A Young Artist’s Guide to Playing for Keeps, Pt. 8

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, part four here, part five here, part six here and
part seven.

1. Be more selfish with your work. Everything I write is a conversation with myself. I write to me, and I write for me. And to my surprise, that’s precisely what makes it so readable. In fact, I once received an email from a reader who thought I was stalking her. She said my work directly related to her life, almost as if I was in the office with her on a daily basis.

Which is ridiculous. I only showed up once a week.

The point is, the more personal your material, the more universal your message. If you want to play for keeps, play for you. Life’s too short to enroll yourself in a system bent to the desires of others. Plus, when you’re selfish with your art, when you make it for you and nobody else, the passion you bring to the work will carry it to market.

And even if it doesn’t, at least you still like it. As Miles Davis once said, “An artist’s first responsibility is to himself.” Are you following the script people envisioned for you, or follow your own artistic inclinations?

2. Practice creative promiscuity. In the art world, volume is the only vehicle that matters. Prodigiousness is the only path that counts. That’s been my strategy since day one: Out execute the competition. Because even though I wasn’t the best, even though I wasn’t the smartest and even though I wasn’t the most experienced, I still deployed more work than anybody. And by virtue of volume, my brand automatically elevated.

That’s the advantage of contributing to an ongoing body of work: It doesn’t just create credibility, it enables access. It provides multiple entry points for your audience. And that’s when people in China start talking about your work.

Unfortunately, most young artists trap themselves on the treadmill of better. They let perfection become the gateway drug to procrastination. If only they thought like Stravinsky. He said, “I would go on eternally revising my music were I not too busy composing more of it.”

That’s how he constituted a respectable artistic output, even at a young age: By hunkering down, shipping imperfect work and moving onto the next piece. Be honest with yourself: Do you really need another round of edits on a book nobody’s going to ready anyway? Just get it done. Get it to where you can smell it. Otherwise it’s not real.

Remember: The infinite regression of better is the enemy of done. What are you waiting for?

3. Fight the forces that fragment your focus. From digital distractions to shiny object syndrome to excessive planning to attending pointless meetings with amateurs who do nothing but brainstorm art projects they’re never, ever going to execute, you can’t allow yourself to get sucked into the vortex of the inconsequential.

Otherwise, by the time you finally do sit down to create, you’ll be rendered powerless to express anything that matters.

The solution is to carve out a ritualized creative schedule, and commit to sticking to it every day. Even if you’re tired, sick, annoyed, blocked or busy – you still have to show up. That’s what it means to play for keeps. As Tchaikovsky said, “Composition is a daily function that I feel compelled to discharge. I compose because I am made for that and cannot do otherwise.”

What’s more, installing a daily artistic regiment has myriad benefits. First, you create a healthy amount of self-pressure. This keeps your accountable to yourself. Second, you establish a good working rhythm with your creativity. This helps you spot entry points for entering into flow. And third, you train your body to respond to your environment. This keeps you in tune with your surroundings, listening for what wants to be written, instead of deciding what to write.

Remember: Distraction is a highly addictive drug. Don’t fix at the expense of your focus. Is what you’re doing, right now, taking you away from your art?

4. Mash life into art. Don’t tell me there’s nothing new under the sun. The damn thing 864,938 miles in diameter. If you can’t say something new, you’re not trying very hard. Here’s the reality: If you can build a unique enough inspiration pool that nobody can replicate, your work will be unrivaled. If you can ask yourself a unique enough question, nobody else’s answer will be able to compare.

Fortunately, the world around you is just waiting to be sampled. You simply have to live life with your eyes open and comment penetratingly on what you observe. As Stravinsky once wrote, “I stumble upon something unexpected. It strikes me. I made note of it. And at the proper time, I put it to profitable use.”

Never forget: Creativity is the highest form of active listening. If you’re not inspired, you might want to have your hearing checked. How could you live your life in a way that your art naturally gets done over and over?

5. Create a mythology around your art. When brandtag was released, I worked just as hard on the promo video as I did on the art itself. And here’s why: People are buying more than just your work; they’re buying the humble beginnings that first ignited your work.

Did you live in your car? Traveled to Africa alone? Work tirelessly out of your garage with your business partner? Shack up with your parents for two years, eight months and twenty-nine days? Awesome. Find the unique experience that first fueled your creative work and package and deliver it. Ideally, in the form of a creation myth. This infects people with your vision, helps them see the world as you do and enables them to join your brand – not just buy it.

As cartoonist Hugh Macleod wrote, “We humans seem to need creation myths, somehow. They manage to articulate who we really are, somehow. The help explain our core values, somehow. And for whatever reason, really successful people are even more likely to have them, even more likely to need them, somehow.” What’s your Garden of Eden?

6. Remain a vivid presence. Toward the end of his career, the general public no longer gave Stravinsky’s music the enthusiastic reception of his early days. And even though he experienced frequent bouts with depression, he still said something that has always stuck with me:

“The attitude of the public never made me deviate from my path.”

