How to be a Sponge

A sponge is a loosely connected fibrous material primarily filled with empty space.

Woops. Wrong kind of sponge.

What I meant was: A sponge is an individual whose openness, curiosity, creativity and intellectual absorbance significantly enhances his personal and professional life.

HERE’S THE REALITY: Sponges learn more.

Which means sponges grow more.
Which means sponges create more.
Which means sponges profit more.

How squishy!

What about you? Are you a sponge? Is your kindergartner more creative than you?

Either way, consider these ten strategies for swelling your sponginess:

1. Never stop absorbing. Being a sponge isn’t just a cute little metaphor assigned to curious, innocent children. It’s actually quite scientific, according to author Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D. “Cognitive receptivity is a state of mental preparedness. It is a combination of cognitive readiness – the learner’s levels of development – and of psychological openness – the learner views the environment.”

Three lessons learned. First, be consumed by overpowering curiosity. Initiate a love affair with the things that never cease to make your head tilt. Second, stay devoted to your thought life. Make a conscious effort to remain intellectually captivated and productively preoccupied as often as possible. Third, seek out the inherent novelty in all you perceive. Execute new awareness plans frequently. How receptive is your brain?

2. Be flexible in the way you view the world. Don’t think everything to death. Treat every experience with deep democracy. Relax. Consider nothing useless. Trust your spongy faculties to absorb something from everything. Explore ideas first. Then consider whether or not they’re relevant to your world.

Like the sponge-like kindergartner who absorbs everything she encounters – good and bad – your mission is to maintain creative flexibility with all that you experience. People. Ideas. Situations. Everything. Are you willing to learn from people – even if you don’t like them?

3. Confusion is a sign of intelligence. The many holes of a sponge hold water because of a scientific concept known as surface tension, which is the slight amount of elasticity that exists between the molecules of water. That parallels to the world of creatively, as being confused (tension) isn’t always a bad thing.

It’s a stimulator of productivity. Especially when you “dare to be dumb” and follow up on your perplexities. That’s the best way to absorb new material. So, a sponge holds water, not in spite of its holes – but because of them. Maybe you need a few more holes in your creative process. How much tension are you willing to maintain?

4. Treat your environment as your mentor. Kids are notoriously spongy. They soak it all in. Even the things you don’t say. Especially the things you don’t say. Rather, kids soak up what you do and who you are.

In the same vein, I challenge you to absorb what surrounds you and incorporate the relevant material into your life. Even if not a word is spoken. Remember: Values aren’t taught – they’re caught. What did you catch today?

5. Redefine your role. I’m a writer. That’s my occupation. That’s what I do. But I’ve also expanded my job title to include additional spongy roles: Synthesizer. Collector. Broker. Organizer. Democratizer. Translator. Interpreter. Recognizer. Explorer. Receiver. Inventor. Philosopher.

It’s all part of being a sponge. Does your role need an updated definition?

6. Forensically examine ideas. Don’t act like you haven’t seen every episode of Law & Order six times. To justify your television addiction, consider applying some of your criminal knowledge. Let’s say you’re working on a new idea. Ask yourself: What would Stabler do? What would Bobby do? What would Ice-T do?

First of all, they’d seek out the people closest to the idea – then ask the hard questions. Secondly, they’d walk around the idea to view it from as many angles as possible. Thirdly, they’d engage every sense and fully take in the idea with their whole being. Are you absorbing truths with a detective-like curiosity?

7. If you don’t write it down – it never happened. Your mind is a moron. Absorbing is one thing, but retaining is another. If you want to pamper your memory and relax your brain, three words of advice: Write everything down. Immediately.

Every idea that enters into your consciousness. Don’t judge it, don’t evaluate it and don’t think about whether you can use it. Just get it down. Order comes later. Sponges don’t discriminate. Is everything you know written down somewhere?

8. Read omnivorously. Eat words. Chew sentences. Blow bubbles with ideas. Whether it’s a book, magazine or blog post, think of it as an all-you-can-eat creative buffet. Personally, I read five books a week. Have for many years. But I don’t just read them – I devour them.

I take notes, rip out pages, rewrite sentences and make them better, and fill the margins up until there’s no white space left – all of which are absorbed by the sponge known as my life. What did you read today?

9. Make ideas sit up straight. Call bullshit on the world. Use your questions as weapons. But not just (any) questions: Dumb questions, dangerous questions, disturbing questions, unexpected questions, probing questions and confrontational questions.

Ask them early, often, curiously and confidently. I promise, answers will come. And if they don’t, that’s your answer. How many questions did you ask yesterday that your competitors didn’t?

10. Don’t forget to squeeze. People tell me I’m a sponge all the time. What they don’t know is that I’m also a blender and a casserole dish. Why? Because sponges have limits. If you don’t periodically squeeze the liquid out, you might lose it. Or it will start to smell like feet.

Here’s the science behind: The act of wringing or squeezing a sponge contracts the pockets so that new surface tension can NOT be formed; thus, the water has nowhere to go but out. Similarly, in the world of creative absorption, the same principle applies: You can’t add new ideas if you don’t wring out your current capacity.

Therefore: Develop a system for emptying your brain on a regular basis. This serves dual purposes: (1) Freeing up surface area to invite future material, and (2) Restocking your creative inventory before ideas get stale. What’s your content management system?

REMEMBER: Being a sponge isn’t just about expanding your creativity.

It’s about raising your receptivity to the beauty that surrounds you.

As Nietzsche once remarked, “But one must know how to be a sponge, if one would be loved by overflowing hearts.”

Are you a sponge?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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Don’t Form a Partnership, Join a Team or Commence Collaboration Until You Read These Six Truths

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”

Thoreau. Walden. 1854.

Does that statement still hold true today?

Absolutely. Especially for entrepreneurs and creative professionals.

MY THEORY: That’s the problem with collaboration. Or teams. Or partnerships. Or committees.

