8 Ways to Make Yourself, Your Brand and Your Service More User-Friendly

“How do people feel about using your system?”

That’s the question that matters.

Whether you write software, own a retail store, run a non-profit, counsel married couples – even if you’re trying to land a job in a down economy – everyone has users.

Everyone. Even if you don’t call them users.

And if you can’t deliver your value with an abundance of user friendliness, you lose.

HERE’S THE REALITY: We live in an experience economy, a commoditized marketplace and hyperspeed culture.

That means people are no longer satisfied with good, fast and cheap – they want it perfect, now and free.

Today we’re going to explore a list of ways to make yourself, your brand and your service more user-friendly:1. You aren’t your customer. It doesn’t matter if you like it – it matters if users get it right away. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s cool – it matters if users enjoy using it. And it doesn’t matter if you get excited about it – it matters if users tell their friends about their positive, friendly experience of using it.

My suggestion: Stop superimposing onto your users what you think they should want. You may as well be winking in the dark. Instead, just ask people what they need. I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you. Like Jerry Maguire, learn to say, “Help me help you use me.”

Without solicitation of user feedback, you end up sitting in an office having a love affair with your own marketing. And the intangible asset known as your brand decreases in equity with every transaction. How have you made it easier for people to interact with you?

2. Never underestimate the profitability of findability. If they can’t find you, they can’t use you; and if they can’t use you, it won’t matter how friendly you are: Visitors will leave before they get a chance to become customers.

Peter Morville is the father of findability. He first defined the term in 2005 in his book Ambient Findability, as “The ability of users to identify an appropriate website and navigate the pages of the site to discover and retrieve relevant information resources.”

Ease and comfort. That’s the secret. Relevancy and realness. That’s the next secret. And demonstrating to users that you’re worth being found. That’s the final secret.

Then, the only thing issue left to consider is: “What happens after users find you?” Because what your users experience isn’t as important as the friendliness with which they experience it. Findability enables approachability. How findable are you?

3. Respond to the idiosyncratic needs of each user. If you force everyone to conform to the same style, you run the risk of losing people who matter. Instead, position your offerings in ways that make it easy for all types to access you.

For example, I recently made two changes to my accessibility options by offering users a menu of mediums. First, I changed my cell phone voicemail to say, “Here are the three ways to get in touch with me the quickest: Leave a message, send a text to this number, or email scott@hellomynameisscott.com.”

The second change was made to the contact page of my website, which reads, “Everybody communicates differently. I am available and at your service and via whatever channel you prefer to use the most: Phone. Text. Email. Instant Message. Skype. Twitter. Facebook. Face to face.”

Remember: It’s not that users don’t like you – it’s that you’re not speaking on their frequency. If you want your message to be heard in a friendlier way, you have to also consider how people hear. Are you customizable?

4. Preserve people’s sense of control. In the psychology manual, The Handbook of Competence and Motivation, the research proved that human beings operate out of a model to feel autonomous and in control of their environment and actions.

Thus: The feeling of being in control is a basic human need. And your challenge is to make sure your users don’t lose that feeling.

For example, at the beginning of my presentations, I give my audience members my cell phone number. And I tell them that if they have any questions, comments or feedback, to text me. Then, time allowing, I’ll address as many of them as I can.

This approach wins for three reasons. First, it’s a cool way to interact with audience members, aka users. Secondly, by introducing anonymity, it creates an askable environment that makes people feel comfortable speaking up. Finally, the option of texting allows users to offer feedback at their own pace.

Ultimately, these three things reinforce people’s sense of control over the direction of the discussion. How will you do the same?

Remember: The two things that matter are how people experience you; and how people experience themselves in relation to you. And if “in control’ isn’t part of that equation, the only people who win are your competitors. How do you keep the ball in your user’s court?

5. Pamper people’s memories. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for the past ten years, it’s that most people suck at remembering. Not just names, but everything. Partly because they don’t pay attention. Partly because they don’t write everything down. And partly because human memory is a mysterious beast.

The point is, if something as simple as a nametag can increase interpersonal friendliness, consider how you might pamper people’s memories within your user experience.

For example, the human memory can handle about seven bits of information at a time. Do everything you can to accommodate that capacity. Make it easy for people to organize and remember material.

The friendliness of their user experience will skyrocket. Even if they don’t realize it. Do your users’ brains love you?

6. Boring is bankruptcy. A friend of mine recently purchased an online sales training course for his employees. When I asked him why his salespeople liked the program so much, his answer surprised me: “Because it’s fun,” Don said. “Look, we can get good content anywhere. But the personality of this program is what makes it so cool.”

Lesson learned: Nobody buys boring, nobody notices normal and nobody pays for average. As my friend Rohit so eloquently suggested in his must-read book, Personality Not Included, “People don’t sue doctors they like.”

Your challenge is to figure out which unique attribute of your personality, life experience and expertise you can leverage in a remarkable way. That means: Values before vocation, individuality before industry and personality before profession.

After all, people buy people first. How are you leading with your person and following with your profession?

7. Reward people for making mistakes. User errors happen. Every day. My suggestion: Acknowledge them. Affirm them. Reward them. Correct them. And do it in a fun, brand-consistent, unexpected way. This humanizes people’s mistakes and makes for a more user-friendly experience.

Speaking of my website, the error page is my favorite. It’s a picture of me with a giant, broken nametag crushed over my head. And the text reads:

“Whoops. The page you were looking for no longer exists. Try searching Scott’s brain using the form to your right!”

