Lessons Learned Wearing a Nametag for 10 Years

Scott Ginsberg is celebrating his tenth anniversary. He’s been wearing a nametag for 10 years in a row. He has never taken it off. That’s right, 10 years = three thousand, six hundred and fifty days = 87,600 hours = 5 million two hundred fifty six thousand minutes = 31 million 531 thousand seconds and counting. He’s the world record holder. He has even tattooed his nametag on his chest and is the only person in the world who has made a career out of wearing a nametag.

Scott developed the nametag profession as a way to teach people how to overcome their shyness and the awkwardness of making that first introduction. In the process, he has become the authority on how to be approachable and turn being approachable into being profitable.

And now he’s taking a crack at trying to jumpstart the whole of humanity to evolve to a whole new realm of human ability.

 “-able is the title of his newest book. In it you will find 35 strategies for increasing the probability of success in business and in life including:

  •  How to be more findable than a smile at a nudist colony
  •  How to be more referable than an attorney hopped up on sodium pentothal
  •  How to be more salable than a case of Coors Light at a Colorado Rockies tailgate party.
  •  And more advance-able, more book-able, more brand-able, more buzz-able, more callback-able, sought-after-able and unstop-able in everything you are trying to achieve in life, and much more.

Scott Ginsberg theory is this: The only thing in life that you have control over is yourself, and that you can’t make anything happen — but you can greatly increase the probability of that thing happening … by making yourself more –able.

In –able, Scott Ginsberg offers up a collection of life-learned practices for advancing things along with wit and humor and wisdom that will have your head spinning in no time flat.

Here are some examples directly from Scott’s book:

1. Ideas are free; execution is priceless. Anybody can wear a nametag. But not anyone can leverage a simple idea into a six-figure enterprise. Lesson learned: Your biggest advantage is when nobody can keep up with you. You have to be dangerously prolific. And refuse to slow down long enough for anyone to catch up. That’s how you out-execute the competition. And here’s how: First, executional velocity. Take action quickly. Second, executional volume: Take action prodigiously. Third, executional value: Take action exquisitely. Finally, executional vitality: Take action consistently. Are you an idea person or an execution person?

2. Never be stopped by not knowing how. Accept that the planets will never be aligned. Don’t wait until everything’s perfect. Don’t wait until you’re experienced enough. Don’t wait until you know what you’re doing. Don’t wait for overwhelming evidence to trust yourself. Heighten your impatience; enter into the heart of action and jump off the high board hoping there’s water below. Otherwise procrastination -– the redneck second cousin of patience –- will rob you of the motivation you need to carry in the cavalry charge. Finished is the new perfect. How will you leverage impatience as fuel for your motivation?

3. Ambition without focus is bankruptcy. How you spend your day -– literally, hour by hour -– will determine how much money you make, how happy you are, how healthy you are and how successful you become.  You almost have to force yourself to create a typical day. Otherwise you get cabin fever and your time not only manages you, it drives you insane. I’m not suggesting you choreograph every waking hour of your life. The challenge is designing a typical day for you, which enforces (some) structure and predictability, while still leaving room for spontaneity and playfulness. As long as you constantly ask yourself if what you’re doing -– in this moment -– is consistent with your No. 1 goal. Have you pictured your ideal day yet?

4. Anonymity is biggest barrier to success. I wear a nametag 24-7. I literally have zero anonymity whatsoever. I’m not suggesting you do the same. In fact, I strongly suggest you do not wear a nametag 24-7. About a fourth of the time, it’s a flat-out pain in the ass. But consider the adverse relationship between anonymity and profitability. A good start would be to throw away your marketing plan and begin writing a visibility plan. Because it’s not who you know –- it’s who knows you –- and, whose life is significantly better because they know you. How are you making people aware of you?

If you read Scott’s new book, let me know what you think.

Personality in a Deck of Cards

Everyone wants to learn about their personality style.  This is especially true with people who understand the value of networking.  But most people don’t like taking boring written quizzes and assessment.PPoker-book70

Enter “Personality Poker” – what I think is a fun and interactive way to learn about your personality.

