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!

How to Retire With at Least $1 Million

Most people will not follow the advice in this article because it precludes living a flashy lifestyle, and most people would rather look like they’re rich than actually increase their net worth.

Please note this article assumes you are making at least $40,000 per year. It’s possible to retire with at least $1 million if you are making less, but doing so requires you to live even more frugally in the process.

Let’s assume you want to retire at or before 65 (preferrably before, because working sucks!). Also assume you don’t even start working until you are 25. So you’ve got 40 years to accumulate at least $1 million. Ready?

Here it goes: Save and invest $5,000 per year into whatever mutual fund/stock fund/exchange traded fund you like. Assuming you get average market gains of 8% per year, you will have $1 million in less than 40 years. So for example, the first year you invest $5,000. At the end of that year you have roughly $5,400 ($5,000 + 8% interest). At the beginning of the next year, you add another $5,000, giving you $10,400, and at the end of that second year you have $11,232 ($10,400 + 8% interest), and so on. Here’s a breakdown:

Year Value at year end
1 $5,400.00
2 $11,232.00
3 $17,530.56
4 $24,333.00
5 $31,679.65
6 $39,614.02
7 $48,183.14
8 $57,437.79
9 $67,432.81
10 $78,227.44
11 $89,885.63
12 $102,476.48
13 $116,074.60
14 $130,760.57
15 $146,621.42
16 $163,751.13
17 $182,251.22
18 $202,231.32
19 $223,809.82
20 $247,114.61
21 $272,283.78
22 $299,466.48
23 $328,823.80
24 $360,529.70
25 $394,772.08
26 $431,753.84
27 $471,694.15
28 $514,829.68
29 $561,416.06
30 $611,729.34
31 $666,067.69
32 $724,753.10
33 $788,133.35
34 $856,584.02
35 $930,510.74
36 $1,010,351.60
37 $1,096,579.73
38 $1,189,706.11
39 $1,290,282.59
40 $1,398,905.20

*note that this table does not account for taxes which may vary depending on your investment vehicle, dividend distribution, etc.

By following this method you will actually reach $1 million at the end of year 36, four years ahead of schedule.

One million dollars can secure a relatively stable retirement by investing risk free in something that pays 5% interest, like CDs (which are occasionally at 5%), bonds, some low risk funds, etc. Five percent interest on one million will pay $50,000 per year without ever touching the principal. $50,000 per year isn’t much, but it’s more than our hypothetical person making $40,000 per year is used to living off of, and they no longer have to work.

Now, $1 million isn’t really that much money, and will be even less in 40 years due to inflation when you retire, but most people will not even achieve this goal. Why not? Because it will require most people to live much more frugally than they want to. If someone is making $40,000 per year, that’s roughly $30,000 after taxes. If they invest $5,000 of that, it means they only have $25,000 to spend the entire year. Most people won’t do that. It means they will have $5,000 less to spend each year, and most people would rather use that $5,000 per year ($416 per month) on something flashy like a more expensive car payment, or a lavish vacation, or expensive clothes.

I’ve just shown how someone making $40,000 per year can retire with $1 million in less than 40 years. But most people in the corporate world will end up making much more than $40,000 per year, and many people will be married at some point in their lives which can significantly increase household income.

I won’t bore you with another chart, but if you’re making $60,000 per year, and you invest $10,000 per year instead of $5,000, you will have $1 million at the end of year 28, and $2.7 million at the end of year 40. Invested at 5% risk free, that’s $140,000 per year for doing nothing. Is that enough for you?

Let’s look at one more example. A couple is married and have a combined yearly income of $100,000. They are smart and able to live frugally, and invest $30,000 per year. They begin when they are 30. They will be worth $1.7 million after 17 years (when they are 47), and if they stick it out until retirement age at 65, they will be worth $5.5 million, which if invested risk free at 5% per year, is $275,000 per year for the rest of their lives without having to work. Is that enough for you?

It’s an easy choice if you ask me, but some people would rather have their leased 7 series BMWs and their daily Starbucks.

If You Go to Work When You Are Sick, You Should Be Fired

There are few things worse than going to work while sick. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some people whose jobs are so important that they do need to go to work even when they are sick. But if your job title doesn’t begin with “President” and end with “of the United States of America,” or something of that caliber, you probably are not in that group of people.

