What’s In a Name?

The professional association I turn to for guidance, training and support is called The National Speakers Association – for now.

To be sure, “NSA” is now more associated in the public mind with listening than speaking which may have been one reason the organization started down the path to changing its name.

But after a lengthy and confidential process, the board wound up choosing a name that had already been branded brilliantly by a highly successful speaker and announced it July 3 to several thousand attendees at its national conference – complete with new printing and promotional materials.

Yesterday, the National Speakers Association announced it’s stepping away from the new name and that was the right thing to do. But there are some powerful lessons to be learned along the way.

1. NSA decided that it would change its name and chose a new one in a vacuum of confidentiality. Posing the issues separately (should we change our name? If so, to what?) would have engaged the membership in the process and helped gauge reaction to the emerging result. (And it might have surfaced in a more compelling way the conflict with the already branded name).

2. NSA acknowledged its mistake. The President contacted the affected speaker,
acknowledged the error and recorded a video message for the membership saying the organization had “stumbled” but was dusting itself off and moving on down the path and asking for member feedback every step of the way.

3. The affected speaker issued a gracious response, thanking the association and reminding its members that their leaders are highly principled volunteers who deserve their support as they seek to develop a new name.

The upsides are many: NSA will certainly get the input of its members and likely come up with something that speaks beautifully to its purpose and expanding membership base.

But there are also people like me who, as a result of the controversy, have discovered the excellent work of Michael Hyatt (Intentional Leadership) about which you can learn more at www.michaelhyatt.com.

We all stumble. What matters is that we acknowledge it and how we fix it: how honestly,
how compassionately, and how candidly. It’s why I’m proud to be a member of the National Speakers Association – and whatever its members and leadership determine it should be called in the future.