Are You Forgetting About This Underrated Marketing Strategy?

My business card is a nametag.

But it doesn’t say Scott – it says Scott’s Friend.

I do this for three few reasons.

To assure people that face-to-face is coming back. And, that regardless of age, technology or personality, nothing will ever beat human contact.

To remind people that you can’t filter every experience of your life through pixels. Not if you want that life to matter.

To show people that it’s still cool to meet people the old fashion way. By touching their skin, looking them straight in the eyes and taking to them with your mouth.

IN SHORT: To market my humanity.

That’s the most underrated marketing strategy in the world: Being a person.

Here’s how you can do the same:1. Exponentially increase your activity level. Did you know it’s easier to just say hi to everybody? That’s why my personal mantra is, “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.”

Think about it: How many people did you go out of your way to avoid last week? Better yet: How many people went out of their way to avoid you last week?

I think that’s the highlight of wearing a nametag all the time: It generates spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection.

This happened on a recent trip to Atlanta. My flight attendant noticed my nametag and made a classic comment: “I wish all my passengers wore nametags – that way I wouldn’t have to say sir!”

It made my day. And imagine it certainly brightened hers. Do that five times a day for a decade, and you can’t help but market your humanity. But only if you’re consistent. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark. How many of those moments did you have last week?

2. Generosity always gets people’s attention. People judge you based on two criteria: How they experience you, and how they experience themselves in relation to you. Everything else is an afterthought.

The question is: How do you want to leave people? In love with you, or in love with themselves because of you?

Ideally, the latter. Because being approachable isn’t just about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people to life at the party. It’s not about constantly putting on a show – it’s about giving other people a front row seat to their own brilliance.

That’s how you interact with people in a way that they will not forget: By making the feel essential. That’s how you give people the social gift of elevation: By enabling them to walk away from an interaction psychologically higher than before. And if you do it right – and if there’s nothing hollow behind it – people will leave elevated. When you out of a room, how does it change?

5. Decide where you draw the line. Humanity notwithstanding, it is possible to be too approachable. And the last thing you want to do is violate somebody’s personal boundaries. That’s a mistake too many organizations make: Not everyone who walks in the door wants an unforgettable experience. From customers to guests to employees to volunteers, sometimes you just have to back off.

For example:

When I work with retailers, I remind them that sometimes you have to stop helping people shop. When I work with airline companies, I remind them that sometimes passengers just want you to drop off a bottle of water and leave them the hell alone. And when I work with call centers, I remind them that you don’t have to use the customer’s name seventeen times a minute just to assure them that you’re listening.

Instead, try asking people how much interaction they prefer. Ask questions like, “How often would you like me to communicate with you?” and “What method of communication do you prefer most?” Otherwise, overpersonalization becomes an invasion of privacy. And by giving people too much attention, they feel smothered and intruded upon. Where are you overcommunicating?

4. Leave a tender moment alone. I once had the chance to meet one of my heroes. After his speech, I made my way to the front of the meet and greet line. We shook hands, and he asked me if I wanted to get a picture.

But for the first time in a long time, instead of fumbling over my smart phone to take a picture I could later use to prove to all my friends that we’d actually met, I told Mark that I’d rather just remember the moment instead.

So I did. And so did he. And incidentally, I never forgot that moment.

That’s what happens when you capture life with the camera of the heart. And if you want to do the same, here’s my suggestion: When you encounter the people who matter most, allow those interactions to profoundly penetrate you. Breathe in their humanity. And let the pearl sink.

Otherwise your life experience becomes nothing but an overcrowded external hard drive. What is your addiction to documentation preventing you from fully experiencing?

5. It’s never too late for the truth. Honesty is scary. Not just for you, but for the people around you. Think about it: Any time you honestly, sincerely and candidly share your opinion about something that matters to you, there’s always that one insecure, cynical twit who just has to remark, “Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?”

That’s what I never understood about the corporate world: They treat honesty like it’s some sort of organizational initiative.

Excuse me, but that’s freaking ludicrous.

First of all, if you have to tell people you are – you probably aren’t. Second, honesty shouldn’t have to be a policy. If you have to tell your people to tell the truth, you need new people. Third, if your company wants to earn a reputation of truthfulness, make honesty a constitutional ingredient – not a corporate initiative.

That’s what marketing your humanity is all about: Honoring the truth, honoring your truth and honoring other people’s truth. So what if it scares people? Tell them how you really feel. It might change everything.

Remember: You don’t need a three hundred page manual to tell you how to behave. Do you respect people enough to tell them the truth?

6. Excavate the universal human experience. What you do isn’t what you really do. There’s always something bigger. There’s always something that matters more. When I speak to recruiters and staffing professionals, I remind them that their job isn’t to manage people – it’s to enable the explosion of human potential.

Or, when I work with nurses and healthcare professionals, I teach them that their job is to give oxygen to people’s souls by allowing the dignity of self-definition. When I train company leaders, I show them that their job is to connect the duty of today with the dream of tomorrow. And when I work with relocation specialists and moving companies, I remind them that their job isn’t to move boxes – it’s to unpack the contents of the human heart.