Personality Poker is played with a specially designed deck of cards. They look like regular poker cards except they also have words printed across the faces. The words are personality descriptors like organized, analytical, empathetic and creative.

For those who know poker, Personality Poker is played like 5 card draw. Participants receive 5 random cards and swap/trade cards until they get a hand with words that best describe their personality. Based on the suits, the colors, and numbers that they end up with, the player will learn everything about their personality.

The suits represent the four main styles:

Spades. These are the analytical, data-oriented people.

Diamonds. These are the stereotypical “creative” individuals. They like ideas and experiences.

Clubs. These are the people who “plan the work and work the plan.” They’re more about structure and action. Bottom-line results are critical.

Hearts. These people are all about relationships. They make decisions based on what others think and are more empathetic and supportive.

The numbers represent the “energy styles” and provide deeper insights into the personalities.

The 2, 3 and 4 cards represent the unproductive behaviors associated with each style. For example, being “organized” is great, but being “anal retentive” may be less desirable.

The 5 – 9 cards represent the “introverted” styles. Although these individuals may prefer more solitary work, taken more broadly, introversion also includes a tendency to be more easily overwhelmed by stimuli that are deemed too intense. They prefer predictability and a low likelihood of risk.

The 10 – A cards represent the “extroverted” styles. They thrive on higher energy activities. Although they may not be as good at focusing on single tasks, they get energy from action rather than reflection and are known for their ability to motivate others to get things done.

The last dimension of Personality Poker is reflected by the colors that symbolize the two primary “thinking styles.”

Rational/Analytical. The black cards (spades/clubs) are more rational and are the ones who put the “no” in innovation. Knowledge and expertise are a cornerstone of their thinking style.

Relational/Creative. The red cards (diamonds/hearts) are more relational and are the ones who put the “fun” in dysfunctional. While employees enjoy their leadership style, the business could end up in the “red” if someone with red cards is in charge as they are not as organized or focused on the bottom line.

What is particularly fun is to “gift” cards to others. That is, find cards that describe people you work with and give them those cards. It is an interesting insight to see if you see yourself differently than others see you.

Although Personality Poker was primarily developed as a tool for driving innovation in corporations, people enjoy finding out about themselves in a fun and interactive way. You may never look at yourself–or your co-workers–the same way!

Click here to find out more about the book.

For those of you who read the book and play the game, please come back and leave a comment letting me know what you think about it!

Taking Charge

The best word-of-mouth programs I’ve seen happen by design, not by accident or wishful thinking. Unfortunately, many businesspeople view word of mouth somewhat like the weather: “Sure it’s important, but what can I do about it?”

Based on more than two decades of research, observation, and practical experience, I’ve found that in addition to focusing on the important issue of customer service, the average businessperson has much to do in order to build a referral business.  Word of mouth can be planned and nurtured.  Anyone, including business owners, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, staff employees, even individuals serving in a volunteer capacity in any field, can accomplish plenty with a well-structured and systematically executed word-of-mouth plan.

All too often I have seen businesspeople waiting for business to walk through the door. They think because they are good at what they do, people should be flocking to them.  I’m afraid the truth is, it doesn’t work that way!  You have to take charge, no matter what business you’re in or how good you are, and bring the business to you.

I once saw a cartoon strip of two large, ravenous-looking vultures perched on a tree limb, overlooking a dry desert plain.  After quite a while, one vulture turns to the other and says, “Wait for something to die?  Heck, let’s kill something!”  So it is with word-of-mouth marketing.  You can’t simply wait for people to come to you.  If you do, one of your competitors who also provides good customer service will most likely find them before they show up at your doorstep.

If you want to succeed, you have to go get your business, or better yet, have someone else get it for you through referrals.

The Importance of Knowing Your Products and Services

When your referral marketing plan is working well, prospective customers buy from you the first time because they have been referred by your sources. They may continue to buy from you because they trust you and develop a good relationship with you.  But whatever the reasons they come and whatever the reasons they stay, they are your customers primarily because they need your products and services.

