Are You Forgiving Mistakes or Rewarding Them?

I recently booked a room at the Sofitel New York.

When I arrived, their system showed no record of my reservation, nor did they have any open rooms for walk-ins.

A bit annoyed, I ended up staying across the street at a competing hotel. No problem.

But when I got my credit card statement, Sofitel still billed me. Turns out, they documented my reservation after all. The problem was, I mistakenly booked the room for the wrong date. And it was a non-refundable reservation.

Woops. A bit embarrassed, I asked to speak to the manager. He was friendly, helpful and a great listener.

After speaking with his reservations manager, he decided to refund the charge immediately.

And The Sofitel earned a fan for life from a guest who never even stayed there.

LET ME SUGGEST THIS: Good companies forgive mistakes – but great companies reward them.

Here are a few ways to do so:
1. Respond with a foundation of affirmation. Next time people share their mistakes, thank them for being vulnerable enough to be imperfect. Thank them for giving you the chance to love them unfairly. And thank them for the opportunity to create a service moment.

In the process, you’ll demonstrate unreasonable compassion, unexpected empathy and unprecedented gratitude. You’ll set an example of approachability, deepen your reputation for loving people anyway and make people who aren’t your customers, wish they were.

That’s an act of forgiveness in a moment of transgression. And people don’t just remember it – they’ll repeat it. When was the last time you turned a mistake into a gift?

2. Call a mistake meeting. Once a month, gather your people for a working lunch. Starting with yourself, go around the room and require each person to share a mistake they recently made, one lesson they learned from that mistake and the practical application of that lessons to the other people in the room. Document everyone’s contributions.

Then, mail a hard copy to everyone with a twenty-dollar bill stapled to it and a sticky note with a personal message of gratitude. I promise you’ll make company history. You’ll demonstrate your humanity. And meeting attendance will be through the roof. When was the last time you asked people what their mistakes taught them?

3. Create a cooler error page. If someone types an incorrect address on your website, what happens? Are they confronted with a sterile, unrewarding image that makes them feel incompetent for mistyping? Or do you create a playful, disarming experience that rewards users with an exclusive message?

Twitter accidentally popularized this same concept with their Fail Whale, which ended up becoming a powerful word of mouth marketing too. After all, people value things that are hard to find.

Your challenge is to use your error page to create an act of human forgiveness in a moment of digital transgression. Doing so makes the mundane memorable, rewards people’s mistakes and instantly humanizes your brand. Does your website make people feel good about messing up?

4. Schedule time for making mistakes. The psychological and social pressure that prevents people from making mistakes is also preventing your company from getting better. I’m reminded of the book What Would Google Do, in which Jeff Jarvis makes a powerful point:

“Google never makes you feel foolish for making mistakes. It graciously asks when you misspell or mistype if you meant something else. It doesn’t waste your time trying to find what you want. It just gives you a blank box and puts the world behind it.”

That’s the big secret: Rewarding mistakes doesn’t just make your customers happy – it makes your company smarter. How do you make screwing up okay?

5. Give unexpected compliments. The first time I took hot yoga, I slipped on my mat and nearly fell on my ass. But instead of embarrassing me in front of the class, my instructor gently remarked, “Thank you for listening to your body.”

I felt better immediately. She wasn’t critical, she was appraising. She wasn’t harsh; she was constructive. She wasn’t frustrated; she was fascinated. And she wasn’t judgmental; she was thankful. It was an act of spirit in a moment of struggle. Is that the way you respond to your people when they fall out of posture?

REMEMBER: To make a mistake is human; to reward one, divine.

Next time one of your people messes up, love them anyway.

What are you turning mistakes into?

For the list called, “31 Questions to Turn Your Expertise into Money,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Hire Yourself

I never went to the career fair.

I just hired myself and got to work.

And after ten years, I still haven’t been fired.

That’s the cool part:

When you hire yourself, you stay free.
When you hire yourself, you call the shots.
When you hire yourself, you don’t have to wait.
When you hire yourself, you execute what matters faster.
When you hire yourself, you remove the threat of rejection.
When you hire yourself, you become a more educated entrepreneur.

Tired of waiting to be picked? Consider these ideas for hiring yourself:
1. Kick your addiction to permission. Permission is a spiritual revolt. It’s an inner imperative. A soulful drive for significance. And the bridge between mediocrity and remarkability. The problem is, permission is very real and pervasive in most of our lives.

