13 Ways to Find the Silver Lining in Just About Anything

“Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?”

John Milton wrote that line in his 1634 play, Comus.

Since then, the phrase “silver lining” has become the go-to cliché for any hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty.

Even though the meteorologically inclined would tell you that (actual) silver linings on storm clouds grow from atmospheric lead and sulfate contamination.

EITHER WAY, THE CHALLENGE IS: How can you train yourself to become an expert at finding the silver lining in every experience?

ANSWER: Just ask.

It’s not about positivity – it’s about leveragability.

Here’s a list of thirteen Silver Lining Questions you can ask yourself, your team or your customers on a daily basis to leverage EVERY experience in a positive light.

And, just for fun, I’ve paired each question with a song lyric by a different musician or band that wrote a song called “Silver Lining.” Apparently it’s a popular topic in the songwriting world too. Take this, Al Roker:

1. How can I use this situation as a gateway to learning something about myself, and then change for the better? Everyone, everything and every experience are your mentors. This too will shape you. But only if you give it permission to do so.

As Amanda Ghost sang, “Silver lining I bathe in your light, I’ll always believe in your place in my life, silver lining I know that I’m right, I’ll always believe in your right to shine.”

2. How could this positively affect me? This is a tough question to ask when the shit hits the fan. The challenge is partnering with your pain. Greeting discomfort with a welcoming heart. Saying yes to what is and inviting every experience to teach you.

As Beula sang, “You want it, silver lining shining for you, you got it, the dark cloud always waiting for you.”

3. How will this make me stronger and better? Than you used to be, that is. Not stronger and better than anyone else. The only person worth competing with is the earlier version of yourself. It’s not about being better than anyone – it’s about being better than you used to be.

As Cheryl Wheeler sang, “I’m gonna be your certain silver lining, I’m gonna be your lullaby at night, I’m gonna be your baby all right.”

4. How does this relate to my life purpose? Success is a function of your ability to be at peace with the following truth: Everything that happens to you is exactly what is supposed to happen to you. Even the detours are part of your path. May as well get used to it.

As Chet Baker sang, “Look for the silver lining, whenever a cloud appears in the blue remember somewhere the sun is shining, and so the right thing to do, is make it shine for you.”

5. Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? This is the third most important question I ask myself on a daily basis. Incorporate it into your daily lexicon and you’ll become a master leverage artist. You’ll kill two stones with one bird every time.

As David Gray sang: “Take this silver lining, keep it in your own sweet head, shine it when the night is burning red, shine it in the twilight, shine it on the cold, cold ground, shine it till these walls come tumbling down.”

6. What can I learn from this? Something. Anything. Everything. As long as you’re dedicated to lifelong learning. As long as you remain teachable. As long as you remind yourself that you’ve never figured it all out. What finish line?

As Jeff Beck sang, “And it’s hi-ho silver lining, anywhere you go now, baby I see your sun is shining but I will make a fuss, though it’s obvious.”

7. What idea does this give me? Ask this question five times a day and you will never cease to be inspired. Innovation will become your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lightning will strike the same place over and over again.

As Kate Voegele sang, “But so many people are looking to me, to be strong and to fight, but I’m just surviving, I may be weak but I’m never defeated, and I’ll keep believing in clouds with that sweet silver lining.”

8. What is the hidden treasure inside this person that maybe others don’t see? It all depends on what you see when you see people. Plus, how long you’re willing to dig before unearthing the diamonds that lie beneath. Plus, how hard you’re willing to ignore other people’s misguided assumptions about this person.

As Reliant K sang, “Isn’t it nice? Isn’t it nice to know that the lining is silver? Isn’t it nice to know that we’re golden?”

9. What is this an opportunity for? Growth? Connection? Service? Adventure? Instant reeducation? Reframe your problems. Reassess your situations. Convert them into something more productive.

As Rilo Kiley sang: “And I was your silver lining, as the story goes, I was your silver lining, but now I’m gold.”

