6 Things Most Young Leaders Overlook

You can know the business.
You can understand the people.
You can master the technology.

But if you’re not the world’s expert on yourself, succeeding as a young leader is going to feel like boxing an iceberg.

Today we’re going to explore seven personal and professional development strategies that most young leaders overlook:

1. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. “But I’m not ready. I don’t know what I’m doing. And I don’t know the first thing about leading this organization.”

What’s your point? Who says you need to be ready? And who says you need to do know what you’re doing?

Leadership doesn’t necessarily require those things. In fact, if you’re a young leader and landed in your role unexpectedly, knowing how might not be an option right now. For now, here are a few pills of reassurance to swallow. One: You’re never ready. Nobody is. If they were, they would have taken action earlier.

Two: Knowing how is overrated. What matters is that you know why, and that you surround yourself with smarter, more experienced people who do know how.

Three: You’ll figure out how to do what you need to do along the way. Or, if you don’t, ask. Or, if you can’t, surrender to screwing up quickly and quietly – then learn your lesson and move on.

In the words of Selling Power CEO, Gerhard Gschwandtner, “We need to let go of the notion that we will ever get to any fixed point in our lifetime. The best thing we can hope for is to become more agile so we can avoid becoming a victim of change and become masters at successful transitions.” When was the last time you proceeded successfully without knowing how?

2. Build a galaxy of mentors. It’s impossible to meet the demands of your constituency if you’re not challenged and supported by your mentors. And not just one mentor – a galaxy of them.

First, casual mentors: You chat informally. You meet on an as-needed basis. You have lunches, hang out and take walks together. They talk; you listen. They share ideas; you write them down. They ask tricky questions; you spend months pondering the answers.

Second, formal mentors: You meet on a regular basis. You have structured discussions. You set goals, parameters and expectations for the relationship. They give you assignments; you return with homework. They expect a certain degree of commitment; you do what they say. They (sometimes) charge a fee; you gladly pay them for their wisdom.

Lastly, indirect mentors. You rarely meet in person. You learn by reading and gleaning. You might not even know each other. They write books; you read, highlight and learn. They do stuff really well; you watch, take notes and relate. They set the standard in your industry; you follow their lead.

Remember: One mentor isn’t enough. These are the different types of wise counsel you might consider keeping. Whose ship flies in your galaxy of mentors?

3. Submit to being stripped of your cynicism. During the months leading up to my induction as the president of a struggling organization, my friend Bill interrupted my stream of complaints and asked, “Have you always been this cynical?”

Ouch. Didn’t even realize I was coming off that way. But Bill was right: Cynicism was an outfit that didn’t look good on me. And his honest comment was precisely the kick in the pants I needed to strip myself of such negativity.

From that moment on, I promised myself that I would challenge the currents that create negativity or risk condemning myself to perpetual frustration. And now, instead of being cynical, I’m aggressively skeptical. Huge difference. Cynicism, in the words of Henry Rollins, is intellectual cowardice of not having to deal with what is.

Skepticism, on the other hand, is grounded in persistent objectivity and intelligent inquiry. Much better choice. Ultimately, people will notice – and be affected – the way you choose to shape your energy. Better watch what fumes you give off. When you walk into a room, how does it change?

4. Nothing is more followable than stunning clarity of purpose. It’s a surge of momentum in the right direction. That’s the consequence of conscious design. Like I mentioned before, knowing why trumps knowing how. The key is regularly asking yourself a series of purpose-oriented questions.

And while this doesn’t automatically pinpoint your purpose for you – it does create the conditions under which vision is most likely to occur. Then all you have to do is work backwards from that space of clarity. First ask, “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?”

Second, ask, “Is what I’m doing right now giving people the tools they need to build that world? And third ask, “Am I teaching people how to use those tools profitably?

Do that, and your purpose will become following. As long as you remember one caveat: People buy into the visionary before the vision. Clarity of purpose is wasted if the person holding it isn’t likeable. What three things are you doing regularly that don’t serve or support your vision?

5. Fear is the prerequisite of bravery. Without fear, you wouldn’t be human. But, try to escape fear – and you’ll do nothing but inflame the agony. My suggestion is: Use it. Turn toward it. Accept fear’s bid, throw your shoulder into it and mold that fear into something beautiful. I discovered this in yoga class, specifically, Camel Pose.

This challenging, vulnerable, back-bending posture terrified me for years. So much so that I never even attempted it. I just defaulted to my mat without even giving it a chance. But one afternoon, my instructor challenged me. She said, “If you’re scared of this posture, that means your body needs it. Try redirecting your fear into a new course and see what happens.”

Eventually, I figured: All right. What the hell.

So I plunged backwards, hand in hand with the fear and achieved the full expression of the posture. First time ever. And the crazy part was: It wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. By the time the posture was over I was like, “That was it? That’s what I’ve been losing sleep over for two years?”

That’s what fear does to you: It fools you into believing that it’s as big as your ego says it is. But it’s not. Because your ego is a pathological liar. Kind of like that famous quotation by Roosevelt, which I happen to think, is wrong. Because as a young leader, the only thing you have to fear is the fear of fear itself.

Once you realize that, your capacity to succeed will skyrocket. As long as you remember: While flinching is totally human and perfectly in order, your people are looking at your face to see where the organization is going. So, if you do plan to crap your pants, just make sure nobody can see the skid marks. Are you willing to flinch in private?

6. You will rise to eminence through ambition, toil and blood. But it has to be your blood. Don’t expect to succeed as a leader if you plan to play pitch-perfect cover versions of the previous leader’s hit single.

Instead, throw your hat into the ring. Stop depending on time to bring change. Take control of the clock, roundhouse kick the doors of opportunity open and make something different happen.

That’s the approach I took in my professional association last year. As a new, young board, we were tired of waiting for permission (from people who didn’t even matter anyway) to try something completely new.