See the difference? Your challenge is to do the same for your own work. To master the deeper humanity within your work, then embed it into your job function on a daily basis. When you go to work, what are you really doing all day, really?

REMEMBER: True power comes from personhood.

If you want to engage the people who matter most, bring all of yourself to everything you do.

Your humanity will become your company’s greatest competitive advantage.

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “20 Ways to Overcommunicate Anything,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Too many ideas?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on NametagTV.com.

Watch video lessons on executing what matters.

What Smart Entrepreneurs Know about Leveraging Their Limitations

I’m tired of people telling me that there are no limits.

Yes, there are.

Everybody has them. And to ignore your limits is to deny your truth.

HERE’S THE REAL SECRET: Instead of running from your limits – or, worse yet, pretending they don’t exist – try leveraging them.

Leverage, as you may recall from previous posts, is, “To increasing the rate of return on an investment.”

But leverage isn’t a word. Or a strategy. Or something you do to make money.

Leverage is a lifestyle. A way of thinking. An approach to doing business.

I like to think of it as killing to two stones with one bird.

Take it from a guy with no background, no job experience and no credentials – who turned a simple idea like wearing a nametag everyday into a successful enterprise.

Twelve books later, if that’s not leverage, I don’t know what is.

Today we’re going to explore a collection of ideas to help you leverage your limitations: 1. Objectivity is equity. In the past eight years, I’ve delivered over six hundred presentations for corporations worldwide. And typically, I’m the outsider. The freak. The only person in the room who doesn’t know the inner workings of the industry.

Initially, I viewed this as threat to my credibility. A disconnect between the speaker and the audience. But then it occurred to be: People need fresh air. A new perspective from an unbiased source that has no stake in the organization. That’s when I began leveraging my outsiderness as a strength – not a limitation.

If you find yourself in a similar position, ask yourself a few questions:

*What limitations enable you to be more objective than your competitors?
*What assumptions can you explore that most people never think of or take for granted?
*What thinking patterns can you deliver as a result of your ability to detach from the outcome?

Remember: It’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists. And the less you know, the more likely you are to come up with an original idea. Are you willing to tell people you know nothing in order to change everything?

2. Magnify your unhideables. With the exception of plastic surgery and cryogenic freezing, age isn’t something you can hide. However, that can work to your advantage if you position yourself strategically.

For example, let’s say you just graduated college. And you’re the youngest person in your office by twenty years. Instead of viewing your youth a sign of immaturity and lack of experience – consider it an asset that enables you to offer a continuous flow of vitality and perspective to your organization.

If you’re proactive and powerful – without coming off as arrogant and annoying – people will notice.

Or, maybe you’re the company veteran. And you’ve been around longer than most of the interns have been alive. Instead of seeing yourself as a dusty monument of irrelevance, position yourself as a reservoir of diverse experience and wisdom who can predict forthcoming industry trends.

If you’re inspiring and visionary – but without coming off as condescending and entitled – people will notice.

Remember: A chicken ain’t nothing but a bird, and age ain’t nothing but a number. Are you focusing on the years or the mileage?

3. Limited palettes make for stronger expressions. In Alan Fletcher’s inspiring book, The Art of Looking Sideways, he explains that the first move in any creative process is to introduce constraints.

Which sounds counterintuitive, as art is an expression of freedom. But having boundaries is what forces you to tap into – and trust – your inner resources in creative ways.

What’s more, limitation is inspiration. When you use it to fuel your creative fire, it enables you to create something that surprises yourself. And that’s where genius lives.

Take the recession, for example. I don’t know about you, but the devastating economy was the best thing that ever happened to my business. Sure, profits aren’t as high the used to be. But the pendulum will swing back eventually.

Meanwhile, in light of shrinking client budgets, I’ve been forced to evolve my service line, expand my role repertoire and provide new value to accommodate my markets. Now, with multiple profit centers, my company has evolved into a more robust, more diverse and more equitable enterprise.

And as a result, my client positioning shifted into that of a resource – not just a writer. And that’s worth money. All by virtue of the economy sucking big time. How could you put yourself in a position that would force your to renew your resourcefulness?

4. Know what you aren’t. This spring, I’m releasing a series of customized, limited edition art prints for my clients. They’re extremely scarce, very expensive and highly unorthodox. But the product is worthwhile because it assures one thing: Their mission becomes more than a statement.

The problem was: I couldn’t draw a straight line if I tried. I’m an artist of the verbal – not the visual. And as much as my ego wanted me to be responsible for every part of the process, I eventually made the decision to surrender.

Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Matt, I hired out the artwork to a brilliant letterpress shop called Firecracker Press. And to my delight, their craftsmanship was a million times better than anything I could have ever attempted.

Lesson learned: It’s a beautiful moment when you realize what you can’t do. After all, sometimes that’s the only way to free yourself to focus on what’s left. Like the boxer with a broken arm, you realize you have no choice but to develop your speed. Or, in my case, pay someone to punch for you. What are you afraid to let go of?

5. Limitations are the doorways to your deepest value. In Hugh Macleod’s bestselling book Ignore Everybody, he shares a fascinating theory about circumventing limitations:

“Picasso was a terrible colorist. Saul Steinberg’s formal drafting skills were appalling. Henry Miller was a wildly uneven writer. Bob Dylan couldn’t sing or play guitar. But that didn’t stop them, right? And why should it?”

