average of those five scores. Ultimately, you’ll develop a realistic reflection of your own level of commitment; since you’re nothing but the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And if you’re not thrilled with the score, maybe it’s time to rearrange your relationship priorities.

Remember: Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. Who inspires your persistence and determination?

6. It’s easy to persist when you know who you are. And, perhaps more importantly, who you aren’t. Otherwise you wind up selling your soul for a couple thousand bucks and a shiny new iPad. My suggestion is to physically write out your Personal Constitution. Here’s how: The word “constitution” derives from the Latin constitutio, or, “ordinance.” Therefore:

Your constitution is the composition and condition of your character.
Your constitution is the established arrangement of your non-negotiables.
Your constitution is the description of your decision-making mechanisms.
Your constitution is the system of fundamental values governing your behavior.
Your constitution is the aggregate of personal characteristics comprising your foundation.

And the best part is: It’s a living document. It’s amenable. And as you grow and develop personally and professionally, various elements of your Personal Constitution reserve the right to modify. Hell, I’ve updated mine six times in the past year. But in so doing, I’ve also upgraded into the best, highest version of myself. Ever. And it’s been like rocket fuel for my ability to persist. What are you a living document of?

7. Chaperone the dance between belly and brain. One you take seriously; one you take literally. One you humor; one you heed. One is run by your ego; one is run but your ethos. One is full of crap; one is full of truth. And this distinction is helpful to understand, especially when you’re thinking about quitting.

Don’t feel guilty. Quitting is underrated. That’s a thought everyone entertains at some point. The secret is whether or not you’re asking the right organ for advice. My suggestion is simple. First, use your brain to ask the following questions: Is growing still going to happen? Do I still have time to do what’s important? Why did I pursue this project in the first place? Will increasing my energy be enough to make a difference?

Second, use your body to answer those questions. Whether or not to persist will become abundantly clear in no time. Is the angry voice of your ego making it difficult to hear the subtle voice of your intuition?

8. Stop parading your poverty. Bitching to people about how hard it is, how much you despise something or how much farther you have to go isn’t a merit badge. I don’t care what your frat buddies say – it’s not cool to hate your job. Don’t get swept into the seductive undertow of using misery to get attention.

Look. I know persistence is painful process. And I encourage (insist on!) using healthy methods for expressing your frustration. But throwing a pity party won’t make the process any easier. No matter how many guests show up, no matter how cold the beer is.

If you’re going to vent, see if you can’t do it without excessive ornamentation. What pollution does your attitude introduce into the air?

REMEMBER: No matter what Staples says, easy buttons are lies.

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

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you quitting because it’s easy, or because it’s hard?

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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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www.stuffscottsaid.com.

How to be a Great Chooser

Sometimes the best choice is the decision to stop choosing.

I learned this from The Paradox of Choice, which suggested the following:

“Don’t allow the number of available options to significantly impact your decision-making.”

Instead, try this:

1. Find something that’s good enough.
2. Meet your own standards.
3. Look no further.
4. Let the countless other available choices become irrelevant.

Otherwise you get snared into an endless tangle of anxiety, regret and second-guessing.

BESIDES: Who cares if there’s something better around the corner?

You can’t go through life regretting every decision you make just because it might not have been the best possible choice.

It’ll eat you up inside like a tapeworm.

Better to just make a choice and get on with your life comfortably – as opposed to being plagued by doubt, wondering about what could have been a marginally better option.

That’s the secret to becoming a great chooser:

Having high standards; yet giving yourself permission to be satisfied once your experience matches those standards.

Take the mall, for example.

Once you find a parking spot that’s good enough, you have two options:

1. Do you turn off your car and start walking toward the entrance?

2. Or, do you frustratingly waste your time waiting for some soccer mom to back her SUV out of a closer spot, complain about how she’s taking too long, park, then look over your shoulder on the walk into the mall, wondering if you could have gotten a better spot, thus inviting unwanted stress into your life?

I vote for the first option.

Because, as I learned from The Paradox of Choice, “The exhaustive search of possibilities entails a high information cost that isn’t worth incurring. Instead, determine how much information is necessary to make a good decision while simultaneously noticing when information seeking has reached the point of diminishing returns.”

Then you move.

Otherwise, if you keep looking, you’ll always find something better.

