What Smart Entrepreneurs Know About Engaging Their Customers

Engagement is the new marketing.

How people experience you, plus how people experience themselves in relation to you, is now what determines your success.

Straight from my column on monthly column on American Express Open Forum, here’s what smart entrepreneurs know about engaging their customers: 1. Master the power of personalization. If your customers wore nametags, would you give them better service? Sure you would. Names reduce the distance between people. Today, my flight attendant noticed my nametag and said, “Scott, I wish all my passengers wore nametags, that way I wouldn’t have to say sir!” Makes sense. With a nametag, it’s an unmasking. It assures you’re no longer just another face in the crowd. It humanizes you. And it makes it easier for people treat you with dignity, respect and compassion.

Sadly, most organizations miss this. They obsess over offering better customer service, but fail to see the big picture about the actual relationship. Truth is, the purpose of a nametag isn’t to enable customers to tattle on someone who gives poor service. The purpose of nametag is to help you become better friends with customers, that way, better service happens naturally. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt—it brings people back.

2. Lower the threat level. I was meeting my friends for sushi once and they invited a girl named Sandra, a friend of a friend who was passing through town. When we met, she thanked me for wearing a nametag. “It’s just so non-threatening,” she said. Interesting.

How do you lower the threat level when you meet people? With most strangers, you’re starting with negative balance. You’re operating from a deficit position. It’s just the posture of the masses. People have been sold, scammed, conned, manipulated and used too long—and they’re tired of it. But a nametag takes a few bricks out of the wall. A nametag immediately and intentionally disqualifies me from people’s fears.

3. Trust is a function of self-disclosure. The more you reveal about yourself, the more likely people are to trust you. That’s a basic tenant of human communication. But you don’t need books to know how trust works. That’s what the nametag proved: Strangers trusted me more once they knew my name. Not that much more, but there was enough additional trust to be noticeable. People recognized my willingness to stick myself out there—albeit in a small, simple way—and as a result, perceived me as being a more trustworthy person.

But it was weird. I didn’t really do anything. Just wore a nametag that said, “Scott.” And yet, people would tell me things. Personal things. I’ll never forget the time I sat down next to an older guy at the train station. He noticed my nametag and said hello. I did the same. He then proceeded to tell me every single detail about his wife’s schizophrenia. And I was happy to listen, but the whole time I kept thinking to myself, “Sir, why are you telling me all this?” Simple: He felt like he already knew me.

4. Enable reciprocity. I was in a cupcake store in Australia. When the cashier rang me up, I clumsily grabbed all the coins in my pocket, took one look at the confusing shapes and colors, then took one look at the long line behind me, turned to cashier and said: “Here. You do it.” She smiled back; picked out the coins she needed and completed the transaction.

That’s reciprocity. If you want people to trust you, trust them first. Even if you have no logical reason to do so. You always gain a greater interaction. The world is a mirror. What you put out, comes back. It’s not a cliché—it’s human nature. People have mindless, automatic reciprocity reflexes. And they perform certain actions when the world presents them with certain patterns of input. That’s why strangers will spontaneously introduce themselves to me: Not necessarily because they want to meet me, but because of my nametag—I’m willing to meet them.

REMEMBER: Interaction is the agent of human decision. Help people have a better experience with you, and of themselves in relation to you, and you’ll win customers for life.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How could you engage your people in a way they’ve never seen before?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

What My Nametag Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

After four thousand days of wearing a nametag, I’ve learned more lessons about being an entrepreneur than I ever could have learned in college.

Straight from my column on monthly column on American Express Open Forum, here are a few to consider: 1. Interaction is the agent of human decision. Any time people decide to listen to, buy from, get behind, partner with or tell others about you, it’s probably because of the interaction they had with you. How they experienced you. How they experienced themselves in relation to you. And fortunately, the cost of interaction is approaching zero. Thanks to the Internet, we now have greater access to each other than ever before.

Brands are reaching users. Writers are reaching readers. Artists are reaching collectors. Leaders are reaching followers. But you don’t need a nametag. You need to be open to what can emerge from every interaction. You need to interact with people in praise of whatever they have to offer. You need to approach everyone you encounter with a spirit of acknowledgment. Because every time you interact with people, you make a choice.

A choice to engage with swift responsiveness, nonstop gratitude, unexpected honesty, exquisite playfulness and loving unfairness. Those aren’t just interactions – they’re social gifts. And they change people forever. Are you known for a unique way of interacting with the world?

2. The media is your customer. I once got an email from a television screenwriter. He wanted to pitch a network reality show that revolved around my nametag. Awesome. But I had to ask the crucial question. I had to find out why he picked me. Not for ego purposes, but for market research purposes. I wanted to know where the rock created the ripple so I could go throw more rocks.

