10 Ways to Out Write the Competition

On July 24th, 2008, The New York Times published an Op-Ed written by Jerry Seinfeld to celebrate the life – and commemorate the death – of his friend and colleague, George Carlin.

“Every comedian does a little George. I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve been George downright invented modern American stand-up comedy in many ways. Every standing around with some comedians and someone talks about some idea for a joke and another comedian would say, ‘Carlin does it.’

I’ve heard it my whole career: ‘Carlin does it,’ ‘Carlin already did it,’ ‘Carlin did it eight years ago.’”

And he didn’t just “do” it. He worked over an idea like a diamond cutter with facets and angles and refractions of light. He made you sorry you ever thought you wanted to be a comedian. He was like a train hobo with a chicken bone. When he was done there was nothing left for anybody.

I know George didn’t believe in heaven or hell. Like death, they were just more comedy premises. And it just makes me even sadder to think that when I reach my own end, whatever tumbling cataclysmic vortex of existence I’m spinning through, in that moment I will still have to think, ‘Carlin already did it.’”

NOW, HERE’S THE COOL PART: Did you know that during George Carlin’s 50+ years in show business, he wrote twenty pages of new material, every day?

Yep. Most people don’t know that.

Most people know that he:

o Released 23 comedy albums, one of which won a Grammy.
o Wrote three best-selling books.
o Featured in 14 HBO specials.
o Starred in his own sitcom.
o Acted in numerous movies.
o Appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show over 130 times.
o Inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame in 1994.
o Received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in November of 2008.

But twenty pages a day? Most people don’t know that.

George Carlin was the consummate example of how to “Out Write” the competition. And it earned him a spot in history as one of the greatest Thought Leaders of all time.

What about you? What did YOU write today?

Here are ten questions to ask yourself if you want to out write the competition:

1. What ideas do you have that you discuss and write about with the most passion? If you can talk about it forever, you can write about it forever. This a great place to start for someone who’s not sure which topic to tackle. Remember: Passion makes writing easier.

2. Are you writing for an audience or just talking to yourself? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Talking to yourself (on paper) is a powerful device for self-realization and idea clarity. But when you’re going to publish something, you need to envision your audience at the onset. Remember: Always write for your ideal reader.

3. Is everything you know written down somewhere? Your memory is a moron. Don’t trust it. Learn to have a paper memory. As George Carlin remarked, “A good idea is no good unless you have a way to find it.” You win when you customize your Content Management System. Remember: If you don’t write it down, it never happened.

4. Are you writing to sound like a writer or to sound like YOU? Hopefully the latter. Because your job as a writer is to DISAPPEAR from the page. To help someone forget he is reader. To be a great date for your reader. Remember: Writers that sound like writers are usually annoying writers.

5. What did this piece of writing cost you? Odds are, not much. Maybe your time. And your vulnerability. And your comfort zone. Other than that, writing costs very little. In fact, it’s probably more expensive NOT to write. Think about that. Remember: Writing time is rarely wasted time.

6. What’s your writing schedule? “Inspiration is for amateurs,” Dave Barry once said. And I agree. You don’t need inspiration; you need discipline. Discipline is the hallmark of inspiration, the foundation of all creativity and the only four-letter word that guarantees success. It is the directed willpower that will eliminate artistic blocks, and it will set your writing FREE. Remember: Discipline is your differentiator.

7. What did you write today? That’s the question you need to ask yourself at the end of every day. And if you don’t have an answer, then you don’t have the right to call yourself a Thought Leader. Period. Come on. This is what you DO. Stop making excuses. Remember: There is no Writer’s Block – only Thinker’s Block.

8. Have you written about that yet? Every time you think something powerful, experience something cool or say something brilliant, this is the question you ask yourself. If the answer is, “Yes,” pat yourself on the back. If the answer is, “No,” make sure you write it down within thirty seconds. If the answer is, “Maybe,” make sure you write it down within ten seconds. Remember: Ideas are free; but execution is priceless.

9. How much of your writing have you publicly deployed? Strive for about 80-90% – then keep the rest exclusive. Don’t worry about piracy. Don’t worry about giving away the farm. Let your competition worry about that. You go write some more. You will win. Think about it: Do you think Tom Peters look back at his body of work and says, “You know, in retrospect, I really should have published LESS”? No way. Remember: The more “by” that comes BEFORE your name; the more your credibility will enable people to “buy” what comes AFTER it.

10. What are you risking by sharing this material? If the answer is, “Not much,” you lose. Here’s why: Thought Leaders are trust agents. Trust is a function of intimacy. And intimacy is a function of self-disclosure. So, I’m not suggesting you reveal your deepest secrets or darkest perversions in your next blog post. Rather, I encourage you to be fearless in your writing. As my mentor often reminds me, “Good writing is like walking across a stage naked. Remember: Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page

FINAL THOUGHT: Writing is the basis of all wealth. I’ve said that many times on this blog.

Because your biggest differentiator as a Thought Leader is to be able to say, “Oh yeah, I’ve written about that before…”

So, go write something.

That’s what Carlin would do.

How will you out write the competition?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

9 Ways to Grow an Ongoing, Market-Wide Hunger for YOU

Have you ever been SO hungry that you actually considered cannibalism?

Me neither. I was just curious.

Still, hunger IS a powerful, instinctive force. Maybe it has something to do with our hunter-gatherer nature. I mean, hell, people kill each other for food.

In fact, I could probably cite at least twenty occasions when I was a kid – if the proper weaponry were available – I definitely would have decapitated my big brother just to get dibs on that last slice of pizza.

But enough about Hebrew School.

Instead, here are three questions I want you to think about:

1. Who’s hungry for YOU?
2. How many customers are ravenous and drooling for a bite of YOUR expertise?
3. And what are you doing on a daily basis to grow (and eventually satisfy) their hunger?

