Today, I’d like to save you time, money, energy and stress. I want to help you avoid making the extremely costly mistake of using someone’s title as a decision making shortcut.
Whilst some titles are defined by meaningful, proven attainment (like the title Professor), others are way too vague. They tell us almost nothing. Here are some examples of titles, which sound like one thing, but often mean something completely different.
Anyone can be the CEO of nothing. Think of it like this: Bob and Mark are both CEO’s. That title tells us they are both the head of a company. However, it tells us nothing about their company or their achievements. Bob could be CEO of a 3 month old business that’s in the process of going bankrupt. Mark could be the CEO of Facebook.
If you are thinking of giving your money, time or attention to someone, just because they have the CEO title, dig a little deeper first.
The Internet Startup founders
I get emails most days, from people calling themselves the founder of an Internet Start-up. Some Internet start-ups are funded by millions of dollars worth of investment. Some are run by people with a proven track record of success.
Others are 2 weeks old, unfunded, with no business model, trying to be just like Amazon.com… only better.
Their title, by itself, means nothing.
The best-selling author: from Gladwell to Godin to minimum wage
Then there are best-selling authors. Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin can rightly claim to be best-selling, non-fiction authors. They are. However, they are also poles apart, in the wide, 3 tiers of best-selling authors.
Top tier: Gladwell sells millions of copies of each book. He earns millions of dollars from them and he is interviewed on major TV networks, worldwide, when each new book is launched.
Middle tier: Godin is extremely successful, but sells far fewer books than Gladwell. Godin appears on affiliate marketing blogs, podcasts and in marketing publications, to promote his new books. Whilst a pole away from Gladwell, Godin’s influence is huge within his niche. He’s also a pole away from the next tier.
Bottom tier: These are the best-selling authors, who sell surprisingly few books (as few as 5000) and make very little money. Just search Google for “how much does a best selling author earn”. You will see it can be as little as $15,000 or less.
That’s for a year spent writing the book and maybe another year promoting it. These best-selling authors earn way, way less than minimum wage!
There is a huge difference between Gladwell at the top and the people at the bottom. So, if you’re approached by someone who calls themselves a best-selling author in their marketing, do some research.
The top 10 rated experts in the world
Then there are those, who title themselves as a world top 10 (or top 50) expert. They do this because they appear on a top 10 list from a well-known magazine or website. Today, lots of top publications use unpaid bloggers to provide “content” for them. The blogger gets exposure. The blogger also gets to claim they write for the well-known publication, even though these posts are not endorsed and not part of the main website. The publication gets content. These publications need lots of content, to maintain their search engine rankings. It’s simply a cheap way, in every sense, for the publication to keep Google happy. (Google rewards frequently updated websites).
A popular form of this content are the so-called “top 10 lists”. Here, the unpaid and unknown blogger lists people, who they happen to know, as the top 10 in the world. These lists are not voted for. They are just a blogger’s opinion. If you look deeper, you’ll see those lists are not endorsed by the magazine or website. It is also VERY common to find the blogger’s friends added to these lists. The friend will then add the blogger to THEIR top 10 list.
This is why you see lots of unknown people, with nothing in their background to suggest they have achieved anything, listed in those (insert well known publication) Top 10 in the world, lists.
So, if you are thinking of hiring or taking advice from someone, because they title themselves as a top 10 listed expert, don’t. Check them out first. In my experience, those who use these titles are usually best avoided.
In a nutshell: Titles can be extremely misleading. Using them as a decision-making shortcut can lead us to make bad decisions. Always credential people, before you give them your time or your money.