How to Live Like a Rationalist, Part 1

Few ideas in history have been more widely repeated, debated and dissected than the following three words:

Cogito ergo sum.

This was the philosophy of Rene Descartes. I think therefore I am.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: I am not going to attempt to debate this philosophy.

Instead, I’ve adopted Rene Descartes’ formula and developed a few rationalist philosophies of my own:1. I write therefore I know. Until you write it out, you don’t know what you know. Until you write it out, you don’t know how you feel. And until you write it out, you don’t know what you believe.

That’s the true power of the pen: Clarification. The blank page is nothing but an electronic mirror. If you’re not standing naked before it on a regular basis, you’ll never know who you are. And if you’re still clutching onto the excuse that you’re not a writer, wake up and smell the ink. Writing is an extension of thinking. We’re all writers. Every last one of us. Some just have more practice than others. What did you write today?

2. I deliver therefore I earn. The person who hires you put their ass on the line. They don’t want to look stupid. They don’t want to lose their job. They just want you to come through.

Here’s how: First, establish expectational clarity. Leave no room for doubt what is going to happen. Second, build in multiple points of overdelivery. Blow people away with your consistency. And third, telegraph your reliability. In the moments when you do deliver, remind people that you did exactly as – or better than – promised. How do you ensure your capacity to deliver?

3. I polarize therefore I monetize. Anything worth doing is worth being attacked for. But if everybody loves your brand, you’re doing something wrong. If everybody loves your brand, you’re not risking enough. And if everybody loves your brand, you’re not doing the work that matters.

Volume trumps popularity. It doesn’t matter if everybody likes you – it matters if everybody remembers you. Try creating something worth being criticized. Grind the gears a little. Just make sure you’re not doing so solely for the sake of being criticized. Impure motive stains artistic dividends. Are your monkey wrenches well intentioned?

4. I reflect therefore I grow. Not everybody reflects. Some people don’t value reflection. Some prefer not to dwell on the past. And some people simply aren’t as introspective as others. What’s more, school never teaches us to reflect – only to solve the next problem, take the test, accept the grade and move on.

The problem with this is, without analyzing the past we can never design the way forward. And without an understanding who we’ve become, we’ll never learn who we need to be. Are you willing to introduce a ritual of reflection into your regular schedule?

5. I commit therefore I attract. Jumping is life’s most terrifying verb. Especially when you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. The advantage is, when you choose to play for keeps, you show to the world that your work is more than just an expensive hobby.

And for some strange cosmic reason, that world doesn’t just pay attention – it pays dividends. Sometimes in the form of money. Sometimes in the form of opportunity. But always in the currency of prosperity. But you have to jump. How much longer can you afford to be an amateur?

6. I thank therefore I am. Tax your heart as it will, life is still pretty damn impressive. And you survive because of the energy you devote to being grateful for it. That’s what my parents taught me: Thanking is not a chore. If you’re still breathing, you have no right to take a break from being grateful.

And why would you, anyway? You are never more alive than when you are thanking. To give thanks is to touch the center of joy. To give thanks is to make love to the present moment. And to give thanks is to revel in life as it is. As Jean Baptiste Massieu once said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Who have you thanked today?

7. I breathe therefore I overcome. When you spend a week in the hospital breathing through a chest tube, your relationship with your breath changes. You start to learn that every anxiety is another chance to inhale. And you start to learn that there are few things in life you can’t breathe your way through.

But it’s not about making the pain go away – it’s about changing your relationship to the experience of it. Because when you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. Fast heart, slow lungs. How do you activate the force of calm in a time of turmoil?

8. I laugh therefore I conquer. It’s impossible to be at the mercy of something you’re willing to laugh at. And it’s easy to get over things once you figure out what’s funny about them. Not that humor trivializes your tribulations. You can’t outsmart getting hurt.

But when you laugh your way through the struggle, every step is a spark that defies the darkness. That’s one of the coping skills they don’t teach in school. And it’s too bad, because humor is the great diffuser and the ultimate overcomer. What is your diversion from despair?

9. I persist therefore I prosper. I started my company the day I graduated college. A year later, I wanted to quit. I wanted to bag the biz and get a real job. I even toyed with the idea of applying to grad school. But I also reassured myself that even when a dusting of despair settled in, not every part of me wanted to give up.

So I persisted. And now I’m prospering. That’s how you sustain your gaze to the top of the hill: By not abandoning yourself during trying times. Besides, if wasn’t hard – it wouldn’t be worth it. Persistence is hope with legs. Are you all laced up?

REMEMBER: You don’t have to live in 17th Century France to be a philosopher.

Consider writing your own rationalist list.

Make Descartes proud.

Are you rational enough?

For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google 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

“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

NametagTV: Stay Human

Being human is always good for business.

And if you want your brand to stay alive, you have to leave traces of your humanity in every possible touchpoint.

After all, people buy people. Not products. Not services. Not companies. People.

Today we’re going to explore a collection of ideas to help you, your brand and your organization stay human:1. Friendly wins. When I started wearing a nametag everyday, I wasn’t trying to make money – I was trying to make a point: Friendly doesn’t cost anything. And yet, millions of people on a daily basis are working overtime to prove me wrong. They’re too focused on their own drama, their own company policies their own egos to see how easy it really is to be friendly.

The cool part is: You don’t need a nametag to be friendly.

Instead of waiting to warm up to people, skip the small talk and just jump right in. Instead of asking if there’s anything else you can do, ask if there’s anything else you can help them learn. And instead of asking for a referral, ask if everything was great. People will notice. How friendly are you perceived as?

2. Create random acts of humanity. People may love to buy, but they also ache to belong, crave to believe and long to hope. That’s what makes them human. That’s what gives them fullness of heart. Forget about customer service.

Service, schmervice – people want to be in love.

