Don’t Even Think About Sending Another Message to Your Customers Until You’ve Asked These Nine Questions


According to a 2009 Microsoft Security Report, that’s the percentage of sent emails that are unwanted.

THINK ABOUT IT: If you add up all the spam you received yesterday, plus the hundred or so emails you received from people you don’t know selling you things you don’t want, plus the additional hundred emails from customers, coworkers, superiors, employees, friends and family members that were completely inconsequential and utterly irrelevant to your life, I’d say 97% is fairly accurate.

BUT HERE’S THE QUESTION THAT MATTERS: What’s your strategy for being part of the 3%?

Whether you’re emailing, conversing, tweeting or texting, what – specifically – are you doing to make sure your message don’t end up in the trash?

ANSWER: Not enough.

Today, you’re going to create a filter to make sure your messages are sent in a respectful, approachable and value-driven manner. We’ll explore nine questions to ask yourself before you press the “send” button.

NOTE: As you read them, keep two caveats in mind:

First, don’t ask every question before you send every message. Especially if you’re just pinging somebody who works down the hall. That would either drive you crazy or drive your productivity into the ground. The secret is to increase your awareness of the principles behind these questions.

Secondly, this isn’t about emailing. In fact, emailing is quickly approaching irrelevancy. Ever met someone under twenty-two? They don’t email. According to the students I know, “Email is the new snail mail.” In short: This is about respect. This is about smart communication. And this is about being (not just) approachable – but e-proachable.

I challenge you to think about other channels of communication besides email – Skype, texting, conference calls, meetings, online messaging – where these same ideas can be applied.

1. Have I demonstrated a valid reason for my persistence? The real secret isn’t just being persistent – but demonstrating a valid motivation for your persistence. Otherwise you come off as pushy.

Lesson learned: Set expectational clarity immediately. Punch people in the face with your purpose. Be respectful and intelligent enough to state your reason for messaging within the first two lines or first two seconds.

2. Does this message prove that I care? You can’t bastardize “caring” into a technique. There’s no formula. There’s no handbook. There’s no seven-step system. And it’s not about doing it the right way – it’s more about your willingness to care, you awareness of caring, and consistency with which you do care.

Suggestion: Respond to people’s emotions first. Lead with empathy. Put your person before your profession. It’s amazing: In our increasingly loud, fast and busy world, caring is almost so rare it’s become remarkable. Give it a try.

3. Did I lay a foundation of affirmation? Any message with a fundamentally affirmative orientation is more openable, digestible and memorable. Here are three quick line items:

First, substitute unnecessary apologies for “Thank you.”

Second, preface your answers to inquiries with, “Awesome question!” “Thank God somebody finally asked me that!”

Third, use the two words human beings love more than anything: “You’re right!”

Even if you’re sending an message to inform a guest that his room won’t be ready until they finish scraping the curry stains off the ceiling from last night’s goat sacrifice, these Phrases That Payses insert positivity into even the most negative situations.

4. Is my message low-carb? Joe Friday was onto something. “Just the facts, ma’am” isn’t a one-liner – it’s a lifestyle. Take it from him: Get to the point. Cut to the chase. Don’t waste sentences. Instead, run your message through the filter of MCI, or meaningful concrete immediacy.

Meaningful meaning relevant to the recipient.
Concrete meaning concise and low-carb, aka, “all meat – no potatoes.”
Immediacy meaning applicable and actionable now.

No jargon. No outdated metaphors, bromides or unclear analogies. Zero into the heart of the matter.

5. How have I appealed to self-interest? More specifically: What drives this person? What is this person’s success seed? What is the key to this person’s heart? Who does this person need to look good for? What does this person’s self-interest hinge upon? What could I say in my voicemail that would absolutely piss this person off more than anything?

These are the questions you need to answer to figure out what this person needs to hear to want to hear more.

