How to Look Good Naked

Dishonesty has a limited shelf life.

According to a recent study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, eighty percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating:

“Flirty messages and photographs found on Facebook are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behavior or irreconcilable differences.”

Unfortunately, the study forgot to mention one thing:

This problem isn’t the computer – the problem is the character of the person using it.

People don’t get divorced because of Facebook – they get divorced because dishonesty is written all over their face. Employees don’t get fired for blogging – they get fired for being stupid. And organizational leaders don’t go to jail because some intern squealed – they go to jail because they’re morally bankrupt cracker-honkeys. THE REALITY IS: If you choose to live a dishonest life offline – there’s going to be a huge echo online. And your digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel and destroy the things that matter most in your life.

How are you branding your honesty?

That’s the key question.

Because I’m not saying you need to get naked – I’m saying you already are naked, and if you don’t consider the implications of your truth, you lose.

Here’s a list of strategies to help you undress for success:

1. Offer unprecedented access to information. Privacy is so last century. Even if you don’t lay your cards out on the table. People are still going to learn what they need to know about you on their own. May as show ‘em your goods.

Besides, opacity breeds mistrust. Just ask blogger and online marketing Chris Brogan. On the bio page of his website, there’s a disclosure list of every single relationship he maintains: Affiliations, partnerships, board positions, advertising commitments and product endorsements.

His clients love this. Hell, his non-clients love this. And people all around the web are talking about Brogan’s informational undressing. My question is: When was the last time somebody blogged about your contact page?

Lesson learned: Be unusually honest, radically transparent and highly respectful to the organizations and individuals with which you connect. Prove to people that to live the brand is to leave no doubt in their minds about whom, what and why and you. How could you magnify what you can’t hide anyway?

2. Be uncompromisingly public with your thoughts. While blogging is not the answer for everyone, it’s still the smartest strategy for making your organization more approachable and transparent.

The cool part about blogging is: It’s directly related to profit. But only if you recognize both the intentionals and incidentals of the medium. For example: If your intention is to share your thinking – incidentally, you will become a better thinker. If your intention is to educate and build community with the people who matter most – incidentally, you will earn more loyalty.

Interestingly, HubSpot recently conducted a fascinating study on online marketing. They looked at data from fifteen hundred customers, mostly small and mid-sized businesses. According to their results, companies that blog have three advantages over those who don’t.

First, blogging companies have fifty-five percent more visitors – which means more people to convert.

Second, blogging companies have ninety-seven percent more inbounds links – which signals authority to search engines.

Third, blogging companies have four hundred and thirty-four percent more indexed pages – which boosts findability with search engines. What’s your excuse for not blogging yet?

Look: Statistics might lie – but Google doesn’t. The intentional commitment to make your organization more approachable results in the incidental consequence of greater profits. As long as you’re willing to go public with your thoughts. What did you write today?

3. Take it one step further. Twenty years ago, Progressive made insurance history: They started giving their customers access to the competition by offering comparison quotes from other providers. Brilliant.

Three years ago, General Motors made automotive history: They started asking Saturn dealers to provide one or more of the competing models in the showroom. That way, customers could look at it, sit in it, drive it and realize how much better it was that the other guys. Genius.

And last year, Patagonia made green history: They launched The Footprint Chronicles. It’s an interactive mini-site that allows customers to track the impact of five Patagonia products from design to delivery. Awesome.

I wonder what step your organization could take to knock the socks of the untrusting masses. And it’s not like it has to be a big step. All you have to do is quit something average. All you have to do is make the mundane memorable. All you have to do is turn rare into remarkable. Get gutsy or get gone. Are you allowing people to examine your organization’s life habits?

4. Befriend the current. Every organization has customers. Whether you call them users, clients, volunteers, members, or employees – you’re still serving somebody. And the reality is: They already know everything about you. They’re already stalking you. And they’re already sharing private, internal information to their friends and family.

Why not surf that wave? Why not leverage the trend by turning customers into partners? Consider creating an internal system to welcome complaints – and solicit solutions – from the people you serve. Burn your suggestion box. Replace it with a question box.

By remaining steadfast in your willingness to learn where you suck; your organization will only grow stronger. And instead of swimming against the current – at the risk of alienating the people who matter most – you respect the waters. You identify the unavoidable, unstoppable swell. And you allow the current to carry you where the market is going.

That way, you can spend less time swimming and more time listening. Gnarly dude. What are you pretending not to know?

5. Know when the cost of disclosure is too high. Like anything, transparency requires balance. And you don’t want to become a victim of your own approachability. Take it from a guy who’s been wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for over a decade: Personal privacy – what’s left of it, that is – is a beautiful thing.

And while I believe that anonymity is bankruptcy; I also believe that boundaries are saviors. Don’t be so transparent that you lose the magic. After all, that’s part of why people do business with you: Because you intrigue the hell out of them. And if you’re too transparent, you run the risk of disappearing completely.

You have to maintain some level of mystique. Otherwise your ability to fascinate will evaporate. The challenge is figuring out where you draw you line. Remember: If you don’t set boundaries for yourself – other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell all their little friends that it’s okay to do the same. All because you never set a precedent of no. Will your transparency degrade into invisibility?

ULTIMATELY: It’s only a matter of time.

Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance.

That’s the reality of the marketplace: Your audience is everywhere, and they’re growing more powerful by the day. Never underestimate them.

Because sooner or later, as Seth Godin says, they’re going to see the effects of your actions. And living as if this is certain makes it far more likely that you’ll find a happy ending.

A helpful question to reinforce this principle is: “Do I want to become known for what I’m about to do?”

Try posting that on your office wall.
Try asking that before your next holiday party.

Because if you run around expecting not to get caught, eventually, the world is going to bust you.

REMEMBER: The past always reincarnates in one of two forms – either to pat you on the back or kick you in the ass.

Look – you’re already naked anyway.

May as well look good.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you organization leverage transparency?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “6 Ways to Out Position 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

Does Your Organization Pass the Rice Paper Test?

Rice paper amazes me.

Fresh out the box, it looks like a paper plate.

But.

Dab a little water on it, wait about sixty seconds – and it morphs into a playful, clear and stretchy material that perfectly protects your delicious food, yet carries no shame about the contents within.

What’s interesting is, rice paper is surprisingly strong. And durable. And it seems that no matter how many vegetables you stuff inside of it, it never rips.

Huh. I never knew transparency could be so effective.

What about you? Does your organization pass the rice paper test?

If not, here’s how your bottom line can expect to suffer…Transparent companies are more trusted, according to a recent survey conducted by Brigham Young University’s Department of Communication.

Their research proves the link between corporate openness and employees’ belief in the companies they work for. The study, run by Dr. Brad Rawlins, asked employees across all parts of the business questions about trust and transparency. And their survey of over four hundred healthcare workers found statistical evidence for a link between how open companies are and how much their employees trust them.

That’s what happens when your organization passes the rice paper test. And since trust is the only currency that counts, the lesson is simple:

When you open yourself to the world – the world will opens its wallet to you.

