I Triple Dog Dare You to Start a Business without Asking Yourself These Fifteen Questions

“I love to cook. And people really seem to enjoy my food. Maybe I should open my own restaurant!”

Not so fast, Rachel Ray.

Before you take out a loan and start scouting locations for your hot new Sautéed Squirrel on a Stick Bar & Grill, a few issues need to be addressed.

Consider asking these fifteen questions to help put a foundation under your fantasy:

1. Is your dream passionate, but irrelevant and unbuyable? Be careful not to waste your time on something no customer is asking for. Or, worse yet, waste your energy on customers who don’t even appreciate or deserve your dream in the first place.

Inherently interesting doesn’t necessarily mean easy to sell.

2. Are there at least ten other people out there who are successfully making money from a passion similar to yours? It’s close-minded and shortsighted to assume that your amazing idea is the first of its kind. Don’t let your ego mistake originality with practicality.

In fact, a stronger reason for concern is if Google says that nobody else is making a living doing what you want to do. Eeks. That screams red flag to me.

3. If you did end up making a business out of your passion, how long before you start to feel robbed of your true talent because you’re wasting most of your time and energy on menial, soul-sucking activities that have nothing to do with your passion? This scenario sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually quite common. The thrill of the passion dissipates once it becomes a daily task. Then, as entrepreneurs watch their dream become a chore, it absolutely crushes them. What used to bring purpose, meaning and mattering to their lives now does nothing but induce stomach ulcers.

Make sure your passion is a sustainable, scalable entity.

4. What price are you willing to pay to make this dream into a reality? Undress your stock alibis and stale excuses. Consider the biggest thing you’re willing to give up (or the lowest you’re willing to sink) to get what you want. This will teach you to invest in your threshold level of commitment, not your standard-issue line of bullshit.

Whether that means canceling your cable, waking up an hour earlier or discontinuing time spent with negative people who bring your average down – somewhere, something, (or someone), has to be deleted.

5. Do you go three-for-three? Plug your dream into the following equations: If your idea is intrinsically appealing, but something you suck at, you lose. If your idea is sellable, but something you would hate doing for thirteen hours a day, you lose. Finally, if your idea is your passion, but doesn’t have a viable market, you lose.

Hopefully your dream satisfies all three criteria.

6. Are you willing to work hard, smart and long? That’s the minimum requirement for successfully converting your big idea into big profts. As I learned when I started my publishing/consulting company in 2002, “If you don’t plan on treating it like a business, don’t bother.”

Remember: Turning your dream into a moneymaking reality will be the single hardest endeavor of your life. Unless you have teenage girls. Make that the second hardest.

7. Will this become a legitimate business or just an expensive hobby? George Carlin once said, “I don’t have hobbies – hobbies cost money. I have interests.” Not that there’s anything wrong with having hobbies. But there is something wrong with deluding yourself into believing people will buy something just because your husband likes it. Family members don’t count as focus groups.

Revenue is the aftershock of usefulness. If you want to make money, make something that solves people’s expensive, urgent, pervasive and relevant problems.

8. To what extent are you willing to compromise yourself? There’s also nothing wrong with giving in a little. Bending. Selling out, ever so slightly. But breaking? No way, Jose. That’s a violation of your integrity. I learned this during Dave Chappelle’s interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio. He told James Lipton:

“The first thing you do is figure out the highest price you’re willing to pay. That way, the moment someone asks you to pay more, get the hell out.” It simply depends on what you’re willing to put it all on the line for.

9. Can you handle people hating you? Sorry. It comes with the territory. Do what you love and the hatred will follow. Namely from jealous people who resent you for doing what you love because it threatens their sense of self. Now, if you have a hard time being viewed that way, I totally respect that.

Which means you have two options: Get used to it, or get out now. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are as real as a heart attack, but require more oxygen to handle. Arm yourself. Your breath is your bodyguard.

10. Are you willing to give up (some) control of your idea in exchange for being able to let grow and expand it better and faster? Not that you have to outsource your entire operation to India. But surrendering a certain amount of control enables people (fans, customers, members, whoever) to take your idea into their own hands.

And by openly embracing a “fan” mentality and transferring ownership to the user, spreadability becomes long-term viability. Remember: Vulnerable is the new safe. Imperfect is the new beautiful. Recognize the fact that your customers are in control. They decide how much attention they choose to give to you.

11. Are you willing to describe your dream in detail, put it on paper and tell others about it publicly? Otherwise the dream isn’t real. There’s no ownership. You haven’t committed with both feet. Not that you have to have a “plan.”

Rather, you have to engage, share and stand by your why. Your vision. Your mission. Failure to communicate that is a diamond studded path to doubt, which will lead to the eventual demise of your dream.

12. How long will it take the market to recognize your trustworthiness and reward you with new business – and are you willing (and able) to wait that long? “You won’t make any money for five years.” I read that statement in a book by Donald Trump when I wad 22. Scared the crap out of me.

So, although I turned my dream into a business in 2002 – my company didn’t turn a profit until late 2005. And I worked harder than anybody, damn it! I even held a part time job crashing parking cars nights and weekends. Lesson learned: Expecting profit immediately will disappoint and deflate your spirit. If you plan to put all your eggs in one basket, don’t just guard that basket with your life – also make sure the savages with frying pans and eggbeaters stay away.

13. Is success probable or possible? Notwithstanding any major violations of the laws of thermodynamics, (almost) anything is possible. Probable, on the other hand, is a completely different ballgame. Your challenge is to honestly assess which category your dream falls under.

For example, starting your own marketing consultancy is definitely possible. Specializing in a prosaic form of advertising like Yellow Pages isn’t very probable. See the difference?

14. Will you be the best? Here’s the reality: Nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays average. Marketplaces reward the exceptional and ignore the rest. Especially in the midst of infinite choices. So, if you don’t plan to build remarkability into your product from the get-go, don’t even bother.