6. What subject line, header or hook would make me want to open this? Probably something interesting, curious and creative that does not resemble spam in any way. Openable, listenable messages need to appeal to the emotions – and occasionally, the ego – of the other person.

For example, whenever I read a new book that rocks, I email the author. Every time. Normally, my subject line is something like, “13 cool things I learned from reading your book.”

What author could resist? I’m an author myself, and if someone wrote me an email with that subject line, I’d pull over on the side of the interstate just to learn how awesome I am. Next time you send a message, think about what you could say – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite as everyone else.

7. If I waited twenty-four hours to send this message, what would change? Unless it’s a time sensitive issue, consider waiting a day before you press the send button. Maybe you’d edit the message. Maybe you’d completely change the message. Maybe you’d reconsider sending the message at all.

“What a difference a day makes” isn’t a cliché – it’s a reality. Think about it: When’s the last time you heard your coworker say, “Damn it! I really should have overreacted sooner!”

8. Does this email that I’m about to send demonstrate a deep respect for the other person’s most precious commodity? I get a few hundred emails a day. And I’m constantly amazed – almost to the point of being entertained – how often I receive emails from complete strangers who have zero respect for my time.

I’m sorry, but if we’ve never met before, and you can’t tell me what you want in five sentences or less, I’m going to delete your email. Nothing personal. I’m sure you’re a very nice person. And I’m sure your seven hundred word anecdote about how you wound up working in the adult diaper business is a fascinating tale.

But I have books to write.

And I have no remorse about pressing the delete button on a message sent by someone who forgot to press the respect button.

9. What value am I delivering by sending this? If you can’t answer this question, you lose before you even press the send button. Most communications fall under two categories: Value or vanity. Which word describes your messages? Hopefully the latter. Because the goal is to help the other person in a way that she would consider to be substantial.

For example, one of the practices I personally employ on a daily basis is to send a continuous flow of education. Not just information. Any schmo can do that. You need to be a broker of wisdom – an impulsive and compulsive finder and messenger of truth. And you have a responsibility to deliver that truth in a three-dimensional, educational way.

REMEMBER: Whether you’re communicating via email, text, Skype, DM or instant messenger, the rules are all the same.

Be mindful.
Be respectful
Be e-pproachable.

And if you keep these questions in the back of your mind before sending your next message, you’ll earn a spot at the top of your customers’ minds when they receive it.

What’s your filter for sending messages to your people?

For the list called, “20 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

The Official Nametagscott Guide to Stick-to-itiveness, Part 1

Aka, “Stick to it”
Aka, “Stick with it
Aka, “Stick in there.”

As a Gen-Xer, I come from a commitment-averse generation.

Four examples:

1. Because of our instant gratification culture, we’re impatient.
2. Because of our privileged upbringing, we developed a mediocre work ethic.
3. Because of our self-reliant, entrepreneurial bent, we don’t offer loyalty easily.
4. Because of our abundance of choices, we’re quick to quit and pursue something better.

No wonder we can’t stick with anything for very long.

From college majors to new jobs to romantic relationships, stick-to-itiveness isn’t exactly our forte.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: Stick-to-itiveness can be learned.

All you have to do is shift your attitude completely – work hard, smart and long while nobody notices – and design a daily practice of self-determination and commitment.

Hey. I said it could be learned – not that it was easy.

Up to the challenge?

Cool. Consider these ideas as stick-to-itiveness training from someone who, literally, makes a living “sticking to it” every day:

1. Engage your why. Then work like hell to keep it alive. Otherwise you’ll collapse in existential agony. Good luck executing from that position. Truth is: Failure to communicate why is a diamond-studded path to self-doubt.

On the other hand, people tend to cultivate their capabilities in activities that give them a sense of self-worth, according to Bandura’s book, Self-Efficacy. Remember: The thrust of your ultimate endeavors predicts the threshold of your eventual success. When will mattering trump money?

