What's in a Name

March 2, 2020
Andrew DiMeo

One of the biggest questions I’m hearing when sharing the story of CanvasGT is:

“What does the GT stand for?” and “Why the name CanvasGT?”

Naming a company or product is something I’ve always enjoyed doing.  These things tend to take on a life of their own.  The name is a way to build the vision for the company into its DNA that makes an impression for a lifetime.  There’s a story in a name that can be told for years to come.

So what’s the story with CanvasGT?

It is a software solution that enables Creativity with Purpose to Boost your innovation pipeline by connecting left and right brain thinking.

That’s cool.  Thanks for the marketing jargon Andrew.  But what does all that mean?

Okay.  The bottom line: we are building a virtual whiteboard to enable real-time, multi-site collaboration of creative and pragmatic work.

The use of the word “canvas” seemed at first too obvious from the whiteboard side of the equation.  I was initially avoiding using it. Whether good or bad, there exists a long list of well designed creative frameworks such as “Business Model Canvas” that makes the term somewhat universal.  I ended up sticking with “canvas.” It did more than only represent the creative blank surface used by artists. It also described the material used to make backpacks where survival equipment can be stored for a long expedition.  CanvasGT is about having the tools in your pack to be creative today; and it’s about keeping the contents of that bag secure for the long road ahead of design. Canvas itself, the material, is both creative and pragmatic.

So what about the GT?

I’ve spent nearly my entire life straddling these two worlds of creativity and pragmatism.  Throughout the 90’s I was either in New York City working in props and set dressing on TV shows and major motion pictures OR I was studying some form of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  In the early 2000’s I was either creating new medical devices OR I was managing quality systems and design controls. Between 2006-2018, I was teaching students to be creative AND I was teaching them to manage the regulations of medical device development.

Write poetry by night, study Physics by day, and the story goes on.

I felt like there were a finite set of choices one could make in wrestling with these worlds.

  • Go all in on a creative life
  • Go all in on a pragmatic life
  • Do my best to balance the creative and pragmatic

I was passionate about resolving this duality and found myself reading books such as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  But even when reading Jim Collins and his direct reference to Genius of the AND, however committed I might have been at the time; I was simply blind to the lessons of these writings.

In 2014 and turning 42 years young, it would be an introduction to yoga by my new girlfriend (turned wife) that provided the enlightenment.  It was in the pose Peaceful Warrior when realizing I was not balancing between peace and war, but rather going all in on both. It took all the strength I had to hold the pose while simultaneously exercising complete relaxation.

Yoga taught me that what Jim Collins was getting at in his writings on the Tyranny of the OR and Genius of the AND  was not about making a compromise between two opposing forces, but rather maximizing both.  Before too long, I was reading over again the classic by Robert M. Pirsig and for the first time in life able to appreciate it.

This commitment to maximizing the creative and maximizing the pragmatic (maximizing left brain thinking and maximizing right brain thinking) is core to CanvasGT.  At some point I was riffing on combinations of the letters GTA by simply playing with the acronym for “Genius of the AND.”  The GT jumped off the page (I like cars).  In this context of driving, GT stands for Gran Turismo, the Italian for Grand Tourer.

A GT is a car that has the performance characteristics of a sports car AND a touring car.  It is lightweight and built for speed while having the durability to withstand harsh conditions over long distances and run times.  Designing a car to go both fast and far is no trivial endeavor, especially not in the 1960s when the badge became popularized.  These cars were not a compromise to meet in the middle somewhere between speed and distance, but rather to maximize both.  

A GT emblem on the car was a sign that this work if art has muscle.  And so with CanvasGT.  The canvas material itself is useful for art AND protection.  The GT badge indicates to all that this particular canvas is for maximizing creativity WITH purpose.

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