My Proposal for 12 New Business Clichés

My junior year of college, I lived next door to the master of clichés. It seemed like every time Neil opened his mouth, out spewed at least a couple tired phrases. Just for fun, my roommate and I used to try to out-cliché him:

“I think I failed my calculus exam, but you can’t cry over spilled milk, because that’s the way the cookie crumbles – and heck, it’s no skin off my nose.”

You get the idea.

Amusing as Neil’s reflex was, it also sensitized me to the fact that clichés were just throwaway phrases, the victims of their own fame. Meaningless, but so darned fun!

The business world is chock full of clichés – from “thinking outside the box” to “win-win situation” to the ridiculous “paradigm shift.”

Weary of these expressions, I think it’s high-time to unveil a new crop of business clichés (for the new millennium).

Here are 12 nominees for your consideration:

Wall envy: The inevitable outgrowth of an open-plan workplace.

Meeting mirage: When a pointless meeting appears to be drawing to a close, only to be given new life by an inane participant.

Super-value proposition: Even better than the original.

E-mail diarrhea: A descriptive term for the steady stream of meaningless messages to your inbox.

Tossing the Facebook frisbee: Cross-posting on the Facebook walls of your co-workers during work hours.

Pink slip parade: Sort of like a ticker-tape parade, but much bloodier.

Nurturing a vulture culture: Allowing employees to pounce on the furniture and/or supplies of their recently laid-off co-workers.

Turbo-charged ascendancy: An employee who “earns” numerous promotions on the fast-track to the executive suite.

Grazing at the holiday trough: The tendency to pig out on all the edible goodies sent by vendors during the Christmas season.

Far-too-casual Friday: The patent abuse of a relaxed dress code.

Uninventing the wheel: Ignoring previously expressed wisdom to pretend the company needs you to develop it.

Elvis – and IT – have left the building: Where are they when you need them the most?

These phrases, of course, will only ascend to cliché status if you start using them – early and often.

I’d appreciate your cooperation, and I welcome additional nominees to add to the list. For inspiration, here are more business clichés than you can shake a stick at


Help Me Quit Crack(Berry)


Ask any of my co-workers (and many of my friends) what my BlackBerry means to me, and they’ll probably say “far too much.”

Astute folks.

You see, in the past two years, I’ve grown a bit over-attached to this little impish device. It‘s never far from my clutches and has taken a position as one of the top 3 belongings whose whereabouts are my constant obsession (the wallet and keys occupy slots #2 and #3).

Like any addiction, my BB abuse has escalated to the point of needing some serious intervention. It’s causing me to neglect my family, shirk my household chores, EVEN text while driving (in fact, I regularly compose and send entire e-mails while powering down the highway – who says guys can’t multi-task?)

Going cold turkey is always an option, of course, but it’s such an unpleasant one – complete with vomiting, DT’s and other detox-withdrawal symptoms.

I’m looking for a less severe “scaling back,” one in which I can still reap the benefits of mobility while knowing when to say when. Like a food addict who needs to learn to manage her food issues, I just need to train myself to become a more responsible BlackBerry owner/operator (i.e. she’s still gotta eat; I’ve still gotta tweet).

And so I ask: Does anyone have any ideas for helping to transform my CrackBerry back to a BlackBerry?

My ears – and thumbs – eagerly await your suggestions.


Panic in the Toothpaste Aisle


OK, I’ll admit it. Decisions have never come easy to me. The concept of keeping all my options open always strikes me as the best option of all (which may just have some obscure connection to my perpetual singleness…but I digress).

It was during a seemingly innocent trip to the neighborhood grocery store that my decision-phobia came face-to-face with its greatest nemesis: the toothpaste aisle.

Stretching as far as the eyes could see were tubes, bottles and canisters of every shape, size and variety. Pastes. Gels. Powders. More than 20 varieties of Crest alone. Sheer lunacy.

As I surveyed the bewildering landscape, I wondered how ANYONE might be able to thoughtfully hone in on the ideal choice for his teeth and gums. How could any choice NOT lead to some level of buyer’s remorse (“I think I should’ve gone with the 6 oz. tartar control striped gel pump…DAMN!”)

I also considered if having dozens of toothpaste choices might just stoke a sick demand for even more choices. A bottomless pit that no dental aid could ever satisfy.

Realizing I was getting needlessly worked up, I cooled off by taking a quick stroll down the adjacent aisle and then high-tailing it home. As I left the store – marshmallows in tow – I understood why shopping for toothpaste would always rank right up there with having a root canal. Or perhaps an extraction. Or maybe just a good old-fashioned scaling. 


My Life as a Flip-Flopping News Junkie


I’ve recently come to terms with an undeniable reality about myself. Like it or not, I have some flip-flopping tendencies…at least in the political realm.

This trait is most apparent on weeknights from 9-10 p.m. EDT / 8 -9 p.m. CDT. That’s when the cable news cornucopia includes Rachel Maddow and Joy Behar (on the left-hand side of the dial), Bill O’Reilly (on the right side of the spectrum) and Larry King (trying hard to straddle that non-offensive middle ground). 

Each night, I join with my U-Verse remote control in slicing through a cluttered landscape that epitomizes the divisiveness (and plain-old immaturity) of political discourse in America. While Rachel is skewering a Republican Senator du jour, Bill is demanding the resignation of some lunatic liberal, and Joy is taking every opportunity to bash former President(s) Bush – whether it has any real relevance to the topic at hand or not. These pundits seem to take great joy in attacking each other with the fervor and misguided angst of teenage hooligans.

Sometimes I’m drawn in by the logic and sincerity of their points of view; other times, they just strike me as over-the-top grandstanders existing primarily to serve a particular ideology.

One thing I’m convinced of, however, is that hyperbole and hysteria exists on all sides of the political table. And increasingly, that I think I might prefer to sit at a different table altogether.

Maybe I’m naive, but I happen to believe the real Obama resides somewhere between “Savior” and “Anti-Christ.” Conversely, I think Sarah Palin belongs between the poles of “backwater Barbie” and “power-hungry maniac.” Unfortunately, such middle-of-the-road characterizations don’t seem to fuel compelling news programs.

Since it’s apparently too much to ask for a cable news channel that’s TRULY fair and balanced, I guess I will continue my nightly news-roulette ritual…and always keep a fresh set of batteries handy.