What Branding Isn’t, What Branding Is, and How to Make Sure People Join Yours

Here’s what branding isn’t:

It’s not having a cool logo. It’s not dressing for success. It’s not self-serving competitiveness. It’s not converting yourself into a corporate clone. It’s not telling everyone you meet how awesome you are.

It’s not endless self-promotion at the expense of others. It’s not getting ahead of people and moving up the ladder. It’s not memorizing some hollow, hackneyed mission statement. It’s not puking your unique selling proposition all over everyone you meet.
It’s not integrating a sequence of promises that align with organizational initiatives.

Here’s what branding is:

How people experience you, and how people experience themselves in relation to you.

THE COOL PART IS: If your can nail those both, people won’t just buy your brand – they’ll join it.

Here’s how to make it happen:1. Don’t force your brand into a box. Here’s the problem with our hyperspeed, instant gratification culture: People who fail to summarize their brand’s uniqueness in three seconds are shunned.

Sadly, there’s all this social pressure to know how to articulate your value in a concise, intriguing and relevant manner. As if people who didn’t were the scum of the marketplace.

Excuse me, but branding isn’t that simple.

First of all, the term “branding” is finished. This is about identity. This is about bringing your humanity to the moment. Branding is for cattle. Secondly, while positioning statements are fun to come up with – and make you feel good about your value when they’re staring back at you from your shiny new website – branding isn’t some empty slogan you knock out on a Tuesday afternoon with your mastermind group.

Branding takes time. Years. And yours will evolve, just like your life evolves. Hell, mine took five years to crystallize, only to be upgraded two years later.

The point is: If you can summarize the entire scope of value that you, as a human being, deliver – in five words – then you’re doing your customers a massive disservice. Walt Whitman was right: You are large. You contain multitudes. And if you want people to join you, you have to peel the branding onion slowly. Otherwise, limiting your brand to some arbitrary, one-sentence overarching statement will limit its ability to grow into something better.

Remember: A forced brand is a forgotten one. Have you ever read Apple’s positioning statement?

2. Understand the evolving business landscape. Now, customers have the power. Now, customers make the choices. Now, customers drive the engine of interaction. And now, customers decide how much attention to give you. But if you cling to traditional ways of communicating, your brand will remain an unnoticeable blip on the radar.

One example of this principle in action is my daily fill in the blank exercise on Facebook. After running this mini experiment hundreds of times with thousands of people, I’ve discovered that it engages on several levels:

It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s organic. It taps into people’s creative flair. It meets people where they are. It flips the spotlight. It opens a direct channel. It provides free research. It doesn’t require much thought. It introduces an element of intrigue. It never has a right or wrong answer. It spices up people’s daily journey. And it gives people space to express themselves on my platform.

Look: Customers don’t want to constrict themselves into a predetermined mold; they want to create their own personal media landscape. Let them. Turn down your control freak knob and leave it up to them to close the loop. After all, people buy what they have a role in creating. They’re motivated by their own achievements, not your company’s accomplishments.

The point is, surrendering ownership doesn’t impede profit – it invites commitment. How vulnerable are you willing to make yourself?

3. Appeal to the human appetite for playful experiences. The best part about wearing a nametag every day is how much fun I get to have with people. From jokes about my memory problems to pokes about my identity crisis, the gags haven’t stopped in eleven years. And what I’ve learned from this trend is simple: Play draws people your brand’s orbit.

First, by spicing up people’s daily journey. Because when you bring your humanity to the moment, you make the moment a more pleasant passing of time. Second, play helps customers create their own game experience. That’s what allows them feel adventurous and exploratory.

And third, play creates an encounter in which anxiety is temporarily bracketed. In that safe space, people believe there is no reason not to take risks. Who wouldn’t want to join a brand like that? No wonder the Apple store is always crowded. It’s not a computer shop – it’s a jungle gym. I wonder how you could turn more of your brand moments into playful moment.

After all, branding isn’t just how people experience you; it’s how people experience themselves in relation to you. How are you letting your customers out for recess?

REMEMBER: Good brands are bought – great brands are joined.

Think about how people experience you.
Think about how people experience themselves in relation to you.

And nobody will even care what your logo looks like.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “26 Ways to Out Brand the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

The King George Guide to Speaking Human

Authenticity is not a strategy.

It’s not a parlor trick.
It’s not a corporate initiative.
It’s not a tactic you learn at a conference.

Authenticity is simply what happens when you speak human.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: When you speak human – and follow that voice without hesitation – everybody hears you. And when customers taste a trace of your humanity, they come back for seconds, every time.

The problem is, the humanity has been boiled out of us. Companies have become international experts at depersonalizing every encounter.

Here’s a collection of ideas to help your company speak human:1. Imperfection is not a liability. No movie better captures this principle than The King’s Speech. My favorite scene is right after Colin Firth finishes his war address to the nation. After months of emotional distress and intense training to overcome his speech impediment, therapist Geoffrey Rush, says:

“You still stammered.”

But with a relaxed smile, the king replies:

“I had to throw in a few so they knew it was me.”

That’s how you speak human: By letting people experience you experiencing failure. You’re not The Pope. It’s okay to market your imperfections. Next time you mess up, simply apologize for your error and show people how you’ll avoid it in the future. They’ll relax, respond with empathy and think more of you than if you hadn’t messed up in the first place.

What’s more: They won’t sue you – they’ll pursue you. Again and again. And next time, they’ll bring their friends. Because you’re one of the few people big enough to flaunt your imperfection.

Remember: Mistakes are a chance to make the company smarter. Are you afraid to admit them because you see every customer as a potential plaintiff in a malpractice suit?

