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Monday, 3 November 2014


Some years ago, I worked for a company that for a while seemed to be populated by directors and senior managers who learned the latest buzzwords and catchphrases from business gurus, mainly American.

Some of these powerful people would literally strut the stages of conference halls and pepper us audience members with snappy little slogans that were supposed to enthuse us to "up our game".

I remember a few.

"Wake up and smell the coffee" was a favourite of an HR manager and, to make matters cringeworthy worse, she expected us to repeat the risible phrase in unison just to help her make her point.  I think in a half hour session, we puffed it out over a dozen times.  Pantomime stuff. Ugh.

"Raise the bar" was another mantra from an HR director, again involving audience participation but this time with interaction.  Not only would we be told to repeat the words but they had to be accompanied by the actions of all of us raising our arms as if we were actually raising a bar.  Jeez.

"Nearly is not good enough" chuntered a director at the end of every paragraph of his speech.  Mercifully, we were not encouraged to chunter back but after a while, the catchphrase became as boring as it was pointless.  For, sometimes nearly in business and life is as good as it gets.

I'm pretty much out of all that sheep-dip, claptrap nonsense now but I'm sure, all over the world, directors and senior managers are all still trying to pretend that they are more intelligent and better read than the rest of us.  A handful of leaders are genuinely inspiring but most are definitely not.

Buzzwords, catchphrases, mantras and slogans can be memorable - but not always for the right reasons.

Oh, what's that smell?  It's actually real coffee.  Cheers!

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