The True Meaning of the “do” in John.do

I’ve been asked a few times what the meaning behind my personal branding page is all about in regards to the actual top level domain “.do” and I realized (finally?) after being asked a few times last week that I have never really written a post on the full background of my thinking around it.

This post will serve two purposes, the first being a place I can send people to understand more about the significance of my landing page (and the reason I use it as my primary email address domain) as well as a place I can fully clarify the depth of my thought process around it while showcasing the importance of such depth.

First, the .do is the ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain) for the Dominican Republic and has been around since 1991 administered by NIC.do. When I first started seriously considered the be-all end-all domain name for my entire internet and online presence I wanted to make sure that I could get one that was simple, memorable, distinct, and meaningful.

For most people it’s nearly impossible to get the perfect domain name as most of them are taken already so I opted to head into the pool of international country codes since something like “John.com” was taken years ago.

To say that I had a systematic approach to coming around on http://john.do would be an absolute lie – it was an accident and simply the result of consistent thought over a period of time.

But what I knew was that I wanted it to mean something significant to me because if it didn’t then I’d quit and drop it just like I do with hundreds of other domains – it needed to persist because I’d be using it as my lifelong email address as well!

Here are some of the cursory reasons why I choose it:

  1. It’s simple.
  2. It’s easy to remember.
  3. Most people know how to spell “John” – sure, I get asked sometimes if it’s spelled with an “h” but not very often.
  4. It’s not just easy to remember, it’s memorable. A lot of people, when told the address, say something about how “that’s neat” or “that’s different” or “how did you get that?” – the followup question helps solidify it even more in their memory.

All those things are great and I reference some of those things in my ultimate guide to deciding on a domain name – but it’s much more than just those things to me and here are some bigger reasons why.

1. A Double Entendre

Firstly, I pronounce my domain name like “John Doe” which is an obvious hat tip to the often-used placeholder name for someone who is unknown or who’s name must be obscured for legal reasons. It’s also used for hospital patients as well as those that have deceased (a corpse). Grotesque, I know.

But the reason I like this is because on the internet I am not exactly a “John Doe” – if you Google my name I’m pretty easy to spot and find. That’s why I love the idea of John Doe because it’s everything that I’m not – but at the same time it is what I am since I am (and you are) more than just a collection of consonants and vowels and there’s still an element of mystery behind all of our names as to who we really are.

The irony makes it a double entendre and I love the word play and the instant depth that can be taken with the double-meaning. It is worth noting that this is as far as I typically go with people who are curious about the meaning more than just knowing it’s related to the Dominican Republic. I can explain this quickly and most people get it.

But it goes even more deep than that for me.

2. A Bias Toward Action

Most people who encounter me and who have a good idea about what I do (and what I’ve done) know that I have a significant bias toward action – in other words, I can’t help do something with what I know.

That’s why I love the internet and why it’s the greatest and best playground for someone like me – I can do most anything I want and experiment to my heart’s content. There is very little that can stop me from doing anything and it can be done with very little cost with very little consequence.

But the sandbox is not enough – it’s what I encourage people to develop within themselves as I professionally coach people through acceleration: You must create action to make your goals a reality. You must create or engender a bias toward doing something with what you know and with what you’re learning.

I may be the ultimate pragmatist – I can do no other than do something with what I have and what I’ve been enlightened to.

3. A Spiritual Component

There is a spiritual component to the name as well and I don’t often share this publicly because there isn’t often the right context to do so but the idea behind the use of “John Doe” in typical contexts is found in unidentified corpses. Again, sorry, grotesque, I know.

