Creativity is about NOTICING

NOTICING … ancillary answers.
Because their unintended, incidental nonchalance might be exactly what you didn’t realize you were looking for.

NOTICING … anomalies.
Because NOT questioning or challenging standard scripts is dangerous.

NOTICING … happy accidents.
Because making mistakes has proven to be a leading cause of creative breakthroughs.

NOTICING … how quickly people understand your idea.
Because if they don’t “get it” right away, they never will.

NOTICING … how people respond to your idea.
Because if everybody loves if, or nobody wants to steal it, or if you continuously get shot down at “Why?” it’s probably not that good of an idea.

NOTICING … internal comments.
Because creativity is about listening to your heart, your gut and your inner voice.

NOTICING … what’s around you.
Because innovation is all around an ideas are just WAITING for you to capture them.

NOTICING … when things don’t work.
Because then your mind can search for solutions.

What do YOU notice in your creativity practice?

For a list called “9 Things Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to and I’ll give you the write stuff!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Want to learn more about pumping up your creative prowess?

Cool! Perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis. Rent Scott’s Brain today!

18 Myths about Creativity That Are Holding Your Inner Artist Hostage

MYTH #1: Creativity is about making something out of nothing.
REALITY: Creativity is about making connections between existing things.

MYTH #2: Creativity is something you DO and HAVE
REALITY: Creativity is something you ARE.

MYTH #3: Creativity is about making the material come to you.
REALITY: Creativity is about unblocking the flow of what’s already there. (For the best way to relieve artistic consipation, read this.)

MYTH #4: Writer’s block is the greatest enemy to creativity.
REALITY: Thinker’s block is the greatest enemy to creativity. (If you want to avoid Thinker’s Block, read this.)

MYTH #5: There is an official “process” to creativity.
REALITY: There are many processes to creativity, each of which has many different layers.

MYTH #6: Creativity comes (primarily) from hard work and (partially) from inspiration.
REALITY: Creativity comes equally from forcing yourself to create AND harnessing inspiration when it crosses your path. (Read more on The Paradox of Inspiration.)

MYTH #7: You can teach people to become more creative.
REALITY: You can ONLY teach people how to harness their inherent creativity AND create an environment that fosters creativity. (To create that environment, check this out.)

MYTH #8: Creativity is a skill.
REALITY: Creativity is a skill AND an attitude AND a lifestyle AND a thought process AND a way of being.

MYTH #9: Creativity is about getting your “one big idea.”
REALITY: Creativity is about constantly having lots of ideas, big and small; good and bad.

MYTH #10: Creativity is something you apply to your work.
REALITY: Creativity is something you apply to EVERYTHING, as it is a way of approaching and encountering the world.

MYTH #11: Creativity is about thinking.
REALITY: Creativity is about thinking AND listening AND observing AND watching AND surrendering AND noticing patterns AND combining AND asking AND plucking AND scanning AND receiving.

MYTH #12: Creativity is something you control.
REALITY: Creativity is something that you received from a higher power because you selflessly listened and surrendered to it.

MYTH #13: Creativity comes from chaotic, unstructured, non-linear thinking.
REALITY: Creativity comes from chaotic, unstructured, non-linear thinking COMBINED with small touches of occasional structure.

MYTH #14: Creativity is something you just turn on when needed.
REALITY: Creativity is a muscle that gets stronger with increased use and must be practiced as a daily non-negotiable that is as regular and normal as breathing.

MYTH #15: Creativity is about completing specific pieces.
REALITY: Creativity is about contributing to a lifelong body of work. (To see some HOT bodies – of work, that is – read this.)

MYTH #16: Creativity is about coming up with lots of ideas all the time.
REALITY: Creativity is about maintaining a healthy balance between idea creation AND idea judgment.

MYTH #17: Creativity is about making something nobody else has ever made.
REALITY: Creativity is about giving people new eyes, not new landscapes.

MYTH #18: The purpose of creativity is to make stuff.
REALITY: The purpose is to grow your soul.

What’s holding YOUR Inner Artist hostage?

For a list called “The 10 Best Books on Creativity You’ve Never Heard Of,” send an email to and I’ll gladly motivate your melon 😉

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Tired of waiting around for new customers?
Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on!

Watch video lessons on getting them to come to YOU!

How to become your own consultant

You probably don’t have the money to hire McKinsey.

But you still want to make your company more equitable, more profitable and more successful, right?


Well then, if you’re willing to invest your time and mental energy (but not so much money!) consider this option:

What if you became your OWN consultant?

I know. It sounds impossible.

After all, the whole point of hiring a consultant is to bring someone ELSE into your company, right?

Well, to a certain extent, yes.

However, the word “consultant” stems from the Latin consultare, which means, “To deliberate or consider.”

And you don’t necessarily need some MBA in a suit to do that for you.

Now, sure, I believe in The Outsider Advantage. And I believe there are lots of AMAZING consultants out there.

Heck, I even have a consulting department myself.

