What Every Young Leader Should Know about Showing the World They’re Serious

If you’re under the age of thirty-five, the default posture of the world is not to believe you.

I know. Total bummer.

But it’s not your fault – it’s just human nature. Age equals credibility. And there’s no way to speed it up.

Actually, I take that back. My friend Tom Reilly once suggested: “If you want people to take you seriously, either go grey or vacate.”

Not a bad idea. Certainly worked for Taylor Hicks.

But outside of follicular augmentation, the smartest move for a young leader is to position her attitudes, behaviors and language in a consistent manner that shows the world she’s serious. That shows the world she’s not messing around.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, entry-level employee, college intern or new kid on the block, consider these suggestions:1. Beware of the copycats. Commitment is an easily confusable entity. And if you don’t learn to discern the difference between commitment and its cheap imitations, everything you do will be like winking in the dark. Honestly ask yourself these questions:

Are you truly committed – or just curious?
Are you truly committed – or just involved?
Are you truly committed – or just concerned?
Are you truly committed – or just interested?
Are you truly committed – or just legally obligated?
Are you truly committed – or just not unhappy enough to change?
Are you truly committed – or just biding your time until something better comes along?

Approach these questions as a personal audit. Use them as an accountability tool to sustain your level commitment. And if you think it sounds like a lot of work, you’re wrong.

It’s not a lot of work – it’s a ton of work. But that’s the whole point: The reason commitment costs so much is because it pays so well. Are you willing to make the investment?

2. Choose ubiquitous over anonymous. If attention is currency, anonymity is bankruptcy. Which brings us to the central question: Are you everywhere? If so, the world already knows you’re serious.

If not, here’s my suggestion: Approach everything you do as a form of marketing. In 2001, a survey conducted by The Washington Post that indicated the following:

“Self-employed businesspeople spend an average of forty-three minutes a day marketing themselves.”

If you do the math, that’s eight percent of your entire day. Which leads to my next question: What the hell are people doing for the other four hundred and thirty minutes?

Answer: The wrong things.

Here’s the reality: Marketing is everything and everything is marketing. The challenge to twofold. First, to change your definition of marketing to “transferring emotion.” That’s it.

And second, to find a way to (respectfully) transform everything you do into some form of marketing. Emails. Phone calls. Meetings. Blog posts. Everything.

Remember: People who only do marketing “here and there,” will only get new business here and there. How many minutes did you spend on marketing yesterday?

3. Ship only great work out the door. Piano man Ben Folds reminds us in the song One Down, “People tell me to just make up junk and turn it in. But I was never okay with turning in a bunch of crap. And I don’t like wasting time on music that won’t make me proud.”

Sadly, many of my colleagues fall victim to that trap. They publish average books with average content. They give unremarkable speeches with unremarkable slides. They write boring blog posts using boring examples.

And it’s not like they’re going broke – they’re just not going for broke. That’s the next way to show the world you’re serious: By refusing to execute mediocrity. Because without making this baseline decision, without setting this standard of excellence, you leave yourself vulnerable to attack. And the sexiness of average will seduce you like six-foot blonde in a black dress.

Remember: Being amazing isn’t enough. The other half of the equation is the willingness to wage a war against mediocrity. Burn the beige. Vaporize the vanilla. Banish the bland. Nuke the normal. Murder the average. Are you giving the future something to rah-spect?

4. Consistency is the ultimate commitment device. Every time I find a blog that hasn’t posted since the Clinton Administration, a small part of me dies inside. Seriously: If you’re not going to stay up with it, don’t bother. Something isn’t always better than nothing.

If you want people to take you seriously, remember my personal mantra: “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.” Whether you’re publishing online content, leading a Wednesday night bible study, interning at your dream job or trying to be a better parent, consistency is not an accident.

It’s a sequence of intentionally consistent, similar actions. It’s a timeline of credibility. Personally, I wear a nametag everyday. Plus I got one tattooed on my chest. Plus I post a “number of consecutive days” counter on my website. Those are my commitment devices. What are yours?

Because if you want to win, you can’t just commit – you have to communicate to the people who matter most that you’re fully committed. Remember: Commitment without evidence is pantomime. How will you reinforce your positive pattern of execution?

5. Consider what affects your ability to be taken seriously. In Napoleon Hill’s classic work, The Laws of Success, he writes that the world will forgive you if you make mistakes – but it will never forgive you if you make no decisions. That’s the secret: To achieve definiteness of decision.

Interestingly, the word “decision” comes from the Latin decisio, or “agreement.” Which means it’s a function of values. Which means you gave it serious thought. And which means it’s a part your core.

The challenge (according to many of my clients) is actually pulling the trigger. Overcoming the paralyzing uncertainty of taking that crucial first step. And that’s why I suggest the following: Violently refuse to get snared into an endless tangle of anxiety, regret and second-guessing.

You can’t go through life regretting every decision you make just because it might not have been the best possible one. It’ll eat you up inside like a tapeworm.

Shakespeare was right: Delays have dangerous ends. Ginsberg was right too: Reluctance to make a decision is a form of resistance.

And the bottom line is: People won’t take you seriously if they’re too busy questioning your decision-making ability. It’s time to put a stake in the ground. What are you unconsciously doing that’s marring your credibility?

6. Real commitment is unthwartable by circumstance. As a musician, I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t matter if you break a string – it matters how quickly you return to the music.

This same principle of stick-to-itiveness applies to the song of life. If you want to show people you’re serious, try not walking away from the eyes of the world when they roll at you. Instead of acquiescing to your circumstances, yield to your core. Use your values as navigators.

When things go wrong, when people lash out at you, or when you screw the pooch in public, ask yourself, “If I were me, what would I do in this situation?” Doing so will initiate an instant calming sequence that draws people to you.