And as such, there are two kinds of people: Those who sit back and ask for permission, and those who step up act without restriction. I wonder which one describes you. Truth is, it’s not a question of who’s going to let you, but rather, who’s going to stop you?

And the answer is: Nobody. Except maybe you. Because the only permission slip that matters is the one you sign for yourself. That’s your first challenge: Greenlighting your own work. Becoming your own authority figure. And sticking your fingers in your ears so you can hear the sound of your own voice.

Otherwise you get sucked into a life situation where mediocrity is exalted. Are you listening to your voice or a program created by someone else?

2. Mainstream is lamestream. Absolute unfreedom is allowing other people to chart the course of your life. But when you hire yourself, everything changes. Just ask Kevin Smith. After writing the screenplay for the movie Red State, the filmmaker promised that the rights to the film would be auctioned off to a distributor at the Sundance Film Festival.

But last minute, Smith decided to purchase the rights to himself. He then self-distributed the picture under an independent banner. And through his persistent social media efforts, he created a sold out traveling show in select cities before officially releasing the movie.

This process saved millions of dollars, reached millions of and elevated his online and offline platforms to stratospheric heights. Smith’s relentlessness is a shining example of what happens when you stay on the path of your heart. He proved that if you’re not making people react you’re not making a difference. He proved that anything worth doing is worth being attacked for. Are you willing to create something critics will criticize?

3. Being picked keeps you passive. You don’t need a resume. You don’t need an internship. You don’t need another degree. You don’t need more credentials. And you don’t need to attend another industry convention just to kiss the collective ass of a bunch of crusty veterans who still put the word “the” in front of Google.

What you need is initiative. What you need is an enterprise mentality. What you need is to stand on the edge of the abyss and choose to fly. What you need is the desire to take massive action combined with an abundance of chutzpah.

That’s how you say yes to your own value. That’s how you reject the tyranny of being picked, says Seth Godin. Because if you’re just waiting to be discovered, you’re just going to end up waiting tables.

Make yourself the default. Change the rules so you can win at your own game, change the game so there are no rules, or become the exception to every rule. Because you can’t hire yourself if you’re not interactive, reactive and proactive. Are you waiting for your big break, or manufacturing your own big breaks by making yourself more breakable?

4. Stable is for horses. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only twenty-five percent of recent graduates who applied for a job had one waiting for them after graduation. It’s no secret: Hiring yourself is no longer a renegade choice – it’s a viable path.

First of all, the tools are accessible, affordable and have rapid learning curves. Secondly, offices are a thing of the past and mobile workforces the thing of the present.

Third, open-source software reduces or eliminate the need for consultants and tech support. And lastly, microfinancing, business incubators, peer councils and digital fundraising opportunities are abundant and available – as long as you know how to make a case for yourself.

Yes, half of all new businesses fail within the first five years. And yes, the entrepreneur life is filled with risks, stresses and sacrifices. But it certainly beats working a job that eats away at you just a little more each day. So maybe you take fewer vacations. Big deal. Isn’t it worth it to set up a life you didn’t need to escape from?

5. Farming isn’t for farmers anymore. As a writer, publisher and artist, I’ve learned that best way to bring home the bacon is to raise your own pigs. Think about it: No more traffic on the way to the store. No more inflated retail prices. And no more waiting in lines with the other carnivores.

If you raise your own pigs, and you want some bacon – you just grab a knife and walk outside.

That’s what impatient, persistent, heartstrong people do: They sing the song that is natural for them to sing, in the way that is natural for them to sing it, in front of the fans who most need to hear it. Then, they give their audience permission to be taken over by he performance. Even if they have to rent the theater themselves.

If you are fortunate enough to find the work you were born to do, find ways to do that work no matter what. No. Matter. What. Because the only thing worse than not having a song to sing is having a song to sing, but not giving yourself permission to sing it. The show must go on. May as well hire yourself as the headliner. When was the last time people watched you do what you do?

REMEMBER: It’s about fearing rejection – it’s about putting yourself in a position yourself where rejection can’t even find you.

Burn your resume.

Hire yourself.

It might be the smartest career decision you could make.

Why are you still waiting to be picked?

