Playing the Name Game

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to influence others. Reading time: 3:32

        Iceland isn’t. Iceland isn’t a land of ice.
And Greenland isn’t. Greenland isn’t a land of green.

Geyser erupts in Iceland

Geyser erupts in Iceland

    In fact, it’s the other way around: Iceland is green and Greenland is ice.

   Iceland is a country filled with large green forests, hot springs and geysers. So why did the Vikings name this verdant country Iceland?

   And Greenland is more like a frozen tundra — a huge floating ice cube in the Arctic. So why did the Vikings name this arctic country Greenland?

   The Vikings were playing The Name Game. They used names to influence how others reacted to newly discovered lands.

      The Vikings Name Game helped them keep the warm geysers of Iceland to themselves and divert others to Greenland. So they played The Name Game to deceive, manipulate  and exploit with names. Hardly the stuff of leaders.

      But Playing The Name Game –with integrity and credibility–is the stuff of effective leadership.

     That’s why Gandhi referred to the lowest class of citizens in India not as Untouchables but as Harijan or Children of God.

     iceland mapThat’s why John D. Rockefeller named his company Standard Oil, promoting the consistent quality of his kerosene as a standard that would not explode when lit like so many other kerosenes on the market at the time.

     And that’s why so many ordinary products like soaps have such extraordinary names to generate Cheer or Joy. Or commit to a Promise or Pledge.

     Playing The Name Game can inspire others to awesome performance.

     Consider the Kamikaze pilots in World War II. The Japanese pilots weren’t committing suicide by crashing their planes into enemy ships. They played the Name Game and saw themselves riding on the wings of  Divine Wind  — the translation for Kamikaze .



     Playing The Name Game can encourage expected behavior.

     That’s why a senior vice president of quality at a major manufacturer called himself a  Wall Eliminator.  A retailer refers to its stores as  Engagement Centers.  And an advertising agency refers to its branch offices as  Listening Centers.

     Playing The Name Game can infuse products with a clear differentiation and value-added dimension:

     A quick drying concrete is named Quikrete. A one person office is named Personal Harbor. A razor is named Sensor. A running shoe is named after the Greek word for victory (Nike). And a German car designed for the masses was named The Peoples Car (Volkswagen).

     Playing The Name Game can celebrate a sense of place.

     There is a bar/restaurant in Rachel, NV near Area 51, a reported government hideout for captured aliens. It is named Little Ale Inn. (Say that slowly Little Ale Inn and you will hear yourself saying “alien.”)

    Playing The Name Game can celebrate teamwork.

    The Concorde jet was named to celebrate the agreement -or the concord- between England and France in designing the supersonic airplane. Concorde was spelled with an “E” that stood for entente, defined in the dictionary as “an international understanding providing for a common course of action.”

    Indeed, Playing The Name Game provides leaders a strategic tool to gain greater traction for their leadership.

    On or off –the ice. With or without a green light.

Today’s ImproveMINT

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