While I was in college, I worked as an intern agent for a life insurance agency. While I was there, many books floated around the office and one of them was a book called “Rhinoceros Success” by Scott Alexander.
When I first read the book in 2002, I couldn’t tell whether I should be taking it seriously, or not. It was first published in 1980 and the graphics looked every bit the part. The book is told in storybook format and breaks down the world into two animals: Rhinos and Cows. Cows graze in the pasture with the other cows and are unwilling to take a chance at success, thinking that success only comes to those who are lucky, or that they just aren’t cut out to be successful. Many live out their lives in fear.
Then there are the Rhinos. These guys, unlike the cows, take charge. Focused and unafraid, thick skinned and unstoppable, they take massive action toward accomplishing their dreams and goals. They understand that success is there for the taking, if only one brings to bear the right training, mindset and work ethic. No one messes with a Rhino, but even if they did, there isn’t anything their 2-inch thick skin can’t handle.
I used the book as a motivational tool with the first consulting team that I managed in 2007. No disrespect to the author, but I was doing so as a open joke to my team. Think pointy-haired boss meets Office Space. “You know, a rhino probably wouldn’t have any problems getting 15% savings on this…” Luckily, I refrained from calling anyone on my team a cow.
One of my direct reports took a trip to India and brought me back a hand carved Rhinoceros that has graced my desk ever since.
When thinking through company names, I put down pages of ideas…but kept coming back to a Rhino. I loved how it brought me back full circle to my days as an intern in college and helps me remember where I started.