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.

Are you known for your sale or your soul?

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

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.

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

Too many ideas?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on

Watch video lessons on executing what matters.

7 Ways to Humanize the Workplace

Being human is good for business.


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.

If your company were charged with the crime of being human, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

What Smart Entrepreneurs Know about Leveraging Their Limitations

I’m tired of people telling me that there are no limits.

Yes, there are.

Everybody has them. And to ignore your limits is to deny your truth.

HERE’S THE REAL SECRET: Instead of running from your limits – or, worse yet, pretending they don’t exist – try leveraging them.

Leverage, as you may recall from previous posts, is, “To increasing the rate of return on an investment.”

But leverage isn’t a word. Or a strategy. Or something you do to make money.

Leverage is a lifestyle. A way of thinking. An approach to doing business.

I like to think of it as killing to two stones with one bird.

Take it from a guy with no background, no job experience and no credentials – who turned a simple idea like wearing a nametag everyday into a successful enterprise.

Twelve books later, if that’s not leverage, I don’t know what is.

Today we’re going to explore a collection of ideas to help you leverage your limitations: 1. Objectivity is equity. In the past eight years, I’ve delivered over six hundred presentations for corporations worldwide. And typically, I’m the outsider. The freak. The only person in the room who doesn’t know the inner workings of the industry.

Initially, I viewed this as threat to my credibility. A disconnect between the speaker and the audience. But then it occurred to be: People need fresh air. A new perspective from an unbiased source that has no stake in the organization. That’s when I began leveraging my outsiderness as a strength – not a limitation.

If you find yourself in a similar position, ask yourself a few questions:

*What limitations enable you to be more objective than your competitors?
*What assumptions can you explore that most people never think of or take for granted?
*What thinking patterns can you deliver as a result of your ability to detach from the outcome?

Remember: It’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists. And the less you know, the more likely you are to come up with an original idea. Are you willing to tell people you know nothing in order to change everything?

2. Magnify your unhideables. With the exception of plastic surgery and cryogenic freezing, age isn’t something you can hide. However, that can work to your advantage if you position yourself strategically.

For example, let’s say you just graduated college. And you’re the youngest person in your office by twenty years. Instead of viewing your youth a sign of immaturity and lack of experience – consider it an asset that enables you to offer a continuous flow of vitality and perspective to your organization.

If you’re proactive and powerful – without coming off as arrogant and annoying – people will notice.

Or, maybe you’re the company veteran. And you’ve been around longer than most of the interns have been alive. Instead of seeing yourself as a dusty monument of irrelevance, position yourself as a reservoir of diverse experience and wisdom who can predict forthcoming industry trends.

If you’re inspiring and visionary – but without coming off as condescending and entitled – people will notice.

Remember: A chicken ain’t nothing but a bird, and age ain’t nothing but a number. Are you focusing on the years or the mileage?

3. Limited palettes make for stronger expressions. In Alan Fletcher’s inspiring book, The Art of Looking Sideways, he explains that the first move in any creative process is to introduce constraints.

Which sounds counterintuitive, as art is an expression of freedom. But having boundaries is what forces you to tap into – and trust – your inner resources in creative ways.

What’s more, limitation is inspiration. When you use it to fuel your creative fire, it enables you to create something that surprises yourself. And that’s where genius lives.

Take the recession, for example. I don’t know about you, but the devastating economy was the best thing that ever happened to my business. Sure, profits aren’t as high the used to be. But the pendulum will swing back eventually.

Meanwhile, in light of shrinking client budgets, I’ve been forced to evolve my service line, expand my role repertoire and provide new value to accommodate my markets. Now, with multiple profit centers, my company has evolved into a more robust, more diverse and more equitable enterprise.

And as a result, my client positioning shifted into that of a resource – not just a writer. And that’s worth money. All by virtue of the economy sucking big time. How could you put yourself in a position that would force your to renew your resourcefulness?

4. Know what you aren’t. This spring, I’m releasing a series of customized, limited edition art prints for my clients. They’re extremely scarce, very expensive and highly unorthodox. But the product is worthwhile because it assures one thing: Their mission becomes more than a statement.

The problem was: 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, 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.

Lesson learned: 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. Or, in my case, pay someone to punch for you. What are you afraid to let go of?

5. Limitations are the doorways to your deepest value. In Hugh Macleod’s bestselling book Ignore Everybody, he shares a fascinating theory about circumventing limitations:

“Picasso was a terrible colorist. Saul Steinberg’s formal drafting skills were appalling. Henry Miller was a wildly uneven writer. Bob Dylan couldn’t sing or play guitar. But that didn’t stop them, right? And why should it?”