After all, in times of crisis, people turn to people who are calm. Calm is what builds trust, mitigates stress, remedies confusion and inspires followership. And it’s the perfect way to show the world you’re serious.

As long as you remember: There’s a direct correlation between the ability to make a name for yourself and the willingness to make an idiot of yourself. Are you impervious to embarrassment?

In conclusion, we remember to the immortal words of Bill Cosby:

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.”

JUST REMEMBER: Commitment isn’t just an obligation – it’s a demonstration.

It’s a constant exertion of your values.
It’s a consistent extension of your truth.
It’s a consummate expression of your core.

That’s how you show the world you’re serious.

And the best part is: When you do, your commitment doesn’t just become noticeable – it becomes billable.

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

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How to Die

Everything on this planet has a life cycle.

Products. Services. Industries. Plants. Planets. Animals. Ideas. Blogs. Relationships. Recessions. Religions. Philosophies.

Nothing is immortal.

Except for Keith Richards. Seriously, that guy just doesn’t die.

But when it comes to organizations, the same rule applies:

Non-profits. Faith communities. Charities. Clubs. Trade associations. Membership organizations. Volunteer groups. Outreach programs.

They have life cycles too. And whether or not you want to admit it – and whether or not it happens on your watch – closing down shop is inevitable. As often as you update, as frequently as you reinvent and as strategically as you promote, eventually, everything outlives its usefulness.

Everything has to die. And if your organization has degraded to the realm of uselessness, I triple dog dare you to consider the following strategies for shutting your doors:1. You can’t force feed involvement. People always make time for what’s important to them. Always. And sadly, it doesn’t matter how many phone calls you make, how amazing your meetings are or how inspiring the board of directors is.

Any number multiplied by zero is still zero. No matter how big that number is.

And if increasing your efforts won’t be enough to make a difference anyway – why kill yourself? Declining membership, poor volunteer support and lack of organizational vitality might have nothing to do with you.

It doesn’t mean people don’t like you – it just means they have different priorities. Or they’re tuned into different frequencies.

The ugly truth is: You might not fit into their lives anymore. And if your organization is struggling to become a regular part of your members’ schedule, that should tell you something.

If mediocrity is the highest you can get, you’re not being fair to yourself, your people or your organization. Are you throwing a life jack to something that’s already sunk to the bottom of the ocean?

2. Detachment mitigates the pain of quitting. As a leader of your membership-based organization, you’ve contributed your share. From dollars out of your own pocket to time away from your family to energy out of your own reserve, it’s not like you aren’t devoted to the success of the group.

And that’s exactly why it’s so hard to confront the mortality of your organization: Because you’ve already invested so much emotional labor. That’s the real issue: Not the shame of failure – but the emotional attachment to the thing that’s failing.

But, when you divorce your heart from of the problem, the solution becomes a no-brainer. That’s when you realize that just because something sucks – it doesn’t mean you suck.

And as a result, walking away doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Especially if you’re the only one putting in any effort. Or if three people are doing the work of ten. If that’s the case – or if that’s been the case for a while – maybe it’s time to stop fooling yourself.

Working overtime to convince yourself that this group going to work is a waste of your time and talents. This thing isn’t something to overcome – it’s something to outgrow. Are you preserving the illusion of something that’s not actually there just because you’d feel guilty if it wasn’t?

3. Celebrate your victories and walk off the field. In a recent article in FastCompany, non-profit thought leader Nancy Lublin writes, “Organizations don’t exist simply to exist. They should wear a termination notice as a badge of honor.”

What’s there to be ashamed of anyway? You had fun, did the best you could, learned a ton, helped the community, deepened relationships with key people and fulfilled your mission for as long as you could.

Don’t overstate the possibilities and exaggerate the potential of your organization out of guilt. The stress and frustration will slowly drive you insane.

If it’s not worth it anymore, if the efficacy of your efforts is outweighed by the frustration of the people who exert it – and if the point of diminishing returns has come and gone like a busboy in a burger joint – it’s time to throw in the towel.

Take whatever chips you’ve won, fold the hand and get on with your life.

People will be thrilled you read their minds, sacked up and made the call instead of them. Are you willing to confront your organizational expiration date?

4. When growing is no longer possible, give up. In Seth Godin’s book The Dip, I learned that people quit for two reasons: Either because it’s hard, or because it’s right. Let’s explore two examples:

If you shut your organizational doors because you don’t feel like getting up on Saturday mornings to attend meetings, you’re quitting because it’s hard.

But if you shut the doors because you regularly find yourself standing around when the music stops only to look up and notice that you’re the only one dancing while the rest of party either grabbed a chair or went home, you’re quitting because it’s right.

Ultimately, the decision to close shop is simply a matter of severity. It’s either a problem or a predicament. And your challenge is to discern the difference.

If it’s a problem, that means you can create a solution. Cool. But if it’s a predicament, all you can do is manage the response. Also cool.

Look: Every group runs its course. Don’t try to revive an organization that’s not important to people who aren’t even coming anyway. Dive into death. Are you using the shovel to make the hole bigger with one foot in the grave?

REMEMBER: There’s no shame in shutting your doors.

Especially if the hinges have been accumulating cobwebs for some time.

It’s never pleasant when you realize you’ve outlived your usefulness.

But it happens. Actually, it happens a lot.

And if that’s the case for your organization, my suggestion is simple:

Accept it, enjoy the ride and get on with your life.

Keith Richards would be proud.

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

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The Ralph Waldo Emerson Guide to Going Where There is No Path and Leaving a Trail

I know who you are.

You’ve chosen to follow an uncommon road.
You’ve elected to pursue a perilous and uncertain course.
You’ve decided to go where there is no path and leave a trail.

Let me be the first person to say: Hell to the yes.

You are going to grow geometrically.
You are going to evolve exponentially.
You are going to learn comprehensively.

