12 Ways to Sharpen Your Instincts to a Razor’s Edge

“What were you thinking when you decided to wear a nametag every day for the rest of your life?”

Well, that’s just the thing – I wasn’t thinking.

I was feeling.
I was listening.
I was trusting.
I was testing.
I was risking.
I was reacting.

But I definitely wasn’t thinking.

And, interestingly enough, that decision turned out to be the single most important one of my life.

LESSON LEARNED: Thinking is overrated.

Allow me explain that ridiculous blanket statement before I start getting hatemail from Mensa.

First of all, thinking is (technically) my occupation.

As a writer, speaker, mentor, consultant and entrepreneur – I literally make a living off of my brain.

At the same time, part of being a Professional Thinker – that is, one who dedicates his life to the persistent and honest pursuit of ideas – is recognizing when to stop thinking and start instincting.

This reminds me of John Cusack, whose character in the movie High Fidelity confesses:

“I’ve been thinking with my gut since I was fourteen years old, and frankly speaking, between you and me, I have come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.”

Ever felt like that before?
Like your instincts were about as sharp as Fisher Price butter knife?

I know I have. It’s sickening. All you want to do is be able to trust your gut, but every time you roll the dice, you crap out.

THE REALITY IS: Instinct is not a self-sharpening blade.

As much as you’d like your instincts to be as sharp as the Miracle Blade – which, if you recall, could slice through a steel hammer, a leather boot and a tomato, back to back, with no hassle (and no shipping and handling!) – then you’ve got to be willing to hone your intuitive muscles.

Here’s a collection of practices for doing so:

1. Look back at the path that you followed to victory. That way you can see the sequence of moves that led you where you are. Try this: Make a list of three situations where you trusted your instincts. Maybe it was a key business decision. Or the choice to end a relationship. Or that time you took a left down a gravel road even though the annoying British voice on your GPS kept telling you to turn around.

Whatever your situations were, write the answers to the following questions for each one: What were your intuition triggers? Where did you feel a sense of self-trust in your body? What questions did you ask yourself? How long did it take to make your final decision? And most importantly: How did that situation ultimately turn out? You’ll be amazed. Are you polling your past successes?

2. Look back at the path that you followed to failure. Next, I want you make a list of three situations where you ignored your instincts. And I want you to write down the answers to those same questions from the first example. My guarantee: Simply by making these two lists, you will immediately double the sharpness of your intuition through the power of self-awareness.

In the same way that getting the appointment is making a sale in itself; simply asking yourself these questions like pressing the ON button of the intuition sharpening saw. Remember: Self-evaluation is the impetus of self-improvement. Would your instincts be sharper if you became a more contemplative person?

3. Audit your instinctual abilities. Now that you’ve brainstormed a series of experiences, the next step is to give yourself an overall intuitive evaluation. Ask questions like: How do you treat your own intuitive promptings? In what areas of your life are you most intuitive? Under what conditions are you most intuitive? Who murdered your intuition?

This provides further insight into the origins of your instincts. Very helpful. Are you allowing yourself to trust your more spontaneous instinctual abilities?

4. Make paying attention to your intuition a priority. This is the crucial mindset for achieving deeper intuitive validity. Affirm to yourself, “I’m committed to listening to my body,” “I trust my resources,” and “I’m committed to honoring whatever arises.”

That’s how you plant the intuitive seed within yourself. And if you keep watering it, over time, you’ll yield a bountiful harvest of instinctive goodness. Are you dedicated to listening to your deepest self?

5. Be always guided by your body’s wisdom. It will never lie to you. And don’t have to climb to the top of a mountain or pay thousands of dollars for some weekend seminar to attain that wisdom. All you have to do is listen to what your body trying to tell you.

Here’s how: Think about where you manifest stress. Back pain? Stomach acid? Migranes? Then, notice patterns in how you feel when doing certain activities. Anticipatory waves of anxiety? Immediate biofeedback? Emotional hangovers? These are all the clues you need. And you’ll find that when you put yourself in direct touch with the one thing that will always tell you the truth (and that you can always learn from), your instincts will thank you.

But only if you become a consistent congregant of your bodily temple. If your cells could speak, what would they say to you?

6. Commit to stillness. After three years of practicing yoga, I’ve found my instincts to be sharper than ever before. Here’s why: The most challenging component of practicing yoga is the stillness. Especially in Bikram, when it’s 110° and sweat gushes out of every pore of your body for ninety minutes straight. Kind of hard (not) to wipe, itch, scratch, pick, pull or adjust something.

But that’s the whole point: To be able to practice perfect stillness amidst surrounding chaos. That’s when you’re confronted with who you really are. That’s when you can’t hide from your truth. Sounds simple, but it’s actually the most challenging part of class.

Hell, anyone can touch head to knee. But to just sit there and do nothing for sixty seconds? Ha! Most people are so voluntarily overbooked and crazybusy that the mere thought of absolute stillness gives them an ulcer. The cool part is: If you can practice stillness in the studio, you can practice stillness anywhere. Muscle memory is a beautiful thing.

The best part is: From stillness comes lucidity. And from lucidity comes the ability to listen to your intuition. Ask anyone who does yoga: The highest benefits are found outside the studio. Them instincts will get sharp as steel. How much time did you spend yesterday just sitting?

7. Float a trial balloon. Set a goal to achieve one small intuitive victory a day. Whether you’re deciding what shoes to wear, choosing which route to take to work or listening for which specific thought wants to be tweeted, the sharpening will continue.

And by practicing instinctive/intuitive behavior in small moments, you’ll start to become more receptive to future whispers about bigger moments. How many intuition reps do you usually get in each day?

8. Regularly ask yourself intuition-tapping questions. In no particular order, try these:

*What do I need to remember to be most aware of right now?
*What direction do I need to go right now?
*How do I need to take care of myself right now?
*What is it that I don’t want to know about myself?
*What remains unexpressed within me?
*What message is my body trying to give me right now?
*What are the signs I need to look for in myself that tell me I need to do something different?
*What is within me that’s trying to come through right now?

You might post these questions on sticky notes. Or ask them to yourself as you fall asleep. Or make a list of one hundred answers to each question. Or repeat them as mantras during meditation. Or write them in blood on your bathroom mirror. The point is to use whatever works for your learning and motivation style – then allow the solutions to your problems suggest themselves. How do you punch yourself in the face?