“Television is about the personality and the message, somebody who would be fun to watch every episode. Viewers don’t care about talent and skill. They want to laugh, be entertained and have their imagination captured. And after doing a lot of research on potential, I didn’t like anyone else. But you – you remind me of me. And that’s why I reached out.”

Cool. So we did a few conference calls, got the lawyers involved, signed an option agreement – I even flew out to Hollywood to meet with a few network producers. Unfortunately, the screenwriter got an offer to become a lead a writer on Survivor, the highest rated reality show of the decade. Damn you, Jeff Probst!

And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But I wasn’t devastated. If anything, it was another glimpse into that whole world. It was an educational experience that taught me what the network wants. That’s one thing you learn about working with the media: You can’t get your hopes up. You can’t beat yourself up. And you can’t torture yourself waiting in limbo. Nor can you run around telling everyone you’re going to be on television.

The media is your customer, and you are an ocean under a fickle moon. You just have to keep saying to yourself, “It’s only a matter of time.” When it hits, will you be ready?

3. Enable the mystery. “I just have so many questions!” I get that a lot. When people find out I wear a nametag everyday, they’re instantly curious about a number of issues. And I’m happy to oblige. Comes with the territory. I once met a guy in a jazz club in Hell’s Kitchen. Noticing my nametag, he asked me if I had just come from an episode of The Price is Right. Good guess, but no. Even though I’ve always secretly wanted to be on that show. Just let me play one game of Plinko and I’ll be out of your way.

Anyway, the point is that people are enthralled by mystery. They never grow tired of things that invite constant interpretation. And your ability to fascinate them is a tremendous asset. Like Houdini, you have to emanate an aura of delightful unpredictability. You have leave the public always wanting more, wondering about your next move. Will you underestimate the profitability of mystery?

4. Reputational capital. The first interview I ever did was for Headline News. Three minutes. Five million people. Twenty-two years old. Yikes. I don’t remember much about my segment. I’m sure I rambled like a pro. But what I do remember was rushing home to watch the tape. And the moment that would be forever burned into my brain was noticing what CNN wrote on their lower third screen graphic: Scott Ginsberg, Name Tag Wearer.

And there it is. Four years of college. Thanks, mom and dad. Money well spent. But I learned something that day. You can’t outsource reputation. It’s not what’s in a name – it’s what after a name that counts. And if you don’t make a name for yourself, somebody will make one for you. Nametag Wearer. Sheesh. What would be written under your name?

5. Take a stand. I believe in having a point of view. Philosophies. Opinions. Perspectives. Theories. These things matter. These things make us uniquely human. They don’t have to be right or wrong, they just have to be ours. And it’s our responsibility to share them courageously and prodigiously. Otherwise we’re just decorations on the wall.

That’s what my friend Matt likes to remind me: You weren’t wearing a sticker – you were taking a stand. Damn right I was. I was taking a stand for my identity. I was taking a stand against anonymity. I was taking a stand in the name of approachability. When you do this, people notice. It draws them in. It teaches them how to treat you. And it reminds them that you’re a person with feelings and you demand to be heard.

Life’s too short to keep our doubts to ourselves, too important to keep our positions unknown and too beautiful to keep our conclusions quiet. Opinionated is the new black. Are you wearing it well?

REMEMBER: To be an entrepreneur is to take a risk.

You don’t need to wear a nametag – but you do need to stick yourself out there.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your nametag?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned From My Nametag

I’ve been wearing a nametag for four thousand consecutive days.

More importantly, I’ve turned that quest into a career as a writer, publisher, speaker, consultant and artist.

In the process, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons. From my monthly column on American Express Open Forum, here are a few to consider: 1. It’s not a nametag – it an advertisement. I used to think advertising was cool. When I was a kid, my favorite hobby was perusing and analyzing the pullout ads from Saturday morning newspaper. Then I went to business school. And I learned that advertising is a disrespectful, ugly form of pollution. Then I started my own company. And I learned that advertising is the price that companies pay for not having enough friends.

Years later, I came to a conclusion: We don’t need more advertisements – we need acts that create emotional connections. Simple, inclusive, accessible, relevant and human encounters that change the momentary experience of engaging with your brand. Another reason I love nametags. Instead of interrupting – I’m interacting. Instead of demanding attention – I’m offering permission. Instead of bothering people into buying from me – I’m allowing them to target me. Is your marketing like that?

2. It’s not a nametag – it’s attention. When I attend classes, teachers call on me more. When I take yoga, instructors adjust my posture more. When I dine out, waiters seat me quicker, treat me nicer and serve me faster. This is not an accident. I’m just slightly more memorable than the average person. And as a result, I earn more attention than most. The nametag builds novelty, overrides people’s native defenses, breaks the ice, creates a smile in the mind and tickles the eye. It reduces psychological distance, expedites familiarity, pampers people’s memories, creates a human connection and accelerates intimacy.