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, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

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Adventures in Nametagging: Petrol, Trademarks and Identity Problems

“Acts of friendliness in moments of anonymity.”

That’s why I wear a nametag:

To invite people to join me, to remind the world that face to face is making a comeback and to create spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction infused with a spirit of humor, playfulness and connection.

And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a nametag is worth a thousand stories.

Here are my most recent adventures:DAY 3,848: Today a man asked my girlfriend why she wasn’t wearing a nametag. I said, “She doesn’t need one – I’m the one with identity problems.” People usually think I’m joking. Which I am. Kind of.

DAY 3,849: Today I met a three-year-old girl while waiting in line at the gas station. She turned around and said hello to me. Pointing to my nametag, I told her my name was Scott. Looking utterly confused, she asked, “Why?” Interesting question. Never really thought about it that way. So I just told her that’s what my mommy and daddy decided to call me. She seemed unsatisfied with my answer.

DAY 3,850: Today my friend’s spouse said rather smugly, “I notice you wore that same nametag yesterday. Is that like, your thing?” To which I replied, “Yeah, it’s kind of my trademark.” She rolled her eyes and didn’t ask any follow up questions. Fine with me.

What was your best nametag related adventure?

For the list called, “12 Secrets of Supremely Successful Writers,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Don’t Take the Road Less Traveled Until You Learn These Six Lessons

I never had a real job.

Started my own company the day I graduated college and never looked back.

HOWEVER: There were a lot of things I did wrong. A lot of things I overlooked. And a lot of things I wish someone would have told me when I was twenty-two.

Here’s a collection of ideas you might consider before going out on your own:1. Build recovery into your schedule. Music is my religion. There are very few things in my life that don’t involve it. But since I started my company, music has actually taken on an expanded role. In addition to being soundtrack of my life, it’s also become the place I go to disappear.

Whether I’m playing it, singing it or watching it, music isn’t just my off button – it’s my escape button. It’s where I shed all sense of self and just be. And that’s the secret: We all need a way to disappear. From ourselves, from our work and from the world. Otherwise we never recover. Otherwise we never gain any perspective.

Novelist Joseph Campbell describes it beautifully:

“You must have a place you can go in your heart, your mind, or your house, almost every day, where you do not know what you owe anyone or what anyone owes you. A place you can go to where you do not know what your work is or whom you work for.”

Make no mistake: You are the boss of your own energy. Manage it well. When was the last time you spent fifteen minutes doing nothing?

2. Myopia is underrated. Lack of focus is the single greatest determinant of failure in any endeavor. I see it with clients, I see it with colleagues, and occasionally, I see it with myself. And it kills me every time.

That’s why I’m adamant about focus. But it’s not about time management, getting things done or streamlining the quality of your process so you can maximize the efficiency of strategic productivity. Focus is about creating a filter for your life. Focus is about executing against your values.

That’s what I’ve learned in my experience as a writer, as an entrepreneur and as a leader: Total freedom comes by forcing yourself into a tight corner.

To win, you have to focus on your core, pound it home and never lose sight of it. Otherwise you’ll never hunker down to execute what that matters. Instead of swatting flies with sledgehammers and wasting time making shiny objects shinier, delete anything that isn’t aligned with your vision.

Otherwise the absurd reluctance to let go of what’s worthless will keep you from reaching greatness. Focus is function of sacrifice. What are you willing to give up to stay on point?

3. Answer the invitation to evolve. Early in my career, my mentor gave me a warning: “If you’re giving the same speech you gave six months ago, you’re doing something wrong.” Ever since that conversation, I’ve vowed never to give the same speech twice.

Partly because I’d get bored, but mostly because I believe in evolution. Not just with the planet – but with the person. And that’s the reality every leader has to confront: If you refuse to make upgrades, there will be a self-imposed ceiling on what you can accomplish. If you insist on keeping yourself encapsulated in a cocoon with people who are just like you, you’ll never take your gifts to their highest potential.

Give yourself permission to explore options for your future. Otherwise you’ll deadlock yourself on a path that might not lead where you belong.

The point is: Your followers want nothing more than to watch you evolve into something much greater than anyone could expect. May as well give them a show to remember. In the last six months, how have you upgraded yourself?

