In his new book Think. Do. Say. Ron Tite offers his observations and advice about how businesses can break through and connect with consumers overwhelmed by content, promotional messages and broken promises.
Tite has a clear vision for marketing, but he avoids the buzzword-y business speak of most contemporary management books. There are also no references to Apple because, lets face it, you’re no Steve Jobs. That’s okay—you don’t have to be (see below).
Instead he shares his insight in a practical, plain-spoken fashion, weaving his trademark humour throughout the book. In one of the chapters, “They don’t know who to trust,” Tite explains the loss of trust across the industry and society itself, and included the following take on how business jargon itself is eroding trust in our offices and workplaces.
Part of the reason there’s a lack of trust within business is because of language. It’s hard to trust someone who carts out the same hollow expressions that have been used over and over again with disappointing results, like Jack Donaghy before a board meeting. If you want to build trust, make sure these tropes don’t pass your lips.
Let’s Take This Offline
Translation: I have no idea what that means, so instead of appearing weak and indecisive in front of my peers, I’m going to suggest that we discuss this at another time and in another place—preferably never and nowhere.
Big Hairy Audacious Goal was coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras to mean a “long-term goal that changes the very nature of a business’s existence.” Instead, BHAG has become a manager’s testosterone-filled way of making an empty promise to check a buzz-word box that is ridiculously unattainable and irrelevant to 99.9 percent of the organization. “Our BHAG is to transform retail!” Really? Mine is to do away with this horrible phrase once and for all. (No offence to Collins and Porras, who had great intentions with their creation.)
Think Outside the Box
If there’s a Bad Business Phrase Hall of Fame, this one got in on the first ballot.
I’m sorry. I’m not on Ping. Is that a thing? Oh, it’s not a thing. OK. What do you mean? Email? Text? Tweet? Twitter DM? Facebook Messenger? Instagram Message? Smoke signal? What??? There are hundreds of ways of contacting you, and you chose one that doesn’t exist.
I asked my LinkedIn audience (obvi, valid research) and this one was mentioned most. At its core, synergy is supposed to define the benefits that will be created when two organizations merge. Then internal buzzword bingo players light-years away from M&A got a hold of it and bastardized it to describe everything from sales and marketing cooperation to the office lottery pool. Used correctly, it’s also a fancier way of saying “layoffs.” (Don’t even think of mentioning “synergizing.”)
I used to love Glengarry Glen Ross. I really enjoyed watching Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon fret about the Glengarry leads while Alec Baldwin gave away steak knives and El Dorados. Now, all I can think about is the email spam, LinkedIn invites, and million lead-generation consultants promising this shallow definition of a prospect I have 0.00006 percent chance of closing. You want leads? Who doesn’t?
Sheryl Sandberg’s work is both important and ground breaking. Finally, someone stepped up and provided realistic guidance and inspiration exclusively to women (and I don’t mean to say that in a patronizing tone as a dude). “Lean in” is not just a movement for equality. It will create better leaders and better business regardless of gender. Sadly, it’s also being used in boardrooms as a shorthand for focus or attention. I’ve been in meetings and literally heard people say, “We’re going to lean in to Q3.” This was supposed to be a term used to inspire gender equality, not the heading for a Business Insider article. If you don’t use it correctly, can you please lean out?
Translation: “I’ve screwed up. How fast can you save my butt?”
When your product sucks and the pipeline is dry, that’s when senior leadership will gather everyone around for the fateful announcement. You don’t sell products any more. You’re a solution provider. Which means you ask more questions so you can sell more products. Put another way from the Sloan Management Review:
The word solution needs to be retired from the business vocabulary. What was once a meaningful, buyer-defined term that meant “the answer to my specific problem” is now generic jargon that sellers have co-opted to mean “the bundle of products and services I want to sell you.”
Finally, I love this comment on LinkedIn from my friend Karen Wright:
At a PepsiCo International conference years ago I sat next to a British guy who took pages and pages of notes over the course of the days. He finally revealed that he’d been recording all of the “North American business buzz-isms” he heard during the presentations. His take on the weirdest/least useful? “How the f-k do you stretch an envelope?? :)”