Posts Tagged ‘career


business jargon.

I was laughing out loud at my desk today. Forbes published an article about annoying business jargon. I’ve been in the workforce for 7 years now and I can attest that this kind of jargon has permeated everyone. Including me!

Here is the Forbes list. Some of these I’ve never heard before, and some of these I hear 20 times a day in Corporate America.

Drill Down

A phrase often wielded by superiors wanting a subject examined more closely. “Drill down to what?” asks Shut Up and Say Something author Karen Friedman. “The oil?”

Low-Hanging Fruit

A professional in advertising who would like to remain anonymous tells us: “If I hear my boss say ‘low-hanging fruit’ one more time, I’m gonna lose it!” Her boss wields the cliché when describing everything from blogs his charges should read to customers they should call. “Sometimes,” confides our informant, “I dream of literal fruit, hanging low, especially after a staff meeting.” The phrase has become a catch-all for managerial types who are trying to say “do the easy things first.” Perhaps they should just say that.

Ducks In a Row

Do you have ducks? Even if you somehow do have ducks–and really, who has ducks?–what good does it do to get them in a row? Will ducks even assent to such an arrangement? The saying apparently comes from the earlier days of bowling before machines set pins automatically. One needed to get his ducks in a row before, invariably, hurling a weighty ball down the alley to blast the poor ducks into a pathetic, unorganized flock. Does that really describe a business plan? We don’t think so.

Let’s Talk That

For some troubled souls this phrase takes the place of “let’s discuss that,” or “let’s talk about that.” As with most jargon, the origin of this message is unknown and inexplicable. Sandi Straetker, an account executive with Priority Public Relations in Cincinnati, has been trying to help a relative move away from this phrase’s nasty clutches. “Every time he says it, I just want to shoot him with my grammar cop gun,” she says. Let’s talk that? Talk this.

Hard Stop

An executive with a “hard stop” at 3 p.m. is serious about stopping at 3 p.m. Very serious. And very important. Or at least that’s how it comes off, says Patricia Kilgore, president of Sterling Kilgore, a Chicago area public relations and marketing firm. “To me it sounds like ‘This meeting isn’t really that important, so I need a way to get out of it,'” Kilgore says. A heart attack is a hard stop, Kilgore adds; anything else is just a conflict.

Price Point

“Come on, seriously, why say ‘price point’?” begs Duncan Phillips, an account executive at The Hodges Partnership, a communications firm in Richmond, Va. Price point merely means price, of course. “So just say price,” implores Phillips.

Think Outside the Box

A horrible cliché. One commenter at says, “Forget the box, just think.” Novel idea.

Giving 110%

The mere notion is nonsensical. Not only that, but it’s also a favorite of meathead football coaches. Next!


Say what? This word has infiltrated nearly every cube and conference room in the country. The fault here can largely be placed on one seminal advice author. In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, the No. 6 habit is Synergize. Of the habit, Covey writes, “To put it simply, synergy means two heads are better than one.” Covey readers might recall getting the same advice in simpler terms several decades earlier from Sesame Street. Big Bird called it “cooperation.”

Move the Needle

This beauty is a favorite of venture capitalists. If something doesn’t move the needle, they don’t like it much. So when pitching VCs, ensure you make clear your intentions of moving the needle. Or you could always just say your product will be better than others.

Boil the Ocean

Global warming? No. Some wacky alchemy? Not quite. To boil the ocean, in fact, means to waste time. The thinking here, we suppose, is that boiling the ocean would take a long time. It would also take a long time to walk to Jupiter. But we don’t say that. Nor should we reference boiling oceans, even the Arctic, which is the smallest. It would be a waste of time

It is what it is.

No kidding. Thanks for the insight.

Learning (the Made-Up, Annoying Noun Version)

Like most educated people, Michael Travis, principal of Executive Search for Life Sciences, a headhunting firm, knows how to conjugate a verb. That’s why he cringes when his colleagues use the word “learning” as a noun. As in: “I had a critical learning from that project,” or “We documented the team’s learnings.” Whatever happened to simply saying: “I learned a lesson from that project?”

