The Bridge Between Art and Audience

Anything that’s a barrier to getting your work in people’s hands is a problem.

I’m sorry, but if there are fans out
there who can’t access your art because of copyright issues, corporate site
blocking, password protection, greedy pricing models, platform compatibility, unclear
registration forms, pointless rating systems, clumsy web addresses, laborious
product registration, geographical restrictions, stupid security certificates,
daily download quotas, bureaucratic sharing constraints, annoying error messages
or outdated company policies, it’s time to rethink your distribution model.

I’m not saying you have to give everything you’ve ever created away for free, although I tried that recently
and had a lot of success.

But as an artist, your goal is to get
heard first, paid second. As an artist, your goal is to build as many bridges
as possible between you and your audience. Without that great collision
between your work and the outside world, you’re just winking in the dark.
You’re the tree in the forest nobody hears.

Yes, many of the above barriers are out of our control. But
that never stopped people like Henry Rollins, Radiohead, Louis CK, Aziz Ansari,
Trent Reznor, Seth Godin and Kevin Smith from circumventing those barriers and
taking their truth direct to market. Those guys never sat back and waited for some
invisible jury to stamp their creative passport and tell them their work okay.
They simply expressed themselves, shared it with the people who loved them and
were compensated accordingly.

There’s no reason you can’t do the same.

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What is the bridge between art and audience?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Writing, Publishing, Performing, Consulting

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

My job is to help companies make their mission more than a statement, using limited edition social artifacts.

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How to be a Breath of Fresh Air

“Your combination is: One, two, three, four, five? That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard in my life! That’s the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!”

Name that movie.

Spaceballs, of course.

My brother and I grew up on this film. And to this day, we can still recite the entire script, line by line.

If you’re not familiar with the movie, here’s a quick synopsis:

Spaceballs is a 1987 science fiction spoof in which Planet Spaceball, led by President Skroob (Mel Brooks) has wasted all of its air, leaving the inhabitants to survive off canned oxygen called Perri-air. Ingeniously, Skroob sends Lord Helmet (Rick Moranis) to steal Planet Druidia’s abundant supply of air to replenish their own, and only Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) can stop them.

Now, even though the movie is a spoof, there’s still a powerful life lesson to be learned from Spaceballs:

When you’re known as a breath of fresh air, the people who matter will come in droves to inhale.

Customers.
Coworkers.
Employees.
Supervisors.
Board members.

Whoever comprises your constituency, nothing serves them better than making yourself a breath of fresh air.

Here’s how:1. Embrace your outsiderness. Being an outsider gives you an inside track. For three reasons.

First, outsiders can be truly objective. They have little or no bias. They can recognize patterns immediately. They have no stake in the company or organization. They don’t bring vested interests to an existing problem. They can explore the structure of an organization with fresh eyes. And they’re not viewed as a threat, which diffuses defensiveness and increases willingness to listen.

Secondly, outsiders don’t face traditional barriers. They’re unaware of common creative blocks. They’re not subject internal politics of the organization. And they’re able to explore assumptions the organization that were never considered or taken for granted.

Finally, outsiders can deliver independent thought. Their thinking patterns are different. They’re detached from the outcomes. They’re not so close to the situation and therefore have limited agendas. And their wealth of diverse background experience applies cross-industrially.

Ultimately, people are tired of listening to the same messages from the same people. Embrace your outsiderness today and move into a position of value tomorrow.

Remember: It’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists. And sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. Are you willing to admit that you’re not part of the club?

2. Embody the extinct. Just out of curiosity, I recently googled the phrase, “What’s lacking is a sense of…” Across all industries, the most common item that came up was “urgency” or “immediacy.”

Interesting. Perhaps the acceleration of technology combined with our hyperspeed culture is the wakeup call companies need to increase their average response time. Just one example.

Either way, if you want to become a breath of fresh air, become a living example of what’s lacking in the rest of the world. Conduct research on your own – either online or person – to find out what’s extinct in your world. Then position yourself as the opposite.

For example, few professional speakers post their fees publicly on their website. And that’s exactly why I post mine: To embody the transparency that’s sorely lacking in my industry. The best part is: My clients love it. What obsolete value are you making obligatory?

3. Dumbing down is stepping up. A few books into my career as a writer, my editor informed me that most of material was written at a fifth or sixth grade level.

And I asked her, “Is that good?”

To which she replied, “Absolutely! Twelve years old the level most adults read at.”

Now, admittedly, this attribute of my writing isn’t so much a strategy as it is representative that I never really matured past twelve years old. But I’ll take it.

Either way, it works for my readers. And that’s what matters.

Lesson learned: Stop cluttering your interface. Whether that’s in person, online or on the phone, remove whatever surrounding complexity you can from the way people experience you and your message.

Slow things down from the usual hectic pace. Let your audience breathe. As a writer (and don’t act like you’re not a writer – everyone’s a writer), your best tool for accomplishing this is with the Flesch-Kincaid Tests.

They’re easily found on most word processing grammar checks. And they’re designed to measure comprehension difficulty and readability when reading a passage of contemporary academic English.

Remember: What’s the point of being fresh air if you don’t give people adequate pauses to inhale? It’s time to step it up by dumbing down. What metrics will you use to simplify your message?

4. Perspective is priceless. My friend Marcus writes books and gives lectures to healthcare professionals. But, not because he’s an expert on patient care. Or a doctor. Or a medical researcher.

Rather, because after a tragic auto accident, Marcus spent two years of his life restricted to a hospital bed, a feeding tube and respirator. You can’t teach perspective like that.

And that’s why, when Marcus delivers his message – from the page or the stage – the same breath of fresh air that re-inflated his once failing lungs now fills the hearts of the people in his audience. No wonder he gets invited back every year.

Lesson learned: The keener your perspective, the fresher your breath. Your challenge is twofold: First, to wreck your car. Just kidding. Marcus made me put that joke in.

Seriously: Figure out which of your unique experiences have afforded you with the deepest amount of perspective. Then, creatively deliver your message from that perspective. How will your worldview add a new dimension to the overall picture?

5. Create an original and unique experience. Don’t tell me there’s nothing new under the sun – it’s 864,938 miles in diameter. If you can’t say something new, you’re not trying very hard.

All you have to do is tell the truth – your truth. Not Benjamin Franklin’s truth. Not Rumi’s truth. Your truth. Stop being a vending machine of other people’s quotations. Instead, start spouting the wisdom of your life. It’s there, waiting to be excavated.

The cool part is, honesty is so rare that it’s become remarkable. And when you dip your pen in your own blood, it’s always new – because it’s your original and unique experience.

Focus on crafting your messages with clients and coworkers from that space. You’ll expel more fresh air than the Sears home appliance department. Are you the origin or the echo?

6. Don’t just break the mold – shatter it. Make the mainstream to pee in their pleated pants and tremble in their penny loafers. How? By violating people’s schemas.

According to the bestselling book, Made to Stick, a schema is a collection of generic properties about an idea or category. Your challenge is to upset those patterns. To make your messages, conversations and ideas a radical departure from traditional labels.

