Episode 18 - Steve Cecil - On the Power of Words

Steve Cecil (00:00):
Every kid is different. You know, their children are not fungible. You know, they're not interchangeable, you know, like you've probably gotten the Bisco in your pantry right now. It's, it's possible to like the name, the Bisco, and never put it together. That it's a contraction of national biscuit company. It's easy to get your first name job, because all of the big naming agencies are so horny for the talent.

Young Han (00:30):
Hey guys, I'm young, a full-time dad and a full-time professional with the goal to become the best parent possible. The girl dad show is my journey interviewing fellow working parents as to both good at work and parenting. I'm gonna do this by gathering and sharing unfiltered perspectives from my guests. So join me as I research parenthood one interview at a time. This episode of the girl dad show is brought to you by two 12, among the many things that I do. I'm also an angel investor. The two biggest mistakes I see founders make when they come to me for investments are one. They don't have a clean cap table. And two they're unable to clearly articulate how my equity will dilute over future rounds. And more importantly, what my ROI will be when the company exits it's very difficult for me to make my investment decisions without these data points. Two 12 solves this problem for both me and the founders for $240 a year or two 12 offers an incredibly powerful cap table management and valuation modeling platform. It is by far one of the most powerful productivity tools I've seen. And I highly recommend every founder sign up modeling, convertible notes, safes price rounds, prorata liquidation preferences, and exit events. As a breeze on two 12 founders can then easily share all these complex calculations. And what if scenarios with investors and close their round much quicker. They're also giving my listeners 25% off their first year's membership costs. If you use the discount code T G DS at checkout, and if you're a founder or investor, you should absolutely get on two 12 as soon as possible. It's an absolute no-brainer dilution is real and complex. Cap table management is confusing and expensive. You need to get on two 12 today. What's the point of building a successful company. You don't own Steve.

Young Han (02:11):
Welcome to the girl dad show. Thank you for joining me today. Well,

Steve Cecil (02:14):
It's great to be here. I a girl, dad as well and

Young Han (02:17):
Oh, awesome.

Steve Cecil (02:18):
Yeah. And so, so how old is your daughter?

Young Han (02:20):
I have a two year old and a four year old. How about you?

Steve Cecil (02:22):
My daughter two turned two yesterday and today she's 28.

Young Han (02:28):
That's fantastic. Congratulations. so she's a full, full blown adult. What is she doing?

Steve Cecil (02:33):
And so she was a video production MI major with a computer science minor.

Young Han (02:39):
Oh, fantastic.

Steve Cecil (02:41):
She was with she media, you know, right in Manhattan. And boy. Yeah. You think Silicon valley is rough?

Young Han (02:48):
My apologies, my kid and true girl, dad show fashion is joining the podcast for brief second oh, I apologize for that. But Steve, before we, I know we jumped right in, but I'd love to actually start by letting the listeners know what you do for a living.

Steve Cecil (03:01):
So I, I'm a namer, I, I name new products and new companies. And I know it's a weird thing to specialize in, but I've always been able to write short. I got my start in newspaper headlines on deadlines and moved into magazine. And I became a magazine publisher in the Midwest and, you know, while I was looking at the books and, and the three biggest checks that I wrote were to the publisher. I mean, to, to the post office, to the printer and to my ad sales people. So I learned how to sell ads and and that got me transferred back here to to the bay. So I rept a bunch of ad agencies you know, from a new business standpoint. And one of the things I noticed in the nineties was that nobody wanted to talk about advertising. They didn't even want to talk about marketing communications or anything. They wanted to talk about branding and branding is the biggest part of brand is the naming. And, and so the game came back to me coach. And so, you know, I went back to and became an account executive at a naming at a naming agency. Hold on, my little girl wants to say hi, she doesn't under, she doesn't understand why, I suddenly start talking.

Young Han (04:15):
That's awesome. You, you have a girl dog as well, too. That's fantastic. Yeah. So you're a true girl, dad. I love it. You have a girl daughter and a, a girl dog.

Steve Cecil (04:24):
Yes. This is Veronica.

Young Han (04:26):
Veronica. Nice to meet you, Veronica.

Steve Cecil (04:29):
Yeah, so in 1995, I won a contest for name this soda on the, in, in one of the advertising magazines. And and that led to a couple of other paid jobs. So that decided I was gonna, I was gonna double down on naming. And so Andy Cunningham our, our mutual connection. She hired me as a director of verbal branding for Cunningham communication in the year 2000. And it was the worst timing of all, because you might remember in 2000 we were shaking, but in 2001, ah, that was that, that, that tech bubble burst

Young Han (05:08):
I still can't get over the fact that this is what you do for a living. How does one get into the business of naming things? What a cool job.

Steve Cecil (05:15):
Super good question. It's easy to get your first name job, because all of the big naming agencies are so horny for the talent, right. It's impossible to get your second name, job if all the stuff on your list was average. Right. So you know, full disclosure, I've done 841 name jobs. I would also accept holy cow

Young Han (05:41):
And holy cow, that's a lot of naming.

Steve Cecil (05:44):
Yeah. If I was just the new business guy at a, at an agency and I sold 840 name jobs, I'd be the stud of the office. Right. But oh yeah. So I I've actually done all the account work for those jobs. I write all the creative briefs. I come up with all the names. Everybody gets 250, sometimes 300 names. I apologize in advance. I'm not a perfectionist, but I am obsessive compulsive and I got a lot of Steves up here, you know, ear earlier today I was I was lifeguard Steve.

Young Han (06:15):
So, so, so what's really, what's really cool about this is that, to be honest with you, Steve, I've never even knew that this was a job yet, a whole industry with agencies that specialized in this with account managers and people recruiting for it. Like, I actually didn't even know this was like a function before I met you.