It’s a social object. And every day it makes another deposit in my attention account. Do I wear a nametag for attention? You’re damn right I do. Attention is the great commodity. It’s the scarcest resource we have. How do you practice earning it every day?

3. It’s not a nametag – it’s engagement. I never leave the house without nametags. It’s my uniform. It’s my armor. Ever ready for battle. And everywhere I go, people ask me if they can have one. So I’m happy to pass them out to strangers, friends, random kids at the ballpark, whomever. I don’t discriminate. But I don’t pass them out to convert people – I pass them out to send a message: My brand is participatory.

Personally, I don’t care if people wear the nametags. A lot of them don’t. What matters is that they join me that spontaneous moment of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection. That’s my brand. And their life is better because of it. Truth is, brand perception hinges on human interaction. The only thing people can make a judgment about is how engaging with you makes them feel. And every encounter you have with another person either adds to – or subtracts from – its overall joinability. How do you induce participation?

4. It’s not a nametag – it’s execution. When people learn that I’ve made entire career out of wearing a nametag everyday, they often comment: “Damn it! Now why didn’t I think of that?” Wrong question. Because odds are, they probably did think of that. They just didn’t do anything about it. They forgot to attach action to the idea. It’s not about the idea – it’s about the “I did.”

Of course, people are too busy. Too busy being patient, waiting for permission, following rules, setting goals, fearing failure, planning, responding to useless distractions, listening to the wrong feedback, attending meetings, working with counterproductive teams, waiting until they’re ready, waiting until they know what they’re doing, waiting for perfection and wasting time with parade rainers. And that’s why nobody executes what matters.

Execution isn’t a skill – it’s a way of life. It’s a predisposition to action, an adamant refusal to stay where you are and an outright insistence on focusing on what’s most important to you. The world doesn’t need another idea guy. Ideas are free – only execution is priceless. Which are you focused on?

REMEMBER: We all wear nametags. Every day.

Your challenge is to figure out what’s written on yours.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your nametag?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

How to Live Like a Rationalist, Part 2

Few ideas in history have been more widely repeated, debated and dissected than the following three words:

Cogito ergo sum.

This was the philosophy of Rene Descartes. I think therefore I am.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: I am not going to attempt to debate this philosophy.

Instead, I’ve adopted Rene Descartes’ formula and developed a few rationalist philosophies of my own: (read part one here!) 1. I teach therefore I sell. Teaching means introducing your customers to new things. Helping them feel more connected to the front edge of culture. Teaching means sending a continuous flow of education. Expanding the customer’s thinking, growing their knowledge base and stretching their brains.

Where’s your classroom?

Stop giving sales pitches and start delivering lesson plans. Treat customers as students who attend your class, not as people who pay your commission. How are you positioning yourself as a teacher?

2. I embody therefore I lead. There are four ways to influence people: Through what you think, what you say, what you do or who you are. If you truly want to lead, aim for the latter. Turn your life into a walking translation of the vision you hope to create, and people will follow.

Close the gap between your onstage performance and backstage reality, and people will follow. Make the message you preach the dominant reality of your life, and people will follow. What do people hear when they listen to your life speak?

3. I mirror therefore I elevate. Most of we do has no witness. And our lives go unnoticed if nobody takes the time to notice, reflect and affirm our truth. That’s why it’s so essential to be a mirror, to be a stand for people’s greatness.

When you give them a front row seat to their own brilliance, you give the priceless gift of visibility. You give them something they can’t see for themselves. And if you’re lucky, they change forever. That’s how you elevate someone. What’s your strategy for leaving people better?

4. I focus therefore I respect. Multitasking removes you to another place. It annihilates the present moment and it always disrespects somebody. Plus, it’s clinically been proven to lower productivity. The problem is, it’s become the new normal. We’ve plunged into an ecosystem of interruption, and there’s no turning back.

But here’s what you can do: Become a living statement of focus. Stop searching for something better to interact with. When you’re with people – really be with people. Give them all of you. Nothing could be more respectful. Who are you accidentally disrespecting with this action?

5. I publish therefore I resonate. In addition to being a writer, you’re also a publisher. Not because you work in a skyscraper. Not because you wear fancy suits. And not because you have big meetings with important people. You’re a publisher because you make things public.

And if you’re smart enough to build a platform rooted in respect, permission and value, you will never again have to worry about winking in the dark.

Your voice will always be heard. But only if you have the will to ship. Only if you make the commitment to pressing the publish button, every single day. How many bylines has your name accumulated?

6. I shove therefore I love. To shove is to applaud someone’s risk, elevate someone’s hope, disrupt someone’s inertia and provoke someone’s decision. To shove is to give someone a permission slip, kindle someone’s awesomeness and deliver someone’s encouragement. To shove is to help someone fall in love with himself, show someone what he can’t see for himself and believe in someone more than he believes in himself.

And to shove is to disturb someone into taking action on what matters, to adamantly refuse to let someone stay where he is and to call someone on the carpet when mediocrity descends.

