Steve Schramm

March 11, 2022

CEO, or Something Else? The Journey to Becoming My Own Employee

For many years, freedom has been one of my guiding principles.

It’s was the beacon that kept me going for years awhile I built my business. Those long morning hours and long nights were in service of something greater than money. The freedom to choose my own way, make my own schedule, and chart my own course.

And it worked.

But there are growing pains that come along with freedom.

For one, it’s somewhat of an illusion. The nature of human existence is that you are always bound to something. The stories are endless of those who built a business in order to leave their pesky boss, only to wake up one day and realize they work for the peskiest boss of all: themself.

Another problem is that while you may free up time from working on tasks you find to be mundane, you will find yourself with a host of new tasks and responsibilities. Managing people, for example. On any given day, I used to solve technology problems; these days, I solve people problems.

Recently, I had somewhat of an identity crisis. I have an issue with the title "CEO". The problem is it just feels too "corporate" or something. Plus, it doesn't necessarily do the work of capturing what I do. Just because the buck stops with me does not mean that is my primary contribution to the organization. No, what I learned was that, now that I have a company complete with levels of management, I am more than a CEO. More than the founder/owner. 

Ironically, I am an employee again. 

Finding Your Genius

I recently discovered a productivity assessment called The Working Genius model. I plan to write about separately, but the idea is that every person has two "working geniuses" that describe how best they contribute to a team.

Mine are Wonder and Invention. The "label" the creators have given to this "pairing" is the creative dreamer.

For many, many reasons, this totally resonates with me. I have always been obsessed with the concepts of invention and innovation. My dream job would be to wake up, look at a list of problems that needed to be solved with a creative solution, and start white boarding. I'm getting antsy just thinking about it!

The other piece to that puzzle, wonder, would have me reading and thinking about new problems to solve or ideas to manifest. Sounds like a nightmare to some. For me, heaven.

So here's the cool thing about owning my own business: A mere instant after deciding I wanted my job to look like that, I could start taking steps to make it my own reality.

I decided to give myself the title of "Innovation Director" rather than what it was before, which was CEO/Creative Director. Am I doing creative direction still? Sure, a little. But not as much as I'm innovating. And if you ask me what I want to do, well, I already told you. 😃
In a way, it's like becoming an employee again. I am submitting myself to the accountability of my business manager, even though I am her boss in this scenario. But it means I get to do mostly the work I love to do and want to do...
If you own your business, and you feel trapped by it, let this be something that you consider. Maybe what you need to do is become an employee again, but define your terms and kick your boss in the pants.

He or she will appreciate you for doing it. 

Steve Schramm
IG: @swschramm

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About Steve Schramm

I write about marketing, design, business strategy, and productivity. This blog is my personal “cookbook” to help you design a healthier business through self-directed learning. I'm the CEO of NorthMac Services, a small digital marketing and web design agency.