Putting ourselves on a need to know basis

Governments have a helpful phrase called need to know. 

It describes the restriction of data which is considered very sensitive. Employees are only given access to information that is necessary for them to conduct their official duties. 

What’s interesting is, we can invert this concept and apply it inwardly. We can put ourselves on a need to know basis, only taking on what really matters and allowing the rest to fall away. 

Just imagine, instead of wasting ninety percent of our invaluable brainpower bemoaning gas prices, falling down the social media rabbit hole, speculating about how bad allergy season is going to be, complaining about tax increases, meddling over celebrity gossip and examining the sordid details of the latest political tragedy, we can confidently and calmly announce to ourselves and the world:



I don’t need to know that. This information is not necessary for me to conduct my official duties. 

Sierra conducted some fascinating research on user experience best practices, netting the following insight:

Unnecessary knowledge acquisition slows our progress, drains our scarce time and cognitive resources. 

Why waste energy building memories of spam? It’s time to put ourselves on a need to know basis. To become highly adroit at recognizing misplaced cognitive energy. 

Because in a world where the human brain is loaded daily with over thirty gigabytes of information each day, there is no reason to psyche ourselves out and become more overwhelmed than we already are. 



LET ME ASK YA THIS…

Will you definitely use this information for something immediate and important?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

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Dumb ass kids, we think we had the world by the balls

My pastor friend has a fascinating exercise in his sermon about openness to change. 

He asks the members of the congregation to remember a time in their lives when they said they would never do something, and then to spend the next three minutes telling someone the story about when they did it. 

It gets a lovely response every time. People laugh and marvel and shake their heads in disbelief. 

It’s a holy reminder that as we grow older, we all hang our hearts on such narrow pegs. Openness gets conditioned out of us like silt from gravel. And we get stuck in these limited ways of looking at and experiencing the world. 

But if we take a moment to look each other in the eye and remind each other just how just how wrong we used to be, just how human we really are, we realize that we are all engaged in this endless process of transformation and evolution over time. 

We all are capable of changing more than we are willing to admit. But our perfectionism makes us forget that. Our ego tries to convince us that the tornado of change is not coming to us swiftly and seemingly without mercy. 

Ha, good one. We should try that joke at open mic night. 

What is something you said you would never do? And how did it feel when you eventually did it? 

It’s amazing how we underestimate our willingness, ability and motivation to change. 

And so, let us not be married to who we are. Let us be open to changing our course. 

And let us cooperate with each page of our history as it unfolds. 



LET ME ASK YA THIS…

What pleasure are you getting out of not changing?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


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How much does a head of lettuce cost?

Einstein didn’t know his own phone number. 



He said that he never felt compelled to memorize it, as he didn’t plan on calling himself. 



This was not a punchline, it was simply smart energy management. That phone number was just one of many dumb little things that could have taken up more of his psychic space than it should have. 



But it didn’t. Because he respected his mind enough to know that almost everything was a distraction. 



The key, then, is putting in place a daily habit structure to reduce our cognitive load, eliminate decision fatigue and keep our mind clear enough to respond freely, unburdened with distractions and split focus. 



As most things, it begins with intention and attention. 



Ferriss offered a helpful filter in his bestselling book about modern productivity: 



Will we definitely use this information for something immediate and important? 



Asking ourselves this question teaches us to approach life from a just in time mindset, not a just in case one. It puts our brains in the most peaceful and optimal state to make meaning in the world and enjoy the journey along the way. 



It also reminds me something a standup comedian once taught me:



If you don’t know how much a head of lettuce costs, you’re a winner. 



It’s the same example as the phone number. Just another one of the many dumb things we don’t need to know. 



Look, life is stressful enough. Maybe it’s time to give our brains a break. 



In a world where every two days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until the turn of the millennium, perhaps we should put ourselves on a need to know basis. 


LET ME ASK YA THIS…

What daily habits help you reduce the speed at which your brain races?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


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Join our community of innovators, artists and entrepreneurs

All instruments of excess are distractions

There is an inverse relationship between pain and preoccupation. 

The more we hurt, the more we will compulsively pursue distractions. 

And not minor manual distractions like eating, picking our noses, playing with our phones and biting our nails. 

But real emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial distractions that have significant consequences. 

The scary part is, when trapped in the briars of our obsessions and addictions, we don’t realize just how far down the rabbit hole we have fallen. 

My unproductive obsessions have often revolved around shopping. Embarking on some compulsive campaign to marginally improve the quality of my life through a series of consumer purchases. 

It works wonders for avoiding feelings. After all, why confront your loneliness and sadness when you can spend five days on a fruitless internet search for the perfect moisture wicking undershirt? Have you ever felt stretch bamboo viscose on your skin before? Fifty dollars a piece is a steal! 

From the outside looking in, this is clearly not a valuable endeavor worth pursuing. It does nothing to further my goals and dreams. It’s just constant obsession in the service of paranoia. 

The question, then, is how do we create a filter to navigate the balance between pain and preoccupation? 