They want someone to touch them. Instead of trying to buy your way into their lives, instead of trying to hack your way into people’s hearts, give them a chance to buy into something that matters, and then share that with the people who matter. Because it’s not about the product – it’s about how people socialize around it. Are you selling a commodity or building a sharing device that allows people to connect with each other?

3. Create an emotional bonus. I once saw a sign outside of a flea market that read, “Business sucks, come in and deal!” That wasn’t just worth taking a picture of – it was worth telling my friends about. Not to mention, walking into the store and buying a few things.

And that’s the secret: Anytime your marketing creates a memorable, unexpected and jarring juxtaposition, you win.

I’m not talking about interrupting customers with ads so you can bother them into buy from you. Marketing is about designing your brand with a high degree of visual sophistication. It’s about making a first impression that creates a smile in the mind and demands further investigation. Are you providing the transaction of a service or the experience of an event?

4. Intelligently share your intangibles. Our economy rewards generosity. And if you’re willing to give yourself away, it’s unlikely you will go away. The secret is to find your daily gift to the world. Something simple and human. Something that fulfills your quota of usefulness. And something that builds up a huge surplus goodwill.

Take a blog, for example. That’s the ideal venue to deliver the intangible value of knowledge. To pollinate people with your ideas. Better yet, blogs that are written honestly have the power to give the gift of wakefulness. They create an act of inspiration in a moment of inertia. And if that’s not a gift, I don’t know what is. When was the last time somebody thanked you for your generosity?

5. Manage your story like an asset. Story isn’t just a skill; it’s a survival mechanism. Has been for thousands of years. And here’s why: Story makes it easier for people to believe. Story makes it easy for people to find and express meaning. And story makes the experience of being alive more enjoyable.

The trick is, you’re telling a story whether you want to or not. The question is: Is your story worth repeating? Is your story worth crossing the street for? Is your story connected to another story people already trust? And does your story give people hope about what they could be? I certainly hope so. Because if your story too small to repeat, it’s not worth telling. Who’s retelling your story to their friends?

6. Make a stronger last interaction. People don’t buy what you sell – they buy what you are. They buy the way they experience you. And they buy the way they experience themselves in relation to you. Everything else is merely an accessory to the sale.

If want to become known better to the people who matter most, start by becoming known for a unique way of interacting with the world. Like FedEx, who interacts with swift responsiveness. Like Southwest, who interacts with exquisite playfulness. Or like Zappos, who interacts with true care.

The point is, when you interact with people in a way that gives them the gift of social elevation, you get talked about. Are you a business people could fall in love with?

REMEMBER: Companies that lack humanity, leak profit.

Make a conscious effort to stay human.

Stick yourself out there today.

How do people experience you?

For a list called, “66 Questions to Prevent Your Time from Managing You,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Sick of selling?
Tired of cold calling?
Bored with traditional prospecting approaches?

Buy Scott’s book and learn how to sell enable people to buy!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

The Art of Vomiting

This is how I start everyday of my life:

Wake up. Jump in the shower. Brush my teeth. Throw on my cozies. Fire up the laptop. Put in my headphones. Open a blank document. Vomit.

Yes, vomit.

For the next twenty minutes, I purge. Every thought, every impulse, every complaint and every frustration dancing through my mind, I puke onto the page.

And anything goes.

No stopping. No editing. No audience. No boundaries. And most importantly, no thinking. Just pure confrontation. Listening to myself and rendering what I hear.

Then, once I’ve emptied my heart onto three pages, I save the document, recite my invocation and go to work.

This is my ritual. It’s the first thing I do, every day of my life. And I never miss it.

THE COOL PART IS: Since I started my daily vomit eight years ago, life has never been the same.

Creativity comes easier. Stress dissipates faster. And clarity arrives quicker.

Sound worthwhile to you?

If so, consider these ideas for mastering the art of vomiting:1. Give yourself permission. Boundaries are saviors. They reinforce our integrity, preserve our values and protect us from dangerous situations. But when it comes to creativity, every artist needs a space without circumference. A private container of safety where judgment can’t enter. And a structureless venue where ideas can run free without the scrutiny of readers, critics, editors – and, most of all, yourself.

That’s why vomiting is so essential to your creative practice: It’s the only place where you’re completely free. Nobody is going to see what you wrote anyway. You can be any version of yourself you want. That’s how vomiting works: It liberates you from the tendency to edit, which later pays off when it comes to the real work. And simply by risking honesty in private, it starts to become easier to live your truth in public.

But you have to give this time to yourself. You have to believe that you deserve this gift. Otherwise you’ll never steal the time to pull the trigger. Are you willing to get up twenty minutes earlier to create this space?

2. Patiently wait for the right water. When you draw a bath, it’s never hot right away. You have to let the cold water swirl into the drain for a few minutes first. Eventually, when hot stuff starts to pour out, you plug up the drain and ease yourself in. Until then, you have to release the water without committing to it. Otherwise you’ll fill up the tub with the wrong stuff.

Vomiting is exactly the same way. The point is to purge all the crap out of your system first thing in the morning: Yesterday’s fight with your mother. Last night’s bizarre dream. That annoying barking dog from next door. Just puke it all out onto the page. And keep doing that until the hot water shows up. Even if you feel like a negative, whineybag.

Because about maybe fifteen minutes later when the real meaning starts to manifest, you know it’s time to stop vomiting and start creating the real work. Without this necessary release, you’ll never dig deep enough beneath the surface of life’s bullshit to find the art that matters. Are you bathing in the wrong water?

3. Vomiting is the gateway to self. Writing isn’t just my occupation – it’s my religion. And here’s what I mean by that: The word “religion,” comes from the Latin religio, which means, “to link back.” The way I see it, your religion is the one thing in your life that every other thing in your life links back to.

For me, it’s writing. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t know what he thinks about something until he’s written about it. And that’s the next advantage of vomiting: Clarity. As Julia Cameron explains in The Artist’s Way, “Only through writing do you discover what you know. But writing also teaches you that you never write just what you know – you write what you learn as you’re writing.”