Steve Cecil (06:33):
My ex-wife said the same thing. I said, I'm gonna be a namer. And then she goes, a namer. Is that even a thing? That's right. And you know, in the early days I, I charged, you know, $2,500 for a name job, then it was 37 50. And then I got it up to 5,000 and then it was 7, 8500. And then I was at 9,000 and now I charged $11,000 for a name job, which you it's a mere fraction of what, you know, a big naming agency, the lands or the lexicons, or, you know, inner brands. They, you know, it's, it's six figures and up, you know, and that's just for the verbal branding part, doesn't include the visual branding or, you know, any of the you know, the, the other trade dress that goes with it. So I decided to just focus on the naming part. And at first, all I did was come up with the long listed names off of somebody else's brief and the agency that I was doing it for would do the screening and have all the client interface after seeing enough creative briefs. I learned the right a better one. And even when agencies brought me the brief, I would, I would use the thinking that I had done in my own brief. And and I learned how to screen the names for legal. And that was a really valuable addition in the, in the band with, in terms of end to end. Right? Yeah. Yeah. So I, I got my start in sales. I, I sold ads for time magazine and so I was able to do my own account work. I'm able to write my own creative brief. Of course, I come up with all the names, but now I'm able to do the legal pre-screen. So I get to, I get that trademark leverage. And so I can run a much better verbal branding consultation during the, the list review. And that's the hardest part is agreeing the final name, you know, taking them from 300 names down to 30 names, and then from 30 names down to their top three. And, and I do that in about three weeks, you know it it's, it would take you three weeks to get a, a meeting in the conference room at, at some of these other agencies.

Young Han (08:42):
That's incredible. So, so then like, so first off, like, can you share some of the names that you've named or is that something that you NDA under, or is there any names that you can share?

Steve Cecil (08:53):
So I named the Subaru cross Trek, you know, that's the that's the one that everybody's heard of? I think it it's been in production for like six or eight years. That's, it's kind of the over, under for cars. Well, have you named a car? You know, because they put my name on the, on the face plate of, you know, what, what, what will be hundreds of thousands of vehicles and, yeah, so the, the agency then wanted their brief said that they wanted the same audio footprint as Outback. And that was that, that stuck with me. You know, of course it said they want to be memorable and catchy and you know, all the briefs say, but as a namer, you have to, you have to tune in and, and know what 95% to ignore, you know, that's true, but not differentiating. Right. And so I decided that the Outback that, that its most distinctive linguistic feature was that terminating K. And so I, you know, looked around for words that, you know, that ended in K and so there, there were quite a few Trek names on, on the list. This was a crossover SUV, new to the category back then. But so cross Trek gives it the same basic balance as Outback you can tell, they're not necessarily siblings, but their cousins. 

Young Han (10:16):
Oh my gosh, this is so amazing. Now you're making me want to be a namer. This is sounds so fun and creative. It sounds like an incredible job.

Steve Cecil (10:24):
Yeah. So whenever, I speak with, you know, young people or, or people that, you know, other namers, they, they always wanna say, well, if you ever get to, if you ever run outta names, I'll do you know, I'll do it for you. You know? So I go, okay, here's the pop quiz? Give me 10 synonyms for black.

Young Han (10:41):
Oh man. Do you want me to do it right now?

Steve Cecil (10:46):
Yeah. Yeah.Try dark. Edit it out. If you don't, you know, you good? 

Young Han (10:49):
Yeah. Dark. Oh gosh. abyss, That's not a good one. Ebony. That's a great one. Oh man. That is a good one. Oh, how about space? Onix did you say Onix yeah. How about, oh man, this is really hard.

Steve Cecil (11:13):
Yeah. How about jet? Jet?

Young Han (11:15):
Jet black. Oh, clever

Steve Cecil (11:19):
About pitch

Young Han (11:21):
Pitch. Yeah. That's why I was going with the abyss. I was like, trying to think of like, you know, darkness, but yeah,

Steve Cecil (11:26):
So the, the, the, the, the funniest one I ever heard was cause I tell him, you know, use assemblies, you know, you know, as, as black as a, you know, anyways, I, the, the, the neighbor that I was talking to on the phone, I use the, I said gave me 10 synonyms for white and, and the, and he had the funniest answer I've ever got, he said whiter than a rush concert. Oh man. See, and that's, that's a good connection. That's a, yeah, that's a brilliant, but non-obvious connection. So another thing I named was Corsera, you know, that's a MO if you into online learning.

Young Han (12:02):
And so I love Corsera. I love course. They love that you named it. That's amazing.

Steve Cecil (12:07):
Yeah. And, and I remember I worked with Daphne Kohler and Andrew NG, Andrew from the computer science department at Stanford. I was introduced to them by John do for the venture capitalist. Wow. And so it was a very high level meeting. We did everything on the phone, took 11 days and it was about 10 o'clock at night, on a Sunday night after I got all their kids to bed. And, you know, and we're, we're doing our list review session. And, and, and so the, the backstory on Coursera there was already edX. Right. And so I figured that took away the whole ed category, you know, and then there was you to me and and Udacity. So I figured that took the whole university direction away. And then I, then I, you know, got I, I, I got in this vein where I was, was thinking, you know, no, one's gonna go, they're not gonna go to college online. They might just take one class. Right. Or, and that led me to things like curriculum and syllabus and eventually the courses. And so course era has a really nice mouth feel to it. And yeah. And, and so it was an instant winner and that was like 2013. I think we, we, we went to GoDaddy and got it for 8 99 that night. You know,

Young Han (13:23):
What an interesting career, I love this, I love that you're a neighbor. This is like the coolest thing I've ever heard of. And I'm so fascinated by it. But Steve, I do gotta ask you, like, we gotta switch gears cuz this is also about parenting. Right. And so I, I can, I could talk to you about naming probably for the whole, the whole show, cuz it is such a, like such a unique impression to me. It is so cool. It is so cool. But let's try to, IWE it a little bit and talk about your kid. So you said you had one girl.