Here’s a list of ideas to help make your organization more transparent:

1. First things first. Before you’re everywhere, you better know you who are, what you do and why you do it. Otherwise it won’t matter where you end up because nobody will recognize you – including yourself. As comedian Russell Brand told The New York Times a few weeks ago:

“Fame is a hollow and brittle experience if not nourished and underscored by something valuable.”

The secret is to sit down and ask yourself, your team and your organization three questions. But not just any questions – the big ones: Who am I? What do I do? And why do I do it?

And if you’re serious about transparency, here’s an exercise guaranteed to change you and your organization forever: Grab three sheets of paper. Write one of the above questions at the top of each sheet. Next, number each page from one to a hundred.

Then, spend the next week answering each of the three questions – one hundred times each. For a total of three hundred answers. It will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. The self-confrontation alone might kill you. But I promise: You have no idea how powerful this exercise is.

I just finished it myselF and can legitimately say it was the most profound self-exploration activity I’ve ever tried. Remember: Your identity is your most valuable possession. When was the last time you reacquainted yourself with it?

2. Retire your low profile. Earlier this year, Corporate Responsibility Magazine released its first annual list of the thirty least transparent companies, exposing those organizations that choose to hide in the dark. The list covers a variety of industries, ranging from Abercrombie & Fitch to Fidelity Investments to Weight Watchers.

But when asked what gets you on the black list, author Jay Whitehead revealed the universal mistake: “Share no data beyond what is legally required.”

On the other end of the spectrum, companies like Zappos embrace transparency to an astonishing degree. Tony Hsieh, billionaire founder of the company, pursues disclosure that most executives would consider freakish. But in his experience, “The more they know about us, the more they’ll like us.”

That’s the cultural shift: It’s not how well you know your customer – it’s how well your customers know you. Plus, how willing they are to share that knowledge with their friends. After all, what people remember about you is who you are.

And, your organization isn’t transparent because you say so – it’s transparent because customers walk away without a doubt in their mind about who you are, what you do and why you do. Which of your secrets are hemorrhaging organizational profits?

3. Be gloriously explicit. People are tired of being lied to. People are sick of wading through the ever-rising tide of corporate and political hogwash. And people are forever jaded from the countless times they’ve been burned, duped, fooled, conned, scammed and screwed over.

Provide information that’s truthful, substantial and reliable. If you can do that – online – at least a few times a week, people won’t just pay attention, they’ll pay dividends. And the best part is: You don’t need a budget for transparency. Humbly exposing your own heart is something paid with bravery, not bucks.

You just have to make it your mission to provide more honesty per square inch than anybody. And you have to remember that honesty is three things: Telling the truth, honoring your truth and respecting other people’s truth. Are you willing to live with the consequences of being honest?

4. Secrecy is an endangered species. The reason younger generations willingly forego their online anonymity is because they don’t know any better. As digital natives, privacy was never an option. From profiles to preferences to pictures, from status updates to streaming videos to geographic locations – radical transparency was just something they did because was something everybody did.

It became the norm. And the danger, if you choose not to do it, you instantly became untrustable. You’re like the guy in the parade who refuses to wear the ribbon. May as well strip your truth bare for the entire world to see.

Here’s how: Broadcast past screw-ups. Publicize your current failings. Set up an online water cooler to blog publicly and freely about your new projects. Install company wikis where people can complain about problems and suggest solutions. Make your content searchable. Any of these strategies will enable you to enlist the help of your global braintrust.

Look: You’re already naked. May as well start dancing and see who joins you. Are willing to conduct business in the buff?

5. The Internet rewards transparency. People aren’t reading the Wall Street Journal to learn who you are. They’re searching blogs, social media feeds, discussion boards and online community threads. And if you’re not a player in that world, you’ll be left behind with the rest of the dinosaurs.

“The reputation economy creates an incentive to be more open, not less,” writes Clive Thompson from Wired. “And since Internet commentary is inescapable, the only way to influence it is to be part of it. Being transparent, opening up, posting interesting material frequently and often is the only way to amass positive links to yourself and thus to directly influence your reputation.”

The reality is: Customers and employees are poking around anyway.

The question is: How could you make that work for your organization? How could you turn everyone into a partner in the process?

Because if you don’t make transparency your natural tendency, people will start to wonder why you’re not open like everyone else. The time has come to peel away the pretense and serve up a bolder truth. Don’t worry: You can still show yourself to the world without getting arrested for indecent exposure. Are you free enough to risk being seen by people?

6. Turn customers into working partners. Netflix offered one million dollars to anyone who could improve the accuracy of their movie recommendation algorithm by ten percent. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. It takes guts, vulnerability and humility.

The secret lies in surrendering control. Enabling people to take your idea into their own hands and make it better. And openly embrace a fan mentality and transfer ownership to the customer. That’s how transparency enables spreadability and spreadability grows into long-term viability. You’ve got to find people that have big mouths, share your world with them – give them megaphones – and then get the hell out of the way.

However, before you start delegating product design to the first guy that shows up at your front door, there’s a question you still have to consider: What do you see when you see people?

The answer to this question underscores everything you do. Everything. For example:

At your company, are your customers the people who buy you, or the partners who bolster you?

At your organization, are new members the integers on the annual report, or the individuals behind your movement?

What. Do. You. See. When. You. See. People. Answer that question first. Then let them go crazy. Have you joined hands with the folks who matter most?

7. Take your own hiding places away. I remember the first time I ate a restaurant with an open kitchen: I was twelve, I was somewhere in Florida and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Later when the chef delivered our food, I asked him why there were no walls. And his answer was something I never forgot:

“We’ve got nothing to hide.”

What is your organization hiding? What ideas do you have that you’re afraid people will steal?

Because I’ve got news for you: There is nowhere to hide. Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance.

Maybe your office needs more mirrors. Not literal mirrors, necessarily. Just something – or someone – to consistently offer a reflection your truth as the world sees it.

I don’t know about you, but I love mirrors. They lay it naked. They reveal the lies you tell yourself. They offer everything you hate about yourself, staring back at you. Doesn’t get more transparent than that. How self-confrontational are you willing to become?

LOOK: You can’t place a red seal over the door of your heart for much longer.

Share your voice or make your exit.
Take your corporate skin and turn it inside out.
Willingly strip yourself of your inconspicuousness.

And as you stand there, naked and pulsating, wide open for the world to see, your courageous transparency will evolve into copious currency.

Take your organization and put it out there on a platter for people to relate to, eat up and tell their friends about.

Be like rice paper.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How transparent do customers and employees believe you are?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “6 Ways to Out Position 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

Is Your Company a Phonebook?

A few weeks ago we talked about retaining relevancy.

For your person.
For your company brand.
For your organization as a whole.

IN SHORT: Don’t be a phonebook.

Today our discussion continues with four more strategies for staying relevant:1. Renew your relevance to adapt to your customer’s lifestyle. Did you know that McDonald’s offers free wifi? Yep. It’s pretty sweet. Hell, I’ve gone there with my laptop on several occasions to write in an alternative creative environment. It’s good for the brain. And it’s definitely a nice break from my living room.

