Monthly Archives: August 2017

Houston, We Have A Challenge*

low fruit

In modern tymes, it is difficult to avoid corporate jargon invented by management smoothies who write books. This invasive lexicon trickles down via Meetings and Presentations to people that have not read the books. Like a parasite, it penetrates each Host and rewires his brain, implanting annoying phrases and replacing perfectly good words with bogus ones, such as “utilize” for “use,” and “impact” (as a verb) for “affect.” A “platform” is always “robust” — when a number of other adjectives would suffice. A “problem,” apparently a dirty word, is reduced to a “challenge.”

I’m not sure why corporate language is grating, but it makes my friends insane. I suppose it’s because the speakers of this terrible language are parroting management smoothies — instead of using their brains – because they think it sounds more sophisticated. Yes, that’s what it is. Dumb, over-repeated phrases are Downloaded, Integrated, and Utilized by the speaker to sound more articulate or techy.

Thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope, and being on the same page, now 20 years old, cease to amuse. But the newer ones, often hyphenated, remain rich. The white space. Multi-tiered. Value-added. Portal-based. Drill down. Impactfulness. Granular.

BINGO Tech-industry-buzzword-bingo1Hilariously, a founder of Silicon Graphics invented Buzzword Bingo, to be played surreptitiously at meetings where it is likely that speakers will deploy buzzwords or arcane business concepts rather than supplying actual information. Bingo card squares come pre-loaded with corporate jargon, and you get a dot each time some silly lingo on your card is spoken in the meeting. The various ways to announce that one has achieved BINGO are mouth-watering. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in such a meeting, mercifully, but I’d suggest alternate mischief wherein contestants randomly combine buzzwords in nonsensical ways to jar deeply tranquilized meeting-goers out of their fog, e.g., “Drilling down to multi-tiered value-addedness was impactful,” or “His low-hanging fruit is right in my wheelhouse.”

The Corporate BS Generator, a fun online pastime, takes 2 “corporate” adjectives and randomly pairs them with a noun. Synergistic, results-based solutions. Top-down, client-driven transparency. Go ahead, make your own. What’s more fun than spewing twaddle?

I asked some of the brilliant cynics I call friends for their most despised terms. Their choices:

From CT: Alignment – when all divisions of an “enterprise” need to buy office furniture in the official corporate color palette. Branding – see above regarding the color palette. Re-branding – new colors.

From VT: Silos (not the farms). Organic (not the food). Cross-pollination (not the bees).

From NY: Reaching Out – “I thought I’d reach out” rather than “I’m contacting you.” Disintermediation – eliminating the middle man. Multi-sourcing – code for outsourcing. Business Development – a.k.a Sales. Market Development – a.k.a. Marketing.

It makes me wax nostalgic about another form of invasive language, one I welcomed as Host, probably because I was an unsuspecting child at the time. It remains a part of us. Yes, television advertising.

Wessonality. Certs with Retsyn®. Figurines (“Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch.”) “I’m Rula Lenska.” (Alberto V05). Kind of wow, kind of now (Charlie!). “She conked out, but her hair held up,” (Final Net). “…and my dress is vivid red,” (RCA). I miss the flagrantly untrue, now-illegal product claims (Mark Eden’s “bust enhancement”) as I miss TV in general back then, when snow shoes were always falling out of closets, people were routinely shot out of cannons, and “the old switcheroo” prevailed.

For good or bad, they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Now TV shows are based on doctored “reality,” and the ads are all for prescription medicines (“side effects may include new body hair, sleepwalking, swollen tongue…”), or class-action lawsuits (“Were you or a loved one exposed to…THIS?”). Just as Fab detergent had an intoxicating secret ingredient (lemon-freshened Borax), today the power of suggestion secretly leads us by the hand to litigation and a cascade of daily pills. Well, at least the car commercials remain. A comfort. Until they start driving themselves.

cannonLet’s face it. Sometimes a problem is not a challenge; it is a bloody problem. It may not be fun or solvable. I had so many “challenges” outside my “sphere of influence” recently that in the ocean I was momentarily afraid of my own shadow — thought it was some kind of ray, poised for attack. My advice: when the going gets that rough, get yourself on a robust platform that can withstand the weight of a cannon, get a cannon, climb inside it, ask someone to spark that baby up, and just get the hell out of there. Good day.

 

*This title written before Harvey hit Houston.

** Cannon photo credit and interesting column here.

The Froth of July

OarSometimes I hear about people following their Bliss, Mainly I see people struggling to manage their time between their jobs and home lives. Which begs the Seinfeldian question, “Who are these people … who have time for bliss?”

