That’s Intriguing #88: What’s In a Name? Your Success.

That’s Intriguing #88: What’s In a Name? Your Success.

“I hear you call my name.” –  Madonna, Like a Prayer

It was 1982 and I was running from room to room at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua, Hawaii.

As Emcee of the Maui Writers Conference, part of my job was to make sure our breakout sessions started on time and were proceeding smoothly.

I dashed into literary agent Michael Larsen’s session just in time to hear this exchange.

Larsen said, “An attention-grabbing name can be the difference between blah-blah-blah and a best seller. I’ve  represented non-fiction books based on a great title.

An audience member asked, “What’s an example of a great tite?”

Larsen thought about it for a minute and then said, “Tongue Fu!® is the best title I’ve heard in ten years.”

I walked outside in a daze and plopped into the nearest chair.


Tongue Fu!® was MY title.  I’d been delivering workshops with that name for years to organizations who wanted to teach employees how to deal with difficult people– without becoming one themselves.

Clients had often told me I should write a book, but I’d always told them, “I’m a mom of two small boys and a business owner. I’m already going 24/7; who’s got time?”

Larsen’s words kept echoing in my mind though, and I woke up in the middle of the night with an epiphany.

The more I’d speak, the more I’d speak.

If I wanted to be a visionary on behalf of my future, I’d put speaking aside for a few months (yes, even though that meant turning away paid engagements) to write a quality book that had the potential to go around the world and get in the hands of people I’d never meet otherwise.

If what Larsen said was true, producing a first-of-its-kind book with a stop-em-in-their-tracks title would exponentially expand my impact, scale my income AND give me an opportunity to be more of a stay-at-home mom as I could write while the boys were at school and be there for them in the afternoons and evenings.

Larsen was right.  Tongue Fu!  has exceeded my wildest dreams.  It has given me the opportunity to certify people in my methodology of how to get along better with just about anytime, anywhere.  It was favorably reviewed by Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and taught at NASA, Capital One, Intel and the U.S. Embassy in London.

It has also led to several additional books with catchy titles – ConZentrate, Take the Bully by the Horns – and my book POP!  in which I introduce 25 original techniques for creating your own breakout names, titles and slogans so what YOU care about gets noticed, remembered, bought and funded.

Why is this so important?

 Because … the best way to corner a niche is to create a niche … and the best way to create a niche is to coin a SUN – a Strategically Unique Name. 

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past 20 years, it’s that many people are BBB (Busy. Bored.  Been there – seen that).  They have dozens of things competing for their attention.

When you coin a SUN – you have a distinct competitive edge.  You  stand out from the crowd – instead of get lost in the crowd.  SUNS attract free media attention and increase bottom-line profits.

To prove this, here are a few favorite business names that have done just that for their creators.

  • Geek2Geek:  an online dating site for pocket-protector types.  Sample profiles include “Tall, Dork and Handsome.”
  • Java Jacket:  the trademarked, multi-million dollar name Jay Sorenson gave those “cardboard insulating sleeves” put around coffee cups so we don’t burn our fingers.  Jay says, “People call me who meant to call my competitors – – because they can’t remember my competitors name!”
  • Weeding By Examplewhat 13-year-old Jack McShane calls his cause to clean up New Orleans’ City Park following Hurricane Katrina.
  • Garage Mahal:  The perfect name for a high-end auto repair shop.
  • Wok-amoleWhat else would you call a fusion restaurant that serves Chinese and Mexican food?  I also like Ciao-Mein for an Italian-Chinese restaurant and Taj Mahalo for an Indian-Hawaiian café.
  • Segs in the City:  Want to tour Washington DC’s monuments?  Why walk when you can zip around on stand-up motorized scooter Segways?

Did any of these names cause you to smile?  Motivate you to check them out?

Bingo.  These names have profited their companies because they generate buzz and turn people into word-of-mouth advertisers.

Your program, product, company, cause or creative project can blend in – or it can break out.

The question is, “Are they calling YOUR name??

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