Lesson learned: Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. In fact, not knowing how might be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Think about it: If you don’t know where you’re going, nobody can stop you – not even you.

Instead of berating yourself for limited proficiency, use the absence of know-how to activate the excavation of know-why. Tap into the truest motives behind your work. How will come in time.

Until then, just start. You don’t need lessons. You don’t need a degree. And you certainly don’t need anybody’s permission. Just start. As George Carlin once said, “It’s not enough to play the right notes – you have to know why the notes need to be played.” What will sucking make available to you?

REMEMBER: Limits are a beautiful thing.

They expose value.
They galvanize focus.
They renew resourcefulness.

Learn to leverage them, and you’ll kill two stones with one bird every time.

Are you ignoring, avoiding or leveraging your limits?

For the list called, “50 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Too many ideas?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on

Watch video lessons on executing what matters.

6 Ways to Make People Feel Essential

Congratulations. You remember names. You celebrate birthdays. You memorize preferences.

But that’s not what makes people stay.

Making people feel valued, important, special, needed – or whatever other simplistic leadership instructions you read in How to Win Friends and Influence People – is pretty much expected at this point. It’s the baseline requirement of being a leader.

But that’s not what makes people stay.

If you want the people who matter most to show up in full voice, work their hearts out for you spread the organizational love like a fever, you have to make them feel essential.

Essential meaning, “Your work matters.”
Essential meaning, “We would crumble without you.”
Essential meaning, “If you were gone, people would notice.”

Are you a practitioner of essentialism? If not, try these ideas:1. What do you see when you see people? That’s the question approachability hinges upon. For example, last week I met a woman whose specialty was securing venture capital funding. Neat lady. She was sharp, aggressive and energizing. But when she learned about my work, she confessed that her clients and colleagues historically perceived her as being unapproachable.

“The problem is, only one out of a hundred people I meet are ideal clients. And my default programming is to uncover – as quickly as possible – whether or not they’re one of the ninety-nine. Otherwise I lose interest.”

Which makes total sense. Especially from a prospecting point of view: You don’t want to burn your days chasing non-economic buyers. But while it’s one thing to qualify – it’s another things to compartmentalize everyone you meet into convenient little boxes.

Turns out, if you approach people as unique individuals – as human beings – they remember feeling essential. But if you exploit them as a means to an end – as integers – they remember feeling small. Are you memorable for the right reasons?

2. Decide how you want to leave people. Approachability is about how people experience themselves in relation to you. And while you can’t control people’s emotions – outside of manipulation, punishment and coercion – what you can do is be more intentional in how you walk away from them.

For example:

Want to leave people laughing? Help them evoke the humor in their own lives.

Want to leave people inspired? Enable them to give birth to their own realizations.

Want to leave people heard? Reflect their reality by taking.

Your challenge is twofold: First, to identify the baseline emotion you want to leave people with. Second: To remind yourself of that emotion on a daily basis. Because in the end, it’s not about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people to life at the party. And it’s not who you know – it’s whose life is better because they know you. When you walk out of a room how does it change?

3. The speed of the response is the response. Marshall McLuhan was right: The medium is the message. And when you hold a leadership position, that principle seeps its way into everything you do – especially now.

Because culturally, “good, fast and cheap” has been replaced by “perfect, now and free.” How are you adapting to that shift?

Here are three examples: First, questions. Because it’s not just about being askable – it’s about how quickly you let people know that you’re searching for an answer. Second, responses. Because it’s not just what you say – it’s about how long you make people wait before they hear it.

Third, troubles. Because it’s not just about fixing the problem – it’s about how well you communicate to people as you fix it. Without that kind of “speed sensibility,” your people end up suffering in silence. And instead feeling essential – they feel evaded. Do you return calls faster than your competitors?

4. Preserve people’s fingerprints. As an artist, I make a conscious effort to alert people when they’ve inspired my work. Not with a thank you note. Not with a one-word text message. And not with some insincere compliment they forget by lunch. I physically gift them a copy of the finished product they helped created.

Whether it’s a book, an article or a limited edition art piece, I want them to own it. Forever. Because it wouldn’t have come into existence without them, and they deserve to see it live.

Notice I said gift – not give. Huge difference.