You can view this at www.hellomynameisscott.com/error. It’s playful and relaxing, makes the mundane memorable and rewards users with an exclusive message when they make a mistake. Twitter popularized this same concept with their whale/bird graphic, which, in and of itself, became a powerful word of mouth marketing too. When your users screw up, how do you positively respond?

8. Uniformity is beauty. After wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for the past ten years – and then, somehow making a career out of that – I’ve learned that consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness. First, consistency between: Your actions and your attitude. That’s what enables your users to listen to you.

Second, consistency between: Your choices and your core. Your decisions and your dominant reality. Your message and your mentality. That’s what enables users to trust in you. Third, consistency between: Your practices and your principles. Your projects and your philosophies. Your vocation and your values. That’s what inspires users to follow after you.

And finally, consistency between: Your ventures and your visions. Your situations and your strengths. Your terminology and your truth. That’s what impels users to talk about you.

If you want to achieve the beauty of uniformity, write the following question on a sticky note and look at it daily: Is how you’re behaving right now consistent with the user-friendly experience you strive to provide?

REMEMBER: Everyone has users. Everyone.

And because people buy people first, the organizations that win are the ones who make the collective experience of their users friendlier.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s the nametag of your service process?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “12 Ways to Out Service the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Position Yourself as the Answer

People use the Internet for one thing – and one thing only.

Pornography.

Just kidding. (Actually, not really.)

TRUTH IS: People use the Internet to solve a problem.

That’s it.

That’s the number one thing typed into Google: A question.

How do you hunt elk?
How do you write a book?
How do you start your own membership website?
How do you successfully stalk your ex-girlfriend on Facebook with her finding out?

Hypothetically, of course.

Besides, she ain’t going to find out. Stalking isn’t illegal if you change your name, right?

Anyway. People use the Internet to ask questions and solve problems. Got it.

WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS: What are you the answer to? What pervasive, expensive, real and urgent problem does your business solve – better, faster, smarter and cheaper than the other guys?

Because if you can’t answer those questions, you lose.

When you’re the answer, you can name your price.
When you’re the answer, you enhance your referability.
When you’re the answer, you position yourself as a Thought Leader.

When you’re the answer, people come to you.
When you’re the answer, people talk about you.
When you’re the answer, people come back to you.

Today we’re going to talk about how to position yourself, your brand and your organization as such:1. Ask people you trust. Find ten people you trust – whose opinions matter – and ask them to reflect your value back to you. Specifically ask them, “What do you think I’m the answer to?”

The cool part about running this exercise is, their impressions might not be what you think. That’s the tricky thing about self-awareness: It’s rare that you define your own value. You’re simply too close to the subject to make an objective assessment.

“Sit in the assembly of the honest,” as The Bhagavad-Gita instructs. Then, ask people to reveal what you’re too close, too in love, too blind or too proud to see. Are you standing on a whale fishing for minnows?

2. Nothing beats raw experience. If all you’ve done is read a few hundred books and morphed yourself into a walking vending machine of quotations from a bunch of dead white guys, you’re not the answer – you’re a parrot. A hack. A ditto.

The only thing you’ll ever be the answer to is the occasional question during a drunken game of Trivial Pursuit. Which is great for parties but useless for profits.

Instead, you need hit the streets. Walk the factory floors. Scour the company warehouse. Get into people’s living rooms. Whatever displacement strategy will school you in the ways of the world.

The point is: You can’t solve people’s problems sitting in your office all day. Poet John Lecarre was onto something when he said, “A desk is a dangerous place to rule the world.” Are you interactive, reactive and proactive – or just googling all day?

3. Focus groups are amateurs. Don’t just learn about your customers’ business – learn about their brain. Try their heads on. Learn to think like them and you’ll be able to provide more customized service.

Fortunately, social media provides you with an all-you-can-eat buffet of options for doing so. That’s the biggest misconception: People assume social media is for selling. It’s not – it’s for solving. It’s a perpetual listening platform that will give you more insight into people’s brains that a hundred focus groups combined.

The hard part is, using social media for that purpose forces you to face reality with an open mind and even more open heart. But that’s the only way to hear with clean ears.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn that you’re spending millions of dollars positioning yourself as the answer to a problem nobody’s trying to solve. Are you fulfilling a compelling need for your target market or projecting onto that market what you think they should want?

4. The speed of the response is the response. If you plan to position yourself as the answer, you need to get back to people quickly. Especially if their problem is expensive and urgent.

And, even if you don’t have the answer right away, ping people back anyway. Let them know you’ve taken ownership of the problem and they can relax.

If possible, do this personally. Give people no choice but to deal directly with you. Either in person, over the phone or via email. But not with some bullshit autoresponder that lies to people, informing them that their call is very important to you, and that you’ll get back to them in the order in which their call was received.

Instead, use their first name and tell people you’re personally on the case. Doing research, making calls, uncovering stones, kissing babies, licking toads – whatever it takes to find the answer.

Then, once you strike gold, don’t just reconnect – reinforce the fact that you kept your promise. This reminds people of your ability to deliver answers consistently. How many unread emails are currently sitting in your inbox, collecting virtual dust?

5. Even when you say no, you’re still marketing. Let’s say someone approaches you with a problem. And you know you don’t have the solution. No worries. Respond by saying:

“I have no idea. This is outside of my scope of expertise. Fortunately, here are three people I trust who have answers for you.”

By doing so, you’re still the answer. Maybe not the answer people were looking for. But you still pointed them in the right direction. You still positioned yourself as a resource.

What’s more, your willingness to divulge your ignorance demonstrates honesty, character and approachability. People will notice. Are you willing to defer when you’ve surpassed the perimeter of your competence?

