What do Spanx founder Sara Blakely, cosmetics maven Coco Chanel, and cookie queen Debbi Fields have in common? Money and success … and short first names. Short names seem to be connected to a bigger salary, according to a new study from the career site TheLadders. Case in point: My first name only has four letters, and I am a billionaire.*
The site compared 24 sets of names, including Steve and Stephen, and Sara and Sarah, and found that in all but one case, people with the shorter names earned more money. (The mechanism is a bit fuzzy here, but apparently they tapped into data from their 6 million members.) The only exception was Larry vs. Lawrence, in which people with the longer name earned more.
Eight of the top 10 names for male CEOs or other “C-level” jobs have five or fewer letters. “Bob” and “Bill” are among the top-earning names for men.
The benefits don’t just apply to shortening the sound of a name: Quartz suggests that shortening from Michelle to Michele may also have an effect. (Tell that to Michelle Obama and Michele Bachmann.)
John Cotton, a management professor who has studied the effects of names in hiring, says that going by a short nickname may make CEOs seem “more human.” “They can be overly impressive, overly intimidating,” he tells Quartz, and going by a shorter, more casual name might counteract that.
Well … sure. But perhaps part of it is that people who have reached the top echelons of an organization are the ones who have earned the power to go by a more casual name? After all, plenty of well-known CEOs are known for their casual wardrobes: Think of Mark Zuckerberg‘s hoodie, Steve Jobs‘s turtleneck, or Si Newhouse‘s sweatshirt. And come To think of it … those casual dressers all have remarkably short names, too.
*I am not a billionaire.