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Sunday, October 9, 2011


iCEO Jobs and his iPhone

This week we all lost too early, a brilliant and brusque visionary, Steve Jobs. Others have who knew him have written beautifully of his contributions and human foibles. I’m not going to do that. I am just going to point out his affect on me and that’s why this is iCarol.

What I’ve been thinking about is names; mine in particular and others in general. Consumer products with names like the iPhone, the Pentium Chip (see this week’s New Yorker magazine to learn more about how this name came to be.), and Kleenex exist throughout their lifetimes with occasional modifications, marketed as improvements and iterations, but we don’t get that chance. I am and was Carol. Not Carol, new and improved or Carol One or lowcal Carol.

I think that’s a huge missed opportunity for humankind. All the other Carol’s that I meet are at least 50 years old. It’s the name of an old person. It didn’t age well. I resent that. I didn’t even get to have a vote on my name. No focus groups were held to determine whether Carol was the right brand name for me. If we are being told today, we are our brand, I don’t want to be saddled with a name that puts me in a doddering package.

And clearly, I am not the same as I was 50 years ago even if my name was the right name at the time. I want a new and fresh name, something that captures who I am right now, that has aged well.

Cousin Ice Cream Cone
I experiment with this notion when I work with young children. My married name is Cohn, as in Ice Cream Cone.  It is not the two syllable Cohen or Co-hen. Just the short and sweet cone so I tell the little ones that my name is Mrs. Ice Cream Cone. I do this for both practical and educationally sound reasons. Practical because it’s likely they will remember my name and educationally sound because research shows that happy learners actually learn more and that success breeds success. Part of what makes learners happy is being successful. In this environment, Mrs. Ice Cream Cone clearly works for me but I’m not sure it’s right anywhere else.

Uncle Traffic Cohn
When I was pregnant with my son, we did get lots of helpful and not so helpful ideas for names from friends and acquaintances. In no particular order or preference these included: Gengis Cohn, Shaka Cohn, Traffic Cohn, Kubla Cohn, Ice Cream Cohn, Safety Cohn, Waffle Cohn, Soft serve Cohn, Pine Cohn, and Snow Cohn. Our favorite came from a friend of my brother’s who suggested Jimmy Crack Cohn. While entertaining, we rejected them all and went with Miles which appears to be working just fine and seems like a good fit.

So for those of you who know me only as an adult or know me best from childhood or those adolescent years, please don’t think of me as a Carol. Suggestions and recommendations for an updated, better name are being collected right now and I welcome your input.

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