Full Service

If you don’t work at a gas station, why borrow the cliché? “If I hear one more professional describe their business as ‘full service,’ I’m going to scream,” says Deborah Shames, co-author of Own The Room: Business Presentations that Engage, Persuade and Get Results.“Does this mean your investment firm drops off dry cleaning and provides babysitters?”

Over The Wall

If you’re not wielding a grappling hook, avoid this meaningless expression. Katie Clark, an account executive at Allison & Partners, a San Francisco public relations firm, got a request from her boss to send a document “over the wall.” Did he want her to print out the document, make it into a paper airplane and send it whooshing across the office? Finally she asked for clarification. “It apparently means to send something to the client,” she says. “Absurd!” Agreed.


This wannabe verb came to prominence, says Bryan Garner, editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, because most people don’t understand the difference between the words “affect” and “effect.” Rather than risk mixing them up, they say, “We will impact our competitor’s sales with this new product.” A tip: “Affect” is most commonly a verb, “effect” a noun. For instance: When you affect my thinking, you may have an effect on my actions.

Out Of Pocket

Many auto-reply e-mails now carry the phrase: “I’m ‘out of pocket’ until next week.” Mark Daly, an account manager at the Davies Murphy Group, a marketing firm, isn’t sure where the phrase started, but he’d like for its use to stop: “Expenses come out of pockets, quarterbacks come out of the pocket, but Johnny, well he’ll just be plain unavailable or out of the office.”

Take It To the Next Level

In theory this means to make something better. In practice, “the phrase means absolutely nothing,” says Laurent Duperval, who runs an eponymous consulting company in Quebec. “Nobody knows what the next level actually looks like, so how am I supposed to know when I’ve reached it?” (For ways of actually measuring what’s going on at your company, check out: “Nine Enlightening Business-Performance Metrics.”)


This word has come to mean everything from the traditional way to solve a mathematical proof to a suite of efficiency-enhancing software–and it is perhaps the epitome of lingual laziness. Says Glen Turpin, a communications consultant: “It usually refers to a collection of technologies too abstract or complex to describe in a way that anyone would care about if they were explained in plain English.”

Manage Expectations

This cliché sends up warning flares for Patrick Gray, president of Prevoyance Group, a strategy consulting firm in Charlotte, N.C. His translation: “You’re telling co-workers what we’re going to give the client will suck, but you have to convince the client it’s what they really wanted in the first place.” If you’re going to underperform, no need to sound like a pompous jerk about it.


“Use” will do.

Tee it up

Not without a caddy.

Circle back

We prefer straight lines, or just an appointment to talk again in the future.

Reach out

Do it and you’ll lose a digit.

Take it offline

So we are in the Matrix!


I was disappointed to see that a few of my personal favorites didn’t make the list.

Bob’s your uncle.

I don’t have the bandwidth.

We need a strawman.

Try this one on for size.

I have to get it blessed.

Run it up the flagpole.

Getting push-back.

In the weeds.

Drop the ball.

Hit the ground running.


executive bladder.

One of the things that I really appreciate about my job is that I’m involved in a lot of meetings. I know, I know. I know exactly what you’re thinking, but let me explain. The reason I like these meetings is because they are a really great learning opportunity for me. They allow me to express my own opinions, help me understand other smart people’s perspectives and learn effective ways of presenting and analyzing information.

However, there is one thing that I don’t like about meetings. I ALWAYS end up having to pee half way through the meeting. It’s inevitable. What’s weirder is that I seem to be the only one! I have literally been in a 3 hour meeting with 6 other people and nobody has to leave to use the restroom. Seriously? How is this possible? Today, I thought I was going to burst. I’m sure I did damage. As I was looking around the room (squirming because I had to pee so bad), it hit me. There must be a direct relationship between the size of one’s job and the size of one’s bladder. Me…being the youngest and the least experienced clearly means I haven’t built up the tolerance. I hope someday I can have an executive bladder. J Ha!


mood vampire.