Therein lies attitude of someone who plays for keeps: He’s willing to suffer quietly. He’s willing to persist when nobody shows sympathy or understanding for what he’s doing. And he’s willing to stand up in the face of hostile indifference and remind people that he’s not going away.

Along your artistic path, maintaining your presence will depend on how you respond this resistance. It will depend on what happens when you hear that inner voice of hesitation telling you throw in the towel. What would happen if you abandoned yourself during trying times?

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, “52 Random Insights to Grow Your Business,” 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 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The King George Guide to Speaking Human

Authenticity is not a strategy.

It’s not a parlor trick.
It’s not a corporate initiative.
It’s not a tactic you learn at a conference.

Authenticity is simply what happens when you speak human.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: When you speak human – and follow that voice without hesitation – everybody hears you. And when customers taste a trace of your humanity, they come back for seconds, every time.

The problem is, the humanity has been boiled out of us. Companies have become international experts at depersonalizing every encounter.

Here’s a collection of ideas to help your company speak human:1. Imperfection is not a liability. No movie better captures this principle than The King’s Speech. My favorite scene is right after Colin Firth finishes his war address to the nation. After months of emotional distress and intense training to overcome his speech impediment, therapist Geoffrey Rush, says:

“You still stammered.”

But with a relaxed smile, the king replies:

“I had to throw in a few so they knew it was me.”

That’s how you speak human: By letting people experience you experiencing failure. You’re not The Pope. It’s okay to market your imperfections. Next time you mess up, simply apologize for your error and show people how you’ll avoid it in the future. They’ll relax, respond with empathy and think more of you than if you hadn’t messed up in the first place.

What’s more: They won’t sue you – they’ll pursue you. Again and again. And next time, they’ll bring their friends. Because you’re one of the few people big enough to flaunt your imperfection.

Remember: Mistakes are a chance to make the company smarter. Are you afraid to admit them because you see every customer as a potential plaintiff in a malpractice suit?

2. Preserve an air of freshness. It’s impossible for customers to feel heard, feel seen and feel essential when your service is delivered in a monotonous, empty tone. Like a great stage actor, your job is to make sure that every member of the audience feels like they’re hearing your words for the first time.

Even if it’s only one person – that’s still an audience.

Take it from a guy who’s worn a nametag every day for eleven years: People make the same five jokes every single day. But I never let my responses get stale. I don’t snap at people. And I certainly don’t roll my eyes and say, “Yes, Captain Obvious, I’m aware that I’m still wearing a nametag. Thanks for the tip.”

Instead, I have fun with people. I change my answers every few months, just to keep it fresh. And your challenge is to do the same. Next time someone asks you a question you’ve heard a thousand times, don’t reach for ready-made replies.

Instead of being rigidly scripted and annoyingly canned, dance in the moment. Respond to the unique needs of the individual, not from the mechanical instructions of the employee handbook. Will you surrender to thy script or thy soul?

3. Adjust yourself to the personality of the guest. No, I’m not talking about mirroring or matching or whatever sleazy, neurolinguistic-programming tactic you learned at some weekend seminar. That’s manipulation, and customers can smell it like burnt hair.

Instead, stay true to yourself while remaining appropriate to the situation. Learn to customize every conversation. Here are a few examples I’ve learned from my clients:

*Not all women want to be called “ma’am.” It makes them feel old.
*Not every customer needs help shopping. It makes them feel suffocated.
*Not every guest needs to be put on the spot to introduce themselves to the group at their first meeting. It makes them feel awkward.
*Not every first-timer needs to give to the collection plate. It makes them feel pressured.
*Not every passenger needs to be pampered with hot nuts, six bottles of water and a Swedish foot massage. It invades their privacy and disturbs their work.
*Not every caller needs to hear his name repeated back to him seventeen times. It makes them feel patronized.

The point is: Communication isn’t the goal – meeting people’s needs is. Adjust yourself accordingly. How does your approach change with different customers?

4. Personal expression trumps professional polish. As a public speaker, it eats away at me to watch speakers who are too polished, too rehearsed and too choreographed. That’s the problem with Toastmasters: They focus so much on the mechanics that they forget about the humanity.

And the result is a population of public speakers who become so rigid that they couldn’t order dinner without a script.

Here’s the reality: Speaking with the human voice means honoring the moment. Tapping into your expressive faculties and sharing from place of imperfect truth. Even if you’re not a regular at the podium, the suggestion is still the same:

You don’t need public speaking lessons; you need to learn how to cut your soul open.

That’s who people relate to, that’s who people sit down for and that’s who people tell their friends about. The one person brave enough to bare his truth. If you do that, people won’t care how many times you say “um.” Have you already crossed the fine line between preparation and automation?

5. Anchor yourself in the concrete foundation of your humanity. In a recent presentation, Leo Burnett’s executive Mark Tutssel explained, “The great brands of this century are the brands that don’t speak to consumers, but instead speak with people. As benchmark for the creative thinking within our company and for our brands, speaking human is at the heart of everything we do.”

Can you say that about your organization? Can customers and employees say it?

