Nametag Scott Ginsberg on Intrepid Radio!

Scott Ginsberg

Gosh, I cannot remember exactly when I first stumbled onto Scott Ginsberg’s blog, Hello My Name is Scott, but I’ve been a fan of his writing and style ever since…

You might know him as the Name Tag guy, the fellow who, as of this writing, has worn a name tag for 3,949 straight days…

We talk about why he does that on the show…

Scott is an entertaining fellow, and smart as heck. We talk about the power of personal branding and how to create unique personal brand, and Scott shares his best advice for entrepreneurs.

Sanity is highly overrated. | Scott Ginsberg

We also talk about creativity, and how “volume” and “being pervasive” are what matters in publishing and generating content. Scott shares his strategy behind how he comes up with the ideas for all his content.

You should check out his brandtag identity collages, which he talks about on the show…

Check out Scott’s latest book (affiliate link):

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Colin Wright on Intrepid TV!

Serial entrepreneur, minimalist, world traveler, author and publisher Colin Wright joins me on this special edition of Intrepid Radio, the first edition of IntrepidTV. Colin blogs out of Exile Lifestyle, and recently published his latest book, My Exile Lifestyle.

Colin Wright

On today’s episode, Colin and I discussed his latest book; the lessons he learned from publishing this book and from running his publishing house, eBookling; minimalism and how most people have the wrong impression of it; the simple step one has to take to build a life, and a brand, worth talking about; and we discussed the thrill of his world travel adventures, and where he is going to next.

You can purchase Colin’s latest book here (affiliate link):

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Do You “Feel Like Home?” Why That Isn’t A Good Thing For You Or Your Brand

Within the past year, I moved across town. After I moved, my new environs felt strange, different and uncomfortable. Which, to be honest, was just what my life needed at the time – a jolt to get me out of my rut.

But with time, my new community now feels like home. Comfortable and familiar.

I needed both feelings exactly when I needed them. It worked for me. This new place, which once felt foreign, now feels like home. You know the feeling I am talking about…

But how do these feelings of “being like home” impact your brand? Thinking on it, I think “feeling like home” is bad if you are an entrepreneur, business owner and brand.

I cannot remember where I heard or read it, and I am sorry that I cannot give proper credit, but someone recently said that when you are comfortable, you aren’t pushing yourself. You aren’t innovating. And you aren’t learning.

And when you are running a business and trying to serve customers, this is a very dangerous place to be.

Honestly, you should always be uncomfortable when in business. You should never be satisfied. And if you are striving to be comfortable, two things will result:

Boredom. And failure.

And by failure, I don’t necessarily mean going out of business. But becoming ordinary. Irrelevant. Boring. Just one of many on the shelf.

The more you’re able to tolerate ambiguity and lean into the unknown, the more likely you’ll be to dance with it long enough to come up with better solutions, ideas and creations. | Jonathan Fields

Ask the recording industry, or bricks and mortar book stores, if they wished they hadn’t remained comfortable.

No, honestly, many businesses make good profits when they “feel like home” to their new customers. “Ah, a great new product that works for me,” you think to yourself. And you become loyal to that new brand, for a while anyway. And it is probably good to make your customers feel like they’re home.

But you know what happens.

Over time, as a long-time user of a product or service, you get that itch. There’s a new thing. There’s a new idea. There’s a new way. And you almost can’t help yourself in being curious to check it out. Just because it is fresh.

I think that’s human nature. And I think it’s natural.

So, as a business person, you HAVE TO ACCOUNT for this phenomenon, and make it a part of your long-term strategy. You have to expect – and prepare – for it.

Never be comfortable. Never settle. Always learn more. Always seek to question basic assumptions. Always ask your customer how to improve, how to do better, how to remain meaningful.

Because not only is effecting change important to keeping things fresh for your customers, quite honestly, they can invigorate you too.

How many businesses and brands are negatively impacted by the owner who has lost interest, lost the passion, and frankly, no longer cares?

No, the lesson in my life? I will never allow myself to remain comfortable again. I won’t wait to make changes, adjustments that will keep me thinking and innovating. I admit that I used to seek being comfortable. But looking back, most of life hasn’t been. And for the most part, that’s been ok. I’ve learned a lot, and achieved a lot.

Now I accept it as my full-time paradigm. And I think healthy brands should seek that out too…

What do you think?

