Why It’s Not the End of the Human Race

Congratulations to Watson, the artificial intelligence program who recently wiped the Jeopardy floor with reining champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

If you missed the game show, here how the computer works:

According to IBM Corporation’s Deep QA Project:

“Watson’s software is powered by hundreds of simultaneous algorithmic calculations, which help the machine create human speech patterns, check them against its vast database of knowledge, and provide a most likely answer and a confidence level for that answer.”BUT DID YOU KNOW: Although Watson not only won Jeopardy – but, was the first to buzz in on twenty-five out of thirty answers – he did manage to answer one question wrong.

The question about art.

I’ll take “reality checks” for five hundred, Alex.

HERE’S THE DEAL: Having access to two hundred million pages of content still doesn’t mean you know how to feel.

The heartbeat of the human experience is a function of emotion – not information.

I don’t care how many terabytes of data you have access to – the only way to inform your aesthetic sensibility, and the only way to activate your humanity – is to wake yourself out of the LCD-screen induced coma, drag your carcass out of the basement, and get out into the world and talk to people – with your mouth.

That’s how you turn off your computer and turn on your heart.

Contrary to what the cynics say, Watson’s historic victory on Jeopardy is not the beginning of the end. It’s not a threat to our species. And it’s not the end of humanity as we know it.

Here’s the real Jeopardy question: What is, an alarm clock?

That’s what this moment in history is. It’s a reminder that we can’t filter our lives through pixels – and we can’t experience our reality through keyboards – not if we want those lives to matter.

Human beings are here to stay.

It’s elementary, my dear Watson.

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What computer will replace you?

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

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How to Make Your Company Smaller

If size mattered, dinosaurs would still be around.

Truth is, the corporate veil of bigness and anonymity no longer works.

If you want to be approachable, be less.

This is a topic I’ve been addressing a lot lately.

First, with a post called 21 Reasons to Stay Small.
Second, with a post called 6 Ways to Stay Small and Win Big.

And this week, my client at American Express Open Forum ran the latest piece called How to Keep Your Company Small.

Here’s how your company can embrace that possibility:1. Plan is a four-letter word. Big companies love to plan because planning preserves their sense of control. It underwrites the illusion that they know what they’re doing. The problem is, planning is a big decision. And big decisions cause you to prematurely commit to a trajectory that (might) later prove to be unprofitable.

What’s more, over time, the more you plan, the harder it becomes to invite healthy derailments. That’s how you miss unlabeled opportunities to grow: When you’re too busy managing the stress of planning to experience the benefits of executing. Don’t close yourself off by making gods out of your plans. Have your long-term plans turned into anchors?

2. Cut down to the bone. Enough to make the bone nervous. Here’s how to trim as much fat from your process as possible: Remove redundant procedures. Axe inactive people. Delete stupid expenses that drain organizational resources. And instead of wasting time tinkering with broken processes, invent a new way to do it, jettison outdated procedures and get on with your life.

Ultimately, it’s about excising as much fat from your process as possible. That’s how you become lean, trim and nimble. Are you yielding gracefully to necessity or kneeling obediently to mediocrity?

3. Sweat the small stuff. That’s what big companies do: They sacrifice experience for expense. And as a result, the hallmark of their size is providing impersonal, emotionless non-service.

On the other hand, if you’re small enough to care, you can make a conscious decision to put the experience above all else. You can move beyond the mechanical and transactional and into the emotional and transformational.

That’s what customers are coming back for anyway: How interacting with you makes them feel. What small action might make a big difference?

4. Capitalize on the momentum. Big companies are quick to think – but small companies are quick to act. That’s the best part about keeping your size down: Speed.

No standing by for approval before tweeting.
No waiting for legal to clear a customer service complaint.
No lingering three days for human resources to sign off on your blog post.
No spending a year in meetings trying to calculate earning potential and assess how to mitigate risk.

You just go. You just try things. And you execute with all your might – not all your policies. How impatient are you willing to be?

5. Never overlook the profitability of accessibility. According to a recent survey by eMarketer, small businesses are not only keeping up with large companies, they’re actually beating them when it comes to acquiring customers via social media.

The report found that nearly half of small businesses around the world have acquired a customer via social media, as compared to twenty-eight percent of larger businesses with larger budgets.

As small business educator Josh Kauffman writes, “Large companies move slowly and good ideas often die on the vine because they had to be approved by too many people.” How many of your big ideas were jailed last month?

6. Learn to delete the average. Average inhibits your ability to flourish. Average chokes your ability to matter. Average numbs your ability to contribute. And priding yourself on average means programming yourself for irrelevancy. Try saying no to the mediocre work.

