Hola, mi nombre es Roberto

Hola, mi nombre es Roberto

Hola, mi nombre es Roberto

But you can call me Bob.

Highlights from the First Annual
ProjectHola! Wear-a-Name-Tag Day
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Saturday, September 3, 2011

I arrived at the main plaza promptly at 3:00pm carrying my box of name tags, markers and a sign in both Spanish and English advertising Free Name Tags. A few people had mentioned they might volunteer to distribute name tags, so I walked the perimeter of the plaza looking both for familiar faces and a place to set up shop.

I found a nice spot at the end of a park bench and sat myself down. There were plenty of people around; children, teenagers, parents, grandparents. The usual group of well behaved boys was practicing their break-dance moves in the gazebo. At every corner of the plaza was a shoeshine stand, each with its established crowd of regulars – no one actually getting a shine but everyone with something to say. A group of mariachis was entertaining at a table outside a restaurant somewhere behind me.

The main plaza in San Miguel is a popular place to see and be seen, to meander and to dawdle, to buy cotton candy or a hot dog. If you sit there long enough, everyone in town will eventually pass by.

But even in the midst of all the activity, I was alone. I took heart in the knowledge that very soon, everyone in the plaza would know me – or at least be talking about me =)

I applied my name tag to my shirt, put out the Free Name Tags sign, grabbed a marker and started making name tags. I started with “A” and made my way through the alphabet writing out the first name that came to mind. My first “customer” was a boy about eight years of age. He had been nearby playing with a balloon by blowing it up and then letting it fly. Eventually, it landed high in the tree above my head. I saw him evaluate the situation, nose pointing to the sky. His proposed solution was to shake the tree and allow gravity to rescue the balloon. A bright idea. It may have worked, too, had the tree not been one hundred-plus years old with a trunk so thick it had long since stopped paying heed to eight year olds.

The tree was, however, only about a yard from where I sat. The boy quickly realized that his plan had failed but then became interested in what I was doing – looking over my shoulder. I asked his name and he said, “Daniel.” In the cleanest block letters I could muster, I scrawled DANIEL across a name tag and presented it to him. I showed him my name tag so that he would know what to do with his. I told him it was nice to meet him. He thanked me and ran to his nearby parents to proudly show off his name tag. The parents waved to me. I waved back.

Passing in front of me was the balloon seller. In addition to balloons, he sells pinwheels, kick balls and air-filled cartoon characters. He carries his entire inventory – everything already inflated – on a long pole balanced on his shoulder and simply walks around the plaza hoping for a sale.

It was impossible not to see Sponge Bob Square Pants hanging from a string near the far end of the seller’s pole. I chuckled because the first thing that came to my mind was, “Hello, my name is Bob.” But then it hit me – Sponge Bob could help me with the name tag distribution!

I paid Sponge Bob’s ransom, seated him next to me on the bench and promptly provided him with his own name tag. I thought it would simply be humorous and perhaps cute (in a manly sort of way) to have Sponge Bob sitting next to me on the bench. I laughed about it. What it turned out to be, however, was pure genius.

I imagine it’s no news to any parent of a cartoon-watching-age child, but Sponge Bob is a child magnet! No child could pass Sponge Bob without wanting a closer look. Those children with any level of ambulatory skill made bee-lines to Bob. Those being carried or in strollers demanded a detour. I can’t imagine how the balloon seller survives walking alone and unarmed in the plaza. Perhaps the sheer bulk of his inventory lessens the appeal. But put Sponge Bob on a bench by himself and he’s the hit of the party.

Without exception, every child that came to visit Bob also wanted a name tag. I offered name tags to any and all adults accompanying (or chasing) the kids, but there were only a few takers. Apparently, adults feel a bit self-conscious about wearing name tags while children wear them with great self-confidence. This may add credence to my theory that we are not born with our invisible walls but rather that we build them ourselves little by little.

Children twelve and under were not my targeted demographic, but their enthusiasm to participate and brazen delight at parading around with name tags made them all my little Heroes du Jour. Each of us could learn something about friendliness, joy and trust from children.

=) Eric


On The Horizon: A Friendlier World

On The Horizon: A Friendlier World

On The Horizon: A Friendlier World

Today’s the day! The first annual
ProjectHola! Wear-a-Name-Tag Day!

Participation is easy:
Just wear a name tag… and go about your day.

The name tag will tell the world that you’re approachable. People who would otherwise have passed silently through the periphery of your life will say hello and use your name. New connections, however brief, will be made. Thanks to you, the world will be forever changed.

