Don’t Take the Road Less Traveled Until You Learn These Six Lessons

I never had a real job.

Started my own company the day I graduated college and never looked back.

HOWEVER: There were a lot of things I did wrong. A lot of things I overlooked. And a lot of things I wish someone would have told me when I was twenty-two.

Here’s a collection of ideas you might consider before going out on your own:1. Build recovery into your schedule. Music is my religion. There are very few things in my life that don’t involve it. But since I started my company, music has actually taken on an expanded role. In addition to being soundtrack of my life, it’s also become the place I go to disappear.

Whether I’m playing it, singing it or watching it, music isn’t just my off button – it’s my escape button. It’s where I shed all sense of self and just be. And that’s the secret: We all need a way to disappear. From ourselves, from our work and from the world. Otherwise we never recover. Otherwise we never gain any perspective.

Novelist Joseph Campbell describes it beautifully:

“You must have a place you can go in your heart, your mind, or your house, almost every day, where you do not know what you owe anyone or what anyone owes you. A place you can go to where you do not know what your work is or whom you work for.”

Make no mistake: You are the boss of your own energy. Manage it well. When was the last time you spent fifteen minutes doing nothing?

2. Myopia is underrated. Lack of focus is the single greatest determinant of failure in any endeavor. I see it with clients, I see it with colleagues, and occasionally, I see it with myself. And it kills me every time.

That’s why I’m adamant about focus. But it’s not about time management, getting things done or streamlining the quality of your process so you can maximize the efficiency of strategic productivity. Focus is about creating a filter for your life. Focus is about executing against your values.

That’s what I’ve learned in my experience as a writer, as an entrepreneur and as a leader: Total freedom comes by forcing yourself into a tight corner.

To win, you have to focus on your core, pound it home and never lose sight of it. Otherwise you’ll never hunker down to execute what that matters. Instead of swatting flies with sledgehammers and wasting time making shiny objects shinier, delete anything that isn’t aligned with your vision.

Otherwise the absurd reluctance to let go of what’s worthless will keep you from reaching greatness. Focus is function of sacrifice. What are you willing to give up to stay on point?

3. Answer the invitation to evolve. Early in my career, my mentor gave me a warning: “If you’re giving the same speech you gave six months ago, you’re doing something wrong.” Ever since that conversation, I’ve vowed never to give the same speech twice.

Partly because I’d get bored, but mostly because I believe in evolution. Not just with the planet – but with the person. And that’s the reality every leader has to confront: If you refuse to make upgrades, there will be a self-imposed ceiling on what you can accomplish. If you insist on keeping yourself encapsulated in a cocoon with people who are just like you, you’ll never take your gifts to their highest potential.

Give yourself permission to explore options for your future. Otherwise you’ll deadlock yourself on a path that might not lead where you belong.

The point is: Your followers want nothing more than to watch you evolve into something much greater than anyone could expect. May as well give them a show to remember. In the last six months, how have you upgraded yourself?

4. Get people to follow your thinking. The world puts a premium on articulateness. And if you can express yourself creatively, concisely and compellingly, you win. The catch is, you have you clarify before you testify. And the best way to do is by thinking on paper.

Not emailing. Not texting. Good old writing. Every single day. Even if you only hit the page for fifteen minutes, that’s enough. Hell, I started with fifteen minutes a day and now I’m up to three hundred.

The good news is, writing makes everything you do easier and better. What’s more, writing helps you define the way you think about the world. And if you can get the people who agree with that definition to delegate certain chunks of their thinking to you, that world will be yours.

Get it through your head: You’re a thinker. Your brain is valuable. And your point of view matters. It’s time to say what you believe and see who follows. As long as you remember: The secret to self-expression is to believe that you have something worth expressing. Do you believe you’re worth putting on paper?

5. Don’t let yourself work small. If you want to watch steam come out of my ears, just tell me that you’re an aspiring writer. Or an aspiring artist. Or an aspiring anything. God help you. That’s the kiss of death. That’s the hallmark of working small.

Aspiring is for cowards. Aspiring is for riskless amateurs. Aspiring is what you say when you don’t want to commit with both feet and accept the responsibility of going pro.

Life doesn’t have a preheat setting. You’re either on, or you’re off. You either are, or you aren’t. Stop waiting to be who you are. Stop waiting for permission. And just start being. Today.

As Seth Godin wrote in Poke the Box, “Reject the tyranny of the picked. Pick yourself.”

The cool part is, once you gather the desire to move forward – most likely without a map – people will follow you. And they will stick with you as you promise not to let yourself work small. But when you dream big and do small, you lose huge. What are you still waiting for permission to become?

6. Legacy isn’t optional. In The Little Book of Leadership, Jeffrey Gitomer explains that the pieces of your legacy are created with your every action, your every achievement and your every victory.

I completely agree. The challenge is that legacy is a neutral entity. Not unlike tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce it’s immersed in. Which means it could taste fresh – but it could also taste like feet. It all depends on your behavior.

Everyone leaves a wake. Everyone. The issue is whether the people you love will surf on it, or drown under it. Here’s a question you might consider asking yourself every morning:” “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?”

This question builds the blueprint for your legacy. And once you’ve fleshed out your answers, all you have to do is make sure that your every action gives people the tools they need to build that world. And maybe a few instructions on how to use them.

Ultimately, at the end of life, you’re not defined by the beads, but by the string that holds them all together. Will you leave behind something that can justify your existence?

REMEMBER: Just because you take the road less traveled doesn’t mean you can’t arrive in one peace.

Good luck.

I’ll see you out there.

What road are you taking?

For the list called, “26 Ways to Practice Being Yourself,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

If You Still Can’t Discipline Yourself After Reading This Article, I Swear to God I’m Going to Scream

Life is not a Nike commercial.

Being told to “just do it” is not enough.

If it was, you would have “just done it” by now.

BURN THIS INTO YOUR MIND: Self-discipline requires hard and consistent mental, physical and emotional labor.

It is not the path of convenience.
It is not a glamorous way of living and working.
It is not something most people are going notice about you.


As I learned from self-discipline strategist Rory Vaden, “Those who learn to deal with discipline gently and persistently (eventually) flip a switch that they can never turn off.”

And that’s when discipline turns into freedom.

Let’s explore a list of strategies to help you sink into self-discipline:1. Commitment is the offspring of values. If you can’t discipline yourself to do something every day, there’s only one explanation: It’s simply not that important to you.

People always make time – not find time, but make time – for what matters to them. That’s how commitment works: It deletes distraction. It makes you wake up early. It turns habits into non-negotiables. When you’re committed, you drop everything and get to work. Every day.

The hard part is telling the truth about your current level of commitment. And if you’re having trouble with that, here’s an exercise you might try: Write down a list of the five things you’re most committed to. Then open your calendar. See if your life agrees.

If you’re not happy with the result, either find something else that is important to you and commit to that, or take the current thing that isn’t important to you and reframe it as – or reconnect it with – something else that is. How will you use commitment to open the door to discipline?

2. Bait multiple hooks. If you inherited five million dollars tomorrow, would you invest all of it in one stock? Of course not. You’d diversify it across several accounts. That way your portfolio would have a stronger foundation, making it less vulnerable to external conditions.

This same principle applies to creative professionals who have trouble disciplining themselves. Personally, I’m always working on about fifty things at once. Because in my experience, attacking multiple projects simultaneously has several advantages.

First, it prevents burnout. That’s what happens when your creative efforts are more diversely deployed: You don’t give yourself the chance to get sick of something and abandon it.

Second, by varying your creative endeavors, you establish thought bridges, subconscious connections and unexpected integrations between seemingly unrelated ideas. And as a result, you start to notice natural relationships and structures in your work you never would have seen by working on a single project.