2. Preserve an air of freshness. It’s impossible for customers to feel heard, feel seen and feel essential when your service is delivered in a monotonous, empty tone. Like a great stage actor, your job is to make sure that every member of the audience feels like they’re hearing your words for the first time.

Even if it’s only one person – that’s still an audience.

Take it from a guy who’s worn a nametag every day for eleven years: People make the same five jokes every single day. But I never let my responses get stale. I don’t snap at people. And I certainly don’t roll my eyes and say, “Yes, Captain Obvious, I’m aware that I’m still wearing a nametag. Thanks for the tip.”

Instead, I have fun with people. I change my answers every few months, just to keep it fresh. And your challenge is to do the same. Next time someone asks you a question you’ve heard a thousand times, don’t reach for ready-made replies.

Instead of being rigidly scripted and annoyingly canned, dance in the moment. Respond to the unique needs of the individual, not from the mechanical instructions of the employee handbook. Will you surrender to thy script or thy soul?

3. Adjust yourself to the personality of the guest. No, I’m not talking about mirroring or matching or whatever sleazy, neurolinguistic-programming tactic you learned at some weekend seminar. That’s manipulation, and customers can smell it like burnt hair.

Instead, stay true to yourself while remaining appropriate to the situation. Learn to customize every conversation. Here are a few examples I’ve learned from my clients:

*Not all women want to be called “ma’am.” It makes them feel old.
*Not every customer needs help shopping. It makes them feel suffocated.
*Not every guest needs to be put on the spot to introduce themselves to the group at their first meeting. It makes them feel awkward.
*Not every first-timer needs to give to the collection plate. It makes them feel pressured.
*Not every passenger needs to be pampered with hot nuts, six bottles of water and a Swedish foot massage. It invades their privacy and disturbs their work.
*Not every caller needs to hear his name repeated back to him seventeen times. It makes them feel patronized.

The point is: Communication isn’t the goal – meeting people’s needs is. Adjust yourself accordingly. How does your approach change with different customers?

4. Personal expression trumps professional polish. As a public speaker, it eats away at me to watch speakers who are too polished, too rehearsed and too choreographed. That’s the problem with Toastmasters: They focus so much on the mechanics that they forget about the humanity.

And the result is a population of public speakers who become so rigid that they couldn’t order dinner without a script.

Here’s the reality: Speaking with the human voice means honoring the moment. Tapping into your expressive faculties and sharing from place of imperfect truth. Even if you’re not a regular at the podium, the suggestion is still the same:

You don’t need public speaking lessons; you need to learn how to cut your soul open.

That’s who people relate to, that’s who people sit down for and that’s who people tell their friends about. The one person brave enough to bare his truth. If you do that, people won’t care how many times you say “um.” Have you already crossed the fine line between preparation and automation?

5. Anchor yourself in the concrete foundation of your humanity. In a recent presentation, Leo Burnett’s executive Mark Tutssel explained, “The great brands of this century are the brands that don’t speak to consumers, but instead speak with people. As benchmark for the creative thinking within our company and for our brands, speaking human is at the heart of everything we do.”

Can you say that about your organization? Can customers and employees say it?

I certainly hope so. Because if your humanity doesn’t have a palpable presence in your labors, the fruit of your labors will taste like chalk.

My suggestion: Make the conscious choice to blend your humanity into every message you send. Create an instant filter to execute against before leaving voicemails, sending emails, publishing blogs and updating social media statuses. You might ask questions like, “Would a human being say this?” or “On a scale of one to ten, how much humanity does this message contain?”

Try it for a week. See what happens. Because the point is not to spend extra time debating your message, rather, to create a point of pause that heightens your awareness of the humanity in your message. What structure would you have to put in place today to deliver a human voice?

6. Ante up the emotional temperature. The only thing people can make a judgment about is how interacting with you, your brand, your website, your store, your company and your people – makes them feel.

As such, branding is about two things: How people experience you, and how people experience themselves in relation to you. Everything else is just an accessory.

In my experience, the differentiator is language. That’s the distinction between human companies and emotionally anemic corporate monoliths: They speak with soul instead of dehydrated jargon.

Try this: Make a list of the twenty most annoying, tired, vague, empty, overused eye-rolling words and phrases customers hate to hear. Convert the document into a poster and hang it all around the walls of your organization.

Then, any time you hear one of those words being used, charge that employee dollar. Not only will you raise enough money to throw a monthly party, simply by process of elimination, people will begin to speak with a more human, more emotional voice.

Remember: It’s not enough to compete for people’s attention – you have to campaign for their emotions. Is your service vulcanized?

REMEMBER: Speaking human is the music people have been waiting their whole lives to hear.

Follow that voice without hesitation.

Let your authenticity wash over them like a spring rain.

King George would be proud.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How human is your voice?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “22 Unexpected Ways to Help People,” 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

Is your frontline IN line?

Tune in to The Frontline Channel on NametagTV.com!

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How Joinable Is Your Brand?

Good brands are bought — great brands are joined.

Here’s what I mean:

To join a brand is to connect with it on a visceral level. To join a brand is to engage with it on a human level. To join a brand is to unite with it on a personal level.

Otherwise people are just giving you money.

Today we’re going to explore a collection of ideas to help your brand become more joinable.1. Surrender is the new control. Here’s the mistake stupid brands make: Instead of satisfying a compelling need, they project onto the market what they think they ought to want. Like the startup that invests thousands of dollars creating an elegant solution to a problem nobody has. Or the non-profit that drains the entire budget conserving irrelevant resources that are going extinct anyway.

In short: People fall love with their own marketing without recognizing that it’s already engaged to someone else.

Sounds like a bad country song to me.

If you want to make your brand more joinable, master the art of sweet surrender. Enable people to take your idea into their own hands by openly embracing a fan mentality.

