What Smart Brands Know About Capturing Heartshare

First, you wanted to grow marketshare.
Then, you wanted to expand mindshare.
Now, you need to capture something bigger.

After all, humans are emotional creatures.

Not integers. Not categories. Not demographics. People.

And if you want to reach the ones who matter most, you need to capture heartshare.

Now, while I’m not claiming squatter’s rights on this particular term, I am going to officially pen the definition of it:

Heartshare is the level of emotional responsiveness your work commands.

And when you capture it: Engagement ensues, followership grows and loyalty skyrockets.

Here’s how to make it work for your message, your brand and your organization:1. Achieve perfect pitch with your own heart first. People don’t need another book about authenticity – they need leaders whose lives are walking bestsellers.

The question is: Whose reading list is your life on? If the answer is, “Just my mum,” than perhaps it’s time to audit the consistency of your life.

Because if you plan to capture greater heartshare, it’s going to be one hell of a slog if you’re not in alignment. That’s what it means to have perfect pitch: When the message you preach is the dominant reality of your life. When the proclamations of your lips are consistent with the demonstrations of your legs. And when there’s no difference between your onstage performance and backstage reality.

Are you smoking what you’re selling?

Commit to closing those chasms, and you’ll build a foundation of consistency that will support your heartshare efforts forever.

Remember: If you want to capture the hearts of the masses, you have to invite them into yours first. But you can’t hit the right notes with your own; you’ll never capture the music of theirs. Is the example of how you live your life a document worth reading?

2. Align with your audience’s fabric. I’ve never had a real job. Started my publishing company the day I graduated college and never looked back. As such, when I give presentations I always make it a point to tell my audiences that I’m not one of them, nor will I pretend to be one of them.

False relatability, in my opinion, is the ultimate crime of public speaking. And when presenters commit it, the collective heart of the audience puts its ear buds in and completely tunes out the message. A helpful formula to avoid this barrier is:

“While I have no idea what it must be like to (x); what I do know is what it feels like to (y).”

If you’re addressing insurance salespeople: “I have no idea what it takes to sell insurance – but I do know what it’s like to sit across the table from someone who doesn’t want to be the first one to trust you.”

If you’re addressing unemployed professionals: “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be unemployed in a down economy – but what I do know is how it feels to have your career at a standstill.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who your audience is or how many people comprise it. When you share your message from their backyard, when you touch them where they live, you become the mirror into which they can see their own heart reflected. What universal human experience will unite you to the people who matter most?

3. Lay bare your belief. If Martin Luther King’s speech were entitled, “I Have a Plan,” nobody would have showed up. Fortunately, he didn’t have a plan – he had a dream. And he spent those famous seventeen minutes painting a stunning picture of what it looked like.

As a result, he captured the heart of an entire generation. All because he laid bare his belief. And if you want to follow his example, try this: Instead of telling them what needs to change – show them what you believe.

Because as much as people hate change, it’s still (awfully) hard to resist a man on a mission. Especially when that mission reflects their worldview.

The cool part is: When you radiate belief outward and give full scope to your colorful imagination, you’ll challenge people to consider their own dream. What’s more, you inspire them unleash the love to make that dream come true.

As long as you believe what you believe because you actually believe – not because someone told you to believe and you mindlessly followed – heartshare will be yours. Are you selling to people who want what you sell or believe what you believe?

4. Breathe out the love people need. I just finished studying a fifty-year old nursing textbook about social interaction and patient care. Fascinating read. Picked up a few key ideas on heartshare.

First, a good nurse treats the whole person and not just the disease entity. Ask yourself: Are you wholehearted in your support of your people?

Second, in small hospitals, it’s easy to preserve friendliness and informality; whereas larger medical institutions make patients feel like a piece of furniture. Ask yourself: What do you see when you see people?

Third: When you first satisfy a request for a concrete item of physical assistance (bedpans, water bottles) the expression of deeper emotional need usually emerges. Ask yourself: Are you big enough to care about the small?

Look: You don’t need to be a medical professional to provide people with the oxygen their heart needs. But you do need to confront the human condition. And you do need to thread that reality through every experience.

Otherwise your interactions with the people who matter most will be as sterile and bland as the surgery suite. Is your organization’s service environment forgettable or stealable?

REMEMBER: The emotional responsiveness your work commands is the chief indicator of its relevance, longevity and profitability.

If you want the people who matter most to engage, follow and stay loyal to what you do, stop focusing on marketshare and forget about mindshare.

Capture heartshare.

Because when it’s your heart, you don’t need to prove to anyone that you can’t live without it.

Does you brand speak to the brain or the chest?

For the list called, “22 Unexpected Ways to Help People,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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

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

The Matt Foley Guide to Motivating the People Who Matter Most

Your employees are lazy.
Your coworkers are stuck.
Your children are lethargic.
Your members are stagnant.
Your customers are sluggish.

I blame it all on Chris Farley.

His Saturday Night Live character, Matt Foley, convinced us that a boisterous man in a plaid blazer, hopped up on twelve cups of coffee – who lived in a van down by the river – could motivate another human being.

Yeah no.

TURNS OUT: You can’t motivate anybody to do anything.

All you can do is inspire them to motivate themselves.

Here’s a collection of strategies for doing so:1. Compassionately take people’s hiding places away from them. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a galaxy of mentors who do this for me on a regular basis.

Every time we get together, they dive into my sea of unspoken emotional needs. And I always thank them for inspiring me to plunge into the depths I know I need to address.

If you want to experiment with this strategy, try this: Bore into people’s statements. See what they’re made of. Call bullshit proactively, yet respectfully with challenge lines like, “According to whom?” “Since when?” and “That’s not the question I asked.”

By doing so, you bring the dark parts stage center. And you create a quiet, inviting and trustworthy space that focuses on what bids people not to look at themselves. Ultimately, doing so inspires people to motivate themselves for several reasons.

First, you show that you forgive their illusions – but refuse to let them forget them. Second, you close the gap between their sense to know and their strength to do. And finally, you reach into people’s hearts and touch them where they live.

One caveat: If you plan to take people’s hiding places away from them, never do so at the expense of respect. It’s cool to call people out on the carpet, but not to the extent that you rug burn their heart. Inspiration is a symphony conducted in the spirit of love and the key of respect. Are you letting people get away with not having to face something again?

2. Recognize when inspiration isn’t sufficient. I once bought my girlfriend an elliptical. Huge mistake. She used it four times. Other that, its main function was to serve as a clothesline. Money well spent, I know.

Eventually, I realized that her lack of motivation didn’t stem from a lack of equipment – it stemmed from a lack of commitment. Exercise simply wasn’t something she valued. Her health was not a priority. And there was nothing I could do to change that.

No matter how hard I tried. No matter how many books I read. And no matter how inspiring I was in my own fitness regiment. People don’t change just because you want them to.

They change because they want to. They change because the pain to stay the same is greater. And part of your job as a leader is to discern whether or not it’s worth investing the effort.

Especially when it comes to non-believers. Because in my experience, converting atheists is an exercise in futility. As my friend Joe once told me, “You can either change people – or change people.” The choice is yours. What are you killing yourself over that isn’t going to change regardless?

3. Delete the demotivators. If you want to create the space for people to tap into their natural, internal motivation, you have to first consider what demotivates people. A few examples come to mind:

Delivering constant criticism, raising your voice, magnifying their mistakes, exhibiting lack of trust, prohibiting any shred of playfulness, making people feel powerless, refusing to recognize success and compensating less for working more.

My suggestion is: Make your own list. Get into the minds of your employees, customers, members, students, children or whomever you hope to inspire. Next, make a list of their twenty biggest demotivators. Hell, ask them if you have to.

Finally, keep this list posted above your computer. Look at it every day. Ultimately, by counterintuitively defining the whitespace around your people’s motivation, you’ll be able to delete the barriers and fill them with inspiration of the opposite. What is the one comment you could make that would absolutely freeze any spark of action?

4. Passion is the great prioritizer. When passion is involved, the rules change: The shy become outgoing, the introverted become assertive, the disconnected become engaged. Passion makes decisions easier.