But what’s interesting is that growing up in the eighties, the only technological advances at my McDonald’s were the motion activated toilet flushers. And even those didn’t always work.

Now, thirty years later, offering free wifi is the perfect strategy for McDonald’s to renew their relevancy. Especially considering the dramatic differences between their customer and their end user.

Think about it: Parents don’t care about the food. They just want is to check their email while their kids play on the Fun Land. Kids, on the other hand, just want to stuff their faces and hang out with their friends.

What’s your gameplan for responding to your customer’s lifestyle? How will you stay on top of changes in customer requirements?

My suggestion is simple: Just ask. Try your customers’ heads on. Or, try being a customer yourself. That’s how you find out what hassles and inconveniences surround the occasions when people do business with you. Uncover that and your organization will renew its relevance faster than you can say, “You want fries with that?” What customer lifestyle change do you need to adapt to?

2. Proficiency and passion aren’t enough. Yes, be excellent at what you do. And yes, do what you do with a white-hot fire in your belly. But make certain those aren’t the only two moves in your playbook.

In the current economic marketplace, competence is assumed and enthusiasm is expected. As such, proficiency and passion are merely the price of admission. The bunny slope. The cover charge for competing in the game of business. And unless you can connect those two things to a context that’s relevant for the people who matter most, you lose.

I’m reminded of Whole Foods Market. Not only is their product and service incredible. Not only are their employees walking brand ambassadors. But their ability to retain relevancy is amazing.

For example, each store has a Customer Comment Board. Which, if you’ve ever worked in retail, is nothing new. Except for the fact that each employee personally handwrites her answers to each comment. Even the negative ones. Especially the negative ones. This open feedback loop demonstrates an admirable level of askability.

What’s more, it reinforces Whole Foods’ question-friendly environment. And as a result, their organization is a living, breathing case study that proficiency and passion without practicality is waste. How will your organization do the same?

Remember: Be good, be on fire – but be practical. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark. Are you passionately and skillfully irrelevant?

3. Contribute across the board. When you democratize intentionally, you monetize incidentally. That’s what good multidisciplinary and comprehensivists do: They stay relevant by delivering value across the board.

In a recent article on The Bulletin, Dave Bontempo wrote, “Figure out how you can integrate your work with that of other departments, sharing ideas on productivity, new technologies and marketing. Create a portrait of yourself as someone who goes beyond the boundaries of your cubicle to add to the bottom line. The added component of flexibility to your personal profile significantly ups your relevance factor.”

Take the manufacturing world, for example. I’ve read about companies implementing a system called parallel production. This is when all the departments produce and discuss together throughout the entire production process.

The cool part is, this strategy is eminently feasible inside most organizations. You don’t need a factory – you just need the faculty to get outside of your normal function. How will you add distinctive depth to your current role?

4. Velocity without relevance is valueless. When you stop moving, you stop mattering. That’s why bands stay on the road for months at a time: No tour, no touch people.

That’s why professional speakers love airports: No planes, no profits. And that’s why blogs and social media feeds trump traditional websites: Nobody wants to read something on the web that’s two years old.

As such, the key to retaining relevancy is as simple as staying in motion. Otherwise the powerful forces of inertia will obsolete you faster than you can say, “Where Are They Now?”

The only thing to be careful of is not to destroy everything for the sake of action. Some businesspeople are so action-oriented that they forget to stop and reflect on what’s happening. And their customers suffer a result.

The key is to balance velocity with value. Because in the end, you risk more by doing nothing. Make the necessary moves. Enable the active force. How are you assuming responsibility for keeping current?

In the end, what matters is: No relevance, no revenue.

Don’t be a phonebook.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much profitability are you sacrificing by being irrelevant?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “11 Ways to Out Market 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

5 Ways to Retain Relevancy So Your Organization Doesn’t Fall off the Face of the Earth

The evidence is overwhelming:

Start-up companies are spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars creating elegant solutions to problems nobody has.

Membership organizations are suffering low attendance because traditional, boring, and non-engaging programming refuses to align with multi-generation preferences.

Government-funded advocacy groups are draining their entire budgets conserving insignificant resources that are going extinct anyway.

Corporate advertisers are projecting onto customers what they think they ought to want, instead of actually listening to their problems and satisfying a compelling need.

THAT BEGETS THE QUESTION: How much profitability are you sacrificing by being irrelevant?

ANSWER: Too much.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, multinational corporation, starving artist, local mega church or non-profit do-gooder, consider these ideas for retaining relevancy:1. Teach the dog new tricks anyway. Regardless of your age, it’s impossible to be relevant if you refuse to play the technology game.

And if you think that’s easy for me to say that because I’m a digital native, you’re right. Technology doesn’t intimidate me because I’ve always been around it. I consider that a fortunate position.

Then again, I certainly understand technology’s power to threaten relevancy. For example, I recently delivered a presentation via Skype for one of my clients. It was fun, challenging and different – but also a little scary.

Not because I was talking in front of a screen, but because I wasn’t talking in front of a live audience. And I couldn’t help but wonder, as a public speaker: Does this type of disruptive technology threaten my profession’s livelihood?

Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But I’m still learning the technology anyway. Because it doesn’t matter how old the dog is – if the new trick matters to your customers, you still have to learn it. Old age isn’t the problem – old thinking is. Are you obsolescing yourself with it?

2. Your customers will tell you how to stay relevant. In a recent interview with FastCompany, Steve Jobs summarized Apple’s innovation strategy in four words: Turn feedback into inspiration.

The cool part is: It actually works. Like, really well. I had the perfect opportunity to execute his suggestion with one of my readers, Dawn. She emailed me with deep concern about an unsuccessful job search:

“I’m feeling chewed up and spit out. Being jobless is heartbreaking. Where do I get the inner fortitude to get up one more day and try again?”

Great question, I thought. But instead of giving her off-the-cuff advise; I spent the next week writing a post called, How to Find the Inner Fortitude to Get Up One More Day and Try Again, Even When the World Kicks You in the Crotch with a Golf Shoe.

To my delight, the blog post was featured on NPR the day it was published. And I sent a copy to Dawn, who replied with the following:

“You really invest yourself, very personally, in all your articles. That is why you are (and will be) relevant: Because you’re always there to listen to the people who really need you. That is the basis for true dedication. When we help others we do help ourselves.”

Your customers won’t just teach you how to stay relevant – they’ll tell you how to sell to them effectively. Is it important to the customer, or does it just make you feel better?

3. Enable a regular attention stream. Attention is currency. Think about it: We live in a world of continually eroding confidence. We work for a world of steadily declining attention span. And we market to a world of gradually fragmenting participation.

If you want to retain relevancy, you have to remember that you’re competing against everything else in people’s world.

Take faith-based organizations, for example. Congregational vitality is at an all time low because they’re trying to buy attention with boring. Doesn’t work that way. I don’t care what version of God you believe in: People don’t come to services that fail to engage their spirit.

Therefore: The only way to enable a regular attention stream is to be interesting. What’s more, attention is irrelevant if nobody cares about what you’re offering.