A clear idea of your range of products and services is something your sources need to communicate to prospects. For each product or service you plan to market during your referral marketing campaign, you must be able to articulate for your sources the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your product or service?–What needs does it satisfy?
  • How would you describe it?–What are its shape, size, functions, key features, principal activities, benefits?
  • How is your product or service delivered to the customer?
  • How much does it cost and under what conditions?

There are other questions concerning your products or services that you should answer for your own strategic purposes. Is your product becoming obsolete?  Is there a newer or better way to provide the same service?  What are the social and environmental effects of your product or service?  Will economic or regulatory trends force you to change your products or services or the conditions under which you provide them?  In the long term, will you be satisfied to continue to offer these products or services?

Knowing the answers to the questions above will help you clearly communicate your products and/or services to your referral sources.  This is extremely important because only when you’re able to do this will your referral sources be able to effectively refer business to you.

Global Entrepreneurship Week

More than 1,300 U.S. organizations in all 50 states -– including top universities, nonprofit organizations, successful entrepreneurs, government agencies and corporate sponsors -– are collaborating to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2010, Nov. 15 to 21. Globally, there are expected to be more than 20,000 partners.

The week will bring together aspiring and inspiring entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries around the world, helping them embrace originality, imagination and ingenuity through local, national and global activities. Co-founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the world’s largest foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship, and Enterprise UK, a business-led, government-backed campaign in the United Kingdom, Global Entrepreneurship Week helps current and would-be entrepreneurs gain knowledge, skills and networks to inspire and enable them to grow sustainable enterprises.

“Global Entrepreneurship Week has become a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurship, with an expected 10 million people participating this year, thanks to these partners,” said Carl Schramm, president and chief executive officer of the Kauffman Foundation. “The organizations participating in GEW are responsible for transforming lives by sparking entrepreneurship among people of all ages and from all walks of life.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week events are diverse and creative, including virtual and face-to-face activities, large-scale competitions and intimate networking gatherings. A list of activities can be found on the interactive activities calendar on this website –- www.gewusa.org/event-central — where visitors can search by keyword or location.

Every U.S. state is participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week in some way. The most active states are: California (106 partners); Michigan (100 partners); Pennsylvania (63 partners); Massachusetts (53 partners); New York (53 partners); Texas (52 partners); Florida (46 partners); Tennessee (46 partners); Missouri (44 partners); Ohio (43 partners).

Two prime examples of partner-driven events are:

Movers and Changers, a nationwide business plan competition run by mtvU and NYSE Euronext to uncover creative capitalists who will launch profitable and sustainable ventures that also provide something positive to a community, the country or the world. Finalists will give their business pitches to a panel of judges, with $25,000 in startup funds awarded to the top idea.

  • The 7th Annual Creativity World Forum, run by Oklahoma Creative Frontiers, brings together entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and policymakers from around the globe to listen to inspiring speakers, exchange ideas and experiences, and, of course, network. This year will feature an extraordinary lineup of more than 65 speakers and presenters, including some of the world’s most respected thinkers on creativity.

Organizations supporting Global Entrepreneurship Week/USA include DECA, JA Worldwide, The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), National 4-H Council, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization SM (CEO) and National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

For more information on plans for the week throughout the United States, visit www.gewusa.org. To view a complete list of participating countries and organizations, or to learn more about what is happening around the world during the week, visit www.unleashingideas.org. Click here to view a video on Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010.

What Is Your Company’s Competitive Position?

To find out how you stack up against your competition, take a little time to analyze your competitive status. This exercise will help you understand and emphasize your unique selling position.  How do you differ, and how can you position yourself for the best competitive advantage?

There’s no single formula for conducting a competitive analysis; it’s mostly just good business sense.  Try to stay aware of what your competition is doing and how your business stacks up against it.  For example:

  • Are your prices and costs competitive? — Do customers who compare costs come back to you?
  • Do you compete effectively in terms of product or service quality?
  • Are you seen as the vendor of choice? — Why do people seek you out?
  • Are you growing, losing ground or just holding onto your market share? — Are you waiting to see what will happen and hoping to react in time?