Lesson learned: Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. In fact, not knowing how might be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Think about it: If you don’t know where you’re going, nobody can stop you – not even you.

Instead of berating yourself for limited proficiency, use the absence of know-how to activate the excavation of know-why. Tap into the truest motives behind your work. How will come in time.

Until then, just start. You don’t need lessons. You don’t need a degree. And you certainly don’t need anybody’s permission. Just start. As George Carlin once said, “It’s not enough to play the right notes – you have to know why the notes need to be played.” What will sucking make available to you?

REMEMBER: Limits are a beautiful thing.

They expose value.
They galvanize focus.
They renew resourcefulness.

Learn to leverage them, and you’ll kill two stones with one bird every time.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you ignoring, avoiding or leveraging your limits?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “50 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Too many ideas?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on NametagTV.com.

Watch video lessons on executing what matters.

How to Make Your Company Smaller

If size mattered, dinosaurs would still be around.

Truth is, the corporate veil of bigness and anonymity no longer works.

If you want to be approachable, be less.

This is a topic I’ve been addressing a lot lately.

First, with a post called 21 Reasons to Stay Small.
Second, with a post called 6 Ways to Stay Small and Win Big.

And this week, my client at American Express Open Forum ran the latest piece called How to Keep Your Company Small.

Here’s how your company can embrace that possibility:1. Plan is a four-letter word. Big companies love to plan because planning preserves their sense of control. It underwrites the illusion that they know what they’re doing. The problem is, planning is a big decision. And big decisions cause you to prematurely commit to a trajectory that (might) later prove to be unprofitable.

What’s more, over time, the more you plan, the harder it becomes to invite healthy derailments. That’s how you miss unlabeled opportunities to grow: When you’re too busy managing the stress of planning to experience the benefits of executing. Don’t close yourself off by making gods out of your plans. Have your long-term plans turned into anchors?

2. Cut down to the bone. Enough to make the bone nervous. Here’s how to trim as much fat from your process as possible: Remove redundant procedures. Axe inactive people. Delete stupid expenses that drain organizational resources. And instead of wasting time tinkering with broken processes, invent a new way to do it, jettison outdated procedures and get on with your life.

Ultimately, it’s about excising as much fat from your process as possible. That’s how you become lean, trim and nimble. Are you yielding gracefully to necessity or kneeling obediently to mediocrity?

3. Sweat the small stuff. That’s what big companies do: They sacrifice experience for expense. And as a result, the hallmark of their size is providing impersonal, emotionless non-service.

On the other hand, if you’re small enough to care, you can make a conscious decision to put the experience above all else. You can move beyond the mechanical and transactional and into the emotional and transformational.

That’s what customers are coming back for anyway: How interacting with you makes them feel. What small action might make a big difference?

4. Capitalize on the momentum. Big companies are quick to think – but small companies are quick to act. That’s the best part about keeping your size down: Speed.

No standing by for approval before tweeting.
No waiting for legal to clear a customer service complaint.
No lingering three days for human resources to sign off on your blog post.
No spending a year in meetings trying to calculate earning potential and assess how to mitigate risk.

You just go. You just try things. And you execute with all your might – not all your policies. How impatient are you willing to be?

5. Never overlook the profitability of accessibility. According to a recent survey by eMarketer, small businesses are not only keeping up with large companies, they’re actually beating them when it comes to acquiring customers via social media.

The report found that nearly half of small businesses around the world have acquired a customer via social media, as compared to twenty-eight percent of larger businesses with larger budgets.

As small business educator Josh Kauffman writes, “Large companies move slowly and good ideas often die on the vine because they had to be approved by too many people.” How many of your big ideas were jailed last month?

6. Learn to delete the average. Average inhibits your ability to flourish. Average chokes your ability to matter. Average numbs your ability to contribute. And priding yourself on average means programming yourself for irrelevancy. Try saying no to the mediocre work.

In so doing, you preserve your ability to choose how much to grow. What’s more, saying no to the good makes room to say yes to the best. If you want to stay small, you have to set standards for rejecting opportunities. You have to develop a policy for saying no. Otherwise you wind up getting so big that you have to give up the parts you value most.

Remember: You are what you reject. Differentiate yourself by saying no. Are you big and average or small and awesome?

7. Lose the posture of pretense. Ditch the pomp. Erase superficial distinctions. And speak with a casual voice. That’s how you make communication between employees and customers unexpectedly personal.

Otherwise, if you’re too busy defending past decisions, massaging executive egos and destroying evidence of your shortcomings, you’ll never carve out the time to be human. And that’s when your customers will stop listening to you.

Think of it this way: If clothing conveys class, hierarchy and status, your organization is too big. Are your messages sending people scurrying for dictionaries?

8. End the editing. Most big organizations are designed to restrict individual expression, mitigate dissent and preserve the status quo. There’s simply too much red tape to be honest.

My suggestion: You don’t need more procedures – you need more philosophy. Policies are restrictive devices that keep people from doing something; philosophies are enabling devices that empower people to do something.