There will always be a closer parking spot.

THEREFORE: Beware the tyranny of small, irrelevant decisions.

No need to over-think or over-choose.

It’s smarter to put a stake in the ground now, before you get seduced into the endless spiral of “a little bit better.”

MY SUGGESTION: Ignore new choices instead of falling into the trap of post-choice pondering.

This actually diminishes the satisfaction you get from the choices you already made.

Think about it:

Why check out all the possibilities before deciding?

You’ve got stuff to do. Just pick one that’s good enough and move onto the next step.

Why contribute to your time burden by preparing for, making, reevaluating and regretting every goddamn decision?

You’re a busy guy. Post-choice regret doesn’t serve you well psychologically.

Why become a slave to your own judgments?

A great chooser thinks, “Screw looking around to others to make my decisions.”

Instead, decide which choices matter – and WHY they matter – then make them quickly and consistently.

Because if you don’t shorten or eliminate deliberation time about decisions – especially for the ones that are unimportant to you – you’ll become a picker instead of a chooser.

This is not good.

As author Barry Schwartz reminds us, “Believe that accepting good enough will make your decisions simpler. And that your ultimate satisfaction from a decision decreases with every minute you spend pondering about the opportunity cost of that decision.”

LESSON LEARNED: The pursuit of perpetual improvement is overrated.

Constantly searching for perfect solutions leads to frustration, or, worse yet, inaction.

This is not good.

Don’t be afraid to opt out of decision-making in certain areas of your life.

As I mentioned before, sometimes the best choice is the decision to stop choosing.

Look. Choosing is a lot of work. It’s stressful. And unless you’re (truly) dissatisfied with your decision, stick to your guns.

Don’t be tempted by new and improved (it’s not).
Don’t scratch unless there’s really an itch (there isn’t).
Don’t worry about missing out on the amazing new things the world has to offer if you make the wrong decision (it’s probably crap anyway).

The ability to change your mind about a decision, Schwartz concluded, does nothing but set the stage for future anxiety and lower ultimate satisfaction.

Both of which are the essential ingredients to the prescription for misery.

Maybe Marry Poppins was right.

Maybe enough really is as good as a feast.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a great chooser?

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

6 Ways to Win the Battle for Enoughness

“When will you have done enough to be happy with who you are?”

My mentor first asked me that question when I was twenty-three.

As I recall, I didn’t much care for it.

Probably because I wasn’t (yet) secure in my selfhood. I hadn’t (yet) won the battle for enoughness.

Now, seven self-actualized years later, I’m a bit closer. Not fully there, but closer.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. Affirm your enoughness. Every morning during my Daily Appointment with Myself, I spend a few deep breaths affirming the following message: I am enough … I have enough … I do enough. It’s short. It’s simple. It’s powerful. It works. Try it out sometime. Even if you think it’s cheesy. Especially if you think it’s cheesy. Doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. How do you talk to yourself every day?

2. Cure the waves of whoami. This tsunami of self-doubt stems from a lack of confidence in your own abilities. Usually, it takes the form of a deflating comment that begins with, “Yeah, but who I am to…?” Cancel that thought from your mind. Begin writing the following sentence fifteen times a day: “I am the person who can do this … I am the person who can do this.” Whatever “this” is, you can do it. What would take for you to believe in yourself down to your toes?

3. Who you already are is enough to get what you want. It just takes a little convincing. Here’s another affirmation/breathing exercise I’ve been saying to myself daily for years: “I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge.”

Works like a charm. And it’s a nice reminder of what Walt Whitman once said: “You contain multitudes.” What’s more, when you realize you are already complete, there is a joyful playfulness to what you do. And that attracts people into your orbit who will gladly help you get what you want. What would change if you believed you had all that you needed?

4. Put yourself at the top of your own list. Bill Hybels writes, “We can’t be rivers of living water to others if an obstruction at the source is blocking the flow.” For example, sometimes I’ll ask my mentees to draw a blank target on a piece of paper.

Next, inside the bull’s-eye, I’ll ask them to write down the #1 person they’re trying to please in their lives. In the second circle, I’ll ask them to write down the next most important person. And so on. Until the bull’s-eye is filled. Then, when they’re done, I’ll conclude by asking, “Where are YOU on your own target?” More often than not, they’re not. Yikes.