Eventually, I just got pissed off and said, “You know what? Screw it. Let’s just implement the radical change and see what happens. We have so little lose that it would be dumb (not) to shift our approach.”

To our delight – and to the delight of our members – it worked. Our new programming schedule and restructured meeting agenda blew everyone away. Even if that meant a few of us on the leadership team had to bleed. Hey, it’s not called the razor’s edge for nothing.

Ultimately, I learned that if you take strategic risks while still respecting organizational tradition, you don’t end up making stupid gambles. As long as you remember: There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Are you the echo or the origin?

REMEMBER: To know yourself is to lead yourself; and to lead yourself is to lead others.

Are you turning your ideas into money or into more ideas?

For the list called, “62 Pieces of Advice Busy Executives Need to Know, but Don’t Have Time to Learn on Their Own,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Translate What You Know into Action

You don’t need more ideas.

Especially because:

Your body is tired.
Your brain is overloaded.
Your notebook is already full of new ideas.

The tricky part is translating what you know into action.

BECAUSE THE REALITY IS: You don’t need more intellectual capital – you need more executional velocity.

Here’s how to convert what-you-now-know into what-you-will-do:1. Creativity is only the beginning. What matters is what you convert your creativity into. That’s the distinction: Creativity is a state of being – innovation denotes consistent action. Both are essential, but the latter is what moves things you know into things you do.

It’s like those people you meet who constantly (and aggressively) remind you, “I’m an idea guy!” And you think, “That’s great, Steve, but have you actually executed anything that matters this week?”

Odds are, he hasn’t. And my suggestion is: Stay away from these people. Even if they’re the most creative, artistic geniuses you’ve ever met.

Their unactionable spirit will infiltrate its way into your life and cripple your ability to execute. Do the five people you spend the most time with, ship?

2. Give your ideas some wheels. The two best questions to ask the moment after you learn something are: “Where can I use this?” and, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

These questions help you pinpoint the movement value of your ideas. And the earlier you identify it, the quicker you can convert what-you-now-know into what-you-will-do.

My suggestion is to write those questions on sticky notes. Keep them in front of your face regularly. This helps drive home the concept of movement value and enhances your awareness of how leverage is the ultimate tool for translating what you know into action. What’s the one question, if asked consistently, would make the biggest impact on your life?

3. Build a philosophy to guide your actions. Take IDEO, for example. At their design and innovation consulting firm, they operate on a core product development philosophy:

“Enlightened trial and error outperforms the planning of flawless intellects.”

This assures that organization doesn’t get too removed from the spirit of action. For me, as a publisher, philosophies like “Don’t be stopped by not knowing how,” and “Finished is the new perfect” guide my daily execution efforts.

Your challenge is to build your philosophy, then memorialize and live it. If everybody did exactly what you said, what would the world look like?

4. Create a lessons-learned manual. If you can’t write about it, you don’t know it. If you don’t write it down, it never happened. And if you can’t find it, you never wrote it down.

Boeing knows this. Their aircraft engineers create lessons learned manual for documenting and sharing wisdom.

Lesson learned: Just because you’ve logged five hundred hours on a simulator doesn’t make you a pilot. You’ve got to get behind the yoke, and you’ve got to share what you learned while you were behind it.

Try this: Keep a stack of index cards by your bed. Write down one lesson learned each night before you hit the sack. At the end of the year, that’s a lot of lessons.

Especially if you’re lucky enough to have a partner your share the bed with. What did you write today?

5. Mobilize your resources. You can’t just man the workbench and crank out a bunch of cool inventions all day. You have to test your ideas, blow a few things up and keep plugging away.

That’s why I love Twitter and Facebook. Perfect venues for testing the waters with new ideas. The only problem is, marketplaces have historically rewarded expertise. And as a result, we’ve been deluded into thinking that being clever is more important than taking action.

Total lie. Out-executing aways trumps out-thinking. Don’t let your mountain of data remain merely an anthology of good intentions that never drive action. Where is your most fertile idea testing ground?

6. Accelerate your actionability. Learning something is irrelevant unless you’re able to silently scream,” I believe this! I can do this! I want to try this!”

To get to that point, consider using the following questions as an audit of actionability:

What are the reasons, barriers, fears, assumptions and blocks that are preventing me people from taking action on this idea – and how can I dispel the myths that will give me the confidence to move now?

What checklist can I create to keep myself accountable and consistent in the future?

What equation, algorithm, formula or system can I create to easily plug myself into?

What is a simple – daily, weekly, monthly, annual, spontaneous – routine that I can discipline myself to do that would reinforce my content?

What jumpstart action items need to be taken in order to build momentum?

What preparatory measures, rituals or practices can I learn that, prior to doing something hard in the future, I can execute to calm my nerves and enable greater success?

What specific phrases, questions or words do I need to add to or delete from lexicon?

7. Making decisions doesn’t mean you’ve done anything. Decisions merely activate the action process. The secret is writing the proper plan to implement the changes in a timely manner. And then, living with consequences – good or bad.

For example, you might try the approach I take with my mentoring clients. At the end of each conversation, refuse to adjourn until they make a list of the first three things they are going to go do immediately after the conversation is over.

This works well with a partner, group – even with yourself. The key is to write it down, put a date on it, and maybe even share it with someone else for accountability purposes.

Anything that activates the driving force. What are you allowing to be an acceptable substitute for action?

REMEMBER: Knowledge that doesn’t lead you to wisdom is nothing but empty calories.

Real wisdom – and real money– comes from doing.

Otherwise you’re just a smart guy who knows a bunch of stuff.

Are you turning your ideas into money or into more ideas?

For the list called, “26 Ways to Out Brand 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How a Book on Quantum Physics Taught Me Everything I Need to Know about Entrepreneurial Execution

“Motion organizes and creates order. It is by motion that all things tend to their equilibrium and find their place in the universe. And unrelenting motion is what helps conspire towards some unifying geometrical situation.”

