6 Ways to Put Customers, Coworkers and Employees Ease

Calm is approachable.

So, if you want to become more approachable to others, start by being calmer yourself.

See, when you’re at ease with yourself, other people will feel the same. And as a result, they will feel more comfortable in your presence, which will make them more comfortable opening up.

THINK ABOUT IT: Do you really want to approach (or be approached by) someone who is overly stressed, constantly worried, jerky or pacing back and forth?


IN FACT, THINK ABOUT THIS: Who’s the calmest, most relaxed and peaceful person you know?

That person’s probably pretty approachable, huh?

SO, THE SECRET IS: To put others at ease, start with yourself.

Your challenge is to incorporate calmness into various aspects of your daily life; then allow it to transfer to the people you encounter. Here’s a list of six practices to help you do so:

1. Daily Appointments with Yourself. Take 30-60 minutes every morning to do nothing other than think, relax and just BE. Focus on your breathing, read positive materials, practice affirmations and listen to great music.

This will prime your brain to face the day with calmness and peace. For a step-by-step guide on how to have a Daily Appointment, read this.

2. Incorporate breathing into EVERYTHING. My friend Robert Friedman, an expert on stress solutions, teaches people to incorporate mindful breathing into every aspect of their lives. He suggests being more mindful of your breathing during mundane activities like reading, writing, opening doors and before answering the phone.

“By increasing oxygen level and Alpha Wave flow to your brain,” Robert says, “You relax your mind, body and spirit,” he explains.

3. Affirmation. If you feel hurried, impatient or fidgety during the day, take a minute or two to affirm to yourself, “There are no emergencies,” or “I am enough, I do enough, I have enough.” This will build a foundation of calmness throughout your soul that can’t help but be contagious to the people you interact with.

And if you think affirmations are cheesy, you’re right. They are. But that doesn’t mean they don’t work 😉

4. Meditation. Don’t be intimidated by this word. You don’t have to be a Yogi Master or a Tibetan Monk to practice meditation. In fact, the word is defined as, “continued or extended thought or reflection.” And it comes from the Latin word “to contemplate.”

So, find periods in your day where you can be silent, mindful and reflective … by yourself. Anywhere from five to twenty minutes should be enough to calm you down.

5. Silence. Because of our “always on,” hyperspeed, information overload culture, silence is difficult for a lot of people. However, what you’ll discover is that silence is an important tool for projecting approachability. Here’s how it works:

o The more you practice silence alone, the more comfortable you will be during silence with others.
o The more comfortable silence is with others, the safer the atmosphere becomes.
o The safer the atmosphere becomes, the more likely you are to share your authentic feelings, concerns and questions.

How much silent time have YOU taken today?

6. Exercise. First of all, if you’re not already exercising every single day, you’re NUTS! More specifically, people who do so every day are calmer because they have an outlet to release their tensions, stresses and anxieties.

Even if it means walking for 15 minutes a day, do it! It’s not only essential for your health; it’s also a contributor to your calmness throughout the rest of the day.

REMEMBER: Calm is approachable.

So, if you want to put customers, coworkers and employees at ease, start with yourself!

How do you put yourself at ease?

Share your techniques and best practices here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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How much time do you spend preparing yourself to listen?

Deep breathing.
Perusing your notes.
Reading affirmations.
Practicing your Powerpoint slide transitions.
Listening to the Rocky IV soundtrack in the bathroom down the hall.

All of these are examples of how someone might prepare herself to speak.

Which brings up an interesting question:

How much time do you spend preparing yourself to listen?

Odds are, not that much.

And this is dangerous. Because listening requires just as much energy, focus and mindfulness as speaking – if not more!

So, today we’re going to explore four practices for preparing yourself to listen.

1. Consult your materials. Gather all your notes, ideas, reports or any other documents relating to the conversation you’re about to have. Take a few minutes to scan them. Look for patterns. Get to know the person and the situation better. Jot down any specific questions, concerns or issues you’d like to raise during the interaction.