I certainly hope so. Because if your humanity doesn’t have a palpable presence in your labors, the fruit of your labors will taste like chalk.

My suggestion: Make the conscious choice to blend your humanity into every message you send. Create an instant filter to execute against before leaving voicemails, sending emails, publishing blogs and updating social media statuses. You might ask questions like, “Would a human being say this?” or “On a scale of one to ten, how much humanity does this message contain?”

Try it for a week. See what happens. Because the point is not to spend extra time debating your message, rather, to create a point of pause that heightens your awareness of the humanity in your message. What structure would you have to put in place today to deliver a human voice?

6. Ante up the emotional temperature. The only thing people can make a judgment about is how interacting with you, your brand, your website, your store, your company and your people – makes them feel.

As such, branding is about two things: How people experience you, and how people experience themselves in relation to you. Everything else is just an accessory.

In my experience, the differentiator is language. That’s the distinction between human companies and emotionally anemic corporate monoliths: They speak with soul instead of dehydrated jargon.

Try this: Make a list of the twenty most annoying, tired, vague, empty, overused eye-rolling words and phrases customers hate to hear. Convert the document into a poster and hang it all around the walls of your organization.

Then, any time you hear one of those words being used, charge that employee dollar. Not only will you raise enough money to throw a monthly party, simply by process of elimination, people will begin to speak with a more human, more emotional voice.

Remember: It’s not enough to compete for people’s attention – you have to campaign for their emotions. Is your service vulcanized?

REMEMBER: Speaking human is the music people have been waiting their whole lives to hear.

Follow that voice without hesitation.

Let your authenticity wash over them like a spring rain.

King George would be proud.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How human is your voice?

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

Is your frontline IN line?

Tune in to The Frontline Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on delivering unforgettable service!

5 Ways to Jumpstart the Joinability of Your Brand

Este Lauder once said, “Women don’t buy brands — they join them.”

When I first heard that quotation, my inner geography changed forever. And I eventually came to a conclusion that has yet to be disputed:

Good brands are bought, great brands are joined.

Like my friend Jay Siefert, owner of Studio Element (pictured above).

Because of his passion for fitness, health and human potential, clients join more than his club — they join his brand.

Who’s joining yours?

Consider these ideas to jumpstart the joinability of your brand:1. Run a joinability audit. Traditional marketing is wallpaper. It’s invisible, inaudible and inconsumable. It’s appallingly uninteresting and instantly forgettable. And it interrupts people, disturbs their attention and pollutes the public space.

If you want to avoid that reality, the first step is to ask yourself five crucial questions.

*Does your brand interrupt people or involve them?
*Does your brand ask people to care, or invite people to participate?
*Does your brand demand and disturb people’s attention, or respect and reward it?
*Does your brand offer purpose-driven human uniqueness, or just a patchwork of weirdness?
*Does your brand offer real, human, experiential value at the point of consumption, or just dispense a message?

These questions aren’t just questions: They’re springboards. And they can be used in a few ways: As strategic planning tools to benchmarks to build the joinability of your brand; as benchmarks to sustain the joinability of your brand; and as filters to research the joinability of other company’s brands.

The best part: If you ask these questions enough, you’ll internalize them. And soon joinability will become second nature.

Remember: You can’t bother people into buying from you. All you can do is invite them to join you by expressing yourself fully and freely. Do the benefits of your brand transcend the transactional?

2. Identify and promote your brand’s human purpose. “All of our brands are designed with human purpose in mind,” wrote Leo Burnett. “And when our story plays a long-term role in people’s lives, it’s no longer a brand — it’s a badge. And that’s how we create lifelong emotional relationships with them.”

The cool part is, the consequence of your brand’s human purpose will be people’s participation. That’s where true joinability lives. And whether that involves in-person conversation offline, or user-generated content online, the result will be the same: Customers will move from being observers of your brand to achievers with your brand.

Why do you think Obama won the presidency? Certainly wasn’t his political resume. It was because his brand hinged on the human purpose of hope. And he knew that in tough times, people wanted to be told what was possible.

So he told them. And although he didn’t solve all the world’s problems immediately, he still ran the most successful campaign in our country’s history. Sixty-four million people joined him. They proudly wore his brand as a badge. And his story will have a long-term role in each of their lives. That’s the power of human purpose.

Remember: Your brand is your stand. What happens when people step onto it?

3. Participation is the only unit of marketing that matters. For the past eleven years, I’ve invited hundreds of thousands of people to join my brand. But not by asking them for money. And not by persuading them to join my overpriced, marginally helpful membership site.

Rather, by creating spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection.

That’s what my brand does: It makes this moment, right now, a more humane, pleasant passing of time. From my handwritten nametag to my trademark philosophy card to my daily fill in the blank exercise, my goal is create simultaneous engagement and entertainment, both online and off.

What does your brand do for people? And do those people care enough about your brand to take a moment, take a picture and make a memory?

If not, you’re in trouble. Because people won’t value your brand if the experience of it doesn’t add something to their lives. And people won’t participate in your brand’s communication if they’re not rewarded them for the time they spend with it.