That’s the Theory of Gravitational Order, as written by my friend Ed Sylvia in his metaphysical masterpiece, Proving God.

But here’s the really cool part.

If you soften your eyes and re-read Ed’s words with a mental posture of deep democracy, the Theory of Gravitational Order (also) happens to be the secret to execution excellence.

Let’s explore it more detail:1. Optimize your efforts. Stop worrying about getting things right and start focusing on getting things moving in the right direction. As Michael Stanier explained in Do More Great Work:

“Your goal is not to find the perfect place to start. That might paralyze you, forever delaying action because it’s not just so. Instead, find a place to start. Take your best guess. And choose something that will do for the time being. Something that has potential – somewhere that’s a good enough place to start.”

Look: You don’t have to move on and know where you’re moving on to at the same time. Those who are stopped by not knowing how scare themselves into hiding. Go start something. What events will serve as your catalyst to start a favorable chain reaction?

2. Lower the threat level. Nobody’s asking you to finish and ship the whole thing today. Or even tomorrow. Instead, consider pulling a partial. Ask yourself: What is an easy, inconsequential version of this scary action I could take now?

For example, let’s say you’re not ready to publish your (entire) book yet.

No sweat. What if you posted a new chapter each week on your blog? Taking small action like this makes it significantly safer – and substantially easier – to convert your internal efforts into outward motion.

And if you do it enough, you’ll either get the whole thing done incrementally, or sustain enough small victories to pull the trigger when the time is right. Not perfect, but right. What other risky (but reasonably) baby steps can you take today to move forward?

3. Reluctance to make a decision is a form of resistance. At the same time, don’t wait too long to pull the trigger. Otherwise, by the time you’re ready to bust a cap, your target will be long gone. And you’ll be left with nothing but a sweaty finger.

Sadly, most people can’t overcome the paralyzing uncertainty of taking that crucial first step. That’s why I suggest the following: Violently refuse to get snared into an endless tangle of anxiety, regret and second-guessing.

You can’t go through life regretting every decision you make just because it might not have been the best possible choice. It’ll eat you up inside like a tapeworm.

Better to just make a choice and get on with your life comfortably – as opposed to being plagued by doubt, wondering about what could have been a marginally better option.

Maybe Shakespeare was right. Maybe delays really do have dangerous ends.

Remember: Opportunity is limited only by the courage to act. Where is resistance beating you??

4. Beware of the trap of thought. Reflecting, planning and thinking – when you should be acting, experiencing and learning – is costing you money by the minute. Come on. Enough with the thinking. It’s time to view your enterprise as a decision factory.

The secret to becoming a great chooser is something I learned from The Paradox of Choice:

“Having high standards; yet giving yourself permission to be satisfied once your experience matches those standards. Otherwise, if you keep looking, you’ll always find something better. And the tyranny of small, irrelevant decisions will keep you trapped in purgatory thought.”

Remember: Constantly searching for perfect solutions leads to frustration, or, worse yet, inaction. Are you picking or choosing?

5. Scare yourself out of irrelevancy. Knowledge that does not lead you to wisdom is nothing but empty calories. A six-pack of Diet Coke, at best. And likewise, ideas that do not lead you to execution are nothing but meaningless arpeggios.

Honestly ask yourself two questions:

*Is this fun but not moving you toward your goal?
*Is this a distraction that keeps you busy but doesn’t expose you to risk?

If the answer is yes, stop yourself in your tracks.

Embrace the credo of creatio contina, or constant creative action. And go do the work that scares you. Engage in perpetual effort. With no hint of dissipation. Insist on rapid (but non-reckless) movement that matters, and you win. Do you have enough self-control to tweet and get on with your life, or will you get swept into the undertow of inconsequentiality?

6. Practice deliberate indifference. Not caring is highly underrated. In fact, considering the amount of vomitous noise you’re exposed to everyday, not caring is your god-given right.

Take email, for example. Personally, I have no remorse about pressing the delete button on a message sent by someone who forgot to press the respect button. Period.

You should try it sometime. It feels great. And you’ll discover that concentrating on the essential without distraction from the irrelevant contains all the gravity you’ll ever need.

Remember: Stay intrinsic to action and you’ll remain allergic to inertia. Are you execution driven?

REMEMBER: Unrelenting motion is the prerequisite of exquisite execution.

As Seneca once noted, “Matters lies inert and inactive, a substance with unlimited potential, but destined to remain idle if no one sets it in motion.”

I challenge you to leverage these principles of gravitational order.

Who knows? Maybe one day, you’ll conspire towards some unifying geometrical situation.

What did you execute this week?

For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Give 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Watch Scott Ginsberg’s Closing Keynote (LIVE!) at The Optimists International Convention

Six hours from now, I’ll be taking center stage here in Denver for the Optimist International Convention.

They’re streaming all of the sessions live!

My program this afternoon is about how to make your organization more joinable.

I’d love to have you tune in at 3:00pm (Denver time), go here!

See you then.

How joinable are you?

For the list called, “13 Ways to Out Develop Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

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How to be a Monument of Non-Conformity

I’m aware of the irony of publishing a list of instructions on how not to conform.

And I confess to the glaring paradox of a non-conformist like myself publishing a blog post that teaches people how to conform to a standard of non-conformity.

BUT TWAIN WAS RIGHT: Don’t assume you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.

AS WAS EINSTEIN: Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities.

AND SO WAS EMERSON: A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.

Here’s how to be a monument to non-conformity:

1. Discover what drummed the magic out of you. Indoctrination starts early. Very early. Usually long before you’re old enough to realize there’s a shiny watch swinging above your head. The trick is to travel back in time and pinpoint the person, institution or dogma that first hypnotized you.

Then, to honestly admit how that conditioning affected your choices as you grew up. My friend Richard, a therapist and life coach, asks his clients: “Name the first person that told you that who you were wasn’t okay.” Oof. Not a smooth path to walk down. Crappy self-confrontation.

