What’s In a Title
What’s In a Title

What’s In a Title

Let’s say you’re meeting someone for the first time. Everyone’s trying to get to know one another and someone asks you, “what do you do?” How do you respond? Do you act like a soldier and give your rank and file in your company, something like, “I’m the Executive Vice President of Finance?”

I notice people associate themselves more with their titles at work than anything else. This is something I’ve struggled with over the past six months as I’ve begun defining who I really am. Am I just a name and a title, like in a boxing prize fight?

Or am I something more?

I’d like to think we are. In fact, we’re not in a race or a boxing match. What we stand for is something beyond what we do for a living. Right?

May be we’re all the roles we play and names we take.

That doesn’t really answer the question though. After all, I can change the focus and say that my life’s not about work, but about my family. I like being a husband, a son, a brother and a friend. OK, but aren’t all of these titles too?

When you tear it down, aren’t we all just people making, nourishing, or breaking relationships? What we strive to answer in that simple question of “what do you do,” is what relationship we have with the various people in our lives. Somehow, each of us gives more importance to one role than the other, but all of them can still be defined by the relationships we have.

I know that each time, in a casual or formal setting, I pay a little more attention to my audience and what message I want to convey. What relationships are important to me now and what gap do I fill in those relationships?

That’s how I’d deal with it, but what do you think? Is this question moot? How do you answer the question of “what do you do?”


  1. William L. Savastano

    While each of us have different roles that we play in our personal lives, I think that everyone can agree that when someone asks you, "What do you do?", they are asking you about your professional life. Though we will talk about our families and friends later in our professional relationship, if we have just met in a business setting, the question is an obvious request for your elevator statement. I am not looking for, "I am an Engagement Manager", or "I am a CEO", but in fact, what you do. While your title might be important to me later in our conversation, days or weeks down the road, or possibly never, again, I want to be able to have a complete understanding of what you do by the time 60 seconds has passed.

    I use the latest sales and marketing best practices to help businesses of any size get their message out to their potential customers and work to help them maintain relationships with their existing customers.

    I can give you my title all day long, but you won't understand what I do until I tell you that.

  2. Anonymous

    We are people with lots of color in our lives. These colors define our roles and these roles make us unique and individual. Then it depends on which context do the question, but if you ask me now why, I just want to tell you that I live the life I want and I'm happy with who I am.

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