George Carlin was a master at this. Not only did his comedy entertain us – it challenged and provoked us to rethink and unlearn. So much so, that in 1972, his monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” led to a Supreme Court decision that helped established the extent to which the FCC would regular speech on broadcast television.

Nearly forty years later, Carlin’s regulation still carries weight today.

Lesson learned: Sweep away the stifling odor of the multitude. Refuse to fall into the same clichés as – or satisfy the unquestioned conventions of – the mediocre masses. What boundaries are you bending?

7. Sell less – solve more. That’s the biggest mistake made by businesses that use social media: They’re so busy trying to make money that they disregarded their duty to solve problems.

I’m not saying making money is wrong. But if direct monetization is your primary modality, people will smell it quickly and walk away.

Instead, I challenge you to position yourself as The Answer. To use social media as a listening platform to gain insight into what drives your customers up the wall. My friend Chris is a master of this.

“Every person who comments on my blog gets a phone call from me. And the best part is, nobody expects it. And that’s exactly what makes it a breath of fresh air. Because I’m offering myself as a resource – instead of hurling myself as a salesperson.”

What pervasive, expensive, real and urgent problem does your business solve – better, faster, smarter and cheaper than the other guys?

8. Differentiate through your emphasis. During a recent trip to Australia, I had the pleasure of flying on Virgin Airlines. Let me paint a picture for you:

Dance music blasting from the check-in area. Approachable service islands with brightly colored displays. Employees who were young, energetic and attractive – who, by the way, actually walked out from behind their desks to shake your hand, introduce themselves and welcome you to Virgin.

Then, once we boarded the plane, the experience continued. More music. More fun. And more employees who were laughing, joking and overall, (actually) enjoying their jobs. Hell, even the safety demonstration video was kind of cute.

Talk about a breath of fresh air. I said to the flight attendant, “Wow. Airline companies back in the states could learn a lot from your team – you guys look like you’re legitimately having a good time!”

And like clockwork, she replied, “At Virgin, it’s kind of hard not to.”

Not surprisingly, Virgin won several airline industry awards in 2009: Best Premium Economy in the World, Best Transatlantic Airline, Best International Airline, Best International Airline for Inflight Entertainment and Best Frequent Flyer Program.

Lesson learned: Provide an outlet to unconventional approaches. Not only will you become a breath of fresh air, you’ll become the best in the air. What do you emphasize that your competitors overlook?

REMEMBER: If you want to make a name for yourself, be conscious about what you’re breathing into people.

The choice is yours: You can lump yourself into the mediocre masses as (yet another) company that blows smoke up people’s asses.

Or, you can position yourself as a breath of fresh air, so the people who matter will come in droves to inhale.

Maybe Spaceballs was onto something.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you that refreshing?

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

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 be More Prolific Than Van Gogh on Viagra

The word “prolific” comes from the Latin prolificus, which means, “to make offspring.”

Which, if you think about it, is exactly what you do all day:

Give birth to your creative brainchildren.

The cool part is, the more prolific you are:

The more profit you earn.
The more love you spread.
The more gravity you defy.
The more legacy you leave.
The more people you touch.
The more purpose you fulfill.
The more change you inspire.
The more wisdom you amass.
The more worlds you conquer.
The more fans you accumulate.
The more significance you realize.

What did you create today?

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, writer or ad agency art director, here’s a list of how to be more prolific than you ever thought possible:1. Never be an aspiring anything. Aspiring is for amateurs. Make the decision to be “an.” There’s no someday I’ll. There’s no pre-heat. You either are or you aren’t.

Whatever you want to become, you can start being that thing (today!) by creating as much as you possibly can, as fast as you possibly can. Otherwise, if you put off being prolific until the right people stamp your creative passport, you’ll consign yourself to burning in the purgatory of wannabe.

Remember: Being prolific beings with the mindset that you already are what you want to become. Are you acting as if?

2. Metabolize your life. That’s the singular source for informing your art. As Anne Lamout, author of Bird By Bird once said, “Art is whatever remains after the fire.”

My question is: Does your life burn? If so, you’ll be more prolific than you ever imagined. As long as you focus on translating all that you experience into something more expressive.

After all, art is nothing but the residue of a life fully lived. Screw being a great artist – focus on being a great human first. Bring all of who you are to your creative work and trust that the art will come. How boring is your life?

3. Right isn’t as important as right direction. You don’t need to know where you’re going to be moving in the right direction. At least that’s what my fortune cookie told me yesterday.

Either way, when it comes to being prolific, what matters is that you simply get something down – every day. Maybe it sucks. Maybe it rocks. Maybe it’s just okay. Fine. Awesome. Perfect.

All you need to remember is: When you put pen to paper, you have the power. When you put finger to keyboard, brush to canvas, blade to clay or reed to mouth, you have the power. Just begin with what is – you can make something beautiful out of it later. Are you willing to plunge forward planless?

4. Extend literary latitude. I read five books a week. Some rock my face off; some make me want to blow my head off. Either way, I love them all, and I attend to them all with deep democracy.

That’s what prolific people practice: You don’t have to like something to learn from it; and you don’t have to get it to get something out of it. Sometimes bad work is exactly what you need to inspire good work.

Your mission is experience what you experience with a posture of openness and possibility. Because if you give yourself permission, you can become inspired by everything in sight. And that’s when you start to crank out volumes of work that matters. Are you a mental omnivore?

5. Be a brilliant fixer. Whenever I’m reading, I’m writing. In my experience, it’s just too hard to separate the two. For example, when I’m not underlining passages, jotting down transient ideas, documenting adjacent thoughts or questioning the author’s arguments – I’m fixing.

I can’t help it – that’s just what I do. It’s in my blood, and getting a transfusion would simply be too expensive.

The cool part is, many of my best ideas came from something as simple as changing or adding a single word to an existing sentence.

Examples: “A mind is a terrible thing to chase,” “A penny saved is an opportunity burned” and “All the world’s a page.” Your challenge is to incorporate some form fixing into your own creative process.

You’ll find that it’s fun, challenging, energizing and the raging river of raw material never stops flowing. How are you improving on everything that’s wrong with everything else on the shelves?

6. Be careful not to slide into complacency. Yes, remember your victory dance. Yes, take pride in your creative victories. But don’t over celebrate. Booking a weeklong trip to Vegas just because you finished your final draft three weeks before deadline as a bit excessive.

Never trust the prosperity that accompanies prolificacy. Instead, regularly reinstate your humility with the birth of every new brainchild.

As Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz reminds us, “Seek to renew yourself, even when you’re hitting homeruns.”

Remember: The arrogance of past victory is the aerosol of future failures. What are you sacrificing by watching your own touchdown dance on the jumbotron?

7. Get good at recognizing beginnings. The reason prolific professionals are masters at starting, progressing and executing their projects – is because they’ve perfected the art of seed spotting.

They estimate movement value early.
They see everything with the eyes of the future.
And they take action on those concepts without delay.

