• Business Acronyms 2.0: an "ultimate cheat sheet"

    In case you have already mastered the 45 business acronyms I posted earlier this month...I have another list for you. This one comes from Kat Moon, a student at Columbia University, who is also a writer at The Muse and a board member of the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs, which is a sponsor of a lucrative annual competition for young business majors:

    Anyway, Kat Moon's list of business acronyms may have particular relevance to young people studying business right now. The list is divided into categories:

    • General
    • Finance
    • Technical
    • Marketing and Sales
    • Job and Department Titles

    The list of 123 acronyms includes some of those that appeared in my previous blog, but several of the acronyms also overlap with common abbreviations from social media, such as "IMO." 

    Source: "Your Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Deciphering the 123 Most Common Business Acronyms," by Kat Moon, The Muse, via Logan Booker at Lifehacker Work, July 18, 2015.

    Follow up:

    • Research the linked list , then define the following General acronyms: MoM, KISS, LET, FWIW, WIIFM
    • Research and define the following Marketing and Sales acronyms (several are social media relevant): PPC, PV, RFP, ROS, RT, SWOT
    • Research and define the following Finance acronyms: DR, CR, ROA, ROI 
  • Workplace idioms

    Business communication is about making yourself understood in an unambiguous way. But sometimes business language can be used to withhold detailed information. Euphemisms and idioms can cover up a person's lack of knowledge or unwillingness to disclose real information or take a stand on something. But communicating with jargon can reveal a low-level of emotional intelligence, and can alienate your co-workers rather than creating a safety zone. 

    Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, wrote a piece in Huffington Post that lists several workplace idioms that do not communicate in a meaningful way. Because these phrases are over-used, the listener might "tune out." Dr. Bradberry lists 25 such phrases that might trigger a negative reaction. Making his point with humor, he strings together several idioms in one meaningless sentence:

    "Have some fun with it, because at the end of the day if you don't hit the ground running you can always go back to the drawing board and get the ball rolling..."

    Source: "Please STOP Saying These Ridiculous Phrases At Work," by Dr. Travis Bradberry, Huffington Post, July 26, 2015. 


    • Just as Dr. Bradberry did in his article, string together several of these phrases in one sentence that sounds profound, but that communicates little or no meaningful information. 
    • Which of the phrases in Dr. Bradberry's list are used commonly in your workplace?  What, if any, positive outcomes can be achieved by using these phrases?
    • Which phrases are new to you? Use the internet to research their intended meaning. 
  • Six Jokes...with embedded Management Lessons

     Lesson Six, as told in "My Name Is Nobody," starring Henry Fonda

    Advice from others can be hard to listen to, but check out the article linked below. Here bits of wisdom are packaged in joke and story formats. In straightforward language, the management lessons are:

    1. Sharing information on a contemporaneous basis can prevent future blame.
    2. Be well informed...and don't make assumptions, or you might miss something. 
    3. Defer to your boss.
    4. Don't rest on your laurels...until you are the CEO...AND the major stockholder.
    5. Faking it might help you climb a rung or two on the ladder of success, but it won't help you stay there.
    6. What looks bad might not be bad, and vice versa...so keep your mouth shut when in doubt

    Source: "Six Lessons in Management That Everyone Should Know," posted on Tickld.com, July 20, 2015.

    Follow up

    • How do you respond to advice? If these stories were told you you by your boss, how would you respond?
    • Which story resonates the most with your experience? 
  • Unlimited new clean energy

      from Vocativ on YouTube

    Reliance on carbon-based energy sources--gasoline and coal--cannot last forever. "Renewable energy resources" are the sustainable wave of the future. Renewable sources include solar and wind, which have several positives. However, the negatives include:

    • large start-up costs--prohibitively large, in many cases
    • unsightly hardware requirements
    • loss of energy when transported, and lack of existing infrastructure to provide that energy transportation
    • reliance on weather conditions that can drastically affect the projected benefits. 

    Northwest Energy Innovations, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Navy and the University of Hawaii, deployed and tested AZURA in June, 2015. AZURA is the first wave-based renewable energy device. It will be tested--connected to the electrical grid--over the next twelve months, for feasibility as a sustainable energy source. 

