Business talk

Many people working in large companies speak business-buzzwords as a second language. Business language is full of pretty meaningless words. I Don’t Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore article tells that the language of internet business models has made the problem even worse. There are several strains of this epidemic: We have forgotten how to use the real names of real things, acronymitis, and Meaningless Expressions (like “Our goal is to exceed the customer’s expectation”). This would all be funny if it weren’t true. Observe it, deconstruct it, and appreciate just how ridiculous most business conversation has become.

Check out this brilliant Web Economy Bullshit Generator page. It generates random bullshit text based on the often used words in business language. And most of the material it generates look something you would expect from IT executives and their speechwriters (those are randomly generated with Web Economy Bullshit Generator):

“scale viral web services”
“integrate holistic mindshare”
“transform back-end solutions”
“incentivize revolutionary portals”
“synergize out-of-the-box platforms”
“enhance world-class schemas”
“aggregate revolutionary paradigms”
“enable cross-media relationships”

How to talk like a CIO article tries to tell how do CIOs talk, and what do they talk about, and why they do it like they do it. It sometimes makes sense to analyze the speaking and comportment styles of the people who’ve already climbed the corporate ladder if you want to do the same.

The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon article tells that the stupid business talk is longer solely the province of consultants, investors and business-school types, this annoying gobbledygook has mesmerized the rank and file around the globe. The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it. If you have to ask why, chances are you’ve fallen under the poisonous spell of business jargon. Jargon masks real meaning. The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon article has a cache of expressions to assiduously avoid (if you look out you will see those used way too many times in business documents and press releases).

Is Innovation the Most Abused Word In Business? article tells that most of what is called innovation today is mere distraction, according to a paper by economist Robert Gordon. Innovation is the most abused word in tech. The iPad is about as innovative as the toaster. You can still read books without an iPad, and you can still toast bread without a toaster. True innovation radically alters the way we interact with the world. But in tech, every little thing is called “innovative.” If you were to believe business grads then “innovation” includes their “ideas” along the lines of “a website like *only better*” or “that thing which everyone is already doing but which I think is my neat new idea” Whether or not the word “innovation” has become the most abused word in the business context, that remains to be seen. “Innovation” itself has already been abused by the patent trolls.

Using stories to catch ‘smart-talk’ article tells that smart-talk is information without understanding, theory without practice – ‘all mouth and no trousers’, as the old aphorism puts it. It’s all too common amongst would-be ‘experts’ – and likewise amongst ‘rising stars’ in management and elsewhere. He looks the part; he knows all the right buzzwords; he can quote chapter-and-verse from all the best-known pundits and practitioners. But is it all just empty ‘smart-talk’? Even if unintentional on their part, people who indulge in smart-talk can be genuinely dangerous. They’ll seem plausible enough at first, but in reality they’ll often know just enough to get everyone into real trouble, but not enough to get out of it again. Smart-talk is the bane of most business – and probably of most communities too. So what can we do to catch it?


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3 mistakes that prevent you from hiring the best talent
    When you avoid these pitfalls, it becomes much easier to find good candidates.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Making Decisions: Business Leaders’ Six Most Common Mistakes

    The reason Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are so successful is because they have thought so deeply about decision-making processes.

    Mistake 1: Perfectionism
    Mistake 2: Making NO Decision Can Also Be A Mistake
    Mistake 3: Believing That Collective Decisions Are Better
    Mistake 4: Kicking A Decision Into The Long Grass
    Mistake 5: Overanalyzing And Not Listening To Gut Feeling
    Mistake 6: Making Decisions Without Using Checklists

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Better Way To Deal With The Negative Thoughts In Our Heads

    Shannon Kolakowski, PsyD, a psychologist in the Sarasota area and author of When Depression Hurts Your Relationship, points out that we tend to avoid negative thoughts because we fear them. “In other areas of our life, such as seeing a dangerous driver on the road, we avoid things to stay safe,”

    the vast majority of our thoughts are, at best, random, and at worst, destructive. “One of the first things I emphasize when teaching,” he says, “is that 5% of our thoughts are actually meaningful and relevant, and 95% are replaying movies, music, and recollecting.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    VC Ben Horowitz on WeWork, Uber, and one cultural value his employees can’t break

    Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, has a new book coming out this coming Monday titled “What You Do is Who You Are,” that takes a look at how to create “culture” at a company.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Say These 7 Words When Employees Bring You Their Problems

    Imagine that one of your employees walks into your office and says “Boss, we’ve got a huge problem with the ACME account; they’re angry and I think we might lose their business!” This is one of those situations that rightly spikes a leader’s blood pressure. But as much as the wrong response risks losing the ACME account, the wrong response also risks ruining the effectiveness, accountability and future growth of your employee. So, in responding to the problem our employee just brought us, we’ve got a few different options, from worst to best.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Busy Vs. Productive: Which One Are You?