And regardless of what that passion is, people will use it as their barometer, compass, map and walking stick. Your mission is to let it lead the way.

Now, since the word “passion” comes from the Latin passio, which means, “to suffer,” you might start by asking people the two best passion-finding questions:

*What would you suffer for to do?
*What would cause you suffering if you did not do?

Next, once you’ve gathered their answers, you can embed passion into the pavement that leads the way to wherever they’re going. I tried this with my client over the summer. The question I posed was:

“What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to add value to your customers?”

Turns out that Carson, the marketing director, loved to write. But Rachel, his boss, had no idea. After an honest and open discussion, they decided to put his passion to use. Rachel made him editor of the company newsletter. And Carson was more motivated than ever.

That’s the best part about introducing passion into the motivation equation: People arrive at their destination faster, better, with more fun and by their own design. Do you know what’s under your people’s fingernails?

REMEMBER: All motivation is self-motivation.

As a leader, you can’t motive people to do anything – all you can do is inspire them to motivate themselves.

Otherwise you’ll end up living in van down by the river.

Are you motivating or inspiring?

For the list called, “22 Unexpected Ways to Help People,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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

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

How to Convince the People Closest to You That Your Crazy Idea Isn’t Just a Pipe Dream

The other night I received an instant message from one of my readers.

She told me that her parents’ attitude continually crushed her entrepreneurial spirit.

They didn’t take her seriously.
They weren’t interested in her progress.
They only seemed to notice the negativity of her endeavors.

Can you imagine how disheartening that must be?

I can.

Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to have an endlessly supportive family, I can still relate to the ostensible futility of trying to convince the people you love that your crazy idea is isn’t just a pipe dream.

AFTER ALL: I did live in my parents’ basement when I first started my company.

For two years, eight months and twenty-nine days.

But who’s counting?

THE POINT IS: When you convince the people closest to you that your endeavors are worth enduring, they’re usually happy to offer the crucial support you need.

Not that you need anybody’s permission to make a name for yourself.


Without buy-in from your loved ones, you’re only making it the journey harder.

If you’re stuck trying to define your dream for the people who matter most, consider these ideas to help you along the way:1. Manage the ratio between enthusiasm and empiricism. People need to see the passion in your face. Every day. I learned this from my grandfather, who constantly reminds our family that the worst bankruptcy is the soul that has lost its enthusiasm.

But that doesn’t give you license to be all energy and no evidence. You have to manage the ratio.

For example, let’s say you plan to spend twenty minutes at tomorrow’s family dinner gushing about your next big business idea. Cool. My suggestion is: Plan to spend at least seven minutes graphing out the specific actions you’re going to take to execute that idea.

That’s a three-to-one ratio. And it’s a preemptive measure to satisfy the inevitable skepticism that will arise.

Remember: People aren’t trying to pummel your dreams – they’re trying to protect you from failure. How will you build firm confidence in the efficacy of your efforts?

2. Money is the great mouth closer. I’ve never been a financially fueled entrepreneur. It’s just not that important to me. Making a name for myself, yes – making money for myself, not so much.

All I ever wanted to do was earn enough revenue to support my lifestyle, underwrite my addictions, sustain my enterprise and bankroll my capacity to contribute to the world. That’s it. Everything else is just an indulgence.

However, about two and a half years into my entrepreneurial endeavors, I noticed something: When I started making money, people stopped asking questions.

It was like I was instantly and unarguably legitimate in their eyes. Especially the people closest to me. And whether you’re driven by the dollar or not, the reality is: The quickest way to shut people up is to show people zeroes.

Often times, that’s the Queen of Spades. That’s what closes cynical people’s mouths. But don’t worry: It doesn’t make you greedy – it makes you genuine.

As long as the money card isn’t the only one you play, I say slap that baby down on the top of the pile and shoot the moon with every bullet you’ve got. How will you use profitability to prove your legitimacy?

3. Align individual dreams with mutual values. Enrolling your loved ones into your dream is a continual process of constitutional alignment. That’s the secret to bringing people on board:

Helping them understand that the thing you do is in direct connection with the person they are. Otherwise they’ll never cross that threshold.

My friends Kim and Jason Kotecki come to mind. Their company, Escaping Adulthood, educates people worldwide on how to add fun to and subtract stress from their lives.

But it didn’t start out that way. Originally, it was just Jason’s comic strip. Ten years later, their characters (both in person and in print) took on a life of their own.

Now, Kim and Jason deliver strategies to their audience via multiple channels: They write books. Deliver workshops. Create artwork. Conduct interviews. Produce videos. And build learning systems to cure people of Adultitis.

The cool part is, Jason and Kim personify a healthy alignment between their dreams and values. “Although we hold very different roles in our enterprise,” Kim told me, “both Jason and I share the core mission of wanting to serve children. That way, whether we work with parents, educators – or the kids themselves – we’re able to combine our vision with our values.”

Lesson learned: If you want to make something more meaningful to people, align individual plans with shared purposes.

As best-selling author Tom Winninger once told me, “The finish magnifies the quality of the wood. And when people see themselves in the reflection, they will buy your furniture.” Do your loved ones see their values reflected in your vision?

4. Forego approval and start firing. One school of thought is to execute without permission. To just go. To say, “Screw it! I’m moving to Nashville.” If this applies to your situation, consider three counter-intuitive suggestions made by friends of mine.

First, Jamie, the owner of a local fitness club. He suggests to make your dreams so big and so out there that no one can touch them but you. “If someone can reach your dream or take it away,” he told me, “then it wasn’t big enough in first place.”

Secondly, consider what my Facebook friend Alejandro advises: “Just keep insisting until they eventually get tired of trying to stop you.”

Finally, you might attempt what my colleague Gil recommends: “Don’t even try. You have only so much energy to expend. Don’t burn it trying to blow away the black clouds in your life.”

Naturally, these suggestions aren’t the most practical. Especially when you’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed. And while not everyone has the luxury of maintaining such a drastic mindset, it’s still a valid point to make: Approval is overrated.

It all depends how on much permission you require. Who knows? Maybe convincing the people you love that your crazy idea isn’t a pipe dream IS the pipe dream it itself. And if that’s the case, screw ‘em. Are you asking, “Who’s going to let me?” or wondering, “Who’s going to stop me?”

5. Mount an evidence campaign. Few things are more existentially agonizing than the prospect of not mattering. And what sucks the most is that you’re rarely the first one to find out.

It’s only through research and feedback and Google Alerts that you’re able to uncover the evidence that validates the importance of what you do. My suggestion is: Don’t just accumulate it – articulate it. Especially to the people who love you the most.

For example, I recently received a wonderful piece of fan mail from an audience member. But it wasn’t addressed to me – it was for my parents. Naturally, I called my folks as soon as I got back to the hotel room and read them the letter:

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Ginsberg: From one parent to another, congratulations. You did an exceptional job giving your son all the tools and love to equip him to become what he is today. Thank you.”

Lesson learned: Anytime you move the dial with what you do, memorialize your accomplishments. Your evidence will take them miles beyond reasonable doubt. How are you constantly reminding the people you love that what you’re doing matters?

6. Patience might be your only proof. “If I attempt to turn this crazy idea into a reality,” you think, “my family will disown me, my spouse will leave me and my children won’t want to be seen in public with me.”

First of all, don’t be ridiculous: Your children never wanted to be seen in public with you in the first place.

Secondly, your fear response is perfectly healthy and normal. Hey, it happens to the best of us – even me.

After wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for ten years, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m a social liability. God, can you imagine how insane that’s going to drive my future children? Poor kids.

But that’s part of the deal. Sometimes you have to allow patience to triumph on its own time. That’s what legendary author JK Rowling explained in her 2008 commencement speech to Harvard University:

“My parents thought that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage or obtain a pension.”

A half billion books later – that’s billion with a “b” – she showed them. Harry Potter might have been fiction, but the irony wasn’t.

Lesson learned: Sometimes the only way to get through to people is to become ridiculously successful despite their efforts to dissuade your dream.