Not that you have to be #1 on your own list all the time. But enough that you’re not neglecting the most important person in the world. How can you help others win their battle for enoughness if you haven’t even stepped onto the battlefield in your own life first?

5. Tell yourself you are worthy of this dream. Give yourself permission. Whatever your dream is, you are absolutely entitled to have it. Sure, you will have to work your ass off to get it. Sure, you will have to sacrifice things to get it. But it’s yours. More specifically, as Earl Nightingale used to say on his 1950’s radio show, “Our Changing World,” it’s yours for the asking. What dream are you afraid to voice?

6. Give this time to yourself. That’s the suggestion of my yoga instructor, Carol. “Don’t leap up off your mat right away,” she’ll announce at the end of class. “Take these final few minutes to let your body thank you. You deserve it.” And yet, at least half of the class doesn’t listen. Without a second thought, they dart out the back door quicker than you can say “Crackberry Addiction.”

I guess some people refuse to believe that they deserve to give time to themselves. The undertow of guilt is just too strong. However, as my friend Meg Bucaro says on The Guilt Free Mom Blog, “Motherhood has become a dangerous, competitive sport. And unfortunately, the deepest injuries come from moms comparing themselves to others and having unrealistic expectations for themselves and their kids.”

The reality is: This isn’t just about moms. This is about anyone who doesn’t believe they deserve success. Are you willing to give this time to yourself?

REMEMBER: You are enough, you have enough and you do enough.

Embrace those three truths, and you’re certain to win the battle.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
When will you have done enough to be happy with who you are?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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.

How to Move Forward

Determination alone fails.

Just watch American Idol. Every one of those kids is determined to become the next international pop sensation.

Too bad their singing voices sound like donkey farts.

HERE’S THE REALITY: Progress is the product of attitude, focus, impatience, imperfection, avoidance and courageous action.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, salesperson, organizational leader or simply a person who’s tired of sweating it out on the treadmill of life, here are eight ways to move forward:

1. Mind over mattress. Davinci said, “Rouse yourself from sleep because lying down will not bring thee fame.” Ginsberg said, “Lying down will not bring thee forward.” Either way, the suggestion is the same: Wake up earlier.

You’ll get more done. You’ll avoid having to rush. You’ll prevent the need to launch right into your daily tasks. And you’ll activate a sense of momentum that will set the rest of the day into productive motion.

One hour. That’s all I ask. Try it for a month and see how easy it is to move forward. What time did you get up today?

2. Real progress starts with self. You’re waking up earlier. Cool. The next step is to practice winning the private battle before going into the public arena. I’ve been practicing this (daily) since 2002. But I didn’t understand the psychology behind it until I read Principle-Centered Leadership by Steven Covey. He wrote:

“Early morning private victories give you a sense of conquering, overcoming and mastering – and this sense propels you to conquer more public challenges during the day. Starting a day with an early victory over self will lead to more victories.”

Beginning tomorrow, I challenge you to use your first waking hour profitably. After thirty days, you’ll build reserves of emotional stamina to be called on during the inevitable stress that accompanies moving forward. Are you willing to take charge of your own development?

3. Announce your intentions to yourself. Moving forward means architecting a vision, then aligning your daily actions with that vision. Even if you don’t have a plan. Even if you don’t know how to do what you want to do. If you use a compass instead of a map, it’s easier to pinpoint your general direction.

Sure beats killing yourself trying to figure out longitudinal coordinates. Remember: How is not your responsibility. Fall in love with why and how will make its appearance when it’s ready. Like Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” What are you forgetting to be intentional about?

4. Focus activates progress. Throughout your day, beware of the distraction of the next idea. Shiny object syndrome is executioner of execution and the preventer of progress. Marcus Aurelius addressed this issue a few thousand years ago in Meditations:

“Give not the strongest foothold to anything else. Nothing will sooner prevent your true spirit from flourishing or be more difficult to root out than the distraction of divided loyalty.”

Look: You don’t need more ideas. Pick a lane, crank up the Alpine and drop some lead on the gas. Remember: Moving forward means investing time in things that matter – not burning time trivially persisting on inconsequential wastes of energy. How much time are you wasting (not) focusing on your priorities?