Today I’m going to share a nine strategies that you can implement to create an ongoing, market-wide hunger … for YOU.

And I promise not to make any more cannibalism or decapitation jokes.

Well, maybe just one.

So, Jeffrey Dahmer walks into a bar…


1. Attach more promise to your name. Brands are expectations. Which means it’s your job to prove customers right. To confirm their expectations about the value you deliver and the values you stand for. So, let’s do a three-part exercise.

FIRST: Consider five businesses you patronize regularly. What respective promises are attached to each of their names? Write them down.
SECOND: Consider your own business. What is the promise your customers keep coming back for? Write it down.
THIRD: Brainstorm ten specific actions you can take in the next 72 hours to exponentially attach MORE of that promise to your name. Write ’em down.

Remember: To promise to show signs of future excellence. To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: How predictable are you?

2. Competence is assumed. First, good was good enough. Then great was good enough. Now, great isn’t that great anymore. People demand WOW. So: You need to be amazing. Like, scary good. Everything else is your ante. The price of admission.

My suggestion is to stop doing something unless you’re amazing. As Seth Godin once said, “Average is for losers. Be exceptional or quit.” To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: What are you the World Heavyweight Champion of?

3. Be The Answer. People go to Google for one reason: Pornography. But AFTER pornography, people go to Google to solve problems. That’s the secret: Being The Answer. So, here’s an equation that you can plug your unique value (and your perfect customers) into. It’s called The Ultimate Dream Statement, and it goes a little like this:

“I wish there was a/an (X) so I wouldn’t have to (Y).”

So, the (X) in the equation is dream focused, solution oriented and optimistic, i.e., “A portable music player with unlimited digital shelf space.” Then, the (Y) in the equation takes away pain by helping people save time, money, energy, paper or manpower, i.e., “Schlepping ten years of CD’s around my apartment.”

That’s being The Answer: Figuring out what your customers are SICK of doing, then positioning your expertise as the key to NEVER doing that again. To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: What do your customers wish they didn’t HAVE to do anymore?

4. Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Share your expertise generously so people recognize it, embrace it and eventually depend on you for it. Soon, people in your marketplace will start coming to your for your time. Because they’ll think, “If I’m getting this much help for FREE from this person, how much better off would I be if I actually hired him?”

Remember: More content = More findable = More addictable = More bookable. To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: What did you write today?

5. Create a Visibility Plan. Not a Marketing Plan. Not a Business Plan. A Visibility Plan. Do you have one of those? Doubtful. Most people don’t. And they’re losing money every day for a simple reason: You can no longer afford to be invisible. Winking in the dark is NOT a smart business strategy.

I invite you to sit down with your team and write out all the potential venues – online and off – that increase your visibility. Then spend the next hour doubling that number. The mere exercise of doing so is eye opening and will change your attitude toward marketing forever.

Remember: Being known as “The Best Kept Secret” is a one-way ticket to Sucksville. If you’re a secret, you can’t possibly be the best. Period. Be public or be penniless. To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: What’s your visibility plan?

6. Identify the ONE niche you can overwhelm. Bore deeply into sector needs and position yourself as THEE Guy. The Only. The Universally Presumed Perpetrator. A fixture in the industry. Better than anyone else in your space. So distinct that you’re perceived as a monopoly and people starting asking and hearing what you might say about their situation.

Ultimately, someone who invariably winds up on people’s doorsteps. That way, when customers come, you can confidently declare, “You haven’t just come to the right place – you’ve come to the ONLY place!”

Remember: People will remember your stance if it’s unexpected and non-template driven. To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: To whom will you be known as a rock star?

7. Get them to sample your wares. Everybody knows the best day to go to the supermarket is Saturday. Why? Sample day. And if you do it right – for example, eat a few samples, go out to your car, change your shirt, then walk back in – you can make an entire meal out of those babies!

Now, when you’re a kid you don’t recognize the power of this strategy. Because by giving out those samples, the store feeds your hunger. And that’s why it’s no surprise that Saturdays tend to be the highest grossing days in the grocery world.

So, my question for you is: How many samples do YOU have out there? How often are you giving your samples away? And how much more money would you be making if you designed a system that fed people’s hunger for YOU on a daily basis?

Here’s a hint: Blogging works. Tweeting works. Ezines work. The secret is value. The secret is free. To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: What’s your sample strategy?

8. Be seen in your element regularly. People need to see you doing what you do. Those moments when you’re in your element. At your best, flowing like Phelps. Delivering your unique value in your unique way. The secret is to capture it digitally and share it with the world by starting what I call a Value Forward Video Campaign.

For example, as a professional speaker, I collect video footage from my presentations and workshops. And what I’ll do is break down the program into four or five smaller modules, each of which is edited with a consistent intro and outro. Then I’ll post one clip every Friday for a month, linking back to it from my blog, ezine, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Ultimately, thousands of people watch them and dozens of people hire me because of them. All because they portray me at my best, doing what I do, delivering unique value to others.To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: How often are customers seeing you in YOUR element?

9. Start positive rumors about yourself. Oscar Wilde once remarked, “The only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.” So, here’s the question: Who’s talking about YOU? Answer: Not enough people. So, here’s my suggestion: Do it yourself. It’s heaps of fun.

In fact, National Start a Rumor Day is November 9th. Consider posting a blog with five pieces of personal information about yourself, one of which ISN’T true. Next, challenge your readers to guess which one is the lie. Then reveal the answer a week later. Maybe even award the first correct answer with a small gift.

What do you have to lose? That’s probably more creative and engaging than most of the 120,000 blogs that are posted each day. To grow the hunger for YOU, ask: How many positive rumors are floating around regarding YOUR value?

DON’T FORGET: If you want to build the brand OF you, start by growing the hunger FOR you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my big brother is coming over for pizza.

What deliciousness are you delivering?

