GenJuice Interviews Scott Ginsberg on Succeeding as a Young Professional

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How many opportunities did you lose because people didn’t take you seriously?

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

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How to be Taken Seriously by People Half Your Age

Everyone is old to someone.

Whether you’re fresh out of college, well into your career, a veteran office worker, a recently retired professional, or a grizzled old fart, there will always be people younger than you.

And if you want them to take you seriously, I have three words for you:

Just For Men.

Only kidding. Hair dye isn’t going to help you.

If you really want to be taken seriously by people half your age, you have to make a conscious decision to do so. Since I’ve already written on how to be taken seriously by people twice your age, here’s a list of ideas to help you on you way, Grandma: 1. If you’re not current – you’re not credible. The word “credibility” comes from the Latin creditum, which means, “Something loaned or entrusted to another.” Interesting. Credibility is on loan. Which means your credibility might take years to assemble, but only seconds to annihilate.

My suggestion is to stop reminiscing about how things used to be and start reveling in how things currently are. That’s the easiest way to invite someone to tune you out: By talking about the old days. Even if the old days were five years ago. Move on. Talk about the new days. What irrelevancies do you need to discard?

2. Learn the new tricks that matter. Fine. You’re an old dog. Big deal. The marketplace doesn’t care. If there’s a new trick that matters to your people, you still have to learn it.

For example, if you’re struggling with technology they’re familiar with, learn it. Take a class if you have to. Otherwise you’ll lose them. If you’re not up with current cultural trends, research it. Spend an hour on Wikipedia each week if you have to. Otherwise you’ll lose them.

Remember: The reason people aren’t taking you seriously has nothing to do with old age and everything to do with old thinking. Are the cobwebs in your brain marring your credibility?

3. Young people always rebel when they feel fundamentally disrespected. As such, avoid telling them you know what’s best for them. Avoid imposing your own direction on their lives. Avoid traveling roads for people they know they need to travel themselves.

And at all cost, avoid the phrase, “I told you so.”

All that does is cause people feel small and think, “I resent you so.” Instead, let people come to their own conclusions, make their own decisions and make their own mistakes.

Yes, it requires great emotional restraint. And yes, it requires significant self-control. But without such respectful delegation, you fractionize their experiences and rob them of valuable learning opportunities. Good luck being taken seriously after that.

Look: You can’t convince people to change – you can only give them more information. And sometimes the best way to help is to get the hell out of the way. What happened to the last person you tried to fix?

4. Don’t just get over yourself – stay over yourself. Not everyone who gets over himself remains in that position. Educate yourself in the language of humility. Learn to win less. Publicly share your mistakes. And be smart enough to be dumb.

Otherwise you kill your credibility with terminal certainty.

Also, consider getting down off your pedestal by offering it to others. Here’s how: When you share a success story, use someone younger as an example. When share tell a mistake moment, use yourself as an example. People of all generations will appreciate your honesty and be more willing to listen to you. Are you poking fun in the mirror?

5. Tune into their frequency. I once asked my fourteen-year-old cousin to email me the name of a particular video game he mentioned. His response: “Email? That takes forever!” I couldn’t believe my ears.

But it was a helpful lesson, because the bottom line was: People under eighteen don’t email. Ever. They communicate via text, instant message or social media. As such, before sending your next message, consider how people prefer to hear. Respond to the idiosyncratic needs of each person.

Otherwise, if you force everyone to conform to the your communication style, you run the risk of losing people who matter most.

Remember: And any number multiplied by zero is still zero. It’s not that they don’t like you – it’s that you’re not speaking on their frequency. Are you trying to reach people with outdated technology?

6. Magnifying the unhideable. There’s no need to dye the gray out of your hair. Instead, convert pigeonholes into goldmines. Consider the five most pervasive stereotypes young people have about your generation.

Next, ask yourself, “What do I bring that’s contrary to those judgments?” Then, use that unique value to disarm the immediate preoccupation in people’s mind. Let them know that despite your age – you’re different. Not that you’re in denial, but that you’re the exception to certain rules.

Ultimately, by putting your age on the table, you express honesty, humility and a healthy sense of humor. And those three attributes transcend age barriers every time. How could you express yourself instead of trying to prove yourself?

7. Enough trying to relate to people. You can’t manufacture commonality. And nothing annoys young people more than someone who pretends to be just like them. That’s the mistake older generations make:

They either go overboard trying to relate to young people and end up insulting their intelligence; or they ignore and disqualify anything that they don’t understand and alienate those people further.

Bad move. False relatability is the ultimate eye-roller. Just because you get a tattoo on your arm or mention Facebook doesn’t mean young people are going to take you seriously. Stop trying so hard.

