Top 5 Articles to Read While You Wait For My Book

I know the book is supposed to be out by now, but you know how things go.  In the meantime, here are some classic Corporate Life Sucks articles for you to read while you’re working late without being paid overtime.  On a weekend.

The article I wrote that was the inspirational basis for this entire website:
Working in Systems Development Sucks

The article that exposes the truth about the corporate game.  It’s not what you know, nor is it how much work you do.  It’s how much your managers think you do:
How to Get a Good Performance Review

So many of you are disgusting:
It’s Too Bad a College Education Doesn’t Teach You How to Use the Bathroom

Keep your germs away from me:
If You Come to Work Sick, You Should Be Fired

Stop talking like idiots!
Guide To Corporate Buzzwords, Part I

These should keep you satiated until the next article/book release.

Attn: Everyone – “Ping Me” Does Not Mean “Email/IM Me”

Ping. verb

1. the act of checking the speed of Packet data sent and received on a network.

I propose a revolution: whenever the next corporate idiot wants you to send them an instant message and tells you “ping me when you get back to your desk” (or whatever), reply with “Ok, what’s your IP address?” Then perform an actual ping on him and inform him of his computer’s response time 😀

You Offer a “Lucrative” Benefits Package? Really?

“Lucrative” is the most commonly heard word before you accept a job (contrast with “proactive” which is the most commonly heard word after you accept a job).

Every job posting I have ever seen has described its benefits package as “lucrative.” Sometimes it even says “lucrative salary,” too. And then during the initial interview, it’s as if HR wants to make absolutely sure you are aware of their “lucrative” package, so before actual compensation amounts are even discussed, the interviewer always mentions again how “lucrative” their offer is.

There wouldn’t even be anything wrong with that if every company didn’t describe its offer as “lucrative.” It’s blatant false advertising when you find out in the fourth round of interviews for a senior position requiring a minimum of 5-10 years experience that “lucrative” means $40k a year. Did I seriously just waste my last week studying up on your company so I could do well in your interviews?

It’s too bad there’s not some sort of National Job Offer Regulation Committee to tell us whose offers are actually “lucrative” and whose offers just suck. I propose that there should be three levels of compensation rankings: “Lucrative,” “Decent,” and “Don’t Bother.”

Screw Your Black Belt; I’m a Six Sigma Ninja

If there’s one thing corporate employees love more than working long hours, it’s giving stupid names to simple concepts.

There’s a really long explanation involving lots of math, but I will give you the short version: Six Sigma is a methodology designed to eliminate defects and improve efficiency. The name “Six Sigma” comes from being six levels of standard deviation away from the mean of a process on a normal distribution graph. Boring, right? Basically Six Sigma means you’re operating at 99.9997% efficiency.

Like many other things in the corporate world, Six Sigma is full of pseudo-words (things that would be acronyms if they actually spelled anything, but don’t), such as:

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)

DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify)

But let’s be honest, that’s pretty typical.

Six Sigma proponents also like to throw around words they’ve borrowed from statistics, like axiomatic design, chi-square testing, homoscedasticity, regression analysis, and the taguchi method.

But the best thing about Six Sigma is its ranking structure. People involved in Six Sigma are given a karate rank, beginning with Green Belt, then becoming a Black Belt, and then, if they’re deemed worthy, they may go on to become a Master Black Belt! I think there’s also a title of Sensei in there somewhere. Hi-ya!

I’m not joking.

I can only imagine how this started. Some old businessmen sitting around in a conference room discussing models to improve efficiency, and one of them probably said “you know, this stuff is awfully dry and boring. How will we ever get our employees to learn all this crap and follow all these rules without them falling asleep?”

They probably pondered that question for weeks.

And then, at a followup meeting, one of them spoke forth: “I’ve got it! If we assign them karate ranks based on how much Six Sigma propaganda they’ve memorized, they will feel self-important and empowered!

And I bet you the reply was “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!”

And then I bet you after a few moments of contemplation, he added: “It’s definiately going to work.”

He was right.

How to Improve Your SWE

SWE is yet another corporate acronym that stands for “Satisfying Work Experience.” Your manager can’t just ask you “how do you like your job?” Instead, they have to ask you “How is your SWE?” (pronounced like “swee,” as if it were actually a real word).

