Investing (your life) in a startup

learning names

Learning names and faces

I'm awful at remembering people's names.

5 minutes after meeting someone for the first time, I resort to calling him man. I'll be uncomfortable around him until I hear someone else refer to him by name (which could take a while).

I've tried every trick in the book to improve my name recall. I repeat the person's name multiple times after hearing it, use it constantly through out an initial conversation, and even associate their name with a vivid image, so it is stickier in my mind. Nothing has worked, so last week I tested a new strategy.

Spend an hour with the Team Page

Last Monday, learning the names and faces of everyone at my new job was on of my goals for the day.

I stared at Mattermark's Team Page, mousing over faces for an hour. At the end of that hour, I knew the name of every person at the company, their role, and the team they belong to. Was it boring as all hell? Sure. Was it worth the hour spent? Without a doubt.

Be comfortable on day one

At my last company, I never felt fully settled.

After working there for 11 months, I left not knowing everyone's name. 60 people worked there when I left, so the only excuse was laziness. That laziness kept me from creating lasting relationships with certain employees because I was uncomfortable not knowing their names. I refused to ask them to tell me again, because I would've looked like a complete asshole. "You've worked here for, how long? How do you not know my name?" That was always my biggest fear.

I'll never let that happen again. This time I will walk into the office on Day 1, feeling confident. The stress of remembering 32 new names won't drag on me. I'll look everyone in the eye and call them by their first name.

It may seem like a trivial thing, but success is "the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out." Small efforts like learning all those names.

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