Pshht. Paths. Overrated.

But.

HERE’S WHAT SUCKS: You can’t navigate what isn’t there.

And after your initial excitement dies down, the nagging question will become, “Oh crap. If I’m the only person who’s ever gone this way before, how the hell will I get directions?”

ANSWER: You won’t.

Fortunately, I’ve accumulated a body of experience in this area. And I have some ideas I’d like to share with you that will be useful to your journey.

Emerson suggested we do not go where the path may lead, but instead go where there is no path and leave a trail. Here’s how to do it: 1. Success never comes unassisted. I’m not saying you need your hand held through life. But reaching out doesn’t make you a weakling or a failure.

If your world comes crashing down and you need to fly to Iowa for the weekend to have a good cry with your parents, do it.

If you feel like an abject failure, and you need a friend to sit with you for two hours of venting, do it.

Your peeps. Your crew. Your network of healing. Your expectation-free support structure. These are the people who help clear the trees along your untraveled path.

Let them. That’s why they’re there. The people who love you most want nothing more than the opportunity to come through and show you so.

Save islands for vacations. Ask for help early and often. Who do you know that would help you take the first steps down your path?

2. Mental torture isn’t worth it. The reality us: No matter how successful you become, you’ll always find ways to feel bad about yourself. You need to be okay with that. You need to not to be so hard on yourself.

Instead, change the way you attend to those feelings. Try greeting them with a welcoming, non-judgmental heart. And express gratitude for the opportunity to feel what you feel. It means you’re human and alive, and that’s a good thing.

Ultimately, you’ll find that if you experience these feelings without acting on them – and if you sit with these emotions and let yourself fully experience them – they can’t hurt you. They have no power over you. And that will make your walk down the uncertain path significantly less stressful.

Remember: When you go it alone, you mind is your basic means of survival. Attend to it compassionately and creatively. How do you mentally handicap yourself?

3. Go pro or go home. Going where there is no path requires commitment with both feet. And if you haven’t reached that point yet, allow me to describe it:

It’s that moment when you notice a deficit in yourself. When every minute that goes by, you feel more and more robbed of your true talent. When your spirit kneels bare handed. And when it becomes so existentially agonizing that you can’t take it anymore, you stop what you’re doing one day and say, “What the hell am I doing here?”

That’s when you jump.

That’s when you push all your chips to the middle of the table and say, “Screw it. I’m all in.”

Make no mistake: This will be the most liberating – and most terrifying – moment of your career. But it’s all part of the path. You have to go pro. You have to start showing up every day, no matter what, and risk exposing yourself to the judgment of the world.

Otherwise your amateurism will block your progress. You always sin when you deny yourself a purpose below your responsibilities. What’s preventing the world from taking you seriously?

4. Acquaint yourself with delayed gratification. The fewer footprints on your path, the more patience will be required to travel it. Fortunately, while hard work pays off – hard waiting pays millions.

And besides, it’s not like you’re idle. There’s a difference between sitting on your ass, playing video games, hoping your ship will come in – and hustling while you wait to extend the reach of your dock.

The first secret is to be patient with your mistakes. And you have to remember that a mistake ceases to be a mistake the moment you choose to learn from it. As Joseph Campbell reminds us, “Our treasures lie where we stumble.”

The second secret is to be patient with your profits. Personally, my company didn’t make money for the first three years. Knowing this would be the case; I worked nights and weekends parking cars at a local hotel to make ends meet. Hey: You do what you have to do. Even if that means crashing a few Beamers. Woops.

The final secret is to be patient with your progress. Look: I know you’re worried that you won’t be able to build on your current situation. But be careful not to get addicted to the sweet nectar of progress. You can’t start on next if you suck at now.

The good news is: While going where there is no path takes longer, at least the scenery is better. Remember to enjoy it. How patient are you willing to be, and how productively are you willing to work in the meantime?

5. You can’t aim one arrow at two targets. Focus is the mobilizing force. More than goals. More than plans. More than anything. Almost every client in my mentoring program – most of which have gone where there is no path – have experienced some kind of focusing challenge. And I tell them all the same thing:

“Focus is a function of punching yourself in the face.”

It’s true. For almost a decade I’ve had a sticky note on my desk that asks, “Is what you’re doing right now consistent with your number one goal?” And if it’s not, I don’t do it. Period. End of story. It’s confrontational but constructive. And I urge you to try this exercise in your own workspace to reinforce focus.

Also, keep one more thing in mind: Your focus will undoubtedly change over time. Especially since you’re traveling where there is no path. As such, what matters most is not the thing you’re focused on – but the unquestionable, laser-like focus you maintain on that thing until it’s time to pivot.

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 disorganization?

6. Enlist your rational faculty. “Sanity is highly overrated.” I believe that with all my heart. The challenge is striking a healthy balance between being out of your mind and being out of money.

This happens a lot to people who go where there is no path. Because the bottom line is: You can’t remove the teeth from the cruel bite of reality. When you’re broke, you’re broke.

A helpful mantra my family likes to say is, “You can’t eat like an elephant and shit like a bird.”

The funny thing is, I’ve been saying that for years. But it wasn’t until my business got audited that I had to stop talking this philosophy and start living it. Damn it. I hate it when that whole integrity things comes back to bite me in the ass.

The point is: You have to use your brain – especially the left side of it. Especially if you make significant financial investments to your endeavors. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said, “You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful.” How can you spend no money next year?

REMEMBER: Going where there is no path requires courage, consistency and clarity.

Yes, it’s guaranteed to be the hardest, longest and most uncertain way to travel.

But it’s also guaranteed to have the best scenery, the deepest learning and the richest rewards.

See you out there.

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What path are you taking?

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Nametag Guy Live: How to Care

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Does Your Organization Pass the Rice Paper Test?

