What’s in a name?

In launching a business, a name is an important place to start. People will tell you there are important criteria to consider—Is someone else using it? Will it commonly be misspelled? Is it succinct enough to remember?Will it come up first alphabetically in search sites? Does it make an acronym?Does it have any negative connotations? One could spend years toiling over the decision to get it “just right”. So, why Zusammen?

Zusammen is a German word meaning, “In it with you, or together”. And although the name might not meet all the aforementioned criteria, Zusammen captures the essence of what I hope for from my work with clients.

I think the etymology alone deserves an explanation. I was born in Germany, but I was an American citizen to two educators on the American Army Base. Although I moved back to the US when I was 2-years-old, I have always felt connected to my birth overseas. I studied German for two years and picked up the language quite naturally. It was only when I realized the essential skill of  learning Spanish, that I abandoned German in the name of practicality. However, I always appreciated how German had a way of capturing some complex ideas in succinct words—not always elegant to the ear, but succinct. Zusammen is one of those words. Most directly it translates to “together” although it can also be used as “in this with you”.

This idea of “together” is an essential element in my work. In my work as part of a non-profit, and as a consultant to other leaders, I always strive to work as a partner, sounding board, support, and critical friend to those I serve. I know that the skills I bring around change management, leadership and team development can only be successful tools  if I work with a client and fully understand their needs. Then, their field expertise, coupled with my skills, can help meet the intended goals. I can’t do this work TO anyone. Instead it is only when I sit side by side WITH partners that growth occurs.

The other translation of zusammen, as “in this with you” is also indicative of my style. I seek first to understand the individuals and teams that I work with. From communication preferences, work routines, organizational structures, and perceived priorities, there are many complexities to organizations and the people that run them. In the end, I don’t really work with organizations. I work with people. My greatest compliments are when clients tell me they felt heard and seen by our work. When people thank me for holding them accountable to their goals while still relating to them on a human level, I know I have done my job.

Zusammen doesn’t present a tidy acronym, and it certainly won’t place first alphabetically in a search, but it represents the mission of my work—find simplicity in the complexity, work as a true partner with my clients, and to focus on the human beings, not just the work they do.

If you are interested in learning more about the work of Zusammen Consulting and how we can work together to meet your goals and amplify your work in the world, contact Colleen@zusammenconsulting.com.