In so doing, you preserve your ability to choose how much to grow. What’s more, saying no to the good makes room to say yes to the best. If you want to stay small, you have to set standards for rejecting opportunities. You have to develop a policy for saying no. Otherwise you wind up getting so big that you have to give up the parts you value most.

Remember: You are what you reject. Differentiate yourself by saying no. Are you big and average or small and awesome?

7. Lose the posture of pretense. Ditch the pomp. Erase superficial distinctions. And speak with a casual voice. That’s how you make communication between employees and customers unexpectedly personal.

Otherwise, if you’re too busy defending past decisions, massaging executive egos and destroying evidence of your shortcomings, you’ll never carve out the time to be human. And that’s when your customers will stop listening to you.

Think of it this way: If clothing conveys class, hierarchy and status, your organization is too big. Are your messages sending people scurrying for dictionaries?

8. End the editing. Most big organizations are designed to restrict individual expression, mitigate dissent and preserve the status quo. There’s simply too much red tape to be honest.

My suggestion: You don’t need more procedures – you need more philosophy. Policies are restrictive devices that keep people from doing something; philosophies are enabling devices that empower people to do something.

In a beautifully small organization, your employees should be able to express themselves without resorting to code, take action with asking for permission, take a piss without submitting a requisition form and make adjustments without having to go through the chain of command. When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely?

9. Make your mission more than a statement. The bigger the company, the less likely people are to feel essential. For example: Employee’s inboxes don’t need another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication that they delete immediately or (at best) peruse passively.

If your words don’t speak directly to what’s important to them, you’re nothing but spam. That’s another problem with big companies: Their sense of mission easily fades. And under the weight of irrelevant action, they perish spending time on the wrong priorities.

Your mission is to stay in touch with your own story. Are the messages that deliver that story notably professional or dubiously slick?

REMEMBER: Getting as big as possible, as fast as possible, isn’t the only goal that matters.

You don’t always have to take it to the moon. Resist the pressure to expand.

Seek greatness – not bigness.

It’s more manageable, more flexible more approachable and, most importantly, profitable.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Where do you need to be smaller?

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For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Question 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

“I’ve been a supporter of the approach that mentoring should not be a paid activity as this has the potential to change the dynamics of the relationship and create a power imbalance. But I have to be honest and say that after Scott’s first mentoring response to me, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

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A Young Artist’s Guide to Playing for Keeps, Pt. 5

You’ve chosen an uncertain path.
You’ve adopted an inconvenient lifestyle.
You’ve embarked upon an unconventional journey.
You’ve felt the voice inside you growing more urgent.
You’ve committed yourself enough so you can’t turn back.

IN SHORT: You’ve decided to play for keeps.

This is the critical crossroads – the emotional turning point – in the life of every young artist.

I’ve been there myself, and here’s a list of suggestions to help you along the way:(Read part one here, part two here, part three here and part four here.

Here we go:

1. Quality can’t be your sole signature. My first book wasn’t really a book. It contained no promise; offered no benefit and provided no take home value.

It was just an idea. A story. But, it was a damn good one. And that’s exactly how it transformed from a book into a brand.

That’s the lesson: If you want to take your audience’s devotion to the next level, people need to buy the story you’re telling. After all, they respond to what you believe – not just what you create. As Hugh MacLeod explained in Evil Plans:

“Your product has to fit into other people’s narrative. It has to fill the gaps in their life. Telling your story has to become a survival tool for other people. Because it’s your soul and the purpose and beliefs your soul embodies that people buy into.”

That’s what most young artists overlook: The fact that people are buying your person, your process and your philosophy as much as your final product. If you want to play for keeps, never lose the destination for your work. Art is only as good as the why that fuels it. How are you marketing the motivation behind your work?

2. Opportunity enters through the door of yes. You are more multiple than you think. No labels, no limits, as I like to say. The problem is: You’re defining yourself too narrowly. You’re trying to tell yourself what you should be, instead of learning who you are.

If you want to get past the limited definition of yourself, widen out the boundaries of your being. Try small nibbles of your new identity. And be prepared to let go of what you’ve always been. That way you can evolve into what you were meant to be.

For example:

*What creative energy is seeking a new vehicle for expression?
*Where could you give your voice another outlet?

Maybe there’s an entirely new artistic medium just waiting to be activated. You have to say yes. You have to attend to your life wherever it moves. And you have to be willing to listen to what wants to be written. Otherwise new and valid paths for work that matters will remain undiscovered.

