6 Ways to Bow to the Door of Next

The most important word in your entrepreneurial vocabulary is “next.”

Next fortifies action.
Next symbolizes progress.

Next is the BFF of your business.

Next means complacency prevention.
Next means continuous improvement.

Next is the monetizer of momentum.

Next is the fervent architect of creative reinvention.
Next is the critical trigger of entrepreneurial advancement.

Next is the rocket fuel of your career.

Next derives from the German term, nahisto, which means, “Neighbor.”
Next derives from the Old English term, niehsta, which means “Nearest.”

Next is the playmate of your professional life.

THEREFORE: Don’t just use the word next – bow to the door of next.

Bow meaning honor.
Bow meaning respect.
Bow meaning recognize.

Knowing that without incremental progress, there is no incidental profit.

Today we’re going explore six ways to honor, cultivate and leverage next as an invaluable attitude of entrepreneurial excellence.

1. How do you talk to yourself when you fail? Imagine you just screwed up. Ate the big one. Totally bombed. Pulled a Homer. Instead of whining, “I suck!” start affirming, “Nextime…” First, this helps you let go of the past and focus on the future. You can’t debate what was.

Second, maintaining a nextime attitude forces you to begin thinking about what you’ll do differently. Sure beats becoming paralyzed by your own mistakes and a prisoner of yesterday’s errors.

Third, nextime is about (not) overreacting emotionally or being too hard on yourself. Rather, navigating the entrepreneurial waters calmly, objectively and unapologetically. Are you willing to increase your dosage of vitamin nextime?

2. What’s next? My readers and audience members frequently ask me, “Hey Scott, which of your books is your favorite?” And after eight years, the answer has always been the same: “My next one.” I challenge you to embrace that same attitude of “What’s next?” in your work.

First, on a micro level. That is, in terms of productivity. Ask yourself this question throughout the day to resurrect declining momentum. Secondly, on a macro level. That is, in terms of projectivity. Ask yourself this question throughout your creative process to ensure consistent execution. What is your legacy of taking action?

3. What will you do differently next time? Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement. That’s exactly what this question is all about: Honoring your current performance, yet challenging yourself to envision an enhanced future.

In my first five years as a professional speaker, I employed this philosophy as a post-speech ritual. Once my presentation was over, I’d take fifteen minutes to write a stream of consciousness list. Every thought, every feeling and every evaluation of my performance, I wrote down. What worked? What didn’t work? What killed? What bombed?

Then, when I was done, I’d make a note at the bottom of the document that read, “In my next speech, what I plan to do differently is ____________.” This simple ritual grew into a profitable practice for continuous improvement of my performance as a speaker. How could you apply the same reflection process to your job performance?

4. Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? If you want to kill two stones with one bird every time, all you have to do is consistently imagine what else can be made (or could come) from this. Therein lies the key to leverage: Looking at something you’ve created and then playing with its potential.

This process is called Movement Value. You identify concepts that allow you to “breed” other ideas from those concepts. You expand, grow, cook, stretch and shift your idea, allowing it to spawn creative offspring. You look for spin-offs and related ideas. You go forth and multiply. You also exercise enough restraint to recognize LACK of potential.

If an idea doesn’t have much (or any) movement value, you need to save it, file it and move onto something else. Is this idea a springboard or a straightjacket?

5. If everything you’ve done up until now is just the beginning, what’s next? Past is prologue. Past brought you here. Past made you who you are. When you start to align your thinking with this truth, a new world of possibilities opens up.

Your challenge is to extend gratitude for – and embrace the value of – everything you’ve already accomplished. At the same time, don’t overvalue prior successes. Arrogance of the past will come back to bite you in the ass. As John Mayer explained during a 2009 interview with Esquire:

“To evolve, you have to dismantle. And that means accepting the idea that nothing you created in the past matters anymore other than it brought you here. You pick up your new marching orders and get to work.” Will you view the past as a crutch or a fulcrum?

6. What are the three next steps you can take on your own? This is an expanded version of David Allen’s famous question from Getting Things Done, “What’s the next action?” The secret is twofold. First, by assigning a number to it (three), you set a quota of accomplishment.

This forces you to stretch your thinking. Secondly, by specifying the person taking action (you), progress becomes a brighter possibility because you take personal responsibility. Are you using specific, ownership-taking language?

REMEMBER: The answer to “When?” is “Next!”

It’s the most important word in your entrepreneurial vocabulary.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What is your legacy of taking action?

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For the list called, “45 Recession-Friendly Strategies for Entreprenerial Evolution,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Cure for Cobbler’s Children Syndrome, Or, How to Take Your Own Advice

Bad news.

You are not impervious to the peril you advise others against.

If you’re a teacher, writer, speaker, coach, consultant, thought leader (even a parent), admitting that you need to take your own advice – and then, actually TAKING that advice – can be about as enjoyable as getting kicked in the face with a golf shoe.

THE POINT IS: We teach what we most need to learn.

And sometimes it’s tough to be true to your own insight.

If you’ve ever suffered from The Cobbler’s Children Syndrome, today we’re going to explore a series of practices for HOW to take your own advice:

1. Self-questioning. This is the best place to start. As a writer, speaker and thought leader myself, I’ve found great success (honestly) asking reflective questions like this on a regular basis:

a. If I were me, what would I do in this situation?
b. Does my life enshrine what my lips proclaim?
c. What does it look like when somebody pulls a “me”?
d. What key issue am I currently blinding myself from seeing?
e. Is the message I’m preaching the dominant reality of my life?
f. What outworn belief system is informing these bad decisions?
g. How deep is the gap between my onstage performance and backstage reality?