But I also believe that successful entrepreneurs learn how to practice objective deliberation on their own.

Because (most of) the answers lie within.

– – –

So, even though it’s not the same thing as brining in some suit from a Fortune 500, your company still can reap the benefits from a little self-consulting.

Especially if you do it regularly.

NOTE: I’m not suggesting you abandon your relationships with mentors, advisors and other members of your professional support system. Nor am I suggesting that self-consulting is a replacement for that support system.

I merely implore you to consider yourself as your company’s most valuable consultative resource.

That being said, let’s explore a list of five practices to help you become your own consultant.

1. Begin with objectivity. The primary value of hiring an outside consultant is BECAUSE she comes from The Outside. This means she has little or no bias. This means she can deliver independent thought. And this means she can recognize patterns immediately.

Obviously, this is a LOT harder to do when it’s just you. Especially since you’re so close to the situation.

So, your challenge is to operate on multiple planes of consciousness. To avoid emotional reactivity. To detach yourself so you can objectively and honestly consider your own criticism.

Kind of like Michael Gerber suggests in The E-Myth: “You need to be the creator, the manager and the technician … simultaneously.”

ASK YOURSELF: Are you willing to step back and examine your company’s challenges calmly and objectively?

2. U-NEED-2-READ. Every single day, spend at least fifteen minutes reading, annotating and studying books that facilitate self-exploration. Books that ask you questions. Books that challenge you. Books that make you sit back and think.

Consider these titles to get your success library started. I’ve personally had breakthrough moments of company knowledge with each one:

o The Aladdin Factor
o Flight Plan
o The Mentor’s Spirit
o Ordering Your Private World
o Questions that Work
o Thinking for a Change

Also, once you’ve marked up your books, the next step is to customize a personal system for transcribing your thoughts. I suggest recopying or summarizing your notes, keeping them in a folder – physically or virtually – and revisiting them regularly. This will keep those self-consultative thoughts fresh in your mind.

ASK YOURSELF: How many books did you read last month?

3. Ask the right questions. Questions are the basis of all knowledge, understanding and creativity. And if you want to be your own consultant, remember that questions are the answer.

So, I suggest doing three things.

First, consider 3-5 vital areas of your business. Everything from marketing to sales to blogging to managing employees.

Next, make a list of pointed, specific and penetrating questions that correspond to each “department.”

Then, ask away!

Now, each book mentioned in the previous example has a WEALTH of great questions. But, if you’re still not sure what to ask, no worries! Here are a few mini lists to get you started:

o How much are you promoting your own personal agenda?
o Can you clearly define what you are a steward of?
o Have you considered other alternatives to this value and explored them fully?

o How are you creating a non-threatening workplace?
o How are you creating a question-friendly atmosphere?
o How do you create an environment in the workplace that encourages the generation and application of your best ideas?

o How are you allowing customers to participate in your brand?
o How are you building a following?
o How are you building a permission asset?

o Are you using informational, value-added follow-up?
o Do you know where your leads are coming from?
o Are you spending more time educating potential customers on the benefits of your service, or telling them why you are better than the competition?

o What “little things” made a big impact on your business?
o What are the best people in your field doing?
o What are the most important things for you to work on that will grow your business the fastest?

4. Hit the page. If you are TRULY serious about becoming your own consultant, the most important practice you can undertake is writing. Especially since you’ve already been reading great books and asking great questions, writing is the logical next step!

“Yeah, but I’m not a writer,” you say.

Yes you are. Everyone is a writer. Writing is the basis of all wealth.

So, here are my three best suggestions for using the practice of writing to become your own consultant:

o Learn to do Morning Pages, the best writing/creativity exercise in the world!

o After asking your questions from example #3, put each your answers in writing. Store your document according to topic in a folder called, “Consulting Me.”

o For any other form of writing you do (as it pertains to consulting yourself), make lists. Lists for everything! And why? Well, consider these 43 reasons.

ASK YOURSELF: What did you write today?

5. Let everything mentor you. OK, we’ve talked about detachment, reading, questioning and writing as four effective practices to help you become your own consultant. For our final example, here’s another self-consultative exercise you can use throughout your day when you’re NOT reading, writing or questioning.

Let’s go back to that list of books for a sec. One in particular, The Mentor’s Spirit, has a FANTASTIC philosophy about self-consulting. Author Marsha Sinetar suggests that you “search out the mentor’s spirit in everyone and everything.” A few other great keepers from her book include:

o “Don’t be afraid of being a little unreasonable with yourself.”
o “Value silence for creative discovery and personal renewal.”
o “We grow by living with our questions, not by having all the answers.”
o “Search each current and particle of existence for truth.”

ASK YOURSELF: How can I let this experience, person or thing mentor me?

– – –

REMEMBER: If you’re willing to invest your time and mental energy, acting as your own consulting CAN pay off BIG time.

It will increase your self-knowledge.
Which will increase your confidence.
Which will increase your company’s equity.
Which will increase your company’s profitability.