9. First thoughts, best thoughts. When you start writing, it doesn’t matter what you write or how you write – as long as you’re writing, the truth eventually arrives. The page doesn’t lie. It just takes a while. Usually about twenty minutes. Give yourself permission to keep writing, to write what you feel, and to write what wants to be written. The truth has a sneaky way of slipping out.

Often times, right under your nose. Ever experienced that before? The moment when you look up from your laptop think, “Holy crap. Is that how I really feel?” Well, here’s the reality: It is. You just needed that container of honesty, safety and patience to invite that naked truth to make an appearance.

Remember: Off the top of your head usually means from the bottom of your heart. Beatnik author William Burroughs was right, “Rewrites are a betrayal of your own thoughts.” Don’t edit yourself. Words contain truths. Are you using them as intuitive weapons?

10. Beware the dulling forces of intuition. You can’t train your instincts if the velocity and volume of your life never recedes. Here are two practices I’ve found great success with. First, keep your distance from people whose sole purpose is to pollute your head with toxic noise. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you.

Second, learn how to disappear from the world. Press the mute button on life. Be quiet. Listen. Your questions will be considered, if not answered. Sometimes that’s all your intuition needs – to be nudged out of hiding and onto center stage for a sound check. What rust do you need to remove from your life?

11. Behind every problem there’s a question trying to ask itself. Your challenge is to spy on yourself in the spirit of self-inquiry. To step back from life’s situations and figure out what the question of the moment is. And to call upon untested faculties awaiting your discovery.

Then, to make yourself available to any spontaneous feelings that begin to arise. The cool part is: By asking yourself questions about your current experience, you attune yourself to promptings of inner wisdom. Have you established an ongoing inner dialogue with yourself?

12. Discern the voices. There’s nothing wrong with hearing voices inside your head. What matters is listening to the right ones. What matters is courageously identifying the angry voice of your ego that is making it difficult to hear the subtle voice of intuition. Which do you hear?

REMEMBER: Instinct is like creativity – the more you use it, the more you have of it.

Employ any (or all) of these practices, and you’ll be sure to sharpen your instincts to a razor’s edge.

That way, you won’t even have to think.

Do you trust your gut?

For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” 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!

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

12 Ways to Increase Your Capacity to Execute

You know what you need to do.
You know how you need to do it.
You know when you need to start.

So what’s the problem?

WELL, MAYBE: Increasing your capacity to execute isn’t just about what you do – it’s also about what you avoid, what you stop doing and what you stop thinking.

Consider these ideas for turning ideas into action:

1. You don’t need to respond to every attention magnet. People who dissipate themselves in useless activity or let their agenda collapse too easily are forever doomed to an execution-free life. All because they haven’t trained themselves to be ruthlessly self-protective with their time. Nor have they made the conscious decision to put their own needs at the top of their own list.

And I get it. I’ve been there before. I’m busy too. But overburdening yourself is easy because it makes you feel busy, important and needed.

Too bad that’s all a lie. Too bad checking your inbox forty times an hour doesn’t make you any money. Too bad spending your evenings fiddling around on Facebook, stalking ex-girlfriends from college – who, by the way, look five times better than they did a decade ago – isn’t helping you turn your ideas into action. Does distraction overwhelm and enslave you?

2. Decide who to ignore. Feedback is enormously profitable, but only when it comes from people who matter. Otherwise, it’s nothing but procrastination in disguise. Just another confusing, unnecessarily discouraging, self-doubt-producing, undue-stress causing waste of energy and tears.

My suggestion: Don’t torture yourself over feedback from someone whose opinion doesn’t count. Execution is the byproduct of listening to the right people while ignoring the wrong people. It’s about self-trust and healthy impatience.

Stop exposing yourself to harsh, unsolicited feedback and start trusting your voice. Demanding excessive reassurance is a one-way ticket to entrepreneurial purgatory. Whose advice have you outgrown?

3. Beware of the over commitment trap. It’s like owning a truck: The week you buy it, everyone you know needs help moving. And you don’t want to feel like a bad friend, so you allow yourself become entangled in other people’s pointless wars. No wonder you never execute. You haven’t learned to be respectfully discerning about whom you give permission participate in your life.

Like my mentor taught me, always ask two filtering questions, “Is this person asking me to create a future that I’m going to feel obligated to be a part of?” and, “Is the level of help this person is asking me to offer commensurate with the type of relationship I have with them?”

Remember: If you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell all their little friends that it’s okay to do the same. All because you never set a precedent of time valuation. Are you sacrificing your life by spending too much time being everybody else’s dream machine?

4. Decide for yourself first. The world will attempt to superimpose onto you its prefabricated definition what success should be. Please avert your ears. Don’t become one of those people who give mass consciousness permission to think for them. Otherwise your execution track record will be about as consistent as Shaquille O’Neal’s free throw percentage.

My suggestion: Stop listing all the reasons why you should avoid taking a risk. Waiting squanders momentum. And when you let your desires stay sobbing, awaiting your hand to take action upon them, momentum becomes a statistical improbability.

Instead, don’t wait until you have five years experience. Don’t wait for instructions. Don’t wait for overwhelming evidence before you trust yourself. And don’t wait to be rewarded to do it. Just go. What are you rationalizing your way out of?

5. Refuse to exist in an inhibited condition. If the innovation of others intimidates and inhibits you, you lose. The secret is to use the success of others to fuel your own execution. Two examples come to mind. First: When I sense the warning signs of an approaching storm of creative blockage, I just read Gaping Void or Seth’s blog. Their innovative spirit and cutting edge philosophies never cease to light a fire under my (occasionally) uninspired ass.

Second: When I notice the declining momentum of one of my mentees’ executional patterns, I do what good mentors do – model. Take Carrie, for example. She’s been bragging to me for the last three years about her new book. Which I’ve read. And which I think is tremendous. The problem is, she can’t pull the trigger. She can’t make the book real. She can’t ship.

Instead of getting on her case, hounding her every week or trying to solve her execution problems for her, I just write another book. Then I mail her a copy. Then she wants to kill me. And then I ask her to channel that frustration into her project. And then she does. So much for existing in an inhibited condition. How can you fire inspiration into yourself (or others) today?

6. Capitulation is the enemy of execution. I’m all for delegation. But when you deliberately plant your entire idea in the hands of another person, he owns you. Which makes him the sole shot-caller. Which means execution just made one hell of a pit stop.