6. Audit the answer-ness of your platform. When I redesigned my website, I made a simple request to my web team, “The first thing I want users to feel when they arrive on my homepage is: They’ve to the right place. The search is over. My site is going to help them get unstuck.”

The result was beautiful. Seriously, if it were humanly possible to have sex with a website, I would totally bone www.hellomynameisscott.com.

For you, gather every marketing piece you have out there: Websites, collateral materials, social media profiles, business cards and the like. Then, ask yourself:

*Is it a website or a destination?
*Does it leave the impression of value or vanity?
*When people first arrive, does it scream, “Look at me!” or “This is for you!”

Ask these questions today. When was the last time you audited the answer-ness of your platform?

7. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In Larry Winget’s book, The Idiot Factor, he makes a powerful point about being the answer:

“Don’t give me instructions on how to build a watch – just tell me what time it is.”

People screw this up all the time. They have no restraint when it comes to dispensing answers. And instead of cutting to the chase and solving the problem that was presented to them, they pontificate. The monologue. And they parade their storehouse of wisdom around the room like a trophy wife at ten-year reunion.

Meanwhile, the poor sucker who asked them the question in the first place thinks, “Dude, I just needed one letter – not the whole alphabet.”

Lesson learned: Brevity is eloquence. No need to deploy every weapon you have. Like my mentor says, “Pastors need to learn how to preach one sermon at a time.” Are you vomiting when spitting would suffice?

8. Publicize your ability to recognize patterns. That’s what makes you a recognized thought leader – not just a random expert. If you truly want to radiate usefulness, if you want be the answer, learn to recognize patterns before anyone else.

Notice things and give them names. Create a new glossary of terms to be melded into your industry’s lexicon. And then, sign your name to it and share it with the world.

That’s the missing piece for most people: They’re too selfish with our knowledge. And if you want people to remember you as being the answer, you’ve got to give yourself away.

Don’t worry: The greatest things given away always multiply. And the more you give away for free, the wealthier you will be. What patterns do you excel at recognizing?

FINAL NOTE: Positioning yourself as the answer only works if you commit to living up to that label consistently.

The most notable example comes from the world of basketball.

When Allen Iverson was traded to the Philadelphia 76er’s, his nickname became “The Answer.”

Why?

According to an ESPN article, Iverson was the answer to all of the 76er’s questions:

*When will we be good again?
*When will we have another superstar?
*When will we win another championship?

Now, according to a Sports Illustrated article, Iverson’s nickname of “The Answer” is a clear reflection of his many talents and dominating performances on the court.

In fact, he lived up to his moniker throughout the first year of his career, averaging 23.5 points per game for Philadelphia. And as a result, Iverson captured the Rookie of the Year.

Since then, he’s become an eleven-time all star. AI still averages 26.7 points a game, making him one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.

LESSON LEARNED: If you want to position yourself as the answer – online or off – it requires a dedicated effort.

Otherwise your dominance will crumble.

In which case, pornography might actually end up being your next career move.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What problem do you solve?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Draw a Crowd Without Making a Scene

“They don’t care if you’re good – they care if people come.”

That’s how my friend Judson described the business of booking college comedy tours.

It’s not about aptitude – it’s about attendance.
It’s not about information – it’s about expectation.
It’s not about getting laughs – it’s about filling seats.
It’s not about the ability to perform – it’s about the capability to draw a crowd.

THE BEST PART IS: Every time Judson shows up, the crowd goes wild.

But only because he drew them there first.

Only then could he deliver the goods.

LESSON LEARNED: The crowd can’t go wild if they never make it through the gate.

What about you?

How well do you draw a crowd?
How do people feel when they get there?
After the show is over, how do they feel when they walk away?
And when people get home, how long does it take before they tell all their friends about you?

Whether you’re a performer, artist or entrepreneur…
Radio station, non-profit organization or political candidate…
Company leader, mailroom attendant or cube-dwelling Dilbertarian…

The ability to draw a crowd (in person, online, at work, out in the community) is an essential component to making a name for yourself.

THE COOL PART IS: You don’t have to be the center of attention.

What counts is if you’re a lever. A pivot. A fulcrum point for gathering and leveraging the masses to advance something that matters.

Today we’re going to learn how to draw a crowd without causing a scene.1. Amuse people or lose people. This is the reality of our culture. Whether you’re communicating your idea in person, on the phone, during a presentation or via webinar – you need to be more amusing. Period.

Interestingly, the word “amuse” dates back to 1480 French term amuser, which means, “to divert or cause to muse.” This means your job is twofold: First, to divert. People’s eyes, ears, attentions and minds. Second, to cause to muse. That way, people stop fixedly and begin to ponder. Are you entertaining as you inform?

2. Position your value counterintuitively. In the summer of 1992, the PGA Tour came to my hometown. While watching ESPN with my brother one night, we learned the tournament was being played at Bellerive Country Club – only one mile from our house.

But unlike all of our friends who tried to sneak onto the course to watch golf – then make fools of themselves on live television – we had much bigger plans. We decided to convert the empty field next to our house into a PGA parking lot. The only problem was, every other subdivision within three miles did the exact same thing.

Dang it. Just when you think you have an original idea.

Naturally, we didn’t park a single car on the first day. I know. It was devastating to our entrepreneurial egos. We had to go to therapy until college. Plus, it was August. In St. Louis. Blech.

But, on the second morning, our dad showed up on his way to work – with ten boxes of donuts – and a new parking sign that read, “Free Parking, $10 Donuts!”

We proceeded to make $368, which, when you’re a teenager, is like, a million dollars.