Maisel’s transformative book on the art and science of brainstorming posed an interesting question that was a great help to me. We ask ourselves, or invite someone we love to ask us:

Is this a forward looking endeavor that points to the future and give us energy and power, or is it an unproductive obsession that leaves us feeling incompetent and exhausted? 

In short, do we have purpose, or just a distraction? 

And if the answer is the latter, that is okay. As long as we name it, tame it a reframe it, we can minimize the damage and address our underlying pain. 

Remember, the ceaseless inflow of distractions that bid for our time, attention, and emotional involvement are far greater than texting and nail biting. 

The call is almost always coming from inside the house.



LET ME ASK YA THIS…

Have you learned how to extinguish the fire of emotional distraction? 

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


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Intercept thoughts at the gate with surrender

Shakespeare told us that there is nothing either good or bad, but only our thinking that makes it so. 

What a profound relief to know this. 

His objectification of the human experience is an ideal tool to help us practice loving acceptance. Because once we realize that there are no bad thoughts and no bad feelings, only healthy and unhealthy ways of expressing them, then we can finally start to see ourselves with kinder eyes. 

And so, when the intrusive soldiers begin their march on our minds, instead of letting ourselves become totally consumed with them until they raise our pulse and blood pressure, our invitation is to intercept them at the gate with surrender. 

Here is a cognitive behavioral process for doing that. 

First, we ask ourselves a centering question: 

Will we judge ourselves harshly for these crazy thoughts, or will we allow ourselves to be human? 

This is critical for entering the frame with as much surrender as possible. Assuming that our answer is the latter, we move on. 

Next, we choose not to banish those thoughts. 

Instead of wasting any time and energy trying to push them out of our minds, we allow them to be. Trusting that our thoughts are not the center of the universe, they will not last forever, they’re probably not even true, and our identity is not at the mercy of them. 

Third, we intentionally select the pathways where our thoughts run. 

Think of it as engaging our mental railroad switch, gracefully enabling our intellectual trains to be guided from one track to another. 

Writing, for example, is a simple and cathartic tool for imposing order on these unruly thoughts inside our heads. It helps tame and reframe those thoughts in a safe container. Especially if we throw away, delete or burn that piece of writing once we’re done. There was actually a university study whose subjects were less influenced by offending thoughts than those who didn’t literally discard it. 

To summarize, no bad feelings, only healthy ways of expressing them. 

And so, may we be kind and compassionate towards ourselves, may we forgive reality for being what it is, and may we guide our runaway trains of thought to more optimal destinations. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS…

Will you judge yourself harshly for your thoughts today, or do you allow yourself to be human?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


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Just another one of the freaks

Going to college in the midwestern, a guy who wore a nametag every day was about the most deviant and bizarre and conspicuous person walking the streets. 

People viewed my little sticker as a social faux pas at best, and a crime against humanity at worst. 

Which is not a judgment against them. Just example of what happens when you unleash your weirdness in the wrong place. 

Because when I relocated to the most populous, competitive, expensive and uninhibited city in the nation, suddenly my idea wasn’t so crazy anymore. 

I was just another one of the freaks. 

Think about it. At any given moment, some guy wearing a nametag is like, the seventeenth strangest thing you’ve seen that day. Considering there is also guy dressed as a storm trooper ordering coffee, an eighty year old street performer doing show tunes with his dancing mohawked chicken, some dude riding a unicycle while walking his three legged dog, a shirtless personal trainer perfectly executing a complete upper body workout on a single subway bar, and a homeless man peeing in a telephone booth, it’s safe to say that wearing a nametag is a benign act. 

Being just another one of the freaks is simply a matter of perspective. 

The point is, regardless of where we live and what our thing is, we all need people who think our crazy ideas aren’t so crazy. Or at the very least, people who are as crazy or crazier than we are, if only to make us feel normal by comparison. 

Godin said it best in his book about the positive side of weirdness:

The weird are now more important than the many, because the weird are the many. But we are at our best when we’re weird, and when we’re enabling others to become weird as well. Those brave enough to seek weird will thrive. 

Remember, geography is not destiny. Maybe the circus secretly wants to run away with you. 



LET ME ASK YA THIS…

Are you unleashing your weirdness in the wrong place? 

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


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Join our community of innovators, artists and entrepreneurs


The sharp terror of a lost confidence in ourselves

Each of us is subjected to the nonstop jabbering of other people’s unsolicited opinions, advice and feedback. 

We can’t avoid it any more than we can avoid the law of gravity. 

But unless we are properly boundaried, we will quickly become flustered, flattened, enraged. The opinions of others will erode our belief in our inherent worth and activate the sharp terror of a lost confidence in ourselves. 

It’s bad times. 

One way to stop putting ourselves at the mercy of this criticism is by employing a feedback filter. It’s a binary grounding question we ask ourselves to recalibrate and put things in perspective. Here are two examples that have been helpful for me. 

Is this mine, or is this theirs? 

Is this a pattern, or an isolated event? 

Because if somebody’s opinion, solicited or not, comes out of left field and doesn’t track for us in the slightest, then it’s most likely the latter on both accounts. It’s more of a projection than a perception. More of a misfired accusation than a meaningful appraisal. 