For the list called, “72 Ways to Take Your Blog from Anonymous to Award-Winning,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

6 Ways to Raise Your Reputation as a Thought Leader

My definition of a Thought Leader is as follows:

A trusted source who moves people with innovative ideas.

And here’s the BEST part:

Thought Leaders build wealth.
Thought Leaders trump experts.
Thought Leaders establish equity.
Thought Leaders differentiate themselves.
Thought Leaders create ongoing demand for their value.

Ultimately, Thought Leadership is a vital driver of your business success.

Here are six ways to raise your reputation as such:

1. Pick the lane you’re already cruising in. You can’t just “decide” that you’re a Thought Leader on the subject of (x). Instead, pinpoint what you’re already and inherently an expert on – then magnify it.

Finishing the following sentence is a great place to start: I cannot die until I change people’s think about…

Also, try asking yourself questions like these:

a. What is the mission were you mandated to fill?
b. What were you designed to cure?
c. What are you known for knowing?
d. What are you the answer to?
e. What problem do you solve?

Find the small corner of the universe that is yours to transform, touch it – then set it free. What are you the world heavyweight champion of?

2. Build a solid mental reservoir of ideas. As a Thought Leader, ideas are your #1 source of income. So, if you’re not reading, writing, thinking, discussing, debating, researching, LISTENING and learning – every single day – your mental reservoir won’t just run dry, your bank account will run dry.

Thought Leaders are learners, Thought Leaders are readers and Thought Leaders are writers. Don’t feel bad about spending an hour at Borders in the middle of the day. That’s what you DO. Practice aggressive pondering. Be a learning machine. Be a Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brain Candy.Do you have a well-stocked mind?

3. Become a Question Master. Speaking of ideas. Your success as a Thought Leader is determined by the questions you ask yourself (and your constituency) every day. And because questions are ideas waiting to happen, you need to have them captured, catalogued and accessible.

My suggestion is to make a Master Question List. Even if it’s as simple as a Word document on your laptop. Keep all your questions, organized by categories, in the same place. Update it weekly. Peruse it daily. And pull questions from this list for your writings, presentations, meetings, brainstorming sessions and sales calls.

With every question you add to it, you build the equity of your intellectual assets. Personally, I have about seven thousand on my list. I wonder how many are on yours. What are you doing to become a Question Master?

4. Use YOUR voice. Broadcasting borrowed attitudes, publishing recycled insight and spouting secondhand wisdom is the vestibule of failure. Originality is the only way.

That means no more writing book reports from what a bunch of smart dead guys said.
That means no more cutting and pasting paragraphs from Google searches.
That means no more sharing outdated, overused stories that never actually happened to you in the first place.

You need to think. You need to write. And you need to do so with the one and only true voice of your heart. Otherwise the people you serve will sniff out the banality immediately. Whose voice are you using?

5. Draw monstrous, sweeping generalizations. Let’s say your School of Thought revolves around the concept of “exit interviews.” You’re the Exit Interview Guy. And your position is that they’re not as valuable as most companies think. Perfect.

Here’s what you do: Start writing modules called, “Exit Interviews are (x).” Then, the variable in your equation turns your philosophy into blanket statement. Use words like “useless,” “worthless,” “overrated,” “for amateurs,” or “for losers.”

The cool part is, if you start a sweeping generalization campaign called, “Exit Interviews are Useless,” the world notices it, becomes curious about it, and ultimately wants to buy into it. What ridiculous claim could you make and then back up?

6. Don’t be a vending machine of quotations. Quoting other people doesn’t make you smart – it makes you a parakeet. Now, I’m not saying a nice quotation doesn’t have its place. But the majority of the time – quote YOU. That’s what people want. Enough Emerson, enough Rumi and enough Tom Peters. (No offense those brilliant people.)

The strongest Thought Leaders are the ones who brand their own language. And here’s why: Language is everything. Language wins business. Language changes minds. Language attracts clients. Language makes money. Language communicates presence. Language reveals brilliance.

Ultimately, It has the power to differentiate you among the gazillions of other people out there who claim to do the same thing that you do. Therefore: Quote yourself. If you don’t quote yourself, nobody else will. And you can quote me on that. Who’s quoting YOU?

REMEMBER: The world opens up to the Thought Leaders.

I just hope you’re one of them.

How are you raising your reputation as a Thought Leader?

For the (full) checklist called, “7 Ways to Out EXPERIENCE the Competition,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

8 Secrets Most Professional Writers Overlook – Even the Pros

1. Write what you know about, run into, have a passion for and obsess over. Do this, and I promise you two things: (1) You will never run out of material, (2) Writing will be easy. Otherwise your work is going to be boring to write and laborious to read. Zoinks! What percentage of your writing is infused with your passion?

2. Writer’s Block is a lie. Doesn’t exist. It’s nothing by comfy little excuse touted by undisciplined, mediocre writers who sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Here’s the reality: Writing is an extension of thinking. So, next time you experience “Writer’s Block,” recognize that what you’re really experiencing is Thinker’s Block.

Lesson learned: If you want to write more, think more. If you want to write better, think better. People who bitch about Writer’s Block are either: (1) lazy, (2) boring, (3) stupid, or (4) terrible listeners. Remember: Creativity is nothing but active listening. If you can’t find anything to write about, you’re not a writer. Period. What did you write today?

3. Writing is a little like eating. During my brother’s wedding, my parents’ friend Ed told me, “Scott, eventually you get to a point when it’s not about the food, but who’s at the table.”

Great point. And similarly, the more you learn to trust your inner voice, you care less about grammar, punctuation and structure, and the more you care about being courageous enough slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your writing is good – it matters if your writing is your truth. It doesn’t matter if your writing is popular – it matters if your writing disturbs people into action.

Look, you’re not going to win a Pulitzer. Let go of the need to be “good at writing.” Instead, invest your time and energy in making your pen a lightning rod for channeling honesty. People will notice. Does your writing have to be good?