Ideas come to you and trigger other ideas. Thoughts crystallize and connect with others, and the combination produces a compound: An insight. You catch up on yourself. You find out what you like and don’t like. And you examine and metabolize the different elements your experience. What will vomiting teach you about you?

4. Watch for the blood. During a recent mentoring session, my client shared his biggest writing struggle: Coming up with topics to blog about. This is extremely common. More than he realized. And I told him that if he wanted to find new material on a consistent basis, he should try vomiting.

That’s where a lot of my best ideas come from. I’ll be puking onto the page one morning and unintentionally write something that stops me in my tracks. Wow. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Do I really feel that way?

Nine times out of ten, yes. I really feel that way. And what I’ll do is open a new document, extract and export that one idea – save it – and then finish puking. It doesn’t happen every morning, but it certainly occurs enough for me to know how to leverage it.

And that’s your challenge: To create a process for extracting those little drops of blood. Because if it scares you, it’s honest – and if it’s honest, it’s worth sharing. Are you listening to the unintentional music in your life?

5. Create a daily ritual for emotional release. Feelings weigh a ton. And if you never let them out, they’re going to find a home in your body. I made that mistake years ago when I got so stressed I had to be hospitalized. Three times. In six months. Yikes.

Fortunately, I took up vomiting. It gave me the perfect outlet to vent, bitch, complain, freak out and express every ounce of negativity running through my veins. Which was a challenge, because I’m such a positive person. But it all goes back to permission. And amazingly, once I would finish my three pages, I physically felt better. I got all the negativity out of my system. And my stomach cramps settled, my mental pressure released and my overall posture relaxed.

No wonder I never miss a day: My health depends on it.

Look, I don’t know what battles you’re currently fighting. But I do know that life can knock you on your ass sometimes. Next time you find yourself curled up in a ball on the floor, scoot over to the toilet and let her rip. Your body will thank you. If you keep these feelings bottled up, where will it lead?

In conclusion, I’d like to share a list of my favorite synonyms for vomit:

Barf mulch. Blow doughnuts. Bow to the yuke of earl. Chunderchunk. Fertilize the sidewalk. Impromptu protein party. Retching liquid vowels. Spray chum. Whistling carrots.

God. I’m twelve years old.

REMEMBER: Vomiting is the gateway to value.

If you want creativity to come easier, stress to dissipate faster and clarity to arrive quicker, learn to let it out.

When was the last time you vomited?

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

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

7 Things You Don’t Need More Of

Enough is enough.

We don’t need more of most things.

IN FACT: More has the power to work against you.

And if you’re not careful, the results could be disastrous for you, your business, your people, your brand and your life.

For example:1. The more you plan, the less you ship. People are obsessed with planning for three reasons: First, it preserves their sense of control. Second, it underwrites the illusion that they know what they’re doing. And third, it gives them a chance to make something perfect.

Here’s the reality: You’re rarely in control, you don’t need to know what you’re doing and finished is the new perfect. Planning is nothing but procrastination in disguise. A distraction in a miniskirt. Failure doesn’t come from poor planning – it comes from the timidity to proceed. What are you waiting for?

2. The more you script, the less you engage. I once had a client ask me if I would be giving my speech from a script or a teleprompter. I told her neither. She asked what I would be using instead, and I said my head. Apparently none of their speakers had ever done that before. But I insisted.

Three weeks later, I earned a standing ovation. Interesting. That’s the reality about human interaction: People engage when you communicate from a place of honesty, respect and in-the-moment awareness. When was the last time you went off script?

3. The more you bitch, the less you inspire. Complaining is not a leadership style. It’s the opposite of ownership and the enemy of execution. If you want to breathe life into people, you’ve got to infect them with something that matters.

For example, the vision of what they can contribute. For example, the mirror that reflects their brilliance right back to them. For example, the belief that they possess the resources to do something great. That’s inspiration. Sucking people into a vortex of negativity because you’re insecure about your own life situation isn’t. Do you complain about the wind, hope the wind will stop or adjust your sails?

4. The more you settle, the less you become. There are three kinds of people: Those who make you less than you are, those who keep you where you are and those who push you to what you might become. If your personal and professional lives are populated with anything but the later, you’re finished.

Settling is a silent epidemic. Surround yourself with people who challenge and inspire you, and delete the rest. You’ll have fewer friends, but they’ll be better ones. How many of your friends shouldn’t be your friends?

5. The more you fix, the less you help. Walt Whitman once said, “Not I, not anyone else, can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself.” Next time someone you love comes to you, remember: They don’t need advice. They don’t want suggestions. They don’t like answering questions. And they can’t stand when you try to solve their problems in two minutes or less.

Just give them a hug, say you love them and stop trying to explain the meaning of the universe. A little restraint goes a long way. Otherwise your desire to fix becomes a barrier to being helpful. Are you responding like a screwdriver or puppy dog?

6. The more you spam, the less you love. Flooding people’s lives with interruptions they didn’t ask for isn’t marketing – it’s insulting. Instead of bothering people into buying from you, learn lead with respect and ask for permission. You’ll earn the right to speak to people with a voice that’s anticipated, personal and relevant.

And the best part is, they’ll actually listen to you. But it all begins with your daily gift to the world, the accumulation of which builds a huge surplus goodwill. That’s not marketing – that’s love. How will you create a trail of breadcrumbs that leads people back to the paid work?

7. The more you wait, the less you matter. The only people who count are the ones who choose to. Mattering is the incidental consequence of the intentional commitment to fulfill your whole capacity for living. And it’s something that can start happening today.

All you need to do is decide. That you’re going to matter. That you’re going to make meaning. And that you’re going to take responsibility for doing something significant. Otherwise the curse of inconsequentiality will feel like an earthquake to the heart. Are you still waiting to matter?