    “Busy” versus “Productive”

    There is a huge difference between being busy and being productive. You can be busy all day and still feel like you’re behind on accomplishing your goals. Have you ever spent hours clearing your inbox only to emerge without having actually completed your goals for the day?

    The most productive and efficient people are those that “own their day” versus letting their day own them. They work to maximize their time to be as productive as possible, not just busy.

    Busy people tend to be overthinkers and they have an incredible ability to expand their tasks to the amount of time they have available. The busy person starting a blog would likely take three times the amount of time and effort of a productive person all the while complaining that they don’t have enough time to get anything done.

    Busy people tend to be great at “looking busy” where as productive people are simply “getting it done.”

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    10 Golden Rules Of Personal Branding

    Creating a personal brand can be a daunting, mythical task. And one of the easiest ways to get lost in the process is to not know where to start. Even Oprah Winfrey began by going through several style iterations on a small local show before defining her voice into one of the most influential personal brands in the world.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Secrets Behind Sweden’s Entrepreneurial Success

    Forget about Silicon Valley and turn your mind to Northern Europe instead. There’s this small country called Sweden, that has been labeled as the ‘Innovation Nation’ and the ‘Capital of Startups’. But what’s the secret behind the success? We have talked to some top Swedish entrepreneurs to uncover their best advice.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How To Be A Hardworking Employee Without Sacrificing Your Personal Life

    Often, we apply this “more is more” principle to our professional lives, too. Clocking in at the crack of dawn and logging off only when our eyelids can’t stay open anymore are often heralded as hallmarks of star employees.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Many people feel underemployed, stuck in their dead-end jobs and not earning close to what they’re worth.

    More Than Half Of U.S. Workers Are Unhappy In Their Jobs: Here’s Why And What Needs To Be Done Now

    Sadly, only less than 50% of U.S. workers feel that they are in good jobs. There is a nexus between the quality of one’s job and the overall quality of a person’s life. While a number of workers in good, mediocre jobs rate their overall quality of life as “high,” most of those in bad jobs feel the contrary.

    It used to be the standard that employees would steadily climb the corporate ladder of success. The study reflects otherwise. The percentage who say they are in their best job ever begins to level off at a younger age. Middle-aged and older workers report that they’re not working in their best job ever and are more likely to say they were laid off from that job.  

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Great Leaders Have An Attitude Of Gratitude — Do You?

    The combination of leadership and gratitude is extremely powerful. Gratitude helps you feel better and see the good things in life. When combined with a gratitude practice, you will also be able to anchor that positive feeling into your brain and body, thus being able to call on that positive emotional reserve whenever you need to.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Standups are Useless and How to Run Great Product Team Meetings

    The majority of meetings are a waste of time. And in my opinion, one flavor of meeting that tops the charts in uselessness is the “status update” meeting. You know this meeting— the meeting where everyone gets together to share what they’ve been doing. It’s ironic that meetings like this exist because it gets in the way of people actually doing something productive. A cross-functional group of people (product, design, engineering, marketing and so on) working on a new product doesn’t greatly benefit from status updates.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Let’s take a closer look at the prescribed format of a stand per agile methodology. Members of a standup (i.e. everyone on the team) are asked to share the following:

    What did I work on yesterday?
    What am I working on today?
    What issues are blocking me?
    There are several big issues with this format.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Due Diligence Should Never Be a Scramble

    In all too many companies, the leadership sees “due diligence” documentation as something that’s only needed for mergers and acquisitions – and therefore not something that needs to be updated and available on an ongoing basis.

    Unfortunately, this is a short-sighted view that ignores the many benefits of keeping your business due diligence-ready.

    It’s true that proper in-depth due diligence is primarily only needed in M&A situations, but it’s also relevant in many other circumstances that arise more frequently than you might think.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    18 Things You Need To Give Up To Become A High-Achieving Person

    A secret about success is that it is just as much about what you give up as what you gain.

    Are you willing to give up late nights out for late nights in working? Are you willing to turn a deaf ear to blind criticisms? Are you willing to listen to helpful ones? Are you going to be able to give up the doubt, the resistance, the uncertainty, the avoidance mechanisms? As Mastin Kipp says: Are you willing to live as other people won’t, so maybe you can live as other people can’t?

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Five Questions You Can Ask Instead Of ‘How Are You?’

    #1. What was the best part about your day?

    #2: What work is most exciting you this week?