4. Writing is like camping. Because you never put your ideas back the same way you found them. Your goal is to train yourself to pick up a thought or idea and then play with it until it’s bigger, better, sharper, and more useful. How much better will the literary campsite be when you’re done with it?

5. Writing makes everything you do BETTER and EASIER. Go back and read that sentence four more times. It changed my life, it changed my clients’ lives, and it will change your life, as long as you’re willing to accept it. Because that’s not an opinion. That is a truth.

Writing helps you make sense of the changes in your life. Writing helps people adopt a piece of you into their world. With the exception of Bikram Yoga, I can’t think of anything healthier in the world that writing. What does writing do for you?

6. Writing stuff down isn’t enough. You know my mantra: “If you don’t write it down, it never happened.” And that may be true. And writing (still) may be the basis of all wealth. But there’s more to it than that.

Writing is about three things: Content Generation, Content Management and Content Delivery. And if you don’t have a customized system for plucking, organizing and deploying your ideas, you lose.

As George Carlin – the master of Content Management – once said, “Good ideas don’t mean anything if you can’t find them again.” Remember: Your brain is a moron. Do you have a paper memory?

7. Yes, it IS possible to have too many ideas. Ironically, this becomes a barrier to creativity because eventually, you won’t be able to keep anything in your head straight. Sure, resisting the urge to evaluate, appraise and assign value to every idea is important during the initial creative process.

In the beginning stages, the goal is to prevent Premature Cognitive Commitment, thus keeping your options open. Eventually, however, there comes a point in the idea process where you’ve got to stop creating and start judging. Do you have too many ideas?

8. Your everyday life is what people relate to. Finally, the more specific you are, the more relatable you are. Take Dave Berry, for example. Back in his heyday of writing a syndicated humor column, his funniest pieces were the ones about mundane events like his kids, his house and his hometown.

Here’s a one-liner I just randomly Googled that proves this point: “My teenage son, Rob, says the only time he ever wraps a gift is, quote, ‘if it’s such a poor gift that I don’t want to be there when the person opens it.’”

Ha! Love it. And nobody else in the world could be so funny talking about something so boring. Think it’s a coincidence Dave won a Pulitzer? Think it’s a coincidence Dave wrote twenty bestsellers? Think it’s a coincidence Dave gets $50,000 per keynote speech? Nope. How will you leverage the ordinary in your writing to make history?

What did you write today?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

8 Ways to Take Your Business Write into Wealth

1. Stick to your writing schedule. This forces you not to rely on inspiration. This keeps you disciplined. And this instills a blue-collar, working stiff, clocking in/clocking out mentality that MUST exist for the Muse to even consider stopping by.

The secret, according to my hero, Julia Cameron, is thinking of yourself as being “due at the page.” Same time. Every day. No matter what. Because a writer writes. Always. When are you do at the page each day?

2. Strengthen your ability to look at one thing and see something else. The foundation of creativity. The key to entrepreneurship. That’s the secret to writing. It’s called “Attribute Transferring,” which is the practice of picking out something that seems marvelously successful and ask yourself questions to find out what makes it that way.

I wrote a module called, Thank you for listening to your body that perfectly demonstrates this practice in action. Many writers do this, some writers recognize this, but almost NO writers practice getting better AT, or write ABOUT this idea like I do. I don’t mean to brag, but … well … ok … actually, I DO mean to brag about this. Cause I’m damn good at it. What attributes are you transferring?

3. There will be more. Try not to get frustrated with yourself if you walk away from three hours of writing with ONE measly sentence. It happens to me all the time. And the secret is to consider this capturing of “one true thing” a victory.

After all, sometimes you won’t even get that. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “You have to go to work everyday with the knowledge that you might not get it everyday.” So, just trust your resources that there will be more. That you will come back to that “one true thing” tomorrow, next week or next year, and round it out a little more.

Then a little more. Then a little more. And you’ll keep plugging away and thinking about that idea until some flesh comes onto those bones. And eventually, when your idea decides that it’s meaty enough, it will tell you. And you will be ready to share it with the world. Are you willing to spend half of your workday on one sentence?

4. Think on paper. Don’t just sit there mulling over things. Get your ass out of bed and go think on paper. Write it. Type it. Mind map it. Flip chart it. Whiteboard it. Doesn’t matter. The attempt to draw out an idea will automatically show up its weaknesses and complexities.

Thinking on paper will show you what’s wrong with your idea and lead you to a simple and obvious solution. What’s more, writing out your problems on paper and then drawing arrows between various elements will show you which problems result in other problems. Kind of hard to do that stuff in your head. Do you think in your head or on paper?

5. Toggle people’s brains. You do that with your questions. With your odd, unexpected juxtapositions of words. With your sentences and phrases that are so “out there” that they take people with them. As Ned Flanders once said, “Well sir, as far as melon ballers go, that’s a noodle scratcher!”

Hopefully, your readers are thinking that same idea. That you’ve rocked their worlds. Turned their brains upside down. Stretched their minds like a bar of Laffy Taffy, never quite returning to their original size. It’s part of the job description. How are you toggling people?

6. Watch yourself write. Because you weren’t looking for the formula of how you writing the first time, you need to go back and figure out what you did. What your thought processes, questions and assumptions were. That way you can perfect your process it and repeat it.

So, regularly back away from your creative journey and revisit the progression of your ideas. Here’s how:

(1) TRACK the experiences or moments that inspired your original idea
(2) THINK about the questions you asked yourself, didn’t ask yourself or should have asked yourself during the writing process
(3) NOTE each moment of resistance, how it made you feel and what steps you took to overcome it
(4) REVISIT tangible records of the progression of your idea.

Lay them all out in front of you and then travel back in time. See what comes up the second time. Perhaps a few new patterns will emerge. This process will teach you invaluable lessons about how you think, create and write. Are you stepping back from what you do to study what you do?

