Every day I receive energetic appeals to register for various podcasts, online workshops, and Internet training courses that will save me from a wretched existence of wasted potential. Each request contains similar buzzwords that promise true enlightenment and warn of catastrophic failure if I don’t join, pay, read, or promote various products and services. But what if I don’t want to lean in or define a new paradigm?
After 30 years of professional work I feel empowered to share my version of a creative course that utilizes overexposed buzzwords to motivate the masses. My strategic carnival show will be titled: “Buzzword Bull – How to Maneuver the Barnyard and Avoid the Manure.” To maximize the return on investment and optimize sustainability, I’ll employ guerilla marketing and stand outside my virtual circus tent to seduce prospective clients with my golden barking oratory.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Step right up and be the first to see the show! You’ll be amazed by the performance, and if you buy today we’ll give you a free bottle of Big Top Stool Softener.” After I convinced people to participate, I would scatter buzzwords and platitudes like popcorn and peanuts.
Synergy. This word predicts a perfect environment of collaboration and interaction. I would draw attention to the lady standing on the galloping horse. That shows synergy, and one mistake by horse or rider could result in tragedy. To succeed in business, don’t stand on a galloping horse.
Risk. Notice the daredevil on the high wire. Can you be so bold? What is your safety net? Do you have an insurance policy? Action items don’t count if you’re dead.
Tenacious Teamwork. See those clowns in the burning building? If they don’t work together to escape in the clown car they’ll become crispy critters. Don’t be like that.
Win-Win Situation. This happens when I take your money and you learn or laugh from my show. This won’t happen for you if I take your money and you gain nothing. I still win.
Think Outside the Box. Am I the only one who thinks this is a stupid term? What does that mean? I don’t think INSIDE a box, so it doesn’t apply to me. If it suggests try something new, just say that.
Measurable Parameters. Don’t intimidate me with four-syllable words. The term “profit or loss” is proven and sufficient. It costs you $5 for a bag of popcorn worth only 10 cents. Again, this sale is a win for me.
Monetize your blog. That phrase sounds more professional but it’s the same as using your blog to sell ads or endorse products and services. I can monetize the production and packaging of a perishable product or sell you some popcorn.
Brainstorm and devise a dialog. A brainstorm reminds me of a hangover, and I’d rather just talk. Devise a dialog? That’s silly talk.
Become a Change Agent. What? Isn’t that what a cashier does when I need to break a twenty?
Total Quality Management. Entire corporations continue to embrace this popular concept. But consider the alternative. No one would advocate Mediocre or Partial Quality Management. The TQM system attempts to reduce errors in manufacturing, streamline management, improve customer relations, and train employees. Shouldn’t successful businesses be doing that anyway?
Buzzwords and motivational quotes have been around for centuries. In 1750, Benjamin Franklin said, “To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” That’s good advice that applies today. One of the bestselling business books was written in 1998 by Spencer Johnson, M.D. His book Who Moved My Cheese sold more than 20 million copies and basically advised business people to embrace change because it’s inevitable and you’ll die if you don’t adapt. Not as pithy as Benjamin Franklin, but obviously true.
During my career, I worked for various companies that advocated the buzzword of the day. I was a manager at a Fortune 500 corporation when a bestselling business book asked about the color of your parachute. I will never need a parachute because I don’t intend to jump out of an airplane or off a bridge. Ever. So, I don’t care what color it is. At another job, I rewrote the corporate motto in the Annual Report by removing the phrase “optimize quantitative shareholder value” and substituting the word “profit.” In modern business vernacular, common sense has left the building and retired to a remote island.
Before I allow buzzwords to be the death of me, I must admit that I own several motivational posters and books, and I’ve been a satisfied consumer of podcasts, newsletters, online courses, and Internet workshops. But I don’t need exaggerated hype to attract me. I’m interested in a quality product for a good price.
My next book will be called Who Moved My Cheese Plate? Order today and receive a coupon for a total quality, transformational glass of wine.
Published on The Huffington Post January 18, 2016