Tell me if this has ever happened to you: Your work in some large inter-galactic corporate empire. The CEO, who has a Ph.D. from MIT and advanced degrees from the London School of Economics and the Cairo School of Design, meets with his senior executive team (Wharton, Harvard, University of Des Moines) at an offsite retreat in the Cayman Islands to determine the future strategic direction of the company.
They have had a few Mai Tais. They decide, in all of their wisdom and years of experience, that their brilliant vision is cutting costs and people working in cubes, especially the people that play too many Internet cat videos. With that, they will boost next quarter’s profits and make their bonuses and see their stock options rise. So, away you go! You get downsized!
You quickly tap into your network. Your buddy, who has been slaving away at a series of dead-end marketing jobs in half-baked startups in Silicon Valley and lives in a one-bedroom apartment in East Palo Alto that costs $3,000 a month, has a brilliant idea.
“Why don’t you just hang a shingle?” he says.
Know the story? Of course you do. If it hasn’t happened to you personally it has happened to dozens of your friends. And if it hasn’t happened to you at some point it will very, very soon. Be prepared.
I parted with the galactic empires many moons ago, and I’ve been carving out my own brand of unique integrated business models for some time now. Back when I was searching for stuff to do I heard several people suggest that I “hang a shingle.”
“Why don’t you hang a shingle?” The images and sounds of the words resonate in my head like a broken-down toilet in a public park in the South Bronx. No thanks. No shingles for me.
What an unpleasant sounding idea. Even if hanging shingles were profitable, it doesn’t sound appealing, or sanitary. Whatever it describes, I’m sure there are better ways to describe it. I could build a scaleable Web content platform, maybe, or write an integrated market positioning package, or perhaps work on your social-media messaging, or even build a Strategic Omnichannel Publishing Empire based on a “How to Write Better Emails in Four Seconds” theme.
But “hang a shingle”? No thanks. Which brings us to this week’s question in our recurring Friday theme of Buzzword Friday: Why do so many heinous-sounding buzzwords make it into the mainstream? Shouldn’t there be some kind of buzzword approval process, or at least a buzzword advisory board?
Please be careful about the buzzwords you bring into your work environment. I don’t want to be drunk-dialed by a foodie on the slide path to cross-collateralized white space, okay? Practice safe buzzword. And have a Happy Friday.