Your mission is simple: Let people into the moment. Induce participation. And intuitively respond to the human thirst for connection. People won’t just buy you — they’ll join you. Forever. Are you providing an opportunity for people to participate in a way that speaks to their individual needs?

4. Provide people with opportunities to act. Let’s talk more about participation. According to Leo Burnett’s book, Humankind, an act is anything that creates an emotional connection that deepens over time.

Something simple, inclusive, accessible and relevant to people’s lives. Something that gives people the gift of a quiet moment of joy. Something that connotes and reflects the brand’s human purpose. Something that enhances a moment of happiness. Something that creates excitement where apathy lives. And something that changes the momentary experience.

To identify your brand’s act, try their formula:

“I seek to create act of _______ in moments of ________.”

Creative directors Tom Bernardin and Mark Tutsel provide a list of powerful examples. Consider a few of these to begin brainstorming your brand’s act:

Interest in moments of timidity.
Confidence in moments of doubt.
Progress in moments of stagnation.
Coolness in moments of social risk.
Connection in moments of isolation.
Inspiration in moments of weakness.
Liberation in moments of constraint.
Casualness in moments of seriousness.
Encouragement in times of insecurity.
Togetherness in moments of loneliness.
Friendships in moments of indifference.

Remember: You don’t need advertisements, you need invitations to act and engage with your brand. Are you selling to people or connecting with them?

5. Let customers take the steering wheel. Joinability comes from vulnerability. That is, surrendering certain parts of your brand as the cost of growth. And a few years back, Jeff Jarvis famously wrote three words on this topic that changed everything: Become a platform.

According to his research, that’s what winning brands do: Join the post-scarcity, open-source, gift economy and remember that their best customers are their partners.

Here’s a few ways to do so for your organization: First, give users and fans the ability to create and improve your online content. They’ll become your brand spokespeople just by being themselves.

Second, enable your customers to build communities and networks under the umbrella of your platform. They’ll multiply your audience beyond what you could have accomplished alone.

Third, encourage people to build their own products and businesses connected to your brand. They’ll become your mobile sales force, global marketing department and perpetual listening platform.

As a result, they’ll elevate your platform to the point that it becomes a catapult. And then, as your brand becomes an infinite source of infinite opportunity, they won’t give joining a second thought.

Remember: Surrender is the new control. Customers want to be pilots, not just passengers. Let them control their brand experience and they’ll thank you by telling everybody. How vulnerable are you willing to be?

REMEMBER: People love to buy — but they love to belong even more.

If you want to make money, make a difference and make history, help people join your brand.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

The Art of the Shove

My favorite scene in Good Will Hunting is the following conversation between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck:

“You know what the best part of my day is? The ten seconds before I knock on your door. Because I let myself think I might get there, and you’d be gone. I’d knock on the door and you wouldn’t be there. You just left.”

“But instead, you’re sitting on a winning lottery ticket and you’re too afraid to cash it in. And that’s just stupid. Because I’d do anything to have what you got. So would any of these guys. And it’d be an insult to us if you were still here in twenty years.”

That’s called a shove.

And it’s what you do for the people who matter to you.

Here’s why:To shove is to applaud someone’s risk.
To shove is to elevate someone’s hope.
To shove is to disrupt someone’s inertia.
To shove is to provoke someone’s decision.

Who have you shoved this week?

To shove is to give someone a permission slip.
To shove is to kindle someone’s awesomeness.
To shove is to pour gasoline on someone’s fire.
To shove is to deliver someone’s encouragement.
To shove is to petition someone to take the plunge.

Who shoved you?

To shove is to dare someone to commit with both feet.
To shove is to help someone fall in love with himself.
To shove is to show someone what he can’t see for himself.
To shove is to challenge someone to start playing for keeps.
To shove is to throw someone over the other side of the wall.

Who do you know that needs to be shoved?

To shove is to disturb someone into taking action on what matters.
To shove is to remove what robs so they can embrace what excites.
To shove is to adamantly refuse to let someone stay where they are.
To shove is to call someone on the carpet when mediocrity descends.
To shove is to petition someone to bring her dreams to center stage.
To shove is to believe in someone more than she believes in herself.

Who is just waiting to be shoved by you?

THE POINT IS: To shove people is to love people.

And someone who matters to you needs one.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who will you shove this week?

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!

How Joinable Is Your Brand?

Good brands are bought — great brands are joined.

Here’s what I mean:

To join a brand is to connect with it on a visceral level. To join a brand is to engage with it on a human level. To join a brand is to unite with it on a personal level.

Otherwise people are just giving you money.

Today we’re going to explore a collection of ideas to help your brand become more joinable.1. Surrender is the new control. Here’s the mistake stupid brands make: Instead of satisfying a compelling need, they project onto the market what they think they ought to want. Like the startup that invests thousands of dollars creating an elegant solution to a problem nobody has. Or the non-profit that drains the entire budget conserving irrelevant resources that are going extinct anyway.

In short: People fall love with their own marketing without recognizing that it’s already engaged to someone else.