    Personally, I am a big fan of renewable energy sources.  If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have solar energy panels installed on my home's roof, and that I drive a Chevy Volt. I also am on the waiting list to purchase some of Elon Musk's recently announced storage batteries. Nevertheless, it was unnerving to see this video, and watch the movement of the huge underwater electrical cable.  I certainly hope that it is built to withstand the rigors of the ocean environment!  I look forward to hearing the reports on this new technology...and maybe making an investment. 

    Source: "Northwest Energy Innovations Launches Wave Energy Device in Hawaii," by ahofford@peventureslic.com for NWEI, June 9, 2015.

    Follow up: 

    • What is the LCOE? (Read the linked article.)  Explain the acronym and what it means. Why is it an important factor in evaluating this new technology?
    • What efforts have you made, or do you intend to make, regarding "reducing your carbon footprint" either at work or at home?
  • The First Week at a New Job

       From Monster.co.uk

    The first day on a new job can be pretty challenging. Making a good impression is easier than improving one's reputation later. It helps to have some guidelines, and the ones above and in the attached articles are a good start. My twenty-something daughter has worked in several situations for a temp agency, and she thinks these are all good ideas. 

    Every work situation is unique, but most new situations breed immediate "habits." Even sitting in a classroom on the first day of a semester can establish your "place" and set the tone for the weeks to come. "Fitting in" at the start can pave the way for "standing out" later. 

    Some of my favorite suggestions from these sources include:

    • Understanding the expectations of basic business etiquette
    • Writing down goals for 30- 60- and 90-day plans
    • Letting your contacts know where you are NOW

    Sources: "How to Start Your New Job Off On the Right Foot," by Hannah Morgan, US News and World Report, January 28, 2015.

    "9 Things To Do In The First Week of a New Job," by  the Business Insider, August 23, 2013. 

    Follow Up:

    • Make your own list of favorite tips of actions to take when starting a new situation. 
    • Make another list of what NOT to do...(some of these are incorporated into the resources provided)
  • Business Acronyms

    Many of us learn instant-messaging and texting acronyms "by osmosis"--we don't have to study them, we just learn them in context, and retain them by using them. Sometimes business students think that business vocabulary and business acronyms are going to magically appear in their brains just because they are in business school. While business majors are thinking smugly that THEY will be getting jobs while their pals in the Liberal Arts colleges will be reading novels on their parents' couches...something else might be going on. 

    Many liberal arts majors are gluttons for print. They'll read anything. Newspapers, business magazines, essays, op-ed pieces, in-depth blogs. They learn business concepts and business vocabulary "by osmosis"--the same way they pick up acronym like "LOL"--by reading them and absorbing them without thinking. 

    Unless you are spending an hour or two a day reading material written in complete sentences and paragraphs, picking up "general knowledge" business vocabulary--especially acronyms--has to be mindfully approached.  In other words, study is necessary. 

    Here are some of the business acronyms that those who get their news from serious news sources probably have in their basic vocabulary. Most of the acronyms are on the Wikiipedia "List of Business Acronyms" page, but the links are to other sources: 







    CGS or COGS









    GNP vs GDP


    H2H: general definition  vs  military  vs  health care










    NOI (business)

















    Sources: List of Business Acronyms, Wikipedia, and linked websites to terms above.

    Follow up

    • Study this list! 
    • Visit the Wikipedia page and learn some more!
    • Read--every day--the New York Times business section and/or the Wall Street Journal

  • Email netiquette: pleasing as many people as possible

       suggestions regarding email netiquette from Thomson Reuters

    Email is a daily part of business life. Since the purpose of email is to communicate, it is important to have skills that increase the likelihood that your email will be read, understood, and appreciated...or at least be acceptable and inoffensive.

    The Business Insider recently published a list of 14 email suggestions, including these:

    • Use a professional email address for yourself
    • Proofread to avoid misspelling, bad grammar, and unfortunate "autocorrect" situations
    • Add the "To" email addresses LAST so you don't send an email by accident
    • Use a classic font. (I admit that I am guilty of not following this rule, since I love the friendliness of Comic Sans Serif
    • Watch your use of humor (know your audience...and know that it could be anyone: NOTHING is confidential)

    Another thing to remember is that people pick up and send email from a variety of devices, so it is considerate to remember that an email might be read on a phone or a tablet as well as a computer--recipients may have trouble opening attachments.  

