The name game

I get a big kick out of some of the names I come across in business and in life. And, I find it interesting that my mind forms preconceived notions of what these people must be like before I even meet them.

We’ve worked with a couple of women named Sunshine and Snowflake, respectively. Talk about sweet, upbeat names. You’d expect Sunshine to be beaming from ear to ear and Snowflake to be a sweet, delicate creature. Imagine what the water cooler talk might be like, however, if the exact opposite were true. "Do yourself a favor and steer clear of Sunshine today. Man, is she ever pissed off about the quarterly sales numbers. And, Snowflake’s screaming about some screw-up on her travel arrangements." A pissed-off Sunshine? An irate Snowflake? It just doesn’t compute.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s University of Cincinnati basketball star Jihad Mohammad. Phew! What was his mom thinking when she picked the name "Holy war" for her son? Could you imagine what life was like for him after 9/11? Or, could you imagine someone saying, "Jihad’s such a caring, sensitive soul?" I guess the name conveys the proper sense of menace on the court but, in life, it has to cause Jihad more than a few double takes when he introduces himself.

Here are a few other neat names:

– Debjani Deb (Do her friends call her Deb Deb? Deb Squared, perhaps?)

– Eric Macadangdang (Is his favorite song "Clang, Clang, Clang went the trolley" from "Meet me in St. Louis"?)

– Staci Sickendick (no comment)

– Michael Archangel (does he sit at the right-hand side of the corporate god in his life?)

– Nadia Leather (does she keep an extra whip in her desk drawer?)

– George W. George (a name so nice his mom took it twice)

And, last, but certainly not least, there’s my very own partner Ed Moed. Ed’s very gracious about his rhyming first and last names and likes to tell people his full name is Edward Moedward.

You have to laugh at some of this stuff. Plus, it’s a great diversion from the far too serious world of business.

Hat tip to Ann Barlow for her contributions.

4 thoughts on “The name game

  1. Names certainly are interesting. Dubner and Levitt make an interesting study in their bestseller Freakonomics. In one part, they follow the lives of the last two children in a large family. The penultimate one was named “Winner” and the final child, “Loser.” Winner ended up a criminal/drug addict, while Loser (“Lou”) went on to become an honored police officer.
    Also, name prejudice has also been blamed for making it tougher for minorities to get jobs. People with “black” names, it’s been claimed, experience discrimination.
    According to Freakonomics, my first name, Darius, is one of the “blackest” names around (meaning that it’s a popular name for African-Americans, yet it’s very unpopular among Caucasians). Yet my last name sounds Greek (although it’s Lithuanian). It leads me to wonder whether my name has affected how potential employers look at my resume.

  2. I’ll agree with Moon that being different is indeed lovely. As a kid, I used to hate it when kids called Gayvid, but hey, if the shoe fits (as the Manolos eventually did)…

  3. Names, sadly, are very important in social interactions. I can speak from experience. Born with the name Moon (written in Chinese characters, Moon, can be split in identical halves and since I’m an identical twin.. voila! My g-pa is a very smart man!), I experienced awkward and at times frustrating social interactions, esp. as a child! My name, although easy to read and say, is not a common one. Hence, my parents decided to use my baptismal name, Martha, growing up. It isn’t until recently that I began to use the name Moon again. Now as a young adult, I’ve really embraced the fact that it’s lovely to be different.. starting with having a unique name!