My suggestion is to pick a few from the list – or make your own list – then write the questions on sticky notes. Then post them in your office. Or bathroom. Or car. Anything to keep them in front of your face as reminders to take your own advice. What questions do you ask yourself?

2. Self-reeducation. Revisit material you’ve published but haven’t read in a while. Perhaps the distance away from your own content will help you to view it more objectively. For example, I’ve reread modules I wrote years ago that pleasantly surprised me of their relevance today. Almost like a reminder of what I believe about an issue.

Of course, I’ve also read old material that made me want to gag myself with a flyswatter. Which was an excellent education in my own evolution. Are you willing to disagree with what the earlier version of yourself believed?

3. Self-reflection. Sometimes you’re too close to yourself to see clearly. What you need is a friend to reflect your thinking style back to you. Try this: Find someone you’ve given valuable advice to in the past. Sit her down. Explain your situation.

Then ask her what advice she would expect YOU to give HER if the roles were reversed. Who knows? She might know a certain part of you better than you do. Who can you have lunch with that will function as a mirror?

4. Self-assessment. Try this exercise. At the top of a blank sheet of paper, write the following question, “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?” Then, brainstorm your answers in the form of bullet points.

Take your time. Think hard. After all, you ARE writing your Personal Philosophy. Ultimately, the goal is to use this document as a template for future actions. Just remember to ask: Is what I’m doing right now giving people the tools they need to build that world?

5. Self-appointment. During your daily appointment with yourself, ritually revisit your values. Reread your Personal Mission Statement. Review your Personal Constitution. And explore your governing document for daily decision making.

By doing so each morning, it’s almost like giving yourself a pep talk. Reminding yourself who the heck you are, how you roll and what’s important to you. When was the last time you took fifteen minutes out of your day to just think?

6. Self-awareness. Physically ask people, “What is the best piece of advice I ever gave you?” Their answers might surprise you. You might be smarter (or dumber) than you think. You might also ask people if you can see their notes.

Or they’d be willing to email you their best keepers from your presentation. All helpful for increasing self-awareness. How do other people experience you?

7. Self-research. Google your name in quotes along with the word “says” or “said.” I just did this search on myself for the first time. Pretty interesting. Saw a few quotes I liked, a few quotes I forgot, along with a few quotes I’m embarrassed to ever have said.

But that’s not the point. What will REALLY blow your hair back is when you go one step further: Take all the past advice you’ve published and ask yourself how well you’re executing that advice in your own life. You may be surprised. Are your walkings consistent with your talkings?

REMEMBER: Staying true to your own insight takes a tremendous amount of self-reflection.

I challenge you to use these practices to help take your own advice.

And maybe The Cobbler’s kids won’t have to walk barefoot after all.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you smoking what you’re selling?

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For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

7 (Not So) Harsh Realities of Entrepreneurship

1. Actions are antidotes. Mainly, to the fears you think are real. Which aren’t. Because they’re fears. And fears are only as real as your fear of them. Like the schoolyard bully whose sole source of power is your fear of him, most fears melt into a puddle of goo when you stand up to them.

That’s the action part. And it’s contrary to FDR’s philosophy that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I disagree. I think the only thing we have to fear is the fear OF fear itself. Nothing a few courageous steps of action can’t fix. If this action drains your energy and ability to change, what would cause the opposite?

2. Bodies are barometers. They speak the language of Truth. They tell you what your mouth is afraid to say, what your ears don’t want to hear and what your brain is too chickenshit to admit. Your mission is to listen louder. Much louder. And to treat everything you hear as legitimate, quantitative data.

Look: This isn’t like flying coach when you stick your ear buds in and tune out the safety demonstration you’ve heard a thousand times. This is your health. And your business will thank you for prioritizing it over everything else. What is your body saying about your pace?

3. Boundaries are saviors. If you don’t set boundaries for yourself, other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell all their little friends that it’s OK to violate them. All because you failed to set a precedent of value by putting a stake in the ground.

Your challenge: This week, don’t let yourself back down from another boundary defining moment. Give yourself permission to say no to the good so you can make space for the best. What would it cost you NOT to stick up for your boundaries here?

4. Brands are accelerators. On the customer side, they accelerate the decision making process and the sales cycle. On your side, they accelerate profitability and company growth. But here’s what’s scary: For too long, too many businesspeople have barely skated by with ZERO branding.

And while it may have worked for a few decades, eventually, brandless businesses become broke businesses. You can’t afford not to have one anymore. Be branded or be stranded. How much longer can you go without having an identity?

5. Clients are teachers. Let them participate in your brand. They will teach you how to sell to them. They will teach you how to serve them better. They will teach you what products to release next. They will teach you where to take your business. They will teach you what you’re doing wrong.

All you have to do – and this are the two steps most companies miss – is ask them, then listen. Loudly. What kind of feedback loops are you generating so your customers and employees can have a genuine conversation?

6. Interruptions are derailments. An article in The New York Times recently reported that the average employee is interrupted every eleven minutes. If you do the math, that’s forty-three interruptions over the course of an eight hour day.