From now on, try this: Diversify the baskets you put your eggs in. That way, if one person moves like molasses, you can reach out to someone who moves like Speedy Gonzalez while you’re waiting. For example, my book production team consists of four people: Jeff for layout, Sue for cover art, Jess for edits and Chris for printing.

Now, after twelve books, I’ve learned that each person has their own individual pace. Which is fine. I respect that. So, in order to get the books done in a timely manner, I shotgun the assignments. Like a golf scramble. Everyone starts at a different time. That way, my books finish at (roughly) the same place in the process.

Your challenge is to figure out the time sensitivity of the people you’re working with. Otherwise the sole basket in which all your eggs lie might get chopped down by deforestation. Not exactly the kind of execution you had in mind. When was the last time you over delegated?

7. Complacency is the BFF of inaction. Declaring victory too soon is an exercise in entrepreneurial foot shooting. The best policy is to wait till the check clears. Or to hold off until the product is delivered. Or to stand by before you start telling the world about your new website. Otherwise you look like a putz trying to explain yourself to people when that error 404 page comes up.

Julia Cameron addresses this issue in her Artist’s Way series: “The first rule of magic is self-containment. You must hold your intention within yourself, stoking it with power. Only then will you be able to manifest what you desire.”

I made this mistake several times early in my career. From interviews on major media networks to new book projects, it seemed like the more people I told, the less likely the idea was to come to fruition. Woops. Looks like I shot myself in both feet. Lesson learned: Think long and hard before waving your “Mission Accomplished” banner on the poop deck of your career. What is the cost of inaction?

8. Celebrate quickly and quietly. Preserving yesterday is fun for about a week. But eventually, it’s time to get back to work. Otherwise you become so addicted to your victory dance that your sore knees atrophy your ability to execute again in the future.

Truth is: When you overvalue prior successes, the arrogance of the past comes back to bite you in the ass. As John Mayer explained during a 2009 interview with Esquire, “To evolve, you have to dismantle. And that means accepting the idea that nothing you created in the past matters anymore other than it brought you here. You pick up your new marching orders and get to work.”

Remember: If you’re too removed from action, you’ll never be able to see what’s wrong. Are you sabotaging your own ability to repeat past performance?

9. Lower your expectations. Never execute as if you’re going to get it right on the first try. You won’t. Nobody does. What’s important is that you reflect on your experience, document your reflections and then internalize those lessons so you don’t screw up as badly next time.

Otherwise you’ll continue to let yourself down. Which murders your confidence. Which prevents you from taking positive action in the future. Remember: When you expect nothing, failure is impossible. Is your addiction to perfection adding undue pressure that nobody is going to notice anyway?

10. Don’t mistake knowledge for wisdom. Although I hesitate to draw another simplistic, narrow-minded chalk line that divides the entire human race into two convenient categories, what the hell. Here goes nothing. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who take the tour, and those who get a guest pass. Which one are you?

Look: Reading a thousand books might make you an expert, but that doesn’t change the fact that you (still) haven’t executed anything. Learning (reading books) builds knowledge, but doing (taking action) builds wisdom. Ultimately, filling yourself up with irrelevant knowledge is akin to eating an entire can of Texas BBQ Pringles: They taste great, they fill you up, but their nutritional output isn’t the worth the time investment or the orange stains on your fingers. What percentage of your brilliant mental effort is invested in the immaterial?

11. Don’t share your execution goals with negative people. All they’re going to is deflate your enthusiasm, piss you off royally and inspire you to throw in the towel. Invest your energy elsewhere. Life’s too short to surround yourself with mediocre people. They rarely challenge and inspire you, plus they tend to smell like hot trash.

You need to play wit people who are better than you. You need to hang with people who, by virtue of their presence in your life, make executing your goals a natural byproduct. How much time are you wasting on relationships you’ve outgrown?

12. Comfort is rarely part of the equation. To increase your capacity to execute, it’s possible you’re going to have to choose an inconvenient lifestyle. Sorry. It’s part of the deal. Waking up at 5am might be a pain in the ass, but it’s also a pleasure for your bank account.

That’s the crucial moment: When discipline trumps desire. When you refuse to let your stamina become stifled by your endless excuse barrage. As my friend Sam Silverstein explains in his new book, “An excuse a story you tell to yourself about yourself. And you always convince yourself to buy that excuse before you try to sell it elsewhere.”

Lesson learned: When you ignore the inconvenient, you allow the lust for what is familiar block the beauty of what is possible. How, specifically, did you make yourself uncomfortable yesterday?

FINAL WORDS: Vision without execution is hallucination.

Edison said that.

Which brings me to my updated version of the same maxim:

Talking smack without doing jack is whack.

Ginsberg said that.


You know what you need to do.
You know how you need to do it.
You know when you need to start.

The world is standing by.

Life is curious to see what you will do.

How are you increasing your capacity to execute?

For the list called, “27 Ways to OUT the Competition,” 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!

Are You Crossing Over or Fleeing From These Seve Small Business Bridges?

1. Applicability is the bridge between information and insight. Anyone can be a vending machine of good information. Only a true thought leader could bridge the gap. The difference is: Information is just content; insight is a penetrating mental vision. Which one do you deliver?

2. Execution is the bridge between creativity and innovation. Everybody is creative. My five-year-old nephew is creative. That’s the easy part, since creativity is a state of being. Innovation, on the other hand, is a rare bird. It denotes consistent action. And not everyone can pull it off. Only those who impatiently transition from inertia to action. Are you turning your ideas into money or into more ideas?

3. Leverage is the bridge between opportunity and profitability. It begins with the abundance mentality that opportunity knocks all day, everyday. Then, it continues with the leverage mentality that it’s always possible to kill two stones with one bird. The only thing standing in your way is a narrow-minded vision of what’s possible. How big is your thinking?

4. Stamina is the bridge between amateur and master. People often ask me, “As a author, how do you know when your book is done?” My answer is: “When I’ve read it so many times that I hate it.” That’s stamina. This reminds me of what my friend Jim Flowers likes to remind me, “Amateurs practice until they get it right – masters practice until they can’t get it wrong.” Are you willing to go all night until right is second nature?

5. Mindset is the bridge between happenstance and happiness. If you have an attitude of leverage, everything that happens to you is positive. And profitable. And a growth opportunity. And a moment of instant education. It all depends on the way you talk to yourself. Instead of asking, “Why me?” you ask, “What’s next?” Instead of saying, “This sucks!” you wonder, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible.” Talk like this, and you’ll kill two stones with one bird, every time. Have you mastered the language of leverage?