Steve Cecil (13:50):
Yes. Well, so my, my first child was a boy Alexander and and, and so he's now 35 years old and, and so I really like being a dad. I was never a better husband than when I was a dad. Nice. And to be able to wrestle on the bed after work, you know, and and put him on my shoulders, you know, while I was doing chores outside, I really liked that. And, and so my wife worked weekends, she was a nurse. And so I got to be, you know, Mr. Mom. And I put him in the backpack where in the sling you know, when I would put him, I had a high chair down in the, in the, my wood shop. And so he got to, whenever I was banging a, on something with a hammer, I would give him a little hammer. Right. And, and so we we, we hung out quite a lot. And part, part of that was selfish. My dad died when I was 10. He was only 38 years old. I thought for sure that I would die when I was 38 years old. And I never knew my, my dad, I ne yeah. I never had a conversation with him, you know? And so I, I decided that wasn't gonna let that happen. And, and so I made a really good connection with, you know, with, with, with my boy when he was like three or four years old and I wanted to go golfing. I put him in his bat, Batman helmet and a Cape. And he, he rode in the cart with me eating peanut M&M's. And, and sometimes we would last nine holes. Sometimes we would last 13 holes. Right. But you just gotta be flexible as he got older, we, we would finish the round and go to the clubhouse and know but you know, you I would never and even now that's what we do for father's day it's, you know you know, it, we, we even rolled a golf cart once. That's a different story. I'll tell you, but it, it's nice to have a good relationship with your, with your adult kids. And so he's married and in long island now with his wife who works at Google, he works at Shopify, so nice outcome. He went to Georgetown university, she was at Georgetown on a soccer scholarship, and they had both blown out their knees in in their sport. And so they kind of connected, you know, all on that random thing. It's like they met in may of their senior years. Right. So can you imagine they, they were at the same school for four years and they barely even passed over that's right. Yeah. My daughter exact opposite. She went to Fordham and then one of, one of the things she wanted to do when she got to New York was to go to studio eight H right. Which wanted to see Saturday night live. And, and, and so it turns out you, everybody gets in line and then you draw a ticket and your ticket is either good for the early show or the second show. And and so sometimes by the time you get there, there's only the, the first show, the one left. Right. But so she's done it eight or nine times, but this very first time that she went all of the girlfriends that she had just recently met that were planning to go with her, they bailed out cuz it was rain and she did not wanna bail out. So she went and stood in line and sure enough, it started to drizzle. And the group in front of her had brought a B tarp, you know, like the kind you get from home Depot. Yeah. Yeah. And they opened it up, you know, cuz you're right. Alongside the newspaper stands and the bike, right. Yeah. Along the wall. Yeah. Yeah. And so they, they, they put the tarp up and and, and Sam was right behind them getting wet. And, and so they invited her to sit underneath their tarp with them. And it was like, and they, it was a group of like eight teenagers that had come down from Boston. So they weren't even local new Yorkers. Right, well, one of the boys was kind of sweet on Sam and they stayed in touch. And then you know, he took the bus down later and they went on a, you know, a date, a one-on-one date. And, and anyway, eight years later they're getting married now in October.

Young Han (18:00):
So, oh my gosh, that's amazing. That's really great story. That's incredible.

Steve Cecil (18:07):
And, and that's the, that's what you want for your, for your kids is for them to make good choices and, and meet good people. And, and then, you know, the, the, I love Andy's confession. There's not a lot of parenting going on nowadays. You know, coach doesn't call my number very often. And and, and so I try to be ready, but, you know, they're fully capable of you know, if they got arrested, I wouldn't even find out about it unless they told me, you know, they're, they're fully functioning adults. And, and I think about them every day, but, you know, spoiler alert, they don't think about me every day. No,

Young Han (18:46):
You're making me wanna call my dad. So I appreciate that. So yeah, I probably should. Yeah. And then hopefully your kids will see this and they'll start calling you every day as well, too. That's a really great sentiment in point. I like, I, I love that. And so do you, is that like, how do you qualify success as a parent?

Steve Cecil (19:01):
Well, yeah, that's a, that's a really hard one and and, and whatever worked for me might not necessarily work for anybody else and yeah. And I had to figure it out, you know, when, you know, in the, the 19 hundreds in the early two thousands, ah, what a, what a show we have going out here in 2021. And yeah. So and, and every, every kid is different, you know, they're children are not fungible, you know, they're not, not interchangeable right. And, and so learn your kid and yeah. And, and, and learn what, what, what responds, you know, what, what, what they respond to and, and you know, for, for, there's so many bad parents out there, you know, where their, their, their first reaction is, you know, to, to SWAT the, you know, smack the kid. And if you read this for something, they smack the hand and if he back talks, they smack the mouth and, you know, and, and when you grow up in the, in the, in the south, you know, that type of behavior is, you know, it's pervasive and even kind of expected, you know? And so I was beat as a young person and I decided I'm, I am never gonna hit my kids. Right, I can, I, if I can't make my point, you know, verbally, I mean, I'm six, I'm six foot three, and I weigh 280 pounds. Right. I mean, it's, that's not fair. And so and, and that, you know, the, the most I ever did was I would flick them, you know, with one UN finger, I would, I would flick them. And, and that was only as a last resort.

