When you find yourself in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit, your mind is constantly on the move with questions about all the possible outcomes of your case. Although you may have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side who is fighting for your rights to compensation, it can be difficult to settle down until the case is fully resolved.Many people are concerned about their settl...
So here’s a minor topic that could have real meaning for all product managers: what do you put on your business card? Yes, yes, I know we live in the age of Facebook and LinkedIn, but business cards are still what we exchange when we meet people face-to-face. What this means is that business cards are still important. What’s on your business card?
At this point in my career, I must have had no less than 20 different business cards. Every now and then I see a collection of them huddled at the bottom of some drawer somewhere and I will have to smile as I realize how much my description of myself and what I do has changed over time.
I will never forget when I had the first opportunity to sign up for business cards. This was it, he had done it big. Despite being a humble software engineer, he was finally going to have a “grown-up” way of communicating to others how important he was. As with all large companies, most of the business card format was preset. However, I was given free rein to add my job title just below my name. Hmm, what to put on? The first time I walked out the door, I put what the company told me in the corporate directory: “Software Engineer IV” or whatever.
Turns out this was a huge mistake. Outside of the people who worked for my company, no one else in the real world knew what a Software Engineer IV was! I’d get polite smiles and then the card would quickly disappear into someone’s pocket to probably toss it away when it was time to do the laundry.
A few iterations of business cards later, I started to get smarter. By then, I had moved into the world of product management, so I changed my job title to “Product Manager”. This was so much better. I don’t think a lot of people knew what a product manager was or did, but they sure thought they knew what a manager did and upon receiving my card they assigned me as a mid-level manager and left it at that.
Promotions came over time, and although I was not yet a VP or CIO, I had become a senior product manager. Next time, I updated the title of the business card to read “Senior Product Manager.” This seemed to earn me a little more respect when I handed over the card. Again, I don’t think many people knew what I did; however, they seemed to believe that he was now in the upper echelons of mid-level managers.
I kept finding that since people didn’t really know what a Product Manager does, they were struggling to pigeonhole me based on my title. The trick here is that if people can’t quickly figure out where you fit on the totem of responsibility, then they’ll end up without bothering to try. I felt that one more evolution was needed. I ended up dropping the “Product” and therefore my business card today simply says “Top Manager”.
Although less descriptive, I have found this title to be very helpful at trade shows and when meeting with vendors. No, it seems that they still don’t know what I do for the company; however, they can easily see that a “Senior Manager” is someone who must be very important. This means that they treat me like someone important because they have no reason not to.
One final note, with my obtuse title, the first question they ask me is “what are you doing?” This is a decisive question. If I identify myself as a Product Manager, this will classify me as a low-level worker bee because no one really knows what a Product Manager does. Through countless encounters like this, I have refined my answer to respond with a quick “I make problems go away.” In most cases, this generates quiet respect and there are no more probing questions.