4/18/14

Re-Invention . . .

When you go to your company's annual meeting (conference, convention, summit, forum, retreat, conclave, cattle call, circle jerk, assembly, convocation, kerfuffle, etc.) you need a few things . . . sensible yet stylish shoes (lots of walking and standing around, etc.), a blazer (and, fellas, PLEASE stop calling ANYTHING but a solid blue coat a blazer . . . it might be a sports coat, jacket, suit coat, or jacket but it is NOT a blazer), some fun stories and anecdotes, something to reduce bags under your eyes, and some business cards.

Why? You're going to be doing a lot of flesh pressing, story telling, experience sharing, laughing and joking, etc. and you're going to have to look good and be on your best behavior while doing all that with booze in ample supply.

I learned a LOT this week. Not just about the company I work for (and its past, present, and future) but also about my peers. Turns out you can blatantly see tension between colleagues I had assumed to be fast friends, friendship between colleagues I had assumed to be fast tensioners, people who "don't drink" drinking, cabs being taken at odd hours of the morning and night (my window overlooked the main entrance to the hotel and I slept horribly all week) and TONS of blessed, glorious cleavage if you just look around at the annual confab.

Here is the top story line of this last of week . . . re-invention. I'm NOT mocking in what I'm about to share (it is hard to tell in this forum but let me be clear) but I am fascinated and perplexed.

A colleague has decided that they want to go by a different name. Yes. That's right. Not in the spirit of a coworker that goes home Friday wearing a blazer and Henry moniker and comes back Monday in a skirt and Henrietta on their ID badge (which would also capture wan hunna purrrrr scent of my attention in a non-mocking way) but, rather, in the spirit of "Hey, if you guys could now call me Rosy vs. Roseanne (not the real names in either case), I'd appreciate it." And X has new business cards with that name on it to get the party started!

It seems Rosy is going through a re-invention. Divorcing. Thinking about career path. Worried about current direction. Feeling insecure in their skin and appearance. Trying to reassert themselves in every way they can. I applaud that. I really, truly do (been there, done that . . . many times) but I struggle with the idea of changing your name as part of boosting yourself.

Full disclosure . . . I have done what Rosy is doing. Kinda. I hope you are sitting down . . . those who know me and met me in 1998 or after say my last name "Uh-more" and anyone that knew me before 1998 or who knows anyone else in my family says it "A-more". The pre-98 crowd is right. When I moved to DC I just decided to tweak how I say my own last name. And to this day . . . I have NO idea why. NONE. But, 16 years, three months, four days later . . . it is what it is.

But I didn't tweak my last name as a statement of "Now I am THIS PERSON." and it was not based on a crisis of self. If I did it for any reason it was because it got a little closer to how my Grandparents said their name in the boot land from whence they came. It had nothing to do with wanting to be seen or treated differently - I was new to every person I was meeting anyway. There was no rebirth.

I digress . . . back to my colleague in crisis. So, Roseanne wants to be Rosy. Okay. Fine. But I'm still going to call her Roseanne. I'm still going to treat her exactly as I have since I first met her ten months ago. I'll wish her the best and hope her life settles quickly (divorce is hard). I'll encourage her in any way that I can. What will I also do? Roll my eyes. Think it is odd. Wish she wasn't doing it. Allow other people to feel about it however they way. It is an interesting choice - one that warrants reaction (good and bad).

The marketer in me sorta respects this move! She's doing a little branding, a little guerrilla marketing, she's doing a little PR too (trying to build buzz). People DID talk about her this week, too. Good and bad.

Re-invention is a long, drawn out, difficult, and plodding process. It takes work, support, good luck, focus, brains, and brawn. It takes people embracing the changes. It takes all that and more but it also depends on one thing . . . basis. You have to have a good, sturdy foundation and a good, honest reason for the desired change and bookmarking. Without that . . . well . . . you're just asking people to pay attention to it for whatever duration they are willing to do it. You're not really changing.