Lesson learned: If you want to draw a crowd, start by drawing interest. Catch people off guard. Be the point of dissonance that breaks their patterns, violates their expectations and hacks the rules. What could you do – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?

3. Consider the rhythm. Let’s say you’re doing a public event on a college campus. And most the students are commuters. Take note: Friday events are losers. Next, let’s say you want to create a memorable presence your next trade show. But it’s the morning after the open-bar karaoke party. Attendance will be low, non-existent or hung over.

The point is: You can’t draw a crowd without a general population to draw from. That’s why you have to be careful about the timing of your event. Make sure it jives with the rhythm of your audience’s immediate environment.

Book smart. Otherwise it’s just you and the crickets. And those chumps never applaud. Have you struck yourself out before coming up to bat?

4. Educate musically – don’t regurgitate noisily. Two homeless men stand on opposite street corners. One yells bible versions at the top of his lungs, informing passerbys that fiery damnation awaits them. The other plays a fifteen-minute drum solo on a kit made from empty paint buckets.

Which one would you give money to? Exactly. Because one made music – other made noise. The cool part is, when you make music, you get more than attention.

As George Carlin explained during his Inside the Actor’s Studio interview, “I received all A’s when I was in elementary school. I got their attention, their approval, their admiration, their approbation and their applause.” And he drew crowds for fifty years. Which one describes the message you deliver?

5. Attract interest immediately – then hold it step by step. Attention is only the beginning. The secret is maintaining it. According to The Psychology of Attention, “All points of attention have three components: Focus, margin and fringe.”

Your challenge is to appeal to each of those components. In my own presentations, I stay aware of this fact. For example: There’s the main audience, there’s the people walking by outside, there’s the camera crew, there’s the venue staff, there’s the people watching online, etc.

Each audience comprises a different element of the attention equation, and they all matter. Like the rock band that acknowledges the legions of drunken, muddy fans in the lawn seats. How do you hold attention – step by step – by appealing to everybody?

ONE FINAL NOTE: As I mentioned earlier, drawing a crowd is a relative experience.

Yes, it can build credibility.
Yes, it can validate your efforts.
Yes, it can demonstrate social proof.

But then again, drug-addicted hobos convinced they’re the second coming Jesus Christ draw a pretty good crowd too.

It’s all about being memorable for the right reasons.

Otherwise you become someone who (only) draws a crowd because people can’t believe what a train wreck and laughingstock she’s become.

ULTIMATELY: It’s not (just) about drawing a crowd.

It’s also about:

Why you want to draw it.
What you plan to do when it’s drawn.
How people feel when they’re part of it.
What emotions are triggered when they walk away from it.
And how quickly those people tell their friends about their experience with it.

Do that, and you won’t need to make a scene.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Will people come to see you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

7 Ways to Hustle While You Wait

The Seven Dwarfs never had to deal with a recession.

They suggested you whistle while you work.

Which is a great philosophy, unless you’re not working.

Then what?

SHORT ANSWER: Hustle while you wait.

That’s what Edison preached and, more importantly, practiced. A thousand patents later, his disciplined work ethic paid off and paid well.

THE CHALLENGE IS: Executing what matters while waiting what’s coming.

Here’s how to hustle while you wait:1. Learn to balance total relaxation and complete exertion. Right after breathing, this is the most important practice in yoga class. And while it sounds paradoxical, it’s actually quite powerful.

For example, in standing bow posture, your left arm is fully engaged, outstretched, reaching for the mirror. But your opposite right shoulder relaxes completely, thus opening your chest cavity.

It feels fantastic. And while this move takes some practice, striking the balance between relaxation and exertion equips you to drop deeper into the posture. Not just in yoga, but in life. That’s the cool part. Maybe you’re starting a business. Or creating an art piece. Or beginning a new project at work. Same principle applies. Your challenge is to relax and exert simultaneously.

Learn to ask yourself, “What unused, underleveraged component of this process can I engage while waiting for the paint to dry elsewhere?” Ultimately, this form of hustling starts with an attitudinal shift from effectiveness to efficiency. Are you willing to remain patient in one arena while relishing impatience in another?

2. Give away your talent to the market until they’re ready to pay for it. 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. Interestingly, 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. And I know you’re hesitant to give it away. I know you need money. But the world must sample your wares. Otherwise you’ll be waiting so long that you won’t feel like hustling anymore.

Personally, I’d rather work for free for a little while than not work at all. Why are you waiting to get paid doing something you love?

3. There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. Or so says our tea-sipping, cricket-playing British friends. They suggest that even when the outcome of an event seems certain, things can still go wrong.

What’s more, many things may happen to prevent you from carrying out what you intend to do. That’s why it’s imperative to keep hustling till the last minute of your wait time. Be strong. Assume nothing. Otherwise complacency will get he best of you.

My suggestion: Instead of taking laps around the anxiety pool, go find something you can throw your shoulder into. Are you confusing patience with idleness?

4. Practice fertile idleness. This term was originally coined in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, a personal journal published in 1906. And even though the idea is over a century old, it’s still applicable today.

Take the airport, for example. It’s the perfect reminder that life is nothing but a series of lines. You’re not trying to get anywhere. You’re not waiting for the next moment. Life is the line. And once you realize that life doesn’t get any better than that, everything changes.

That’s when boredom ends and the fun begins. That’s when you learn to greet idleness with a welcoming heart and figure out how to leverage your wait time into something valuable.

For example, Japanese teens are masters of fertile idleness. Did you know that fifty percent of their bestselling books are written via text message? Believe it. They’re called shŏujī xiǎoshuō, or, “cell phone novels.” Written mainly by high school girls on trains, busses and other school day commutes, this new genre of art has changed the landscape of writing forever.