Sounds like a bad country song to me.

If you want to make your brand more joinable, master the art of sweet surrender. Enable people to take your idea into their own hands by openly embracing a fan mentality.

For example, Scott Adams allows any of his readers to mash up his daily Dilbert comic strip. And if they’re funnier than his version, he’ll publish them. This demonstrates trust, transfers ownership to the customer and leverages vulnerability into viability. Does your brand do that?

As I learned from Vicki Kunkel’s book, Instant Appeal, “People who exhibit some sort of visual vulnerability relax out defenses and get greater support for their causes and companies.”

Remember: It’s not your job to tell customers how to consume you. Their taste puts food in your mouth – listen to it. Are you willing to give up some control of your brand in exchange for being able to let grow and expand it better and faster?

2. Inbreak is the new outreach. Outreach is outdated. Brands that claim to “start with the customer in mind” are full of crap. What they’re really trying to do is figure out how customers fit into their nice little marketing plan so they can bother them into buying something they don’t need.

Nice try, Don Draper, but that approach is broken.

If you want customers to join your brand, here’s my suggestion: Actually start with the customer. Focus on how your brand fits into people’s lives. That’s inbreak. That’s joining people first. And when you take this counterintuitive approach, a few cool things happen.

First, you proactively meet people where they live instead of cleverly sucking them into your marketing vortex. This lowers the threat level of your offering. Second, you extend respect for people’s life situation. This demonstrates empathy, respect and boundaries.

Third, by joining people first, you make them feel seen, heard and participated in. This delivers the social gift of gratitude. And lastly, instead of proving to people that you’re the kind of brand they can live with, you allow people to show you that they’re the kind of person you can’t live without. Which of your customers are just waiting for you to join them?

3. Click is the new join. To make your brand digitally joinable, you have to make it accessible through multiple channels. The secret is to help big numbers of people join you in small moments of clicking, the aggregate of which strengthens your brand over time. Here’s a collection of options you might consider:

*Make your brand subscribeable. Syndicate your brain. How many blog posts have published?
*Make your brand followable. Recognize that you’re a writer. How many of your tweets are worth printing out?
*Make your brand friendable. Become a virtual extrovert. Whose life is better because they know you?
*Make your brand likable. Get a personal demo video. How easy are you to get along with?
*Make your brand stalkable. Establish greater photo equity. How many pictures have you posted?
*Make your brand clickable. Build remarkability into everything you publish. How many bloggers are linking to you work?

Remember: Small moments plus big numbers equals huge profits. How many digital options are you giving people to interact with your brand?

4. Show-up is the new sign-on. When I first arrived at my professional association, the president took me aside and unexpectedly told me not to join. “Just show up, hang out and ask questions. Worry about joining later. Cool?”

Well, that’s a relief, I thought.

So I took Richard’s advice. And it turned out to be a much smarter investment of my time, money and energy. Plus I didn’t have to deal with the awkward pressures of membership, dues, committees and the like. Thank god. That’s all I need: Another affiliation.

The cool part is, after two years of casually showing up, I eventually did join. Then became a board member. Then became chapter president.

Lesson learned: Sometimes the best way to become more joinable is to tell people that it’s okay not to join. What do you have to lose? Why not look them in the eye say:

“Look, we have no petitions for you to sign, no recruitment drives for you to mount, and no expectations for you to fulfill. Just relax, and enjoy hanging out with the one club that requires absolutely nothing of you. Cool?”

Who knows? They might tell everybody. Are you blinded by the illusion that everyone in the world needs what your organization offers?

5. Imperfect is the new brilliant. The customer isn’t always right – but the customer always loves being right. And if you’re so smart, why aren’t you making other people look smart? Truth is, brands that are willing to broadcast their imperfection, remain open to improvement and allow customers to make their business smarter are eminently joinable.

Netflix, for example, offered one million dollars to anyone who could improve the accuracy of their movie recommendation algorithm by ten percent. This program was called The Progress Prize. And although it earned criticism from privacy advocates – not to mention the Federal Trade Commission – you better believe it positioned their brand as more joinable.

My suggestion: Kick your addition to terminal certainty. Be smart enough to be dumb. Besides, perfectionism enables procrastination, blocks inventiveness, stains communication and slaughters playfulness. Exert your imperfect humanity and your joinability will skyrocket. Are you still laboring under the myth that you have to do everything right? 


6. Engagement is the new marketing. For the past decade, I’ve never left the house without nametags. Because everywhere I go, people ask me if they can have one. And I’m happy to pass them out. To strangers, to friends, to random kids at the ballpark, whatever. My brand doesn’t discriminate.

The secret is, I don’t pass them out to make people wear nametags — I pass them out to make a point: My brand is participatory. Personally, I don’t even care if people wear the nametags. A lot of them don’t. What matters is that they join me that spontaneous moment of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection. That’s my brand. And people’s life is better because of it.

Your challenge is to determine the level of participation garnered by yours. After all, brand perception hinges on human interaction. And the only thing people can make a judgment about is how engaging with you makes them feel. I challenge you to think about how your brand could become more participative. Because encounter you have with another person either adds to – or subtracts from – its overall joinability. Do customers see your brand as a one-way street?