10. What makes this person special? It’s your job to find it, affirm it, share it and reinforce it. And NOT because you want to make people feel “special” or “important” or “valued.” But because you want to make them feel essential. You want to honor their essence.

As The Bled sang, “This is what I found in the wake, the message was scratched on the face of his grave, it goes we will find the silver lining and make this our own.”

11. What potential, ability and wisdom do I see in this person? If you can’t learn at least one thing from everyone you meet, you’re not trying very hard. Everyone is your teacher. Everyone knows at least one thing you don’t. You just have to be willing to staple your tongue to your mouth to receive it.

As Upstanding Youth sang, “These are my lines to memorize, and make sure you believe them, cause things are bad and at the edge of every cloud’s a black lining, but wait, she said, as she stood by my side, and how her face glows, the black lining’s gone, it’s silver.”

12. Where else can I use this? Attribute transferring. Morphological synthesizing. Metaphorical thinking. Analogical transmitting. It’s all the same. It’s all about learning to bring ideas from one field of knowledge into another. From Domain A to Domain Z.

As We Shot the Moon sang, “We can be found, we can be found, it’s never too late to change, you came around, and you came around, a silver lining, found me again.”

13. Where is the gift in this? Abundance is a function of receptivity. For many people, this is hard. Because when you receive, you’re out of control. And people love to preserve their sense of control.

As Wino sang, “As I ride through life, I’m gonna keep on trying to keep the love and bring the hopes and dreams alive, on every dark cloud there is a silver lining, the gleaming fortress of spirit, it will shine!”

REMEMBER: If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you’re not very creative.

Every side is the bright side. Train yourself to treat every experience with deep democracy. I challenge you to ask yourself, your team and your customers these questions to find the silver lining in every experience.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s starting to rain outside.

I need to go out and play before it stops.

What color are your clouds?

For the list called, “15 Ways to Out LEARN Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

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6 Ways to Discipline Yourself to Write Every Day – Even If You’re a Perfectionist and/or a Lazy Bum

1. What techniques can you suggest for getting ideas out of your head and linking them? First, write Morning Pages. I know that tends to be my answer for everything, but I’m serious when I say it’s the most crucial component of ANY writer’s creative practice. Start them tomorrow.

Second, here’s the approach I use regularly. Go to Office Depot. Buy a box of index cards. Write one idea per card. Scatter them on the floor. Stare at them for sixty seconds. Then allow the inherent geometry of your ideas to link individually. See, the brain is a self-organizing system. All of the links between your ideas are already in place.

Your job is to change the visual arrangement of the ideas to bring it to the surface. What’s more, working on the floor is a scientifically proven approach to creativity that works every time. Read this post called Ode to My Floor from a few years ago. Remember: You don’t need to do as much work as you think, other than pay attention.

2. What to do when you’ve written all you can but need to do more? First of all, you’ve never written all you can. EVER. Assuming you’re “all tapped out” stems from a poverty mentality that’s extremely damaging to your creative practice. The first suggestion is to ritualize your writing time with a prayer, invocation, incantation or call to the Muse.

Personally, I use the system from another one of Eric Maisel’s books, Ten Zen Seconds, in which I recite the following incantations while doing a breathing exercise:

“I am completely stopping … I embrace this moment … I expect nothing … I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge … I am ready to write.”

Do that once a day and you’ll be on your way to a more abundant, prosperous attitude. Also, consider asking yourself counterintuitive questions to define the whitespace around your idea, i.e., “What issue am I totally forgetting to address here?” “What is the counterpoint to what I’ve said, and how could I overcome that objection?”

Finally, hit up Google. Not to steal material, but to motivate your melon. Take advantage of specific search terms that use exact quotes. For example, I wrote a module about being “call-back-able,” aka, how to increase the probability that customers will call you back.

When I found myself stuck for ideas, just for fun, I googled the phrase, “I’m never calling her back because…” This turned out to be an enlightening search that netted some very cool research, which sparked several helpful ideas I never would have thought of otherwise. That’s how I use Google, and I do it every single day. It works. Play with it.