In short: To shove people is to love people. You push them to be brave. Others did it for me. And I pay forward the favor all the time. I bet someone in your life could use a good shove. How many shove moments have you overlook?

7. I disrupt therefore I inspire. A great leader evokes emotion. She interrupts the quiet, unsettles the peace and upsets the mental landscape. A great leader makes a ruckus by asking disturbing questions instead of placating the masses by mindlessly accepting answers.

The hard part is, all of these things are unreasonable. But that’s the whole point. Nobody ever changed the world by keeping their head down. Success requires crazy. Heaps of it. Put your teaspoons away. If you really want to change the world – break out the shovels and start stockpiling insanity. When was the last time you went looking for trouble?

8. I contribute therefore I matter. Insignificance is a terrifying proposition because the human need to feel valuable to the world runs deeper than anything. Fortunately, you don’t have to do something gargantuan to matter.

Maybe your contribution is being a consistent source of possibility for your family. Maybe your contribution is being an anchor of hope for your employees. Maybe your contribution is being an unconditional servant of truth for your readers. Nothing against ending world hunger. But never overlook the value of mattering in your own backyard first. Whose world are you necessary to?

9. I burn therefore I beguile. Influence is easy to overcomplicate. Changing hearts and minds isn’t about power persuasion and body language manipulation. It’s simple: People need to see that you are possessed. They need to feel the flame every time they interact with you. And they need to walk away better, infected with something that wasn’t there before.

Instead of attending another seminar on the power of nonverbal behavior, take a page from Richard Pryor’s playbook: Set yourself on fire. People will come from miles just to watch you burn. Do you interact with flaming intensity?

REMEMBER: You don’t have to live in 17th Century France to be a philosopher.

Consider writing your own rationalist list.

Make Descartes proud.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you rational enough?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

How to Live Like a Rationalist, Part 1

Few ideas in history have been more widely repeated, debated and dissected than the following three words:

Cogito ergo sum.

This was the philosophy of Rene Descartes. I think therefore I am.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: I am not going to attempt to debate this philosophy.

Instead, I’ve adopted Rene Descartes’ formula and developed a few rationalist philosophies of my own:1. I write therefore I know. Until you write it out, you don’t know what you know. Until you write it out, you don’t know how you feel. And until you write it out, you don’t know what you believe.

That’s the true power of the pen: Clarification. The blank page is nothing but an electronic mirror. If you’re not standing naked before it on a regular basis, you’ll never know who you are. And if you’re still clutching onto the excuse that you’re not a writer, wake up and smell the ink. Writing is an extension of thinking. We’re all writers. Every last one of us. Some just have more practice than others. What did you write today?

2. I deliver therefore I earn. The person who hires you put their ass on the line. They don’t want to look stupid. They don’t want to lose their job. They just want you to come through.

Here’s how: First, establish expectational clarity. Leave no room for doubt what is going to happen. Second, build in multiple points of overdelivery. Blow people away with your consistency. And third, telegraph your reliability. In the moments when you do deliver, remind people that you did exactly as – or better than – promised. How do you ensure your capacity to deliver?

3. I polarize therefore I monetize. Anything worth doing is worth being attacked for. But if everybody loves your brand, you’re doing something wrong. If everybody loves your brand, you’re not risking enough. And if everybody loves your brand, you’re not doing the work that matters.

Volume trumps popularity. It doesn’t matter if everybody likes you – it matters if everybody remembers you. Try creating something worth being criticized. Grind the gears a little. Just make sure you’re not doing so solely for the sake of being criticized. Impure motive stains artistic dividends. Are your monkey wrenches well intentioned?

4. I reflect therefore I grow. Not everybody reflects. Some people don’t value reflection. Some prefer not to dwell on the past. And some people simply aren’t as introspective as others. What’s more, school never teaches us to reflect – only to solve the next problem, take the test, accept the grade and move on.

The problem with this is, without analyzing the past we can never design the way forward. And without an understanding who we’ve become, we’ll never learn who we need to be. Are you willing to introduce a ritual of reflection into your regular schedule?

5. I commit therefore I attract. Jumping is life’s most terrifying verb. Especially when you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. The advantage is, when you choose to play for keeps, you show to the world that your work is more than just an expensive hobby.

And for some strange cosmic reason, that world doesn’t just pay attention – it pays dividends. Sometimes in the form of money. Sometimes in the form of opportunity. But always in the currency of prosperity. But you have to jump. How much longer can you afford to be an amateur?

6. I thank therefore I am. Tax your heart as it will, life is still pretty damn impressive. And you survive because of the energy you devote to being grateful for it. That’s what my parents taught me: Thanking is not a chore. If you’re still breathing, you have no right to take a break from being grateful.

