I’ve been noticing a really annoying and misleading trend over the last few years. It’s something that’s beginning to bug me so much that I felt the need to write an entire article on the subject. So, as you know I’m on Linkedin a fair amount. Not as much as I used to be but I like to scroll the feed for anything interesting. One of the things that comes up on the feed are announcements of people getting promoted, having new jobs, etc etc. So I see one of my connections has a new job and it’s called “Venture Partner.” So I’m thinking to myself, “oh, that’s pretty cool.” But I also knew who this connection was and I’m thinking “yeah, but what does that mean exactly?” Because for me a venture partner usually means someone who’s kind of a big player in investing money into developing companies. But in today’s world? For all I know that could mean a person who’s part of a two person paper route team. And of course, my instincts were right. This “position” wasn’t even a position at all. Essentially this person took a role in a company who provides a platform for investors to put capital into early stage companies. It’s actually a well known company and they’re quite successful. But upon further research I saw that this person’s role was simply to familiarize investors with their platform. And honestly I don’t even know what that entails. So the fact that they put “venture partner” kind of pissed me off. Speaking of the paper route example, I feel like in today’s world if someone ran a paper route they would make their job title “Director of Media Circulation, NY Times” if they had to put it on Linkedin. Look, I understand the whole “fake it till you make it” but aren’t we taking it a little too far these days? I think we’ve all been guilty of this in some way or another. Even I have my own stories of this:
As early as age 14
The first real job I had in my life was as a busboy at an Italian restaurant near my house. We were regular customers there for years so the owner let me work there. This was in the 8th grade. I’ll never forget that job. It was tough. The kitchen was like a furnace. The restaurant was always busy. I remember how slippery my sneakers would get by the end of the night. I totally busted my ass in that job. One of the things about being a busboy is that not only is it a thankless job but you’re just not “seen.” It’s literally the lowest of the low as far as restaurant jobs go. Despite how hard you work, there’s zero recognition. Frankly, it kind of sucks. It was also one of those jobs where it kind of bothered me that the people who I was cleaning up after had no idea who I was. They had no clue that I was a pretty smart kid. That I had dreams and aspirations. That there was no way I would work as a busboy my whole life. So even then, as a middle schooler, I would talk to the customers. I would get into small conversations with them whenever I could. It kind of made me feel better. It made me feel “human.” But it’s not like this stopped in my career.
Even my first “real” job out of college I remember thinking I was all cool because I commuted to work and wore a suit. There I was with the rest of the business people on the Long Island Rail Road commuting to the World Trade Center. Hell I even had the title of “Account Executive.” But what was I really doing all day? Making cold calls. Even up to the last job I had before going off on my own my title was “Director.” Director of what? I was still just making phone calls, only now as a recruiter. But yeah, it looks cool on a resume doesn’t it? I guess so. But looking back, I realize it’s not cool at all.
Hell even today I put “CEO” in my Linkedin profile. But I’m really just a one man show and if you asked me what I do for a living I’ll tell you that I’m simply a glorified editor. I mean honestly, all I do is assign content and moderate it. Sure I manage my company. And yes, I’m the “boss” but only of myself and my subcontractors. It’s not like I’m running a multi-billion dollar business from a swank corner office in Manhattan. And even if I were doing that, would that be as glamorous as I’d picture? Of course not. Not even close.
So why do we lie?
So then why do we do this? Why do we prop ourselves up into imaginary places of status when we’re not even close to those places in reality? The answer is simple really. It comes down to two things. It comes down to what we want and the perception we want others to have about us. When we make ourselves out to be more than what we actually are it makes us feel better about ourselves. When we appear to be at a level we’d prefer people to see us at, it makes us feel better about ourselves. We all have an ego. We all have aspirations. All of us want to reach a pedestal we envision for ourselves. So sometimes an imaginary one is better than nothing. But the reality is that we’re the ones who have to look ourselves in the mirror each day. We’re the ones who have to go home each night knowing exactly what it is we were doing all day. And nothing’s going to change that situation except ourselves. No fake title in the world can replace the feeling of not being what you want to be.
Besides, the truly successful people see right through it
The funny thing in all of this is that most of the successful people I’ve met in my life couldn’t care less about what a person’s position is. The right people care about who you are and what you bring to the table. The last thing they care about is a job title. Successful people want results first, period. They care about production, not status. I’ll take the most efficient and responsible busboy in the world any day over the account executive who tries to make me think he’s anything more than someone who’s doing data entry all day. Never be afraid to discuss what you do and who you really are. There’s always someone out there to believe in you. And if not them, do it your damned self.