2. The road to mastery is marked by periods of minimal progress. The world is not arranging itself for your convenience. Nor is the world is waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say. So, enjoy your plateaus. Celebrate small gains.

Run in place today to cross the finish line tomorrow. That’s the level of patience required to make a name for yourself. How long are you willing to do it before the right people notice?

3. Zero out your board. Have recovery strategies ready. This suggestion comes from The Power of Full Engagement, in which author Jim Loehr suggested:

“The rhythmic movement between energy expenditure and energy recovery is called oscillation. This is the optimal cycle for sustaining high performance consistently.”

How are you making recovery part of your regiment?

4. Resistance either creates or compresses stamina. Against the backdrop of seeming hopelessness, stamina is hard. Especially the stamina to recover rapidly from disappointment. A helpful question I ask myself is, “Is this being done to me or for me?”

With an attitude of leverage, positivity and growth, the answer is always “for me.” Just learn the lesson, let go of the emotion and get your ass out of there. See this as a workout for becoming wiser. What could make this experience easier?

5. Commit to a long-term process of education. My friend @ChadMoves is a movement educator. He once told me, “You only age if you choose not to use your body.” In the same vein, you only fade away if you choose not to use, develop and preserve your brain.

Here’s a simple exercise: Each day, do and document one concrete activity that made you a better thinker. Every month, review your log with a friend who’s doing the same. You’ll become a smokin’ hot piece of brain candy in no time. How are you creating an environment where lifelong learning stressed?

6. Curb your craving for certainty. Sure, it would be nice to have firm footing. But the sooner you learn to live without (always) knowing how, the longer you ultimately last. As I learned in The Having of Wonderful Ideas:

“We all need adequate time for our confusion if we are to build the breadth and depth that give significance to our knowledge.”

Are much money is your intolerance of ambiguity costing you?

7. Create a sustainable circle of support. It’s called the long haul for a reason. Whether it’s a long-distance relationship, a new career, or an outside-of-work creative pursuit, sticking with anything is never a one-man show. More like a chorus line.

Here are the people you need to keep: Family (because they aren’t going away), Friends (the ones you can call at 2am), Mentors (who will gladly slap you on the back of the head) and Spouses/Partners (since they’re riding shotgun). Who (aren’t) you currently surrounding yourself with that can help sustain you?

8. It’s not about avoiding ruts. Instead, it’s about developing the self-awareness to know when you’re in a rut, understanding the thinking patterns that got you into it, and then strategizing how to get yourself out of that rut quickly.

It all depends on how you explain the rut to yourself. And while this process requires a tremendous amount of emotional effort, your willingness to expend it will help you bounce back impressively. How are you sharpening your rut-fighting skills?

9. Persevere through the low. Yes, peaks follow valleys. But recessions renew resourcefulness. As Nicholas Cage taught me in Bangkok Dangerous, “The best way to defend yourself is to know when something is about to happen.” If you spot a valley on the horizon, write an action plan for how to leverage it.

That’s exactly how I thrived (and how my company thrived) during the Great Recession. If you want to do the same, remember these ideas: Accept what is. Leverage your downtime. Keep support flowing. Stir the pot. Befriend the current. Use every crisis. Foster a pervasive tone of gratitude. Double your dosage of daily inspiration. And keep pulling your triggers for joy.

Even when thee economy sucks, your economy can still rock. How will you traverse the tough times?

REMEMBER: It takes guts to stick yourself out there – but it takes gusto to keep yourself out there.

Read part two of this piece here!

What’s your secret for sticking with it?

For the list called, “13 Ways to Out Develop Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

How to Evangelize without Making Strangers Walk in the Other Direction

When I was in kindergarten, our class has a Tasting Party.

Every student had to eat one of everything. Everything. Even if they didn’t like it – they had to try it.

I remember putting a green olive in mouth.

Then I remember immediately gagging and vomiting.

It was the worst thing I’d ever tasted in my five short years on this planet.

