Blow Your Own Trumpet

Wednesday, 05 December 2012 16:56

The Power of Approachability - an interview with HELLO, my name is Scott, 'That Guy with the Nametag' (5 March 2006) Featured

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Introduction: Though we live in completely different continents, just by reading Scott's work and his life story, I can feel the energy just bursting from him. He's fairly young but has achieved so much in life. It is great pleasure, I introduce to you, Scott Ginsberg, the guy who wears a nametag, all the time...

Aneeta: Scott, I thank you for participating in this interview. Before we get into all that you do, tell me a little about you. Where did you grow up? Where do you live and you family?

Scott: I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri (USA). I attended college at Miami University in Ohio, after which I moved to Portland, Oregon because 1) I’d never been there before, 2) Didn’t have a job, and 3) Didn’t know anybody. After a year or so, I moved back to St. Louis where I now live. I’m single and have no children that I know of.

Aneeta: Now, the most striking thing about you is this: I understand that you’re the only person in the world who wears a nametag 24-7-365. Although this brings a smile to my face as I read it, I have to admit, of all the people I’ve met on the net, your name stays in my mind precisely because of this connection. Is it this kind of reaction you were trying to get at when you first started in this business? What were your aims? Why did you do this?

Scott: Thanks! I’m honoured to be “stuck in your mind.”

My initial goal on November 2nd, 2000 was the same as it is today in 2006: to wear a nametag 24-7 to encourage friendliness and approachability. Not to get everyone to wear nametags. Not to become popular. Not to make sure everyone knew my name. But to increase the probability of more encounters with new people that would have otherwise not existed; because people become richer as a result.

I never had any intentions of writing books, publishing articles and becoming a professional speaker. It just sort of happened. Or maybe it evolved. Either way, people first said, “Scott, you should write a book about this.” Which is interesting because, when I was 7 years old, I actually DID say I wanted to be an author someday. Kind of cool, huh?

So, when the book came out, I did lots of interviews on CNN, USA Today, etc., and companies then began to ask me to speak to at their meetings on my experiences. After I gave my first speech on March 19th, 2003, some guy in the audience said, “Scott, you need to quit your day job and become a professional speaker!”


So I made some major life changes, started my company, and began a journey to combine my experiences, experiments, research and expertise into valuable information (speeches, books, cds, articles, etc.) that would help people and companies MAXIMIZE approachability – one conversation at a time.

Aneeta: It is stated on your site that you’re featured on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Tell me a little more about this, please.

Scott: In the middle of dinner one night, an old friend from high school stopped by my table to say hello. After we caught up for a few minutes Adam said, “You know Scott, I was just reading about you the other day.”

“Really?” I said. “What were you reading?”

“Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.”

“What?! Ripley’s? Get the hell outta here!”

“Oh yeah, it’s in there. I just bought it. You should go check it out.”

Less than three minutes later, I found myself in the new releases section of my local Borders. I grabbed the latest edition of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not called Planet Eccentric. Then I flipped to the index under the letter “G.”

And that’s when I saw it:

Ginsberg, Scott, 23


I voraciously turned the pages to the “Off The Wall” section. And on the left-hand side was a small paragraph which read:


* * *

Sense of Identity
Scott Ginsberg, of St. Louis has worn a nametag every day since November 2, 2000, just to find out what would happen. He now works with people who want to become more approachable – and says that wearing nametags is a great start.

< center>* * *

Now, here’s the funny part: I’ve applied and been rejected by Guinness Book TWICE. Meanwhile, Ripley’s never called me; I never went through the submission process – I knew nothing about this!

Still, I think the funniest part about this whole thing is the entry right next to mine. It’s a picture of a guy named Leo Kongee of Pittsburgh who is know as “The Painless Wonder” because he can drive as many as 60 nails into his nose without feeling any discomfort.

In which case, I think it’s safe to say: I’ve arrived.


Aneeta: Yes, sounds like you have arrived. You’ve got this philosophy called ‘The Approachability Philosophy’. Please explain it.