Remember: This is not all that you are. And the only way to know how much you want something is to try it. What would you allow in your life if you knew that every experience was part of your divine path?

3. Start stupid and broke. If I knew what I know now, I never would have started. From writing to publishing to running my own business, I always remind myself: “Thank god I was clueless.”

That’s the cool part about not knowing: Ignorance isn’t just bliss – it boldness.

How stupid are you willing to be? Because the reality is: Intelligence is the great impediment. The less you know, the less you fear. Also, lack of capital is equally advantageous. Especially in the beginning of your career, too much money replaces creativity, stamps out dreaming and eliminates the need for vision.

It’s like the rookie golfer who drops a grand at the pro shop before hitting the lynx in an attempt to buy a lower score. Doesn’t work that way. Branding doesn’t take money – it takes imagination. And even if a brand doesn’t take millions to create, that doesn’t mean that it can’t create millions.

The point is: Virtues like wisdom and wealth don’t always serve you in the beginning. Be careful not to back away from perceived negatives. Scarcity and poverty might be the best thing you have going for you. How does knowing nothing and having nothing work to your advantage?

4. Finished is the new perfect. Here’s a painful realization for any young artist: You’re the only one waiting for you to get everything right. In my experience, eighty percent is enough. Maybe seventy. There comes a point where you have to declare it done. And believe that the hay is in the barn.

Otherwise you’ll trap yourself in the infinite regression of better.

It’s like I tell my mentoring clients: “You don’t need another round of edits. You don’t need to consult with your peer review team. Just ship the damn thing. Most people aren’t even going to read it anyway. May as well write what you want.”

And I get it: It’s more convenient to be a victim of resistance than to risk executing what matters. It certainly gets you more attention and sympathy. But the biggest gamble an artist can take is not making art. Period.

My suggestion: Stop ironing out the wrinkles nobody is going to notice. Get your ass off the treadmill of the inconsequential and move on. By fixating on improvement, are you missing what you already are?

5. Robust emotional commitment. I once read an interview with a famous painter who had become paralyzed from the neck down. Not exactly good for business. The cool part was, the injury didn’t stop him from doing his art.

Unable to move his arms during the recovery process, he literally spit paint onto the canvas. And his fans stayed with him for years to come – even while he painted from a wheelchair. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is.

Are you that dedicated to your work? Does your throbbing sense of commitment invite onlookers? I hope so. Because consistency is the ultimate commitment device. Take it from a guy who’s been wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for over a decade – this stuff works.

The secret is: Absolute, unquestionable and unthwartable commitment means demonstrating to the people who matter most – every day – that you are not going away. Which means commitment isn’t just an obligation – it’s a demonstration. It’s constant exertion of your values, a consistent extension of your truth and a consummate expression of your core. How will you show the world that you’re serious about your art?

6. Give yourself permission to jump. Deep inside we are all holding our breath and crossing our fingers. But eventually, we have to take the plunge. My suggestion: Stop waiting for your artistic life to begin. Stop waiting for the rest of humanity to tell you that your work is okay.

Instead of spending a decade wining approval, just start shipping.

Here’s how: Dip your pen directly into the self. Find your source of effortless functioning. And work from the place that makes your heart soar. That’s the only way to fan yourself into flaming action.

After all, a real artist works from the part of her being that is a gift – not an acquisition. She paints with the part of herself that is most the permanent. And as a result, she gives people something they didn’t know they wanted. She takes them places they didn’t expect to go.

Remember: You can only let the marketplace call the tune for so long. Eventually, you have to become governed by the law of your own being. Will you contribute to the coalition of silence or create brilliant stuff that speaks to the market in a way that has never been spoken before?

REMEMBER: When you’re ready to play for keeps, your work will never be the same.

Make the decision today.

Show the world that your art isn’t just another expensive hobby.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you committed with both feet yet?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “14 Things You Don’t Have to Do Anymore,” 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!

NametagTV: Marketing Questions That Matter, Pt. 1

Video not working? Click here for Adobe Flash 9!

Or, watch the original video on NametagTV.

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How do you use questions to get ahead?

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

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Tired of cold calling?
Bored with traditional prospecting approaches?

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Why Facebook Isn’t the Cause of Your Divorce

My local television station recently started a new segment called, I’m Just Saying.

They’re inviting St. Louis celebrities, public figures and leaders to share exactly what’s on their minds.

My piece is called, Don’t Blame Facebook for Your Divorce.

If you can, leave a comment or two after the video. The more traffic they get, the more they’re likely to hire me again for future pieces. Thanks!

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you just saying?