The more people you have, the longer it takes to move.

Not that you should be opposed to working with others.

Sometimes teams help.
Sometimes they hinder.

Sometimes two heads are better than one.
Sometimes two heads are deader than one.

Sometimes together everyone achieves more.
Sometimes together everyone annoys each other beyond belief and nothing gets executed.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t allow your dreams to be realized at a significantly slower pace because you’re too busy looking over your shoulder.

That’s how once-great ideas fizzle.

All I can say is: Wait!

Before you form a partnership, join a team or commence collaboration, consider these six truths:

1. Conditioning murders efficiency. Since day one of preschool, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that teamwork is the secret. That working together is the answer. As the motivational poster says “Together Everybody Achieves More.”

Not always. In truth, the efficacy of teams is largely a myth. But we’ve been romanced and seduced into believing that teams are so wonderful, when in fact their power works in reverse.

In the June 2009 issue of Inc., James Freedman said it best: “In many cases, individuals do much better on their own. Our bias toward groups is counterproductive.” Are you ready to wake up from the dangerous dreams you’ve been fed?

2. The best way to block a punch is to not be there. Inasmuch as teams, partnerships and collaborations net positive results, imagine the amount of baggage you wouldn’t have to deal with if you did it yourself:

No meetings. No arguing. No awkward silences. No power plays. No excuses. No asking permission. No begging for forgiveness. No memos. No putting out fires. No managing people. No task requests. No waiting for people. No socializing. No compromising. No office politics.

After deleting all of that noise, what are you left with? Work. That matters. That’s it. Think about it: If that were YOUR work environment, you’d be pretty productive too. Remember: Productivity isn’t about what you do – it’s about what you avoid. What punches would you be blocking by going it alone?

.3. Teams are overrated. In Richard Hackman’s book, Leading Teams, he explains that people tend to think that teams are the democratic and efficient way to get things done. “When you have a team, the possibility exists that it will generate magic, producing something extraordinary and a collective creation of previously unimagined quality or beauty,” he says.

“But don’t count on it. Teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have. Problems with coordination and motivation typically chip away at the benefits of collaboration. And even when you have a strong and cohesive team, it’s often in competition with other teams, and that dynamic can also get in the way of real progress.”

Hackman helps us realize that with teams, you often have two strikes against you right from the start. And that sometimes, having a team is often worse than having no team at all. Is your romantic notion of the value of teams shooting you in the foot?

4. He travels fastest who travels alone. Kipling made that statement in 1888. Over a century later, it still holds true. Imagine:

When you work alone, you always reach a consensus.
When you work alone, you know when you’re not producing.
When you work alone, you take more personal responsibility.
When you work alone, you can’t sit idly by as you contribute nothing.
When you work alone, you spend time (actually) thinking and not listening to others’ irrelevant, inconsequential and counterproductive thoughts.

I wonder how much faster you would move if you moved alone. Who is holding you back from being best, highest version of yourself?

5. More people equal less progress. In a 2009 issue of Machine Design, editorialist Leland E. Teschler explained, “Development teams are often an obstacle to creativity rather than a vehicle for truly elegant solutions. Many team members work at cross-purposes. That’s why throwing more people at a project frequently slows it down rather than speeds its completion.”

I agree. Productivity, schmoductivity. As I learned in the hysterical book, I Hate People, even studies from a century ago prove that individual productivity declines as teams expand. It’s an inverse relationship, and it’s devastating to your performance. What is blocking your creativity?

6. Teams degrade decision quality. In his classic 1972 work, Victims of Groupthink, Yale psychology researcher Irving Janis wrote that groups often breed a false confidence that leads to unsound decisions none of the individuals in the group would have made on their own.

As I’ve experienced in my work as a one-man show: When you work alone, you’re forced to believe something because you truly believe – not because the group says it’s so.

When you work alone, you have no choice but to decide with conviction and confidence, as opposed to following the herd. How many poor decisions have you made because you delegated your confidence to the group?

REMEMBER: More often than not, teams, partnerships and collaborations are overrated.

If the man who works alone can start today – and if the world is accelerating faster than ever before in history – it seems to make more sense (and more CENTS) to go it alone.

Do you really need a team?

For the list called, “29 Pieces of Simple, Easy Advice That Will Change Your Business Forever,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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9 Ways to Steal the Show without Stinking Up the Room

Contrary to the actions of Will Ferrell, you don’t need to strip down buck nekkid and run around the room like a drunken maniac to steal the show.

Although that technique does work pretty well.

True show-stealers are the ones whose energy, attitude, actions and words compose a vortex into which surrounding people can’t help but be sucked.

Whether you’re giving a speech, facilitating a brainstorming session, conducting a meeting or hosting a teleconference, here are nine ways to steal the show without stinking up the room:

1. Ask the question. The key question that governs my daily decision-making is: “What could I do – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?” This mindset is rooted in your willingness to (not) acquiesce to the status quo. Zigging where they zag. Being the opposite.

Throwing a wrench of uniqueness into the gear of normality. If you want a move that’s guaranteed to attract the attention of the people around you, this is it. What questions do you ask yourself before making decisions?

2. Be a disturbance. When asked about how he experienced Leonardo Davinci’s art, mentor and contemporary Sandro Botticelli explained, “My heart seems to stop beating for a moment – then starts beating stronger and fuller.”

If you want people to say that about you, here’s the secret: Enter with boldness. Grate people’s nerves. Make them squirm in their seats. Send them on mental journeys. In short: Evoke emotion – don’t create sensation. How do you disturb people?

3. Prepare less. As my mentor once told me, “Eventually you get to a point where you don’t need to stay up all night rehearsing. Your life is your preparation.” The secret is learning to tap your reservoir of insight at a moment’s notice. Of course, this isn’t easy.

Not only does it require a constant inflow of inspiration and ideas into your life, but also the confidence and vulnerability to trust your inner resources. To believe with all your heart that you can respond intelligently and immediately to whatever is said.