And why would you, anyway? You are never more alive than when you are thanking. To give thanks is to touch the center of joy. To give thanks is to make love to the present moment. And to give thanks is to revel in life as it is. As Jean Baptiste Massieu once said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Who have you thanked today?

7. I breathe therefore I overcome. When you spend a week in the hospital breathing through a chest tube, your relationship with your breath changes. You start to learn that every anxiety is another chance to inhale. And you start to learn that there are few things in life you can’t breathe your way through.

But it’s not about making the pain go away – it’s about changing your relationship to the experience of it. Because when you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. Fast heart, slow lungs. How do you activate the force of calm in a time of turmoil?

8. I laugh therefore I conquer. It’s impossible to be at the mercy of something you’re willing to laugh at. And it’s easy to get over things once you figure out what’s funny about them. Not that humor trivializes your tribulations. You can’t outsmart getting hurt.

But when you laugh your way through the struggle, every step is a spark that defies the darkness. That’s one of the coping skills they don’t teach in school. And it’s too bad, because humor is the great diffuser and the ultimate overcomer. What is your diversion from despair?

9. I persist therefore I prosper. I started my company the day I graduated college. A year later, I wanted to quit. I wanted to bag the biz and get a real job. I even toyed with the idea of applying to grad school. But I also reassured myself that even when a dusting of despair settled in, not every part of me wanted to give up.

So I persisted. And now I’m prospering. That’s how you sustain your gaze to the top of the hill: By not abandoning yourself during trying times. Besides, if wasn’t hard – it wouldn’t be worth it. Persistence is hope with legs. Are you all laced up?

REMEMBER: You don’t have to live in 17th Century France to be a philosopher.

Consider writing your own rationalist list.

Make Descartes proud.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you rational enough?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

How to Build Story Equity

People don’t just buy what you sell.

They buy the mythology you create around what you sell.
They buy the story you tell that taps into their existing worldview.
They buy the meaning they create for themselves in response to that story.

BUT: It’s not enough for people to simply understand your story.

They need to believe it.
They need to feel proud to be part of it.
They need to become eager to share it with others.

Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark.

Today we’re going to talk about building story equity into your brand:1. Make your brand deliberately mythological. Every brand needs a human story behind it. Something that gives your values a heartbeat. That’s what earns the right to have your story told. Unfortunately, a good story doesn’t happen by accident. You can’t sit back and wait for people to talk about you – you have to prime the pump. Otherwise you run the risk of being ignored.

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin discussed this very idea:

“To invent a mythic brand, be sure that there’s a story, not just a product or a pile of facts. The story should promise and deliver a heroic outcome. And there needs to be growth and mystery as well, so the users can fill in their own blanks.”

If you’re not creating a mythology around your brand, you’re destined to a future of mediocrity. Find the story, the mythology, that’s yours and yours alone, and shot it from the rooftops. And when the right people hear it, they’ll recognize it as their own and join forces with you. What is the creation myth behind your brand?

2. Give your story a trophy. It’s not enough just to clarify your story – you also have to humanize, personify and memorialize it. Like my friend Chris, the founder of Simplifilm. Their specialty is creating digital videos for client websites. The cool part is: Chris doesn’t market them as videos – but as trophies.

“I wanted my people to feel honored, their creations to be treasured and their stories to be cherished. So we started creating limited edition posters for each client after the job was complete. We now ship them as gifts of gratitude. And when they eventually hang in the client’s office, these social objects not only memorialize the work we’ve done together, but also stimulate conversation about their story.”

That’s how you build story equity: By creating an artifact that extends the influence of your brand into the marketplace. How are you making it easy for people to tell your story?

3. Manage your story like an asset. When you wear a nametag everyday for a decade – then somehow make a successful career out of that – people are going to tell your story. I’ve tried to stop it, but failed miserably. Whether I’m attending a conference with colleagues, practicing yoga with friends, interacting online with readers or having dinner with family, people are constantly telling me stories about telling my story. Almost daily.

For this, I am eternally grateful. It’s how I’ve turned my badge into a brand. Still, every time this happens, I always listen closely for patterns, lessons, assumptions and emotions. Your challenge is to do the same.

Any time people tell you they’re telling your story, don’t just thank them – probe them. Find out where the rock created the ripple so you can go back and throw more rocks. After all, the only thing worse that being talked about is not being talked about. Who’s talking about you?

4. Your brand is a story waiting to be told. In his acclaimed book, Story, screenwriter Robert McKee explains that story isn’t a flight from reality, but a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality. It’s our best effort to make sense of the anarchy of existence. It unearths a universally human experience and wraps itself inside a unique, culture-specific expression.

That’s where smart brands are missing the mark: Their stories are boring. When people hear your story, they should be convinced that it’s a truthful metaphor for life. And it should create a rich, emotional universe that helps people carry hope to the end.

