For the past year (already!), I have held the title of Owner and Chaos Muppet at Storychick.
It doesn’t fit easily into the standard buckets used for the chain of command. I can hazard a guess that there aren’t many on LinkedIn.
Why Chaos Muppet? It’s a gut-feel creation but it means something, too. It started with this wonderful perspective on personality theory by Dahlia Lithwick on Slate. At the time that this came out, I was struggling to succeed in a an environment of checklists 10 layers deep and comprehensive cc lists for emails. I realized that I needed a cascade of post-its and the ability to run up to people and spew an idea (my version of throwing spaghetti at a wall), in order to thrive. I would rather hang with the Swedish Chef, Animal, Grover, Sweetums, Cookie, and Beaker than Bert, Sam the Eagle, or Scooter.
When it comes to titles, it’s easy to revert to the norm. But put some thought into it. Answer these fundamental questions. It may take you down a different path.
- What type of company are you building? Storychick is meant to be different, unique. It has an irreverent personality because I want to build something that reflects myself. Because I think such an approach is a bonus when striving to connect people, as Storychick does. Our mission has logical benefits but a strong emotional undercurrent. Chaos Muppet captures this.
- How important is hierarchy? For now and the forseeable future, Storychick is me. In a solo situation, do you really need to force a rank? Does it really mean anything to be Chief muckety-muck when you are the one and only? There is no one for me to pull rank over and it’s just not important to me.
- What type of company do you want to keep? Is it important to be part of a community of like-titled folks, or can you shine on your own? Do you want to stand out from the crowd when people read your name tag or business card?
- What do you want your title to say? Do you want a title that answers the dreaded “what do you do”, one that simply sounds important or legit, or one that describes your life-view? I like the idea of a title that captures personality. As a solo-preneur, personality is an important piece of the puzzle. Chaos Muppet not only captures the emotional, not-so-orderliness of Storychick, but also the fun and smiles that Muppets themselves bring – and the stories that come along with. It’s not a common term, but it’s easily understandable to many.
So, tell me, what do you call yourself? What does it mean to you?