Still, this kind of exercise yields tremendous insight into your (subconscious) conformist beginnings. And without such reflection, you run the risk of compromising your truth. “Becoming vacant in the eyes as you conform,” as Chris Whitley sang in Din of Ecstasy. Are you willing to look in the mirror and ask yourself when you stopped thinking for yourself?

2. Avoid fitting in. “What could I do – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?” This is the guiding question of my decision-making process. Has been since I was a kid. But now that I’m thirty, I don’t even think about it anymore. It just happens.

The question is forever engraved upon my bones like a cosmic serial number. And that’s my argument: Simply standing out is only half the equation. You have to actively avoid fitting in, too. How are you converting yourself into a square peg?

3. Work outside mainstream thinking. Is fitting in such a high virtue? No way. Don’t refuse to become anything other than what to group tells you to be. Make a conscious choice not to be a ditto. An echo. A copy of a copy.

Ask yourself (and your organization) to complete the following sentence: “The way we challenge the status quo is ____________.”

Then, post your answers on your website. After all, the answers to that question are the building blocks of your monument of non-conformity. Have you publicly refused to occupy the middle?

4. Practice positive deviance. That means believe what you believe because you (actually) believe it – not because somebody told you to believe and you mindlessly followed.

That means free yourself from the constraints of heartless orthodoxy.
That means make yourself the exception to as many rules as possible.
That means approach everything with a healthy dose of curiosity and aggressive skepticism.

However: Don’t deviate just for the sake of deviating. Mindless contrarianism isn’t much better than mindless conformity. I urge you to bleed for what you want, but not for the sole purpose of staining the rug. Do you know when to break the rules?

5. Hack a new path. My friend Genuine Chris wrote a brilliant blog post related to today’s topic. Here’s an excerpt that made my stomach drop:

“The difference makers are the people who are indifferent to what the crowd does or thinks. They create the world and mold it regardless of resistance. They ignore the persistent tether of the mediocre and don’t brag about seventy hour weeks, but brag about how much of their mind, soul and spirit they engaged to solve a problem.”

Lesson learned: Don’t live with the results of other people’s thinking. Push beyond group norm constraints. Are you following an existing path of safety or going where there is no path and leaving a trail of blood?

6. Be unafraid to court controversy. Again, not because you want to make noise – but because you want to keep rein on your individual. To show the world that you refuse to stand mute. And to “throw off the shackles of non-conformity and shout a throaty no to anything non-wow,” as Tom Peters wrote.

My suggestion: Take contrarian positions on more issues. Hell, on all issues. Make yourself a model of courageous living and thinking by constantly asking yourself: What do I risk in presenting this message? Because if the answer is, “not much,” you lose. Your monument to non-conformity crumbles under the weight of gutlessness.

Remember: Going against the grain welcomes splinters. Have your tweezers ready. What risk are you going to have to learn to live with?

7. Big isn’t necessarily beautiful. The bigger you get, the fewer risks you take. There’s just too much pressure to be predictable. That’s why smaller organizations, freelancers and one-man shows – who choose not to conform – win.

They’re not prisoners of their own bigness.And they’re the sole shot-callers. Thank God. After all: Who says monuments have to stand five hundred feet tall? Small is an acceptable destination. As Seth Godin wrote in Small is the New Big:

“Changes in the way that things are made and talked about mean that big is no longer an advantage. Big used to matter – and then small happened. And small means the founder is close to the decisions that matter and can make them quickly. As such, small is the new big only when the person running the small thinks big.”

Remember: If size mattered, dinosaurs would still be alive. How can you be a monumental without being monstrous?

8. Shields up. When you do decide to stand out, prepare yourself for inevitable slings and arrows from the people around you. It comes with the territory of occupying the margins. You’ll find that many of them will become uncomfortable. Or feel threatened by your distinctiveness. They’d much rather you fit in – that way they could ignore you.

Unfortunately, because you’ve sculpted yourself into a monument of non-conformity, people are (now) confronted with just how boring they really are. Good. Maybe that will disturb them into action. Maybe Steven Pressfield was right: “When we see others living their authentic lives, it drives us crazy because we know we’re not living our own.” Are you prepared to be hated?

ULTIMATELY: Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

That’s what John F. Kennedy said in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 25th, 1961 – and it still holds true today.

I challenge you to contest the conventional.
I challenge you to drum up a delightful disturbance.
I challenge you to make yourself into monument to non-conformity.

Your voice will be heard by the people who matter.

What do you do to go against the grain?

For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to be a Hack

Winning is for losers.

AFTER ALL: Why be successful when you could be a hack for half the price, a third of the work and triple the ego?

If you’re sick and tired of making a difference, working with purpose and putting forth focused effort that matters, consider these eight suggestions for becoming a hack:

1. Buy a lower score. In the same way that wanker golfers spend thousands of dollars on fancy clubs, balls and periscope night vision range finding binoculars, your mission is to spend as much money as possible on similar tools that will convince people you’re successful.

Buying an IPad is a great start. Or, if that’s not cool enough for you, I hear the Apple store now offers wifi cranial implants that enable you to check your email while waiting in line to upgrade to first class for your thirty minute flight to Dallas.

That way you can board the plane first and spend the next twenty minutes updating your Facebook status with irrelevant life details that your non-friends don’t care about.

As long as every other passenger passes you buy and sees how important and demand you are, it’s all worth it!

2. Always talk of the future. Screw the present moment. Save all that new age, power of now crap for Eckhart Tolle and his cushion-sitting cronies. Your focus should only be on what’s next, what’s new, and what exciting project or endeavor you have coming up that you’re probably never going to execute anyway.

Never tell people what you’re doing right now, or what you’ve successful executed in the past. Rather, only talk about what you plan to do. Proof is the enemy. Action is the allergy. Talking your ideas into the ground is the only thing that matters.

Why make progress on things that count when you could make motion on things that nobody cares about?