The last couple years I have realized something about myself – I am a mood vampire. I feed off other people’s energy. This is especially true for me in a work environment.  If people are excited, energized and collaborative – I am too.  I soak up their positive vibes and thrive on it. This is when I’m most productive and creative; this is when I ROCK.  If I’m hanging out with Debby-Downer , Connie-the-Complainer or The-Grass-is-Always-Greener-Gail, it’s very easy for me to be pulled down. Sucked in. I, too, start complaining and my outlook becomes a little gloomy. Now don’t go confusing this with venting. Everyone needs to be able to vent and to release some steam. I don’t mind venting; in fact I usually welcome it. I’m talking about doom and gloom. Bad attitudes. And laziness.  For better or for worse, I’m a sponge. I absorb all of it – good and bad.

I think this is part of the reason why I thrive in a collaborative, team-environment. A place where teamwork is valued and where “we are all in this together”. I love celebrating together – and rising to the occasion when it’s needed. Solving problems. Reliving our victories and commiserating over our defeats.  The energy is practically addicting. I think I would be unhappy in a job where I was flying solo all the time.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with all of this, except that I guess I need to be careful when the mood turns gloomy – so I don’t soak up too much!


all nerves

Tomorrow I start my new job and I’m SO excited and nervous! I wasn’t nearly this nervous for my last job, but I think it’s because I knew what to expect – it was the same job, just a different advertising agency. This is a new industry and a very different role. I feel like it’s the first day of kindergarten – I know it’s going to be awesome – but I’m not exactly sure what to expect.

I hope I can sleep tonight. Wish me luck!


good-bye advertising

I am happy to announce that I will be starting a new and exciting job in June! In my effort not to talk about work on my blog, I won’t name the company, but I will share a few details.  The position is a complete departure from what I’ve been doing (advertising) and is focused on product management. I will be a Product Development Manager and will manage 25-30 products for a company in the travel industry.

I am VERY excited about this new role and about the change in industry. Advertising has felt meaningless to me for awhile now, and I’ve been struggling with how to change-it-up. Those of you who have worked in ad agencies before know the drill. The people are great and the culture is fun….BUT it’s really hard work – with a high burnout rate. You live and die by your clients (even if they are wrong) and you are in a constant state of feast or famine. Either you have too much work to do or the agency doesn’t have enough work and you are throwing yourself at every RFP that comes your way. I’ve been doing it for 4 years now, and I’m ready for a change.

I know the new gig won’t be perfect and it certainly won’t be easy. But I’m ready for a new challenge. Did I mention I’ll have an office on the 26th floor?!?! I’M SO EXCITED!


When I grow up

I’m going to be a doctor. An Olympic swimmer. A professional skateboarder. There are people out there who were born knowing their passion and their future occupation. I’m not one of those people. I envy those people. It’s such a blessing to be born with a unique skill and a strong passion that shapes your life. What do I have? I’m good at a lot of things, but I’m not exceptional at any one thing. I’m well-rounded. Where does that leave me?

As I move through my 20s, I’m struggling with what I want to “do” with my life. Unfortunately, I’m extremely fragmented. I want to be a writer. I want to start my own business. I want go back to school. I have so many ideas and see so many opportunities. But I never act on them, or if I do I only “half” act on them. I never dive in head first; instead I approach the pool and test the cold water and then pull out. The responsible and cautious side of me always wins.

Part of my problem is that I don’t entirely trust myself. My ideas and excitement levels fluctuate so much that it’s hard to decipher a crazy idea from an idea I truly believe in. I feel like I should “just know” when I have a THE plan. The clouds will part and I will suddenly have clear direction. But that hasn’t happened yet. Does that mean I haven’t had a winning idea yet?

I want my work to be meaningful and fulfilling. I don’t want to be one of those 60 year olds who are saying, “I’m 60 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” Although I can certainly relate, I find it kind of pathetic. Are they in that position because they never took a risk? Because they never found their passion? Or is it because some people are constantly changing and are never content where they are at?

Clearly I don’t have the answer. For all you firefighters out there that have known your life’s calling from day-one, consider yourself lucky. I hope I figure out mine someday. I would prefer sooner than later.

a blog for anyone, but mostly for me.