6. Repetition is the bridge between average and awesome. If you’re a master, you most certainly have some kind of daily practice. It doesn’t matter what you practice – only that you practice. And that you do so every single day, without fail. What do you repeat every day?

7. Platform is the bridge between expertise and audience. It doesn’t matter how smart you are – if you’re selfish with your knowledge, you’re just winking in the dark. Besides, ideas don’t do you any good in your head. That’s the difference between creativity and innovation: One is a noun, the other is a verb. Which one are you?

What bridges are you fleeing from?

For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” 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!

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

Does Your Company Pass The Testicle Test?

“Wow, that takes balls.”

That’s what people tell you.

When you do something crazy.
When you go full time as an artist.
When you take the entrepreneurial plunge.

That it requires balls.

Cujones. Courage. Moxie. The willingness to step up and stick yourself out there.

I agree. I think it absolutely takes balls to change the world.


Having balls (alone) isn’t enough.

As Lawrence Fishburne said in Boyz in the Hood, “Any fool can make a baby – but only a real man can be a father.”

TRUTH IS: Making a name for yourself begins with risk; but the only way to make it last is to blend it with regularity.

Here’s a list of ten strategies to help you hang in there, or, as I like to call it, pass The Testicle Test:

1. Focus is the mobilizing force. In The Tao of Abundance, Laurence G. Boldt reminds us that by learning to do one thing with total focus; you bring a clarity and simplicity to the whole of your life.

The question is: Will you stay focused in the face of incessant distractions trying to pull you away from your dream, or will the beckoning, elusive “door to more” seduce you into walking through?

Don’t let things derail you. Be very careful what you begin. Otherwise, spending your energies on the wrong causes will be the end of you. All that risk will lead to zero rewards, or worse yet, an abundance of rewards that don’t matter. How much money are you losing (not) focusing on your priorities?

2. Call upon untested faculties that await your discovery. Sustainability is a function of adaptability. That is, deploying your gifts in new ways to add new value. A helpful audit is to ask yourself the following questions once a quarter:

*Which of your skills do you rarely get the opportunity to use at work?
*What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to build your business?
*What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to add value to your customers?

Eventually, your arsenal of sustainability tools (backbone) will support your attitude of courageous action (balls). How many new skills have you recently become known for?

3. Mere movement is meaningless. Especially if you’re mistaking movement for progress. On the other hand, if you’re making real advancement – even if you’re moving at a glacial pace – eventually the world is going to notice.

As long as you don’t regret what you have set in motion. Instead, develop faith in the decisions you made. And know every step you take (as long as it’s a smart step) makes the probability of success higher. What are you moving toward?

4. Take personal and proactive responsibility for your own evolution. The first step is learning to recognize and refuse the old image of yourself. That way you’ll know what (not) to regress back into.

Next, be surgical in your improvement. Keep rotation constant. And be willing to trust the process of change. Otherwise, like the phone book, you’ll move closer to extinction with every passing day.

Third, don’t preserve yesterday. Reflect upon it, yes – dwell upon it, no. Learn from it, yes – be shackled by it, no. Remember: No adapt, no advance. You must be a willing participant in that process. What change are you afraid to invite?

5. Deliberately slow down. Success turns into failure when it comes too fast, too early or too abundantly. I experienced this about ten years ago. My career blasted off before I had the chance to get my oxygen mask on. Not surprisingly, my left lung eventually collapsed. Then I really needed oxygen.

That became the lesson about proceeding before you’re ready: Impatience pays off, but only when it’s balanced with intermission. I discovered that all the balls in the world are irrelevant when you’ve got a tube in your chest. Learn to honor what stops you. And if nothing stops you, stop yourself. Are you an expert at pressing the off button?

6. Recognize failure as part of the plan. Otherwise your remarkable inability to learn from past errors will be the seed of your demise. Instead, build the stamina to recover rapidly from disappointment.

Because the question isn’t, “Do you have balls?” but rather, “When the world kicks you in the crotch, how quickly do you get up?” It all depends on your adaptive capacity. Remember: The falling is inevitable – the harm is optional. What gifts have your failures given you?

7. Trust accelerates trajectory. Risk requires trust, and trust requires evidence. That’s the hard part. So, it becomes a process of uncertainty reduction through repeated action. The more venues in which you reveal yourself, the more trust you garner for yourself.

Your mission is to match each moment of risk taking (having balls) with three moments of backbone engaging (sustaining stamina). How did you increase your self-trust this week?

8. Sustaining is a function of restraining. My clients frequently tell me that the discipline that I administer is astounding. To work. To life. To everything. And I’m always grateful for that compliment because most people don’t notice it. They assume boldness solidifies success on its own.

This, of course, is a lie.

Discipline is the hallmark of greatness. The foundation of all creativity. The four-letter word that guarantees success. And it’s the differentiator that will set you apart from all other creative professionals. You just need to ask yourself what you’re willing to give up to get what you want.

Remember: Risky becomes stupid the moment it touches inconsistency. Do it everyday or don’t do it all. What waits you in the refining fire of discipline?

9. Poke savagely away. Genius is a great spark, but rededication is the firewood that keeps that fire blazing. Think Mozart or Beethoven were happy with being one-hit-wonders?

No way. They were hundred-hit-heroes. All because they risked initially, but (also) refused to discontinue the passionate pursuit of their craft indefinitely.

You owe your success to a pattern. Step back from the canvas, step back within yourself and steer clear of complacency. Otherwise you’re just another Right Said Fred: To sexy for your shirt, so sexy it hurts. How many hours did you practice yesterday?

10. Be always planting seeds for the future. Small deposits. Every day. With intensity of desire and consistency determination. And, if you don’t have any options – create some. Map it out. Plan your learning trajectory.

I do this every few years with my own business. I’ll map out where I’ve come, where I am, and where I’d like to be. Then I’ll brainstorm a list of seeds that need to be planted to make my envisioned future a tangible reality. What’s growing in your garden of success?

REMEMBER: Action without consistency always falls short of mastery.

Next time someone remarks to you, “Wow, that takes balls,” silently remind yourself of the following truth:

Yes, it takes balls to stick yourself out there – but it takes backbone to KEEP yourself out there.