At my first job, we had all been working ridiculous hours and weekends (as per usual), and one of the managers took a few members of my team into a conference room and asks us:

“You guys have all been working really hard. What can I do to improve your SWE?”

At this point, my friend and coworker looks at the manager and asks, “can I leave at 5 today and not work this weekend?”

For a moment, we all had a brief glimmer of hope. And then our manager replied:

“No, but since everybody is so stressed out, you guys can all wear funny hats tomorrow!” And she seemed so proud of herself for coming up with such a brilliant and clever idea.

Upon hearing that response, my friend got up and left. She walked right out of the conference room without saying a word. I don’t know where she went. I don’t even think I saw her for the rest of that week, and she certainly didn’t come in and work that weekend. I remember she was back the following Monday, however, but no one ever spoke of the incident again.

My friend is awesome, and helped inspire me to not put up with bullshit at work. I hope this article inspires you in the same way.

Don’t Lie; This Meeting Isn’t Going to End On Time, Either

Have you ever been to a meeting that ended on time? I haven’t (not including meetings that I run). I should note that if you ever have the privilege of being in a meeting that I am holding, you will be kicked out when the meeting is scheduled to end, if not earlier, because being forced to stay in a meeting that is going longer than expected is the most annoying thing in the world.

It wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t already overworked, but when you are already going to have to stay late, you don’t need to waste another hour listening to people pretend to be engaged in a two-hour meeting that was only supposed to last 15 minutes in the first place!

The reasons meetings run late are almost always the same:

First, no one can stay on topic. Say your meeting was scheduled in order to discuss streamlined, mission-critical releveraging protocol designed to drive quality-assured excellence. As soon as someone makes reference to something, anything else, the meeting will derail into a 30 minute discussion between two people that will invariably end with one of the parties saying “oh, well let’s discuss this offline.”

Second, if you’re unlucky enough to have any corporate cheerleaders in your meeting, you will have to listen to them argue back and forth about which one of them loves the company more. Each one will continually try to one-up the other by trying to get the last question in. Remember that in the corporate world, you show interest and loyalty to your company by asking questions in meetings. Corporate cheerleaders love their company so much that they can’t stop asking questions during meetings. It doesn’t matter to them if the meeting was scheduled to be over at 3pm, and now it’s 4:45pm; they will keep asking questions.

Finally, most people don’t seem to care. They don’t mind staying an extra hour past the (unpaid) overtime they were already planning on putting in that day because a meeting went long. You can easily identify these people during the meeting because they are the ones that don’t look more and more pissed off with every tick of the second hand on the clock past the meeting’s scheduled end time. They are the ones who smile when someone asks a question when the meeting was supposed to be over 30 minutes ago. They are the ones who enjoy staying late, and therefore don’t care if meetings last forever.

Here is my list of guidelines for making sure your meetings do not take longer than they are supposed to:

– If the meeting covers more than 2 subjects, print out outlines for everyone. You can use these outlines to keep people on subject.

– Immediately shut down any side discussions that are unrelated to your meeting topic. Do not wait 30 minutes for one of the people involved to say “let’s take this offline.” Instead, after 10 seconds of listening to their banter, say “I think you two need to take this discussion offline” and immediately go onto the next point in your outline.

– Immediately shut down unrelated questions. They’re not related, and therefore have no purpose being discussed in your meeting. As soon as the corporate cheerleader asks, before another one can reply, you must reply with “you know, that’s a good question, but it’s outside the context of this meeting. So as I was saying…” and then continue. It might be a little rude, but which is more important: being polite, or leaving work on time?

– When the time is 1 minute before your scheduled end time, say “alright, it looks like we’re out of time…”. At this point, you have 3 options. 1) If the meeting is over, then you’re done. 2) if for whatever reason you didn’t get through everything on your agenda, then continue with “…I will send you another invite so we can continue this later” and then end the meeting. 3) if the meeting absolutely must keep going, then continue with “…anyone who has to leave can leave, because I don’t want to keep you from getting your work done while you stay here in this annoying meeting contemplating boredom-induced suicide.”