For example, Scott Adams allows any of his readers to mash up his daily Dilbert comic strip. And if they’re funnier than his version, he’ll publish them. This demonstrates trust, transfers ownership to the customer and leverages vulnerability into viability. Does your brand do that?

As I learned from Vicki Kunkel’s book, Instant Appeal, “People who exhibit some sort of visual vulnerability relax out defenses and get greater support for their causes and companies.”

Remember: It’s not your job to tell customers how to consume you. Their taste puts food in your mouth – listen to it. Are you willing to give up some control of your brand in exchange for being able to let grow and expand it better and faster?

2. Inbreak is the new outreach. Outreach is outdated. Brands that claim to “start with the customer in mind” are full of crap. What they’re really trying to do is figure out how customers fit into their nice little marketing plan so they can bother them into buying something they don’t need.

Nice try, Don Draper, but that approach is broken.

If you want customers to join your brand, here’s my suggestion: Actually start with the customer. Focus on how your brand fits into people’s lives. That’s inbreak. That’s joining people first. And when you take this counterintuitive approach, a few cool things happen.

First, you proactively meet people where they live instead of cleverly sucking them into your marketing vortex. This lowers the threat level of your offering. Second, you extend respect for people’s life situation. This demonstrates empathy, respect and boundaries.

Third, by joining people first, you make them feel seen, heard and participated in. This delivers the social gift of gratitude. And lastly, instead of proving to people that you’re the kind of brand they can live with, you allow people to show you that they’re the kind of person you can’t live without. Which of your customers are just waiting for you to join them?

3. Click is the new join. To make your brand digitally joinable, you have to make it accessible through multiple channels. The secret is to help big numbers of people join you in small moments of clicking, the aggregate of which strengthens your brand over time. Here’s a collection of options you might consider:

*Make your brand subscribeable. Syndicate your brain. How many blog posts have published?
*Make your brand followable. Recognize that you’re a writer. How many of your tweets are worth printing out?
*Make your brand friendable. Become a virtual extrovert. Whose life is better because they know you?
*Make your brand likable. Get a personal demo video. How easy are you to get along with?
*Make your brand stalkable. Establish greater photo equity. How many pictures have you posted?
*Make your brand clickable. Build remarkability into everything you publish. How many bloggers are linking to you work?

Remember: Small moments plus big numbers equals huge profits. How many digital options are you giving people to interact with your brand?

4. Show-up is the new sign-on. When I first arrived at my professional association, the president took me aside and unexpectedly told me not to join. “Just show up, hang out and ask questions. Worry about joining later. Cool?”

Well, that’s a relief, I thought.

So I took Richard’s advice. And it turned out to be a much smarter investment of my time, money and energy. Plus I didn’t have to deal with the awkward pressures of membership, dues, committees and the like. Thank god. That’s all I need: Another affiliation.

The cool part is, after two years of casually showing up, I eventually did join. Then became a board member. Then became chapter president.

Lesson learned: Sometimes the best way to become more joinable is to tell people that it’s okay not to join. What do you have to lose? Why not look them in the eye say:

“Look, we have no petitions for you to sign, no recruitment drives for you to mount, and no expectations for you to fulfill. Just relax, and enjoy hanging out with the one club that requires absolutely nothing of you. Cool?”

Who knows? They might tell everybody. Are you blinded by the illusion that everyone in the world needs what your organization offers?

5. Imperfect is the new brilliant. The customer isn’t always right – but the customer always loves being right. And if you’re so smart, why aren’t you making other people look smart? Truth is, brands that are willing to broadcast their imperfection, remain open to improvement and allow customers to make their business smarter are eminently joinable.

Netflix, for example, offered one million dollars to anyone who could improve the accuracy of their movie recommendation algorithm by ten percent. This program was called The Progress Prize. And although it earned criticism from privacy advocates – not to mention the Federal Trade Commission – you better believe it positioned their brand as more joinable.

My suggestion: Kick your addition to terminal certainty. Be smart enough to be dumb. Besides, perfectionism enables procrastination, blocks inventiveness, stains communication and slaughters playfulness. Exert your imperfect humanity and your joinability will skyrocket. Are you still laboring under the myth that you have to do everything right? 


6. Engagement is the new marketing. For the past decade, I’ve never left the house without nametags. Because everywhere I go, people ask me if they can have one. And I’m happy to pass them out. To strangers, to friends, to random kids at the ballpark, whatever. My brand doesn’t discriminate.

The secret is, I don’t pass them out to make people wear nametags — I pass them out to make a point: My brand is participatory. Personally, I don’t even care if people wear the nametags. A lot of them don’t. What matters is that they join me that spontaneous moment of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection. That’s my brand. And people’s life is better because of it.

Your challenge is to determine the level of participation garnered by yours. After all, brand perception hinges on human interaction. And the only thing people can make a judgment about is how engaging with you makes them feel. I challenge you to think about how your brand could become more participative. Because encounter you have with another person either adds to – or subtracts from – its overall joinability. Do customers see your brand as a one-way street?

REMEMBER: Your people need to connect with you on a visceral level, engage with you on a human level and unite with you on a personal level.

Because it’s not enough for a brand to be bought – it has to be joined.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “26 Ways to Out Brand the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on NametagTV.com!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

Behind the Brandtag, Part 2: Lessons Learned from Shipping Art That Matters

“It’s not about the art – it’s about the person you become as you create the art.”

That mantra rules my life.

As an artist.
As an entrepreneur.
As an evolving human being.

Especially this week, as I celebrate the launch of brandtag.

This project is the most exciting, most risky and most remarkable work of art I’ve ever executed.

Much of my inspiration for this project can be attributed to Gaping Void, namely, Hugh Macleod’s cube grenade. To him I owe a debt of gratitude.