In a beautifully small organization, your employees should be able to express themselves without resorting to code, take action with asking for permission, take a piss without submitting a requisition form and make adjustments without having to go through the chain of command. When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely?

9. Make your mission more than a statement. The bigger the company, the less likely people are to feel essential. For example: Employee’s inboxes don’t need another boring, overextended piece of corporate communication that they delete immediately or (at best) peruse passively.

If your words don’t speak directly to what’s important to them, you’re nothing but spam. That’s another problem with big companies: Their sense of mission easily fades. And under the weight of irrelevant action, they perish spending time on the wrong priorities.

Your mission is to stay in touch with your own story. Are the messages that deliver that story notably professional or dubiously slick?

REMEMBER: Getting as big as possible, as fast as possible, isn’t the only goal that matters.

You don’t always have to take it to the moon. Resist the pressure to expand.

Seek greatness – not bigness.

It’s more manageable, more flexible more approachable and, most importantly, profitable.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Where do you need to be smaller?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Question the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I’ve been a supporter of the approach that mentoring should not be a paid activity as this has the potential to change the dynamics of the relationship and create a power imbalance. But I have to be honest and say that after Scott’s first mentoring response to me, 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!

How to Focus Your Face Off

Here’s the biggest challenge my mentoring clients bring to me:

“I have so many good ideas, but I don’t know which ones to execute.”

Ah, creative paralysis. Tough problem. And as an entrepreneur myself, I’ve certainly struggled with this issue over the years.

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE: Eventually, you have to stop brainstorming and start executing.

Because you don’t need another idea – you need an “I did.”

But.

This isn’t about time management.
This isn’t about getting things done.
This isn’t about streamlining the quality of your process so you can maximize the efficiency of strategic productivity.

This is about creating a filter for your life.

That way, you can strain the impurities out of your life and free yourself to execute what matters most.

I like to call it, “focusing your face off.”

Here’s how to do it:1. Look at yourself with unquestioning eyes. Focus is the fireplace. It’s the point of convergence, the center of activity and energy. And if you want that flame to burn white hot, begin by fueling your fire with an inexorable sense of why.

That’s the epiphany I keep having: Whether it’s discipline, execution, commitment or focus – knowing why changes everything. I don’t care how distracted you are, if you educate yourself on why something matters to you, you’ll focus on it. And if you keep visual reminders of that why in front of your face all day, you’ll focus on it.

Otherwise priority dilution will rob you blind. And you’ll continue to whine about how you can’t ever seem to hunker down and make anything happen.

Bottom line: Constancy of purpose cannot be penetrated by distraction. Ever. Filter your focus against your values and reap the rewards. Are you justifying your existence by generating activity, or validating your existence by executing what matters?

2. Delete the noise. It’s surprisingly easy to find focus when you enter through the back door. That’s what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur: Deciding what to do through the process of elimination is way less threatening and intimidating.

Try this: Make a list of every useless, inbound interruption that doesn’t matter and diffuses your focus. Read the list out loud three times. Then, when you’re sufficiently disgusted by how trapped you are in those trivialities; delete those distractions from your life forever. By embracing the essential and banishing the bullshit, you free yourself up to commit to a few things and win there.

Without cancelling out that noise, you’ll never discern between the necessary and the superfluous. And you’ll fall victim to the erosion of your time, the decay of your focus and the meaninglessness of your work. What can you eliminate so you’re left with so few moving parts that important work actually gets done?

3. Environments either champion or choke focus. When I deliver training programs on employee engagement, here’s my favorite statistic to share: Three hundred billion dollars. Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates that this is the cost in lost productivity alone, according to their thirty-year Employee Engagement Index.

And it just occurred to me: I wonder what percentage of that number is related to a lack of focus?

Answer: Too much. After all, focus is a function of environment. And I don’t mean feng shui – I mean the emotional environment of your workspace. For example: It’s easy to focus when you don’t feel edited. It’s easy to focus when you don’t feel policed. It’s easy to focus when passion is embedded into the pavement. It’s easy to focus when work is a gateway and not a grind. And it’s easy to focus when you can count on the emotional release of consistent public recognition.

Remember: If you’re having trouble concentrating on the work that matters, maybe it’s because you’re not engaged in the first place. What environmental energy keeps you from keeping focused?

4. You’re defined by what you decline. About once a week, someone emails me with a potential business opportunity. Or a joint venture. Or some new project they want me to be involved in. And I respectfully reject (nearly) every one of them.

Not to be rude. And not to suggest the ideas or the people behind them are flawed. But I’m a firm believer in saying no to the good to make room to say yes to the best. Interestingly, the more distance I get from the opportunities I’ve said no to over the years, the more thankful I become that I held out.

In a recent interview with Fortune, Steve Jobs made a similar distinction:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’re focusd on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

Remember: Not close-minded. Not inflexible. Not stiff. Just focused. And when you focus yourself, you free yourself. What doors will saying no open for you?

5. Let the light shine on the obvious path. Comfortable people rarely take focused action. Their complacency is simply too convenient to be killed. On the other hand, the people who execute are the ones who disturb themselves into discomfort. They fan the flames of focus by creating unacceptable consequences of failing.