Zappos founder Tony Hsieh is the perfect example. Initially, he sold pizza to his dorm mates at Harvard. Later, started a venture capital firm on a dare from a friend. And recently, Amazon acquired him for more than a billion dollars. And now he runs the company, writes books and gives speeches on delivering happiness. That’s one hell of a human story. That’s one hell of a metaphor. Is your story an anecdote for a party or a vehicle for a movement?

5. Start positive rumors about yourself. A few years ago I was on the bike at the gym. In between sets, the guy next to me noticed my nametag. After a few moments of awkward silence, he launched right into the rumor:

“You know, I once heard a story about some guy who wore a nametag everyday in college. I think it was a sociological experiment or something. But they made a documentary about him. And think he set a world record. Pretty crazy, huh?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him. The rumors were far too interesting to listen to. But that’s the whole point: Facts are misleading, but rumors are always revealing – even if they’re wrong. And if people aren’t currently spreading positive rumors about your brand, you might consider taking matters into your own hands. Certainly beats being ignored.

When all else fails, start gossiping about yourself. That way at least someone is talking about you. Are you a person worth spreading rumors about?

REMEMBER: Your brand tells a story whether you like it or not.

If you want to make your legend worth crossing the street for, if you want people to feel proud and eager to spread your myth, manage your story like an asset.

Because people don’t just buy what you sell – they buy what you tell.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are your predictions for the future?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Does Your Company Take Itself Too Seriously?

Think about the last time one of your customers made the following complaint:

“I like their product, but I just wish the company would take themselves more seriously.”

Exactly. They’ve never said that. Ever.

WHICH MAKES SENSE: We live in a litigious, hypersensitive and politically correct society.

And instead of branding their humanity, organizations – in the name of “professionalism” – are prohibiting their employees from expressing any shred of soul in their work.

Here’s why it’s dangerous to take yourself too seriously:

You limit yourself.
You lose perspective.
You miss moments of joy.
You stifle the growth process.
You create unnecessary stress.
You forget who you really are.

This has got to stop.

Today we’re going to explore a few ideas to help take yourself less seriously:1. Grandiosity isn’t relatable. If your commercial only shows the product at the very end and spends the rest of the time pontificating about its awesomeness, you’re too serious. If your promo video is nothing but an overproduced, epic adventure that says nothing about what actually makes the product unique, you’re too serious.

It’s not enough to get over yourself – you have to stay over yourself too. And part of that process is admitting that your marketing doesn’t always have to solve the world’s problems. Yes, people are buying more than just what you sell. But not every customer cares which organic farm your cocoa beans came from. Sometimes they just want the cookie. Is your brand still riding the wave of elitist pretention?

2. Master the wink. Smart brands create a smile in the mind. The subtly tug our emotional heartstrings in a playful, respectful way. And instead of carefully architecting their image in every touchpoint, they steep themselves in casual panache.

That’s the secret to taking yourself less seriously: Adopting a more playful attitude in everything you do. Extracting the innate and inevitable funniness of your brand. Not through jokes. Not through cheap laughs. But through true humor. After all, humor is the only universal language. And it has the capacity to override people’s native defenses.

But, not if you use it as an additive. That’s not humor – that’s hair gel. And not if you use it at other people’s expense, that’s not humor – that’s cruelty. Are you aiming for stiff, formal and starched; or flexible, bouncy and sweet?

3. Playful is the new professional. Professional is just a word for brands that seek sanitize the soul out of business. Instead of delivering emotionless, forgettable non-service, bring your humanity to the moment.

Don’t let the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely, either. Speak with soul. Ante up the emotional temperature. Delete every dehydrated, annoying, tired, vague, empty, overused eye-rolling piece of jargon in your marketing materials.

Talk friendly. Talk like people talk. Because the goal of your brand is make this moment, right now, a more humane, pleasant passing of time. How much value are you sacrificing on the altar of professionalism?

4. Stop nickel and diming customers. I used to work in guest services for a large hotel chain. And in the two years of my stint, the most consistent complaint from our guests was about minor charges. But that wasn’t surprising: The bigger the hotel, the more small things you have to pay for. Drury Inn, on the other hand, positions their brand with the tagline, “Where the extras aren’t extra.”

Free breakfast. Free beverages. Free copies. Free wireless. Free phone calls. Free cable. Free parking. Free coffee.

Which probably costs them a nice chunk of change at the end of the year. But at least thousands of their guests don’t check out pissed off. What about you? Please tell me you don’t take yourself so seriously that you’re sacrificing experience on the altar of expense. Not good for business. How often are you nickel and diming your customers?

5. Educate yourself in the language of humility. First, publicly celebrate mistakes. Prove to people that you’re willing to support and learn from failure. Second, engage young people by asking them to teach you. And actually listen to and take notes on what they shared.

Third, flip through your daily planner from five years ago when the economy was thriving. Remember how good that felt. Fourth, create a daily gratitude wall at your office. Use sticky notes and never write the same thing twice. And lastly, start a daily blog. The commitment required for writing and maintaining it will shock the hell out of you.