I never ate another green olive again. Ever. And now, twenty-five years later, I still refuse to eat them. I just can’t escape the taste of that traumatic childhood experience.

Nothing personal against olives. I’m sure they’re delicious. And it’s not their fault I don’t like them.

THE (REAL) PROBLEM IS: Force fed truth almost always tastes terrible.

But we’re not talking about olives anymore.

When you try to evangelize by cramming things down people’s throats – without consideration or consent – you lose. And so do they.

Now, by “they,’ I’m referring to the people you’re currently evangelizing:

Perspective members.
New recruits.

Now, I understand the word “evangelize” typically defaults to the religious arena. But the strategies you’re about to read have been democratized for your secular enjoyment. Feel free to plug yourself into the equations as you see fit.

Let’s explore a compendium of practices for sharing your gospel (that is, the “good news” about your organization, idea, group, whatever) in a more approachable way.

1. Take the first step. My friend Jim Henderson, author of Jim & Casper Go to Church, takes a counterintuitive stance on evangelism:

“Are you getting people to join you, or are you trying to join them first?” he asks. In this instance, proactivity is the secret. Sticking yourself out there is the way. After all, approachability is a two-way street. Your mission is to give people permission. Who is just waiting to be joined first?

2. Indulge in your humanity. Personality typing is overrated. Here’s the reality: All of us are Type H – Human. That’s the only label that matters. Treat people accordingly. My suggestion: Volunteer to be mortal. Even if that means something simple like taking a breathe between moments of gushing about your organization.

It’s okay to let people hear you breathe. Evangelism without inhaling fails. Create more space in the conversation, and everything changes. Are you a master of the pause?

3. Assess and disclose your vulnerabilities. By being more open about your failures and sins; maybe your critics would be more apt to listen to you. Like Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, the man who set up “confessional booths” at college campuses across the country.

Check this out: When curious students walked in, he apologized to them for being a crappy Christian. Interestingly, his reverse approach diffused the situation and helped strangers open up about their own shortcomings. How are you leveraging your vulnerability to earn people’s trust?

4. Love makes things easier. In Rob Bell’s tremendous book, Velvet Elvis, he said, “You rarely defend the things you love. You enjoy them, tell others about them and invite others to enjoy with you.” Evangelism is that easy: Show people the picture of what you love – then give them the opportunity to see what you see. No need to spit scripture or force-feed statistics. Just transfer emotion.

Infect people with your passion by allowing it to overflow into the conversation. Allow expression to flow unhindered and unencumbered. But, stay away from proclamational evangelism (crying out publicly, wearing a sandwich board around your neck).

And steer clear of confrontational evangelism (creating conflict interpersonally, scaring people into hiding). Instead, shoot for incarnational evangelism (embodying your truth, consistently and lovingly). Are you defending or infecting?

5. Maintain a posture of grace. Let’s say you’re faced with a few Doubting Thomases. No problem. The secret is to accommodate their unbelief, without running after people begging and pleading to reconsider. Act with propriety. Present your message – your gospel – in a way that’s (just) challenging enough to disqualify the disinterested, yet provoke the desirous.

And if you still sense that it’s a lost cause, let them go. Stop chasing after the disinterested. Spend time with people who want to be with you. Remember: You can’t make someone believe – all you can do is give her the option. Are your fingers pointing or clenched in a fist?

6. Pinpoint the influences. In the book Gentle Persuasion, author Dr. Joe Aldrich shares a helpful list of factors that influence a person’s receptivity. Adjust your evangelism efforts accordingly:

• The existing loyalties of this person. Where else are they affiliated?
• The transitions facing the individual. What changes are they going through?
• The condition of the soil of this person’s soul. What is their heart leaning heavily toward?
• The nature and stability of this person’s relationships. Whom do they love, and who loves them?
• The previous attempts to approach or invite this person. Who burned, scared or scarred them in the past?
• The caricatures that distort someone’s grasp of something. What existing prejudices do they hold?
• The nature and frequency of past contacts with this person. How many times have they already been bugged?
• The circumstances under which someone learned something. Do they believe what they believe because they actually believe, or because someone told them to believe and they mindlessly followed?
• The people this person has known and their influence upon him. Who are they hanging with?
• The degree of satisfaction or lack thereof with this person’s life. Are they happy?
• The spot this person sits on the continuum between opposition and acceptance of something. What are they resisting?

