Photo Bruce Mars
Feeling Left Out?
Ever get the feeling that other people know what’s really going on, and you’re just an observer who always finds out last?
That’s because you haven’t learnt the secret code words. It’s a bit like how media describes people in ways that avoid lawsuits. Most of these terms date back to old-school British tabloids but even in these relaxed times, you can still read articles calling the late billionaire health magnate Paul Ramsay a ‘confirmed bachelor’.
Once you crack the code, newspaper articles (particularly obituaries) make sense. Flamboyant (gay). Prominent racing identity (criminal). Colorful (criminal). Nightclub impresario (drug dealer). Tired and emotional (paralytic). Doesn’t suffer fools gladly (bad-tempered psychopath). Hard-partying (drug and sex addict).
Likewise, business has its own terms that don’t make much sense until translated. Here’s a handy list to help you navigate through meetings, briefings and LinkedIn introductions like a pro.
We have made a decision, and it is a bad one for you.
To serve you better
We have a new cost-cutting policy that will royally piss our customers off, and our front line staff should prepare for a world of pain.
We have an exciting new plan for our suppliers that involves them operating at a loss indefinitely.
Information that has just come to light
I have been sitting on this for months, hoping it would go away by magic.
Commission an independent study
A Big 4 firm will write us a fat document with infographics for government saying what we want them to say, because we’re paying for it.
Because my genius ideas are delivered in the authoritative medium of a Word document, I would like the media to publish them.
Well-poised for expected change in market conditions
An annual report favorite. Translation: we’re still unprofitable due to a ton of unnecessary overhead but if sales should go up 50% next year things will be sweet. Our strategy for this is hoping it will just randomly happen.
We want to buy something because it will be worth more than we paid for it, a thing that does not usually happen.
(Up for reading a dry research paper? In this study of competitive mergers and acquisitions in the US, the companies that didn’t win the takeover battle outperformed the one that did by 23-33% over the next 3 years)
The idea of earnings accretive purchases is usually based on back-end synergies.
Competition, who could have seen that coming?
Until further notice our company is happy to pass up lucrative new business opportunities and amazing new talent purely to obey a spreadsheet created by someone ten thousand miles away who believes all staff are the same.
I have no interest in details because they’re hard work. If things go right, I’ll take the credit, but if they don’t, you detail monkeys are going down.
You Should Do A Part-Time MBA
Please stop bugging me about a promotion for the next 3 years.
Can I just thank you for all the work that has gone into this proposal
You have lost the pitch.
Didn’t you get my email?
I forgot to send you the email.
You are a dickhead.
With all due respect
You are a massive dickhead.
Just playing devil’s advocate
You are a massive dickhead and I will fight your proposed changes to the grave.
At best I am a hopeless optimist but more likely I’m just lying.
I’m not a lawyer but
Which will become pretty clear from what I say next.
Can I pick your brain?
Please do an hour of free consulting work for me, in exchange for one (1) coffee.
It is what it is
Uh … I got nothin’ so I’m going to say some words.
Looking To Collaborate With Like-Minded People
I want to sell you something.
Explore Mutual Benefit
See Collaborate With Like-Minded People
Shia can you take over on this one thanks mate
Break The Jargon Habit
Seriously, if you say action that plan or expedite those outcomes, it isn’t helping you in the long run.
If you want to be a leader, people need to understand what the hell you’re talking about.
People at all levels of your business need to relate to you, not just the ones you sit in meeting rooms with. When you’re talking future vision, you need to describe where you’re all going in terms of what’s in it for them. Nobody ever says “outcomes, they sound cool, I’m going to work harder and smarter.”
It’s a bit like telling people how busy you are: jargon just makes you sound like try-hard middle-management.
If you’re a jargonizer, the best first step is to start using the Readability scores in Word. It works. Throw some of your emails in there, and get them them below 8th grade. It takes practice, but you get there.
Don’t make Shia come around to your office and give you another pep talk.
Goodnight Sweet Prince
Completely off-topic note: regular readers will remember the frequent appearances of “Shingy”, Australia’s world-class bullshit artist who was AOL’s “Digital Prophet”.
I urge you to read this solid gold New Yorker profile piece:
Next, Shingy stopped by the office of Erika Nardini, the chief marketing officer of AOL Advertising, and handed her an iPad Mini. “Wanted to show you a little brain fart I had on the plane,” he said. It was a cartoon he had drawn of a bear wearing zebra-print pants and a shirt covered in ones and zeros.
“Love it, love it, love it,” Nardini said. “I’m thinking of the bears more as a metaphor.”
“A thousand per cent,” Shingy said.
Anyway after 12 years he’s finishing up as their prophet and I am strangely saddened. I don’t want to think of a world without AOL or Shingy. Thanks for the inspiration buddy.
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If you liked this, you might also like Lost In Translation: 10 Strange Business-isms Decoded