Can your child's name pave their way to the executive suite?

"So does a name spell power, and are there monikers that will land your child in executive lane?"
"So does a name spell power, and are there monikers that will land your child in executive lane?" 

Will Zelda – the name of F Scott Fitzgerald's wife – become popular now The Great Gatsby is out in cinemas? Will North gain traction with regular folk after Kimye named their daughter after a direction?

A child's name can tell us something about their parents, race, social standing, even their politics. But is your name really your destiny?

Prospective parents wrestle with this topic, often feeling paralysed as they try to find a name that will set their child apart but that also isn’t too bizarre. On trend, but not too common.

The great name debate has become front and centre in my house for my first-born child, due in a few months. I’ve become aware that naming your child has become big business, with websites, apps, books, and consultants pushing out trend analysis. What was once seen as a relatively simple action has become somewhat of a "personal branding" exercise.

So does a name spell power, and are there monikers that will land your child in the executive lane?

Online professional networking site LinkedIn evaluated more than 100 million user profiles to come up with a list of the top names for chief executives around the world in 2011. It may seem silly that a name could correlate to eventually getting the top job, but the results are still interesting.

The most common names for males were Peter, Bob, Jack, Bruce, Fred, Bill, Ron, Christian, Alexander and Don. For female CEOs, the names most common were Deborah (and Debra), Sally, Cynthia, Carolyn, Pamela, Ann, Cheryl, Linda and Janet.

Dalton Conley, a sociologist who named his daughter E and son Yo as part of a life experiment, thinks who you turn out to be may be related to what you’re named.

"Of course it's hard to separate cause and effect here – until Kim Jong-un allows me to randomly assign all the names of the North Korean kids … But my gut tells me that it does affect who you are and how you behave – and probably makes you more creative to have an unusual name," he said in a recent Freakonomics Radio podcast.


Celebrities have no problem saddling their kids with all kinds of unusual names. Who could forget Frank Zappa's daughter, Moon Unit, and Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s daughter, Apple. Then there’s Sylvester Stallone's son Sage Moonblood. The list goes on … and on.

TV shows also have a big influence on names. Game of Thrones is putting its stamp on the next generation with 146 baby girls named Khaleesi in the US in 2012, a 450 per cent jump on 2011, according to Nameberry. The name means "queen" in the Dothraki language – made up by the author of the books, George R R Martin.

In Australia, the most popular boy baby names in 2012 were still pretty traditional, with Jack the number one name in Victoria, Qld, SA, and the ACT, while William was top in NSW, NT, and Tasmania. (Check out the top 50 boys names in Australia for 2012.)

Charlotte was the top choice for girls in 2012, followed by Ruby, then Lilly/Lily. (See the top 50 girls names of 2012.)

But the trouble is that even if you look outside the top 1000 names list and find a unique gem, it might not remain yours for long, given the internet and changing tastes.

Cultural norms must also be considered. When I brought up Hugo as a popular Aussie name, my mother promptly said: "Why would you name your child after [late Venezuelan president] Hugo Chavez?!" Why indeed, Mum. I myself was named after Carrie Nation, who emerged as one of the more famous women in the US temperance movement; I stood amid a slew of Amys, Michelles, Jennifers, Mikes and Jeffs at my high school in California in the 1990s.

We've not even broached middle names, which are, apparently, the quirkier the better, and can include the likes of Bear and Dangerous. Let's just say my husband and I are taking baby steps, and are still trying to agree on that first name.

Carrie LaFrenz writes for the Australian Financial Review. You can follow her on Twitter.