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For the list called, “19 Telltale Signs of the Perfect Job,” 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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

A Young Artist’s Guide to Playing for Keeps, Pt. 4

You’ve chosen an uncertain path.
You’ve adopted an inconvenient lifestyle.
You’ve embarked upon an unconventional journey.
You’ve felt the voice inside you growing more urgent.
You’ve committed yourself enough so you can’t turn back.

IN SHORT: You’ve decided to play for keeps.

This is the critical crossroads – the emotional turning point – in the life of every young artist.

I’ve been there myself, and here’s a list of suggestions to help you along the way:(Read part one here, part two here and part three here.)

1. Plunge immediately into action. The word “start” comes from the Old English term, stiertan, which means, “a sudden movement.” Doesn’t say anything about being perfect. Or big. Or good. Just sudden.

And understandably, starting can be hard. Especially when you’re paralyzed by the prospect of the artistic task in front of you. The smartest response to this challenge is to lower the threat level of execution.

Here’s how: Instead of overwhelming yourself with fears of how daunting your project is, give yourself permission to begin small. Learn to love the drudgery of small simple tasks that push you in the right direction. You’ll discover that executing small steps builds your artistic confidence – plus – gives you the freedom to pause, test, reevaluate and adjust along the way.

As Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way, “Books are written by nibbling away one sentence at a time.” That’s what successful artists know: All that counts it that you make progress in your work.

You don’t need to take the tour – you need to buy a guest past and go. Don’t to take slow for an answer. There is a clock inside of you saying now. How will you convert inertia into demonstrable forward action?

2. Brand your honesty. Here’s my official definition of writing: “Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.” This distinction is core to my work because, in my experience, bloody art gives audiences access to their truest inmost selves. It meets them where they are. It rewards them from any angle.

Unfortunately, honest art scares people. Apparently not everybody is ready for the truth. But the cool part is: The more personal your work is, the more universal your appeal is; and the more universal your appeal is, the more your fans relate to it. It’s almost spooky how that works.

But that’s what people love. Art that fails to be autobiographical, on the other hand, usually falls short. It remains flat and uninspiring.

Your challenge, if you want to strike a consistent cord of novelty, is to spin the work out yourself. To write with your pen dipped in your own blood, pulling your voice from where your pain lives. No need to justify your hungers. No need to defend your obsessions.

Just let your art be an extension of yourself, and it will infect the people who matter most. What are you doing to keep your work honest?

3. Labor heroically. Anybody can be successful for a short period of time before the rest of the world finds out. Sustainability, on the other hand, is a different animal. It requires patience, stamina, persistence and labor.

That’s how you build something real: By fully engaging of all your faculties. By enlisting everything you’ve got. And by committing to an ongoing investment of energy.

There’s a subject art schools don’t teach: Commitment. Probably because it’s not something that can be comfortably quantified. But it still has to be part of the equation. Because the moment you stop making art, part of you dies.

My suggestion: Never stop sending work out into the world. Instead of fabricating fantastic strategies to avoid making art, make a commitment to laying a certain amount of track, every single day. Because while you can pretend to be an artist, you can’t pretend to make art. What kind of structure can you place around yourself to make sure you remember to execute consistently?

4. Create a space where it’s impossible to hide from yourself. Some days I wish I were delusional. It would probably make things a lot easier. But I can’t stomach it. Literally. I know what happens to my body when I lie to myself. And it’s simply not worth it.

Turns out, looking away from what you need to face causes more anxiety than actually facing it. Dang it.

That’s why I write morning pages, first thing, every day of my life: They keep me from getting away with self-evasion. They align me with things that will never lie to me. And they enable me to meet myself and not turn away.

Try this: Build structure around yourself to make sure you remember to do that consistently. Honor the existence of what you’ve been evading. Then, engage in a regular practice of healthy self-confrontation.

After all, artistic originality is an ongoing process of staying true to yourself. And if you never face the page, you’ll never know who you really are. Maybe it’s time to call yourself out on the carpet and induce a little self-squirming. When was the last time you laid your world bare?

5. Develop deeper trust in your own instincts. Feedback is highly overrated. It rarely reflects who you are as an artist. More often than not, it just projects the insecure concerns and character flaws of the person giving it.

In my experience: Unless it comes from the small group of who truly matter most, it’s nothing but a confusing, discouraging, stressful waste of time and tears. What’s more, spending too much time living in other people’s worlds leads you away from your own voice.

Look: You can only be bounced around like a pinball for so long. And life’s too short to create art in response to demands of the market.

Is there something that keeps scraping away inside of you? Good. Use that. Stop worrying about which shelf your book belongs to. Just write the damn thing. Stop stressing over which genre your music is classified as. Just sing your face off.