Rice paper amazes me.

Fresh out the box, it looks like a paper plate.

But.

Dab a little water on it, wait about sixty seconds – and it morphs into a playful, clear and stretchy material that perfectly protects your delicious food, yet carries no shame about the contents within.

What’s interesting is, rice paper is surprisingly strong. And durable. And it seems that no matter how many vegetables you stuff inside of it, it never rips.

Huh. I never knew transparency could be so effective.

What about you? Does your organization pass the rice paper test?

If not, here’s how your bottom line can expect to suffer…Transparent companies are more trusted, according to a recent survey conducted by Brigham Young University’s Department of Communication.

Their research proves the link between corporate openness and employees’ belief in the companies they work for. The study, run by Dr. Brad Rawlins, asked employees across all parts of the business questions about trust and transparency. And their survey of over four hundred healthcare workers found statistical evidence for a link between how open companies are and how much their employees trust them.

That’s what happens when your organization passes the rice paper test. And since trust is the only currency that counts, the lesson is simple:

When you open yourself to the world – the world will opens its wallet to you.

Here’s a list of ideas to help make your organization more transparent:

1. First things first. Before you’re everywhere, you better know you who are, what you do and why you do it. Otherwise it won’t matter where you end up because nobody will recognize you – including yourself. As comedian Russell Brand told The New York Times a few weeks ago:

“Fame is a hollow and brittle experience if not nourished and underscored by something valuable.”

The secret is to sit down and ask yourself, your team and your organization three questions. But not just any questions – the big ones: Who am I? What do I do? And why do I do it?

And if you’re serious about transparency, here’s an exercise guaranteed to change you and your organization forever: Grab three sheets of paper. Write one of the above questions at the top of each sheet. Next, number each page from one to a hundred.

Then, spend the next week answering each of the three questions – one hundred times each. For a total of three hundred answers. It will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. The self-confrontation alone might kill you. But I promise: You have no idea how powerful this exercise is.

I just finished it myselF and can legitimately say it was the most profound self-exploration activity I’ve ever tried. Remember: Your identity is your most valuable possession. When was the last time you reacquainted yourself with it?

2. Retire your low profile. Earlier this year, Corporate Responsibility Magazine released its first annual list of the thirty least transparent companies, exposing those organizations that choose to hide in the dark. The list covers a variety of industries, ranging from Abercrombie & Fitch to Fidelity Investments to Weight Watchers.

But when asked what gets you on the black list, author Jay Whitehead revealed the universal mistake: “Share no data beyond what is legally required.”

On the other end of the spectrum, companies like Zappos embrace transparency to an astonishing degree. Tony Hsieh, billionaire founder of the company, pursues disclosure that most executives would consider freakish. But in his experience, “The more they know about us, the more they’ll like us.”

That’s the cultural shift: It’s not how well you know your customer – it’s how well your customers know you. Plus, how willing they are to share that knowledge with their friends. After all, what people remember about you is who you are.

And, your organization isn’t transparent because you say so – it’s transparent because customers walk away without a doubt in their mind about who you are, what you do and why you do. Which of your secrets are hemorrhaging organizational profits?

3. Be gloriously explicit. People are tired of being lied to. People are sick of wading through the ever-rising tide of corporate and political hogwash. And people are forever jaded from the countless times they’ve been burned, duped, fooled, conned, scammed and screwed over.

Provide information that’s truthful, substantial and reliable. If you can do that – online – at least a few times a week, people won’t just pay attention, they’ll pay dividends. And the best part is: You don’t need a budget for transparency. Humbly exposing your own heart is something paid with bravery, not bucks.

You just have to make it your mission to provide more honesty per square inch than anybody. And you have to remember that honesty is three things: Telling the truth, honoring your truth and respecting other people’s truth. Are you willing to live with the consequences of being honest?

4. Secrecy is an endangered species. The reason younger generations willingly forego their online anonymity is because they don’t know any better. As digital natives, privacy was never an option. From profiles to preferences to pictures, from status updates to streaming videos to geographic locations – radical transparency was just something they did because was something everybody did.

It became the norm. And the danger, if you choose not to do it, you instantly became untrustable. You’re like the guy in the parade who refuses to wear the ribbon. May as well strip your truth bare for the entire world to see.

Here’s how: Broadcast past screw-ups. Publicize your current failings. Set up an online water cooler to blog publicly and freely about your new projects. Install company wikis where people can complain about problems and suggest solutions. Make your content searchable. Any of these strategies will enable you to enlist the help of your global braintrust.

Look: You’re already naked. May as well start dancing and see who joins you. Are willing to conduct business in the buff?

5. The Internet rewards transparency. People aren’t reading the Wall Street Journal to learn who you are. They’re searching blogs, social media feeds, discussion boards and online community threads. And if you’re not a player in that world, you’ll be left behind with the rest of the dinosaurs.

“The reputation economy creates an incentive to be more open, not less,” writes Clive Thompson from Wired. “And since Internet commentary is inescapable, the only way to influence it is to be part of it. Being transparent, opening up, posting interesting material frequently and often is the only way to amass positive links to yourself and thus to directly influence your reputation.”

The reality is: Customers and employees are poking around anyway.

The question is: How could you make that work for your organization? How could you turn everyone into a partner in the process?

Because if you don’t make transparency your natural tendency, people will start to wonder why you’re not open like everyone else. The time has come to peel away the pretense and serve up a bolder truth. Don’t worry: You can still show yourself to the world without getting arrested for indecent exposure. Are you free enough to risk being seen by people?

6. Turn customers into working partners. Netflix offered one million dollars to anyone who could improve the accuracy of their movie recommendation algorithm by ten percent. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. It takes guts, vulnerability and humility.