That’s the mark of prolificacy: Lots of irons in lots of fires. Working on multiple projects simultaneously. Doing so helps you create thought bridges, subconscious connections and unexpected integrations between (seemingly) unrelated ideas.

As a result, you will automatically notice natural relationships and structures in your work. What’s more, your creative efforts are more productively deployed when you start multiple projects simultaneously.

Yes, it requires considerable self-regulation to pursue multiple projects concurrently. But by shifting between ideas as circumstances dictate, you never get burned out and always execute without remorse. What did you start today?

8. Become a master of your disinclination. In the documentary I’m Your Man, songwriter and poetry legend Leonard Cohen reminds us, “You gotta go to work everyday, knowing that you’re not going to get it everyday.”

The secret is cultivating an acute sense of when disinclination is around the corner.

Personally, if I don’t get anything good after about an hour – I go back to bed. Sometimes for twenty minutes, sometimes for three hours. I’ve followed this rule for eight years and have never, ever failed to come back to the page refreshed and reenergized.

What’s more, I almost always go on to pound out something amazing. Lesson learned: Discover what frustrates your ambitions. Know when you’ve got it, known when you’ve lost it, know when there’s no way in hell you’re going to get it, and know when you’re going to have to take measures to get it back.

Hey, it happens. Resistance can be a feisty little bitch. Don’t be afraid to let her win every once in a while. Create around the constraint. It demonstrates humility for the process and motivates you to return with strength. What’s your policy for managing compositional paralysis?

9. Let less happen. Increasing your capacity to execute isn’t just about what you do – it’s also about what you avoid, what you stop doing and what you stop thinking.

For example, my friend Steve recently shared a staggering statistic with me: “On any given workday,” he said, “fifty to sixty percent of the tasks I do are meaningless.”

After I reconnected my jaw to my tear-soaked cheeks and unhooked my cold, dead hands from Steve’s unproductive throat, I began thinking about my own ratio. And it occurred to me that one of the reasons I’m so prolific is because ninety-eight percent of the work I do every day, matters.

No wonder I just finished my eleventh book at the age of thirty: Distractions are at an all-time low; execution is at an all time high. Better enjoy it now while it lasts.

Lesson learned: Excise every ounce of fat from your process. Discard the irrelevant. Then throw your shoulder into the work that matters. Be lean or be left behind. Is what you’re doing – right now – contributing to your body of work or your ulcer?

10. Keep the reservoir full. Whether you’re a painter, entrepreneur, wood carver or throbbing-member-trashy-novelist, prolificacy – that is, cranking out killer work consistently – is a function of volume.

As a writer, for example, I built my own content management system. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s certainly more sophisticated than a box of colored folders filled with ideas scribbled on cocktail napkins or random scraps of paper.

Currently clocking in at about 75,000 items, my creative inventory is meticulously organized by topic, date, use, audience, etc. And every single day, I add more water to the reservoir. Some days more than others.

But I do it every day, without fail. Which means my inventory is indepletable. And that’s the secret behind building your reservoir, regardless of the medium in which you work: It equips your daily practice with creative rations long before the artistic famine strikes.

And when I say famine, I’m referring common distractions such as: Resistance, boredom, disinclination, laziness or that annoying fluffball Westie from next door who does nothing but yap-yap-yap all day long. How much water did you add to your creative reservoir today?

11. Insulate yourself from interruptions. Tolerate nothing. Even if you have to put a sign on your door reading, “Quiet. The art is coming.” Whatever it takes. This is your creative time, and it deserves to be approached as sacrosanct.

Resist the temptation to be squeezed by your surroundings. Otherwise you become muddied by triviality, swept into the undertow of inconsequentiality. And that’s a surefire recipe for low productivity.

The hard part is stockpiling enough self-control to be able to look at your most seductive interruptions – square in the eye – and say, “Nice try. But I’ve got work to do. Peace out.”

Email is the worst. You have to close the window down or else you’ll never execute anything that matters. What interruptions are you afraid to ignore?

12. Never lose your ear for what’s happening around you. If being prolific has historically been hard for you, I’ve got some bad news: You problem isn’t writer’s block – it’s hearing damage.

That’s all creativity is, anyway: Active listening. And it’s easy to screw up. Like Voltaire said, “Never let temptation pass lightly by – it may never come again.”

Lesson learned: People who are prolific listen. And they do so with their ears, eyes, minds, hearts or whatever other body part is available.

Lose that skill and you forfeit the entire game. Keep it healthy and you’ll never stop creating. What did you hear today?

FINAL THOUGHT: Let’s turn to Cicero, philosopher and uber-prolific writer.

In his book, On the Good Life, he explained the following:

“Philosophers must not be judged by individual utterances they may choose to offer. They must be judged, instead, by all their different statements put together and by the degree of consistency and coherence with this whole body of doctrine displays.”

KEY WORD: Whole body.

Because you’re not just creating one piece.

Or one song.
Or one book.
Or one project.
Or one website.
Or one piece of art.

You’re contributing to an ongoing, smokin’ hot body of work.

Because that’s what prolifics do.

With or without Viagra.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How prolific are you?

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For the list called, “13 Things Losers Do,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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 be a Mental Omnivore

“He’ll eat almost anything, idea wise, or he’ll at least chew on it. What he swallows is another matter. That’s partly because the psychedelic springs from a common-sense filled, well-informed, experience-tempered and morally solid soul.”

That’s how Rolling Stone described Robert Downy Jr. in a recent article.

A “mental omnivore.”

Great phrase.

It means all devouring.
It means eating ideas indiscriminately.
It means taking in everything available.
It means approaching life experiences with deep democracy.

THAT’S THE SECRET: If you walk through life as a mentally omnivorous person, you will triple your interestingness, forever inspire your creativity and build a bottomless reservoir of diverse ideas to fuel your daily endeavors.

Dee-licious.

Here’s how to become one:1. Constantly cast about for content. During a recent webinar, one of my callers asked the one question that absolutely drives me crazy: “Scott, where do you get your ideas?”

Are you kidding me? Have you not walked down the street before? Ideas are more abundant than oxygen.

The problem is, most people don’t pay attention. They don’t listen with their hearts. They don’t see with their mouths. And they don’t hear with their fingers.

That’s what mental omnivores practice: Incurable curiosity. You don’t have writer’s block – you have hearing damage. Perk up, son. When was the last time you ran out of ideas?

2. Adopt a role of humble inquiry. As a mental omnivore, here’s your credo: Sapere aude. That’s the Latin phrase for “dare to know,” first used in Horace’s first book of Epistles.

According to The Latin Library, the phrase forms the moral to a story where a fool waits for the stream to stop before crossing it. “He who begins is half done,” Horace says.

This speaks to the value of human endeavor, which, if you’re a mental omnivore, is absolutely essential. You’ve got to get your ass out of the basement and into the world.

That’s how you acquire an experiential dimension: By falling awake, armed only with your pen, an open mind and a furrowed brow.