Staying competitive also implies being aware of trends and reacting to changes faster than your competitors. How will changes in technology and society affect the competition? Are your products or services more advanced than those of your competition? Do your competitors have the jump on you with online marketing/social media?

Understanding the driving forces in your industry — growth rates, shifts in buyer demographics, product and marketing innovations, the entry or exit of other competitors, changes in cost or efficiency and so forth — will make you a top competitor.

I highly encourage you to take some time this week to sit down and ask yourself the questions listed above. Once you’ve done this, come back and leave a comment explaining what you learned about your company’s competitive position.

Do You Know Your Mission?

You may think you know why you’re in business, but perhaps it’s been years since you gave it serious thought. There’s no better time than now to re-examine why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my business mission? — Beyond simply making a living, what are my long-range professional goals? Do I wish to become the standard by which my competitors are judged? Is it my dream to help make the world a better place?
  • Where is my organization going? — Am I achieving my mission? Am I making plans to accomplish it? How can I change policies, procedures or personnel to improve my chances of achieving my mission?
  • What environment is my organization operating in? — What are the social, economic and technological trends that affect the way I do business and my progress toward my goals?
  • What are my core competencies? — What do I like to do? What is it that I do better than my competitors? Is my business mission compatible with my values and aptitudes?

I’ve seen too many business professionals and companies make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Starting out with the fundamentally sound goal of finding a niche that will make them successful, they go astray by changing direction every time a customer or associate suggests a new product or service. The mission gets lost in a frantic scramble for business before the original idea ever gets a chance to pay off.

So, even if you think you know your mission, it will serve you well to pause periodically, analyze your business and, if necessary, refocus on your mission and philosophy.

Finding Your Starting Point

If you have little or no experience with referral marketing, it would be a mistake to jump into action without preparing yourself. Central to the referral-marketing process is getting people to send you referrals. To do so, they must know exactly what you do — what product or service you provide or make, how and under what conditions you provide it, how well you do it and in what ways you are better at what you do than your competitors. You have to communicate this information to your sources. And to communicate effectively, you must know the same things.

It may seem a no-brainer; don’t we all know what we do for a living? Yes, of course, most of us do. But can you communicate it clearly and simply to your potential sources? When you try to do so, you may find that you’re not quite as clear on the facts as you thought. And if you can’t tell your potential sources what you do or what you sell, how can they send you good referrals?

Before you map out where you’re going to take your business with your referral-marketing campaign, pause and get a clear picture of where your business stands today. Try to answer, in simple terms, the following questions:

  • Why are you in business?
  • What do you sell?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How well do you compete?

Answering these questions for yourself will help you tell others what your business is about. This will make you more effective at implementing your comprehensive and systematic referral system.

What’s the Payoff for Developing an Effective Word-of-Mouth Strategy?

Developing an effective word-of-mouth strategy that results in a strong referral-based business takes endless time, energy, effort and, above all, commitment. The actions and steps necessary to create a successful referral-networking campaign are simple, yet far from easy; they take tremendous dedication and drive, and results can be a long time in coming.

So why should you put forth the time and effort to develop a word-of-mouth strategy for your business?  Because, if you commit to doing it right and don’t give up, the payoff can be unbelievably high.

In fact, many businesses have become so adept at referral marketing that they get most of their sales through referrals and spend little or no money on advertising — and they never have to place cold calls. Some of these businesses hire most of their employees through referrals, manage complex financing arrangements and even procure necessary products through referral contacts they have cultivated for many years.

But a referral-based business can reward you in ways beyond those measured in dollars. Dealing with people you like and trust is a better way to live and work than sparring with strangers all day long. You may even find the relationships you form with your referral sources more important than the dollars your new customers bring you. Such relationships are central to both the referral-generation process and the satisfaction you derive from your work.

So, the next time you find yourself doubting whether your networking efforts are really worth it, remember: If you don’t give up, and you continually devote yourself to working on making your word-of-mouth strategy better and better, the payoff can be enormous both financially and in terms of happiness in business and life.

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