5. Make progress by making peace with inadequacy. Here’s a trend that’s not going away: Finished is the new perfect. As such, progress is a form of accepting. For example:

Accept that you might fail.
Accept that you’re never really ready.
Accept that you don’t need to know how.
Accept that you don’t need a complete script to start shooting.

The sooner you recognize that you’re the only one waiting for you to get everything right, the sooner you can move forward. What is your bottomless need for perfection preventing you from achieving?

6. Listen smarter. The biggest secret to moving forward is closing your ears to people whose toxic noise is holding you back. Don’t listen to people who nastily try to induce insecurity in you. Don’t listen to people whose imagination can’t encompass what it is that you want to do.

Also, don’t listen to people who put a damper on your natural versatility. And don’t listen to people who did something once and think they know everything about it.

People like this undermine your execution. Instead, learn to listen to people whose opinions matter. Surround yourself with a trusted team of life-enhancing high grade people. Spend your time with individuals who are examples of the way you want to live.

Growing bigger ears, after all, means growing more mature ears. Are you listening to people who mindlessly judge you or compassionately honor your perspective?

7. Wage a war against inertia. In The Paradox of Choice, we learned that the desire to avoid regret induces people not to act at all. Barry Schwartz dubbed this principle inaction inertia. So, your challenge is simple: Reduce your number of choices.

If you want to move forward, stop killing yourself trying to pick the best of everything. Stop plaguing yourself with post-decision doubts. And stop exhausting yourself running ridiculous searches of every possibility. Choices cause stress, and stress stops you. According to Schwartz:

“The more choices you have, the longer it takes to commit; the longer it takes to commit, the more you regret and reevaluate every decision after the fact; and the more you regret and reevaluate, the less satisfaction you ultimately receive from the choices you make.”

Eventually, there comes a point of diminishing returns. Eventually, you need to stop choosing and start moving. Remember: When massive resistance is marshaled against you, you’ll never run out of reasons not to choose. Decide anyway. Even when it seems senseless to others. Are you a great chooser?

8. Leap and the net will appear. Lastly, it’s impossible to make progress if your ego is too invested in trying to define what progress looks like. Just start moving. Let your feet do the talking. Progress will define itself for you.

Otherwise you’ll prematurely commit to a false definition of advancement. That assumption functions as an arrogant clamp that closes you off to potential growth opportunities.

I’m reminded of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. In the final scene, we see that only when Indy has courage (and faith!) does the path appear before his feet. The cool part is, when he looks back, the path was there the whole time. He just wasn’t tuned into that frequency yet. Are you willing to close your eyes, extend your leg and breathe deeply into the next terrifying step?

BOTTOM LINE: Your hands are tired of being sat on.

If you (really) want to move forward…

Stop sleeping in.
Stop wondering how.
Stop listening to idiots.
Stop striving for perfection.
Stop watching American Idol.
Stop making so many choices.

If action is eloquence, progress is a standing ovation.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Why haven’t you moved forward yet?

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

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If You Seriously Can’t Execute (At Least) One of Your Ideas After Reading This Blog Post, Then I Am Just Going to Snap

I’m not an angry person.

My feathers err on the side of unruffleable.

But I am human. I do get emotional. And if there’s one thing that makes me want to slowly rip each of my toenails off with a needle nose pliers dipped in sulfuric acid, it’s people who spend their time flapping their gums instead of shuffling their feet.

To coin a phrase: The executionally deficient.

But instead of resorting self-mutilation (again), I’ve decided to channel my frustration into something a bit more productive.

Here’s a helpful list of seven reasons why you’re (not) turning your ideas into realities.

1. You’re too busy networking. Attending lunches, conference and coffee meetings is a great way to meet people – but it’s also a great way to avoid work. My suggestion: Stop playing dress up and go create something. Stop schmoozing and start shipping.

Not that face time isn’t valuable. Just don’t overlook the importance of workbench time.

Also, be careful not to get sucked into the vortex of online connecting.

Social media is great for guzzling your time, feeding your ego, finding mindless entertainment, causing additional stress in your life that you don’t need, helping you contribute more unoriginal thinking to the echo chamber, and allowing you to participate in (yet another) online pissing contest.

But when it comes to execution, social media is largely a distraction. Choose wisely. Are you too busy connecting with people who don’t matter to execute stuff that does matter?