Ultimately, this approach relaxes the process and helps contribute to greater consistency in your body of work. Are you willing to allocate your creativity attention to multiple endeavors?

3. Build a portable creative environment. A real artist can be creative any time, any place, with any tools. That’s the mark of a master: She shapes her immediate surroundings to feel in harmony with the small slice of the universe in which she finds herself.

As I learned in Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, “Whether the conditions in which they find themselves are luxurious or miserable, geniuses manage to give their surroundings a personal pattern that echoes the rhythm of their thoughts and habits of action. Within this environment of their own making, they can forget the rest of the world and concentrate on pursuing the muse.”

What are your portable creative environments? What enables you to enter into the creative flow at the drop of a hat? Have these on standby at all times. You’ll discover that by keeping alternative workspaces ready to go with transportable lightning rods tailor made to your tendencies, you’ll feel more in control of your surroundings.

That way, when inspiration comes unannounced, you’ll be ready to pounce. Can you do what you do anywhere?

4. Discipline derives from the wellspring of why. Willpower is overrated. If you want execute what matters most – every single day – you need to tap the reservoir of whypower.

Here’s the reason: When you actively cultivate the purpose driven nature of your work, discipline becomes a non-thought. What was once a desire becomes a habit. And what was once a habit becomes a non-negotiable. A positive addiction. Just something you do.

That’s why I’m able to write for seven hours a day, every day: Because I keep a list of one hundred reasons why I do what I do, in my wallet, and I read it to myself every morning. That’s your challenge: To become a walking translation of stunning clarity of purpose. To pinpoint the deepest motivations behind what you’re trying to discipline yourself to do. Find that, and you’ll have no problem slogging it out every day.

Remember: Daily bread without daily meaning tastes like daily crap. How are you fueling your discipline with a firm why?

5. Cultivate a more acute sense of resistance. Part of self-discipline is learning how to override yourself. That means becoming a master of your disinclination. That means discovering what frustrates your ambitions. And that means not allowing yourself the indulgence of saying you’re too busy.

Here’s the reality: The problem isn’t decreasing productivity – it’s diluted priorities. And you will lose the discipline game if you fall victim to what’s latest and loudest.

My suggestion: Extinguish whatever distractions seduce you. Drown out the world’s chatter and find the energy that urges you forward. And for the love of David Allen, stop performing minor tasks that engulf you in pointless, trivial action.

Instead, create around the constraint. Take the energy you’ve been burning on creative avoidance and redirect it to help you execute what matters. What’s your system for stamping out redundancy?

LOOK: It’s not my job to convince you to be more disciplined.

It’s hard work that nobody undertakes but you.
It’s unspectacular work that nobody notices but you.
It’s inconvenient work that nobody appreciates but you.

But discipline does mean freedom.

Freedom to be, freedom to do and freedom to have – pretty much anything.

I think it’s worth it.

How discipline are you prepared to be?

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

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Stay Rare

Rarity is inherent.

The problem is, there’s such pervasive pressure to remain average, that most people lose touch with what makes them exceptional.

HERE’S THE SECRET: It’s not about seeking rarity – it’s about squashing the barriers against finding it.

Here’s a list of suggestions to help you, your brand and your organization stay rare:1. Do it all with daring originality. Rare isn’t the absence of fear; rare is the absence of hesitation to move into that fear. That’s what I’ve learned as a writer: When you’re up against the fear, that’s exactly the time to move into it. Because that’s where genius lives.

For that reason, I constantly ask myself the following question as I’m working: “What do I risk in presenting this material?” If the answer is, “Not much,” I don’t write it. But if the answer is, “I might piss of somebody powerful,” then I absolutely write it.

That’s how I keep my material honest, personal and relatable. And in your own career, you might consider creating a policy, filter or standard operating procedure for attending to your fear.

Perhaps a ritual that greets fear with a welcoming heart, but also leverages it into something beautiful? Without such a practice, your creative flame gets smothered under the ashes of average.

In short: Resist the undertow of normal, pursue a perilous and uncertain course and welcome the difficulties that will propel you beyond ordinary. Even if they scare you. What type of marvelous intelligence is at work in your fear?

2. Clock out later than anybody. Everyone has a chunk of the great mystery in them. But unless they’re willing to put in a little overtime, they may never get the chance to share it with others.

I’m reminded of a classic episode of the Simpsons where Homer attends his twenty-year high school reunion. Not surprisingly, he wins the award for the graduate who gained the most weight.

“How’d you do it?” the principal asks as he presents the trophy. To which Homer replies, “By discovering a meal between breakfast and brunch.”

I know that’s a ridiculous premise – but that’s what rare people do: They break free from the jail of circumstance. They work their tails off to discover that extra meal. Then, from that place of abundance and enoughness, they’re able to give full scope to their colorful imagination. And maybe gain fifty pounds.

Plus, they know it’s not about finding time, it’s not even about making time – it’s about stealing time. Shoplifting whatever you can from the crowded day to focus on whatever makes your heart sing. Even if you only dedicate fifteen minutes a day. That’s still ninety extra hours a year.

Remember: What’s rare is the way you invest your life. What new meal will you discover?

3. Be somewhat predictable. Rarity means everything you do reminds people that they have not wasted the attention they’ve given you. The trick is: Humans are inclined to ignore the commonplace and remain alert to the unexpected. It’s the anthropological mechanism of self-preservation that’s safeguarded our species for millions of years.

This attribute can work to a rare person’s advantage insofar as attention in concerned: You stand out – you get noticed. Perfect. But when the unexpected is taken to the extreme, rare can turn into scare. “You can’t be offbeat in all ways, because then we won’t understand you and we’ll reject you,” writes author Seth Godin.

The secret, he says, is to make sure that some of the elements you present are perfectly aligned with what people are used to. Otherwise you’ll be perceived as a threat. Your challenge is to decide how much predictability you’re going to bring to the marketplace – and then remain consistent with its delivery.

Never forget: Brands are expectations. What has the public grown to expect from you?

4. Choose not to follow the appointed path. I’ve been taking the road less traveled pretty much my whole life. As such, anyone I meet who does the same is rare in my book.

Here’s why: Taking the road less traveled is simultaneously invigorating and intimidating. On one hand, you’re thrilled by the prospect of adventure. On the other, the uncertainty is so overwhelming that you crap your undies.

That’s the special brand of fear comes with the territory of rare. And your challenge is to accept that the voices in your head aren’t going to go away. In fact, they’re probably going to multiply.

But don’t worry – this is a good thing. Fear is the precursor of rare. And the louder those voices scream, the surer you can be that you’re following your heart. If you want rarity take root with extraordinary force, never forget: Anything of any value in life begins with the leap.

So take it. And remain radiant amidst the filth of the world. Are you standing on the foundation of your rarity, or sacrificing your life being everybody else’s dream machine?

5. Work without a net. In my favorite book about creativity, Ignore Everybody, Hugh McLeod advises, “The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.”

That’s the mark of a rare person: Someone who’s free enough to make the music she wants to hear – not the music the market wants to buy. The trick is determining the unique balance. After all, you still need to pay the mortgage.

But at the same time, you also need to define your own private creative domain. That’s what songwriter – and my hero – Chris Whitley accomplished during his career. He was a musician whose life at every level gave evidence of undisputed singularity. And according to his obituary in Acoustic Guitar:

“Chris was rare because he walked away from riches and avoided the carefully crafted record company image to maintain the integrity of his music. That allowed him to remain fearless when it came to following his musical instinct and it’s reflected in over a dozen elegantly forceful studio albums.”