REMEMBER: Enough is enough.

More isn’t always the answer.

What are you still convinced you need more of?

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!

A Young Artist’s Guide to Playing For Keeps, Pt. 14

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:1. Deliver the higher value. If your work puts names to things people already know in their hearts, you take them to a place they don’t want to leave. If your work traps a moment of life in its full beauty and shouts it from the rooftops, you enact a revival of spirit. And if your work gives people hope about what they can be, you force them to look at new horizons.

That’s art that matters. And if you can focus on making a real contribution and allowing your audience to decide how to repay you, it will be worth it in the end. On other hand, if your job sets a cap on how much you’re allowed to give, run. Because what you sell has to supplement the soul, not just hang on the wall. Does your work reach down inside and reward what it means to be human?

2. Honor the slog. Playing for keeps takes prodigious acts of courage. For example, sometimes it’s hard to get up and go face the world. But that’s a good thing. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be worth it. If it wasn’t hard, there would be nothing to push against. And if it wasn’t hard, there would be no way to stop the people who didn’t want it badly enough.

As Joseph Campbell writes in The Hero With a Thousand Faces:

“Some of us have to go through dark and devious ways before we can find the river of peace or the highroad to the soul’s destination.”

The point is: The anxiety of being an artist doesn’t go away. It may vary, but it never fully vanishes. And if you want to make out alive, you have to learn to love that tension. Greet it with a welcoming heart, listen to what it has to say and exploit it in the service of something real and true. How will you keep desire burning?

3. Throw pottery, not punches. As we all learned from The Little Mermaid, the seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake. Next time you hear about another artist who’s more successful and more famous than you, try not to get too pissed off.

As my grandfather reminds me:

“The meanest feeling of which any human being is capable is feeling bad at another’s success.”

Instead of making justifications about why other people don’t deserve success as much as you, use their accomplishments as glowing sources of inspiration. Build off their energy. Convert it to fuel. After all, they must be doing something right. Turn toward their triumphs with a hospitable heart and distribute your motive force accordingly. What excuses do you make for other people’s accomplishments?

4. Fortune favors the bold, but it frequents the consistent. Considering how hard, how long and how smart you work – I imagine it feels like you should be more successful by now. But you’re not. And you keep wondering, “How much longer will I have to pay my dues?”

Longer than you’d like. That’s the most frustrating reality of any artistic career path – it takes freaking forever. And sometimes you feel like you’re the only one who hears the music. But as my mentor once told me, “Art takes a long time to pay for itself, so you better believe in what you do. Because it may take a long time before it catches on.”

That’s why consistency – that is, showing up, every single day, even if you’re not in the mood – is so essential to playing for keeps. The big question is: How long are you willing work your ass off before the right people notice?

5. Go out into the world in strategic fashion. During a recent radio interview, actor and comedian Jay Mohr said it best: “Every role I audition for I play completely. There can’t be room for potential. I swing for the museum every time.”

Notice he didn’t say “outfield,” “fence” or “upper deck.” Museum. That’s one hell of a strategy. That’s one hell of a positive attitude. Mohr proves that when you respect everything life has to offer, when you present yourself as though you were a gift, it’s hard for people to ignore you.

Even if you strike out and fall on your face, at least the crowd heard the wind cry like a bitch when you swung with all your might. When you take your art to market, what strategy is guiding you?

6. Push the boundaries of your medium. Derek Sivers changed the record industry forever by breaking rules and ignoring the voices of dissent. As he wrote in Anything You Want, “You can’t live on somebody else’s expectations. You don’t have to please anybody but your customers and yourself.”

That’s what playing for keeps means: Maintaining a healthy respect for your own visions and opinions. That way, when people try to bash your opinion out of you, you can stick your fingers in your ears. Besides, you can’t argue with a ringing register. If the customers who like your work buy it, all the criticism in the world doesn’t matter. If you were taken away would people find a replacement or howl in protest?

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.

Have you committed with both feet yet?

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, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

11 Radical Slogans That Will Change Your Business

You’ve probably never heard of Gershon Legman.

He was the cultural critic who claimed to be the inventor of the famous phrase, “Make love, not war,” at a lecture given at Ohio University in the early sixties.

And you’ve probably never heard of Penelope Rosemont, either.

She was the radical activist who popularized Gershon’s phrase. Two years after his lecture, she printed thousands of buttons at the Solidarity Bookshop in Chicago, Illinois, and then distributed them at the Mother’s Day Peace March.

THE POINT IS: I’m insanely jealous.

I should have grown up in the sixties, not the eighties.

But since I didn’t have much choice in the matter, I’ve decided to reclaim my hippie roots and create a few radical slogans of my own. Straight from my monthly column at American Express Open Forum, here we go:1. Break rules, not hearts. When you break a rule for somebody, you create an act of flexibility in a moment of need. You demonstrate that at your company, every customer is the exception. And you prove that you’re willing to lose something on the first interaction to guarantee a lifetime of loyalty.

That’s what happened to me at a recent hotel in New York. Although I botched my reservation online, they still found a room for me. Even though their policy indicates otherwise. When was the last time you went off script?

2. Conduct symphonies, not transactions. Once on a weekend vacation, we stumbled into a charming art gallery. My girlfriend ended up buying this fabulous beaded necklace at a great price. Later, while she was in the bathroom, the owner secretly asked me for her address so she could send Brittany a personalized, hand written thank you note.

So I gave it to her. And by the time we returned home, the card had already arrived. That’s not service – that’s music. That’s not a piece of jewelry – that’s a story worth repeating. Do your customers evangelize when you’re gone?

3. Deliver inspiration, not packages. During my cousin’s wedding ceremony, there was a traditional blessing over the wine. But he and his bride also performed a new ritual: Spilling a drop of wine. According to Collin, this act recognizes those couples that are not given equal rights. Couples who aren’t as fortunate as he and Robin.