4. Get people to follow your thinking. The world puts a premium on articulateness. And if you can express yourself creatively, concisely and compellingly, you win. The catch is, you have you clarify before you testify. And the best way to do is by thinking on paper.

Not emailing. Not texting. Good old writing. Every single day. Even if you only hit the page for fifteen minutes, that’s enough. Hell, I started with fifteen minutes a day and now I’m up to three hundred.

The good news is, writing makes everything you do easier and better. What’s more, writing helps you define the way you think about the world. And if you can get the people who agree with that definition to delegate certain chunks of their thinking to you, that world will be yours.

Get it through your head: You’re a thinker. Your brain is valuable. And your point of view matters. It’s time to say what you believe and see who follows. As long as you remember: The secret to self-expression is to believe that you have something worth expressing. Do you believe you’re worth putting on paper?

5. Don’t let yourself work small. If you want to watch steam come out of my ears, just tell me that you’re an aspiring writer. Or an aspiring artist. Or an aspiring anything. God help you. That’s the kiss of death. That’s the hallmark of working small.

Aspiring is for cowards. Aspiring is for riskless amateurs. Aspiring is what you say when you don’t want to commit with both feet and accept the responsibility of going pro.

Life doesn’t have a preheat setting. You’re either on, or you’re off. You either are, or you aren’t. Stop waiting to be who you are. Stop waiting for permission. And just start being. Today.

As Seth Godin wrote in Poke the Box, “Reject the tyranny of the picked. Pick yourself.”

The cool part is, once you gather the desire to move forward – most likely without a map – people will follow you. And they will stick with you as you promise not to let yourself work small. But when you dream big and do small, you lose huge. What are you still waiting for permission to become?

6. Legacy isn’t optional. In The Little Book of Leadership, Jeffrey Gitomer explains that the pieces of your legacy are created with your every action, your every achievement and your every victory.

I completely agree. The challenge is that legacy is a neutral entity. Not unlike tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce it’s immersed in. Which means it could taste fresh – but it could also taste like feet. It all depends on your behavior.

Everyone leaves a wake. Everyone. The issue is whether the people you love will surf on it, or drown under it. Here’s a question you might consider asking yourself every morning:” “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?”

This question builds the blueprint for your legacy. And once you’ve fleshed out your answers, all you have to do is make sure that your every action gives people the tools they need to build that world. And maybe a few instructions on how to use them.

Ultimately, at the end of life, you’re not defined by the beads, but by the string that holds them all together. Will you leave behind something that can justify your existence?

REMEMBER: Just because you take the road less traveled doesn’t mean you can’t arrive in one peace.

Good luck.

I’ll see you out there.

What road are you taking?

For the list called, “26 Ways to Practice Being Yourself,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Are You Offering Content Or Enabling Contact?

People can get information anywhere, anytime, immediately, for free.

But that’s the thing.

We don’t need more access to information – we need more access to each other.

IN SHORT: Contact is the new content.

Which doesn’t make information irrelevant.

But contact offers an unquantifiable humanness that content can’t provide. And if your brand fails to deliver that interaction in addition to the information people need, customers will quickly switch to another brand that will.

Here’s how to install a greater sense of approachability, both online and offline, in your organization’s daily life:1. Give everything a recognizable human touch. Lately I’ve been receiving messages from readers, followers and customers asking if my responses are actually from me, or just some robot disguised as me.

This trend is baffling. Not because people assume I’ve delegated my contact to a machine, but because there are people out there who actually do that. And customers are sick of it. The fact that people even wonder whether or not responses are automated should be enough of warning sign.

I find this detachment from humanity to be embarrassing. In the great game of business, what matters is how you talk to your customers. What matters is your unique way of interacting with people. And that matters is how they experience themselves in relation to you. Don’t outsource the human function. Make sure soul has a palpable presence in your contact efforts. Does your brand give more credence to computers or humans?

2. Provide information plus interaction. Content is great for deepening awareness, but only through contact can you deepen an emotional connection. Only through contact can you truly resonate with the soul of another human being. And whether it’s in person, over the phone or online, here’s the formula:

Create simple, inclusive, accessible, relevant and human encounters that change the momentary experience of engaging with your brand.