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

No wonder productivity is in the toilet. Thank God I’m self-employed. What I’d be interested to know is how many of those interruptions were self-inflicted, and how many were legitimate time stoppers. Because you always have a choice. Remember: The best way to block a punch is to not be there. Is what you’re doing RIGHT NOW consistent with your #1 goal?

7. Maybes are lies. If you don’t say, “I will,” you won’t. If you don’t say, “I choose to,” you aren’t. That’s how powerful language is. My suggestion is to write the word “maybe” on a pad of sticky notes. Then draw a big fat “X” through each one. Then post them all around your office.

Soon enough, that word will be permanently deleted from your vocabulary. And that’s when your pattern of execution will begin to manifest. Your welcome. What are the components of your success vocabulary?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What (not so) harsh reality are you avoiding?

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, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

10 Simple Secrets Smart Entrepreneurs Know — And Broke Entrepreneurs Ignore

1. Put your money where your foot is. Mouths don’t do anything but eat and talk. And occasionally drool. Feet, on the other hand, are profit centers. No wonder so many successful entrepreneurs have corns and calluses: It’s all about mileage.

It’s all about asking the question, “What’s the next action?” Remember: Your feet are your balance sheet’s best friend. Better engage your pedometer. Profitability comes from steppability. What massive action did you take today?

2. Honesty shouldn’t HAVE to be a policy. If you have to remind your people to tell the truth, you need new people. On the other hand, if your leaders cleave to truth and practice radical, rigorous honesty, your people will follow suit.

Truthfulness speaks volumes, begets trustworthiness and accelerates followership. Policies are for amateurs. Have you introduced a steady stream of truth serum into your leadership diet?

3. A man is known by the company he keeps AWAY from. Show me who you refuse to hang with, and I’ll show you who you are. That’s perhaps more indicative of your character. On a deeper level, also think about the people you refuse to listen to. Same thing.

It’s all about whom you let participate in your life. Because it’s too damn short to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge and inspire you. How much time are you spending with people who haven’t learned how to value you yet?

4. If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you’re not very creative. Everybody hates somebody. Personally, I could name ten people – right now – that I would just LOVE to watch take a bath in hydrochloric acid. But as much as dislike them, I could still say something good about every one o them. It’s all about making the choice to attend differently to people.

You have to ask yourself questions like: How could this person positively affect me? What makes this person special? What is the hidden treasure inside this person that maybe others don’t see? What character qualities do I admire in this person? What potential, ability and wisdom do I see in this person? What has this person accomplished that needs to be celebrated? Remember: There’s always something nice to say. What do you see when you see people?

5. It is what it is. Wrong. It ISN’T what it is. “It” is what you’ve chosen it to be. “It” is what you’ve given yourself permission to accept. “It” is what you’ve allowed to exist into your life. “It” is what you’ve assumed you’re stuck with.

Screw “it.” I loathe the word “it.” The word “it” is a personal responsibility dodger. It you don’t like “it,” change “it.” Is it (really) what it is?

6. Shtick gets your foot in the door, but only substance keeps you in the room. Shtick is necessary, but it’s not enough to sustain you. Customers demand substance. Meat. Value. Sustainability. They want a sweet candy shell AND gooey, delicious Tootsie center.

Sadly, too many entrepreneurs are all shtick and no substance. Like Dum-Dum pops: All sugar, no payoff. The secret is being remarkable (and) relevant, worthwhile, marketable and brand-consistent. Otherwise the milk from your Purple Cow will taste sour. What substance will keep you in the room?

7. Only the WRONG survive. Be incorrect more. Encourage aggressive mistakes. Go screw something up – then go learn from it. After all: The wronger you are, the stronger you become. But only if your wrongness of action is punctuated with rightness of reflection.

Remember: Mistakes are springboards. Mistakes build instincts. Mistakes precede truth. Mistakes reframe creativity. Mistakes reveal individuality. What do you have to learn from this mistake to make it no longer a mistake?

8. Opposites attract, but that doesn’t mean they endure. Especially if there’s no commonality of constitution. No foundational harmony. No overlapping value systems. Because as much as we’d like to think life is like a Beatles song, love isn’t enough.

Love isn’t all you need. Not if you seek sustainability, that is. What are your 2010 relationship goals?

9. The best way to bring home the bacon is to raise your own pigs. That way, you’re the only shot caller. No permission. No committees. No compliance. No decision-making hierarchy. Just you. Wow. Can you imagine how much time, money, effort, energy and stress you could conserve by in-housing your next project?

Ask yourself: What if you bought your own equipment and made it yourself? What if you built everything proprietary and created your OWN studio? What if you never had to hire anyone ever again because you learned how to do it yourself? Just a thought.

After all: Having done it yourself makes you a more educated entrepreneur. Plus execution occurs faster. Maybe being a pig farmer isn’t as bad as it sounds. Maybe Thoreau was right when he said, “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” How much (more) money could you be earning working solo?

10. Your ship never comes in – only your dock gets bigger. Stop waiting for things to happen to you and start happening to things. Practice purposeful impatience and start taking action toward what you desire. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for perfection. And certainly don’t wait until you know what the hell you’re doing.

Just go. It’s only a matter of time before the captain says, “Welcome aboard!” Of course, none of this happens without an eagerly desirous, raring-to-go, restless expectation and dislike of anything that causes delay. That’s the construct of an impatient person.

