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Smart Man Online: Scott Ginsberg - That NameTag Guy!

At last, I'm back on track with the Smart Woman Online and Smart Man Online series of interviews. Today's interview will blow you away! How can I say that? Like this, "Today's interview will blow you away!" Is that better?

I'm feeling frisky...because Scott, my interviewee, is one dynamite guy who has that effect on people. For those not in the know, Scott is world-famous - as That Guy with the NameTag. Scott wears a nametag all day, every day. Yep, 24/7. Even in the shower. Stay tuned for a pic!

I was fortunate enough to meet Scott at last week's WOMBAT, in FL. You'll hear a lot more about the conference in days to come, because I just have a lot more to say about it.

ONE of the best parts was the keynote from Scott, during lunch on the first day. Scott spoke on approachability. Read on for a lively discussion of how to get womma working for you, the Scott Ginsberg way:

Yvonne: One of the first things I noticed about you is...your youth. At first glance, you look like a high school boy. Then, you start talking and your manner is friendly but professional. Is this 'natural' or did you take speaking lessons?

Scott: Yeah, I'm young. Not a lot of  26 year olf professional speakers/authors out there! But I always quote Indiana Jones who said, "It's not the years - it's the mileage." And while a certain amount of any speaker's gift to talk in front of an audience is natural, we all gotta rehearse and practice. And those are two different things, too. For example, I never took lessons, but I did go to Toastmasters for a while. That was practice.

And for the first few years, I also used to speak for free around town to local groups A LOT. That was also practice. But for the WOMMA speech, I spoke for 35 minutes in front of 500 people. And I probably went through that speech a total of 20 hours that week to prepare. That's REHEARSAL.

Yvonne: I'm often referred to as 'The Dickless Marketing Lady'...or, 'the blog lady'...which is fun. Do you ever get tired of being referred to as 'that guy with the nametag'?

Scott: Nope. Although, in the first few years as a college student, it got a bit annoying. Especially with the irony that my name was RIGHT THERE, and some people - even my friends -  called me "tag" or "nametag" or "nametag guy." But honestly, I am damn proud to be "that guy with the nametag."

It's a symbol of my values, passion, business and the validation for my existence. Plus chicks dig it. [I assume by 'chicks' Scott means YOUNG LADIES...unless, by some strange chance he'd include an aging grandma like myself in that category! Wow, would that be cool or what?]

Yvonne: One of the things you talked about at WOMMA is approachability ...gosh, I think that's the topic of your latest book, right? Give my readers 3 hints on how to be approachable. Can you also include your thoughts on WHYit's more important than ever to be approachable, in today's hide-behind the computer digital-society?

Scott: Ok. I'll do four: two personal and two professional, since approachability applies to those two areas. 

1) When people ask you how you're doing, don't ever say "FINE."  FINE is an acronym for "feelings I'm not expressing." It's habitual and an emotional smokescreen that doesn't show personal availability.  Just TRY telling customers how you REALLY feel, then they will appreciate your openness and honesty and feel comfortable reciprocating. 

2) Smile when you get introduced to someone, answer the phone and say goodbye to someone, both in person and on the phone. Sounds dumb, but common sense isn't always common practice. :-)

1) You've got to own a word. Make sure that every person you meet says, "After talking to him, I'll never think about (your word) the same way again." Because once you own a word in someone's mind, you become the go to guy, expert, etc.  It's a marketing must - find that one word that you deserve to own. If you're not sure which word you own, Google your name and see what comes up.  Hopefully it's not "jerk." [hey, that worked for Steve Martin!]

2) Do something cool. Make sure that when you tell people about your company, products and ideas, they say, "cool." When people get your business card or come to your website, be sure they say "cool." Cool is valuable because customers remember, love and spread the word about products, ideas and companies who are cool. Read the 100 Coolest Companies online - great article, it should motivate your melon a bit.

Because people want to do busines with their friends. Because isolated it out. Because the only profitable airline is the only approachable airline (SW). Because technology is working against us and approachability will save us.

And because I said so ;)  [that's good enough for me]

Yvonne: You and I chatted the other day, and we got on the subject of publishing. I was so excited to hear that you're a self-published author, using print-on-demand. Why did you choose to go that route? Who thought up the name of your company, Front Porch Productions? Do you have a front porch on your house? [disclosure: the following reply is completely unsolicited except for the question here; Scott is not a client. His advice is straight from the heart. And, I heartily agree with it.]

Scott: If you don't self publish, here's what happens. You have to write a book PROPOSAL (not a book) and sell it to an agent, who probably won't like it. If the agent does, she'll have to sell it to a publisher, who probably won't like it either. If the publisher does, they'll pay you a teeny tiny bit of
money so you can rewrite the book to fit their mold and compromise your intergrity, because publishers only care what sells, not what's good.  Ultimately, however, if it doesn't sell, they yank 'em off the shelves and nobody will care about your book anymore. And this whole process takes 2-3 years.  Keep in mind, none of what I just said applies if you are a) on The Apprentice, or b) named Oprah Winfrey.

My opinion: do it yourself. You can! And I promise you, it's the hardest thing you'll ever do in your life. BUT, with POD and self publishing: you write what you want, finish the book in under 1 year and get all the money.  Plus, a big publisher would have you do all the marketing anyway, so that doesn't change. Even Jack Canfield once claimed, "I should have self published the whole time." Plus, when you smell that first book coming out of the box of your first run, you'll cry.  God damn it's beautiful. 
So I guess my theory is, "If I've written two books at the age of 25, it can't be that hard."