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[pic by jasonwhat]

Carol Roth On Intrepid Radio!

Carol Roth

Are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Are you wearing business beer goggles? If so, then you need to spend some time with Carol Roth and this interview.

Carol is the New York Times best-selling author of The Entrepreneur Equation, blogger, and successful business advisor. And most importantly, she ain’t afraid to tell you if you have spinach in your teeth (you’ll see what I mean in the interview)…

On the show, Carol explained why she wrote this book, despite the thousands of books already on the market for entrepreneurs. She explains how to stack the odds for success in your favor, she cites two important questions to ask yourself before becoming an entrepreneur, important traits she has seen in successful entrepreneurs, how we can all use Oprah for entrepreneurial inspiration, and of course, she discusses her “spinach in your teeth” philosophy.

Finally, by listening to the show, find out and see if I am lucky enough to score a Carol Roth Action Figure, as seen on the right.

You can purchase the book here (affiliate link):

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50 Things All Entrepreneurs Need

1. Patience.

2. Belief in transparency.

3. Thick skin.

4. Cash flow.

5. No fear.

6. Preparation for success.

7. Preparation for failure.

8. The next idea.

9. The desire to kill complacency dead. dead. dead.

10. Speed.

11. Love of people.

12. Love of conversation.

13. Love of workshifting.

14. Did I say cash flow?

15. Willingness to adapt.

16. Willingness to evolve.

17. Willingness to ask for help.

18. Willingness to say “I have no frickin’ idea…”

19. Willingness to listen.

20. Willingness to research. A lot.

21. Appreciation of others.

22. Appreciation of learning.

23. Love of reading.

24. Willingness to serve their competition.

25. Willingness to learn from their competition.

26. Ability to say they were wrong.

27. Friends.

28. And yes, enemies.

29. A business plan…

30. …that they are willing to change.

31. A marketing plan…

32. …that they are willing to change.

33. Hatred of meetings.

34. Hatred of conference calls.

35. Hatred of fine tuners (people who delay shipping).

36. Love of freedom. And no structure…

37. No set working hours. 9 to 5? What is that?

38. Love of networking (well, the right kind of networking…).

39. Always looking to improve the customer experience.

40. Always asking why.

41. Always looking to make improvements. Never settling.

42. Craves feedback.

43. Acts on feedback.

44. Keeps things simple…

45. …but keeps eyes open for new ways to grow and improve.

46. Good communication skills.

47. Good storyteller.

48. Willingness to refer clients/customers to a better solution.

49. More patience.

50. And yes, cash flow.

So…what did I miss? Are there any you agree…or disagree with?

[cartoon by @gapingvoid - as suggested by @StephanieALloyd]

Please Wait Five Minutes To Read This Amazing Post

We spend a lot of time waiting.

Waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting on hold for customer service, waiting for a client to call back, waiting for a vendor to call back, waiting for some piece of information to help make a more informed decision, waiting for the new book you purchased to ship, etc…

I’ve thought about keeping a stopwatch on me for an entire week and just track the time I spend waiting. But I haven’t, because I suspect it would depress me…

[in fact, if you want to do this exercise at home, here is a tool you can use!]

What is this time spent waiting costing you? Are you missing business opportunities by waiting? Are you missing personal enrichment opportunities by waiting? But enough about you.

What are your customers thinking as they wait on you or your business?

Here some things to think about:

1. Think about and itemize all points your customers must wait for you when interacting with your business. The list may be longer than you think…

2. Are there things you can do to lesson these wait times?

3. What is causing your customer to wait? Not enough staff? Not living up to promises?

4. Is there something productive you can do with that time to ease their wait pain? [I am not suggesting upselling...]

5. Is a wait time necessary? And thus, do you need to educate and communicate better? They say you can train behavior in your customers…

Yikes, me too. Lots of things I need to work on myself.