Remember: Triple your impatience = Triple your proactivity = Triple your profits. What one step could you take now to start moving forward to your ideal future?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What epiphany will you have this week?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me When I Started My Company,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

5 Ways to Shake Hands with Yourself

Sometimes we forget who we are.

So much so, that we almost need to reintroduce ourselves to ourselves.

Here are five ways for doing so:

1. Develop an orientation toward self-confrontation. I never placed much value on self-confrontation until I started doing yoga. Talk about instant reeducation. I quickly discovered that when you’re faced squarely with your half naked body in a full-length mirror in the company of forty half-naked, sweaty strangers for ninety minutes straight, you have no choice but to confront your truth.

Literally. No metaphor needed. There’s no better way to remember who you are. Or how badly you need a shower. And, it’s amazing what you learn about yourself in this kind of arena. What’s more, once the bug of self-confrontation bites you, you begin to crave it in other areas of your life.

And that’s when the REAL learning begins. Because you notice patterns about yourself. Some disturbing, some refreshing. I hope you, too, will find a regular venue of honesty and reflection that suits your style. When was the last time you honestly confronted yourself?

2. Establish an expectation-free support structure. My friend Dixie once told me, “Who other people want you to be is the most destructive wrapping paper of all. In fact, it’s mummy wrap disguised as wrapping paper. And once we believe in THEIR version of ourselves, we’re merely ghosts of our real selves.”

The secret, Dixie says, is to surround yourself with people who celebrate whoever you are – right now. Perhaps it’s worth sitting down and mapping out the five people that are currently occupying most of your time. Then, honestly asking four questions:

*Am I being fair to myself by continuing this relationship?
*Does this person enrich my life in any way?
*Is this person helping me create a future that I’m going to feel obligated to be a part of?
*Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?”

That should help filter out the type of people whose expectations are causing you stomach cramps. Once they’re gone, you can fully and freely focus on investing your time and energy in expectation-free relationships.

Remember: Few things are more painful than putting yourself in situations where you regret allowing people to participate in your life. What would it cost you NOT to stand up for your boundaries here?

3. Customize a system for exposing your blind spots. The term “blind spot” isn’t just an idiom or catchy pop song lyric. It originates from the Greek word scotoma, or darkness. And, at the risk of getting WAY too anatomical, check this out. Optometric literature reports that your blind spot is the place in the visual field in which there are no cells to detect light on the optic disc. This is what prevents a certain part of the field of vision from being perceived.

Interesting. Sounds like your challenge is fourfold. First, accept the existence of your shadow. You have one, and you need to shake hands with it.

Second, surround yourself with people whose thinking is perpendicular to your own. By virtue of intellectual diversity, their provocations will sneak into the dark corners of your truth and expose your unperceivables.

Third, give these people permission to look out the rear window of your life and tell you whether or not that 18-wheeler is merging into your lane.

Finally, listen. Listen loudly. Take notes if you have to. Then, thank these people for exposing your blind spots and reminding you who you are. Not even the best Lasik surgery in the world can see that stuff. Remember: Sometimes we’re too close TO ourselves to see the truth ABOUT ourselves. How are you shedding light on YOUR blind spots?

4. Hit the page patiently. If you start (and KEEP) writing – for at least fifteen minutes, every single day – it’s amazing what shows up. Ideas you can’t believe you had. Thoughts you’re amazed came from your brain. Insights about yourself that knock your own socks off.

The tricky part is, you can’t force it. You have to patiently wait for insight to emerge. That’s why fifteen minutes is the absolute minimum. That’s (usually) how long it takes from the moment you turn on the faucet to the moment the water is warm enough to tolerate.

Almost like spending two hours at driving range, hitting shanks all morning, then suddenly crushing a frozen rope three hundred yards down the fairway right as that cute girl walks by. That’s the way creativity works: You have to clear away the crap before you bring forth the bounty. How much money is being impatient costing you?

5. Humor is the gateway to truth. In his 2010 postmortem autobiography, Last Words, George Carlin wrote, “No one is ever more herself than when she really laughs. When you make someone laugh, you’re guiding her whole being for the moment.”

If you want to remember who you are, never forget what makes you laugh. Ever. Even if you find humor in unexpected moments that most people would deem unfunny, inappropriate or perverse. Like that time I saw a three hundred pound woman at Kroger whose wheelchair was so heavily weighed down with groceries, she actually had to start putting food BACK on the shelf just to get the wheels turning again.

Whatever. That’s funny. I say: Laugh anyway. Laugh so hard you pee, cry and puke at the same time. Laugh so loud the people five rows behind you look over to see if your oxygen mask was accidentally filled with Nitrous.

Here’s the reality: Denying laughter is denying truth. Telling someone she can’t laugh is like tell someone she can’t be herself. And if there’s one thing you should never, ever have to apologize for, it’s that which makes you crack up. How many comedy albums do you own?

REMEMBER: We all need help remembering who we are.

I challenge you to shake hands with yourself this week.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you remind yourself who you are?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

The Bloody Writer’s Guide to Crafting More Honest Material, Part 2

Yesterday we explored five ways to write more honestly. Here are six more:

1. Listen to your body. If your words are felt in the body – your body mainly, but also the bodies of your readers – well done. That’s what honesty feels like. Pings. Blood flushes. Chills. Spine tingles. Neck hair stand-ups. Jaw drops. Eye wideners. Speechlessness. Laughs. ESPECIALLY laughs.

