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The Phrases That Don’t Pay

I just got off the phone with a Chief Marketing Officer for a mobile software company debuting a new product next week at the CTIA show. I’m under NDA, so more on that Monday, perhaps. But perhaps more notable than anything that was said in the meeting was how things were said. In explaining why the time was right for this particular product, the CMO said, “It’s a perfect storm.” I stopped him right there.

I just got off the phone with a Chief Marketing Officer for a mobile software company debuting a new product next week at the CTIA show. I’m under NDA, so more on that Monday, perhaps. But perhaps more notable than anything that was said in the meeting was how things were said. In explaining why the time was right for this particular product, the CMO said, “It’s a perfect storm.”

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I stopped him right there.

Given that I had gotten an email alert that New Orleans was being flooded again as Hurricane Rita rains down its fury, his timing seemed a bit off.

Later in the conversation, he referred to himself and his company as “an arms dealer–we sell to everyone.” He did acknowledge that this was perhaps more inappropriate than his first comment, and he was right.

So can we stop this madness? Business is business, not war, not meteorology, not terrorism or mayhem. (I myself am guilty of using the phrase “throwing someone under the bus” earlier today, only to return to my desk and read a Web sports columnist suggest that this is played out, the “jump the shark of 2005. At least no one got hurt when Fonzie jumped the shark.)

What phrases do you use (and overuse) that, while colorful, aren’t perhaps always the best way to describe something? Let’s make a list and call people on it when they’re timing is off.

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(And note to those who think I am some P.C. weenie: I’m not. There’s a difference between being someone who wants to have some class and someone who feels that it’s “katy bar the door” on speech no matter what the circumstance. Let’s face it: Any phrase I just mentioned is hackneyed by now and people should curtail their use the same way we should stop constantly invoking “tipping point” or “level playing fields” just so we don’t sound dumb and out of date.)

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