I’m absolutely certain that you’ll have at least one positive experience today that would not have happened without your name tag. Please, if you have time, share your name-tag-wearing experience either by commenting on this blog post or by writing to me directly at eric@projecthola.com.

And while you’re out spreading the good cheer that is humanity, have someone take your picture! I’d love to be able to share your pictures here on the ProjectHola! website. You are, after all, the front line of our collective hope for a Friendlier World.

Have a fun, happy and rewarding Wear-a-Name-Tag Day!

=) Eric


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Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Name Tag on September 3rd

Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Name Tag

Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Name Tag

5. Your Inner-Anthropologist will be very happy!
Breaking down invisible walls and challenging social norms will be enjoyable – just ask your rebel-within. A day filled with people greeting you by name will renew your faith in humanity.

4. You’ll feel like a celebrity!
(sans the annoying paparazzi)
With everyone who crosses your path using your name, it won’t be long before you feel famous. If you’re asked for an autograph – I say go with it.

3. You’ll save time at Starbucks!
Wearing a name tag will save time not only for the barista (who would ordinarily ask your name even if you’ve been a regular for seven years) but also for everyone behind you in line. Additionally, if every customer of every Starbucks wears a name tag on September 3rd, perhaps Starbucks management will finally get the message that their employees should also be wearing name tags. One can only hope.

2. It’s easier than a 10k walk!
It’s also easier than running a marathon or gathering signatures or writing a letter or falling out of bed for that matter. There just aren’t many easier ways to bring about a little social improvement.

1. You’ll change the world!
Yes, I’ve heard from one or two sayers-of-nay that wearing a name tag probably won’t change the world – but I deg to biffer. What is the world other than what we experience on a day to day basis? If that experience is improved even for one moment through a small connection with another human being, then the world most certainly has changed.

It’s simple. It’s easy. On Saturday, September 3rd, just wear a name tag – and go about your day. Wherever you go, you’ll leave a better world in your wake.

=) Eric

P.S. If you’re in San Miguel de Allende, stop by El Jardín on Saturday, September 3rd, between 3:00pm and 8:00pm for free name tags.

If you’d like some name tags ahead of time, just say the word. I’ve got plenty. You can send me an email or call my SMA cell phone: 415 111 8898


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Instant Gratification in as Little as 12 Weeks

Laws of Notion

Laws of Notion

Read this to me!

To one degree or another, we all seem to have an addiction to gratification. Instant gratification is not necessarily a bad thing – you simply have to choose your definition of “instant” wisely.

Taking my usual share of poetic license and nodding to Sir Issac, I’ll call gratification a “notion” and share my thoughts…

Eric’s First Law of Notion states that any feeling of Gratification experienced by virtue of a Material Possession will dissipate at a Velocity 1.5 times greater than that as which it was achieved:

v + gmp = v (1.5)

Eric’s Second Law of Notion states that any feeling of Gratification experienced by virtue of a Non-Tangible will dissipate at a Velocity one half that at which it was achieved:

v + gnt = v / 2

Eric’s Third Law of Notion states that any feeling of Gratification experienced by virtue of Hard Work (otherwise known as dedication and/or love) will dissipate at a Velocity of zero:

v + ghw = v (∞ / 2)

Hence, Eric’s Axiom: The more difficult the achievement, the greater and more durable the gratification.

Which leads us naturally to Eric’s Ambiguity: All of the above may be erroneous.

Be that as it may, we’re just about 12 weeks away from September 3rd – ProjectHola’s Wear a Name Tag Day. Now that I’m in San Miguel de Allende, I’ll be employing all of the hard work, dedication and love I can muster in an effort to make September 3rd as successful as possible.

Twelve weeks may not be everyone’s definition of instant, but considering the fact that the rewards of ProjectHola! will remain in my heart indefinitely, three months seems instant enough for me.

Do you have any laws concerning gratification that might agree or seem to contradict my own? Please share them. Insights and opinions are helpful and fun!

Here’s hoping your June has gotten off to a wonderful start and that your week will be absolutely excellent!

Desde San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México,
=) Eric


The winner of last week’s drawing for Ten Free Name Tags is Michael!. Thanks for your comment Michael.

And yes, we’ll make this a weekly event and give away another Ten Free Name Tags this week!

To enter, simply post a comment on any ProjectHola! blog article between now and 9:00pm PDT Sunday, June 12, 2011.