2. Listening reminders. Take a minute to re-read all of your listening reminders. This is a great way to keep your philosophies and practices fresh in your mind. NOTE: if you haven’t already created listening reminders for your office, consider writing a few of the following ideas on sticky notes to keep yourself accountable:

o L-I-S-T-E-N = S-I-L-E-N-T
o 2 ears, 1 mouth
o Attention, acknowledgment, appreciation and affirmation.
o Responses, not answers.
o Listening, not waiting to talk.
o NO Agenda.
o Don’t react; respond.
o Ask; don’t tell.
o Curious, not judgmental. http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
o You don’t own their problem.
o Listening isn’t a performance.

If you want to see the FULL list of listening reminders, check this out.

3. Breeeeeeathe deep. Taking in fresh oxygen will lower your blood pressure and relax your mind, body and spirit. It will also lay a foundation of mindfulness that will enable you to ask the right questions and tap into your intuition during the listening process.

A few secrets for breathing exercises (that I learned from my buddy Robert Friedman) include:

o In through your nose, out through your mouth.
o Make your exhale twice as long as your inhale.
o Consider reciting silent mantras to focus your attention.
o Close your eyes and visualize yourself Growing Bigger Ears.
o Relax your body, let go of tensions, especially in your shoulders and neck.

4. Affirmations. This last practice might sound kind of silly, but it’s also the most effective. Write out three lists of affirmations, each of which start with “I will, I choose or I am.” Be sure to keep them positive and focused on what you want and not what you DON’T want!

See, by reciting these to yourself before the other person comes into the room, you will lay a positive, forward-thinking foundation of listening effectiveness.

Here’s a quick list of potential affirmations for your list. Consider reading these to yourself before meeting with clients, patients or customers; or if you hold a leadership/management position, before walking into work every morning:

o I will listen today.
o I will say what I see.
o I will ask WHAT or HOW.
o I will take organized notes.
o I will think and pause before responding.
o I will listen at least twice as much as I talk.
o I will listen to myself as well as the other person.
o I will listen to ideas that make me uncomfortable.
o I will lead the other person where they want to go.
o I will listen to the silences between people’s words.
o I will acknowledge, appreciate, affirm and give attention to the speaker.

o I choose to monopolize the listening.
o I choose to remain emotionally objective.
o I choose to use engaging, generative language.
o I choose to give advice ONLY when asked for it.
o I choose to ask and say the things that want to be said next.
o I choose to be conversationally selfless by giving the other person the stage.
o I choose to show the other person that I trust them to develop their own answers.
o I choose to listen with my eyes, arms, hands, fingers, legs, heart, mind and soul.

o I am a giant question mark.
o I am curious and fascinated.
o I am now fully prepared to listen.
o I am making it a safe place to open up.
o I am prepared to receive the other person.
o I am making space to accept new ideas and thoughts.
o I am giving myself and the other person permission to open up and feel comfortable.
o I am a Listening Midwife who enables the other person to give birth to their thoughts, feelings and emotions.
o I am a still body of water in which the other person can see their reflection, which will lead to breakthroughs of their own making.

– – –

Admittedly, this is a lot of work. Probably more than most people are willing to put in for a soft, intangible skill like listening.

In fact, even I was hesitant to take on this practice at first.

Until recentlty.

I had two Rent Scott’s Brain consulting sessions this week. Both were great successes, inasmuch as my two clients gained clarity as well as few SOLID strategies for their businesses.

I, of course, didn’t do that much, other than listen.

Because that’s my job. And I now realize that by adopting this practice of listening preparation, I was able to facilitate and to give birth to breakthrough thinking.

It was pretty cool!

So, what about you?

How much time do you spend preparing yourself to listen?

Share your best practices for listening preparation here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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The problem with tolerance

Let’s talk about “tolerance.”

FIRST: “Tolerance” as a word.
It comes from the Latin word tolerare, which means, “to bear or endure.”

SECOND: “Tolerance” as an idea.
The word tolerance was first recorded in 1539, although it wasn’t until 1868 that it was used in the context of “a physiological ability to take large doses.”

THIRD: “Tolerance” as an attitude.
As our country – and our world – becomes more connected and more integrated, our society’s attitude has also become more sensitive.