What’s more, Millennials might actually take you seriously if you stopped calling them Millennials. All people, regardless of age, want to be called by their name – not their birthday. Do you see people as labels to be related to or individuals to be cared for and enjoyed?

REMEMBER: If you want younger generations to take you seriously, you don’t need hair dye, you don’t need Botox and you don’t need a new wardrobe.

What you need is a mental makeover.

Because the problem isn’t old age – it’s old thinking.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How many opportunities did you lose because people didn’t take you seriously?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Somebody 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, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.

How Succeed in Business When You’re the Youngest Person at the Company

Sometimes, it sucks being the youngest one in room.

And by “sometimes,” I mean, “every excruciating hour of your workday.”

Think about it:

Nobody takes you seriously.
The world refuses to listen to your voice.
And the people you work with are twice your age, have three times your knowledge and four times your experience.

What’s a kid to do?

Instead of going postal on your entire office with a semi-automatic machine gun (which isn’t as effective as it sounds, trust me) here’s a collection of strategies, practices and practical advice on making a name for yourself as a young professional:1. Build a timeline of credibility. I started my career as a writer and speaker when I was twenty-two. That meant standing in front of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of complete strangers – who had no logical reason to take me seriously.

Think about it: No advanced degrees. No real work experience. No amazing story of overcoming adversity. Just some dorky guy, standing on stage, wearing a nametag. Would you take me seriously? Hell no. And that was my deficit position. That’s what I had working against me.

Except for one thing: I did write a book.

Now, it wasn’t the best book. It wasn’t the best-selling book. But it was a still a book. And considering the fact that most people in the world have a book inside of them – but never get it out – I found myself in a potentially advantageous position.

That’s why I went out of my way to make sure that every single person knew about the book immediately: I told them personally, I asked other people to tell them personally, sometimes I even gave five hundred copies of my book to the entire audience. I didn’t care. Whatever it took. These people were going to recognize whatever slice of credibility I could serve up within thirty seconds. Period.

The cool part is: You don’t need a book to do this. Execution is the great qualifier. Your challenge is to represent whatever measurable successes you’ve achieved in visible, tangible ways – then punch people in the face with it.

And not in an arrogant way. Focus on expressing yourself, not proving yourself, and people’s receptivity to your voice will rise. How will you reinforce your positive pattern of execution?

2. Consider the source. As a young professional, people you work with may use your age as a target. Some might downplay your contributions. Some might highlight your lack of experience. Some might reinforce your supposed intellectual deficiencies. And some might even come off as plain mean – even if their intent is nothing but a friendly jostling.

My first suggestion: Relax. These reactions are completely normal. You’re not alone. And while it’s frustrating to be on the receiving end of that stick, consider the source. Remember: If people treat you this way, they’re operating out of fear. That’s what humans do when they’re scared: They scramble for any ammo they can find because they see something valuable and powerful in you.

And that’s my second suggestion: Practice interpreting people’s behavior as subtle recognition of your ability. Every time it happens, tack another notch to your victory column. You’re on the right path. Even if you encounter a few haters on the side of the road. How will you use the criticism to fuel your fire?

3. Respond patiently, yet proactively. “Implicit or explicit ageism may manifest is through the use of patronizing language,” explains a 2005 issue of The Journal of Social Issues. According to the article, people do so through two negative methods of communication.

First, over accommodation. This consists of a person being excessively courteous and speaking simple and short sentences very loudly and slowly – often with an exaggerated tone and high pitch. For example:

“Okay Scott. Here’s how to do this. Put the paper here. Dial the number here. Then wait for the beep. Mmkay?”

Usually, when someone speaks to you like this, it makes you want to pile drive their greasy head in the color copier. Probably not the most mature response.

The second method of patronizing language is baby talk. This involves uncomplicated speech with an exaggerated pitch and tone that people use when talking to babies. For example:

“Have a wucky customer meeting Scotty? Aw. I bet you’d wuv someone to talk to, hmmm?”

Usually, when your boss speaks to you like this, it makes you want head-butt his nose into the back of his skull. Also not the smartest response. My suggestion is to remain patient, yet proactive. Keep your frustration at bay.

Otherwise your reaction will reinforce the very image you’re trying to avoid. How do you handle patronizers?

4. Don’t get sucked into the vortex. Because you’re the youngest person in your office, coworkers may see you as a vault. A safe haven for gossip or trash talk. This is unacceptable, disrespectful and a clear violation of your boundaries. When it happens, let people know three things:

First, you’re not flattered they chose to confide in you.
Secondly, you want no part of their negativity.
Third, you’re not going to laugh along with an obligatory giggle just because they’re the boss.

Stand your ground without stepping on people’s toes. Use these responses to respectfully refuse condoning negative behavior. Odds are, the respect you exude will be returned in light of your willingness to persist.