7. Write because you can’t (not) write. Not because of the money. Not because of the fame. Not because chicks dig writers. And not because you want to “have written.” Write because you have something that needs to be said.

Write because there is some lie you want to expose. Write because there is something you’ve gone through that people need to hear about and learn from. What must you write about or you shall die?

8. Write things that make no sense, then improve them. Remember: There will be more. Who cares if your first draft is completely wonky? What matters is that you write that “one true thing” down the moment it comes up. What matters is that you honor whatever surfaces.

And, what matters is that you trust your inner resources, having faith that the idea will make sense when you’re ready to learn it. Are you willing to write gibberish now for jackpots later?

How will you take your business write into wealth?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

8 Ways to Build, Boost and Better Your Writing Practice

1. Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? I call this “The Ultimate Leverage Question.” I ask it to myself all day, everyday. And it comes from Edward DeBono, who defines the movement value of an idea as, “The ability of one idea to lead to another.”

So, every time you finish writing ANYTHING, you need to ask yourself the following question: Now that I have this, what else does this piece of writing making possible? A new list? A new chapter? A new module? A new podcast? A new website? A new blog post? A new book idea? A new video clip? A new philosophy? A new area of study? A new niche market? A new program idea?

A new type of reader? A new marketing idea? A new level of thinking? A new product category? A new type of customer? A series of related modules? A new joint venture opportunity? A new reason to email a prospect? A new set of smaller sub-modules? A new reason to email a customer? A new dimension to your philosophy?

A new expanded version of an old idea? A new submission for a contest or award? A new domain of your existing philosophy? A new series to supplement your flagship program? Good writers leverage everything. Do you?

2. Package truth as nuggets. Thanks to the evil overlords at CNN & USA Today, we live in a soundbite society. And people are DYING for someone to cut out the crap and just give them the meat. They’re too busy, too self-involved and too inundated with information to remember anything beyond eight words.

So remember the secret: Meaningful Concrete Immediacy. Keep it relevant, compact and credible. Make it short, memorable and repeatable. Ooh! There’s a few soundbites right there. I should be a writer. Is the packaging of your words reflecting the cultural reality of your readers?

3. Personalize autobiographical elements without being self-indulgent. Remember that nobody cares about you. Remember non-brilliance is forgivable; but time wasting isn’t. And remember that if you’re going to tell a personal story, there HAS to be a tangible, practical; use-today takeaway that people can distill easily, quickly and obviously.

Yes, stories are powerful. Yes, stories beat statistics or quotes any day. And yes, stories are the most effective way to communicate any message. But without punctuating them with universal human experiences, immediately take-home value and/or calls to action, your stories will remain inherently impressive and interesting, yet obviously irrelevant and inapplicable. Why are you telling this story?

4. Publish thoughts and ideas that mountains of interpretation will accumulate around. This was a suggestion of Seth Godin, one of my favorite writers. And I think the key behind this strategy is to write about ideas in a way that leaves the readers with multiple dimensions to explore and add on to.

To approach your topic, expertise or school of thought in a Van Gough-esque, “no great work of art is ever finished” kind of way. The hard part is, this practice requires humility, editability and the willingness to accept new and different interpretations of ideas you’ve been writing about for years. Are you open to looking and your own ideas differently?

5. Render everything you experience. You are a writer. An artist. The authentic recorder and reporter of your own experience. And your job is to find the sentence that absolutely defines the moment. It’s part patience, part listening, part remembering and part capturing.

But once you find it – once you hear a sentence that hits you like a ton of books (i.e., “Writing is the basis of all wealth,” or “Action is the engine of credibility”) – that’s when your rendering process begins. And your life never quite returns to its original shape. This is the kind of thing that should be happening to you ALL day. What have you rendered this week?

6. Say what most people are already thinking, but say it better than they are thinking it. This was the suggestion of Scott Adams, another one of my favorite writers. “Most people don’t want to risk having their mind changed,” he said. I agree. And I think the challenge is to perfect your process.

For example, here’s my approach for writing about an old idea in a new, better way:

(1) SUMMARIZE IT: Trim the fat. Make it shorter
(2) DEMOCRATIZE IT: Extract the generic principle that applies cross industrial
(3) AWESOMEIZE IT: Make it stronger, more vivid and more vibrant
(4) ME-IZE IT: Put the stamp of my uniqueness on by using my branded language
(5) RHYTHM-IZE IT. Make it musical, melodious, singable, symmetrical
(6) BITE-IZE IT: Final delivery in an easily digestible and repeatable way.

How can you write about this idea better than anybody?

7. Serve your readers; don’t strut to them. That means don’t overwhelm readers with your knowledge. That means don’t overly cross sell your other services. That means don’t needlessly drop names of big-shot clients you worked with once and never talked to again.

And, most of all, that means don’t gratuitously use twenty-five cent words like “propinquity,” “cogitate,” and “pedagogy.” Nobody understands them and you DON’T sound like a professor – you sound like a poser who just discovered www.thesauraus.com. Does your writing leave a feeling of vanity or value in your readers’ minds?

8. Start with one true thing. That’s what Hemmingway did when he sat down to work. At the top of the page, he’d write ONE thing. One sentence. One phrase. One thought. One truth. And Ernest knew that if he did that, the rest would follow. The Italian term for this process is called un ligne dogne, and it’s a crucial element to becoming a great writer.

Personally, this process has opened up countless new worlds, philosophies and schools of thought for me. Sentences like “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness,” “Don’t be stopped by not knowing how,” and “Impatience is underrated” have been a few of the un ligne dognes that I’ve written at the top of blank pages, expanded upon, and changed my whole life as a result. What one true thing could YOU start with today?

How are you boosting your writing practice?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

You Don’t Have to be Drunk Like Hemingway to Write Like a Legend

Instead, all you need to do is follow these eight practices:

1. Harmonize the influences within you. Everything you’ve ever read, seen, heard, touched, tasted, watched, experienced and learned. All of this brainstuff is your creative soil waiting to be tilled in those golden flashes of inspiration.