And you won’t even need to hire someone from McKinsey!

How do serve as your own consultant?

For a copy of my Top 100 Self-Consultative Questions, send an email to and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

How many unsolicited referrals did YOU get this week?

Tune in to The Sales Channel on!

Watch video lessons on enabling customers to buy!

7 Ways to Prime Your Brain for Constant Creative Insight

OK, so, you want to be more creative.

You want to become a Thought Leader.

And you want to make REAL changes in the world.


Cool! You sound like my kinda guy. (Or gal.)

So, here’s the plan. Because before you start changing the world, there’s something you need to do first:

Prime your brain.

See, the word “prime” actually means just that: FIRST.

As in, “The First Step of Creativity.”

SO, THAT’S THE SECRET: Before you start concocting the next great business idea, your first move is to motivate your melon.

Here’s a list of seven practices to help you prime your brain so new ideas will start flowing like water!

1. Maintain an expectant frame of mind. Before sleeping, exercising, brainstorming or any other extended periods of heightened creativity, first take a few minutes to invoke The Muse. Focus your thoughts and expectations on receiving insight. Try affirmations like:

o “I am creative.”
o “I have many ideas.”
o “I am a brilliant artist.”
o “I am willing to create.”
o “I love to play with everything.”
o “I am flourishing with creativity.”
o “I am confident in my creative work.”
o “I am a receiver for creative inspiration.”
o “I have a constant flow of interesting and creative ideas.”

2. Make space in your own mind. For something to enter, your mind must first be empty. So, here are four ways to take a Mental Dump:

o Morning Pages: This stream of consciousness method of journaling is life changing AND life clarifying. Learn how to do them here.

o Exercise: Every single day for at least 20 minutes straight. See, with every bead of sweat you release, more space in your mind is also created. Learn more about solvitas perambulatorum here.

o Walking: Now, although you (could) put this under the category of exercise, taking regular walks – even if it’s just around the block – is a form of moving mediation. It clears your mind and fills your body with fresh oxygen. Plus it’s fun.

o Meditation: No, you don’t have to levitate. You just have to relax. In fact, the word “meditate” comes from the Latin meditatus, which means, “to contemplate.” So, whether it’s TM, focused breathing or your Daily Appointment with Yourself, this practice will be the most effective way for making space in your own mind.

3. Operate on multiple planes of consciousness. Prior to engaging in any activity – whether it’s reading, writing or attending a seminar – consider the various lenses through which you could view that activity. Let experiences change you. This will make your mind actively prepared to observe what your eyes see.

For example, let’s say you were reading a book. Consider reading with these three types of eyes:

o Superficial Eyes: You don’t need to read every word. You don’t need to listen to every line. You don’t need to understand every concept. Just get the key ideas. Figure out the ONE thing you’re supposed to be learning. And when you’re done, think (and rethink) about how it applies to your life.

o Academic Eyes: Observe other people’s styles, vocabularies and voices. Then, think about your own writing style. Pick out little things and trends you noticed from other creative people and adapt them to your own work. (Notice I said, “adapt,” not “steal.”)

o Creative Eyes: Highlight or underline a key passage. Put the book down. Make a list of all the reasons, examples, ideas and stories that come to mind when you apply that idea to your own life. Save that document in its own folder. Come back to it later and expand on what you read.

4. Perpetually hunt for insight. Inspiration is ENDLESS and EVERYWHERE. Anyone who ever claims, “I can’t find any good ideas!” is either lazy, stupid or not looking very hard. So, the secret is to maintain an attitude of curiosity, exploration and expectation … in everything you do. To be constantly scanning.

So, when you’re hunting for insight, ask yourself Filtering Questions like:

o Isn’t that interesting?
o What else is like this?
o What does this have to do with me?
o What’s the Universal Human Emotion?
o How are these issues related to each other?
o How does this have to do with my expertise?
o How could I use this as an example in my work?
o What did you (just) learn from this experience?
o How is this a symbol or example of my expertise?
o How does this fit into my picture of the universe?
o What’s the key idea here, regardless of the context?

5. Write it down! If you’ve read this blog before, you probably know my philosophy on this topic: Writing is the basis of all wealth. And if you don’t write it down, it never happened. So, when it comes to priming your brain, writing is your BEST friend.

See, The Page clarifies, organizes, and best of all, it doesn’t judge you. It just listens. So, if you have a big meeting, conference call or discussion coming up, consider taking fifteen minutes the MORNING OF to write out your thoughts. Voice complaints, ideas and annoyances, even “things NOT to say.”

Oh, and remember to make lots of lists, kind of like this.

6. Soften your eyes. This is more than just a practice; it’s a philosophy. And it’s not just physical, it’s mental and spiritual as well.