If you want to make people feel essential, don’t gift expecting reciprocation – gift to let people to know their words have weight. Gift to keep your art in motion. Gift to bring yourself closer to the recipient. Gift to help people remember that their existence matters.

Remember: Success never comes unassisted. Learn how to thank or get out. How do you pay homage to the voices that shape you?

5. Recognition is the mainspring of motivation. People crave recognition. It’s a universal human need. And it’s one of the chief determinants of employee engagement. But, whether or not people satisfy that need depends on if they can answer, “yes” to the following question:

Is my voice heard here?

My friend Derek is a master of this. His marketing agency, goBRANDgo, has a “Win Wall” in their office. Every time an employee achieves a victory of any kind – from landing a new client to delivering ahead of schedule to killing that pesky mosquito that’s been buzzing around since August – they write it on a sticky note.

And the cool part is, each employee has his or her own color. Then, at the end of the week, they aggregate all the wins onto a blog post for the entire world to see. Totally awesome.

And the lesson: It’s not about just praising people publicly – it’s about being a stand for people’s greatness. It’s about giving them a front row seat to their own brilliance – while inviting the rest of the world to sit in the audience with them.

That’s the secret to recognition: Isn’t corporate initiative – it’s a constitutional ingredient. How are you making gratitude palpable and recurrent?

6. Increase your mental flexibility. Have you ever worked with somebody who went out of their way to pretend like they cared? Like the boss who thoroughly listens to your input, thanks you for your suggestion, and then goes back to doing exactly what he planned all along. Geh.

Nothing makes people feel smaller. I’m reminded of a classic Scott Adams cartoon in which Dilbert undergoes a performance evaluation. Sitting across the table in complete silence, his manager says, “I’m not going to comment – I’ll just look at you until you agree with me.”

If you want people to feel essential, let them experience that they can change your mind. Be quick to ask for their opinion, and be slow to interrupt when they give it. This shows them that you can bend. That you’re vulnerable enough to admit that your perceptions might be misguided. And that you’re willing to shelf your ego and approach everyone as your mentor. Do you treat people like vestigial parts, helpful additions or vital components?

REMEMBER: Making people feel important isn’t that important.

What matters is that they feel essential.

That you honor their essence as a human being.

And that’s something you’ll never learn from a Dale Carnegie book.

How committed are your people?

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Make Your Company Smaller

If size mattered, dinosaurs would still be around.

Truth is, the corporate veil of bigness and anonymity no longer works.

If you want to be approachable, be less.

This is a topic I’ve been addressing a lot lately.

First, with a post called 21 Reasons to Stay Small.
Second, with a post called 6 Ways to Stay Small and Win Big.

And this week, my client at American Express Open Forum ran the latest piece called How to Keep Your Company Small.

Here’s how your company can embrace that possibility:1. Plan is a four-letter word. Big companies love to plan because planning preserves their sense of control. It underwrites the illusion that they know what they’re doing. The problem is, planning is a big decision. And big decisions cause you to prematurely commit to a trajectory that (might) later prove to be unprofitable.

What’s more, over time, the more you plan, the harder it becomes to invite healthy derailments. That’s how you miss unlabeled opportunities to grow: When you’re too busy managing the stress of planning to experience the benefits of executing. Don’t close yourself off by making gods out of your plans. Have your long-term plans turned into anchors?

2. Cut down to the bone. Enough to make the bone nervous. Here’s how to trim as much fat from your process as possible: Remove redundant procedures. Axe inactive people. Delete stupid expenses that drain organizational resources. And instead of wasting time tinkering with broken processes, invent a new way to do it, jettison outdated procedures and get on with your life.

Ultimately, it’s about excising as much fat from your process as possible. That’s how you become lean, trim and nimble. Are you yielding gracefully to necessity or kneeling obediently to mediocrity?

3. Sweat the small stuff. That’s what big companies do: They sacrifice experience for expense. And as a result, the hallmark of their size is providing impersonal, emotionless non-service.

On the other hand, if you’re small enough to care, you can make a conscious decision to put the experience above all else. You can move beyond the mechanical and transactional and into the emotional and transformational.

That’s what customers are coming back for anyway: How interacting with you makes them feel. What small action might make a big difference?

4. Capitalize on the momentum. Big companies are quick to think – but small companies are quick to act. That’s the best part about keeping your size down: Speed.

No standing by for approval before tweeting.
No waiting for legal to clear a customer service complaint.
No lingering three days for human resources to sign off on your blog post.
No spending a year in meetings trying to calculate earning potential and assess how to mitigate risk.

