The Nametag Guy Live: How to Turn Rare into Remarkable

This excerpt comes from a recent presentation in Atlantic City with my client, Ultra Diamonds.

These guys are busting their butts during the holiday season to make sure their customers look and feel like a million bucks.

They’re truly heroes.

Whom are you a hero to?

For the list called, “15 Ways to Out Learn Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Now booking dates for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Thank

Thanksgiving isn’t just about giving thanks.

It’s about football, overeating, family feuding, travel atrocities, excessive shopping, more overeating, napping, more football, and most importantly, having the same three-minute conversation over and over again with people you don’t even like and should have unfriended on Facebook years ago.

Best. Holiday. Ever.

Anyway, it’s Wednesday night, it’s raining, and we’ve got a long weekend ahead of us.

But as I sit here in my parents’ house, stuffed full of food, writing away in what used to be my bedroom, I can’t but think about the topic of gratitude. It’s simply too important.

I’ve put together six ideas to think about during the forthcoming holiday season:1. Recall your roots of gratitude. Growing up, our family had everything. Everything. And for that very reason, my parents regularly reminded my brother and I:

“Look, we have things most families don’t. And because of that, it’s your responsibility to become a model of gratitude to everyone you encounter. When people buy you dinner, you thank them before you leave the restaurant. When someone throws a party, you walk up to the host as soon as you get there, look them in the eye, and thank them for inviting you. And the way we’ll know if you guys are doing a good job, is if the other parents come up to us and say, ‘Wow! Those Ginsberg boys are so grateful!’”

The message was clear: Ingratitude is absolutely appalling and unacceptable behavior. Especially if you have more to be thankful for than most.

The cool part is, instead of being known as the affluent kids – we became known the appreciative kids. Not because our parents told us to, but because our parents were people whose lives – at every level – gave evidence of gratitude. All we had to do was follow their lead.

What example are you setting? Your employees, customers, kids and members: What behaviors (that you have already shown them to be acceptable) are they currently mirroring?

Because if gratitude isn’t on that list, it’s not their fault. They were just following your lead. What do people think when they listen to your life speak?

2. Give compliments that matter. The first time I attended a yoga posture clinic, my body did things I thought only circus performers could do. Since then, my practice has never been the same. And I remember thinking, “How can I show gratitude for this accomplishment?”

Here’s what I did: After class, I approached our guest instructor with the following compliment, “Ren, thanks for giving me permission to impress myself.”

He was speechless. So was I. And it was a moment we’d never forget.

Sadly, several months later I found out than Ren had passed away. Apparently he had become extremely sick with cancer, even though none of his students could tell.

Wow. All the more reason to give compliments that matter: You never know when – or if – you’re going to see that person again. May as well leave them feeling essential to the world.

Oh, and if you’re concerned that your comment will “go to their head,” don’t worry – it won’t. It will go to their heart. And it will remain there forever.

That’s exactly what it takes to win: Trumping marketshare with heartshare.

Remember: People love to hear how great they are; but people long to hear how great you’ve become because of who they are. Where could you be more gregarious in your gratitude?

3. Cultivate a gratitude practice. Leah Dieterich’s mother always told her to write thank you notes. So, she does – to everything. Her blog,, is her daily exercise in gratitude because there’s always something to be thankful for.

From the important things like “Songs You’re Embarrassed to Like,” and “Heavy Eyelids that Tell You When You Need to Sleep,” to friends and family, love and loneliness, light and darkness, Leah sets out to acknowledge them all.

And that’s the secret: Gratitude isn’t a thing you do – it’s a virtue you embody.

In the same way that you cultivate a meditation practice, a writing practice or a yoga practice, you also need a gratitude practice. After all: No holiday comes once a year.

The way I see it, you don’t need a calendar to tell you when to care. Everyday is Thanksgiving. And if you’re only grateful for one month out of the year, you missed the point. The goal is to make gratitude like exercise: Something you just do, everyday. People will notice. Have you made giving thanks a non-negotiable?

4. A chicken ain’t nothing but a bird. If you’re under thirty-five, prepare yourself: The world will to attempt to conveniently place you into one of its nice little boxes. And they can call it whatever they want: The Entitled Generation, The Me Generation, The Why Generation or The Ungrateful Generation.

The point is: The deck is stacked against you. The stereotype does exist. And whether or not it’s true, it’s up to you project a pervasive tone of gratitude with everyone you encounter.

A helpful strategy for doing so is to define the whitespace around the idea. To consider what gratitude isn’t. Because in my experience, the opposite of gratitude isn’t forgetting to give thanks – it’s complaining when you haven’t earned the right to do so.

Don’t be one of those people. Be the exception. Be the minority. Look people square in the eye, mean every word that comes out of your face, and leave no doubt in their minds that gratitude fills your heart.

Your embodiment and expression of this virtue will be a mark of maturity and magnanimity. Who knows? Maybe customers will forget all about the fact that you’re twenty-five years old. Who assumes that you’re ungrateful?

5. Traditional thanking isn’t always enough. Gratitude isn’t an event – it’s an ongoing process. I learned this last month while celebrating the ten-year anniversary of wearing a nametag twenty-four seven.

Naturally, my mom had to bake a cake. And by “bake,” I mean, “order.”

But it was a blast. We had about sixty people over, including friends, colleagues, mentors and family members. And during my toast, I said the following:

“Tonight, I’m not going read a list of people I’d like to thank. That wouldn’t do them justice. Instead, I’ve decided to live everyday of the rest of my life is a thank you in perpetuity to the voices that have shaped me. I hope that covers it.”