This takes practice and practice and practice. Just remember: If you focus on living a beautiful, admirable and character-rich life – that you’ve consistently reflected upon – you won’t to have to steal the show because it will already be in your possession. What’s your preparation process?

4. Emit quiet strength. A strong falcon hides its claws. True strength isn’t manifested through visible, overt features; rather, it rises to the surface without being ostentatious. As Lao Tzu explains in The Tao De Ching:

“When you show your strength, you appear weak … when you conceal your power, the more effectively it can be used … when you make your advantage less obvious, the more effective you power becomes.”

Lesson learned: If you want to steal the show – be a sleeper. Be underestimated. How are you sneaking up on people?

5. Occasionally prove your ruthlessness. In Steve Pressfield’s The War of Art, he suggests the following:

“A 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. This doesn’t mean that the professional doesn’t throw down a 360-tomahawk jab from time to time, just to let the boys know he’s still in business.”

Lesson learned: Have your death stroke ready to be delivered. Tap into the courage required by the moment with firm foundation and immediate intent. Are you prepared to be devastating?

6. Give yourself a preemptive internal standing ovation. Comedian and speaker Judson Liapply once told me, “You have to believe that you are the most important person talking in the room. That what you are saying is something that audience has to hear. Because if you don’t believe – neither will they.” Are you applauding internally before you take the stage?

7. Be a left fielder. When you make a comment or contribute an idea, begin your response with something seemingly unrelated and completely perpendicular to the topic at hand. Make people lean in and wonder, “Where the hell is he going with this?”

Then, at just the right moment, bring it back full circle. Drop a Michael Jordan style head fake. Sneak up on people with your unexpected response. This creates high impact and memorability through surprise. How often do you come out of left field?

8. Maintain a slightly skewed perspective on just about everything. A simple way to do so is to answer every question with, “Well, that depends on your definition of…” This type of thinking challenges people to reassess their baseline assumptions and return to the root of the word before assigning value to it.

It’s also a vocal hanger. A lean-in phrase. It leaves people on the edge of their seats, salivating for more, waiting to see what your definition of the word is. All you have to do is refuse to occupy the middle. How different of a dictionary are you using?

9. Command them eyeballs. Never underestimate the captivating power of props. Even if you’re not a visual person. This works. Try answering a question by excitedly taking something out of your wallet, bag, pocket or briefcase, and then showing it to your listener(s).

You’ll emit a sense of intrigue, mystique and delightful ambiguity. This is guaranteed to suck people into your vortex of fascination. Lean to be delightfully ambiguous. What do you do that makes people watch with breathless interest?

In conclusion, I’d like to share another passage from The Tao De Ching:

When you speak less, you say more.
When you don’t boast, you advance.
When you do less, you become more.
When you don’t make claims, you get credited.
When you show your strength, you appear weak.
When you argue the loudest, you appear the wrongest.
When you don’t display yourself, you become illuminated.
When you don’t define yourself, you become distinguished.
When you conceal your power, the more effectively it can be used.
When you make your advantage less obvious, the more effective you power becomes.

REMEMBER: You can still steal the show without stinking up the room.

No matter what Will Ferrell says.

Are you a show-stealer?

For the list called, “27 Reasons People Aren’t Listening to You,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on!

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8 Ways to become the ONE Person at Your Company Everyone Wants to Sit with at Lunch

1. Don’t be a needle in a stack of needles. You will lose. And here’s why: Nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays for average. Period. Amen. Q.E.D. As such, your greatest barrier to business success isn’t a bad economy, stupidity, inexperience, or lack of funding – it’s anonymity.

Therefore: Stop winking in the dark and start being ubiquitous. Perhaps begin by formulating a Visibility Plan. Not a Marketing Plan – a Visibility Plan. Huge difference. Are you everywhere?

2. Remember: Talk isn’t cheap – it’s cheat. A poor substitution for action. That’s like having “ready” and “aim” without the fire. Like snap and crackle without the pop. It’s just not the same.

As the wise philosopher, MC Nametag once said, “Talking smack without doing jack is whack.” Do you give customers lip service or foot service?

3. Don’t make waves – make a tsunami. Waves are for water parks. You’ve got bigger fish to fry. It’s time to devastate the corporate landscape, wake the drones up and start asking questions that flip your organization on its ass. Sure, people will be uncomfortable, but they’ll also be disturbed them into action. Thanks to you.

Next time you attend one of those delightful Monday Morning Meetings, I triple dog dare you to ask that ONE question nobody wants to ask. It’s liberating. Or it might get you fired. Either way, you’re free. How much money is your organization wasting by befriending complacency?

4. One size fits all does nothing but make people feel fat. There are just as many paths as there are people to take them. Don’t be scared away by myopic windbags who claim that their way is THEE way. It’s not. There’s a very thick line between “My Truth” and “The Truth.” How narrow is your thinking?

5. Don’t rock the boat – capsize it. Then see who can swim. Then whoever’s left, take ‘em with you to shore and start a new colony. Think Jerry Maguire. Think, “Who’s coming with me?” Hopefully you’ll have more takers than he did. Are you willing to be a rabble-rouser?

6. Out of the blue means into the green. The most profitable ideas tend to be the most unpredictable ideas. Think about it: History’s most famous inventions, innovations and corporation were fertilized in mistake-flavored, accident-rich compost. For example: John Deer grew from an Illinois farmer’s broken saw blade. Greyhound resulted from uncrossable, unpaved highways between coalmines.

Dr. Pepper came from a heartbroken teenager. Goodyear spawned from a frustrated husband leaving boiling rubber on the stove too long while his wife was away. All out of the blue. All into the green. Your challenge is learning to notice, allow and leverage fortunate mishaps. How could you become more accident-prone?

7. Don’t practice what you preach – preach what you practice. People are more likely to listen to you talk about something if you’ve DONE that something first. It’s the fine line between orthodoxy (the correct beliefs) and orthopraxy (the correct actions).