Either that, or you’ll create mass animosity and get fired for being an insubordinate troublemaker. Either way, you win. Will you be seduced by workplace gamesmanship?

5. Make the mundane memorable. If you find yourself saddled with entry-level duties and tasks, view this as a valuable opportunity to introduce remarkability. First, use the unique knowledge you already have. Then, put yourself positions to play to those strengths.

For example, if you’re an analytical, left-brained, strategic thinker – color everything you do with that brush. Even if you’re just getting coffee, making copies or relaying messages. Remember: People don’t care what you do – they care how you think. That’s what companies notice. That’s what companies remember. And that’s what companies promote.

The second suggestion for making the mundane memorable is to brand yourself as an informed source. Because even if you can’t participate in big decisions, even if you can’t sit at lunch with the big shots and even if you can’t get your name on the super-secret-inner-circle-email-list, you can always be the answer. Not a know-it-all. Not a yes man. Just an answer.

The coolest part is, when you’re positioned as a source for answers, people don’t just come to you – they come back to you. What pervasive, expensive, real and urgent problem does your brain solve – better, faster, smarter and cheaper than the rest of the losers your office?

6. Disarm immediate preoccupation. Here’s a rapid-fire list of the most common stereotypes of young professionals: Apathetic. Disrespectful. A.D.D. Disengaged. Entitlement attitude. Self-centered. Overly opinionated. Unable to communicate face-to-face.

Now, I’m sure the list goes on. And none of these adjectives are based on scientific data. Merely observations and experiences. Still, while those stereotypes might not be accurate – they’re still alive. And it never hurts to know what you’re up against.

First, so you can go out of your way to behave in ways that dispel the stereotype. There’s a simple path to professional development: Just google what world finds annoying about people like you – then do the opposite.

Another advantage of such awareness is to understand how other people experience your generation. More importantly, how other people experience themselves in relation to your generation. Those two elements combined will help you disarm whatever immediate preoccupation stands in your way of being heard. How will you lower your perceived threat level?

7. Acknowledge people’s contribution to your development. “Ungrateful and overly independent.” That’s another stereotype of the younger generation, according to numerous articles, case studies and message boards – not to mention every person I’ve ever met over the age of fifty.

As such, the smartest move you could make is to project a pervasive tone of gratitude.

First of all, this demonstrates your willingness to remain coachable and accept help. After all, success never comes unassisted.

Secondly, your appreciation won’t go unnoticed by your coworkers. That’s the best part about gratitude: Whatever you appreciate, appreciates.

Third, giving credit to the people whose mentoring built your foundation is a mark of maturity and magnanimity. And not everybody in your generation could be described as such.

Ultimately, gratitude is the great gravitator: Of wealth, of success, of assistance and of attention from the people who matter. When was the last time you made an entry into your gratitude journal?

REMEMBER: Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re useless.

As the youngest person in your office, you have an opportunity to bring new blood, fresh perspective and youthful energy to the workplace.

Be patient. Be proactive. Be pointed. And be a problem solver.

And maybe you won’t even need that semi-automatic machine gun after all.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you unafraid of being the youngest person in your office?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Somebody 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, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.

10 Strategies Stop Acting Like an Expert and Start Being a Thought Leader

This is all Google’s fault.

Think about it:

We have unlimited shelf space on which to share our ideas.

We have ubiquitous and instantaneous access to infinite knowledge.

We have completely democratized information, entertainment and media.

We have shattered the barriers to entry for previously impossible endeavors.

And we have allowed choice saturation to flatten the playing field, thus making thousands of niches as economically attractive as the mainstream.

THE RESULT: Everyone’s an expert.

Literally. I don’t mean that in the cliché sort of way.

WHAT I’M SAYING IS: With the right tools, the right resources and the right strategy, pretty much anyone in the world could position herself an expert (on anything!) in about a month.

Which brings me to my thesis:Experts are morons.

Just think about the last time you watched the news.

For seven minutes, you were subjected to the verbal diarrhea of some “expert” who invited himself onto the show to shamelessly promote his mediocre book written on the latest “hot issue” that he did a bunch of amateur “research” on but never actually experienced himself.

That’s an expert.
Anyone can be one.
And it’s no longer going to cut it in the marketplace.

HERE’S THE REALITY: If you want to reach the people who matter, if you want to deploy your message into to the marketplace, and if you want to create some serious change that moves the needle of the world, being an expert is not the answer.

Instead, I challenge you to be a thought leader.

What’s the difference between the two?

I’m glad you asked.

1. Definition. An expert is a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field. For her, it’s all about the person, her brain and the wisdom that comes from it. A thought leader is a trusted source that moves people with innovative ideas. For her it’s all about the message, its cause and the tribe that sustains it.

