So Friday, when I responded to a friend I haven't seen for a while, a friend who, after guessing incorrectly on my email/domain format, spammed every possible combination of greg@, gregallen@, greg.org, greg.com, gregallen.com, gregallen.org, etc., I somewhat haughtily included a this URL in my coordinates: http://www.google.com/search?q=greg. Somewhat haughtily and somewhat hastily.
When I sent the email, I was at #5, but yesterday, when I showed off to a good friend, Haniel Lynn, I'd dropped below 20. (I'm back at #6 now, so I don't know what's going on.) What we do know: I'm superficial (i.e., I cared enough about a one-name Google ranking to show-and-tell people), and relying on Google for any sense of your own self-worth is dubious at best.
That's when Haniel showed me his own Google-induced folly. Somehow, the Wharton Usenet servers attached his name to someone else's lameass 1995 review of the 90's Manchester band, Stone Roses. (Haniel Lynn's graduate class of 95; the reviewer is an undergrad, class of '96.) Whenever he'd show up at a new client's office, or interview someone for a job, they'd try to work Stone Roses into the conversation. Or if they didn't, they'd quiz his colleagues after he left, impressed but confused at how an X'ed up groupie could find his way to McKinsey. All they really did, though, was blow the cover on their Googling.
My advice to Haniel: be on more panels, get quoted in articles more, and (obviously) get a weblog.