Here’s the process I’ve been following for nearly a decade: Make a list of the things people constantly compliment you on doing exceptionally well. Go back an ask yourself, “OK, so, apparently I’ve been doing (x) really well. How did I do it? Why is that important? Why did it work? How can teach others how to do the same?” Then, start preaching, Mr. Practice. Are you walking first or talking first?

8. Over the top (often) means inside the memory. It’s a noisy world. And outrageousness is rarely forgotten. Your challenge is to be in people’s faces without being on people’s nerves. My suggestion for doing so is to walk the fine line between risky and reckless.

Here’s how: Risky is succeeding from venturesomeness; reckless is proceeding from carelessness. Risky is treading on thin ice, trotting atop uncertain ground and gracefully balancing out on a limb; reckless is jumping on cracked ice, dancing atop broken ground and scarcely hanging by a thread.

Finally, risky is growing increasingly mindful of how your pebbles ripple; reckless is remaining utterly unconcerned about the consequences of action. Are you memorable for the right reasons?

Who wants to sit with you at lunch?

For the list called, “29 Pieces of Simple, Easy Advice That Will Change Your Business Forever,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

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7 Ways to Draw Admirers into Your Orbit without Developing a Messianic Complex

An orbit is the gravitationally curved path of one object around a point or another body.

Usually, the word is used in reference to astronomy.

Not today.

Science class, schmience class.

AS A THOUGHT LEADER: Your mission to draw admirers into YOUR orbit.

Your halo of genius.
Your vortex of value.
Your whirlpool of fascination.
Your gravitational pull of brilliance.

That’s what Smokin’ Hot Pieces of Brain Candy do.

HERE’S WHY: The more admirers you draw into your orbit, the farther your thoughts will travel; and the farther your thoughts travel, the further your career advances.

Today we’re going to learn how to draw admirers into your orbit without being accused of having a messianic complex:

1. Heighten your presence. You don’t have to plaster your mug all over local billboards. No need to imprint your company logo on restaurant urinal cakes. What’s more, you don’t have to be “on” all the time. Nor do you need to be the incessant center of attention.

BUT. (And this is a big but. Like, Oprah big.)

You DO have to arrange to be noticed. If you want to draw admirers into your orbit, you’ve got to place yourself into the spotlight and become The Observed, not The Observer. Even if that’s not your preferred space. As Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz once sang, “I wasn’t made for this scene, but I was made in this scene.”

It begins by believing that you deserve considerable attention. Even if you have to affirm that very statement to yourself every morning in front of the mirror. Fine. Whatever it takes. What specific steps have you taken in the past 48 hours to become less invisible?

2. Trust accelerates trajectory. A well-known professor from my alma matter, Miami University, recently shared her teaching style in our Alumni Newsletter: “People have to trust that you’re going to move their knowledge base forward.”

That’s your mission. For people to think, “You know, I’m not sure where she’s going with this, but I don’t care because I’m so insanely interested AND having so much fun along the way.”

Remember: Trust is a process of uncertainty reduction enhanced by your commitment to self-consistency. What are you doing to earn and ensure your status of trusted advisor in the mind of the customer?

3. Be delightfully ambiguous. Predictability engenders customer confidence; but only after ambiguity activates the attraction switch. The secret is to invite layers of interpretation beyond surface appearance. To make what you offer rare and hard to find.

And, to wrap yourself in mystery while emanating an aura of delightful spontaneity. That way you leave the public always wanting more, wondering about your next move. Take it from the only person on the planet wearing a nametag 24-7 for ten years: This practice is infinitely profitable.

In fact, I’ve recently discovered (like, within the past month) how to use online video to propagate this very principle. Prepare your melon to be motivated by mystery at I wonder what a little ambiguity could do for the admirers in YOUR orbit. Are you leaving the public always wanting more, wondering about your next move?

4. Display calmness in the face of unpleasantness. Do not despair in difficult moments. As I learned from The 48 Laws of Power, “While other people get flustered, you’ll look stronger and more attractive by contrast.”

That’s how you profit from idiots: You let them beat themselves. That way, the only thing left to do is take a relaxing stride past the pile of bodies and cross the finish line alone. Are you a paragon of equanimity?

5. Get people to spend time in YOUR environment. I once invited a colleague who was in town to tour my workspace. Not thinking anything of it, she apparently thought it was the coolest office she’d ever seen. So much so that she called me a few months later on behalf of our industry publication to feature my workspace in an upcoming issue of Speaker magazine.

I was ecstatic. What’s more, once the piece went to print, I received dozens of emails, calls and comments from new fans that wanted to learn the strategy behind my creative environment. Which I happily shared with them. For a lot of money. I wonder what would happen if more people regularly experienced your creative territory. Who has a love affair with your turf?

6. Be a strong a vibrant vehicle. For what, I’m not sure. It might not matter. In fact, I’m almost certain it doesn’t matter. Sometimes the conduit is more important than the content. Sometimes the medium trumps message.

Your mission is to OWN it. Are you wasting your time meddling with the message or mastering the medium?

7. Remain in the public eye at any cost. Edison didn’t beat Tesla because he was smarter. Or a harder worker. Or a better inventor. He beat him because he was ubiquitous. Edison. Was. Everywhere. And two things happen when people see your name everywhere:

(1) They assume you’re successful,
(2) They want to know how you managed to get there.

Lesson learned: Visibility trumps talent. Lesson learned: Never allow yourself to fade in the background. Even when the limelight casts a narrow beam. Be there or be broke. Because when you slowly fill people’s minds with thoughts of you, it becomes increasingly difficult to endure your absence. Remember: The unseenable isn’t counted. Are winking in the dark?

REMEMBER: An orbit is the gravitationally curved path of one object around a point or another body.

As a Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brain Candy, drawing admirers into your orbit is part of the job description.