The questions you might ask are: What are you willing to walk away from to stay rare? What are you willing to say no to for the sake of your own autonomy? And what covenant do you have to make with yourself to preserve your freedom? Answer those, and your life will become a living testament to what’s possible when you give yourself permission.

Remember: There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Are you the maestro of your own melody or the echo of someone else’s song?

6. Choose your commitment device. My generation is frequently typecast as being commitment-averse. The consensus is that we’re impatient, have a mediocre work ethic, don’t offer loyalty easily and are quick to quit and pursue something better.

Is that description accurate? I don’t know and I don’t care. What matters is that my commitment is unquestionable and that everyone who knows me, knows it.

That’s rare no matter what generation you come from. After all, the baseline posture of most people is not to believe you. We live in a low-trust culture and the world demands proof of your commitment. Without it, you will never be taken seriously – no matter how rare you are.

Ultimately, what you’re committed to matters less than how you wear that commitment. That’s the real rarity. And that’s exactly why I got the tattoo of the nametag on my chest. Sure, it was painful. But while the needle hurt my chest for an hour, not being taken seriously would hurt my business for a lifetime.

I wonder which commitment device you will choose. Or which one will choose you. How will you communicate to the people who matter most that you’re fully committed?

LOOK: You can’t block who you are.

And even if you could, apologizing for the best within you is the highest form of moral treason.

Stop stripping away your rarity.

Put an end to all this self-editing. All these unconscious acts of omission.

Otherwise you’ll wear yourself out trying to be something you’re not.

Instead, access your most elegant instrument. Figure out what you’re good at and do only that. And always retain burning contempt for imitation and mediocrity. Humanity will be better for your life.

You already carry something with you that’s just yours.

It’s your unique vision of the world. Your special blend of magic.

Fail to bring that with you, and risk becoming yesterday’s news.

But lay it naked for the world to see, and an unending rainfall of rarity will surround you.

How will you stay rare?

For the list called, “19 Telltale Signs of the Perfect Job,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Jump, or, How to Stop Dragging Your Feet and Dive into What Matters

Twenty years ago, my dad jumped.

He broke ties with his corporate owners and went out on his own.

And for the first year, he was working from home, struggling to build inventory and scrambling to find customers. Not exactly our family’s finest hour.

But, he still cites that move as his best decision ever. And two decades later, his company still remains the best in the business.

Now, of all the memories related to that transition, here’s the one forever etched upon my heart:

I was twelve years old, and my dad brought me to work to see his new warehouse. It was the single biggest thing I’d ever seen. Something like three hundred thousand square feet.

But the building was empty. The place was a ghost town. And there was no merchandise.

Except for one palette.

One lonesome skid of inventory in the entire warehouse, shrink-wrapped to perfection –with a big white sign on it that read, “Sold.”

Try to picture yourself standing it that warehouse.If that’s not risk, I don’t know what is.
If that’s not faith, I don’t know what is.

AND THAT’S THE POINT: When you jump, when you stop dragging your feet and dive into what matters, you have to trust yourself, your resources, your abilities, the process, the people – along with the universe that contains them all.

Otherwise you’ll find a millions reasons not to take action. You rationalize your way out of risk. Like the people who make lists of all the reasons to avoid committing with both feet.

Sure. That’s the perfect way to procrastinate my way to mediocrity. Well done.

On the other hand, you could jump. You could start taking massive, relevant action – today – to minimize or eliminate barriers to your boldness.

Here’s a collection ideas to help you stop dragging your feet and dive into what matters:

1. Accept that you’ll never be ready. Admit it: The reason you’re still dragging your feet is because you’ve still convinced that having a plan is necessary.

It’s not. Failure isn’t the product of poor planning – it’s the product of timidity to proceed. You can’t allow yourself to be stopped by not knowing how.

Try this: Lower the threat level of your jump by pulling a partial. Ask yourself: What is an easy, inconsequential version of this scary action I could take right now?

Challenge yourself to execute three of those a day. Repeat that enough, and you’ll either get the whole thing done incrementally, or sustain enough small victories to pull the trigger when the time is right. Not perfect, but right.

Look: I know you’re scared. I also know that constant, determined action cures fear, builds confidence, develops courage, generates inspiration and vaporizes stress. What other risky (but reasonabl) jumps can you make today to move forward?

2. Deliberately alter your course. Nashville rocks. Literally. Affectionately known as “The Music City,” it’s packed with millions of passionate songwriters who, at one point, stopped dragging their feet and jumped.

My favorite part of the town is the energy. It’s as electric as the guitars. And I’ll never forget my first trip there. My client took me out on the town after my workshop.

When we walked into one of the hundred honky-tonk bars on the strip. And I noticed a bumper sticker on the bathroom stall that read: “Screw it. I’m moving to Nashville!”

There’s no better way to personify the risk of jumping than those six words. Because if you put yourself in the shoes (er, boots) of somebody who once said that to himself, you understand what this is all about:

Accumulating enough frustration, passion and fire that you simply can’t take it anymore. That moment when you notice a deficit in yourself because every waking minute of your life is an insult to the gifts you’ve been granted.

That’s when you jump. Even if you’ve screwed up everything so far. You jump anyway. And if you haven’t reached that point yet, don’t worry: You will. You’ll know what to do when you get there. It might not be moving to Nashville, but it will involve altering your course. Will you allow today’s possibilities to be shaded the failures of yesterday?

3. The world is your mentor. There’s a phenomenally simple book by Mike Hernacki called, The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want. It can be summarized in one sentence: You have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

Whatever. It. Takes.

The challenge, it will be different for everybody, depending on what you’re diving into. My suggestion: Find twenty people who have jumped off the same cliff you have. Email them. Briefly introduce yourself. Tell them you’re a fan of their work. Tell them you’ve decided to jump. And tell them you’re willing to do whatever it takes to become the walking execution of your vision.

Then, ask them if they’d be willing to offer themselves – in any capacity – as a resource for your success. Not everyone will respond. But the ones who do – the ones who see something in you that someone once saw in them – will be happy to oblige. How many mentors do you have?

4. Grow a thicker skin towards the naysayers. Believe it not, not everybody wants you to become successful. In fact, much of the world will do everything they can to prevent you from diving into what matters.

Maybe because they’re jealous. Maybe because they’re scared they’ll lose you. Or maybe because they know your success will expose their averageness. Either way, you have to accept this reality. You have to be okay with the fact that not everyone you encounter wants you to jump.

But, your ability to withstand criticism without crumbling is a leading determinant of your success. And at the same time, don’t ignore the naysayers. It depends on the source, the validity of the comment and the context in which the criticism was offered.

My motto is: Criticism keeps you in check when it’s right, and keeps you in chuckles when it’s ridiculous. And as you prepare to jump, just remember: You’re nobody until somebody hates you. Besides, if everybody loves what you’re doing, you’re probably doing something wrong. Is your skin as thick as a reptile or as thin rice paper?

5. You’re never unpartnered. Although not everybody wants you to succeed, success never comes unassisted. That’s the cool thing about commitment: Once you stop dragging your feet and dive into what matters, the world begins to yes to you.

That’s what happens when you put yourself in the way of success and advance in the direction of your dreams: Eventually they will have no choice but to come true. Providence will move to orchestrate the ideal conditions for you to win.

As Paula Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “If you follow your dream – your personal legend – all the world will conspire to help you.” When this happens, it’s almost spooky.

In fact, I remember spotting this trend when I first jumped. Help came out of nowhere. Opportunities presented themselves to me. And I was smart enough to leverage every opening the universe gave me.

But the door must be opened from the inside.