Whomever your current interpersonal situation involves, I challenge you to connect those people to these factors. Establish a profile of perfect receptivity. Map out a few of the answers to clarify the true nature of people’s reluctance.

Remember: There’s nothing you can do unless someone invites the challenge. There’s no magic pill you can slip in a customer’s cocktail to guarantee they’ll say, “I’ll meet you in the bathroom in five minutes.” Ascertain fit first. What barriers to communicating freely and openly exist between you and this person?

7. Reverse the approach. Don’t finagle a way to steer the conversation toward your agenda. Don’t unnaturally sneak your idea into every conversation. And don’t telegraph an attitude of “finish up and finish telling me your problem so I can give you the solution I already thought of.”

Be the opposite of every evangelist you’ve ever met. Practice nonprescriptiveness. Loosen your arrogance clamp. And know that if your feet are too firmly planted, you won’t be able to walk. After all, most people are tired of the “told, sold and scold” approach. They prefer to be invited, inspired and included. Which path are your evangelism efforts taking?

8. Reprogram people’s experience banks. Once you’ve seen a ghost, you’re always afraid of the dark. That’s the problem with traditional evangelism: Force-fed truth causes people to develop allergies toward that truth. Which means the bodily reaction anytime that truth is encountered will be rejection. Yikes.

Lesson learned: If you force-feed people once, and they may never swallow again.

As I mentioned, I’ve haven’t eaten a green olive since I was five years old. Who knows if I’ll ever eat one again? Your reprogramming challenge is two fold: (1) Watch for psychologically negative experiences, then, (2) Provide consistent, positive examples to help shift people’s attitude about your organization, product or idea. Are you aggressively investing in making remarkable moments that move customers?

9. Miracles capture attention.As I become president of my local chapter of National Speakers Association, I plan to introduce a program called, “Without NSA.” It was simple: At the beginning of every meeting, one member is selected to share a “miracle,” aka, something that never would have been possible without the organization’s assistance. Call it a testimony. Call it a story. Call it the price of admission. Whatever.

The point is: We invited people to share their personal experience. The benefit of the benefit of the benefit of membership. The kind of stuff you can’t find on the website or in the brochure. The kind of stuff that makes first-timers and guests think, “And where, exactly, is this many-splendored thing they sing about?” How are you soliciting, sharing and capturing the miracles of being part of your organization?

10. Don’t inform – form. Surprise creates anxiety in the air, which is the best time to give someone new ideas. So, anything that makes people pause – that is, to consider your idea and become a little more conscious – is always worth the time.

Try this: Ask people to remember a time in their life when they sad, “I’d never do that!” Then ask them to tell you the story about when they did it. You’ll find people to be significantly more receptive to your ideas once they’ve just proven to themselves that they’re (clearly) willing to explore new things. How could you make the whole song a chorus?

11. Orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. Focus your efforts on the right practices – not the right beliefs. Instead of practicing what you preach; try preaching what you practice. Be good news before you share it. Make sure the message you’re preaching is the dominant reality of your life.

Note any gaps between your onstage performance and your backstage reality. Announce your intentions through your actions. That way your evangelism efforts will be a function of insinuation, not imposition. Remember: people respond to people who have been there. Are you smoking what you’re selling?

12. Caring (actually) works. But not as a technique. You can’t bastardize caring into a strategy. There’s no formula. There’s no handbook. There’s no seven-step system. It’s not about doing it the right way – it’s more about your willingness to care, you awareness of caring, and consistency with which you do care.