In the spirit of Neil Armstrong, let us be reminded:

“One series of small steps for man, one giant leap for man’s bank account.”

Who is being drawn into your orbit?

For the list called, “26 Ways to OUT Brand the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

How to be Less of Putzbag in a Group Meeting

There’s nothing more annoying than someone who has all the answers.

Especially in a group setting.

I met a guy like this last year. Spent the whole day with him. Dude drove me up the wall.

In fact, based on the body language of the other eleven group members, I think he drove them up the wall too.

Hell, we should’ve just had the meeting on the wall.


Instead of getting upset about this guy, I asked my standard question, “How can I channel my frustration towards this person into an actionable piece of writing that makes me money AND helps other people sidestep douchebaggery and make their lives better?”

What can I say? I’m a writer. Piss me off and I’ll get you back on the page where you can’t defend yourself.

Here we go. Names have been changed to protect the incompetent:

1. Be right less. Just stop. Seriously. Have some self-control. Even if you KNOW you’re right. Stop. Let someone else be right for a while. Not being right all the time doesn’t mean you’re wrong – it just means you practice restraint. Turn it into a game. See how long you can hold it in. Start with five minutes. I bet you can do it.

And I bet you’ll discover that the comment you intended to share was actually incorrect, irrelevant or non-contributory. Remember: Don’t break the silence unless you plan to improve it. Do you have an arrogance of being right that clouds your priorities?

2. Practice a 5:1 question/answer ratio. Talk as much as you want. But for every comment, statement or observation you make, ask five questions. This holds you accountable to an exploratory attitude of curiosity and vulnerability. Plus it opens up the discussion, toggles people’s brains and engages their thinking.

What’s more, 5:1 makes you sound smarter (in a roundabout way) simply because of your willingness to be dumb. Nobody ever left a group meeting saying, “Man, remember that guy who asked all those great questions? What an idiot. Sure annoyed the hell out of me!” Are you a great asker?

3. Allow ideas and experiences to profoundly penetrate you. Let the pearl sink. Register the moment. Allow the idea to slowly sink from your head down into your heart. Now, this practice of creative, patient listening is difficult for many people. It takes a tremendous amount of self-control.

Keep in mind: The quicker you understand something, the more likely it is to be a superficial understanding of that thing. Think of it this way: Instead of taking two hundred pictures of the Grand Canyon, why not just sit on the edge of it, take two hundred deep breaths and just experience it?

Remember: Pictures fade – memories of how you FELT last forever. Do you experience with your head or your heart?

4. Ask yourself WHY you’re listening. To receive people? To honor their truth? To create a loving space where others feel comfortable sharing? Or, are you listening to fix? To one-up? To insert your clever little jokes? To use other people’s comments as backboards against which you can try out your snappy new material, or to relive standup routines from fourteen years ago that probably weren’t funny in the first place?

Remember: Listening isn’t a performance. Ask WHY you’re listening. Most people haven’t thought about this. Have you?

5. Turn other people into Christmas trees. Notice who hasn’t contributed in a while. Then, when the time feels right, try this move: “Hey Tony? Didn’t your son have some experience with that last year? I’d be interested in hearing your experience…”

That’s what good leaders do: They make other feel essential. And sometimes all people need is permission. Well, that AND someone to shut up the one guy who monopolizes the whole bloody discussion. Whom could you put into the spotlight??

6. Stop going first. Your hand doesn’t have to shoot up like the teacher just asked the class, “OK, children: For a BIG piece of chocolate, who can answer this next question…?” Play the game called, Let’s See How Long I Can Go without Raising My Hand. Oftentimes, someone else will touch upon what you had originally planned to say, rendering your comment unnecessary.

Better yet, you might gain a completely new dimension to your idea that you wouldn’t have known otherwise, thus making your ultimate answer stronger. How much insight are you robbing the group of by being impatient?

7. Slaughter your yabbits. You know what a yabbit is, right? One of those little, white fluffy creatures that oozes out of people’s mouths when they unconsciously merge the words “yeah” and “but.” Kill them. Use their fur as a hat. Make them an endangered species.

Here’s why: “But” is the most dangerous work in the English language. It puts people on the defensive. It makes them think there’s a catch. It negates everything said before. And it reduces the positivity of an argument. Fortunately, I wrote a list of twenty-one yabbit alternatives. You can read them at

Ultimately, phrases like these WIN because: They focus on solutions. They maintain positivity. They ASK instead of TELL. They foster creative thinking. And they encourage open dialogue. Study them today. Refer to them periodically. Use them often. Are you yabbiting?

8. Empathizing is highly overrated. In 2008, I met a guy named Cajun Dan. He’s a veteran grief counselor from Baton Rouge. After delivering a workshop to his association, I asked him to share (as a Professional Listener) what the biggest mistake was most people make in the listening process.

He said, “The three most dangerous words any listener could ever say is ‘One time I…’” Lesson learned: Stop empathizing. Stop circling back to remind people how vastly experienced you are at their reality. Everything doesn’t always have to come back to you.

Next time you’re in a group setting, try this: Instead of showing the speaker how deeply you feel his pain by interrupting his poignant story to share (yet another) selfish, inconsequential diatribe about the bowel movements of your three-legged Beagle, practice listening like a REAL leader – with your mouth closed. Good lord, man. Does this person need empathy or silence?

REMEMBER: In every group meeting, there’s always one putzbag.

Don’t let it be you.

Are you a meeting master?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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How to Supercharge Your Self-Esteem – Even When Most of the World Thinks You’re Nuttier Than a Bag of Trail Mix

According to, I am worth $2,693,430.

Sweet. That’s a nice self-esteem booster.

Still, while I took the online assessment, I started thinking: What IS self-esteem, really?

My handy etymology dictionary informed me that the term “esteem” comes from the Latin aestimare, or “to estimate.”

THEREFORE: Self-esteem is how you estimate yourself.

The overall appraisal of your personal value.

