Has Your Brand Picked a Lane Yet?

A brand without focus is destined to be forgotten.

Try to make everybody happy, and you lose.
Try to make everybody like you, and you lose.
Try to make everybody want you, and you lose.

Success, therefore, is a process of elimination.

It’s learning what your brand can live without.

MY SUGGESTION: Stop your driving your brand all over the interstate.

You’ll either get pulled over, cause an accident or piss off the other drivers. Plus, it’ll take forever to get to your destination. And if you’ve got three screaming kids in backseat, you’ll want to get there as soon as possible.INSTEAD: Remember what you learned on day one of geometry class.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

This is a mathematical truth.

AND SO: If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, doesn’t it make sense – that when you’re cruising down the branding expressway – to just pick a lane and stay there?

Well, if you want your brand to arrive first it does.

THE CHALLENGE IS: How do you know which lane to pick?

That’s easy. Just fire up the only true GPS in the world – your heart. And consider asking yourself, your company and your brand these questions to figure out which lane to pick:

1. Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?

2. Does this choice add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it?

3. Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?

4. Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or will it bring me short-term gratification?

5. If I make this choice, what will I be saying no to?

FINAL CAVEAT: While picking a lane leads to branding freedom, staying in that lane forever leads to branding failure.

Look. People change lanes all the time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The secret is to stay in your lane for as long as your brand can handle it. Then, when the time comes, move into another one.

Who knows? Maybe for you, it’s time to flip on your turn signal.

Or, perhaps it’s time to set the cruise control to eighty, crank up some Van Halen and drive your brand into the sunset.

Just pick a lane.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your brand focused or forgotten?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “25 Questions to Uncover Your Best,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

8 Ways to Break the Mold Without Breaking the Budget

So, apparently, there’s a mold.

I was not aware of this.

I just assumed everyone thought for themselves.

Guess not.

According to a recent scientific study that I conducted yesterday by asking four of my friends, most people are other people. What’s more, further research proves that most people have no problem letting the world think for them.

Which, I guess I understand. It’s easier, faster, safer, cheaper and requires significantly less work.

THE ONLY PROBLEM IS: When you fail to question the constitution of the walls that enclose you, you insulate yourself from growth, learning and expansion.

If that scares you (which it should) consider this list of eight ways to break the mold without bruising your budget: (Photo credit from artist James Simon.)1. Be an obstructionist. Nothing illegal, Tex. Just the willingness to raise your hand and say, “Wait a sec – that’s not right.” This is the baseline posture where all mold breaking begins. When you let the world know that you’re not content to be a cog. When you refuse to the let the illusion play.

Instead, as an obstructionist, you stand up when everyone else stands mute. Then, inflamed with ardent desire, you verbalize your frustration and raise a howl of protest. That’s the only way anything will ever get broken around here. E.E. Cummings was right:

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight.”

Remember: Breaking the mold means breaking the silence. Make your voice heard by the people who matter. Have you raised your hand today?

2. Swim against the tide of what’s expected. When I assumed the presidency of my local association, my first mold-breaking order of business was to excise as much fat from our process as possible.

From removing redundant board procedures to axing inactive members that never attended meeting to deleting stupid expenses that drained organizational resources, the goal was to become lean and nimble. That way we could evolve as a chapter, as opposed to living a continued existence as an irrelevant integer.

The cool part was, all we had to do was stop, tilt our heads to the left and ask, “Why do we have to do it that way?” And most of the time, there was rarely an answer other than, “to satisfy the conventions of people who don’t matter.”

That’s how we broke the mold. That’s how we resurrected our chapter. And you have a similar choice in your own life, whether it’s organizational or personal: Will you yield gracefully to necessity or kneel obediently to mediocrity?

3. Exercise proactivity in environments designed to mitigate it. Some people will try to force you comply with their preferences; often times without rational justification or without respectful permission.

When this happens, the smartest thing you can do is to speak with a clear, sharp and committed voice. Let people know that you’ll be thinking for yourself, thank you very much. And that if they try to pull that stunt again, you’re gone.

Instead, declare yourself a victor with your own voice. Otherwise you’re nothing but a copy machine.

Remember: Your true colors are very bright. Do not let people dull them. Within each of us there is a spirit ready to respond to the world. That’s weapon that wasn’t meant to be holstered. Are you willing to stand up for what you believe at the cost of alienating people who don’t matter?