And that’s when it finally occurred to me: Gratitude is more than just a few honest words – it’s a calendar of consistent action.

Your mission is to show massive gratitude to the people who took personal and professional risks to help underwrite your success. Next time you get a raise, win an award or land a huge client, present a visual representation of your accomplishment to the five people who helped you most. And be sure to include a sticky note that reads: “This is your fault.”

Remember: If you don’t acknowledge people’s contributions to your development, support will cease to flow your way. After all, gratitude is the great gravitator. And what you appreciate, appreciates. Are you still convinced that success comes unassisted?

6. Contribution is the greatest form of gratitude. Every human being has been commissioned to contribute. Interestingly, the word “contribute” comes from the Latin, contributus, which means, “to bring together.”

That’s your challenge: To figure out what you were made to make. To learn what you were designed to cure. To discover what God had in mind when she put you together. This is life’s most critical assignment. Ignore it at your own peril.

Besides: How dare you dedicate your days to anything else? Isn’t that the point? Isn’t the highest way to show gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given to regift them in the service of the world?

You better believe it. That’s how you pay your rent, validate your existence and offer thanks for your natural endowments. By contributing. By adding value. By leaving this cosmic campsite better than how you found it. Do that, and your customers won’t just thank you – they’ll throw your arms around you.

Remember: Usefulness is worship. Learn why you are, or risk losing who you are. What were you born with that you’ve been ungratefully denying?

REMEMBER: Gratitude isn’t just something you do – it’s something you are.

This week, as you sit down to break bread with your loved ones, and as you and celebrate all there is to be thankful for, keep one thing in mind:

What’s being served on the table isn’t as important as who’s sitting around it.

Gobble gobble.

What is your life a thank-you in perpetuity for?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Learn a Lot at a Really Young Age” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Take the Road Less Traveled and Still Arrive at Your Destination in One Peace

Robert Frost was right.

Taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

THE QUESTION IS: How do you navigate that road and still arrive at your destination in one piece?

And not just in one piece – in one peace, too?

My name is Scott, and I’ve been taking the road less traveled pretty much my whole life.

Especially since I graduated from college. That was the last time I ever entertained the possibility of walking the conventional path. Blech.

Since then, I’ve learned a few things. And I wanted to share them for one reason:

Because I know I’m not alone.

After all, it’s called the road less traveled – not the road never traveled. And if you’ve been encountering a few speed bumps along the way, consider these ideas for your trip:1. Get good at getting lost. I get lost almost every day of my life. Not just because I have a non-existent sense of direction – but because I love it. I demand it.

And while I’m sure it frustrates my friends and family to no end, that’s just who I am. People know: If you take a trip with me, you better bring your boots. Because there ain’t no map, there ain’t no plan and there ain’t no telling where we’ll end up.

But, that’s all part of taking the road less traveled: Not knowing. And our brightest transformations usually occur in the moments when we’ve lost our way.

The secret is making sure we haven’t lost our why. Because although it doesn’t always matter where we’re going – if we don’t know why we’re going, whatever destination we reach will be stumbled upon with an empty, lifeless heart.

It’s like Buckminster Fuller said, “Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.” The question is: How directionless can you afford to be? You need to figure that out for yourself.

Remember: A world in which you can’t get lost isn’t a world – it’s a cage. Are you leaving room for the unexpected?

2. Accept fear as an inevitable part of the equation. Taking the road less traveled is simultaneously invigorating and intimidating: On one hand, you’re thrilled by the prospect of adventure; on the other hand, there’s a stream of urine running down your leg.

And that’s the question I’m consistently asked by fellow road-less-travelers is, “Do you ever get scared doing your own thing?”

And my response is a resounding, “Are you kidding me? Dude, I’m a human being – I’m scared every day of my life. In fact, if I wasn’t scared – then I’d really be scared.”

Because if you’re not scared, you’re not stretching.
And if you’re not stretching, you’re not mattering.

The difference maker is, winners know how to convert their fear into fuel. They know how to displace the impact. Personally, whenever my body notices a fear response, I write it out.

Not just because I’m a writer – but because writing is one of the few places in my life where fear doesn’t exist. It can’t. I refuse to give it oxygen. Writing is where I call fear out on its face, watch it suffocate and then use its ashes to color my canvas.

The cool part is: These fear moments tend to produce the strongest, truest material. Kind of makes peeing your pants worth it. What successes are you missing out on because you’re not accepting, loving and leveraging your fear into fuel?

3. Walk with the wise. The road less traveled is rarely short of footprints. If you want pick up the clues to success, find the people who have gone where you want to go, make a mix tape of their greatest hits, and then play that record on repeat until you know it cold.

Here’s the process I’ve been practicing for years:

Google them. Introduce yourself. Get to know them. Ask lots of questions. Take copious notes. Learn from their mistakes. Thank them for the example they’ve set. And occasionally update them on the progress you’ve made.

That’s it. Anything more is an annoyance. Wise people tend to be busy people.

However, if you really want to double your learning, do whatever you can to get these people to look you straight in the eye and deliver the skinny on what it’s going to take to make it.

If you have to buy them lunch, fine.
If you have to fly to Charlotte for the weekend, fine.
If you have to split a cab to the airport with them, only to realize you’ve just gone to the wrong airport, fine.

I’ve pulled all three of those moves, and never regretted a single minute. And neither will you.