Today we’re going to talk about how to supercharge your self-esteem, even when most of the world thinks you’re nuttier than a bag of trail mix.

1. Listen closely to the way you talk to yourself. Hearing voices isn’t just for the insane – it’s for the in-touch. That’s where it self-esteem is activated: The inner dialogue you have with yourself. I credit Shad Helmstetter for teaching me this. He’s the world’s leading specialist in the field of self-talk.

The first time I read What You Say When You Talk to Yourself, the architecture of my heart changed forever. “You are everything you choose to be,” says Shad. “How successful you will be at anything is inexorably tied to the words and beliefs about yourself that you have stored in your subconscious mind. Your self-talk is the new blueprint of you.”

His books will challenge you (through affirmations) to activate and utilize the best aspects of yourself. And the cool part is: It works. All of it. I use what Shad taught me every day of life. Go read Shad’s stuff. Your self-esteem will thank me. Are you ready to change the conversation you’re having with yourself?

2. Adjust your measurement horizon. I think competition is overrated. There. I said it. Competition is overrated. And there’s no way I’m the only person who feels this way. Ever meet someone who converted every interaction into a contest? Doesn’t it just make you want to crawl into a downtown dumpster with an open sore on your big toe?

I say: Relax your posture. 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. So, 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. Are you competing with unbeatable opponents?

3. If you don’t like yourself, maybe you just don’t know yourself. Picture this: You meet a woman named Patty. You decide you don’t like her. Then you share this opinion with your mutual friend, Rick. And he responds with, “You just have to get to know her a little better.”

So, being the compassionate, patient person you are, you decide to get to know her. And over time, you realize that Rick was right – Patty turns out to be pretty cool. (She even shows horses and crochets dog sweaters on the weekends.)

My question is: Could you apply that same process to yourself? If your self-esteem is lacking, is it fair to say that the reason you don’t like yourself is because you don’t KNOW yourself?

And if so, is it logical to think that if really took the time to get to know yourself, you might like yourself more? Just a thought. When was the last time you took yourself out on a date?

4. Record and celebrate small victories. Never forget to notice that you’ve succeeded. A victory is a victory. Maybe you sign a new customer. Or touch your toes in yoga class. Or sack up and tell that cute girl from Atlanta that you’re totally retarded for her.

Good for you. A victory is still a victory. Write it down. Start a Victory Log. I’ve been doing this every morning since 2002. Great self-esteem booster. Look: You don’t need to demand excessive external reassurances. Learn to affirm yourself by applauding internally.

Then, you’ll have no choice but to produce external evidence of your internal state. And people will notice. Especially that girl from Atlanta. Where did you win yesterday?

REMEMBER: Self-esteem is how you estimate yourself. The overall appraisal of your personal value.

And as we approach to the end of today’s module, I’m reminded of what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote:

“The greatest evil that can befall a man is that he should come to think ill of himself.”

Look. The only person you’re with forever is yourself.

May as well learn to love that person.

How will you supercharge your self-esteem?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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Tune in to The Marketing Channel on!

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10 of Our Culture’s Most Cherished Clichés – and Why They’re Total Lies

1. 80% of life isn’t showing up – it’s FOLLOWING THROUGH. That you show up is eclipsed by the importance of HOW you show up. People respond to the sum total of what you present to them. Positively, negatively, or not at all. It all depends on how you show up.

The problem is, people often shrink from showing UP because they’re terrified of being accused of showing OFF. This doesn’t have to be the case. Don’t shrink from doing so for fear of being accused of showing off. Sculpt yourself into the person you want to present to others. How do you show up?

2. A friend in need is a chance to DO A DEED. Your friends want you to call on them. Just like you want your friends to call on you.

That’s what friends are for. To have the opportunity to be a friend. From whom do you need to make a withdrawal?

3. A mind is a terrible thing to CHASE. If you want answers, listen to your body. It will never lie to you. Truth is the only language it knows.

Your mind, on the other hand, speaks with a forked tongue. And it will trick you into believing that it knows what it’s talking about. It doesn’t. How accurate is your personal guidance system?

4. A penny saved is an opportunity BURNED. You can approach situations in one of two ways. First, with a poverty mentality, i.e., “Great. How much is this going to cost me?”

Or, with an abundance mentality, i.e., “Cool! If I had this, what else would become possible?” Remember: If you’re bending over dollars to pick up dimes, you might pull a hammy. Which mentality are you operating from?

5. All the world’s a PAGE. The question is whether or not you write anything worthwhile on it. Now, if you’re not sure whether or not your writing is worthwhile, here’s the acid test.

Ask these two questions of everything you compose: “What do I risk in writing this material?” and “On a scale of 1-10, how much is this material drenched in my own blood?” What did you write today?

6. Bark up the wrong tree. Make mistakes. Get lost. Go in the wrong direction. It’s the best way to figure out what you’re NOT looking for.

Deciding what you want by the process of elimination is less threatening and intimidating. Plus it’s fun. Are you willing to define the whitespace so you can develop the blackspace?

7. Better late than CLEVER. GOD no. Not that. Anything’s better than clever. In fact, if more than three people tell you that something you’ve done is clever, throw it out. Start over.

Clever is not a compliment. Clever means “superficially skillful.” Clever is a diplomatic way of saying, “You’re a smart ass.” Be insulted or be broke. Are you clever or smart?

8. Curiosity might have killed the cat – but it also made me a lot of MONEY. First of all, I hate cats. They make me nervous and make me sneeze. You can kill as many of them as you want. Secondly, show me a person who isn’t curious, and I’ll show you a mindless, lifeless waste of a human being whose soul never grows.

Thirdly, history proves (time and time again) that the most successful people in the history of 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. You need to give yourself permission to be curious in EVERY domain of your life.