3. How do you find water when you don’t HAVE it? First of all, you DO have it – you’re just not digging in the right spot. That’s why you need to write Morning Pages every single day. They clear the path and pave the way for the water that lay beneath.

Again, I know I’ve already suggested this exercise several times. But I can’t stress it enough. Seriously, I’ve missed maybe ten days of Morning Pages in seven years. That’s how important they are. Also, if you’re concerned about running out of water (or the inability to find water), do what small towns do: Build a reservoir. A creative reservoir of idea starters, prompts, questions and phrases that you can tap at a moment’s notice.

The challenge is organization. Fortunately, I am an absolute genius at this. Here are three examples of how I approach this process. First, my reservoir contains 7,000 powerful, thought-starting questions categorized by topic (i.e., #2,096: “LEADERSHIP: How are you empowering people to become the person they were created to be?”).

Next, my reservoir also contains another 10,000 “three-words of advice” phrases, sorted alphabetically for easy searching (i.e., #8,441: “Mobilize your passion.”) Finally, my reservoir contains another 20,000 module ideas (topics, sentences, quotes, words and phrases) collected from books, conversations, notes and other random sources over the years.

Each module idea is sorted by subject, waiting to be written about (i.e., Management #3,183: “Suspension of judgment accelerates learning.” As you can see, the total volume of my reservoir is astounding. And keep in mind; it’s taken nearly eight years to build.

So, here’s the lifeline: I filled it up ONE IDEA at a time. And I challenge you to begin the same. Customizing your own Content Management System is single most profitable creative tip I can give you. Do it. It’s huge.

4. How do you turn off the perfectionist gene? If it’s a gene, can you really turn it off? Isn’t that like asking, “How can I stop being gay?” Frankly, I don’t know. I imagine certain people are more disposed to being perfectionists than others.

Leos, for example, are known to be prideful. (If you believe in all that astrological stuff.) My theory is that perfectionism is a form of procrastination. Nothing by a tired excuse assembled by your ego. Just a paltry attempt to prevent productivity. Nothing but a trap set by your neurotic compulsions. Just a feeble effort to prohibit progress. Nothing but a brick wall erected by your narcissistic desires. Just a cheap shot at your ability to inspire people.

And, nothing but a campaign against creativity, waged by the authoritative voices in your head. Just an incessant struggle to silence your inner kindergartner. For further reading on this topic, I wrote a detailed guide called How to become an Imperfectionist. Might be a good read for you.

5. What writing exercises will keep you on track when you feel your discipline lagging? Well, why do student athletes tend to perform better in school? Because discipline breeds discipline. Think about it. If they’ve already conditioned themselves to practice shooting hoops for three hours a day, every day, that same discipline has no choice but to carry over into other areas of their lives.

So, next time you feel your creative discipline lagging, STOP. Take a writing break. It’s time to engage in another activity (that’s completely unrelated to writing) … that you ARE disciplined to. Whether you exercise, meditate or play music, the point is to switch gears AND keep the bike moving.

Once you’re done (after twenty minutes, two hours or two days) you will return to your writing with renewed strength, a clear head and a transferable discipline pattern that will get you back on track. If that doesn’t work, you call always start sniffing model airplane glue.

6. How do I maintain that initial fire and excitement when I start a new project, especially when I’ve got a lot of unfinished pieces? Van Gough once remarked, “No great work of art is ever finished.” I’ve always found that idea to be relaxing to my frantic desire to “finish” everything. In fact, now that I think about it, every module idea in my Content Management System (and there are close to 50,000 of them) is technically “unfinished.”

Which, if you really want to get existential about it, COULD mean that they’re ALL finished. It might not matter. So, try this: Ask yourself what was in place when your initial fire ignited. Was it the medium? The subject? The weather? The drugs you took? The music you were blasting? The people you were hanging with? The creative environment you worked in?