Personally, I think communication is the most important ally in helping you fight this problem. I’ve written about this before, but I think Tom Peters said most people can deal with a two-hour flight delay, IF the airline makes a conscious effort to keep us continually informed about what is going on…

Here are things to think about – as a business person – to reduce this wait burden on your customers:

1. Well, obviously, improve your communication. Letting people know what is going on is half the battle.

2. You could hire a company to analyze your workforce operation, and optimize your workforce to better manage customer interaction [think having enough customer service agents at a call center, so customers don't have to wait 30 minutes for support]. GMT Corporation, a guest on this week’s High Velocity Radio Show, does this…

3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. This is a big flaw of many entrepreneurs. Me included. And I am aggressively working to solve my project management issues where this is concerned. This isn’t intentional, this is just me (and others) not wanting to turn anyone away…

4. Say NO. Sometimes you just don’t have the time or capacity to take on another project. You are better off saying NO, instead of saying YES and making existing customers wait longer as a result…

Not long ago, I waited for eight hours in an emergency room. It was painful. I sincerely don’t expect an ER visit to last 30 minutes. But, there were certainly opportunities to improve that experience.

I felt like my time wasn’t respected. That was, at least, my perception. And perception here, is important. Be sure your customers aren’t feeling that you do NOT respect their time…

Reducing wait times for your customers – OR AT LEAST communicating clearly and honestly while they wait – will go a LONG ways towards improving your customer’s experience…

What do you think? I will wait for your answer…

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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

“Do Over!”

Recently, a guy I know just about lost everything…

Everything he’d been building towards, bold plans that had dictated and dominated all his thinking and brainpower for months and months, the hours each day he had invested in developing his dreams and plans, intricate ventures that were going to ultimately become the main revenue generators for his family, and even plans to expand his family…

Gone…

Poof…

Just like that…

I am saying everything I can to help this guy through this difficult time. I keep telling him that things will work out, everything happens for a reason, don’t look at all that investment of time and passion as a waste…there is some lesson to be learned…

Sometimes I think he understands and is beginning to get a handle on things. Other times I think he wants to tell me to go take a flying leap off……

In any event, this episode got me thinking. This scenario happens every day in business. Especially to entrepreneurs like me who are out there, putting everything they’ve got on the line…

And situations, similar to what I described above, happen…

1. You lose your biggest customer.

2. The product you’ve been developing for months/years flops.

3. The VC capital you were counting on doesn’t come through.

4. There is a medical tragedy in your family which changes everything.

5. A critical business partner opts to leave the venture.

6. The economy has unforeseen impacts on your business…

….or any other number of possible situations that change everything.

But what to do then? Well, I remember playing as kids and someone would inevitably mess up a game we were playing, we’d all yell “Do Over!” And we would just reset, and start again…

That’s what you have to do. You have to realize that life deals nasty cards every now and again, and you just have to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. Here is some advice that I would give someone in this situation:

1. Take action. Don’t sit around and sulk. Clean up your wounds, and get moving. Action will be progress, and that will make you feel better.

2. Remember what you want to do. Keep your primary goal in life in clear focus. Don’t ever stray from your life goal, from what makes you happy.

3. Remember what you are good at, and what you enjoy. Build a life around that…

4. Learn your lessons. We had a guest recently on the High Velocity Radio Show who indicated that she NEVER had any business or career failures…but she sure had a lot of “lessons…”

5. Keep your eyes on the goal, the end point. Don’t get distracted by clutter. My favorite quote goes something like “obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal…”

6. You have a clean slate, if you will. A chance to rebuild and make things better. Take advantage… This is simply a life “Do Over!”

What other advice would you offer? Please share!

[cartoon by @gapingvoid]
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Minimalist Marketing: The Art Of Simple Storytelling

3143845327_9cb72f57ea_bPeople love a good story. Stories teach. Stories draw people in. Good stories make you stick around to see how it ends. More importantly, good stories are remembered. And MOST importantly, good stories are retold…

And yet, so many entrepreneurs fail to market themselves effectively with storytelling. Why do they fail at this? I happen to have a theory.

[And I am not talking about those who DO NOT use storytelling in their marketing.]

My theory is they are too exhausted from trying to tell too many stories. All at once. See, they are reaching for too broad a market, casting too large a net. And in the end, they will confuse the market – and exhaust themselves – and do a poor job targeting – and reaching – their core target audience.

A minimalist strips away all the clutter and excess, enabling them self to focus only on what matters most. As marketers, we need to apply the same principle to our message.

If we are telling too many stories, the message will be lost. Those we are fortunate enough to have listening to us will be confused.

This process is simple:

1. Identify your MAIN target market.
2. Determine the ONE message that will move that market to action.
3. Deliver your message – your story – to that market, free of clutter and distraction.

Simple.

What do you think?

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[The original post on Minimalist Marketing that inspired this series]
[photo by _marmota on flickr]

Solid As A…Static Rock?