3. Treat every phone call as a 911 emergency. Even if it’s just some random housewife who read your mediocre ebook and wants to find out more about your valueless six-month coaching program.

The secret is to address all callers as if you were talking them down from the edge of the Chrysler Building. Also, be sure to check your IPhone at least forty times an hour. Especially while the people you’re having meaningful, face to face conversations with want nothing more that a friend to listen to them.

Not only will your insulting multitasking solidify your inflated sense of self-importance; but people will also walk away from conversations with you feeling unimportant and unheard. It’s a twofer!

4. Have loud cell phone conversations. Also, when you take unimportant phone calls from people who don’t matter (that are never going to hire you anyway) speak clearly and with enough volume and emotion so anyone within twenty yards can hear.

They’ll be instantly seduced by your mystique. Just remember my mantra: It’s not a phone call – it’s a performance. Listening to the person on the other end of the line isn’t nearly as important as the impressing dozens of strangers around you who never liked you in the first place.

5. Attend every networking event in town. That way, people will never actually see you doing what you. All they see is you, working the room, forever maintaining a veneer of marginal success.

What better way to become memorable for the wrong reasons!

The point is: You don’t (really) need to be successful – just successful at looking like you’re successful. After all, who needs to be an entrepreneur when you can be mannequin?

6. Props are essential. Another way to convert yourself into a Woody Woodpecker sized float in the non-stop parade of self-importance is with props. Make sure you never leave home without your arsenal of unnecessary technologies that lower productivity and annoy everyone around you.

Especially hands-free blue tooth headsets. After all, you wouldn’t want to have a phone conversation without the ability to multitask, right? Duh.

How else are you supposed to offend the person on the other line while simultaneously adding additional stress to your life that drives your unloved children farther away from you?

7. Become a casual mentioning expert. Next, never let a conversation sneak by without casually mentioning one (or more!) of the following items:

Your legions of fans, your platinum status, how you never could have made it this far without Jesus, or your infinitely supportive husband, Winston, who actually works a real job while you spend his hard-earned cash on Google Ad words for your Amazing New 6-CD System that teaches people how to leverage social media into paying clients.

The point is: You’re always on stage. Every conversation is an interview. And you need to be camera-ready sister!

8. Save downtime for the afterlife. Finally, never let anybody see you pause, breathe, slow down or, God forbid, stop. Busy equals successful. And the moment someone spots you doing anything other than handing out business cards, money will slowly start to seep out of your bank account.

Walk fast and purposeful everywhere you go. Even to the bathroom. Chop-chop! No time to waste. You’re very important. Also, consider having your virtual assistant, Kyla; book at least five meetings a day – all within ten minutes of each other.

That way you can arrive to each new appointment out of breath, sweating and stressed out, thus convincing people that you’re in high demand all the time.

This reminds them that your time is valuable, billable and could easily be filled by somebody more important at any time.

REMEMBER: Mediocrity is only a blue tooth away.

I challenge you to begin incorporating these practices into your sub-par life today.

Who knows? Perhaps one day you, too, will join the ranks of inconsequential cogs whose work doesn’t count.

How are you hacking success?

For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Give 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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

9 Ways to Turn Your Pipe Dream into a Dream Come True

To execute is to put to death.

THAT’S THE KILLER QUESTION: What do you need to murder in your life that’s preventing you from taking action?

That annoying neighbor whose home cooking smells like hot trash?

Regardless of your situation, everyone can benefit from a few execution lessons.

Here: Your first session is on the house.

1. Finished is the new perfect. Perfect is boring anyway. As Mary Poppins taught us, “Enough is as good as a feast.” That’s your first execution lesson: To declare it done, throw your arms up in the air and say, “The hay is in the barn.”

Kind of like that night senior year when you were cramming for your calculus exam – somewhere around midnight while all your friends were getting smashed at Skipper’s – and you reached the point of diminishing returns. “If I don’t know it now, I’ll never know it,” you said.

So you packed up, walked home and got a good night’s sleep. Then you went to class the next day and made those derivatives your bitch. Way to go.

Remember: You’re the only one waiting for you to get everything right. Eighty percent is enough. Trust your resources. Nobody is going to notice the final twenty anyway. Did you postpone (again!) because you’re sweating something irrelevant?

2. Declare a stern deadline of no more. The hardest part about being an author is cutting. Deleting chapters that are brilliant but unnecessary. After twelve books in eight years, I still feel physical pain in my stomach every time I do it.

But that’s the secret: I wouldn’t even have this many books published at the age of thirty if I trapped myself in the eternal loop of pointless editing like every other author. Instead, I give myself “no more deadlines.” For example, “After the date of June 1, I will not add or subtract anything from this book.”

That’s the only way to get it done. That’s the only way to ship.

And yes, I find one or two typos in every book I write. But, in the words of Larry Winget, bestselling author of more than thirty books, “My crap is better than your nothing.” Are you stalling a product that, by the time it’s perfect and ready, some other chump company will have already finished, sold and shipped their version of it?

3. Exorcise falsehoods. End the barrage of lies. Be honest with yourself about these three questions: Are you making something useful or just making something? Are you creating problems you don’t have yet just to feel in control? Are you wasting your money solving an imaginary problem beautifully?

If so, you may be foreclosing on your own good efforts. Truth is: Execution is priceless; but when you’re miles away from meaningful work, it’s about as valuable as a used MC Hammer album. Does what you’re doing – right now – matter?

4. Establish real-world momentum. In physics class, you learned that momentum (mass times velocity) means moving without deliberate acceleration. In short: Moving, but only by using what you already have. Alex J. Mann, who blogged a series of articles on execution had this to say:

“Momentum doesn’t hit when you first edge off the starting line. But it begins to creep in when you start moving against the wind towards the unknown horizon. This is why momentum is so vital to a solid execution strategy. It proves one thing: that you are capable of getting things done with very little.”

My suggestion is to constantly ask the ultimately movement value question: Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?