By pinpointing the attributes and components of your initial inspiration, you make it easier to replicate the process for re-ignition. Ultimately, it’s less about maintaining the initial fire and more about starting another fire that’s equally as hot.

If you have further challenges with the discipline of creativity, send me an email.

Hey, at least you’ll be writing!

What awaits you in the refining fire of discipline?

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

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

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

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How Writers and Creative Professionals Can Get Rid of Their Discipline Problems Once and for All

I get a lot of questions from readers, audience members, fans and followers about discipline.

Not because I’m an “expert” on discipline.

More because I AM discipline.

From wearing a nametag 24-7 – to exercising and meditating daily – to starting work at five AM – to writing seven hours a day … I guess discipline is kind of my thing.

I blame my mom for this.

She’s 30-year veteran of the fitness industry. From teaching aerobics – to one-on-one weight training – to studying nutrition – to lecturing on cholesterol – to instructing Pilates … I guess discipline is kind of her thing too.

Oh boy. It just occurred to me that I’m exactly like my mother.

But with smaller biceps.

Anyway, I reached out to my friends on Facebook and Twitter with the following requestion:

On the topic of the discipline of creativity: What would you like to learn? Where are you stuck? What questions can I answer?

The response was outstanding. Got tons of emails, tweets and comments.

I’ve compiled twelve of the most common themes and challenges below, each containing answers, resources and exercises.

So, special thanks to everyone who was willing to share their creative challenges publicly. Not an easy thing to do.

Here’s the first six. Let the discipline begin:

1. How do I flesh and idea out into a blog post? Beginning with a list is the simplest and most non-threatening way to write (and read) information. First, read this guide to the science of using lists.

Second, allow yourself to begin with a list, but then escape from structure after that. Let the material take you where it wants to go. Remember: Creativity is nothing but active listening.

Finally, reframe your approach to categorizing your material. Always think modular. Everything you write is a module, which I define as, “An uncategorized chunk of creative material.”

Thinking modular objectifies your creative process and prevents premature cognitive commitment, aka, falling in love with your own ideas. It keeps your creative process open ended and makes it easy to simultaneously work on multiple projects.

Thinking modular also matches (and leverages) the way your mind works. It enables easy editing and makes content management easier and faster. Remember: It’s not a blog post – it’s a module. Everything starts as a module.

2. How do I get past the “just do it and start” phase? Don’t worry about making it good the first time around. Just get something down. You can go back and make it better later. Trust your resources that more will come, and when it does, it will be better.

Also, consider honestly asking yourself what misguided fear is in place that’s preventing you from starting: Fear of self-disclosure? Fear of looking stupid? Fear of your Aunt Patty reading your blog and being offended? Odds are, those fears are easy to overcome once they’re pinpointed.

For further reading, check out The Easiest Way to Overcome Your Fear of Writing and How to Make Your Fear of Writing Melt Away Like a Creamsicle in August.

3. How do you maintain the creative burst after the initial one? Take a break every fifty minutes to do something completely perpendicular to your current activity. Engage a different part of the brain by taking part in activities that free up your peripheral consciousness.

For example, when I’m ready for a break from writing, I go grab my guitar and start jamming. Or wash the dishes. Or walk to Starbucks and back. I never fail to return with renewed energy and spirit. Another suggestion is to embrace the philosophy I call Solvitas Perambulatorum. This is the process of using movement to solve problems and re-ignite your creative fire.

4. How do you push through when it’s no longer fun? Pinpoint past successes. Ask yourself, “What, specifically, made this fun initially?” Write your answers down. Then, for each one, brainstorm three ways to duplicate those fun patterns.

Another suggestion is think about what, in general, makes ANY activity fun for you. For example, I never EVER write without music. Ever. And, because I have 11,000 songs in my library, I know exactly which albums are going to put me in a fun mood. (Today, it was The Thrills.)

So, if I find that my level of fun is wavering, I change the music. Check out this guide on How to Create a Portable Creative Environment. That way, it’s ALWAYS fun.

