10 Essential, if Timeworn, Business Sayings

A few phrases used in every career field.


Some well-worn phrases you just have to know. People talk in shorthand all the time, in almost every career field. Here are a few you have heard:

1. Under-promise and over-deliver. Far too often, most of us make just the opposite: We say we can do something faster and better than what we actually can accomplish.

2. After the work is done, someone always has a better idea. This is nearly axiomatic, so one should plan for this, particularly if you have a hands-on boss. Or, you can institutionalize this as Pixar has done, always "plussing" ideas to make them better. 

3. From 40,000 feet. This is what bosses say when they can’t really contribute much detail (a.k.a. "big picture").

4. Take ownership. This just means to get engaged in the project. I explained some differences here.

5. Cutting edge. Now frequently replaced with "bleeding edge."

6. Low-hanging fruit. This refers to the easiest customers one can go after. Truth: All customers are hard to sell and serve.

7. I’m looking at my watch and you're looking at the calendar. If you hear your CEO say this Jack Welch quote, the message is "work faster."

8. Universe of One. What someone will say when you try to sneak by with a personal observation, not based on real customers.

9. Going forward. This phrase sounds more complicated than "in the future."

10. Scalable, or levereagable. Can we do this same thing again and again? The more that you can accomplish the same thing with reduced effort, this is a good thing.

Which phrases do you hear all the time in your business?

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneuer and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com or at JobDig.com.


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