REMEMBER: Your people need to connect with you on a visceral level, engage with you on a human level and unite with you on a personal level.

Because it’s not enough for a brand to be bought – it has to be joined.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

Behind the Brandtag, Part 2: Lessons Learned from Shipping Art That Matters

“It’s not about the art – it’s about the person you become as you create the art.”

That mantra rules my life.

As an artist.
As an entrepreneur.
As an evolving human being.

Especially this week, as I celebrate the launch of brandtag.

This project is the most exciting, most risky and most remarkable work of art I’ve ever executed.

Much of my inspiration for this project can be attributed to Gaping Void, namely, Hugh Macleod’s cube grenade. To him I owe a debt of gratitude.

AND THE BEST PART IS: After fifteen months of hard and frustrating work, I’ve discovered dozens of cool things.

Today we’re going to explore part two (part one here!) of lessons learned during the process:1. Mainstream is lame stream. Art isn’t a game of kickball. Thanks to the beauty of the Internet, artists no longer have to wait around to get picked to play. Instead, they just pick themselves. They create their own market by finding the tiny handful of people who are likely to buy.

My suggestion: Divorce your ego from the illusion that market size matters. It doesn’t. Instead of buying tickets for the starving artist lottery, go out and find the market for what you love. Forget about appealing to the masses and focus on kicking the asses of the tribe who loves you.

It’s easier, cheaper and significantly less frustrating than trying to make everybody like you. Remember: The only permission slip that matters is the one you sign for yourself. Have you voluntarily opted out of the mainstream?

2. Discovery is the dividend of displacement. The origin of the first brandtag comes from Tokyo. I remember the experience vividly: My stomach was full of sushi, my creativity was firing on all cylinders, and there was a minor earthquake during breakfast. Not a bad morning.

But that was the first time it truly occurred to me: Contribution is critical to my constitution as a human being.

And on that day, something inside me changed. I don’t know what. But my work was never the same after that. That’s when I started writing about mattering. Both how to matter and what to do when you feel like you don’t matter. Through that experience, brandtag was born.

And that’s why I had no doubt in my mind that the first limited edition series would be about mattering. It’s simply too important of an idea not to celebrate. I wonder what you could discover if you displaced yourself across the country. Maybe you’ll stumble into the idea that changes everything. When was the last time you took a trip across the world all by yourself?

3. Sing in your own voice. Each limited edition brandtag is autographed in nametag style. Interestingly, when I took the prints to my framer, her comment was, “Wait, you’re just signing the nametag and that’s it? But in the art world, that’s not enough.”

To which I replied, “In my world, it is.”

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.

My suggestion: Develop deeper trust in your own instincts. Unless feedback comes from the small group of who truly matter most, it’s nothing but a confusing, discouraging, stressful waste of time and tears. Don’t spend too much time living in other people’s worlds. It leads you away from your own voice.

Remember: Life’s too short to create art in response to demands of the market. How much longer will you allow feedback to bounce you around like a pinball?

4. Joinability builds profitability. The greatest artists aren’t icons people bow down to; they’re ideas people can latch onto. For that reason, your customers – that is, your viewers, readers, patrons, fans and listeners – are buying more than just your product. They’re also buying your person, your philosophy, your process and the problem you solve.

That’s why quality can’t be your sole signature. People need to buy the story you’re telling, too. After all, they respond to what you believe – not just what you create.

Your challenge is to persuade people to make time in their busy schedules to visit the world you’ve created. Without that, your work will never endure. Because good brands are bought – great brands are joined. Otherwise people are just giving you money. What meaning do people create for themselves in response to your story?

5. Listen to unintentional music. About a month ago, my dad stopped by to help me hang the very first brandtag in my library. Once the frame was straight, we stepped back to have a look. And that’s when he said something that changed everything:

“Scott, I think I found a typo.”

Get the hell outta here. My stomach dropped to the floor. At first, I thought he was kidding. But upon closer inspection, we actually found a misspelled word in the lower right hand corner. If you look closely, you’ll notice the word “values” was accidentally spelled “vaules.”

And I thought: You sonuvabitch. I can’t believe I missed that. Goddammit.

Almost in tears, I called my girlfriend immediately. And I told her about the typo. But instead of lamenting about the imperfection, she came up with an idea that saved the day:

“Scott, you should leave the typo in there.”

Yeah. That’s a great idea. After all, this entire brandtag project is about approachability and humanity. And what’s more imperfect than that? So we did. We left the typo in. And from now on, every brandtag will have one.

It’s the snag in the Persian rug. The wabi-sabi. The crack that lets the light get through. And the reminder that success isn’t perfection. How imperfect are you willing to be? 


6. Finished is the new perfect. In a recent interview, Ira Glass made a brilliant comment on the creative process: “Your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is a killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.” That’s a tough pill to swallow: Knowing that not everything you make will feel like a masterpiece.