In my experience, the most effective process for doing so is through repetitive self-questioning. Trying asking yourself:

*Is what I’m doing – right now – reinforcing my why?
*Is what I’m doing – right now – supporting my empire?
*Is what I’m doing – right now – consistent with my number one goal?

It’s confrontational, it’s creative and it’s guaranteed to give you the kick in the ass you need to focus your face off. I ask these questions to myself all day, every day, and rarely ever have any problems staying focused. How much of your life are you wasting by (not) focusing on your priorities?

6. Give yourself permission to get lost. Inasmuch as focus is a virtue, you can’t stay focused all the time. Nobody can. Humans aren’t wired that way. Besides, if all you ever do is focus – you’ll never have any fun. And nobody will want to be around you.

The secret is to book blank time. I learned this from a classic study conducted at Kansas State University’s Counseling Services Department. Their researchers found that because focusing can be such hard work, you should reward yourself when you hit the mark.

Personally, I do this each morning: It’s called a daily appointment with myself. It galvanizes my entire day, keeps me from going insane and instills a renewing and reenergizing spirit that helps me return with strength.

My suggestion: You need this block of time in your life. Because it’s impossible to gauge progress if you never come up for air. But, when you stay committed to your own personal reflection needs, you’ll have no trouble staying focused when it’s time to get back to work. When was the last time you sat uninterrupted and quiet for at least fifteen minutes?

REMEMBER: Focusing frees you.

Not just from the irrelevant – but for the important.

Learn to filter your life.

That way, you take action on what matters most.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you ready to focus your face off?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “50 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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

Too many ideas?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on NametagTV.com.

Watch video lessons on executing what matters.

6 Ways to Stay Small and (Still) Win Big

Scalability is overrated.

Getting as big as possible, as fast as possible, isn’t the only goal that matters.

THE REALITY IS: Small is an acceptable destination.

In fact, it’s not just acceptable – it’s admirable, manageable, flexible, approachable and, most importantly, profitable.

Last week I shared a list called 21 Reasons to Keep Your Company Small.

Way to stay that way? Consider these suggestions:1. Stop delegating and start deleting. Clients, readers and audience members frequently ask me how many employees I have. At which point I usually start laughing. And I’m not trying to be rude, it’s just that the day I wake up and realize I’m a manager of people – and not a creator of ideas – is the day I slit my wrists with a rusty hunting knife.

I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. And I’ve worked very hard to evolve my publishing company into an exceptionally trim operation. For the past nine years, I’ve created my own personal nirvana that enables me to focus solely on activities that leverage my talents, reach the people who matter – while still earning enough revenue to underwrite my addictions and support my lifestyle.

Everything else is deleted. Not delegated – deleted. That’s what I’ve learned from staying small: The best way to delegate something is to eliminate the need for it in the first place. After all, the less you own, the greater your mobility. The less you have, the less you have to worry about. Are you inventing things to outsource to preserve the illusion of productivity?

2. Indulge in your humanity. Regardless of size, here’s the current marketplace reality: Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance. The difference is, when you’re small, you can hang out in the lobby after the show and shake people’s hands.

But when you’re a hulking beast of a company, it becomes increasingly difficult to get out of the bubble and get into the grind. What organizations need to learn is, success comes when you’re willing to be bold, to be seen, and to try things.

My suggestion: Stamp out anonymity. Accept your humanness. Stop hiding behind the mask of a role or title. And for the love of God, stop sending surrogates. Because if you have to resort to some gimmick to let people know you’re there, you’re not really there.

Big provides people with convenient places to cower. Small means exposing the place where you really live and being brave enough to tell people you don’t know everything. Are you small enough to surrender your emotional hiding places?

3. Remove the posture of pretense. In Jason Jennings’s book, Think Big, Act Small, he profiled a collection of thriving organizations that are winning the size game. And what struck me most about the book’s featured organizations was the long list of things they consciously chose not to champion:

No bloated hierarchy. No committees to go in front of to get permission. No building monuments to indulge in the executive’s ego. No corner offices protected by layers of assistants. No impenetrable walls to separate leaders from their people. No expansion for the sake of expansion. No doing unnatural things just to gain marketshare.

Lesson learned: Become a master of letting go. Make a conscious decision to scale back by abandoning things whose time has passed. Because when you delete what is no longer working, you can grow judiciously where it makes the most sense. What are you keeping around just to make you feel like you’re bigger than you really are?

4. Pick a lane. A brand without focus is a brand forgotten. Try to make everybody happy, and you lose. Try to make everybody like you, and you lose. Try to make everybody want you, and you lose. That’s what big companies do. Which means success, therefore, is a process of elimination. It’s learning what your brand can live without.

Before growing any bigger, remember to ask yourself questions like:

*Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?
*Does this choice add wood to my internal fire or sprinkle water on it?
*Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?
*Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or will it bring me short-term gratification?

In short: Stop your driving your brand all over the interstate. You’ll either get pulled over, cause an accident or piss off the other drivers. Plus, it’ll take forever to get to your destination.

Remember: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Doesn’t it make sense to just pick a lane and stay there?