All because they hustled while they waited. Are you reading the news or making the news?

5. Refuse the path of emptiness. I started my business eight years ago. Since then, I’ve written eleven books. Each was composed, produced, published and distributed through my own company, as opposed to a traditional publishing model. And I’m proud to say, all of the books have been noticed by the people who matter, featured on national media and bought in profitable quantities worldwide.

Now, considering I’m just a one-man show, I’d say my books have done pretty well as an independent publisher. The exciting part is, I’ve been approached by dozens of major publishers over the years. And while I’m always honored by their generous offers, I still choose to hold out for the right one. I’m not worried. It’s only a matter of time before the right one comes along.

Until then, I’ll still be here at my office, cranking books out on my own. Your challenge is to employ the same philosophy: Ride the smaller waves like a champ, then, when the Big Kahuna comes along, pop up on your board and ride that baby to shore. Are you willing to be a patient incrementalist?

6. Aggressively bite into opportunities. I’m reminded of what the book of Zechariah reminds us: “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” That statement runs my life. Because you never know. And you never will know unless you maintain an attitude of possibility, openness and leverage with everything you encounter.

It’s about making yourself approachable to the world. It’s about beginning with what is – then make something more beautiful out of it. That’s the best part about waiting: There’s always something to do. And don’t give me that, “But I’m so bored,” excuse.

Look: If you’re bored, you’re a boring person. Period. I haven’t been boring since Finance 301 senior year of college. Why? Because I don’t just hustle while I wait – I aggressively bite into opportunities while I wait. Dee-licious.

Remember: Opportunity never stops knocking – you just stop listening. What opportunity is going to pass you buy if you don’t act on it?

7. Don’t commit solely to one course of action. Focus is profitable, but not when executed at the expense of awareness. As I learned from Oriah’s The Dance, “Open the fist clenched in wanting and see what you already hold in your hand.”

Lesson learned: Beware of being too single-minded in your efforts. Otherwise over-focus fuels neglect, and obsession blocks opportunity. The secret is setting healthy boundaries.

For example, let’s say you plan to be out of commission for the five hours working diligently on your big proposal. Set an alarm. Have a friend call you. Anything to jolt you out of your flow state. Ultimately, by establishing a definitive end to your time deep focus, you can switch gears immediately.

Remember: There’s nothing wrong with hustling while you wait, just don’t lose sight of what you’re waiting for. Are you fully immersing yourself without coming up for air?

REMEMBER: The strong wait, but the smart hustle while they’re waiting.

I challenge you to execute these practices as every unforgiving minute passes by.

And you can leave the whistling to Sneezy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is being too patient costing you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Stand Your Ground without Stepping on People’s Toes

There’s a fine line between boundary management and self-righteous entitlement.

As Diane Draher wrote in The Tao of Inner Peace, “We must never let a cause, organization or a relationship so complete eclipse our lives that we forget who we are.”

LESSON LEARNED: If you’re going to stand your ground, make sure you’re not stepping on people’s toes.

Consider these ideas for walking the fine line:

1. Commitment can be seductive. The deeper you commit to something, the more likely you are to become so wrapped up and so obsessed with idea of being (and appearing) committed to that something, that your desire actually becomes bigger than what you’re committed to.

And that’s when people start to get hurt. That’s when things start to get broken. There does come a point at which commitment becomes a detriment. After all, what good is being committed if your commitment annoys, harms or offends the people around you? Make sure you don’t become a victim of your own conviction. Is your commitment a detriment?

2. Stop proving yourself and start expressing yourself. Let’s explore the distinction. Proving yourself is doing; expressing yourself is being. Proving yourself is claiming commitment; expressing yourself is embodying commitment. Proving yourself is screaming your truth; expressing yourself is walking your truth. Proving yourself is striving for approval; expressing yourself is allowing for refusal.

What’s more, proving yourself is demanding your rights; expressing yourself is deploying your gifts. Proving yourself is trying to be somebody; expressing yourself is embracing who you already are. And finally, proving yourself is advising people from the outside; expressing yourself is inspiring people from the inside. Which approach do you take?

3. Watch your volume. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t gamble. And I don’t go to strip clubs. And admittedly, I used to be a lot more vocal about my choices. But over the years I’ve learned that louder you say no, the more judgmental you sound.

Don’t make a spectacle. If you’re going to abstain from something, just thank people for offering, politely refuse and get on with your life. They don’t want to hear the entire philosophy behind each of your choices. It is possible to say “No” without screaming “No way!” Is the volume of your commitment disturbing the peace?

4. Offer simple, unarguable reasons. Next time someone asks you why you choose (not) to partake in something, try this: Instead of launching into your seven-minute diatribe about why a particular choice goes against your personal constitution or runs crosswire to the grain of your soul, just smile and simply say, “It’s not important to me.”

That’s enough. That’s all people need to hear. Anything more is probably unnecessary. Take it from someone who used to share his personal philosophy on everything, with everybody, in every conversation – even when they didn’t ask. Unless people put in a request for your entire dissertation, keep the explanation of your self-discipline brief and simple. Are you exhausting to be around?

5. Saying no stretches other parts of you. It’s amazing how creative you become once you’d made the decision not to cross a certain line. For example, think about the last time you approached a construction detour in your hometown. I bet you managed to discover several cool, new and exciting shortcuts to get to the same place you’ve been going for years, right?

Creativity works the same way: When you commit to (not) doing something a certain way, your brain immediately searches for alternate routes to accomplish the same goal.

