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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. magazine 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, while not politically correct, is spot on for 99 and 44/100th percent of all CEOs who want to be rock star. Why? Because their personal business story simply isn’t cover-worthy, 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 incentivized to beat your firm in new business pitches. #DontCareIfWeLoseButSheCannotWin

6. Your family will feel marginalized. #WhatAboutUs?

7. Even charities will doubt your sincerity. #HesUsingUs

8. The Internal Revenue Service will pay special attention to your tax returns. #LetsBustThisDudesCojones

9. Your PR firm will fire you. #LifesTooShortToWorkForThatGuy

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. #HillaryIn16

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. #UthinkHeroinsToughToKick?

17. You and I both know that one day down the road, businesspeople 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.


Last updated: Jun 23, 2014

As co-founder and managing partner of Peppercomm, STEVE CODY is responsible for overall agency direction, management, and new business development. He is the author of What’s Keeping Your Customers Up at Night?

Source: 17 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Become A Rock Star CEO


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