Just make sure you don’t become smug in the aftermath of your own achievements. Otherwise you’ll blow any chance you had of reaching the people who matter most. How patient are you willing to be?

ULTIMATELY: You can change the world with your crazy idea.

And I know it’s not easy soliciting the support of the people closest to you.

But success never comes unassisted.

Who do you need to bring into your dream to make it a reality?

For the list called, “21 Things I Learned While Spying on Myself,” 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

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8 Ways to Get Rid of Your Follow-Through Problems Once and for All

Woody Allen is famous for saying, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.”

I adamantly disagree.

In my experience, eighty percent of life is following through.

That’s what people notice.
That’s what people remember.
That’s what people are counting on.

And since so much of the world sucks at it, today we’re going explore a collection of strategies to help you do so beautifully.


This isn’t about goal setting.
This isn’t about time management.
This isn’t about keeping your promises.

This is about execution. Taking final action on what matters. And positioning yourself as someone that can be counted on – even if only by yourself.1. Remove the threat of success. There’s nothing more terrifying than getting exactly what you want. Because if you do, consider the result:

You might lose it.
You might realize it’s not enough.
You might discover it’s not actually what you (thought) you wanted.
You might succeed and then miss your emotional goal of expected failure.
You might be afraid of the changes that success would bring into your life.

To avoid these inevitable anxieties, remember these words of The Tao De Ching: “Possess nothing, expect nothing.” Whatever you follow through with; don’t label it as failure as success. It’s neither one. It just is. Nothing but the consequences of your experiments.

Doing so makes the process less threatening, which makes the result more educational. Are you accepting life as it comes or trying to squeeze it into a convenient little box called success?

2. Ensure your capacity to deliver. All of your customers, employees, members – or whomever you server – are silently asking the same question: Will these guys deliver? Especially if they happen to be the person who hired, booked, engaged or commissioned you.

That means their ass is on the line. Which also means: They don’t want to look stupid. They don’t want to lose their job. They don’t want to be the first person to trust you. They just want you to follow through. That’s all. And you need to be aware of this reality of the human experience.

What’s more, you also need to be aware that you get zero brownie points for delivering what people didn’t ask for or need. Delivery becomes debris if it doesn’t align with the needs of its recipient. Are you following through with a compelling need, or superimposing onto people what you think they ought to want?

3. Build in reflection time. Some people are so excessively focused on following through that they bury their heads in the heart of exertion, only to miss the very finish they crave.

It’s like swimming your legs off for ten straight minutes only to realize you’ve gone five hundred meters in the wrong direction. Woops. And not that there’s anything wrong with focus. But it’s almost impossible to gauge your progress if you never come up for air.

My suggestion: Book blank time. Reflect on how far you’ve already come. This form of comparative analysis will fuel you with the executional confidence you need to follow through beautifully.

What’s more, reflection time instills a renewing and reenergizing spirit that helps you return with strength. Are you staying committed to your own personal reflection needs?

4. Establish expectational clarity. This is a phrase I coined a few years back. And when it comes to follow-through, it couldn’t be more relevant. One way to eliminate guesswork is to put a timeline on every action. This creates an end game and helps motivate you to move to completion.

Also, here’s set of helpful questions to ask yourself as you make progress:

*What will success feel like?
*When you work on an important project, what do you usually do that might jeopardize its successful completion?
*What if, overnight, a miracle occurred, and you woke up tomorrow morning and the problem was solved – what would be the first thing you would notice?

Ultimately, even if you’re the only person attempting to follow through – and even if you’re the only person who will ever know if you don’t follow through – what matters is that you know what a win looks like.

Speak from the future. Look back to identify the steps will lead there. Paint a compelling, detailed picture of following through. Then make meaningful strides toward it, every day. How are you telegraphing your reliability with yourself?

5. Deliberately move your goals from nice to necessary. People always make time for what’s important to them. Period. And if you’ve been having trouble following through with something in particular, you might consider asking yourself how much that thing actually means to you.

Because if it’s not high enough on your list, it’ll get buried under the tyranny of the urgent. Your challenge is to end the war with how and begin the love affair with why.

Don’t worry: How will make its appearance when it’s ready. You’ll figure out the formula for following through later. Yes, how is a great educator – but why is the ultimate motivator.

Instead of thinking about what you’re committed to, try thinking about why you’re committed to it. How did you learn about what was important to you?

6. Become a master of the mundane. “Fully extend your dominant arm.” That’s what good coaches will tell you. Whether you’re shooting hoops, slinging slap shots or slamming aces, nothing beats an unbent elbow. It’s just a basic tenet of most sports.

The interesting part is how well the pros execute this strategy. Even the ones who get paid millions of dollars a year. They’re never too good, too rich or too successful to master the mundane.

My friend Steve Hughes, a presentation coach, teaches his clients this very principle: “You’re looking for the trick play when you need to just work on basic blocking and tackling.”

Remember: Never underestimate the power of continual application of the fundamentals. Forget the rudiments and forego the revenue. Are you brilliant at the basics?

7. End your obsession with convenience. The reason follow-through is so rare, so difficult and so valuable is because it requires patience. Heaps of it.

And since most people are so addicted to the sweet nectar of instant gratification – not to mention, have the attention span of a goldfish – it’s no surprise that execution is so rare.

The two key questions are: How patient are you willing to be? And how hard are you willing to hustle while you wait?

Ideally, your answers to both questions should be the same word: Very. That’s the rarity that becomes remarkability. That’s what gets people telling your friends about you: When you’re committed enough to follow through despite a ticking clock. How much customer loyalty are you sacrificing by wearing a perpetual cloak of convenience?

8. Stay passionate despite success. Isn’t it frustrating when the waitress stops caring about your table once you’ve gotten your food? As if that was the last thing you’re going need until the check. Humph.

That’s what happen when you get complacent: Your customers get complaining.

Lesson learned: Don’t disappear once your people have been served. Make sure all the dots in the process are connected. Follow up, follow through and keep your eyes on the target – even after the shot’s been fired. Because that’s not the final point of action.

In fact, there is no final point of action. In the same way that fashion never finishes – business never bails. You’re always following through with something.

Don’t get so excited about the fact that you’ve delivered that you forget to ask people if they like what’s inside the box. How will success affect your frequency of follow through?

ULTIMATELY: I think my yoga teacher said it best: “The exit is part of the posture.”

That’s how you execute what matters. That’s how you follow through beautifully.

Otherwise you’re just some guy who shows up.

What did you follow through with this week?

For the list called, “6 Ways to Out Position Your Competitors,” 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

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How to Shut Up and Trust Yourself

“When you trust yourself, you learn how to live.”

Johann Wolfgang Goethe said that.

I agree. And I also think that when you trust yourself, several other cool things happen:

You earn new energy.
You advance inner knowing.
You recognize trust in others.
You live within your own skin better.
You move through whatever happens.

You frame yourself in yessable attitudes.
You develop a deeper sense of self-acceptance.
You radiate trust into the hearts of the people you serve.
You avoid putting all your eggs in other people’s baskets.
You eliminate anxiety that others are going to let you down.
You gain a greater knowledge of your body, mind and spirit.
You quit trying to control everything and let life make you happen.
You stop killing yourself worrying about the judgments of people who don’t matter.

THE CHALLENGE IS: Trusting yourself isn’t always easy.

Probably because it involves accepting reality, surrendering control, dismantling insecurity and taking responsibility. Yikes.

Here’s how to shut up and trust yourself:1. Your life is your preparation. Readers often ask how long it takes me to write a book. I have two standard answers for this question, both of which annoy the hell out of most people. The first is my bakery metaphor:

“If the pie is five dollars – how much do the apples cost?”

Exactly: You don’t know. And it’s impossible to tell because the source is so varied. That’s what writing a book is like: A million disparate bits and pieces that somehow come together as one.

I have no idea how long it takes, I’ll never have any idea how long it takes, and nor will I ever care.

The second response is my philosophical answer:

“It takes my entire life to write one sentence, so, do the math.”