I’m reminded of a time in college when Route 27 was blocked off for severe thunderstorm damage.

Since I was late for a final exam, I didn’t have time to take the detour. So, I revved up my ’95 Grand Am and plowed through the mud like a natural born monster truck. And after a few minutes of spinning my tires and spraying mud ten feet into the air, I actually busted through the barricade and came out on the other side without damaging my car or destroying the land.

Honestly, I don’t know what came over me. I’d never been so impressed with myself. I felt like Chuck Norris in Walker Texas Ranger, but without the tight jeans. Lesson learned: Next time you say no to something, start asking yourself, “What will saying no energize me for?”

It’s almost ironic. Setting healthy boundaries in one part of your life actually stretches you in other parts. Cool. Maybe you’ll discover a new skill you didn’t even know you had, simply by standing your ground. When you stick your stake in the ground, what new terrain might you uncover?

6. Give yourself permission to indulge occasionally. The moment you refuse to do so is the same moment your admirable self-discipline starts to morph into intolerable self-righteousness.

For example, I don’t eat (much) meat or dairy. Not that I’m a vegetarian or vegan. In fact, I’m all for slaughtering animals for delicious human consumption. It’s primarily a digestive issue and a health choice.

Still, don’t put it past me to throw down an occasional basket of buffalo wings like the carnivore I once was. Hey, I‘m realistic. Standing your ground is one thing. But life without buffalo wings? That’s just wrong. Once in a while never hurt anybody. Except maybe the chickens. What did you indulge this week?

7. Bamboo, not wood. As you can tell, I’m a fairly obstinate guy. When I make a certain choice, I stick to my guns. And when I believe in a particular philosophy, I rarely back down. It’s crucial to my value system and central to my fundamental orientation: I practice resolute persistence while staying committed to my boundaries.

Unfortunately, this particular orientation has the potential to alienate people if executed close-mindedly. I’m learning to be more careful. Sometimes a person’s strongest asset can become his deepest liability.

It’s all about walking the fine line between flexibility and determination. Between immovability and adaptability. Because if you don’t, you’ll snap like a twig under the weight of external pressure; when bending like a bamboo would probably be much more helpful.

Remember: Being obstinate is worthless when carried out at the expense of another person’s respect. When you stand your ground, how much foreign terrain are you willing to make room for?

8. Reciprocation is essential. The final component of standing your ground is the respect and openness you must extend to other people when they stand their ground. Even when you don’t agree with them. (Especially when you don’t agree with them!)

You still have to honor other people’s truth. You still have to stand on the edge of yourself to salute them, without the desire to change, fix or improve them. Even if you have to “agree to disagree.”

Truth is: Standing your ground without stepping on people’s toes means learning to allow people you care about to challenge your opinions – without becoming frustrated. Instead, becoming thankful for the opportunity to (either) reinforce your own beliefs and stick to your guns, or to realize when you’ve been shortsighted.

Yes, it’s tough to accept influence from others – especially those you love. But sometimes they can see things you can’t. Sometimes they’re the very alarm clock you didn’t realize you needed. Don’t press the snooze button on them. Are you obstinate, yet flexible enough to bend when needed?

REMEMBER: Beware of excessive restraint.

Yes, constantly remind people of your commitment.

But not for the sole purpose of strengthening your own position.

No need to be a jerk about it.
No need to step on people’s toes.
No need to overlook the possibility of reconsideration.

Otherwise your self-restraint might be perceived as self-righteousness.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you sacrificing at the expense of your self-control?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

11 Ways to Wage a War Against Mediocrity

Being amazing isn’t enough.

The other half of the equation is the willingness to wage a war against mediocrity.

THE CHALLENGE IS: Mediocrity is a form of resistance, and it will pursue you like a hungry Jaguar you see on the Discovery Channel.

It’s time to assemble your armor.

Today I’m going to help you devise a battle plan to banish the bland, nuke the normal and annihilate the average in your personal and professional life:

1. Develop a mediocrity filter. Before publishing, displaying, performing, sharing or shipping your work with the world, ask yourself one simple question:

“Is there any part of this that might be considered normal, boring, average or mediocre?”

If so, rework it. If not, let that baby rip. By virtue of asking the question on a daily basis, you’ll hone the accuracy of your mediocrity radar. Soon, averageness will be a thing of the past. Like phonebooks and Jennifer Aniston. What system could you develop – right now – to prevent mediocrity from surfacing its ugly mug in the future?

2. Violently refuse to become a follower of the common ways of the mediocre masses. Five minutes before taking the stage in front of 4000 people, the speaker scheduled to follow me actually said: “Hey Scott, don’t be too good, OK?” Bewildered, I replied with, “Angela, I’m going to be better than I’ve ever been in my life. Deal with it.”

Lesson learned: Mediocre people will try to bring your average down. Don’t let them. If you allow yourself to get sucked into their vortex of normalcy, you lose. Instead, let your amazingness bring their average up. They’ll thank you. Are you resisting the pervasive pressure to be normal?

3. Mediocrity isn’t an accident. “The only way to get mediocre is one step at a time,” says Seth Godin, “But you don’t have to settle. It’s a choice you get to make every day.”

My question is: Are you still waiting for permission to be remarkable? Or have you make the conscious choice to become a living brochure of your own awesomeness?

That’s the mistake too many people make: Assuming their averageness is an unchangeable default setting. It’s not. You have the choice make the mundane memorable at least fifty times a day. Will you make it?

4. Create a reason for people to remember you. Differentiate even minimally. You’ll find that making the mundane memorable goes a surprisingly long way. Whether it’s the way you answer the phone, the answers your offer to generic questions, or the style of signage outside your office, remarkability isn’t hard – it just requires risk. Which is exactly why most people shrink at the mere thought of it.