Does your company pass The Testicle Test?

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

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

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

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

How to be Risky as Hell without being Reckless as Hell’s Angels

Being an entrepreneur is risky.

That’s actually the definition of the word: “One who undertakes risks.”

The challenge is negotiating the fine line between riskiness and recklessness.

If you don’t, you may end up going bankrupt.

Today we’re going to explore the distinction between these two ends of the entrepreneurial spectrum:

RISKY is sticking yourself out there.
RECKLESS is leaving yourself out there.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you balancing vulnerability with healthy boundaries?

RISKY is embracing uncertainty.
RECKLESS is rejecting ambiguity.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you comfortable with not knowing?

RISKY increases the probability of temporary hurt.
RECKLESS guarantees the promise of permanent injury.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you willing to sit out one game to avoid sitting out the entire season?

RISKY indicates accountability for actions.
RECKLESS suggests irresponsibility in thinking.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What are you hesitant to own?

RISKY is growing increasingly mindful of how your pebbles ripple.
RECKLESS is remaining utterly unconcerned about the consequences of action.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you an island?

RISKY is treading on thin ice, trotting atop uncertain ground and gracefully balancing out on a limb.
RECKLESS is jumping on cracked ice, dancing atop broken ground and scarcely hanging by a thread.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What are you afraid to consider as a sign?

RISKY is succeeding from venturesomeness.
RECKLESS is stumbling from carelessness.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Who can help you so you don’t make (too many) wrong moves?

RISKY is marked by heartstrong action.
RECKLESS is stained by headstrong action.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you thinking with the right organ?

RISKY is for bad asses.
RECKLESS is for broke asses.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Which ass are you?

RISKY is enterprising.
RECKLESS is compromising.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: Are you making money, but making your family crazy?

RISKY is on a trajectory for prosperity.
RECKLESS is on collision course with bankruptcy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS: What consumes your time that isn’t making you any money?

Ultimately, taking risks comes with the entrepreneurial territory.

And sure, sometimes you have to go off the high board even if you’re not sure if there’s any water below.

So if you do, just make sure there’s a phone nearby.

Because while drawing a little blood is risky, filling the entire pool with it is reckless.

Are you risky as hell, or reckless as Hell’s Angels?

For the ebook called, “45 Recession-Friendly Strategies for Entrepreneurial Evolution,” 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!

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

6 Reasons to Add a Little Crazy to Your Entrepreneurial Arsenal

1. Crazy is a compliment. If everybody says you’re nuts, you just might be onto something. Therefore: The only valid response to someone who uses that word to describe you is, “Thanks!”

As Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations, “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

Your mission is to (not only) be nuts, but to BE PROUD of being nuts. No entrepreneur ever looked back on her career and thought, “You know, looking back, I should have been more sane.” How do you respond when people tell you that you’re out of your mind?

2. There’s always somebody crazier. In 2005 I was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Ripley’s Believe Or Not because I made a career out of wearing a nametag 24-7. Now, as crazy as that sounds, my accomplishments are (bordering on) normal when compared to some of the other inductees.

For example, Leo Kongee. He’s known as “The Human Pin Cushion,” as his claim to fame is hammering nails into his face. And you think I’m crazy for wearing a nametag everyday?

Lesson learned: You’re not the only crazy one. As Jimmy Buffet sang in Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, “If we weren’t all crazy, we would go insane.” Are you?

3. Practice being (positively) crazy. In Tim Burton’s 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland, there’s a common theme of craziness throughout the film. Distraught about her impending battle against the dangerous Jabberwocky, Alice says, “There is no use trying; one can’t believe impossible things.”

The White Queen responds with, “I dare say you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Lesson learned: Practice doesn’t make perfect – it makes profit. If you want to turn crazy into money, you’ve got to do a little every day. I’d suggest doing so in the morning to stretch your brain and activate your attitude. How many crazy ideas did you have before breakfast today?

4. Love the haters. Nietzsche once remarked, “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music.” Next time people give you flack for being crazy, dust ‘em off. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Especially if they’re the type of people whose imagination can’t encompass what it is that you want to do. Instead, be grateful for their challenge to your commitment to craziness. How will you use the haters to fuel your fire of insanity?

5. Craziness keeps you sane. Sounds counterintuitive, I know. But it’s true. It’s like that U2 song, “I Might Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy tonight.” Ever feel that way? Like you just need to think or say or do something crazy before your head explodes? Good. Next time that happens, go with it. The secret is to compose a craziness practice that you can default to when you need your fix. Whatever active, creative outlet scratches your itch.

For example, when I’m in a crazy mood, I go to a concert or sing karaoke. Two perfect venues where it’s completely acceptable (and strenuously encouraged) to be as crazy as possible. Works every time. Except when security escorts me out. Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of (occasional) manifestations of reckless insanity. Have you taken your dose of Vitamin-C today?

6. Be (positively) crazy. “He’s crazy in the best way possible.” That’s how the UFC 107 announcer introduced fighter B.J. Penn on December 12, 2009. I remember watching the fight in Vegas – it was astounding. Penn defeated Sanchez in round five to retain the UFC Lightweight Championship.

More importantly, this victory became one of only two fights in UFC’s sixteen-year history to end in the fifth round. Why? I’d say it was largely due to the fighter’s (positive) craziness. That’s the secret. And there IS a fine line I would be remiss if I didn’t define.

Therefore: Being crazy – notwithstanding the benefits I’ve outlined today – won’t be profitable if you’re not doing it for the right reasons. Don’t be crazy just for the sake of being crazy. It won’t sustain you, it won’t nourish you, and it won’t make you money. In fact, it might even get you hurt. What’s your motivation for being crazy?

To conclude our discussion on crazy, let’s turn to Gnarls Barkley.

You may be familiar with their 2006 hit single from the album St. Elsewhere called “Crazy.”

I love this song.
I’ve heard it on the radio hundreds of times.
I even saw Gnarls Barkley play this very song live in concert.

But it wasn’t until I carefully read the lyrics that I discovered just how poignant this song really is.

Think of it as a reminder of the profitability of (healthy) craziness:

– – –

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you’re out there, without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough, I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that’s my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are, Hahaha bless your soul – you really think you’re in control?

Well, I think you’re crazy.
I think you’re crazy.
I think you’re crazy.
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb.
And all I remember is thinking: I want to be like them.
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun.
And it’s no coincidence I’ve come
And I can die when I’m done

Maybe I’m crazy.
Maybe you’re crazy.
Maybe we’re crazy.