The point is: Emotion is the final arbiter of truth. And your body never lies to you. As my favorite fiction writer Tom Robbins advised, “You should always write with an erection. Even if you’re a woman.” How else will you know if your work is honest?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Parker Palmer.

2. Write early in the morning. I do most of my writing between four and ten in the morning. Not because I’m a morning person. But because when the world is cold, dark and quiet, there’s nothing left to listen to but your truth.

Not your dogs. Not your phone. Not your email. Not your self-constructed crazybusy schedule. Not the voice of perfection. Not the echoes of people you’re trying to please. Not the endless demands of your readership. Not the scars of your past desperately trying to prevent your truth from surfacing. And non your ego scrambling to remind you that you’re not good enough to publish this thought.

Just quiet. Which means all you can hear is yourself. Which means there’s nothing or no one to stop you from bleeding your truth all over the page. Ultimately, when the sun isn’t up yet, you ALWAYS extract truth from the deepest parts of yourself. Superficiality not included. You unveil the truth that doesn’t require thinking. The truth that doesn’t require editing. You can’t edit blood anyway.

Remember: The darker it is outside, the more honest your thoughts are inside. As Henry Miller once wrote, “Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths.” What time did you start writing today?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Dan Brown.

3. Go there. Good lord. Did he really just say that? Yes. Yes you did. THAT just happened. You went there. You took a chance and told the truth. Good for you. Keep it up. That’s the acid test: If you can picture your readers being moved, getting disturbed and squirming in their Snuggies.

If you can take them somewhere they didn’t want to go (or never thought they’d go) and make them grateful that you did by the time they got there. Remember: No reader will ever put a book down and say, “Screw this book. This author is just WAY too honest. I wonder if Law & Order is on…” Where are you willing to take your readers?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Brad Warner.

4. Ask penetrating questions. If you’ve ever read my work before, you know I ask a lot of questions. Always in italics, usually in the past tense, mainly at the end of paragraphs. That’s my writing style. And I do it for two reasons. First, I love questions. It’s not a punctuation mark; it’s a way of life. I have a collection of 7000 of them, to which I add new questions daily. What can I say: I’m incurably curious.

Second, I insert them into my material intentionally to challenge, inspire, penetrate, disturb and confront the reader. I want to toggle their brains. Ideally to the point of being pissed off. Not at ME, but pissed off at what the material elicited. I call this Strategic Urination. More on that later. How many questions did your last blog post ask?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Jeffrey Gitomer.

5. Commit to self-disclosure. My mentor once told me that good writing is like walking across a stage naked. Vulnerable. Open. Honest. Would YOUR readers use those adjectives to describe your work? If not, maybe it’s time to ditch your skivvies and show the world your giblets.

Take it from someone who wears a nametag 24-7: Self-disclosure is a healthy, beautiful and approachable thing. As long as you’re doing so to make a point – not just to get a laugh, or to use your readers as group therapy. TMI only applies if you don’t stick the landing and make your material actionable.

Remember: The more personal your writing is, the more your readers relate to it. How are you leveraging your vulnerabilities to earn readers’ trust?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: William Jenkins (my mentor).

6. Speak from experience. As hard as it is for me to admit it, reading thousands of books is (still) not experience. Knowledge, yes. Wisdom, no. Experience comes from doing. Your challenge is to speak from practice, not from pretension. Readers can tell the difference.

A writer who does nothing but quote a bunch of dead white guys isn’t an honest writer. A writer who interviews a bunch of successful people and then adds a few sentences of marginally insightful clichés at the end of each chapter isn’t a very honest writer.

And a writer who goes out of his way to use clumsy, twenty-five cent words to compensate for his sub-par creativity is not a very honest writer. Honesty is writing a book about the lessons you learned from the stupid mistakes you made and the actionable steps attached to them. Are you delivering knowledge or wisdom?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Larry Winget.

REMEMBER: Honest writing scares people.

Good. That’s your job. The Boogie Man’s got nothing on you.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of the advice of Tennessee Williams, who said, “If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.”

Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a bloody writer?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

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The Bloody Writer’s Guide to Crafting More Honest Material, Part 1

My definition of writing is as follows:

“Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.”

KEY WORDS: Vein, blood and truth.

As opposed to “brain, ink and bullshit.”

Let’s explore eleven ways to write more honestly – five today and six tomorrow.

1. First, honor yourself. All the techniques in the world won’t make you an honest writer if your attitude and intentions are misguided. So, before reading on, ask yourself this question: What is your compelling reason for wanting to write more honestly?

Because you want to make a difference? Because you want to disturb people? Because your boss told you that every time he reads one of your reports, his office morphs into a house of lies?

Why. Is. Honesty. Important.

Figure that out first. Then, try this: Be genuinely committed to honoring reality. Feel the existence of what you’ve been evading. Allow yourself to experience what you feel. Then write it down. Are you courageous enough to extend honor TO yourself so you can make a name FOR yourself?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Alan Weiss.