Here are a few examples to consider:

*Are you providing people with opportunities to participate, like making blog comments open to the public?
*Are you creating invitations to act and engage with your brand, like running contests on social media platforms?
*Are you creating acts of intimacy in moments of distance, like encouraging clients to upload picture of themselves joyfully using what you sell?

I hope so. Because content without contact is conartistry. What act will you deliver to draw people into the deeper meaning of what your brand does?

3. Shock people with your love. According to a study by the Customer Contact Council, about ten percent of Comcast’s service calls have nothing to do with their products. To leverage this asset, the company recently launched a help service for residential customers.

And now, for a fee, customers can receive help with problematic wireless gaming consoles, personal computers, tablets, smartphones, and networking equipment – none of which are actually Comcast products.

This is the kind of contact you can’t put a price on. The kind of contact worth crossing the street for. And if your brand wants to deliver the same, think about what underleveraged assets you might be able to exploit. Think about what populations of readers, customers or subscribers you might be able to attend to in a delightfully shocking way.

Escort them with your love and watch the fireworks begin. After all, content is a commodity – but contact is a communion. How does your brand deliver unexpected value?

4. Contact plus content equals conquest. As a writer and publisher, content will always be core to my enterprise. But what I’m starting to discover is that the speed of the response is the response.

What I’m starting to learn is that when you’re genuinely and assertively responsive, the medium us the message. Especially in a commoditized marketplace when service is the key differentiator, contact is the primary victory. Contact is the asset that paves the way for future interactions.

Without it, you’re just another content provider who takes forever to provide impatient customers with a human being who speaks in a human voice that solves human problems. Think of it as digital approachability. Keeping the virtual loop open.

Because if you’re not able to solve your people’s problem right away, providing consistent assurance that you’re on the case preserves their sense of control. Do you get back to your customers faster than your competitors, or does information stand in the way of engaging with the people who matter?

5. Information is not a replacement for interaction. Wearing a nametag everyday for a decade changes your behavior: It keeps you accountable, keeps you honest and keeps you true to who you are. That’s why I no longer litter, rarely act like a jerk and never pretend to be someone I’m not.

In the same vein, the greatest advantage of online technology is the ability to connect instantly – but the greatest danger is the option to do so anonymously. And that’s the caveat to contact: Making sure you do without collapsing your identity.

You have to keep your digital nametag on, or you’re going to get yourself into trouble. Because when you retreat into depersonalization and namelessness, you take less responsibility for what you do and say.

On the other hand, when you resist the temptation to engage from a place of anonymity, your actions are more accountable and more human. It all depends on how vulnerable you’re willing to make yourself. Will you stick yourself out there or surrender to the status of anonymous?

REMEMBER: If content is king, contact is queen.

It’s no longer enough to be a content provider – you also have to be a contact enabler.

Are you giving people more information or more interaction?

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

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

New website go live this week?

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Is Your Love Worth Finding?

Everybody wants to be found.

People. Ideas. Brands. Organizations.

They want customers to stumble upon, obsess over, fall in love with, become addicted to and tell their friends about them.

But this isn’t just a business need – it’s a human need.

To be found is to be noticed.
To be found is to be heard.
To be found is to be seen.
To be seen is to matter.

THE QUESTION IS: Is your love worth finding?

Worth getting lost for?
Worth waiting in line for?
Worth crossing the street for?
Worth driving three hours for?
Worth being tired the next day for?

Is your love worth finding?

If not, consider these ideas for making yourself, your brand and your company more findable:1. Reward curiosity. About once a week, I get a glowing email from someone who finds my website for the first time. But instead of telling me how awesome I am – which is nice for my ego – they tell me how useful the website is – which is necessary for my bank account.

The cool part is, people say they spend hours at time reading articles, watching videos and perusing the site. And considering the average view time for most websites is about thirty seconds, I’ll take that as an indication of love worth finding.

You don’t need clever marketing tactics to get people to stay – you need to encourage and reward people who seek to know more. Does your website give curiosity free reign? I hope so. Because curiosity is the hallmark of genius, the mother of creativity, the beginning of wisdom, the ancestor of innovation and the quiet force of progress.

If you want to become love worth finding, don’t punish people who ask questions. Respond with a foundation of affirmation and thank them for confessing ignorance. Otherwise they’ll take their curiosity elsewhere. How do you pay people back for the time they spend with your brand?