5. Ship now, fix later, perfect never and bleed always. That’s the execution process for my creative practice. What’s yours? While you’re thinking about that, let’s turn to Derek Sivers of CD Baby for executional insight:

“Make it. Even if you don’t have the massive programming skill available, make a super lo-fi or no-fi version. Just get started with a couple friends and volunteers. It’s so much more impressive to hear someone say, ‘There’s this thing that I’ve started doing that a lot of people seem to like.’”

What can you do in the first half of the day to demonstrate focus and unstoppable action?

6. Find a way to start small. If it’s gathering dust, it’s bleeding money. Try this: Even if you can’t go the whole hog immediately, execute a small component of your idea early. Use social media platforms as testing ground. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that nobody even notices the minor flaws you’re losing sleep over. And know that the smaller and earlier you do it, the quicker and easier it is to hide your mistakes.

Besides, what’s worse: Hitting bumps in the road that project you forward, or go along sailing smoothly without realizing you’re actually standing still or worse, going backward?

Remember: Screwing up quietly beats sitting around loudly. As I learned in The Cult of Done Manifesto, “Failure counts as done, and so do mistakes.” Just admit it: You’re never really ready. Start small and win big. Will you let action eclipse excuse?

7. You don’t need more ideas. As a writer, public speaker and consultant, this is a huge problem for me. Especially since my idea inventory is slowly approaching 75,000 strong. I know. I’m like a chocoholic, but for creativity. Sometimes I get so entrenched in the joy of collecting and organizing ideas that I forget to do anything with them.

Whoops. Too bad I didn’t learn the secret until a few years ago. It simple: While ideas set the wheel in motion, execution is where the rubber meets the road. Your challenge is to regularly ask the question: When is it time to stop creating and start judging?

8. Action isn’t an afterthought. Engineer action into every idea you have. Otherwise they’re going to remain nouns in a marketplace where customers only buy verbs.

Incidentally, did you know the word “execution” has the same Latin derivative as the word “sequel”? Interesting. Maybe that’s what it means to execute – to make a sequel. After all, each experience contains the value of helping us decide what to do next. How are you entering into each endeavor with an attitude of action?

9. Jealousy is a waste of time. If someone else executes faster than you, it’s not because you’re incompetent or complacent – it’s because they have more resources at their disposal. Relax. Stop projecting. Stop resenting. Instead, focus on what’s standing in the way of accomplishing similar results.

For example: Creating busywork to avoid the important isn’t execution – that’s procrastination. Are you guilt of that? What about this: Remaining dangerously committed to not losing money is the enemy of execution. How are you in that department?

Remember: Be very careful about the expectations you set for yourself. Are you using your abilities constructively, or is your drive and ambition directed to unproductive and purely self-seeking channels?

REMEMBER: Your ability is only as good as its execution.

Ideas aren’t meant to stay ideas.

Don’t leave them that way.

Will your idea stay a pipe dream or become a dream come true?

For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Create Something Worth Being Criticized

If you’re not polarizing, you’re not monetizing.

If you’re making people react, you’re not making a difference.

If everybody loves what you’re doing, you’re doing something wrong.

THAT’S YOUR CHALLENGE: Create something worth being criticized.

Otherwise you’re boring.
Just another slice of average cut from the mediocre multitude.

Otherwise you’re ignored.
Just another non-entity in the infinite grey mass of blah blah blah.

Otherwise you’re forgotten.
Just another flash-in-the-pan, all-shtick-no-substance, one-trick-pony.

AND THE TRUTH IS: Criticism isn’t something you draw – it’s something you earn.

If you want to create something worth being criticized, consider these ideas:

1. Change your reactions to criticism. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield suggests that we recognize criticism (especially the envy-driven variety) for what it really is: Supreme compliment.

“The critic hates most what he wishes he would have done himself he had the guts.”

Lesson learned: Next time someone attacks you, smile. Even if you do so internally. Know that you’ve done your job and that it’s probably got nothing to do with you. In fact, consider keeping Criticism Log. Document daily victories of being hated – even in minor moments – as reminders that you haven’t lost your edge. What’s your definition of (and relationship with) criticism?

2. Assess the risk. There is an inverse relationship between your willingness to risk and the likelihood of criticism. For example, one of the questions I ask myself every morning as I sit down to work is, “What do I risk is presenting this material?”

If the answer is “not much” or “nothing,” I either rework it – or don’t publish it at all. It’s simply not daring enough. Too much ink, not enough blood. And whether you’re a writer or not, the challenge is the same: Create a filter for your own work that reinforces the importance of risk. You might ask, “Who will this idea piss off?” or “How much hatemail will this garner?”

Otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark. How do you assess the risk of what you release to the world?

3. Disturb people. The word “disturb” comes from the Latin emotere – the same derivative as the word “emotion.” That’s all you’re doing when you’re being a disturbance: Evoking emotion. Interrupting the quiet. Unsettling the peace. Upsetting the mental landscape. Could be positive or negative or neutral. Doesn’t matter.

The point is: You can’t go down in history if you’re not willing to shake things up in the present. Therefore: Learn to be constructively challenging – but without being ignorantly defiant. Learn to be delightfully disturbing – but without being painfully annoying.

After all, grinding the gears just because you love the sound doesn’t help anyone. And doing something just for the sake of being criticized isn’t worth being criticized for. Are your monkey wrenches well intentioned?

4. Wage an ongoing war against mediocrity. People who maintain a constant posture of challenging the process don’t just get noticed – they get nailed to crosses. Which, if you have thick enough skin – and perhaps some snacks to hold you over until the cavalry comes (no pun intended) – isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Take Bill Maher, for example. In the aftermath of 9/11, he refuted president Bush’s message that the terrorists were cowards: “We have been the real cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away,” explained Maher on Political Incorrect, “And staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, isn’t cowardly.”