And you have to be fueled from the heart – not for the wallet. Otherwise your misguided intention will fill the room like a garlic fart. Ultimately, if you want the world to say yes to you, you’ve got to sing the song that is natural for you to sing, in the way that is natural for you to sing it, and it in front of the audience that needs to hear it the most. Are you paying homage to the voices that shaped you?

6. Conserve your oxygen. Don’t waste your breath on useless chatter. Next time you find yourself surrounded by people consumed with small thoughts, walk away. Set that boundary. Otherwise their mental shallowness will infiltrate your world.

My suggestion is to work exclusively in environments that allow you to escape the crutch of small-mindedness and think more importantly.

That means hanging with people who ask big, dangerous questions that catapult your thinking. That means talking about big, relevant issues that challenge your thinking. That means learning about big, new concepts that stretch your imagination.

The hard part is keeping yourself accountable. Try this: Be unwaveringly vigilant about the company you keep by asking the question, “Does this person add gasoline to or sprinkle water on my internal fire?”

Also, be persistently discerning about the media your consume and the ideas you focus on by asking, “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?” In the end, life’s too short for television. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. And life it’s too short not to do something that matters, as Hugh McLeod says. What do you need to delete from your life?

7. Do this and nothing else. Enough dabbling. Either go full time or go home. Go pro or go away. Be dedicated or be eliminated. That’s what it takes to win. You have to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the game.

Sadly, the number one reason people can’t dive into what matters is because they insist on keeping one leg firmly planted in what doesn’t matter. Bad move.

I’ve made it myself. When I first started my publishing company, I had a full-time job selling furniture. Writing books and giving speeches was just something I did at nights and on the weekends.

But after a year, I scaled back to part time. And I started parking cars a few shifts a week to make ends meet. Which worked for about a year. But the problem was, sometimes I’d work eighteen hours a day. And while my business slowly grew, so did my ulcer.

It was simply too much. And that’s when I finally jumped. That’s when I said, “Alright. This is it. I’m going to do this, and nothing else. Let’s go.” And I never looked back.

That’s the cool part about focus: It’s the first step toward freedom. It’s the fuel that drives the engine of wow. And it’s the solitary suggestor of success. It’s time to take your index finger, cover up the tip of the hose, and shoot out a frozen rope of concentrated effort.

Otherwise you’ll never shed your amateur status. How much time are you spending on things that diffuse your focus and hamper your goals?

Okay. Enough dabbling. Amateur hour is over.

It’s time to jump.
It’s time to put an end to half-measure living.
It’s time to stop dragging your feet and dive into what maters.

I know you’re terrified.

But sliding down the side of the mountain on your ass isn’t going to bring you closer to your dream.

If you’re going to jump – jump with all of your might.

Because there’s no going back to the top of the cliff.

Are you prepared to turn your desire into your obsession?

For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Somebody Would Have Told Me When I Started My Company,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

What Every Young Leader Should Know about Showing the World They’re Serious

If you’re under the age of thirty-five, the default posture of the world is not to believe you.

I know. Total bummer.

But it’s not your fault – it’s just human nature. Age equals credibility. And there’s no way to speed it up.

Actually, I take that back. My friend Tom Reilly once suggested: “If you want people to take you seriously, either go grey or vacate.”

Not a bad idea. Certainly worked for Taylor Hicks.

But outside of follicular augmentation, the smartest move for a young leader is to position her attitudes, behaviors and language in a consistent manner that shows the world she’s serious. That shows the world she’s not messing around.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, entry-level employee, college intern or new kid on the block, consider these suggestions:1. Beware of the copycats. Commitment is an easily confusable entity. And if you don’t learn to discern the difference between commitment and its cheap imitations, everything you do will be like winking in the dark. Honestly ask yourself these questions:

Are you truly committed – or just curious?
Are you truly committed – or just involved?
Are you truly committed – or just concerned?
Are you truly committed – or just interested?
Are you truly committed – or just legally obligated?
Are you truly committed – or just not unhappy enough to change?
Are you truly committed – or just biding your time until something better comes along?

Approach these questions as a personal audit. Use them as an accountability tool to sustain your level commitment. And if you think it sounds like a lot of work, you’re wrong.

It’s not a lot of work – it’s a ton of work. But that’s the whole point: The reason commitment costs so much is because it pays so well. Are you willing to make the investment?

2. Choose ubiquitous over anonymous. If attention is currency, anonymity is bankruptcy. Which brings us to the central question: Are you everywhere? If so, the world already knows you’re serious.

If not, here’s my suggestion: Approach everything you do as a form of marketing. In 2001, a survey conducted by The Washington Post that indicated the following:

“Self-employed businesspeople spend an average of forty-three minutes a day marketing themselves.”

If you do the math, that’s eight percent of your entire day. Which leads to my next question: What the hell are people doing for the other four hundred and thirty minutes?

Answer: The wrong things.

Here’s the reality: Marketing is everything and everything is marketing. The challenge to twofold. First, to change your definition of marketing to “transferring emotion.” That’s it.

And second, to find a way to (respectfully) transform everything you do into some form of marketing. Emails. Phone calls. Meetings. Blog posts. Everything.

Remember: People who only do marketing “here and there,” will only get new business here and there. How many minutes did you spend on marketing yesterday?

3. Ship only great work out the door. Piano man Ben Folds reminds us in the song One Down, “People tell me to just make up junk and turn it in. But I was never okay with turning in a bunch of crap. And I don’t like wasting time on music that won’t make me proud.”

Sadly, many of my colleagues fall victim to that trap. They publish average books with average content. They give unremarkable speeches with unremarkable slides. They write boring blog posts using boring examples.

And it’s not like they’re going broke – they’re just not going for broke. That’s the next way to show the world you’re serious: By refusing to execute mediocrity. Because without making this baseline decision, without setting this standard of excellence, you leave yourself vulnerable to attack. And the sexiness of average will seduce you like six-foot blonde in a black dress.

Remember: Being amazing isn’t enough. The other half of the equation is the willingness to wage a war against mediocrity. Burn the beige. Vaporize the vanilla. Banish the bland. Nuke the normal. Murder the average. Are you giving the future something to rah-spect?

4. Consistency is the ultimate commitment device. Every time I find a blog that hasn’t posted since the Clinton Administration, a small part of me dies inside. Seriously: If you’re not going to stay up with it, don’t bother. Something isn’t always better than nothing.

If you want people to take you seriously, remember my personal mantra: “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.” Whether you’re publishing online content, leading a Wednesday night bible study, interning at your dream job or trying to be a better parent, consistency is not an accident.

It’s a sequence of intentionally consistent, similar actions. It’s a timeline of credibility. Personally, I wear a nametag everyday. Plus I got one tattooed on my chest. Plus I post a “number of consecutive days” counter on my website. Those are my commitment devices. What are yours?

Because if you want to win, you can’t just commit – you have to communicate to the people who matter most that you’re fully committed. Remember: Commitment without evidence is pantomime. How will you reinforce your positive pattern of execution?

5. Consider what affects your ability to be taken seriously. In Napoleon Hill’s classic work, The Laws of Success, he writes that the world will forgive you if you make mistakes – but it will never forgive you if you make no decisions. That’s the secret: To achieve definiteness of decision.

Interestingly, the word “decision” comes from the Latin decisio, or “agreement.” Which means it’s a function of values. Which means you gave it serious thought. And which means it’s a part your core.

The challenge (according to many of my clients) is actually pulling the trigger. Overcoming the paralyzing uncertainty of taking that crucial first step. And that’s why I suggest the following: Violently refuse to get snared into an endless tangle of anxiety, regret and second-guessing.

You can’t go through life regretting every decision you make just because it might not have been the best possible one. It’ll eat you up inside like a tapeworm.