The cool part is, it doesn’t matter how remarkable you are – only that you’re remarkable in the first place. And the best part is, those who leave evidence everywhere they go, leave an impression on the world. What kind of breadcrumbs do you leave behind?

5. Run daily audits of your artistic risk paradigm. As a writer, one of the questions I ask myself every day is, “What do I risk is presenting this material?” If the answer is “not much” or “nothing,” I don’t publish it.

Risk and mediocrity are inversely related. Your challenge is to create a similar filter to keep your creative stream free of sludge. What question could you ask yourself – every day – to assure that your work stays risky, but not reckless?

6. Stop tolerating third-rate inconsequentialities. Mediocre people burn their days agonizing over the urgent and irrelevant. Remarkable leaders invest their days cleaving to the vital and important.

Can you guess which of those two people makes real meaning in the universe? Which one are you? If you’re not happy your response, try this: End your pursuit of the trivial. Keep yourself on task to change the world by setting an alarm on your computer that goes off every hour with this message:

“Does the activity you’re spending your time on – right now – matter?”

That should help put boot to ass immediately. What consumes your time that isn’t making you any money?

7. Greet tough times with a welcoming heart. Be thankful when the economic shit hits the fan – that’s when mediocrity is exposed. What’s more, if you view that situation as an example of natural selection, you’ll discover that the purpose of a crisis is to test whether or not you deserve to be in business.

That’s why I love recessions: They renew the resourcefulness of the remarkable while simultaneously allowing the weak to weed themselves out. How’s YOUR economy?

8. Damn the torpedoes! During a political debate I attended in Chicago a few years back, Bill Maher said that while his positions differed from opponent Ann Coulter’s, he still admired her.

“I admire anyone who isn’t afraid of being booed,” Bill told the audience. Then, about half the crowd booed Coulter when she walked on stage. Which I appreciated, since that meant she was far from being mediocre.

Now, while I don’t agree with Coulter’s politics either – I say, good for her for inviting the haters. Are you prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous remarkability AND take arms against a sea of normalcy?

9. Beware of the rising tide of complacency. Not to mention, the wicked undertow that accompanies it. Because if you’re not careful, you may look up from your raft one day and think, “Oh crap! How did I get this far away from shore?”

But by then, it’ll be tool late: Sharks patrol these waters, and they’re hungry. Sure hope you can swim, Michael Phelps. Otherwise complacency – the gateway drug to mediocrity – will enter your bloodstream quicker than you can say, “Mayday!”

Don’t get cocky. Be not self-satisfied with past glory. View the past as prologue, inasmuch as it brought you here – and that’s it. What invisible forces threaten your peace?

10. Refuse to occupy the middle. There’s a great book by Jim Hightower called There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. That title is so good; you don’t even have to read the book. Instead, try asking the following question I ask myself at least ten times daily:

“What could I do – in this moment – that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?”

Soon, you’ll be so far away from the middle that when you look back, it’ll look like a speck of dust. Are you willing to take a side and stand out loudly?

11. Demand perpetual originality. Not newness. Not novelty. And not clever marketing that camouflages lack of substance. Originality. That means being The One. The Answer. The origin, not echo.

Otherwise, if you’re a copy of a copy of a copy, you lose. And you become just another non-entity in the infinite grey mass of blah-blah-blah. Have you decided to make originality habitual?

REMEMBER: Waging a war against mediocrity is all part of being amazing.

Burn the beige.
Void the vanilla.
Banish the bland.
Nuke the normal.
Annihilate the average.

Those are your marching orders.

Get to work, soldier.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is being average costing you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “18 Marketing Questions to Uncover Uncontested Waters,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

8 Ways to be Strategically Impatient

Authors love to pontificate about how many publishers rejected them before they made it big.

Personally, I never chose to participate in that literary pissing contest. I’ve always practiced Miyagi’s Law, which states that the best way to block a punch is to not be there.

Want know how many publishers rejected my book?

None.

Because I did it myself.

In fact, I did it myself eleven times in eight years. That’s more books than some authors publish in their lifetime.

SO: To what strategy do I attribute my supernatural productivity?

Two things.

Number one, I’m single.

No explanation needed there.

But number two, I’m impatient.

And I don’t mean, like, I roll my eyes and huff under my breath at supermarket cashiers who take ten minutes to count my change.

I’m talking about strategic impatience.

Ask any entrepreneur in the world – it’s in our blood.

We don’t wait for things. We just go. We just do stuff.

Today I’m going to challenge you to practice strategic impatience as a viable, profitable approach for achieving your professional goals.

1. What’s next? Without a doubt, these are the two most important words in the impatient professional’s vocabulary. I urge you to ask yourself this question throughout the day to resurrect declining momentum and require forward action.

Now, that doesn’t mean abandon whatever current project requires your attention. It’s like rock climbing: You secure a grip in your right hand while searching for the next hold with your left hand.

Then, as soon as you lock your fingers into place, you swing forward into the next action. Always ascending with one hand secure, but never dwelling on the rocks of the past.

Apply that principle to your professional efforts, and you’ll scale the entrepreneurial mountain in no time. What is your legacy of taking action?

2. Assess the irrelevant – then discard it. From “crazy-idea-for-a-book” to “actually-in-my-hand-so-I-can-smell-the-book,” my first title, HELLO, my name is Scott, took over a year to complete. My second book took two years. My third book took eight months. My fourth book took six months. And now that I’m well past my tenth title, I average about five months a book, or three a year.

