The Smith Column - Uneasy lies the head that wears the techno-crown

Maybe Elon Musk has the right idea about crazy corporate titles

The Smith Column - Uneasy lies the head that wears the techno-crown

Good morning, friends.

It’s been a tough 12 or 13 months in the professional world. Many of us are working from home, and the new normal has forced executives to admit some bitter truths. Truths like, “The weekly staff meeting really was as pointless as everyone thought,” and “Every one of my employees could be wearing nothing but boxer shorts right now, and I’d never know it.”

Yes, it’s been a year of seismic changes. But you can take comfort in one constant: No matter what is going on at your company, your CEO is not as crazy as Elon Musk.

Did I say CEO? I meant “Techno-king.” Because apparently, that’s Musk’s official title now. How official? Tesla included it in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month.

Yes, according to the filing, Musk is now officially “Techno-king of Tesla.” The filing also disclosed that chief financial officer Zach Kirkhorn shall henceforth be known as “Master of Coin.” I assume that chief technology officer Andrew Baglino will now be known as “Andrew the Magnificent, Wizard of the North” and president of automotive Jerome Guillen has added “Hammer of the Scots and Slayer of Orcs” to his title.

You might be asking yourself, “Hey, didn’t Musk have to pay, like, a $20 million fine just to keep the SEC from stripping him of his CEO title? Should he really be thumbing his nose at them with a stupid title like ‘Techno-king?’”

The answers to those questions, in order, are Yes, and Hell, yes.

Sure, Musk is, to put it kindly, eccentric. Sure, he named his child some weird string of letters, numbers and hyphens. But the man definitely thinks outside the box. Tesla makes a fine automobile, and I have no doubt that his child’s name, if properly deciphered, is an equation that will unlock the secret of time travel.

So perhaps other companies should consider following Tesla’s lead when it comes to left-field titles. And why stop with the CEO and CFO? Perhaps granting ludicrous titles to one’s employees is all that’s needed to really take the company to the next level.

Think about it. The chief human resources officer could be known as “Conqueror of Grendel and Guardian of Vacation Schedules.” The head of the marketing department could be “The Immortal Bard.” And if you run out of ideas, you can simply add “The Mighty” to the employee’s name: as in, “The Mighty Ted, Head of Maintenance.”   

Personally, I plan to contact my boss immediately and demand that my title be changed from “executive editor” to “Emperor of the Visigoths and Slayer of Unferth Redtooth in Single Combat.” I imagine he’ll be thrilled.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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