Love yourself enough to honor the demands of the gift inside of you. Make the art you care about. Expose the place where you really live. And if people don’t like it, tough shit. Their loss. Believe in your heart that the people who matter most, will. How much of the world’s best art came from a committee?

6. Talent is overrated. As an artist, you have two options: You can squander energy worrying about how much talent you have, or, you can spend energy splattering the canvas with your heart. Choose wisely.

Because the reality is, history proves time and time again that achievements trump qualifications every day of the week.

Think about it: If you never produce anything, nobody will even care if you’re talented. If you never produce anything, nobody will ever get a chance to see how talented your work is. And if you never produce anything, nobody will ever react to your work in a way that helps you make it better.

What matters is execution. What matters is that you ship. What matters it that you sing with a human voice. If you want to play for keeps, stop operating out of the toxic idea that you need to know what you’re doing. You don’t. You just need to do it.

Hell, I’ve been doing this for ten years and I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I sure do a lot of it. And the people who matter notice. Just remember: Art existed long before degrees did. You don’t need another acronym – you need a bigger portfolio. What have you executed this week?

REMEMBER: When you’re ready to play for keeps, your work will never be the same.

Make the decision today.

Show the world that your art isn’t just another expensive hobby.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you committed with both feet yet?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “26 Ways to Out Brand Your 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 for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

A Young Artist’s Guide to Playing For Keeps, Pt. 3

You’ve chosen an uncertain path.
You’ve adopted an inconvenient lifestyle.
You’ve embarked upon an unconventional journey.
You’ve felt the voice inside you growing more urgent.
You’ve committed yourself enough so you can’t turn back.

IN SHORT: You’ve decided to play for keeps.

This is the critical crossroads – the emotional turning point – in the life of every young artist.

I’ve been there myself, and here’s a list of suggestions to help you along the way:(Read part one here and part two here.

1. Execute the truest representation of what you are. As easy as it is to covet the genius of someone you admire, you’ve still got to find your own work. Otherwise you make art that doesn’t feel like your own. And that’s a surefire way to sentence yourself to mediocrity. In the book Art & Fear, David Bayles addresses this issue beautifully:

“Whatever they have is something needed to do their work – it wouldn’t help you in your work even if you had it. Their magic is theirs. You don’t lack it. You don’t need it. It has nothing to do with you.”

The trick is to gradually weed out the parts that aren’t yours. Not to edit yourself – but to stay consistent with yourself. Try asking the question, “If I were me, what would I do?” This casual dissociation gives you an object stance on your art and keeps you accountable to your core.

After all, nobody knows you better than you. And only person who can tell when you’ve accidentally taken a detour off the path of artistic truth is you.

Remember: You don’t need to make art that looks like art – you need to make art that looks like you. Are you killing yourself performing someone else’s magic?

2. Stay loyal to your imperfection. During a recent workshop with a group of writers, one of my audience members posed the following challenge, “My biggest fear is putting something down that will be viewed as wrong or stupid.”

To which I replied, “What’s wrong with being wrong? What’s so bad about being stupid?”

That’s what real artists know: It’s smarter to pump out piles of work and learn from your mistakes instead of theorizing about perfection. Besides: Perfectionism enables procrastination, blocks inventiveness and slaughters playfulness. As long as you do postmortems on everything that fails, you’ll keep growing.

The cool part is: The seed for your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. And the only way to water that seed is to believe with all your artistic heart that you don’t have to do everything right.

Anything worth doing is worth screwing up initially. But if you’re not willing to be wrong and stupid first, you’ll never invite the opportunity to be right and brilliant second. Is your need for perfection inviting compositional paralysis?

3. Consciously engineer your artistic environment. Otherwise you’ll never cultivate the conditions for creativity to expand. Here’s how: First, direct the traffic flow of your own overcrowded mind. Give yourself quiet time every single day. Second, you need a place where you can be whoever you want to be. A consequence free space for experimentation.

Third, surround yourself with ongoing sources of raw energy. Whether you work best in public or in private, constantly engage all of your senses. Let your artist’s spirit soar. Fourth, cultivate an acute sense of when disinclination is around the corner. Discover what frustrates your ambitions. And don’t be afraid to let resistance win every once in a while. It demonstrates humility for the process and motivates you to return with strength.

Finally, create a policy for managing compositional paralysis. Know when you’ve got it, known when you’ve lost it, know when there’s no way in hell you’re going to get it, and know when you’re going to have to take measures to get it back.