“Most of the people in this world don’t – and will never – care about what you’re doing,” suggests Josh Kauffman in The Personal MBA. “Your challenge is to earn the attention of the people who are likely to buy from you. Otherwise, people ignore what they don’t care about.” How will you combat your customers’ overwhelming urge to ignore you?

4. Grow bigger ears. To retain relevancy, you have to develop an ongoing relationship with your market. Naturally, the foundation for this relationship is the same for all healthy relationships: Grow bigger ears. Here are three strategies for expanding your listening platform:

First, use every listening post you can find. From offline to offline, from electronic to human, from walking the floors to monitoring tweet streams, whatever gives you insight into how your customers operate is a worthwhile endeavor.

Second, listen deeply. That means don’t just listen for the facts; listen for what the facts point to. Like my doctor, Steve, who once told me, “When you listen with your ears, patients give you their own diagnosis; but when you listen with your heart, patients give themselves their own cure.”

Third, listen for the right reasons. Not just enough to flip the answers for your own uses. Not just to boost your ego. And not just to confirm what you already think. Staying relevant means getting out of the way of what you need to hear, listening to where you suck, then responding by becoming better.

The whole point of growing bigger ears revolves around the following leverage question: What does expanding your listening platform earns you the right to do?

Answer: Everything, that’s what. Everything. Are you listening to the sound of your own voice or the music of your customer’s voice?

5. Maintain a steady stream of minor enhancements. Relevant doesn’t have to mean radical – just regular. After all, consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.

The secret to keeping the stream flowing is to implement routine relevancy audits. Ask yourself and your team questions like:

*What irrelevancies have you recently discarded?
*What do you share that people actually give a damn about?
*Is the information you have truly relevant to the client and the client’s situation?

This will fuel your ability to make minor enhancements along the way. Interestingly, the word “relevant” comes from the Latin relevare, which means, “to lesson, lighten or relieve.”

This creates a few more questions for your audit:

*What burden do you lighten for your customers?
*What pain do you lessen for your customers?
*What does your value relieve customers of?

Remember: Relevancy isn’t a chore; it’s an ongoing progression. It’s not just about becoming relevant – it’s about relentlessly pursuing relevance to make sure you continue to matter to the people who matter. Are you combining relevancy with frequency?

THE BOTTOM LINE IS: No relevance, no revenue.

But.

It’s not about financing.
It’s about focusing.

It’s not about killing yourself.
It’s about keeping the brand current.

It’s not about discarding the soul of yesterday.
It’s about embracing the spirit of today.

It’s not about focus groups, demographics and target markets.
It’s about directly communicating with your audience in a meaningful, honest way.

That’s how you retain relevance.

You establish a direct link between the journey of your organization and the joy of the people it serves.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much profitability are you sacrificing by being irrelevant?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “11 Ways to Out Market 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

Are You Making Use of Everything You Are?

Last week I wrote a post called, The Starving Artists’s Guide to Making Use of Everything You Are.

I couldn’t fit everything into one piece, so today we’re going to explore the second volume of strategies for doing so:

1. Honor your dominant architecture. Remember what happened when the Green Bay Packers offered Brett Favre twenty million dollars to retire? Right: He turned the money down.

To me, that was a great moment in sports history. Favre basically said:

“Excuse me, but, do you know who the hell I am? I’m sorry, maybe you’ve heard of me before: I’m Brett Favre – the greatest quarterback in the history of ever. And you’re seriously asking me (not) to make use of everything I am? Peace out, cheese heads.”

That’s what it sounds like to be in tune with your heart. That’s what it sounds like to honor the dominant architecture of your life.

The cool part is, when you do this, the example of how you live your life will become a walking book for people to read. And those lucky enough to watch the chapters being written right in their midst will be changed for better and for always. When you figure out what’s under your fingernails, will you design it into something that devastates the world?2. Visualize the aftermath. During one of his thousands of spoken word concerts, Henry Rollins said, “I want to make life run for its life. I want to be a pain in life’s ass. I want life to celebrate the day I die. I want life to finally get a breather once I’m dead.”

What do you want to happen once you’ve made use of everything you are? What do you want people to remember? Personally, when I die, I want life to give me a standing ovation. And I don’t want it to even think about sitting down until its ass is numb and its knees start buckling.

For you, it’s worth asking two questions: What will be the afterlife of what you do? What is the field on which you will leave everything you’ve got? Remember: Your purpose isn’t a task – it’s the way you live your life. It’s what your life is committed to.

Don’t die with unlived parts of within you. Welcome the dust of the daily battle. Unlock more of your hidden capacities and underutilized talents each day. Set yourself on fire and let the world sit back and watch you burn. What is the result of you?

3. Expand your role repertoire. Speaking of Henry Rollins, I love the opening line of his Wikipedia entry:

“Henry Rollins is an American singer, songwriter, raconteur, stand-up comedian, spoken word artist, writer, publisher, record label owner, actor, radio DJ, and activist.”

Now that’s how you make use of everything you are. I hope that by the time I’m fifty, I’m recognized in such a diverse way. What about you? How diverse dare you be?

My suggestion is to expand your role repertoire. Here’s how: Next time a new, risky or unexpected opportunity comes along, ask yourself: “Is this another chance to do more of the things I love?”

If so, take it. Stay engaged with life’s possibilities and stretch deep inside yourself for this new role. That’s how you invite victory in every game you play. Not by winning all the time – but by having fun, playing new games, playing your heart out and learning from the process.

Don’t worry: You will be rewarded for the value you’re able to create. As long as you remember that you need to renew to become great. Even if not everybody likes you. Screw those wankers. Better to be hated for what you are then loved for what you aren’t. Where do you want to grow next?

4. Uniquely define your curriculum. The most formative years of my childhood were first through sixth grade. That was when a handful of us were pulled out of class to spend a portion of our time in Gifted and Talented Education.

The programs varied from critical thinking drills, creative exercises and other subjects typically not covered in the classroom.

Interestingly, none of us knew why we were being pulled out class. We were just told that were part of a unique group. And when the gifted teacher, Mrs. Ray, visited our classroom, it was time to pack up and go get creative.

It was the absolute highlight of elementary school: We learned how to think, we learned why to think and we were all given an irrevocable license to create.

Lesson learned: If you want to make use of everything you are, locate your territory for expansion. Enter it with constructive ambition. Creatively engage whatever you have and empty yourself into adventure.

That’s how you leave room for genius to enter. Where are you practicing creative deployment of self?

5. Act from embodiment. Eventually, you start to become the thing you’ve been teaching. That’s what my mentor tells me. That after a certain number of years, every leader wakes up one morning, looks in the mirror and thinks to himself:

“Wow. I am the message. I am my own best case study. The word has become flesh.”

Are you there yet? If not, be patient in learning to live physically what you know intellectually. It takes time to become the physical embodiment of your understanding.

Meanwhile, my suggestion is to smoke what you’re selling. Audit your own consistency by asking tough questions like:

*How well do you resemble what you worship?
*Is the message you’re preaching the dominant truth of your life?
*Are you living your faith out in the world or lip servicing your beliefs from behind a desk?

