“I look at having a common name with a mixed reaction. In one way, it’s a good thing, going back to the idea of strength in numbers. On the other hand, it’s extremely hard to establish a digital voice. So for my purposes, I look at it as more of hindrance than a help.”
Steven or Stephen: Stephen
Birthplace: Augusta, Ga.
Lives in: Connecticut
On Facebook: Yes
On LinkedIn: Yes
On Twitter: Yes
Runs a blog or personal site: Yes (this one)
My story: I can’t remember exactly when I first Googled my name—I’m sure it was before “to google” was officially recognized as a verb—but I do recall being amazed at how many Steve Schmidts there were.
Given that my last name is the German equivalent of the one of the world’s most common surnames (Smith), I knew there was no shortage of Schmidts out there. One Christmas, a late uncle of mine gave me a worldwide directory of all the Schmidts at that particular year. Through my elementary-school eyes, the two thick black books seemed to equate to the size of the stone tablets that contained the Ten Commandments. I knew then that I was part of very large but scattered army. I did not realize how many other Steves and Stephens belonged to a smaller fraternity. Back then, I did not care to be called Steve. My name was Stephen and that was it. As I got into high school, though, I started to like the sound of Steve.
At the dawn of the digital age, I knew that my name would become an issue at some point in my career—especially if I was to embark as a journalist, a profession that tags you through the work you create in the form of a byline. In writing in general, a name is critical if one has any hope of forming his or her own brand. I’ve toyed with the ideas of accenting my middle name by going with “S. Patrick Schmidt” or “S.P. Schmidt,” but I’ve yet to go that direction. I will say that I’ve begun to start to accent my middle initial more so than I did in the past.
Like several of the Steve Schmidts who took part in this project, my online identity was primarily tied to my employer, which in my case was as sports and features reporter in the newspaper industry. When I decided to quit my job in Arkansas and move 1,400 miles east, I became one of thousands of freelance media professionals in a sea of talent that was growing by leaps and bounds as each legacy media outlet began to downsize its staff.
As I begin the next phase of my career, I feel as if my online identity and my self-brand will become even more critical to my success as a (multi)media professional. I believe this Web site and this project represent a solid start to those efforts, but just like the technology that I’ve been trying to learn over the past two years, the person who I present to the online world will be an ongoing process—full of redesigns and tweaks.
By the numbers:
Here are a few last things to chew on. (And if you’ve read all the material up until this point and you aren’t part of my immediate family, I say thank you for time and interest in my project. Kudos to you.)
2…………………Number of participants who said yes and then had second thoughts
3…………………People in the Steve Schmidt interest group on Facebook other than me
4…………………Number of volunteers for project (not including me)
6…………………Friends named Steve Schmidt on Facebook who friended me after I reached out to them (2 in project, 4 not. Location of those Steves: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Australia. Yes, Australia.)
10……………….Number of Steve Schmidts who were sent e-mails
21……………….Number of Steve Schmidts on LinkedIn who live in the NYC metro area. Only Minneapolis-St. Paul (28) and Chicago (27) have more in the U.S.
37……………….Number of Steve Schmidts contacted (mail = 18, Facebook = 13, LinkedIn = 6)
45……………….Estimated number of Steve Schmidts in the NYC metro area
95……………….Number of Steve Schmidts found to live in all of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey
300+……………Estimated number of Steve Schmidts on Facebook
390………………Number of Steve Schmidts on LinkedIn who live in the U.S.