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The Name Game

Let's say that you wanted to open a new business. Whatever name you choose for your business will have to say a lot about it in only one or two words. For example, choosing a name like "Nik's Cakes" does tell consumers that you sell cakes, but why is "Nik's Cakes" better or worse than "Bob's Cakes"? It's boring, unimaginative and not very sexy.

Go to and you will get lots of good advice about choosing a business name:

Curl Up and Dye may sound cute now, but after six months, you and your customers will become very weary of the joke.

Yeah, especially if you sell cakes.

If choosing a name for your business is hard, how difficult it must be to choose a name for yourself. Imagine that you had just ratted on a mafia boss and were taken into the witness protection program. You get to live in a new location with a new job, new life and, of course, a new name. What are you going to call yourself? Bob Smith? I think not. How about something more interesting, like "Alfonzo de la Cruz" - perhaps that's a little over the top, especially if you are a Hassidic Jew. It's hard. Your name is your identity. How much does it say about you?

Actually, not much.

Do you really think that Bobby Blacksmith is really a blacksmith, or that June Tailor is really a tailor? She isn't, her father wasn't and her Grandfather doesn't know suede from silk. It's just the name she was born with. Nothing more and nothing less. Anyway, it's probably easier to inherit a name than have to choose your own.

But if you have to choose a name, why not go with the most popular? If everyone is doing it, why not you, too?

According to the 1990 US census, the following is a list of the top four most common surnames:

1. Smith 2,772,200
2. Johnson 2,232,100
3. Williams 1,926,200
4. Jones 1,711,200

It seems the Jones' couldn't keep up with the Johnsons'.

If you have to choose your own name, settling for one of the classics could just be tiresome. However, if you wanted to disappear into the sea of Smiths or Johnsons or Williams, well, it's probably not so hard. And blending in with the crowd could be just what you need when dodging the mafia. It's got to be harder to find a "John Williams" than an "Alfonzo de la Cruz".

Then again, if you have ever watched a movie where someone joins the witness protection program, you will know that inevitably the mafia sniffs them out. The witness invariably takes a bullet in the head while executing a hairpin net shot in badminton, or when about to perform a Zwischenzug (look it up) in a pool-side game of chess. So you may as well give yourself an interesting name. Spice up the headline news a little for the readers:

Last night, Alfonzo de la Cruz, the Jewish Hassidic owner of the famous "Curl Up and Dye" bakery, was gunned down by an unidentified mafia hitman. "Mr. de la Cruz played it bravely and valiantly, despite being in a difficult position," said his protector, Detective Bob Johnson. "Our investigations so far have found that he would have been check-mate in two moves, anyway".


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