“I’ll never get it right. How should I pronounce it?” said my manager. It was hard for her, I knew.
“It’s ok, you can just call me Alex if you want.” I answered as I usually did to people who’s not used to saying my name, or is not certain about its pronunciation.
“Or I can just call you “The guy who run campaigns.”” she said and laughed.
I laughed too, I knew it was a joke and our relationship was good enough to allow ourselves that. She never got my name right though of course I could always tell when she was talking to me, or referring to me. That day it hit me: did everyone else in the Company I knew thought of me as “the guy who runs campaigns?”
Corporations are nothing but big, sometimes warped mirrors of any other human organization or group you’ve been a part of. Regardless of the circumstance that brought you there, as with any other group, recognition and acceptance are important to everyone. Including you, and me of course. You should then know that are always watched when in a Corporation.
Try to remember your High School or College days, or even elementary / primary school. You had friends. Not all of them were close, but with some people in those groups you shared, you laughed and of course fought. As you grew up, it became more and more clear to you that there are basically just a few types of people in any group and they repeat over and over, group over group. The two biggest or more comprehensive ones being “populars” and “all the rest”. Even in small groups some shine more than others. That’s natural for humans.
Corporations are not natural though, they do not exist in Nature without us, thus we created them to mimic other natural structures we know, such as the “cool / uncool” one, added some bureaucratic rules and seasoned it with compliance forms to remove a factor that’s not well regarded in Corporations but still there, embedded in everything: opinion.
That is where things get warped: opinion is empiric as much as it can be theoretical but above all, it’s 100% subjective. It goes beyond what’s written or what’s taught and most of all, it can be influenced. The biggest challenge this represents in my experience is that if it’s not tied to something that’s memorable (like your name or your accomplishments), then you can’t influence anyone.
When in a Corporation you should ask yourself: if you are not influencing someone’s opinion, then you are the one being influenced. Good or bad have nothing to do with it.
Another thing you must know is that results are always expected. It is your job to give your best and be the best at it. Corporations thrive on that. Results only become memorable when they are off the chart and even those only linger for some time. Fail once after your biggest success and you will see your good name suddenly becoming a not-so-tasty word in other people’s mouth. The same people that congratulated you and invited you to a nice dinner.
It is not then just about your reputation. That’s another complex ingredient of the mix yes, and the best feature it has is that you can manage it. Not just with results of course, or by nurturing the right relationships. It takes discipline, awareness and some anchoring. The easy part is that you already know what you can use as an anchor: your very own name.
Think of it as a label or tags. We design those to identify something, to remind us of a meaning. You being the meaning, your results and reputation the context and your name the anchor.
A name is just a name only to those who don’t care to make it relevant.
That’s why “the guy who runs campaigns” sounded insufficient: it wasn’t about me, who I was or what I could do for the Company. It was only about my role, something everyone can do only it was my appointed task at that time. Not even my boss could say my name but I realized I couldn’t blame her for that: I had not anchored my “corporate-self” properly in her mind as I wasn’t aware of this.
Your name represents the future opportunity a Corporation might hold for you, but only if you see it that way and care to show others. Your name is bigger than you…only if you care enough to make it so.
I’ll finish with a question and it’s answer for you: