I’ve learned a lot through my many years of life about hundreds of things.  But, in the interest of simplicity for this blog, I have narrowed my life list down  significantly, so I could share with you what I call my…

              5 NEVER categories of life.

  1. Never screw up a person’s name.
  2. Never assume anything.
  3. Never be judgmental.
  4. Never forget who helped you in tough times.
  5. Never quit your dreams.

As you can see, my all-time number one “never” is about a seldom thought of category…your name.  Names fly by us all day.  Some people catch them on the fly…others let them fly by…still others seem to never get a name right.  These folks I call “Name Droppers”.  They can’t remember your name, because they don’t want to remember you.  I guess you were not memorable enough for them.  But, for a small group of talented and lucky individuals…somehow, upon meeting a person, they lock that name into their memory bank and never let it escape.  I call them “Name Soppers”.  They sop up your name like it’s gravy on a plate and deposit it in their special place…for later perfect recall.  I envy these folks.  So organized, so disciplined.

I must tell you I used to be a Name Dropper.  I would drop all names less than 5 seconds after I heard them.  Why?  I don’t know.  It’s a brain spasm that spits out the info as an error and never can retrieve it no matter how hard I tried.

Perhaps the reason so many do this is because we are much more self- centered than we used to be.  We like to take selfie pictures of our favorite person…ourselves.  We like to post on Facebook about…you guessed it…ourselves.  We post pictures on Instagram with new views of our favorite topic…us.

But, a name, I discovered, is the single most important thing to an individual.  It is who they are.  If you want to make a friend or new acquaintance you just met, smile, and just shout out their name.  But please shout it out correctly.  Don’t mumble over it, without asking for the proper way to say it.  Learn it and say it with pride.  Nothing will bring on a bigger wider grin than someone hearing their name called out.  Try it!  See if it doesn’t work for you.  It’s a great way to start a new friendship.

Why am I so hooked on the proper use and saying of names?

Here’s the answer. I learned the hard way.

YourVoiceProfessor, Bill Patti, on-air, interviewing singer Jim Stafford.

YourVoiceProfessor, Bill Patti, on-air, interviewing singer Jim Stafford.

Orlando radio station, 58 WDBO (bumper sticker)Years ago I had a daily radio show in Orlando on WDBO Radio.  I interviewed hundreds of celebrities and wannabe celebrities from all over the world, live, on tape, and many times in person.  They were hawking a book, or TV show, or local appearance.  Most of the interviews went well.  I would read the person’s bio and press release and thought I was ready.  I assumed I could pronounce everybody’s name.  After all I was a big Radio Star…in my mind.

Well, one day I learned a name lesson for life that has stuck with me to this day.  This memorable mistake taught me the importance of taking the time to know and correctly pronounce each person’s name that I met.

An upcoming on-air radio guest of mine was a person who had been a regular on one of the most popular TV shows and series of movies of all time…Star Trek.  As always, I prepared for the interview in my usual way – a quick and cursory look at his bio, press release, and book title.  I never read the books – ever…no time.

This interview would be taped the day before it aired.  The scheduled day of the taping I finished my on-air show an hour before the scheduled interview at 1PM.  About 12:30, I headed into the production studio to get ready for my appointment.  The gentleman was in California and it was not unusual to work with other time zones for these interviews.

When he called, we briefly exchanged pleasantries and then the tape rolled.  I casually intoned, “We have a very special guest today that I know all of you will be very familiar with.  He starred on TV and in subsequent movies as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on the mega hit show Star Trek.  Let’s all say hello to actor James Doohan”.  Here is where I made my first and deadly mistake.  Unbeknownst to me, I had badly mispronounced his name.  Mr. Doohan(not pronounced DOO-HAN) as I had said, immediately called me out for my error.  “My name is DOO-IN”, he quickly yelled.

I could sense his angst and irritation at…for the umpteenth time, having his name slaughtered by some local yokel.  I apologized, but the damage was done.  My chance to have a grand, fun conversation with “Scotty” from Star Trek was going down in flames.

I hardly remember what we discussed.  I was so embarrassed to have forgotten one of the cardinal rules in any communication.  Never…Never screw up a person’s name.

Their name, whatever it is, and whoever they are, is their birthright. It is who they are, where they came from and represents their life journey.

I had learned another life lesson the hard way, and now had a new number one for my “Never” list.

Shakespeare once wrote in his play Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

James DO-IN (Doohan) would not agree.

James Doohan of Star Trek TV show and movies. His name is pronounced Do-in.



BILL PATTI  Founder & President at YourVoiceProfessor  Bill is an award-winning radio and TV announcer, voice-over talent, and college professor … (Read full bio)