As such, it wasn’t just a drop of wine – it was a drop of hope. And those of us lucky to witness that would never think about marital equality the same way again. That’s when it occurred to me: Sometimes you have to make a mess to make a statement. I wonder whom you might inspire by getting your hands dirty. What if you did that on camera?

4. Earn respect, not money. Last month I designed a Brandtag Identity Collage for my client, Closeouts With Class. When I asked their chairman to share his thoughts on respect, here’s what he said:

“Respect buys loyalty. It makes your employees stay, makes your customers buy, makes your suppliers sell and makes your competitors drool.”

Respect is your baseline. And if you treat it as your intentional commitment, the incidental result (money) will eventually come. Are you helping people feel more respected every time they deal with you?

5. Give gifts, not burdens. If it doesn’t change the recipient, it’s not a gift. If you oblige people to reciprocate, it’s not a gift. And if you make people work hard to get it, it’s not a gift. What you give has to alter people. It has to fill their heart, not clutter their desk. Otherwise all you’ve done is add to the slush pile.

Meanwhile, they end up with an office full of useless nouns. When it would have been smarter to give the gift of social elevation, perhaps by giving them a front row seat to their own brilliance. That’s what my friend Derek does. When any of his employees win – in any way – he goes out of his way to blog about it. What gift are you famous for giving?

6. Inject soul, not machinery. Customers need you to bring humanity to the moment. They need you show up, even when it’s hard. Sadly, this is where smart companies blow it: They try to meet budget by outsourcing the human function. Instead of talking to human operators, customers get robots.

Instead of interacting with desk agents, customers get kiosks. And instead of getting an actual email from real person, customers get autoresponders. Meanwhile, all their customers want is to be treated like people – by people. Where are you sacrificing experiences for expenses?

7. Keep commitments, not secrets. I give more than fifty presentations around the globe each year. And while I speak on a variety of topics to a wide range of industries, I never fail to spend the final few minutes of each talk on the topic commitment. Specifically, the use of a commitment device. That’s a term I coined for something visual, tangible and palpable that reminds people that you’re not going away.

Personally, I use a nametag. And not just the sticker – the tattoo of that sticker on my body. Can’t get more committed than that. I wonder what object you will employ to show people you’re not going away. After all: When you commit with both feet, people don’t just pay attention – they pay dividends. What single act have you done every day for the past ten years?

8. Leave artifacts, not brochures. An artifact is worth saving and sharing. It’s a unique way to extend the influence of your work. And it’s the souvenir you leave with people that has the potential to change and inspire them.

At my favorite coffee spot, The Mud House, the owner makes latte art. When your cup of java is prepared, Casey carefully crafts a portrait, landscape or flower into the foam of your drink. It’s a combination of foam, chocolate and cinnamon. And she even does custom orders, should there be a particular image you’d prefer.

That’s an artifact: Done by hand, done with love. And your challenge is to figure out how to stop wasting paper and start leaving something behind that matters. Does your fancy brochure actually influence customer decisions?

9. Send love letters, not pitches. Love isn’t a weakness – love is the bell that’s always ringing. The question is: Is your brand brave enough to hear it? Simplifilm certainly is. They’re a video production firm run by my friend Chris Johnson. When he finds a dream client, he doesn’t assault them with an endless stream of marketing materials and sales literature.

Instead, he sends them an email that reads: “We love you guys a ton. We wrote you a love letter. I know it’s tacky, but we can’t help ourselves. And although we have more than plenty of business, we want you. We believe what you do is vitally important.” Once a prospect reads the love letter, it’s pretty damn hard to resist.

The point is: Your brand is measured by how you love. Lead with your heart. Will you tell customers you love them before somebody else does?

10. Write books, not emails. Many of the people in my mentoring program are fellow writers. And the most common complaint is, “I don’t have enough time to finish my book.” Interestingly, those same people have no problem spending two hours a day clearing their inbox. They have no time sitting around waiting for something meaningless to react to.

If only they knew that emailing was nothing but a digital fidget. If only they knew that emailing, while a nice way to preserve the illusion of productivity, rarely changes the world. Are you artfully creating constant distraction to prevent yourself from executing?

11. Build bridges, not barriers. If it were just you, it would be hard to survive. If it were just you, there would be nobody to lean against. And if it were just you, there would be nobody to keep you on your toes. If you want to build a bridge to your competitors, treat them like partners.

Take a hint from Progressive Insurance. Almost twenty years ago, they became the first auto insurance company to provide its rates alongside the rates of other companies. That way, consumers could easily compare and decide – even if they didn’t use Progressive. And today, they still lead the industry. Because they’re willing to share in almost every direction. How could you convert your competitors into a power source?

REMEMBER: There’s nothing wrong with being radical.

All that means is that you’re true to your roots.

And maybe willing to make a few buttons.

What’s your radical slogan?

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, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

NametagTV: Interactions That Matter

You’re not in business to sell a product.
You’re not in business to provide a service.

You’re in business to become known for a unique way of interacting with the world.

Interactions that get talked about.
Interactions that give the gift of social elevation.
Interactions that very well could change people forever.

THAT’S THE GOAL: To interact with people in a way that nobody else can touch.

Today we’re going to explore a collection of interactions to incorporate into your daily worklife:1. Interact with swift responsiveness. The medium is the message. The speed of the response is the response. And when you become known for returning calls, sending emails and replying to instant messages quicker than anyone else, people don’t just pay attention – they pay money.

Speed is a form of currency. Speed is an asset that appreciates with every interaction in which it is exalted. And even if you don’t have all the answers. Customers would rather you get back to them right away just to say you’re on the case, than having to wait three days just to discover you still haven’t solved it. When was the last time one of your customers said, “Wow, that was fast?”