2. Nomination. Experts are experts because they say they are. It’s all about marketshare. And all you have to do is go to their website to see how much of an expert they claim to be. Thought leaders are thought leaders because the world says they are. It’s more about mindshare. And all you have to do is go to Google to see how much of an expert the marketplace claims them are.

3. Disposition Experts are smart, creative people who have lots of ideas. And they accumulate knowledge from other people’s resources for the purposes of memorization and monetization. Thought leaders are intellectual, innovative people who actually execute ideas. And they extract universal truths from their own experience for the purpose democratization and exploration.

4. Content. Experts memorize facts and technical knowledge. They lick the seal and tell you what to think about the envelope. Thought leaders notice connections and patterns. They push the envelope by ripping it open and challenge you to rethink your illusions about what’s inside of it.

5. Surroundings. An expert is an island. He puts himself up on a pedestal above the audience. And he capitalizes on the power of his brain to put a stake in the ground. A thought leader is building a following. He builds a platform to cement an ongoing relationship with his audience. And capitalizes on the power of his community to push the ideas forward.

6. Structure. Experts assign formulas. Their material is non-updatable, unshakable and inelastic. Their attitude is inflexible, choreographed, canned, insincere, inauthentic and preplanned. They’re often resisted, debated and create defensiveness. And their rigid, rote learning limits people’s possibilities and stifles their creativity. Thought leaders suggest practices. Their material comes in the form of simple, doable and human actions. Their actions insinuate instead of impose. They’re adaptable and applicable to various situations and individuals. And their work is easily digested, self-evident, non-threatening and encourage people’s creativity.

7. Derivation. Experts are answer-driven. They’re finished learning the material. And they puke regurgitated wisdom, give excellent book reports and peddle plagiarized insight. This helps them make money. Thought leaders are question-driven. They lead the dialogue on the evolution of the material. And they deliver actionable lessons that passed through the test of their personal experience. This helps them make history.

8. Publishing. Experts have written. They published their knowledge – at some point in the past – because was good for their career, attracted some attention and left a trail of digital breadcrumbs back to their website so people could hire them for high-end consulting jobs. Thought leaders are always writing. And they continue to syndicate their wisdom – every single day – because it contributes to their ongoing body of work, validates their existence and leaves a literary footprint to inspire future generations to execute what matters.

9. Delivery. Experts prove themselves; thought leaders express themselves. Experts strive for approval; thought leaders allow for refusal. Experts proclaim their superiority; thought leaders embody their fabulousness. Experts demand their rights, thought leaders deploy their gifts. Experts talk smack; though leaders do acts. Experts play to the crowd; thought leaders play for the sake of playing. Experts win with lip service through swell argument; thought leaders win with foot service through swift action. And experts advise people from the outside; while thought leaders inspire people from the inside.

10. Modality. The final differentiator between an expert and a though leader is the overall approach they take to life and work. First, experts believe things. And talk about things. And sometimes even do things. And they survive on a steady diet of orthodoxy, or, the right thoughts. They practice what they preach, but the message they preach isn’t necessarily the dominant truth of their life. Thought leaders, on the other hand, simply are. It’s less about believing and talking and doing and more about just being. They survive on a steady diet of orthopraxy, or, the right actions. They preach what they practice, and the gap between their onstage performance and backstage reality is non-existent.

That’s why I challenged you to stop acting like an expert and start being a thought leader.

Because that’s what it really comes down to:

Experts persuade, pontificate and profit through doing. Because they’re full of themselves.

Thought leaders inspire, infect and influence through being. Because they’re sharing themselves.

Take your pick.

P.S. Special thanks to all the thought leaders on my Facebook page whose ideas helped inspire this post!

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Which one are you?

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For the list called, “23 Ways to Turn Thoughts into Messages,” 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

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.

How to be Taken Seriously by People Twice Your Age

“I’m old enough to be your mother!”

Think about the last time somebody at work said this to you.

How did it make you feel?

Young?
Annoyed?
Insecure?
Unsuccessful?
Ready to jump out the window?

Probably all of the above. As someone who hears this comment on a daily basis, I know how you feel. It’s tough being the youngest person in the office, isn’t it?

But that’s the reality. According to a recent USA TODAY article, Generation Y is a force of as many as seventy million people taking their place in an increasingly multi-generational workplace.

“This age group is moving into the labor force during a time of major demographic change, as companies around the USA face an aging workforce.”

“Sixty-year-olds are working beside 20-year-olds. Freshly minted college graduates are overseeing employees old enough to be their parents. And new job entrants are changing careers faster than college students change their majors, creating frustration for employers struggling to retain and recruit talented high-performers.”

THE QUESTION IS: How are you supposed to be taken seriously when you’re the youngest person in the room?

SHORT ANSWER: Being proactive and powerful without coming off as arrogant and annoying.

