For years, I just considered myself a writer. I was a VA, a copywriter, or even “that one with web skills.”
But at the heart of it all, I was a writer.
I was the person you hired to make the stuff.
When I went on my own and started my own business, I had to make a bunch of different decisions.
I couldn’t just make things and leave at the end of the day. I had to market myself now. I had to write more, for me now. I had to make this thing, and then keep it alive for years to come so I could keep making other things.
Plus, now I made my own schedule. Hooray! But now I had to take my own needs seriously. If I failed, no one would be there to take that blame.
It was a new and terrifying undertaking. But it was thrilling.
No more would it just be me-me-me managing everything. No longer would it be like when I was “just” a freelance writer. Not that that’s a “just” kind of job. But now, I was writing in a way that went beyond me writing things for an editor and turning them in. Now, I was writing for companies. I wasn’t just a person—I was an entity.
It wasn’t enough for me to just be me, the copywriter.
So I gave myself a title: CEO.
Brit McGinnis, CEO of Black Bow Communications.
There’s a strange effect that happens when you gain a new title, especially when you give it to yourself.
There’s definitely some pushback, even from yourself. Who do you think you are? How sad is it that you have to give yourself a title, as opposed to rising through the ranks somewhere else and “earning” it?
This is when we all say it aloud: “imposter syndrome.”
And it’s true: I am an imposter. I am 27 years old, come from a family that includes jailbirds and the loudest people in malls, have a tattoo (but not in a cool obvious way), and am living in a city that is now officially “over.” Yes, Portland. You are over and you need to get the f*ck over it. Put a bird on the bird that I’m currently flipping.
I am not the snazzy online entrepreneur you are looking for.
Instead, I’m the high schooler who pawned things over the weekend so that she could have money independent of her parents even though they forbade her to work.
I’m the media fan who watched 500 movies in 14 months, just to learn something about writing from all the different storylines.
I’m the person who worked all four years of college, and trimmed her hair with a cheap razor so she didn’t have to spend money she didn’t have on looking put together.
I’m the person who gave up New Year’s Eve sophomore year of college to babysit, so she could afford to attend the NPR internship conference. I met Scott Simon and Michele Norris, both of whom were wonderful.
Basically, I’ve hustled a lot in my 27 years. It’s made me a scrappy little nobody, as Anna Kendrick would say.
That made it all the more important to empower myself when I realized that I wanted to start my own business. Working hard was not the problem for me. Working hard for myself, believing I was worth it, was something that was hard for me to swallow.
So I gave myself the highest title I could: CEO.
It’s all a trick, see.
It’s acknowledging that I’m going to be the one who cares most about my business. I’m going to be obsessed with it for years, whether or not I’m making money. Especially when I’m not.
It’s not a crown so much as a armored helmet. It’s an acknowledgement, of everything I have done and everything I will continue to do for Black Bow.
I care the most. So I will give myself the most.
It’s a pattern I hope will pan out. Because “giving yourself what you deserve” is a pattern I hope to see from more and more people in 2018.