Again, this annoys people because it’s not a straight answer. But that’s the thing about being a writer: My life is my preparation. Everything I’ve ever done since the day I was born has prepared me for this moment.

Which is precisely why I never edit. Ever. Sure, I have a proofreader who checks for grammar, typos and spelling and stupid mistakes. But outside of basic, mechanical modifications:

I don’t edit, I don’t rewrite, I don’t do drafts and I don’t go back and revisit old work. I write things once, I write them in blood, and I publish them to the world with zero regret and infinite confidence. That’s why it causes me physical pain anytime someone tries to change my work. I’m like, “But it took my entire life to write that sentence!”

William Burroughs was right: Rewrites are a betrayal of your own thoughts. The key is, this philosophy isn’t just about writing – it’s about life. And your level of self-belief. Just another example of what happens when you trust yourself. What part of yourself do you need to stop editing?

2. Make allowance for doubt. Doubt is healthy. Doubt reinforces humility. Doubt protects you. Doubt stretches you. And while you don’t have to become best buds with doubt – you do need to make allowances for it.

The trick is honoring your doubts for the value they carry, and then letting go of those inner voices before they drown out the voice of trust.

Every morning during my daily appointment with myself, I affirm the following:

“If I notice any doubt, I will greet it with a welcoming heart. I will attend to it as a natural part of the life experience. And I will be thankful for it and the wisdom it brings.”

That’s how you put unadulterated self-respect at the apex of your value system: By honoring whatever surfaces, by learning from what scares you, and by still believing that you can handle what life sends you. When was the last time you followed your doubt down into the basement?

3. Self-belief dismantles insecurity. Writing is my occupation inasmuch as it occupies most of my time. My job, however, is to be a resource. A vendor of value.

One of the ways my clients use me is through a service called Rent Scott’s Brain. Now, it’s not really coaching. Not really consulting. Not really mentoring. More like a guided tour of my mind that disturbs stuck people into executing what matters.

The clients I work with – from entrepreneurs to writers to company leaders – pay for this service because it’s completely organic. Just them and me, in a room, with minimal agendas, and a desire to get better. Nothing else in the marketplace quite like it.

The interesting part is, because of the informal nature of the process, there’s no preparation on my part.

Outside of our initial discovery conversation, my mission is to show up as the best, highest version of myself, remain respectful of (and responsive to) the needs of the moment, and spend the next four hours adding value in the best way I can.

Naturally, this approach requires heaps of self-trust. And admittedly, when I started offering this service five years ago, the first few sessions were pretty intimidating.

But here’s what I learned: Trusting yourself requires dismantling your insecurities. It means having faith in the wisdom that created you and knowing that you are the person who can do this.

Next time you sit across a table from people who demand that you deliver, keep replaying in your mind: “These people called me for a reason. They want me to succeed. And they’re going to get their money’s worth.”

Otherwise they’ll smell your fear the minute you walk in the door. When people rent your brain, what resources do you deliver?

4. Raise your hand for pain. In the movie Fight Club, Brad Pitt poses the question, “How much can you really know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

Answer: Not enough. Especially if you’ve been surrounded by safety nets all your life.

And if you’re one of those people, someone who comes from a trouble-free existence – but who is not willing to expose yourself to the world – you’re doomed.

Not to suggest you hit the streets and start punching strangers. This isn’t about violence – this is about voluntary discomfort. It’s about allowing yourself to get hurt during practice so you can avoid injury during the game.

That’s the cool part about pain: It’s an invitation to excel. It means your body is alive and talking to you. And it’s a natural and necessary part of achieving success.

Volunteer for it. Live out what you already know to be true. Even if it stings like hell. Do you invite pain in the short term to build your armor against injury in the long term?

5. Let the performance happen by itself. As a public speaker, part of my job is to get out of my own way and let the speech give itself. Otherwise I end up micromanaging every outburst of emotion. And that’s just not fair to my audience.

Fortunately, after a few hundred presentations, you develop the confidence that when you open your mouth, something good will come out. Even if you occasionally spit some garbage.

For example, think back to the last time you delivered a crucial message – one to one or one to many – in which you trusted your own voice.

How did it feel?
Were you content with the delivery?
What did you say to yourself to build the trust that fueled your performance?

By identifying these keys, you’ll be able to recreate it in the future. Remember: When you allow yourself to trust your spontaneous instinctual abilities, you never make a false move or a wrong choice. Are you giving your audience permission to be taken over by your performance?

6. Bend your boundaries. Sometimes the best way to trust yourself is to test yourself. After all: If you never test your limits, you never transcend them.

The hard part is, testing means surrendering. And surrendering means being vulnerable. This is a terrifying prospect for many people. Especially if you’re one of those neurotic control freaks who shits a brick anytime sometime tries to make you abandon your pace.

To help preserve your sense of control, consider these three words:

Bend, don’t violate.

That’s the key to effective boundary management: Being flexible enough to bend when needed, while still honoring your constitution and without compromising foundation.

I’m reminded of what Alan Watts wrote in The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, “You don’t grab a hold of the water when you swim.” That’s how you trust yourself: You let the water swim you. Even if it’s lightyears out of your comfort zone. Where are you willing to bend?

7. Surround yourself with human mirrors. My support system is amazing. From friends to family members to colleagues to mentors, the people who matter never fail to come through for me. And I feel incredibly fortunate to have them as an asset.

Especially in those moments where I’m having a hard time trusting myself, they serve as human mirrors.

Lesson learned: The best way to trust yourself is to keep the company people who reflect the best, highest version of yourself.

That means: People who will make you feel heard. People who will reflect your reality. And most importantly, people who will tell you when you’re off your tree. Think of these individuals as your source of sobriety, deriving from the French sobrieté, which means, “steadiness.”

That’s the sort of stillness required to help you listen to your own voice. Remember: Life’s short to surround yourself with people that don’t challenge and inspire you. Are you still convinced that success comes unassisted?

In conclusion, we turn to the words of the wise philosopher, Bob Dylan:

Trust yourself to do the things that only you know best.
Trust yourself to do what’s right and not be second-guessed.
Don’t trust me to show you beauty.
When beauty may only turn to rust.
If you need somebody you can trust, trust yourself.

Trust yourself to know the way that will prove true in the end.
Trust yourself to find the path where there is no if and when.
Don’t trust me to show you the truth.
When the truth may only be ashes and dust.
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.

Trust yourself and you won’t be disappointed when vain people let you down.
And look not for answers where no answers can be found.
You’re on your own.
You always were in a land of wolves and thieves.
Don’t put your hope in ungodly man.
Or be a slave to what somebody else believes.
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.

REMEMBER: You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.

Trust yourself today; learn how to live tomorrow.

Where are you afraid to trust yourself?

For the list 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, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


How to Stop Waiting for Permission and Start Doing What You Really Want to Do

Which one of the following questions dominates your daily decision-making?

1. Who’s going to let me?
2. Who’s going to stop me?

If it’s the first, you’re the type of person who asks for permission.

If it’s the second, you’re the type of person who acts without restriction.

AND MY THEORY IS: People whose decisions are determined from the second question (that is, people not addicted to permission) are happier, healthier and more successful in business and life.

Naturally, I have no scientific evidence to back this up.

Just my own experience.

But, because permission is so pervasive in so many people’s lives, today we’re going to talk about how to stop waiting for permission and start doing what you really want to do:1. Stop waiting for baptism. Seriously: What’s the holdup? What lies are your excuses guarding? Just go. Just start. Just do stuff. Right now. I don’t know about you, but I never waited to be appointed.

Since I was seven, I was on a path. I was a writer who was going to write, no matter what. And there’s nothing anybody could have done – or will ever do – to stop my pen or silence my voice.

Lesson learned: Even in the midst of doubt and danger, even among the cacophony of voices delivering conflicting advice – remain true to your basic nature. Saw yes to your heart. And just go.

Because the cool part is, when you grant permission to your authentic voice to sing as loud, as silly, as creative and as original as it wants, people don’t just listen to you – they hear you. Being washed in the blood is not a pre-requisite for success. What is the life cost of clinging to the comfort of permission?