You just go. You just try things. And you execute with all your might – not all your policies. How impatient are you willing to be?

5. Never overlook the profitability of accessibility. According to a recent survey by eMarketer, small businesses are not only keeping up with large companies, they’re actually beating them when it comes to acquiring customers via social media.

The report found that nearly half of small businesses around the world have acquired a customer via social media, as compared to twenty-eight percent of larger businesses with larger budgets.

As small business educator Josh Kauffman writes, “Large companies move slowly and good ideas often die on the vine because they had to be approved by too many people.” How many of your big ideas were jailed last month?

6. Learn to delete the average. Average inhibits your ability to flourish. Average chokes your ability to matter. Average numbs your ability to contribute. And priding yourself on average means programming yourself for irrelevancy. Try saying no to the mediocre work.

In so doing, you preserve your ability to choose how much to grow. What’s more, saying no to the good makes room to say yes to the best. If you want to stay small, you have to set standards for rejecting opportunities. You have to develop a policy for saying no. Otherwise you wind up getting so big that you have to give up the parts you value most.

Remember: You are what you reject. Differentiate yourself by saying no. Are you big and average or small and awesome?

7. Lose the posture of pretense. Ditch the pomp. Erase superficial distinctions. And speak with a casual voice. That’s how you make communication between employees and customers unexpectedly personal.

Otherwise, if you’re too busy defending past decisions, massaging executive egos and destroying evidence of your shortcomings, you’ll never carve out the time to be human. And that’s when your customers will stop listening to you.

Think of it this way: If clothing conveys class, hierarchy and status, your organization is too big. Are your messages sending people scurrying for dictionaries?

8. End the editing. Most big organizations are designed to restrict individual expression, mitigate dissent and preserve the status quo. There’s simply too much red tape to be honest.

My suggestion: You don’t need more procedures – you need more philosophy. Policies are restrictive devices that keep people from doing something; philosophies are enabling devices that empower people to do something.

In a beautifully small organization, your employees should be able to express themselves without resorting to code, take action with asking for permission, take a piss without submitting a requisition form and make adjustments without having to go through the chain of command. When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely?

9. Make your mission more than a statement. The bigger the company, the less likely people are to feel essential. 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 another problem with big companies: Their sense of mission easily fades. And under the weight of irrelevant action, they perish spending time on the wrong priorities.

Your mission is to stay in touch with your own story. Are the messages that deliver that story notably professional or dubiously slick?

REMEMBER: Getting as big as possible, as fast as possible, isn’t the only goal that matters.

You don’t always have to take it to the moon. Resist the pressure to expand.

Seek greatness – not bigness.

It’s more manageable, more flexible more approachable and, most importantly, profitable.

Where do you need to be smaller?

For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Question 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

“I’ve been a supporter of the approach that mentoring should not be a paid activity as this has the potential to change the dynamics of the relationship and create a power imbalance. But I have to be honest and say that after Scott’s first mentoring response to me, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

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How to Focus Your Face Off

Here’s the biggest challenge my mentoring clients bring to me:

“I have so many good ideas, but I don’t know which ones to execute.”

Ah, creative paralysis. Tough problem. And as an entrepreneur myself, I’ve certainly struggled with this issue over the years.

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE: Eventually, you have to stop brainstorming and start executing.

Because you don’t need another idea – you need an “I did.”


This isn’t about time management.
This isn’t about getting things done.
This isn’t about streamlining the quality of your process so you can maximize the efficiency of strategic productivity.

This is about creating a filter for your life.

That way, you can strain the impurities out of your life and free yourself to execute what matters most.

I like to call it, “focusing your face off.”

Here’s how to do it:1. Look at yourself with unquestioning eyes. Focus is the fireplace. It’s the point of convergence, the center of activity and energy. And if you want that flame to burn white hot, begin by fueling your fire with an inexorable sense of why.

That’s the epiphany I keep having: Whether it’s discipline, execution, commitment or focus – knowing why changes everything. I don’t care how distracted you are, if you educate yourself on why something matters to you, you’ll focus on it. And if you keep visual reminders of that why in front of your face all day, you’ll focus on it.

Otherwise priority dilution will rob you blind. And you’ll continue to whine about how you can’t ever seem to hunker down and make anything happen.

Bottom line: Constancy of purpose cannot be penetrated by distraction. Ever. Filter your focus against your values and reap the rewards. Are you justifying your existence by generating activity, or validating your existence by executing what matters?

