I enjoyed a really nice long weekend on Long Island. I had a chance to reconnect with the Clarks (no relation to the candy bar), my mother’s branch of our family, attending a cousin’s younger daughter’s graduation party. It was a great chance for me and my family to reconnect with him, his family, and other family members who came out for the happy occasion.
It was also a wonderful reminder of a small but essential truth — we have so much invested in our names. Over the weekend, we bandied about a lot of family names — those of family members who weren’t present, of family friends from childhood and youthful memories. On the wall of my cousin’s living room was a framed newspaper ad from 1935 from Bronzo’s, his grandparents’ grocery store. I was amazed to see specials on brands like La Choy that are familiar today but I didn’t expect to see from that period of American history. We have always been a melting pot.
The point is that my cousin’s grandparents were proud to put their name on the outside of the store. So have a couple of zillion other businesses over the years. Small ones like druggists and restaurants and gas stations. And quite a few bigger ones like Ford.
We would all be much better off these days if we took that kind of pride again. As company owners, but also as employees. Unfortunately, too many of us work for big congolomerates with made-up corporate names or acronyms. We delude ourselves that we do not have much personally invested. From the mailroom to the board room, too many have a phone-it-in attitude about work. It’s just about collecting a paycheck. What has been lost is the pride in one’s work. How much different we would feel if it were our own name on the sign. If it were our customers on the other side of the counter.
We are all brand names. Our family names are gifts and reputations for each and every one of us to carry on. Make your parents (and yourself) proud.