2. Dive into yourself. Permission comes from within. Not from your parents. Not from your peers. And not from some high-faluten industry putz who’s convinced himself that he’s found the only path to artistic success.

From within. From you. All you have to do is search for what bids you to create. To harvest that which spreads out its roots in the deepest recesses of your heart. That’s where you find your why. That’s where you give yourself permission to try something – even if you’re not that good.

And don’t get me wrong: You want to you remain open to input from the people who matter. But when it comes to executing an idea that’s important to you, you still have to get out of your head, get into your heart and deliver the ultimate verdict yourself. What will it take to become your own authority figure?

3. Decide whom you need to delete. Some people will be threatened by your trajectory. Others intimidated by your success. Some will outlive their usefulness in your life. Others will distract you from giving your best.

And it’s not like they’re being malicious. Just human. The challenge is training the ears of your heart to listen for who needs to be deleted.

Because sometimes, just when you think someone is on the journey to the summit with you, you wake up and realize that the most they could ever do was get you to base camp. At which point it’s time to pack up, move on – and never look back down the mountain. Otherwise you wind up hitching your self-esteem to the fickle whims of people whose voices shouldn’t be heeded.

And as a result, life becomes a series of compromises. A sad constellation of trying and proving. Which, last time I checked, is a sucky way to go about your day.

Your mission is to mature out of your addiction to approval and melt into the tenderness of self-support. Who are you subject to the whims of?

4. Permission pummels creativity I’m lucky. Permission has historically been a non-force in my life. Almost to the point that have no idea what it’s like on the other side of the fence.

For example, in my line of work as a writer, I can be creative without limitation. All day. Every day. It’s pretty damn cool.

Unfortunately, not everyone can relate to this freedom. Especially when permission is so real in their lives. Like my clients, Rachel and Tim. During a recent Rent Scott’s Brain session they revealed:

“Scott, the reason we hired you is because we get so caught up in the day-to-day, that we never have any time to think.”

This, I could not believe. No thinking? Ever? What kind of job is that? What kind of life is that?

And that’s when it occurred to me: Excessive permission reduces the size of your thinking. And that reduces the size of your bank account. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t fall for permission’s tricks. People who are perpetually bogged down by the tactical rob themselves of the opportunity to execute something great.

And without conscious effort to eradicate it, they slowly allow it to become a cancer of the conscience. That’s what pummels their creative potential into the ground. That’s what prevents people from doing what they really want to do. Will you be distracted by the red dress of permission?

5. Safety and security are two different things. Living without permission means liberating yourself from rigid intellectual traditions, infusing yourself with earnest purpose, and, if necessary, exposing yourself to the hailstones.

The secret is, you can’t ease your way into it – you have to leap. And you have to remain undismayed in the face of odds. Because if you’re constantly preoccupied with your own safety, you’ll beat yourself before you begin. But, if you’re willing to forego some of that safety for the opportunity to execute what matters – knowing that you’re still secure on the inside – you win.

For example, my yoga teacher constantly reminds us, “If you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” This isn’t yoga advice – this is life advice. Because no matter how unsafe the surrounding world is, when you thread your breath through every move you make, nobody can shatter the rock that is your foundation. Prana, as it were, finds the form to impose on the chaos of the world.

Those are the moments that equip you. Your breath becomes your security. Even when the world around you feels unsafe. Lesson learned: When you get stuck waiting for permission to do what you really want to do, your lungs are your lifelines. I urge you to take a breath, even if you don’t think you need one. How’s your breathing?

6. Build a permission-free vocabulary. The first kill phrase that should never come out of your mouth is, “Yeah, but I can’t just.” Really? Why not? Says who? Can you Google that rule? Because if you can’t – it’s not a rule. Just a self-imposed limitation that’s squelching the life out of your dream.

The second kill phrase to avoid is, “Yeah, but who am I to?” This tsunami of self-doubt stems from a lack of confidence in your own abilities. Cancel that thought from your mind. Begin writing the following sentence fifteen times a day: “I am the person who can do this … I am the person who can do this.”

You’ll believe in yourself down to your toes before you know it. Ultimately, deleting self-limiting language form your vocabulary turns doing what you really want to do into something you don’t need permission to do. Do you listen closely to the way you talk to yourself?

7. Become your own source of worthiness. The term “esteem” comes from the Latin aestimare, or “to estimate.” Therefore: Self-esteem is how you estimate yourself. It’s the overall appraisal of your personal value.

And if you want to make sure permission doesn’t eclipse your dream, here’s my suggestion: Stop competing with people other than yourself. Life’s too short to morph every element of your existence into a competition. Sure, the competitive spirit is healthy and natural and has historically motivated many great things.

But it’s a beautiful moment when you realize that you’re no longer anxious to prove your value. And the best part is, the less you have to prove, the less other people feel threatened around you. Which means the secret to self-esteem isn’t removing competition, but redefining the subject with whom you’re competing.

My theory: The only person worth competing with is the earlier version of yourself. Because it’s not about being better than anyone – it’s about being better than you used to be. That’s how inner permission grows. How do you supercharge your own self-esteem – even when the world thinks you’re nuttier than a bag of trail mix?

8. Refuse to be a lukewarm person. I don’t know about you, but I want my life to burn like a gas lamp. And I regret only the moments in which I chose not to be fully alive. That’s the danger with permission: It prevents you from being the best, highest – and hottest – version of yourself.

And if you find yourself slipping into the skin of average, here’s how my suggestion: Become unwaveringly vigilant about the company you keep. Look: Life’s too short to surround yourself with people that don’t set you ablaze. Personally amputate anyone who doesn’t believe in or support you.

These are the people who will keep you average, keep you lukewarm and keep addicted to the need for permission. What relationships (that you’ve outgrown) are keeping your core temperate dangerously low?

9. Voluntarily opt out of the mainstream. Have you ever received a compliment for something you didn’t realize you were doing? This happened to me a few weeks ago. An audience member commented, “You’re just so free with what you say.”

And I thought, Well, why wouldn’t I be? Why wouldn’t anybody be? Doesn’t it make sense that, in a country whose first amendment explicitly grants all its citizens the right to free speech, that people would speak their minds?

Apparently not. Especially in the corporate world. Turns out we live in a litigious, oversensitive, out-of-touch-with-reality society where people would rather tiptoe around the issues that matter than man-up and put their balls on the table.

Which means: Maybe the way we’re working isn’t working. Maybe a few fundamental redefinitions are required. Maybe to shed the shackles of permission, each individual needs to make a conscious choice to opt out of the very bullshit that’s stinking up their halls.

Because that’s the thing about permission: If you can’t grant it to yourself, who’s going to do it for you? Nobody. And if you can’t be free with your words (within the boundaries of respect), what do you have left? Nothing. Are you an artist of life or an article of mediocrity?

ULTIMATELY: Permission is a spiritual revolt. It’s a soulful drive for significance. And it’s part of how you sustain your quest for truth.

And as you embark on a personal mission to seek less permission and start doing what you really want to do, I urge you to remember one final thought:

The only permission slip that matters is the one you sign for yourself.

It’s time to stop asking, “Who’s going to let me?” and start wondering, “Who’s going to stop me?”

What are you waiting for?

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

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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How to Get to Know Somebody

I don’t care how brave you are.
What I really want to know is how you greet your fear.

I don’t care how strong you are.
What I really want to know is what lie you tell yourself so you won’t have to feel the pain.

I don’t care what you do.
What I really want to know is how you think, why you live and whom you love.

I don’t care what you’ve done.
What I really want to know is where you’ve failed, how you’ve enlarged and where you’ve mattered.

I don’t care what books you read.
What I really want to know is what ideas do you belong to.

I don’t care what your job title says.
What I really want to know is what your life is dedicated to.I don’t care what your website is.
What I really want to know is what makes you forget who you are, and how you go about remembering whom that person is.

I don’t care how early you wake up.
What I really want to know is what inner fire keeps you from pressing the snooze button.

