Amongst ex-colleagues it was well-known I was a right one for my notebooks, and close team-members knew my notebooks had ‘back sections’. I had reason yesterday to have a snuffle about in one of these – the largely cathartic space dedicated to whimsy and cheek, and the workings-out of pops and gripes at projects, or structures, or myself. They were a fond cache, too, of sucky-sweet observations and (always unattributed) records of phrases and tongue-slips and comic complexities. Much less about ‘business bullshit’ than about the lovely daily lunacy of language and behaviour that lights up a very peculiar world. And material, admittedly, for what’s become the elephant that’s swimming in Lake Me…
Here’s a selection from a couple of back sections, in 2011.
1. “It needs to be a roadmap against which we can live within.”
2. “And I think that’s the elephant you’re trying to throw into the room.”
3. “These are the buckets we’re going to play in.”
4. “Swimming in Lake Me.”
5. Someone just said “Inculturate.”
6. Idea: Invisible, weightless beer in invisible bottles
7. Idea: Deuxieme – a Champagne formulated for runners up
8. Dictionary definitions used in presentations: ‘what do we mean by ‘Change’?’
9. The bald presenter has his own name projected onto his head.
10. Interview / HR sketch referencing the natural career changes of household items to soften a point about ‘moving on’… underpants can become dusters / wooden spoons get to stir paint.
11. Man with the world’s hairiest ears, who isn’t me.
12. Questions put to a speaker that are just a means of expressing one’s own superior knowledge:
“Does that answer your question?”
“Yes, but not satisfactorily.”
13. The profit stream generated by Apple is at its widest and deepest when flowing in the direction of agencies and consultancies who charge corporations to hear them talk about Apple.
14. What if your job is working in silos – the physical structures… Do you beat yourself up in performance reviews? If you work in the silo industry how do you talk about cross-departmental goals?
15. “I’m just really conscious of what’s going on with you right now.”
16. “And that’s just me being honest, sorry.”
17. “If anything, we’re sometimes guilty of getting to great conclusions so quickly that we don’t always believe ourselves.”
18. “What’s actually happened is that that happened.”
19. “But in terms of what happened to me this one time.”
20. “So that’s another feather in your bow.”
21. Presenter from a supplier agency is stating he’s ‘extraordinarily passionate about our brands’, and is using all the wrong logos to illustrate exactly how much.
22. “And I’m purely thinking about the advertising here.”
23. “But that’s just me and my personal view – speaking as a person.”
24. “I’ll have to put my heart on the table here and say that this feels way too puerile.”
25. “So let’s lock hands together and drive this juggernaut forward.”
26. Wondering why people in offices get to talk about ‘passion’ so much. Presumably not the tongue-rolling kind.
27. The angry presenter has put up a ‘zen’ quote to hammer his point home.
28. “We need the right ammunition to unlock the key steps for our journey.”
29. Presenters who introduce each and every next slide as being ‘the exciting one’: ‘now for the really exciting stuff’
30. “A leopard can’t change his spots. Look, he might try to, but he can’t.”
Words and picture © Steve Mitchell, Fisher Lane, 2013