By Any Other Name, Would I Smell As Sweet?
Is anyone else tired of editing their social media profiles, re-writing bios and elevator pitches or reprinting countless versions of business cards? Or am I the only one?
When I chose to leave my structured, traditional, corporate job I knew I’d be giving up my nice neat job description in the process. I knew I’d be entering into a more loose, ambiguous path of entrepreneurship. What I didn’t know was how that ambiguity would look and feel to other people – or how much I’d care.
For the most part, I love the ambiguity – and usually refer to it as an “adventure”. It seems to fit my longing for dynamic flowing workweeks, flexible hours and remote working locations. Despite the challenges of owning my own business, I really do appreciate the ability to choose which work I do, when and with whom I do it.
The one thing I still can’t seem to wrap my head around is a title.
That dreaded line “occupation” on government forms and Customs papers stops me every time. Why must I have a title? What does it really mean? Doesn’t the fact that I am a business owner, and can grant myself any title I please, negate the hierarchy or credibility of it all?
This thought takes me back to high school English…
“That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare
After a recent debate with a good friend of mine, about the word, title and credentials of a coach, I started wondering if I might have a similar problem to Romeo – by any other name, do I “smell as sweet”?
Does it really matter if I call myself a coach, or a strategist, or a mentor, or a consultant, trainer, author, speaker, or facilitator? What about CEO, founder, owner or President? Does anyone really care what title I give myself? As long as all of those things are true, isn’t the value I bring much more relevant?
Has my entrepreneurially, adopted title been adequately communicating my value or have I been limited myself by selecting a word (or two, or three)?
That very question triggers the Marketer in me to say, “Who cares?” It’s never really about the words. She wants to remind me, I’m the person who has to believe it. If I were to ask, she’d explain how everything else flows from my own convictions and beliefs. In order to communicate my value and my offerings to others clearly, I need to first know what they are. If I don’t feel I can deliver on the promise of that title, or any other descriptors I use, no one else will believe it either.
When I start doing that, in a language that feels true for me, it attracts my ideal clients for whom it is also true. I’ve seen it.
Does it scare away others? Yes. And, as I keep telling my own clients, that’s actually a good thing (as frightening as it might be)!
There is something really powerful about an individual who exudes conviction and confidence in who they are and what they stand for – steadfast and without apology.
We want to believe them.
We want to be in their presence.
And yes, we want to buy from them.
I remember this eclectic range of entrepreneurs I’ve met over the past few years who introduced themselves as Chief Inspiration Officer, Mindset Queen, and Badass Babe Boss. As quirky and flighty as that may sound to a veteran of corporate America and Fortune 500 companies, there is beauty in their disregard for the mundane, their embracing the non-traditional and rebelling against convention. It allows them to not just design a creative business card, but to also stand in ownership of the value they deliver – not to mention whom they want to deliver it for.
I can’t help being a bit envious of that conviction as I consider my own.
I wonder if I have been sneaking around the bushes of my own life, playing Montague in public and a rose in the shadows?
I think of my profile on LinkedIn and how I use words like business strategist, consultant and trainer. Then, I think about my website and online courses, where I sign off as “Chief FabFinder” (a title that reflects my efforts to help others find their own version of a fabulous life and my promise to role model it in my own).
Although all of those are true, I can’t help wondering if I’ve been able to express my own truth fully and openly, or whether the real me is buried under 20 years of corporate armour.
Funny thing about that… the parts of me that now lean toward the more elusive, creative, and non-conventional, only make me more valuable and unique in that same business setting. Whether they’ll recognize that in a title remains to be seen.
What I know for sure… it’s up to me to show up that way, because all the business cards in the world can’t do it for me!
So here’s the question I ask myself today, “Who are you?”
Or, as William might say, “Wherefore art thou?”
Marketing Guru for Entrepreneurs
Design Strategist for Lifestyle Career Women
CEO of Dadd EO Adventures Inc.
Or, whatever title suits me in the moment 😉