    #3: What new ideas are giving you energy lately?

    #4: Tell me one thing you’ve learned recently that inspired you.

    #5: What is one thing we could do right now to make this (day, project, event) even better?

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Translating technology into business value

    How can you use technology to reach your business goals in faster, safer, and more effective ways?

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Stop asking ‘how are you?’ Harvard researchers say this is what successful people do when making small talk

    “How are you?” These are the three most useless words in the world of communication. The person asking doesn’t really want to know, and the person responding doesn’t tell the truth. What follows is a lost opportunity and meaningless exchange with zero connection.

    But the key to making the most out of small talk, according to Harvard researchers, is to simply ask the other person follow-up questions.

    “When people are instructed to ask more questions, they are perceived as higher in responsiveness, an interpersonal construct that captures listening, understanding, validation and care,” the researchers wrote.

    For introverts, small talk can be painful. But if you say nothing in those moments before a meeting starts or when you and your boss are in the elevator, you run the risk of becoming invisible.

    First, give yourself a break. Almost everyone is intimidated by others, especially those who outrank them.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    “Start with Why” for gaming entrepreneurs

    Here is a curation on why the purpose of the company matters so much, from the perspective of a video games entrepreneur.
    Why are you starting a company
    Why the “what” can be wrong
    Why a hit game won’t be enough

    How to discover the way
    To discover the “why”, you need to look at possibilities on how you can help others. How you can deliver something that is for the good.
    If you find something that your team can relate to, that can be a guiding mission for the whole team. When you have players, they will be able to relate to the “why” as well. It can make them feel that they are part of something great.
    To help you figure out your “why” you need to ask:
    Why does your company exist?
    Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
    And why should anyone care?

    For a games company, you can ask additional questions like:
    How have games have been a good influence in your life?
    Does my team have similar answers?
    Out of the answers, can we find a “Why” that everyone can become aligned to?
    What small steps do we need to take to align our players around this “Why”

    In “Start with Why”, Simon Sinek points out that you can have successful leaders who are either “Why” or “How” leaders. He says that the “How” types of leaders can be very successful but they rarely build billion-dollar businesses that change the world. And while a “How” type doesn’t necessarily need a “Why” type as a partner to succeed, a “Why” type always needs a “How” type or they’ll end up as starving visionaries.
    The difference between “Why” and “How” types also introduces the difference between the vision and mission statements of an organization.

    The vision is the founder’s intent, “Why” the company was founded. The mission is a description of “How” the company will create that future.

    Ask these questions, to figure out your why:
    Why does the gaming world need my company and the games that the company produces?
    Can I craft an identity from the “why” that is true and very personal to the founders?

    Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,aps,234&sr=8-1&linkCode=sl1&tag=elitegamedev-20&linkId=5d04bca3b73acb76be70f5f8ff5a1e7e&language=en_US

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    There’s a fundamental disconnect between the creative and “soft” skills that companies say they’re looking for when hiring employees, and the skills that job applicants include in their resumés, according to Adobe.

    Want A Better Resumé, Or Job? Adobe Says You Should Focus On These Five Things

    “Clearly there’s what we like to call a creativity gap in the needs that organizations are starting to realize,” said Mala Sharma, VP and general manager of Adobe Creative Cloud. “The way I net it out is from Adobe’s perspective, we have a conviction that creativity is the superpower for tomorrow’s workforce. (Long-time tech executive) Kai-fu Lee last year stated how AI is going to replace 40 percent of the jobs in next 15 years, but the more secure jobs are the creative jobs. It’s how we understand the world, it’s how we problem solve.”

    The overlooked/undermentioned skills include, according to the study:

    • Complex Problem Solving
    • Creativity
    • Critical Thinking
    • People Management
    • Coordinating with Others

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    9 Things That Interviewers Really Want To Hear From You In The Interview

    Professionals tend to make things seem very complicated, in an effort to make the the recipients of their advice feel stupid, afraid, intimidated and prone to follow orders. Let’s pick a profession like medicine. Why do doctors use such ridiculously complicated terms? They could easily substitute ominous-sounding symptoms for “boo-boos” and take all the stress and anxiety out of the situation. They don’t do it because it would diminish their feelings of omnipotence.  

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Please Stop Reading Off Your PowerPoint Slides. Here’s What to Do Instead
    Nothing kills a presentation faster than reading off a deck of slides. Follow these 3 rules instead

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Difference Between Executive Onboarding And Performance Failure

    While there is certainly an overlap, there are important differences between executive onboarding and performance failures. The vast majority of people that fail in jobs fail for one of three reasons: poor fit, poor delivery, or poor adjustment to a change down the road.


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