Remember: The road less traveled isn’t just foggy – it’s lonely. When you walk with the wise, don’t just do it for the wisdom, do it for the company. Do it for someone to walk with. How many mentors do you have?

4. Be aware of the wake you’re leaving. When you dare to descend down the unknown path, certain reverberations will always ring elsewhere in your life. For example: Have you considered the repercussions your unconventional journey will have on the people closest to you?

Definitely something to think about. After all, your relational support structure is your pillar. And while you don’t need their permission to take the road less traveled, you still need to put yourself in their shoes.

In Leslie Parrott’s inspiring book, You Matter More Than You Think, she offers solid insight on the relational response to the people who take the road less traveled:

“When you choose to be true to yourself, the people around you will struggle to make sense of how and why you are changing. Some will find inspiration in your new commitment. Some may perceive that you’re changing too much. And some may feel you’re abandoning them or holding up an uncomfortable mirror.”

Whatever happens, be more patient with them then they are with you. I know it’s not easy soliciting the support of the people who love you the most. But success never comes unassisted. Without buy-in from (most of) your loved ones, the road less traveled becomes very windy. How much longer can you pretend that what you do doesn’t have an effect on people?

5. Anticipate the bumps. After four years of taking the road less traveled, my body finally started to pump the breaks. Hard. From stomach cramps to chest pains to irritable bowels, the road sign was clear: Slow the hell down, Scott.

Too bad it took three hospital visits for my ears to get the memo. Woops. Either way, I’ll never forget what my surgeon told me the recovery room: “You’ve chosen an unusual career path, and your body needs to learn how to adjust to it.”

And it did – eventually. But only because I learned how to relax. Literally, those were my doctor’s orders: Do something deliberately relaxing, every single day.

Have you incorporated that practice into your daily schedule yet? If not, start today. It doesn’t matter how you do it – only that you do it. Humans might be hardwired to withstand struggle; but without this ritual, you’re likely to crash and burn.

Look: It’s called the road less traveled for a reason. If you don’t expect the pavement to be poor, that’s exactly how you will end up – poor.

Because it’s not that this can’t happen to you; it’s that this is happening to you – and just doesn’t make sense. Not yet, at least. What foundations are you building today to handle the speed bumps of tomorrow?

6. Convert ambiguity into ammo. The scary part about taking the road less traveled is – after a while – the world you know, disappears. Yikes. And when you look back, you suddenly discover that there’s nothing left but a big, steaming pile of ambiguity. Double yikes.

Next time this happens to you, befriend the fog. Take what’s ambiguous about your situation and listen for how you might convert that into something useful. Because there comes a point when you have to stop trying to do – and start listening for what wants to be done.

Here’s a helpful approach: Pick a simple question, i.e., “What’s next?” or “What should I do?” and ask it to yourself while exercising. I’ve been practicing this strategy for years, and have found the combination of motion, endorphins, self-inquiry and repetition to be the perfect recipe for clarity.

And more often than not, by the time I’m done working out, I’m significantly closer to my answer that I was before. Either that, or I fall off the treadmill right in front of the cutest girl in the gym.

The point is: Just when you think you’re screwed, you often find providence riding shotgun, ready to help you navigate through the uncertainty. You just have to be willing to trust the process. What are you doing with your ambiguity?

7. Declare a moratorium on what doesn’t matter. “Suspension of activity.” That’s what the word moratorium means. And if you plan to take the road less traveled – and still arrive at your destination in one peace – you’ve got to start deleting useless activities that don’t enrich your life.

For example, a few years into my career, it occurred to me that going out four nights a week probably wasn’t the best career move. So, I made a bargain with myself: While my friends were out at bars, getting wasted drinking beers; I was back at home, getting wealthy writing books.

Now, it’s not like I stopped having fun completely. I just chose to delete the word “bar” from my vocabulary. And my life, my health and my career were noticeably better for it as a result.

Your challenge is to confront your own schedule and start deleting. I suggest asking five questions:

*What are you doing that makes no sense at all?
*What consumes your time that isn’t making you any money?
*What are you doing that doesn’t need to be done by anyone?
*Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?
*Does this take up a disproportionate amount of time compared to the result?

Without all that noise, you’ll be able to create a detailed image of your ideal life. Screw balance. Do you have work/life happiness?

REMEMBER: Taking the road less traveled doesn’t just make the biggest difference in your life – it enables you to make the biggest difference in other people’s lives.

Don’t worry. I’ll see you out there.

I’ll be the one swerving into your lane while singing Journey at the top of my lungs.

What road chose you?

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Nametag Guy Live: How to Infect People

Who’s joining you?

For the list called, “11 Ways to Become Brilliant By Next Thursday ,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Murder the Average and become a Monument of Awesome

Average inhibits your ability to grow.
Average chokes your ability to matter.
Average numbs your ability to contribute.

And priding yourself on average means programming yourself for irrelevancy.

On the other hand…

Awesome is the invitation of success.
Awesome is the birthplace of meaningful.
Awesome is the quickest, shortest path to greatness.

And priding yourself on awesome means programming yourself for superiority.

Which one do you personify?
Which one does your brand embody?
Which one does your organization communicate?

Today we’re going to explore strategies to help you murder the average and become a monument of awesome:1. Revel in your remarkability. The easiest way to murder the average of the future is to appreciate the awesome of the present. For example, take romantic relationships.

Ever see those disgustingly cute couples that actually show affection in public and enjoy each other’s company? You know, the ones whose mere presence completely pisses off anyone who’s been married for more than a year?