See, if you want to prime your brain, you need to slow down and notice the novelties of life. To studying ordinary things intently. To make the mundane memorable and be mindful of your surroundings. Here’s how to soften your eyes:

o You OPEN your mind. This means your optical guard lets down. Which means you’re less likely to neglect key opportunities. Which means you’re more willing to accept multiple perspectives. Which enables you to have more creative thoughts.

o You OBSERVE patterns quickly and frequently. This enables you to make connections between seemingly unrelated things. Which enables you to notice things and give them names. Which enables you to have more creative thoughts.

o You ORGANIZE your thoughts with ease and comfort. This helps you filter them through your personal theory of the universe. Which makes them YOUR unique ideas and theories. Which makes them easier to spread.

7. Become a Suspender. Suspend your self. Suspend your agenda. Suspend your preconceptions. Suspend your preoccupation. Suspend your views.

See, when you are willing to watch things in a detached way, you actually see MORE by striving LESS. If you’re also willing to learn something new (and NOT be obsessed with what you already know) there’s no limit to the amount of ideas your brain might attract!

So, strive to maintain openness to possible thoughts outside of what you already have. Become a suspender.

– – –

REMEMBER: You make a living off your ideas. They are the ancestors of your success.

So, if you want to become a creative powerhouse, a recognized Thought Leader and an agent of REAL change in the world, start by motivating your melon!

How do you prime your brain?

For a list called “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to with “Idea Powerhouse” in the subject line, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

…only 7 more days until goes ON AIR!

49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse

Since this is my final workweek of 2007, I’m going to post a ridiculously long list … every day. Be sure to check back all week!

And, don’t forget to read the other ridiculously long lists in the series:
101 Lessons Learned from 2007
101 Ways to Create a Powerful Web Presence
123 Questions Every Marketer Must Ask
69 Mini Philosophies on Just about Everything

But for now:
49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse

(NOTE: today’s ridiculously long list goes out to Terry Rayburn, who recently asked me, “How do you get so many good ideas?!” Well, here ya go T!)

1. Affirm to yourself every morning: “I am a creative powerhouse.” “I am constantly attracting creative ideas.” “I am an artist.” “My brain is beautiful.”

2. Appeal to the senses. Work in the grocery store. Create art in jazz clubs. Write at airports. This stuff works.

3. Ask yourself the same question over and over until you’ve come up with over 100 answers.

4. Become a Wordsmith.

5. Do Morning Pages. (Personally, this is my absolute #1 technique for becoming a creative powerhouse. At least TRY it.)

6. Every 50 minutes, take a brain break.

7. Every time you observe something, ask yourself, “How does this fit in to my theory of the universe?” (Thank you, Linus Pauling!)

8. Fatigue your mind. Detach from your current project and go do something completely different. Ideas will come because, often times, when you care the least, you do the best. Intentionality blocks creativity.

9. Get feedback. It’s awfully hard to be creative alone.

10. Go for four-hour drives down highway 70 in the December fog while listening to Iron & Wine and eating Tabasco Slim Jims. (Hey, that’s how I came up with this VERY list last night!)

11. Go to NY, PDX and San Fran. Walk the streets. List, list-EN, watch, take notes.

12. Google EVERYTHING.

13. Hang out at Borders.

14. Hang out with people who think differently than you.

15. Hang out with people who work in TOTALLY different fields than you.

16. Just listen. Anyone who says, “I never have any good ideas,” or “I have writer’s block” or “There’s nothing good out there,” … IS A TERRIBLE LISTENER. To themselves. To the world. To others. I mean, seriously, you’ve got to be nuts to NOT have ideas. They’re everywhere! Waiting for you to pluck them.

17. Let your audience members, fans and readers help you. Leave comments and questions open. They’re smarter than you think and they see things you never could because you’re on the inside.

18. Listen to really cool, weird, eclectic, unique and creative music. Good suggestions include Morphine, Radiohead, Tool, Chris Whitley, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Thievery Corporation and, of course, Mr. Tom Waits.

19. Maintain portable creative environments in your car, house and at work.

20. Make lists for EVERYTHING. Longer is better.

21. Make sure everything you know is written down somewhere. Because if you don’t write it down … IT NEVER HAPPENED. (Ever.)

22. Pick up one of David Mack’s comic books or graphic novels. Absolutely the most creative guy I’ve ever met. (I totally sat next to him on a plane! Eep!)

23. Play an instrument. If you don’t know how, take lessons. Or just fake it. Or do what my friend Robert does and make your own instruments. (P.S. If you’re the kind of person who says stuff like, “Yeah, but I’ve never been a musical or creative person…” then you really, really need to read the rest of this list!)

24. Practice aggressive pondering.

25. Read books about thinking. I suggest How to Have a Beautiful Mind and Thinking for a Living.

26. Read Copyblogger.

27. Read Don The Idea Guy’s ebook.

28. Read every book ever written by DeBono and Mihaly.

29. Read Hugh’s ebook.

30. Read Seth’s blog.

31. Run, walk, bike, swim, hike or any other form of consistent, rhythmic exercise for at least 30 minutes, every single day. But it has to be 30. The endorphins don’t kick in until about 20. (Oh, and don’t forget to bring paper. Unless you’re in the pool. In that case, bring a portable, waterproof dry erase board. And sure, the other swimmers might think you’re crazy. But it could be worse: you could have a damn nametag tattooed on your chest!)