Steve Cecil (20:37):
Right. And, and that got their attention. And and so you know, you're, the temptation is that you want your kids to, to be like you and do the things that, you know you know, that, that, that you were good at. And you might have to let go of that. And so you know, taking a genuine interest in what the kid wants to do, you know, that's, that that's really important. And I think you gotta keep throwing stuff out of 'em, you know, if they don't like team sports, like basketball and, and soccer, then, you know, try karate, right. or gymnastics. Right. And some kids like to take stuff apart. Right. And so, you know, go to the thrift store and buy a old, you know, electric mixer for $2 and bringing home on the kitchen table and take that apart yeah. And, and use a real screwdriver and see where the wires are and stuff like that, you know? Yeah. And and you can make it age appropriate, a five year old. You should probably keep it unplugged the entire time, but boy, you've got 10 year old, you, you know, get the voltage meter out there and show 'em where the hot wire is and where the current is. And, and so I, I did all of that and, and I did the tea parties on the floor, you know, with my daughter and, and so and you, you can't replace that, but you, but by the time they're, you know, you're, they're a teenager or, oh, you either have a relationship with him or you, or you don't. Right. And, and I think it's like, it's kind of like a bank account. It's the trust deposit. You have to keep making deposits if you expect to make any withdrawals. Right. And, and so what is the, what, what is the, the, the, the trust account, you know, what, what is that made of, well, basically, it's, it's, it's your fairness, right? And it's your appropriateness as a parent, and as the parent, you quickly realize you're the, you're the dictator you can make, 'em eat whatever you want 'em to eat. You can make, 'em go to bed anytime you want 'em to go to bed. Right. And, and so, you know, making that same know, like, it's a, like, like the routine is beneficial to them while also being convenient to you. That's a, you know, that's a real that's a real balancing act, especially when you have demands on your time. Right. And so my big advice I would have for, for parents of young children is don't waste nap time, and, and you know, kids need they need exercise and play time for the stimulation, but they also need nap time to process that. Right. And to restore themselves for the next, for the next round. And so when you get your, when you, you know, get them on a schedule, like, you know, came to the park in the morning, and then, you know, when they're young, they might sleep like from 10 to 1130, and then you give them lunch and, you know, have some sort of activity. Then they might sleep from two to four o'clock. Right. You know? Cause, and, and then you, you know, gotta put 'em to bed, you know, around, you know, eight or nine o'clock. So kids need a lot of sleep. Yeah. If, if you get 'em down for a nap and then you start on stacking the dishwasher, oh, you've already screwed up. If they, if they go down for the nap and then you go fold some laundry, oh, you've you've you wasting your nap? What, what are you talking about?

Young Han (24:06):
What do you mean by what do you want them to do?

Steve Cecil (24:09):
No, they should go take, they, they, they should go take their nap, but then the parent should instantly set on that. Other thing, this is the work life balance, right? If you, and, and I, and I wrote my wrote five, a total of five books, but I wrote my first two women's books during nap time. And

Young Han (24:27):
No way you wrote children's books.

Steve Cecil (24:31):
I got a lot of Steves up here.

Young Han (24:33):
Oh my gosh, Steve, this is so fun. You're a very creative man.

Steve Cecil (24:37):
Yeah. My, company is called manufacturers of fine ideas. Oh. And MFI. And so naming is just the verbal of it. But in, you know, there was a time when I made I drew these mazes and the, the maze, the line you make to solve the maze would draw a picture of something. So I could, I could make a maze that just looks like a bug, like a regular maze. But when you, when you solve the maze, it is clearly a picture of a cat. Yeah. So I, I sent a bunch of these to a publisher and and ended up doing eventually got contract. I got a royalty even from from Scholastic, you know, it was sold in the, in the book fair. Right. And so I had to self-publish the first book, but I used that as a sample to, to send to the, to the other publishers.

Steve Cecil (25:34):
So anyways, the, my kids were my testers. Right. And, and they were the age where you know, my oldest son, you know, if I, if he would say, you know, dad, this maze is too hard or this maze is too easy. Right. And because when you have two kids that are seven years apart, there's a three year old and a 10 year old  see. That's two different audiences right there. Right. Totally well. And, and so being able to entertain them both right. And, and also provide the, you know, proper kind of stimulation, you know, for both. That's great. You, if you have a, what did you say? A two year old and a four year old?

Young Han (26:12):
I did. Yeah. Yeah.

Steve Cecil (26:14):
See, that's pretty much the same age, especially when you're six and eight years old,

Young Han (26:18):
Right. Oh yeah. It's already like really nice, cuz you know, you can actually have commonalities, right. You can like play the same game. You can play the same puzzle. You can play the same activity, which is really nice. I'm actually really curious about you said you were like playing Mr. Mom during the, the earlier days when your wife worked on the weekends, but what time in age frame was that? I mean, did you always have the naming job or were you like, what, what was that polarity between like working and, and, and being a parent? Cause it sounds like you were very, very involved.

