Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

My Name Is Taylor Swift. Sharing a Name with the Pop Superstar Has Helped My Career. He uses his middle initial, "Taylor J. Swift," on business cards and when doing interviews, but he might drop the "J" when making dinner reservations.

By Alyshia Hull

Key Takeaways

  • Taylor J. Swift said in high school he was teased for having the same name as the famous pop singer.
  • At his current job, in politics, he uses his name to stand out and make lighthearted conversations.
  • Swift said he has to work to get people to take him seriously.
Courtesy of Taylor J. Swift via Business Insider
Taylor J. Swift said he has to work to get people to take him seriously in his political job but he likes his name.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Taylor J. Swift, a 30-year-old at the POPVOX Foundation in Washington, DC. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I was 15 when I heard about the singer Taylor Swift for the first time. At first, I thought, no big deal, she's a singer with a hit song or two, this won't impact me — but I was wrong. As time continued, I started to find it frustrating.

I was just a kid trying to live my life, and I was now sharing a name with a big singer. Additionally, I had just moved back to Ohio to live with my dad, so I was the new kid at school, with the name Taylor Swift. To top it off, I had a Justin Bieber haircut, I had glasses, and I was on the debate team, it wasn't a fun time.

Similar to most kids, I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be, but a couple of high school bullies and a choir teacher who would make jokes about my name didn't help. When it came time to go to college, and I was getting ready for a fresh start, I knew I had two choices. I could change my name, or I could start fresh and embrace it.

It took a lot of self-realization, but after a while, I decided I'd run with Taylor Swift instead of choosing the name TJ, an abbreviation of my first and middle name. I remember thinking, I was given this name for a reason, and I'm going to grow, and become who I'm meant to become with it.

Even though my name comes up in every social interaction, including in my political career, I've decided to embrace it, have fun with it, and see it as an overall positive. I like my name and I think it has helped me more than it has hurt me, even at work.

My name helps me stand out at work

As someone who works in the congressional advocacy space, where I help advocate for things like better wages, pay benefits, and technology, it helps to have a name like mine because people usually remember it. When I introduce myself to new staffers, new constituents, new lawmakers, or interns, they'll remember me for weeks, and sometimes even months later. That's a good thing.

When you're in my line of work you meet a lot of people. At some point, it feels very transactional. So, it's good to have something that helps you stand out — for me, it's my name. When people remember my name they also remember the ball I'm trying to push forward, and that's what's important.

I use my name to make conversations more light-hearted

With my work, we host an event where we onboard our congressional interns in Congress. With this event, our main goal is to help reduce their anxiety when it comes to networking, and we try to show them their work as interns truly matters. At the event, when my name comes up on the big screen in front of roughly 350 interns, people in the crowd start to chuckle. Then they think, maybe I shouldn't laugh.

It's weird to laugh at someone's name — I get it. To make them feel less weird about it, I pause, grab the microphone, and say, "Yes, my name is Taylor Swift. Please feel free to make jokes, I'll just shake it off, later," a Taylor Swift reference. Then everybody laughs and they become more comfortable.

When at work, I'll use other song lyric references, like, "I know this project has been hard, but 'we're not out of the woods yet'" and "I know, this mistake was my fault. 'I'm the problem. It's me.'"

Political work can be stressful, so if making a joke about my name makes someone laugh, smile, or remember me, I do it.

Getting people to take me seriously takes work

At first, people may think, who is this person? How can I trust someone with the name Taylor Swift? With that said, I have to work to get people to take me seriously.

In the past, I think my name has thrown people off a bit. But, then as I engage in conversation with them, or if I'm briefing a member of Congress, or holding some sort of meeting, they see I'm serious about the work we're doing. I very much take pride in the work that we do, and after a minute, or two, people see how dedicated I am to the cause we're working on and my name doesn't take away from that.

I use my middle initial to help avoid confusion

When I do interviews with the press, I ask them to please quote me as Taylor J. Swift, so no one confuses me as the pop singer. This way, no one wonders why Taylor Swift (without the J) is speaking on congressional modernization and oversight. I also include the "J" on my business cards or when applying to jobs, to avoid confusion.

Even still, people do wonder. For example, just this past weekend, I booked a dinner reservation for two under the name Taylor Swift. I could tell the hostess seemed a bit disappointed when I showed up. Like normal, they joked about how I wasn't the real Taylor Swift, so I just laughed and said, I hear it all the time but I just shake it off.

I now think, that if my name is the biggest struggle I have in life, I'm doing OK. It feels trivial to believe otherwise.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

TikTok Reportedly Laid Off a 'Large Percentage' of Employees as the App's Fate in the U.S. Remains Unclear

Laid-off TikTok employees were notified Wednesday night through Thursday morning.

Personal Finance

This Investment Bundle Includes a Trading Course and Stock Screener Tool for $150

Approach the stock market with an increased understanding.

Business News

Four Seasons Orlando Responds to Viral TikTok: 'There's Something Here For All Ages'

The video has amassed over 45.4 million views on TikTok.

Growing a Business

5 Strategies to Know As You Scale Your Business

Scaling a service-based company requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond simply increasing revenue. It requires careful planning, strategic decision-making and a deep understanding of market dynamics.

Growing a Business

The Right Way to Ask Someone for a Million Dollars, According to a Fundraiser Who Does It For a Living

No matter what you're raising money for, Wanda Urbanskia says, the same basic rules apply.