32. Set idea quotients. Preferably 50’s and 100’s. Quantity leads to quality.

33. Soften your eyes.

34. Stop hanging out with people who don’t know how to value your thinking yet. They are actively hampering your ability to be creative.

35. Teach daily. (Yourself AND others.)

36. Think on paper. Draw pictures of your ideas and problems. Even if you (think you) suck.

37. THREE WORDS: colored index cards.

38. U NEED 2 READ EVERY DAY. And not the paper. Not magazines. Not crap. I’m talking about books. (If you’d like a list of 194 of my favorite books, send an email to and I’ll be happy to share.)

39. Use un-lined paper. Lines are for math people.

40. Watch kids. Hang out at the Children’s Section at Borders. (Just not too long. Stalker.)

41. Watch The Simpsons.

42. Watch uber creative people do their thing. It’s neat.

43. Watch, study and discuss movies by super-creative, cool, unique and slightly weird directors and writers like Tarentino, Mel Brooks, The Cohen Brothers and Wes Anderson.

44. Work on the floor.

45. Work on the wall.

46. Work on the ceiling. (I hear it worked pretty well for Michelangelo.)

47. Write out an incomplete sentence that begets creative completion, i.e., “If clients aren’t actively telling their friends about you…” Then Google that sentence. Then make a list of 100 ways to finish it. Then post it on your blog. Then get your readers to finish it too. (This is my favorite creative exercise.)

48. Write with pretty colors. I like lavender.

49. Write. Every-single-day. Period.

What are your three best ways for becoming an Idea Powerhouse?

Post your lists here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Need a professional listener?

No systems. No formulas. Just someone who (actually) listens, asks KILLER questions and facilitates creative breakthroughs.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Here’s the story … of two inventors …

During the late 1800’s, two inventors had almost identical ideas for this AMAZING new transmitting device called “The Telephone.”

You can probably guess who ONE of those inventors was.

Alexander Graham Bell, of course.

But here’s a name that you might have heard before: Elisha Gray.

See, he actually recorded his schematics the telephone about six weeks before Bell did.

SO, YOU GOTTA WONDER: “Why is it that nobody remembers that guy?”

Well, Elisha Gray received a lot of criticism for his telephone invention.

Believing speech transmission to be a waste of time, the top technical journal of the industry, The Telegrapher, put down his idea.

“It is NOT a new idea,” claimed the publication, “…the telephone is an invention with no direct practical application.”

According to the (awesome) book They All Laughed, even Gray’s colleagues were unimpressed.

So, under the weight of criticism, he slowly started to give up on the idea that the telephone was a moneymaking enterprise.

Now, he didn’t give up totally. But he DID continue his research with heavy doubt.

Meanwhile, a determined young man named Alexander Graham Bell was still cooking up his idea for the same invention.

AND HERE’S THE CRAZY PART: although he had no affiliation with Gray, Bell’s initial sketch of the telephone was almost identical to his counterpart’s.

SO, YOU (STILL) GOTTA WONDER: “If Elisha Gray had the idea for the telephone first, why does Alexander Graham Bell always get credit for the invention?”


After constant legal struggle between the two inventors, the idea of the telephone was eventually deemed fair game for both parties.

So, on the morning of March 7th, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell walked into the Patent Office and secured his name as the official inventor of the telephone.

AND HERE’S THE BEST PART: later on that same afternoon, only two hours after Bell walked out with his patent, guess who walked in the door hoping to do the same thing?

You guessed it: Elisha Gray.

Too little, too late!

See, Elisha Gray didn’t show up in time, because he didn’t BELIEVE as much as Bell did.

He allowed criticism to stunt his creative momentum.

And as a result, he forfeited the opportunity to be recognized as one of the most influential inventors in modern history.

Two hours. That’s all it took.

What are YOU waiting for?

What is your biggest creative regret in 2007?

Post it here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Consultants. Bah.

No systems. No formulas. Just someone who listens, asks KILLER questions and facilitates creative breakthroughs.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to be a Wordsmith, Part 1

Are you a Wordsmith?

Someone who loves to explore and research the TRUE meanings behind the words people use every day?

If so, congrats! You’re one step ahead of everyone.

Because word exploration is GOLD.

For learning.
For research.
For branding.
For satisfying your curiosity.
For expanding your expertise.
For enhancing your creativity.
For clarifying your understanding.
For changing (and challenging) your thinking.

Even if you don’t like to write, read or do research, becoming a Wordsmith actually creates value for you AND your customers.

PICTURE THIS: you’ve been given the task to come up with a new company slogan. And just for fun, let’s say you’re in the waste removal business.