I’ll be a on a date where we part at sunset – to go back to work. Our parents did not do this. Holidays, weekends, while making dinner or getting dressed for work … we’re answering work calls and email. If you’re an on-call neurosurgeon, okay. Most of us are not. In New England you see elderly workers, who cannot retire, in physical jobs. Where’s their bliss? Their feet hurt. My grandmothers worked only because they wanted to.

There are few chunks of time off for working stiffs. With puny or nonexistent raises, there is no disposable income to vacation – or to pay helpers (to clean, babysit, shovel, mow), that could free up that elusive little minx, time. The self-employed Vermonters I know work 7 days a week just trying to keep it afloat.

Our “free” time is gobbled up by work, social media and, sometimes, compensatory overparenting. Vermonters who’d rather support local businesses order goods online instead because they have neither cash nor time for local shops. Despite a screwed-up economy with gross inequity of wealth distribution, it’s not money that’s often the issue, it’s time. Retirees and people living off of other people, and those rare birds that live for their jobs, they have time for bliss. Not that I begrudge them that.

Ryan Seacrest, when 20 years ago a funny DJ in Cali, said on air once (I paraphrase): “I thought the weekend was supposed to be for fun. Basically you’re just trying to catch up on everything you didn’t get done during the week.” This was 20 years ago.

I remember summers as a young child. Lazily swinging on a tire swing, at the pool with friends, with cousins in Vermont, household chores, but often lost in rumination, reading, or bored. Kids today aren’t bored. They are whisked from appointment to appointment, Snapchatting feverishly in between. No time for tire swing. No time for deep thots.

Boredom has merits! It means time to imagine (what might be) and review the past (what happened). Social media, alternatively, has algorithms that withhold your incoming new followers then deluges you with them all at once — to make you feel good … to flood your reward circuitry and hook you. My tire swing never did that. Bottlenecked the fun, to affect my neural wiring in a way advantageous to the tire.

But God Bless America; the Fourth fell on a Tuesday this year. A 4-day weekend! I hope yours was fraught with burgers, water sports, sun, mayo, time, and the lifting of nothing more taxing than a fork, paddle, or leash – and that you could hear the Vermont Symphony Orchestra cranking out the 1812 Overture’s timpani, which can and must be felt by the people of the Land, even as it depicts Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s French army, not the U. S. victory over Britain but hey.

Back to the future. Sure, modern tymes have advantages! You can’t touch Al Gore’s Internet for convenience and kicks. And that iPhone secretary, Siri. “Siri, find a driving range near me.” “Here are driving ranges near you.” Wow. Of course, I never have Location Services on because I’m the OP (old people) wary of surveillance … evil forces tracking us … unlike the YPs who don’t seem to care … so I can’t ask Siri to find stuff near me because she doesn’t know where I am. (Good!) Yet it’s a modern option that’s there for me. I turned Siri into a male a week ago (in, naturally, Settings) because I wanted a man working for me, but he was bland. I’ll try the Australian version. Keith Urban working for me. Yeah, Baby (rather, “Bye-by”). I’ll have to learn his vowels.

Alas, also in modern tymes, low-water-use washing machines, as my sister noted, do not clean your clothes. When the indicator says six minutes remaining, it’s like football minutes in the 4th quarter. Also: you can’t sit on closed toilet seat lids; they’re too flimsy now. Not that I’m complaining.

mayoWith malevolent algorithms, diabolical surveillance, dirty clothes, misleading time indicators, buckling toilet lids, little free time, and way too much mayo, in July people are frothing at the mouth, forced to meditate the hell out of themselves. After work I recline, plug in my headphones and select something promising from a meditation app (Insight Timer). I’m asleep in five. I’m not meditating, true, but I’m not panicking watching the news either. Religious services can be meditative. I don’t hear the prayer words or scripture sometimes, but I am thinking deep thots, like why do humans worldwide kiss and why do we super like to watch others kissing, or how a friend offhandedly described his son’s friend’s mother as “drunken Catholic awesome.” Not that I’m condoning anything.

Movies in VTModern tymes, oof. Try to tune out the noise. Eat something health-giving, then do something life-giving, rest, go to the actual movies, laugh. This is one short summer, bye-by, and you need to recharge to face yet more modern tymes come fall. And, taking the longer view, one day you won’t be in an office chair, you’ll be in far more permanent furniture. So fill what remains of summer with fun and peace. Mop your brow. De-froth your kisser and plant one on a creature you love. Not that you asked. Good day.

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