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No Shame In My Last Name

No Shame In My Last Name

Ever since I was young, I’ve had a bit of a complex about my last name.

I hated having to spell it. Everybody mispronounced it. And worst of all, it made me feel different.

I thought about changing my last name after college. I thought about shortening it to Ross (which would have been awkward, since there was another Michael Ross in my MBA program). I also thought about changing it to something memorable like Havok (a symptom of listening to too much  as a teenager).

The bottom line though, I was telling myself a story that wasn’t true:

“My last name is too hard to spell.”

I told myself that with a name like that I can never be successful. I felt embarrassed when I had to spell it. And I even wrote a recent piece about how my blog sucks, with the number one reason being its “absolutely impossible to spell domain name.”

But you’re here right? You’re reading these words.

You share my posts with your friends.

Some of you even call me by my last name instead of Mike.

So my last name never sucked. My thinking about my last name sucked.

Last weekend I helped organize a meet-up of coaches in the St. Louis area. I was talking about my website and the ever so talented Jill Farmer caught me for the fourth time judging the hell out of my website because of its domain name.

I forgot what she exactly said but it was along the lines of, “Every time you say that your last name is hard to spell I feel the energy suck out of you. What’s the story you’re telling yourself about your last name?”

It was a total wakeup call.

After doing some thought work around that lie that I had been telling myself, I came up with evidence in front of the group on why it was awesome.

1. It’s a unique name that was created when my great grandfather immigrated here from Poland.
2. It can be easily turned into terms of endearment like Momstoski, Popstoski, and .
3. Thousands of people read a blog at and I haven’t gotten any email complaints yet on the domain name choice.
4. It has a silent letter. Silent letters are gangsta.
5. And it’s actually quite simple to pronounce. Ross-Toss-Key.

Today I talked to a customer representative with Sprint to get some advice before I leave for Colombia and Mexico. Instead of feeling embarrassed when she asked for my last name, I felt proud. I spelled out my last name like it was O-B-A-M-A.

Like A Bosstoski.

So what do you dislike the most about yourself? Does that thing actually suck?

Or does your thinking about it suck?

  • J4strom

    Just realized I’ve been pronouncing your last name wrong for like a year. I’m sticking to calling you, Mike.

    Glad you were able to conquer the negative self talk. It’s a great skill to be able to do that.

  • Melissa M

    This post rules. And I’m glad you gave the phonetic spelling of it. :) My maiden name (Hetherington) was long and hard to spell, but it too had the ability to be added to other names (Snugglerington, Dorkerington, etc). Embracing the uniqueness is great, isn’t it?

  • Collin Ferry
  • Roxanne Schreiber

    Awesome Mike and it IS a super cool name! Especially now that I know how it sounds Ross Toss Key. Love the share.

  • Mary Beth Leisen

    I’m a fanstoski of you, Mike Hrostoski!

    I love it. I always have to spell mine as well – and for pronunciation, I tell ’em “It’s Leisen – as in Lie and Sin.” I like sending them to the dark side…

    • Mike Hrostoski

      You’re my coaching superbuddy extraordinaire and I didn’t even know that. Lie + Sin… easy to remember though.

    • jspielvogel

      I almost spit out my coffee when I read “fanstoski” :)

  • jspielvogel

    When I was in my freshman year of college communications class, we had a T.A. teaching the course, and she took role on the first day. When she got to my name on the roster, she called out Jessie Sp..Sp..Sp… and I interrupted and said, “It’s Spielvogel! I’m here.” and she goes, “…wow. I bet you can’t WAIT to get married!”

  • Jessica Scheer

    i like it! Knowing and owning your name is pretty special.

    For a good laugh, I used to feel like “Jessica” was such a plain name and didnt like it very much. I started liking it more when I traveled and Jessicaaaaaa would roll of the tongue sounding so exotic 😉 hahaha

    But after doing a little searching into my name – I quite like it :)
    Jessica – in greek means wealthy one
    Yael (my hebrew name) – means an ibex, fierce desert goat
    Scheer – means song in Hebrew, also beautiful.

    Wealthy singing fierce desert goat – has a good ring to it!

  • Sarah

    dude. My name is LHrar. Have fun with that. I love it so much because only my grand father’s descendants write it this way… the other family memebers are ELHARARs which is easy, and almost boring. My name has an apostrophe. BOOM.

    • Sarah

      L’Hrar, dayum. I mispelled my own name.

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