When I was first starting in this business, I looked up with envy at the various VPs and C-level executives with their big fancy titles. In my naiveté, success was heavily tied to going from a coordinator, to a manager, to a supervisor, to a director, and so on all the way up to CEO.
Almost 20 years later, I realize how little those titles mean when I now judge a person's level of success. After meeting plenty of 24-year-old vice presidents of tiny companies -- or even more to the point, very experienced and respected directors -- titles mean much less to me now than they did when I first entered the business world. Now I judge personal success on the excellence of the organization I'm working for, how engaged am I with my day-to-day tasks, and if I'm personally satisfied at the end of the week with the work I'm doing.
The digital industry has thrived being the new kid on the block and shedding legacy ways of doing business. In the early days of digital, the traditional teams joked that you could tell who the digital guy was in the room by who was wearing jeans and had facial jewelry. This trailblazer attitude has certainly extended to the job title forum -- would "guru" be acceptable in any other industry?
Silly job titles are not so silly to the folks behind them. Adam Broitman is currently chief creative strategist of Something Massive. However, when I met him a few years ago, his title was "Partner and Ringleader" at Cir.cus so I thought he'd be perfect to comment on this little quirk of our business.
"I have always felt that it is a bit odd for agencies comprising of three people to have a CEO or managing director -- something about that just seems disingenuous," Broitman said. "Given that fact, the fact the name of the company was Circ.us it just seemed like a good idea to forgo traditional titles. After all, John and I (my partner who was also Ringleader) were ultimately responsible for everything, so no title would have properly captured the essence of what each of us did on a daily basis. On top of all of this, John and I are a bit snarky and while we take our work seriously, life is too short to take things like titles seriously."
To demonstrate this point, the following pages contain 17 real titles pulled from the profiles of marketing industry professionals found on LinkedIn. Enjoy!