Proclaim Your “Name”

An interesting article in a recent New York Times Magazine section caught my eye.  Its title was “Forecasting Fraud,” and it focused on the phenomenon of one’s misrepresenting themselves by using titles that are not entirely accurate.  The article’s central example was the ubiquitous TV weatherperson who is referred to – often inaccurately – as a meteorologist.  While a meteorologist has specialized education, many of the people who report rain or shine may only qualify as a “weathercaster” rather than a meteorologist, since they can claim only professional experience, and have no special course work or degree.

And, on the subject of outright misrepresentation, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that a job applicant who exaggerates on an application – especially with regard to education – does so at his or her own risk.  Such misrepresentation is cause for immediate dismissal in many school districts – even when caught years later.

But it wasn’t that legal aspect which inspired me to write.  Instead, what captivated me most about this article was the observation that “Most titles are self-applied” and generally “meaningless . . .Most titles indicate only intent (“I call myself a ___ because that is what I aspire to do.”

Your school district or company has most often told you what your formal professional title is.  What’s the title you would assign to yourself if you had your druthers?  What title represents what you “aspire to do”?  Is there a close relationship between the title you would choose, based on the “intent” criteria, and your actual “duties as assigned”?

I’ve struggled a bit with my own title now that I’m not in-house counsel for a school district, but am still licensed to actually practice law, but prefer to function as a consultant rather than a lawyer.  I’m “owner” and “president” of Education Compliance Group, Inc., a “consultant” and an “attorney,” but those titles really don’t reflect what I aspire to do professionally – to help you remove legal and compliance distractions and roadblocks that may divert you from your real mission.  Maybe I’ll start calling myself “legal roadblock blaster.”  What title would you choose for yourself?

Posted on April 26, 2013, in Modern Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I would like to be a “safety instiller” or “safety motivator” since we so often recommend solutions to hazards or exposures but the folks we’re working with (more in commercial settings than in schools) balk at the expense, return on investment or they simply have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality.

    • Thanks for your comment John. I love your “titles.” I wish we could do something to remove the barriers to pro-activity that we all experience.

  2. Great post. I often see self-assigned “guru” or “genius” when those really do nothing more than detract from the value one provides. A title based on certification is just that. To assign yourself a memorable caption, consider the value you provide your audience. What benefit do they receive from you? If you are going to get creative, make sure it’s relevant, understandable and compelling.

    Love this post,


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