Again, which is more important: being polite, or leaving work on time?

I rest my case.

Guide to Corporate Buzzwords, Part II

This is a followup article to part I.

The best part about corporate buzzwords is the smug look of self-satisfaction across the faces of the idiots who use them by the dozen. It’s as if every time a buzzword spews forth from their mouths they are so proud of themselves for being cool.

I have been in meetings lasting over two hours where literally nothing gets said or accomplished. Well, I should rephrase that. A lot gets said as far as actual words spoken, but no information is conveyed. And after the meeting, each side walks out with an air of smugness like their farts don’t stink because they spent 15 minutes talking about how they’ve been “…hearing noise about a streamlined attempt to leverage thinking outside the box vis-a-vis a proactive, valued-added best practice alignment with…” Zzzzzzzz…

Sorry, that’s usually where I zone out.

Here’s part II of the list!

Word Definition/examples
Infoshare Noun – “Meeting.” Typically involves a bigger part
of the company than a standard team meeting. Usually some higher-up
or bigwig will be speaking.


Person 1: “We have an infoshare today at 3pm.”

Hit the Ground Running Expression – “Don’t waste time before you actually start


Person 1: “Tomorrow we have to hit the ground running.”

Person 2: “Obviously...”

Ex. 2

Person 1: “Did you hit the ground running today?

Person 2: “No, I was surfing the net for like 5 hours
this morning

Feedback Noun – “Criticism” (usually), “Compliment”


Person 1: “I got some feedback on your performance today
from so-and-so.

Person 2: “Oh really? What’d they say?

Person 1: “You do a good job with analysis but you don’t
ask enough questions at meetings.

Person 2: “Ok, thanks.

Person 1: “This is something you can add to your performance

Performance Plan Noun – Something with which you are threatened to keep your
performance up to standards.


Person 1: “You went to the bathroom 5 times today. This
is going on your performance plan.

Person 2: “wtf?

Cushion Noun – “extra time for a project.” If you scheduled
4 days worth of work over a 5 day period, you would have one day
of cushion. Note that your cushion always gets filled up by something
else that is usually unrelated to the original project. Once you
have taken care of that, you realize that you’ve used up approximately
150% of your alloted “cushion” time and are now behind
on your original project.


Person 1: “Is your project done?

Person 2: “No.”

Person 1: “Why not? You had 2 days of cushion in there.”

Person 2: “Well, I had 35 other urgent issues assigned
to me in the middle, and I had to take care of those because they
were urgent.

Person 1: “Well, your other project was due today. This
is going on your performance review

Mind the Gap Concept – To save the company money by spending your own money
on work-related things instead.


Person 1: “Welcome to my meeting. I printed all these
handouts myself, at home, with my own printer

Person 2: “Way to mind the gap!!

Drop Off Verb – “To hang up when you’re attending a meeting via


Person 1: “That’s all I needed to talk about. I’m gonna
drop off.

Person 2: “Bye


Perspective Concept – “Related to such-and-such.” Works best if
you use it approximately once every 6 minutes while speaking.

“From a requirements perspective...”
means “I’m about to talk about something related to requirements

Standpoint See: Perspective
Push Back Verb – “to suggest that maybe you can’t do something, or
as much as someone is asking”

From a requirements perspective, we’ll need
to push back on the client…

Approach Noun – “the method by which you’re going to do something.”

From a requirements perspective, we’ll need
to push back on the client to provide us with a more clear approach..

Straggler Noun – Someone who is late to a meeting. This is actually what
the word means, and it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t used every
single time someone comes to a meeting late, and then followed
by a laugh as if the person making the comment had just said the
most clever thing ever said in the entire history of spoken language.


Person 1: (arrives late to a meeting)

Person 2: (arrives late to the meeting with person 1)

Person 3: “e-heh-heh, looks like we got a couple stragglers.

Person 1: (awkward look)

Hash Out Verb – to clarify things


Person 1: “Do we know what’s going on with such-and-such

Person 2: “Yes. Everything has been hashed out.”

Flush Out See: Hash Out
Flesh Out See: Hash Out, Flush Out
War Room Noun – a training room where a small group or an entire team
works in supposed isolation. It is believed to increase efficiency.
It also increases attrition.