2. Interact with nonstop gratitude. Gratitude is not a chore. It’s not a corporate initiative. And it’s not some annual act of forced kindness that makes you feel good about yourself. Gratitude is giving the gift of attention. Gratitude is existing in a perpetual posture of thankfulness. Gratitude is a telling people how much better your life is because of them.

Instead of reaching for another robotic, ready-made script about how important someone’s call is, say something that invites customers to store memory in the heart. How could you turn your words into a gift that erases the memory of every other gift customers have ever received?

3. Interact with true care. You don’t need another soulless bureaucratic tactic that bastardizes caring into a technique. What you need is to create a sincere individual strategy that shows people you care about their experience when they’re interacting with you.

That’s the beauty of care: It’s found in the basic. It’s when you bother to bother. It’s when you show up, even when you’re scared, and take five extra minutes to do something that people remember forever. The best part is, caring is like epoxy glue. It only takes a few drops to make it stick. Your just have to listen to find out where people need the glue applied. Do you have the courage to care?

4. Interact with unexpected honesty. Honestly is attractive because it always has been. It’s a classical value. And few virtues have been around longer. What’s changed is, technology makes dishonesty easier to spot, quicker to spread and harder to disguise.

Every interaction that leaves a customer skeptical about your truthfulness, makes your company suck a little bit more. If you want your interactions to matter, tell the truth when there’s no reason to be honest. Tell the truth when most people would say nothing. How are you branding your honesty?

5. Interact with compassionate intimacy. Instead of plotting how customers fit into your nice little marketing plan; focus on how your product fits into their lives. And not just the conversation about their lives, but their actual lives.

That’s the distinction: Intimacy isn’t starting with customer in mind – it’s start with the customer. Intimacy isn’t projecting onto the marketplace what you think they ought to want – it’s asking people to tell you what matters to them, shutting up and taking notes. What would happen if you treated customer intimacy as an entire business model, not just a marketing tool?

6. Interact with exquisite playfulness. Wearing a nametag everyday never fails to generate spontaneous moments of playfulness. The cool part is, these are people I’m meeting for the first time. What about your customers? Is their very first interaction with your brand friendly, fun and relaxed?

Or has your organization – in the name of professionalism – prohibited its employees from expressing any shred of playfulness?

The point is: Not every customer craves an unforgettable service experience. Sometimes they just want to laugh. To play. To forget about life for ten seconds. Maybe if you focused on that, they’d come back. How playful are you willing to be?

7. Interact with loving unfairness. Love isn’t supposed to be fair. If it was, it wouldn’t be love – it would be strategy. Silly rabbit. Fairness is for kids. That’s how love works: It finds the people who don’t deserve it – then offers itself to them freely and fully when they least expect it.

Next time customers reflexively apologize for minor inconveniences, forgive them. Next time readers offer negative criticism about your brand; tell them you respect their opinion of your work. Because if you only love people when it’s fair, you haven’t learned anything. When was the last time you loved a customer that drove you up the wall?

REMEMBER: The goal of your brand is become known for a unique way of interacting with the world.

Find your nametag.

Stick yourself out there today.

What engagement style are you know for?

For a list called, “66 Questions to Prevent Your Time from Managing You,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Sick of selling?
Tired of cold calling?
Bored with traditional prospecting approaches?

Buy Scott’s book and learn how to sell enable people to buy!

Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

How to Build Story Equity

People don’t just buy what you sell.

They buy the mythology you create around what you sell.
They buy the story you tell that taps into their existing worldview.
They buy the meaning they create for themselves in response to that story.

BUT: It’s not enough for people to simply understand your story.

They need to believe it.
They need to feel proud to be part of it.
They need to become eager to share it with others.

Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark.

Today we’re going to talk about building story equity into your brand:1. Make your brand deliberately mythological. Every brand needs a human story behind it. Something that gives your values a heartbeat. That’s what earns the right to have your story told. Unfortunately, a good story doesn’t happen by accident. You can’t sit back and wait for people to talk about you – you have to prime the pump. Otherwise you run the risk of being ignored.

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin discussed this very idea:

“To invent a mythic brand, be sure that there’s a story, not just a product or a pile of facts. The story should promise and deliver a heroic outcome. And there needs to be growth and mystery as well, so the users can fill in their own blanks.”

If you’re not creating a mythology around your brand, you’re destined to a future of mediocrity. Find the story, the mythology, that’s yours and yours alone, and shot it from the rooftops. And when the right people hear it, they’ll recognize it as their own and join forces with you. What is the creation myth behind your brand?

2. Give your story a trophy. It’s not enough just to clarify your story – you also have to humanize, personify and memorialize it. Like my friend Chris, the founder of Simplifilm. Their specialty is creating digital videos for client websites. The cool part is: Chris doesn’t market them as videos – but as trophies.

“I wanted my people to feel honored, their creations to be treasured and their stories to be cherished. So we started creating limited edition posters for each client after the job was complete. We now ship them as gifts of gratitude. And when they eventually hang in the client’s office, these social objects not only memorialize the work we’ve done together, but also stimulate conversation about their story.”

That’s how you build story equity: By creating an artifact that extends the influence of your brand into the marketplace. How are you making it easy for people to tell your story?

3. Manage your story like an asset. When you wear a nametag everyday for a decade – then somehow make a successful career out of that – people are going to tell your story. I’ve tried to stop it, but failed miserably. Whether I’m attending a conference with colleagues, practicing yoga with friends, interacting online with readers or having dinner with family, people are constantly telling me stories about telling my story. Almost daily.

For this, I am eternally grateful. It’s how I’ve turned my badge into a brand. Still, every time this happens, I always listen closely for patterns, lessons, assumptions and emotions. Your challenge is to do the same.

Any time people tell you they’re telling your story, don’t just thank them – probe them. Find out where the rock created the ripple so you can go back and throw more rocks. After all, the only thing worse that being talked about is not being talked about. Who’s talking about you?