4. Create a juxtaposition that creates a reaction. While sitting outside of a local coffee shop yesterday, I watched two canvassers struggle to engage passerbys. During their break, I approached them and asked, “Have you guys ever thought about buying hot chocolate and handing out drinks to people instead of annoying them?”

The two girls laughed. I guess they thought I was kidding.

“Seriously, that would work,” I explained more passionately than necessary. “Think about it: It’s cold, it’s rainy and nobody wants to talk to you. But by unexpectedly offering hot chocolate, you’d break the pattern of predictability. And by delivering value first, you’d earn conversational permission. Ultimately, you’d engage people in a non-threatening way instead of verbally spamming them with unwanted noise about your cause.”

They stared at me like I was a homeless meth addict convinced he was Jesus.

I shrugged and walked away. Guess breaking the mold isn’t part of the Greenpeace Outreach Training Program. Sucks for the whales. What type of reaction are you creating through juxtaposition?

5. Assertively choose (not) to take action. As much as I advocate execution, sometimes the best way to break the mold is to do nothing while the rest of the world scrambles in fear. I’ve actually tried this before, and the results are stunning. Silence truly is eloquent testimony. And the world almost always pays attention, too.

Try this: Next time chaos erupts, choose not to mindlessly follow the masses with the standard-issue fight or flight response. Instead, try the third option. The one nobody tells you about:

Freeze.

Become the calmest person in the room. The strength of your stillness will shatter the mold into a million pieces. Remember: Courage comes from the paths you choose not to pursue. What action can you avoid this week?

6. Pick the box that says, “Other.” The world will try to put you in a box. And by “the world,” I mean: Parents. Friends. Customers. Coworkers. Colleagues. Competitors. Bosses. Strangers. The media. Organizations you belong to.

For example, in my professional association, there is a form all new members fill out to indicate the topic on which they give presentations. There’s only about two-dozen options. And unfortunately, no boxes for “approachability,” “execution” or “making a name for yourself.”

Which is precisely why I picked the box that says, “other.” Because I don’t need their box. And neither do you. In fact, the moment you realize that you don’t need people’s box is the moment you are set free. That’s when you look up from laptop and think, “Wait: There’s a mold?” Which box will you pick?

7. You can’t go through life in a straight line. Personally, I was never in the mold to begin with. Hell, I didn’t even know there was a mold. I don’t know about you, but I am under the highest obligations to defy conventional attitudes. It’s who I am. It’s who I’ve always been. And it’s probably who I’ll always be.

What can I say? I was born to be a delightful disturbance. And admittedly, my emotional predisposition for non-conformity has gotten me into some trouble over the years.

Fortunately, nothing serious. Nothing that hurt anybody. Nothing I wouldn’t update on my Facebook status. And nothing I’ll be ashamed to tell my grandchildren about. But I still chose to make waves, stilled rocked the boat and still shook people out of their petty preoccupations. Because in my experience, that’s the only way anything gets upgraded. Do you refuse to be satisfied with looking just once?

8. Refuse to live a life of zero distinction. George Carlin said it best, “Schools are indoctrination centers where kids are sent to be stripped of their individuality and turned into obedient soul dead conformist members of the American consumer culture.”

Lesson learned: If you want to break the mold, try breaking away from poisonous orbits. And not just schools. But whatever force, organization or corporate monolith attempts to crush your spirit – be conscious of their power. Be careful whom you listen to.

And remember that there’s no point in being scared of the system. That’s nothing but a waste of energy. Instead, as the voice inside you grows more urgent, channel your ambition into an organized campaign of disquiet.

Take what’s inside, push it out in an unrestrained manner and bring truth to power. That’s how you become an artist, says Nietzsche, who believed that art raises its hand where creeds relax. Is yours ready to flail in the air?

REMEMBER: Breaking the mold isn’t (just) about being different.

It’s about doing your own thinking.
It’s about crushing the confines of convention.
It’s about being the exception to as many rules as possible.
It’s about becoming the person you were before the world made you into what it wanted you to be.

Do that, and you won’t just break the mold – you’ll shatter it.

Then again, you could always do what I do and say, “What mold?”

After all, the best way to break the mold to remember that it doesn’t exist.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you breaking?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Confront Yourself Without Condemning Yourself, Part 2

As if you weren’t already assailed with enough negativity, criticism and confrontation from outside sources, I am now going to ask you to start confronting yourself.

Ugh. Who wants to do that? People hate confronting themselves.

