A CEO is __________________ (fill in the blank)

CEO RealTalk: I don’t hear too many online business owners-- especially female, creative, heart-centered business owners-- refer to themselves as the CEO of their business.

Even if, technically, that’s exactly what they are.

Fill in the blank. A CEO is __________. Are you the CEO of your business? Could your mindset around the title be holding you back?

The responsibilities of a CEO are pretty universal. The CEO is the boss. They’re steering the ship-- in charge of the direction + the results of the entire company. They have the final say...

Overall, a CEO's job description encompasses the following:

  • Strategy (deciding what to do, how the business will make money)

  • Hiring (building a strong team that can essentially run the day-to-day)

  • Establishing the company culture + vibe

  • Deciding how to spend + allocate money

Which got me thinking-- if this is what the CEO does, (and it's what most online business owners do), why don’t more creative biz owners refer to themselves as the CEO?

It has to be a perception thing, yea? You don’t call yourself a CEO because even though you do what a CEO does, a CEO is someone else, someone you don’t relate to.  

At some point along the way, you probably created a story about who a CEO is-- their gender, how they act, how they treat people, what they wear, and how they run a company.

If you identified with the story you told yourself about CEOs, if you could relate, you’d have no issue with calling yourself that too, right? You’d aspire to be a CEO.

I guess it's sort of like how women feel the need to slap the word “girl” in front of “boss” to make it feel like it’s “for them”... when in reality-- you’re a mother 'effing boss, regardless.

So perhaps the reason you can’t seem to muster up the courage to call yourself the CEO, the founder, or the boss (minus the "girl" part), is because you’re still holding onto the story you told yourself about those roles long ago-- and you simply can’t see yourself in that story.

I definitely had to come to terms with my own story before I was comfortable calling myself the CEO of my business.

When I finally checked myself, I realized that I thought the CEO title felt masculine. It felt corporate. And I’d been holding onto my tired, old CEO story since I was 16, when I started working part-time for a chain of retail stores.

In my experience, CEOs were well-dressed men who worked in high rise buildings, in corner offices with lots of windows. They were basically all Don Draper from Mad Men. CEOs were to be feared, they held your livelihood in their hands, don't look them directly in the eyes. Or, perhaps, do look them in the eyes--  flirt a little with the CEO + he'll help you climb your way to the top. Gross.

Whether my story was from real life experience or something fictional I saw on tv, I eventually realized that’s all it was, a story. It was difficult for me to introduce myself as the CEO at first because I most definitely didn’t want to identify as a disgusting pervert in a power suit who didn’t care about the people I worked with.

But once I realized that my story was simply something I made up + carried around with me all these years, I was able to make the choice to rewrite it.


Fill in the blank: A CEO is ___________________. 

If you ask me now, a CEO is anyone who runs a business, manages a team, and makes the final decisions of a company-- they’re responsible for setting the tone + are oftentimes the face of the business-- yep, it me!

Now that I've rewritten my story, I can be the CEO I want to be-- I can show up as myself, a CEO other women can relate to + perhaps even aspire to be like.

Maybe you’re currently holding onto a similar story + you aren’t even totally aware of it. I mean it actually makes sense that women might have issues referring to themselves as CEOs. We haven’t been given a lot of relatable examples.  

If you do a Google image search of “CEO” the results are exactly what you’d expect. Of the CEOs who lead the companies that make up the 2018 Fortune 500 list, just 24 are women. The all time high was only 32… 


If we want others to take us + our businesses seriously, maybe we need to take ourselves more seriously, first. 


The words that we use to introduce ourselves to others are important. The titles we give ourselves as online business owners are a reflection of how we see ourselves and identify within our business + among our peers.

I know it can be easier said than done.  If we don’t see anyone else like us calling themselves the CEO, we probably won’t call ourselves that either.


Because we're worried others may judge us for using the title (meaning: they prob need to deal with their own stories), or because we feel like imposters or frauds if we don’t look like, act like, or run our businesses the way we believe “real CEOs” run theirs (meaning: it’s time to deal with ours).

Don't sit around waiting on some imaginary board to vote you into the CEO role in your own online business-- that title is yours to take


So, what’s your CEO story?

I’m curious to know how you currently introduce yourself (as the owner of your business)-- and why you choose to refer to yourself that way? Was it deliberate, or something you've never really thought about? 

Regardless of whether or not you decide to call yourself the CEO, the founder, or the head honcho-- my point is that it should be intentional, that you take the time to ask yourself "why" if you’re feeling triggered about any particular title.

Maybe, just maybe, you've subconsciously created a totally false story about it.

In order to fully step into your power as the boss of your business, you’ve gotta' stand up tall + own your title, with the confidence of a that power suit wearing CEO in the corner office. (Even if you're in sweatpants).

Hi there, I’m Stephanie Gilbert. I’m the CEO of a social media agency called Small Talk Social + I empower other women to become the boss of their businesses, via IRL CEO Yeah! retreats.  

Ready to become the fearless leader you know you can be?

Click below to sign up for the totally FREE 5 Days to Freedom Challenge + learn how to stop working like an employee + starting running your business like a real CEO! 

Stephanie Gilbert