There was a time during the early part of my career as a reporter when I was given a sparkling review for my work. Not only was I doing a great job in producing award-winning content for the news outlet for which I worked, but I was told that my information gathering was impressive and extremely helpful for the company.
The downside, however, is that when it came time to let me know what my reward would be for the incredibly long hours of hard work, I was told I would getting a title change. And that was it.
Being a young man barely out of college, this was something I didn’t realize was the way the world worked. I assumed hard work led to pay increases and that titles were something that didn’t really hold much value. Unfortunately, as my career blossomed, my titles outgrew my bank account balances.
I tell you this to talk about what values, if any, titles actually have. If I tell someone I am the CEO or president of a company, what does that actually mean? Are some people impressed by it and others not so much?
The truth is some people are impressed with it. When going into a meeting with a potential client, they know from my title that they are meeting the company’s top person. For some PR firms, that isn’t necessarily the case. And in even more cases, the CEO or president isn’t the one who is actually handling the accounts once they become a client. Those are routinely handed down to account managers and, in some instances, to low-level employees right out of college or a minimum-wage intern.
Titles are often just a matter of perception. As the CEO of Jupiter Promotions, I am the head honcho. However, I am also the janitor, the office manager, the accountant and HR professional. I could have taken any or all those titles and they would have had much less meaning to those I am attempting to convince they should sign with my company.
Choosing whether to be called a CEO or COO or president or founder or even lead consultant (which is a title I sometimes use in certain situations) is sometimes a difficult call. When I go to networking events, saying I am the CEO or founder seems to gain a lot of traction. But when you are a small business, it is almost expected that the CEO would be the person who is attending these types of functions.
The downside to being the CEO is that the expectations go up exponentially. I am constantly being asked if I would want to hire someone or partner with someone on possible projects. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, as it has been said. As our company’s social media manager (another title), I spend a lot of time responding to people who want to pitch their own services to my company. More often than not, those services mirror what Jupiter Promotions already does.
Titles are great and can have an impact on how people look at you. However, it doesn’t replace money. Without the pay increase, titles are nothing more than just fancy words. And sometimes, they aren’t even fancy.