Steve Cecil (26:50):
I was and, you know, full disclosure, I didn't blossom as a neighbor until my, after my divorce. And so and, and I was divorced in 2008, eight, so I had only done probably two or 300 name jobs by then. And, and maybe I had booked a million dollars worth of business, you know, I'm at 840 name jobs now and multiple millions of dollars as a namer. So that didn't happen until afterwards. I was still, I, I was a rep firm for, for a lot of my career, you know, I sold, I sold space in a regional business magazine and then I got recruited to sell ads in time magazine. And I realized that this was even before the internet, I realized that cable TV was gonna put magazines out of business, and, so I tried to reinvent myself. And so instead of calling on ad agencies, I began to rep ad agencies and I became the, you know, the point person, the new business guy for that. And so I was able to, to do that, some of that from home, I've always had a home on office. And, and so also in the advertising business, but perhaps, you know, this, if the agency loses the account, you lose your job. Right? Yeah. And so my ex had a, had very solid employment at Stanford hospital and, and I was able to do contract work and, and, and move around, you know, trying to stay, you know, at the hot agency. Right. And, and in the early eighties and, and, and in the early nineties, oh, you know, the, we, Silicon valley was kittens. Right. Thanks for jumping And and so that was, that was good experience, but I would not want to go back then back there and, and do it then the naming business was, was not very mature at the time and it, but it, it, it came, it became popular at a really good time for me, if it had happened a little bit later, I'd have been too old to do it. I was a 40, I was a 40 year old account executive sitting in a room with a bunch of 20 somethings all with headsets, making a hundred cold calls a day. Yeah. You know, that, that was the naming agency that I, that I worked at. And I was the only one that made the calls. And I was the only one that got the sits. And so I remember one of my clients was Nike and and, and the names that my agency had come up with were all stupid. So I, I put the name, I, I put some names on the list and they ended up going with that, with that one. Can you

Young Han (29:44):
Share what name?

Steve Cecil (29:45):
It was? The course air. That was what tiger woods war in 19 99, 19 98.

Young Han (29:51):
Wait, course air wait, which one for Nike,

Steve Cecil (29:54):
They were trying to use air cuz they have air max and air Jordan. They were trying to use air as a prefix. that made it too powerful too, too quick, too. Athletic golf is smooth and right. so I put the air as a, as a suffix and because it's played on the golf course, it became the course air

Young Han (30:22):
Corsair. Oh, that's awesome. I, for some reason I was like hearing Corra and I'm like, oh, are we still talking about the same thing? But Corra is the Nike one. That's awesome. See,

Steve Cecil (30:31):
And those two name jobs were 15 years apart, 16 years apart. Wow. That's the kind of a, a, the, the NA's brain just ifs through, you know, grains of sand. Right.

Young Han (30:44):
Steve, I have to ask, how did you come up with the names for your kids? 

Steve Cecil (30:49):
I really liked the Alexander, the great, and I knew he was gonna be great. So that was really hard for me to lay off. I also like to have a name that I could scream. Right. And I also, you know, like on the playground and I also like to have a name that I could reduce to one syllable. And, and so L was what, what his pet name was. And so for my daughter, I really liked the idea of having an androgynous name so that when someone saw it, they weren't a hundred percent, well, you know, whether, what, what the gender would be. Right. And so the other day I, I met or I read about whose name, whose first name was January. And I, I had no idea whether that was a man or a woman, right? Yeah. But so Samantha can be abbreviated to Sam. And so I ask on, on my workshops during the introductions, I ask everybody, have you named anything? And some people say, no, I haven't named anything. I said, don't you, didn't you name your kids or whatever. And they're like, go, yeah, my kids are Carl and Carol. And I point out, oh, see, that's a nomenclature architecture right there. Those two names go together. Right? Yeah. Totally. And someone else will say, yeah, my kids are David and Michael. And it's like, both of those are biblical names. Right? Yeah. And so I try to show them that those types of patterns are extent in the world. I creative copywriter before, and I read a, an article about short stories, meant how to create characters, and the rule of thumb, which is so fascinating. If you wanna come up with a name, it sounds like a, a really believable name for a, a man. Give him one, a, one syllable, first name and a two last name like Dick Tracy.

Young Han (32:29):
Oh my gosh. That's awesome. Yeah. That's these little, these are, the tricks. These are the, these are the psychological things that you need to know. E 40,

Steve Cecil (32:37):
Right? Oh, he's right.

Young Han (32:39):
I know. Right. 40

Steve Cecil (32:41):
So that's the form factor. You're trying so funny. You're trying to come up with a male name. That's got cred to it for, with females. It's the exact opposite. It's a two syllable, first name and a one syllable. Last name. Oh, no way. Nancy drew. Right. Lady dye. That's that's just, if you wanna come up with a character that you're trying to signal, that she's really distinct, right. Then give her a name like Hermione. Right. And that doesn't fit the form factor at all. So, you know, she's not gonna be a stick figure character, right? Yeah. So, you know, translating that, to know, to, to naming most people can't come up with their own set of, of, of Alchemist rules for how to, you know, how to do naming. And what you find as a name is that the dictionary only takes you so far, right? Yeah. All the, all the words are taken. You almost always have to combine a new word. Or what I do is just, is make up a new word. And so the theory that the further deepen your mouth, the, the sound originates and the further back on the, on your tongue, the sound, the bigger, the thing is like Google, right? It's it's so that, that global stop signals enormity, and the opposite is true. The further out in the tip of your tongue and the higher in the roof of your mouth, the sound originates, the closer to your lips, the more precise the thing is like, say, say the word precise, see how all that mouth feel is in the front. Yeah.

Young Han (34:09):
gosh, this is the coolest thing ever. Steve, this is so fun. I'm like, I'm like, so enamored by your job. I can't even focus right now, but so when you named your kid, you did it based on the fact that you, you had a thing you had, you wanted him to be great, like Alexander. Great. So you got Alexander and then for Samantha, you wanted her to have an S name. So she didn't have any kind of restrictions when it came to like her name and her ability. So you gave her Sam. Yes. That's. So that's so that's so like, it's a good reason. It's seems so logical for how creative you are.

Steve Cecil (34:43):
And they, both of those names worked out, you know, sometimes kids changed their names or whatever. My, so my youngest sibling, her name is D D E E. And I heard her introduce herself one time and she just cracked me up. She's a mountain climber. She, she leaves a Knowles now, national outdoor leadership school. Wow. Anyways, she got up introduced herself. She goes, hi, my name is D I'm the fourth of, of four children. My brothers and sisters names are A, B and C.