Ten Free Name Tags!

Drawing for Ten Free Name Tags!

The winner, drawn at random, will be announced within next Monday’s ProjectHola! blog article (June 13th).

This drawing is open to everyone, world-wide. The Ten Free Name Tags will be in English (as pictured above) and will be sent via the United States Postal Service, courtesy of my father.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments during the previous week. They are highly appreciated!



Greetings from Puerto Vallarta!

Puerto Vallarta

Typing to you live from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!


En route to ProjectHola’s 2011 World Headquarters, tomorrow I go to Guadalajara and on Wednesday, I take a four hour bus ride to San Miguel de Allende. Who wants to join me? =)

Today’s Big News is the announcement of the winner of last week’s drawing for Ten Free Name Tags. The winner is FutureStorm! But the rest of you can take heart – Ten Free Name Tags will be given away this week, too!


To enter, simply post a comment on any ProjectHola! blog article between now and 9:00pm PDT Sunday, June 8, 2011.

Ten Free Name Tags!

Drawing for Ten Free Name Tags!

The winner, drawn at random, will be announced within next Monday’s ProjectHola! blog article (June 9th).

This drawing is open to everyone, world-wide. The Ten Free Name Tags will be in English (as pictured above) and will be sent via the United States Postal Service, courtesy of my father.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments during the previous week. They are highly appreciated.

As for me, I’m struggling with a frustratingly slow Internet connection at the moment, so I’m simply going to walk away from my laptop and continue my life-long search for the world’s best enchiladas.

Hasta pronto!

=) Eric



Face it, the World Needs YOU!

The World is Looking to You.

Read this to me!

Without you, the world cannot change.

Without your voice, others may not hear.

Without your action, some may not find inspiration.

With the unwavering faith of a child, the world is looking to you…

And you are poised to take the lead. Right this very minute, you are little more than a few mouse-clicks away from providing motivation to the masses.

Think Facebook! Boasting users in excess of 500 million, it’s a natural place to share the idea of ProjectHola! If you believe, as I do, that the simple act of wearing a name tag on September 3rd can help break down our invisible walls and make the world a friendlier place, then please take the following actions:

  1. Click the “Like” button on the ProjectHola! Facebook Page.
  2. Send this blog post to a friend.

With these two simple steps, you will help build the foundation of social proof needed to trigger an avalanche of participation on September 3rd. And make no mistake, without you it simply won’t be possible.

The world not only needs you, it’s depending on you.
Thanks for your help!

=) Eric


To enter, simply post a comment on any ProjectHola! blog article between now and 9:00pm PDT Sunday, May 29, 2010.

Ten Free Name Tags!

Drawing for Ten Free Name Tags!


The winner, drawn at random, will be announced within next Monday’s ProjectHola! blog article (May 30th).

This drawing is open to everyone, world-wide. The Ten Free Name Tags will be in English (as pictured above) and will be sent via the United States Postal Service.

So go ahead. Leave a reply. Feel free to share deep thoughts or to just say hello. All comments count. You’ll not only help build our community, you may get ten free name tags in the bargain!


An Email from Dad

Dad, 1941

Yeah! Let's do it!

Read this to me!

I’ve said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating:
One hallmark of a great parent is his or her willingness to be supportive of the many roads down which a child – of any age – wishes to venture.

Throughout my forty-plus years and down more paths than I care to confess, I have been blessed with the world’s most encouraging father: Ragnar

He never ceases to surprise me. When he does, the picture which accompanies this text flashes against the big screen of my mind. It is a photo of my father, age 7, taken in Jackson Heights, New York, in 1941. I like this image because it reminds me to see the world with a sense of wonder, joy and excitement. I don’t always live up to those standards, but it’s difficult to forget them when looking at this happy young lad.

My father doesn’t tweet. My father doesn’t facebook. He does, however, email with abandon and sent me a quick note the other day saying, “I’ve been thinking. I’d like to make a sign offering free name tags and sit outside the grocery store on September 3rd.”

To say I smiled would, of course, be an understatement. I was very touched. His email even included an attachment of the sign he created and plans to use. The Internet may be the go-to place for much of today’s social interaction, but my father has reminded me that it’s not the only option.

Reading his email, the picture of my father as a go-getting seven year old came instantly to my mind. He hasn’t changed. He’s taller, sure, and certainly wiser. Perhaps his skin is not as smooth as in his youth. But his heart is as big as ever and his love of adventure has by no means diminished.

