It was late afternoon aboard the AMTRAK Carolinian hurtling back from Washington DC to Charlotte. Sitting across from me two financial types, with white shirts and ties.  Their laptops humming away. You could almost imagine the figures being moved back and forth in budgets. The usual corporate business chat abounding. About halfway through the trip, their business efforts and ties gave way with a couple of beers. Talk now centered around the company, rumors and their positions. Each kidded the other about their roles in the company.

The guy next to the window said to the other, “Show me your business card, I want to look at your titles.” Both of them pulled out their cards and exchanged them. The window guy turned to the other and said, “CPA, Vice President. Very impressive.” The other guy said, “I see you’re an MBA, Vice President, what do all these other designations mean?” ”I can’t remember.” Both laughed. 

Then the aisle guy looked at the other’s business card again and said, “Your none of these, you are GLUE MAN.” “What?” Exclaimed the window guy. “You hold our whole damn unit together; we wouldn’t get anything done without you. You are GLUE MAN.”

The window guy said, “Your titles are wrong too. You don’t even need a title. Your famous in the company. Remember the North Edge deal you won. Just put your name DAN BLAKE on your card. That’s all you need.” 

They both laughed and went to get another beer from the bar car.

The scene made me wonder if titles even mattered anymore. After all, you could have the title of President and only a one-person company or Marketing Manager and just be a sales person. Not to mention pondering what Consultant really means. 

I remembered an article by Mark Wilkinson of Coburg Banks (UK recruiting firm) on unique titles. Ones the firm had encountered from applicants. Some of the more humorous ones included:

WIZARD OF LIGHT BULB MOMENTS (Market Director) OYSTER FLOATER (Quality Control Specialist) RETAIL JEDI (Shop Assistant) CHIEF CHATTER (Call Center Manager) DIGITAL OVERLORD (Website Manager) BEVERAGE DISSEMINATION OFFICER (Bartender) PROBEM WRANGLER( Counsellor) DREAM ALCHEMIST (Creative Head) CHIEF INSPIRATION OFFICER (Human Resource Director) GRAND MASTER OF UNDERLINGS (Deputy Manager) CORPORATE MAGICIAN (Corporate Image Director)

Are titles and credentials important anymore? The answer is yes and no. They are important within an organization to establish departments and chain of commands. They are also important in obtaining business and company image. Titles and credentials of staff give depth, status and marketing importance to a company. Credentials are important to job seekers and those wanting advancement.

All this said, the longer relationships last within a company and with clients, the less important titles are. Your performance speaks for itself. When you acquire a certain level of success, reputation and market presence, you often can simply use your name only. Many articles I read are only signed with a name (I.e. JIM CRAMER or ERIC KIM). If someone is really interested in the details about the person, they can reference your bio.

Interestingly, after you retire, the titles and credentials you held dearly just don’t matter anymore. You are seldom asked about them. People judge you as a person. Much the same is true about your personal life. It is you that counts, and your name alone stands for that.

In your personal life other titles emerge such as TRUTH SEEKERARTISTEXPLORERPATRIARCHMENTORWANDERER or WISDOM SEEKER. Ones you choose for yourself. They relate to your growth as a person, always more important than business titles.

David Young