LONG ANSWER: Today I’m going to teach you exactly how to do that.And please note, what you’re about to read is not another rapid-fire list of simplistic, superficial pseudo-advice that any schmuck with more than two weeks of job experience could tell you.

In fact, we should probably just get that stuff out of the way now:

Exude powerful body language. Dress for success. Avoid spelling errors. Show up to work on time. Don’t photocopy your ass during business hours. Articulate your words clearly. Smile – but not too often. Have a firm handshake. Respect your elders. Remove your spiked dog collar before meeting with the company president. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Okay, I feel better. Now we can get cracking on the ideas that matter. Here’s a compendium of practices and strategies to be taken seriously by people twice your age:

1. Take seriously the things that matter. If you want people twice your age to take you seriously, the first step is to stop taking yourself so seriously. Obviously, not at the expense of respect or professionalism. Becoming a poster boy for apathy rarely gets you anywhere.

Instead, the secret is pinpointing the non-negotiable values in your life that are worth taking seriously – health, job, career, family, growth, honesty, whatever – then making sure your behavior reinforces that constitution.

That’s what people notice. That’s what people remember. That’s what people respect. Someone with enough strength to be simultaneously self-effacing and self-confident.

And admittedly, as a young professional, this is a difficult balance to strike. When you’re working tirelessly to make a name for yourself, it’s easy to get snared into the seductive trap of self-importance.

Ultimately, if you truly want people to take you seriously, don’t just get over yourself – stay over yourself. How are you educating yourself in the language of humility?

2. Make the invisible inescapable. After a recent speech in Melbourne, I stopped by the city art museum to see the Titanic exhibition. Other than the replicated iceberg you could touch (so cool!) the most powerful moment of the tour was walking through the Crew Room.

We explored dozens of bios and portraits of these beefy, diligent, hardworking men – seventy-five percent of whom went down with the ship. And I learned that they shoveled 825 tons of coal a day.

That’s over a million and a half pounds. And above the memorial of the crewmembers that perished in the crash, the epitaph read:

“The task is vital, the labor is invisible and the work is an endless cycle.”

What about you? What percentage of your work is unseen by the masses?

If you want to get people to take you seriously, here’s my suggestion: Make your invisible work inescapable to the people who matter. Otherwise all your time and toil will go unnoticed. What vital tasks are you turning into viral videos?

3. Perspective is the rein and rudder. That was Leo da Vinci’s philosophy. And whether you’re working on a painting or in project management, the same principle of perspective applies.

Take my cousin, Avery, for example. He’s fourteen. Recently, he said something that completely blew the lid off my brain. During family dinner one Sunday, I asked him to email me the name of a particular video game he mentioned.

And I swear to God – you can’t make this stuff up – here’s what came out of his mouth:

“Email? That takes forever!”

Talk about perspective. I couldn’t believe my ears. But Avery’s comment was spot-on. Apparently, people under the age of twenty don’t email. Takes too long. They text, instant message or use Facebook. That’s how they communicate. Email is the new snail mail. Unbelievable. And all Avery did was say a few words.

Lesson learned: The ability to deliver powerful perspective wrapped in a concise package, to the right people, at the right time, is priceless. More often than not, simile is the perfect tool for doing so.

For example, whenever I want to make a point about the increasing irrelevancy of libraries, I’ll say, “A library? Is that like Netflix for books?” As much as it pains me as an author to say that, it usually drives home the perspective pretty well. What drives yours?

4. Craft a sincere story regarding your journey – then broadcast it. First, take some time to physically write out your unique story:

*What crucial decisions changed everything?
*What questions did you ask yourself along the way?
*How many times did you stumble?
*Who was there to help you dust off your pants?

These are the things that matter.

Second, represent this story three-dimensionally. Write it out. Share pictures. Tell the story on video. Whatever medium works for you.

Finally, connect with as many media outlets – mainstream or amateur – to broadcast that story with the world. Because when everybody knows your story, you win. Just as long as your story is engaging, remarkable and relevant.

Remember: When people understand where you came from, they’re more likely to believe in where you’re going. Do decision makers know your story?

5. Present what you do as a legitimate source of income. Money attracts attention. Period. I’m not saying it’s the most important thing in the world, but there is a direct relationship between profitability and legitimacy. Especially when barriers to entry continue to crumble.

Anyone can start a company. The question is: How much revenue is actually coming in?

Anyone can become an expert. The question is: What profit centers are you converting your expertise into?

Anyone can build a following. The question is: How are you converting followers into dollars?

If you can’t spit out (somewhat) quantitative answers to these questions, you lose. Your goal is to reveal enough financial evidence of your success that people nod their heads in approbation; but not so much that they tilt their heads in aggravation.

I remember the first time I experience the power of this strategy. It was 2005, and my company was just starting to turn a profit. During a television interview, the news anchor casually mentioned that I had converted the idea of wearing a nametag into six-figure enterprise.

