'Whats In A Name?' Toastmasters Project Speech 1 | Pich TV #7

Here’s a re-do of first toastmasters speech which began my speaking career about 3 years ago. It’s about the origins and changing meaning of my name.

I hope you enjoy and if you have any similar stories I’d love to hear them!


Whats In A Name? Toastmasters Project Speech 1


Hi my name is Samith Pich! And I love my name!

Dale Carnegie famously once said, “a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. And I agree But why is that so? I mean, Whats in a name? Can our names ‘make’ us or do we make our names?

As someone who’s the father of three daughters I know first hand the anguish and frustration of trying to choose a perfect name for your future child and thats just what I put my wife through. For months my wife would brainstorm name after my name at me and all I would do was disagree. I had no idea what I wanted I just knew I would know when I heard it.

According to the US names registry, there are ONLY about 15,400 unique names out there – I knew my wife would eventually find one that suited our girl. And eventually we did, when I heard Nalina’s name being brainstormed for the first time it was music to my ears. I also loved the meaning ‘Lotus’

But thats the things with Names, they all have meanings and history to us. For example, I’ve yet to meet an Amanda I liked, or an Alex that wasn’t also smart.

Now Samith according to my mum means ‘runner’.  I was born in 1979 in Cambodia during a time of terrible civil war. As a refugee my name seemed pretty apt as we fled hundreds of kilometres across the border to Thailand and then finally to Australia.

And Pich, well, There’s an interesting story behind my name and how I got it.

My surname is a made up surname, not connected to my family, a practice that many Cambodian used to protect the identities of their families. Try growing up with 4 different surnames in a family going to school!

My surname Pich was chosen at my birth.

So Picture this ‘Instead of a hospital ward picture a dark jungle forest at 1am in the morning. Instead of a doctor and midwives picture a palm tree to bear on and the light of a full moon. I was born in a jungle, outside a rural village during a particularly bad battle, my mum saw a streak of mortar shells and flares in the distance, you could have mistaken them for fireworks and she thought to herself  how pretty the scene seemed and how each of the bright lights seemed like diamonds in the sky.

What a wonderful philosophy that even in the darkest of time one can see beauty. But thats my mum.

So she gave me the surname of Pich meaning diamonds or ‘something that had the potential to be something bright’

So Samith Pich  means ‘Running Bright Diamond like Potential thing’. Not a bad meaning but I always felt it was slightly vague. How can a diamond run?

Growing up and trying to fit in O how I wished I had a more Aussie name like Barry! I would have killed for William!

Unfortunately as I was growing up I didn’t attach a lot of self worth to my name. Because in the back of my mind, despite the bravery of my parents, despite my gratitude for being fortunate enough to be in a country like Australia, I couldn’t help thinking to myself: ‘If I am a runner, what am I running away from? And if I am alwasy running away from things does that make me a coward?’

For the longest while my name and the meaning I gave it, that I was a person who run away from things,  came to signify how I would approach my life and my relationships, it coloured the way I handled challenges and hardships. Pretty sad way to view yourself isn’t it?
So one day while having a lovely time visiting my mum I asked her again What does my name mean? She said’ Friendly Diamond’ I exclaimed ‘What!’ You told me Running Diamond Potential thing!’ In typical mum fashion she scolded me and said’ Well you obviously weren’t listening at the time!’ And while I protested I couldn’t deny that perhaps she was right. So I asked Please explain!

Samet’ she said does mean run like ‘run over there!’ But more commonly it what you would refer to as a good friend like how in Australia people call each other Mate. Just like when you see a mate across the street and you run to each other and with joy greet each other as Samet!’ Oh I went…

And then my mum said something that I would never forget…

“And anyways what matters is who someone is on the inside, not what they are called” And you my son, are a good boy.

Imagine what a revelation it was for a young confused man! So the meaning I gave my name wasn’t the true meaning. my name was infinitely more positive. I wasn’t a person who ran away from things I was a person who could run towards things and people could run towards me! I could start being exactly who I chose to be and from that day I started being a friend to myself.

Nowadays I love my own name, its the sweetest sound in the world.

But hey, what’s in a name anyways? It was Shakespeare who famously said “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.