Not surprisingly, Maher’s comments became a major controversy. Advertisers withdrew their support. Affiliates stopped airing the show temporarily. Even White House press secretary Ari Fleischer denounced Maher, according to the show’s Wikipedia page.

Sure enough, Politically Incorrect was cancelled six months later. Shortly thereafter, Maher moved to HBO to start shooting Real Time, which has recently been resigned for its ninth and tenth seasons. According to Nancy Geller, senior vice president, HBO Entertainment, “Bill Maher is one of the most sought-after opinion makers on TV, and I’m delighted that this fearless and provocative observer will return to HBO next year.”

Oh, and did I mentioned that since getting kicked off the air in 2002, Maher produced, wrote and directed the seventh most successful documentary of all time? Yep. Lesson learned: Violently refuse to become a follower of the common ways of the mediocre masses. Are you letting the world bring your average down, or are you dedicated to bringing its average up?

5. Negativity sucks – but silence sucks money out of your bank account. Oscar Wilde as right: “The only thing worse than being talked about – is not being talked about.” For example, I’d rather have my readers say that my books are drivel-filled hamster terds – than say nothing at all. And I’d rather my audience members tell me I was the worst speaker on the planet than sit there for an hour sexting their boyfriends.

Disagreement and doubt is a form of engagement. It means people heard you, and that’s what matters. Like Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz once said in a Rolling Stone Interview, “Happiness would be nice. Sadness would suck. But insignificance is the worth thing of all.” Next time your work gets beamed, consider it a victory. Better to be impugned than to be ignored. Are you earning criticism or hearing crickets?

6. Honesty scares people. Creating art is a simple process: Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page. Note well: I used the words “vein, blood and truth.” That’s the difference-maker: Criticism is earned by people who are willing to dance along, happily cross and stretch miles beyond the line.

My suggestion: Go there. “Take a chance – tell the truth,” as George Carlin reminded us. Take your readers, audience members and viewers somewhere they didn’t want to go – or never thought they’d go – but then make them so grateful they’re there that they never want to leave. How are you branding your honesty?

REMEMBER: Anything worth doing is worth being attacked for.

Ultimately, creating something worth being criticized is a risky, demanding and unglamorous process.

But that’s what difference makers do.

Sure as hell beats being ignored.

When was the last time you received hate mail?

For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

7 Ways to Convert Inertia into Demonstrable Forward Momentum

Execution isn’t a hobby.

It’s an effort.
It’s an attitude.
It’s an approach.
It’s an imperative.

And I know I write about it a lot.

In fact, you might even be sick of hearing about execution.

Too bad.

Inertia is a pervasive, expensive, urgent and real problem – in business and in life.

Here’s a list of eight (more) practices for converting your inertia into demonstrable forward momentum:

1. Accept inertia as an inevitable feature of the entrepreneurial landscape. Meet yourself where you are. Instead of making war with inaction, befriend it. Greet it with a welcoming heart. Put your arm around its shoulder and find out what it’s trying to teach you.

By partnering with inertia and respecting it as a natural part of the entrepreneurial experience, you’re able to move forward from an expanded (not contracted) mindspace. Are you ignoring, discounting or defriending the obvious?

2. Know that success (alone) is not enough to anchor you. Prosperity is the leading perpetrator of inertia. That’s the problem with winning: It often breeds complacency and dampens interest in innovative renewal. Lesson learned: Beware of the arrogance of success. Otherwise you’ll end up a victim of your victories, blinded by the bright light of your achievements, sitting on your butt in a blaze of self-satisfied glory.

My suggestion to build forward momentum mirrors Josh Waitzkin’s philosophy in The Art of Learning, “Make losing part of your regular experience.” That way you’re grounded in reality. Unlike our current educational system, which deludes kids into believing that there are no losers and winners.

Bullshit. Losing is part of life, and it needs to be part of your life too. Otherwise you’re in for a rude awakening the day you graduate. The cool part is, the moment you learn from your experience is the moment it ceases to be a mistake. So, failure actually is an option – but not growing from it, isn’t. When was the last time you were the loser?

3. Get the hay in the barn. My 12th book hits the shelves in the fall of 2010. But I know that if I don’t stop adding new material to it by July 1, it will never be done. Ever. I know me. And while it’s a painful part of the entrepreneurial process, you’ve got to put a creative stake in the ground.

Otherwise you’re consigned to career as a stock boy in the warehouse of inertia. In a recent blog post, Seth Godin riffed on this very topic, “People don’t like deadlines because they force us to decide. But they also create forward motion. And they give you the opportunity to beat the rush. They just have a lousy name. Call them live-lines instead. That’s what they are.”

Similarly, I teach this same idea to the people in my mentoring program. In fact, you might try writing the following reminder on a sticky note: Prepare to declare it done. Otherwise you’ll keep adding and changing and editing and improving until the day you die. Ugh. Why haven’t you put it on your calendar yet?

4. Breathe help in. Success never comes unassisted. You need to admit that it’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t make you needy, incompetent or in the debt of the helper. Learn to ask for it proactively, accept it gracefully, act upon it swiftly and appreciate it regularly.

It could be as simple as, “David, would you be willing to email me once a week as a gentle probe to keep me on point?” or as complex as, “Wendy, can you offer some advice on how to drag my sorry ass out of bed every morning instead of lying like a piece of broccoli listening to Howard Stern for three hours?”

Accountability works. Ask for it. Are you willing to let it be okay that you need other people?

5. Decide how much discomfort you can absorb. Moving forward, establishing momentum and executing are uncomfortable and inconvenient actions. But you can’t expect to thrive only when things are safely within your comfortable grasp. All motion carries (some) risk of injury.

As Marshall McLuhan wrote in The Global Village, “Pain is the natural accompaniment to innovation.” So, overcoming inertia is a function of how uncomfortable you’re willing to make yourself. Not to the point of hurting your body, obviously. But knowing yourself well enough to recognize your pain threshold.