After all, why spend all your time, money and energy just to wind up being another non-entity in the infinite mass of blah blah blah? Instead, wage a war against mediocrity and you will win big.

15. What purpose underscores your passion? If you’re trying to make real money, passion without purpose is pointless and leaves you penniless. Without a strong why, your passion is nothing but blazing fire that burns you and everyone you touch. Keep in mind: The word “passion” comes from the Latin passio, which means, “to suffer.”

Ask yourself, “What are you willing to suffer for?” and, more importantly, “What would cause you suffering if you did not do it?” The answers to those questions represent the intersection of passion and purpose.

REMEMBER: As delicious as Sautéed Squirrel on a Stick sounds, maybe it’s time to take an more honest look at your dream.

If you want to make real money, ask these questions to install a foundation under your fantasy.

After all, I’d hate for you to strike a passionate pose that nobody notices.

Have you asked yourself the difficult questions about your business?

For the ebook called, “38 Ways to Make Customers Gasp” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

12 Ways to Lead a Potent, Productive and Profitable Thought Life

If you want the marketplace to recognize you as a Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brain Candy, “thinking” is not your main responsibility.

Thinking is merely the residue of leading a potent, productive and profitable thought life.

Want to learn how to have one of those?

I thought you might ask.

1. Take intellectual initiative. Most people’s thoughts are somebody else’s. Don’t let this happen to you. Mindless acceptance is the yellow brick road to the Wonderful Wizard of Chaos. Before taking action on your brainstuff, ask yourself three questions:

Is this thought really mine?
Am I living someone else’s mechanical thoughts?
Am I bound and limited by the thoughts others have formulated for me?

Remember: Your thoughts need to be yours. If you don’t take control of your cognitive faculties, someone will gladly do it for you. How diligently and proactively are you taking ownership of your thought life?

2. You get exactly what you’re willing to receive. Let’s take creative inspiration, for example. If you want to become a relentlessly open container in which the world can place its ideas, you’ve got to: (1) invoke the muse to come, (2) honor the muse when it arrives, and (3) thank the muse when it departs.

That way she will gladly return tomorrow. And who knows? Maybe she’ll stay longer next time. But only if you’re more receptive to her whispers. What is your ritual for summoning the higher creative forces?

3. Book blank time. In 2006, PBS ran a special called, Warren Buffett & Bill Gates Go Back to School. Recorded on college campuses nationwide, unedited in front of live audiences, Buffet and Gates simply sat on a stage and answered questions. That’s it. Coolest program ever.

One of the lessons I remember both billionaires sharing was their daily dedication to booking blank time. No meetings. No calls. No nothing. Just space to think. Every day. Based on their combined net worth, I’d say profitable would be an understatement. How much time each day do you sit uninterrupted and quiet with just your thoughts?

4. Be determined to spread the truth you discover. Doesn’t matter if it’s thee truth – just your truth. The point is: Thoughts are useless if kept captive inside your head. Learn to release them in – one pebble at a time – into the pond of life. The ripples will come back tenfold.

As long as you resist the Whoami Syndrome: Who am I to share this thought? Who am I to publish my opinion? Well, just ask Technorati: The web’s leading cataloguer and researcher of blogs. According to their annual report, there’s a new blog created every second. Every second. That’s 86,000 new blogs a day. What’s your excuse?

5. Conversations are laboratories. I have lunch with Smokin’ Hot Pieces of Brain Candy at least once a week. It’s like balm to my soul. Fuel for my brain. And here’s why: Talking makes you think. Thinking makes you write. Writing makes you create. Creating makes you ship. Shipping makes you money. Q.E.D.

If you’re looking for a creative boost to attract more ideas into that big juicy brain of yours, start using conversations as tools. Here are four lab rules to remember when cooking up something new in your conversational laboratory: (1) Increase your frequency, (2) Take more notes, (3) Ask better questions, and (4) Become a plucker of good ideas. Whom did you have lunch with this week?

6. Solvitas perambulatorum. This is the Latin term for solving problems in the process of physical exercise. It’s the perfect way to tranquilize the mind without using pills or powders. Here’s why: Exercise clears your mind, stabilizes your emotions and levels your perspective. It contributes to an increased production and release of endorphins. That results in a sense of euphoria that has been popularly labeled as the “runner’s high.”

What’s more, pumping rhythmically and repetitively also pumps the well of your creativity. That’s why walking, swimming, running and cycling work so well. Hell, I’ve written entire books in my head on eight-mile runs. Even Thomas Jefferson, who was known for taking two-hour walks every day, implemented this practice religiously:

“The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and a strong body makes a strong mind.” Do it daily. Do it rhythmically. Do it intentionally. Stretch your legs and you will stretch your brain. Did you work out today?

7. Think about your thoughts. All Smokin’ Hot Pieces of Brain Candy know how to spy on themselves. If you haven’t already implemented a system for doing so, consider asking yourself (or posting on sticky notes around your office) the following self-evaluation questions:

(1) Do these thoughts serve me or hurt me? (2) Will these thoughts bring me peace of mind? (3) Am I thinking a thought that will stress me out? (4) Do all the thoughts in my head get along with each other? That way you can keep a watchful eye on what you allow to enter into your headspace. Are you mindfully monitoring your thoughts or allowing them to dictate how you behave?

8. Transform your interior landscape. I will now summarize every self-help book ever written: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” That’s from The Bible. You may have heard of it. Now, I think it’s fair to say that the concept is common knowledge. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it common practice.

Your challenge is to customize a daily practice of saturating your mind with successful thoughts and keeping your internal conversations in alignment with success and fulfillment. What seem to be your most productive thought patterns?

9. Save the smarties for Jeopardy. No disrespect to Alex Trebeck, but the world has too many smart people and not enough intellectuals. You don’t need to accumulate facts – you need to explore ideas, extract universal truths from your experiences and apply them to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

My mentor, Bill Jenkins, is one of the great intellectuals I know. He explained the difference between the two as follows: “Smart people study content for the purposes of memorization. Intellectuals entertain ideas for the purpose of democratization.” True Smokin’ Hot Pieces of Brain Candy accomplish the latter. Are you an intellectual or just really smart?