That’s why the art form of writing is so cool. You can’t “prepare” to write – your life IS your preparation. You’ve already done most of the work. All you have to do is listen and take really good notes. All you have to do is start with one true thing at the top of the page, and then respond with everything you’ve got.

As such, writing is more reacting that it is inventing. But only if you learn to make use of that which has already entered into your mind. What do you need to harmonize?

2. Honor your first awakening thoughts. This is the VERY first thing I do every morning when I clock into work at 5 AM. I sit down with my laptop and a nice cup of peppermint tea. And for the first thirty minutes of my day, I just start writing. No structure. No stops. No grammar or spelling checks. I just start writing.

Whatever is running through my mind at the moment. Whatever I dreamt about the night before. Whatever I thought about while I was showering in the dark. It doesn’t matter. I just puke it all out for about three pages, save the entry in a folder, recite my two-minute Writing Incantation, and then go to work.

The process is called Morning Pages, and it’s the single most important element of my professional writing practice. Learn it. What would happen to your writing if you spent the first half-hour of your day at the mental driving range, getting the shanks out?

3. Idea generation without idea execution is idea annihilation. That means you can’t just sit in your office all day and write a bunch of articles. You’ve actually got to publish it – perhaps on your blog or Twitter. You’ve got to share it – maybe by emailing it to a few colleagues.

And you’ve got to test it out – during conversation or during a presentation. Otherwise, you’ll morph into one of those crotchety, curmudgeon, has-been, armchair writers who spends all his time reading other writers’ books only to complain, “But I wrote about that idea years ago!” Yell, well, maybe so. But it’s too bad you never executed that idea, Grampa. How many of your amazing pieces will never see the light of day because you’re too lazy or too scared to publish them?

4. Infect your readers. That’s what Tolstoy practiced. “Art is infection,” he once said. Which means there’s a certain contagiousness to your work. A certain transference of emotion. And whatever the emotion, whatever the virus, it needs to ooze off (or become airborne from) the page, screen, stage, or whatever your canvas is, and seep its way into the body and soul of the reader/viewer/audience. Are you writing or infecting?

5. It’s not where you get your ideas – it’s what you do immediately when you get them. Me? I write them down. I google them for verification. I explode them into a puke list of 101 items. I expand them onto mind maps and flip chart drawings. I buy the domains of titles that I want to protect. I do Wordsmithing. I write about them some more. I release them on the testing grounds of Twitter.

I write about them some more. I add new dimensions. I share them in conversations with people who think completely differently than me so I can see the holes and flaws in my ideas. And I ask questions like, “What stories prove that this idea is true?” “How does this fit into my theory of the universe?” and “What does this have to do with my expertise?” What do you do immediately when you get your ideas?

6. Let your readers breathe. First, by varying your sentence length. Second, by decreasing your paragraph length. Third, by asking the reader questions. Fourth, by breaking the fourth wall by actually talking to your readers, making requests like: “Take a minute to reflect on this idea…” or “Pause for a moment, take a breath, then read on!”

Your readers are NOT going to do it on their own, so they need your help. Remember: The more oxygen your readers get, the more relaxed they become, the more they enjoy their reading experience, and the better they comprehend your work. Are your readers gasping for air?

7. Look into your heart and write whatever concerns you at the moment. That’s your Truth. That’s your experience. That’s what you need put on the page. So, let go of the need to label your thought as “good,” “bad,” “weird,” “insightful” or “brilliant.”

This form of premature cognitive commitment will rob your idea of its true potential. Remember: Idea appraisal is the enemy. At least in the early stages of creativity. When your heart speaks, do you take good notes?

8. Make it your responsibility to go out and find things. “Constantly cast about for new material,” George Carlin suggested. Personally, I take that piece of advice literally as a writer – I go fishing.

Idea fishing; that is. I drive to Borders, pick out about fifty books, sit down in the café, and start taking notes. Not copying. Not plagiarizing. Just reacting to what I read through the lens of my personal philosophy and theory of the universe. Then I write those reactions down, citing sources when appropriated.

Now, on a typical fishing trip, I’ll sit there for a few hours and fill up maybe TEN pages of handwritten notes. Then I’ll walk out of Borders without actually buying anything. Mainly because I’m a cheapskate, but also because Borders is overpriced and they have most of my money anyway.

Hey, I think I’ve earned my fishing trips. Besides, it’s not like I’m a total mooch – I DO buy a chocolate covered graham cracker while I’m there. Cut me some slack. Are you going out to find things?

Will you become a legendary writer?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

8 Little Known Ways to become a World-Class Writer

1. Avoid adverbial garbage. Let your words speak. Don’t tell people what they’re supposed to see in your art. Don’t make your readers do your job for you. If you have to tell them, you haven’t done a good enough job with the writing itself.

For example, the man you met on the bus wasn’t “extremely attractive.” He was handsome. Or chiseled. Or had a smile like Denzel Washington. And the movie you saw last night wasn’t “amazingly dull.” It was laborious. Or uninspiring. Or made you want to gouge your eyes out with a spork.

See the difference? Adverbs are for amateurs. And the more you use them, the more your writing resembles a studio audience with one of those big, glowing sign that reads, “Laughter!” or “Applause.” Is your writing doing too much work?

2. Break your writing down into speakable units. Compactness is a virtue. Scannability is a talent. And the kind of writing readers love the MOST is flowing, breathable and easy to speak. That’s why it’s always helpful to read your work aloud during editing, sculpting and incubation periods.

It’s amazing how many sentences – that look great on paper – are unspeakable when articulated orally. So, this process helps you try out, switch up and rework your sentences into a more rhythmic, melodious and musical style. “You have to sing your words to your audience,” suggested George Carlin during a 2007 interview with Jon Stewart. How speakable is your writing?