AND THE BEST PART IS: After fifteen months of hard and frustrating work, I’ve discovered dozens of cool things.

Today we’re going to explore part two (part one here!) of lessons learned during the process:1. Mainstream is lame stream. Art isn’t a game of kickball. Thanks to the beauty of the Internet, artists no longer have to wait around to get picked to play. Instead, they just pick themselves. They create their own market by finding the tiny handful of people who are likely to buy.

My suggestion: Divorce your ego from the illusion that market size matters. It doesn’t. Instead of buying tickets for the starving artist lottery, go out and find the market for what you love. Forget about appealing to the masses and focus on kicking the asses of the tribe who loves you.

It’s easier, cheaper and significantly less frustrating than trying to make everybody like you. Remember: The only permission slip that matters is the one you sign for yourself. Have you voluntarily opted out of the mainstream?

2. Discovery is the dividend of displacement. The origin of the first brandtag comes from Tokyo. I remember the experience vividly: My stomach was full of sushi, my creativity was firing on all cylinders, and there was a minor earthquake during breakfast. Not a bad morning.

But that was the first time it truly occurred to me: Contribution is critical to my constitution as a human being.

And on that day, something inside me changed. I don’t know what. But my work was never the same after that. That’s when I started writing about mattering. Both how to matter and what to do when you feel like you don’t matter. Through that experience, brandtag was born.

And that’s why I had no doubt in my mind that the first limited edition series would be about mattering. It’s simply too important of an idea not to celebrate. I wonder what you could discover if you displaced yourself across the country. Maybe you’ll stumble into the idea that changes everything. When was the last time you took a trip across the world all by yourself?

3. Sing in your own voice. Each limited edition brandtag is autographed in nametag style. Interestingly, when I took the prints to my framer, her comment was, “Wait, you’re just signing the nametag and that’s it? But in the art world, that’s not enough.”

To which I replied, “In my world, it is.”

Feedback is highly overrated. It rarely reflects who you are as an artist. More often than not, it just projects the insecure concerns and character flaws of the person giving it.

My suggestion: Develop deeper trust in your own instincts. Unless feedback comes from the small group of who truly matter most, it’s nothing but a confusing, discouraging, stressful waste of time and tears. Don’t spend too much time living in other people’s worlds. It leads you away from your own voice.

Remember: Life’s too short to create art in response to demands of the market. How much longer will you allow feedback to bounce you around like a pinball?

4. Joinability builds profitability. The greatest artists aren’t icons people bow down to; they’re ideas people can latch onto. For that reason, your customers – that is, your viewers, readers, patrons, fans and listeners – are buying more than just your product. They’re also buying your person, your philosophy, your process and the problem you solve.

That’s why quality can’t be your sole signature. People need to buy the story you’re telling, too. After all, they respond to what you believe – not just what you create.

Your challenge is to persuade people to make time in their busy schedules to visit the world you’ve created. Without that, your work will never endure. Because good brands are bought – great brands are joined. Otherwise people are just giving you money. What meaning do people create for themselves in response to your story?

5. Listen to unintentional music. About a month ago, my dad stopped by to help me hang the very first brandtag in my library. Once the frame was straight, we stepped back to have a look. And that’s when he said something that changed everything:

“Scott, I think I found a typo.”

Get the hell outta here. My stomach dropped to the floor. At first, I thought he was kidding. But upon closer inspection, we actually found a misspelled word in the lower right hand corner. If you look closely, you’ll notice the word “values” was accidentally spelled “vaules.”

And I thought: You sonuvabitch. I can’t believe I missed that. Goddammit.

Almost in tears, I called my girlfriend immediately. And I told her about the typo. But instead of lamenting about the imperfection, she came up with an idea that saved the day:

“Scott, you should leave the typo in there.”

Yeah. That’s a great idea. After all, this entire brandtag project is about approachability and humanity. And what’s more imperfect than that? So we did. We left the typo in. And from now on, every brandtag will have one.

It’s the snag in the Persian rug. The wabi-sabi. The crack that lets the light get through. And the reminder that success isn’t perfection. How imperfect are you willing to be? 


6. Finished is the new perfect. In a recent interview, Ira Glass made a brilliant comment on the creative process: “Your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is a killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.” That’s a tough pill to swallow: Knowing that not everything you make will feel like a masterpiece.

In fact, I remember getting to that point with brandtag. The obsessive-compulsive part of me wanted to keep editing, revising, updating and improving the final piece. But the impatient part of me said: Just ship the damn thing. Declare it done. The hay is in the barn.

Without this crucial moment, you trap yourself in the infinite regression of better. And it’s more convenient to be a victim of resistance than to risk executing what matters.

My suggestion: Stop ironing out the wrinkles nobody is going to notice. By fixating on improvement, you’re missing what you already are. When will you realize that you’re the only person waiting to get everything right?

REMEMBER: It’s not about the art; it’s about the person you become as you create the art.

Stop waiting for permission.

Go execute something that matters.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How risky is the work you ship?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Behind the Brandtag, Part 1: Lessons Learned from Shipping Art That Matters

“It’s not about the art – it’s about the person you become as you create the art.”

That mantra rules my life.

As an artist.
As an entrepreneur.
As an evolving human being.

Especially this week, as I celebrate the launch of brandtag.

This project is the most exciting, most risky and most remarkable work of art I’ve ever executed.

Much of my inspiration for this project can be attributed to Gaping Void, namely, Hugh Macleod’s cube grenade. To him I owe a debt of gratitude.

AND THE BEST PART IS: After fifteen months of hard and frustrating work, I’ve discovered dozens of cool things.

