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Abused Words of the Day: Social Justice

January 23, 2018

“Social justice” isn’t a group of people sharing family photos in a courtroom. It has nothing to do with social media. This lofty sounding term is being used ad nauseum by academicians, activists (another abused term) and even some business people in the name of income equality and fairness.

“Social justice warriors” seek to “effect social change,” with the implication that we’d all be better off if we just did what the social justice warriors want us to do. Fair treatment of everyone would be nice, but one person’s idea of social justice is often another person’s idea of anti-social justice.

Parents are paying tens of thousands of dollars to send their kids to college to learn about social justice,. Where’s the justice in that?

If it’s really all about fairness, the word “justice” will suffice.

Cliché of the Day: Blue-Sky Thinking

January 22, 2018

It’s ironic that “blue-sky thinking” is a synonym for “brainstorming.” Whether you’re a fan of brainstormy weather or, like Irving Berlin, envision “nothing but blue skies from now on,” you should know that “blue-sky thinking” made the list of most hated jargon terms in a survey by Glassdoor.

I suppose “blue sky” means thinking unobscured by clouds, birds, airplanes, hot air balloons, satellites, nuclear missiles or other miscellany that blot out the sun. So if your mind is as blank as the sky is blue, you’re ready for some blue-sky thoughts. In other words, the term should be used only by managers who want their employees to stop thinking.

Cliché of the Day: Hit the Ground Running

January 19, 2017

If you “hit the ground” while you’re running, you’ve either tripped or passed out from exhaustion. But, in the business context, “running” is the key word here. Those who hit the ground walking or jogging need to get “up to speed” and learn to “run with it.” If someone coming toward you is hitting the ground running, you may want to “hit the deck.”

Abused Words of the Day: The New Normal

January 18, 2018

Forty is the new 30, 60 is the new 40 and orange is the new black. For the economy, 2% growth is the “new normal,” until the economy grows at the old normal rate of 3+%. What was once normal is replaced by a new normal, at which point the old normal becomes abnormal. But what happens when the “new normal” grows old?

Cliché of the Day: Life Is a Journey

January 17, 2018

Life is a journey, alright. And it’s an especially arduous one if you have to listen to banalities like “life is a journey,” “the journey to recovery,” “life is a journey, not a destination” and other variations. You can find many additional examples on inspirational posters, but it’s not going to inspire those of us who dislike clichés and hate to travel. “Life is a journey” has traveled far enough. Let’s retire it.

Abused Word of the Day: Curate

January 15, 2017

It makes sense to create, manage, optimize, share and promote your content, but do we really need to “curate” it?

Ironically, today’s hip and modern social media experts have borrowed the word from dusty, musty museums, which use curators to organize and manage exhibits. Museum curators don’t call historical relics and works of art “content,” and social media types shouldn’t call themselves “curators.”

The word “curate” is derived from the Middle English curat, which was a “person charged with the care of souls.” Sweet Jesus! We doubt your content curator would ever be confused with a parish priest.

According to social media expert Rohit Bhargava, a content curator is “someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online.”

In other words, a content curator is a content manager. Why not call it that?

Abused Word of the Day: Interact

January 14, 2017

The workplace used to have bosses, who told their subordinates what to do. The subordinates did as they were told, because they liked to be gainfully employed. Today’s managers prefer to “interact” with their fellow employees. To “interact” is to act together, so one person can’t interact without another also interacting. It sounds democratic, but it’s pure mush. #MeToo should take note of all of this interacting and seek to extract it from the workplace. It’s a verbal assault we can do without.

Ghosted

January 13, 2018

A disturbing business practice that has become far too common during the past year or two is the unanswered email. Other small agencies and sole practitioners I’ve spoken with have also experienced this.

We’re not talking about responding to spam. We’re talking about potential clients who have requested proposals, then decided to do nothing. And I mean nothing, as in not responding to emails and not spending a dime on marketing.

We typically spend eight to 10 hours researching and writing a proposal. Yes, there’s some boilerplate, but we also do a fair amount of research. We put some thought into what we expect to do for our clients. We’re professionals and take pride in our proposals.

And yet, in several cases this past year or two, potential clients who expressed enough interest to request proposals failed to respond after we submitted them. One failed to respond after we wasted even more time traveling to two meetings. Another failed to respond after agreeing to move forward with our proposal.

If a vendor takes the time to respond to you, at least respond back. We can take “no” for an answer. Ideally, provide an explanation why you’re not moving forward. It’s rude and unprofessional to not respond to people.

One associate who has experienced the non-response compared it to “ghosting,” a failure to communicate with someone you’ve been dating and no longer want to see. The comparison is apt.

Robots: The New Journalists

July 15, 2014

“Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a ... canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?”

From I, Robot

Who wouldn’t want to replace reporters with robots?  It’s understandable when you consider the advantages.

Robots are available when needed.  They don’t call in sick, don’t complain, don’t make annoying demands and they’ll even work on holidays.  Their work may be flawless, they always make deadlines and they’re 100% objective.  They don’t gossip, don’t waste time talking about sports and won’t try to unionize.  They don’t collect a paycheck and they don’t need health insurance.

Robots make great employees, because they’re not human.  So it’s not surprising that the Associated Press this month has begun using robots from Automated Insights to generate up to 4,400 quarterly earnings reports.

AP isn’t the first to use robowriters.  Forbes uses algorithms from Narrative Science to research and write brief stories about companies whose stocks are performing well, while The Los Angeles Times uses bots to publish stories about earthquakes and homicides.

Abused Word of the Day: Talent

June 30, 2014

At one time, employers had employees.  A Personnel Department managed hiring of employees, as well as employee benefits and policies.

Today Human Resource Departments are in charge of hiring "talent" or, in the more collectiveist organizations, "people."

No doubt some employees are very talented, but referring collectively to your employees as your “talent” is a stretch unless you manage a talent agency. 

Employees really don’t mind being called employees.  They no doubt prefer the term to "human resources."