Lesson learned: Keep why alive. Insulated from inquiry means inundated with injury. Why do you need permission to ask why?

3. Never turn a deaf ear to nature. Marcus Aurelius once remarked, “Healthy eyes see whatever is visible.” To put that principle into practice, try this: Pursue the intuitive pull of the moment, follow the lead of the subject and penetrate the mosaic of every environment.

Plunge yourself insatiably into whatever stimuli surround you, giving your most careful attendance to the ordinary things that don’t matter to most people.

Try this, and it won’t be crowded at the viewing center. Which means the perceptual landscape will be yours – and yours alone – to navigate.

That’s the cool part about being a mental omnivore: You notice things nobody else seems to pick up on, thinking to yourself, “Am I the only person who sees this?” Odds are, yes. Well done.

Remember: He who watches for opportunity sees a show everywhere. What do you need to stop ignoring?

4. React to simple things differently. With a beagle-like tilted head, start asking why things are the way they are; why things do the things they do; and why people say the things they say. And if possible, ask more than once.

Here’s why: When you slow down to find out what’s behind the silence, you’ll be amazed how effortless it is to take your ideas into deeper structures.

And that’s when the real learning begins: When you perfect your ability to notice a simple fragment – but recognize the entire whole.

The tricky part is: You have to show up for all of it. Even the mundane. You have to occupy the beginner’s mind to turn the world into a wide-open field.

Otherwise you’ll take the gold for granted. Are you willing to see the poetry in the exceptionally ordinary?

5. Everything is fair game. Here’s the approach I take to creativity: I never met a piece of content I didn’t like. And the limitless sources of ideas are as richly dense as a Shanghai street party.

My suggestion is: To cement your insights and give cohesion to the chaos, fuse information from every source you can get. Embroider the accumulated threads of daily observation into a striking tapestry of innovative thinking.

With this kind of palette diversity, it becomes easier to discover new dimensions of awareness and locate more layers of insight. As long as you commit to being bolder in your experimentation.

Otherwise your ideas will be about as exciting as Creed’s Behind the Music. Are you actively approaching the world with posture of deep democracy?

6. Be meticulous in your attendance to language. The most fascinating book I read this year was The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

From cultural observations to personal stories to linear notes to transient thoughts, he documented everything. Everything. And through his constant observation and meticulous attendance to language, Fitzgerald became one of the classic mental omnivores of his generation.

Your mission is to emulate his process: Document stray phrases, cool words, unexpected juxtapositions, overheard-at-the-office-comments and other random dialogues.

Keep a record of your reactions to issues. Create a separate folder for each one. Update, revisit and revise them daily. Your creative reservoir is guaranteed never to run dry. When people speak, what do you hear?

7. Relentlessly seek out new innovations. Force yourself to look more broadly. Even if the innovative ideas come from industries and arenas outside of your normal scope. Especially if the innovative ideas come from industries and arenas outside of your normal scope.

That’s how you acquire intellectual versatility. That’s how you keep your mind at full stretch. By keeping your eyes fastened attentively and objectively upon all indications of innovation.

I’ve had career-changing epiphanies that spawned from unexpected, unrelated and unorthodox sources. How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?

AND NOW, FOR DESSERT: As we wrap up our discussion on being a mental omnivore, let’s turn to an excerpt from the 2009 commencement speech at Sonoma State University commencement, delivered by the always omnivorous, Henry Rollins:

“Your curiosity must never wane! Ever. You are, therefore you want to know, want to go, want to know more and want to go further. As college graduates, you know all too well how much there is to know and the incalculable amount of fascinating things there are to explore, from thought to geographic destination.

It is your curiosity that you must enhance, strengthen and value, more and more as the years go on and on. It is your curiosity that you must guard against exhaustion, apathy and that awful plague called middle age.

Yes, you are allowed occasional but brief vacations from your curiosity: Box sets of television shows and carbohydrate rich foods are permitted – but don’t make a career out of it.

It is your curiosity that you will pass on like a genetic trait to your children, infect all those around you like a virus and inspire the anger of those who have chosen to admit defeat.

Because one of the greatest and most powerful words in any language is: Why.

When you stop wanting to find out, you’re done. There are few things more unendurable than being forced to spend time with someone who is intellectually incurious.

This can never be you. Ask a question. Go forth. Arrive at the answer. Catch your breath. Ask Why. And then set off again. Never relent.”

LESSON LEARNED: Go eat something.

It doesn’t have to be good.
It doesn’t have to be good for you.
It doesn’t have to be your favorite item on the menu.

But eat it anyway.

Your colleagues will thank you.
Your customers will thank you.
Your brain will thank you.

Dee-licious.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a mental omnivore?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “13 Things Losers Do,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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!

8 Ways to Establish a Credible Artistic Identity in a Crowded Marketplace

“Nobody’s reading your blog because of your art. They’re reading your blog because the person you are inspires them. They’re not reading your blog because they’re thinking of buying your paintings, they’re reading your blog because the way you approach your work inspires them. It sets an example for them. It stands for something that resonates with them. It leads them to somewhere that they also want to go.”

Cartoonist Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void wrote that in a recent blog post.

And after reading it a few times, his philosophy got me thinking about what we, as artists, are all about.

Because it’s not just the art – it’s the identity of the person who creates the art.

The challenge is establishing a credible artistic identity in a crowded marketplace.

Here’s how:

1. Build a public timeline of credibility. More content earns more credibility and equalizes the core of your identity. For example: If you’re a photographer, upload your photo shoots regularly. If you’re a cartoonist, post a new strip daily. If you’re a writer, update your blog daily. If you’re an actor, share video clips regularly. If you’re a comedian, upload audio clips from every live show you do.

Also, consider posting your travel schedule, tour dates, public events or community appearances in a prominent location on your website. This not only proves your legitimacy, but also invites fans and audience members to come out and see you live. Are you creating an art project or contribute daily to your ongoing body of work?

2. Build a strategy to leverage free. The greatest barrier to success as a creative professional isn’t incompetence – it’s anonymity. It doesn’t matter how amazing your art is. If people aren’t exposed to it regularly, it doesn’t exist. And your artistic identity – credible as it may be – may as well not exist.

Lesson learned: If you’re not giving away (some part of) your art, for free, every single day, you’re either stupid or high on paint fumes. The more you give away for free, the wealthier you will be. If you haven’t already, spend a Saturday afternoon building your strategy to leverage free.

Personally, I’ve adhered to my own free strategy for eight years. And it’s the single smartest marketing move I ever made an artist. Ever. Seth Godin, bestselling author of Linchpin, was right: Artists say, “Here.” What did you give away for free today?

3. Create your own interpretation. Pablo Neruda wrote a poem called, “You are the result of yourself.” When I first read it, the architecture of my heart changed forever. Seriously. I’ve been more moved by a piece of poetry in my life. In fact, I was so inspired by Neruda’s poem, that I decided to write my own interpretation of the same philosophy. My piece was called, What Every Leader Needs to Know about Making a Name for Herself.