2. You’re talking your ideas into the ground. There is an inverse relationship between the number of people you tell about your exciting new idea and the number of days before that idea (actually) comes to fruition. Julia Cameron outlined this concept in The Artist’s Way:

“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.”

Hey: I’m all for sharing your goals with the world. And memorializing your intentions. And bringing your dreams to fruition through visualization and peer accountability. I also think it’s easy to blow lid off your ideas by telling too many people about them. Will your lack of self-control slowly dissipate your idea into the quicksand of non-execution?

3. You’re dissipating yourself in useless activity. It’s amazing: People always seem to make time for what’s (not) important to them. My suggestion: Stop saying yes to everything. Learn to be discerning. (Not snobby, but discerning). Create an opportunity filter if you have to.

Otherwise your agenda will collapse too easily and you’ll never execute anything that counts.

Remember: If you don’t set 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 to the same. All because you never set a precedent of value on your time. Are you a businessperson or a professional volunteer?

4. You’re trying to do everything yourself. Which means you’re a perfectionist. Which means you’re a control freak. Which means you’ve never going to declare anything done. Which means you’re never going to be fully sated.

For example, my friend Mara is currently redesigning her blog. When she sent me a ten-page document of comps, pictures and sketches – which looked awful, by the way – I asked her one question: “Mara, are you a blog designer?” As suspected, she replied, “No.” At which point I suggested, “Then you need to pay someone who is.”

Lesson learned: Next time you find yourself trapped in control-freak mode, simply ask yourself the same question: Is this what I do for living? If the answer is no, pay someone who does do it for a living while you go do something that matters.

Learn to surrender control of your ideas and let the pros do what they do. Learn to trust smart people. Execution will happen faster, better and cheaper. How much money is one hour of your time worth?

5. You’re not willing to pay the (financial) price. People come to me for help all the time. Some are entrepreneurs. Some are business owners. Some are corporate workers. Some are single parents. Either way, I’m happy to advise. For a fee, that is. Notice my one-on-one department is called Rent Scott’s Brain, not Waste Scott’s Time.

Interestingly, the minute I put a stake in the ground and set a precedent of value on my availability, people flinch. They back off. And they always feed me the same, stock excuse: “Well, it’s not that I don’t think you’re worth the money, it’s just that…”

Wrong. It has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with your unwillingness to commit with both feet. That’s exactly why I charge for my time: Because people who don’t pay me don’t hear me. I charge enough so people will actually listen to – and take action upon – what I say. And with financial investment comes greater commitment to execution. Every time. Who have you hired lately?

6. You’re placing too many cumbersome demands on yourself. I’m all for diversification. Pursuing multiple projects simultaneously is usually a smart move. But having too many irons in the fire does nothing but slowly melt your ability to execute into a steaming puddle of silver goo. Terminator 2 style.

The problem is, you’re your own worst enemy in creating chaos in your life. You have to be willing to hang up your Superman cape and ask yourself, “Where (and why) am I constantly trying to impress myself?” Remember: The dog who chases two rabbits doesn’t just go hungry – he looks stupid while starving.” Are you a victim of your own lack of focus?

7. You’re spending most of your time whining about the progress you’re not making. Sadly, this is a popular (but poor) energy investment decision made by entrepreneurs. It reminds me of an old Calvin & Hobbes comic I read as a kid. For some reason, this particular strip always stuck with me.

During a parent/teacher conference, Mrs. Wormwood explains to Calvin’s mother, “If he put half as much energy into his work as he did into his protests, he might actually score well.” Do you know someone like this? Work with someone like this? Marry someone like this?

It’s amazing: If people sat down and actually mapped out their energy investments, they’d be astonished at how out of whack their priorities were. My suggestion: Don’t let this happen to you. Beware of investing your finest energies running in place. Treadmills are great for a convenient workout, but the scenery never changes and your knees always end up hurting like hell.

Remember: If you’re wasting all your time externalizing the reasons for a lack of progress, you’ll never actually make any. Learn to greet obstacles as exciting challenges that you can creatively attack. Do you complain about the wind, hope the wind will stop, or adjust your sails?

REMEMBER: Failure isn’t due to a lack of ideas – it’s due to a lack of implementation.

I challenge you to plug yourself into these seven execution equations.

You’ll have those feet shuffling in no time.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you closing the execution gap?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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