5. How do you quiet the inner critic? As I learned from The Tao, “Any over determined action produces its exact opposite.” So, my first suggestion is relinquish your resistance to your inner critic. If you’re trying to quiet it, it’s only going to yell at you louder. Instead, consider having a conversation with it. Partner with it. Love it.

Remember: A bully’s source of strength derives from your fear of it. When you greet your inner critic with a welcoming heart, you’ll be amazed at how quickly its momentum dissipates.

Next, read The War of Art. This is my favorite book of all time. Ever. Seriously, I buy a new copy and re-read it every summer. It’s specifically written about creative resistance and will change your creative practice forever, guaranteed.

Third suggestion: Every writer on the planet needs to read Eric Maisel’s fantastic book, Write Mind: 299 Things Writers Should Never Say Themselves and What They Should Say Instead. He approaches “the creative critic” from a psychotherapy perspective. This book will blow your mind.

6. How can I tell the difference between awesome ideas and potential high-flying ideas without just throwing the whole lot against an audience to see what sticks? For the most part, you can’t. That’s not your job. Even if you could discern the value of your ideas prior to publishing them, it’s not a wise practice.

My suggestion is three words: Discard evaluative tendencies. Treat every idea, every experience and every thought with deep democracy. I learned this practice from one of the coolest books ever written on creativity, Unintentional Music. Author Layne Arye suggests we value everything whether it was intended or not. “Let all the different parts of the idea express themselves and influence your creative decisions. Be deeply democratic by listening to – and valuing – all parts.”

Therefore: Stop telling yourself, “Well, if I don’t remember it when I get home, it couldn’t have been that important.” That, right there, is the fatal flaw. That, right there, is where most people go wrong. If you make an appraisal of your idea before it’s even written down, you’re assuming and operating on the assumption that how good or bad an idea is, (especially in the early stages of that idea’s development), actually matters.

It doesn’t. Good or bad means NOTHING. Assigning value to your ideas before they’ve been brainstormed, explored and expanded is a creative block. This causes you to fall victim to premature cognitive commitment, which prevents your idea from blossoming into its truest and strongest potential. The idea isn’t “good.” The idea isn’t “bad.” The idea simply IS.

That’s it. No adjectives allowed. So, stop judging. Stop evaluating. Stop appraising. Write everything down, as soon as it enters into your brain. Don’t worry how amazing, how ridiculous or how insane the idea sounds, just get it down. If it strikes a cord with people, they’ll tell you. If it doesn’t, that’s cool too. All that matters is that it strikes a cord with you. That’s the only music that matters.

If you have further challenges with the discipline of creativity, send me an email.

Hey, at least you’ll be writing!

What awaits you in the refining fire of discipline?

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

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

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

12 Ways to Manufacture Your Own BIG Breaks as an Artist, Entrepreneur or Creative Professional – Even in a Recession

“I’m just waiting for my big break!”

Really? Well, I hope you’ve got a good book to read. Because with a passive attitude like that, you’ll be waiting a looooooooooooong time.

HERE’S THE REALITY: You can’t sit around waiting for your big break.

You’ve got to learn how to manufacture your own big breaks by making yourself more “breakable.”

Here’s how:

1. Define the word. The word break seems (almost) too simple to look up in the dictionary. Which is exactly why I looked it up. And I discovered a few fascinating insights about a word that we use every day. For example, the term “break” derives from the Old English brecan, which means, “to disclose.”

Interesting. Guess you can’t manufacture your own big break if you’re not sticking yourself out there. Secondly, the word break contains over one hundred definitions in the dictionary. I’ve pulled a selection of these to get your brain boiling, along with questions to challenge your thinking:

• To interrupt the regularity. Which of other people’s patterns are you willing to break to be noticed?
• To divide into smaller units or components. How many small breaks are you willing to manufacture so your big break becomes an inescapable likelihood?
• To run or dash toward something. Are you willing and able to move quickly on new opportunities before they pass you by and break someone else?
• To begin uttering a series of sounds. Do you have five difference versions and lengths of your pitch down pat, ready to go at a moment’s notice?
• To change abruptly into something else. What type of person will you need to become to handle the big break once you get it?
• To be admitted into. What price are you willing to pay to be granted admission into your chosen field?