Bottom line: Your style is defined by your habits; your habits are defined by your values. How can you live your life in a way that your art gets done over and over?

4. Art is subordinate to life. Being an artist isn’t just about the art. It’s about the unique life you choose to lead – and the unique identity you choose to own – that informs and inspires the art. As such, art is the residue of a life fully lived. As I learned in the aforementioned Art & Fear:

“When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back; and when you hesitate, it stands there staring, with hands in its pockets. But when you commit, it comes on like blazes.”

Forget about self-expression and focus on creating a self to express. Your art is not some discharge left when you subtract all the things you haven’t done – it’s the full payoff for the adventurous life you’ve lived.

If you want to let the canvas become the extension of your artist’s spirit, try this: Search the world for meaning constantly and aggressively, give yourself room to respond authentically, and then draw a line from your life to your art. Every single day. You’ll never be blocked again. And the work you produce will move the world.

As John Coltrane said, “Your music can’t blast out of your instrument unless it’s been born in your life first.” Are you creating art, or living a creative life and taking notes?

5. Boldness is required to move forward. People who need certainty in their lives are less likely to ship, shatter the status quo and use their art to disturb the world into something better. And understandably, avoiding the unknown has considerable survival value.

Just look at nature: Animals that leave the flock and go their own way get eaten.

But the reality is, fear is a barrier that shields you from the kinds of naked experience that fuels the art that matters most. Uncertainty is the real asset. The true companion of successful art making.

Your challenge is to go at your work in a way that freaks you out. To take the plunge with your clothes still on and trust that you’ll figure out how to swim before the water fills your lungs.

Don’t give your fears the dignity of silence. Burn safe art. Walk to the edge of the precipice. Switch off your rational mind and give yourself license to explore without a map. Are you fighting feelings of uncertainty or surfing on the waves of discomfort?

6. Anonymity is bankruptcy. Artists who play for keeps are the ones who spend just as much time marketing their work as they do making it. Otherwise all their hard labor adds up to nothing but a mere wink in the dark.

But that doesn’t mean you need a marketing plan – it means you need a visibility plan.

It means you need is to find something that you can create scarcity around that people will pay for. And not because you’re trying to trick people into buying something – but because you’re trying to make something worth buying and spreading. As my friend Mark Sanborn says, “Every product must be sold.”

And don’t feed me the Van Gough defense, either. I know he only sold one painting in his life. He also lived in abject poverty, experienced severe depression and committed suicide at the age of thirty-seven.

You’re not Van Gough. Get selling or get another career. People have to make time to visit the world you created. And when they get there, they’re buying your person, your philosophy, your process and then your product. Are you selling all four?

REMEMBER: When you’re ready to play for keeps, your work will never be the same.

Make the decision today.

Show the world that your art isn’t just another expensive hobby.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you committed with both feet yet?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “35 Ways to Leverage Your Next Media Appearance,” 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!

How to Protect Your Dream

You don’t need permission to dream.

But you do need protection to make that dream a reality.

Otherwise the vultures will destroy your seed before you have a chance to harvest it.

Now, when I say “protection,” I don’t mean registering domain names, buying homeowner’s insurance or trademarking intellectual property.

This is about safeguarding your vision.

Let’s explore a collection of strategies to help you do so:1. Work without a map. The reason you’re obsessed with planning is because it preserves the illusion of control. It underwrites the illusion that you know what you’re doing. When the reality is:

The more you plan, the more you miss unlabeled opportunities to grow.
The more you plan, the harder it is to invite healthy derailments along the way.
The more you plan, the more you prematurely commit to an endeavor that might later prove to be unprofitable.

In Seth Godin’s bestselling book, Linchpin, he explains that people who need a map are going to get paid less and less and work harder and harder every day. “But, the decision that you will live without a map – that you will be less obedient and less compliant – will help you will do work that matters.”

My suggestion: Don’t close yourself off by making gods out of your plans. Don’t let the lust for what is familiar block the beauty of what is possible.

Remember: It’s always safer to work without a map than to follow a rigid plan that has no relationship with reality. Are you a victim of your own topography?

2. If it’s worth dreaming about – it’s worth being attacked for. The more successful you become, the more torpedoes will be shot at you. I know. It’s silly. It’s like the closer your dream comes to fruition, the more pissed off people become.

But, while this is a risky, demanding and unglamorous part of dreaming – that’s what difference makers do: If they’re not polarizing, they’re not monetizing. If they’re not making people react, they’re not making a difference. And if everybody loves what they’re doing, they’re doing something wrong.

Your mission is jack up the danger level of your dream. Consider creating a filter for your own work that reinforces the importance of risk. You might ask, “Who will this idea piss off?” or “How much hate mail will this garner?”

After all, there is an inverse relationship between your willingness to risk and the likelihood of criticism.

The good news is: At least being ridiculed means being noticed. Sure beats being ignored. Your challenge is to interpret criticism as benchmark – not a barrier. After all: If your dream isn’t being attacked, it isn’t big enough. How do you weather ridicule?

3. Keep your goals to yourself. In a recent presentation, Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, discovered that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen:

“That which is acknowledged by others feels real in the mind. When you tell someone your goal – and they acknowledge it – the social reality tricks you into believing it’s already done. Then, because you’ve felt that satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the hard work that’s necessary to accomplish it.”

This principle of psychology is called substitution. And the secret, according Sivers, is to delay the gratification brought by social acknowledgment.

Personally, whenever I’m working on a new project, I only tell a select number of colleagues about it. In my experience as an entrepreneur, there is an inverse relationship between how many people you tell about your dream and how quickly that dream becomes a reality.

For example, last week I showed someone copy of my new book. And his response was typical:

“I didn’t even know you were working on another book!”

To which I smiled and replied: “Exactly. And that’s why I got it done: Because you never heard me talking about.”

Look: I’m all for sharing your goals with the world. But I also think it’s easy to blow the lid off your dreams by telling too many of the wrong people about them. Is your lack of self-control slowly dissipating your dream?

4. Keep your dream portable. Although you’ve chosen to keep your goals to yourself, it is important to keep your goals on yourself. Literally. In my wallet, for example, I carry a list of every goal I’ve set for the year – both personal and professional. I also carry a list of my Personal Constitution, along with one hundred answers to the following three questions: Who am I? What do I do? Why do I do it?

These documents comprise my arsenal of self-reflection. It’s how I remember who I am, and it’s how I protect my dream. Sadly, because my wallet is so thick, it’s also how I’ve developed sciatica. Which is fine. If that’s what it takes to protect my dream, so be it. I have health insurance.

The point is: Protecting your dream means never leaving home without it. Your challenge is to create a method to carry your dream with you wherever you go. That way, you can ritually revisit it on a moment’s notice. Which might be helpful during those inevitable times of doubt when the world tries to convince that your dream is stupid. How quickly can you access a tangible version of your vision?

5. Be vigilant about the company you keep. There’s great scene in The Pursuit of Happiness when Will Smith’s character offers the following advice to his son:

“Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You have to dream, and you have to protect it. Because when people can’t do something themselves, they’ll want to tell you that you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”

That’s the dreamer’s reality: When other people see you pursuing it, it scares them. Probably because it reminds them how far away they are from their own dreams.

And what sucks is, they try to talk you out of it.

I don’t know, I guess it makes them feel better about themselves.

My suggestion is: Walk away from people who see nothing but impossibility. Instead of trying to respond to their fear-based reaction, don’t even tell them. Keep your plans to yourself. Not everyone deserves a backstage pass to your dream. Tell the few people who matter most and then get back to work. Are you gushing to people who are going to belittle your ambitions?

6. Independence is more important than improvement. The best way to protect your dream is to ignore the people who try to improve it. With the exception of a chosen few – whose honest, helpful feedback matters most – make a conscious to ignore most people’s suggestions.

Sure, they might make your dream ten percent better – but you’ll feel thirty percent crappier. And in my opinion, that’s a tradeoff that isn’t worth it.

Try this: Forget about getting things right and focus on getting things moving in the right direction. Because you don’t need more areas of improvement – you need more actions of execution. That’s why I have the following mantra written on the wall over my desk: “Finished is the new perfect.”

Or, as Hugh MacLeod wrote in Ignore Everybody, “The more original your idea is, the less good advice people will be able to give you.”

Look: You’re the only one waiting for you to get everything right. Trust your inner resources; believe that you’re the person who can do this – then execute with all your might. There is no stronger protection from the would-be deflectors of your dream. Who is trying to edit you?

REMEMBER: You don’t need permission to dream.

But if your dream gets kicked in the crotch, it’s because you stopping blocking.

Safeguard it. Protect it. And keep it away from dangerous people.

In time, it will stop being a dream and start becoming a reality.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your dream protected?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “153 Quotations to Inspire Your Success,” 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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

A Young Artist’s Guide to Playing For Keeps, Pt. 2

You’ve chosen an uncertain path.
You’ve adopted an inconvenient lifestyle.
You’ve embarked upon an unconventional journey.
You’ve felt the voice inside you growing more urgent.
You’ve committed yourself enough so you can’t turn back.