Yvonne: So, what do you want to be when you grow up? Or, like so many of your gender (she says with a smile), do you just plan on never growing up? (I expect you'll continue writing and speaking and inspiring others to be friendly, but...is there a burning desire to climb mountains, or sail the seven seas, or run a real estate conglomerate? )

Scott: When I was seven years old I wanted to be an author. Not a writer, but an author. As in, 'guy who writes books.' Why I chose that career, I'm not sure. Maybe I liked writing. Maybe I thought books were cool. Or maybe it was just the first answer I could come up with. The truth is, I never really gave it much thought. That is, not until one random day about 6 months ago when I was giving a speech to a group of 7th graders. I started telling these kids about the two books I'd written when it hit me like a ton of books. Yes, books - not bricks.

Oh my God! I thought. I really AM an author! [you am!]

But I'm an author AND a speaker, so here's how the other half came about.  The following is from an audience member at the first speech I ever gave on March 19th, 2003: 

"Scott, my name is Tom Jenkins, chairman of the Portland Rotary Clubs. I just wanted to thank you for speaking to us today. We really enjoyed your talk."

"Thanks!" I said.

"But, if you don't mind me asking...what do you do?"

"Oh. Right. Well, right now I sell couches at this furniture store downtown."

Then Tom said one word that changed my life forever...


The room fell silent.

"Scott, quit your job selling furniture. You need to become a professional speaker."

So I did.  And here I am.

Oh, and by the way, I climb mountains every day.

Yvonne: You're pretty digital...with a website and a blog. Who handles your online presence?  It looks like YOU write the blog...but, be honest, do you have someone else post in it, occasionally?

Scott: Are you kidding me? I do everything. People would have to be out of the freaking minds to NOT write their OWN blog. Ghost posting and ghost writing is bullshit. Frankly, it's unappraochble.  After all, one of the 7 Areas of Approachability is "Keeping it Real." If someone else is posting for you, you need to check yourself.

Yvonne: Do you think having a blog is dangerous? So many companies I talk to put their hands up and go white when I suggest they start a blog! "Legal won't let me!" they complain. Are they being real?

Scott: Blogging is the most important thing that ever happened to the Internet since...well...The Internet.  And you think, "Didn't people from big companies get fired because they blogged?"  No.  They got fired because they blogged stupidly.  Because not everyone knows how to do it right.  Go to Seth Godin's site.  That guys keeps it real.  And everyone in the world should blog, too. Housewives, students, kids, businesspeople, senators - everyone! 

Blogs give everyone a voice, and honestly, there's some smart people out there. A lot smarter than me!  After all, business needs to be more transparent because customers don't trust anybody anymore. You wanna talk about being approachable? Give your company a blog. And if you get into legal trouble, well, then you're not blogging correctly. Read a few books on it. You'll be great. Just let it go and realize blogging is the future. 

Yvonne: What part of the WOMBAT conference was the best? Really...was it the great weather? The great attendance? The fun programs? Mickey Mouse? Since you travel a lot, and have had occasion to speak in lots of different places...you must have different 'take aways' from each. For me,
it was the people. All the people. You, the other speakers, the attendees, Andy, and the other folks mingling about. Although the event was full of buzz, I felt that everyone was pretty approachable. Do you agree? Are all your conferences like that? [note: the pic is NOT Scott in the shower...but, as you can see, if he goes in the shower, or otherwise gets naked...he still has his nametag on!]Scottginsberg_tattoo

Scott: The best part of WOMMA was the club sandwich I ate the night before my speech. It had like 14 strips of bacon!

Just kidding. The best part was Jackie Huba's presentation about creating customer evangelists. I don't need to explain it because you can just go to The Church of the Customer and find out for yourself. She's a freakin' genius.

The weather was nice, but I don't care about that. I was there to learn, meet cool people, blow my audience away and have fun. Didn't have time to tan. Most conference are a bit more stuffy, but WOMMA was super hip, fun and laid back. Not to mention, a few speakers dropped F-bombs in their talks. You gotta love that. Not all associations could handle it. WOMMA is hard core, with-it, tech savvy marketers who "get it." They're good people. I'm already emailing and calling many of them.  Like you, my dickless friend. [blush, blush...attempts a cartwheel...ouch!...quick, call the paramedics!]

Yvonne: I have to ask...since my focus is marketing to women online, do you shop online? What, if anything, worries you about shopping online?

Scott: I once bought a (supposedly XL) Def Leppard t-shirt from ebay that would only have fit me if I lost 30 pounds. So I guess you never know what you're going to get, and an online graphic that's 2 inches tall can only tell you so much about an item. I like to touch what I'm about to buy. But that's
just me.

Yvonne: Last question...what can I do to help you sell more books, or get more speaking engagements, or just meet more people? Just say the word...

Scott: Tell everyone you know that "There's this guy named Scott who wears a nametag 24-7 to make people friendlier. He's got a cool story. Go to his website, buy his 2 books and watch his video. You'll be hooked. Then get him to speak at your company so the rest of your coworkers can get hooked too. Oh, and he's got a tattoo of a nametag on his chest. Seriously. This guy is committed. Or maybe he should be committed. Either way, he's good people."


He is good people. He's better than that...he's one of the great people. We met several at WOMBAT. All I can say is that if you take Scott's advice, yes, you, too, can be approachable... and maybe even remarkable.

And, one little comment on the side...in defense of my presentation at the WOMBAT...check out this report at Psychology Today which says, "Women are always ahead of the linguistic curve." Ha! I told you so!



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