Consider these two ideas: First, people who feel unnecessary won’t give you their attention. It all depends on what you see when you see people. You have to make them feel essential. Not just important, valued, special and heard – but essential.

Secondly, people won’t to respond to a voice that doesn’t care. Especially if you only care about looking like you care. That doesn’t count. If your motivations for spreading the gospel are misguided, something isn’t better than nothing. In fact, nothing might be better than anything. Caring has a smell, and people know when it’s missing. Will you dare to care?

REMEMBER: Evangelism is a contact sport. No contact = No impact.

As Novelist John Lecarre once said, “A desk is a dangerous place to watch the world.”

So, get out there.

Stop force-feeding truth.
Leave behind your arsenal of deception.
Give clear direction of what you want people to follow.
Get across what you want to say in the most direct way possible.

And know that cramming something down people’s throats – whether it’s an idea, a product, a business, a belief system or a green olive – simply doesn’t work.

Which reminds me: Maybe I’ll send this blog post my kindergarten teacher.

How do you evangelize?

For the list called, “20 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

How to be More Efficacious

Pharmaceutical companies are well known for having an abundance of three things:

1. Drugs.
2. Money.
3. Chotchkies.

I learned this in 2006 when I delivered the keynote speech at a leadership conference for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

Not that I know anything about healthcare. My presentation was on how to make a name for yourself.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice the heavy usage of a word I’d never heard before: Efficacious.

As it pertains to drugs, the term indicates the capacity for beneficial change or therapeutic effect of a given intervention.


MY QUESTION IS: What about people? Can an individual become more efficacious?

Albert Bandura believes so. He wrote a book in 1997 called Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. It’s a monster: Six hundred pages of psycho-speak on everything from cognition to creativity to gender roles in athletics.

Interesting stuff.

He defines self-efficacy as: “Beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action require to produced given attainments.”

IN SHORT: You’re richly supported. You trust your resources. You’re equal to this challenge and ready to act.

Right – but how? How can you become more efficacious?

The good news is: You don’t need drugs.

Instead, try popping a few of these personal and professional development pills:

1. Carry your own standards for judging your artistic talents. Creativity is the highest form of human expression. As such, don’t let the validity of your talent hang in the balance of some critic’s opinion. Or some jealous hater that couldn’t create art if he was dropping acid at a finger-painting convention.

Keep in mind that the more innovative your brain, the more you invite rejection. Your challenge is to override the disbelievers. To start with the why. And to figure out what your currency is. Then, enlist your motivation and go from there. You’ll find that while self-belief doesn’t guarantee success –lack of self-believe does guarantee failure.

Remember: The creations of innovative persisters will always dwarf the accomplishments of the surrendering masses. Which one describes you?

2. Prolonged laborious effort. Endeavors that matter demand the persistent investment of time & toil. That’s the 90%. The hard, long and smart work that most of your customers will never see. And if you want to make the remaining 10% as beautiful as possible, better bust your ass. Because perserverance means greater efficacy, and greater efficacy means higher probability of success.

Ultimately, the road to mastery is marked by periods of minimal progress. You need to learn to be okay with that. Even when progress is discouragingly slow. Just remind yourself that the ongoing process of mastery is your reward. That commanding personal efficacy comes from a resilient sense of self and an amazing reserve of stamina. And that money isn’t target – money is what you get for hitting the target it. What time did you start work today?

3. People who leverage, last. The possession of knowledge rarely guarantees the proficiency of action. Sure, you had a great opportunity – but did you convert? If not, you lose. Because an idea generation without idea execution is idea annihilation.

My suggestion is to constantly ask yourself leverage questions like, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?” and “How can I make this last forever?” and “How can I reuse, resurrect or reposition something people threw away or quit on?

Remember: Your ability is only as good as its execution – and the leverage thereof. How will you kill two stones with one bird today?

