Social media expert?
Marketing guru?
PR wizard?

One of the most common questions asked in the discussion about personal titles and marketing superlatives is, if we shouldn’t call ourselves experts or gurus or ninja, what should we call ourselves?

In the martial arts, there’s one title that exists at the top of the hierarchy that eclipses all others that we can look to for inspiration: the concept of meijin.

Literally, meijin means “named person”. In the context of titles, a meijin is someone who is so well-known and so respected that their name is their title. They don’t need any other title, and their name is in fact a category of its own. For example, one well-known “name as title” person is Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris needs absolutely no title – his name is his title.

Chris Brogan at Lunch - PAB2008Look around the digital marketing space. Does Chris Brogan need a title? Not really, no. Does Avinash Kaushik? Does Gary Vaynerchuk? Does Seth Godin? These are people whose names are their titles. Look in your own industry, your own vertical. Whose name needs no explanation?

How do you become regarded as a meijin? The answer is as simple as it is difficult: by being the absolute best at what you do until your name is synonymous with that area of expertise.

What if you need to put something else on your business cards until you’re recognized by name? Luckily, we talked about that back in October when we discussed stacking heuristics.

One final caution: avoid at all costs billing yourself as someone else. Aspiring to be the next Steve Jobs or the next Bill Gates pigeonholes your reputation as being a shadow of someone else, at best a copy, at worst a pale imitation. Even more dangerously, it confines your own mind in a prison of someone else’s thinking. Oscar Wilde said it best – be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.


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