2. Delete the noise. It’s surprisingly easy to find focus when you enter through the back door. That’s what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur: Deciding what to do through the process of elimination is way less threatening and intimidating.

Try this: Make a list of every useless, inbound interruption that doesn’t matter and diffuses your focus. Read the list out loud three times. Then, when you’re sufficiently disgusted by how trapped you are in those trivialities; delete those distractions from your life forever. By embracing the essential and banishing the bullshit, you free yourself up to commit to a few things and win there.

Without cancelling out that noise, you’ll never discern between the necessary and the superfluous. And you’ll fall victim to the erosion of your time, the decay of your focus and the meaninglessness of your work. What can you eliminate so you’re left with so few moving parts that important work actually gets done?

3. Environments either champion or choke focus. When I deliver training programs on employee engagement, here’s my favorite statistic to share: Three hundred billion dollars. Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates that this is the cost in lost productivity alone, according to their thirty-year Employee Engagement Index.

And it just occurred to me: I wonder what percentage of that number is related to a lack of focus?

Answer: Too much. After all, focus is a function of environment. And I don’t mean feng shui – I mean the emotional environment of your workspace. For example: It’s easy to focus when you don’t feel edited. It’s easy to focus when you don’t feel policed. It’s easy to focus when passion is embedded into the pavement. It’s easy to focus when work is a gateway and not a grind. And it’s easy to focus when you can count on the emotional release of consistent public recognition.

Remember: If you’re having trouble concentrating on the work that matters, maybe it’s because you’re not engaged in the first place. What environmental energy keeps you from keeping focused?

4. You’re defined by what you decline. About once a week, someone emails me with a potential business opportunity. Or a joint venture. Or some new project they want me to be involved in. And I respectfully reject (nearly) every one of them.

Not to be rude. And not to suggest the ideas or the people behind them are flawed. But I’m a firm believer in saying no to the good to make room to say yes to the best. Interestingly, the more distance I get from the opportunities I’ve said no to over the years, the more thankful I become that I held out.

In a recent interview with Fortune, Steve Jobs made a similar distinction:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’re focusd on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

Remember: Not close-minded. Not inflexible. Not stiff. Just focused. And when you focus yourself, you free yourself. What doors will saying no open for you?

5. Let the light shine on the obvious path. Comfortable people rarely take focused action. Their complacency is simply too convenient to be killed. On the other hand, the people who execute are the ones who disturb themselves into discomfort. They fan the flames of focus by creating unacceptable consequences of failing.

In my experience, the most effective process for doing so is through repetitive self-questioning. Trying asking yourself:

*Is what I’m doing – right now – reinforcing my why?
*Is what I’m doing – right now – supporting my empire?
*Is what I’m doing – right now – consistent with my number one goal?

It’s confrontational, it’s creative and it’s guaranteed to give you the kick in the ass you need to focus your face off. I ask these questions to myself all day, every day, and rarely ever have any problems staying focused. How much of your life are you wasting by (not) focusing on your priorities?

6. Give yourself permission to get lost. Inasmuch as focus is a virtue, you can’t stay focused all the time. Nobody can. Humans aren’t wired that way. Besides, if all you ever do is focus – you’ll never have any fun. And nobody will want to be around you.

The secret is to book blank time. I learned this from a classic study conducted at Kansas State University’s Counseling Services Department. Their researchers found that because focusing can be such hard work, you should reward yourself when you hit the mark.

Personally, I do this each morning: It’s called a daily appointment with myself. It galvanizes my entire day, keeps me from going insane and instills a renewing and reenergizing spirit that helps me return with strength.

My suggestion: You need this block of time in your life. Because it’s impossible to gauge progress if you never come up for air. But, when you stay committed to your own personal reflection needs, you’ll have no trouble staying focused when it’s time to get back to work. When was the last time you sat uninterrupted and quiet for at least fifteen minutes?

REMEMBER: Focusing frees you.

Not just from the irrelevant – but for the important.

Learn to filter your life.

That way, you take action on what matters most.

Are you ready to focus your face off?

For the list called, “50 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Too many ideas?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on

Watch video lessons on executing what matters.

6 Ways to Stay Small and (Still) Win Big

Scalability is overrated.

Getting as big as possible, as fast as possible, isn’t the only goal that matters.

THE REALITY IS: Small is an acceptable destination.

In fact, it’s not just acceptable – it’s admirable, manageable, flexible, approachable and, most importantly, profitable.