They’re afraid that they’ll hate what they see.
They’re scared that they’ll have to take responsibility.
They’re terrified that they’ll have to make some changes.

Nah. It’s much easier to turn my eyes outward. I’ll just stick with that, you think.

BUT HERE’S THE SECRET: This isn’t about narcissistic self-obsession.

It’s about confident self-acceptance.
It’s about cementing self-connection.
It’s about conscious self-exploration.
It’s about continuous self-improvement.

As long as you’re wiling to attend to yourself coolly, courageously and compassionately; and as long as you’re willing to do some inner work, self-confrontation is one of the smartest, healthiest practices you could ever embed into your daily life.

Whether you’re an individual – or an organization – here’s a list of six more ways (read the first six here!) to confront yourself without condemning yourself:1. Understand the distinction. My friend Jeremy recently told me, “Confrontation is taking stock without judgment; condemnation is judging and finding the whole inventory useless. And it’s difficult to separate those things out when conducting self-analysis. Judging and justifying are much easier.”

That’s a key distinction. The word “confront” comes from the Latin confrontare, which means; “to stand in front of,” while the word “condemn” comes from the Latin condemnare, which means, “to blame.” I wonder what approach you take.

“When I have started on this process,” Jeremy continued, “I think I can actually hear a voice that sounds like a cop from Law and Order saying, ‘Nothing to see here, folks.’ I think that’s pride (or too much Law and Order).”

As you can see, there’s a fine line between checking yourself out and checking yourself off. Make sure you know the distinction. Which one are you doing to yourself?

2. Book blank time. I don’t care how stressed out you are. What I want to know is how you occupy your stillness when the world works overtime to make you tremble.

Ah, stillness. The great untapped reservoir of self-knowledge. If you truly want to become a master of self-confrontation without self-condemnation, practice meeting yourself in empty moments. Physically book time in your schedule for nothing.

Don’t worry. The world won’t fall apart without you. Remind yourself that there are no emergencies let the silence swallow you whole for five minutes. Even if no great revelations arrive initially, practicing regular intervals of silence will eventually get addictive.

Before you know it, you’ll be setting aside juicy chunks of your busy week to quiet down and confront yourself. How much blank time do you have booked for next week?

3. Reduce your speed. Some people stay so busy all the time because they know that if they stop – event for a moment – they might actually have to confront their problems and realize how mediocre their lives really are.

And the irony is, if they would actually take the time to pause and breathe, they’d come to face to face with their own suckiness and discover how to convert those liabilities into a legacy that matters.

To reduce your speed, consider asking yourself the following question throughout the day:

“Why are you rushing?”

Odds are, you won’t be able to come up with a legitimate answer. Especially if you’re like me: The kind of person who constantly tries to impress himself with how quickly he can make it to the post office and back.

Five minutes my ass. Watch this! Take that, Old Lady I Almost Hit That Probably Was Going to Die Next Week Anyway.

That’s the advantage of reducing your speed: You finally get a chance catch up with yourself. Lust like the old friend you haven’t seen since last November, it’s amazing what you realize you’ve been missing. And to think: All you had to do was slow the hell down. Who knew?

4. Be willing to meet yourself and not turn away. “Look at yourself in the mirror non-judgmentally. As a reflection and nothing else.” That’s what Erin, my yoga instructor, constantly reminds the class. That we need to learn to be open to all we are.

Now, if you’re not a yogi, I understand. My best suggestion for laying your world bear is to meet yourself at the page, for at least fifteen minutes a day.

Take out your pen and bleed all over the page. Saddle up to the keyboard and start pounding. Bust out your boss’s flip chart if you have to. Whatever writing style works for you.

And don’t feed me that whole, “But I’m not a writer,” excuse. Everyone is a writer. Writing is an extension of thinking. If you’re not a writer then you’re not a thinker. And if you’re not a thinker, you shouldn’t even be reading this.

Writing is the great clarifier and the great confronter. Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself can be learned through writing. But only if you do it honestly. Only if you use blood, not ink. Do you see yourself as you are or as you want to be?

5. Ritualize your confrontation. Ritual, in the words of Joseph Campbell, introduces you to the meaning of what’s going on. It properly puts your mind in touch with what you’re really doing.

What’s more, by ritualizing self-confrontation, you create a cushion of compassion for the devastating blows to land. Because let’s face it:

People don’t confront themselves because it’s scary.
People don’t confront themselves because it’s a gateway drug to change.
People don’t confront themselves because it’s ten thousand times harder than slogging along in mediocrity.