What I discovered was that by offering my own version of another artists’ work, I earned credibility. First, because I honored my influences instead of plagiarizing them. And secondly, because I took something that was already famous and created my own unique version of it.

Remember: Reacting against other artists is part of what leads you to find your own creative voice. What famous work of art could you revisit, reimagine or rework?

4. Everyday is the answer. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron reminds us that the creative life is grounded on many, many small steps and very, very few large leaps. Her suggestion: Commit to laying a certain amount of track, every single day. Personally, my quota is four hours of writing a day. Minimum. Usually, I double that.

Whether you commit to hours or words or notes or pages, stick to it daily. After all, creativity isn’t just something you do on weekends. Do it daily or risk sucking. Remember: Everyday you don’t practice; you’re one day away from being amazing. What did you create today?

5. Find your audience and engage with them daily. Credibility is earned though human contact. Fortunately, social media and other web-based applications have made this easier than ever. Now you can solicit instant feedback from your readers, viewers, buyers and audience members within minutes, even seconds.

My suggestion: Ask them questions. Find out what their struggles are. Speak straight to the heart of human experience. Then let your art reflect what you’ve learned about your audience. You’ll connect on a deeper level with the people who pay your bills. Personally, I just listen to what people say they suck at, then write about it.

But only if you’re willing to make yourself e-pproachable. Only if you respond to emails, tweets and other online messages quickly and sincerely. How easy are you to reach?

6. Go pro or go back to waiting tables. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is the single most important book on creativity ever written. I read it every August. I buy copies for my creative colleagues. I recommend it to everybody. And the highlight of the book is when he defines what it means to go pro:

The professional respects his craft.

The professional understands delayed gratification.

The professional’s work has style; it is distinctively his own.

The professional doesn’t let the actions of others define his reality.

The professional shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She just does her work.

The professional eliminates chaos from his world so he can banish it from his mind so the muse can enter and not soil her gown.

The professional is acutely aware of all the intangibles that go into inspiration, and out of respect for them, he lets them work.

The professional shows up every day, shows up no matter what, masters his technique and exposes himself to the judgment of the real world.

The professional doesn’t let his signature grandstand for him. His style serves the material. He does not impose it as a means to drawing attention to himself.

The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.

Lesson learned: A credible artistic identity is the mark of a true professional. Are you still an amateur?

7. Memorialize your method. Creativity isn’t just about what you make – it’s about how you make it. As such: Credibility is a function of process, not just product. Your challenge is to communicate your unique method of creation in a three-dimensional way.

For example, you could hire a film crew to follow you around for a day. With the footage, you could compile a series of two-minute mini-documentaries. Then post them on the “About me” page of your website. Or, what if you shot time-lapse photography of your current painting project? You could share the photos on Flickr or create a slide show for your clients.

The point is: People pay for how. Show them. How are you publicizing your unique artistic how?

8. Visually substantiate your grunt work. In 2010, I started posting a series of time-lapse writing videos, pared down from four hours down to seven minutes. This depicts the naked truth of my creative process. And it helps my audience appreciate the true value of what my unique brain brings to the table.

Your challenge is to take the intangible effort behind your art and make it as inescapable as possible – while still remaining delightfully ambiguous. After all, you work tirelessly and privately on the process. May as well capture it and share it with the people who pay for the product.

Remember: If your fans love your work, they’ll love the grunt work behind the work too. How can you make the invisible inescapable?

ULTIMATELY: Being an artist isn’t (just) about the art.

It’s about the unique life you choose to lead that informs and inspires the art.

That’s how you compete in a crowded marketplace.

Either that, or you could just walk around Times Square half-naked playing a guitar.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you established a credible artistic identity?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “13 Things Losers Do,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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 Cowardly Lion’s Guide to Cultivating a Courageous Creative Spirit

Creativity isn’t about what you create – it’s about how you create it.

It’s about the mindset. The process. The posture.

Those are the non-negotiable elements comprise your courageous creative spirit.

Which fuels your creative process.
Which accelerates your creative output.
Which solidifies your creative success.

Here’s a list of ideas to cultivate that spirit, even if you’re not a lion:

1. Live in an atmosphere of encouragement. Where people don’t ask you to edit yourself. Where support flows uninhibited. And where you’re enabled to be the best, highest version of yourself. That’s the foundation – the support system – from which courageous creativity grows.

Personally, I was cut from the cloth of artists. From painters to musicians to dancers to writers to wood carvers – everyone in my family creates something. As such, there’s never been a shortage of artistic encouragement in my life. And I give thanks for that every day.

Your challenge (even if you don’t come from a creative bloodline) is to figure out which people your support structure can best contribute to your foundation. How many creative people are you having lunch with this month?

2. Testicles for everybody! A courageous creative spirit is someone who has balls. Cujones. Moxie. Whatever. The willingness to stick himself out there and risk looking like an idiot on the road to immortality.

Because it’s not about gender – it’s about guts. Creating from the core. And sustaining that level of risk indefinitely.

My suggestion is to constantly ask yourself the following two questions as you create each day: “What do I risk in presenting this material?” and “What would courage do in this situation?” Think of them as litmus tests to hold your work accountable to a minimum level of artistic risk. Are you a model of intellectual bravery?

3. Follow your unintentionals. Don’t overlook fringe thoughts. And don’t be afraid to take a mental detour and find yourself in a different place from where you started. That’s the fun part about creativity: The detour is the path. And it’s those offhand, unintentional suggestions that mature into ideas that end up putting a dent the world.

The cool part is, once you learn to go where your unintentionals take you – and learn to celebrate once you get there – fresh new music starts to make its way into your life regularly. All because you affirmed it.

After all, gratitude is the great gravitator. Courageous artists are the ones who let ideas happen to them. Are you creating what you feel like creating, or listening to what wants to be created?

4. Practice cognitive diversity. It takes a courageous person to observe an idea, word, phrase or premise – that scares the hell out of him – then use that piece to make his art better. It’s all depends on your level of internal agility, or mental flexibility.

Personally, practicing yoga has been a huge help in cultivating my courageous sprit. Not just because I can touch my head to my knees – but also because I’ve deepened my capacity to respond flexibly to what the world hurls at me. For example, during class we occasionally hear car alarms from the adjacent parking lot.

However, instead of tensing up and contracting our muscles at the sound of the horn, we just breathe deeper. And that annoying noise becomes a meditation. The unlikely impetus for reaching a fuller expression of the posture. Lesson learned: You can breathe through – and use – everything that happens to you.

But only if you treat what you observe with deep democracy. Are you brave enough to keep your creative gears in neutral?

5. Risk being unpopular. If you don’t risk turning some people off, you’ll never turn anybody on. That’s the secret of courageous creativity: Foregoing popularity for the sake of the work that matters.

The question is: Will you marshal the willingness to be booed? Are you an equal opportunity pisser offer that polarizes people purposely? I hope so. Because although it’s tough at the beginning of your career – especially when you really need money and don’t want to risk missing the rent (again!) – taking this risk pays off.