10. Release your thoughts. Even if you never publish a single thought in your life, relocating them from your brain to the page is paramount to the potency of your thought life. First, writing is the great clarifier. You don’t know what you know until you physically write it out.

Secondly, writing is the great organizer. Until you see your words on a page, flipchart, dry erase board or sticky note, you will never realize the inherent geometry of your thoughts. The brain is a self-organizing system, and most of the logistical work has already been done. You just need to experience it visually.

Finally, writing down your thoughts makes them public in your mind. By virtue of relocation, your brain instantly relaxes because it doesn’t have to remember anything. Whew. What did you write today?

11. Stay incessantly commitment to observation. There never ceases to be an inexhaustible source of living water. All that’s requires is that you poke about the world, stay quietly fascinated and look with the right pair of eyes.

You also need to ask questions like: How do these ideas relate to my life? Is there a method of thinking or a metaphor implied that I could adapt to my own world? How does this fit into my theory of the universe?

Remember: Creativity is nothing but active listening. If you find yourself blocked, perhaps you should have your hearing checked. Are you a great noticer?

12. Never neglect your non-thought life. As profitable and beautiful and essential it is to be a thinker, don’t forget to balance your thoughts with non-thoughts. Incorporate regular time each to go perpendicular. Even if it’s just for five minutes. Play music. Meditate. Practice yoga. Work in the garden. Whatever.

Return to your sanctuary of non-thought to refresh, rejuvenate and air out your brain. You will return with strength. Remember: If there’s not enough whitespace around your grey matter, your head might explode. How much time do you spend each day doing the opposite of thinking?

REMEMBER: Thinking is not your main responsibility.

Leading a potent, productive and profitable thought life is.

I think.

How much of a thinker are you?

For the ebook called, “10 Ways to become a Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brandy Candy,” send an email to me, and you win the ebook for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


9 Ways to Set Yourself on Fire without Becoming a Burn Victim

“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”

These famous words have been attributed to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Pryor and Canadian Hockey legend Reggie Leach.

Sadly, we may never know who deserves the original credit.

IN REALITY: It doesn’t matter who said it.

All that matters is that YOU do it.

Now, I’ve done some preliminary research. And as far as I can tell, very few (if any) resources have been published on the topic of “How to Set Yourself on Fire.”

With the exception of Richard Pryor’s Wikipedia page, which reports that on June 9th, 1980, during the making of the film Bustin’ Loose, Pryor set himself on fire by freebasing cocaine and covering his body in 151-proof rum in a narcotic-induced psychosis, resulting in third degree burns of over half his body requiring a six-week recovery at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital.

I assume you’re not going to go that route.

So, whether you’re rehearsing for a presentation, preparing for a sales call, gearing up for a pitch meeting – or just getting dressed for work – consider these nine ways to set yourself on fire without becoming a burn victim.

1. Saturate your consciousness with victory. During my daily appointment with myself, I ritually revisit the following reminders: (1) Action-based victories from the previous day’s accomplishments. This helps build momentum and self-confidence. (2) Personal victories in the form of affirmations of my highest talents and skills.

This is the oxygen – the fuel – that my fire requires to grow stronger. By doing this every morning for the past eight years, I’ve found my inner kindling to be perfectly prepared for ignition. I wonder what your consciousness is saturated with. How much time – each day – do you spend selling yourself to yourself?

2. Get in the zone – YOUR zone. Before every sales call, Dwight Schrute has a ritual: He sits in his vintage Trans Am the parking lot of the company he’s about to sell to, then blasts “Kickstart My Heart” by Motley Crue as loud as possible. So, is it any surprise he consistently wins Dunder Mifflin Salesperson of the Year?

Of course not. Because Dwight knows how to get in the zone. His zone. He knows how to set himself on fire. Personally, before every speech, I listen to the Rocky IV soundtrack in the bathroom stall while doing breathing exercises, creative visualization and positive affirmations. Works every time. Unless somebody walk in on me. Then it’s just plain awkward.

The point is, you can create whatever type of pre-game ritual you want. Anything that enables you to ride the wave. How do you get into the zone?

3. Dump the damp wood. Ever tried to make a campfire the morning after a thunderstorm? Good luck. Soggy wood never burns. (Looks like cold breakfast again!) In the same respect, you can’t set yourself on fire if the people in your life are dampening your flame.

That’s why you’ve GOT to make conscious choices about the individuals you allow to participate in your life. Learn to ask yourself questions like: Does this person add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it? Is this person helping me become the best version of myself? Which people in my life don’t respect my time? Is this person a chronic abuser of my time and attention? Does this person enrich my life in any way?

Sure, it hurts to personally amputate people who don’t believe or support you. But living a non-flammable life hurts even more. Lesson learned: encircle yourself with kindlers. Life is too short to hang with people who don’t set you on fire. What damp wood do you need to throw back into the forest?

4. Sweep your fire radar. Have you ever gone through a “non-flammable” period in your life? Where you felt stuck, uninspired and stalemated? I know I have. And I remember when I sought counsel from my friend Dixie Dynamite. (With a name like that, I figured she could help.) Predictably, her response gave me chills: “Scott, if your soul was truly ignited, you would have noticed the flame.”

Damn it. Guess my fire is out, I thought. Fortunately, Dixie gave me the antidote. “If your flame is out, think back to the last time it burned brightly. What was happening? Who was around? How did you feel?” This exercise raises your awareness and makes you more available to future flames. Try it. How sharp is your fire awareness?

5. Surpass your personal threshold level. In Sam Parker’s book, 212° The Extra Degree, he explains, “At 211°, water is hot. At 212°, water boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive. The one extra degree makes the difference.”