3. Crucify yourself on your pen. As Tolstoy suggested, “Write only with your pen dipped in your own blood.” God I love that quote. And in fact, that’s where I got my official definition of writing: “Sitting down, slicing open a vein and bleeding your truth all over the page.”

I promise that if you show up each day with that attitude, every move you make will be right. Your work won’t always be brilliant, but it will be true. And that’s all readers ask for. That you tell them the truth. Remember: You can’t spell Pentecost without “pen.” What are you crucifying?

4. Don’t be repetitive, but DO say things over and over again. Never underestimate the power of repetition. Pinpointing your thesis and repeatedly punching readers in the face with it is the only way they’re going to be able to stop mid-read and succinctly answer the question from the guy sitting next to them on the plane,

“So, what’s that book about?” he asks. “Oh, this one?” you say, “Approachability.” “Ooh … sounds interesting,” he replies, “I should buy a copy for my asshole boss!”

Bam. One word. Done. A precise answer as the product of persistent repetition. That’s exactly the type of conversation you want people to have about your work.

So, just remember: Your readers’ memories are MORONS, and they need pampering. Saying things over and over again doesn’t just work – it wakes people up. It also keeps your writing consistent. What are you punching your readers in the face with?

5. Escape structure. Give yourself permission to write and accumulate and share a bunch of totally random thoughts. They don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to be organized. They don’t have to be brilliant. They just have to be captured, for now.

You can use them later. You can stretch and grow and expand them when they’re ready. And you can go back and add dimensions TO and improve ON those ideas as you round out your learning. For now, learn to escape structure and flirt with impatience, ambiguity, illogicality, irrationality and insanity. What structures do you need to give yourself permission to escape?

6. Everything is `grist for the mill. “Grist” is grain that has been separated from its chaff in preparation for grinding into flour. Julia Cameron used this term in The Artist’s Way, and I always appreciated her image as the perfect metaphor for writing.

See, as a writer, you use everything that happens to you. Everyone you meet. Everybody you observe. Every emotion you allow yourself to have. Every emotion you experience other people having. It’s all fair game. It’s all prey. It’s all up for grabs. And, the best part about grist – it can become just about anything: Oatmeal. Tortillas. Cookies. Cakes. Pretzels. Dee-licious.

So, think of all the delicious things your ideas, stories and experiences could bake into: Books. Articles. Poems. Songs. Screenplays. Training manuals. Man. I’m getting hungry just thinking about. Maybe it’s time for a Lucky Charms break. What grist are you grinding into your mill?

7. Go beyond what is comfortable in your writing. Constantly ask the question, “What do I risk when presenting this material?” Living your Truth? Being found out? Alienating people? Offending closed-minded Christians? Getting a rise out of your mom? Being booed?

If your answer to that risky question is “Nothing,” or “Not much,” I’d you’re not (yet) uncomfortable enough to write. Are you “sticking yourself out there” on the page?

8. Hang around words and hear what they have to say. The short version of my theory on Content Management is, “Gather always, use eventually and delete never.” That’s because writing is a patience-based sport. It might take years before your idea becomes something bigger.

That’s why you have to keep those ideas in front of your face regularly and listen to what they have to say. Because you can’t decide what you’re going to write. You can only listen carefully for what wants to be written. What are your words telling you?

Are you a world-class writer?

For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Must Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Download a free copy of The Nametag Guy’s (unofficial) 9th book!

HELLO, my name is Scott’s…
“Live your name.”

The #1 Mistake Made by Most Thought Leaders – Even the Pros

“I believe this! I can do this! I want to try this!”

That’s what your readers, listeners, viewers, subscribers and audience members need to think after they’ve been exposed to your ideas.

That they can take action.

In a non-legal sense, of course.

Otherwise, your material, ideas and presentations are nothing but motivational garbage. Inherently impressive and interesting, yet clearly irrelevant and inapplicable.

That’s the BIG mistake made by too many writers, thinkers and speakers…

They spew a steady stream self-glorifying wisdom that proves how smart they are; but forget to challenge people by leaving them with any Meaningful Concrete Immediacy, (MCI).

Your task is to cause people to shake their heads and say, “Yes!” by creating and delivering actionable content.

I repeat: Actionable.

And I mean that in the most non-lawyerly way possible.

It’s got nothing to do with suing people.
It’s something you achieve by telling people HOW.

Because ultimately, that’s all people care about, or have the time and patience for.

THINK ABOUT IT: As most people read or watch or listen to you, they’re probably thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, just get to the point. I don’t want to hear your life story. I’m not interested in your four-page philosophy that explains the behavioral tendencies of Canadian Bobcats in heat. Cut the crap and just tell me how.”

Just tell me how.

You might want to write those four words on a sticky note and slap it on your laptop.

Because that’s the posture of the masses. That’s the collective self-interest of our hyperspeed, A.D.D. instant gratification culture.

They want to know HOW, and they want to know NOW.

So, at this point you’re probably asking yourself the question: “OK, but, HOW do I tell people how?”

I’m glad you asked. Because I have some answers for you.

Actually, it’s more of a checklist. A self-assessment. A system for preventing your content from coming off as impractical, motivational fluff.

Next time you’re preparing a presentation, blog post, article, newsletter, or any other form of content delivery, ask yourself a few these questions to assure the actionability of your material.

1. How does this idea directly affect the daily lives of people?

2. How will people be able to execute your strategy in spite of their boss’s insistence on doing it the old way?

3. If someone else were delivering this information, what would move ME to take action on it immediately?

4. What actions can people take to eliminate or minimize barriers to their boldness of moving forward?

5. What are the reasons, barriers, fears, assumptions and blocks that are preventing these people from taking action, and how could you address them in a way that dispels the myth and gives them confidence to move NOW?

