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17 Reasons You Shouldn't Become a Rock Star CEO

Before you start your pursuit of fame, think hard about the potential downsides.
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There's a story about legendary public relations guru Howard Rubenstein, who gets confronted by a steaming hot client who'd barged into his office. The wannabe rock star CEO slams down a copy of Inc. on Rubenstein's desk and screams: "How come I'm not on the cover?"

The PR executive, who had been down this road many times before, sighs, pulls open his desk drawer, and produces a black water pistol. "Here's a gun. Go shoot someone, and I'll get you on the cover."

Rubenstein's advice, though not politically correct, is spot on for 99 and 44/100th percent of all CEOs who want to be rock stars. Why? Because their personal business story simply isn't coverworthy, that's why! But no matter. In my opinion, you really don't want to be a rock star CEO. Here are 17 reasons why not, with some hashtags to drive the point home.

1. If you die, the brand dies with you. #NoOnetoFillUrShoes

2. Your direct reports will envy, if not despise, you. #ScrewtheAsshole

3. Your customers will think you're more concerned with your own profile than their account. #ItsSoAboutU

4. It's damn hard to stay on top. And everyone loves to see a rock star CEO flame out. #MarissaMayerDeadPool

5. Competitors are even more motivated to beat your firm in new-business pitches. #DontCareIfWeLoseButSheCannotWin

6. Your family will feel marginalized. #WhatAboutUs?

7. Even charities will doubt your sincerity. #He'sUsingUs

8. The Internal Revenue Service will pay special attention to your tax returns. #Let'sBustThisDude'sCojones

9. Your PR firm will fire you. #Life'stooShorttoWorkforThatGuy

10. The media will pounce on your every mistake, no matter how small. #MillionaireEnvy

11. Every politician in the world will hound you for campaign contributions. #Hillaryin'16

12. Your security guards will need security guards. #SkyHighOverheadCosts

13. Your third trophy wife is already cheating on you with the pool boy. #CuckoldedAgain

14. All the Botox and photo retouching in the world won't hide those deep, dark circles under your eyes. #NoWorkLifeBalance

15. You believe every single word your sycophant posse members tell you. #IKnewJesusAndUrNoJesus

16. The more publicity you get, the more you want. #UthinkHeroin'sToughtoKick?

17. You and I both know that one day down the road, business people will be asking, "Whatever happened to that rock star CEO who made $6 billion on his IPO and then went to jail for fraud?" #TheBiggerTheyRtheHarderTheyFall

That's it. If you still want the brass ring of fame, go for it. Just do me one small favor, OK? Don't call my PR firm when you're ready for prime time. I don't want to have to buy a water pistol.

IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK
Last updated: Jun 23, 2014

STEVE CODY | Columnist

I'm a climber, comedian, and dog lover. But not necessarily in that order. I also happen to be co-founder and CEO of Peppercomm, a strategic communications firm headquartered in NYC, with offices in San Francisco and London. I publish RepMan, a daily blog, and have had the opportunity to appear on CNBC, MSNBC, NPR, and a host of other top-tier media over the years. scody@peppercomm.com

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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