On September 3rd, while I’m passing out name tags in San Miguel, I’ll be thinking about my father’s picture. I hope to have his look upon my face and his joy inside my heart.

Thanks, Dad. For everything!

Son of Ragnar

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Invisible Walls: Protection or Prison?

Invisible Wall

Invisible Walls: Protection or Prison?

Read this to me!

While attempting to follow my own advice from last week’s blog post and use my natural superpower, The Smile, I made an important discovery: I could not smile at anyone without first lowering my Invisible Walls.

It was easy enough to lower them, but it wasn’t easy to keep them down for extended periods of time. It’s as if my invisible walls are up and in place by default and only lowered manually. This awareness made me question their purpose.

I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but for me, my invisible walls seem to be a pseudo-defense mechanism built on a foundation of mistrust. I say pseudo-defense because in the face of an uncomfortable situation or any real danger, invisible walls are obviously quite useless. And mistrust? It would appear that while out in public, some part of me fully expects to be approached by an unsavory member of society at any given moment – a belief which is easily proven false based on personal experience alone.

The logic (or lack thereof) which has led to the unchecked deployment of my invisible walls needs to be annulled . If, truly, I use them hoping to avoid the very rare uncomfortable encounter, the end result is that they are preventing me from many pleasant connections.

I admit I’ve grown quite comfortable within my walls. I finally have the wainscoting at the perfect height and the wallpaper I picked out sometime in 2009 is still pleasing to my eye. None-the-less, I have seen the error of my ways. This afternoon I’ll visit the local equipment rental yard and pay someone to swing a wrecking ball in my general direction. I’m no longer happy living within my sheltered prison. I’m busting out. If there’s an actual need for protection, I’ll pull more useful items from my arsenal – like poise, grace, understanding and patience.

What about you? Can you live without those invisible walls? Might your lowering them more often enrich not only your life but also the day-to-day experiences of those around you?

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

=)  Eric


Happy Mother’s Day!


Happy Mother's Day!

Read this to me!

To mom, her mother and great-grandma,
To future moms, new moms, past moms,
To step-moms, adoptive moms, foster moms,
To dads filling shoes and mom-like neighbors,
To moms of every type and flavor,

For all the care and all the nurture,
For all the lessons and endless support,
For protection when warranted
and freedom when needed,

Thank you.
Thank you for always being MOM.

Happy Mother’s Day! =)

- Eric

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You. The Superhero.

You. The Superhero.

You. The Superhero.

Read this to me!

Picture yourself as a superhero with the extraordinary power to lift the spirits of those around you.

As that superhero, do you see yourself using your power liberally or sparingly? Would you lift the spirits of only those you know and love or would you lift the spirits of everyone within range?

Personally, if I had such power, I’d like to think I would try to use it all the time, in all situations and with everyone. I would not enjoy picturing myself keeping such an ability under lock and key.

The truth is, however, we all have this gift and are sometimes frugal with its use. It’s a built-in superpower that costs nothing, requires little or no effort, needs no electricity, and is always at the ready. It’s such a widespread power that we even have a name for it: The Smile.

You see, we humans are an empathetic bunch. We are wired so that the neurons which cause a specific emotional state, fire in our own brains when we witness that state in another. When someone around you is happy, you feel that happiness. When a country suffers a terrible disaster, we all feel the pain. When we overhear someone giggling while reading a book, we can’t help but giggle ourselves even before we’re given the humorous details.

Every day of our lives, we have the power to contribute to the happiness of others simply by smiling at them. Being empathetically wired, the targets of our smiles have no choice but to experience a boost of spirit.

Armed with those higher spirits, the persons to whom we gift smiles may be inclined to smile at others. Those in turn might smile at yet more. Soon, an entire population could be infected with good mood spread solely by empathy.

I’m suggesting that today, we all practice using our innate power to boost the spirits of those around us. Smile at someone and watch, with a knowing twinkle in your eye, how easily you cause a sympathetic vibration to rumble through that person’s neural net. With practice, we might all take to boosting spirits regularly.

If you’re shy about using or unaccustomed to wielding your superpower willy-nilly, then just try this: Count the number of smiles you see today. It doesn’t matter if they are directed at you, at someone else or just painted on the face of someone enjoying “a moment.” Simply note them. Hopefully you’ll find many, but even if you witness only one, you’ll feel the empathic pulse that triggers a boost in your own emotional state.

It’s a small gesture with big rewards. Go be a superhero =)

- Eric

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