That’s why ritualizing self-confrontation is so essential: Because the circumferencelessness of human potential is terrifying. And needs to be attended to with a certain amount of namaste. “The spirit in me honors the spirit in you.”

For example, here’s my daily ritual:

Wake up early. Listen to one song from my custom playlist. Shower. Dress. Pour a cup of herbal tea. Sit down at my computer. Open a blank document. Puke out three-pages of stream of consciousness free writing. Recite my incantation. Go to work.

That’s how I compel myself to confront myself. And the reason is, without some kind ritual, your ego tells your body to clock out early. “Don’t worry, you can skip the self-confrontation just this once.”

But as we all know, it’s never just once. It’s like a Lays potato chip: Your ego can never eat just one. And that’s when you start to forget who you are. Remember: Rituals prevent you from saying, “Why the hell am I doing this?” What are yours?

6. Don’t disregard discoveries that are unjellable with your beliefs. I don’t care what you have faith in. What I want to know is if you’re willing to admit the truth of something you don’t have the courage to believe.

That’s the great commission of anyone who walks down the self-confrontational path: To attend to whatever experience surfaces with a posture of deep democracy. Knowing that everything matters equally. And to reassess any maladaptive assumptions that might be holding you back.

Because the reality is: Somewhere down the self-confrontational line, you’re going to learn something about yourself that’s inconsistent with the way you (thought) you saw yourself.

And that’s when you have a choice: Do I pretend that I didn’t just see that, or should I call bullshit on myself?

Remember: Self-confrontation is, if anything, a form of finding yourself. The cool part is: The more you practice finding yourself by yourself, the less you lose yourself with others.

As Brian Wilson said, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” Not a bad trade-off. Are you pretending (not) to see what’s too difficult to confront?

LOOK, MAN: I know self-confrontation is like pulling teeth – your own teeth. And without Novocain, either.

But if you can’t be honest with yourself, what else is there?

We turn to Joseph Campbell’s book, Reflections on the Art of Living, in which he wrote:

“Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.”

Go meet yourself.
Attend to your truth coolly, courageously and compassionately.
Even if you don’t like what you see.

You’ll thank you.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do you confront yourself?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “11 Ways to Become Brilliant By Next Thursday,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Confront Yourself Without Condemning Yourself, Part 1

As if you weren’t already assailed with enough negativity, criticism and confrontation from outside sources, I am now going to ask you to start confronting yourself.

Ugh. Who wants to do that? People hate confronting themselves.

They’re afraid that they’ll hate what they see.
They’re scared that they’ll have to take responsibility.
They’re terrified that they’ll have to make some changes.

Nah. It’s much easier to turn my eyes outward. I’ll just stick with that, you think.

BUT HERE’S THE SECRET: This isn’t about narcissistic self-obsession.

It’s about confident self-acceptance.
It’s about cementing self-connection.
It’s about conscious self-exploration.
It’s about continuous self-improvement.

As long as you’re wiling to attend to yourself coolly, courageously and compassionately; and as long as you’re willing to do some inner work, self-confrontation is one of the smartest, healthiest practices you could ever embed into your daily life.

Whether you’re an individual – or an organization – here’s a list of six ways (read the next six here!) to confront yourself without condemning yourself:1. Clear the air. I write early. Very early. Sometimes clocking in between three and five in the morning. And the motivation behind this insanity is simple: At that time of day, the world isn’t awake yet.

Which means it’s very quiet. Which means there’s nothing for me to do but listen to the sound of my truth. And that’s when the best material comes spilling out: When your pen is drenched in blood.

That’s all creativity is anyway – active listening. And you don’t have to be a writer to practice this form of self-confrontation. The secret is to clear the air. To create a space where the mental and psychic acoustics are bright, clean and sharp.

Even if you’re not in the mood to listen to yourself. Especially if you’re not in the mood to listen to yourself. That’s probably when you need it most. As long as you promise not to beat yourself up when you hear something you don’t like. How can you eliminate the clatter and invite the clarity?

2. Align with things that will never lie to you. The hardest part about hot yoga isn’t the heat. Or the humidity. Or the fact that you spend ninety minutes in a sweaty room surrounded by half-naked strangers twisting their bodies into positions that would make Cirque du Soleil blush.