Today we’re going to explore a few of lesson learned during the process:1. Infect people with your vision. Otherwise your dream will never make into their hearts. That’s what most people don’t know about brandtag: It took fifteen months to execute. And not because I was procrastinating.

Rather, because I was documenting every single phase of the creative process – then, privately sharing it in a twenty-minute slide show presentation – with people who matter to me. Partly to obtain their feedback, but also to infect them with my vision of what the world would look like when these art pieces finally shipped.

And to my delight, when brandtag set sail, those people were already on board and willing to help me paddle.

Remember: If people can’t see the passion in your face, they won’t hear a word that comes out of your mouth. Don’t just show them the way – show them the why. How will you inspire people to see the world as you do?

2. Bring your cause to life. According to Gallup’s thirty-year employee engagement study, disengaged employees cost companies three hundred billion dollars every year. The question is: How much of that money was lost by your team? And what are you going to do about it?

For example: Employee’s inboxes don’t need another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication that they delete immediately or, at best, peruse passively. If your words don’t speak directly to what’s important to them, you’re nothing but spam.

That’s why brandtag works: It’s custom designed to stop the financial bleeding caused by disengaged employees. By displaying the art within your company walls, your team, and the people they serve, are ultra aware of your commitment to them. And that’s how approachability converts into profitability. Are you delivering your story in a lifeless way?

3. Expand your role repertoire. When I first started my company, I had a book. That was it. A decade later, my business has evolved into a diverse, robust enterprise. Now, my clients can use me in eight different ways. And this not only diversifies my business and positions me as a valued resource, but educates my clients on the depth of my deliverables.

That’s why brandtag was so exciting to me: It was a new role.

A combination of artist, translator and consultant. Not just a guy who writes books. And if you want your business to accomplish the same, try this: Physically map out a chart of every possible way clients can give you money. By doing so, you’ll be able to better articulate the diverse offerings that emphasize your expanded role repertoire.

Remember: The goal is to transition from “Should we hire them?” to “How should we use then?” Do your customers truly know all the different ways they can engage your services?

4. You’re defined by what you decline. It’s a beautiful moment when you realize what you can’t do. After all, sometimes that’s the only way to free yourself to focus on what’s left. Like the boxer with a broken arm, you realize you have no choice but to develop your speed.

That was the hardest part about executing brandtag: I couldn’t draw a straight line if I tried. I’m an artist of the verbal – not the visual. And as much as my ego wanted me to be responsible for every part of the process, I eventually made the decision to surrender.

Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Matt Homann, I hired out the artwork to a brilliant letterpress shop called Firecracker Press. And to my delight, their craftsmanship was a million times better than anything I could have ever attempted. What are you afraid to let go of?

5. Safeguard your artistic vision. I kept brandtag a secret for fifteen months. That was painful. But as Julia Cameron taught me, “The first rule of magic is containment.” That’s why I only told a select number of colleagues about my art project. In my experience, there is a direct relationship between how many people you tell about your dream and how quickly that dream becomes a reality.

If you force your ideas to hatch before they’re ready, they’ll arrive to the world stillborn and lifeless.

My suggestion: Don’t blow the lid off your idea by telling too many of the wrong people about them. Not everyone deserves a backstage pass to your dream. Just tell the few people who matter most and then get back to work.

Protect your dream. Otherwise the vultures will destroy your seed before you have a chance to harvest it. Are you gushing to people who are just going to belittle your ambitions?

REMEMBER: It’s not about the art; it’s about the person you become as you create the art.

Stop waiting for permission.

Go execute something that matters.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How risky is the work you ship?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Brandtag 001: How to Matter

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:

I was in Tokyo when it happened.

My stomach was full of sushi, my creativity was firing on all cylinders, and I’m pretty sure I felt a minor earthquake during breakfast.

Not a bad morning.

And that’s when it occurred to me:

Contribution is critical to my constitution as a human being.

And on that day, something inside me changed. I don’t know what. But my work was never the same after that.

That’s when I started writing about mattering. Both how to matter and what to do when you feel like you don’t matter.

That’s why I knew the first ever brandtag would have to be about mattering. It’s simply too important not to celebrate.CASE STUDIES:
These are my friends and colleagues at goBRANDgo. I use their culture as a example of brilliant engagement in my talks.

Their company matters. Their work matters. Their clients matter.

More pics here!

This is my great friend and editor, Jeremy Nulik, of the St. Louis Small Business Monthly.

I’ve been writing for their paper since 2004.

Their publication matters. Their stories matter. Their readers matter.

More pics here.

This is the home office of Optimists International. We’ve been strategic partners for the past three years.

Their members matter. Their service matters. Their programs matter.

More pics here.

ART SPECS:

Each print is autographed in nametag style, plus numbered as part of the series.

Interestingly, when I took the prints to my framer, her comment was, “Wait, you’re just signing the nametag and that’s it? But in the art world, that’s not enough.”

To which I replied, “In my world, it is.”


There are only fifteen of these limited edition prints on the planet.

Seven of them are already gone.

If you would like to purchase Brandtag 001: How to Matter, you can contact Scott directly.

INVESTMENT: $1000.00

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Why does your work matter?

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

How to Make Your Mission More Than a Statement

After fifteen months of hard work, Brandtag is here.

TO PURCHASE: Individual limited edition prints, explore the gallery.

TO VIEW: Pictures of engaged clients and partners, view the slide show.

TO LEARN: About Brandtag’s hand-made production process, meet Firecracker Press.

TO INQUIRE: About group pricing, corporate packages and consulting programs, contact Scott directly.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your mission more than a statement?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The James Brown Guide to Injecting Soul into Work

When I was in college, my roommate and I started a band.

Our first gig was at the campus record store. Seven people showed up, our guitars were out of tune, and I’m pretty sure there was something green my teeth.