Last week I shared a list called 21 Reasons to Keep Your Company Small.

Way to stay that way? Consider these suggestions:1. Stop delegating and start deleting. Clients, readers and audience members frequently ask me how many employees I have. At which point I usually start laughing. And I’m not trying to be rude, it’s just that the day I wake up and realize I’m a manager of people – and not a creator of ideas – is the day I slit my wrists with a rusty hunting knife.

I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. And I’ve worked very hard to evolve my publishing company into an exceptionally trim operation. For the past nine years, I’ve created my own personal nirvana that enables me to focus solely on activities that leverage my talents, reach the people who matter – while still earning enough revenue to underwrite my addictions and support my lifestyle.

Everything else is deleted. Not delegated – deleted. That’s what I’ve learned from staying small: The best way to delegate something is to eliminate the need for it in the first place. After all, the less you own, the greater your mobility. The less you have, the less you have to worry about. Are you inventing things to outsource to preserve the illusion of productivity?

2. Indulge in your humanity. Regardless of size, here’s the current marketplace reality: Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance. The difference is, when you’re small, you can hang out in the lobby after the show and shake people’s hands.

But when you’re a hulking beast of a company, it becomes increasingly difficult to get out of the bubble and get into the grind. What organizations need to learn is, success comes when you’re willing to be bold, to be seen, and to try things.

My suggestion: Stamp out anonymity. Accept your humanness. Stop hiding behind the mask of a role or title. And for the love of God, stop sending surrogates. Because if you have to resort to some gimmick to let people know you’re there, you’re not really there.

Big provides people with convenient places to cower. Small means exposing the place where you really live and being brave enough to tell people you don’t know everything. Are you small enough to surrender your emotional hiding places?

3. Remove the posture of pretense. In Jason Jennings’s book, Think Big, Act Small, he profiled a collection of thriving organizations that are winning the size game. And what struck me most about the book’s featured organizations was the long list of things they consciously chose not to champion:

No bloated hierarchy. No committees to go in front of to get permission. No building monuments to indulge in the executive’s ego. No corner offices protected by layers of assistants. No impenetrable walls to separate leaders from their people. No expansion for the sake of expansion. No doing unnatural things just to gain marketshare.

Lesson learned: Become a master of letting go. Make a conscious decision to scale back by abandoning things whose time has passed. Because when you delete what is no longer working, you can grow judiciously where it makes the most sense. What are you keeping around just to make you feel like you’re bigger than you really are?

4. Pick a lane. A brand without focus is a brand 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. That’s what big companies do. Which means success, therefore, is a process of elimination. It’s learning what your brand can live without.

Before growing any bigger, remember to ask yourself questions like:

*Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?
*Does this choice add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it?
*Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?
*Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or will it bring me short-term gratification?

In short: 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.

Remember: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Doesn’t it make sense to just pick a lane and stay there?

5. Teamwork is nice, but not always necessary. Since day one of preschool, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that teamwork is the secret. Truth is, the efficacy of teams is largely a myth. But we’ve been romanced and seduced into believing that teams are so wonderful, when in fact their power works in reverse.

The question becomes: Is the romantic notion of the value of teams is shooting you in the foot? In a 2009 issue of Machine Design, editorialist Leland E. Teschler explained it perfectly:

“Development teams are often an obstacle to creativity rather than a vehicle for truly elegant solutions. Many team members work at cross-purposes. That’s why throwing more people at a project frequently slows it down rather than speeds its completion.”

Consider asking the following questions before your organizational chart gets too bloated:

*How much money are you losing by waiting for somebody you don’t even like?
*Who in your business is helping you build a future that you’re going to feel obligated to be a part of?
*Are you making conscious choices about the individuals you allow to participate in your enterprise?

Ultimately, no man is an island. You still have to breathe in help. At the same time, individual productivity declines as teams expand. Might be more of a hindrance than help. Will the inevitable problems with coordination and motivation of a large team chip away at your organization’s capacity to thrive?

6. Stick yourself out there. The bigger you get, the fewer risks you take. There’s just too much pressure to be predictable. And you wind up becoming a victim of your own consistency.

Or, if you do take a risk – and make a big mistake – everybody notices. When you’re small, you can make mistakes quickly, quietly – even largely – then hide the ashes before the fire engines come. And when you’re small, failure doesn’t signify weakness and hemorrhage profits – it enables innovation, and growth.

That’s what happens when you’re not afraid of the consequences of falling short: You give yourself permission to do something great. Are you failing forward?