5. Teamwork is nice, but not always necessary. Since day one of preschool, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that teamwork is the secret. Truth is, the efficacy of teams is largely a myth. But we’ve been romanced and seduced into believing that teams are so wonderful, when in fact their power works in reverse.

The question becomes: Is the romantic notion of the value of teams is shooting you in the foot? In a 2009 issue of Machine Design, editorialist Leland E. Teschler explained it perfectly:

“Development teams are often an obstacle to creativity rather than a vehicle for truly elegant solutions. Many team members work at cross-purposes. That’s why throwing more people at a project frequently slows it down rather than speeds its completion.”

Consider asking the following questions before your organizational chart gets too bloated:

*How much money are you losing by waiting for somebody you don’t even like?
*Who in your business is helping you build a future that you’re going to feel obligated to be a part of?
*Are you making conscious choices about the individuals you allow to participate in your enterprise?

Ultimately, no man is an island. You still have to breathe in help. At the same time, individual productivity declines as teams expand. Might be more of a hindrance than help. Will the inevitable problems with coordination and motivation of a large team chip away at your organization’s capacity to thrive?

6. Stick yourself out there. The bigger you get, the fewer risks you take. There’s just too much pressure to be predictable. And you wind up becoming a victim of your own consistency.

Or, if you do take a risk – and make a big mistake – everybody notices. When you’re small, you can make mistakes quickly, quietly – even largely – then hide the ashes before the fire engines come. And when you’re small, failure doesn’t signify weakness and hemorrhage profits – it enables innovation, and growth.

That’s what happens when you’re not afraid of the consequences of falling short: You give yourself permission to do something great. Are you failing forward?

REMEMBER: The corporate veil of bigness and anonymity no longer matters.

I challenge you to reject the pressure of endless growth and embrace the possibility of staying small.

Seek greatness – not bigness.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you stay small?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

“I’ve been a supporter of the approach that mentoring should not be a paid activity as this has the potential to change the dynamics of the relationship and create a power imbalance. But I have to be honest and say that after Scott’s first mentoring response to me, 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!

21 Reasons to Keep Your Company Small

“Yeah, but it wasn’t worth it.”

That’s what the guy next to me at the bar said.

“When I started my company, I was this laid-back, low key guy. Not anymore. Since then I’ve gained eighty pounds, I’m constantly on the run, I wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks and my health is terrible.”

“But there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t quit or stop now. It’s too late. I’m too deep. I’ve got twenty employees who are depending on me for their livelihoods, their paychecks and their healthcare.”

Bummer.

“What about your healthcare?” I asked.

He smiled reluctantly.“Look man, let tell you something: I don’t want to be busy all the time. I don’t want to wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night. But that’s just the way it is. When it comes to owning your own business, you simply don’t have a choice.”

“Ever?”

“No. It’s just what happens to entrepreneurs. Even if you’re not a high strung person when you start, you’ll become one eventually.”

Interesting.

Then I asked, “Well, then here’s my question: What would happen if, in the beginning, you removed the threat of having to support stakeholders? And as you built your company, you educated yourself about how to avoid these kinds of small business undertows?”

He listened.

“For example, let’s say somebody owned his own company, was the only employee and ran a one-man show. Wouldn’t that delete some of the variables in the equation and ultimately give that person the choice to avoid becoming the type of person you’re talking about?”

He replied almost immediately.

“No. It doesn’t work that way. As a small business owner, you want your company to grow. And you can’t grow when you’re the only employee. It’s inevitable.”

Interesting.

“But if I had to do it all over again,” he warned, “I would have stayed small.”

LESSON LEARNED: Bigger isn’t better – better is better.

And more often than not, better is the fruit of smaller.

Here’s a list of twenty-one reasons why:

1. Small means you can be honest.

2. Small means you can delete meetings.

3. Small means you can respond quicker.

4. Small means you can reinvent in real time.

5. Small means you can enable greater mobility.

6. Small means you can foster deeper commitment.

7. Small means you can have the freedom to innovate.

8. Small means you can make decisions that matter sooner.

9. Small means you can implement new ideas immediately.

10. Small means you can make mistakes quickly and quietly.

11. Small means you can actually execute your brilliant ideas.

12. Small means you can take action with asking for permission.

13. Small means you can interact with customers directly and personally.

14. Small means you can take a piss without meeting compliance.

15. Small means you can delete useless planning of things that don’t matter.

16. Small means you respond to changing customer or employee needs immediately.

17. Small means you can take risks without the pressure to remain excessively predictable.

18. Small means you can focus on shipping the most value because you’re not bogged down.

19. Small means you can quickly make adjustments without having to go thru the chain of command.

20. Small means you can have a higher awareness of everything and everyone within the
company.

21. Small means you can preserve the charm and intimacy of connecting personally with the people who matters most.

The choice is yours: Go for greatness or go for bigness.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you stay small?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

What are you doing to keep yourself human?

Last time I checked, being human was still good for business.

It’s what makes you listenable.
It’s what makes you engageable.
It’s what makes you approachable.

THE QUESTION IS: As technology accelerates and slowly engulfs the entire marketplace, what will you do to keep yourself, your brand and your organization human?