What happened? What divine force was at work?

Simple: I learned which corners I could cut.

That meant: No big publishers. No useless planning. No more getting ready to get ready. No more making pointless outlines. No more rewrites. No more soliciting blurbs from “experts” whose testimonials added zero value. No more endless rounds of quasi-editing from unqualified people whose opinions don’t matter anyway. And no more killing myself over the perfection of every single sentence until the book was flawless.

As my layout designer so eloquently put it, “Scott, this is your thirteenth draft. Let it be.”

Whew. What a load off.

Remember: The quicker you decide what doesn’t matter, the less debris stands in your way of execution. If you didn’t spend all your time managing and stressing over counterproductive time-wasters, what might you accomplish?

3. Go it alone. Thoreau was right: “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” That’s the problem with collaboration. Or teams. Or partnerships. Or committees. The more people you have, the longer it takes to move.

Not that you should be opposed to working with others. No man is an island. But don’t allow your dreams to be realized at a significantly slower pace because you’re too busy looking over your shoulder. That’s how once-great ideas fizzle.

Sadly, since day one of preschool, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that teamwork is the secret. That working together is the answer.

This is a force-fed fairytale that’s annihilating your ability to execute.

Ultimately, your romantic notion of the value of teams is shooting you in the foot. He who travels alone travels fastest. How much money are you losing by waiting for somebody you don’t even like?

4. Put yourself out of your misery. Waiting can feel like a slow death. Especially at the dentist. But inasmuch as patience is a virtue – and I consistently practice this idea in many domains of my life – impatience can also be a huge victory. Especially when practiced purposely.

Interestingly, the root of the word “patience” is pati, or, “to suffer.” Which means the word “impatience” literally means, “without suffering.”

That’s the freeing part. When you give yourself permission to be impatient, you end your own suffering. The secret is creating a deficit position for yourself by honestly asking questions like:

*If you don’t do this – will the world end?
*How much money is being (too) patient costing you?
*Are the tasks on today’s agenda worthy of your life?
*What is the need for perfection preventing you from doing, being and having?

Admit it: It’s time to grab your shotgun, walk patience out to the barn and put that little bastard out of its misery. Are you willing stop waiting and swing into action?

5. Develop massive intolerance for the inconsequential. As long as I’m pitting against timeless virtues, I may as well talk smack about tolerance too. So, no offense to the Dalai Lama, but what a crock. Tolerance? Yet another veil that needs to be pulled back.

Naturally, I’m not talking about tolerating people of difference cultures. Rather, I’m refereeing to the intolerance for:

Senseless barriers and constraints. Non-stop interruptions. Delay and opposition. The need to get approval or permission. The illusion that you have to be “amazing” or “experienced” or “ready.” The fairytale that you need to know what you’re doing.

Tolerating any of these things will not bring you closer to your dream. Ever. What unnecessaries are you courageous enough to commit a hate crime against?

6. Tap into your natural sense of urgency. Because I was born in 1980, you might suspect that my impatience is a generational attribute. And I think there’s some truth to that.

Still, inasmuch as my generation favors the A.D.D., instant-gratification, hyperspeed mindset, I’d say impatience is more of an entrepreneurial bent.

Here’s proof.

Consider Dr. Edith Martin, born in the 1950’s, whose resume will astound you: Doctoral Graduate of Georgia Tech, former VP of Boeing’s High Technology Center and CIO of the DC-based satellite system, Intellesat.

In a recent alumni newsletter, she said the following: “Impatience is an important part of being an entrepreneur. The complement of impatience is motivation. It’s having a vision of what can be done, having a desire to realize that vision, and not being tied to how things occur traditionally – but a willingness to break new ground. That’s willingness, not a need – just willingness. And you don’t do it just for its own sake.”

Lesson learned: Even if you’re not thirty years old, and even if you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur, you can still embrace restless expectation, eagerness for change and be raring to go. What do you need to give yourself permission to stop waiting for?

7. Learn to dislike anything that causes delay. Delay is injustice. Especially when you’re changing the world, which I imagine you are. The trick is to (either) discard anything that looks like a delay before it consumes your clock; or to plan for delay by execute multiple projects simultaneously.

For example, I have writer colleagues who stalemate themselves by only working on one book at a time. “Well, I haven’t gotten much writing done this month since my new book is being edited…”

Bullshit. Why aren’t you working on your next book in limbo? Do you think your current book is going to get jealous?

Books don’t have feelings – they have ink. And the opposite of impatience isn’t patience – it’s idleness.

Get in the habit of asking yourself, “What essential tasks can I accomplish while I’m waiting?” Soon, the only delays you’ll experience are the long lines at the bank when you’re depositing your checks. How will you leverage wait time to take massive, productive and immediate action?

8. Victory fuels impatience. In 2009, Bill and Melinda Gates made a historic presentation to the US Government entitled, Living Proof. During her opening remarks, Melinda said the following:

“The world is getting better – but not fast enough. Unfortunately, it’s not getting better for everyone. But we’ve seen the living proof that global healthcare really can work. And that’s the kind of thing that makes us impatient optimists.”

What about you? I wonder what would happen if you pinpointed a little living proof in your body of experience to prove the payoff of impatience. How could you reinforce that proof to fuel your immediate progress?

REMEMBER: Patience might be a virtue – but impatience pays the mortgage.

Stop waiting.

Just go.

The Dalai Lama will forgive you.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is being impatient costing you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur 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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Sign up for daily updates
Connect

Subscribe

Daily updates straight to your inbox.

Copyright ©2020 HELLO, my name is Blog!