4 Keys To Success That Small Business Owners Often Forget—Even The Pros

Small businesspeople are smart.

They’re masters of marketing, sales, leadership, operations and customer service.

But occasionally they forget basic elements that make them successful. And to ignore them is to ignore the potential of new business.

Straight from my monthly column at American Express Open Forum, make sure you don’t forget these four keys:

1. Simplicity is eloquence. It happens all the time. Nametag companies send me their fancy, cluttered badges to wear instead of my own. No thanks. Not that I don’t appreciate the gesture. In fact, I save all the nametags people send me. But my brand is a friend of simplicity. Is yours? Or, do you try to be too fancy, make things bigger than they need to be and create riddles that take too long for impatient customers to solve? Simple means instantly repeatable. Simple means easy enough for a kindergartner to understand. Simple means explainable in less than ten seconds with less than ten words. Simple means eliminating the extraneous, letting the necessary speak and disengaging the inessential.

Unfortunately, simple is hard. It requires more energy, more brainpower and more courage that complexity. But simplicity, pursued relentlessly, can change the world. Is your brand a friend of it?

2. Friendly costs nothing. My business card is a nametag. But it doesn’t say Scott – it says Scott’s Friend. I don’t give people a choice. Everybody my friend, whether they like it or not. Amigo del Mundo. That’s how I was raised. I want to be friends with everyone, all the time, everywhere. And I want to love everybody I meet forever and then some.

Over the years, these friend cards have created a lot of special moments. I’ll never forget the incident on the tarmac. I was waiting to board my plane when I felt someone’s eyes upon me. Glancing up at the door, I noticed the groundsman holding up his laminated security badge with one of my business cards facing outward. “Hey look everybody – I’m Scott’s Friend!” he laughed. “Wait a minute. Where did you get that? Have we met before?” “No, but you flew through here last week. And I think the zipper on your bag must have broke, because we found three hundred of your cards scattered across the runway!”

Great. Not only am I a litterbug, but now my contact information is all over the trash. “Oh, don’t worry about it Scott. Matter of fact, I made my entire staff on the runway wear your cards in their security badge holders.” “Really? Why?” “Well, our airport just got a new general manager. His name is Scott, and he doesn’t have any friends.” It’s not who you love – it’s whose life is better because you love them. How many friends did you make last week?

3. The problem with the Internet. When I went to my ten-year high school reunion, I had this romantic, cinematic vision that I’d walk in the door, tell everybody the story about how I made a career out of wearing nametag and watch as they listened in disbelief. One of those how-do-you-like-me-now moments. But it doesn’t work that way. Not anymore.

Instead of asking what I’ve been up to since graduation, former classmates I hadn’t seen in a decade came up to me – didn’t even say hello – poked my chest and asked to see my nametag tattoo. I’m fine, how are you? That’s the downside of the Internet: We never have to wonder about anything anymore. No finding things out on accident. No learning things through trial and error. No imagining things by sitting around and pondering. The Internet just gives you a blank box and puts the entire world behind it. And personally, I think that’s too easy.

The secret is, we can never bury our sense of wonder. It’s what makes us human, helps us feel alive and enables us to connect with each other. Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge. I say imagination is more important than anything. What does your brand say?

4. Decide what your legend is. Whether I’m attending a conference with colleagues, practicing yoga with friends, interacting online with readers or having dinner with family, people constantly tell me stories about telling my story. A few years ago I was on the bike at the gym. The guy next to me noticed my nametag. And 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. And I didn’t want to ruin the image he had about the story. So I just kept asking questions. “Did you ever meet him?” “What ever happened to that guy?” “Do you think he went crazy or something? I wonder if he knew I knew.

The point is, your brand tells a story whether you like it or not. And while facts are misleading, rumors are always revealing – even if they’re wrong. 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, you have to manage your story like an asset. Because people don’t just buy what you sell – they buy what you tell. Are you spreading positive rumors about yourself?

REMEMBER: Never underestimate the power of continual application of the fundamentals.

Forget the rudiments and forego the revenue.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you overlooking?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Give Your Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

What My Nametag Taught Me About Diversity

Every culture responds to my nametag in its own unique way.