REMEMBER: If you’re not at least (a little) nuts, you’re a putz.

How are you profiting from insanity?

For the ebook called, “24 Ways to Out GROW Your Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the ebook for free!

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

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

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on Amazon.com and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

A List of Things Will Not Bring You Closer to Your Dreams

1. Accepting. Don’t accept anyone else’s version of the truth. Don’t accept payment in politeness. Don’t accept the verdict that you’re not enough. Don’t accept that everyone you encounter has your best interests at heart. Don’t accept that life is out to get you. What have you mindlessly accepted?

2. Allowing. Don’t allow others’ neuroses to color your perceptions. Don’t allow the genius to be drummed out of you. Don’t allow the innovation of others to intimidate and inhibit you. Don’t allow the situation to be responsible for how you feel. Don’t allow the world to superimpose its prefabricated definition of who you should be. Don’t allow yourself to exist in an inhibited condition. Are you making unprofitable allowances?

3. Expecting. Don’t expect success to come for three years. Don’t expect people to hand you a corn beef sandwich, wash your socks and unzip your fly for you. Don’t expect the universe to cut you any slack. Don’t expect the resistance to take it easy on you. Don’t expect discipline to be something you have rather than something you continually pursue. What are your catastrophic expectations?

4. Letting. Don’t let the pursuit for perfection stop you from trying. Don’t let things derail you. Don’t let anything pull you toward littleness. Don’t let your agenda collapse too easily. Don’t let your desires stay sobbing, awaiting your hand to take action upon them. Don’t let your mind sink into a state of passivity. Don’t let yourself become entangled in other people’s wars. Don’t let yourself choose what feels wrong just because you want clarity now. What will you gain from letting this happen?

5. Listening. Don’t listen to people who think they know what you need. Don’t listen to people whose imagination can’t encompass what it is that you’re trying to do. Don’t listen to people who put a damper on your natural versatility. Don’t listen to people who haven’t been right about shit in years. Don’t listen to people who criticize you no matter what you do. Don’t listen to people who seek to silence your conscience. Don’t listen to people what have a deluded view of their competence. How well do you minimize chaos by listening inwardly?

6. Talking. Don’t talk about what you plan to do when conditions are perfect. Don’t talk about what you hope to do when the planets are aligned. Don’t talk about what you’d love to do if you had the time. Don’t talk about how you’re going to finish your book as soon as things slow down at work. Don’t talk about how much you have changed and how great it will be if they take you back. Don’t talk about how the credit card company screwed you and their fault you’re in debt up to your ears. Don’t talk about how your life is one goddamn catastrophe after another. Don’t talk about how you’re going to update your website as soon as you get a free night. Are you giving people lip service or foot service?

7. Waiting. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for instructions. Don’t wait for overwhelming evidence before you trust yourself. Don’t wait to be rewarded to do what you love. Don’t wait until you’re old enough. Don’t wait until you’re experienced enough. Don’t wait until you know what you’re doing. Don’t wait until you’re given the go ahead by people you don’t even like. Don’t wait until you’ve satisfied people’s lackluster expectations. What is waiting getting in the way of?

8. Wasting. Don’t waste energy protesting. Don’t waste power trying to impress someone you don’t even like. Don’t waste time on relationships you’ve outgrown. Don’t waste your brilliant mental effort on negativity. Don’t waste money on marketing materials that don’t influence customer decisions anyway. Don’t waste valuable hours of your day doing things that don’t make you any money and aren’t consistent with your #1 goal. How inefficient have you become?

9. Whining. Don’t whine about the cosmic injustice of the world. Don’t whine about how there are only so many hours in the day and that’s why you haven’t gotten around to making any art lately. Don’t whine about it’s not fair because you work just as hard as they do and you don’t have it. Don’t whine about how if you didn’t have three kids and a job that you hated, you could finally finish your book. Do you whine about the wind, hope the wind will stop or adjust your sails?

10. Wishing. Don’t wish for fewer problems. Don’t wish for more time. Don’t wish for easier tasks. Don’t wish for someone to come back into your life who doesn’t love and honor you. Don’t wish for a perfect life free of pain and heartache. Don’t wish that what’s currently driving your heart batshit never would have happened. Don’t wish that when you wake up tomorrow morning, everything will turn out perfect, shiny and new. Ten years from now, what will you wish you had spent more time doing today?

What is bringing you closer to your dreams?

For the list called, “8 Ways to Out GIVE Your Competition,” 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

Who’s quoting YOU?

Check out Scott’s Online Quotation Database for a bite-sized education on branding success!


The Profitability of Insanity

“Of course you’re crazy – that’s why we hired you!”

When the president of a multimillion-dollar staffing company made that exact remark to me five minutes before I walked on stage to conduct a three-hour workshop with two hundred of her salespeople, I almost tripped and fell over the podium.

Finally, I thought.

My insanity was affirmed.
My craziness was commended.

Take that, every teacher who gave me failing grades on standardized tests because my responses were “not in the answer key.”

Ah, craziness. The most underrated weapon in your professional arsenal.

Sadly, the world is lightning-quick to confuse crazy with dangerous. Or stupid. Or unprofitable. Or mentally unstable. Almost like a reverse halo effect. As if being called crazy was a dangerous thing.

Which, in many cases, it can be. And I say that with the utmost respect and consideration for those who have suffered, are suffering or know someone suffering from mental illness.

Today, however, we’re talking about positive craziness.

For example, read the following list. Each person on it has two commonalities. See if you can figure them out:

Aurelius. Bezos. Buddha. Buffet. Carlin. Christ. Churchill. Clinton. Confucius. Darwin. Drucker. Dylan. Edison. Einstein. Franklin. Gandhi. Gates. Gorbachev. Hemingway. Jefferson. Jobs. Krishna. Kroc. Lennon. Lincoln. Mandela. Marx. Mozart. Newton. Obama. Orwell. Presley. Shakespeare. Teresa. Tolkien. Tolstoy. Trump. Tutu. Voltaire. Wilde. Winfrey. Woods. Yeltsin. Zuckerberg.

Did you spot the two commonalities?

ONE: They were all featured on Biography’s list of 100 People Who Changed the World.

Would you disagree?

Me neither.

TWO: They were all – at some point in their lives – considered to be “crazy.”

Would you disagree?

Me neither.