Not so fast, Dr. Phil. Instead of averting your eyes, remember what it feels like to feel that way. Remember how good love tastes when it’s fresh out of the box. Then, anchor the beauty of that beginning into your memory.

That way, before your relationship degrades into the predictable, boring, undersexed and complacent stalemate that most couples slide into after six months, you can nip it in the bud. All you have to do is enlist your emotional memory and remind yourself what awesome feels like.

The same goes for business, too: When the phones are ringing, when you’re busy enough to say no and when you’re profitable enough to reinvest, remember the aftertaste. It comes in handy during the times when all you can afford is rice and beans. Do you really need to watch another episode of Law & Order, or do you need to take your significant other out on a date?

2. Refuse to stand for the idle moment. One of the reasons I do what I do is because I’m ugly when I don’t. I don’t know about you, but idleness absolutely kills me. I think life’s far too interesting. There’s just too much fun to be had.

I’m not saying you should always to be busy – I’m saying you should never be bored. Incessant bouts of boredom are the mark of a boring person. And being bored is an utter insult to your company, your community, your creator and your creativity.

Look: Each of us has the habitual longing to make a mark that counts. And each of us needs to become thoroughly convinced that we’re destined for great things. But the footsteps of the human experience were not meant to be caked with vanilla frosting.

Enough half-measure living. Tap into your innate expressive capacity. Wage an ongoing war against boredom. Otherwise average will cling to you like a wet dish rag. When was the last time you were bored?

3. Decide who you’re done listening to. During my last semester of college, the business school faculty urged us to attend the campus career fair. It was a joke: Scores of identical, suit-clad seniors overexerting themselves to prove their salt to a bunch of corporate recruiters who couldn’t care less about their unique talents.

I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth a little.

So, instead of wasting my afternoon talking to bunch average companies that saw me as nothing more than a barcode, I took one lap around the gym, grabbed as much free candy as I possibly could, tossed my freshly printed stack of resumes in the trash and said, “Screw this – I’ve got a book to finish.”

Best decision I ever made. And as I look back, I now realize: Life’s too short to waste time doing things just because other people say it’s important. Murdering average means living according to your own experience, not according to the beliefs and dictates of society. It means peeling back the layers of expectation and conditioning that have encrusted your heart and mind.

And it’s not like I’m the first person to realize this. Even Jesus told people to do it: “Conform no longer to the pattern of this world.”

Whether or not you believe in him, that’s still a powerful, relevant suggestion. You just have to be courageous enough to stand up and say, “I will take my potential elsewhere, thank you very much.” Will you allow your own visions to propel you on a quest for originality?

4. Learn to live out of your own center. Awesome is not something you create – it’s something you uncover. It’s something that already exists within you as part of your true identity. But you can only access it by taking a sledgehammer to the average.

This goes for people, brands, companies and organizations alike. In short: Anyone or anything that’s not currently running at full capacity.

And the secret is to think of it as a process of elimination. A process of chiseling. That’s what Michelangelo said: That the sculpture was already inside the stone. All we had to do was chip away.

Seriously. How much longer can you conform to some external template? How many more years can your company do work that’s unrecognizable to the people who matter most?

Maybe it’s time jettison accepted limits, leave familiar territory and override your defaults. Maybe it’s time to opt out of what everyone around you insists is wonderful. I’d hate for you to deny yourself the privilege of becoming fully human. When was the last time you recast your assumptions?

5. Delete people who bring your score down. People either lift you up or drag you down. They’re either debits or credits. And you can’t let anyone’s lack of passion cripple you.

The challenge is to become more discerning – not snobby, but discerning – about the people you allow to participate in your life. That’s how you deepen awesome: By finding cheerleaders. Dedicated supporters.

People who will adamantly refuse to let you stay where you are.
People who will believe in you more than you believe in yourself.
People who will call you on the carpet when you start to slide into the territory of average.

To figure out who these people are, consider asking questions like:

*Is this person a chronic abuser of my time and attention?
*Is this person kindling my awesomeness or enabling my averageness?
*Does this person add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it?

Remember: Without this continual flow of relational support, you won’t be able to sustain the inevitable blows delivered to those who choose the path of remarkability. What’s sad is, most people don’t realize how strong – or how weak – their support system is until the world collapses on top of them. Will you wait to find out?

6. Be the origin, not the echo. A few weeks ago I heard a fascinating interview on my community radio station. The lead singer of a local rock band shared his contempt for the abundance of average found in popular music. He suggested an idea for anyone trying to make it as an artist:

“Stop playing what other people are already copying.”

If you want to embed this idea into your own work, my suggestion is to create a mediocrity filter. A customized, self-accountability audit that keeps the average out. You might try posting a list of questions above your computer to remind you to be the origin, not the echo. For example:

*Would boring befriend this?
*What makes this distinct from the masses?
*How am I putting my personal stamp on this?
*What mediocrities do I need to set fire to?

Whatever it takes to prevent you from becoming a copy of a copy. Remember: There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t let your potential for awesome become blocked by the interference of average. Are you allowing your own visions to propel you on a quest for originality?

REMEMBER: You can’t spell the word “average” without the word “grave.”

Because that’s precisely the type of danger that awaits someone living a mediocre life.

The danger of not mattering.
The danger of melting into the multitude.
The danger of fading into the middling masses.

You can’t let this happen to you.

I challenge you to murder the average.

I challenge to become a person whose life – at every level – gives evidence of awesome.

Scott Stratten was right: People don’t spread meh.

People spread awesome.

Are you a monument of it?