Ask questions. Challenge everything. Mind other people’s business. Be nosy. Get yourself involved. Pull back curtains every day. Expose truth whenever possible. You’re doing yourself (and the world) a great service. Remember: The consequence of curiosity is the commencement of creativity. Are you a giant question mark?

9. Don’t build a better mousetrap – build a better YOU. First of all, who the hell still uses mousetraps? What is this, 1946? Call an exterminator and get on with your life. Secondly, mousetraps are overrated.

YOU are the only product that ever matters. That’s what people are buying anyway. What have you done, specifically – in the last 24 hours – to make yourself better?

10. Don’t go the extra mile – go the extra MARATHON. You’ve been told to go the extra mile for decades. Unfortunately, the secret is out. Now everyone goes the extra mile. Back in the day, the extra mile was “rarely crowded.” Remember that one? Well, now the extra mile it looks like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

The extra mile is what’s universally expected. My suggestion is to go the extra marathon. The full 26.2. Then you’ll (for sure) be the last man standing. How much service stamina do you have?

What cliché do you think is a total lie?

Share it here!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

7 Ways to become Your Own Authority Figure Without Using Pepper Spray

Cops. Judges. Parents. Teachers. Clergy. Chiefs. Experts. Administrators. Gurus. Leaders. Presidents. Politicians. Soldiers. Scientists. Robert DeNiro.

These are the authority figures we’ve been taught to show respect TO and take advice FROM.

Now, for the most part, I don’t disagree.

The only stipulation I’d suggest is that you add one more person to your list of authority figures:


HERE’S WHY: The word authority derives from the Latin word auctoritas, which means, “Advice, opinion, influence or commands from a master, leader or author.”

What’s more, an authority figure is defined as, “a person whose real or apparent authority inspires or demands obedience and emulation.”

What if you did that for yourself? What if the advice and opinions and inspiration you acted upon … came from within?

Let’s look at a collection of practices for becoming your OWN authority figure:

1. Believe in the availability of your own answers. Expectation determines outcome. So, expect your intuition to be there for you. I learned this a few years ago when I started reciting the following incantation several times daily, “I am richly supported. I trust my resources.”

Since I started meditating on that, my ability to become my own authority figure has skyrocketed. I wonder what would happen if you regularly reminded yourself that every answer you needed lay within. What do you say when you talk to yourself?

2. Unintimidate yourself. When you see a cop car in your rearview mirror, you tense up. Or slow down. Or hide your drugs. The point is: Authority figures are intimidating. And if you plan to become your own authority figure, you can’t be. I read an excellent article from Students Helping Students on this very topic:

“Don’t intimidate yourself, however intimidating the situation might be. You didn’t get there by luck – but because you’re smart and good enough to be there. Feeling intimidated often translates into acting intimidated, and acting intimidated is not what you want to do. Believe in yourself. Understand your strengths. Focus on them. And learn to talk about them well. This won’t always lead to success, but you’ll be maximizing your chances rather than sabotaging them.”

Remember: If you intimidate yourself, you can’t put your best face on and won’t show up strongly. Are you beating yourself with your own inner billy club?

3. Try some vitamin Z. In Eric Maisel’s book, Sleep Thinking, he walks you through a system for uncovering answers while you sleep. One of the techniques I use regularly goes like this: Get into bed. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Then, repeat the following mantra silently until you fall asleep: “I wonder what I don’t want to know about myself.”

When you wake up, write down your thoughts immediately. You’ll be amazed – and potentially terrified – at what you learn about yourself. Remember: When you let your heart ask the questions, your life will provide the answers. How are you using sleep as your problem solver?

4. Formulate and memorialize your own decision-making system. If you truly want to convey a thorough understanding of yourself, if you honesty desire to create a good working model of your own identity, and if you sincerely want to maintain consistency and alignment of your actions, you need to consider how you decide.

A life-changing exercise to do is to create a governing document for your daily decision-making. I just stumbled upon this process about six months ago myself. And I assure you it’s one of – if not thee – most powerful exercises I’ve ever executed for creating becoming my own authority figure.

Remember: The only thing in this world you have ANY control over … is your choice. Map out how and why you make those choices. Doesn’t it make sense to start asking yourself, “W.W.I.D?” or “What would I do?”

5. Establish a daily internal dialogue with yourself. Ideally, by writing Morning Pages, the trademark technique of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s simple: You sit down, first thing in the morning, and just PUKE. For three pages. No edits. No deleting. No thinking. Just writing.

I promise if you try this for a month, the following things will happen: You’ll develop honesty in your relationship with your words on the page, which will fuel you with the courage to stand up for yourself in the world. You’ll create mini gripe sessions where you work out your grudges. You’ll feel a greater sense of stability and intimacy with your own opinions.

What’s more, you’ll learn how to take accurate stock of your life, examine all aspects of your experiences and gain newfound inner strength and agility. You’ll learn to approach your challenges from an emotionally neutral or positive stance. You’ll teach yourself what you like and don’t like and move your closer to your authentic selves. You’ll get current, catch up on yourself and pinpoint precisely what you are feeling and thinking.

And finally, you’ll miniaturize irrational worries and underscore legitimate concerns in a sorting process. That sounds like someone who acts as her own authority figure to me. What did you write today?

6. Be open to ideas from everyone, but deliver the ultimate verdict yourself. You have to, as my friend Chrissy Scivicque says, “Eschew the judgments of others and do what makes YOU happy.” My suggestion is to fully become your own partner. To employ only the approval of your heart. To learn to rely on your own counsel and to take resourceful refuge in your inner teacher.

And, to muster the courage to abandon external instructors and find out things for yourself. Do you have the courage to follow your inner guide even if you look like an idiot and risk alienating those who don’t understand?

7. Get out of your head and into your heart. First, identify the angry voice of your ego that is making it difficult to hear the subtle voice intuition. Second, dive down inward, lower the veil and await the truth. Third, listen up. Consider yourself data. See, it’s not that your intuition doesn’t exist – it’s that you’re not listening to what it’s whispering you. Finally, decide in the solitude of your own consciousness. Whose opinion are you bowing to?