Person 1: “Did you see that meeting invite? We’re in
a war room tomorrow.

Cheerleader: “Yay!!!!!!!!!!! We can really crank though
this stuff then!!!

Average Associate: “Ok.”

Slacker: “Geez, I’m going to be surrounded by work-happy
people who probably expect me to take a working lunch like they

Pessimist: “Great. The computers in the training rooms
suck. I’ll get 50% as much done as I would otherwise because the
computer there will take the first half of the day to open the
program I need. Also, the mainframe resolution will be the huge
default style, none of my user-settings will be saved there, all
non-standard programs will have to be installed before I can start
doing anything, the mice have no scroll wheels, the keyboards
are too loud and clicky, the monitors are old and blurry, everyone
will be smacking their gum, and it’s on the other side of the

Cheerleader: “Come on, silly! We can all work together
and make great progress!!

Can I Drive? Expression – “Can I work on your computer?” Used when
you are at someone’s desk helping them with something and you
get sick of telling them what to do and would rather do it yourself.
When you let someone else “drive,” you get up and give
them your computer chair. If they had a chair, then you take their
chair. Otherwise, if they were standing next to you, you stand
where they were standing while they use your computer.


Person 1: “Click there, ok, now scroll down, no wait,
too far, go back up, ok, now click there, no, not there, there!
Here, can I drive?

Pesron 2: “Ok.”

Hearing Noise About This Expression – “People are complaining.” Used when someone
doesn’t want to admit they effed up and they’d rather sugar coat
it and use the term “noise” instead. Vague made-up terms
are much better than to-the-point terms. They deflect accountability.


Person 1: “How is remote access working?

Person 2: “We’ve been hearing noise about that.”

Person 3: “That’s because we forgot to configure it.

Step Up Expression – “Take on more work/start making more progress.”
It implies that you are not doing a good job and/or pulling your
weight. Also thought by managers to magically bestow knowledge
into the listener’s head, but it doesn’t really work.


Manager: “How’s that project coming?

Person 1: “It’s coming along ok. I’ve been busy with
other things, though

Manager: “We’ll you’re going to have to step up and get
it done

Ex. 2

Manager: “How’s that project coming?

Person 1: “I’m pretty confused. I’ve never seen this
before and I’m not sure how it works, nor how to work on it, nor
what is supposed to be happening

Manager: “Well, you’re going to have to step up.

—Fantasy ending—

Person 1: “Ohhh, NOW I understand how to do it. Thanks!

Manager: “np!

—Realistic ending—

Person 1: “Um… so… are you going to explain this
to me?

Manager: “You need to step up and get this done.

Person 1: “Right, but I’ve never even seen this stuff

Manager: “You need to step up.

Person 1: “Uh… yeah…

Communicate Verb – Tell/inform/notify/etc.


Manager: “Can you take on this responsibility?

Person 1: “Yes.”

Manager: “Great. I’ll communicate that to the team.

Ex. 2

Manager: “It has been communicated to us that…

Perception Noun – What people think of you/the only thing that matters


Manager: “I want to talk about your performance.

Person 1: “Well, over this past iteration, I’ve accomplished
3 times more work than everyone else, in half the time, and here
is documentation/feedback/mathmatical proof that my claims are

Manager: “Yeah, you see, there’s a perception that you’re
not that productive, so we’re going to put you on a formal work
improvement plan…

Person 1: “Are you kidding? I showed you empirical, irrefutable,
documented proof that my productivity is 6 times greater than
that of any other associate here. I have far surpassed the “meeting
expectations” guideline set forth by the company itself,
and I’ve automated 3 processes that save approximately 10 man-hours
per week.

Manager: “Yeah, it’s just, someone saw you eating in
the cafeteria the other day instead of at your desk, so there’s
a perception that you’re not as commited as you could be. So if
you’ll just sign here we can commence with the improvement plan…

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy the book Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide.

Guide to Corporate Buzzwords, Part I

Some coworkers and I compiled most of the words in this list while listening to people speak over the course of one month at one of my jobs. After about one month we were ready to kill ourselves so we had to stop.

