What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? I say a lot! … actually, I am plagiarizing here… These are lyrics from a reggae band I used to manage back in the day. D-riser. I managed them for about 5 minutes, but in that 5 minutes I did manage to get enough $ for them to release their first album. They were a cool band and I didn’t deserve to manage them. They were far too good.

D-riser sang a lot about Maori rights and disenfranchisement in Aotearoa, otherwise known as New Zealand. Infact, they sang exactly about this issue – the naming of things. Naming is, after all, inherently connected to identity. So why use a European name for a place that was first found and named by Maori? The Europeans knew why, it’s part of the colonialist playbook.

So… zoom forward a few hundred years, and I am asking myself my own questions about identity. Specifically, what is in the name ‘Book Sprint’?

Well, what is a Book Sprint? On a raw level I guess it represents a methodology I created. It took many years of hard work, sleeping on sofas and being literally homeless. Not in the sleep-on-the-streets sense, but in the traveling nomad sense. During this period I was trying to work out how to make this Book Sprint idea work when no one could tell me how and in fact I don’t think there was really anyone that thought it was possible. Make a book in a week? Ridiculous! So, needless to say, there was no revenue from this, as yet, non-thing. I had to prove its value the hard way. So it was, and so it is. It took a long time and now I am very proud of this product of my own stubborness.

Now Book Sprints is a company. It has an amazing team that does amazing work. It has an amazing CEO – Barbara. How we managed to find each other as kindred work spirits I never cease to be thankful for. But that’s also true for all the team. Amazing people.

Book Sprints does amazing work. We produce books in 3-5 days. From nothing. We do it for all comers – activists, academics, corporates, NGOS … the works. We never fail. Never. Astonishing really. If you have never facilitated a Book Sprint, you would not know how hard it is. We face challenges in every event from extremely difficult personalities, to groups that want a book on something they know nothing about. But we facilitate through it every time. 100% success.

So, what’s the connection between a reggae band and Book Sprints… you might well ask. Well, its about the naming of things. Names are important. The name Book Sprints is important, it is the thing that identifies 10 years of working out how to get a group of people from zero to a great book in 3-5 days. It represents 10 years of championing collaboration in the face of enormous skepticism and proving that people working together make better books than those that don’t. Of the power of collaboration and a very special style of facilitation. It represents us. How we are now an expert team doing very specialised work. Book Sprints represents us, our journey and what we have achieved.

So, it is sometimes difficult when I see others, who most often already know about us, use the name Book Sprints to represent themselves. Most often these activities result in failure. It is frustrating. I have talked to people before that have told me they have done a Book Sprint and that it was a failure. Book Sprints suck, its a terrible idea, I will never do it again. Except, I have never met these people before. We did not work with them. They failed because they worked with people that had not had the same journey as us and yet claimed they knew as much as us, were as good at it as us.

We have also had people come talk to us representing themselves as interested in doing a Book Sprint with us. We share a lot of information with them generously. And in some circumstances they have then gone out there and tried to do what we do under the name Book Sprint. In one case they copied our logo, our text on the website, and made a brochure which looks all the world like us, except not us.

The same has also happened with some academics that write about Book Sprints. We have talked to and generously shared a lot of information with them. They then write about Book Sprints as if they invented the idea with no reference to us. That is kinda shameful for an academic.

I’ve even had someone misrepresent themselves as a journalist to interview me, only to discover they were not a journalist. They were just trying to find out as much as possible about how we do what we do. Why bother? I mean, they could have just asked.

It’s been hard to see that. It’s hard to generously share information in good faith when it is then used in bad faith. It sucks.

So, I have come to agree, once again, with D-riser that names are important. The name Book Sprints, as it represents us, is important. It presents us and the work we do. If you talk to us, Book Sprints, you know we can do what we say we can do because we have done it 150 times before without failure. We do not suck. We are extremely proud of what we can do. Book Sprints is us, it is our identity.

So I have decided to trademark the name Book Sprints. I’m not a fan of any sort of Intellectual Property. It also sucks. But trademarks exist, in part, to help people like us maintain a strong identity. I am ok with that.

Our Trademark was approved a few weeks ago

2 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?”

  1. Dude! this article gives me a much better insight into your working life and it’s challenges… Well thought out and clearly expressed. I tautoko (support) your conclusion. Go hard!

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