LESSON LEARNED: Success requires crazy.

Heaps of it.

Put your teaspoons away. If you really want to change the world – break out the shovels and start stockpiling your (positive) craziness.

Here are six reasons why:

Crazy means singular. Nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays for average. You know this. And being a needle in a stack of needles is an extremely costly position. The good news is, being crazy sets you apart. Being crazy puts an end to all those broke-ass, running-in-place, winking-in-the-dark days of entrepreneurial anonymity. Are you The Only?

Crazy means impatient. Nike was wrong. Technically, “Just do it” could mean, “just sit on your butt.” Because technically, you’d still be doing something: Sitting there. Yikes. Impatience, on the other hand, has a better slogan: Just go. That means (actual) movement toward your goal. Impatience isn’t just a virtue – it’s a victory. How much money are you losing by being too patient?

Crazy means risk taking. Sticking yourself out there. Pitching a tent in the campground of discomfort and devastating the landscape to the point of unrecognizability. Next time someone condescends you by saying, “This is crazy!” you respond with, “Yes! And that’s exactly why we should do it.” Is the strategy for sticking yourself out there equally as crazy as the subject itself?

Crazy means unexpected. If people think you’re crazy, they immediately discount you as a threat. Which means they let their guard down. Which means you have an opening. Lesson learned: The strongest player is the one nobody sees coming. As Donald Trump wrote in Trump 101, “It will always be to your advantage to be underestimated.” How do you sneak up on people?

Crazy means moving with great speed. Crazy invites momentum, and money has a crush on velocity. Think about it: Were any of the people on the aforementioned Biography 100 the type to live life in slow motion? No way. They moved, they made imperfect progress, and they left a muddy trail of urgency and desire. What gear is your craziness shifting your business into?

Crazy means nonconforming. That means nobody can predict you. Which means nobody can stop you. Which means you win. This, of course, is a choice. Pick one: Change the rules so you can win at your own game, become the exception to every rule in the game, or change the game entirely so there are no rules. How will you upset the status quo?

I’m sorry: Did I miss the part about crazy being bad?

LESSON LEARNED: Crazy is the new sane. Be out of your mind or be into the red.

How are you profiting from insanity?

For the ebook called, “13 Sweeping Generalizations, Gross Assumptions & Ridiculous Oversimplifications about Life & Work,” send an email to me, and you win the ebook 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 Matter

The human need to feel needed by (and valuable to) the world is about as deep as they come.

Here are some ideas to help you (and/or) your organization matter:

1. Make soaring unpreventable. The first time I heard Dave Matthews play the song he wrote for his wife called Loving Wings, I was brought to tears. The chorus goes: “I give to you my everything. You’ve given me these loving wings. And angels have all gathered round to hear me sing my love out loud.”

That’s your job: With your customers, your employees, your kids, your friends – to help them paint a picture of what they know they can achieve. In short: To give them wings. People don’t need Red Bull – they need you look them in the eye and say, “I believe in you.” How are you empowering people to become the person they were created to be?

2. Be fresh air. Unless you live in Tasmania (which, according to Weather.com, has the cleanest measured air on Earth) most of the oxygen surrounding us is stale, recycled and tastes like the Sunday morning redeye from Vegas. So, just imagine how much of an impact you could have on the environment around you if your ideas, words and actions brought even the slightest amount of freshness.

Are you saying the same thing as everyone else? Hope not. Because freshness doesn’t just matter – it makes money. However, as you tip toe along the lunatic fringe, remember what Jim Flowers says, “Carefully and deliberately consider the raves, rants, fashion, science, and art of the avant garde. Explore the world of ‘too much.’ There is a very, very fine line between goofy and prophetic.” Are your ideas stale?

3. Bring solid value. Not just talk. Not just shtick. The word “matter” comes from the Latin materia, which means, “substance.” And you owe it to the world to let it ooze out of you. If you were charged with the crime of adding value, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

4. You must teach. Teachers are heroes. And anyone can be one. The two questions are: What is the teaching you are called to do? And what’s your teaching style? Couple of choices. Through your beliefs would be good. Through your words would be great. Through your actions would be awesome. But through your personal being – now that would be positively devastating.

Not to mention remarkable, since 90% of the world teaches through the first three approaches. My best suggestion for doing so is to write, memorialize, revisit and embody the living document known as your Personal Constitution. Email me if you want to learn more. How many new students have you enrolled this week?

5. Pry your life out of the jaws of average. There’s pervasive pressure to embrace mediocrity. For the love of God, don’t give in. Wage a war against boringness. Violently refuse to become a follower of the common ways of the mediocre masses. Instead, joyfully and loudly occupy the margins.

As Seth Godin explained in an interview with Selling Power, “Mediocrity is for losers. The big win is when you refuse to settle for average and you say I’m going to give up 90% of the opportunities.” Are you vanilla?

6. Be a person of consequence. This reminds me of a gorgeous song by Jose Gonzalez called Cycling Trivialities: “Don’t know which way to turn, every trifle becoming big concerns. All this time you were chasing dreams, without knowing what you wanted them to mean.”

Do you know someone like that? A person with no apparent goals or dreams? I bet you do. And I bet they don’t matter. Ouch. Your challenge is to continually ask yourself this question: Are the ideas, issues and problems I’m dedicating my time to trivialities or substantialities?

7. Be of duty and destiny. You’ve been given a divine assignment. A mandate. A job to do. And your mission is to find the small corner of the universe that is yours to transform – touch it – and then set it free. It’s like Paulo Coelho said in The Alchemist: “Follow your personal legend and the world will conspire to help you attain it.” People who do that matter. Why are you?

8. Be a relevant, noticeable shaper. I recently read a 2006 article from Business 2.0 Magazine called, “50 People That Matter Right Now.” What I find telling, however, isn’t the people on the list – but the people who wrote the list. In a sidebar, the editors reported the following:

“The names presented here weren’t selected on the basis of fame, net worth, or the accomplishments of yesteryear. Instead, our goal was to identify people whose ideas, products, and business insights are changing the world we live in today. Those who are reshaping our future by inventing important new technologies, exploiting emerging opportunities, or throwing their weight around in ways that are sure to make everyone else take notice. In assembling this list, we emphasized one key question: What have you done for us lately? We also considered its important corollary: What will you do for us tomorrow?”

What are you shaping?