Maybe that’s all you need. Maybe the bridge between flammable and incombustible is shorter than you think. Either way: The rest of the world is doing everything they can to prevent you from reaching that tipping point because they’re scared shitless that your success will eclipse their averageness.

I guess it depends how much you’re willing to give up to get what you want. What’s the one extra degree that will propel you beyond your threshold level?

6. Practice impossible patience. According to UL 94 Flammability Testing, one of the primary ignition characteristics is “long-term exposure to elevated temperature.” That’s interesting. Maybe the fuel for your the fire isn’t oxygen – it’s patience.

Of course, there’s only one problem with that: You won’t find patience anywhere on the periodic table of elements – only within. The hard part is having faith that the heat provided by your eventual flame will outweigh the wait it took to ignite it. Are you letting the internal movement of patience flavor your fire?

7. Firefighters are busy people. These guys work 24-hour shifts. Naturally, on their days off, the only thing they want to do is sleep. Which isn’t a bad thing if you’re an actual firefighter. However, if, as a leader, you spend most of your days putting out other people’s fires, you won’t have any energy left to start a one of your own.

Yikes. Maybe it’s time to start asking yourself: Who creates fires you waste time putting out? Think of it as a process of elimination. That way, setting yourself on fire becomes a mathematical certainty. You become gloriously unimpeded. That is, once all the crap has been laid aside. What’s preventing you from becoming the best, highest version of yourself?

8. You will need an ignition source. “A heat supply having sufficient energy to initiate combustion of a material.” That’s the official definition of ignition source, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fortunately, the supply is endless. As long as your receptors are tuned into the frequency of inspiration, you’ll never be short of an ignition source.

The tricky part is figuring out how to fire inspiration into yourself. For example, during a 1998 interview between George Carlin and Jon Stewart, Carlin explained, “I don’t use drugs anymore, but I always have a joint nearby.” Now, I’m suggesting you partake in anything illegal. Rather, I challenge you think about the components of your ideal creative environment where ignition is pervasive. What’s your system for initiating creative combustion?

9. Balance energy expenditure with energy renewal. As I learned from The Power of Full Engagement, “The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal.”

Lesson learned: The more time you spend “doing,” the more time you need to invest “being.” Suggestion: Create a ratio that fits your lifestyle – and stick to it. Be vigilant about protecting your non-negotiables. Personally, I’ve found great success with Mini Vacations.

Here’s how they work: Each day, spend anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours. Then, go perpendicular to the task at hand. Engage different parts of your mind, body and spirit. Whether you meditate, go for a walk, watch an episode of Southpark or go play the ukulele – you will renew and expand your energy reserves, guaranteed. When was the last time you took a vacation?

REMEMBER: Spontaneous combustion isn’t enough.

Learn to set yourself on fire.

And soon, people will come back just to watch you burn.

How flammable are you?

For the ebook called, “203 Things I’ve Learned about Writing, Marketing and Selling Books,” send an email to me, and you win the ebook for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


8 (More) Marketing Lessons Learned from My Spam Folder

Email spam – while annoying, unethical, sexually graphic and a colossal time waster – IS quite entertaining.

It’s also a consummate example of smart marketing.

Recently, I spent some time perusing the 1,385 messages in my spam folder.

Not surprisingly, patterns began to arise.

I extracted a collection of subject lines and headers that either grabbed my attention, made me laugh, or caused my body to react in ANY kind of way. After all, emotion is the final arbiter of truth. And your body never lies to you.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: As you read each of these subject lines, set aside your distaste for spam. Forget about the fact that you (probably) don’t need Viagra.

Turn on your marketing brain to learn eight more powerful lessons (read the first eight lessons here!) from the masters of capturing attention and piquing curiosity:

1. Help her blast off with your meat rocket. Out of the sixteen examples on this list, “meat rocket” is one of my faves. Sure, it’s raunchy. And by no means should your marketing reflect such adolescent verbiage.

But you HAVE appreciate the sheer poetry of this headline. Not to mention, it’s hilarious. Plus, what guy wouldn’t want his girlfriend to experience the sexual ecstasy of Apollo 13? Well done.

SPAM SECRET: People want sex. How are you helping them get more of it?

2. I haven’t heard from you. Ah ha! More cognitive dissonance for people who place high value on approachability. Now, admittedly, this headline has tricked me several times over the years. I’ve even clicked through once or twice, only to find myself at a website that gave my computer a virus. Dang it.

I blame my inability to experience myself as being an unapproachable, distant jerk. The other half is, I’ve actually received REAL emails from REAL people using this very headline. It hurts.

SPAM SECRET: People don’t like being perceived negatively. How can you tempt them?

3. Maintain your weight – amputate. Holy Slim Fast. This is, by far, the most absurd, disgusting and embarrassing thing I’ve ever read in an email. Which is exactly why it caught my attention. Now, I’m not suggesting you start telling customers that self-mutilation is the secret to success.

Your challenge is to think about what this headline says about our culture. Yes, it’s ludicrous. Yes, it’s disgusting. But would it (honestly) surprise you if you turned on CNN and the top headline was, “Man amputates leg to lose weight”? Wouldn’t shock me. People will do ANYTHING to lose weight, especially if the strategy requires no work other than locating the chainsaw. Eew.

SPAM SECRET: People want to be thin. Are you helping them get there quicker?

4. That with stirs of feet and wings. This headline sounded so poetic, I just had to google it. Sure enough, that line comes from a poem called The Kitten and Falling Leaves by William Wadsworth.

Too bad the email tried to subscribe me to an online gambling site. Jerks.

SPAM SECRET: Wadsworth was a genius. Are your words that strong?

5. Make her shout like an alarm. Excellent use of simile. Paints a vivid picture. Plus, this headline puts the company’s product in the customer’s future by describing the benefit of the benefit of the benefit. Well done. The only way to improve this headline would be to make a comment about waking up the neighbors. That’s the ultimate.

(Oh, don’t act like you’ve never been on SOME end of that situation before).

