Penelope Trunk, who was kind enough to blog about my new book, “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy…and How to Avoid Them,” pointed out that while she liked the book, she wondered about the name Bruzzese. “What’s up with her name?” Trunk wondered. “Who has any idea how to pronounce it?” (http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/06/13/workplace-etiquette-and-the-art-of-selling-it/#comments)
“If you want people to talk about the stuff you do, you need a name people can say,” Trunk wrote.
First, let me say that Bruzzese is Italian. There’s been a gradual Americanization since it moved from the old country, but when I took it as my married name more than 20 years ago, I was told that it was said “Brew-ZEES.”
As you can imagine, Trunk’s remarks generated plenty of responses, ranging from the outraged to those who agreed with her. Trunk further explained her thinking, writing that “when your success hinges on people being able to pronounce your name, I think a name might need to serve a different purpose than just cultural identity.”
Trunk’s post really got me start thinking. Did my success hinge on people being able to say my last name? I began paying much more attention to people I was exposed to every day through the media: Anderson Cooper, Barbara Walters, Charles Gibson. But then I also noticed who these people were talking about: Barak Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Renee Zellweger, Martina Navratalova, Rudolph Giuliani and Ellen DeGeneres, to name a few.
So, even though my unpronounceable last name has become a topic of conversation, I understand now that I need not worry. After all, as far as difficult names go, I’m in pretty darn good company.