Sometimes overly sensitive, too.

Too many campaigns for “Zero Tolerance.”

Too many organizations and leaders callously throwing that word around.

And the worst part is, very few people who maintain a “tolerance attitude” don’t give a second thought to the true meaning of the word.

LASTLY: “Tolerance” as a relationship status.
OK, now it’s time to put together those first three factors you just read. Let’s use two examples:

1. If you say that you “tolerate” your spouse, what you’re really saying is, “I suffer when dealing with my spouse.”

2. If you say that you “tolerate” those annoying customers who call you every day (who, by the way, pay your salary) what you’re really saying is, “I’ve grown physiologically accustomed to taking large doses of those customers who call me every day.”

Doesn’t sound very positive, does it?

After all, if YOU were the customer – or the wife, or the partner, or the friend – how would it make you feel if the other person said she had to “tolerate” dealing with you?

Probably not like a “partner” at all.

More like a pain.

So, the word, the idea and the attitude of “tolerance” can send the wrong message.

In Chip Bell’s seminal book on service, Customers as Partners, he discusses the dangers of “tolerance.”

According to Bell, “tolerance” is about sufferance and continual resignation. It’s about endurance and fortitude.

More specifically, he explains three key problems about relationships based on tolerance:

1. Tolerance-Based Relationships maintain a degree of rigidity. They have the volume turned up on every flaw and error.

2. Tolerance-Based Relationships make people suffer in silence. As if they were perpetually pained by partner imperfections. What’s more, they propagate the attitude that, “This unfortunate disruption comes with the territory,” as Mr. Bell said.

3. Tolerance-Based Relationships are exercises in long-suffering. And unfortunately, they assume superiority by one party.

So the challenge, Bell says, is to view partnerships not with “tolerance,” but rather with “elasticity.”

Great word.

Coined in France in 1651, elasticity was a scientific term first used to describe certain gases. However, it derives from the Greek word elastos, which means, “ductile, flexible.”

Sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?

Being FLEXIBLE WITH your customers, as opposed to being TOLERANT OF your customers.

Being FLEXIBLE WITH your partner, as opposed to being TOLERANT OF your partner.

LESSON LEARNED: people would rather be dealt with “flexibility” than “tolerance.”

AND HERE’S THE BEST PART: elastic, or flexible relationships…

*Expand and are accommodating.
*Grow and unfold in their acceptance.
*Absorb the negatives without attention.
*Stretch so the relationship can breathe.
*Experience little bumps in the rocky road of the partnership.

Bell was right! (Thanks for the great quotes, Chip!)

Wouldn’t it be great if all your partnerships – in business AND in life – looked like that?

REMEMBER: elasticity, not tolerance.

Are you “tolerating” people or “being flexible” with people?


First: consider what you’ve just learned about the meaning, the history, the implications and the attitude of the word “tolerance.”

Second: take some time in the next few weeks to monitor and evaluate how often that word enters your mind or exits your mouth.

Third: ask yourself the following question: Whom are you tolerating? Make a list. Be honest with yourself.

Fourth: make the CHOICE to change your thinking about that word.

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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How to be TOO approachable

Yes, it IS possible to be TOO approachable.

Here’s how…

1. Over actively listen. If you nod TOO much, smile TOO much and agree TOO much, your conversation partner is going not going to like you … TOO much!

Avoid focusing ALL your attention on “coming off as a good listener.” Just relax.

The moment you TRY to be authentic is the moment you STOP being authentic.

Listening is about focusing on the OTHER person’s words; not YOUR own abilities.

2. Early vulnerability. Yes, vulnerability can be approachable. Admitting that you don’t know the answer or have been completely terrified before is a surefire way to encourage comfort.

HOWEVER: don’t be too vulnerable too quickly.

It may come off like you’re trying TOO hard to build rapport. And intentionality often reduces authenticity.

3. Ask too many questions. First of all, it can come off as too goal-oriented, too forced and too planned.

Secondly, it projects a rapport-seeking attitude, instead of rapport-attracting attitude.