Ultimately, it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when if you’re busy knocking yourself off of your pedestal. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

6. Creativity doesn’t erase credibility. Just because you work in a conservative industry doesn’t mean you should be afraid of doing something offbeat. And just because your company serves sensitive customers doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun.

I once stumbled across a website for a urology clinic that specialized in vasectomies. Their practice leader was a surgeon named Doctor Richard Chop. His patients affectionately called him, “Dr. Dick Chop.” Swear to god. That guy couldn’t take himself too seriously if he tried.

Nobody gets a free pass out of creativity. It’s everybody’s job. Who is murdering your creative nature?

REMEMBER: There are some things in life worth taking seriously.

Health. Values. Relationships. Commitments. Honesty. The new season of Glee.

But when it comes to your business, when it comes to your brand and most importantly, when it comes to your employees and customers – lighten up.

Nobody ever got mad at their boss for being too much fun.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are your predictions for the future?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

9 Business Trends That Aren’t Going Away

Last time I was in Florida, I passed a woman on the beach wearing a shirt that read:

“Pregnant is the new skinny.”

I was beside myself. Not just because of the shirt itself, but because of the overall ridiculousness of the fashion industry.

HERE’S THE REALITY: Fashion isn’t about your appearance – it’s about your approach to life.

Straight from my monthly column at American Express Open Forum, today we’re going to explore a collection of trends that aren’t going away:1. Inspire is the new motivate. You can’t motivate anybody to do anything. All you can do is inspire them to motivate themselves. Find out what fuels people – then fill the tank.

Like the Saturday Night Live character, Matt Foley. He convinced us that a boisterous man in a plaid blazer, hopped up on twelve cups of coffee – who lived in a van down by the river – could motivate another human being. Yeah no. Who are you inviting to do something great?

2. Join is the new buy. Este Lauder once said, “Women don’t buy brands, they join them.” When I first heard that quotation, my inner geography changed forever. And I eventually came to a conclusion that has yet to be disputed: Good brands are bought, great brands are joined.

Otherwise, people are just giving you money. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in making money – I want to make history. If you want your brand to last, it has to connect on visceral level, engage on a human level and unite with it on a personal level. How joinable are you?

3. Judgment is the new access. When information is infinite, people don’t need information, they need people who can explain the information they’ve already found.

The point is: Curators aren’t just for museums. In an increasingly commoditized marketplace, service is the key differentiator. And if you can make your customers smarter by explaining the world to them, you win. Can you interpret and translate better than anyone?

4. Love is the new black. As long as you’re unfair about it. As long as you find the people who don’t deserve and offer to them freely and fully when they least expect it. Like the Sofitel. When I arrived last month at their New York property, their system showed no record of my reservation.

A bit annoyed, I ended up staying across the street at a competing hotel. No problem. But when I got my credit card statement, Sofitel still billed me. Later, after speaking with his reservations manager, he decided to refund the charge immediately. The Sofitel earned a fan for life from a guest who never even stayed there. They rewarded my mistake. Are you loving people don’t deserve it?

5. Naked is the new uniform. Wearing a nametag twenty-four seven is a risk. But it’s also good practice. Practice being vulnerable, that is. And as I continue to reflect on the past ten years of adhesive adventures, I’m slowly starting to realize the connection between vulnerability, approachability and profitability.

But when you open yourself to the world, the world will opens its wallet to you. But only if you’re willing to strip away the superficialities and occupy your vulnerability. Are you willing to lay it bare?

6. Offline is the new online. Although Watson the computer not only won Jeopardy – but, was the first to buzz in on twenty-five out of thirty answers – he did manage to answer one question wrong: The question about art.

Lesson learned: Having access to two hundred million pages of content still doesn’t mean you know how to feel. The heartbeat of the human experience is a function of emotion – not information.

Face to face is making a comeback. And we can’t solely filter our lives through pixels. Not if we want those lives to matter. Are you talking to people with your mouth or your thumbs?

7. Playful is the new professional. Retaining childlikeness makes you more approachable, more relaxing to be around and more relatable to all ages. That’s what my nametag does: It makes this moment, right now, a more humane, pleasant passing of time.

From my handwritten nametag to my trademark philosophy card to my daily fill in the blank exercise, my goal is create simultaneous engagement and entertainment, both online and off.

What does your brand do for people? And do those people care enough about your brand to take a moment, take a picture and make a memory? I hope so. Because you have to let people into the moment.

Induce participation. And intuitively respond to the human thirst for connection. People won’t just buy you — they’ll join you. Forever. Are you providing an opportunity for people to participate in a way that speaks to their individual needs?

8. Transience is the new permanence. The Internet is forever. Every tiny moment now lasts forever. Better be careful what you publish. Dishonesty has a limited shelf life. According to a recent study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, eighty percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating.

