What’s in a Name?
Imagine if you will… a young girl ALWAYS being last to be seated in a classroom. Becoming best friends for a time with another wayward soul given the last name of Young because teachers were still at the time putting students in alphabetical order. Ah the benefits of a last name that begins with a “W” and growing up in the 80s!
Imagine… a lifetime of disillusionment with a name that 1) no one could spell and 2) belonged to a father you didn’t live with. I used to daydream of taking my stepfather’s last name so I could share the last name with my mom (and admittedly so I would get to sit at the front of the class). B was, after all, a much better seating position at my middle school.
Over forty years later and the name struggle – my personal brand – is still just that, a struggle. As an entrepreneur, a mom, a professional, a wife, an author, a keynote speaker… I am STILL working through owning my personal brand AND choosing how I tell my story. As it turns out, others are too.
I have a few friends from middle school and high school that have changed their first names for their careers. From Marie (a middle name) to Kate (not Katie) they felt like they wouldn’t be taken seriously with their birth names. Who am I to judge? My full first name is Elizabeth and I long ago dropped my middle name of Diane.
Though I’d love to say with feminist authority that only the women have had to do that, I’ll admit that “Chupa” and “Big Red” do not in fact run their own businesses. Brandon and David, however, do. We garner a lot of identity from our names – and make a lot of assumptions about others. How about you?
What was a childhood nickname or term of endearment you went by (or still answer to)? How might sharing this name with your current sphere of folks increase connection with them?
What name-related experiences can you think that have influenced you? How might they impact your ability to show up authentically at work and home?
Too Many Last Names
Both I and our family’s cat share a commonality…. What many have deemed “too many” last names. My full name is Elizabeth “Liz” (Diane) Wooten-Reschke Trepper. Her full name is Moxie Foxy Wooten-Reschke Trepper.
Both names are a mouthful and both are over 30 characters each (yes, I counted). Admittedly, both of the namesakes are a handful. For my kids (who named the cat) it was important we included 1) a rhyme, 2) her foster mother given name and 3) every last name of everyone in our household. Read: We have a blended family circus.
For me, having grown up without the same last name as my mom it was important to me that I both share the name of my children, my husband and his children. Though I had slowly dropped the use of Wooten in my first marriage, I vowed never to do that again. It came back with a vengeance afterwards specifically through the use of an intentional hyphen (that canceled out a few things) AND helped remind me of whence I came.
What assumptions might be made about your full name and who you “really” are? How does your personal brand influence your professional success? In what ways, have you struggled or succeeded with owning your personal brand?
What, Me? Brand?
I used to love comic books and read Mad Magazine almost as much as I did Nancy Drew. Hence the “What Me? ______ (insert word)” affinity. I also used to really struggle with the idea of a personal brand.
Struggling with my last names and ownership of them most of my childhood, then marrying a man with a hard to spell last name (and not the cool Italian one from his other side of the family), and recently marrying into yet another last name. I’ve jokingly (kidding, not kidding) said I’m just going to change my last name to Smith. Just make it easier for everyone.
Truth be told, though, my name is a large part of my family’s Scottish, Irish, British, French and German heritage. It’s also a large part of my personal story. Maybe one day I’ll change it to Princess Consuela Banana Hammock (or something better suited to a non-sitcom life) but for now it’s who I am. It’s also something I’ve learned to market – it’s something that may be hard to spell but is rarely unforgettable.
Have you ever Googled your full name? What did you find? Were you surprised, horrified or unimpressed with the results of this informal brand search? What are your favorite people to follow on social media? What about their brands resonate most for you?
Interested in learning more about your personal brand and what it can do for you?
Join us on June 23rd for a FREE virtual workshop on Branding for Entrepreneurs & Community Leaders. You’ll hear directly from Merrill Stewart CFRE of Marketing & Business Solutions on how you can create an authentic brand that inspires (and generates more business). You’ll also learn how to align your personal brand with you values and goals. Register today.
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Contact us today at email@example.com to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our experts in public relations, marketing and branding to learn how we can help.
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Book Liz today by contacting her amazing team member at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keynote topics include: Embracing Your Humanity, Courageous Leadership, Owning Your Entrepreneur, Somehow I Manage, & Shame(less): Surviving Self-Judgement & Maximizing Self-Care; and My Mother’s Daughter.
About the Author: Liz Wooten-Reschke is President/CEO of Connect For More. She engages leaders and empowers philanthropists by sharing resources necessary to help them accomplish their mission. Liz provides executive coaching, strategic facilitations and customized solutions for all sector leaders, philanthropists, consultants and rising stars interested in making a difference in their communities. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer and a professional member of the National Speakers Association. Liz is also a proud member of the University of South Florida Alumni Association Board, a fourth generation Floridian and Key West Conch. She lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, three children, two dogs, one cat and three fish. For more information about Liz or her work, please visit her company website, follow her on Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.