One of the issues that arose quite early in our history was exactly what to call the people who work here at NotQuiteProfitable.com. It may not seem like a big thing to everyone, but you would be surprised how a simple label can impact people’s behavior over time.
It also turns out that our top executive in HR was responsible for little other than this naming decision and so many weeks of face-to-face meetings and teleconferences were spent in pursuit of the perfect label to attach to the … we didn’t know what to call them yet. You can see the problem.
Many thought minions was cute and had the virtue of not being used by any other companies that we could think of. However, “Despicable Me” had gotten pretty popular and we did not want to look like we were stealing ideas from an animated film. Not to say that we would mind stealing from an animated film, but we did not want it to look that way.
Others thought comrades had a nice ring to it, but there was the risk that some might take the egalitarian, we-are-all-equal hogwash as something to be believed. We could not allow that. This was also about the time Occupy Wall Street was getting headlines and we wanted to distance ourselves from the unwashed masses.
While Team member does not have the one-world-order slant of comrades, it could leave people with the mistaken belief that we are all on the same team; from the highest level executive to the lowest grunt worker. We decided for a while that minions did not sound so bad by comparison.
We could have simply gone with calling them workers, but that caused problems by creating an unfavorable distinction between the management team and the so-called workers. It might lead literal people to think that the management team did not, in fact, work. Whatever the reality of that, we could not leave the impression.
Finally we arrived at what we think is the perfect name – Associates. It has a nice formal ring to it that brings to mind knowledge-workers in business attire. You have seen the associates busily running around a law firm. We thought that was pretty cool. It lets the associates know that they are a part of a greater whole. It gives them an air of professionalism and pride and it is cheaper than printing up embossed business cards for each one of them. We had tried the business card route before and since most of our associates are never let out of the building, the only use they had was to hand out cards to relatives at family gatherings. It might have made their mothers proud, but it failed to impress uncle Joe and aunt Martha. As much as we had a soft spot in our hearts for minions, the final decision was that our folks will be known as associates from this point forward.
While that well-known mart may have picked up the associates label before us, we think it is the perfect name for the people that make this company what it is today. Now stop surfing the web and get back to work.