What is the value of being prolific?
What would happen if you were able to be incredibly creative, productive, and effective all the time? Would you be more successful at work? Would your spouse and kids spend more time with you happily? Will you survive the pandemic and thrive to see better days?
The answer is yes. All the above and more.
Many years ago, one day soon after YTK 2000, Scott Ginsberg came up with a remarkable way to make himself more approachable. He decided to wear a name tag 24-7. He had his nametag tattooed on his chest (MSN Living declared it to be the 5th worst tattoo of all time), secured a world record in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and even got to flash it to the cameras on The Today Show. To date, he has worn a nametag every day for over 21 years – that is over 7,665 days and counting.
Photo NBC interview with Scott Ginsberg, circa 2010 “I stripped for the cameras again…”
And as a result of the pandemic, this spring he focused his wit and attention on how to make the most of the challenges – the alone time and distance and his belief in the power and creativity of people to do good.
“Living with months of shutdown, one benefit was no crowds and no commutes,” he quipped. “I was able to spend by myself a lot of time thinking!”
He released a new book titled Personal Creativity Management (2020) and created GetProlific.io – an online community where people can find an effervescent fountain filled with vivid and compelling ideas dedicated solely to helping people see, smell, taste and even experience how they can dramatically improve their productivity for themselves and others.
The site focuses on presenting the very best immediate ideas, actions, products, services, and stories that produce the highest tangible real-time benefits, facts, impacts, humor, insights, advice and even recipes for the cooking-impaired.
Scott’s purpose is to identify and share high-energy human force multipliers. He explores the optimum use of old and new and is a walking talking expert on being prolific and the good fortune it brings. His Personal Creativity Management Manifesto is worth memorizing
1. You are never starting from
2. Creativity can be systematic, not just sporadic.
3. Volume and speed trump, accuracy, and quality.
4. Mindset matters, more than environment.
5. Giving yourself permission, is half of the work.
6. If you don’t write it down, it never happened.
7. All forms of emotional tension are usable.
8. Whatever is unsexy gives you leverage.
9. You have plenty of time to do, everything you want to do.
10. If fulfillment isn’t the answer, then rephrase the question.
11. Energy is the organizing principle that gives you the greatest momentum.
12. Nobody is paying attention anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process.
Scott seeks to identify and discuss the innovative, hard-earned lessons learned in every walk of business and life. His hallmark is fast creativity, accurate methods, and effective results. The purpose-driven solutions he shares address living with mental and social differences and the ways people can adapt everyday challenges to attract people and leverage opportunities in spite of the difficulties created by the pandemic. He believes that the creative process can revolutionize how you execute your ideas.
Challenge Yourself! Find the silver lining to every dark cloud!
“During covid, we have all developed pandemic fatigue. And rightly so. Even right now, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel,” Scott says.
“Are there ways to turn this positive? What’s so awful about tunnels? Sure, the air is chilly, the thick darkness makes it tough to walk, and it kind of smells. But any student of history knows that tunnels have helped people throughout the ages win wars, escape persecution, protect villages, move goods, travel safely, transport waste, bury treasure, park cars, link cities, treat water, find gold and escape to America! Let’s give the tunnel a little credit.”
“With no light at the end of the tunnel, we are forced to get creative so we can see in the dark. And just like we learn to download and carry a superbright flashlight app to help us see in the closet, we learn to make better use of our technology and we Zoom, Facetime, to hold meeting and visit with the grandparents, and hold concerts using Facebook Live.”
“The question isn’t whether or not there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, but whether we maximize the opportunities we encounter while crawling and stumbling our way through the darkness.”
Photo: Scott Ginsberg accompanied by his wife and dog, put on a concert on Facebook Live for his 41st birthday on Valentine’s Day 2021 and over 1,000 people attended.
Here he offers some of his top lessons learned about being prolific during the pandemic.
1. Use Colorful Energizers and Be Like a Bunny
Every one of Scott Ginsberg’s fifty-plus books started out as color-coded notecards at home on his kitchen table. Voila! It’s Pandemic Time and lo and beholds, here we are again! The bright colors stimulate your creative juices, get the ideas to flow, can be moved around freely to organize, optimize and capture the evolution of critical thoughts and breakthroughs. It’s a way to create organized chaos that attracts conversation and sparks the interest and enthusiasm of people in the vicinity of the table. They can often offer up new ideas and perspectives which improve the work, and to tell him to clean up the table before dinner! Just hand them a pencil and a sticky note or a notecard and say “Have at it!”.