2. Give them their daily bread. A few years ago, my friend Kirstin opened a restaurant in Scottsdale for people with restrictive diets. Her philosophy: No gluten? No dairy? No soy? No problem. The menu at Nourish color coats every item to accommodate people’s dietary needs. What’s more, they offer meal plans, nutritional consulting, lifestyle seminars, video podcasts and an engaging online community of customers and advocates.

“Nobody likes being the freak at the table. But when people find Nourish, they can finally relax and enjoy their meal without worry about their food allergies. And we’re the only place in town where someone can experience that.”

That’s love worth finding: A place of refuge people can patronize, but would agonize without. A place of belonging that’s more than just a helpful addition to their day, but a vital component to their lives. And a place of connection where people can remember that they’re not alone in their struggle. What pervasive, expensive, real and urgent problem does your brand solve?

3. Become an object of interest. Good brands are bought – great brands are joined. But they can’t join you if they can’t find you. And they can’t find you if you’re not interesting enough to cut through the clutter. A few questions you might consider:

*Is the bio page on your website worth showing to a friend?
*Are you the kind of person for whom onlookers demand an explanation?
*What have you done in the last thirty days to become more interesting?

Ultimately, becoming an object of interest isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s the result of a life lived fully, actively and creativity. Never underestimate the findability of interestingness.

Commit to making an investment in your future fascination, and the world will pay you back with its attention. Are you interesting enough that people would cross the street to greet, join and get behind you?

4. Create a unique way of interacting with the world. You become love worth finding when you talk to customers in a way that nobody else in your industry can touch. The question is: Can you create an act of artistry in a moment of boredom?

According Seth Godin’s bestselling book Linchpin, art is any nonanonymous interaction that leads to a human conclusion and changes someone for the better.

Your challenge is to make people feel essential – not just special. To help them feel a sense of belonging – not just buying. And to make sure they feel engaged – not just marketed to. That’s art. And it’s not only worth finding, it’s worth spreading.

Lately, I’ve seen this trend show up in my social media efforts. Almost daily, people skeptically respond to my emails, tweets and messages asking if it’s really me, or some robot autoresponder. To which I always reply:

“Robots are for amateurs. My brand comes from my hand.”

People are floored. Which they really shouldn’t be, but that’s the nature of modern technology: Impersonalness is the expectation. What are you doing to keep your brand human?

REMEMBER: If they can’t find you, they can’t join you.

And if they can’t join you, you can’t win.

Making your love worth finding.

How do people feel when they finally find you?

For the list called, “18 Lessons from 18 People Smarter Than Me,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Take a Chance on Yourself

Gambling is for fools.

It wastes your time.
It burns your money.
It corrupts your thinking.

As Robert DeNiro said in Casino, “The more they play, the more they lose. In the end, the casino gets it all.”

HOWEVER: Some things are worth taking a chance on.

Namely, you.

Here are a few things you might keep in mind: 1. Desire is not an occupation. The first word to delete from your success vocabulary is “aspiring.” Never aspire to anything. Aspiring is for amateurs. Aspiring is the hallmark of working small. Whatever you want to become, start by being that thing already.

Like George Carlin used to say, “There are only two states an oven can possibly exist in: Heated or unheated. Preheated is a meaningless term.”

Where are you still preheating yourself? You either are, or you aren’t. Instead of waiting to be who you are, make the decision to raise your own bar. Go pro. Go full time. Go all in. Start playing for keeps.

Once you know what you believe, everything becomes a lot easier. Once you take a chance on yourself, people will start showing up ready to match your bet. And once you submit your resignation to the purgatory of wannabe, providence will move to orchestrate the ideal conditions to win. Which of your fears are diminishing your commitment?

2. Never underestimate the weight of victory. The scariest part about taking a chance on yourself is not the prospect of failure, but the possibility of success. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine anything more terrifying than getting exactly what you want.

Think about it: You might realize it’s not enough. You might become a victim of your own success. You might discover it’s not actually what you thought you wanted. You might mishandle the changes success brings into your life. You might stop taking the creative risks that made you successful in the first place. Or you might fail to live up to the expectations and reputation attached to your success.

At least failure is predictable. At least failure you can read books on. Success is the great unknown. Success is what we’re really afraid of. And that’s why part of us thinks that sometimes; it’s safer to just want things.