Remember: When you align your onstage performance and backstage reality, it’s easy to act from embodiment because your life becomes your preparation. As I remind my clients, “It took my entire life to write that sentence!” Does your life enshrine what your lips proclaim?

ULTIMATELY: Making use of everything you are is a spiritual imperative.

As Leonard Cohen sang:

“I never had a choice. I was given the gift of a golden voice. And I’m just sitting here every day, paying my rent in the tower of song.”

This is the life that now calls you.
This is the life you were created to have.

You contain enough instruments of expression to staff a symphony.

The question is whether or not you will write music for each one.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Aren’t you tired of starving?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “7 Ways to Out Attract Your Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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

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

The Otis Elevator Guide to Preserving Your Customer’s Sense of Control

Did you know that most “close door” buttons on elevators don’t work?

It’s true – they’re called placebo buttons.

They’ve been around since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed about twenty years ago. And according to the act’s homepage, the button is there for workers and emergency personnel to use, and it only works with a key.

Also, according to the Otis Elevator Company, most door close buttons can’t override the minimum required amount of time doors can stay open. Whether or not you press the buttons, the doors will eventually close.

THE QUESTION IS: Why the dummy buttons?I read a fascinating article on You Are Not So Smart that cleared things up:

“Non-functioning mechanisms like this are called placebo buttons, and they’re everywhere. If you do press the buttons, and later the doors close, a little spurt of happiness will cascade through your brain. Your behavior was just reinforced. You will keep pressing the button in the future, even though any direct benefit from them is only imagined.”

WHICH MEANS: The buttons do work, just not for the elevators.

Their real function is to preserve people’s sense of control.

Here’s why that matters.

In the psychology manual, The Handbook of Competence and Motivation, their research proved that human beings operate out of a model to feel autonomous and in control of their environment and actions. Thus: The feeling of being in control is a basic human need.

And the minute you reinforce and preserve that control, your organization wins.

What’s your close door button? How are you preserving your customers’ sense of control?

Let’s look at five practices for doing so:

1. Allow customers to write their own ticket. My friend Mark runs weekend retreats for small business owners. At the end of his seminars, he literally passes around a hat and asks people to pay an amount commensurate with the value they received.

It’s a risky pricing model, but Mark has conducted over one hundred of these retreats, every year, for the past twenty years.

Lesson learned: Risky pricing lead to regular profits.

Your challenge is to enable your customers to take your price into their own hands. Yes, this practice requires tremendous self-trust and confidence in your own value.

And it’s not for everybody. But that’s the cool part about vulnerability: It doesn’t just enable profitability – but also builds long-term viability. Transfer control to the customer, transfer money to your bank account. Forever. What if your customers wrote your price tags?

2. Remember the customer of the customer. As a public speaker, I travel a lot. Naturally, I experience my share of airline delays. Fortunately, when my ride picks me up at the airport, she’s never uncertain about my flight status.

Why? Because she parks in the Cell Phone Lot. It’s a new feature offered at Lambert International that beautifully preserves customer control. Located a few blocks from the main terminal, it opens early and closes late.

And with a giant screen indicating flight statuses, airline records and other relevant information, picker-uppers can relax in their cars without worrying about when (or if) their loved ones are going to arrive.

The cool part is, this example doesn’t just focus on the customer – but the people closest to the customer.

Which, if you think about it, is a customer too. Your job is to figure out whom your customer needs to look good for. Whom they need to make happy. Whom they’re coming home to. Are you forgetting about the people who matter to the people who matter?

3. Asking activates control. First, ask people how they will be affected by the decision. Listen closely as they tell you how to serve them better. Second, ask people what they would like to see happen next. Odds are, their request will be reasonable.

Third, ask permission for everything. It can’t hurt. And it helps you avoid additional guesswork. Fourth, ask customers to do something to help facilitate the problem solving process.

By putting them at the center of the decision, you not only preserve control but also enable new solutions to surface that you otherwise would have missed.

Ultimately, these four examples of asking restore the balance. That’s your goal: To give people enough control so they don’t worry that their basic needs won’t be met, but not so much control that they’re wasting time and energy making unnecessary choices. Are you asking the same questions as your competitors?

4. Provide a virtual steering wheel. My friend Chris Johnson sells flat rate web jobs. One of the cool things about working with his company is the very moment your transaction is complete, you’re prompted with a video. It doubles as a thank-you note and multimedia tutorial:

“Thanks for your purchase,” says an enthusiastic voice on the screen. “This brief video will explain exactly how to use the program you just paid for. That way you can get the most out of our services.”

This is a perfect tool for preserving customer control for several reasons. First, it’s immediate. No waiting. No wondering. And no window between when you buy and when you start using.

Second, the video closes the execution gap. Instead customers just paying money and then fading into the ether, Chris equips them with step-by-step instructions to optimize their purchase.

Finally, the video assures that customers know exactly what they are buying. And that level of expectational clarity is priceless. How are you guiding your customers along the uncertain path?

5. Provide clear, consistent contact points for managing progress. As a lifelong control freak, I’m fortunate to have a web team whose amazing client service appeases my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Check this out: Every time I put in a request for a programming modification, they email me with a copy of my Support Ticket. It includes my original request, a status report and the name of the tech involved with my project.

Over the life of the project, I’m emailed with occasional, non-annoying updates that keep me posted on the ticket’s progress. Eventually, when the ticket is done, I can offer feedback on the process.

Lesson learned: The speed of the response is the response. Even if you’re not able to solve your customer’s problem right away, consistent assurance that you’re on the case preserves their sense of control. How are do you update your customers on their statuses?

REMEMBER: All customers are control freaks.

Whether you serve them online, offline, in the air or in person – make a conscious effort to preserve their sense of control.

Until then, I’ll see you in the elevator.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How well do your customers know you?

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For the list called, “11 Ways to Out Market 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

How to Live the Brand Without Annoying the Bejesus Out of Everyone You Meet

You never know when your brand will need to rise to the occasion.

That’s why consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.

But.

Living the brand isn’t what you think it is:

It’s not about dressing for success.
It’s not about converting yourself into a corporate clone.
It’s not about memorizing some hollow, hackneyed mission statement.
It’s not about puking your unique selling proposition all over everyone you meet.
It’s not about integrating a sequence of promises that align with organizational initiatives.

All that does is annoy the bejesus out of everybody you meet.

HERE’S THE REALITY: To live the brand is to leave no doubt in people’s minds who you are, what you and why you are.

Let’s explore a collection of strategies for doing so:1. Act from embodiment. My mentor, Bill Jenkins, constantly reminds of me the following truth: “Eventually, you start to become the thing you’ve been teaching.”

This happens to every great leader. After a certain number of years, you wake up one morning, look in the mirror and think to yourself: “Wow. I am the message. I am my own best case study. The word has become flesh.”

It’s a glorious moment, albeit an unpredictable one. The tricky part is, in order to become the physical embodiment of your understanding – in order to truly live the brand – you have to be patient with yourself. Learning to live physically what you know intellectually doesn’t happen over night. Or over month. Or over year.