Usually, something that is solid, that doesn’t move, that is unchanging, immobile, etc…is something we rely on, something that can be counted on, something that seems like a steady foundation. Almost comforting, if you will.

But not in the modern world of marketing. When it comes to your web presence, you don’t want to be described as unchanging or immobile. Your web presence needs to be…ENGAGING.

That’s what intrepid marketers do. [More text below video]

[In the video below, I discuss the value of an engaging web presence:]
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek9hJljaWQ0]

Here are a few tactical ideas you can use to provide an engaging web presence:

1. Incorporate a blog into your site.
2. Allow comments on your blog.
3. Respond and engage people when they comment.
4. Provide forums to facilitate conversation.
5. Invite guest contributors.
6. Connect people to your social web tools, like Twitter.
7. Utilize surveys tools.
8. Solicit questions from your audience…
9. …and be sure to answer them!
10. Make it easy to share your content.
11. Invite people to join your e-newsletter.
12. Use an Instant Messenger plug in to invite conversation. Hold regular hours.
13. Provide content with various mediums, such as video and audio.

The items listed above are not new. They are not rocket science. In fact, I suppose when you reviewed the list, you probably said something along the lines of “no kidding.”

Yet I continue to be amazed how many entrepreneurs have chosen not to incorporate these simple tactical options into their web presence.

But that said, it is what you do with these ideas that matter. Here are a few reasons why having an engaging presence matters:

1. Strengthens your brand.
2. Allows relationships to develop. This is where the sales come from.
3. Simplifies process of testing – and getting feedback on – new ideas.
4. Does a better job educating people about you and your business.
5. Makes it easier to teach and help and serve others.
6. Allows for better story telling.
7. Not to mention provides fresh and unique content – updated regularly – that keeps people coming back for more.
8. Oh, and added Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strength.

At the end of the day, it is the safe and easy path to build a static website – one that is solid, reliable, and unchanging. But dare I say it is lazy? And boring? Static sites just don’t cut it any more in this fast-paced, conversational, and engaging world we now live in.

What do you think?

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Minimalist Marketing: A Good Lead For Me Is The Planet Earth…

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Have you ever attended a networking session, and encountered this scenario? Say a mechanic gets up to speak, and he says “A good lead for me today is anyone you know who owns a car or truck.”

What the?

Hearing this is like nails on a chalkboard for me. I have a feeling this guy is thinking this is good for him, in that he is casting a wide net to catch ALL fish.

But sadly, this is a sign of a completely LAZY marketer. Someone taking the easy way out. And my guess is his business is struggling. I mean, seriously. What does he think I am going to do, give him my entire rolodex?

In fact, this mechanic is doing the exact opposite of what he should do to grow his business, and find MORE customers. He needs to do what will feel quite counter-intuitive to him – laser focus on one specific niche.

What happens when you cast too wide a net? You find very few clients.  And what happens then? You take on TOO MANY of the wrong clients. And then you are overwhelmed with too much “bad” work, and probably for too small a fee.

Either way, applying some minimalist principles to your targeting process will pay big dividends to your marketing program.

Focus on ONE type of prospect. Just one. In the case of the mechanic? Don’t narrow your focus to Fords. Narrow your focus to Ford pick-ups.

[This doesn't mean the mechanic can't help fix a Chevy should it pull into the garage - it just means his marketing focus should be on Ford pick-ups...ONLY.]

But this only works under two conditions:

One, that you become the best in the market at fixing Ford pick-ups. You should become known as the go-to guy in the event anyone’s Ford pick-up needs servicing. I mean it…the best in your market.

And two, you are going to have to adjust your marketing program to target owners of Ford pick-ups. This is easier than casting a large net, I promise. But it does require some creative thinking, some strategy, and a sustained effort over time to reach out and build real relationships with owners of Ford pick-ups.

The other minimalist impact on your marketing as a result of narrowing your focus? You then also simplify your marketing message. What you say to Ford pick-up owners is different than if you had to speak to ALL car and truck owners. [And if you don't understand this concept...call me. We need to talk.] But if you are targeting too many people, you probably have too many marketing messages. As a result, your message is muddled, and your marketing suffers…

Narrowing your focus to a specific niche simplifies your marketing, and makes it less complicated. Selling is hard enough. Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.

What do you think?

[See the original post that inspired the Minimalist Marketing series]
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