I didn’t ask him to say that, he just did. And wouldn’t you know it? That was the one part of the interview that everyone commented on. Huh. I guess money really does lend itself (rim shot) to credibility. How are you reinforcing you economical legitimacy?

6. Enthusiasm is a gift – use it while you can. Last night I met the owner of a local cheese company. Intrigued, I asked him, “What does someone’s favorite cheese say about her personality?”

For the next ten minutes, our table listened to Adam rant enthusiastically about all things cheesy. From manufacturing to cooking to milking the goats correctly, it was quite possibly the most fascinating conversation I’ve had in six months. Even the people at our table – twice his age – were engaged with rapt interest.

Do you think they’ll take him seriously next time they throw a wine and cheese party? Absolutely.

Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of enthusiasm. As a young professional, your energy is your greatest asset – use it. Every day. Speak with passion or risk being unheard.

Just remember two caveats: First, be careful not to overdo it. People can’t take you seriously if they’re too busy trying to figure out it what brand of crack you’ve been smoking.

Secondly, be sure to match enthusiasm with accuracy. If your energy isn’t supported with truthfulness, you’re nothing but a passionate incompetent. How are you leveraging your youthful energy?

7. Monitor the consistency of your virtual personality. The Internet is forever. Everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance. Which, isn’t that hard to do if the character you’re playing is you.

So, for the love of Google, be careful what you share with the world. If your online performance isn’t an accurate mirror of your offline reality, you lose. And don’t act like it could never happen to you. Self-incrimination is an easy mistake made by smart people every day.

And the danger is: It’s cumulative. Which means the more often you do it – that is, the more often you position yourself online in a negative light – the less likely people are to take you seriously.

“You know, Julie made a good point during today’s meeting,” the boss says. “Then again, Julie’s status update from last night says she pounded fifteen shots of Jäger in thirty minutes. No wonder she puked into the paper shredder this morning.”

Lesson learned: Avoid sloppy mistakes that make rejecting you easy. Be careful what you publish. Do you want to become known for what you’re about to post?”

8. Replace bitching with evidence. Yes, it’s frustrating to work at an office primarily populated by people who grew up on vinyl and Vietnam. And it’s even more frustrating when those people don’t take you seriously.

But don’t default to shedding tears just to prove your salt. Instead, focus on sharing tangible proof. When you have a problem, complaint or issue, calmly present your issue to the powers that be in a quantitative, organized, legitimate and nuts and bolts fashion.

That’s the type of presentation style that older generations respond to. Plus, by pressing the off button on the water works, you avoid getting lumped into stereotype of being a whiner.

This brings me to Psychology Today, which published an article in the May 2010 issue called, Generation Y or Generation Whine?

According to the piece, those born between 1982 and 2002 are turning the country into a nation of wimps. “Entitled, spoiled, whiney and unable to take criticism,” are just a few of the other terms used to describe my generation.

Obviously, this is a gross generalization. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only publication spouting such stereotypes. It seems like every week you come across another magazine or newspaper spreading similar stories.

As such, do whatever you can to prevent putting yourself in that category. Bitching isn’t the answer – evidence is. How much of it is your case presenting?

9. Show massive gratitude to the people who took risks on you. Success never comes unassisted. Ever. If you’re lucky enough to find a champion, somebody to go to bat for you – thank her sincerely. If possible, in person.

Here’s what you do: Take her aside, look her straight in the eye and say:

“Julie, you put your ass on the line for me, and want you to know how much I appreciate it. Thanks for believing in me. You support was essential, and I wouldn’t be here without you. I promise to keep you updated with my progress.”

But it doesn’t end there. Gratitude is isn’t just a few honest words – it’s a calendar of consistent action. And it functions as a thank you in perpetuity to the people who took personal and professional risks to help underwrite your success. Who did you thank yesterday?

10. Wear your commitment like an iron skin. As a Gen-Xer, I come from a commitment-averse generation. Here’s why:

Because of our instant gratification culture, we’re impatient.
Because of our privileged upbringing, we developed a mediocre work ethic.
Because of our self-reliant, entrepreneurial bent, we don’t offer loyalty easily.
Because of our abundance of choices, we’re quick to quit and pursue something better.

No wonder we can’t stick with anything for very long. From college majors to new jobs to romantic relationships, stick-to-itiveness isn’t exactly our forte.

For that reason, stick-to-itiveness is a non-negotiable pre-requisite for being taken seriously. What’s more, commitment isn’t something you do – it’s something you are. You don’t need to get a nametag tattooed on your chest like I did.

But you do need to memorialize your commitment and stand proud to the general gaze of the world. That’s the tricky part. That whole “every day” thing. Because while it takes guts to stick yourself out there – it takes gusto to keep yourself out there. How do you wear your commitment?

