This last Wednesday was spent in Madison in the Capitol. It was the Wisconsin Apartment Association’s “Legislative Day”. It was a day where rental housing providers from all over the state take time out of their schedule to meet with their elected officials to discuss issues that are important to landlords and renters alike.
I am a notoriously early person… always have been, I am guessing always will be (kind of the reason why I expect to die at a young age – I always arrive early). I was early enough that I helped set up the meeting room. In working to help get things organized, I never got around to getting myself a name tag, one of those “Hello, My Name is _____” tags. Which was just fine by me.
I am not a big fan of name tags, never have been, never will be. There are two reasons for this. One is the public, well researched, reason that I give everyone. The other is the superficial reason known only to me… well only to me until readers get to the end of this blog post.
The “official” reason I don’t care for those name tags is I want people to remember who I am, especially if I am in the Capitol building in Madison as I have aspirations to be elected to work there some day. The first thing that people remember about me, if nothing else, is I was that guy who didn’t have a name tag. So, just that little piece of rebellion makes me memorable.
As the event started, one of the girls who was handing out the nametags noticed I didn’t have one. When she offered me one, I told her I was allergic to them – I instantly became her hero (her exact words by the way) and she wished that she didn’t have to go through the day with “Hello, My Name is Karen” on a paper tag in a plastic wrapper corded around her neck.
When asked by members of the Apartment Association about my lack of label, I indicated that I already knew who I was. I then would ask them if they knew who I was, and of course as the Vice-President of the organization, and a very outspoken one at that, they all knew me or at least knew of me very well. So, therefore a name tag wasn’t needed.
But what about when you are meeting with your representatives? Rep. Petrowski already knows me quite well. Back when I was president of the Wausau Area Apartment Association, we made an effort to invite our representatives to a meeting at least once every other year, and he never failed to show up, listen, and discuss issues important to us. Although I have met Rep. Seidel in person a couple of times, she knows me by reputation and we have talked on the phone about various pieces of legislation. Once I say my name, I figured instantly a name would be put with the face/voice. Senator Decker I have never met or interacted with. However, in all cases, it is much more likely that you will meet with staff than the actual person.
With name tags, the art of the introduction gets lost. I don’t want someone to know that I am John F. of the WAA because they read my label. If they want to know who I am, they will need to ask. Or at least, they will need to listen. Plus, who I am changes from time to time. For Rep. Seidel, I am John Fischer, VP of the WAA, a landlord who owns property in her district, and a constituent. For Rep. Petrowski, the constituent label drops. For people who I had to meet who were outside of the Wausau, I was John Fischer, VP of the WAA, the largest statewide organization of rental property owners with a few items I wished to discuss that will not only impact landlords, but also renters.
Actually, research has been done that shows that people remember things best when the information is presented orally and then repeated, versus presented visually with repeated reading. So, if I sit down to meet with you with a name tag, you will address me as John because it is right there. You don’t have to remember who I am because when you look at me, you will instantly see that I am John. The problem is that as shortly after I leave, I go from being John, to that guy who came by.
On the other hand, if I introduce myself as John, you must instantly take note of that so that you can address me by name. It is not uncommon in the conversation for people to make sure they have it right… “John is it?” That requirement to put it in your short term memory because the crutch of the name tag isn’t there makes it much easier for your brain to transfer it from short term memory to long term memory. It’s a fact. Try It!
When I explain why I don’t do nametags, most say they never thought of it that way but they agree with my logic. The meeting was on Wednesday and I would wager that over 50% of the new people I met remember my name now nearly a week later.
I promised the real reason – which is not nearly as well founded or proper… the real reason which probably doesn’t speak very highly of me…
My grandfather used to say you know where you are in life based off of where your name is. When you start out, your name is on your shirt. As you move up, your name is on your desk… as you continue, your name is on the outside of the building. I know it was meant anecdotally, but there was some merit to his words.
In the military, my name was on my shirt. Working as a property manager, the name moved to my desk. I am in a position now where I could throw my name on a building or two if I chose. So, having nearly attained the “name on building” status, I am not a big fan of going back to name on shirt. Bad… huh?
By the way, with all of my appointments done, I will be back on the air on 93.3 WNRB-LP with the Dr Rent show this Wednesday. However, starting in April, we are moving the show to Thursdays. But, more on that later.