Monthly Archives: January 2012

The importance of a name in business

A business’s name is the number 1 piece of information people know about that establishment. And yet, I see time and again start-ups that purposely use weird names.

Luckily, there is finally some science to this that shows who is doing what, correctly.

Studies have shown that companies in the S&P500 with name’s and ticker symbols that appear to have some meaning and are not random, will on average (and controlling for other factors), increase their stock prices in a disproportionate manner.

It’s the same concept as when you walk around a tradeshow. The booths at which I am more likely to stop are the one’s whose name tells me what they do and for whose products I’m a potential buyer. The businesses whose name tell me nothing will have to entice me via some other method such that I become interested enough to stroll by and find out what they do.

Also, I imagine that you can recall a few times when you were trying to remember a business’s name, but due to its randomness, couldn’t quite bring it to mind as easily as you would have liked. Well this has far reaching effects for your early customers and apparently even your investors. It’s comical how irrational we are.

So there you go – when it comes to naming your startup – stand out, but not so much that what you offer can’t be easily and cogently drawn from your name.


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Creativity and fast thinking

A very interesting study has me smiling whenever I do creative problem solving now.

When three words are put together like “water, air, salt” – humans have an uncanny ability to sense whether or not there is a commonality between them. Among other interesting finds in the study – I found the most relevant to be that when participants were asked to think about negative experiences and induce negative feelings, their ability to sense whether there would be a commonality among these words is almost completely lost.

Their minds switch to System 2 which is plotting and slow – but makes less mistakes than its more intuitive and free counterpart, system 1. The reason it switches is due to a complex system of cognitive load and ease. Which would take more than this post to explain.

Point is: if you’re doing something creative – smile. You heavily decrease your ability to connect concepts in a creative fashion when sad.

The three words at the top of this, by the way, all relate to the word “sea” – but you knew that already didn’t you.
The study is taken from Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. The original source can be obtained from that book.

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Mirrors and their anthropological effects

Take a mirror that with a dial can be shaped to either be more convex or more concave, give it to a test subject and tell them to select the ‘correct’ setting – most won’t be able to do it properly because of the distorted sense of self perception we have.

Listening to the CBC today, Karen Virag explores numerous reflections on how mirrors have shaped our lives and some interesting facts and misconceptions. While doing so, she speaks with a writer who pledged to not look at a her reflection for a full year.

The most interesting thing she said while explaining her adventure was that she, of all things, felt lonely. She talks about finding solace in her shadow – her only reminder of herself. And then she talks about the focus it put on the other people in her life, instead of herself. It made me think of how different our lives are today versus when we were evolving. Or even a 100 years ago. How often did we have access to a shiny surface that showed us our reflection? Not half as much as today.

If we feel lonely now when not able to see ourselves in the mirror, does this mean we were a much more cohesively social people when we didn’t have ready access to mirrors? Did we seek out social connection with more vigor? Did we simply put more importance on or concentrate on others more? What kind of a life did this make for humans on a day to day basis?

I’ll be trying to look in the mirror less… but trying this for even an afternoon shows me how ingrained this action is in our psyches.


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