The secret lies in surrendering control. Enabling people to take your idea into their own hands and make it better. And openly embrace a fan mentality and transfer ownership to the customer. That’s how transparency enables spreadability and spreadability grows into long-term viability. You’ve got to find people that have big mouths, share your world with them – give them megaphones – and then get the hell out of the way.

However, before you start delegating product design to the first guy that shows up at your front door, there’s a question you still have to consider: What do you see when you see people?

The answer to this question underscores everything you do. Everything. For example:

At your company, are your customers the people who buy you, or the partners who bolster you?

At your organization, are new members the integers on the annual report, or the individuals behind your movement?

What. Do. You. See. When. You. See. People. Answer that question first. Then let them go crazy. Have you joined hands with the folks who matter most?

7. Take your own hiding places away. I remember the first time I ate a restaurant with an open kitchen: I was twelve, I was somewhere in Florida and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Later when the chef delivered our food, I asked him why there were no walls. And his answer was something I never forgot:

“We’ve got nothing to hide.”

What is your organization hiding? What ideas do you have that you’re afraid people will steal?

Because I’ve got news for you: There is nowhere to hide. Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance.

Maybe your office needs more mirrors. Not literal mirrors, necessarily. Just something – or someone – to consistently offer a reflection your truth as the world sees it.

I don’t know about you, but I love mirrors. They lay it naked. They reveal the lies you tell yourself. They offer everything you hate about yourself, staring back at you. Doesn’t get more transparent than that. How self-confrontational are you willing to become?

LOOK: You can’t place a red seal over the door of your heart for much longer.

Share your voice or make your exit.
Take your corporate skin and turn it inside out.
Willingly strip yourself of your inconspicuousness.

And as you stand there, naked and pulsating, wide open for the world to see, your courageous transparency will evolve into copious currency.

Take your organization and put it out there on a platter for people to relate to, eat up and tell their friends about.

Be like rice paper.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How transparent do customers and employees believe you are?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “6 Ways to Out Position 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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How to Delete the Drama from Your Life

It’s that time of year again.

Spending time with families.
Traveling across the country.
Hopping from one party to the next.
Stuffing your face with food you normally avoid.
Battling against supermoms for the last American Girl doll in the store.

IN SHORT: Drama. Lots of drama.

The good news is, even though the world around you has more drama than the season finale of Glee, you can still prevent the world inside you from being contaminated.

Here’s a list of strategies to help delete drama from your life:1. When it doubt, write it out. I have friends who actually get mad at me for not getting mad. “How can you be so calm?” they ask me in the midst of chaos. To which I respond, “Um, because the alternative hurts my stomach.”

That doesn’t help. Apparently, my calmness irritates people. Isn’t that ironic? My ability to relax drives people crazy. That’s messed up.

But what most people don’t know is, that’s the first thing I do, every day of my life: I lay my frustrations out for twenty minutes as soon as I wake up. It’s a journaling exercise called Morning Pages.

And I recommend it to everybody because of its amazing power to delete drama. Think about it: When you give yourself permission to bitch and moan for a finite amount of time, every morning, you leave the drama where it belongs: On the page. And then you can get on with your life. How do you let all of your noises out?

2. Impose your own order on chaos. A Course in Miracles reminds us that inner peace is not something that we create, but rather something that already exists within us as a part of our true identity.

That’s exactly how you delete the drama: By tapping into your indspensible stabilizing element. Something to anchor you when world tries to knock the music out of you. Something to help you soar above the turmoil that surrounds you.

As a yoga student, mine is my breath. The mantra is: “Fast heart, slow lungs.” This reminds me that more that chaos erupts around me, the deeper I need to breath through my diaphragm.

That’s how I cope calmly with my inconveniences. That’s how avoid becoming wrapped up in the injustice of the situation. By using my breath to remind myself that there is rarely a reason to rush.

The tricky part is, human hardwiring predisposes us to react, which is a conditioned reflex. We have to teach ourselves to respond, which is a conscious choice. Do you refuse to be conquered?

3. There are no emergencies. Read that again. It’s not a sentence – it’s a lifestyle. It’s a philosophy. Because when you really stop and think about it, outside of major health, safety or family related incidents – true emergencies are few and far between.

We just convince ourselves of the seriousness of things to create drama that preserves our sense of self-importance.

Yoga studios are perfect personifications of this attitude. When I practice in Los Angeles, for example, there’s a noticeable increase in studio drama: Heavy breathing, lack of stillness, inability to stay in the room and unnecessary grunts and moans.

It’s weird: I’ve practiced around the world and never found another studio that exhibits as much drama. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a California thing.

Either way, here’s the problem: These dramatic reactions to internal and external turmoil disturb the practice of everyone in the room. Not smart for creating an atmosphere of execution.

In fact, I bet you probably work with someone just like this. You know the type: The focal point of their entire identity is the unnecessary, self-created drama that stinks up your day. Have you deleted these clowns from your life yet?

4. Intentionally step out of the current. Otherwise, like a relentless but subtle ocean undertow, the drama will own you. To the point that you won’t even realize you’ve been swept out to sea. To the point that when you come up for air, you discover that you’re miles away from the peace your heart requires.

The secret is to start with awareness. To see things dispassionately. Three questions I find helpful are:

*Am I thinking a thought that will stress me out?
*Is this really worth my energy?
*Why are you rushing?”

Ask yourself these questions internally. Write them on sticky notes on the dashboard of your car. You can even ask your spouse or partner to elbow you in the ribs with these questions anytime the drama takes over. Whatever it takes to say goodbye to what no longer serves you.

The cool part is, the more these questions enter your mindspace – the sooner they become second nature. Eventually, you’ll start to live your questions. And the current of drama won’t stand a chance. How do you talk to yourself when you experience stress?