Here’s a collection to of ideas to help you do so:1. Befriend simplicity. During a recent workshop, one of my audience members expressed concern that her writing voice sounded like that of a fifth-grader.

To which I replied, “Perfect. According to the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tests, twelve is the approximate age most adults read at anyway. Don’t back away from perceived negatives. Your voice is perfect.”

And all of the sudden, her original concern turned into her eventual advantage. In fact, several people in the audience commented how they wished their writing was that simple.

If you have the same challenge, here’s my suggestion: Grow younger. Remove as much complexity as you can from the way people experience you and your message. By acting professional and talking personal, you endear people to your humanity. And the people who endear – endure. Are you using words that make you sound smart but stale?

2. Invent things in your own image. Here’s something approachable leaders know: You can’t create anything other than yourself. It’s all an extension of your unique personality. Take Facebook: The color blue dominates the layout because Mark Zuckerberg is red/green colorblind. And take Apple: The people who get hired are the ones who fit Steve Jobs’ vision and working style.

This is not an accident. Kind of like their company profit is not an accident either. And while your brand probably doesn’t compare to those two behemoths, what you can do is emulate the same principle into your own world.

Try this: Embed your why into the very fabric of whatever you create. Allow purpose to fuel personality. Because while you’re known for what you do and remembered for how you do it – you’re defined by why you do it.

This approach to innovation will keep your work real, honest and human. All you have to do is tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. If that’s not your own image, I don’t know what is. Are you following your passions or people’s perceptions?

3. Lead with your constitution. When I first posted my profile to an online dating site, I was given up to four thousand (!) words to describe myself. But unlike every other long-winded, self-absorbed candidate on the directory, I opted not to ramble for pages about my personal preferences, accomplishments and interests.

Instead, I concisely listed the ten non-negotiable values of my personal constitution as a human being. Then, I requested that anyone who resonated with at least seven of them should email me.

It wasn’t some hackneyed strategy – I was just being human. And sure enough, I connected on a highly personal and real level with a very special person who now ignites my soul on a daily basis.

Lesson learned: Rather than leave your humanity lying dormant inside you, reach within yourself to find out your own truth – then try a little radical openness. Because I swear, when you operate with greater transparency, life’s attitude toward you changes. It’s cool as hell. How will your humanity run the show today?

4. Strengthen your gentleness. Love is a respiratory requirement. It’s the oxygen that keeps people alive. That’s why wearing your humanity on your sleeve is so essential: It helps people develop an affectionate regard toward each other. Like Robbin Phillips of Brains on Fire says, “Love is a circular transaction.”

In my experience as a thirty-year veteran of the human race, it all comes down to the question: What do you see when you see people? And guess what: The answer is reflection of what you see when you see yourself. When you treat people like people, they become infected with respectful awe. But when you treat people like sounding boards for your own ego needs, they grudgingly concede.

Ultimately, people who lack a strong emotive dimension send the message that they’ve resigned to inhabit a robotic world. On the other hand, people who regularly restock their inventory of human emotion demonstrate magnanimity of the soul. Which type of people would you rather share an office with?

REMEMBER: You can’t filter your life through pixels.

Not if you want that life to matter, that is.

But.

When you keep yourself human – you keep your company healthy.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a robot or a real person?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “27 Ways to Overcommunicate Anything,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Treat People Like People

It’s not that hard to make people happy.

All you have to do is treat them like people.

Not as objects.
Not as integers.
Not as trophies.
Not as machines.
Not as categories.
Not as dollar signs.
Not as commodities.
Not as abstract entities.
Not as a means to an end.
Not as bloodless statistical entities.
Not as impersonal facets of production.

As people.

And I know what you’re thinking:

Do we really need an article to tell us how to treat people like people?

Yes. Yes we do.

Here’s a collection of ideas to help you, your brand and your organization do just that:1. Honor the audience of one. Stop disrespectfully dividing your attention between the person in front of you and the people you’re giving snippets of your digital attention to. You’re sacrificing sincere conversations that count for superficial connections that merely add up.

Instead, here’s a revolutionary suggestion: When you’re with people – really be with people. Make them feel like the only person in the room. Hell, make them feel like the only person in the world. Make sure that what you’re doing – right now – isn’t telling this person that there’s someone else you’d rather be interacting with.

Do you really think they don’t see you checking your smartphone under the table? Come on. People need people in their life who can be bigger than that. Have some respect for your audience of one. Don’t allow the convenience of being connected to tear apart the traditional social fabric.

And remember: Just because you’re instantly connected to the masses doesn’t mean you’re intimately connected to the people who matter. What do people get when they get you?

2. Expose your nakedness as a person. The world is a mirror. However you act is a permission slip for others to do the same. For example, those who choose to be open invite others around them to be open. But those who choose to keep their truth close to their chest signal others around them to shut down.

The question is whether you’re willing to reach out and risk living with both arms. Whether you’re courageous and rare enough to occupy your vulnerability in a space of mutual openness. Unfortunately, it takes time and courage become comfortable with that level of emotional honesty.

John Powell’s groundbreaking work on identity and self-disclosure explains why: “I am afraid to tell you who I am because if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am – and that’s all I have.”