Remember: Audiences gladly get behind the artists who gladly go beyond what is comfortable. Where in your work are you playing it too safe?

6. Enlarge your courage to fail. Let’s go back to testicles for a minute. Because the irony of the whole thing is: You need balls to strike out. Interesting. My suggestion is to find a place where you can fail safely.

Take the Actor’s Studio in New York City, for example. For over fifty years, this venue has invited actors, directors and writers to work together to develop their skills in a private environment. And the best part: It’s a space where they can take risks as performers without the pressure of commercial roles. Whew.

What about you? Is there a local venue in which you can safely try out your latest work? If not, maybe you could start one. Have you made losing a regular part of your experience?

7. Let craziness be the inspiration – not the brakes – behind your ideas. I call this profitable insanity: The most underrated weapon in your creative arsenal. Sadly, the world is lightning-quick to confuse crazy with dangerous. Or stupid. Or unprofitable. Or mentally unstable.

Almost like a reverse halo effect. As if being called crazy was a dangerous thing. But the reality of creativity is: Success requires crazy. You don’t have to pull a Van Gough and resort to self-mutilation. But the courage to keep your work singular, unexpected and expeditiously non-conforming will always serve you well.

Remember: If you’re not at least (a little) nuts, you’re a putz. How do you respond when people tell you that you’re out of your mind?

REMEMBER: As a creative professional, the art you make isn’t as important as the approach with which you make it.

I challenge you to cultivate a courageous creative spirit. To assume a bolder posture and invent with abandon.

Do so, and your work will be remembered as fearless.

Either that, or people will think you’re just plain crazy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you afraid to express?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “13 Things Losers Do,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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!

10 Ways Talk Yourself Out of Your Next Great Idea

Do you want to dramatically shrink your creative output?

Are you seeking to smother your brain’s finest impulses?

How about removing any shred of hope for innovative thinking at your organization?

Fantastic!

Consider incorporating the following ten silent dialogues into your daily lexicon of self-limiting language. Soon, you’ll be talking yourself out of your next great idea quicker than you can say, “That’ll never work!”

1. “That’s stupid!” Always prejudge the quality of your ideas by assigning value to them early. This forces premature cognitive commitment, which prevents your creativity from expanding into unexpected territory.

After all, the last thing you want is your imagination to run wild. That’s sounds like something Einstein or Edison might do.

And what did those two geniuses ever contribute to society? Nothing but a bunch of revolutionary ideas that changed the face of mankind forever. Pshht. Crappy geniuses and their stupid creativity.

Here’s another pattern of detrimental thinking guaranteed to secure your spot in line at your local unemployment office…

2. “That’ll never work.” Never experiment with anything. It’s too expensive, too risky and too dangerous. Instead, feed yourself a steady diet of misguided assumptions and bureaucratic propaganda to poison what’s left of your childlike playfulness.

This assures the lowest possible level of movement value in your ideas, thus rendering your creative abilities to an embarrassingly low level, the likes of which your tax account would be legitimately impressed by.

The next suggestion for initiating a massive destruction of whatever creative energy hasn’t already been sapped by Fox News…

3. “I’m not allowed to do that.” The last thing you want to do is think for yourself. So, before taking any sort of creative risk, be sure to stop and consider the dozens of unwritten rules that you can’t prove and have mindlessly accepted since childhood.

That’s the key to embracing inertia and becoming creatively constipated for years to come: Holding fast to your assumptions in the face of zero evidence.

Another time wasting, bullshit argument to have with yourself while the more intuitive people (actually) execute their ideas into money is…

4. “I should really wait until I have hard data.” Smart move. After all, trusting your intuition means relying on dependable, physiological indicators like feelings and bodily reactions. And all those things will ever do is tell you the truth.

That’s no good! Who has time for honesty when your DVR is 96% full? Look: When you’re trying to talk yourself out of a great idea, instinct is about the stupidest road you could travel. Dishonesty is the best policy.

Next, consider the following excuse as a your one-way ticket to the Left Brain Hall of Fame…

5. “That’s not logical.” Talking yourself out of any great idea is a function of your insistence to think literally. The secret is to create a filter of rationality to myopically evaluate every idea that comes into your brain. That way, anything that resembles a threat to the status quo can be put to rest before it sneaks its way outside of the creative box.

This enables you to preserve a cozy state of predictable mediocrity while simultaneously thriving in hopeless condition of execution-free inconsequentiality. Those great ideas won’t stand a chance.

Here’s another deflating assumption that promises to keep you incarcerated in General Population at the Prison of Inertia…

6. “Yeah, but I can’t just…” These five words are as good as money out of the bank. I suggest you recite this golden nugget of growth-limiting self-talk on a daily basis.

Soon, your self-confidence will be lower than a chemical engineer’s at a Toastmasters convention.

As long as you remember the following truths: You’re not good enough. You shouldn’t trust your resources. And you have no right to demand originality in anything you do.

Next, if your self-confidence has risen to a dangerously high level, be sure to lower your shoulders in self-loathing defeat as you whine the following sentiment…

7. “Who am I to…?” Nobody, that’s who! Save the creative ideas for the marketing department.

You’re not paid to think – you’re paid to drag your unmotivated carcass into the personal hell known as your cubicle so you can spend the next nine hours of your miserable life staring at videos on YouTube that slowly dissipate your brain’s capacity to achieve independent thought.

Which reminds me; don’t forget to TiVo Dancing with the Stars tonight. I think that guy from Real World Seattle is going to win.

Also, it’s important to remember to poison your cognitive capabilities – as well as the (formally creative) environment around you – with the following condescending assumption…

8. “I’m never wrong.” Be very careful. If you’re stupid enough to be vulnerable, you’ll never talk yourself out of any great idea. My suggestion is to maintain a constant posture of terminal certainty.

Not only will this create an arrogance clamp that prevents new information from penetrating your mental defenses, but it will piss off your coworkers to no end. This will be helpful in blocking their creativity as well.

Hell, maybe you’ll get fired. Hope you like sleeping in on weekdays!

Here’s another repellent one-liner guaranteed to inspire your coworkers to force your genitals into the color copy machine…

9. “That’s not the right answer!” In life, every problem has one answer, and one answer only. That’s it. How dare you leave space for ambiguity? Life is a scantron test, not an essay contest.

Don’t get sucked into the vortex of uncertainty. Otherwise you’ll have to depend on the very creativity faculties that your agenda-ridden teachers, dogmatic punch-drinking religious leaders and power-hungry authority figures have spent the last four decades trying to beat out of you.

Instead, learn to think only in absolutes. Otherwise you’re going to die. Tomorrow.

And finally, don’t forget to write the following affirmation on a sticky note and post on your bathroom mirror so you can die a little inside each morning as you tearfully recite it aloud…

10. “I’m not creative.” Good. Stay that way. Creative people are weird, unpredictable and wear funny shoes. Plus they rarely make any money. They’re always too busy “creating art” or “changing the world” or “following their passions.”

