Lately, I’ve started to poke my head in some meetups that focus on entrepreneurship and startups. I want to get a sense of what other people are doing – great motivators and urgent reminders for me to get moving. It’s both amazing and humbling to see how young these founders are and the innovative solutions they are providing.
But I do notice one thing: everyone is a CEO. It doesn’t matter how big the company is, the main guy slaps on the title of CEO. When I see the title CEO, which traditionally has stood for Chief Executive Office, my mind conjures up images of a corner office housing the big boss, with the president himself, a bunch of other C level bosses, and an entire organization under him. Perhaps that’s old school thinking.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not downplaying small companies and small or single-individual startups. I myself run a small company, have created and am creating bootstrapped “startups”, so for me to downplay that would be hypocritical. What I am questioning is the seemingly nonchalant use of the title, CEO.
Titles feel good. I get it. I was once “VP” of one function or another, albeit in a smallish company, but that company did have a solid structure, with a CEO, president and a whole organization underneath. I was also once a “Chief Architect”, and admittedly I felt good about it, so I understand the importance and empowerment of titles.
On my real estate business cards, I have “Broker of Record”, because I am required to by law to use that title, but I have also recently added “President”, because clients and customers often don’t understand that “Broker of Record” is akin to President, with all that position’s responsibilities.
However, as I find myself contemplating business cards for my company, Eight Dawns Inc., which houses all the technology efforts I am creating currently, I am struggling to come up with a title for myself. I admit, “CEO” did cross my mind. Perhaps I should subtitle it with the tagline, “Chief Everything Officer”. I also thought of perhaps just slapping on a tongue-in-cheek title like “The Guy” or “Chief Coder” or some title that portrays I’m it. Some might relate to those and appreciate the down-to-earth image they send but some might find them lacking in seriousness making them risky to use.
I fully expect some marketing ninja-gurus to tell me that “CEO” is the exact title that should be used because it projects into the future, to a corporation with an orgazinational structure, ready to go public. And I suppose I do agree with that view. I might be one now but my doors are open to others who would like to join me in some way.
Until then, I will remain humble and take a less pompous title: “Principal”.
If you happen to come across this post and feel strongly enough, please let me know what you think. Leave me a comment or reach out to me in other ways.
(By the way, I wrote and uploaded this post using my app, “Just Write!”, which you can read more about here: https://eightdawns.com/justwrite)