But, when your life begins to enshrine what your lips proclaim, the world doesn’t just pay attention – it pays dividends. As long as you’re willing to hang in there. Is the message you’re preaching the dominant reality of your life?

2. Be disarmingly predictable. People trust brands that are predictable. Which means it’s your job to prove customers right. To confirm their suspicions about the value you deliver and the values you stand for.

That’s all branding is anyway: An expectation. A shortcut. A predictable infection. And your challenge is to decide what you’re going to breathe into people – then sustain that spirit through every touchpoint.

For example, I’m a Walgreen’s junkie. Always have been. Not because of their prices, which are usually high. And not because of their service, which is usually average. I pick Walgreen’s first because every store – across the country – sustains emotional predictability.

No matter which location I walk into, I immediately feel at home. I know exactly where everything is. And I always get in and out quickly. In fact, I recently heard a cashier say to the customer in front of me, “Every Walgreen’s is your Walgreen’s.”

I totally agree. And I know I’m not the only one. How predictable is your brand? Because every interaction you have with somebody either adds to – or subtracts from – the overall perception of your brand. What can customers expect about your behavior?

3. Polarize people purposely. The last thing you want is everybody to like your brand. For two reasons. First, you’re nobody until somebody hates you. At least that’s what my therapist says. Second, if everybody likes you – that means nobody loves you. And that’s a deadly combination.

The secret is to practice strategic urination. To intentionally piss off the right people. After all, if you don’t risk turning anybody off with your brand, you’ll never turn anybody on with it.

Take my friend Ellen. She never ceases to become annoyed whenever I mention my one of my books. Then again, she’s not even close to being my target reader. So who cares? I’m happy to piss her off any day of the week. And we’ve been good friends since college, so it’s cool. Ellen knows I’m just doing my job.

That’s strategic urination. And keep in mind; you don’t want to polarize the people who matter most.

Take the hospital by my house, for example. Every day when I pass by, I notice a cloud of smoke coming from the side door. That’s where stressed out nurses take their nicotine breaks. Unfortunately, it’s also where patients drive by every day. And those are not the people that hospital wants to polarize.

For your organization, the challenge is to live the brand in a way that pleases the people who pay your bills and polarizes the people who don’t speak your language. Who did you piss off today?

4. To live is to let go. My grandfather, Frank, has been living the brand every day for thirty-seven years. As a result, his company, Closeouts With Class, has been a major player in the wholesale industry since the early seventies.

Recently, he celebrated his eightieth birthday. And my father made a speech to commemorate his leadership – both to the company and to the family. Somewhere between the tears and laughs, here’s what he said:

“As our leader, Frank never asked us to fill his shoes – he just fabricated the foundation: The sole. And from that foundation, he gave each of us permission to make our own shoes. His only request was that we wore them loud, wore them proud and wore them daily.”

That’s a helpful lesson for anyone in a leadership position: If you want your people to live the brand, allow them to do so through vehicle of their own uniqueness. Don’t worry – it’ll still be consistent with the core of the organization.

You just have to trust that if you provide your people with a solid foundation, everything that grows from it will stay in alignment. How are you enlisting people to take the brand into their own hands?

5. Make the invisible inescapable. Let’s talk about your fans. The people who have an ongoing love affair with your brand. The reality is: They don’t care what you know – they only care how you think, and how your thinking will help them become better.

The question you have to ask yourself is: How do you express how you think?

The good news is, the available tools for doing so are both easy to access and easy to apply. From blogs to social media outlets to public visibility, your goal is to take what’s in your head and get it onto people’s radars, under people’s skin and into people’s hearts.

Without that, your thoughts will remain just that: Thoughts. And all gorgeous gray matter will go to waste. And every branding effort thereafter will be nothing but winking in the dark. How are you thinking in three-dimensions?

6. Trust your genius to speak eloquently. Living the brand means never interrupting your work while it speaks for itself. Stepping on your own toes is a form of self-sabotage, and it’s costing your organization money. Daily.

Instead, here’s my self-promotional suggestion: Take advantage of every opportunity to let your genius speak. Let nothing go unstamped by your personality.

Don’t worry: You’re not bragging. You’re not showing off. And you’re not annoying the bejesus out of everyone you meet. It is possible to be in people’s faces without being on people’s nerves. You’re just living the brand by letting your truth speak in a remarkable way.

The tricky part of letting your genius speak for itself is that it threatens average people. And they will try to degrade your brand into something less.

You cannot let this happen. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. Find new friends or find your brand forgotten. Are you a living brochure of your own awesomeness?

7. Brands that make upgrades make money. A brand is a living, breathing, changing thing. And if you don’t change along with it, you’ll be about a relevant as a two-year-old newspaper. In his book, Utopia or Oblivion, Buckminster Fuller revealed his secret for lifelong growth:

“Ask yourself a little larger and more difficult question each day.”

Here are few to get you started:

*What habits do you need to jump out of to reinvent your brand?
*Have you identified the truly distinct values that will fuel your future momentum?
*How much self-reflection do you need to administer to scare yourself into the next version of yourself?

That’s the upgrade formula: To return to your own experience inventory for answers. Because if you want your brand to be one constant rebeginning – one universe of continual transformation – you’ve got to participate regularly and responsibly in your own evolution. How will you upgrade your brand into ever more devastating weaponry?

Okay. One caveat before we finish up…

As you live your brand in all your unedited glory, you still have to beware of the potential downside: Terminal uniqueness.

This is thinking you’re uniquely qualified, excessively entitled or self-righteously appointed to behave a certain way at the expense of others.

That’s living the brand to the point that you end up killing it.

Don’t be that guy.

If you truly want to live the brand: Be cool. Be smart. Be honest. Be you.

And most of all: Be consistent.

Because you never know when your brand will need to rise to the occasion.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you have a brand or are you living the brand?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “26 Ways to Out Brand 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

What Rich Entrepreneurs Know About Execution

“Ideas are free; execution is priceless.”

That’s my next book.
That’s my company mantra.
That’s my personal philosophy.

Today we’re going to talk about a few things rich entrepreneurs know about execution:

1. Slow footedness is the enemy. My biggest takeaway from The Social Network was when Facebook nemesis Divya Narendra exclaimed, “Zuckerberg knows that getting there first is everything!”

Sure enough, he was right. And that’s exactly how Narendra’s company got beat: Because they finished second.

Lesson learned: Those who are late to the game don’t just get bad seats – they don’t even make it past the gate.

It all depends on what you’re willing to give up to cross the finish line before anyone else. Perfection? Quality? Security? Control? Ownership?

How about it, lead foot? Will you master the simultaneity of surrender and initiative, or kill yourself trying to execute flawlessness in something that never finishes?

That’s what smart entrepreneurs practice: Quick eyes and even quicker feet. How nimble are yours?2. Execution is a check you can cash. My mentor once told me that my biggest advantage is that nobody could keep up with me. And after some serious reflection, I realized he was right.