Shakespeare was right: Delays have dangerous ends. Ginsberg was right too: Reluctance to make a decision is a form of resistance.

And the bottom line is: People won’t take you seriously if they’re too busy questioning your decision-making ability. It’s time to put a stake in the ground. What are you unconsciously doing that’s marring your credibility?

6. Real commitment is unthwartable by circumstance. As a musician, I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t matter if you break a string – it matters how quickly you return to the music.

This same principle of stick-to-itiveness applies to the song of life. If you want to show people you’re serious, try not walking away from the eyes of the world when they roll at you. Instead of acquiescing to your circumstances, yield to your core. Use your values as navigators.

When things go wrong, when people lash out at you, or when you screw the pooch in public, ask yourself, “If I were me, what would I do in this situation?” Doing so will initiate an instant calming sequence that draws people to you.

After all, in times of crisis, people turn to people who are calm. Calm is what builds trust, mitigates stress, remedies confusion and inspires followership. And it’s the perfect way to show the world you’re serious.

As long as you remember: There’s a direct correlation between the ability to make a name for yourself and the willingness to make an idiot of yourself. Are you impervious to embarrassment?

In conclusion, we remember to the immortal words of Bill Cosby:

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.”

JUST REMEMBER: Commitment isn’t just an obligation – it’s a demonstration.

It’s a constant exertion of your values.
It’s a consistent extension of your truth.
It’s a consummate expression of your core.

That’s how you show the world you’re serious.

And the best part is: When you do, your commitment doesn’t just become noticeable – it becomes billable.

Are you prepared to turn your desire into your obsession?

For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Somebody Would Have Told Me When I Started My Company,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Guide to Going Where There is No Path and Leaving a Trail

I know who you are.

You’ve chosen to follow an uncommon road.
You’ve elected to pursue a perilous and uncertain course.
You’ve decided to go where there is no path and leave a trail.

Let me be the first person to say: Hell to the yes.

You are going to grow geometrically.
You are going to evolve exponentially.
You are going to learn comprehensively.

Pshht. Paths. Overrated.


HERE’S WHAT SUCKS: You can’t navigate what isn’t there.

And after your initial excitement dies down, the nagging question will become, “Oh crap. If I’m the only person who’s ever gone this way before, how the hell will I get directions?”

ANSWER: You won’t.

Fortunately, I’ve accumulated a body of experience in this area. And I have some ideas I’d like to share with you that will be useful to your journey.

Emerson suggested we do not go where the path may lead, but instead go where there is no path and leave a trail. Here’s how to do it: 1. Success never comes unassisted. I’m not saying you need your hand held through life. But reaching out doesn’t make you a weakling or a failure.

If your world comes crashing down and you need to fly to Iowa for the weekend to have a good cry with your parents, do it.

If you feel like an abject failure, and you need a friend to sit with you for two hours of venting, do it.

Your peeps. Your crew. Your network of healing. Your expectation-free support structure. These are the people who help clear the trees along your untraveled path.

Let them. That’s why they’re there. The people who love you most want nothing more than the opportunity to come through and show you so.

Save islands for vacations. Ask for help early and often. Who do you know that would help you take the first steps down your path?

2. Mental torture isn’t worth it. The reality us: No matter how successful you become, you’ll always find ways to feel bad about yourself. You need to be okay with that. You need to not to be so hard on yourself.

Instead, change the way you attend to those feelings. Try greeting them with a welcoming, non-judgmental heart. And express gratitude for the opportunity to feel what you feel. It means you’re human and alive, and that’s a good thing.

Ultimately, you’ll find that if you experience these feelings without acting on them – and if you sit with these emotions and let yourself fully experience them – they can’t hurt you. They have no power over you. And that will make your walk down the uncertain path significantly less stressful.

Remember: When you go it alone, you mind is your basic means of survival. Attend to it compassionately and creatively. How do you mentally handicap yourself?

3. Go pro or go home. Going where there is no path requires commitment with both feet. And if you haven’t reached that point yet, allow me to describe it:

It’s that moment when you notice a deficit in yourself. When every minute that goes by, you feel more and more robbed of your true talent. When your spirit kneels bare handed. And when it becomes so existentially agonizing that you can’t take it anymore, you stop what you’re doing one day and say, “What the hell am I doing here?”

That’s when you jump.

That’s when you push all your chips to the middle of the table and say, “Screw it. I’m all in.”

Make no mistake: This will be the most liberating – and most terrifying – moment of your career. But it’s all part of the path. You have to go pro. You have to start showing up every day, no matter what, and risk exposing yourself to the judgment of the world.

Otherwise your amateurism will block your progress. You always sin when you deny yourself a purpose below your responsibilities. What’s preventing the world from taking you seriously?

4. Acquaint yourself with delayed gratification. The fewer footprints on your path, the more patience will be required to travel it. Fortunately, while hard work pays off – hard waiting pays millions.

And besides, it’s not like you’re idle. There’s a difference between sitting on your ass, playing video games, hoping your ship will come in – and hustling while you wait to extend the reach of your dock.

The first secret is to be patient with your mistakes. And you have to remember that a mistake ceases to be a mistake the moment you choose to learn from it. As Joseph Campbell reminds us, “Our treasures lie where we stumble.”

The second secret is to be patient with your profits. Personally, my company didn’t make money for the first three years. Knowing this would be the case; I worked nights and weekends parking cars at a local hotel to make ends meet. Hey: You do what you have to do. Even if that means crashing a few Beamers. Woops.

The final secret is to be patient with your progress. Look: I know you’re worried that you won’t be able to build on your current situation. But be careful not to get addicted to the sweet nectar of progress. You can’t start on next if you suck at now.

The good news is: While going where there is no path takes longer, at least the scenery is better. Remember to enjoy it. How patient are you willing to be, and how productively are you willing to work in the meantime?

5. You can’t aim one arrow at two targets. Focus is the mobilizing force. More than goals. More than plans. More than anything. Almost every client in my mentoring program – most of which have gone where there is no path – have experienced some kind of focusing challenge. And I tell them all the same thing:

“Focus is a function of punching yourself in the face.”

It’s true. For almost a decade I’ve had a sticky note on my desk that asks, “Is what you’re doing right now consistent with your number one goal?” And if it’s not, I don’t do it. Period. End of story. It’s confrontational but constructive. And I urge you to try this exercise in your own workspace to reinforce focus.

Also, keep one more thing in mind: Your focus will undoubtedly change over time. Especially since you’re traveling where there is no path. As such, what matters most is not the thing you’re focused on – but the unquestionable, laser-like focus you maintain on that thing until it’s time to pivot.

Remember: The dog who chases two rabbits doesn’t just go hungry – he looks stupid while starving. Are you a victim of your own lack of disorganization?

6. Enlist your rational faculty. “Sanity is highly overrated.” I believe that with all my heart. The challenge is striking a healthy balance between being out of your mind and being out of money.

This happens a lot to people who go where there is no path. Because the bottom line is: You can’t remove the teeth from the cruel bite of reality. When you’re broke, you’re broke.

A helpful mantra my family likes to say is, “You can’t eat like an elephant and shit like a bird.”

The funny thing is, I’ve been saying that for years. But it wasn’t until my business got audited that I had to stop talking this philosophy and start living it. Damn it. I hate it when that whole integrity things comes back to bite me in the ass.

The point is: You have to use your brain – especially the left side of it. Especially if you make significant financial investments to your endeavors. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said, “You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful.” How can you spend no money next year?

REMEMBER: Going where there is no path requires courage, consistency and clarity.

Yes, it’s guaranteed to be the hardest, longest and most uncertain way to travel.