I don’t care if you’re male or female, straight or gay, passion is passion. And there’s nothing more gratifying than when the stunningly beautiful Brazilian model that lives in the unit below you knocks on the door one day to shyly tell you that you and your girlfriend should try to, ahem, “keep it down” at night. Hypothetically.

SPAM SECRET: People want sex. Did you forget that already?

6. Your friend, Peter, thought that you would be interested in this album. First, the headline uses a common name. Most people probably have a friend named Peter. Second, the headline implies that Peter took the time out of his busy schedule to recommend a record JUST for you.

Wow. Good ol’ Pete. What a guy. And you wouldn’t want his precious time to go to waste, now would you? Finally, let’s say you delete the email. Then, three weeks later, you run into Peter and his wife at McDonald’s.

“Hey Scott! Long time no see! Say, how’s that album I recommended to you a few weeks back? Did you listen to it? Wasn’t it great? That was the debut LP of my wife’s new band, Death by Marshmallow. They’re huge in Bulgaria!”

Woops. Sorry Pete. Tell your wife I’ll come out to their next show. Just let me go find my passport…

SPAM SECRET: People like recommendations. Did you know that’s how Amazon makes billions?

7. Wrong. Unbelievably powerful. ONE word and I was hooked. Wrong. And the cool part is, this headline appeals to various personalities. First, if you’re the type of person who always has to be right, your ego will be triggered immediately. And you’ll go to the end of the earth to prove that you were NOT wrong.

Or, if you’re like me and enjoy being wrong to stimulate learning opportunities, this headline would entice you to open the letter immediately and excitedly discover where you screwed up.

SPAM SECRET: People cherish their egos. Are you speaking to them?

8. You didn’t even think about it. I saved this one for last. Personally, I think it’s the most powerful, most effective and most emotional headline on the list. First, by using the past tense, it forces the reader to immediately begin traveling back in time, questioning her own reflection abilities. Wait a minute – was there something I should have been contemplating that I forgot? Oh no!

Second, the word “even.” As if something as simple and effortless like “thinking” was the minimum requirement, and you couldn’t even satisfy that. Jeez. Way to be an insensitive jerk.

Lastly, I admit that I’ve been guilty of this mistake before. Hey, I’m not perfect. I get lazy. And I’ve had people (whom I LOVE) confront me in person, via email or over the phone and say, “You didn’t even think about.”

It hurts. Badly. Cuts deep down the core. So, while effective marketing (shouldn’t have to) resort to making customers feel like wretched human beings, your challenge is to pinpoint the self-interest of the people you serve, and speak to it.

SPAM SECRET: People don’t like being jerks. Are you calling them out?

Now that you’ve been schooled in the ways of spam, here’s your final exercise.

1. Take five minutes to peruse your spam folder. You might want to do this at home so your boss doesn’t look over your shoulder and wonder why you’re reading emails about “meat rockets.”

2. Record your reactions. Any time a subject headline makes you smile, laugh, roll your eyes or become nauseated, write it down.

3. Extract the lessons. Look for commonalities among all the headlines. Democratize and genericize the centrals marketing themes. Then, write out a list of “spam secrets.”

4. Apply. Execute those strategies in your own marketing practices in an ethical, professional manner.

REMEMBER: This is the best way to help her blast off with your meat rocket.

Hee hee. Meat rocket.

Are you as savvy as the spammers?

For the list called, “88 Questions Every Marketer Should Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


Are You Guilty of Succumbing to These Six Seductive Disguises of Success?

1. Ambiguity is opportunity in disguise. Love it. Welcome it. Embrace it. And know that NOT knowing paves the way for glorious and unimpeded progress. How do you act when faced with ambiguous situations?

2. Art is infection in disguise. That’s your job as an artist – to infect people. To approach your canvas as a syringe, pumping all who see it full of 300 cc’s of your truth. Interestingly, the word inficere literally means, “to put in.” What does your work put into people?

3. Failure is education in disguise. Getting a big fat F is underrated. We all need to fail. Failure is the great fertilizer of growth. Failing leads to flourishing. As long as you intelligently reflect upon the lessons learned and don’t make the same mistake twice. Therefore: If it’s been more than 48 hours since your last failure at something, you’re not risking enough. How have you made losing a regular part of your experience?

4. Selling is solving in disguise. Before your next sales call, ask yourself three crucial questions: What problem do you solve? What are you the answer to? What were you designed to cure? You’ll never treat customers the same again. What unique aspects of your personality could you enlist to help you sell (solve) better?

5. Simplicity is sophistication in disguise. Ever “tried” to make something simpler? It’s hard as hell. Simplicity requires more energy, more brainpower and more courage that complexity. So, here’s my suggestion: Stop being fancy. Stop complicating your message. Stop creating riddles that take too long for impatient readers to solve. That’s a good start. Are you brave enough to be simple?

6. Success is mediocrity in disguise. Sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. Just watch American Idol. Or read any New York Times bestseller. You don’t even have to be that good. Not anymore. That’s why it pains me to write the following sentence: Even though the cream rises to the top, mediocrity often hitches a ride. Now, personally, I couldn’t do it. Average isn’t acceptable in my world. On the other hand, if you’re at peace with mediocrity, more power to you. In fact, I admire you. Sometimes insisting on awesomeness is a huge pain in the ass. Is average enough for you?

What are you being seduced by?

For the list called, “22 Questions to Sidestep Entrepreneurial Atrophy,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


If You Still Have Execution Problems After Reading This Blog Post, You’re Either Drunk, Braindead — Or I’m a Terrible Writer

People frequently ask me how I manage to be so productive.