5. Self-importance is self-delusion. A few years ago, the Internet connection at my office (living room) crapped out. Not sure what happened. Probably just a wiring glitch. Whatever. Because instead of freaking out like I used to, I remember – specifically – making the decision to (not) let it bother me.

I’ll just check it at lunch, I thought.

And I did. I worked through the morning, wrapped at noon and drove to Panera for a sandwich. Then, when I checked my email for the first time that day, do you know what happened?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nobody grumbled. The world didn’t end. My business didn’t go under. And my readers didn’t line up around the corner with pitchforks and torches.

Lesson learned: Most of the world is not sitting on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating your every move. Sure, you have your commitments. Your families and customers and coworkers who depend on you.

But if your life revolves around one pseudo crisis after another, take note: Your conscious faculties have been anesthetized. Time to stop and evaluate. What illusions of self-importance are you ready to delete?

6. Burn your television. It serves zero purpose other than to introduce unnecessary drama into your life by scaring you and selling you things. And with every minute you watch it, your body contracts a little bit more.

You can’t let yourself get away with that any longer. I don’t care if you only watch three shows. I don’t care if you only watch educational programming. Television is toxic. Period.

And sadly, according to latest Nielsen statistics, the average American watches more than four hours of television each day.

Can you imagine how much better your life could be if that time was reinvested into something that mattered?

Can you imagine how much drama could be deleted if you taped a big sign across your screen that read, “How will your life become better by turning me on?”

And don’t feed me that line about how you only watch television to relax. Nice try, Ted Turner, but television isn’t relaxing – it’s assaulting. Hell, heroin is relaxing. Doesn’t mean I’m going to shoot up before work.

Stop whining about how you can’t seem to find the time to exercise, to meditate, to write or to read. Just stop watching television and start doing what matters. The end. Except for Glee. That show really is amazing. How many hours did you watch last week?

7. Create a network of healing. I swear: Some people have a vested interest in self-destruction. Can’t be healthy. And life’s too short to surround yourself with these idiots. In the words of First Lady Michelle Obama:

“In order to remove drama from your life, you have to remove those that thrive on it.”

Your network of healing – that is, your human support system – needs include people who challenge, inspire, motivate, support, listen to and believe in you. That means: No hypersensitives who flip out over meaningless mistakes, no energy vampires who suck all the positive vibes out of the room and no drama queens who thrive on constant chaos and hysteria.

That’s all success is: A process of elimination. You’ll find that deciding what you want in that way is less threatening and intimidating. Give it a shot. It’s amazing what a cleansing, spiritual experience it is to press the delete button on people who don’t contribute to your success. What are the characteristics of the most supportive possible environment you can think of?

8. Enlist your inner governor. I don’t know about you, but I am on an epicenter quest. In any given experience, my mission is to be able to move to a place of peace at a moment’s notice. It’s taken a lot of training, but I think I’m slowly starting to get the hang of it.

Like that time I rear-ended that guy with my car. Dude flipped out. And right after the collision, he leaped out of his dented Lincoln – fuming – and hurled towards the open window of my Mazda. Then, the first words out of his angry mouth were, “And how many beers have you had tonight?”

To which I calmly replied, “I don’t drink, sir.”

Naturally, he didn’t believe me, and stormed back to his car. But a few minutes later after his wife calmed him down; he came back to my window. A bit more relaxed this time, the guy said, “Okay. I’m sorry. I may have overreacted. Are you okay?”

We were both fine. And so were our cars. More importantly, I learned the contagious power of calm. Perfect tool for deleting drama. Are you treating each experience you experience as a test of what you believe?

9. Reinvest your misfortune. Shit happens. To all of us. The difference maker is whether we smear the rug with it or fertilize the grass with it. Next time something (supposedly) devastating happens, try this:

First, stroke the problem with your eye. Noticing it before you let it nag you. Then, instead of filling with fury, channel your aggravation into something more productive.

Instead of telling yourself how much you suck, try affirming to yourself, “Next time.”

Instead of drowning in the infinite regression of argument, step back and ask, “Wait: Why the hell are we even have this conversation?”

And instead of wasting any energy whining about your current experience, try redirecting any frustration you have into learning from that experience.

You’ll turn misfortune into real fortune. What would you have to learn from this mistake to make it no longer a mistake?

In conclusion, we turn to the immortal words of the Stoic philosopher, Seneca:

“The only safe harbor in this life’s tossing, troubled sea is to refuse to be bothered about what the future will bring and to stand ready and confident, squaring the breast, to take without sulking or flinching whatever fortune hurls at us.”

LOOK: I’m not suggesting you try to live a trouble-free existence.

But most drama is unnecessary, unhealthy, self-inflicted and can be easily deleted.

Sure, there’s a time and place for drama.

It’s called the theater.

Learn to leave it there and go enjoy the holiday season.

It’s called the most wonderful time of year for a reason.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What drama have you deleted from your life this week?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “157 Pieces of Contrarian Wisdom,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

You Don’t Have to be Steve Jobs to be Ahead of Your Time

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Computer visionary Alan Kay coined that phrase in 1971.

At the time, he was working in the research department of Xerox. But, as innovative as he was, he failed to convince the higher-ups that his new programming ideas would revolutionize computing.

Until.

Eight years later, pioneers from Apple Computers used Kay’s ideas to develop a revolutionary, user-friendly computer called The Macintosh. In the end, Alan’s vision for the future changed the face of technology forever.

Take that, Steve Jobs.

That’s what happens when stop predicting the future and start inventing it: You don’t just make money – you make history.

THE COOL PART IS: You don’t need to be a computer scientist to be ahead of your time. You just need to bear the daily fruit of an indomitable spirit of innovation.

Here’s how:1. To be cutting edge, live on the edge. When Barbie hit the scene in 1959, she was the first adult doll. And she allowed girls to do more with a doll than just change pretend diapers and feed pretend bottles. Barbie was all grown up. She was mature. And she could do real things with her friends. Which meant playtime was endless.