2. Morning Pages. First thing in the morning. Three pages. Non-stop. No editing. No deleting. Every single day. I absolutely guarantee that after two weeks, this exercise will transform your life in numerous ways.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way series, says it best:

“Morning Pages help you develop honesty in your relationship with your words. They free yourself from the tendency to edit, which pays off in REAL writing. They help you listen to yourself. They are gateways to inner and higher selves. They galvanize your days and make you acutely attuned to your personal feelings. They help you get down on the page whatever it is you are. And finally, they risk honesty on page, which make it easier to be honest elsewhere.”

Start them tomorrow. Never stop. Your writing will become increasingly bloody every day. Are you puking?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Julia Cameron.

3. Assess the risk. There’s an inverse relationship between risk and honesty. If what you’ve written isn’t very risky, odds are it isn’t very honesty either. Your willingness to be unpopular, make wave, rock boats – and, in general, piss people off – makes your writing bloodier.

Hey. You’re nobody until somebody hates you anyway. From now on, ask these three questions of everything you compose: “What do I risk in writing this material?” “Who would this piss off? and “On a scale of 1-10, how much is this material drenched in my own blood?” Are you assessing the risk of your material?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Curious George Carlin.

4. Be specific or don’t use it. Unspecified attribution is the hallmark of dishonest communication. It’s also my biggest pet peeve. Seriously, next time I read a book that says, “Studies show…” I’m going to tear the page out and slowly paper cut each of my nostrils until the living room rug is completely stained in red.

If your writing contains any of the following phrases, you are lying to your readers: Research proves. Scientists say. Psychologists report. Experts believe. They say. There’s an old story that says. I’ve heard. Most people agree. It is said that. Critics say. Statistics show. Somebody once said. The reviews say.

No, they don’t. They never did, never have and never will. Honesty comes from specificity. If you can’t back it up, shut up. Is your attribution specified?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Orvel Ray Wilson.

5. Trash the stats. Conversely, don’t go overboard on the specifics. Namely, statistics. It’s fine if you say, “In a March 2009 issue of FastCompany, Mark Vamos wrote…” But don’t overload people’s brains with numbers you’ve intentionally manipulated to satisfy your own agenda.

In the history of literature, no reader has ever thought to herself, “Wow, this writer sure speaks the truth, what with all those statistics and such.” Be careful. Statistics are usually lies. Of course, that’s only true 57% of the time. Are your percentages causing readers to puke?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Gay Hendricks.

REMEMBER: Honest writing scares people.

Good. That’s your job. The Boogie Man’s got nothing on you.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of the advice of Tennessee Williams, who said, “If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.”

Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.

That’s honest writing.

Stay tuned for the next six ways tomorrow.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a bloody writer?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Have You Had these Seven Small Business Epiphanies Yet?

1. People are classrooms. They contain volumes. And as such, deserve to be treated with deep democracy. Even if you don’t like them. Even if you have the urge to “accidentally” push them out of the fourteenth story window of your office.

Go out of your way to experience everybody as your mentor. As Emerson reminds us, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way.” As Ginsberg reminds us, “You don’t have to like them to learn from them.” How could you morph this person into a professor?

2. Problems are messages. The word “problem” derives from the Greek term, proballein, which means, “to throw forward.” Interesting. Sounds like the challenge is keeping your receptive capabilities open enough to see what the problem points to.

Three helpful questions to ask are: Is this particular problem part of a larger problem? What does this problem tell me about the larger picture? And what am I pretending not to know about my role in the problem? Understand: This problem is a message, and it’s your job to reply in a timely fashion.

Like a first date with a girl, you don’t want to keep it waiting. What if, overnight, a miracle occurred, and you woke up tomorrow morning and the problem was solved – what would be the first thing you would notice?

3. Questions are catapults. Lord of the Rings style. Launching your curious butt over the wall of uncertainty, plunging straight into the heart of understanding. And the cool part is: Once a question has been asked, it’s neurologically impossible for a human brain (not) to begin answering it.

This fact is especially powerful during a meeting, for those of you unfortunate enough to attend them regularly. Ultimately, people sitting around the table can pretend they didn’t just hear you. But their efforts are futile. A question asked is a brain toggled. And like a bell that can’t be unrung – once you send your question out there, there’s no turning back. Truth or bust. Where do you want to take people with your questions?

4. Rants are goldmines. In moments of unbridled emotion, unexpected anger and unimpeded passion, truth surfaces like a fart in a bubble bath. So, next time you feel a rant coming on, let ‘er rip. Try not to avert your ears. (Or your nose, for that matter.) Instead, spy on yourself as you rant.

And like the spontaneous bedtime story you continue to tell to your kids after they fall asleep just to see how it turns out, keep ranting. Then write everything down. Then organize your rants in an easily accessible way. You never know: You might say something good. Even better, you might say something bad. When was the last time went on a good rant?

5. Shortcuts are mirages. We just think they’re real because they’re everywhere. Stupid instant gratification culture. Like I tell my audience members: Learn to love and leverage the longcut. Shortcuts are stressful, expensive and time intensive. Shortcuts cause stress, rarely succeed and often backfire. They never go unpunished. They are a refuge for slackers and a lazy man’s panacea.

Stop taking them just to impress yourself. Instead, learn the chords. Take the long cut. Work your face off. Develop bottomless patience. That’s where the true oasis awaits. Will this choice bring your long-term fulfillment or will it bring me short-term gratification?

6. Transitions are teachers. My friend Ria from My Mommy Manual recently reminded me that when you undergo periods of personal transformation, it’s crucial to examine the new and different types of things you attract into your life. People. Ideas. Situations. Thoughts. Attitudes. Experiences. Whatever shows up in your life is your fault. Outer represents inner. You are the result of yourself.