The real challenge is the self-confrontation. Did I mention there were mirrors everywhere? And that you have to stare at yourself, in silence, the whole time?

Ugh. Talk about things that will never lie to you. Those mirrors can be brutal. In fact, many first-time students (even some veterans!) can’t hold their gaze for more than a few seconds.

Which makes sense. It takes courage to willingly meet yourself over and over again. And the thought of having to confront your (physical) truth – consistently and objectively for such long periods of time – is one of the reasons many people never come back.

Personally, that’s exactly why I come back. Four days a week. Every week. I crave it like a stoner craves White Castle. Because it’s a chance to align with that which will never lie to me (my body) and force myself to come face to face with my truth.

Even if I’m feeling like a worthless piece of crap. What’s the longest period of time you’ve spent staring at yourself in the mirror?

3. Confront the number. Here’s the smartest weight management strategy I’ve ever practiced: Get on the scale. Every week. Same time. Write down my weight on a chart on the wall. Then look at that number every day.

Lost twelve pounds and kept it off.

Now, here’s what’s fascinating: Depending on how well I ate during the week, I might be excited, terrified or indifferent about confronting the number come Sunday morning.

But I always confront it. No matter what. Without judgment. Without evaluation. Without appraisal. What’s more, sometimes during the week I’ll catch myself mid-bite or mid-meal thinking:

“Damn it. I know I’m going to have to weigh myself in three days. Better pass on that twelfth piece of key lime pie.”

That’s the cool thing about self-confrontation: Even the mere anticipation of confronting your numerical truth can modify choices and behaviors in the meantime.

I wonder what quantitative metrics you could install to your weekly regiment to accomplish the same. Maybe accountability partner phone calls? Written records of activity level? Public charts of progress? How will you confront the number?

4. Use visual reminders. People love to ask me if I wear a nametag to remember who I am. And as facetious as their playful remark usually is, it finally occurred to me a few years ago:

Wait a minute. That’s exactly why I wear a nametag.

Because it’s easy to forget who you are. Sometimes you get so wrapped in who you think you are, who other people think you are, or who you want other people to think you are – that you overlook your own truth.

That’s the benefit of regular self-confrontation: To assist you in getting (and staying) over yourself. To remind you how you roll. And while you don’t need to wear a nametag to do so, you might consider using something tangible as a visual cue to induce ongoing self-confrontation.

As Oriah wrote in The Dance, “Self-acceptance is a practice, a willingness to slowly expand your ability to see yourself as you are and simply be with what you see.” How could you paint yourself into a confrontational corner?

5. Face your monster. You have demons and skeletons just like everyone else. But you also have your main monster. You know the one.

It’s that big, hairy, seven-eyed, ten-legged creepizoid thing hibernating in the deepest recesses of your heart, nagging and biting and scraping and drooling, whose sole purpose of existence is to prevent you from becoming great.

Yes. That one. And like a schoolyard bully, your monster’s power source comes from your fear of him. Which means that, without fear, he can’t touch you.

Which means the first step is to confront him and say, “You don’t scare me anymore.” The cool part is, once you take that first courageous confrontational step, you cripple 80% of your monster’s strength.

Which means that the second (and final) step is to simply take your index finger, poke him in the chest and watch him tumble to the ground like the punk ass he really is. What’s your monster?

6. Turn the tables. “What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us,” says Herman Hessee, author of the cult-classic Siddhartha. “And if you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.”

Here’s a helpful practice for doing so: Next time you observe someone acting in a manner you don’t approve of, just flip it.

Instead of instantly judging, “Wow, check out this guy at the table next to me. What a putz!” You might think to yourself, “Whom in my life do I treat this way?”

Or, next time something terrible happens to you, ask yourself:

*What is it in me that might be causing this situation?
*What did I do, innately, that attracted this into my life?
*What have I done to contribute to this discomfort I’m now feeling?

Learn to face yourself head on. Then, whatever your truth wants to serve up at that particular moment, accept it without complaint. How can you use your current experience as a mirror?

LOOK, MAN: I know self-confrontation is like pulling teeth – your own teeth. And without Novocain, either.

But if you can’t be honest with yourself, what else is there?

We turn to Joseph Campbell’s book, Reflections on the Art of Living, in which he wrote:

“Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.”

Go meet yourself.
Attend to your truth coolly, courageously and compassionately.
Even if you don’t like what you see.

You’ll thank you.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do you confront yourself?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “11 Ways to Become Brilliant By Next Thursday,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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