Which is fine. We let people be in love with their opinions, but we use our filter to keep from getting get entangled in their emotions. 

Chinese philosophers wrote about this distinction a few thousand years ago, saying that the source of our strength lies not in ourselves but in our relation to other people, and if our emotional center of gravity depends on external opinion, we are inevitably tossed to and fro between joy and sorrow. 

Remember, each of us chooses how much weight we grant people’s opinions. 

Let us not abandon our path simply because others have a problem with it. 


LET ME ASK YA THIS…

What binary filter helps you differentiate between constructive help and the feedback pinball machine?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


Tune in and subscribe for a little execution in public.

Join our community of innovators, artists and entrepreneurs


Our first duty is to ourselves

While eavesdropping on a conversation between two friends on the subway, one woman made a comment that baffled and bothered me. 

She was describing the relationship with her spiritual guru, sheepishly admitting the following:

You surrender your life to this person. They make a lot of big decisions for you. And it’s so easy to give them too much power in your life. 

Sounds more like manipulation than leadership. 

However, there is a porous boundary between the two. 

Because on one hand, masters and mentors have valuable experience to draw from, information and data that we don’t have, and insight and perspective that might be helpful. We humble ourselves at their feet. 

On the other hand, recklessly believing that any one person holds sole authority over the decisions we make is dangerous. Our first duty is always to ourselves. 

Like most things in this world, it all goes back to power dynamics. Especially when it comes to mentors and masters. We get dragged along in a mesmerizing current, swept inexorably toward a decision that could very well destroy us, but we fail to realize it because we are under a spell. 

Maybe because we made a significant emotional or financial investment. 

Maybe because we worship the ground someone walks upon and don’t want to disappoint them. 

Maybe because we have not learned to trust ourselves yet and are temporarily outsourcing our faith. 

The list goes on like a blind man circling the earth. There are as many motivations for giving away our power as there are people to give it to. 

What matters at the end of the day is, there is always a way to maintain our power in a situation. It requires intention, attention, setting boundaries, and carries the risk of upsetting, disappointing and even alienating people. 

Which sounds like lot of work, but nobody said that our duty to ourselves would be easy. 


LET ME ASK YA THIS…

Are you more concerned with making the right decisions or making decisions right? 

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


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Self Compassion — Nametag Scott’s Workshop @ Metric Collective

If we treated others like we treated ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends, probably get fired and maybe even go to jail.

What’s your favorite way to beat yourself up?

If you’re like me, you can often be too hard on yourself.

I’ve been working on the skill of self compassion for many years. This is a workshop I recently conducted on the last day of my thirties.

It’s compendium of daily meditations with insights, practices, habits and lessons I’ve learned. There’s also a book that goes along with it, and if you want a free pdf copy, send an email to scott@hellomynameisscott.com.

Hope it’s helpful for you. 

And if not, don’t be so hard on yourself.






LET ME ASK YA THIS…

What’s your favorite way to beat yourself up?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


Tune in and subscribe for a little execution in public.

Join our community of innovators, artists and entrepreneurs

I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m right, you’re evil.

Our apparent belief in the power of honest dialogue is deeply delusional. 

Our leaders have built this enduring faith that once we spark a substantive, mature and meaningful discourse across the nation, one that creates an open forum where people can engage in introspection and thoughtful discussion, then we can expect all of our grievances to be righted instantly. 

Excuse me, but when was the last time that strategy worked? When was the last time starting a national conversation not only raised awareness of systemic problems within our society, but also paved the way for real concrete change? 

Because nowadays, these debates quickly spiral out of control and ultimately lead to nothing of substance beyond internet trolling, media sensationalism and mob tribalism. 

I’m right, you’re wrong? More like, I’m right, you’re evil. 

Morris, the award winning journalist and critic, wrote a provocative editorial about how our calls for national conversation are futile:



Anytime things get fractious and tragic, we inevitably hear calls for a national conversation. But the term has become the sad equivalent of the jolly drinking axiom, it’s always national conversation time somewhere. Whenever the mood around an issue ought to change, somebody will say that we need to talk about it. That we should be sitting around and figuring things out. Having real, substantive, difficult exchanges about our personal biases, about our bad policies that reach far and go deep. But we have been nationally conversing for so long, that it’s hard to know what we’re even saying. 

What we need, he urges, is empathy. Which is not a realization we come to by having a conversation with the nation, but a conclusion we reach first in conversation with ourselves. National conversations won’t cut it, only personal commitments will. That’s the real work. 

Just like slapping a label on someone is not the same as helping them, repeatedly talking about a problem is not the same as progress and change. 

If things are not the way we want them to be, it’s not because we haven’t marched enough. 

And it’s not because we failed to add yet another national conversation to our mounting agenda. 

It’s because we have become too locked into the positions we already have. 

It’s because we now refuse to admit when we are wrong. 

It’s because we lack the humility to outgrow some of our beliefs. 

Terminal certainty is a public health crisis, and it finally needs to be treated. 


LET ME ASK YA THIS…

What does it feel like when you change your mind?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

www.nametagscott.com

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!


Tune in and subscribe for a little execution in public.

Join our community of innovators, artists and entrepreneurs


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