I am not a CEO! / by Kia Jarmon

By Kia Jarmon of MEPR Agency for 12th & Broad

A while back I had a conversation with a marketing colleague about our titles within our company.  While we both are entrepreneurs neither of us identified with the title of CEO.  The concept might seem weird to abandon a title that so many aspire to have but quite frankly if everyone has that title does it really mean anything?! 

When I first started my business it was important for me to establish a title that really encompassed my goals BUT also how I wanted people to view me.  I started as a young 20-something and walking around saying I was the CEO of a PR firm wasn’t going to be impressive or identify what I really could do for the community or my clients.

So, I probably went for two years playing with titles seeing what stuck out the most and while there are so many there was one that truly resonated with me…Creative Director.  It included the perfect mix of leadership and my role as a creative translator.  While you usually hear the creative title in more of a marketing role or graphics company it soon became a title that gave people a sense of comfort.  They did not need to feel as if they were talking to the CEO but rather someone who could understand both tech, in the creative process, and the strategic needs of a brand.

However there is a bigger (and more important) point that my colleague and I discussed which was that as a boutique company owner our titles needed to eliminate the concept that we were the final stop.  If a client requests something of you it is essential that they know that you are not the only decision maker or even the final decision maker.  After all, you hire people within your company to make decisions for the best interest of your business and you don’t want to automatically be the ‘bad guy’ because you hold the CEO title.

Here are a few titles that I think work to fit two main objectives: to stand out in a crowded market place and to capture what it is that you truly do.    

Brand evangelist: In the Bible belt we certainly understand the term evangelist as someone who actively shares a message.  Brand Evangelists share the “gospel” of a particular brand, many times with the goal of converting your beliefs.  This title will find itself in your company as a part of the team whether you hire them or not.  Sometimes it is you as the owner of the company that carries this title but it can also be the blogger, the social media overachiever, or just a die-hard fan of your brand. 

Catalyst for revolution: That same marketing colleague that I mention above boasts this title (that I love) and by no means is it a new title but very appropriate to what she does.  A catalyst is someone who transforms or creates a reaction.  As an entrepreneur, particularly a marketer or PR professional, this is one of your main tasks…you are always looking to spark a movement of your client’s target audience.  

Chick in Charge: In my former life in the music business I met a colleague who carried this title. I absolutely love that is says she runs things with a bit of daintiness but in a ‘no holds barred’ type of way.  You can’t help but respect her and her company because you understand that she is a woman and while she had no choice per se in that title that her business will still be done with the take-charge attitude that should be in every business. 

All of these are just examples of some of the creative ways in which you can run a company, have a little fun, but also convey the appropriate message about you and your role. 

On that note: I am thinking of adopting another title as many clients have begun to refer to me as the MAGICIAN.  I don’t want to give the wrong idea because there is nothing deceptive, illusion filled, or involving trickery about my services in PR however I have been known to pull a rabbit or two out of the hat J

PS: here are other terms that I will not being using either…Founder, President, Boss, or anything that includes Chief.

Cheers to throwing out fluffy titles!