Pshht! What a galactic waste of brain cells. It’s almost as if they don’t even care what’s on Law & Order tonight. Are you kidding me? Fred Thompson’s making a guest appearance as a paraplegic pedophile! I smell Emmy…

REMEMBER: Most great ideas are just waiting to be talked out of.

I challenge you to incorporate these ten phrases into your uncreative life today.

Who knows? With a little apathy, a lot of self-disbelief and a proven track record of requiring permission to think for yourself, you, too, could be the lucky person to discard the one idea that somebody else picks up and uses to change the world.

Good luck.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What ideas did you slaughter yesterday?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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 be a Pillar of Curiosity

Curiosity might have killed the cat – but it also made me a lot of money.

Show me a person who isn’t curious, and I’ll show you a fundamentalist, mindless, lifeless human being whose brain, heart and soul never expand.

HERE’S THE REALITY: History proves time and time again that the most successful, most celebrated and most influential people on the planet were the ones who asked dangerous questions despite overwhelming efforts to silence their enthusiasm and deflect their curiosity.

You need to be one of those people.

Here’s a list of sixteen daily practices for becoming a pillar of curiosity:

1. Start by (actually) caring. The word “curious” comes from the Latin cura, which means, “to care.” That means your mission is simple: Practice caring what things are, why things are and how things are. Even if you’re not all that interested.

Curiosity doesn’t discriminate. That’s why it’s called curiosity: It’s an equal opportunity explorer, treating all experiences with deep democracy. Start there and you’ll be ahead of 50% of the uncurious world. Simple but not easy. Do you have the courage to care?

2. Embrace the muscle of huh. Two ways: First, the Scooby Doo approach. That’s when you tilt your head at a curious experience, think, “Huh?” with the utmost surprise.

Second, the Edward Debono approach. That’s when you squint your eyes ever so slightly and mutter, “Huh…” as if your mind was just sent off to the creative races. Both are necessary fibers of the same muscle. Are you flexing them?

3. Scanning.Learn to find interest in anything. See yourself in everything. Study ordinary things intently and unfold and reveal the things most people wouldn’t think to capture. Plug whatever you perceive into the equations of your theory of the universe.

Ask yourself how it relates to you, why it’s interesting, how it’s an example or symbol of something that’s important to you. What mundane things do you find fascinating?

4. Refuse to discard hunches. Cherish all moments of brow furrowing. That means you’re seeing something. I urge you to (always) trust that peripheral perception. To remain awake to (and respect the integrity of) the words and ideas and experiences that seize you and refuse to let you go until you’ve given them careful consideration.

Remember: The most important three words of curiosity: “Now that’s interesting…” Are you stalking your hunches to the point of restraining orders?

5. Become a questionnaire. He who asks the most questions, wins. If someone stops you mid-sentence and says, “You sure ask a lot of questions!” congratulations, Curious George.

On the other hand, if that never happens to you, consider the following exercise: Stop making to-do lists and start making to-ask lists. It’s a paradigm shift. It’s hard to do. But it’s worth it. Are you a human question mark?

6. Dare to be dumb. Sherlock Holmes once said, “There’s nothing more elusive than an obvious fact.” I say, “There’s nothing less attractive than a person suffering from terminal certainty.” Either way, it pays to ask the questions most people would avoid for fear of looking stupid.

It’s like Shawn Mullins sings in Shimmer, “I’d drink a whole bottle of my pride and toast to change.” Are you willing to forego having all the answers?

7. Explore, then consider. Believe what you believe because you investigated the truth and decided (by yourself) to believe – not because someone told you to believe and you mindlessly followed. It’s like Seth Godin once said during a speech, “The opposite of fundamentalism is curiosity.”

Your challenge is to resist rule captivity. To ask the world if this is really a rule, or some mindlessly accepted pseudo-truism used by dangerous people who want to control you. Remember: If there’s no sign, it’s not a rule. Are you a fundamentalist or a curiosityist?

8. Speak in curiosity-based prefixes. For example: “I wonder what would happen…?” “What if…?” “Wouldn’t it be fun/cool/crazy to…?” “Have you ever thought about…?”

These phrases marshal curious forces, turn questions into quests and reinforce the right mindset needed to become a pillar of curiosity. Practice them daily and soon they’ll become second nature. Are you using curious language?

9. Keep a running list of questions. I’ve been adding new questions to my list daily for the past eight years. I’m up to about seven thousand. More importantly, I’ve created a classification system for my questions. This enables me to search and find (within about ten seconds) the exact question I need for the myriad situations I experience, write, consult, coach or speak about.

It’s truly one of the most valuable intellectual assets I possess. That’s why I rarely show it to anybody, keep it password protected and back it up monthly. How many questions are on your list?

10. Run sentence completion Google searches. I do this every day. It’s a fantastic research tool that’s easy, quick and fun to do. For example, let’s say you were writing an article on safe driving. Google the phrases “Safe drivers always” and “Safe drivers never.”

The answers that populate will stimulate your brain, answer your questions and propel your creativity. Are you googling strategically?

11. Stop making an ass out of you and me. Three truths: (a) Curiosity is the foundation of creativity, (b) creativity is nothing but active listening, and (b) active listening is blocked by assumptions. Therefore: Assumptions murder curiosity. If you want to stop them dead in their tracks, consider running regular assumption audits for yourself or your organization.

Ask questions like: What assumptions are operating here? What is the history behind our assumptions? What are we assuming that may be hurting us? What are we assuming that might be stopping us? What are we assuming that is preventing us from thinking well? Are we assuming that could be limiting our ideas here?

When you dismantle old assumptions, you rebuild new profits. Are you open to examining the assumptions behind your reasoning?

12. Dwell in situation novelty. Learn to freeze the fodder that surrounds you. Here’s how: When you see something, take a Mental Polaroid of it. Then clothespin it onto your psyche for further evaluation. Slowly, as it freezes, view it from all angles.

Walk 360 degrees around it. With a Davinci-like thumb on your chin, investigate it. Ask it questions. Poke it a little. Tease it apart and gently untangle its essence. Rip its clothes off, strip it of every outer layer until its naked truth plops down on that imaginary interrogation chair, staring at you. Sharon Stone style. Are you freezing your observations?

13. Commence an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. This is known as curiosita, according to Michael Gelb’s book, How to Think Like Leonardo Davinci. That’s what Davinci practiced, and he created the Renaissance. Not bad.

I wonder what would happen if you gave yourself permission to be curious in every domain of your life. Who knows? You could create the next cultural movement. Worst-case scenario: Your creativity triples. Sounds like a win/win to me. What’s your personal philosophy about curiosity?

14. Remain aggressively skeptical. Grow in your willingness to keep looking, even when you think there’s nothing left. When you leave your brow never (fully) unfurrowed; and when you expect to find more – you will. Curiosity is always rewarded. Always.

Just ask those pesky kids from Scooby Doo. Remember: There’s a fine line between aggressive skepticism and annoying cynicism. Which side of that line do other people believe you’re on?