I am dangerously prolific. I refuse to slow down long enough for anyone to catch up. And that means I will out execute everybody. For four reasons:

First, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do, as fast as I can do it.
That’s executional velocity: Take action quickly.

Second, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do – as much as I can do it. That’s executional volume: Take action prodigiously.

Third, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do – as well as I can do it.
That’s executional value: Take action exquisitely.

Finally, nobody – who does what I do – can do what I do – as long as I can do it.
That’s executional vitality: Take action consistently.

I challenge you to think about your executional velocity, volume, value and vitality. Are you talker or a doer?

3. Discern a definite pattern. Intelligence comes from pattern recognition, not information memorization. Here’s an equation I used in my workshops that you can plug your unique value (and your perfect customers) into. It’s called “The Ultimate Dream Statement,” and it goes like this:

“I wish there was a (x) so I wouldn’t have to (y).”

The (x) in the equation is dream focused, solution oriented and optimistic, i.e., “A portable music player with unlimited digital shelf space.”

The (y) in the equation takes away pain by helping people save time, money, energy, paper or manpower, i.e., “Schlepping ten years of compact discs around my apartment.”

That’s the secret: Figuring out what your customers are sick of doing, then positioning your value as the key to never doing that again.

Remember: Life is easier, simpler – and ten time more profitable – when you get good at identifying patterns. What profitable patterns are just waiting to be discovered?

4. Focus on what’s first – not what’s next. Look: I’m an entrepreneur. And I’m all for thinking about the future. But sometimes that’s a trap.

Sometimes you get sucked into the vortex of passionately pondering the potential of your big idea that you forget to take the necessary first steps to execute it. And that’s usually right around the time some snot nosed punk from Harvard steals the idea from under your nose.

My suggestion: If you want to take initiative on an idea that’s fair game to the world, don’t let the movement value of that idea seduce your ego into believing it’s the only thing that matters.

Execution is a matter of focus. Either you’re concentrating on the tide approaching shore, or the sand between your toes. Both are essential; but only one matters in the beginning. Are you bowing to the door of next or kissing the feet of first?

5. Trust every purposeful action. When something evolves on its own, it’s almost impossible to fully understand its biology until you look back.

That’s the recipe for entrepreneurship success: Heaps of uncertainty and leaps of faith. And most of the time, it’s a bloody painful reality to confront.

The secret is maintaining deep belief that your initiative will be rewarded. One way to do so is to practice preemptive nostalgia. To look forward to looking back.

For example, when I built NametagTV in 2006, I knew it would be expensive, I know it would require thousands of hours of work, and I know it wouldn’t make any money for at least eighteen months.

But I kept asking myself, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

And the answers that slowly arrived were bigger than I ever imagined. Sure enough, four years later, NametagTV has opened more doors, taught me more lessons and earned me more profit that I ever expected. Where are you afraid to trust yourself?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What idea have you executed in the past week?

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

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

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

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

The Starving Artist’s Guide to Making Use of Everything You Are

“I am large. I contain multitudes.”

Walt Whitman wrote that in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass.

Now, the way I see it, his words challenge the reader to do two things:

First, recognize how much potential you actually have.
Second, spend the rest of your life making use of everything you are.

Here’s how: 1. Beware of editors. When I was a kid, my older brother used to make fun of me for thinking. Not for thinking a certain way. Or for thinking about certain things. Just for thinking. Like, it wasn’t cool to just sit in your room and dream.

But I didn’t care. I was going to think no matter what. That’s just who I am. The cool part is, now people actually pay good money to rent my brain. Sounds like all that thinking paid off – literally. What’s more, sounds like choosing (not) to listen to every negative comment that came my way paid off.

Who’s trying to edit you? Who, in your life, is actively attempting to discourage you from being your truest self? Your challenge is to assess if their comments are constructive criticism or destructive projections.

That’s all self-esteem is anyway: Deciding whom to listen to. It’s how you estimate yourself. The overall appraisal of your personal value.

And if you want to make use of everything you are, you have to begin with fundamentally positive self-regard. Who are you allowing to edit you?

2. Don’t dismiss or deny your native background. During a presentation last year, one of my audience members insisted on correcting the grammar on one of my slides. “I can’t help it,” she admitted to the group. “I’m an editor. It’s in my blood.”

Then, from other side of the room, someone asked, “Have you considered a transfusion?”

The group got a good laugh out of it. But I can’t help but wonder if the woman was a bit hurt by that man’s comment. I know I would be. And I think that’s something we need watch out for. Because it’s a disservice to yourself to dismiss or deny your native background.

On the other hand, making use of everything you are flows from a complete openness to yourself – even the parts you view as liabilities. And if you don’t remain true to that basic nature, you’ll render yourself a traitor.

Try waking up with that taste in your mouth every morning. Blech. What dormant parts of you await permission to be expressed?

3. Yield to the impulse of expression. A song that ignites my creative spirit every time I heart it is “No Choice,” by Edwin McCain. It goes like this:

“It was a love so big that it filled his heart, until it swelled and finally burst apart. And where the love spilled out they called it art. But he never really had no choice.”

“There was a beautiful fire inside of him as he balanced his way out on that limb. Could have burned right through that branch so thin, but he never really had no choice. Oh, he had no choice. When he gave his river a voice. He never really had no choice.”

Perfect reminder: If you want to express all that you have to contribute, you have to believe that something valuable will emerge. You have to believe you have the ability to build something substantial.

Only then can you get touch with your natural rhythms, surrender to the river – the unbounded vital force – and be creative without limitation.

And if somebody tries to interrupt you, just say, “Can’t talk. In pursuit of something meaningful.” Where will the current of your truth carry you?

4. Remove what robs you. I attended college at Miami University. But not the fake Miami in Florida. The real Miami: In Ohio. Anyway, I went to school around the same time as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. We actually had class together.

Although, not surprisingly, Ben never came to class. And I’ll never forget what my professor told me when I asked about Ben’s academic status:

“I pray I never see him in class. I hope he’s at the gym. I hope he’s studying plays. I hope he’s watching game film. Let’s be honest: Do you think Roethlisberger wants to make forty thousand dollars a year working in marketing; or make ten million a year playing in the NFL?”

Sure enough, Ben was drafted two years later. And he led his team to the Superbowl. Bet he didn’t lose much sleep over missing class.

Lesson learned: Remove what robs you; embrace what optimizes you. Especially the moment when you realize that you’re hardwired to become something bigger.

Otherwise, if you choose not to cater to your deepest desires and strongest urges, the existential agony will eat away at you like a one-celled bacteria. What robs you of your true talent?

5. Be not obliged to the mirage of limitation. Don’t brainwash yourself into believing that you’re a one-trick pony. Employ a little artistic diversity. Integrate everything in your life into your expressions. And taste the full scope of your creative power.

I started practicing this heavily a few years ago. I was curious about myself, so I decided to explore new ways to make use everything I was. From shooting educational videos to writing poetry to creating innovating new media through which to deliver value to my clients, expressive limits became a thing of the past.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

*Which of your skills do you rarely get the opportunity to use at work?
*What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to add value to your customers?
*What personal skills have you not tapped into yet to build your business?