6. What assignment can you give people that, when they’ve completed it, they will be ready to move forward?

7. What checklist could you give people to keep them accountable and consistent in the future?

8. What common behaviors, warning signs, mistakes or missteps could you make people aware of so that, in the future, they could better recognize and avoid them?

9. What equation, algorithm, formula or system could you give people that they could easily plug themselves, their situation or their company into?

10. What exercise can you give for people to do right now, or when they’re done reading or listening?

REMEMBER: Persuasion = Content + Action.

It’s about impact – NOT information.

Because last time I checked on Google, we already had enough of that.

It’s simple: Just tell people how.

How actionable is your content?

For the (full) checklist called, “63 Self-Assessment Questions to Measure the Actionability of Your Content,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to Engage Any Audience Instantly

Your introduction is WAY too long.

During your speech.
On your website video.
In the beginning of your book.

Way, way too long.

This is dangerous for three reasons:

FIRST: The attention span of a human being is about six seconds.
So, if you don’t grab them RIGHT AWAY you may never get them.

SECOND: The choices people have (besides you) are approaching infinite.
So, if you don’t grab them RIGHT AWAY, they might find something else to do or somewhere else to go, instead of paying attention to you.

THIRD: The information overload your audience is experiencing is ree-diculous. So, if you don’t get down to the good stuff RIGHT AWAY, your content will to blend into the noise and soon be forgotten.

Therefore, the #1 secret to engaging your audience is…

Hit the ground running.

Which brings to mind one of my favorite quotations of all time. In Elmore Leonard’s famous book, The Ten Rules of Writing, he reminds us:

“If you want to be a good writer, just leave out the parts that people skip.”

Of course! Brilliant!

And that’s not just about writing, it’s about ALL forms of communication.

Let’s explore three practices of how to hit the ground running.

1. ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE … of your speech. The most important words of your entire talk are the VERY first words that come out of your mouth. The minute you walk on stage, as soon as the applause dies down. These words set the stage for your entire speech AND are (probably) the only words your audience will actually remember.

In fact, most speakers fail to engage their audience in the first few MINUTES, much less the first few seconds. So, you challenge is to make them perk up, lean forward and think to themselves, “Ooooh, this is gonna be good!”

For example, think back to the last time you watched someone give a speech. During which sections of that speech did you “tune out”? Probably the intro, right?

o It’s great to be here today… (Liar!)
o Thanks for having me… (Well, DUH!)
o Good morning… (Worst opening line for a speech EVER!)

o 2,743 days ago today… (That’s what I do, changing the number each time)
o The biggest mistake I ever made as a doctor was… (Humanizing)
o Do these pants make me look bald? (Thanks for that one, Steve Hughes!)

Just go. Hit the ground running.

2. ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE … of your website. Consider three statistics. First, the average amount of time most people spend on a website is only SIXTY seconds. Second, people’s brains decide whether or not they should trust you in under TWO seconds. Lastly, on YouTube, the average viewing time of any of their gazillion videos is only TEN seconds.

Stop wasting people’s time. They’re not going to sit there and watch your boring, low quality video if it doesn’t engage their emotions within the first couple of seconds. Instead, they’re going to hit that little “X” in the upper right hand corner and go to someone else’s website.

For example, think about the last time you arrived at someone’s homepage who had an automatic welcome video. Did you play the whole video? Turn it off? Mute your volume? Leave that annoying person’s website and hire someone else? Think about it.

o Welcome to my website! (What is this, 2002?)
o Hello, my name is Ted and I would like to… (Zzzzzz!)
o I’d like to give you a tour of this site… (Sorry, but nobody has time!)

o Congratulations! If you’ve made it to this site… (Thanks, Harlan!)
o Ask yourself this question… (This is how I open my videos on NametagTV)
o The reason your company is LOSING money is because… (Who could resist?)

Just go. Hit the ground running.

3. ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE … of your book. Go to Borders and pick up ANY non-fiction book. Odds are, you’ll spend the first 20 pages of the book flipping through all of the typical, annoying, valueless, self-flagellating garbage most authors insist on making you read before you get to their ACTUAL book.

Testimonials, Introductions, SECOND Introductions to the Updated Edition, Prefaces, Notes from the Author (um, isn’t he whole BOOK a note from the author?) Acknowledgments, Forewords, Dedications, About the Author, blah blah blah blah blah…

Nobody cares! Just start the damn book. On the very first page. Think of it as a teaser. Then, after you’ve hooked the reader with a few REAL pages, you can go back and do some of those introductory pages. Readers won’t mind reading through that stuff if you’ve already engaged them.

For example, think about the last book you read. What pages did YOU skip? The stuff at the beginning? The stuff at the end? Those unnecessary self-promotional, four page stories that poorly illustrated a key point you already understood?

o No content of this book may be reprinted without permission (Bor-ring!)
o What people are saying about Dr. Jackson’s new book… (Um, value?)
o I’d like to thank my two beautiful and patient cats, Tiberius and Smokey, who purred at my bedside for two years as I suffered through a painful divorce and wrote this book … (Oh. My. God. Vlaargh.)

o You’re about to read a book that will change your thinking forever. (Really? Sweet!)
o Nobody notices normal. (The opening line of my new book, Stick Yourself Out There.)
o There’s a 90% chance that your restaurant will go out of business by the time you’re done reading this book. (Holy crap!)

Just go. Hit the ground running.

– – –

HERE’S THE DEAL: Your audience members are CRAZY-busy, choice saturated and overloaded with information.

It’s not that they don’t CARE what you have to say – it’s that they demand to be engaged first.

THAT is your primary task.

Right away. Right now.

Whether you’re giving a speech, posting a video on your website or writing a book, remember to leave out the parts people skip.

Just go. Hit the ground running.

How many audience members are you putting to sleep because you’re not engaging them immediately?

For the list called, “234 Things I’ve Learned about Writing, Delivering and Marketing Speeches,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


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