4. Your brand is a story waiting to be told. In his acclaimed book, Story, screenwriter Robert McKee explains that story isn’t a flight from reality, but a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality. It’s our best effort to make sense of the anarchy of existence. It unearths a universally human experience and wraps itself inside a unique, culture-specific expression.

That’s where smart brands are missing the mark: Their stories are boring. When people hear your story, they should be convinced that it’s a truthful metaphor for life. And it should create a rich, emotional universe that helps people carry hope to the end.

Zappos founder Tony Hsieh is the perfect example. Initially, he sold pizza to his dorm mates at Harvard. Later, started a venture capital firm on a dare from a friend. And recently, Amazon acquired him for more than a billion dollars. And now he runs the company, writes books and gives speeches on delivering happiness. That’s one hell of a human story. That’s one hell of a metaphor. Is your story an anecdote for a party or a vehicle for a movement?

5. Start positive rumors about yourself. A few years ago I was on the bike at the gym. In between sets, the guy next to me noticed my nametag. After a few moments of awkward silence, he launched right into the rumor:

“You know, I once heard a story about some guy who wore a nametag everyday in college. I think it was a sociological experiment or something. But they made a documentary about him. And think he set a world record. Pretty crazy, huh?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him. The rumors were far too interesting to listen to. But that’s the whole point: Facts are misleading, but rumors are always revealing – even if they’re wrong. And if people aren’t currently spreading positive rumors about your brand, you might consider taking matters into your own hands. Certainly beats being ignored.

When all else fails, start gossiping about yourself. That way at least someone is talking about you. Are you a person worth spreading rumors about?

REMEMBER: Your brand tells a story whether you like it or not.

If you want to make your legend worth crossing the street for, if you want people to feel proud and eager to spread your myth, manage your story like an asset.

Because people don’t just buy what you sell – they buy what you tell.

What are your predictions for the future?

For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google 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

“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

What Rituals Are You Known For?

I’m obsessed with rituals.

Always have been.

And I attribute much of my ability to stay focused, grounded, sane, fueled, connected and on-purpose – both personally and professionally – to the rituals I practice on a regular basis.

That’s just me. I’m the kind of person who can commit myself to something that matters, as long as there’s a ritual involved.

HOWEVER: There’s a key difference between ritual and routine.

Routine is the action.
Ritual is engaging in a conscious practice of mindfulness before taking the action.

Routine is the execution of ideas.
Ritual is the ceremonial acknowledgment of the importance of your ideas.

Routine is the activity.
Ritual is the intentional, purposeful and meaningful experience you layer on top of the activity to make it more worthwhile.

As Edward de Bono once said, “Ritual is a way of affirming that you belong. It’s a definite act of defiance that most people are not prepared to make.”

ASK YOURSELF: What rituals are you known for?

If you don’t have an answer to that question yet, perhaps these thoughts will convince you to install a few new rituals into your life:1. Rituals dispel tediousness. By introducing a purposeful moment of mindfulness, you amplify meaning. You excite yourself about entering into a process. And discipline becomes a victory unto itself. After all, it’s not just about preparing yourself to do something, but feeling the experience the thing provides.

That’s how to create a sacred container around the action. It makes you feel more alive. And turns a mundane act into a memorable experience.

For example, every day when I sit down to write – even if I’m not especially in the mood – I honor the creative process. The ritual is a combination of mindfulness breathing and spiritual invocation, something I learned from Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds.

The cool part is, no matter how tedious, unspectacular or monotonous my daily writing routine is, I can always count on my ritual to enhance that experience. How will you prepare yourself to slog through what matters most?

2. Rituals preserve and release control. Rituals create an act of control in a moment of chaos. They build the spiritual foundation needed to relieve anxiety. And they provide a sense of structure, even when the rest of your world goes to hell – or is about to explode.

For example, before walking on stage to give a presentation, I always disappear from the room for about fifteen minutes. Not because I’m nervous, but because I need time and space to get into the zone. Here’s the ritual:

I go into the bathroom and practice a combination deep breathing, mediation, affirmation and visualization, while listening to a selected playlist of inspiring music.

It lowers my blood pressure, relaxes my pulse, oxygenates my blood, excites me about the upcoming performance and privately allows me to “get into character,” even though the role I’m playing is myself. Once that ritual is complete, I own the stage and the room is mine. How does ritual positively affect your control tendencies?

3. Rituals reinforce the why. The more you remind yourself of why you’re committed to something, the less likely you are to back out. The more you introduce yourself to the meaning of what’s happening, the less likely you are to lose motivation. And the more you infuse your process with a sense of deep purpose, the less likely you are to begrudgingly go about the activity.

As Joseph Campbell reminds us, “Ritual prevents people from wondering, ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’”

That’s why I take time each morning to revisit a few of my lists: Affirmations, goals, personal constitutions and the like. They fuel my why. They reinforce mattering. And they put my mind in touch with what I’m about to do. Your challenge is to craft a ritual that helps you dive deep into the motivation behind the path you’re taking. How will you focus your intentions?

4. Rituals build awareness. I’m not big on measuring. In fact, I think what can’t be measured, matters. However, there will always be certain things worth quantifying. For example, a ritual I began last year was to weigh myself on the same scale every Sunday morning – then to write down my weight on a yearly graph.

Not because I wanted to lose weight — although that did happen. It was more about controlling my portions, curbing my addictions, maintaining a healthier lifestyle, keeping myself accountable and confronting my bodily truth – and having quantifiable proof thereof.

Depending on my diet each week, this ritual can be exciting or depressing, surprising or consistent. But it’s always confrontational. And that’s why I love it: There’s no place to hide. Interestingly, after practicing this ritual for the last eighteen months, I’ve stayed in my target weight range, fit in my clothes better and even become more comfortable when I’m wearing no clothes at all. What measuring rituals do you practice?