I don’t care what your background is.
What I really want to know is what it looks like when you follow your deepest desires.

I don’t care how long you’ve been here.
What I really want to know is a story that helped you see yourself clearly.

I don’t care how tough it is.
What I really want to know is what will carry you to the other side of the wall.

I don’t care what you have faith in.
What I really want to know is if you’re willing to admit the truth of something you don’t have the courage to believe.

I don’t care where you came from.
What I really want to know is what path brought you here.

I don’t care how talented you are.
What I really want to know is the sound it makes in your heart when you crash the wall of your own limitations.

I don’t care what television shows you watch.
What I really want to know is what feeds your spirit, what ignites your soul and what melts your heart into a puddle of goo.

I don’t care what charities you belong to.
What I really want to know is how, where, when and to whom you give yourself away.

I don’t care what bar you go to after a hard day.
What I really want to know is a detailed description of the landscape that sustains you when your spirit is tired and sagging.

I don’t care what clubs you belong to.
What I really want to know is what you’re a messenger of and what you’re a monument to.

I don’t care if you’re having a tough year.
What I really want to know is if the depth of your desire can outrun the height of your hardship.

I don’t care how powerful your vocabulary is.
What I really want to know is if you’re willing to let silence swallow you whole.

I don’t care how much hatemail you get.
What I really want to know is how well you occupy your stillness when the world works overtime to make you tremble.

I don’t care what you wanted to be when you grew up.
What I really want to know is if you’re courageous enough to take the one, consistent thread that’s been running through your life since childhood and spin that baby into something devastating.

I don’t care where you’re going in your life.
What I really want to know is who you’re becoming as you get there.

How do you get to know people?

For the list called, “18 Lessons from 18 People Smarter Than Me,” 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

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8 Ways to Scare Yourself for the Right Reasons

Ever seen a dog fart so loud that he scares himself?

I love it when that happens.

It’s a helpful reminder of two key life lessons:

1. Everybody farts.
2. Scaring yourself isn’t always a bad thing.

Think about it:

To scare yourself is to motivate yourself.
To scare yourself is to challenge yourself.
To scare yourself is to understand yourself.

Not that you should do anything dangerous.

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.

The secret is to scare yourself for the right reasons. Here’s how:1. Victory is the great vexation. I don’t know about you, but I’m not scared of failure. Hell, I fail all the time. What petrifies me most is success.

Here’s why: First, you never learn as much about yourself when you’re winning. It’s only through biting the big one that you enter into the arena of self-understanding.

Secondly, success is scary because there’s nothing more terrifying than getting exactly what you want. Think about it: If you do get what you want, you might lose it. Or you might realize it’s not enough. Or you might discover it’s not actually what you (thought) you wanted.

The point is, sometimes it’s easier, safer and more fun to just want things. It’s the getting part that terrifies us.

Finally, the reason success is so scary is because with success comes power, and with power comes responsibility. As a writer, I deal with this on a daily basis. Especially since I’ve been publishing books and blogging for eight years now. People aren’t just reading what I say – they’re actually taking my advice.

I even had a reader email recently to say that one of my blog posts gave her the much-needed final push to end her toxic marriage.


Um, you’re welcome?

Jesus. I think I liked it better when the only person reading my blog was my mom. But I guess that’s part of the deal. That’s the price of success. Yikes. Are you more scared of victory or defeat?

2. Give your fear a voice. You think you’re scared? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Try looking into the eyes of the people who matter and honestly sharing why you’re scared. That’ll make you wish you wore a diaper to work.

I tried this during a recent board meeting as the president of my local association. At the onset, I asked everyone to share what they were scared of and why.

Now, as the leader, I went first. “Guys, I’m scared that our chapter has outlived its usefulness. I’m scared we’re approaching irrelevancy quickly. And I’m scared this ship is going down on my watch. Who’s next?”

And for the next few minutes, everyone went around the table and voiced their fears too. It wasn’t pretty, but we made it through the exercise.

The cool part was, even though sharing our individual concerns was scary initially; the simple act of doing so assuaged much of our doubt. And after a healthy, honest discussion, it turned out there wasn’t as much to be scared of as we thought.

Huh. Maybe that’s the secret. Maybe the best way to save yourself from your fears – personally or professionally – is to share them publicly. I wonder how many of your relationships could be saved by an honest exchange of mutual scared-shitlessness. When was the last time you emptied your purse on the table?

3. Pursue the path of wholehearted surrender. As a lifelong control freak, I’ve always found the idea of surrendering to be a terrifying proposition. I guess to me, it always seemed safer to choreograph everything.

Not true. In fact, it’s actually the opposite: He who risks not, risks most.

That’s my next suggestion: Surrendering what you are for what you could become. Not a bad trade. The secret is creating a daily practice to support your surrender. Personally, I recite the following incantation several times a day:

“I expect nothing … I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge.”

I’ve found that the stillness created through this breathing exercise softens the blow of the fear. It doesn’t eliminate it. But then again, that’s not the point.

Scaring yourself is about greeting your fear with a welcoming heart – then using its momentum against itself to breathe right through it. And if you can be brave enough to make yourself vulnerable to the process, you’ll initiate a breakthrough.

Either that, or you’ll have a panic attack. Just remember: If you’re not scared, you’re not stretching enough. To change the world is to change your underwear. What are you doing – right now – that requires faith?

4. Never underestimate the scariness of self-questioning. Questions aren’t just questions – they’re catapults. And when asked strategically, they get your hamster wheel moving at full speed to entertain dangerous thoughts.

Also, questions aren’t just questions – they’re swords. And when asked honestly, they penetrate deeper and truer than any old affirmation. Three scary examples from my experience as a writer.

*Instead of posting on a sticky note in my office saying, “Writing is the basis of all wealth,” I ask, “What did you write today?”

*Instead of drawing on a whiteboard with, “Stay focused,” I ask, “Is what you’re doing right now consistent with your number one goal?”

*Instead of writing above my desk, “If you don’t write it down, it never happened,” I ask, “Is everything you know written down somewhere.” See the difference?

It’s about self-confrontation, self-accountability and self-motivation. Doesn’t get much scarier than that. Your challenge is go back to your office and reconsider what’s written on your wall. What questions do you ask yourself every day?

5. Walk through a doorway and let it close behind you. If you stand at the threshold, keeping the door safely ajar, you’ll never make any progress. But if you invite the unsettling echo of the creaking hinge to profoundly penetrate you, I guarantee you’ll scare yourself into doing something worthwhile.

That’s the interesting thing about fear: It intensifies emotion; but it also solidifies commitment. Thus, scaring yourself is a healthy form of self-pressure. Even if it’s as simple as changing your Facebook status from “single” to “in a relationship.” It’s amazing how many positive results can occur when you cross that threshold.

Unless your ex-girlfriend starts leaving vicious comments on your wall about how you’re a the devil. Not cool.

My suggestion: Let the door hit you on the way out. Hard. Right in the ass. Otherwise you’ll never scare yourself into executing what matters. How will communicating that you’re fully committed disturb you into taking action?

6. Administer a heroic dose of reflection. One of the ways my clients use me is as a small group facilitator. It’s a nice break from being the guest speaker, as I don’t have prep as much. Instead, my life is my preparation. All I have to do is show up and make sure people feel heard.

During a recent retreat with forty company leaders, we ran an exercise called “Lifelines.” It required participants to divide their lives into thirds and extract powerful lessons from pivotal moments along the way. Unexpectedly, what amazed me about this process was how uncomfortable it made certain people.

Turns out: Not everybody reflects. For any number of reasons: Some people don’t value reflection. Some prefer not to dwell on the past. Or, some people simply aren’t as introspective as others. On the other hand, some people choose not to reflect – probably subconsciously, I imagine – because they’re scared of what they might learn about themselves.

It’s the same reason people refuse to journal daily. It’s the same reason people in my yoga class refuse to meet their own eyes in the mirror. And it’s the same reason I have stacks of footage from past speeches that I will absolutely never, ever watch.

