This morning I was over at James Brauschs site and read an interesting post – What’s In A Name.
James made an interesting observation:
I used to work a lot with Indian nationals who wanted to break into this business. In fact, a business that has complete run itself for several years now still does work with Indian nationals aspiring to be international Internet business owners.
In that business, I cautioned them to choose a pen name. I showed them how to choose a European sounding name. Why? Because tests showed that everything they did was accepted better with a European sounding name vs. an Indian national traditional name.
The difference was remarkable. Sometimes article submissions would be accepted at a rate 50 times higher from John Carpenter than from Anil Singh. Racism? Nationalism? Just a feeling of being more comfortable with a European name for U.S. residents (which is still the largest English speaking Internet market in the world)?
I have no idea. Test results can tell what works. Testing can’t answer the why question though.
I could cut & paste the entire post here, but I would urge you to read the post as well and draw your own conclusions.
But it did bring up an interesting point – how much does the name of an individual impact their business, business relationships and opportunities?
Canada went through it’s own renaming exercise when Irish children came to Canada and were adopted – many were given French names since they sounded more “Canadian” – check this out: http://www.histori.ca/minutes/minute.do?id=10165
Perhaps in an ideal world there would be no impact, and you’d be recognized based on your abilities regardless of your name — whether it is Mohamed, Gary, Romuald or James.
It was interesting that James mentioned that when he switched from James Brausch to Diego Norte his sales increased by 50% (from 23% to 36%). Why? Even he isn’t sure since James is about as “white” (perhaps the word that I should use is caucasian) as you can get [those are my thoughts, not his].
Another example – I know of a VP that I worked with in Canada, when he went to work in the US he shortened his last name — and he was as white as you can get as well (his ethnic background was Polish). Why? He probably felt that his Polish last name might limit his opportunities, I don’t know as I never really asked since it is a personal decision.
Here are some great perspectives on names:
I will end with this…
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet“
What matters is what something is, not what it is called.
From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1594:
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.