Which it is. But safe is a very dangerous place to be. And if you truly want to take a chance on yourself, you have to be prepared for the possibility of victory. Otherwise you’ll never take the time to enjoy it when it comes. Are you emotionally ready for success?

3. Accept the existence of your shadow. Sometimes we’re too close to ourselves to see the truth about ourselves. And if we don’t customize a system for exposing our blind spots, the chance we take on ourselves becomes too risky. As Rob Bell explained in Love Wins:

“When sameness takes over, when everyone shares the same story and when there is no listening to other perspectives – there is no stretching and expanding and opening up.”

That’s why I’m eternally thankful for my girlfriend: Her thinking is often perpendicular to my own. And as my partner, she’s in a unique position to give me an invitation into myself, lead me into my blind spots and remind me of just how moronic I can truly be.

Who’s your partner? Who could you admit into your life as a teacher? Whether it’s your spouse, significant other or business partner, ask them to reveal to you what you’re too in love, too proud or too close to yourself to see. It might hurt your ego, but it definitely helps your chances.

Anytime you can invite intellectual diversity into your life, it makes it easier to expose your unperceivables. What are you afraid to know about yourself?

4. Respect the paradox of the journey. On one hand, your inner dreamer believes you should be more successful by now. On the other, your inner realist knows you have to pay your dues for longer than you’d like to.

But like a good yoga student, you have to achieve balance between total relaxation and complete exertion. And a helpful way of doing so is to ask two questions. First: Where can you afford to be patient? Not idle, not passive, but patient. Because as long as you don’t wait so long that it becomes too late to take action, and as long as you’re not investing valuable time waiting for something that’s never going to happen, it usually pays to wait it out.

Second: Where can you allow yourself to be impatient? Not reckless, not irresponsible, but impatient. Because while patience is a virtue – impatience pays the mortgage. And sometimes you just have to trust yourself, trust the process and gather whatever momentum you can to start moving in the right direction. Otherwise you may never execute anything that matters. How can you be patient and impatient simultaneously?

5. No labels, no limits. Putting things in the right category doesn’t mean you control them – it just means you have more boxes. The reality is: If you have a plan for everything, unexpected turns will never take initiative toward you. If you have a plan for everything, you lose the psychological freedom to pivot into new directions. And if you have a plan for everything, you’ll never be able to live larger than your labels.

Don’t close the door of opportunity on yourself. Instead of creating a false ceiling on what you can accomplish, keep your eye on the things you can’t see. Always ask the question, “What am I afraid to see because it doesn’t fit my nice little plan?” Then, just listen. Because opportunity doesn’t knock – it whispers. And if you’re not paying attention, it will sail right past you.

There’s no shame is having no sense of direction. Try getting lost. Try not knowing. Try flying blind. Because if you don’t know where you’re going, nobody can stop you. Are you leaving enough room for the unexpected?

REMEMBER: You are a risk worth taking.

If you are going to take a chance on something, it may as well be on yourself.

Sure beats playing video poker.

Who are you taking a chance on?

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

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

Adventures in Nametagging: Working Out, Allergies and Broaches

“Acts of friendliness in moments of anonymity.”

That’s why I wear a nametag:

To invite people to join me, to remind the world that face to face is making a comeback and to create spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction infused with a spirit of humor, playfulness and connection.

And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a nametag is worth a thousand stories.

Here are my most recent adventures:DAY 3,845. Today I was introduced to my girlfriend’s colleague. As we shook hands, he said, “Nice nametag.” I think it’s interesting when people say this. Nice nametag. As if they were saying, “Nice bike” or “Nice shoes.” For some reason, my default response is usually, “Thanks. I work out.” I wish more people thought that joke was as funny as I did.

DAY 3,846. Today I was sick as hell and didn’t feel like talking to strangers. When the waiter asked me why I was a wearing a nametag, I gave the answer I usually give when I’m not up for explaining the entire story: “Well, you never know…” While that’s a completely vague, uncreative response, it usually works. Sure enough, the waiter didn’t say another word.

DAY 3,847: Today I was at my friend’s wedding. A woman approached me who was wearing a broach made of gold wire. It was shaped into a cursive signature of the name “Cynthia,” and she said, “I just wanted you to know that you’re not the only one at the wedding wearing a nametag.”