Photo: Scott Ginsberg at table covered with colored index cards and stickies to organize project ideas and actions.
2. Use Spreadsheets to Plant a Field of Ideas and Grow Bushels of Wonder
Years ago, back when the power was on, Scott expanded his publishing empire by converting thousands of colored notecards and stickies and into a spreadsheet with four columns:
- What’s the Problem?
- The Idea
- How Does it Work
- The Tag Line
This handy structure guides the development, continuous improvement, and performance of each critical element and action needed to create hundreds of innovative unique patentable projects.
Scott then turns each row of columns into a page of attractive useful information that is then packaged in a unique and often times hilarious set of cards that illustrates the process and helps people and teams innovate anything and everything they are thinking about.
Photo: Scott Ginsberg’s four column spreadsheet method can be utilized for the prolific creation of a wealth of problem-solving ideas for software, products and services.
This method is particularly useful and is easily utilized to a new global crisis, new information, unforeseen changing circumstances (like unemployment), and surprise opportunities (like unemployment) and if the power is on, you can share the spreadsheet via text, email, social media, and Google docs and get comments on all sorts of crazy ideas.
3. Go and See People, But Wear a Mask and Keep Your Social Distance
Whatever the task, no matter how mundane, you can liven things up if you get up and away from your desk frequently. Go ahead! Work the floor. But don’t go anywhere without wearing at least one triple-ply N95 mask, preferably two, and carry a large water bottle or an extra-large milk shake with two extra-long colored straws, one for you and one for the person you are with.
Visit with other people, test your ideas with them, and ask for comments and feedback. Invite people to participate and collaborate, to add depth, interpersonal substance, and greater significance to the creative process. It’s even better if you bring them in low-sugar low carbohydrate snacks and drinks in individual hermetically sealed vacuum packages that clearly state the nutritional composition and expiration date, and extra-long colored straws that slip easily underneath a mask for safe consumption!
4. Everyone Wears a Nametag on Zoom!
Twenty years ago, Scott gained national recognition for tattooing his name on his chest. Now that using Zoom is the norm, everyone in a meeting has a nametag right above or below their picture. Nametag Scott’s utopian paradise where everyone is wearing a nametag finally came to fruition. While clinical proof is lacking that wearing a nametag helps fight the pandemic, it clearly helps with the challenges of social distancing. You know the name of 25 people in seconds! And everyone knows you too!
Photos: Then and now. Scott with office pals in the pre-pandemic era and Scott on a Zoom call at the peak of the pandemic.
5. Congratulations! You Made It Through Another Day!
It may not be sexy but it pays off in spades to keep a victory log on an annual wall calendar where you place a gold star on it every time you complete a major step in one of your goals. Then at the end of the day over dinner when your spouse says “what did you do today?”, you can point to the wall and say “I executed steps 4, 5 and 6 and got halfway through number 7, dear!!”
If your spouse is impressed you might get to receive a “Gold Star” for the calendar on the wall of your office or even one for the good deeds you do at home for your refrigerator. Lo and behold, time will fly by and when you get enough Gold Stars, you can vocally declare without any guilt that it is time to take an impromptu day off, and you have the victory log and the visual proof to justify the looks of doubt and far that are reflecting back at you.
Photo: A Victory Log on the wall in Scott Ginsberg’s home office.
6. Practice the Art of Wall-to-Wall Creativity
At home, no matter what state of startup you are in, you can easily commandeer the walls of the space you inhabit and plaster them with all of your notes, ideas, quotes, statistics and other potential content you need to plan, execute, and support your project. Once the first draft is finished, that document can go up on the wall too. It’s like new artwork! And as you iterate your work over six months, you can continue to slap new versions up on the wall as they are complete. This wall work makes collaborating on the book itself more interactive, and helps everyone feel like they are in a dynamic, growing, ever changing environment filled with all sorts of interesting ecosystems, as well as layers of nutrient filled detritus.
Photo: Wall-to-wall collaboration with masks and social distancing – no problem!