5. Rituals are tools of communication. First, they communicate with yourself. That you’re worth giving this moment to. Second, they communicate with the divine. That you’re willing to honor the beauty of the present moment. Third, they communicate with other people. That they’re worth pausing for.

And fourth, you communicate with the world. That it’s worth slowing down and paying attention to. That’s what first attracted me to yoga: The practice of namaste, or, “the spirit in me honors the spirit in you.”

That’s exactly what you communicate when you ritualize your life: Honor, spirit and respect. And even if nobody notices but you, the accumulation of those daily rituals will slowly begin to unravel a deeper significance in your daily life. What do people think when they hear your life speak?

REMEMBER: Routines are nice, but rituals are necessary.

They turn tedium into meaning.
They turn duty into celebration.
They turn disconnected events into an ongoing story.

They preserve the sanctity of your being.

Life without ritual, isn’t.

What rituals are you known for?

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

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Ten Chances Worth Taking

The best part about playing Monopoly was drawing a chance card.

It was risky.
It was exciting.
It was the only way to beat my older brother.

MORE IMPORTANTLY: Chance Cards taught kids that life without risk, isn’t.

What chances are you avoiding?

Consider this list of ten chances worth taking: 1. Every interaction is another chance to give. Charisma is irrelevant when people walk away from you feeling more in love with themselves. That’s the greatest gift you can give people: To be a mirror. To give them a front row seat to their own brilliance.

Every time I interact with someone, I go out of my way to write down at least one thing they’ve said into my pocket jotter. And always right in front of them, too. It makes them feel heard, quotable and smart. What gifts are known for giving?

2. Every mistake is another chance to evolve. Winning is boring because you never learn as much. Personally, I’d rather screw up. It builds character and makes for a much better story. Besides, you can’t win if you refuse to make failure a regular part of your experience.

People who tell you failure isn’t an option need to have their vision checked. The goal is to fail and fail and fail some more, learn and learn and learn some more, and then win and win and win some more. Are you ready to endure the failure that growth requires?

3. Every sentence is another chance to bleed. As a writer, my job is to put my entire world into everything I write. That way, every sentence is a piece of my truth. Every sentence has a story behind it. Every sentence provides experiential value at the point of consumption. Every sentence deliberately sets out to make the reader blink.

And, every sentence holds up a mirror that demands people look at themselves. In my experience, when you approach writing in that way, your material connects with readers in a personal, relevant and emotional way. How bloody is your art?

4. Every decision is another chance to matter. When Alfred Nobel’s brother died, several newspapers accidentally published his obituary instead. He was remembered as, “The merchant of death who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.”

Devastated, Nobel spent the next seven years making sure he left a legacy that mattered. And then, one year before his death, he created the most prestigious award in human history. Looks like he made the right decision. That’s the whole thing about mattering: The people who do so are the ones who choose so. Who is thanking you for making that choice?

5. Every anxiety is another chance to inhale. Yoga has doubled my pain tolerance. For serious. Thanks to my practice, when I experience moments of discomfort, waves of anxiety, even bonafide bouts of physical agony, I’ve trained myself to breathe through it.

Which doesn’t make the pain go away, it just changes your relationship to the experience of it. Turns out, when you greet the pain with a welcoming and thankful heart, you can use its momentum against itself to convert it into a meditation. When was the last time you gave thanks for your discomfort?

6. Every customer is another chance to research. Even if the customer is unprofitable. Even if the customer is a pain in the ass. Even if the customer is someone you hope takes a long walk off a short pier. Every one of them is a walking case study. Every one of them has the potential to make you smarter.

Listen to them. Loudly. Rejection is cheaper than silence. And don’t forget to take notes, too. Because these people will happily tell you what to sell to them – and how to sell it. Probably not through words, but they’ll still tell you. Whose feedback are you listening to?

7. Every question is another chance to catapult. My presentations overflow with disturbing questions. Not because I want people to answer them, but because I want to flip a mental switch inside their heads.

That’s the mark of a good question: Once you hear it, you’re changed forever. Once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your head. And once you hear it, you begin to answer it with your life.

Next time you attend another pointless department meeting, see if you can ask the most disturbing question of the day. Because it only takes one moment of stunned silence to change everything. What questions are you known for?

8. Every accident is another chance to leverage. Leverage is the bridge between occurrence and opportunity. And since everything unfolds regardless of how we feel, it all depends on how you approach what happens to you.

First, get good at recognizing when life is giving you a gift. Listen to your unintentional music. That way, you can convert accidents into advantages. Next, get good and calmly coping with inconvenience. Instead of fighting or flighting – try friending. It’s much easier to respond to the crap the world hurls at you.

And last, view accidents as adventures and not ordeals. Try making a list of every good thing that will come from change. Do you welcome every opportunity to build resilience?

9. Every conversation is another chance to respect. Being an asshole is not a scalable business model. If you want your people to gasp with delight, help them feel more respected every time they deal with you. Learn to see the world through their eyes. And participate in their lives – not just the conversation about their lives.

I’m reminded of my mentors, Arthur and Bill. They’re more than twice my age – and probably thrice my intelligence – yet both of them ask for my advice almost every time we talk. Point is: Respect is the engine of communication. And we can always sense when it starts sputtering. Who have you disrespected this week?

10. Every audience is another chance to shine. Even if it’s only one person – that’s still an audience. We live in an experience economy. And if you’re not willing to invest a little effort in the art of showmanship, customers will take their business elsewhere. To become a hard act to follow, consider these ideas:

First, ask your audiences to take part in the communication of an idea. Instead of expecting passive recipients, demand an active participant. Second, take a moment to make a memory. Burn the service moment into people’s brains. Third, create a verbal incident. Add something to their lives and rewards them for spending time with it. What’s your sharing device?

REMEMBER: Life without risk, isn’t.

Draw a chance card.

It’s the only way to win.

Especially if you’re playing against my older brother.

What are you taking chances on?

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, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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