We didn’t even meet any girls after the show.

What a waste.

But the one thing I’ll never forget was what my roommate whispered to me between songs:

“Dude, you’re singing with too much soul. Take it easy.”

We never played out in public again.

And from that day forth, I vowed to never “take it easy.”

Because there’s no such thing as singing with too much soul.

Here’s how to inject more of it into your work:1. Clarify your definition. I’m not the authority on soul – that would be James Brown. But I do think it’s important that each of us consider what it means to inject it into our work.

Here’s my philosophy, as a writer, performer, artist and entrepreneur: To inject soul is to own your gift. To inject soul is to deploy intense humanity. To inject soul is to exhibit naked personhood. To inject soul is to stay in touch with your own story. To inject soul is to enable a near life experience. To inject soul is to widen the boundaries of your being. To inject soul is to create moments of perfect symmetry. And to inject soul is to show people what’s under your fingernails.

What’s your definition?

Because no matter how you define it, when you inject soul, you are impossible not to watch. When you inject soul, you become a voice worth listening to. When you inject soul, you make people who aren’t your customers, wish they were. And when you inject soul, you earn a permanent spot in people’s heart. Might be worth defining for yourself. What do you bring to your work that nobody else in your industry can touch?

2. Scare the hell out of yourself. Soul stockpiles when you embrace anarchy and break the barrier that shields you from naked experience. Nothing dangerous, obviously. I’d hate for you to scare yourself to the point that you wind up in the hospital. Or violate your values. Or contaminate your personal constitution.

But fear is the final compass for finding what matters. And you’ve got to give that fear a clear voice. Otherwise you’ll never execute anything worth talking about.

My suggestion: Only pursue ideas whose risk level is through the roof. Create a personal filter that gauges the level of danger in whatever you undertake. Otherwise your audience will yawn.

For example, as I writer, I’m constantly asking, “What do I risk in publishing this material?” That’s how I keep my writing bloody, relatable and remarkable. That’s how I dance on the edge of chaos on a daily basis. And that’s how I stay focused on the work that matters most.

Remember: Ideas become interesting the moment they start to scare you. If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not there yet. What soul will your fear help you deliver?

3. Care about people’s experience when they’re around you. Being approachable isn’t just about how people experience you – it’s how they experience themselves in relation to you. That’s the next way to inject soul: Give people something they didn’t know they wanted. By taking them places they didn’t expect to go, you send them on mental journeys from which they never fully return.

In the immortal words of comedian George Carlin, “Even if they didn’t want go to there in the first place, once they arrive, they’ll be glad you took them there.”

That’s the secret nobody bothers to tell you: You’re not in business to provide a service – you’re in business to center on, and become known for – a unique way of interacting with the world. Maybe it’s the fastest. Maybe it’s the friendliest. Maybe it’s the funniest.

Doesn’t matter. As long as you repeatedly articulate your est, injecting soul will be a natural byproduct.

Remember: Every organization interacts with people – but not all of them brand it as their inherent, unique superiority. How could you speak to your market in a way they’re never been spoken to before?

4. Expect less from technology and more from each other. You can’t filter your entire life through pixels – not if you want that life to matter. That’s why approachability is not going away. In fact, it’s becoming more essential by the day.

If you want to inject soul, you have to make things unexpectedly personal. Instead of outsourcing the human function, practice interactional casualness. Compress your personality into micro moments of individual expression.

But not as calculated actions – as loving impulses. Otherwise you come across as cold and alienating. And your flat and inexpressive language will go unnoticed.

Believe me: Investing time and money to inject soul is always worthwhile. I challenge you to expose the place where you really live, fearlessly open the closed room and bring all of yourself to everything you do.

It might be inconvenient – but it’s never impossible. And people always notice. Where are you sacrificing experiences for expenses?

5. Pass the torch. Part of making a name for yourself is helping others make a name for themselves along the way. After all: People shouldn’t have to wait for permission to express themselves. Their unique light should shine bright and consistently.

Otherwise, crushed under the weight of can’t, they wind up delivering emotionless, forgettable non-service.

That’s the next secret to injecting soul: Petitioning the people around you to do the same. Helping them light their own fire. And giving people permission to express their personal brand unabashedly. Not only does this color their daily experience, it also reinforces their freedom and invites them to demonstrate their creativity.

Remember: Like a pocket full of fireworks waiting for a match, the people you work with would give anything for the opportunity to show you how much soul they really have. Be an enabler of that. Help people believe in their own possibility a little more. They’ll work their hearts out for you. Do you love yourself enough to get the hell out of the way so people can articulate their fabulousness?

6. Build virtuosic moments. Kid Rock has sold twenty three million records. This is not an accident. In the revealing book Music, he shared his philosophy of life and business:

“If it looks good, you’ll see it. If it sounds good, you’ll hear it. If it’s marketed right, you’ll buy it. But if it’s real, you’ll feel it.”

That’s what happens when you inject soul: People feel it. Down to their bones. And if you want to compete in today’s marketplace, that’s the price of admission.

Long gone are the days of interrupting people until they die or hire you. Long gone are the days of tricking people into buying something.

Now, you’re no longer just competing for people’s attention – you’re competing for their emotions. And unless you’re willing to loosen the tightness of your heart, you’ll never cut through the clutter.

Benefits, schmenefits. Your soul is what people buy. How are you leading with that in the sales process?

REMEMBER: Soul informs brand, and brand informs your bank account.

Inject it into everything.

James Brown would be proud.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you known for your sale or your soul?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Are You Forgetting About This Underrated Marketing Strategy?

My business card is a nametag.

But it doesn’t say Scott – it says Scott’s Friend.

I do this for three few reasons.

To assure people that face-to-face is coming back. And, that regardless of age, technology or personality, nothing will ever beat human contact.