Let’s go through five Wordsmithing techniques to help clarify your understanding of the subject:

1. Etymology. Always begin with the word’s derivative. It’s usually Latin, but whatever language it comes from, this technique will open your eyes to the true meaning of the term.

For example, the etymology of the word “garbage,” derives from an Anglo-French word meaning “refuse.”

Hmmm. Interesting. Maybe your tagline could say something like, “What your dog won’t chew, our company won’t refuse!”

It’s silly, but it’s fun! And the creative process is just beginning.

2. Books. Whatever industry you’re in, you need to have read every book ever written about that industry.

For example, if you go to Amazon and search for “garbage,” you’ll find books like:

o Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, by Elizabeth Royte
o Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage, by Heather Rogers
o Rubbish! The Archeology of Garbage, by William L. Rathje

I’m not even IN the garbage business, and I kind of want to read those books.

REMEMBER: there are always at least three books written about everything. Expand your expertise regularly. You will become a better-educated authority and a more valued resource to the customers you serve.

3. Google. Every time I work with new company, I always make it a point to google their one-word industry category when preparing my talk. Then I usually show a screen shot of the search results during my slideshow.

It’s amazing what comes up first.

For example, I was working with Verizon’s call centers. I discovered the first hit on Google was a Wikipedia page. It indicated the most common complaints of call centers, according to a worldwide study.

During my speech I asked the audience, “Anyone ever googled ‘call center’ before?”

Not a single hand went up. Interesting.

What about you? Have you googled YOUR job title lately?

4. Articles. Speaking of Google, another great resource is to do a search on your word (in this case, “garbage”) along with the word “article.”

This will bring up every published article on, about and connected to garbage.

Just for fun, I did a search on garbage while writing this article. And I learned something pretty cool.

DID YOU KNOW: Joseph Longo, from Bristol, Connecticut, has built a career around uniting trash and tech?

That’s right! According to the article from, he’s known as “The Prophet of Garbage.” Joseph Longo’s Plasma Converter turns our most vile and toxic trash into clean energy—and promises to make a relic of the landfill.

If I had a client in the garbage business (which, strangely enough, I actually do), this is the kind of stuff I’d want to know.

5. Definitions. Although it’s sort of cliché to say, “Webster’s dictionary defines ‘garbage’ as…” there’s still validity in this Wordsmithing technique.

What’s more, it’s amazing how many businesspeople don’t know the TRUE definition of the industry in which they work.

OK, back to garbage again. If you look up that word on, you’ll find several definitions.

I happen to like this one the best: “Garbage is anything that is contemptibly worthless, inferior, or vile.”


(I disagree, seeing as how I’ve made an entire career out of a nametag I saw in the garbage!)

Who knows? Maybe a definition like that will spark the creative impetus you need to make a marketing breakthrough!

HERE’S THE POINT: Ultimately, googling, researching and exploring words probably won’t get you promoted. It probably won’t change your life. And I doubt it will make you any more money.


When you take the time to explore a single word, a word that summarizes the entirety of your industry, it could only…

Help you learn.
Help you understand.
Help you be more creative.
Help you start to think differently.

So take a few minutes today to become a better Wordsmith.

And next time you see your garbage man coming around the corner, tell him I said what’s up!

(To read Part 2 of this series, click here.)

What Wordsmithing techniques do you use?

Post your ideas here!

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

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10 mistakes that changed the world


1. Are you making enough mistakes?
2. How are you learning from those mistakes?
3. How are you leveraging those mistakes into other ideas?

Historically, making mistakes has been a leading cause of creative breakthroughs.

So, if you want to motivate YOUR melon and increase your innovative prowess, check out this list of 10 mistakes that changed the world.

NOTE: each of these vignettes has a Leverage Question at the end to get you thinking about how to score with your screw-ups!

* * * *

1. One morning in 1930, Ruth Wakefield ran out of baker’s chocolate. So, she brought home semi-sweet chocolate, broke it into pieces and threw it into the dough. And the very first chocolate chip cookie was born!

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: What replacement ingredient could you use?

2. In 1886 while concocting a form of medicine, John Pemberton accidentally added carbonated water instead of plain water to his recipe. When he tasted it, this new drink was so delicious and refreshing, it was later popularized as Coca-Cola.

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: Instead of using the “generic” version of your ingredient, what exotic item could you use?

3. Centuries ago, a Chinese emperor named Shen Nung was boiling water outside when leaves from a nearby tree fell into the pot. He tasted it, enjoyed it, thus creating the very first cup of tea!

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: What would happen if you did your creative work outdoors?

4. At the 1904 World’s Fair, waffle maker Ernest Hamwi noticed a fellow vendor’s booth ran out of dishes to serve ice cream. Just to be helpful, he rolled up one of his waffles into a cone and made an instant hit!

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: How could you join forces with your tradeshow neighbors?

