Common Vs Unique

Growing up I always knew I would share a first name with many people. Chris/Christopher is ranked 11th in the US over the last 100 years by the Social Security Administration Top Names list, so it is bound to happen. I think there were about half a dozen or more Chris’ in my graduating high school class, 2 of which had to be identified by their middle initials most of the time since they were both ‘Chris Smith’. I always thought though that with a last name like Ogden my name was fairly unique. Today I realized how wrong I was.

I had Googled my name before but didn’t think much of some of the results that came up because I never looked past the first page and with 7.2 billion people on the Earth and growing, there was bound to be another. As part of a review on BrandYourself, I was forced to go through 10 pages of Google results from searching ‘Christopher Ogden’. What I found was that there were more people with my name than just the 3-5 I had originally thought. In fact it would appear that depending on the link you click, Christopher Ogden is anything from an actor to urologist to professor, among a number of other professions.

Why does this matter? It probably doesn’t but in a connected world where we only remember enough to Google it and find the information again, it does matter. I use to show up on the first page of Google results for ‘Christopher Ogden’, now that doesn’t even happen when I add my middle initial. At this point I can never say to prospective client, recruiter or anyone else interested in me to just Google my name, who knows what they will end up reading about.

The upside to this realization? It cements my decision and hesitation when it came time to name my son. It was always a thought to make him a junior but having grown up with a common first name, I was pushing for something unique. Not the unique that you see and wonder what the parents were thinking but unique that you aren’t calling a vendor and have the awkward moment of ‘Hello, my name is Chris’ followed by a pause and ‘My name is Chris too, what a great name’. It was not quite a battle but a challenge picking a name because my wife, Gretchen, had almost an opposite feeling about names. Her name was so unique that she felt out of place and felt kids might do better with more known and recognizable names. I think in the end our choice favored unique and I hope that it will be of benefit as he goes through life.

Overall though I like my name and I want to stand behind it and make sure it is linked to positive things. Though with some sadness I must admit, ‘I am Christopher Ogden and I am not the only one.’, that can only be said of Tigger: I’m the only one!