But I fundamentally believe and know that my existence (and success) depends on my choice of dying to myself for the sake of something greater. Here are some passages from the Bible which give more context to this morbid fascination:

1. Romans 6:9-11, ESV : We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

2. Galatians 2:19-20, ESV : For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

3. Luke 9:23-25, ESV : And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

4. John 12:24-26, ESV : Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

5. Philippians 2:3, ESV : Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

6. Matthew 10:38-39, ESV : And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

7. Mark 10:45, ESV : For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I believe that ultimately life is far better when we consider the needs of others before our own. For me this means service to my wife, my children, and my partners who I’ve chosen to do business with. It ultimately means that I serve a God, out of love, because he first served me by loving me enough to die Himself through Jesus Christ for me:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16, ESV

Even if you do not hold to the same beliefs as I do you know intuitively and from your own experience that life is meant to be done with others – not alone. It’s a much more satisfying way to experience life, in the context of community, and working towards common goals.

The domain name then as John.do is a constant reminder that I am to serve others before myself (another double entendre perhaps since a landing page is intrinsically ego-driven, but how can I serve others if I don’t have anyone to serve to begin with? Intense…).

4. A Philosophy of Sorts

FInally, my historical, genetic, and cultural background comes from the East, South Korea to be exact, and there is something very significant is the idea of “Do” (or 道 Dō officially) which suggests a number of very powerful concepts which I very much appreciate and align myself to.

For starters is worth noting that the term “Dō” is borrowed from the Chinese philosophical concept of Tao (道, Dao). This generally means things like “way”, “route”, or “path” and more loosely “principle” or “doctrine”.

But more than that Dō captures the sense of individual mastery but only in the context of community and the rich heritage surrounding it. I love this because it’s a philosophy of doing business (and life) that I wildly believe in. I believe that we should all find our unique “craft” – the thing that we were uniquely designed to do and then to team up with others to find the full expression of that masterful display of technique and art.

The rich heritage and history presents itself and implies the gigantic body of wisdom, tradition, and existing knowledge that you leverage for your craft but that you can’t take for granted or claim as your own since it was there way before you arrived on the scene. Dō describes individual mastery, both physically, ethically, spiritually, and aesthetically. It’s the “path” and our way of doing life with others.

道 Dō from an ethnographic perspective also describes the dynamic between essence and action, idea and application, values and the use of those values, our history, heritage and our contextualized, individualized realization of that history. It natively describes progress, innovation, growth, and personal and cultural transformation.

道 Dō is so nuanced that it’s somewhat hard to describe so it’s best to compare Western and Eastern thought:

  • Do in english represents action, execution, and “doing” something. It also is an expression of positivity, progress, and optimism. It’s a vision of now.
  • 道 Dō in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese culture represents growth, maturity, excellence, and proficiency founded in our historical precedents. You cannot divorce what we do today and what was done yesterday. It’s a vision of the future.

I love the depth of meaning here and I want to fully embody both the east and the western perspective because that is part of my unique identity as a person (I’m genetically eastern, South Korean, but culturally I’m more western since I was adopted into a western family. I’m from New Jersey folks, sheesh.).

Here are some uses of it in Korean:

  • Taekwon-Do (태권도; 跆拳道), the Way of the foot and the fist. It’s a Korean martial art with roots in Taekkyon and Karate.
  • Kumdo (검도; 劍道), the Way of the Sword. It’s a form of Korean fencing with roots in Japanese Kendo.
  • Hapkido (합기도; 合氣道), the Way of the harmonious spirit. It’s another form of Korean martial art which shares history with Japanese Aikido.
  • Seodo (서도; 書道), the Way of writing. An alternate name for Korean brush calligraphy, Seoye (서예; 書藝).

Neat, right? I particularly like the last one since it’s about the “Way of Writing” and my career is based on a ton of writing.

I could go on and on about this philosophy and way of life but I believe this should be cursory enough for you to get a better picture of my thought process behind such a simple thing as a domain name. In fact, I’m surprised I wrote 2,000+ words on the darn subject!

But I believe that words matter and that your name matters even more. Taking the time to think about it is vitally important. Sure, 99 out of 100 who come across my domain name think nothing more than “Hmm. That’s cool.” but I didn’t do it for them – I did it because I cared about it that much.

And that makes sense because I’m the only one who should care the most about my own domain name.

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