Young Han (35:12):
Nice. clever. So she made a joke in a pun out of her name. I love it. I did something similar with my name too. I mean, cause my name is is young. And so it's really easy for me to like my jokes about it, where people will obviously suggest jokes with it almost immediately. And it's, it's very, very fun to have a a name like that, that you can make a joke with because it's a, a really great way to build rapport and relationship very quickly.

Steve Cecil (35:35):
Yes. So I'm dyslexic and when I see words, my brain rearranges them into, into other words. And so I just recently had some dental work done. I'm not quite finished with yet, but yeah, as I'm walking past my dentist sign outside of his office, it says Dr. L I P S O N and I realized, huh, that's an Anagram of slip on. And so I mentioned that to him and he cracked up laughing and showed me he was wearing slip-ons oh my gosh. And, and he's 55 years old and never knew that about himself, you know? Yeah. That, but you know, being dyslexic that I'm glad nobody ever cured me of that. Right. And, and, but it plays into how I, how I did transition to become a, a I used to do, you know I'm very good at Scrabble. So I played Scrabble with my kids and my,

Young Han (36:29):
But you aren't really good at Scrabble. I can't even imagine playing against you. Yeah. Sounds Amazing

Steve Cecil (36:33):
I would let my son double hit the, the, the score, whatever word he wrote and I would let my daughter triple it and she could quadruple it. If it was more than four letters, I had to eventually change that to five letters. But that way I could handicap 'em right, but also teach them the full width and breadth of my, of my vocabulary. And, and I'm a firm believer that reading unlocks a lot of, and the better reader you are, the better writer you are and being able to express yourself, it's very valuable in business, but it also is good for your mental health. And so we would always play word games in the car. And and, and so I, I saw a Camry in front of me and I thought to myself, huh, Camry, that's an anagram of Marcy. I wonder if her name is Marcy soon as I formulated that thought young, I realized it crap.

Steve Cecil (37:26):
It's also a anagram of my car, right? Yeah. It is letters of, yeah. So I almost ran into Marcy in her Camry and this was before this was before the internet. So I had had to go to the business library where I knew the librarian and she recommended a couple of publications that had to check them out, you know, and, and you're, and it, it turns out it comes from CANI, which is the Japanese word for crown. And that goes with Corolla and Corona and all of the rest of it. But see, I was hooked that's, that's the name of my company is wear words. And, and I have always been fascinated with where the words come from, you know, like you've probably gotten the Bisco in your pantry right now. Yeah. It's, it's possible to like the name, the Bisco, and never put it together. It's a contraction of national biscuit company.

Young Han (38:25):
No way. That's awesome right. I never knew that. That's really great. That's that's it? That's the origin?

Steve Cecil (38:30):
Yes. And so I, I tell those stories in my workshops just to demonstrate that the best names are not always sensible and logical, and I love that. That's great. Yeah. And, and so when I told that Misco story to a company, the the, the, the, the genius coder I'll call him, he looks at me with over the top of his glasses with just his eyes. And he says, we do root cause analysis. What would you call this? And I blurt name the company Rocana and you can totally hear root cause analysis in Rocana. And, and, and that, and that, that, that turned out to be the company name.

Young Han (39:13):
And, oh my God. That's amazing. That is so fun. So what do your kids think about you being a neighbor? So if, if it's like a second coming in your professional career here and you kind of found your groove, like later on what do they think about it?

Steve Cecil (39:30):
Yeah. They're over it, you know, that they're, yeah. My, my might as a namer, you know, and and, and they've kind of come to accept it and but you know, true truly they've each hired me professionally that they they've each been at companies that had a naming problem and, and have hired me. And, and so there's that kind of you know, I love it when worlds collide. Right. That's amazing. I like to also think that, that they saw, they see me taking chances, you know, young, it's not like I buy a million dollars worth of lumber, and then I resold it for a million and a half. And that's how I yeah. Made my money. No, I just, I'm in nylon basketball shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Right. And, and all I do is just think of stuff. Right. Yeah. And, and and they know that I would sit and play Scrabble all day anyways for free. Yeah. Yeah. So for me to be able to monetize this really wonky ability you know, I think that that gives them confide to go out and, and yeah

Young Han (40:39):
That's a good point. That's a good point. Cause it's like leading by example, right? It's like, if, if someone can like have a lucrative career doing what they're they love and they're passionate about, it definitely opens up a lot of different doors or at least breaks down a lot of ceilings. Right. Like the constraints are, there are, are much more lighter, very, very lighter. Right.

Steve Cecil (41:04):
In my business, there's no market for B plus work. You you've gotta have A plus work, otherwise if there's no market for it. Right. Yeah. And, and so there's no such thing as good enough as an a, it's not enough to be creative. I have to be original. Right. I have to keep thinking of new ways to do it because confusingly similar is the reason why most trademarks get rejected. Right? Yeah. So my kids have heard all, all my advice, but big, the big piece of advice is outcomes are important, but we can't manage outcomes. Right. All we can do is manage the process to achieve the outcome. So if you're not, if you're not getting the outcomes that, that you want, if you're not meeting your goals, then go back and look at your process. Right. And, and most bosses, you probably have experienced this most process, most bosses, they, they obsess on the goal. Right. And, and, and they continually point out that you're, you know, not meeting the goal or whatever. And, and instead of asking why, right. And so as a parenting stand, you know, standpoint your kids are, they're gonna do some of the things you want 'em to do, but they're not gonna do some of the things you, you know, that you, you know, like picking up their toys. Yeah. You know, at a certain point, you, you, you decide that they can help put the toys back toy box. Right, right, right, right. At, at first you do it all right. And then later they help you. But then it comes a day. When you, when you say, Hey, I need for you to put all these toys back in the toy box. Right. And, and maybe they do it and maybe they don't see, but a goal that's an outcome. Right. And so if they don't do it, rather than scold 'em or hit 'em or whatever, ask them, why, why didn't you put this one in? And they might say, oh, I didn't see that one. Right. or they might say, oh, it's too heavy. Or, or I, I couldn't reach it. Right. A name. Well, and I am a lifelong learner. I'm I'm I don't do anything, half. I'm always all in and wow. I can't wait to be a grandpa.