In fact, I remember getting to that point with brandtag. The obsessive-compulsive part of me wanted to keep editing, revising, updating and improving the final piece. But the impatient part of me said: Just ship the damn thing. Declare it done. The hay is in the barn.

Without this crucial moment, you trap yourself in the infinite regression of better. And it’s more convenient to be a victim of resistance than to risk executing what matters.

My suggestion: Stop ironing out the wrinkles nobody is going to notice. By fixating on improvement, you’re missing what you already are. When will you realize that you’re the only person waiting to get everything right?

REMEMBER: It’s not about the art; it’s about the person you become as you create the art.

Stop waiting for permission.

Go execute something that matters.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How risky is the work you ship?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Behind the Brandtag, Part 1: Lessons Learned from Shipping Art That Matters

“It’s not about the art – it’s about the person you become as you create the art.”

That mantra rules my life.

As an artist.
As an entrepreneur.
As an evolving human being.

Especially this week, as I celebrate the launch of brandtag.

This project is the most exciting, most risky and most remarkable work of art I’ve ever executed.

Much of my inspiration for this project can be attributed to Gaping Void, namely, Hugh Macleod’s cube grenade. To him I owe a debt of gratitude.

AND THE BEST PART IS: After fifteen months of hard and frustrating work, I’ve discovered dozens of cool things.

Today we’re going to explore a few of lesson learned during the process:1. Infect people with your vision. Otherwise your dream will never make into their hearts. That’s what most people don’t know about brandtag: It took fifteen months to execute. And not because I was procrastinating.

Rather, because I was documenting every single phase of the creative process – then, privately sharing it in a twenty-minute slide show presentation – with people who matter to me. Partly to obtain their feedback, but also to infect them with my vision of what the world would look like when these art pieces finally shipped.

And to my delight, when brandtag set sail, those people were already on board and willing to help me paddle.

Remember: If people can’t see the passion in your face, they won’t hear a word that comes out of your mouth. Don’t just show them the way – show them the why. How will you inspire people to see the world as you do?

2. Bring your cause to life. According to Gallup’s thirty-year employee engagement study, disengaged employees cost companies three hundred billion dollars every year. The question is: How much of that money was lost by your team? And what are you going to do about it?

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 why brandtag works: It’s custom designed to stop the financial bleeding caused by disengaged employees. By displaying the art within your company walls, your team, and the people they serve, are ultra aware of your commitment to them. And that’s how approachability converts into profitability. Are you delivering your story in a lifeless way?

3. Expand your role repertoire. When I first started my company, I had a book. That was it. A decade later, my business has evolved into a diverse, robust enterprise. Now, my clients can use me in eight different ways. And this not only diversifies my business and positions me as a valued resource, but educates my clients on the depth of my deliverables.

That’s why brandtag was so exciting to me: It was a new role.

A combination of artist, translator and consultant. Not just a guy who writes books. And if you want your business to accomplish the same, try this: Physically map out a chart of every possible way clients can give you money. By doing so, you’ll be able to better articulate the diverse offerings that emphasize your expanded role repertoire.

Remember: The goal is to transition from “Should we hire them?” to “How should we use then?” Do your customers truly know all the different ways they can engage your services?

4. You’re defined by what you decline. It’s a beautiful moment when you realize what you can’t do. After all, sometimes that’s the only way to free yourself to focus on what’s left. Like the boxer with a broken arm, you realize you have no choice but to develop your speed.

That was the hardest part about executing brandtag: I couldn’t draw a straight line if I tried. I’m an artist of the verbal – not the visual. And as much as my ego wanted me to be responsible for every part of the process, I eventually made the decision to surrender.

Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Matt Homann, I hired out the artwork to a brilliant letterpress shop called Firecracker Press. And to my delight, their craftsmanship was a million times better than anything I could have ever attempted. What are you afraid to let go of?

5. Safeguard your artistic vision. I kept brandtag a secret for fifteen months. That was painful. But as Julia Cameron taught me, “The first rule of magic is containment.” That’s why I only told a select number of colleagues about my art project. In my experience, there is a direct relationship between how many people you tell about your dream and how quickly that dream becomes a reality.

If you force your ideas to hatch before they’re ready, they’ll arrive to the world stillborn and lifeless.

My suggestion: Don’t blow the lid off your idea by telling too many of the wrong people about them. Not everyone deserves a backstage pass to your dream. Just tell the few people who matter most and then get back to work.

Protect your dream. Otherwise the vultures will destroy your seed before you have a chance to harvest it. Are you gushing to people who are just going to belittle your ambitions?

REMEMBER: It’s not about the art; it’s about the person you become as you create the art.

Stop waiting for permission.

Go execute something that matters.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How risky is the work you ship?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Brandtag 001: How to Matter

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:

I was in Tokyo when it happened.

My stomach was full of sushi, my creativity was firing on all cylinders, and I’m pretty sure I felt a minor earthquake during breakfast.

Not a bad morning.

And that’s when it occurred to me:

Contribution is critical to my constitution as a human being.

And on that day, something inside me changed. I don’t know what. But my work was never the same after that.

