Naming

A hefty serving of business wisdom was offered up in a telecast I heard last week, featuring the founder of Starbucks (Howard Behar), the founder of StartUpNation , and the author of a new book about business success. One of the many salient points made: as established by Peter Drucker many years ago, the results-oriented activities of any business are its marketing and its innovation (while all other activities are mere costs), and naming something in itself is an innovation. Their example was the labeling of Starbuck’s drink as short, tall, and grande; a naming that became an important innovation that helped to establish their incredibly powerful brand.

Having the motivation and courage to start up your own business is admirable in itself, but many folks stall when it comes to naming their endeavor. As I chat with other virtual assistants, it’s clear that this is often a real stumbling block.

“A thing’s name is its numen,” said Northrop Frye eons ago. I memorized the statement at the time, for its pithy truth. Definition of numen: divine power or spirit; a deity, esp. one presiding locally or believed to inhabit a particular object. Deciding upon your business name is deciding upon its spirit. In one sense, it’s a terrifying choice to make; but on the other hand, if you’re really into and ready for the experience, probably the spirit communicates itself to you voluntarily, and your business name appears effortlessly.

As an example: it’s not my business name, but my business website has the domain name, asthemoonclimbs. Unwilling to duke it out for the perfect keywords pertaining to virtual assistance, at the time I simply went with the spirit that presented itself. Excited to be concentrating on my ancient skill of writing, and thinking about all the tragically terrible writing out there, especially on the internet, and thinking about how the Zen archer moves beyond the use of bow and arrow, and – I must add – having maniacally high expectations for my own productivity, I was struck by the domain name out of the blue, and didn’t fight it for an instant. If a person says their name is Fred, you have to call them that whether they look like a Fred or not.

To satisfy the curious, the phrase ‘asthemoonclimbs’ comes from a poem by Archibald MacLeish:
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
A poem should not mean, but be.

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