Latin Americans are engaging.
When I walk in their stores, they smile and say, “Buenos dias, Escott!”

Indians are proper.
When I shake their hands, they always call me, “Mr. Scott.”

Australians are affirmative and humorous.
When I tell them I wear a nametag everyday, they nod and say, “Good on ya mate! I reckon that’s helpful when you’ve had a few pints.”

Canadians are non-confrontational and inclusive.
When I meet them they say, “Nice name tag. Eh?”

Asians are enthusiastic.
When I walk into a sushi bar, the chefs bow and say, “Scotto!”

Jamaicans are hospitable.
When I walk through the airport, they yell, “Scott my brother! Ya mon! Anything you need, no problem.”Brits are dry and sarcastic.
When they see my nametag, they ask, “I take it your name is Scott?”

French people are snobby.
When I walk into their store, they look at me like I’m crazy and said, “Scott.”

Russians are playful.
When I meet them at conferences, they joke, “You have memory problem?”

Hasidics are inquisitive.
When I interact with them, they ask me a million questions, “Why do you wear the nametag on left side? What about color? Where do you buy them? You get good deal?”

Middle Easterners are accommodating.
When I shop with them, they say, “Scott my friend, come inside. I like you. You have nice face. I give you good price.”

What’s amazing to me is, in eleven years, the people who responded most negatively to my nametag were Americans. All the hatemail, insults, negative feedback and death threats came from my own people.

So much for winning the war at home.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do people from different cultures respond to you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “43 Reasons to Deliver Your Content with Lists,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

NametagTV: Responses That Matter

Not everyone is looking for an answer.

When people turn to you, sometimes all they want is a response.

Here’s the difference:

When you give answers, you fix.
When you give answers, you offer advice.
When you give answers, you try to be right.
When you give answers, you add unnecessary value.
When you give answers, you dominate the discussion.
When you give answers, you impose your own direction.
When you give answers, you rob people of the learning experience.

IN SHORT: You speak from a place of information.

But.

When you offer responses, you dance in the moment.
When you offer responses, you acknowledge their truth.
When you offer responses, you leave people feeling heard.
When you offer responses, you practice emotional restraint.
When you offer responses, you let people learn things on their own.
When you offer responses, you reflect people’s immediate experience.
When you offer responses, you get out of the way and give people space to process.

IN SHORT: You speak from a place of affirmation.

Here are a few ways to respond – not answer – someone who turns to you:1. Respond with reflection. I once dated a woman who was undergoing a career transition. One afternoon while complaining about her idiot boss, I defaulted to coach mode and starting dispensing answers. Huge mistake. She interrupted and exclaimed, “I don’t need you to help me – I need you to bitch with me.”

So I did. We had a bitchfest. And admittedly, it was kind of fun. Almost like a game of improv. Point being, even if complaining isn’t your preferred method for dealing with problems, if it’s the response people need most, you have to honor that request. Otherwise your desire to fix, be right and look smart becomes a barrier to being helpful. Are you a human mirror?

2. Respond with nothing. Don’t turn from silence – it’s the gateway through which life’s most profound insights enter. Next time someone comes to you, be careful not to talk just for the sake of talking. Sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing at all. Sometimes the best response is to hold someone’s hand, look at her with compassionate eyes and remind her that she’s not alone.

In that moment, silence serves as a permission slip. It creates the space people need to slow down, process their thoughts and examine the nuances of the story they’re telling. Are you willing to accept silence as a normal, healthy part of your conversations?

3. Respond with wow. Not saying the wrong thing at the wrong time is equally as important as saying the right thing at the right time. Especially in highly emotional situations, the last thing you want is to make the other person think, “You’re not helping.”

Instead of dispensing bumper sticker platitudes, rote responses, disrespectful minimizers, empty promises or false empathy, just say, “Wow.” It’s the most versatile word in the English language. It acknowledges people’s emotions. And it buys you time to think of what to say next. Are you short-circuiting people’s emotional realities?

4. Respond with questions. Some questions aren’t questions – they’re matches. And often times, that’s what people really need: Someone to infect them with just enough fuel to uncover their own answers. Someone to pump up the volume of the voice they most want to be quiet. And someone to help them connect the dots, see beyond what is, and feel a greater sense of self-achievement.

Just be sure not to ask too many questions. Otherwise you’ll override people’s mental motherboards and smoke will start coming out of their heads. Next time someone turns to you, don’t overlook the value of asking one disturbing question – and shutting up. Are you a question mark?

5. Respond with paper. Taking notes respects people’s thoughts. It shows them their words have weight. And it honors the profound human longing to be seen and feel heard. What’s more, it’s the most expressive, honest and organized way to respond to someone without dispensing advice. Especially if you physically hand someone your notes after a few minutes of listening.

Let them see their own words reflected back to them. It’s an affirmation, confirmation and validation of their personal truth. Because paper doesn’t lie. Plus, now you have a record of the conversation just in case a person does. What did you write today?

REMEMBER: Just because you’re a good listener doesn’t you leave people heard.

Next time someone turns to you, try offering a response.

Because not everyone wants an answer.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Can you practice enough emotional restraint to respond instead of answer?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “7 Ways to Out Experience the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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.

Download a Copy of “The Nametag Principle” For Free, In Its Entirety, No Strings, Right Now!

Thanks to my friends at esbjournal, you can now download my latest daily devotional, “The Nametag Principle”, in its entirety, for free, no strings attached, right now.

Yes, you can also buy the book on Amazon.

But I just figured, what the hell. Why not give it away? The more you give away for free, the wealthier you will be.

Markets reward generosity.

Enjoy the devotional.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Will you take a moment to make a memory?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “52 Random Insights to Grow Your Business,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Help Scott Ginsberg Write “The Nametag Manifesto” On ChangeThis.com

After 4000+ days, I am convinced the societal implications of everybody wearing nametags could change our world forever.

I’ve written my official manifesto, and to publish it, I need your vote.

It takes ten seconds. Please help!

Here’s the synopsis:

Everyone should wear nametags. Every day. Everywhere. After eleven years of constant experimentation, research and exploration, Scott Ginsberg, who has worn a nametag for 4,000 consecutive days, believes that the societal implications of nametags will change everything:

Higher intimacy. Greater social belonging. No more human commoditization. No more social conflict. No more untruthfulness. Lower threat level. Higher social captial. The end of incivility.

The end of cultural barriers. The end of disconnectedness. Mass generosity. Deeper mindfulness. Deeper humility. Less formality. Less hierarchy. Less insecurity. Less discrimination. And of course, no more anonymity.

Vote now!.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What would happen if we all wore nametags?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “14 Things You Don’t Have to Do Anymore,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Bridge Between Opportunity and Profitability

Wearing a nametag every day isn’t much of an accomplishment.

Making a successful career out of it, is.

That’s leverage.

Killing two stones with one bird.

And it all pivots on one question:

Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?

That’s not just a question, that’s a catapult. And if you’re willing to adopt leverage as a way of thinking, as a way of living – and not just another downloadable skill – you’ll be amazed at the change you can create.

Leverage is the bridge between opportunity and profitability.

Cross it daily.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What did you leverage this week?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “23 Ways to Make Your Fans Super Happy,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How Do You Practice Being Vulnerable?

Wearing a nametag doesn’t just encourage people to be friendly.

It also invites people to stare at me, make fun of me, point at me, spatially violate me, yell at me, curse at me, share overly personal information with me, attempt to sell drugs to me, start fights with me, kiss me in the middle of a crowded bar, and on a few occasions, stalk me.

No wonder nobody else wants to wear one everyday.

Still, it’s great practice being vulnerable.

Allowing yourself to be seen as you truly are.
Allowing yourself to be affected by the world around you. And in my experience, the more vulnerable you are, the more open you are. The more open you are, the less you have to hide. The less you have to hide, the more relaxed you become. And the more relaxed you become, the more effectively you can communicate with others.

Yes, you’re risking your truth, risking standing out and risking being rejected.
Yes, vulnerability requires confidence in yourself and implies security in yourself.

But.

But nothing.

Stick yourself out there.

It’s worth it.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How vulnerable are you willing to be?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “154 More Pieces of Contrarian Wisdom,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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