To remind people that you can’t filter every experience of your life through pixels. Not if you want that life to matter.

To show people that it’s still cool to meet people the old fashion way. By touching their skin, looking them straight in the eyes and taking to them with your mouth.

IN SHORT: To market my humanity.

That’s the most underrated marketing strategy in the world: Being a person.

Here’s how you can do the same:1. Exponentially increase your activity level. Did you know it’s easier to just say hi to everybody? That’s why my personal mantra is, “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.”

Think about it: How many people did you go out of your way to avoid last week? Better yet: How many people went out of their way to avoid you last week?

I think that’s the highlight of wearing a nametag all the time: It generates spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection.

This happened on a recent trip to Atlanta. My flight attendant noticed my nametag and made a classic comment: “I wish all my passengers wore nametags – that way I wouldn’t have to say sir!”

It made my day. And imagine it certainly brightened hers. Do that five times a day for a decade, and you can’t help but market your humanity. But only if you’re consistent. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark. How many of those moments did you have last week?

2. Generosity always gets people’s attention. People judge you based on two criteria: How they experience you, and how they experience themselves in relation to you. Everything else is an afterthought.

The question is: How do you want to leave people? In love with you, or in love with themselves because of you?

Ideally, the latter. Because being approachable isn’t just about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people to life at the party. It’s not about constantly putting on a show – it’s about giving other people a front row seat to their own brilliance.

That’s how you interact with people in a way that they will not forget: By making the feel essential. That’s how you give people the social gift of elevation: By enabling them to walk away from an interaction psychologically higher than before. And if you do it right – and if there’s nothing hollow behind it – people will leave elevated. When you out of a room, how does it change?

5. Decide where you draw the line. Humanity notwithstanding, it is possible to be too approachable. And the last thing you want to do is violate somebody’s personal boundaries. That’s a mistake too many organizations make: Not everyone who walks in the door wants an unforgettable experience. From customers to guests to employees to volunteers, sometimes you just have to back off.

For example:

When I work with retailers, I remind them that sometimes you have to stop helping people shop. When I work with airline companies, I remind them that sometimes passengers just want you to drop off a bottle of water and leave them the hell alone. And when I work with call centers, I remind them that you don’t have to use the customer’s name seventeen times a minute just to assure them that you’re listening.

Instead, try asking people how much interaction they prefer. Ask questions like, “How often would you like me to communicate with you?” and “What method of communication do you prefer most?” Otherwise, overpersonalization becomes an invasion of privacy. And by giving people too much attention, they feel smothered and intruded upon. Where are you overcommunicating?

4. Leave a tender moment alone. I once had the chance to meet one of my heroes. After his speech, I made my way to the front of the meet and greet line. We shook hands, and he asked me if I wanted to get a picture.

But for the first time in a long time, instead of fumbling over my smart phone to take a picture I could later use to prove to all my friends that we’d actually met, I told Mark that I’d rather just remember the moment instead.

So I did. And so did he. And incidentally, I never forgot that moment.

That’s what happens when you capture life with the camera of the heart. And if you want to do the same, here’s my suggestion: When you encounter the people who matter most, allow those interactions to profoundly penetrate you. Breathe in their humanity. And let the pearl sink.

Otherwise your life experience becomes nothing but an overcrowded external hard drive. What is your addiction to documentation preventing you from fully experiencing?

5. It’s never too late for the truth. Honesty is scary. Not just for you, but for the people around you. Think about it: Any time you honestly, sincerely and candidly share your opinion about something that matters to you, there’s always that one insecure, cynical twit who just has to remark, “Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?”

That’s what I never understood about the corporate world: They treat honesty like it’s some sort of organizational initiative.

Excuse me, but that’s freaking ludicrous.

First of all, if you have to tell people you are – you probably aren’t. Second, honesty shouldn’t have to be a policy. If you have to tell your people to tell the truth, you need new people. Third, if your company wants to earn a reputation of truthfulness, make honesty a constitutional ingredient – not a corporate initiative.

That’s what marketing your humanity is all about: Honoring the truth, honoring your truth and honoring other people’s truth. So what if it scares people? Tell them how you really feel. It might change everything.

Remember: You don’t need a three hundred page manual to tell you how to behave. Do you respect people enough to tell them the truth?

6. Excavate the universal human experience. What you do isn’t what you really do. There’s always something bigger. There’s always something that matters more. When I speak to recruiters and staffing professionals, I remind them that their job isn’t to manage people – it’s to enable the explosion of human potential.

Or, when I work with nurses and healthcare professionals, I teach them that their job is to give oxygen to people’s souls by allowing the dignity of self-definition. When I train company leaders, I show them that their job is to connect the duty of today with the dream of tomorrow. And when I work with relocation specialists and moving companies, I remind them that their job isn’t to move boxes – it’s to unpack the contents of the human heart.

See the difference? Your challenge is to do the same for your own work. To master the deeper humanity within your work, then embed it into your job function on a daily basis. When you go to work, what are you really doing all day, really?

REMEMBER: True power comes from personhood.

If you want to engage the people who matter most, bring all of yourself to everything you do.

Your humanity will become your company’s greatest competitive advantage.

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “20 Ways to Overcommunicate Anything,” 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Too many ideas?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on NametagTV.com.

Watch video lessons on executing what matters.

7 Ways to Humanize the Workplace

Being human is good for business.

But.

I have no data to measure this.
I have no research to prove this.
I have no statistics to support this.

Nobody does.

Humanizing the workplace is not a process that can be comfortable quantified.

And because of that, most organizations overlook it.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: You don’t need to look very far to find evidence of the profitability of approachability.

THE BAD NEWS IS: There may not be enough evidence to convict you.