5. One morning, centuries ago, Iroquois Chief Woksis threw his tomahawk into a nearby tree. When he returned the next day, he pulled the tool from the bark only to notice sap furiously dripping onto the ground! If only pancakes had been invented yet…

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: How could you temporarily abandon your idea?

6. In 1928, Alexander Fleming accidentally left a loaf of bread on his windowsill for too long. When he returned and noticed mold, instead of throwing it away, he reexamined the bread and discovered something called staphylococci. That substance eventually created penicillin!

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: What if you left your idea sitting on your window?

7. In the 1870’s at a soap factory, a workman went to lunch and left the machine running. When he returned, he noticed that air had been worked into the mixture, thus hardening the soap! He later poured into frames and began selling it by the bar and made Ivory a FORTUNE.

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: What if you left your idea alone during lunch?

8. In 1905, a young student named Frank Epperson was mixing soda-water powder and water one day. He then accidentally left the mixture on his back porch overnight with the stirring stick still in it, only to return to find the very first Popsicle!

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: What if you left your idea outside overnight?

9. Harry Brearly was a metal worker who threw his old scraps into a junk pile. On day in 1913, he noticed that certain old pieces rusted quicker than others. After analyzing the metal, he found the element that helped produce stainless steel!

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: How could you reuse something people threw away or quit on?

10. In 1907, Arthur Scott, head of Scott Paper Company, had a shipment of paper returned to him by a customer. They complained it was “too hard and wrinkly,” so instead of throwing it away, he cut it into individual sheets and began selling it as “paper towels.”

MAKE THIS MISTAKE: What is another use for this failure?

What have you learned from a recent mistake?

Share your epiphany here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

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Soften your eyes

Remember those Magic Eye posters from the 90’s?

They were totally cool.

You’d stare into the image.
You’d relax your eyes.
And eventually, a “hidden picture” would appear!

The scientific name for this kind of image is an autostereogram. They allow people to see 3D images by focusing on 2D patterns.

According to the Magic Eye website:

“Autostereograms produce an illusion of depth using only a single image. The computer-generated image repeats a narrow pattern from left to right. Then, by decoupling eye convergence from focusing operations, a viewer is able to trick the brain into seeing a 3D scene.”

Now, if you’ve ever found yourself staring at a Magic Eye poster for an extended period of time, you know how frustrating it can get.

Especially when one of your smarty-pants friends walks by and says, “Hey, look! A sailboat! Cool…”

This makes you want to yell, “No, shut up! I haven’t seen it yet! Go away!”

OK. Settle down. It’s just a picture.

ANYWAY, HERE’S MY QUESTION: what was the difference between your vision and your friend’s vision?

Simple: your friend softened her eyes.

See, we live in a hyperspeed, A.D.D., instant-gratification, advertisement-saturated culture. It’s information overload!

And millions of powerful forces are constantly vying for your precious time and attention.

So, “softening your eyes” is more than just a technique, it’s a philosophy. And it’s not just physical, it’s mental and spiritual as well:

It’s about slowing down.
It’s about noticing the novelties of life.
It’s about studying ordinary things intently.
It’s about making the mundane memorable.
It’s about being mindful of your surroundings.

AND HERE’S THE BEST PART: when you maintain a Soft Eyes Philosophy, three cool things happen:

1. You OPEN your mind to the world around you.

Which means your optical guard lets down.
Which means you’re less likely to neglect key opportunities.
Which means you’re more willing to accept multiple perspectives.

RESULT: more ideas for your business.

2. You OBSERVE patterns quicker and more frequently.

This enables you to make connections between seemingly unrelated things.
This enables you to notice things and give them names.
This enables you to have more creative thoughts.

RESULT: better ideas for your business.

3. You ORGANIZE your thoughts with ease and comfort.

Which helps you filter them through your personal theory of the universe.
Which makes them YOUR unique ideas and theories.
Which makes them easier to spread.

RESULT: word-of-mouth worthy ideas for your business.

All from Softening Your Eyes.

Now, as you’ve probably guessed by now, we’re not exactly talking about Yoga here.

(Although, physically softening your eyes is a great relaxation technique!)

So, if you want to put the Soft Eyes Philosophy into practice, consider this list of 13 leverage questions to ask yourself (and your team) on a daily basis:

1. How are these issues related to each other?
2. How could you use this as an example in your work?
3. How does this fit into your theory of the universe?
4. How does this have to do with your expertise?
5. How is this a symbol or example of you expertise?
6. What did you (just) learn from this experience?
7. What does this have to do with you?
8. What else can be made from this?
9. What else does this make possible?
10. What else is like this?
11. What is around you that you can use?
12. What’s the key idea here, regardless of the context?
13. What’s the Universal Human Emotion?

HERE’S YOUR FINAL CHALLENGE: if you truly want to LIVE this philosophy, try this. Write a few of these questions on sticky notes and post them all around your office!

By practicing QREATIVITY regularly, you will train your eyes to soften regularly.