People who come to work sick:

a) feel like crap, thus reduce the efficiency of their own work

b) spread germs, thus make other people sick, thus futher reduce the efficiency of the company

c) suck

I understand that some people are in a position where they are not allowed to call in sick, which is a ridiculous policy in itself. But if you’re not in the upper echelons of your company (or your country), stay the hell home when you’re sick. The common response to this is “but I’ll get behind in my work!” And my reponse is, if missing a day or two of work is going to screw you that badly, your company has much larger problems than sick day policies, and working for such a shitty company probably sucks worse than being unemployed, so quit. Better yet, call in sick, which is the correct thing to do anyway, and let them fire you. It’s easier to get unemployment that way.

People at my last corporate job were always sick. It wasn’t because the work was high stress; it was because they weren’t allowed to call in sick. As a result, the following was a common occurance. I would get a call at my desk from another coworker, and the following conversation would ensue:

Them: “Can you come help me?”

Me: “Sure”

(I arrive at their desk)

Them: *cough* *wheeze* *gag* “Sorry, I have a 103 fever” *cough, cough, sneeze* “and I vomited this morning” *cough*, “can you show me how to do such-and-such in this program?”

Me: “That requires touching your SARS mouse after I’ve breathed your SARS air. I really don’t feel like dying. Sorry.”

If I ran a company and someone came to work sick, I would fire them. The preservation of public health trumps your call center meeting its daily quota.

Most People in the Corporate World Suck With Money. Do You?

Most people are bad with money, but for some reason, most people in the corporate world are even worse with money. I have never met so many people with upper five-figure and lower six-figure salaries who are drowning in debt as I did in the corporate world.

Corporate employees can’t seem to stop spending money. Maybe they need a new BMW to be seen in for 20 seconds in the morning as they park in the parking garage. Maybe they need the all-white $180 designer dress shirt that look identical to other, cheaper brands. Or maybe they need to eat at $100 per person Brazilian steakhouses once a week in order to feel important. And don’t forget the $5 Starbucks coffee every morning!

And as they get raises, they continue to spend more money, and their net worth never increases. The small amount of savings they have is invested with an interest rate that is much less than what they are being charged on their credit cards, where they are carrying large balances. After a few promotions at work, they are now making $90-$100,000 per year, yet their net worth has not increased any since they were 22 years old. They don’t have any emergency savings in case they lose their jobs or have a medical emergency, but they have a leased BMW, a motorcycle, and a boat, all of which are liabilities that lose value over time. They are one paycheck away from bankruptcy but they appear to be doing well to everyone who sees them.

I guess as long as you look like you’re rich, it doesn’t matter that you lay awake in bed at night wondering whether or not you’ll be able to afford this month’s car payment.

Most people don’t want to be rich because it requires living conservatively.

The Only People Who Don’t Mind Staying Late to Work Unpaid Overtime Are Idiots Who Hate Their Families and Their Lives

Nothing pisses me off more than having to stay late and work unpaid overtime (especially when it’s the result of poor decisions by company leadership), but the one thing I’ve never figured out is why everyone in the world doesn’t share that same opinion.

When the frequent announcement was made that we “need to stay late” to finish some project (an announcement that usually came around 4:45pm when you were starting to think about getting ready to go home), you might think that there would be heard a collective groan mixed with varying levels of profanity, but you would be mistaken. Instead, one of the most amazing and disturbing social events I’ve ever witnessed transpired:

People would get excited.

Excited to stay late and work for an unknown period of time until the project was complete? (Not knowing when you are going to get to leave is the worst. It’s actually psychologically similar to some forms of interrogation and torture.)

Excited that they weren’t going to have to see their families tonight? (That sucks… unless you hate your family!)

Excited that they were going to get home late and not have time to do anything productive or fun before they go to bed and have to get up the next day and do it all again? (That’s… pathetic.)

Or excited because their lives were so empty and boring five minutes ago before they were given extra work tonight by a company that they think actually gives a shit about them and wouldn’t replace them in two seconds with cheaper programmers in India if it wasn’t already at its Indian quota?

Hawaiian Shirts Don’t Make Work Fun

Want an easy way to find out who all the idiots are at your company? Make the following announcement:

Next Monday is Hawaiian Shirt Day!!!