REMEMBER: The corporate veil of bigness and anonymity no longer matters.

I challenge you to reject the pressure of endless growth and embrace the possibility of staying small.

Seek greatness – not bigness.

How will you stay small?

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

“I’ve been a supporter of the approach that mentoring should not be a paid activity as this has the potential to change the dynamics of the relationship and create a power imbalance. But I have to be honest and say that after Scott’s first mentoring response to me, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to Set the Stage for Employee Commitment

I recently struck up a conversation with an Apple employee in the food court.

He was clearly on lunch break, but didn’t mind talking shop.

“Actually, I wear my blue Apple shirt even when I’m off the clock,” he said.

That’s rare. Usually employees throw on a jacket the minute the step out of the store to avoid any work-related conversation during break time.

Not this guy. Matt told me that strangers still came up to him all the time with their computer questions – even when he’s not in the store.

“Doesn’t that get annoying?” I asked.

“I love it. And I’m happy to answer customer questions because this stuff is my life. That’s the best part about working for Apple: They make me feel like a walking genius bar!”

HERE’S MY QUESTION: Are your people that committed?

If not, consider these suggestions to set the stage for commitment at your organization:1. Hold up a mirror to yourself. People fundamentally disconnect from their work for a variety of reasons: When they’ve done the exact same thing for too long, when they feel like they can’t succeed no matter how hard they try, when they’re forced to conform to what you want them to be and when their effort is no longer worth the reward.

How many of those issues run rampant in your office? My suggestion: Tell the truth about your organization’s current level of commitment:

*Are your people grudgingly conceding or gratefully crusading?
*Are you telling people what your demands are or asking people what their dreams are?
*And do your employees come to work every day because they love it, or because you’ve degraded them into obedient soul dead conformist worker bees?

When you begin wakening to these truths, you’ll gain a greater understanding what it’s going to take to get all of your people singing off the same page. How many people on your team willingly provide discretionary effort on a consistent basis?

2. Intrinsic pride creates emotional commitment. People who work for Google don’t tell their friends they’re computer programmers. They say they work for Google. And why wouldn’t they? They work for Google – the coolest company on the planet. Of course they take pride in their job.

That’s the lesson: If people answer the question, “What do you do?” with the name of the organization, that means their self-esteem and identity is connected to the sense of belonging of that organization. It’s a vital part of their sense of self. They’re committed and involved. Their affiliation to the company reinstates their sense of pride.

And, because their identity is intimately connected to – and invested in – the organization itself, they’ll commit to doing whatever it takes to make that organization succeed. Even down to the most basic level.

That’s what a worldwide survey from Towers Perrin proved: Organizational symbols or logo are visible manifestations of pride. Think it’s an accident that all those geeks in Palo Alto wear Google hoodies? Nope. And you would do the same. How much company pride do your people have?

3. Don’t dismiss your organizational heritage. To set the stage for commitment, the leaders of your organization need to help the people connect their actions to a larger story. Otherwise employees will continue to wonder, “Is this effort worth the effort?”

As David Armstrong wrote in Managing by Storying Around, “Storytelling is the primary medium for passing along corporate traditions and recognize leaders within the organization.”

There’s only one problem: Company leaders usually confuse “knowing the company story” with “memorizing tired, flat language on laminated mission cards.”

What matters is that every employee absorbs the organizational why. What matters is that every employee freely talks about company roots. Otherwise emotional attachment remains remarkably low. And it becomes harder and harder for people’s work to invoke a sense of gratification in their company history. When was the last time you waiter at Olive Garden spent ten minutes telling your table about the origins of authentic Italian food?

4. Update your theory of motivation. You can’t motivate anybody to do anything – ever. Motivation is intrinsic. As such, there are two approaches: Either you hire motivated people and then inspire them to motivate themselves; or you rid the environment of demotivators and then let people access their natural motivation.

Either way, you still have to tune into their frequency. You have to deliver messages that resonate with their emotional reality. And you have to give them room to express commitment in their own unique way. Otherwise their level of engagement will remain at noncommittal cautiousness at best.

Look: People are bound by emotion to the things and behaviors they love. As much as your ego wants to think otherwise, they’re not showing up for you – they’re showing up for themselves.

Remember: People comply with what you want– but they commit to what they want. How are you helping people fall in love with themselves?