8. Have an Online Drinking Party Anytime! Try a Vulcan Mind Melt!
Since covid parties are no longer encouraged in person, challenge your employees and customers to meet at a certain date and time online and bring their own bottle! There are some very successful book clubs and professional organizations doing this every Friday at 5 PM with upwards of six hundred or more participants from fifteen countries at once, many of whom are meeting for the very first time. Everyone is wearing a nametag, they share their drink recipes and snack concoctions, and if you meet someone you like, you can always go off into a virtual side room for some private communications, and come back when you are through! You can also liven things up by rewarding people with good jokes and great information with virtual Gold Star Stickers! The more you hand out, the more people experience a palpable increase in the momentum in your organization. Strangers who don’t speak your language will text you with smilies and some may even ask you, “how do I get a sticker!” At the end of the night, everyone goes home knowing everyone’s nametags, a bunch of virtual stickers, and a bag of smilies.
9. Say Yes to Everything! And Share the Wealth!
Some of the best advice the psychologists and therapists give to people who are stressed from being stuck at home with the same people for months on end during the pandemic is that peace and joy can reign the land, as long as people never say no to one another. OMG, what a breakthrough! No matter what you are working on, no matter what someone asks you, you simply and enthusiastically have to say yes to every single idea. The only exception is if someone stands to get badly hurt! And even then, take a quick second to weigh the consequences and benefits of them being allowed to learn the consequences of their creative actions. If you have enough insurance and you can afford it, go ahead! Say yes! And get your smart phone to record it and share it on social media. It might go viral and make for some of the funniest and most interesting creativity people have ever seen.
10. Radiate Positivity Until the Carbon Monoxide and Fire Alarms Go Off!
Another tip that comes from astute pandemic psycho-therapists online is to always be positive no matter how crazy and nuts the situation is especially if people are watching the news on TV. Just repeat the following words: “Don’t worry! We’ll all be fine!”
Even when the kids aren’t in school, the adults are unemployed, going bananas with boredom and worried sick with fear, the supermarket shelves are out of beer and wine, even when the Internet goes out, and even the social media is playing nothing but reruns, just reassure everyone by saying “Don’t worry! We’ll all be fine!”.
People will love your catastrophism and it will become engraved on their psyche forever. Don’t stop ever, even if after you give one motivational speech in particular, and people look at you like you are nuts, and your spouse tells you later, “You’re remarkable. Now even I get why you’re so positive!”
Photo: Scott Ginsberg out and about in Brooklyn NYC during the snow storm apocalypse of 2021.
11. Encourage People to Take the Artistic Initiative.
Before the pandemic, young people (e.g., in their teens and twenties), had the opportunity to perform songs at Karaoke Bars and even at open mic nights. While this high labor intensity labor of love demonstrated a very low return on financial investment, the pandemic has made it very difficult to perform these live in-person events. But guess what! Opportunities abound! You can encourage your kids and teens to grab their guitars and microphone to an empty parking lot and park your car near a picnic table and then just hook up an amplifier with a power-supply to your car, and voila! Live concert in the park, or in a tunnel, and on social media for all to listen to. If you scope out a spot at a venue with a lot of foot traffic, remember to bring a hat or a money jar for donations when the kids play and sing as loud as they possibly can for maybe two hours at a time. You can even place a pay me button using PayPal or Venmo on social media! This may turn into a job so be forewarned. It could also turn out to be a local news story that prompts a concert documentary about the whole experience.
Photo. Scott Ginsberg playing guitar in a NYC tunnel.
About Scott Ginsberg
Scott Ginsberg is a TEDx speaker, internationally acclaimed author of 50 books, 11 albums, 3 music films, and numerous other creative works. He’s been featured on CNN, MSNBC, The Today Show, HuffPost, GQ, NPR, Fast Company, COSMO, 20/20, WSJ and Entrepreneur, USA Today and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Scott has spent 20+ years executing award-winning sticky ideas for himself, his clients and his employers. Scott is also the world record holder of wearing nametags.
Scott believes unequivocally that the methodology of personal creativity management will convincingly add new and important results to the field. Prolific will demonstrate that trying to innovate by the seat of your pants, constantly making things up as you go, isn’t sustainable or scalable, for individuals or organizations.
His most recent books are Prolific (2015) and Personal Creativity Management (2020). He also just created the Prolific Online Tool and Community.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Learn more about Scott Ginsberg –