For the list called, “22 Unexpected Ways to Help People,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Don Draper Guide to Making a Case for Yourself

My favorite episode of Mad Men is called “Lipsticks & Dipsticks.”

In his sales pitch, Don Draper says the following:

“Every woman wants choices. But in the end, none wants to be one of a hundred in a box. She’s unique. She makes the choices and she’s chosen him. She wants to tell the world he’s mine. He belongs to me, not you. She marks her man with her lips. He is her possession. You’ve given every woman who wears your lipstick the gift of total ownership.”

That’s how you make a case for yourself.

AND THE GOOD NEWS IS: You don’t have to be a corporate advertising executive to do so.

We all need to make a case for ourselves.

It’s how we get what we want.
It’s how we get where we want.
It’s how we get whom we want.

Here’s how:1. Do homework on yourself. Ask anyone who’s done online dating: A good profile is priceless. In fact, there’s an entire industry of consultants, writers and coaches – that you can pay – to craft your online profile for you. And my guess is, the demand for that service isn’t going away any time.

After all, most people don’t have a clue how to sell themselves virtually. Not because they suck at sales – but because they don’t know who they are. And it’s impossible to make a case for yourself if you haven’t memorized what the files say.

Therefore: If you want to carry your truth to market, as Dostoyevsky suggested, I urge you: Don’t defend your specialness – articulate your fabulousness. Lower the bucket into the well of your own divine gifts. Otherwise your capabilities won’t come across.

Remember: Every encounter is a situation to teach others what you are. The real question is: What’s keeping your true identity from being known to you?

2. Reframe your approach. Job interviews are marketing presentations for yourself. You’re not there to answer their questions – you’re there to make enough of a mark that people can’t leave you out. The secret is to be memorable for the right reasons.

Instead of dwelling on past experience, share how you see the current state of the industry.

Instead of giving predictable, stock answers, offer tips on how to make the company better.

Instead of passively answering people’s questions, take control of the conversation and address the unspoken need.

Instead of talking about your last job, envision what you would do if you were hired for this job.

The point is: Very few people change the world with their mouths shut. Don’t refuse to share your thoughts – that weakens them. People love to feel like they’re watching a brain working. And people want to experience the version you that you mean to mean. How are you putting your thinking on display?

3. Send a credible signal. The first time I walked down the Reno strip, I noticed an abundance of buffets. Now, I’m sure they were all delicious. But t problem was, every restaurant posted a sign that read, “Voted Best Buffet!”

And I thought, “By whom? A sample of customers? Zagat? The guy who owns the place?”

That’s when I learned: Credibility without specificity is audacity. If you want to send a credible signal, avoid unspecified attribution like the plague. Delete from your vocabulary phrases like:

Research proves. Scientists say. Psychologists report. Experts believe. They say. There’s an old story that says. I’ve heard. Most people agree. It is said that. Critics say. Statistics show. Somebody once said. The reviews say.

Keep in mind that you’re starting with a negative balance. We live in a low-trust culture, and the baseline posture of most customers is not to believe you.

As such, making a case for yourself means making morsels of your credibility expand in people’s heads. Otherwise they’ll pick someone else. What can you do – right now – to create greater trust on both sides of the sale?

4. Never underestimate the gravity of non-verbal presence. Not superficialities like wardrobe, smiling and body language. I’m talking about how you show up. What you make people feel. And how you leave people feeling. Those are the foundational components that either enhance or detract from the case you’re making.

The secret is to walk the fine line between confidence and arrogance. The former comes from the Latin confidentia, which means, “to trust.” The latter comes from the Latin arrogantia, which means, “to assume.”

That’s the distinction: Confident people trust in their abilities when they walk in the room. Arrogant people assume they’re the only people in the room who possess those abilities – then kill themselves making sure everybody else in the room knows that.

If you want to make a case for yourself, you have to keep unadulterated self-belief at the forefront of your attitude. Otherwise you’ll get rejected faster than a ginger kid at an orphanage. As Keith Richards wrote in his autobiography, Life, “Worry makes your performance so small that it’s not interesting to watch.” When you walk into a room, how does it change?

5. Stand firm against the seductiveness of slander. You see this in a lot of political elections. Candidates focus on childish, negative attacks that lack substantive data. Instead of showing the voters why they’re better, they ride the current of whatever media narrative makes the other guy look worse. And instead of making a case for themselves, they spend millions of dollars trying to pick holes in the case of the opposing candidate’s.

Now, historically, this tactic has worked well to scare voters; but it’s not especially effective for getting elected. And whether you’re a politician, company leader, salesperson or unemployed professional, the goal is stop making war on the competition and start making love to the customer.

As I learned from the credo of my client and strategic partner, Optimists International, “Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.”

Remember: Making other people’s case look weaker doesn’t make yours look stronger. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Do you still think negatively looks good on you?

6. Proactively explain the anomalies of your past. Everyone has baggage. It comes with the territory of being human. And to deny what you’ve been through is to dishonor your truth. But don’t expect it not to come up. Making a case for yourself means owning every minute of your personal history. And you better be ready to explain the speed bumps, should you drive over one.

The trick is: How do you stay loyal to your imperfections without weakening your case? My suggestion is to be selective about what you reveal. Focus on what you learned, how you grew and what you would do differently next time. No need to hold onto your past with an angry bite. As long as you remember what my friend Dixie Dynamite says, “What you’ve gone through is not who you are – but what you’ve chosen to do with what you’ve gone through, is.” What part of your past are you afraid to own?