Scott: Sure. When I started the nametag thing, I knew there was something bigger at stake. And when I realized it was really all about “approachability,” I spent the next few years researching it academically, in addition to my 24-7 “field research”. I examined over 300,000 articles, resources, books, case studies, journals and other resources to discover what the word meant. And here’s what I came up with:


Approachability is…a two way street

  • Which derives from the Latin verb apropriare or “to come nearer to”
  • Which means it’s proactive AND reactive
  • Which means it’s about stepping onto someone’s front porch
  • Which means it’s also about welcoming someone onto your front porch

Approachability is…characterized by seven areas

  • Building Social Capital: your willingness to develop new relationships
  • What You Say: dynamics of conversation
  • What You Don’t Say: non-verbal behaviors
  • Keeping It Real: authentic personality
  • Drop Me A Line: how easily you can be reached
  • PHYSICAL Availability: openness of personal space
  • PERSONAL Availability: openness of mind and heart

Approachability is…how you magnetize people

  • It creates OPPORTUNITIES to develop mutually valuable relationships
  • It gives PERMISSION to create unforgettable encounters
  • It produces CONFIDENCE to approach and BE approached
  • It creates COMFORT between you and each person with whom you interact
  • It establishes TRUST to keep people coming back

Approachability is… both personal and professional

  • It’s not just between two people, it’s between customers and companies
  • It’s about being that guy
  • It’s about owning a word
  • It’s about doing something cool
  • It’s about being unforgettable
  • It’s about telling your story
  • It’s about being the world’s expert on yourself
  • It’s about creating fans, not customers
  • It’s about marketing yourself daily

Approachability is…a leading characteristic of great leaders, managers and staff members

  • Because isolated is out; approachable is in
  • Because formal is the past; friendly is the future
  • Because it’s not cool to be a jerk
  • Because people like and work well with those whom they ARE like
  • Because confidence is king
  • Because nice always wins

Aneeta: I see that you also conduct/take part in speaking programs. What advice, in terms of approachability, can you give for storytellers worldwide?


1) Be funny early. Even if your topic isn’t funny, people need and love to laugh. And when people laugh, they are involuntarily agreeing with your message.

2) Incorporate acting (not too much, though) into your storytelling. It’s better for character development and getting audiences involved

3) People don’t remember facts, they remember stories.

4) Hit every emotion: mad, sad, glad, happy, etc.

5) Be careful not to be a victim of your own great delivery. In other words, don’t tell a super depressing story and then NOT be able to bring the audience back. I did that once and never regained my control of the room. Which sucked.

6) Pausing is the most important aspect of storytelling. Practice your pauses. Don’t be afraid of silence. Think of it like classical music. Even Mozart used rests during his symphonies.

7) Find the UHE; or “universal human emotion” in every story. Even if it’s a random story, make sure there’s something that you KNOW everyone in the audience will connect with. If not, you shouldn’t use the story.

8) Write EVERY story down in your journal, on note cards and on a blog. The one thing people always screw up with stories is not “capturing content.” There are so many stories that happen, but nobody writes them down. Carry a pen and pad with you everywhere you go, without exception. I’ve been documenting my nametag experiences for 6 years, which equates to over 10,000 stories. And I have them all written down. Blogs are also a good way to do this on a daily basis as an “archive” method.

Aneeta: Can you please explain what products/services you offer and also how you think it could help people and in particular, my readers, who are generally storytellers.

Scott: My product is: INFORMATION. I’m the brand. And anyone in my business who tells you otherwise is out of their minds. Now, I do have CD’s, books, articles, ezines, reports, speeches, etc., but those are all MEDIA through which my INFORMATION is delivered. So, in terms of your readers who are storytellers, I’d say: read my blog every day. I have some of the most hilarious, scary, strange, unusual, weird, shocking, random and classic stories you will ever read. As a result, I think your readers will either be inspired to write more stories, or assume that I am insane.

Aneeta: How can my readers contact you?

Scott: has all methods to contact me. Take your pick. I’m available through every possible medium because, well, that’s what approachability is! (Just don’t show up at my house. I need to clean)

Aneeta: I so identify that that last part about not showing up at my house because I need to clean! Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Scott: Nah, I’m cool.

Aneeta: Thank you very much, Scott.

Scott: My pleasure!

This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ for reprint rights.

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