And the trick is twofold: (1) Practicing enough self-awareness to recognize that these new things are supposed to be teaching you; and (2) Maintaining a teachable, coachable attitude to convert those new things into lifelong lessons. If the current phase of your life were a how-to book, what would it be called?

7. Values are navigators. Maps and compasses are for sailors and boy scouts. As long as you have enough self-awareness to ask, “If I were me, what would I do in this situation?” you’ll get where you’re supposed to go. That’s how you chart your course. That’s how you traverse turbulent waters.

By knowing yourself SO well that you could memorialize your non-negotiable decision making patterns to the point of repeatability. Do that, and I promise you’ll discover land. What if you started wearing a bracelet that read, “WWID?”

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What epiphany will you have this week?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

11 Contrarian Comments that Will Make You Squirm in Your Seat and Probably Hate Me

1. Don’t go where the money is – going where the money is going. Think Gretzky: He always skated where the puck was going. 1,016 goals later, the entire world calls him – and ONLY him – The Great One. This is not coincidence. Just strategy. Anticipatory thinking. It’s predicting the future. Are you thinking ten years out?

2. Faith doesn’t move mountains – faith IS the mountain. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Ye of little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

I imagine you’ve heard that passage before, so, here’s my interpretation: Faith moves mountains because when you stop believing that you are separate from the mountain, you become the mountain. Then all you have to do is move yourself. Unfortunately, nothing in the world harder to move. Dang it. If you had complete faith in the universe and in your future, what would you do?

3. Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll never email you again with another pointless, time wasting, boundary-violating, bloodsucking question that you don’t have the time or patience to answer for free. It’s all about putting a stake in the ground.

I addressed this issue extensively in How to Stand By Your Value and Sidestep Bloodsuckers – While Still Remaining Approachable. Read it. Live it. Do you let people PICK your brain or RENT your brain?

4. Give people an inch and they’ll take mile; but CHARGE people for an inch and they’ll accomplish a mile. Speaking of boundaries. I used to allow people to “pick my brain.” For free. For hours at a time. For years. And what I began to notice was, after every session, people walked away excited, inspired and grateful for the time spent together. But then I never saw or heard from then again.

Why? Because they didn’t pay me. And when people don’t pay me, they don’t hear me. Lesson learned: There is a direction correlation between financial investment and probability of execution. Charge enough so people believe the value IN, listen TO and take action UPON what you tell them. What’s your two-hour consulting fee?

5. Haste only makes waste if you believe in waste. Which I don’t. The way I see it, nothing is ever wasted. Ever. Especially if you learn to ask questions like, “What good could come of this?” “What am I supposed to be learning here?” and “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

Therefore, haste is tasty. As Alicia Keys once said, “In the age of love, nothing is wasted.” How would your life be different if you never viewed anything as being wasted?

6. Have your cake; eat it too, AND save a piece for breakfast tomorrow. People who tell you that you can’t have your cake and eat it too are operating from a scarcity mentality. Or they’re diabetic. On the other hand, when you assume a baseline posture of abundance, bad economies don’t threaten you.

As The Tao of Abundance taught me, “The world you see is a reflection of the condition of your mind.” How would you career change if you learned to approach cake differently?

7. He who dies with the most JOYS wins. Toys are for elves. When your time on The Great Mud Ball expires, it’s going to sound more like Ben Harper’s “Excuse Me Mister,” which reminds us, “When you’re rattling on heaven’s gate, by then it’s too late. Because when you get there they don’t ask you what you saved, all they want to know, Mister, is what you gave.” What specific types of joy have you brought to others in the past 48 hours?

8. He who fails to plan plans to PREVAIL. Think about it: If you don’t know where you’re going – nobody can stop you. If you have a plan, however, you might actually HIT it. Yikes. What if you planed less this year?

9. It looks like it’s gonna be one of those days. Really? Then maybe you should have your vision checked. Newsflash: It’s NOT going to be one of those days. Not if you don’t want it to. Not if you shift your attitude. Not if take responsibility for your choices, thoughts and responses.

Unfortunately, few people think that way. Most of us embrace victimhood and blame our bad days on some external force beyond our control. And then we have a bad day. Because we made the choice to have a bad day. My suggestion is to heed Pablo Neruda’s advice: You are the result of yourself.

Remember: It’s not the weather. It’s not the traffic. It’s not your annoying coworker who chews gum like a cow. It’s you. It’s ALWAYS you. Are you have a bad day or do you have a bad attitude?

10. It’s not about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people TO life AT the party. Your goal is to help people fall in love with you by first helping them fall in love with themselves. Here’s a rapid-fire list of ways to do so:

One simple word: Listen. Two simple words: Take notes. Three simple words: I appreciate you. Four simple words: I believe in you. Five simple words: Refer back to your notes. Six simple words: Quote people’s wisdom back to them. Seven simple words: Tell people to write their wisdom down. Eight simple words: Breathe into people a reflection of their awesomeness.

Remember: When people are in love with themselves, they will love whoever made them feel that way. And people do anything for the people they love. How do you leave people?

11. Life ISN’T a bowl of cherries. Life is the bowl. Or maybe it’s the spoon. No, wait. Maybe it’s the dinner table. Better yet, maybe life is refrigerator that keeps the cherries fresh. Or perhaps life is the delivery truck from the Maraschino Farm.

