The Power of a Name


In the classic 1965 book, Message to the Black Man, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote that the power of a name is worth more than gold. After analyzing Muhammad’s message, I found that selecting a name that has meaning is not only powerful but it can provide a purpose for your very existence. For example, The Men of the Tenth Inc. name derives from W.E.B. Dubois’ concept of the Talented Tenth. Sean “Puffy” Comb’s clothing company Sean John is named after him (which is his first and middle name). Rocawear records and clothing company name was created as a triple entendre. First, the name embodies the lifestyle of the worlds first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller. Second, it refers to the drug laws. Last, it represents the outcome of what will happen if people got in the way of the company’s success.

Similarly, Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs chose the company’s name because he wanted a name that would appear in the phonebook before his competitors. Although, Jobs was strategic about selecting his company’s name, I have often come across people with names that have not been thought-out. For example, I have code-called students with names that were not only meaningless but their name also frustrated them to the point where they have no desire to be acknowledged by the name that has been chosen for them.

In essence, a name provides substance and when you choose a name for a child or to start a business make sure you are thoughtful and strategic about the name you select.

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