IN SHORT: You’ve decided to play for keeps.

This is the critical crossroads – the emotional turning point – in the life of every young artist.

I’ve been there myself, and here’s a list of suggestions to help you along the way:(Read part one here!

1. Preserve your freedom. As an artist, I don’t ask for much. I just want to stay free enough to write what I want to read – not what the market wants to buy. I want to define my own private creative domain. And if that means I need to walk away from certain projects, clients and opportunities, fine. If that means I have to say no for the sake of my own autonomy and creativity sovereignty, fine.

That’s the covenant I made with myself, and I will preserve my artistic freedom at all cost.

Here’s why: I think when you create to infect people with your art instead of trying to create from what the market wants – you win. Hugh McLeod made a powerful point about this in Ignore Everybody: “The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.”

Your challenge is to approach life as a creation, not a reaction. To stay focused on creating art, not being an artist. That’s how you stay the course – your course. Otherwise you destroy yourself in response to an invitation from others to stop living. Where are you holding back from expressing yourself?

2. Be emotionally ready for success. Becoming too successful, too fast, too early will either turn you into an arrogant ass or cause you to burn out. Or both. That’s what I learned the hard way: While money loves speed, velocity creates stress – and stress kills people.

Hell, it almost killed me.

When I started my career as a writer, I lacked the emotional foundation to support my (unexpected) early successes. And as a result, I ended up in the hospital with a collapsed lung and a tube in my chest. Gasp.

Pace yourself. Get rich slowly. Avoid getting sucked into the addictive vortex of success and achievement. Otherwise complacency will erase what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. My friend Jason Koteki writes and cartoons extensively on this very topic. In a popular blog post, he wrote the following:

“It’s alarming how often we chase down the secrets to success without ever stopping to consider the side effects of the ideas we are so eager to implement. We can drive ourselves crazy in that pursuit, and we can drive away the people we love the most while we do it.”

Bottom line: Working at a breakneck pace works for about six weeks. After that, you can’t bullshit your body and you can’t fool your family. Just be careful what you begin. Otherwise you’ll be so busy fighting your inner battles that you won’t have time to execute any art, much less share that art with the people who matter most. Are you monitoring your momentum?

3. Be afraid – be very afraid. One of the prerequisites of the artistic journey is acquiring the aptitude to embrace the unknown. To overcome the paralyzing fear of failure. To tear yourself away from the safe harbor of certainty, stare into the abyss and keep going.

John Keats referred to this skill as “negative capability,” or the power to remain in uncertainties, mysteries and doubts without any fact or reason.

That’s how true artists play for keeps: They accept fear as an inevitable part of the equation. And they understand that fear is acceptable as long as it’s proportionate to the situation. My suggestion: Stop trying to stamp out uncertainty. Instead, make friends with it. Figure out what it’s trying to teach you about yourself. That’s how you convert ambiguity into ammo.

Because as much as the advertisers would love for you to believe it, life is not a sports drink commercial. People who have no fear are either liars or robots. Truth is: Courage isn’t acting without fear – it’s acting beyond it. If you want to make art that matters, consider that the world isn’t trying to knock you down – it’s trying to educate you. Stop freaking out and just listen. How will you use fear as a compass?

4. Learn to weather ridicule. The more successful you become, the more torpedoes will be shot at you. This is a good thing. Being ridiculed means being noticed. Being ridiculed means being remembered.

But.

While being ridiculed does sting – being ignored will flat out kill you. That’s the real enemy. No use losing your head because some wanker left a nasty comment on your Facebook wall.

Look: You’re nobody until somebody hates you. And if everybody loves your art, you’re doing something wrong. I’m reminded of the advice given to me by graphic novelist David Mack, “An idea is not any good unless it’s on the verge of being stupid.”

Are you willing to polarize to monetize?
Are you wiling to make people react to make a difference?

Hope so. Because anything worth doing is worth being attacked for.

Instead of allowing your self-worth to hinge on the words of a few haters, consider it an honor to be criticized. Release your bottomless need for approval. And stop organizing your life around the people who don’t get the joke.

Remember: Better to be hated for what you are then loved for what you aren’t. Whom have you pissed off this week?

REMEMBER: When you’re ready to play for keeps, your work will never be the same.

Make the decision today.

Show the world that your art isn’t just another expensive hobby.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you committed with both feet yet?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” 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!

GenJuice Interviews Scott Ginsberg on Succeeding as a Young Professional

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How many opportunities did you lose because people didn’t take you seriously?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Somebody Would Have Told Me When I Started My Company,” 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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.

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