Is it any surprise, then, that ninety percent of all girls in America between the ages of three and ten have at least one Barbie? Or that three Barbie dolls are sold every second somewhere in the world?

Nope. Hell, Barbie was Miss Astronaut in 1965 before women were even allowed in the space program. Our country didn’t send another woman to space until Sally Ride in 1983. Talk about being ahead of her time.

Barbie wasn’t just a hunk of plastic – she was a hell of a pioneer.

And if you want to learn from her example, here’s my suggestion: Envision a future most people aren’t ready for. Then, spend your days bringing it to life. Tackle untouchable issues and revolt against the orthodox doctrine of the day.

Whatever it takes catch the public by surprise. You’ll be ahead of your time in no time. When people play with you, how does their world change?

2. Do more experimental work. Few musicians were – and still are – more ahead of their time than Brian Eno. As the former frontman of Roxy Music, and as the principal innovator of the ambient genre, Eno makes enthusiastic use of all that technology has to offer.

He just tries things. He experiments. And his insatiable desire to tinker and toil with every tool available fuels his ability to innovate consistently. In his immortal words, “Art is the one place where we can crash our plane and walk away from it.”

To infuse your creative practice with Eno’s winning attitude, here’s my suggestion: Gently move toward that which scares the crap out of you. Next time you have a radical idea that makes your stomach drop, don’t run from it.

Listen to your body. It’s trying to guide you. Lean into your worry with all your might. And remember that if you’re not scaring yourself – you’re not stretching yourself. Comfort zone? Pshht. Are you willing to set up basecamp in uncharted territory?

3. Don’t be selfish with your brain. You can’t keep your thoughts to yourself. Ideas weren’t meant to stay ideas. And the people who change the world never do so with their mouth closed.

Don’t worry – nobody is going to steal your thunder. That is, not if you’re smart enough to be so identified with your work that nobody could steal it, and if they did, people would know it.

What you have to remember is, when you share your expertise generously, people will recognize it, became addicted to it and eventually depend on you for it. Hell, they might even have something to add to improve it.

Whether you increase your creative openness, ramp up the frequency with which you publish your ideas or solicit more feedback from the people who matter most, your efforts will not go unrewarded.

You just have to be willing to share. To trust that the more you give away from free, the wealthier you will be. And to have faith that the world will pay you back. Who have you shared your creativity with today?

4. Hack the rules. Don’t break them – hack them. Huge difference. According to the bestselling Trust Agents,

“Hacking is about finding alternatives for the traditional uses of a system. It’s about modifying the conditions of the system you’re in. Hacking isn’t cheating. It’s changing the rules or the game and using a system in a different way than it was designed.”

The way I see it, you have three options: Change the rules so you can win at your own game, change the game so there are no rules, or play the game but become the exception to every rule.

Easier said than done, I know. The secret is to constantly ask rule-hacking questions, i.e., “What corners can be cut here?” “Can this rule be ignored, modified or changed?” “Is this a rule or just a recommendation?” and my personal favorite, “What could I do in this moment that would be the exact opposite of everyone?”

Over time, hacking will become second nature and your idea will become first rate. Either that, or you’ll get arrested. What are the exceptions to the rules that helped you succeed?

5. Offer a complete deviation from old school style. That’s how the greatest musicians expanded the boundaries of their genre: With broadly sweeping scales, rapid changes of register, unusual divisions of beat, extremes of tempo and dense chordal textures.

Even if you can’t play a lick, the lesson is universal: Always retain contempt for imitation and mediocrity. Don’t wait for the advent. Establish your own industry standards. Test the definitional boundaries. Transcend the medium. Make it your goal to be able to finish the following sentence:

After encountering my work, people will never thing about (x) the same way again.

That’s how you become a vital force. It starts with believing that you were designed to make a distinctive difference. Otherwise, if you don’t operate from that place of worthiness, you’ll never execute anything that’s ahead of its time. Are you distinct or derivative?

6. Never shut down your curiosity. Amazed at his ability to be one step ahead of his enemies, Watson once asked Holmes, “How is it that you always see everything?” To which Sherlock replied, “Because I’m always looking for it.”

That’s what most people don’t realize: Curiosity might have killed the cat – but it also makes you a lot of money. And history proves time and time again that the most successful, most celebrated and most ahead-of-their-time people in the history of planet were the ones who asked dangerous questions despite overwhelming efforts to silence their enthusiasm and deflect their curiosity.

If you want to become one of those people, here’s a few questions to keep your curiosity in check:

*Do you keep a running list of questions?
*How often are you flexing the muscle of huh?
*Do you dare to be dumb and refuse to discard hunches?
*Have you commenced an unrelenting quest for continuous learning?
*Are you studying ordinary things intently and finding interesting?

That should morph you into a giant question mark in no time. Are you making time to be curious?

7. Do your own thinking. You’d be amazed how many people delegate this task. They wimp out and let their friends, their company, their family or the media think for them.

Yes, it’s easier and faster – but it’s also stupid and dangerous. And if you’re not willing to ask yourself what you think before adopting the perspective of the masses, you’re not an innovator – you’re a sheep.

Look: People will try to define who you are and then make you believe that definition. You can’t let that happen. Take a hint from novelist Ayn Rand. She was more ahead of her time that most of her literary contemporaries. Not only because she grappled with questions most people didn’t even have the guts to ask, but also because she asked people to ask her about her thinking.

That’s how she stayed sharp. That’s how she stayed relevant. And that’s the lesson we can all learn: You can’t be ahead of your time if you’re behind in your perceptions.