11. Show people that you aren’t going away. Reliable. Predictable. Dependable. Consistent. That’s the big-picture secret to being taken seriously: Making sure your actions provide people with irrefutable proof that you’re in it for the long haul.

That’s one of the reasons I publish so many books. Not just because writing is my religion. Not just because I have volumes to say. And not just because books are extremely profitable for my business.

But also because with every new book that comes out, I reinforce to people that I’m not going away.

That I’m not just another a one-hit-wonder, flash-in-the-pan bullshit artist. Like comedy legend George Carlin, your challenge is to show people that your “prime” will last for forty years. That should perk people’s ears up. What are you doing to last?

REMEMBER: Being taken seriously is serious business.

Your generation isn’t the future of the workforce – it’s the present.

If you want to be taken seriously by people twice your age, commit to implementing these strategies on a daily basis.

That way, next time Phyllis from accounting grumbles, “I’m old enough to be your mother!” you can just look at her with confidence and say, “What’s your point?”

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How many opportunities did you lose because people didn’t take you seriously?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Somebody 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, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.

10 Ways to be Wise Beyond Your Years

Years don’t make you wise.

Wisdom has nothing to do with how much time has past and everything to do with how much intelligent reflection you did during that time.

In the words of the wise philosopher, Indiana Jones, “It’s not the years – it’s the mileage.”

LESSON LEARNED: If you want to be wise beyond your years, you need a game plan.

Try this:1. Get direct experience any way you can. Wisdom comes from doing. Not from reading books. Or attending seminars. Or listening to audio programs in your car on the commute to work.

Those things might make you smart – but not wise.

You need to run the gauntlet of genuine experience. You need to make mistakes. To travel outside of your comfort zone. To get lost in foreign countries.

Maybe break a few hearts. And definitely have your own heart broken too. That’ll learn ya real good. Do you need to read more books about other people’s adventures – or go have an adventure yourself that’s worth sharing?

2. Speed up your unlearning curve. Learning is for monkeys and kindergartners. If you want to become wise beyond your years, try forgetting a few things for once.

Just beware: Unlearning is a painful process for most people.

Fist, because it requires mental flexibility in an age of terminal certainty. Secondly, because it threatens your ego’s power. Third, because cognitive dissonance is a brutal force. And finally, unlearning is painful because it activates the change process. And last time I checked, most people still hate change.

If you want to become wise beyond your years, consider unlearning the following things: Dangerous prejudices, outdated desires, false interpretations, inherited biases, outworn assumptions, previous definitions, useless fears and stale scripts.

Remember: Any idiot can be smart. It takes a real genius to unlearn. What mental constructs do you need to let go of?

3. Walk the wise – then record the footprints. Hanging out with a bunch of wise people won’t make you wise. Unlike poison ivy, wisdom isn’t something that just rubs off because of proximity.

The secret is to ask questions, listen closely to people’s answers, document your learnings and ultimately decide for yourself what you believe to be real and true.

Otherwise you’re just an advice leech. And the wisdom handed down to you will fall on deaf ears, shut eyes and a blocked heart. How many mentors do you have?

4. Take advantage of unlimited and instant access. Contrary to popular belief, the Internet does serve a purpose besides pornography and online gambling. I’m talking about the democratization of information.

The fact that you can find things out that there’s no possible way you could have known at your age is a beautiful thing. Imagine: Past generations actually had to wait around until they experienced things to learn them.

Ha! You can speed up your learning curve dramatically simply by becoming an avid researcher. And although nothing can replace direct, real experience, the web is a nice placeholder.

My only caveat is to triangulate your research. To validate every fact from three credible sources. This helps protect yourself from the worst part about the Internet: Everybody has a voice. And some of those voices smell like farts.

Be careful who you listen to. What have you researched this week?

5. Intentionally put yourself in situations that force you to grow up quickly. My cousin Justin interned as the village doctor in Honduras during his second year at medical school. My friend Rory spent four summers selling textbooks door to door.

My pal Anthony moved to Tokyo without knowing a single word of Japanese. My mate Joey took the hardest, lowest paying job at his father’s plumbing company.

And me? I moved across the country to Portland because I’d never been there, didn’t know anybody and didn’t have a job.

Notice the commonality? All of these situations were intentional, risk-laden, out of our comfort zones and chock-full of opportunities to depend on our own resources to survive.

Nothing will dispense wisdom quicker. How much longer can you realistically suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome?

6. Be the world’s expert on yourself. In The Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu wrote, “He who knows other is smart – but he who knows himself is wise.”

What about you? Which do you focus on? Memorizing the names of Brad and Angelina’s fourteen Cambodian children or knowing what makes your heart sing?