But maybe that’s the solution. Maybe administering a heroic dose of self-reflection is the only way to scare yourself into the next version of yourself. When was the last time you watched yourself on video?

7. Bear the responsibility for what you’ve become. There’s nothing more existentially agonizing than noticing a part of yourself that you don’t like; and then realizing that you’re the primary reason it’s there. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t just hurt the heart; it scares the soul.

But then again, this might be the best thing that ever happens to you. Maybe reaching the point where you can’t stand yourself anymore is the only way to upgrade. After all, from great suffering comes great awakening. That’s what happened to me: I reached a point where the distaste for who I’d become (finally) scared me enough to change everything.

And I crawled out of the minefield alive. Stumbling but surviving.

My suggestion: Stop hypnotizing yourself. Don’t allow yourself to jump back into the dark hole you’ve made to hide in. Grab your liabilities by the lapel and drag them out into the daylight. As I learned from Mirror of Truth:

“When you eventually take responsibility for what you’ve become, you stop pulling punches, making up mitigating circumstances, and start to understand a little more about yourself. And you realize that you’re not that different from everyone else. You’ve just admitted to yourself that you have a lot of work to do before you’re ready to look at yourself in the mirror again.”

Remember: You are the result of yourself. If you don’t like the final product, go back and run a quality control check on the production process. Even if you pee your pants on the factory floor. Do you have the courage to take full responsibility for everything you think, feel and do, without blaming yourself?

8. Dance on the perimeter of your boundaries. I don’t mean violate them – I mean test their elasticity. Huge difference. One is a gap in integrity; the other is an experiment in flexibility. But that’s the nature of boundaries: You set them for yourself out of an inherent need to preserve your sense of control.

The funny thing is, once you get there – and you realize that you didn’t need to build the wall as high as you originally thought – the music starts to take over. And before you know it, your feet are moving. Your hips are gyrating. And your face hurts from smiling so much.

Sure, your heart’s beating three times faster than normal. But you sort of don’t care. Because you look back at the excessive walls you spend your entire life building for yourself and think, “Well I’ll be damned. Look at me, dancing night away. Guess those bricks weren’t as necessary as I thought.”

Wow. Feeling out of control never felt so good.

Bottom line: You’ve got to extend your arm. Otherwise you’ll never grow into anything better. When was the last time you stretched your boundaries without compromising your foundation?

REMEMBER: Scaring yourself (for the right reasons) is the gateway to personal growth.

I challenge you to look in the mirror, to breathe through the fear and to proceed anyway.

And yes, I know being scared means being uncomfortable.

But uncomfortable people are the only ones who ever change the world.

Do you need to wait for Halloween to scare yourself?

For the list called, “100 People (Not) To Listen To,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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How to be a Role Model

In his final HBO comedy special, seventy-one year old George Carlin walked onto the New York stage to a standing ovation and opened his show with the following comment:

“I’d like to begin tonight by saying: Screw Lance Armstrong!”

“I’m tired of that idiot. And while you’re at it, screw Tiger Woods, too. There’s another idiot I can do without. I’m tired of being told who to admire in this country. Aren’t you sick of being told who your role models ought to be? Being told who you ought to be looking up to? I’ll choose my own heroes, thank you very much.”

THAT’S THE GOOD NEWS: You don’t have to be a professional athlete, international humanitarian or slick politician to become a role model.

People who earn the title of role model rarely do so because of their achievements – they do so because of their attributes.

It’s not about performance – it’s about personhood.
It’s not about what you’ve done for yourself – it’s about what you breathe into others.
It’s not about being in the public eye of the world – it’s about being in the private hearts of the people.

HOWEVER: Becoming role model isn’t something you just “decide” to do.

Being a role model is the residue of mattering consistently.
Being a role model is the after shock of contributing persistently.
Being a role model is the incidental consequence of the intentional commitment to operate from the best, highest version of yourself.

Maybe the real question isn’t, “Are you a role model?” but rather, “When people listen to your life speak, do they take notes?”

Here’s a collection of ideas to make sure they do:1. Refuse to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. The reason delaying gratification is such an admirable quality is because so few people possess the patience to do it. We live in a world of Veruca Salts: Accepting periods of minimal progress along the windy road to success isn’t a favored pastime.

Instead, people are addicted to short cuts. Which, last time I checked my GPS, don’t work. Shortcuts cause stress, rarely succeed and often backfire. They never go unpunished. They are a refuge for slackers and a lazy man’s panacea. Not exactly role models.

My suggestion is to stop looking for the easy win and start running the developmental gauntlet. Be patient with, have confidence in and add value to your own resources. As a result, you won’t just become successful – you’ll be emulatable. Are you willing to risk today’s time for tomorrow’s treasure?

2. Be a human being. Nobel Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer famously suggested, “Search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.”

A few examples: Communicate less perfectly. Disclose your vulnerability. Pepper in ordinariness. Publicly celebrate mistakes. Scrap your title.

The cool part is, the collective consequence of actions like these infects people with possibility. Namely, the possibility that your success could happen to them too. Not without hard work, of course.

But by fully integrating your humanity into your profession or position, you compel people to declare, “I believe in this, I can do this, I’m willing to try this!” What about your life speaks straight to the heart of the human experience?

3. Idolatry is insufficient. I recently read a fascinating article by Steven Resnick on The Bleacher Report. His claim was that professional athletes weren’t role models as much as they were idols.

“On the basketball court, Jordan could do pretty much what he wanted: He could shoot, he could pass, he could defend, and he could literally fly through the air. But does that really make Jordan a role model?”

No. It’s not to say that professional athletes do not do good things for their communities. But to say that athletes are role models just because they are in the spotlight is a ridiculous assertion. The biggest part to being a role model is the personal interaction you have with the person.”

Lesson learned: It’s not about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people to life at the party, then convincing those people that they were the ones who turned the switch on. Whereas idols are regarded with blind adoration, role models are regarded with substantial connection.

It’s not about performance and perfection; it’s about personhood and connection. And within the relationships that matter, your challenge is to make that move. From the superficial to the substantial. Otherwise you’re just a statue. Do people idolize you or identify with you?

4. Succeed in spite. Another attribute shared by many role models is their uncanny ability to win notwithstanding the surrounding chaos. And it takes all kinds, too. Around the world, role models are the people who succeed:

In spite of overwhelming poverty. In spite of devastating toxicity. In spite of endless hurdles. In spite of gnawing self-doubt. In spite of efforts to crush their spirit. And in spite of countless people calling them crazy.

That’s the secret: Deciding what’s (not) going to be part of equation for you, making yourself the exception to the rule and giving the middle finger to the forces of mediocrity that attempt to crush your spirit. Do you demand abstinence from all that proves to be poisonous?

5. Character isn’t enough. My mentor always taught me that character was the degree to which your actions mirrored your values. Which kind of makes it like tofu: Character absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce it’s cooked in.

The problem is, if you’re a man of great character – and the values mirrored by your actions are dangerous or disrespectful – you lose. And the people around you lose.

Take Saddam Hussein, for example. He was a man of great character. Too bad the values he stood for were responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people.

Therefore, your challenge as a role model is to assess both the consistency and the content of your character. Will your commitment to your value lead to development or detriment?

6. Enable others to build their success around yours. In 2007, David Letterman’s production company became the first to cut a deal with the striking Writers Guild of America. This enabled his show to resume production with their writing staffs.

“We take care of our people. And we’re happy to be going back to work, and particularly pleased to be doing it with our writers,” Letterman told the New York Times in 2007. “But this is not a solution to the strike, which unfortunately continues to disrupt the lives of thousands. But I hope it will be seen as a step in the right direction.”

Furthermore, Letterman also agreed to pay his other non-working staff members (hair, makeup, grips, prop guys, etc) until the end of the strike – out of his own pocket.

Now, you might not have a production team of a hundred people. But I imagine there’s a constituency that gravitates toward you, hoping you leadership will help enable their success. Who’s warming their hands by your fire?