And a result, EVEN in our crazy-busy, information overload culture:

You will slow down.
You will notice the novelties of life.
You will study ordinary things intently.
You will make the mundane memorable.
You will be mindful of your surroundings.

And you will develop higher quality ideas than ever before.

Even if you (still) can’t see that damn sailboat.

What have you recently discovered by softening your eyes?

Share your revelation here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

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15 Ways to Avoid Writer’s (Thinker’s) Block

Writer’s Block is a myth.

There’s no such thing.

See, writing is merely an extension of thinking.

So, if you hear someone complaining about her insufferable “Writer’s Block,” what she’s REALLY complaining about is her “Thinker’s Block.”

Because she’s not asking enough questions.
Because she’s not taking daily time to think.
Because she’s not maintaining constant curiosity.
Because she’s not viewing the world through her unique lens.

Those are just (some) of the causes of Thinker’s Block.

But there’s more. And if you want to avoid it, remember these six words:


Here’s a list of fifteen ways to do so:

1. U NEED 2 REED EVERY DAY. This is the #1 reason people suffer from Thinker’s Block: they don’t read. (And no, US Weekly doesn’t count!) I’m talking about BOOKS. Old and new. Every single day. Also, I suggest reading more than one book at once. Keep reading material in your car, bathroom, briefcase, gym bag, desk and anywhere else you spend a lot of time.

2. Copy your notes. Don’t just read; STUDY! Take copious notes. Write related ideas in the margins. When you’re done, re-copy your notes onto your computer. Store them in a folder called “Book Notes.” Revisit them regularly to refresh your melon.

3. Write everything down. Writing is the basis of all wealth. And if you don’t write it down, it never happened. That’s all I have to say about that.

4. Everything communicates something. But are you paying attention? Probably not. And yes, it’s hard. Especially in such a fast-paced society. So, remember the words of Ferris Bueller: “Life move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while – you could miss it.” What does your hurried lifestyle make you miss out on?

5. Soften your eyes. Literally AND metaphorically. It’s about slowing down and noticing the novelties of life. It’s about being more mindful of your surroundings. Studying ordinary things intently. Are you making the mundane memorable? (More on Eye Softening tomorrow)

6. Think on paper. That way you won’t have to remember anything. So, based on your learning style, use flip charts, whiteboards, voice recognition software, note cards or mind maps to record your thoughts.

7. Capture, capture, capture. Don’t (just) write stuff down. Take pictures. Rip articles out of magazines. Pick up trash and keep it. Save voicemail messages. Keep key emails and letters. Constantly update a folder full of scraps and ideas you jotted down on vomit bags three months ago. You never know when a bad idea might come in handy!

8. Write Morning Pages. These are the single best tools I’ve EVER discovered as a professional writer. They prime the pump, get the creative shanks out and allow your best material to surface. And if you make them a habit every single morning, you will NEVER have Thinker’s Block again. Read how to do Morning Pages here.
9. Exercise every day. Aka, solvitas perambulatorum. Even if it’s just a fifteen-minute walk. It’s the best way to get the endorphins and dopamine flowing. Best legal high in the world. Best source of ideas in the world. Plus it’s, like, good for your health and stuff.

10. Easy Does It. Keep running lists of quotes, one-liners, great ideas, cool words, websites, pieces of advices and short thoughts. Start documents called “Quotes” and “Ideas.” Just list them and updated them daily. No explanations. Just list. By recording your incomplete, fragmentary association process, you stimulate and inspire highly saturated streams of thought.

11. Perpetually hunt for insight. Inspiration comes unannounced! And your constant stream of ideas flows everywhere. So, actively respond to life. Maintain childlike curiosity and ask, “Why?” to everything you see, hear and experience.

12. Prime your brain. Each morning, affirm that new ideas, concepts and thoughts will come into your mind. Maintain a receptive and creative posture for your mind. Meditate daily. Have daily appointments with yourself to mentally prepare your mind to accept ideas from all sources. Prime your brain and the ideas will come to YOU!

13. Stop organizing. Premature organizing stifles idea generation. Just get it down. Make lots of lists for EVERYTHING. Order comes later. First, puke everything out. Then, don’t stop until your cashed. Finally, review (and update) the list over time.

14. Ask and you shall receive. Questions are the basis of all creativity, discoveries, innovation, knowledge, learning and understanding. So, you need to have a readily available list of questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.

15. Punch yourself in the face. Consider writing your motivational questions on sticky notes or on your wall. By keeping them in front of your face at all times, you will challenge yourself AND keep yourself creativity accountable. Potential questions include, “What did you write today?” and “Is everything you know written down somewhere?” REMEMBER: questions are ideas waiting to happen. Learn how to punch yourself in the face here.

With these fifteen ways to create a constant stream of ideas, you melon will be motivated from every possible angle.

And you’ll never have to worry about Writer’s (er, Thinker’s) Block again!

How do you combat thinker’s block?

Share your tips here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Enjoy this post?

If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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