7. Qualify yourself to the customer first. There’s one question you have to be ready for: “Why should I buy from you?” Whether it’s asked explicitly or implicitly, your answer determines whether or not you make money. For example, if you tell people, “I sell advertising,” you’re written off as irrelevant.

But if you say, “I teach people how to convert the leads (from ads) into money,” it’s a different ballgame. The key is to be proactive, interactive and reactive. To escalate when necessary. And to remember what Don Draper says: “Eventually, there comes a point where seduction is over and force is being expected.”

Remember: Self-qualification makes people’s jobs easier – including yours. Beat customers to the punch and you’ll beat competitors into the ground. How are you lifting people out of their petty preoccupations?

8. Paper isn’t enough. The problem with your resume is that you wrote it. You may as well call it a resu-me. Besides, anybody can look good on paper. My dog could get a job with the right resume. How you show up online, offline and in person is what determines the case you make for yourself.

Interestingly, the word resume comes from the Latin resumere, which means, “to sum up.” As such, your resume is anything (or anyone) that sums up the case you’re trying to make: Your Google ranking. Your testimonials. Your media room. Your positive repute in the market place.

Remember: If someone wants to hire you – for a job, a project, an ongoing gig or a one-time engagement – you better believe she’s going to validate your credibility from multiple sources. Not just from one piece of paper. What type of person do you have to become on the inside to become the person you want to become on the outside?

9. Be more infectious. A great book doesn’t inform you – it infects you. That’s the question I ask every time I sit down to write: What am I trying infect my readers with by writing this? After all, the word “infect” comes from the Latin inficere, which means, “to put in.”

That’s what you need to figure out for yourself: What are you putting into people? What are you infecting them with?

Then all you have to do is administer the needle, sit back and watch people turn. And keep in mind, while making a case for yourself is primarily a function of specific, focused action, the most beautiful, sustainable and efficacious mode of infection is through being. Not thoughts. Not words. Not even actions. Through being.

That means thrusting your whole self into the encounter, showing people your cards and passionately and respectfully presenting them with a compelling visual icon. Do that, and you’ll make them want to ride along with you. What are you putting into people?

REMEMBER: You are not a presumed part of the wallpaper.

Your voice will be heard.

If you hope to get what you want, where you want and whom you want, you’ve got to make a case for yourself.

How’s your case looking?

For the list called, “12 Ways to Out Service Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Watch Scott Ginsberg’s 47-Minute Skype Interview on the Topic of, Well, Pretty Much Eveything Under the Entrepreneurial Sun

How many interviews did you do this week?

For the list called, “12 Ways to Keep Your Relationships Alive,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Stop Being Nice and Start Becoming Necessary

That’s nice, but… We’re not Apple.
That’s nice, but… That doesn’t help me.
That’s nice, but… How much will this cost?
That’s nice, but… How does that affect the bottom line?
That’s nice, but… That doesn’t really answer my question.

So much for the power of nice.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being nice.

BUT HERE’S THE DIFFERENCE: Nice gets commended, necessary gets compensated.

Which word describes the work you do?

Let’s explore a list of strategies to help you stop being nice and start becoming necessary:1. Hit them in the wallet quicker. One of my clients, Aaron, is a nurse practitioner. He consults with hospitals, healthcare organizations and other medical professionals on how to practice heart-centered care. During one of our email mentoring sessions, he enlightened me about the mindset of a typical hospital administrator:

“If it doesn’t directly relate to patient care – they don’t care.”

To them, that’s what matters. It’s a bottom-line focus. It’s a self-interest that pivots on the principle of profitability. Not just for hospitals – for all organizations. For all customers.

Not that it’s always about money, but let’s not kid ourselves: People think with their wallets. And to move from nice to necessary, you have to hit them there quicker.

One suggestion for doing so comes from a recent issue of FastCompany. Made to Stick authors Dan & Chip Heath suggest that you sell aspirin, not vitamins.

“If you want to succeed, you’d better be selling aspirin rather than vitamins. Vitamins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.”

That’s how you hit them in the wallet quicker. That’s how nice becomes necessary: When what you do unearths your customer’s deeply felt needs. Is your organization selling a better mousetrap or a dead mouse?

2. Be gloriously explicit. What do all coaches and consultants have in common? Nobody knows what the hell they really do. Because of low barriers to entry, minimal training requirements and mass-market saturation, coaching and consulting are poorly defined service offerings. Which makes most coaches and consultants nice – but not necessary.

For that reason, five years ago I introduced a first-of-its-kind service called, Rent Scott’s Brain. People bonded with it instantly. More importantly, people bought it instantly. That moved the service from nice to necessary, because it offered people (who valued my thinking) access to a one of a kind product.

That’s your mission: To show people exactly what you do so they can decide whether or not they need it. I’m not just talking about honesty – this is radical transparency. Making no qualms about what you do, what you don’t do and what happens when you do it. How explicitly are your service offerings defined?

3. Embrace your outsiderness. People need fresh air. A new perspective. Someone from the outside to point out the glaring inconsistencies they’re too close to themselves to see. That’s the three-fold advantage to being an outsider.

First: Outsiders bring objectivity. This moves you from nice to necessary for several reasons: You have little or no bias. Your can recognize patterns immediately. You have no stake. You don’t bring vested interests to an existing problem. You can explore structure with fresh eyes. And you’re not viewed as a threat.

Second: Outsiders invite freedom. As an outsider, you don’t face traditional barriers. You’re unaware of common creative blocks. You’re not subject certain internal politics. And you can challenge assumptions that were never considered, or taken for granted.