But it’s also guaranteed to have the best scenery, the deepest learning and the richest rewards.

See you out there.

What path are you taking?

For the list called, “26 Ways to Practice Being Yourself,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Delete the Drama from Your Life

It’s that time of year again.

Spending time with families.
Traveling across the country.
Hopping from one party to the next.
Stuffing your face with food you normally avoid.
Battling against supermoms for the last American Girl doll in the store.

IN SHORT: Drama. Lots of drama.

The good news is, even though the world around you has more drama than the season finale of Glee, you can still prevent the world inside you from being contaminated.

Here’s a list of strategies to help delete drama from your life:1. When it doubt, write it out. I have friends who actually get mad at me for not getting mad. “How can you be so calm?” they ask me in the midst of chaos. To which I respond, “Um, because the alternative hurts my stomach.”

That doesn’t help. Apparently, my calmness irritates people. Isn’t that ironic? My ability to relax drives people crazy. That’s messed up.

But what most people don’t know is, that’s the first thing I do, every day of my life: I lay my frustrations out for twenty minutes as soon as I wake up. It’s a journaling exercise called Morning Pages.

And I recommend it to everybody because of its amazing power to delete drama. Think about it: When you give yourself permission to bitch and moan for a finite amount of time, every morning, you leave the drama where it belongs: On the page. And then you can get on with your life. How do you let all of your noises out?

2. Impose your own order on chaos. A Course in Miracles reminds us that inner peace is not something that we create, but rather something that already exists within us as a part of our true identity.

That’s exactly how you delete the drama: By tapping into your indspensible stabilizing element. Something to anchor you when world tries to knock the music out of you. Something to help you soar above the turmoil that surrounds you.

As a yoga student, mine is my breath. The mantra is: “Fast heart, slow lungs.” This reminds me that more that chaos erupts around me, the deeper I need to breath through my diaphragm.

That’s how I cope calmly with my inconveniences. That’s how avoid becoming wrapped up in the injustice of the situation. By using my breath to remind myself that there is rarely a reason to rush.

The tricky part is, human hardwiring predisposes us to react, which is a conditioned reflex. We have to teach ourselves to respond, which is a conscious choice. Do you refuse to be conquered?

3. There are no emergencies. Read that again. It’s not a sentence – it’s a lifestyle. It’s a philosophy. Because when you really stop and think about it, outside of major health, safety or family related incidents – true emergencies are few and far between.

We just convince ourselves of the seriousness of things to create drama that preserves our sense of self-importance.

Yoga studios are perfect personifications of this attitude. When I practice in Los Angeles, for example, there’s a noticeable increase in studio drama: Heavy breathing, lack of stillness, inability to stay in the room and unnecessary grunts and moans.

It’s weird: I’ve practiced around the world and never found another studio that exhibits as much drama. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a California thing.

Either way, here’s the problem: These dramatic reactions to internal and external turmoil disturb the practice of everyone in the room. Not smart for creating an atmosphere of execution.

In fact, I bet you probably work with someone just like this. You know the type: The focal point of their entire identity is the unnecessary, self-created drama that stinks up your day. Have you deleted these clowns from your life yet?

4. Intentionally step out of the current. Otherwise, like a relentless but subtle ocean undertow, the drama will own you. To the point that you won’t even realize you’ve been swept out to sea. To the point that when you come up for air, you discover that you’re miles away from the peace your heart requires.

The secret is to start with awareness. To see things dispassionately. Three questions I find helpful are:

*Am I thinking a thought that will stress me out?
*Is this really worth my energy?
*Why are you rushing?”

Ask yourself these questions internally. Write them on sticky notes on the dashboard of your car. You can even ask your spouse or partner to elbow you in the ribs with these questions anytime the drama takes over. Whatever it takes to say goodbye to what no longer serves you.

The cool part is, the more these questions enter your mindspace – the sooner they become second nature. Eventually, you’ll start to live your questions. And the current of drama won’t stand a chance. How do you talk to yourself when you experience stress?

5. Self-importance is self-delusion. A few years ago, the Internet connection at my office (living room) crapped out. Not sure what happened. Probably just a wiring glitch. Whatever. Because instead of freaking out like I used to, I remember – specifically – making the decision to (not) let it bother me.

I’ll just check it at lunch, I thought.

And I did. I worked through the morning, wrapped at noon and drove to Panera for a sandwich. Then, when I checked my email for the first time that day, do you know what happened?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nobody grumbled. The world didn’t end. My business didn’t go under. And my readers didn’t line up around the corner with pitchforks and torches.

Lesson learned: Most of the world is not sitting on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating your every move. Sure, you have your commitments. Your families and customers and coworkers who depend on you.

But if your life revolves around one pseudo crisis after another, take note: Your conscious faculties have been anesthetized. Time to stop and evaluate. What illusions of self-importance are you ready to delete?

6. Burn your television. It serves zero purpose other than to introduce unnecessary drama into your life by scaring you and selling you things. And with every minute you watch it, your body contracts a little bit more.

You can’t let yourself get away with that any longer. I don’t care if you only watch three shows. I don’t care if you only watch educational programming. Television is toxic. Period.

And sadly, according to latest Nielsen statistics, the average American watches more than four hours of television each day.

Can you imagine how much better your life could be if that time was reinvested into something that mattered?

Can you imagine how much drama could be deleted if you taped a big sign across your screen that read, “How will your life become better by turning me on?”

And don’t feed me that line about how you only watch television to relax. Nice try, Ted Turner, but television isn’t relaxing – it’s assaulting. Hell, heroin is relaxing. Doesn’t mean I’m going to shoot up before work.

Stop whining about how you can’t seem to find the time to exercise, to meditate, to write or to read. Just stop watching television and start doing what matters. The end. Except for Glee. That show really is amazing. How many hours did you watch last week?

7. Create a network of healing. I swear: Some people have a vested interest in self-destruction. Can’t be healthy. And life’s too short to surround yourself with these idiots. In the words of First Lady Michelle Obama:

“In order to remove drama from your life, you have to remove those that thrive on it.”

Your network of healing – that is, your human support system – needs include people who challenge, inspire, motivate, support, listen to and believe in you. That means: No hypersensitives who flip out over meaningless mistakes, no energy vampires who suck all the positive vibes out of the room and no drama queens who thrive on constant chaos and hysteria.

That’s all success is: A process of elimination. You’ll find that deciding what you want in that way is less threatening and intimidating. Give it a shot. It’s amazing what a cleansing, spiritual experience it is to press the delete button on people who don’t contribute to your success. What are the characteristics of the most supportive possible environment you can think of?

8. Enlist your inner governor. I don’t know about you, but I am on an epicenter quest. In any given experience, my mission is to be able to move to a place of peace at a moment’s notice. It’s taken a lot of training, but I think I’m slowly starting to get the hang of it.

Like that time I rear-ended that guy with my car. Dude flipped out. And right after the collision, he leaped out of his dented Lincoln – fuming – and hurled towards the open window of my Mazda. Then, the first words out of his angry mouth were, “And how many beers have you had tonight?”

To which I calmly replied, “I don’t drink, sir.”

Naturally, he didn’t believe me, and stormed back to his car. But a few minutes later after his wife calmed him down; he came back to my window. A bit more relaxed this time, the guy said, “Okay. I’m sorry. I may have overreacted. Are you okay?”

We were both fine. And so were our cars. More importantly, I learned the contagious power of calm. Perfect tool for deleting drama. Are you treating each experience you experience as a test of what you believe?

9. Reinvest your misfortune. Shit happens. To all of us. The difference maker is whether we smear the rug with it or fertilize the grass with it. Next time something (supposedly) devastating happens, try this:

First, stroke the problem with your eye. Noticing it before you let it nag you. Then, instead of filling with fury, channel your aggravation into something more productive.

