The English Major Approach to Naming
When I was backpacking my way through Europe in college, my dear friend Renee and I got “lost” in Italy for a few days. We accidentally took the wrong train, went to a completely different destination than intended, and ended up in the cutest little bed and breakfast that night. In the morning, our hostess took us out to the back patio where she proudly showed us the most gorgeous Tuscan mountainside filled with glorious jonquils and proclaimed it “Jonquil Ridge”!
Okay, not really. Renee and I did get lost in Tuscany and had one of my favorite adventures ever. We almost accidentally stayed at a brothel. We got hit on by some memorable Italian military men. We had dinner at an out-of-the-way restaurant with the sweetest retired Italian couple who felt sorry for the crazy exchange students and acted out the menu (including squawking like chickens!) to help us order.
We survived, we thrived, and we were back to our home base in Munich right on time for language classes by Monday morning. We learned how to ask for directions, gained confidence in our ability to figure things out no matter what, and got inspired by gorgeous landscapes and new adventures. We used our happy accident to grow into our new roles as world travelers.
In my time in corporate America, I’ve had the joy and pain of naming so many things. I confess it is one of my least favorite activities. I’ve persevered through made-up Latin words, creative misspellings that made my teeth itch, and mastered tried-and-true “tests” like whether or not it sounds great being yelled across a cardiac catheterization lab. “Nurse, please grab me a Trident Missile Catheter on the double!” Oof!
There’s no winning and no pleasing everyone. There’s just hoping you don’t recreate the “Nova” car naming disaster of business school case fame! (Nova means “no go” in Spanish.)
Growth and Perspective
The one lesson I’ve learned about naming, however, is that my favorite kinds of names are the English major kind. The ones with stories, metaphors, and a little insight baked in.
When I sat down to come up with a name for my new business, I tried to get really clear on the value I wanted to create for my clients. My goal is to advise you on creating new or renewed growth and taking smart chances. With this type of work, the most valuable things I can offer you are proven tools and processes to create innovative ideas safely and an outside perspective to help you continue to productively challenge what you think you already know.
I wanted a name that told that story of growth and perspective. In true liberal arts major style, I chose “jonquil”— a variety of daffodil — to represent blossoming new spring growth and “ridge” to represent new perspective. Maybe I’ve lived through a few too many Minnesota winters, but the imagery of a mountainside full of happy spring flowers pushing through the lingering snow was irresistible.
Unlocking the right new growth strategies in some pretty challenging markets has sometimes reminded me of my backpacking days. You feel like an awkward foreign exchange student stumbling around Italy hoping to find a safe place to sleep and some decent food. You want it to be awesome and amazing. But sometimes it feels hard and overwhelming.
It’s a lovely metaphor for what developing strategies feels like to me some days — a little confusing, a little exhilarating, and a little vulnerable. We need a few insights, a little expert advice to keep us on the right track, and a map back to where we’re trying to go. Oh, and we need to have some fun along the journey. I’ve seen it time and time again: good growth strategies are equal parts art, science, and happy accidents.
At the end of the day, though — just like traveling — nothing happens until you start sketching out the plans, asking the right questions, and getting that first step underway. How can I help? Schedule a time to chat now!
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