Today we’re going to explore a list of ideas for making your organization more human, more approachable and more engaged:1. Learn to be an imperfectionist. Mistakes are a chance to make the company smarter. And if you’re not making them regularly, you’re not risking enough. As I learned in The Magic in Your Mind:

“When imperfectness enters a man’s soul, he is able to show that he does not live alone in the world, but with millions of others, in whose hearts exists the same animating spirit.”

You simply have to be willing to say: “This is me. This is all of me. There is no more. There is no less. Can you accept that?” And if people can’t, get new people. Don’t be the company who never shows any real ugliness.

Instead, boldly flaunt your imperfection. Endorse your own weakness. Not only does make you more human, more relatable and more approachable – it also establishes your acceptance of the imperfect humanness of others. Sounds like a nice place to work to me. Do you trust that your people want the real you?

2. Honor people’s capacity to express. Too many companies work overtime to eliminate employee initiative. And as a protective measure, they ask their people to edit themselves. Probably because they’re terrified of allowing employees to inject their personality into the workplace and, god forbid, be free.

The problem with this command and control approach is that it leads to impersonal, emotionless non-service where employees are objectified and quickly discarded. And nothing could be less approachable.

If you want to humanize the workplace, believe in people enough to let them find their way. Don’t make them feel guilty for their talents. Don’t block the spontaneity that colors their world. Instead of assigning instructions for performing every task, let them breathe. Stop hovering.

Instead, encourage people to suggest improved ways of doing things. That’s how you treat people like people – not like tools to transmit your directions.

Remember: People engage when they have permission to create – not just instructions to comply. How are you letting people live their truth?

3. Empathy is valuable, exertion is priceless. When people come into your office and bleed all over you, the default response is to fire up the empathy engine. Which is smart. Acknowledging people’s feelings, honoring their situation and affirming the courage it takes to share is an approachable, respectful response. And you absolutely want to show people that you care enough to be hurt when they’re upset.

But you also need to care enough to be responsive when they’re in need. Standing knee deep in the gushing rapids of the human condition only matters if you help people get to shore.

My suggestion: Stop empathetically listening to people’s concerns and start immediately acting on them. Remember: Not everyone needs a sound listener – they need a swift exerter. How are you promoting a humanely considerate environment?

4. Be friends, not just amicable strangers. Friendships at work are determined by their utility. We are friends primarily because we are useful to each other. It’s a convenience of mutual accommodation.

Unfortunately, these relationships are merely transactional. And if you want to take intimacy to a higher level, try this: Instead of sitting back and making commentary, try participating in people’s lives. Stamp out anonymity. You don’t need to wear a nametag twenty-four hours a day – but you do need to know that a person’s name is the primary installment of self-disclosure.

Face it: There’s a certain level of intimacy you’ll never achieve if you keep calling people, “buddy” or “big guy.”

My question is: How many people did you go out of your way to ignore yesterday? How many people went out of their way to ignore you yesterday?

Two many. Stop focusing on transactions and start investing in real relationships. Do you like people for who they are or what they give?

5. Be a stand for other people’s greatness. If you want your people to fall in love with you, help them fall in love with themselves first. That’s what being approachable is all about: Not being the life of the party – bringing other people to life at the party. And not solely focusing on who you know – but bragging about whose life is better because they know you.

The secret is to give people a front row seat to their own brilliance. Which is easy to do, considering most people don’t realize how brilliant they are. They’re simply too close to themselves to see it.

Here’s what I do: Be people’s permission slip to be smart. Puncture their delusions of inadequacy. Show them their words have weight by emailing them with notes you took during your last conversation. It’s reflective, respectful, revelatory and reinforcing.

Plus it’s fun. And it proves that recognition isn’t just an interactional gift – it’s an emotional release. If you’re so smart, how come you don’t make other people feel smart?

6. Bear the burden of the human need to belong. That’s what I never understood about immigration law: No human being should ever be illegal. Ever. Last time I checked, we’re all humans – which means we all belong here. Period.

If you want to bolster a sense of belonging, here’ a few ideas:

Invite people before they have to ask. Listen to and actually incorporate people’s ideas. Give people the freedom to do what they believe is right. Prove to people their daily effort isn’t another silent symphony. Reflect people’s thoughts back to them in a way that they feel understood, but not mindlessly repeated. And look people in the eye and, with a fundamentally affirmative attitude, tell them how great their ideas are – no matter how big or small.

Remember: Belonging is the price of admission to people’s hearts. It’s the very oxygen they breathe. And if you don’t make a conscious effort to reinforce it in your organization, people’s loyalty will vanish like a fart in a fan factory. How are you oxygenating the workplace?

7. Root out any sense of entitlement. Here’s where big organizations screw up: They build impenetrable walls to separate the leaders from the people who matter most. And because they’re caught up in rigid identifications at the expense of their humanity, employees rarely work their butts off – much less their hearts out.

Take Zappos, for example. When you take the company tour at their Las Vegas campus, you’ll notice a lack off offices. According to my twenty second conversation with president Tony Tshei:

“We don’t have an open door policy – we have a no door policy.”

Doesn’t get more human than that. And if you want to jolt people awake, try putting hierarchy to sleep. Instead of hologramming your humanity behind the mask of a title, put your person before your position. Values before vocation. Realness before role.

That’s how smart, approachable leaders relax into humility: By releasing their posture of pretense and by staying brave enough to tell people they don’t know everything. How will you keep humility in tact?

REMEMBER: Love is not a combination lock.

If you want to humanize the workplace, you don’t need a formula.

You need to capture heartshare.
You need to treat people like people.
You need to make them feel essential.

That’s how approachability converts into profitability.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
If your company were charged with the crime of being human, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” 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.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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