You don’t have to invent it, you just have to redefine it

Einstein didn’t invent relativity, but he did create a new way of seeing information that was already available to everybody else. 

Darwin didn’t invent natural selection, but he did build a conceptual framework in which natural selection made sense. 

Newton didn’t invent gravity, but he did give a name to something that was already there, and that label helped people understand it. 

Gates didn’t invent the computer, but he did build a better operating system so that more people could easily use computers. 

That’s the good news about innovation. We don’t have to invent something new. Sometimes we simply have to notice, name, redefine, make use of, adapt ourselves to, associate ourselves with, pioneer in, and become the unquestionably committed fanatic of, some universal law or an idea that already exists. 

Godin outlined this phenomenon on his popular marketing blog, citing my nametag experiment as a search engine optimization case study:

With determination and patience, you will certainly win. But it requires inventing a trademark and then building a business or service or organization around this trademark that people actually talk about. You want to be able to say to someone, just google the word blank. Ginsberg owns the term nametag scott. It’s like owning the perfect domain, via the search engine. If you want to win, make an incredible product and offer a remarkable service, but also associate a unique term or trademark with it. Something that isn’t generic, and preferably, not a crowded search term already. 

We have to remember, nametags existed long before my little experiment went viral. Seinfeld even did an episode about it. 

But the difference is, nobody stuck to nametags like me. Nobody published more books about nametags than me. Nobody gave themselves more permission to pioneer in the obscurity of nametags like me. 

That’s why that word is mine. Forever. 


What word do you own? 

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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