Young Han (43:28):
Right. Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. That's awesome.

Steve Cecil (43:31):
That's so cool. A couple of years ago, I decided I saw some, a kid on the next door app. Do you remember that? Oh yeah. The next door app. He was selling his Lego collection because he had broken his iPhone and his parents were making him pay for half of the new one. I instantly loved his parents. Right. Because people don't respect what they don't pay for. So they gave this, this 13 year old, an iPhone and he promptly broke it and they weren't gonna buy him another one. They were gonna make him pay for half of the new phone. I just, and he was gonna fund his half of it by selling some of his boyhood toys. And, and so when I met him, his dad came by, drove him over and, and he, he brought him in. I could tell that it was a, it was a big decision for him, you know? And, and I, it, it was like three tubs of you know, the, the 12 quart flop lid. And he wanted like $120 for him or whatever. And and I, I paid him, you know, in $20 bills. Right. So anyways, I have about 10 tubs of Legos right now for what my, I finally get a grandkid to come to the house. We're gonna build them the biggest Lego castle you ever saw.

Young Han (44:43):
Yeah. That was just to support the idea of parenting and, and the, and the process.

Steve Cecil (44:48):
And I, I like the idea of giving back, you know, and donating. And sometimes, you know, sometimes you give money to an organization and you don't even know what happens to it. Right. And yeah. So so I have always bought the, the, an ad in the program for the local high school, fall sports kind of thing. Yeah. And I, and I don't even know if they even print 'em or if they pass 'em out in the stands, I've never gotten a call from it or anything. Yeah.

Young Han (45:18):
You just do it.

Steve Cecil (45:18):
Yeah. I just did it. And, and so one time I got a call from, from somebody. I said, what where's where's I think her name was Helen or whatever, my normal rep. And, and she goes, oh, we're not, we're not actually in your neighborhood. I I'm in Phoenix, Arizona, this, this is just a call list. And it's like, I'm not even supporting my school by buying an ad in this. And so that's when I decided that's when I decided that I would, I would pass out socks to homeless people on, on new year's Eve. And, and sometimes I would slip a half plane of Jack Daniels inside the, That's what I hope somebody would do for me.

Young Han (46:01):
You're like a walking Bohemian. Like the more, the more you talk the world, I'm like, wow, you just, like, you just have a lot of things that are like going through your mind and in your life and your day, it sounds like you're constantly on the move and things changing and rapidly moving around. It's awesome. And

Steve Cecil (46:15):
That's the key to happiness Young, you look around, most people are not very happy right now. And, and I I've thought about this because I know I'm blessed. I get to do as much, or as little as I want of the thing that I'm best at right. Happiness comes when you can align your activities with your values. It's it sounds so simple, but it's not easy at all. And the biggest problem is that a lot of people have not taken the time to articulate what their values are and of those of us that have prioritized our values. Oh, we oftentimes spend our days doing something that has nothing to do with.

Young Han (46:51):
Yeah, absolutely. I'd say the vast majority is that out that way. And, and I think that you just hit something on the head and it's like so important to teach or teach my kids. Right. Like being really grounded and centered in what you want and, and being able to like merge those twos is a really good way of qualifying success. Do, would you say that that's like how you qualify success in business at some level

Steve Cecil (47:11):
You have to be, you have to be solving a client's problem, right? Yeah. And, and so you know, like Einstein said, you know, just stating the problem is, you know, is like half of solving it, but at the, but later on, you know, it's like, you can't solve, you can't solve the problem at the level that the problem exists. Right. And that's, that, that, that's a, that's a key part of, of satisfying the, you know, the client and also being, being a parent, you've gotta get above the level of what you make and do. Right. And, and so like, if, if, if your four year old is is, is hitting the two year old, right. You could just make her stop. Right. But teaching her why that's a, that's not the right thing to do. That's, that's what the real lesson is here. Yeah. And, and so if you're always a bully to them by, you know, taking things away from, with no explanation that that's what you're to teaching them to do. Right. Yeah. So, so sometimes clients come to me with unrealistic expectations and maybe you've discovered this it's difficult to disabuse people of their misinformation. right. Will Roger says it. Ain't what you don't know that causes all the problems. It's what, you know, it ain't, so right. Clever. Yeah. I like that. And so with clients, I have to quickly establish my street cred. Right. And, and so I, it, it helps to have a big thick portfolio, but I, I also try to let them know, you know, unless you just got 40 million worth of Google ventures money, I'm probably not gonna put prism.com on your list. Right. Because that's another, it's not realistic. It's not right. Yeah. And so I try to, I try to let them know, you know, what the outcome is gonna be. I, my kids have heard me say over and over, I just, just love it when a plan comes together. Right. And, and so my, my plan I, I, I need to get repeatable results as a namer. Right. And everybody's name, job is different. I just named a, a, a women's health thing for care. I'm naming a GPS app now I named a skincare thing recently, you know, just to go from work. And I, so I get to be an instant expert on some new topic every week. And, and rather than let that, you know, overwhelm me. Oh, I embrace that. I'm one of those lifelong learners that has to intellectualize about everything, right. Yeah. That's the day whole, and

Young Han (50:02):
No, I think it's great. I think that that's, what's led you to having really two really successful kids. And it sounds like they're doing really well. And I, I think there's a lot to glean from that, that level of thinking way that you're philosophically tackling life both personally as a parent and also professionally, I mean, it's working out for you really, really well.