Thirdly, it will appear that you have nothing of value to share yourself.

And lastly, asking too many questions makes the other person feel like she’s being interviewed or interrogated.

4. Force the kinesthetic. Lightly touching someone’s arm, elbow or any other non-threatening body part during the conversation is a good tip for building rapport.

Just don’t do it TOO much. People will check you off immediately.

5. Use names too often. If you repeat the person’s name TOO often, it comes off as sales-y, forced and inauthentic.

Depending on the length of your conversation, try to use the other person’s name once at the introduction, once in the middle and once at the goodbye. That’s enough!

Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

NOTE: if you talk for more than seven minutes, it’s OK to
increase Name Drop Frequency.

6. Forced familiarity. Discovering the CPI (Common Point of Interest) is essential for connecting.

But, don’t try TOO hard. Unnecessarily fishing for commonalities can make you look desperate if you’re trying to hard to stretch it.

If you have nothing in common, let it go. Don’t force familiarity.

What makes someone TOO approachable?

Share your examples here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

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Manage the environment

I’ve been reading Joe Meyers’ new book, Organic Community.

And here’s what I’ve learned:

You have (some) control over the environment.


But you have little or no control over the people IN the environment.

SO, HERE’S THE SECRET: let things organically and naturally occur.

Don’t sell.
Create and manage an environment in which customers are enabled to buy.

Don’t network.
Create and manage an environment in which strangers naturally connect.

Don’t make people friendlier.
Create and manage an environment in which people are likely to become friendlier.

Don’t get people to ask questions.
Create and manage an environment where people feel comfortable, empowered and non-threatened so they are more likely to ask questions.

Don’t make art.
Create and manage an environment from which art is inspired.

Don’t become a celebrity or an expert.
Create and manage an environment that constantly augments, reinforces and enhances your celebrity/expert status.

Don’t increase the number of participants.
Create and manage an environment where healthy participation naturally emerges.

Don’t get people talking about your new idea or product.
Create and manage an environment that enables, supports and rewards authentic dialogue.

If you create the right kind of environment, the right atmosphere, the right space and the right energy, the people inside of it will (hopefully) take care of themselves.

REMEMBER: we are not free to determine the contents of experience.

Just the environment.

Thanks, Joe!

How do you manage your environment?

Read Joe’s book. Today.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

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Lowest common denominator thinking

Call it optimism.
Call it glass half-full.
Call it a positive attitude.

Because at the lowest common denominator, there’s always ONE thing you can get out of everything.

This represents a sort of “takeaway attitude” you need to have about business, about life, about everything.

I call it Lowest Common Denominator Thinking.

For example, let’s say you just spent the last three hours reading the latest best-selling marketing book.

And you thought it sucked.

Ask yourself, “Did I at least get ONE nugget, ONE idea, ONE quotation, ONE thing from that book?”

If the answer is yes, congrats! You’ve just discovered the Lowest Common Denominator. Which, when remembered, written down and applied, should be worth the price of the book and the time you spent reading it.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you just finished attending a lecture at your local college campus.

And you thought it sucked.

Similarly, ask yourself, “Well, it might have been boring, but the one thing I still took away was…”

If your answer is a worthwhile idea that wouldn’t have popped into your mind without attending that lecture, good on ya! You’ve discovered the Lowest Common Denominator.

One final example.

You crawl into bad at about 11:30 PM.

And you thought your day sucked.

Ask yourself, “Yeah, but did I at least do ONE thing that was cool, help ONE person get better, accomplish ONE highly valuable activity or experience ONE moment that validated my existence?”

If your answer is yes, prepare to sleep well. Because you’ve discovered the lowest common denominator.

Here are a few more Phrases That Payses to enhance your LCD Thinking:

“Well, if anything, at least I learned…”
“The one thing I got out of that was…”
“Although it wasn’t my favorite, I still found a way to…”

Call it optimism.
Call it glass half-full.
Call it a positive attitude.

Because at the lowest common denominator, there’s always ONE thing you can get out of everything.

What’s your takeaway attitude?

Share your philosophy here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Read more blogs!
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Download articles and ebooks!
Watch training videos on NametagTV!

