25 November 2006

Introducing the ‘new’ Krik

I got an interesting phone call from a friend of mine a few weeks ago. She’s known me my whole career. In fact, she hired me for my first job after college. She called after she read my blog and had some observations about it.

“I see you’ve got a new name,” she said.

I didn’t know what she meant. At first, I thought she meant my username: SPKrikava. But when I tried to clarify, she said, “No, not that. I see you’re going by ‘Krik’ now.”

“Oh,” I said, finally understanding what was behind her comment. “You’re right. I am re-branding myself. But Krik is a ‘heritage’ brand, not a new name.”

In fact, I went by Krik all the way through high school. I checked my senior yearbook, just to make sure I remembered it correctly. It seems that only the guys called me Krik. Most of the girls who wrote in my yearbook called me Steve. A few called me Steven. One, quite inexplicably, called me Stevie. (If there’s any reason why, I sure can’t remember it now.)

During my college years, only old friends from high school ever called me Krik. By the time I had graduated and got my first career job, no one called me that anymore.

I’ve always been pretty conscious of what I call myself. For the first seven years of my career, I was a reporter and editor. So the name I chose for my byline was pretty significant; I went by ‘Steve Krikava.’ After I started working in government relations, I gradually shifted to ‘Steven.’ For a while, I even insisted on being called ‘Steven P. Krikava.’ But that was too formal, it didn’t feel natural, and it didn’t last long.

I don’t know when I started thinking of myself as Krik again. On my August 31 post, I mentioned how I called my DC restaurant guide Krik’s Picks. Maybe that’s when it resurfaced. Anyway after that, our CEO started calling me Krik, and it just seemed kind of natural.

I also didn’t intentionally start out to re-brand myself. It’s just sort of a reflex response to some of the things happening in my life. Today is my birthday. I’m 55. I actually like birthdays. I’m not self conscious of getting older. But this one seems more significant than most.

One thing that’s significant is that retirement is now an option.

The last time that celebrating a particular birthday made any real difference in my life was when I turned 21. One day it was illegal to buy alcohol; the next it was legal. I didn’t do anything different, just got a day older. Fast forward now to this week. If I quit my job at the beginning of the week, I would have collected my final paycheck and moved on. But after today, whenever I decide to leave Land O'Lakes, I can ‘retire’ and that involves some kind of on-going connection as a recipient of retirement benefits. I didn’t do anything different, I just celebrated a birthday.

And while I’m not planning on retiring any time soon, the chronological possibility is somehow making me consider – what do I want to be, what do I want to do, how do I want to live when I retire. See? Re-branding.

But there’s more. In less than a year, my children will be married. Admittedly, that’s more of an evolutionary step. I’ve been a parent for almost 29 years, and my children have been on their own and independent since they graduated from college. But now they are bringing other people into our relationship. (Fortunately, the ‘other people’ are nice people.) So that changes the way I see myself (as a father-in-law) and the way I relate to my children.

And I’m already a grandfather. It would be easy to think about being a grandfather as simply a variation on being a parent. But my experience so far has been the same as many others who say that being a grandparent is remarkably different from being a parent.

So there, you see, there’s enough going on that’s requiring me to explore new dimensions of my existence. So isn’t it natural to consider re-branding?

Stay tuned to Krik’s Picks and see how the new brand works out.

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