When using these terms, it is important that you never use their actual English equivalent. For example, never say “talk” or “meet” when you could say “touch base” instead, because people might not understand you. I’m not kidding here. Sometimes it makes communicating difficult. I avoid talking like this whenever possible so as not to sound like a giant tool, but sometimes you have to use buzzwords or people will not understand you, as illustrated by the following actual conversation that took place one day at my first corporate job:

Me: “Hey, I need to meet with you for a few minutes when you have a sec.”
Them: “What?”
Me: “I have to ask you like two questions.”
Them: “…”
Me: *sigh* “We need to touch base for a sec.”
Them: “Ohhh! Sure! What did you want to touch base about?!”

The following is the beginning of a very long list of corporate buzzwords that will help you communicate with corporate drones when normal English fails.

Word Definition/examples
Touch base Verb – to communicate/talk/email/discuss

Ex: “Please touch base with Matt and find out how that
activity is set up.”

Connect Verb – to commuicate/talk/email/discuss

Ex: “Please connect with Matt and find out how that activity
is set up.”

Reach out Verb – to put forth effort (in order to communicate with someone)

Ex: “Please reach out and touch base with Matt and find
out how that activity is set up”

Disconnect Noun – Misunderstanding

Ex: You think a and I think b. It seems we’ve
had a disconnect.

Same page Noun – Where you are when you have a common understanding.


Person 1: “A, B, and then C, right?”

Person 2: “Right. A, B, then C.”

Person 1: “Ok, we’re on the same page, then.

Ex. 2

Person 1: “Let’s touch base and make sure we’re on the
same page.”

Person 2: “Ok”

Offline Noun – outside of/after the current meeting/situation

Ex. “What you are talking about is outside the scope of
this meeting. Let’s continue talking about that offline.

Take-away Noun – information gained from a meeting


Person 1: (during meeting) “This affects 1000 participants.”

Person 2: (at the end of meeting) “So the take-away is
that this affects 1000 participants?”

Person 1: Yes

Go grab Expression – “go get lunch.” It implies that you’re
going to bring it back and eat it at your desk while you work.


Person 1: “I’m gonna go grab!”

Person 2: “I’m hungry, too! Let’s go grab!”

Working lunch Noun – Eating at your desk. (aka. the expected norm)


Person 1: “Wanna go out for sushi?”

Person 2: “No, I’m taking a working lunch

Own Verb – to be responsible for a project


Person 1: “This process doesn’t work. I need to yell at
someone! Who owns this process?”

Person 2: “Joe Schmoe owns it.”

On your plate Expression – where work is that is currently assigned to you


Person 1: “What’s on your plate right now?”

Person 2: “Three issues I’m trying to debug.

Person 1: “Ok ok. I had something to assign and I just
wanted to see how much you had on your plate.

Capacity Noun – the ability to take on more work. It is important that
you never use this word with the article “a” or “the.”


Person 1: “Do you have capacity to look at some of these

Person 2: “No, I already have a lot on my plate.

Person 1: “Well I’m going to assign them to you, anyway.”

Ex 2:

Person 1: “Do you have capacity to look at some of these

Grammar Police: “Did you just leave out an article??”

Leverage Verb – to use. In the corporate world you can pretty much “leverage”
anything you want


Person 1: “We need to leverage our resources more effectively
to meet deadlines.

Person 2: “I’m going to leverage my lunch while you keep

Do you have a sec / minute for a quick question? Expression – “I need to talk to you for 30 minutes about


Person 1: “Do you have a second?”

Person 2: “(uh-oh…)”

Bulletproof Adjective – “well-constructed,” “not likely to


Person 1: “We need this program to be bullet proof. No
more system errors!”

State of the state Rhetorical Expression – “Condition/progress.” There
are no situations in which simply saying “state” wouldn’t
suffice equally as well, unless you are talking about an actual
state, like California.


Person 1: “Let’s kinda get the state of the state on this
activity and then move forward.”

Person 2: “We’re almost done.

Shoot Verb – “send” (an email, sametime, instant message,


Person 1: “I have to run to a meeting now.

Person 2: “Well shoot me an email when you get back. I
have something to ask you

Person 1: “Ok. Thanks!

Be sure to check out part II. It gets worse!