Instead of telling yourself how much you suck, try affirming to yourself, “Next time.”

Instead of drowning in the infinite regression of argument, step back and ask, “Wait: Why the hell are we even have this conversation?”

And instead of wasting any energy whining about your current experience, try redirecting any frustration you have into learning from that experience.

You’ll turn misfortune into real fortune. What would you have to learn from this mistake to make it no longer a mistake?

In conclusion, we turn to the immortal words of the Stoic philosopher, Seneca:

“The only safe harbor in this life’s tossing, troubled sea is to refuse to be bothered about what the future will bring and to stand ready and confident, squaring the breast, to take without sulking or flinching whatever fortune hurls at us.”

LOOK: I’m not suggesting you try to live a trouble-free existence.

But most drama is unnecessary, unhealthy, self-inflicted and can be easily deleted.

Sure, there’s a time and place for drama.

It’s called the theater.

Learn to leave it there and go enjoy the holiday season.

It’s called the most wonderful time of year for a reason.

What drama have you deleted from your life this week?

For the list called, “157 Pieces of Contrarian Wisdom,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Murder the Average and become a Monument of Awesome

Average inhibits your ability to grow.
Average chokes your ability to matter.
Average numbs your ability to contribute.

And priding yourself on average means programming yourself for irrelevancy.

On the other hand…

Awesome is the invitation of success.
Awesome is the birthplace of meaningful.
Awesome is the quickest, shortest path to greatness.

And priding yourself on awesome means programming yourself for superiority.

Which one do you personify?
Which one does your brand embody?
Which one does your organization communicate?

Today we’re going to explore strategies to help you murder the average and become a monument of awesome:1. Revel in your remarkability. The easiest way to murder the average of the future is to appreciate the awesome of the present. For example, take romantic relationships.

Ever see those disgustingly cute couples that actually show affection in public and enjoy each other’s company? You know, the ones whose mere presence completely pisses off anyone who’s been married for more than a year?

Not so fast, Dr. Phil. Instead of averting your eyes, remember what it feels like to feel that way. Remember how good love tastes when it’s fresh out of the box. Then, anchor the beauty of that beginning into your memory.

That way, before your relationship degrades into the predictable, boring, undersexed and complacent stalemate that most couples slide into after six months, you can nip it in the bud. All you have to do is enlist your emotional memory and remind yourself what awesome feels like.

The same goes for business, too: When the phones are ringing, when you’re busy enough to say no and when you’re profitable enough to reinvest, remember the aftertaste. It comes in handy during the times when all you can afford is rice and beans. Do you really need to watch another episode of Law & Order, or do you need to take your significant other out on a date?

2. Refuse to stand for the idle moment. One of the reasons I do what I do is because I’m ugly when I don’t. I don’t know about you, but idleness absolutely kills me. I think life’s far too interesting. There’s just too much fun to be had.

I’m not saying you should always to be busy – I’m saying you should never be bored. Incessant bouts of boredom are the mark of a boring person. And being bored is an utter insult to your company, your community, your creator and your creativity.

Look: Each of us has the habitual longing to make a mark that counts. And each of us needs to become thoroughly convinced that we’re destined for great things. But the footsteps of the human experience were not meant to be caked with vanilla frosting.

Enough half-measure living. Tap into your innate expressive capacity. Wage an ongoing war against boredom. Otherwise average will cling to you like a wet dish rag. When was the last time you were bored?

3. Decide who you’re done listening to. During my last semester of college, the business school faculty urged us to attend the campus career fair. It was a joke: Scores of identical, suit-clad seniors overexerting themselves to prove their salt to a bunch of corporate recruiters who couldn’t care less about their unique talents.

I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth a little.

So, instead of wasting my afternoon talking to bunch average companies that saw me as nothing more than a barcode, I took one lap around the gym, grabbed as much free candy as I possibly could, tossed my freshly printed stack of resumes in the trash and said, “Screw this – I’ve got a book to finish.”

Best decision I ever made. And as I look back, I now realize: Life’s too short to waste time doing things just because other people say it’s important. Murdering average means living according to your own experience, not according to the beliefs and dictates of society. It means peeling back the layers of expectation and conditioning that have encrusted your heart and mind.

And it’s not like I’m the first person to realize this. Even Jesus told people to do it: “Conform no longer to the pattern of this world.”

Whether or not you believe in him, that’s still a powerful, relevant suggestion. You just have to be courageous enough to stand up and say, “I will take my potential elsewhere, thank you very much.” Will you allow your own visions to propel you on a quest for originality?

4. Learn to live out of your own center. Awesome is not something you create – it’s something you uncover. It’s something that already exists within you as part of your true identity. But you can only access it by taking a sledgehammer to the average.

This goes for people, brands, companies and organizations alike. In short: Anyone or anything that’s not currently running at full capacity.

And the secret is to think of it as a process of elimination. A process of chiseling. That’s what Michelangelo said: That the sculpture was already inside the stone. All we had to do was chip away.

Seriously. How much longer can you conform to some external template? How many more years can your company do work that’s unrecognizable to the people who matter most?

Maybe it’s time jettison accepted limits, leave familiar territory and override your defaults. Maybe it’s time to opt out of what everyone around you insists is wonderful. I’d hate for you to deny yourself the privilege of becoming fully human. When was the last time you recast your assumptions?

5. Delete people who bring your score down. People either lift you up or drag you down. They’re either debits or credits. And you can’t let anyone’s lack of passion cripple you.

The challenge is to become more discerning – not snobby, but discerning – about the people you allow to participate in your life. That’s how you deepen awesome: By finding cheerleaders. Dedicated supporters.

People who will adamantly refuse to let you stay where you are.
People who will believe in you more than you believe in yourself.
People who will call you on the carpet when you start to slide into the territory of average.

To figure out who these people are, consider asking questions like:

*Is this person a chronic abuser of my time and attention?
*Is this person kindling my awesomeness or enabling my averageness?
*Does this person add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it?

Remember: Without this continual flow of relational support, you won’t be able to sustain the inevitable blows delivered to those who choose the path of remarkability. What’s sad is, most people don’t realize how strong – or how weak – their support system is until the world collapses on top of them. Will you wait to find out?

6. Be the origin, not the echo. A few weeks ago I heard a fascinating interview on my community radio station. The lead singer of a local rock band shared his contempt for the abundance of average found in popular music. He suggested an idea for anyone trying to make it as an artist:

“Stop playing what other people are already copying.”

If you want to embed this idea into your own work, my suggestion is to create a mediocrity filter. A customized, self-accountability audit that keeps the average out. You might try posting a list of questions above your computer to remind you to be the origin, not the echo. For example:

*Would boring befriend this?
*What makes this distinct from the masses?
*How am I putting my personal stamp on this?
*What mediocrities do I need to set fire to?

Whatever it takes to prevent you from becoming a copy of a copy. Remember: There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t let your potential for awesome become blocked by the interference of average. Are you allowing your own visions to propel you on a quest for originality?

REMEMBER: You can’t spell the word “average” without the word “grave.”

Because that’s precisely the type of danger that awaits someone living a mediocre life.

The danger of not mattering.
The danger of melting into the multitude.
The danger of fading into the middling masses.

You can’t let this happen to you.

I challenge you to murder the average.

I challenge to become a person whose life – at every level – gives evidence of awesome.

Scott Stratten was right: People don’t spread meh.

People spread awesome.

Are you a monument of it?

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

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Don Draper Guide to Making a Case for Yourself

My favorite episode of Mad Men is called “Lipsticks & Dipsticks.”

