Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Cliché? Touché!
Frank Lingua, president and CEO of Dissembling Associates, is the nation's leading purveyor of buzzwords, catch phrases, and clichés for people too busy to speak in plain English. Business Finance contributing editor Dan Danbom interviewed Lingua in his New York City office.

Danbom: Is being a cliché expert a full-time job?

Lingua: Bottom line is I have a full plate 24/7.

D: Is it hard to keep up with the seemingly endless supply of clichés that spew from business?

L: Some days, I don't have the bandwidth. It's like drinking from a fire hydrant.

D: So it's difficult?

L: Harder than nailing Jell-O to the wall.

D: Where do most clichés come from?

L: Stakeholders push the envelope until it's outside the box.

D: How do you track them once they've been coined?

L: It's like herding cats.

D: Can you predict whether a phrase is going to become a cliché?

L: Yes. I skate to where the puck's going to be. Because if you aren't the lead dog, you're not providing a customer-centric proactive solution.

D: Give us a new buzzword that we'll be hearing ad nauseam.

L: "Enronitis" could be a next-generation player.

D: Do people understand your role as a cliché expert?

L: No, they can't get their arms around that. But they aren't incented to.

D: How do people know you're a cliché expert?

L: I walk the walk and talk the talk.

D: Did incomprehensibility come naturally to you?

L: I wasn't wired that way, but it became mission-critical as I strategically focused on my go-forward plan.

D: What did you do to develop this talent?

L: It's not rocket science. It's not brain surgery. When you drill down to the granular level, it's just basic blocking and tackling.

D: How do you know if you're successful in your work?

L: At the end of the day, it's all about robust, world-class language solutions. My vision is to monetize scalable supply chains.

D: How do you stay ahead of others in the buzzword industry?

L: Net-net, my value proposition is based on maximizing synergies and being first to market with a leveraged, value-added deliverable. That's the opportunity space on a level playing field.

D: Does everyone in business eventually devolve into the sort of mindless drivel you spout?

L: If you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, you're a duck. You have a result-driven mind-set that isn't a strategic fit with my game plan.

Thanks to Jonathan Priest of Creative Communication.

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