My suggestion: Risk it anyway. Show people who you are and, more importantly, why you are. What is forcing you to live in a way that is untrue to who you are?

3. Surrender your role. In a recent issue of BusinessWeek, Keith Ayers, President of Sydney’s Integro Leadership Institute, explained that when we get into playing roles, we stop being real.

“If I believe I have to act like a manager, then I focus on myself, my roles, what I’m doing and what I’m saying – instead of focusing on the person I am with. This diminishes trust with employees and decreases their engagement, commitment, and productivity.”

We see evidence of this is trend everywhere: Customer service agents start puking their scripts over the phone before listening to your actual problem. Salespeople dive into obvious closing techniques before you’re ready to buy. And parents treat you like a child long after you’ve become an adult.

The secret is to interact with people as a person – not as a role. To put values before vocation, individuality before industry and person before position. Then, as Ayers says, when you see yourself as a person dealing with another person, no matter what your roles, you can focus on the needs of others and on creating value. What unnecessary title is preventing people from getting to know the real you?

4. Shed your armor. In Creating True Prosperity, Shakti Gawain writes that vulnerability means allowing yourself to be affected by the word around you. This is a terrifying prospect for many leaders because you’re risking your truth. You’re risking being rejected. And you’re risking being stared at or talked about.

But here’s the secret: The more often you stick yourself out there, the more comfortable and confident you become with who you are. And when you’re comfortable and confident with whom you are, your truthful self-expression inspires and gives other people permission to do and be the same.

And that’s when we begin to listen to each other from a truer place, share with each other from a stronger place and communicate with each other from a more genuine place.

Ultimately, you display your love for people by letting those people get to know you. Thus, being vulnerable is a gift that you give to others. And by recognizing and sharing your own truth, you inspire them to do the same. Doesn’t get more personal than that. How much longer do you want to deprive yourself of breaking out in order to protect others from who you really are?

5. Encourage and celebrate their mistakes. When I was a kid, my favorite song from Sesame Street was, “Everybody Makes Mistakes.” It goes like this:

“If you make a mistake, you shouldn’t start to cry. Mistakes are not so bad, and here’s why. Everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do. Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too. Big people, small people, matter of fact, all people. And if everyone in the whole wide world makes mistakes, then why can’t you?”

Look: Human beings are naturally infallible creatures. They screw up every day. But they still need reminders that making a mistake isn’t the same as being a mistake.

Next time people you care about bite the big one, help them release their identification with the flub. Remind them that the moment you learn from a mistake is the moment it ceases to be a mistake. And tell them that while failure is an option – not learning form that failure isn’t. What language do you use with people when they fall short?

6. Meet the now need. People want to be heard first and helped second. Always honor this priority. If you treat people’s ideas as inconvenient interruptions to your uninspiring monologues, you lose them forever. If you only listen to people to use their comments as backboards against which you can try out your snappy new stand-up material, you lose them forever.

And, if you over empathize by interrupting people’s stories to share (yet another) selfish, inconsequential diatribe, you lose them forever.

Stop circling back to remind people how vastly experienced you are at their reality. Instead, try listening to people and not just to your improvements for them. Choose to hear the whole person.

Develop a vocabulary for the personal by speaking with humanizing language, not perfect phrases you were forced to memorize from your employee empathy class. Their now need is what matters the most. Meet it. Why are you listening?

7. Indulge in your humanity. I’ve been wearing a nametag twenty-four seven for the past decade. What can I say? Some people wear their heart on their sleeve – I wear my humanity on my chest. And I’ve learned that (contrary to popular conditioning) vulnerability isn’t surrender.

Here’s the reality: The more vulnerable you are, the more open you are. The more open you are, the less you have to hide. The less you have to hide, the more relaxed you become. And the more relaxed you become, the more effectively you can treat people like people. Simple – but not easy.

My suggestion: Instead of making endless plans to reduce unpredictability, mitigate risk and preserve your sense of control, try surrendering. Learn to treat your vulnerability as an advantage. And remember the words Henry James: “To be opened to risk is to risk being shattered. But without shattering, there is no glory.”

Remember: You can’t cram everything into a process. Let improvisation pull the rug out from under the rigidity of the predictable. What do you need to surrender to?

Anyway, that’s my vision for the future.

A church where you’re not a butt in a seat – you’re a person.

A retail store where you’re not a walking wallet – you’re a person.

A dentist’s office where you’re not a mouth with teeth – you’re a person.

A grocery store where you’re not another inventory picker – you’re a person.

A bank where you’re not an account number on a spreadsheet – you’re a person.

A hospital where you’re not a collection of symptoms on a chart – you’re a person.

A networking event where you’re not just a pit stop in people’s lives – you’re a person.

A hair salon where you’re not another name in the appointment book – you’re a person.

IN SHORT: A world where people are treated like people.

I know it’s a lot to ask.

I know it’s hard to be human. Especially when so much inhumanity surrounds us.

But.

When you treat people like people, they don’t just listen to you – they work their hearts out for you.

And they come back over and over again.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What do you see when you see people?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Unmistakable Motivators of Human Engagement,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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