4. Believe that outcomes are determined by your behavior. As Pablo Neruda once said, “You are the result of yourself.” And as Scott Ginsberg once said, “Most wounds are self-inflicted.” Either way, the secret is developing an efficacious frame of mind through a fundamentally affirmative attitude. Taking ownership of your experience.

Deleting the phrase, “It is what it is,” from your defeatist vocabulary and instead wondering, “What have I done to invite this into my life? Ultimately, you can either be the architect or the victim of your life’s course. As you water-ski in the wake of the choices you’ve already made, ask yourself: How choppy is the lake?

5. Seek meaningful life pursuits. Even when the competing attractions look so good you could taste them. Stay focused on what counts. Don’t get lost in what doesn’t matter. Instead, partake in what Bandura’s textbook referred to as, “Developmentally enriching experiences.” Do things simply because they’re essential to your economic vitality.

Then, intelligently reflecting on those experiences. Extract and document the lessons from those experiences. And mobilizing your knowledge by teaching those lessons to others. If you can do so so with an attitude of nonprescriptiveness, nothing will be more meaningful. How minutes of your last hour were aggressively invested in irrelevant action?

ULTIMATELY: Self-efficacy is a function of self-belief.

Like I remind myself every morning:

I trust my resources…
I am richly supported…
I believe in my capabilities…
I am equal to this challenge…

You don’t have to be a pharmaceutical drug to be more efficacious.

Do you dare to care?

For the list called, “13 Ways to Out Develop Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

How to Care

You can’t bastardize “caring” into a technique.

There’s no formula.
There’s no handbook.
There’s no seven-step system.

It’s not about doing it the right way – it’s more about your willingness TO care, you awareness OF caring, and consistency with which you DO care.

THE HARD PART IS: Caring takes a lot of work.

If you’re up to the challenge, here’s a list of ideas that might help:

1. Bother to do things. To come. To call. To stay. To ask. To reply. To say hi. To clean up. To give it some thought. To include people. To learn their names. (Just to name a few.) Learn to befriend simplicity. You’ll discover that the beauty to caring is found is in the basic.

The challenge is not overlooking these moments just because you think nobody notices. They do. My suggestion is to keep a running list of any time you hear somebody start a sentence with the phrase, “You didn’t even bother to…” Then go out of your way to avoid those things. Do you bother to bother?

2. Mind the ratio. Caring is like epoxy glue: It only takes a few drops to hold something together. Next time you’re debating whether or not to care, remember how beautifully imbalanced the cause/effect ratio is. For example, whenever I would visit my grandma Mimi at her senior living community, she would spend the next three weeks telling everyone she knew – plus a few people she didn’t know – about our time together.

You’d think I discovered the cure for cancer. But all we did was have dinner. That’s when I learned a valuable lesson: It’s SO easy to make people happy. All you have to do is ask yourself: What’s this person’s epoxy?

Of course, then comes the hard part: Taking the initiative to care. And my best suggestion for overcoming inertia is to constantly replay mental reruns of past moments when the caring ratio exploded. That’s all the motivation you’ll need. Do you have the courage to care?

3. Care for the right reasons. I swear: Some people spend an awful lot of time, money and energy trying to convince others that they care. Which, technically, is a form of caring. My question is: Why are they caring? Because it’s (actually) important to them, or because they know it makes other people feel good? Because it’s (truly) an expression of their feelings, or because they have an agenda attached?

I’m not trying to be cynical – just aggressively skeptical. Personally, I’d rather you not care than care falsely.

Then at least you’d be telling me the truth, as opposed to sending me one of those disturbing greeting cards with my own picture on the cover that you “customized” with that phony cursive font so I would think you actually sat down by candle light and used an fountain pen to tell me how much you cared, when what you really care about is recruiting me into the downline of your multi-level marketing company. Do you (really) care, or just care about looking like you care so you can meet your sales quota?