My answer is very logical and simple:

1. No meetings.
2. No employees.
3. No interns.
4. No busywork.
5. No filing.
6. No copying.
7. No excuses.
8. No hurdles.
9. No bullshit.
10. No bureaucracy.
11. No asking permission.
12. No begging for forgiveness.
13. No items to submit for approval.
14. No extraneous layers of management to slow things down.
15. No memos.
16. No signatures.
17. No status reports.
18. No kids.
19. No television.
20. No surfing the web.
21. No mass media.
22. No coworkers.
23. No putting out fires.
24. No waiting for people.
25. No gossip.
26. No worrying.
27. No headaches.
28. No managing people.
29. No managing logistical problems.
30. No walking on eggshells.
31. No task requests.
32. No micromanaging.
33. No useless planning of things that don’t matter.
34. No processes to weigh me down and diminish my energy.
35. No wasting time defending past decisions to preserve my ego.
36. No time burned on making unnecessary effortful cognitive choices.
37. No tinkering with broken processes.
38. No endless list of people trying to reach me.
39. No distractions.
40. No bloated decision-making hierarchy.
41. No distance between the owner and decisions that matter.
42. No awkward staff lunches.
43. No committees to go in front of.
44. No socializing.
45. No compromising.
46. No doing activities that aren’t focused on my number one goals.
47. No doing activities that don’t leverage my gifts.
48. No doing activities that aren’t income generating.
49. No office politics.
50. No office.
51. No clothes.
52. No shoes.
53. No commute.
54. No traffic.
55. No interruptions.
56. No paperwork.

After deleting all of that noise, what are you left with?

Work. That matters.

If that were YOUR work environment, you’d be pretty productive too.

Now, I’m not trying to use my situation as a reason. Or use your situation as an excuse.

But we are exactly where we are because we choose to be there.

JUST REMEMBER: Productivity isn’t about what you do – it’s about what you avoid.

I think Mr. Miyagi said it best:

“The best way to block a punch is to not be there.”

What consumes your time but isn’t making any money?

For the ebook called, “66 Questions to Prevent Your Time from Managing YOU,” send an email to me, and you win the ebook for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


How to be a Harder Act to Follow than a Playboy Fashion Show at Folsom State Prison

PICTURE THIS: You just watched somebody give a speech.

Or present an idea. Or share a story. Or tell a joke. Or voice their opinion.

And it was so good, so interesting, so engaging and so entertaining, that your immediate response was to whisper to the guy sitting next to you, “Man, I’d hate to have to follow THAT…”

Have you ever wondered HOW people do that?
How they command the energy of the room with grace and gusto?

Me too. Today we’re going to talk about how to be a hard act to follow:

1. Be a consummate provocateur. Your job isn’t to educate or entertain people – it’s to disturb them. The word “emotion” derives from the Latin emotere, which means, “to disturb.” So, it’s not bad, it’s not good – it’s just a disturbance. A breaking of patterns. A shaking up of things. Making your words piercing and disquieting.

So much so that people squirm in their seats. Sure, it might be uncomfortable for a minute, but that’s part of the adventure. The reality is, some people NEED to have a little disturbance “breathed into them.” Focus on evoking emotion instead of creating sensation, and you will win. How provocative are your words?

2. Don’t “use humor” – just be funny. It’s not a tool or a thing or a trick or a technique or shtick. It’s a way and a style. You don’t use humor like you use hair gel. Humor is something you embody. You don’t “do” humor – you ARE humor.

That’s why people laugh. Your inherent funniness activates, animates and aggregates the humorous part of their being. And if you don’t think you’re funny, you’re wrong. Everybody is funny. Don’t fall victim to that trap of laziness. You don’t need ventriloquize other people’s humor and pawn it off as your own original material.

As I learned in the book Throwing the Elephant, “You don’t have to be particularly funny. The attempt to provide amusement is more important that the quality or validity of the amusement itself.” Are you trying to use humor or allowing your natural funniness to shine?

3. Don’t let them catch you acting. Oscar-winning actor Michael Cane once said: “The art is hiding the art.” Therefore: It’s not about manipulating people. Or fooling them. Or hiding something. Or misrepresenting the facts. It’s about discovering your voice. Your thing. Your sound. Your domain. Your territory. Your signature style. Your unique delivery of creative material.

And if you want to be a hard act to follow, your goal is to speak in a manner that’s so natural, so conversational and so unique to you that people don’t even know you’re doing it. You might try a few of the exercises in this module called How to Brand Your Language. Remember: It’s method acting, and the character you’re playing is yourself. When will the Academy award your performance?

4. Don’t prove yourself; express yourself. Proving is striving for approval; expressing is allowing for refusal. Proving is proclaiming your superiority; expressing is embodying your fabulousness. Proving is demanding your rights; expressing is deploying your gifts.

Proving is talking smack; expressing is doing acts. Proving is playing to the crowd; expressing playing for the sake of playing. Ultimately, the big difference between the two is that proving is DOING and expressing is BEING. Period. Which one do you practice?

5. Give your audience something useful. Not recycled wisdom. Not a steady stream of self-glorifying garbage. And not a collection of quotations and words of wisdom from old dead white guys. Speak with MCI, or, Meaningful Concrete Immediacy. First, speak to self-interest. Ask yourself: Whom this audience needs to look good for? Ask yourself: What are these people’s success seeds? Ask yourself: What is the key to these people’s hearts?

Second, be concise. Get to the point quicker. Learn to speak in soundbites. Human attention span resets after six seconds. And finally, and be actionable. Show people HOW. Deliver ideas that can be put to use the minute you’re finished talking. Are you all keepers and no fluff?

6. Fire goes a long way. Most people spend all their time, money and effort memorizing the message when they should be mastering the medium. Look. I don’t care if you’re discussing colon hydrotherapy best practices. If you speak with enthusiasm, passion, articulation, wisdom – in other words, FIRE – and people will listen. Guaranteed.

They’ll be so engaged that they’ll forget they’re even listening to you. All because you gave your audience permission to be taken over by your performance. Remember: The medium IS the message. How well do you embody energetic availability?

7. Help people get lost. July 19, 2009. Phoenix. It was a keynote speech that changed my life. Scott Halford, author of Be a Shortcut, told an audience of 1,300 professional speakers, “I don’t use GPS because I can’t imagine living in a world where you can’t get lost.”

Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to send people on mental journeys. Drop some fertilizer on the audience and let them challenge and inspire themselves. They’ll get lost in the best way possible. They’ll trudge down the trail for themselves. And when they come back, caked in sweat and dirt, they’ll be glad they don’t have to follow your act. Are you willing to rip up the map?

8. Hit the ground running. Whether you’re telling a story, giving a speech or conducting a meeting, be mindful of the VERY FIRST sentence out of your mouth.. Take George Carlin, for example. He became well known for delivering opening lines that received standing ovations. My personal favorite was, “I’d like to begin tonight by saying, ‘Screw Lance Armstrong!’ Aren’t you tired of being told who your heroes are?”

Lesson learned: Don’t waste people’s time. Leave out the parts people skip. Just go. Are your first words unexpected and interesting enough to make people look up from their Crackberries?

REMEMBER: It’s hard to be a hard act to follow.

I challenge you to plug yourself, your meetings, your stories, your pitches and your presentations into these eight equations.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of the wise words of the great philosopher, Mitch Hedberg, who once said, “I’m a hard act to follow because when I’m done, I take the microphone with me.”

Are you unfollowable?

For the ebook called, “234 Things I’ve Learned about Writing, Delivering and Marketing Speeches,” send an email to me, and you win the ebook for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


6 Ways to Remember Who the Heck You Are

Today is day 3,367 of wearing a nametag 24-7.

That’s going on ten years, just in case you were doing the math.

Anyway, while drinking tea at Starbucks yesterday afternoon when I should have been working, something occurred to me.

One of the most common reactions to my nametag is, and has always been, the following joke:

“Hey Scott, do you wear that nametag to remember who you are?”

I know. Everyone’s a comedian, right?

And the best part is, everybody thinks that’s, like, the funniest joke on the planet.

Now, admittedly, that is kind of funny. It still makes me chuckle, even after ten years.

But what’s fascinating is that it wasn’t until recently – 3,367 days later – that I finally realized the poignancy of that comment.

“Hey Scott, do you wear that nametag to remember who you are?”

Well, YEAH.

In fact, now that I think about it, that’s exactly why I wear a nametag every day.

Because sometimes it’s easy to forget who you are.

Sometimes you get SO wrapped in:

Who you think you are…
Who other people think you are…
Who other people want you to be…
Who you want other people to think you are….

…That you overlook your own truth.

This is not good for business. This is not good for anything.

What I’d like to share today is a series of practices to help you remember who you are.

The cool part is, you don’t need a nametag.

Only your willingness to get very honest with yourself paired with the knowledge that taking this step toward your truth will ultimately make your – and the lives of the people you touch and service – better.

1. Never miss your daily appointment with yourself. I attribute 83% of my overall life success to the following practice: Since the day I graduated college, I discipline myself to spend thirty to forty-fives minutes a day … just on me.

No matter how busy I get. No matter how tired I am. No matter whom I’m traveling with. Never miss it. My daily appointment combines breathing exercises, self-hypnosis/guided imagery, goal setting, journaling, affirmations and other personal development components.

It’s a ritual revisitation of my values, personal constitution, theory of the universe and belief system. Your challenge is to design a practice that suits your preferences, passions and schedule.

Remember: Don’t use your situation as an excuse to NOT do it. Doesn’t matter how you do it – only THAT you do it. When was the last time you took time, every day, just for you?

2. Act expressively, not instrumentally. On of my favorite writers, Parker Palmer, defines the distinction between these two modalities in his book The Active Life:

“Acting instrumentally means taking action as a means to an end or to achieve an outside goal. This diminishes your capacity to take the risks that yield growth. Acting expressively means taking action to express a conviction or inner truth. This produces outcomes that are true to the field of action.”

Your mission is to allow expression to flow unhindered and unencumbered. In whatever capacities work best for you. For example, I constantly ask myself, “What did you write today?” as helpful self-reminder. Do you have the discipline to act with unrelenting single-mindedness?

3. Remember who you AREN’T. Deciding what you want by the process of elimination is less threatening and intimidating. I call this “Defining the Whitespace.” In the same way that an illustrator examines the area around his drawing, your mission is to explore your boundaries. Where you end.

The red line that, if crossed, means that you are no longer you. Ultimately, by becoming aware of all the places in your life in which you’re NOT present – and by becoming aware of how you inhibit and resist your natural state – you’ll come into greater truth about your identity. Who (aren’t) you?

4. Rely on your intuitive faculties. Sometimes remembering who you are means opening yourself to bring forth inner guidance that will help you understand yourself with greater clarity. This is easier said than done, of course. And in my experience, the best practice for doing so is to put yourself in situations that demand total presence.

Personally, I use yoga, writing, meditation and guitar playing. Find what works for you. The point is: Total presence allows you to stop and listen to the voice of your true self. Even if you don’t like what it has to say. You listen anyway.

After all, listening is a form loving. And as George Washington Carver once said, “There is nothing that will not reveal its secrets if you love it enough.” Who murdered your intuition?

5. Travel back in time. Kids rarely forget who they are because they don’t have a “backstage” yet. Somewhere around adolescence, however, most people develop two separate selves: Their onstage performance (based on what their ego thinks they should be) and their backstage reality (based on what their core already IS and has always been).

In order to be the person on the outside that you are on the inside, think back to when you were a kid. Ask yourself:

*What have you (historically) done when you noticed stress in your life?
*What did you used to do for hours with absolutely concentration and enthusiasm that your mom had to drag you away from to come to dinner?

Assemble a preponderance of data. You’ll remind yourself who you are in no time at all. Where is your territory?

6. Stick yourself out there. George Carlin once said, “You’ve got to get up in front of people every day of your life or you’ll never learn who you are.” Also, as Sidney Jourard explained in The Transparent Self:

“No man can come to know himself except as a outcome of disclosing himself to another person. When a person has been able to disclose himself utterly to another person, he learns how to increase his contact with his real self, and he may then be better able to direct his destiny on the basis of knowledge.”