Remember: Five letters notwithstanding, “break” is a BIG word. Learn it. Know it. Live it. What does “break” mean to you?

2. Accept that there ARE no big breaks. Only a progression of small breaks that nobody sees or cares about, the sum of which eventually carries enough weight to be noticed. A big break is nothing but a small break amplified by the right timing.

And that’s hard part: That nobody sees the 90%. The grunt work. The late nights. The extra hours. They only see that crucial 10%. The performance. The final piece. The end product. Which means that your 10% better be damn good, or else that 90% is going to feel like a big waste of time. Are you willing to manufacture a series of small breaks first?

3. Suck it up. In a an article with Wrestling Digest, WWE star Jeff Hardy’s best strategy for becoming more breakable was simple and powerful, “Just take the spectacular bump.” Now, keep in mind that Hardy was specifically referring to getting thrown out of the wrestling ring by his opponent and crashing down on a table in the audience. I’m not suggesting you do that. (Although, that WOULD be kind of cool…)

Rather, I urge you to embrace the metaphorical angle to Hardy’s comment: Take the spectacular bumps. Of rejection. Of failure. Of setbacks. It’s all part of the deal. If your perception of (and response to) failure were changed, what would you attempt to achieve?

4. Prepare to leverage. In January of 2003, CNN Headline News interviewed me about my first book, HELLO, my name is Scott. Unfortunately, I screwed up BIG time: I didn’t have an agenda for the segment. I never strategized how to convert the subsequent web traffic. And I didn’t consider requesting a clip of the interview for my blog.

As a result, that media spot was highly underleveraged. In fact, it pains me to even think about how many opportunities I missed because of that mistake. So, my best advice for you is to have your finger on the leverage button at all times. Because it’s not how big the interview was – it’s how far you can stretch it now. Now that you have this, what else does this make possible?

5. Expertise isn’t enough. In an article on www.ehow.com called, “How to Break into the Video Game Industry,” I learned a valuable lesson about networking as it relates to becoming more breakable.

“Any time you’re speaking with a video game professional, your passion for the industry can be your greatest asset your biggest downfall,” explained the editor.

“So, work hard to disprove that your interests start and stop with video games. Emphasizing your love of games, but also your ability to be social and personable, will help you stand out from the pool of candidates.”

“Remember: Not every person who works for a video game company is a die-hard gamer. Be sensitive to that, and try not to freak anyone out with your vast knowledge of Final Fantasy lore, or Dungeons and Dragons trivia.”

Therefore: Even if you’re not a programmer, this is a helpful reminder to combine industry expertise with interpersonal skills. That way you have more to offer than just your brain. What else do you bring to the table besides skill?

6. Work at adjacent positions. Maybe you can’t secure the lead role. Or the opening act. Or top billing. That’s OK. Don’t allow short-term hardship to deflate you. Instead, see if you can secure a part-time spot, entry-level position or internship for a related capacity. Assistant, security guard, customer service, mail room, all of these are acceptable starting points.

The point is, if you’re only going to work part time, you may as well do so where you can be seen. Kind of hard to get your big break as a comedian working at Starbucks. For example, Nike employees, often get their big break at the retail level before ascending into the corporate sphere. And screenwriters often get their big break working as production assistants. Where could you put in your time?

7. Remember that you’re on display. Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance. And you never know who’s in your audience. So you better be good and you better be ready. That’s it. What do people think when they hear your uniqueness speak?

8. Longevity causes breaking. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, John Mayer explained his philosophy about big breaks. Specifically, the (crucial) first three projects of any artist. “With your first album, you get their attention. With your second album, you earn your stripes. And with your third album, you blow them away.” What’s your “first three” game plan?