That’s why I love yoga: You stretch yourself (literally) to the point where pain is a possibility, but not a reality. And that awareness prepares you to handle future discomfort. What are you pretending not to be uncomfortable about?

6. Believe you have everything you need to begin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Failure to move forward stems less from poor planning and more from the timidity to proceed. It’s a question of self-belief. And a practice I’ve found helpful over the years (from Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds) is to recite the following incantations each day:

“I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge … I am ready to proceed.”

Just accept the fact that you’re never ready, you’re never going to be ready, and that waiting until you are ready is like waiting on a train that doesn’t come through your town. May as well get on your bike and just start peddling. Remember: Who you already are is enough to get what you want. Have you ever asked yourself why you procrastinate?

7. Maintain alignment or risk wasting your energy. My friend Jim writes about this in Personal Brilliance: “Pursuing a goal that’s in conflict with your value system is kind of like trying to squeeze your feet into shoes that are a size too small.”

To prevent this from happening to you, I suggest creating a governing document for daily decision-making. This exercise changed my life – and my business – forever. And the secret behind it is, when you convey a thorough understanding of yourself, create a good working model of your own identity and maintain consistency of your actions, moving forward becomes substantially easier.

After all, it’s a hell of a lot easy to persist when you know who you are. Have you considered how you decide?

REMEMBER: Moving forward might be hard – but standing still is just plain stupid.

Fight the overwhelming influence of inertia.

Why haven’t you moved forward yet?

For the list called, “13 Ways to Out Develop Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

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7 Ways to Execute without Remorse

Finished is the new perfect.

You’re never fully ready.
You’re never completely done.
You’re never entirely sure of yourself.

What matters, what counts, is that you execute – without remorse – every single day.

Here’s how:

1. Battle the excuse barrage. Instead of getting ready to prepare executing your plan for formulating your strategy to begin the initial stages of brainstorming your pre-launch, just start. Less aiming, more firing.

Otherwise your bullets will rust, your gun will crack and your trigger finger will atrophy. And those sons of bitches from your biggest competitor will coast right past you, waving their hands in the air, grateful for your endless excuse-making. What lies are your excuses guarding?

2. Send your guilt to the guillotine. Remorse comes from the Latin remordere, which means, “to bite back.” Translation: When the inevitable guilt caused by the execution process starts to creep in, bite back. Show that chump who’s boss. Refuse to be held hostage by guilty feelings like, “What if people hate this?” “What if I bomb?” or “What if someone finds a bug?”

The reality is: All of those things are probably going to happen anyway. No sense getting acid reflux over minor eventualities. Instead, be shameless. Be an imperfectionist. And remember that flawless execution doesn’t exist anyway. Off with the head! What do you need to murder to pave the way for exquisite execution?

3. Get comfortable with the risk of failure. If you screw up early enough, quickly enough and quietly enough – then make a conscious effort to extract lessons learned from those biffs – only a few people will notice. Truth is: Mistake is the mentor of man.

The challenge is attending to your failures with a mindset of personal growth, life-long learning and never-ending improvement. Do this, and disappointment will slowly dissipate. Do this, and discomfort will become less threatening.

Then all you have to do is ask the two big questions:

*Why did the universe want me to make this mistake?
*What would I have to learn about this mistake to make it no longer a mistake?

Remember: Failure IS an option – not learning from that failure isn’t. How are you exponentially growing from your screw-ups?

4. Build in accountability. In a recent blog post, Seth Godin said, “Make shipping an obligation. Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly.”

Here’s how: I suggest pairing up with a fellow entrepreneur or creative professional. At the end of each day, call, text or email each other with the question, “What did you execute today?” If you can’t come up with an answer, lunch is on you.

Better yet, sign a series of blank checks for each other. And if someone fails to ship, the other person reserves the right to fill in – and cash – that person’s check in with any amount he wants. Think that would your execution ratio?

5. Intentionally surround yourself with obstacles. Great way to challenge yourself. Helps keep your chops up. It’s also good practice withstanding external pressures that attempt to deter you from your productive path. I learned this from the United States Tennis Association:

“Systematically practice with distractions present,” they suggested in their 2002 guidebook. “Otherwise, training under ideal conditions won’t mentally and physically prepare you to cope with unusual events.”

Remember: Resistance is healthy. Make friends with it. How are you using pushback to strengthen your capacity to execute?

6. Constraints kindle execution. As a writer, my favorite feature of Twitter is the 140-character constraint. This structural limitation expedites execution in several ways.

With 140 characters, content is easier to manage and deploy.
With 140 characters, creativity and conciseness is challenged.
With 140 characters, you’re forced to minimize extraneous clutter.
With 140 characters, writers don’t trap themselves the purgatory of wanting to add more.

Ultimately, Twitter’s character constraint crushes the single biggest barrier to creative execution: Staring at a blank page. So, with every tweet you publish; your executional victory bank grows incrementally larger.

Then over time, those minor victories accumulate. You start to believe in your ability to ship. And before you know it, you’re executing bigger and bigger projects that are way more than just 140 characters.

Remember: Constraints provide focus, and focus paves the way for execution. How are you using structural limitations to execute faster?

7. Build executional capacity into your idea from the beginning. “It’s hard to stay motivated and excited about executing crap,” wrote Guy Kawasaki. “But it’s easy if you’re changing the world. If you and your team are having a hard time executing, maybe you’re working on the wrong thing.”

The secret is to run an Execution Audit at the onset. Ask your team questions like, “Will the time/money/energy investment required to execute be less, equal or greater to the benefits of executing?” “How well does our team represent idea people and execution people?” and, “If we don’t end up executing this, will anybody even notice?”

Questions like these save time, save face and save money. How are you entering into your project with execution on the brain?

REMEMBER: Execution isn’t an action you take once – it’s a mindset you maintain for the rest of your career.

As Seneca once observed: “There is no person so severely punished as he who subjects himself to the whip of his own remorse.”

Go ship something.

What did you execute yesterday?

For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Give the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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