Make a name for yourself here…

Corny doesn’t mean ineffective

Yes, all that positive attitude stuff is TOTALLY corny.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

I say:

Believe in whatever makes you more focused.
Believe in whatever makes you more motivated.
Believe in whatever makes you more productive.

Because if you have a negative attitude, all the nametags in the world won’t make you more approachable.

Which means:

It’s about your thinking.
It’s about your questions.
It’s about your responses.

So, here’s a quick list of what to say (and what NOT to say) so you can attract more people, more business, more ideas and more opportunities into your life:

1. If someone says “No!” the next word out of your mouth should be “Next!”

2. Don’t say, “Ouch!” say, “Ah-ha!”

3. Enjoy, don’t compare.

4. Don’t say, “What’s going to happen to me?” say, “What can I do?”

5. Don’t say, “What if I can’t?” say, “How can I?”

6. Next time someone challenges your attitude by saying, “Don’t you ever worry that…” say “No!” no matter what.

7. Whenever something happens to you (good OR bad) ask yourself, “Now what else does this make possible?”

8. Also ask yourself, “What do I have to become to get all that I want?”

9. Next time someone tells you that something you created SUCKS, smile and say, “I respect your opinion of my work.”

Sure, stuff like this is corny.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

Does corny mean ineffective?

Make a list of three corny techniques that work for you.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

Read more blogs!
Rent Scott’s Brain!
Download articles and ebooks!
Watch training videos on NametagTV!

Make a name for yourself here…

Stop saying sorry

People say sorry WAY too often.

Especially when they didn’t do anything wrong.

For example, have you even apologized to someone:

For your art?
For the weather?
For your identity?
For being candid?
For being yourself?
For telling the truth?
For following your dream?
For it being your first day?
For crying during a movie?
For taking too long in line?
For not believing what they believed?


HERE’S THREE WORDS OF ADVICE: stop saying sorry.

Sorry is negative.
Sorry is self-blaming.
Sorry comes from the word sarig, or “distressed, full of sorrow.”

Not to mention, most sorries come in the form of lame, empty promises with no intention of changing behavior.

And yet, people still over apologize. Usually for a few reasons:

1. FOR MOST PEOPLE, because it’s habitual.
They’re just used to saying sorry. They’ve never paused to think about the negative ramifications of saying it too often.

2. FOR MANY PEOPLE, because they’re afraid of offending someone.
They walk on eggshells on a daily basis due to our hypersensitive, fear-saturated culture.

3. FOR SOME PEOPLE, because they have low self-esteem.
They don’t have a positive enough picture of themselves. Thus, everything they do is wrong and necessitates an apology.

For example, I have a friend (let’s call her Kim) who can’t seem to stop saying sorry.

Whenever she returns my calls, the FIRST words out of her mouth are always, “Sorry I didn’t get your call, I was in the shower and I…”

Sorry? You were bathing! Are you apologizing for having good hygiene?

SIMPLE RULE: don’t apologize if you didn’t do anything wrong.

Now, this doesn’t mean that apologizing is wrong.

When you mess up, fess up.

The challenge is to reprogram yourself with a more positive attitude.

Here’s a list of six keys for Sorry-Free Living:

1. Spread the message. Next time someone says sorry to you, tell her, “Don’t say sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong.” By spreading this message to others, you will also spread it to yourself.

2. Record. Just for fun, count how many times you hear the word sorry in a week. Then count how many of them were unnecessary. It will shock you.

3. Validate. Now, pay closer attention every time YOU say sorry. Evaluate whether or not it was a valid apology by asking yourself two questions, “Did I really do anything wrong?” and “Was this situation out of my control?”

4. Brainstorm. Make a list of the five most common situations people say unnecessary sorries. Then write two alternative responses for each. For example, instead of saying, “Sorry this is taking so long,” substitute, “Thanks for putting up with me!” and “We’re almost done!”

5. Apologize. When you DO screw up, don’t say sorry. Say, “I apologize.” It comes off more sincere, more approachable and less self-blaming.