9. Find the catapults. Success leaves clues – all you have to do is listen. My suggestion is to ask your mentors, colleagues and other experienced professionals in your industry how their got their big break. Take notes. Look for patterns. Watch for lessons learned and mistakes made.

Caution: Just be sure to inquire with an attitude of curiosity and admiration, not a “can-you-give-me-the-name-of-that-producer-you-worked-with-in-2002-so-I-can-drop-your-name-and-get-my-big-break-too?” attitude. Bad manners. Bad karma. What existing path of success can you follow?

10. Go small first, but shine big when you’re there. If you follow the career trajectories of successful musicians, actors and other creative professionals, you’ll notice a pattern. Many of them took on smaller roles/gigs/markets in the beginning, just for the chance to shine.

And more often than not, if they excelled in their minimal role – and if their performance was so memorable and powerfully THEM – they ended up stealing the show. As a result, new opportunities came their way. So, don’t overlook the opportunity to serve as the opener for a larger act, volunteer contributor or pro-bono worker.

Playing a minor part alongside an already established professional or attaching your name to the periphery of a project is a powerful tool for boosting credibility. In short: Say yes more. Grab the opportunity and do the job impeccably. In what small role could you shine big?

11. Keep a watchful eye on industry information. What do successful people (who do what you want to be doing) read? Listen to? Subscribe to? First, find out by listening, asking or, if need be, sneaking into people’s dressing rooms, stealing their IPods and burning all of their podcasts onto your laptop.

Then, as you accumulate these resources, build in dedicated time each week to study and expand industry knowledge. It’s a perfect broad-based introduction to your chosen field and helpful fodder for showcasing industry expertise during conversations with key people. What’s your learning plan?

12. Never forget where you came from. Especially when you finally DO get your big break. Here’s why: Gratitude is the great gravitator. When you give thanks to the people and organizations responsible for assisting in your big breaks, they’re more likely to support your future efforts. Whom have you thanked TODAY for helping you get where you are?

REMEMBER: You can’t just wait around for your big break.

You’ve got to become breakable by helping success seek YOU out.

It’s about creating a pervasive atmosphere of opportunity so the big fish can jump right into your hands.

Execute these strategies and you’ll start manufacturing your own big breaks TODAY.

Are you breakable?

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

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

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

11 Ways to Earn More Repeat Business than a 24-Hour Tattoo Parlor on a Texas Military Base

In the beginning, there was a question:

“What do you do that brings people back for more of YOU?”

Dixie, my great friend, personal coach and consummate butt-kicker, recently asked me that question.

And after thinking about the philosophy surrounding it, here’s what I’ve come up with:

The best way to earn repeat business is to make yourself, your brand and your value more revisitable.

So, whether you’re an entrepreneur, CEO, service provider or small business owner, consider these practices for bringing people back for more of YOU:

1. Accommodate unusual requests. And before you do so, try saying this: “Let me make an exception for you.” You won’t just make people feel special – you’ll make them feel essential. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. What are you doing to earn and ensure your status of trusted advisor in the mind of the customer?

2. Advance in earnestness. Vigor. Passion. Resoluteness. It’s hard to resist people like that. They simply provide too much warmth. As Richard Pryor once suggested, “Learn how to set yourself on fire.” Because when you do that (without freebasing cocaine, that is) people will come back just to watch you burn. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. Are you currently operating out of your passion?

3. Be a disturbance. Comfortable customers rarely take action. Your mission is to use your questions, statements, ideas and thoughts to disturb the hell out of them. Not in a dangerous, violating or illegal way, of course. But to make them SO uncomfortable, so squiggly in their seats, that they have no choice but to say, “Screw it – let’s go.”

Sure, it’s crushing to their ego, but it’s crucial to their practice. They’ll thank you in the end. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. What action-inducing emotions will you bring to the surface?

4. Be fabulously versatile. Consider this question: What skills are you not currently leveraging to add value to your customers? My suggestion is to run an internal inventory. To uncover the diamonds that your customers have yet to see shine. And to go out of your way to tell your customers about the new ways you can help them.