If you want to be remembered as being wise beyond your years, claim expertise on one domain: Yourself. Otherwise your vast knowledge of everybody else’s business is nothing but empty calories.

Like the song Wasting Time by Jack Johnson:

“Nobody knows anything about themselves because they’re all worried about everybody else.”

Don’t be that guy. No matter how tempting the gossip trap looks. Instead, focus on knowing yourself inside out. The people who matter will notice. Do you need a copy of US Weekly or a blank journal?

7. Use your past to see their present. A great mark of wisdom well internalized is the ability to see the old version of yourself in the people around you.

But not with a judgmental posture. Rather, with a calm and curious intrigue, reminding yourself of how far you’ve come.

For example, when I sit next to people on airplanes whose actions are hurried, violent, stressed, frustrated and oxygen-deficient, it always makes me smile. I think to myself, “Wow, that used to be me. But I’m so over that now.”

Again, this isn’t said with arrogance or smugness; rather, with celebration and recognition of wisdom you didn’t recognize until you encounter a person who practiced the opposite. What’s your past worth?

8. Start teaching earlier. Stop waiting for permission to be a teacher. You don’t need grey hair. You don’t need a degree. You don’t need a chalkboard. And you don’t need a tweed blazer with patches on the elbows.

A teacher is someone who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. A teacher is someone who has the willingness and ability to share what he’s learned from what he’s done.

What’s more, teaching is an attractive role. It means authority, it commands credibility and it indicates expertise. The challenge is finding your classroom.

Fortunately, the meaning of the word “classroom” word has evolved in the past few decades. Especially with the advent of numerous online portals, you now have thousands of potential classrooms at your fingertips, both online and offline.

For example, your classroom might be lunch with your friends. It might be the break room at work. Or it might be the dinner table with your children. Online, your classroom might be on your blog. It might be your Facebook page. Or it might be your monthly teleseminar or webinar series.

The bottom line is: There’s no better way to learn something than to teach it to someone else. Do that every day and your wisdom factor will skyrocket. What lesson plan are you preparing this week?

9. Learn to trust your voice. I recently did a five-hour video shoot with my client, The Australian Institute of Management. During our lunch break, my cameraman, Derrick, made an interesting comment:

“On-camera work is a completely different animal than public speaking. You have to be quick on your feet and good off the cuff. The problem is, most people don’t have the confidence that when they open their mouth, something good will come out.”

What about you? Do you trust your voice? If not, consider these suggestions for doing so.

First, write every day. Doesn’t have to be much. Fifteen minutes is enough. You’ll discover two things: Writing is the great clarifier; and writing it makes everything you do easier and better – including trusting your voice in person.

Second, practice. Debate yourself. Grill yourself. Challenge yourself. Anything to acclimate yourself to articulating your thoughts clearly and quickly.

Ultimately, trusting your voice takes time, patience and practice. And here’s the best part: One day, two years from now, in the middle of a conversation with your boss, you’ll pull a one-liner out of your ass that’s so incredibly lucid and insightful, he’ll wonder if you accidentally slept on a dictionary.

You’ll give new meaning to the term “wise ass.” Are you prepared to sign your name under your voice and let the whole world know how you feel?

10. Establish your learning plan. I can’t tell you how to do this. It all depends on how you think, how you learn, what you need learn and why you want to learn it.

Instead, here’s a snapshot of my own learning plan to inspire your to do the same.

Reading: Five books a week.
Journaling: Thirty minutes, three pages, first thing every morning.
Writing: Four to seven hours a day.
Mentors: Fifteen people I regular converse with in person or virtually.
Mastermind: Three that I meet with throughout the year.
Speaking: Ten hours of preparation for each presentation.
Education: Three to five seminars a year.
Miscellaneous: Daily observation, note taking, question asking and research.

Now, that’s not the whole enchilada, but you get the point. And while I don’t expect you to copy or even emulate my learning plan, I do challenge to think about – and physically write out – your own.

Commit to doing that, and your wisdom will make your years look like days. What did you learn yesterday?

ONE MORE THING: Growing up doesn’t mean growing old.

That’s the only caveat: To make sure that your pursuit of wisdom doesn’t eclipse your practice of childlikeness.

Because the last thing you want is to position yourself as the precocious young genius that doesn’t know how to have any fun. Be sure to keep your inner child in check. Otherwise all the wisdom in the world won’t do you much good. You’ll end up like one of those annoying, hyper-articulate child actors that people are tired of by the time they’re twelve. (I’m looking at you, Haley Joel Osment.)

REMEMBER: Being wise beyond your years isn’t about the years themselves; it’s about what happened during those years, and how you reflect upon that.

Indiana Jones would be proud.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you making people forget your age?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “65 Things I Wish Somebody 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, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Who’s quoting YOU?

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

www.stuffscottsaid.com.

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