5. Set your own stage first. If you truly want commitment to cascade down from the top, you have to be over the top yourself. We’re talking pathologically and unquestionable committed. As in, “I have the company logo tattooed on my ass” committed. That’s what shows people you truly believe what you say, and that’s what inspires people to rethink their own commitment.

The cool part is, the moment you definitely commit yourself with both feet – and, more importantly, communicate that you’re fully committed – the people who matter most follow suit. It all depends on whether you’re courageous enough to wear your instrument of commitment proudly.

The point is: What you are communicates everything people need to know. The question is: What do they think when they hear your life speak?

REMEMBER: You don’t need to work for Apple to be committed.

If you want to set the stage for commitment at your organization, start treating it as a lifestyle – not a policy.

Maybe then your employees won’t mind answering customer questions when they’re off the clock.

How committed are your people?

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

26 Ways to Keep Your People Engaged Without Resorting to Shock Therapy

The word “engage” comes from the French engagier, which means, “to make a pledge.”

That’s the big question: Why do people pledge themselves to you?

IN SHORT: Why do people engage?

Last year, I shared a collection of answers to this question in a popular piece called, Twenty Secrets Smart Leaders Know About Engaging Their People.

The response was overwhelming. I received more emails, tweets and reprints than usual. Apparently that list struck a nerve with a lot of my readers. And as a result, knowing I’d merely scratched the surface, I’ve continued to research the topic of why people engage.

Here are my latest findings. Please feel free to add your ideas to the list:1. People engage when power decentralizes. Have you given them the ability to influence their work environment?

2. People engage when the babysitting stops. How are you allowing them to establish their own structures to maintain focus?

3. People engage when they’ve been given permission to flex the muscle of why. Do you give them room to express commitment in their own unique way?

4. People engage when your words speak directly to what’s important to them. Does their inbox need another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication that people delete immediately or – at best – peruse passively?

5. People engage when they can invest in things they truly admire. What if dollars aren’t the defining factor of your people’s commitment?

6. People engage when they’re treated according to their own unique values. Are you discerning and testing how each of your people want to be treated, or trying to save time by treating everybody the exact same way?

7. People engage when they experience a real and regular connection between the duty of today and the dream of tomorrow. Are you telling people what your demands are or asking people what their dreams are?

8. People engage when they view their role as a stepping-stone, not a sinking ship. How long ago did your team give up on the possibly of meaningful work?

9. People engage when gratitude is palpable and recurrent. Are you trying to make recognition a corporate initiative or a constitutional ingredient?

10. People engage when they’re given permission to pursue their dreams. Are you still operating from the old paradigm that people come to work to make money?

11. People engage when they can express themselves without resorting to code. At your organization, do ideas flow in an open and unrestricted environment?

12. People engage when you stop asking them to edit themselves. What system can you install to remove the restriction of individual expression?

13. People engage when their internal compasses are honored. How will you liberate them from being in conflict with their own values?

14. People engage when they’re allowed to lead the kind of life they want. Do people view your company an economic mechanism and little more?

15. People engage when they don’t need to ask permission to let their personal brand shine. Do you work for a human organization or an indoctrination center that strips people of their individuality on a daily basis?

16. People engage when the feeling of formality doesn’t keep them from communicating freely. Do your employees come to work every day because they love it, or because you’ve degraded them into obedient soul dead conformist worker bees?

17. People engage when they don’t have to meet compliance just to take a piss. Are you empowering people to execute with all their might or restricting people to make excuse with all your policies?

18. People engage when they’re not bullied into to delivering impersonal, emotionless non-service. Is your work experience mechanical and transactional or emotional and transformational?

19. People engage when they’re not forced to adhere to rigid plans created through manipulation, punishment and coercion. Are your people innately committed or fearfully complying?

20. People engage when individual expression isn’t restricted. How are you petitioning people to inject their personality into everything they do?

21. People engage when they can dress how they want. Why is your organization still using dress code to convey class, hierarchy and status?

22. People engage when their leaders end the lip service. How are you making your mission more than a statement?

23. People engage when their big ideas aren’t jailed. How is your corporate veil of bigness and anonymity thwarting creativity?

24. People engage when they’re given wide discretion to spend company resources on the people who matter. Where is your organization sacrificing customer experience for corporate expense?

25. People engage when they’re given a safe place where individity creativity can shine. Who are you trying to make just like you?

26. People engage when they’re motivated intrinsically. How can you enable them to activate their own internal generators?

How will you avoid bombing your next employee engagement survey?

For the list called, “35 Things You Simply Can’t Do,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

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