Book Jeff

What’s in a Name?

I’ve taken a page out of Dale Carnegie’s classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by loving to learn people’s names, remember their names, and calling them by name in conversations. When I taught my first college class in Fall 2000, I walked into a large classroom with sixty students. By the end of the first night, I knew everyone’s name and faithfully remembered each name throughout the course of the long semester.

I’m good at it. Well, goodish.

A few years ago, my boss in higher education asked me to meet with my counterpart from another school from across the country. Bob was coming to the West Coast, and my boss believed our two schools could collaborate on challenges like student success, graduation rates, career placement, and study abroad. I happily agreed and tasked my Tutoring Center Director, Mike, to join us, add his own input, and take notes.

We met Bob in our Executive Conference Room, and for thirty minutes, we learned as much as we could about Bob, Bob’s school, the specific challenges Bob was facing with his students at his university, and how we could collaborate with Bob in a win-win kind of partnership.

After half an hour, my boss interrupted his busy schedule and popped in to ask about our progress. “Hi, Richard! Welcome to California Baptist University. We are thrilled to have you.”

Richard? Who the heck is Richard? Where’s Bob?

Looking to Mike for help, that’s when I knew. I had just spent the past thirty minutes addressing our guest by the wrong name. Repeatedly. I apologized profusely, while also thinking to myself, Thanks for the heads-up, Dick!

In my defense, my two brain surgeries have seriously impacted my ability to recall names. Regardless, knowing how much people love hearing their own name, I continue to employ the skill…even after calling Richard (formerly known as Bob) the wrong name multiple times.

For example, several months ago Lyndsey and I had dinner at Disneyland with our friend, Haley. Actually, her name is Hartley, but I continuously refer to her as Haley…. As we were walking into the restaurant, I took notice of the Castmember’s name badge so I could, per habit, refer to him by name. The badge said “Ish.”

The Castmember’s name was “Ish.”

Ish? His name is Ish? Who in the world names their kid Ish? I wondered.

And I’ve been wondering ever since. In fact, I looked up the meaning of “Ish” in English and discovered it means “somewhat; in a way; not exactly.”

And that’s exactly the challenge. I don’t think any of my readers are named “Ish.” If you are, my apologies for not knowing (or not remembering). What I do know is that too many of us are “ishing” our way through life. We’re somewhat, in a way, but not exactly working on our dreams, goals, and success.

Are you excited about what you do every day? Ish…

Are you working on your book? Ish…

Is your entrepreneurial endeavor generating enough revenue? Ish…

And so it goes. Years ago, I was in a meeting right after the return from the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday when someone asked another committee member if they were “on a diet.” “Yes,” was the response. “I’m doing modified Keto.”

“Modified Keto?” I blurted out. “We are all doing modified Keto!” Let’s be honest, doing “Modified Keto” is just another term for dieting-ish.

Instead of “ishing” things this week, I want to challenge you to fully commit. Go All In. As I say in my Wisdom of Walt keynote, board your train with $40, a single suitcase, and a one-way ticket. Remember that 99 percent (ish) is hard. But 100 percent is easy. Easy because you don’t have to keep making the same decision over and over again.

Well, easier-ish.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”


We use cookies on this website. To learn about the cookies we use and information about your preferences and opt-out choices, please click here. By using our website, you agree to the use of our cookies.