Gurus, Ninjas, and Morons | Quality Digest

On top of that, these titles are usually paired with a cool signature block quote or catch phrase, and they have sweet email addresses, too. Unfortunately, all of these things can undermine your credibility and cost you business. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to titles and personal branding.

Your title is ridiculous

Use terms like ninja or guru in marketing materials but not as your official title. It’s probably costing you business. Photo by Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash.

Many people proclaim they are gurus, ninjas, and other silly titles. Giving yourself such a title can cause people to lose respect for you, and it can cost you credibility.

Think about it. Most folks with these titles sell to business customers. Business customers tend to be more conservative and have many choices of suppliers of services. When you come off as amateurish with a title like this, the business goes elsewhere. (And yes, I have personally seen business leaders shy away from doing business with people who have titles like these.)

The recommendation: Be critical in thinking about what to include. Name, title, phone, email address, and a couple of key URLs is enough. Perhaps even stretch the outer limits and promote one thing you really want people to look at. Some color or font fanciness is fine as long as it’s consistent with your brand and not overwhelming or distracting.

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2024 – 12:01

Simplify. Be purposeful with what you include and how you include it. Remember: All your signature block is designed to do is get people to call or email you back to engage your services. It’s not a product brochure.

Your email address lacks credibility

Signature blocks convey critical information about you. They tell folks how to contact you and learn more about you. I see tons of people make some of these mistakes:
• Your signature block conveys your entire CV all the way back to being the head of your Boy Scout or Brownies troop.
• Your signature block contains cheesy, worn-out, clichéd quotes.
• Your signature block contains sayings from holy scripture. (The only ones who can do this are priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders.)
• Your signature block looks like someone hit “engage random font and color generator.”

What do you folks think? Share the worst/most ridiculous titles, email addresses, or signature block stories you have in the comments below.

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Yes, all the advice I’m giving seems like I’m telling you to be more boring. You can take it that way if you like. All I know is if being boring helps grow your business… Well, that’s pretty exciting, isn’t it?

The other email variant is “[email protected].” As much as you want to put a cool title as your email address, it’s self-defeating. People meet a lot of people these days. People remember names and faces—not titles. Although your email address is memorable in this case, it’s for all the wrong reasons. “Who was that guy with the weird email address again? I can’t remember his name….”

Having an email address of “[email protected] can seem edgy and startuppy. But what it tells business clients is, “There are three or four people running this thing because there’s no overlap of first names. Therefore, I don’t want to work with such a tiny supplier/partner.” Yes, their thoughts go there.

Published Feb. 14, 2024, in The thoughtLEADERS Brief on LinkedIn.


Customer Care

Gurus, Ninjas, and Morons

Losing credibility one business card at a time

Yes, CXO, VP, director, manager, analyst, and other vanilla titles are boring. They’re not edgy. They don’t have panache. That said, they quickly convey a certain level of skill and experience that the majority of the business population can interpret. Your contact isn’t left scratching their head wondering what the heck you do.

Titles matter. A lot. So do email addresses and signature blocks. As unfortunate and as shallow as it is, people make a first-impression snap decision about you and your business in an instant. If that instant includes your title, it can make or break your business opportunity.

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A few definitions before we start:
Ridiculous: Open to or the subject of ridicule and mocking
Ninja: A covert mercenary specializing in unorthodox methods of war
Guru: Spiritual master (origin of the term is in Eastern religions)
Superhero: A fictional character who has abnormal physical or mental powers conferred upon them either through mutation or an unfortunate run-in with spiders or toxic waste

Then there’s the other end of the title spectrum: guru, ninja, overlord, grand poobah, superhero. They sound wicked awesome. They get people’s attention. But you have to realize not all attention is good.

The recommendation: Find a happy middle ground and make your title professional. Use the terms like ninja or guru in marketing materials, but not as your official title. It’s probably costing you business. Besides, these titles are so worn out that they don’t mean anything anymore. Don’t believe me? Go do a search for guru. If you do, you’ll crash the internet.

Your signature block induces seizures

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The recommendation: Look at your email address through your customer’s eyes. What impression does it give? Try making sure it identifies you as an individual and that it lets people know you’re serious and professional about your work.

Boring is the new cool

Look, folks, these names are fun and whimsical. We all know what people mean when they give themselves these titles. The thing is, titles like these follow the nickname rule: You can’t give one to yourself. It’s fine if you’re such an expert that people in the media or other business circles refer to you as a “guru.” However, going to and putting it on your business card actually devalues your stature with potential customers.