Interview with Jack and Anna

It wasn't easy, but after weeks of phone calls, emails and abrupt changes in "confirmed" schedules, our own roving reporter, Tish Tagore, was finally able to get some face-to-face time with both Jack and Anna. This elusive event took place in a taxi cab making its way from JFK to Newark - they're busy people! Tish began the interview by asking the Lombards how much of the Whachacallit story (featured on this site) is factual.

Jack Lombard - world champion namer Jack Lombard - World Champion Namer
Jack: (laughing) Factual? Almost nothing... I guess Mickey spells our names right. The facts behind our careers are in our own book, if anyone is interested in the true story - read our book!

Tish: But you approved the story - and you sponsor the Name Your Salon site - why?

Jack: Yes, because the facts in this case are not what's important. Like I said, the facts are in our book. Anna never had a salon and I never had a girlfriend named Suzy who "almost" christened Starbucks...

Anna: I used to dream about having my own salon. That was my childhood dream.

Jack: ... anyway we approved that story because we are not vain people - we can laugh at ourselves. The author portrays us as being a little silly and a little crazy without loosing focus as to our mission - and he gets that aspect of us right. We hope the story will inspire others, even if we would prefer that they buy our book. (laughs)

Anna: What's important is the message - and we think the message is correct: Every individual on this planet has the creative power to move mountains - it's only fear and convention holding them back. The truth is, you don't need much of a brain to be creative - smart asses are no more creative than dumb asses. We've got namers on our staff who couldn't get through high school, have never read anything more challenging than a shampoo bottle label, can't add six and seven, and all that, you know ... but they're nailing down names for million-dollar-products that will sit on every store shelf in the world.

Tish: So a high IQ is not a prerequisite for getting a job at Whachacallit Corp?

Anna: (laughs) I was talking about namers. The truth is, most of the people we hire are not paid to sit around drinking coffee and think up names. For every namer there are a dozen other employees doing administrative stuff: poling, focus groups, sales, surveys and all that sort of boring-boring. For that kind of work you need a high IQ. (more laughter)

Tish: But I suppose most people who come to you for a job do so because they think they have a talent for names?

Jack: Yeah, they should - names are everything. It's what you call things that counts. We've proved that pretty definitely I think.

Anna: Just look at the New York Times Best Seller list. Either you're exceptionally famous or you have a damn catchy title. Without that title your book is gonna flop - believe me, cause it's been proven ... it don't matter how good a writer you are, or how much wisdom or smut you pack in there. You gotta have that great name!

Tish: Is your company responsible for some of those names ... I mean on the New York Times list?

Jack: You better believe it ... half of them!

Tish: Well I know you have competitors...

Jack: What's the name of this cab?

Tish: I have no idea.

Jack: Yeah - exactly! Cause somebody didn't bother to spend a lousy 10 minutes to think up a half-decent name for the company. If they had, you would have seen it on the door and remembered it.

Anna: For example, they could call it "Colorful Cabs" and paint all the cars like flower beds. Did you hear that driver?
Anna Wrettin Anna Wretin
World Champion Namer

Driver (Yemi Ajibade, according to his license) : I heard you Ma'am. It's not my cab, but I will tell that to the owner.

Anna: Are you from Lagos?

Driver: The outskirts. How did you guess?

Anna: I could tell. We have an office there. There are a lot of creative people in your country. Even the 4-1-9 scammers are creative in their own way.

Driver: I wouldn't know about that Ma'am...

Anna: If they channeled their talents into legitimate endeavor, they could do really well, you know.

(The driver received a call on his cellphone and remained engaged in conversation for the rest of the trip.)

Tish: If names are your business, Jack, then how come you give them away on Name Your Salon?

Jack: "Curls in Combat", "Dinky Do's"

Tish: Excuse me?

Jack: I just thought of those - just made them up totally out of the blue. Your turn Anna...

Anna: "Just a little off the sides" and "Capricious Cuts".

Jack: There you go, Tish. Four names instantly dreamed up, even though it was ages ago we two ever dealt personally with salon names...

Anna: Yeah, it's sad - we just don't have time for that now now. days.
Nigerian taxi driverYemi Ajibade
Nigerian taxi driver

Jack: Now when you are back in your office, go out on the Internet and look up those names, Tish. And you know what? You are going to find out that someone out there also thought them up totally independent of Anna and myself. Everything is out there. If there is one possible connection between something vaguely related to hair or the tools of the trade - if there is the slightest chance to make an alliteration, work out a pun, or score a paraphrase - well, trust me, someone has done it. The Internet has changed the nature of our business. Totally changed the nature of our business.

Anna: Yeah, and what counts is the match. Matching your name and your personality - your name and your vision - your name and the essence of what you are. Names are a dime-a-dozen - it's the match that counts.

Jack: And there isn't a would-be salon owner in the world who, in their right mind, should blow half their start-up budget getting innvolved with us. We are talking sderious money here, you know. We simply wouldn't take the job.

Anna: So we figured - what the heck. Why not do something for the community? Why not show a little compassion? Show a little love?

Jack: Name Your Salon is like our foreign aid - our Peace Corps. It's worldwide you know. Two days ago I got a letter from a woman in Chengdu, China, who had found her salon name with us, which, she told me, previously had been called Hair Salon #57!. Isn't that wonderful? She is going to call her place, "Extension Evolution" she is going to get her sign done in English, cause she says it will add class to her business.

Anna: Of course, English is the magic language. But we are rebuilding the site and adding Mandarin, and some Indian languages as well. That's where the action is. That's where the future is heading. Before long salons in the states are going to be looking for Chinese names - it's inevitible.

Our taxi had arrived at Newark Internaltional.

Tish: Well, I guess on behalf of all the hairdresser in the world, I should thank you?

Anna and Jack: (In unison) You're Welcome!

© 2007 Trish Tagore and The Whachacallit Corp.