The Power of Names

There is nothing worse than someone calling you the wrong name. It feels like an insult to your identity. Well, the only thing worse might be someone giving you an unwanted nickname. They have now acknowledged your name but decided to change it anyway.

I used to underestimate the power of learning someone’s name until it dawned on me. Why would people donate hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions or billions, just to have a library or building named after them? A great example of this is when Andrew Carnegie and George Pullman were battling over the railroad's sleeping car industry. So instead of continuing to compete, Carnegie offered a merger. Now, why would two bitter rival’s merge? It was obviously the logical business solution, but emotion was getting in the way. What was Carnegie’s solution?

To name the newly merged company after Pullman himself.

Another key point is, when in learning someone’s name, ask them what they prefer to go by. Another example is Steffi Graf, one of the world’s greatest female tennis players. Later, when meeting her new husband Andre Agassi, she revealed that she prefers Stefanie, but went by Steffi because it was just easier. Agassi, naturally, only called her Stefanie from that day forward.


Someone’s first name is music to their ears. Do not be fooled by what name they first tell you. If they tell you a nickname, or “oh call me so-and-so because it's easier”, ask them their real name and what they prefer to be called.

They will remember you forever.

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