Third: Outsiders expand thinking. Because you’re detached from outcomes. Because you’re not so close to the situation and, therefore have limited agendas. And because your body of experience applies cross-industrially.

The point is: It’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists. And the less you know, the more likely you are to come up with an original idea. That’s what I tell my clients: “I don’t know anything. And that’s exactly why I’m here.”

Remember: Sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. How are you positioned as an equitable outsider?

4. Baseline remarkability isn’t enough. Crystal Pepsi was remarkable, but irrelevant. It was nice, but not necessary. That’s the trap many organizations to fall victim to: Being remarkable for the sake of being remarkable.

Most of the time, this is the result of falling in love with your own marketing. And the problem is: If there’s no sustainability and substance beyond baseline remarkability, you never transcend nice. The goal is to seek enduring remarkability.

My suggestion: Listen to people tell you what’s not working for them. Hell, you can even ask them: “What urgent, expensive, important problem do you have – that nobody else is attending to?” When you become known as someone who acknowledges what’s been tragically neglected, someone who overcomes the poisonous accumulation of unsatisfied customer wishes, necessary will be an understatement.

Remember: People can tell their friends all they want about you. But if there’s no substance to anchor your shtick, if there’s no pervasive problem-solving to support your product, you won’t last. Any number multiplied by zero is still zero. Do you truly offer meaningful uniqueness?

5. Dare to be dumm. You can’t avoid the appearance of ignorance forever. But it takes tremendous courage and humility to stand up in the middle of a meeting and say, “Does anyone else smell that?” or “Am I the only one, or is this confusing to you guys too?” That’s what the necessary do: They speak truth to people’s hearts. And if you want to do so, keep your eye out for three patterns:

First, ideas that are simply too convenient to be killed. Grab a pistol and be the one to speak up. Otherwise nothing will ever change.

Second, problems that are so simple and familiar that they become hidden. Pull them out from behind the curtain and expose them to world.

Third, people who are too comfortable to feel the weight of their own stupidity. Your job is to find evidence of burden wherever you can.

Now, keep in mind: You’re not here to be a downer – but you don’t want to put lipstick and makeup on the truth. Ultimately, to be necessary is to become a delightful disturbance. To snap open people’s eyes, strike at the very root and translate floating abstractions into concrete realities.

And if you can make but a few people pause, you win. And so do they. Are you ignoring the elephant in the room, talking about the elephant in the room, or jumping on its back and teaching it how to dance?

6. Positioning wins ballgames. It’s not about marketshare – it’s about mindshare. Your goal is to walk into a room as a peer of the people, a trusted resource to the people and a problem solver with the people. Like Jack Trout’s wrote in Positioning, “Don’t create the product – build the position behind the product in the prospect’s mind.”

Let’s break down each of the three roles.

First: A peer. A friend. Not someone who surreptitiously memorized the names of your family members to make it look like he cares. And not one of those lame-ass, social media pseudo friends that don’t actually know anything about who you really are. I’m talking about a real friend. Someone who knows what you ache for. Someone who’s well versed in your why. And someone who knows is how you think, how you live and whom you love. Do your clients, coworkers and superiors think of you that way?

Second: A trusted resource. Which means even if you don’t know the answer, you know the questions that will point people to the answer. And through the depth of what you deliver, you don’t make people ask, “Should we hire this guy?” but rather, “How should we use this guy?”

Third: A problem solver. Which means you’re the answer to something that matters. You’re don’t just learn about your customers’ businesses – you learn about their brain. You try their heads on. And when the time comes, you practice restraint when it comes to deliver answers. No need to deploy every weapon you have. No need to teach people how to build a watch – just tell them what time it is.

Remember: The stronger your pre-sale position, the easier it is to get to yes. How are you positioned prior to making the sale?

7. Serve people as if they were already paying clients. You don’t need to give away the farm – but by helping at a high level now, you help people find a way to pay you later. It’s all in the mindset you maintain. For example, if you walk in the door thinking:

“It’s just a free gig. I can half ass it. I’ll bring my b-game and save the good stuff for people who actually pay,” your performance will suffer as a result. Not to the extent that the client will really notice the difference – but to the extent that the client will assume that’s all you’ve got.

On the other hand, if you walk in the door thinking, “I know they’re not paying me, but I’m still going to rock their faces off. I’m going to make them laugh, make them understand and make them marvel. And I’m going to engage them emotionally with an unbroken series of value-driven actions, an extraordinarily pure heart and an indispensible presence,” people will be so blown away that they’ll have no choice but to start paying you.

That’s what happens when you throw your full attention to the world of the client: They throw their full budget to the world of your bank account. Or they call security. How are you making it clear that your focus is on helping and not charging?

8. Be a vital component, not just a helpful addition. A few years ago, my friend John Janstch told me the secret of his blog commenting strategy: Don’t just comment – contribute. Now, although we’re not talking about blogging today, the same general principal applies. You have to transform yourself into a value-adding machine.

That’s how you move from nice to necessary: By not being selfish with your knowledge. By positioning yourself as the only path to fulfillment. By positioning your expertise in such a way that people wouldn’t dare go into the marketplace without your opinion first. And by sharing your expertise generously so people recognize it, embrace it and eventually depend on you for it.

Soon, people in your office, people in your network and people in your marketplace will start coming to your for your time. Because they won’t want to make a move without consulting you first.

Remember: If your absence doesn’t make a noticeable difference, why would people bother inviting you back? You want to become so imminently significant, that your client’s world crumbles when you’re not around. When you walk out of a room, how does it change?

In conclusion, I’d like to talk about something that never fails to amaze me:

The stark difference between the value you think you deliver, and the value your customers actually remember.

One of the groups I work with provides seminars, coaching and resources to unemployed professionals. And after a recent workshop, my client expressed something that blew my hair back:

“Don’t get me wrong, Scott. The material was great. The slides were stimulating. And the delivery was engaging. But these people need to laugh. Some of them have been unemployed for over a year now, and their spirits are sagging. So, the fact that they just spent the last three hours of their lives with smiles on their faces and chuckles in their bellies is exactly what they didn’t realize they needed. That’s the value you bring – and it’s priceless. Thanks.”

You know, it’s amazing: When you deliver a dose of positivity, you achieve a stroke of superiority.

And I agree that hope isn’t a strategy. I also agree that the people who inspire an atmosphere of hope are the last to be shown the door.

My suggestion:

Engage the muscle of yes.
Remain radiant amidst the filth of the world.
There will be no escaping the echoes of your enthusiasm.

And your radiance will propel you lightyears beyond nice and into the galaxy of necessary.

How much money is nice making you?

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

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Is Your Company a Phonebook?

A few weeks ago we talked about retaining relevancy.

For your person.
For your company brand.
For your organization as a whole.

IN SHORT: Don’t be a phonebook.

Today our discussion continues with four more strategies for staying relevant:1. Renew your relevance to adapt to your customer’s lifestyle. Did you know that McDonald’s offers free wifi? Yep. It’s pretty sweet. Hell, I’ve gone there with my laptop on several occasions to write in an alternative creative environment. It’s good for the brain. And it’s definitely a nice break from my living room.

But what’s interesting is that growing up in the eighties, the only technological advances at my McDonald’s were the motion activated toilet flushers. And even those didn’t always work.

Now, thirty years later, offering free wifi is the perfect strategy for McDonald’s to renew their relevancy. Especially considering the dramatic differences between their customer and their end user.

Think about it: Parents don’t care about the food. They just want is to check their email while their kids play on the Fun Land. Kids, on the other hand, just want to stuff their faces and hang out with their friends.

What’s your gameplan for responding to your customer’s lifestyle? How will you stay on top of changes in customer requirements?

My suggestion is simple: Just ask. Try your customers’ heads on. Or, try being a customer yourself. That’s how you find out what hassles and inconveniences surround the occasions when people do business with you. Uncover that and your organization will renew its relevance faster than you can say, “You want fries with that?” What customer lifestyle change do you need to adapt to?

2. Proficiency and passion aren’t enough. Yes, be excellent at what you do. And yes, do what you do with a white-hot fire in your belly. But make certain those aren’t the only two moves in your playbook.

In the current economic marketplace, competence is assumed and enthusiasm is expected. As such, proficiency and passion are merely the price of admission. The bunny slope. The cover charge for competing in the game of business. And unless you can connect those two things to a context that’s relevant for the people who matter most, you lose.

I’m reminded of Whole Foods Market. Not only is their product and service incredible. Not only are their employees walking brand ambassadors. But their ability to retain relevancy is amazing.

For example, each store has a Customer Comment Board. Which, if you’ve ever worked in retail, is nothing new. Except for the fact that each employee personally handwrites her answers to each comment. Even the negative ones. Especially the negative ones. This open feedback loop demonstrates an admirable level of askability.

What’s more, it reinforces Whole Foods’ question-friendly environment. And as a result, their organization is a living, breathing case study that proficiency and passion without practicality is waste. How will your organization do the same?

Remember: Be good, be on fire – but be practical. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark. Are you passionately and skillfully irrelevant?

3. Contribute across the board. When you democratize intentionally, you monetize incidentally. That’s what good multidisciplinary and comprehensivists do: They stay relevant by delivering value across the board.

In a recent article on The Bulletin, Dave Bontempo wrote, “Figure out how you can integrate your work with that of other departments, sharing ideas on productivity, new technologies and marketing. Create a portrait of yourself as someone who goes beyond the boundaries of your cubicle to add to the bottom line. The added component of flexibility to your personal profile significantly ups your relevance factor.”

Take the manufacturing world, for example. I’ve read about companies implementing a system called parallel production. This is when all the departments produce and discuss together throughout the entire production process.

The cool part is, this strategy is eminently feasible inside most organizations. You don’t need a factory – you just need the faculty to get outside of your normal function. How will you add distinctive depth to your current role?

4. Velocity without relevance is valueless. When you stop moving, you stop mattering. That’s why bands stay on the road for months at a time: No tour, no touch people.

That’s why professional speakers love airports: No planes, no profits. And that’s why blogs and social media feeds trump traditional websites: Nobody wants to read something on the web that’s two years old.

As such, the key to retaining relevancy is as simple as staying in motion. Otherwise the powerful forces of inertia will obsolete you faster than you can say, “Where Are They Now?”

The only thing to be careful of is not to destroy everything for the sake of action. Some businesspeople are so action-oriented that they forget to stop and reflect on what’s happening. And their customers suffer a result.

The key is to balance velocity with value. Because in the end, you risk more by doing nothing. Make the necessary moves. Enable the active force. How are you assuming responsibility for keeping current?

In the end, what matters is: No relevance, no revenue.

Don’t be a phonebook.

How much profitability are you sacrificing by being irrelevant?

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

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

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Scott Ginsberg Teaches Optimists International How to be More Joinable

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For the list called, “15 Ways to Out Learn Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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