Steve Cecil (50:20):
Well, and I'm not, I'm not afraid to fail in baseball. You fail seven outta 10 times. You're going to Cooperstown, baby.

Young Han (50:29):
That's right. That's actually good. Right. That's exactly it. Hey, so I actually wanna make sure that I squeeze in the, the, like the rapid fire questions. I have four questions. I like to ask every guest just to make sure there's some symmetry to the interviews. I'm gonna fire those off for you. Okay. Before we wrap up here. Sure. What advice do you have for other since soon to be parents?

Steve Cecil (50:48):
Well, this might be a bit of a downer, but if, if you're going through a rough patch with your spouse, right. Maybe you've talking about divorce or you know, maybe even you, you got divorced, resist the temptations of demonizing, the other person. I right. Yeah. And, and don't compete for their attention or their affection. Right. And, and you know, explain it to them in, in, in a way that they can, that they can understand. And and, and ways that's, if that's too much of a downer, you know, the more functional advice is whenever they do something wrong, let, 'em, let 'em back in redemption is very important, you know, show them the, the, the path to, to atone for that awful thing they did. Right. Yeah. Just scold em. And don't keep 'em on time out, you know? Cuz yeah. That's great. Cause they both talk is brutal.

Young Han (51:47):
Both answers are awesome. I think those are, are both really sound advice. If you can go back and tell yourself one thing before having kids, what would it be?

Steve Cecil (51:54):
Nothing will ever be the same again. Right. That buckle up. Yeah. Buckle up buttercup things. Yeah. That's right. Bumpy and very good. It, it, it might be decades before you get the right amount of sleep again. Right.

Young Han (52:09):
That's a good one. Yeah. So what is the most surprising thing that you learned about yourself after you became a parent?

Steve Cecil (52:16):
Where does the love come from? And, and I remember thinking, oh, is it, am I gonna, am I gonna have to, to take the love, you know, that I was giving my spouse in order to make love, you know, give the, you know, this new love to my, my kid and know it's like, it's like, this is all new love that you get. And I, I was UN I was unprepared for, that epiphany,

Young Han (52:39):
You know? Yeah. The volume of love you can give. Yeah. It's, it's really extraordinary. It is. And then to close this out, Steve, what is all, what is your all time favorite business book? Well,

Steve Cecil (52:48):
It's gotta be David a, he wrote to who wrote two books. One's called building strong brands. And the other is called managing brand equity. And these were, these were in the mid nineties. He was professor of emeritus at at Cal. And and that, and I, I I've, I've ref I've referenced those books more than more, more, more than anything. The thanks. The best advice I ever or got though was, was that your, your brain is a zero sum game. right. All you've got is a hundred percent of what you've got. You know, you might have more than me. I might have more than you, but, all each of us has is, is a hundred percent of of whatever amount we've we've got and, and in order to compete at a really high level. And that's what all the business books try, you know, try to focus on is how you get those elite results in order to compete at a high level and produce at a high level, you need a hundred percent of your brain and that's, what's wrong, multi tasking, cuz you just do two things crappily.

Steve Cecil (53:47):
Right? So the problem, and this is, this is really relevant to the, to the, the, the parenting challenge is like, how do you, how do you give, how do you be all in for, for the business that you're trying to accomplish that day, but still be present as a parent. Right? And, and then I, I, I think that, that the problem that people get into is that they, they got a 10, they got a problem that's taken up like 10% of their brain, you know maybe they're mad at their spouse or their kid is sick or whatever. And just tempting to think, well, I still got 90% of my brain left right now, in actuality, it takes about another 10%, maybe a little bit, or to, to put it on top of it, like noise canceling, just so that you can function. Right. And get that, you know, but see, now you're at the 75% level that might not be enough to clear the fences. Right. Well, it even gets worse for what, if you have two problems, right? Yeah. So

Young Han (54:44):
That's really, really, really deep.

Steve Cecil (54:47):
Yeah. So very cool. So focusing on the, on, on the, the, the dominant variable, I think most people, they get too dilute. They they you know, they try to be too much of a generalist. Right. Yeah. And, and I, I think that, you know, be the best lefthand violinist that you E right. Don't, don't, don't just bill yourself as a, you know, as a, a, an orchestra member, right. Yeah. Own that quirk. Right. And, and, and I think that, that, that's what, that's the best example that I ever gave for my kids is that whatever I was doing, I, I, I was not afraid to fail in front of 'em, but is doing it the best that I could. And, and and they, and they, they saw me get away with, with with failing a lot simply, you know, I had some integrity about it, but anyways, that's very good.

Young Han (55:40):
Steve, thank you so much for your time. I really, really appreciate it. This was a wonderful conversation to have and what a, what a joy to get to know you better and, and learn more about your profession and a whole industry that I didn't know about. And then also just the parallels of your profession and, and your parenting. It seems like you mix the two really, really well. Thanks

Steve Cecil (55:59):
Very much. It, it it's been on my mind a lot because I'm, I'm walking my daughter down the aisle and, you know, the, the it's like Andy Cunningham said, it's like having, and kids is like baking a very long cake. Right? Yeah. You don't really hear, you don't really know how you did until, you know, the, the, the fullness of time. So I've been reflecting on that and I enjoyed reflecting on it with you too today.

Young Han (56:21):
Oh, thank you so much for doing that. Yeah. Thanks. Take care. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the girl that show, we hope you enjoyed that interview. If you wanna subscribe to our email list and learn more, you can head over to thegirldadshow.com. Thank you and see you next time.

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