In conclusion, I’m reminded of the wise words of the great philosopher, Eric Cartman, who often remarked, “Respect my authoritah!”

I challenge you to modify that to, “Respect YOUR authoritah!”

Are you your own authority figure?

For the list called, “26 Ways to OUT Brand the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on!

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Do You Embody These 12 Attributes of Utterly Unequalable People?

Every Thanksgiving, I take a Gratitude Walk.

Usually through Forest Park in St. Louis. It’s spectacularly crunchy and colorful in the fall.

This past year, I took a break about halfway through my walk for a brief sitting meditation on a nearby park bench. As I sat down, I noticed a gold plate fastened to the top. It read the following:

“In memory of Benjamin Harris Wells. The world will not see his equal.”

Don’t you just want to meet that guy? Just to see what he was like?

I even googled him, but couldn’t track anyone down. Oh well.

STILL, HERE’S THE QUESTION: Will the world ever see YOUR equal?

While you’re alive, after you’re dead? Will another person come along that does what you do?

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea. And after a great deal of reflection upon the people I’ve encounterd in my life that I’d consider to be “unequalable individuals,” I’ve written a collection of practices to help you become utterly unequalable yourself.

1. Allow yourself to be known. To become unequalable, you absolutely CANNOT be afraid of bigness. Otherwise the selfhood on which you stand will not support the platform that being known requires. What are three places in your life that you are playing small instead of playing big?

2. Be circumferenceless in your compassionate with yourself. Give yourself a fighting chance. Remember: You are an ongoing do-it-yourself project. Are you listening to the way you speak to yourself when you make mistakes?

3. Be enough now. Because nothing will ever make you happy in the future. As I learned from Anthony DeMello, “There is not a single moment in your life when you do not have everything you need to be happy.” Try this: Once a day, recite the following mantra as you breathe deeply, “I am enough, I have enough and I do enough.”

Sound cheesy? You’re right – it is. And the reason I’ve been reciting that meditation every morning for five years is simple: Because it works. After all, you can’t be unequalable if you’re not “enough.” What do you say to yourself every day?

4. Be not become perpendicular of your Personal Constitution. The word “constitution” derives from the Latin constitutio, or, “ordinance.” Therefore: Your constitution is the composition and condition of your character. Your constitution is the established arrangement of your non-negotiables. Your constitution is the system of fundamental values governing your behavior.

And, your constitution is the aggregate of personal characteristics comprising your foundation. The best part is: It’s a living document. It’s amenable. And as you grow and develop personally and professionally, various elements of your Personal Constitution reserve the right to modify. Have you found a good place to practice your values?

5. Being honest isn’t enough. The other half of the equation is being courageous and vulnerable enough to admit when you’re full of shit. Remember: Being true rarely means being comfortable. Take your pick. Comfort is rarely a constant in the equation for success. How many times you step out of your comfort zone this week?

6. Choose wisely whom you allow to influence you. There are certain people whose energies you DO NOT want to infiltrate your reality. My mind will not be invaded, you say to yourself. Keep your distance from people whose sole function is to bring noise to your head.

Release those who impede you, drag you downward or take away from what you could have been. Instead, make room for the relationships that matter. Remember: Saying no strengthens character. Are you being fair to yourself by continuing this relationship?

7. Don’t become locked in your posture. Rigidity is the great ruiner. Instead, exert flexibility when the unexpected enters and focus on the fulcrum of the possible. That’s what my yoga instructor constantly reminds us, “Focus on your best effort for today – whatever that feels and looks like to you.” How flexible are you?

8. Make sense of the world in ways others cannot. This was a key ingredient to achieving success, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Putting orderliness to the chaos that surrounds you. Refining your ability to see on subtler levels, then translate what you’ve absorbed.

And, jolting people out of their assumptions, thus becoming the alarm clock they don’t realize they desperately need. That’s how you turn ordinary encounters into moments of instant reeducation. Do you refuse to lead an unexamined life?

9. Televise the indestructible fidelity of your character. Channel surfing will become non-existent. People won’t be able to take their eyes off you. You will become the example that penetrates the whole world. Are you spending time increasing your talent or increasing your character?

10. Find out what doesn’t look good on you so you know what NOT to wear. After all, success is just as much about knowing who you AREN’T and what you DON’T want. How are you defining the whitespace around yourself?

11. Use every challenge as a growth spurt. As long as you ask yourself questions like: “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” “What is the opportunity for growth in this loss?” and “What universal principles of growth or change can you distill from this experience that can be passed on to others?”

Remember: Use every situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve, not to beat yourself up. Ultimately, the goal is create the best possible circumstance in which your growth will be supported, enhanced and fulfilled. Regardless of the challenge. Now that you’ve experienced this challenge, what else does this make possible?

12. Commit yourself to a path you believe in. Especially the path that chose YOU, not the other way around. That’s how it works: Paths choose walkers. The next step is to create a mental picture of the life you want to live while navigating that path. Literally. Become a master of creative visualization. (I suggest you read everything ever written by Shakti Gawain.)

Also, to reinforce your commitment to that path, consider making a vision board. Post images of the people, experiences, things and realities you would like to experience along this path. Look at it everyday. You’ll discover that like a camera, your life develops that which is focused upon. What path has your soul chosen for your learning process?

REMEMBER: You are the agent of your own future.

Within reason, ability and the laws of thermodynamics, you can achieve (pretty much) anything you’re willing to pay the price for.

So, if you’re wondering how long it will take to become an unequalable person, it’s hard to tell.

If I had to guess, I’d say, approximately, the rest of your life.

But who knows?

Maybe someday a park will dedicate a bench to you.

When you’re gone, will the world ever see YOUR equal?

For the list called, “26 Ways to OUT Brand the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s telling their friends about YOU?

Tune in to The Marketing Channel on!

Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

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