So, what you are shows up in everything you do. Your mission is to look for it AND be proud of it when you find it. Like Jeff Buckley sang in Mojo Pin, “Be not ashamed of what you are.” When you stick yourself out there, do you spy on yourself as you do so?

REMEMBER: It’s easy to forget who you are.

Apply these ideas into your world and start remembering today!

What processes will you use to return to your truth?

For the list called, “24 Ways to Out GROW Your Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


10 Unconventional Insights Your Dumbass Boss Desperately Needs to Read

1. Do as I say AND as I do. Life your life of zero distinction between the two. Where the message you’re preaching is the dominant reality of your life. Where your footsteps are in line with your mouthsteps. And where your onstage performance is congruent with your backstage reality. In what areas of your life are you forgetting to partner with integrity?

2. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, but make sure that’s not the ONLY step you take. Otherwise it’s not a journey – it’s a game of hopscotch. The world doesn’t need another one-stepper. We need people who step, step daily and step firmly. Are you one of those people?

3. Don’t play it by ear – play it by BODY. Through the filter of your ego, your ears might betray you. But your body will never lie to. It is the final arbiter of truth. What’s more, if your body is your temple – and a temple is a house of God – doesn’t that mean listening to your body is listening to God? Just a thought. Are you listening where you need to be feeling?

4. Don’t march to the beat of a different drummer – BE the drum. Your music. Your tempo. Your rhythm. Your instrument. Your life. Accept nothing less. Be not cajoled into conformity. Be not conformed to some external template. Be not limited by the rules of a game you don’t even need to play. And be not oppressed by those who try to silence your individuality. How loud are you willing to let your Truth sing?

5. Fake it till you make it, but be sure you eventually get around to making it. Otherwise you’re still a faker. An amateur. A minor leaguer. A greenhorn. A wannabe. A never-GONNA-be. And that’s the problem: Some people spend so much time and money and energy faking it that they have no time left to (actually) make it. Are you (actually) successful, or just successful at looking like you’re successful?

6. If your hand sucks, don’t resign to playing the cards you’re dealt. Be bold: Fold. Get up and go play another game. Quitting is winning in disguise. Quitting is the constant companion of winners. Especially if you do so at the right time. Are you being fair to yourself by continuing this relationship?

7. Off the top of your head usually means from the bottom of your heart. First thoughts, best thoughts. Don’t edit yourself. Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page. And if you find yourself saying, “Oh, but I couldn’t publish THAT!” then that’s exactly why you do it. What do you risk in presenting this material?

8. EVERY side is the bright side. Silver linings are for pessimists. Train yourself to treat every experience with deep democracy. Maintain an attitude of is quoque mos vultus mihi, which means, “This too will shape me.” Remember: Whatever you’re going through, the whole damn thing is shiny and brighter than you could ever imagine. What are you converting your problems into?

9. The early bird doesn’t get the worm – she gets the IDEAS. That’s why getting up early is critical to creativity: It’s quiet, it’s dark and most of the world is still asleep. That way, you have nothing to listen to but yourself. And it’s amazing what you hear. What time did you get up today?

10. You’re only as good as your last delivery. Disagree. You’re only as good as your ability to respond quickly and effectively to your last WRONG delivery. As such, part of your job is to calculate the cost of the customer having to process your mistake. Then, use that number as branding component of your service philosophy. And guarantee it. Customers won’t switch. How swiftly and economically do you recover?

Did you show this to your boss yet?

For the list called, “6 Ways to Out Position the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


Have You Pierced These Six Veils of Success?

1. Writing is blood in disguise. Sit down, slice open a vein a bleed your truth all over the page. That’s my official definition of writing. And after publishing ten books and a thousand articles, here’s what I’ve discovered: Writing in blood is a huge time saver.

Think about it. If you approach the writing with that mindset, you don’t have to waste valuable hours editing. Because you can’t edit blood. All you can do is stain the page with it. Are you writing with a pen or a scalpel?

2. Positioning is gravity in disguise. Pull baby pull. Save pushing for pooping. Instead, invest your efforts in elevating visibility, earning credibility and enhancing desirability.

Get your smiling face – and shining brand – in front of the people who can say yes TO (and write a check FOR) your unique expertise. Ding! What did you write today?

3. Quitting is winning in disguise. As long as quit at the right time – not the hard time. Nothing wrong with that. Especially if you were playing the wrong game. Or playing a game that reached its point of diminishing returns.

Or playing the game that robbed you of being the best, highest version of yourself. Sounds like three hash marks in the W column to me. How can you make quitting a regular part of your repertoire?

4. Complacency is bankruptcy in disguise. You’ve never arrived. You’ve never “made it.” There is no finish line. Ignore that truth at your own (and your company’s own) peril. Or, try this: Don’t be self-satisfied with past glory. Get your ass out there again and go make your life stronger.

Because when you receive regular injections of divine discontent, the money will come. Either that, or your arm will swell up. In what three areas of your life are you the most overconfident?

5. Creativity is curiosity in disguise. It’s simple: Just transform yourself into a giant walking question mark. Everywhere you go, ask how and why things work. Then ask how they could work differently or better. Study ordinary things intently. Learn to find interesting in almost anything.

Fascinate yourself with the ordinary. Evaluate critically every novelty you encounter. Ideas will be so irresistibly attracted to you; they’ll assume you slipped a Rufie in their drinks. How many questions did you ask today?

6. Past is prologue in disguise. In Marianne Williamson’s Return to Love, she wrote the following: “Our capacity for brilliance is equal to our ability to forget the past. The past is over. It cannot touch me. The only meaning of anything in the past is that it got us here, and it should be honored as such.” What has all the crap you’ve put up with accidentally prepared you for?

What veils of success do you need to pierce?

For the list called, “6 Ways to Out Position the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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


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