Nine Toe Productions: What's In A Name?


"What are you doing again?I'm not at the beach...

A reminder about the details of my new "gig" is the most common question I have heard since announcing I was leaving A&E.  Fortunately, both the coaching and the production piece are easy to grasp, but the Nine Toe name usually prompts more questions.  In fact, the second most common question is "how" or "why" did you pick that name?

Well, it wasn't as easy as you might think.

I started with a few "must have" criteria.

1. Fun & Memorable

If you've ever watched the end of television or movie credits, the names of production companies are very clever.  For instance, Reese Witherspoon's company is called Type A (Witherspoon's personality is "Type A"), Brad Pitt calls his "Plan B." Tina Fey has "Little Stranger."  Having a creative name is part of the eco-system in a creative community, so this was a non-negotiable!

2. Personal

Whether it's a name, a core value, or an inside joke, I knew the company needed to be rooted in my style and approach.  We spent a bunch of time in this section because when you have a last name like "Phenix," the reflex is to use that name.  However, it's VERY hard to find free domain names with my last name, and, when we gave it further thought, most people would add the "o" when they tried to Google it (and end up at a different company!!), so we eliminated that path.

3. Tied to a story

At my core I'm a storyteller, and that's what I want my company to be about: to tell great stories.  I felt the name should have a story as well.

For instance, years ago, I heard an interview with the Pet Shop Boys (remember them?) when they were asked why they gave their first album the name. "Please," they replied,  "It's so people can go into the record shop and say 'can I have the Pet Shop Boys album, please?'."  Their current release is "The New Album." (Fun, right?!)

Those three points were the targets, and we spent weeks talking through options. I traded emails, texts, phone calls with assorted friends about options.  I used date nights and even stole a chunk of time with the family during Thanksgiving dinner to brainstorm ideas.

We had winners and duds.  We laughed a ton and threw everything out on the wall until we were tired of talking about it.  Then, one night, I had a flashback.


When Billy and I started dating he used to tease me about my lost toe. In fact, for my 30th birthday (just weeks after our first date), Billy gave me a plastic baby toe since I was "missing" mine.  For years he would make me "mixed" tapes (or CD's) and include liner notes.  They looked like this...At the bottom of the notes, in classic Billy fashion, he would make a few jokes.  Here's a closer look...Do you see it?

Yes, the "s" has been moved from "toes" and onto "production," but it's otherwise the name I was looking for!

Note: I didn't say the story had to be short, because if you need to know why I don't have 10 toes, you'll need to jump over to this link for the full story!