You might be pleasantly surprised at the firepower of your creative arsenal. Where do you limit yourself?

ULTIMATELY: Making use of everything you are is a spiritual imperative.

As Leonard Cohen sang:

“I never had a choice. I was given the gift of a golden voice. And I’m just sitting here every day, paying my rent in the tower of song.”

This is the life that now calls you.
This is the life you were created to have.

You contain enough instruments of expression to staff a symphony.

The question is whether or not you will write music for each one.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Aren’t you tired of starving?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “7 Ways to Out Attract Your Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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

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

Does Your Brand Pass The Nametag Test?

Know your customer.
Know your customer.
Know your customer.

Since day one, you’ve been beaten over the head with those three words.

And while they’re important, there’s actually something bigger at stake:

How well do your customers know you?

ANSWER: Not enough.

And if you think you don’t have customers, look harder. Everyone has customers. And they need to know who you are, where you are and why you are. Otherwise your message fades into the echo chamber with the rest of the noise.

Ultimately, it’s a question of trust, which is a function of self-disclosure. That’s a basic tenant of human communication, first researched and proved by psychologists like Sidney Jourard and John Powell.

But you don’t need to read books to know how trust works. In fact, that was one of the first realizations I encountered in the early days of wearing a nametag twenty-four seven: Strangers trusted me more once they knew my name.

Not that much more. It’s not like they gave me their ATM passwords or anything.

But there was enough additional trust to be noticeable.

It was weird. I didn’t really do anything. Just wore a nametag that said, “Scott.”

AND THAT’S THE SECRET: When trust is the only currency that counts – and it is – if your customers don’t know you, you lose.

It’s not about nametags – it’s about making yourself more knowable.

Here’s how:

1. Communicate yourself to the world. Branding is finished. Not as an idea, but as a word. I don’t care what industry you work in. It’s not about branding – it’s about identity. The best and highest version of yourself.

And it’s not about company name – it’s about constitutional knowledge. The non-negotiable values and decision-making mechanisms that drive your daily world. That’s what customers want to know: Why you are, who you are and who you aren’t.

If you’re not communicating that to the world with consistency, intimacy, honesty and immediacy, your customers will pick someone else. Somebody cool. Somebody transparent. Somebody they feel like they already know.

I’m reminded of my friend Harlan, who owns a production company. He once told me, “Video is the second best way for people to meet you.”

What about you? Other than in person, how else are you enabling people to meet you? From online profiles to multimedia introductions, the opportunities are endless. What’s more, the tools to execute them are affordable and accessible. What are you using to make your identity more knowable?

2. Photography is priceless. A picture doesn’t just say a thousand words – its earns a thousand dollars. Literally. In my experience, a cool, interesting, unique and brand-consistent headshot has the power to book new business, secure media interviews and capture the eyes, hearts and wallets off the masses.

But only if you do it right. Only if you pay a real photographer real money (like Bill Sawallich, who I use) to capture the real you. Otherwise your headshot comes out as the same bland, fist-to-chin, Sears Portrait Studio tripe that every other amateur uses on the profile of her Facebook page. Blech.

On the other hand, when your pictures rock, the world doesn’t just pay attention – it pays dividends. For example, I’ll never forget the time I gave a speech in Biloxi, Mississippi. While commuting from the hotel to the conference center, I unexpectedly drove past my own headshot on a highway billboard.

I was so stunned that I nearly swerved off the road. Talk about surreal. But apparently my client loved the picture so much; she wanted to share it with the entire city. And I was happy to let her. Is your headshot billboard worthy?

3. Emphasize your expanded role. Do your customers truly know all the different ways they can engage your services? Or do they just assume you’re a one-trick pony like everybody else? That’s the secret to helping customers get to know your business:

Transitioning from “Should we hire this guy?” to “How should we use this guy?”

I made this transition a few years ago. My role expanded from some guy who wrote books and gave speeches to a trusted resource. Now my clients use me in seven different ways: Speaking, Facilitating, Books, Online Learning, Rent Scott’s Brain, On-Camera Talent and Private Commissioned Art Pieces.

This not only diversifies my business and positions me as a valued asset, but educates my clients on who I am through the depth of what I can deliver.

Your challenge is twofold: First, physically map out a chart of every single possible way somebody can use you. Second, articulate that diverse offering to emphasize your expanded role. Customers won’t just know you – they’ll know how to use you. How many different ways do you make money?

4. Make the mundane memorable. Sam Walton was the first retailer to require all of his employees to wear nametags. The nametags helped the customers get to know the people they bought from, said Walton.

How do your people get to know you? Here are a few ideas that might stick:

*What if you did video interviews with each of the company executives about their individual leadership visions?

*What if you removed everything from your purse, bag or wallet – spread it out on a table in an orderly fashion – then took a picture of it and posted it on your blog?

*What if, instead of your boring resume, bio or curriculum vitae, you published a downloadable and printable copy your Personal Constitution, Professional Philosophy, Theory of the Universe?

Try one of these strategies to make mundane memorable and show your visitors who you really are. What’s your nametag?

5. Embed your personality into your premises. I once worked at a mom-and-pop furniture store in Portland. The owners leveraged self-disclosure to its fullest extent. You couldn’t step five feet into their store without seeing pictures of their family, nostalgic newspaper articles and personal memorabilia from the early days of the business.

These decorations engaged transient customers, contributed to the personality of the business and brought the store to life. What’s more, there was no doubt in the customer’s mind: You knew who these people were. You knew exactly whom you were buying from. It’s no surprise they averaged fifty million a year.

Lesson learned: Stop telling your customers how you are and start showing them who you are. Especially if you have an office, store, branch or location with high traffic. Take advantage of those eyeballs.

Make sure they don’t leave until they have an accurate picture of who you are and why you are. Make sure they’re clear about what you say you’re committed to caring about. Otherwise they won’t tell their friends about you. What makes your walls come alive?

6. Get over your product and get behind your personhood. In a recent blog post, cartoonist Hugh McLeod wrote, “Nobody’s reading your blog because of your art. Or because they have an inherent love for purple dogs and green sofas. They’re reading your blog because the person you are inspires them. Not because they’re thinking of buying your paintings. But because the way you approach your work motivates them. It sets an example for them. It stands for something that resonates with them. It leads them to somewhere that they also want to go.”

Lesson learned: Stop explaining who and what and start demonstrating how and why. That’s the ultimate instrument of your expression. Your life. Your being. Your truth. Try writing with that pen.

Customers, readers and fans – that already enjoy your art – will go absolutely crazy when you reveal the unique process behind it. That’s how you get over your product and get behind your personhood. Do you believe that you’re more than just a pretty picture?

REMEMBER: Hiding the true picture of who you are is a form of reputational risk you can’t afford to take.

Look, we live in a low-trust culture. And people will try to discredit you with anything they can find.

But, if you tell them who you are first, you win.

After all, branding nothing more than committing to and acting from the best, highest version of yourself – every day.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How well do your customers know you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “11 Ways to Out Market 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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

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

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