Still, this problem isn’t the computer – the problem is the character of the person using it. People don’t get divorced because of Facebook – they get divorced because dishonesty is written all over their face. Employees don’t get fired for blogging – they get fired for being stupid.

Organizational leaders don’t go to jail because some intern squealed – they go to jail because they’re morally bankrupt cracker-honkeys.

If you choose to live a dishonest life offline – there’s going to be a huge echo online. And your digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel and destroy the things that matter most in your life. Do you want to become known for what you’re about to do?

9. Waiting is the new working. I love waiting in lines. I’ve accepted the reality that: Life is the line. There’s nowhere to get to. There’s no future. All you have is right now. And I don’t know about you, but if I’m waiting, I’m writing. Even if only for twenty seconds at a time.

You’d be amazed how easily a year of lines turns into a box of books. Instead of looking at your watch, huffing and puffing and trying to enlist the other people in line to join your pity party, make love to the present moment. Then take notes. Because if you don’t write it down, it never happened.

If you build portable creative environments for yourself; you can leverage every micromoment that presents itself. And I guarantee you’ll triple your output. Are trying to find time, make time or steal time?

REMEMBER: The trends that have nothing to do with clothes are the ones that matter most.

Keep these new fashions in the front of your mind.

Stick yourself out there today.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What trends do you think aren’t going away?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “18 Lessons from 18 People Smarter Than Me,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

12 Idealistic Predictions for The Future

I’m no futurist.

But some trends are too pervasive to be denied.

THE COOL PART IS: You don’t have to kill yourself doing more – you just have to challenge yourself to do different.

Consider these twelve trends, and how your organization might adapt to them:1. Beta is the new post. You’re never ready. Aiming is overrated. And fire burns people. Instead of “ready, aim, fire,” try this formula: Try, listen, leverage. Now that you have this, what else does this make possible?

2. Contact is the new content. We don’t need more access to information – we need more access to each other. Holster your thumbs and open your mouth. Are you bragging about the content you have or the contact you enable?

3. Class is the new quality. Competitors – when treated like partners – can become your power source. Be willing to share in almost every direction. Even with the people who hate you. How many referrals did you give this week?

4. Crazy is the new sane. Insanity is the lifeblood of innovation. What’s more, crazy invites momentum, which produces velocity. And money is in love with speed. Are you nurturing the nuts?

5. Curation is the new creation. You don’t always have to provide the good stuff – sometimes all you have to do is signal people where to find it. If you can’t produce, what if you just pointed?

6. Feeling is the new function. The only thing people can form a judgment about is how interacting with you makes them feel. Create an emotional vibration and win. Are you delivering a palpable presence of something real and true?

7. Execution is the new innovation. Woody Allen was wrong. There’s more to life than just showing up – it’s also about following through. Have you developed a relentless bias toward taking action?

8. Gratitude is the new glamour. Thankfulness looks good on every person during every season. As long as you don’t bastardize it into a technique, the fashion police will tip their hats. How do you thank the people who matter most?

9. Great is the new good. Competence is assumed, enthusiasm is expected and passion is the price of admission. People expect to be blown away. Stop proving them wrong. Is excellence your difference or your default?

10. Heartshare is the new marketshare. Percentages are for math teachers. The level of emotional responsiveness your brand commands is what matters. Are you selling to people who want what you sell or believe what you believe?

11. Honesty is the new marketing. The truth is a powerful word of mouth motivator. As long as it’s not a policy. Because if you have to tell your people to tell the truth, you need new people. How many lies did you tell last month?

12. Imperfect is the new beautiful. Don’t be the one who never shows any real ugliness. Boldly flaunt your imperfection. Show them the snag in your rug. What would happen if you were known as the biggest imperfectionist in your company?

REMEMBER: It’s not about doing more – it’s about doing different.

Explore the possibility of living differently in some way.

Otherwise you might get left behind.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are your predictions for the future?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Are You Dispensing Answers or Offering Responses?

Not everyone is looking for an answer.

When people turn to you, sometimes all they want is a response.

Here’s the difference:

When you give answers, you fix.
When you give answers, you offer advice.
When you give answers, you try to be right.
When you give answers, you add unnecessary value.
When you give answers, you dominate the discussion.
When you give answers, you impose your own direction.
When you give answers, you rob people of the learning experience.

You speak from a place of information.

But.When you offer responses, you dance in the moment.
When you offer responses, you acknowledge their truth.
When you offer responses, you leave people feeling heard.
When you offer responses, you practice emotional restraint.
When you offer responses, you let people learn things on their own.
When you offer responses, you reflect people’s immediate experience.
When you offer responses, you get out of the way and give people space to process.

You speak from a place of affirmation.

Decide which one you’re going to give people.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you dispensing answers or offering responses?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “13 Roles of The Listener,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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