That’s when I started writing about mattering. Both how to matter and what to do when you feel like you don’t matter.

That’s why I knew the first ever brandtag would have to be about mattering. It’s simply too important not to celebrate.CASE STUDIES:
These are my friends and colleagues at goBRANDgo. I use their culture as a example of brilliant engagement in my talks.

Their company matters. Their work matters. Their clients matter.

More pics here!

This is my great friend and editor, Jeremy Nulik, of the St. Louis Small Business Monthly.

I’ve been writing for their paper since 2004.

Their publication matters. Their stories matter. Their readers matter.

More pics here.

This is the home office of Optimists International. We’ve been strategic partners for the past three years.

Their members matter. Their service matters. Their programs matter.

More pics here.

ART SPECS:

Each print is autographed in nametag style, plus numbered as part of the series.

Interestingly, when I took the prints to my framer, her comment was, “Wait, you’re just signing the nametag and that’s it? But in the art world, that’s not enough.”

To which I replied, “In my world, it is.”


There are only fifteen of these limited edition prints on the planet.

Seven of them are already gone.

If you would like to purchase Brandtag 001: How to Matter, you can contact Scott directly.

INVESTMENT: $1000.00

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Why does your work matter?

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

How to Make Your Mission More Than a Statement

After fifteen months of hard work, Brandtag is here.

TO PURCHASE: Individual limited edition prints, explore the gallery.

TO VIEW: Pictures of engaged clients and partners, view the slide show.

TO LEARN: About Brandtag’s hand-made production process, meet Firecracker Press.

TO INQUIRE: About group pricing, corporate packages and consulting programs, contact Scott directly.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your mission more than a statement?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

In Praise of Duh

People who have it all figured out scare me.

I don’t know about you, but:

I’m not ready.
I’m never ready.
I’m not smart enough.
I’m never smart enough.

And if I waited until I knew what I was doing, I never would have done anything.

I don’t marry myself to ideas.
I don’t box myself into rigid plans.
I don’t set as many goals as I used to.
I don’t think my way into limited corners.
I don’t commit solely to one course of action.
I don’t have some arbitrary, one-sentence overarching life vision statement.
I don’t blindly follow outdated plans that have no relationship with reality just to avoid looking inconsistent.

And I refuse to kill myself planning things that I don’t control and that are going change anyway.I love failing.
I love getting lost.
I love not knowing.
I love making mistakes.
I love leaving room for the unexpected.
I love attending to life wherever it moves.
I love seeking out new ways to be stretched.

And I’m constantly rewriting my definition of victory.

I can’t believe this is my job.
I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this.
I can’t believe I haven’t been found out yet.
I can’t believe nobody has exposed me as inadequate.
I can’t believe people haven’t caught on to how clueless I really am.
I can’t believe I’ve deceived the world into believing that I know what I’m doing.

And I just know that at any second, I’m going to slip up, blow my cover and it’s only a matter of time before the world spots my shortcomings, wises up and boots me out.

But.

I allow myself to trust the process
I humble myself to the door of next.
I permit myself to meet life in the middle.
I make myself predisposed to compromise.
I keep myself open and amenable to the changes of life.
I give myself the psychological freedom to move in a new direction.
I allow myself to stand on a springboard instead of struggling in a straightjacket.
I trust myself enough that wherever starting over takes me, I’ll still be able to excel.

And I have no clue what the future holds.

I choose to live larger than my labels.
I choose to become bigger than my past.
I choose to yield to the impulse of expression.
I choose to become known for more than one thing.
I choose a name for myself that’s big enough to hold my life’s work.
I choose to allow the new opportunities that come along to outshine the brightness of the former version of myself.

And I know that what identifies me doesn’t define me.

I believe the detour is the path.
I believe life isn’t as predictable as we want.
I believe the less you know, the less you fear.
I believe ignorance isn’t just bliss, it boldness.
I believe life is boring when you know all the answers.

And I am not stopped by not knowing how.

I think that just when you get there, there disappears.
I think that what you know limits what you can imagine.
I think the more you plan; the harder it becomes to invite healthy derailments.
I think that everything that happens to me is exactly what was supposed to happen, even if it seems inconsistent with the brilliant life plan I orchestrated.

And as much of a control freak that I am, I’m fully aware that I have no control, I never will, and I’m not going to waste my energy trying to preserve it.

That’s why I praise duh.

Duh protects me.
Duh humanizes me.
Duh keeps me humble.
Duh is a warning system.
Duh inspires me to become better.
Duh motivates me to achieve great things.
Duh gives me permission to explore alternatives.
Duh helps me keep checks and balances on myself.
Duh keeps me approachable to the people who matter most.

So that’s it.

I’m done trying to eradicate feelings of inadequacy.

And I thank god that I’m clueless.

Because sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you marketing your duh?

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

Is your frontline IN line?

Tune in to The Frontline Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on delivering unforgettable service!

Sign up for daily updates
Connect

Subscribe

Daily updates straight to your inbox.

Copyright ©2020 HELLO, my name is Blog!