What's in a Title?

I often have the following conversation:

Are you the social media manager for Ballot?

Sigh. Yes and no. I’m the CEO of a startup, which means that I do a little bit (a lot) of everything. But, I resent that question. It’s a statement about my gender – women do marketing – and my age – young people use social media.

Yes, some women are responsible for marketing and public relations. Yes, some young people use social media. But at Ballot, our Chief Marketing Officer is Jereme Bivins, who is a man, and a complete badass at marketing, public relations, and social media.

Ok, so are you a developer?

No. But good job, you noticed that I am an Asian-looking person. I appreciate that the stereotypes for being Asian are generally good ones – I am smart, educated, and apparently, a programmer. I know that some of my friends don’t have the luxury of benign stereotypes.

Wait, so what do you do?

I run the company. I do everything else.

Okay, but what’s your title?


Oh! That’s terrific. Good for you!

I cringe on the inside, half expecting to be patted on the head for having the gumption to start my own company.

Wait, is this your idea? Did you come up with this idea on your own?

Yes. Let’s pretend that you are shocked that this idea is so brilliantly simple, and not that a little girl has ideas. Speaking of which, I’m actually in my 30s.

They really should serve something stronger than wine at cocktail parties, don’t you think?


Hello, what do you do?

I own my company. It’s a tech start-up, and we build mobile apps that encourage and increase civic engagement. Our first one is Ballot, which will make it easier to learn about and participate in local and state elections.

Ask a general question. Be open to the answer.


Amy Chiou