Versatility is the driving force of evolution. And those who evolve are revisited. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. Will this risk put you (and your customers) in a position for major breakthroughs and growth?

5. Be plastered with perseverance. Repeat business doesn’t just automatically come to you. You need to make up your mind that you’re going to go the distance. My suggestion is simple: Wake up one hour earlier. That’s it. ONE hour. Single greatest piece of advice I ever got. You’ll be amazed at:

(a) how much you get done
(b) how much momentum that one hour activates for the rest of the day, and
(c) how much more revisitable you become.

Think about it: People can’t exactly “come back for more of you” when you’re in bed. Well, unless we’re talking about prostitutes. Which we’re not. Remember: Determination naturally builds momentum. Making a name for yourself is the inevitability of diligence. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. What time did you wake up today?

6. Choose harmony over rightness. Stop being right. Customers rarely revisit businesspeople whose pathological hunger for rightness overshadows the achievement of interpersonal harmony. In short: Stop letting your ego vote. Trying listening with the ear of your heart instead. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. Are you known as “someone who really LISTENS” or “The guy who never shuts up”?

7. Declare war on destructive habits. First, name one bad habit you’ve broken in your lifetime. How did you do it? List out the steps you took. Next, identify ONE destructive habit you’re currently addicted to that’s threatening your revisitability.

Finally, redouble your commitment to daily self-cultivation. See if you can’t make that habit old news. Remember: If your habits are destroying you, they’re probably destroying your relationships too. Even if you’re too close to yourself to realize it. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. What habits of yours offend customers?

8. Don’t overvalue prior successes. Arrogance of the past will come back to bite you in the ass. As John Mayer explained during a 2009 interview with Esquire, “To evolve, you have to dismantle. And that means accepting the idea that nothing you created in the past matters anymore other than it brought you here. You pick up your new marching orders and get to work.”

Remember this, and you won’t accidentally give customers a reason to switch. Remember this, and you won’t let arrogance and complacency sabotage your revisitability. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. If everything you’ve done up until now is just the beginning, what’s next?

9. Honor shifting cultural trends. Here’s what your clients used to want: “Good fast and cheap.” Here’s what your clients currently want: “Perfect now and free.” These are the three insatiable consumer demands, according to bestselling author Robert Rodin.

Now, obviously, I doubt you’re going to reformulate your entire business model to accommodate that trend. But repeat business is a function of client awareness. Perhaps it’s time to honestly assess what each of the three words (perfect, now and free) looks like for your customers. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. What have you recently learned about marketing trends?

10. Live above the level of mediocrity. First, it begins with self-confidence. You have to believe that deep down you are able to give something extraordinary. Next, it continues with the identification of the status quo. Figuring out what other companies – who do what you do – always (or never) do.

Then, it’s about doing the opposite. Which doesn’t necessarily mean doing something remarkable; but rather, stopping something normal. It’s that easy. Remember: If nobody buys average, that means nobody re-buys average. Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. What are you doing consistently that average people aren’t?

11. Teach people how to trust you. I’ve been using the same web design company for seven years. They rock. And the biggest reason I keep coming back for more is because they taught me how to trust them. They proved themselves (over time) to be the kind of company I could give an idea to, let them run with it, then meet them on the finish line two weeks later – and be blown away.

All because they know my style, they know my brand and they know what their capabilities are to stay in alignment with those parameters. So, insanely curious about the process behind this, I had lunch with Wendy Gauntt from CIO Services and asked her how she teaches customers to trust her:

“Somebody never just ‘calls’ you,” she said. “That’s why we ask two simple questions at the onset: (1) What do you want to achieve? and (2) Why now? Then, during the project, we’re always steering to get back to that main goal.” Practice this, and people will come back for more of you. How are you teaching customers to trust you?

REMEMBER: To earn repeat business, make yourself, your brand and your value more revisitable.

What do you do that brings people back for more of YOU?

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

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

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