In his sales pitch, Don Draper says the following:

“Every woman wants choices. But in the end, none wants to be one of a hundred in a box. She’s unique. She makes the choices and she’s chosen him. She wants to tell the world he’s mine. He belongs to me, not you. She marks her man with her lips. He is her possession. You’ve given every woman who wears your lipstick the gift of total ownership.”

That’s how you make a case for yourself.

AND THE GOOD NEWS IS: You don’t have to be a corporate advertising executive to do so.

We all need to make a case for ourselves.

It’s how we get what we want.
It’s how we get where we want.
It’s how we get whom we want.

Here’s how:1. Do homework on yourself. Ask anyone who’s done online dating: A good profile is priceless. In fact, there’s an entire industry of consultants, writers and coaches – that you can pay – to craft your online profile for you. And my guess is, the demand for that service isn’t going away any time.

After all, most people don’t have a clue how to sell themselves virtually. Not because they suck at sales – but because they don’t know who they are. And it’s impossible to make a case for yourself if you haven’t memorized what the files say.

Therefore: If you want to carry your truth to market, as Dostoyevsky suggested, I urge you: Don’t defend your specialness – articulate your fabulousness. Lower the bucket into the well of your own divine gifts. Otherwise your capabilities won’t come across.

Remember: Every encounter is a situation to teach others what you are. The real question is: What’s keeping your true identity from being known to you?

2. Reframe your approach. Job interviews are marketing presentations for yourself. You’re not there to answer their questions – you’re there to make enough of a mark that people can’t leave you out. The secret is to be memorable for the right reasons.

Instead of dwelling on past experience, share how you see the current state of the industry.

Instead of giving predictable, stock answers, offer tips on how to make the company better.

Instead of passively answering people’s questions, take control of the conversation and address the unspoken need.

Instead of talking about your last job, envision what you would do if you were hired for this job.

The point is: Very few people change the world with their mouths shut. Don’t refuse to share your thoughts – that weakens them. People love to feel like they’re watching a brain working. And people want to experience the version you that you mean to mean. How are you putting your thinking on display?

3. Send a credible signal. The first time I walked down the Reno strip, I noticed an abundance of buffets. Now, I’m sure they were all delicious. But t problem was, every restaurant posted a sign that read, “Voted Best Buffet!”

And I thought, “By whom? A sample of customers? Zagat? The guy who owns the place?”

That’s when I learned: Credibility without specificity is audacity. If you want to send a credible signal, avoid unspecified attribution like the plague. Delete from your vocabulary phrases like:

Research proves. Scientists say. Psychologists report. Experts believe. They say. There’s an old story that says. I’ve heard. Most people agree. It is said that. Critics say. Statistics show. Somebody once said. The reviews say.

Keep in mind that you’re starting with a negative balance. We live in a low-trust culture, and the baseline posture of most customers is not to believe you.

As such, making a case for yourself means making morsels of your credibility expand in people’s heads. Otherwise they’ll pick someone else. What can you do – right now – to create greater trust on both sides of the sale?

4. Never underestimate the gravity of non-verbal presence. Not superficialities like wardrobe, smiling and body language. I’m talking about how you show up. What you make people feel. And how you leave people feeling. Those are the foundational components that either enhance or detract from the case you’re making.

The secret is to walk the fine line between confidence and arrogance. The former comes from the Latin confidentia, which means, “to trust.” The latter comes from the Latin arrogantia, which means, “to assume.”

That’s the distinction: Confident people trust in their abilities when they walk in the room. Arrogant people assume they’re the only people in the room who possess those abilities – then kill themselves making sure everybody else in the room knows that.

If you want to make a case for yourself, you have to keep unadulterated self-belief at the forefront of your attitude. Otherwise you’ll get rejected faster than a ginger kid at an orphanage. As Keith Richards wrote in his autobiography, Life, “Worry makes your performance so small that it’s not interesting to watch.” When you walk into a room, how does it change?

5. Stand firm against the seductiveness of slander. You see this in a lot of political elections. Candidates focus on childish, negative attacks that lack substantive data. Instead of showing the voters why they’re better, they ride the current of whatever media narrative makes the other guy look worse. And instead of making a case for themselves, they spend millions of dollars trying to pick holes in the case of the opposing candidate’s.

Now, historically, this tactic has worked well to scare voters; but it’s not especially effective for getting elected. And whether you’re a politician, company leader, salesperson or unemployed professional, the goal is stop making war on the competition and start making love to the customer.

As I learned from the credo of my client and strategic partner, Optimists International, “Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.”

Remember: Making other people’s case look weaker doesn’t make yours look stronger. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Do you still think negatively looks good on you?

6. Proactively explain the anomalies of your past. Everyone has baggage. It comes with the territory of being human. And to deny what you’ve been through is to dishonor your truth. But don’t expect it not to come up. Making a case for yourself means owning every minute of your personal history. And you better be ready to explain the speed bumps, should you drive over one.

The trick is: How do you stay loyal to your imperfections without weakening your case? My suggestion is to be selective about what you reveal. Focus on what you learned, how you grew and what you would do differently next time. No need to hold onto your past with an angry bite. As long as you remember what my friend Dixie Dynamite says, “What you’ve gone through is not who you are – but what you’ve chosen to do with what you’ve gone through, is.” What part of your past are you afraid to own?

7. Qualify yourself to the customer first. There’s one question you have to be ready for: “Why should I buy from you?” Whether it’s asked explicitly or implicitly, your answer determines whether or not you make money. For example, if you tell people, “I sell advertising,” you’re written off as irrelevant.

But if you say, “I teach people how to convert the leads (from ads) into money,” it’s a different ballgame. The key is to be proactive, interactive and reactive. To escalate when necessary. And to remember what Don Draper says: “Eventually, there comes a point where seduction is over and force is being expected.”

Remember: Self-qualification makes people’s jobs easier – including yours. Beat customers to the punch and you’ll beat competitors into the ground. How are you lifting people out of their petty preoccupations?

8. Paper isn’t enough. The problem with your resume is that you wrote it. You may as well call it a resu-me. Besides, anybody can look good on paper. My dog could get a job with the right resume. How you show up online, offline and in person is what determines the case you make for yourself.

Interestingly, the word resume comes from the Latin resumere, which means, “to sum up.” As such, your resume is anything (or anyone) that sums up the case you’re trying to make: Your Google ranking. Your testimonials. Your media room. Your positive repute in the market place.

Remember: If someone wants to hire you – for a job, a project, an ongoing gig or a one-time engagement – you better believe she’s going to validate your credibility from multiple sources. Not just from one piece of paper. What type of person do you have to become on the inside to become the person you want to become on the outside?

9. Be more infectious. A great book doesn’t inform you – it infects you. That’s the question I ask every time I sit down to write: What am I trying infect my readers with by writing this? After all, the word “infect” comes from the Latin inficere, which means, “to put in.”

That’s what you need to figure out for yourself: What are you putting into people? What are you infecting them with?

Then all you have to do is administer the needle, sit back and watch people turn. And keep in mind, while making a case for yourself is primarily a function of specific, focused action, the most beautiful, sustainable and efficacious mode of infection is through being. Not thoughts. Not words. Not even actions. Through being.

That means thrusting your whole self into the encounter, showing people your cards and passionately and respectfully presenting them with a compelling visual icon. Do that, and you’ll make them want to ride along with you. What are you putting into people?

REMEMBER: You are not a presumed part of the wallpaper.

Your voice will be heard.

If you hope to get what you want, where you want and whom you want, you’ve got to make a case for yourself.

How’s your case looking?

For the list called, “12 Ways to Out Service Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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