15. Engage multiple senses. Ace Ventura comes to mind. As a pet detective, he practiced vigorous curiosity by touching, smelling, even tasting all the relevant evidence in his cases.

Sure, it appeared disgusting, peculiar and unprofessional to the pet’s owners. But Ace always got his man. Or in this case, man’s best friend. Are you tapping your sensory powers to heighten curiosity?

16. Follow your curiosity. Curiosity alone fails. It must be augmented with exploration, reflection and documentation. Otherwise you’re just a really tall five year-old. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hell, we could learn volumes from those little rug rats.

But five year olds don’t have mortgages. You do. And because curiosity drives profitability, make sure you’re not just asking a bunch of clever questions and then calling it a day. Explore. Reflect. Document. Repeat. Every day. Is your curiosity more than just a mental one trick pony?

REMEMBER: Curious people count.

Be one of those people, and you can buy all the cats you want.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What did you explore yesterday?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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 be an Artist

Artists are athletes.

But unlike runners, swimmers, basketball stars or cricket players, artists are hard pressed to find specific instructions on exactly HOW to be an artist.

Seth tackled this idea beautifully in his latest best-seller, Linchpin.

And since his work has always inspired mine, I’ve decided to write my own version of the same idea.

If you’re an artist, want to become an artist, or know someone in the same situation, consider these twelve ideas:

1. Appreciate creativity wherever you find it. Even if it’s a clever sign made by a homeless guy. Creativity is what you do, and you owe it to the world (and to yourself!) to recognize, applaud and embrace all forms of it.

In the same way that the Dalai Lama encourages us to “honor any expression of faith,” gaining an appreciation for any and all things creative is your responsibility as an artist. Just another way of saying namaste to your crafty colleagues. Where are you afraid to see creativity?

2. Be completely selfish. Gandhi says we must become the change we want to see in the world. Ginsberg says we must create the art we want to see in the world. Therefore:

Write the book you would want to read on the toilet.

Post the blog you would want to read while waiting in line at the airport.

Release the record you would want to listen to driving down the highway.

Paint the picture you would want to look at as you sit down to dinner every night.

You’ll thank yourself. Who are you (really) creating art for?

3. Be prepared to give yourself away. Real writers don’t care about selling books – they care about being read. The same goes for musicians, painters and performers: An audience is what makes the artist. Doesn’t matter who, where, or how big.

You’ve got to get out there and share your work with the world. You can’t stay in the basement your whole life. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark. As George Carlin wrote in Last Words, “You’ve got to get up in front of people every day of your life or you’ll never learn who you are.” Who have you given yourself (or your art) away to this week?

4. Be unhesitating. Do you have something risky, dangerous and provocative to say? Go for it. Take a little artist liberty and slice into people’s hearts. That’s the best kind of art anyway: Bloody. Honest. Raw. True. Anything that disturbs people. After all, “Art is infection,” as Tolstoy reminds us.

The secret is to ask the following question as you create and, more importantly, before you share your art with the world: “What do I risk is presenting this material?” If the answer is “not much” or “nothing,” you haven’t cut deep enough. Go back and draw some blood. Get to the point where hesitation is possible. Then let her rip. What truth are you still waiting to express?

5. Develop a unanimous voice. As an artist, that’s all you’ve got: Your thing. Your sound. Your domain. Your territory. Your signature. Your unique delivery of creative material. Your voice. And if you don’t have consistent voice, you wind up creating work that’s unmemorable, unmarketable and unsustainable.

The key to developing and maintaining that voice is threefold: (a) use it every day, (b) improve it every day and (3) take time off to recharge it. Remember: Voice determines success. Is yours unanimous?

6. Stop copying the masters. That’s doesn’t make you an artist – it makes you a parakeet. Sure, you can expose yourself to (and draw inspiration from) other artists. But don’t be an echo. Don’t be a copy of a copy. Have faith in your creative originality.

And don’t feed me that “there’s nothing new under the sun” excuse. Screw the sun. When you dip your pen in your own blood, it’s always new. Are you the origin or the echo?

7. Draw people to the truth. Isn’t that the whole point of being an artist? Picasso certainly thought so. His theory was, “Art is a lie that leads to the truth.” Your mission is to take people there. Even if you have to fudge a little bit on the way. When you give a voice to your true nature, people will listen.

But if you’re not being yourself while you create, nothing you make will belong to you. That’s why you got into art in the first place, right? To express your truth? Draw people to it. Where are you drawing people with your art?

8. Employ only the approval of your heart. Create out of pleasure, not under constraint. Otherwise your art suffers the consequences of external expectation.

Screw your parents. Screw your husband. Screw your annoying art school friends. And screw those wannabe, jealous hacks that only come into your gallery on open house night to eat free cheese.

These people only wish they had some art to show for, but they’re too busy talking their ideas into the ground and listening to people who don’t matter. No wonder their collective creative output is a joke. Not you baby, not you. Whose approval are you still seeking?

9. Make your art incidental, not intentional. Art is the residue of a life fully lived. Forget about being a great artist – concentrate on being a great human. The art will come naturally and you’ll save a lot of money on supplies. After all, art is subordinate to life, not the other way around.

And as an artist, your first responsibility is to engage with life fully and creatively. Documentation comes in at a close second. Ayn Rand was right: “Plant the roots of your art firmly in the reality of your own life.” Are you first and foremost an artist with your life?

10. Remove the word “for” from your vocabulary. You don’t need a reason to create something. There is no “for.” Not for the money. Not for the girls. Not for the blog traffic. Not for anything.

You make art because you want to make art. Period. Anything else is heartless and should be burned at the stake. Give yourself permission to (not) need a reason. What’s your true artist motivation?

11. Seek out stretch assignments. Did you know Bob Dylan was a painter? When I first learned that, it helped me realize the following: It’s OK to try a new medium. Or express yourself in a completely new way. Or tackle a new topic you never thought you’d address. Anything to push your limits.

That’s the cool part about creativity – once you’ve expanded your artistic muscles, they never return back to their original shape. No stretching ever goes unrewarded.

The challenge is giving yourself permission. But the good news is that it always pays off. As long as you remember that if you’re comfortable, you’re not doing it right. Are you actively seeking out ways to be creatively stretched?

12. Never ship what you’re not proud of. I (just) learned that powerful lesson from the aforementioned Linchpin, the best book on being an artist I’ve ever read. Thanks to Seth, I now realize that something isn’t always better than nothing. When you sacrifice speed for quality, you lose. And so does your audience.

Sadly, way too many artists do this. And the final product winds up being an embarrassment to their true skill. My suggestion: Don’t fall into this trap. It’ll seduce you like a big-breasted redhead with full lips and ten-speed ass.

Practice a little patience. Exert a little self-control. Only ship (publish, release, etc.) when you’re willing to stand by your art firm and proud. What quality control questions do you need to ask yourself before shipping your art into the world?

REMEMBER: You are an artist. An athlete of the soul.

I hope these ideas help improve your game.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What art did you create yesterday?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Best Books on Creativity You’ve Never Heard of,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

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