Who knows? The point is: Life isn’t something you haphazardly label with some simplistic, fifth-grade metaphor. Life is always something else. What is it for you?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you squirming yet?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Leave a comment on this blog with your list of things that don’t exist, why they don’t exist, and what exists in their place.

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

13 (more) Things That Don’t Really Exist, No Matter How Many Lies You’ve Been Conditioned to Believe

Last time you read a list of things that don’t (really) exist, why they don’t exist, and what exists in their place.

Today, I have more: Thirteen additional items that don’t (really) exist.

Read them at your own peril…

1. “Must see” doesn’t exist. That’s just fancy, coma-inducing marketing language for, “Please addict yourself to our crappy programming so our advertisers don’t come to their senses and stop wasting their money on a dead medium like television.”

Here’s the naked truth: You’re not their little target anymore. You are in charge of how much attention you choose to give. How much money did you make last month by watching television?

2. “Off the record” doesn’t exist. Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance. You’re on the record, all the time, whether you like or not. I sure hope your integrity is tact.

Or else you’ll end up like one of those moronic athletes who chooses to throw away his entire reputation and legacy on one night’s stupidity. Or, in Tiger Woods’ case, thirteen nights. But who’s counting? Would you want to become known for what you’re about to do?

3. Overnight successes don’t exist. Instead, you work your ass off for about twenty years when nobody notices, nobody cares and nobody remembers. And then one day you take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say, “It’s about time.” How patient are you willing to be?

4. Quick fixes don’t exist. I guarantee: When you get your fix, you will not be fixed. You will want more very soon. That’s the nature of addiction.

That’s why the quick fix industry makes so much money: Never-ending repeat business is guaranteed because of infinitely unsatisfied customers. I wonder what would happen if you made the decision to be satisfied right now. What are you currently addicted to?

5. Recession-Proof doesn’t exist. Everyone is affected by a recession. Everyone. Maybe not financially. But we all feel it. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. Don’t be so arrogant as to assume the recession wants nothing to do with you.

I got news for you: The recession doesn’t care if you sell an inelastic, “recession-proof” product. It’s still coming after you. And if you leave your guard down, it’s going to deliver the death stroke when you least expect. How are you preparing for the devastation?

6. Shortcuts don’t exist. Shortcuts cause stress, rarely succeed and often backfire. They never go unpunished. They are a refuge for slackers and a lazy man’s panacea. Ultimately, shortcuts don’t lead anywhere but the Exit Door. Longcuts, on the other hand, lead to the finish line.

So, here’s my suggestion: Learn the chords. Take the long cut. Work your face off. Develop bottomless patience. You will win, win BIG, and win alone. How much money is impatience costing you?

7. Stupid questions don’t exist. As the great philosopher Homer Simpson once said, “There are no stupid questions – only stupid people.” In this case, the stupid people who don’t ask questions.

“That the problem with our educational system,” complained George Carlin, “kids shouldn’t be taught to read, they should be taught to question what they read.” What questions are you afraid to ask?

8. The Real World doesn’t exist. As John Mayer sang in the song No Such Thing, “I wanna run through the halls of my high school and scream at the top of my lungs, ‘There’s no such thing as The Real World – it’s just a lie you’ve got to rise above.’” What lies are you afraid to call people out on?

9. Time doesn’t exist. If you don’t compartmentalize your life, you, become the SOURCE of time. And that’s when you realize that you always have heaps of time to do anything and everything you’ve ever wanted. Also, it depends on how you define your activities.

For example, people complain they don’t have time to meditate. But if you learn to approach every experience as a meditation, you’re never (not) meditating. I think if people sat down and actually mapped out their energy investments, they’d be astonished at how out of whack their priorities were. How would your daily life be different if you accepted yourself as the source of time?

10. Warm calls don’t exist. Stop kidding yourself. If the prospect doesn’t know you and isn’t expecting you, it’s cold. Even if she DOES know you and IS expecting you, if she’s not your friend, it’s cold.

People buy people first. Grasp this distinction and you will make more sales. When was the last time you were excited to answer a phone call from a caller ID you didn’t recognize?

11. Waste doesn’t exist. Everything is valuable. Everything is a contribution. Everything is productive to something. Everyone you encounter is your mentor. Think this way and you’ll never feel wasteful again. What’s your recycling plan?

12. Work/Life Balance doesn’t exist. Balance is for ballerinas. You need to focus on alignment. That means gathering all the components of your life and asking them to join hands in a circle around your cherished values, singing and dancing and rejoicing for eternity.

Once that’s accomplished, an occasional break in the balance isn’t won’t be able to hurt you. As long as you maintain a well-diversified portfolio of happiness, you’ll be fine. What is out of alignment?

13. Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. Writing is an extension of thinking. You don’t have Writer’s Block; you have Thinker’s Block. Stop blaming your lack of creativity and productivity on some evil, external force of resistance over which you have zero control.

It’s you. It’s always you. When was the last time you took time to just think?

REMEMBER: No matter how many lies you’ve been conditioned to believe, certain things don’t (really) exist.

Perhaps you should make a list of your own.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s on your list of things that don’t exist?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
Leave a comment on this blog with your list of things that don’t exist, why they don’t exist, and what exists in their place.

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

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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