4. Learn from the best. Companies That Care is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the well being of employees. According to their mission, ten characteristics define the standard for all organizations desiring to be recognized as caring, responsible institutions. They include:

*Sustain a work environment founded on dignity and respect for all employees
*Make employees feel their jobs are important
*Cultivate the full potential of all employees
*Encourage individual pursuit of work/life balance
*Enable the well-being of individuals and their families through compensation, benefits, policies and practices
*Develop great leaders, at all levels, who excel at managing people as well as results
*Appreciate and recognize the contributions of people who work there
*Establish and communicate standards for ethical behavior and integrity
*Get involved in community endeavors and/or public policy and finally
*Consider the human toll when making business decisions.

That should keep you busy for a while. How well do you and your organization model those characteristics of caring?

5. Practice selective neglect. If you spend too much time caring about things you shouldn’t care about, the things you should be caring about will fall apart. And then you really will care. It’s all about discretion. For example, I tell the members of my mentoring program, “I care less about where you go and more about who you become while you’re getting there.”

That’s my filter as a mentor. Your mission is to create a similar filter to gauge the “care currency” of your endeavors. You might try questions like: Does this relationship nourish me? Is this experience going to help me become the best, highest version of myself? And ten years from now, what will I wish I had spent more time doing today? Remember: Part of caring is knowing what (not) to care about. What’s your compass for finding what matters?

6. Become an attention expert. Care means paying attention. Period. Simplest definition possible. Here are a few specific suggestions for doing so: First, concentrate attention wonderfully. Example: My yoga instructor often reminds us to pick a spot on the ceiling to focus on during class. This keeps our attention “in the room.” Interestingly, this same practice can be applied off the mat. Challenge yourself to fight those A.D.D. urges during your meetings and conversations. People will know you care.

Secondly, manage attention superbly. Notice where it leaks. Step outside of yourself and watch for when you nod off. Example: I reinforce this practice during the editing phase of my training videos for NametagTV. Whenever I preview a module before its online publication, I spy on myself. If, at any time, I start tuning out, picking my nose or fiddling with my iPhone, I stop and return to center. Practice reminding yourself to manage your attention and people will notice. Are you an expert at your attention tendencies?

7. Show up when you’re scared. This proves to people that you’re a human being. That you’re willing occupy your vulnerability. And that your desire to care overrides your need to be confident. For example, if someone you love is going through a tough time that you can’t relate to (or empathize with), show up anyway. In your pajamas at 2am if you have to.

Then, practice breathing through that fear. Listen loudly. Take notes. Reflect their reality back to them. And remember that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know what to say.” Remember: Presence trumps eloquence. The height of caring is the intersection of vulnerability and naked honesty. Are you willing to sacrifice comfort for caring?

8. Respond to people’s emotions first. Acknowledgement is a universal human need. And listening is (initially) about laying a foundation of affirmation. Your challenge is to make people feel more than just valued, validated and important; but essential.

Before launching into your solutions, try priming your responses with Phrases That Payses like, “Wow, that’s a tough situation you must be going through,” and “You must be so frustrated.” Or, if words aren’t going to get the job done, do what I do: Just give her a hug and stop trying to explain the meaning of the universe. Are you fundamentally affirmative?

9. Make it tangible. Finally, never overestimate the power of the tangible. Even if it’s a scrap of paper with a two-line message that you slip into somebody’s daily planner when she’s not looking. Physically giving somebody something (that you went out of your way to obtain) – even if it only took two minutes to do so – never goes unappreciated.

But I don’t know why. Maybe there’s something especially powerful about tangibility. Maybe people just like stuff. Either way, it doesn’t matter what you bring for someone – only that you bring it. How will you personify your desire to care?

Look, I know it’s a lot to ask someone to care. Even I struggle with this practice myself from time to time.

But, as our world gets louder, as our technology becomes faster and as our lives grow busier, maybe caring is just what the doctor ordered.

Do you dare to care?

For the list called, “6 Ways to Out POSITION Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

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