6. Remind. During your daily appointment with yourself, affirm, “I refuse to apologize for who I am,” “I only apologize when I’ve done something wrong,” and “I choose not to apologize when something is out of my control.”

Do you say sorry too often?

Finish the following sentence three times: “Don’t every say sorry for…”

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Approachable Service: Avoid the First Word Farce

I pushed my shopping cart up to the counter.

“Good morning!” I said to the cashier.

I awaited my greeting.

And the first words out of her mouth were:

“Zip code please.”

Yes. That was her actual greeting.

Not “Hello.”
Not “How are ya?”
Not “Welcome to Office Depot!”

Zip code please.

Gee, thanks for the friendly greeting, I thought.

WARNING: This indicator of unapproachable service is called The First Word Farce. And here’s why it’s so crucial:

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal in February of 2006, you only have a few seconds to make an UNFORGETTABLE first impression.

A few seconds!

LESSON LEARNED: Greetings are GOLD because confidence is KING.

So, the challenge is: Which extreme of the unforgettable spectrum will you project?

Unfortunately, too many front line employees go the wrong way.

That is, they greet the customer according protocol. What THEY have to say, as opposed to what THE CUSTOMER wants to hear.

Examples include:

Next in line!
Paper or plastic?
Last name please!
Phone number with area code first…

You get the point.

A similar example that comes to mind is the local sandwich shop by my office.

When customers step up to the front counter, the first words out of the cashiers’ mouths are, “For here, or to go?”

Sometimes, they’ll even interrupt YOUR friendly greeting, just because they HAVE to ask that question first!

OK, so here’s the deal. If you’re a receptionist, cashier or any other front line employees AND want to avoid the First Word Farce, consider three ideas:

1. Brainstorm. Sit down (or have line-up) with your entire front line team. Challenge each employee to come up with three brand new, brand consistent greetings. Then, vote on which greetings you like best, and try them out for a week.

2. Field Research. Now that you understand the First Word Farce, the next step is to keep your eyes and ears open. Pay close attention to the first words used by other front lines employees when you’re the customer. Make note of how they made you feel. Ask yourself, “Would I want MY customers to be greeted that way?”

3. Think big picture. Whatever greeting you decide upon, just remember one thing: make it customer oriented.

Even if you’re in a rush.

Even if you need some information from a customer to begin the transaction.

There’s always time.

AND, there’s always room, too.

In that respect, Approachable Service is sort of like JELLO.

Because when you do it right, it’s not only sweet, it’s also satisfying.

Both for you AND the customer.

What’s your best tip for making an UNFORGETTABLE first impression?

Share it here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Download Scott’s new book!
Right here, right now, for FREE, no strings.

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Competition is all about attitude

Competition is all about attitude.

For example…

When something great happens to one of your competitors, don’t get jealous and upset.

INSTEAD, think, “Man I need to get on the ball!”
INSTEAD, ask, “Hmm. Are we doing stuff like that?”

Competition is all about attitude.

When you feel like comparing yourself to one of your competitors, don’t.

INSTEAD, don’t be better than anyone else; just be better than you used to be.
INSTEAD, ask, “What am I doing?” and not, “How am I doing?”

Competition is all about attitude.

When you become preoccupied with what the other guy’s progress, stop.

INSTEAD, ask, “What can I do to serve?” and not “What can I do to win?”
INSTEAD, think about being the finest, not the first.

Competition is all about attitude.

And now, here are two people much smarter than me who said it best:

“When you are content to simply be yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” –Lao-tzu

“Competition deflects our attention from self to others. When a business is merely focused on what the competitors are up to, it becomes reactive instead of proactive; it copycats instead of developing originality.” –Julia Cameron

Now, your ULTIMATE goal would be position yourself in a way that disables the mere possibility of competition.

But being “the only one,” being thee, not a, takes time.

And you’ll get there eventually. So for now, remember:

Proactive; not reactive.
Compare; don’t compete.
Finest; not first.

Competition is all about attitude.

What’s your approach to the competition?

Share your formula here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Download Scott’s new book!
Right here, right now, for FREE, no strings.

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