9. Success isn’t the end. I learned this lesson from Um Hong-Gil. By the time he was forty, Um was the first South Korean to reach the summit of all fourteen eight thousand meter peaks in the world. In March of 2010, I had the honor of sharing the stage with Um during last week’s MDRT Conference in Seoul.

“Success isn’t the end,” he said in front of four thousand people. Wow. Coming from a guy who lost dozens of climbing colleagues – not to mention three frostbitten toes – that message certainly struck a nerve. It reminds of what Seth Godin (also) mentioned in the aforementioned interview:

“Life is like skiing: The goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill, the goal is to have a lot of great runs before sunset.” When it comes to success, are you a repeat offender?

REMEMBER: Nobody said mattering would be easy.

That’s probably why not everybody does it. Like Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everybody would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”

Do you matter?

For the list called, “For the list called, “7 Ways to Out Leverage Your 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!

How to be a Human Being

Your humanity is not a liability.

Being a robot, however, might lose your company money.

Today we’re going to talk about being a human being.

Which, after extensive research, is something I’ve discovered can be surprisingly difficult for many people – myself included.

Einstein once said, “Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison of self-delusion by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Well, that sounds easy. Thanks a lot, Big Al.

Perhaps these suggestions will help:

1. Resist compartmentalizing people. Especially into convenient little personality boxes or oversimplified categories. Personality tests and “type” assessments frustrate me. Sure, it’s helpful in office situations and team projects. As long as you’re not reducing a human being named Randy to a label named ENFJ.

People want to be called by their name – not their score. People want to be treated as human beings – not statistics, not acronyms and not categories. Of course, this all depends on what you see when you see people. Do you see people as individuals to be cared for and enjoyed or objects to be manipulated and controlled?

2. Love your limits, liabilities, trespasses and shadows. Assess, take ownership of, and exert your vulnerabilities. You’ll find that endorsing your own weakness establishes your acceptance of the imperfect humanness of others. What’s more, when you let previously disregarded aspects of yourself come to the surface and acknowledge and embrace all aspects of who you are – people relax.

Plus, you give them permission to reciprocate. For example: I have no sense of direction, I used to litter constantly, I recently had six cavities filled, I’m useless when it comes to details, and I couldn’t change a tire if Al Qaeda was jamming an oozy against my temple. Just a few of my liabilities. How willing are you to share yours?

3. Crying demonstrates alignment. Bodies are barometers. And emotion is the final arbiter of truth. If tears are flowing, so is honesty. Lesson learned: Turning on the water works isn’t a crime. (Unless you’re trying to cry your way out of a speedy ticket, in which case, I hate you.)

Look, don’t hold the tears back. More importantly, never, EVER apologize for starting to cry. That’s what most people do instinctively: They say they’re sorry.

For what? Being honest? Being open? Being a human? Dude, it’s cool. Let it out, brother. All we’re going to do is respect you more. Unless you start dribbling snot on people. Then we have a sanitary problem. When was the last time you cried in the presence of other people?

4. Respond to the human need first. “Front desk – may I help you?” “Help! There’s an aggressive cobra in my bathtub!” “I’m sorry sir, but our hotel policy is not to negotiate with reptiles. Have a nice day.”

Ouch. Wrong need. Lesson learned: Before policies, before protocols, before anything, isolate the universal human need – in this case, death – and use that as your baseline point of response. Everything else can wait. Cobras are serious. Are you treating the problem or the person?

5. Understand, sympathize and empathize for the complexities of the human condition. Your humanity is marked (not) by your elevation above people, but your identification with them. Now, that doesn’t mean you pretend to be one of them. That actually works in reverse.

People can smell contrived connection like a wet dog. Instead, to express sympathy and empathy through the following formula: “Kathy, I have no idea what it takes to (x). What I DO know is how it feels to (y).” Are you trying to hard to relate to people?

6. If you see people bleeding, don’t pretend they aren’t really hurting. Like the homeless veteran with the cardboard sign: You don’t have to give him your life savings – but at least acknowledge the guy. I’m reminded of a 2005 article from Law Enforcement News called, “Approaching Invisible People.”

“You know who they are. They are the homeless wandering the alleyways mumbling. They are the preachers on the street corners declaring they are Jesus Christ. They are the ‘invisible’ people the public ignores, but as law enforcement officers you must see them. You are their guardians. You are their protectors. And being able to talk to the invisible man means being able to communicate with every man.”

Lesson learned: Practice a little namaste. The spirit in me honors the spirit in you. That doesn’t mean you have to save everybody. That doesn’t mean you have to bandage the blood of all who hurt. But don’t pretend they’re not there. They know you see them. And you know that they know you see them. How many people did you go out of your way to ignore last week?

7. Instead of answering questions, answer unspoken needs. My mentor was great at this. Whenever you’d ask a question, he’d start his response by saying, “Scott, I think what you’re really asking about is (x) – is that fair?” Naturally, he was spot-on every time.

Because he could listen to what I was trying to communicate – but was unable or afraid to articulate. That’s the unspoken need. And as you listen to the people who are important to you, I challenge you to keep your third ear open for the message communicated – not just the words spoken.

The cool part is: When you practice noticing what people are afraid of revealing, you’ll quickly learn what it is they long for. But only if you penetrate the mask, get beneath the surface of people’s lives and take a swim in their sea of unspoken emotional needs. How can you give people permission to share what they’re afraid of revealing?

8. See people beyond their emotional baggage and into their hearts. I once wrote a love song to a girl with whom I was incurably smitten that said, “I want to learn what your flaws are just so I can tell you that I love you anyway … I want to learn what all your little quirks are just so I can say I don’t care.”

Lesson learned: Love is a package deal. Everybody’s got baggage. The question is whether or not you’re human enough to let the people you love carry their bags onto your plane and fly with you anyway. Do you love people along with all the baggage they check?

In conclusion, we turn to Alan Weber, cofounding editor of FastCompany and author of Rules of Thumb:

“We’re drawn to people who know who they are, who are comfortable in their own skins. Their sense of themselves makes it easier for us to know and trust them. It cuts down on the wasted energy and head games that too often accompany people in power who are at war with themselves – and take it out on us.”

REMEMBER: Your humanity isn’t a liability.

Just for today, trying being a human being.

You might like it.

If not, I’m sure the robots would love to have you.

What makes you human?

For the list called, “For the list called, “37 Personal Leadership Questions Guaranteed to Shake Your Soul,” 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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