Anyone who gets excited is an idiot. Wearing a Hawaiian shirt doesn’t change anything about your job. It’s like if I told you I was going to punch you in the nose, and you got upset, but then I told you I was going to let you wear a Hawaiian shirt while I punched you in the nose. Would that change anything? Would it make getting punched in the nose fun?


It’s Too Bad a College Education Doesn’t Teach You How to Use the Bathroom

As much as nearly every aspect of corporate life annoys me, there is one thing that never ceases to completely dumbfound me: no one in the corporate world, not even those in the upper echelons of management, knows how to use a toilet without making a complete mess.

At first I thought this might be an isolated event; I thought perhaps it’s just this particular bathroom on this particular floor near my desk. I thought I must have just had bad luck in that the bathroom nearest my desk is the messy one.


I realized this was not the case the first time I ventured to the other end of the hall to use that bathroom. I walked in, and what did I see? Shit on the toilet, toilet paper on the floor, and perfectly clean water in the bowl! I don’t even know how it is possible to miss by that much. It’s like they got everything backward.

But it wasn’t just at that company (a large, international firm with stringent entrance requirements). Every company for which I have worked, and even every corporate office and campus I’ve visited, has had bathrooms that looked as if they were used by baby chimpanzees.

Even private bathrooms on the top floors that are reserved exclusively for company owners, presidents, and CEOs are exactly the same! You would think they would be cleaner, since in some cases there are only 2 or 3 people using that bathroom and by basic deduction it would be pretty easy to figure out who made the mess, but no.

The other component of basic bathroom etiquette is hand washing. Now, it’s pretty gross in general to not wash your hands when you’re done in the bathroom (despite the laundry list of reasons people give for not doing so), but this goes ten fold in a corporate environment. Not only do I not want you to touch me or any of my stuff if you haven’t washed your hands, but I really don’t want to get Hepatitis C from the guy who shit on top of the toilet, either.

But what frightens me the most is that I’ve heard the women’s bathrooms are even worse…

Working in Systems Development Sucks

A while ago someone asked me what it was like to work in Systems Development at a large firm. I shared with them my experience:

Long hours. Long. My first job out of college, and my introduction to the corporate world, was in systems development. We regularly worked 50-60 hour weeks and sometimes mandatory weekends, but systems development and programming are always salaried positions so you will never get overtime pay. Employers hire programmers as overtime-exempt because they know how much you will end up working and don’t want to pay you overtime.

Imagine it’s 4:45pm and you’re ready to go home and some unforeseen difficulty comes up and you’re told you’re not allowed to leave until the issue is resolved. The only problem is you have no idea wtf is going on because it’s some other guy’s code who doesn’t even work there anymore.

Well, go get some dinner and bring it back to your desk to eat because you’ll be there until at least 10pm trying to figure out what the hell the other guy was thinking because he didn’t put any comments in his code, nor did he leave any documentation, and plan on spending another 2 or 3 hours trying to fix and unit-test your fix despite the fact that it’s for some project with which you weren’t even involved and has no documentation, and then finally at midnight you’re fucking exhausted and you decide that this will take at least a week to fix and will require a team of people so you devise a workaround which must be tested and then you have to write SOP (standard operating procedure) documentation for your workaround and distribute it to everyone on the team before you leave.

So the actual fix get shifted to the next iteration which now must be done by a team of people in addition to everything else that was already planned for that iteration, and so now you have an additional 40 hours of work times 5 people on that sub-team (200 hours total of extra work) that wasn’t allotted for originally yet for which your team can bill the client. Keep in mind, however, that you won’t see any of that extra money despite the fact that you busted ass until 2am coming up with the analysis for the fix for the project that was the result of someone else’s shitty programming in the first place, and you know that this will manifest itself in an additional 40 hours spread over the timeframe of 2 weeks for you, so now during your next 2 weeks, instead of your “normal” 50 hour week, you will be working 70 hour weeks along with the other people who were unlucky enough to be put on the same project as you.

And you know what? Near the 70th hour of your second week, after not seeing your family or going to the gym or even being able to eat a home-cooked dinner because you’ve been eating at your desk and you can’t remember the last time you left the office before 11pm, just when you think you’re about to complete that project, one of the lead system analysts will come up to you and let you know of another “urgent” issue that “has to be fixed before tomorrow” and you will be staying until 1am again to fix it.

And this is on a regular basis.

Now you know why, after years of putting up with this, I quit that job with 2 days notice.