What was your best nametag related adventure?

For the list called, “8 Ways to Move Quickly on New Opportunities,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Can I Get a Witness?

During a recent sermon, my mentor shared the following insight:

“Most of what we do has no witness. But it is the sum of our witnesses that creates the picture of who we are.”

That’s when it occurred to me:

Without a witness, your life goes unnoticed.
Without a witness, your life is a series of small incidents.
Without a witness, your life gets redefined as something untrue.
Without a witness, your life lacks affirmation and understanding.

Who are your witnesses? Whom are you witnessing?

Today we’re going to explore a few ideas about the power of witness:1. Hang better mirrors. Success never comes unassisted. And life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. But if you never open yourself to be reflected by those people, you may as well be winking in the dark.

Your mission is to find at least one person who will regularly sit you down, look you in the eye and say, “Oh my god, that is freaking brilliant.”

This form of affirmation is like oxygen to your soul. And it’s the validation that will keep you going during hard times. Personally, I’ve been fortunate to have many amazing witnesses in my life. And as a result, I’m not successful because people said I would never make it – I’m successful because people told me I would make it, and I proved them right.

That’s what happens when you surround yourself with the right mirrors: They show us something we can’t see for ourselves, and then we change forever. If you killed someone tomorrow, who is the one person in your life that you could tell – that would still respond positively?

2. Learn how to receive. Giving is easy because you know what to expect. Receiving, on the other hand, is hard. It means you’re out of control. It means you’re vulnerable. And it means you’re letting go and letting people help you.

But if you truly want to be witnessed, you have to be willing to see your own brilliance when people reflect back it to you. Otherwise you insult them by deflecting what they’re trying to show you.

The secret is saying thank you without justification. Extending gratitude without defending yourself. Next time someone pays you a compliment, try just saying two words: Thank you. It’s harder than you think. In fact, this practice takes so much patience, self-control and self-confidence, that most people wouldn’t dare try it.

But the good news is, those receive well earn the right to be witnessed over and over again. When was the last time you held out your hand?

3. Be sensitive to people’s visibility needs. In the movie Shall We Dance, Susan Sarandon says it best:

“When you witness, you’re promising to care about everything: The good things, the bad things, the terrible things and the mundane things – all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying to people that their life will not go unnoticed because you will notice it. Their life will not go unwitnessed because you will be their witness.”

Who in your life right now feels invisible? Who needs to feel seen?

Be more promiscuous in your love with them. Respond with sensitivity in a time of tragedy. And give them the gift of visibility. Otherwise the utter exhaustion of feeling invisible might become too much for them to bear. How many people did you go out of your way to ignore last week?

4. Mirrors don’t hide the truth. The word “witness” simply means, “to testify.” Which means the easiest way to become indispensible to people’s lives is to sit in the audience of their experience, then accurately tell the world what you saw.

That’s how you acknowledge people, honor people, edify people and celebrate people: By being a stand for their greatness. What’s more, witnessing is the lifeblood longevity. Nobody in their right mind would walk away from a mirror that made them feel more beautiful.

Your task is to be that mirror in people’s lives. To be that perpetual reflection they can’t function without. Focus on that and they’ll keep you around – even during the hard times. When people look at you, what image do you reflect back to them?

5. Make people’s experience immediately available to them. Lately, a lot of my speeches are being tweeted by audience members throughout the entire duration of the presentation.

For marketing purposes, this rocks. Because people see people seeing value in my words. For feedback purposes, this rocks too. Because people tell me what worked best. But for witnessing purposes, this is essential. Especially when the presentation is over, the conference has ended and I’m sitting in the airport alone, waiting for my plane to board.

All I have to do is check my tweet stream to see what my witnesses said.

Your challenge is to set up a similar system. Something gives people permission to reflect your experience back to you in real time. And whether you use a digital platform or a live feedback mechanism, I promise your work will never be the same. It’s amazing how different art becomes when you know people are watching. Who’s testifying your value?

REMEMBER: Each soul is laden with its own story to tell.

But if you have no audience, you’re just winking in the dark.

Everyone needs a witness.
Everyone needs to be a witness.

It’s what makes life worth living.

Who are your witnesses?

For a list called, “10 Ways to Help Your Customers Know You,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“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!

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