7. Be just as much of a rockstar when you’re off. Off stage. Off court. Off duty. Off campus. Off air. Off camera. That’s the real stage. That’s the true catwalk of being a role model: When your applause is a distant memory, when all the reporters have gone home and when there’s nobody left but you and that poor guy who drove two hours through the hail just to see you.

The question is: Will you blow him off so you can rush back to the tour bus for the groupie party? Or will you stick around for an extra ten minutes just to make that guy’s trip worthwhile?

Role models stick around. Role modules remember that one person is still an audience. And role models know how unbelievably easy it is to make people happy.

That’s consistency. And it’s far better than rare moments of greatness. Practice that, and you’ll get a standing ovation every time. How many different versions of you do people see?

REMEMBER: A role model is a person others want to emulate.

And you don’t have to be a celebrity to make that happen.

Focus on personal attributes – not professional achievements.
Focus on expressing yourself fully – not on proving yourself incessantly.
Focus on commitment to values that matter – not on conquests of wars that don’t.

Do that, and your example will be worth copying by the people you love.

Take that, Lance Armstrong.

To whom are you a hero?

For the list called, “10 Reasons Your Business Doesn’t Really Exist,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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How to Trust the Process, Even If You Don’t Know What the Hell You’re Doing

To trust is to surrender.
To surrender is to open yourself.
To open yourself is to risk getting hurt.
To risk getting hurt is to increase the probability of success.

LESSON LEARNED: When you assemble the courage to trust the process, you access the power to transform the world.

Your world. Your partner’s world. Your customer’s world. Your employees’ world. Your organization’s world. Maybe even your dog’s world.

Today we’re going to explore eight daily practices for trusting the process, even when you have no idea what the hell you’re doing:1. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. How is overrated. How is the enemy of progress. How is the barrier to trusting the process. And I’m not saying it hurts to know what you’re doing once in a while. But if you always waited until you knew what you were doing, you’d never do anything.

You’re never really ready. Nobody is. Whether you’re starting a business, starting a relationship or starting a new career, trusting the process means traversing the periphery of your competence.

That’s exactly what I did when I started my publishing and consulting company right out of college. Hell, I didn’t know anything. I was twenty-two. But for some reason, I trusted the process anyway.

And here’s what I learned: Eventually, you’re just going to have to jump into the pool with your clothes on and trust that you’ll figure out how to swim before the water fills your lungs.

Let’s go. It’s time to put down that margarita and make a splash that matters. Remember: You don’t have to get good to get going; but you do need to get going to get good. Whose permission are you waiting for?

2. Restore the equilibrium. The reason it’s so hard to trust the process is because it’s a form of surrendering; and for most people, that’s a terrifying preposition. Human beings have an inherent need to preserve their sense of control. And any time they feel it being taken away from them, they freak out.

I’m reminded of the Arabian proverb, “Trust God, but tie up your camel.” That’s the real secret: To restore the equilibrium. To balance letting go with preserving control.

For example, when you enter into a new relationship, make a handshake agreement with your partner:

“Look, I know we’re both scared. I know we’re both skeptical. So, let’s agree that for every path we pave for our hearts to follow, we’re going to take regular rest stops for our brains to reflect. That’s where we’ll check in with honest, open and clear updates on the process.”

When you ease into that exchange slowly, you hold yourself over until you’re more comfortable tipping the scales. How can you balance control with surrender?

3. Bow to the door of next. Next is my favorite word in the dictionary. For many reasons: Next fortifies action. Next symbolizes progress. Next means complacency prevention. Next means continuous improvement.

Next is the monetizer of momentum. Next is the fervent architect of creative reinvention. Next is the critical trigger of entrepreneurial advancement. Next is the rocket fuel of your career.

Ultimately, the secret is not just to use the word next – but also to bow to the door of it. Bow meaning honor. Bow meaning respect. Bow meaning recognize. Remember: Without incremental progress, there is no incidental profit. Are you standing on a springboard or struggling in a straightjacket?

4. Fall in love with why. When you infuse your process with deep purpose, it’s noticeably easier to trust it. That’s why rituals are so critical. They carve a pathway. They create a sacred container around what you’re about to engage in. And they prevent you from asking, “Why the hell am I even doing this?”

This helps you fall in love with the process, not just what the process produces. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s defined this dichotomy in his book Creativity:

“Exotelic means you do something not because you enjoy it but to accomplish a later goal. But autotelic means there is no reason for doing something except to feel the experience it provides.”

Lesson learned: Trusting the process is a spiritual discipline. An investment in the stability of the universe. Why do you do what you do?

5. Don’t be so hard on yourself. In Leonard Cohen’s documentary, I’m Your Man, he shares his philosophy on the writing process: “You gotta go to work everyday, but know that you’re not going to get it everyday.”

Initially, that was a bitter pill for me to swallow. The idea of accepting a blank page as part of the process was devastating to my creative spirit. But over time, I learned to stop beating myself up when I didn’t get it.

That’s part of trusting the process: Knowing when you’ve got it, knowing when you’ve lost it, knowing when there’s no way in hell you’re going to get it, and knowing when you’re going to have to take measures to get it back.

My current strategy is: When I sit down to write every morning, I give myself an hour. That’s my cut off. And if the faucet never turns over to hot, and if I realize that I’m just not going to get it that day – I go back to bed. Simple as that. Then, an hour or two later when I wake up, I hit the page refreshed and renewed.

Works every time. What’s your strategy for returning to the work that matters?

6. Believe in the dividends. Every time I start working on a new idea, I constantly remind myself: “There will be more.” More details. More resources. More answers. More everything.

This affirmation builds my confidence, relaxes my brain and alerts the Muse that she can move at her own pace. And even if I only make minimal progress today, I believe in my heart that more art is on the way.

That’s the posture to practice when you trust the process: Easy does it. Keep it casual. Establish gentle flow. Soon enough, your rhythm will develop. And the dividends will come.

The cool part is, once you achieve a few victories with this strategy, your experience bank fills with success stories to dwell upon. That’s when trusting the process gets fun. All you have to do is roll the mental footage of the last time it paid off. How strong is your belief in the dividends of your process?

7. Don’t fight the contractions. Pregnancy is a process. And according to a 2004 study from University of Hawaii, it’s a process that’s happened approximately ninety-six billion times since the dawn of time. Not bad. Maybe those mothers are doing something right.

My guess is: Epidural.

Just kidding. The real secret to trusting the process is to honoring the natural rhythms. Easing your judgmental tendencies and embracing the contractions no matter how much they hurt. As Quaker author Eileen Flanagan writes in Listen With Your Heart:

“By speaking honestly, listening non-defensively and waiting patiently, we help create the space where love can reveal itself.”

The best part is: You don’t have to be pregnant to practice this. Take writing, for example. Readers often ask me, “How do you know what you’re going to write everyday?” And my answer is always the same: “I don’t. That’s not my job. Instead, I listen for what wants to be written.”

Stop fighting the contractions. The baby will come when it’s ready. Even if you’re stuck in that godforsaken hospital bed for the next forty-seven hours. What are you allowing yourself to give birth to?

8. Don’t abandon the process just because it gets tough. Trusting the process doesn’t mean being passive. The secret is to understand the principle of threshold level.

That’s the moment in the process where you’re so close to completion, you can taste it.

The moment when the entire the world is doing everything they can to prevent you from finishing.

That’s when you hit it hard. That’s when you take every ounce of trust you have left and invest it in the process that brought you to the threshold.

Because in the end, trusting the process is about doing the footwork. Even if you don’t recognize the road before you. Even if it hurts like hell. Carry out the task to completion. And let growth unfold incrementally. The world will reimburse your efforts. Are you willing to hustle while you wait?

REMEMBER: This might be the perfect time to let go.

To achieve success and significance with your newest idea, project, initiative or relationship, you know what needs to be done.

Employ your faith.
Learn to trust the process.
Surrender to your primal self.
And allow it to do what it needs to do to lead you in the right direction.

You’ll be fine.

What will you have to let go of to become something different?

For the list 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, Entrepreneur, Mentor

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