You must strive to reevaluate commonly held ideals. You mist stick closely to the shape of your truth. And you must exhibit intellectual toughness and uncompromising progressive character. No matter how many haters opposes you. No matter how many times you’re hit by the snarls. Are your thoughts 100% your own?

8. Study the anatomy of innovative talent. I’m obsessed with documentaries. Doesn’t matter what the subject is. If I can invest ninety minutes dissecting the world of someone smart and cool, count me in. I even keep a journal on my coffee table to document powerful lessons learned from people who were ahead of their time.

You have to make time in your schedule to saturate yourself with inspiration from those who dared to challenge the odds. Whether you watch, read or listen, the process always invites a few cool things.

First, you’ll get into their heads. That’s the best way to understand the innovative mindspace. Second, you’ll get into their process. That’s the best way to learn how people make decisions that matter.

And finally, you’ll get into their lives. That’s the best way to find out how to embody an innovative spirit. Look: Success leaves clues. Everywhere. What’s your learning plan for finding them?

REMEMBER: You don’t need to be a computer scientist, bestselling novelist, corporate conglomerate or hall of fame musician to invent the future.

But you do have to answer the call to adventure.

Do that, and you’ll be ahead of your time in no time.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is the future a place you’re avoiding, going or inventing?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “12 Ways to Out Service the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking dates for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Matt Foley Guide to Motivating the People Who Matter Most

Your employees are lazy.
Your coworkers are stuck.
Your children are lethargic.
Your members are stagnant.
Your customers are sluggish.

I blame it all on Chris Farley.

His Saturday Night Live character, Matt Foley, convinced us that a boisterous man in a plaid blazer, hopped up on twelve cups of coffee – who lived in a van down by the river – could motivate another human being.

Yeah no.

TURNS OUT: You can’t motivate anybody to do anything.

All you can do is inspire them to motivate themselves.

Here’s a collection of strategies for doing so:1. Compassionately take people’s hiding places away from them. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a galaxy of mentors who do this for me on a regular basis.

Every time we get together, they dive into my sea of unspoken emotional needs. And I always thank them for inspiring me to plunge into the depths I know I need to address.

If you want to experiment with this strategy, try this: Bore into people’s statements. See what they’re made of. Call bullshit proactively, yet respectfully with challenge lines like, “According to whom?” “Since when?” and “That’s not the question I asked.”

By doing so, you bring the dark parts stage center. And you create a quiet, inviting and trustworthy space that focuses on what bids people not to look at themselves. Ultimately, doing so inspires people to motivate themselves for several reasons.

First, you show that you forgive their illusions – but refuse to let them forget them. Second, you close the gap between their sense to know and their strength to do. And finally, you reach into people’s hearts and touch them where they live.

One caveat: If you plan to take people’s hiding places away from them, never do so at the expense of respect. It’s cool to call people out on the carpet, but not to the extent that you rug burn their heart. Inspiration is a symphony conducted in the spirit of love and the key of respect. Are you letting people get away with not having to face something again?

2. Recognize when inspiration isn’t sufficient. I once bought my girlfriend an elliptical. Huge mistake. She used it four times. Other that, its main function was to serve as a clothesline. Money well spent, I know.

Eventually, I realized that her lack of motivation didn’t stem from a lack of equipment – it stemmed from a lack of commitment. Exercise simply wasn’t something she valued. Her health was not a priority. And there was nothing I could do to change that.

No matter how hard I tried. No matter how many books I read. And no matter how inspiring I was in my own fitness regiment. People don’t change just because you want them to.

They change because they want to. They change because the pain to stay the same is greater. And part of your job as a leader is to discern whether or not it’s worth investing the effort.

Especially when it comes to non-believers. Because in my experience, converting atheists is an exercise in futility. As my friend Joe once told me, “You can either change people – or change people.” The choice is yours. What are you killing yourself over that isn’t going to change regardless?

3. Delete the demotivators. If you want to create the space for people to tap into their natural, internal motivation, you have to first consider what demotivates people. A few examples come to mind:

Delivering constant criticism, raising your voice, magnifying their mistakes, exhibiting lack of trust, prohibiting any shred of playfulness, making people feel powerless, refusing to recognize success and compensating less for working more.

My suggestion is: Make your own list. Get into the minds of your employees, customers, members, students, children or whomever you hope to inspire. Next, make a list of their twenty biggest demotivators. Hell, ask them if you have to.

Finally, keep this list posted above your computer. Look at it every day. Ultimately, by counterintuitively defining the whitespace around your people’s motivation, you’ll be able to delete the barriers and fill them with inspiration of the opposite. What is the one comment you could make that would absolutely freeze any spark of action?

4. Passion is the great prioritizer. When passion is involved, the rules change: The shy become outgoing, the introverted become assertive, the disconnected become engaged. Passion makes decisions easier.

And regardless of what that passion is, people will use it as their barometer, compass, map and walking stick. Your mission is to let it lead the way.

Now, since the word “passion” comes from the Latin passio, which means, “to suffer,” you might start by asking people the two best passion-finding questions:

*What would you suffer for to do?
*What would cause you suffering if you did not do?

Next, once you’ve gathered their answers, you can embed passion into the pavement that leads the way to wherever they’re going. I tried this with my client over the summer. The question I posed was:

“What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to add value to your customers?”

Turns out that Carson, the marketing director, loved to write. But Rachel, his boss, had no idea. After an honest and open discussion, they decided to put his passion to use. Rachel made him editor of the company newsletter. And Carson was more motivated than ever.

That’s the best part about introducing passion into the motivation equation: People arrive at their destination faster, better, with more fun and by their own design. Do you know what’s under your people’s fingernails?

REMEMBER: All motivation is self-motivation.

As a leader, you can’t motive people to do anything – all you can do is inspire them to motivate themselves.

Otherwise you’ll end up living in van down by the river.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you motivating or inspiring?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

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