    Here is one more take on how to send effective emails. It is good to know what several observers think, since you will be writing emails to people with a variety of expectations. 

    Source: "14 rules for email that every businessperson should know,"  by Jacquelyn Smith and Rachel Sugar, the Business Insider, June 29, 2015. 

    Follow up:

    • Summarize the link on how to write particularly effective emails.
    • What are your email pet peeves? What would be your short list of 8-10 bits of email netiquette?
  • Oreo markets a thin, non-twistable cookie

        Check out what happens on this 2015 commercial at 19 seconds in...

    Eating an Oreo, for grown-ups, is often a nostalgic experience. It is not going to show up on a paleo, bulletproof, or any other diet plan. It is not going to be the kind of dessert that gets center stage on a food channel, or served to dinner guests for dessert. Oreos are not a "staple" purchase for most adults.

    When an adult eats an Oreo, it is either a guilty pleasure or just an exuberant and tasty walk down memory lane--for the fun of it--for the sheer joy of such a non-nutritional treat. Video ads on the internet [father-daughter tea party; teddy bear; UK 3-year-old] demonstrate two classic Oreo-eating behaviors: 

    • First, they twist them apart...and usually lick the cream filling.
    • Second, they dip a whole Oreo in milk. 

    Oreos are an iconic cookie, and research has been done on them--including research testing their addictive qualities. The rituals surrounding most addictions are quite powerful, so it is a curious marketing decision to "mess with" one of the two pervasive Oreo behaviors. Oreo is introducing a thin cookie with fewer calories. And it is designed to BREAK when you twist it. Go figure. 

    Nevertheless, messing with Oreo behaviors has been done before.  The "Moreo" concept:

    linked below in follow-up questions

    What will happen to Oreo sales?
    My guess is an initial spike (due to curiosity)...then a backlash. 
    We'll see...

    Sources: "Oreo is launching a paper-thin cookie with fewer calories," by Mallory Schlossberg, the Business Insider, July 6, 2015.

    "Oreos may be as addictive as cocaine, morphine," by Michelle Castillo, CBS News, October 13, 2013. 

    "Oreos: the greatest cookie in the world," by Miss Cellania, Neatorama, October 5, 2013. 


    • Research the marketing decision made by Netflix in 2011.  Describe how they backtracked, and how they recovered. Compare the stock price just after their decision and now as part of your description.
    • Compare and contrast this Oreo marketing decision with the "Moreo" concept. 
    • If you eat processed foods, and have experience with Classic Oreos, try the new skinny version and comment on your experience. 

  • Greece's debt crisis resolved...for now

    If you have been following international news lately, you've seen a lot about the drama of the referendum vote in Greece, that came up with a resounding "NO" result. 

    But what does that mean?   Here is some background, courtesy of Vox.com's Ezra Klein:

    The "No" vote forced both sides back to the negotiating table, and less than a week later, there is a negotiated deal in place. The bailout provides some relief, and keeps Greece as part of the Eurozone. From the BBC, here is a report on the major aspects of the deal:

    : "How the Euro caused the Greek Crisis," by Ezra Klein, Vox.com video via Facebook, posted July 2, 2015.

    "Greece debt crisis: Eurozone summit strikes a deal," by Gavin Hewitt and others , BBC World News, July 12, 2015.

    Follow up

    • Why does Ezra Klein blame the Euro? What does this really mean?
    • What does Greece's "no" vote mean with respect to the "austerity" principles, applied by some countries (not the U.S.) to economic recovery after the 2008 financial crisis? 
    • What are the elements of the new deal? How are the Greek people (including the Prime Minister) reacting to it?

  • Tech terrorism?...Or a predictable but epic FAIL for big computer systems?

    Just a coincidence, it turns out...

           Image above is a still photograph from the website. View the video report at CNN Money

    Big complicated computer systems were shut down by major systems failures within a 24 hour period this week. The biggest problem areas:

    Other internet sources (notably Mother Jones and Wired) posted headlines attributing the crisis to a conspiracy originating overseas, but no direct evidence was cited in the details. 

    Source: "Tech fail! Explaining today's 3 big computer errors," by Rene Marsh and others, CNNMoney, July 8, 2015.

    Follow up:

    • What protections do you take against your own "computer apocalypse"? How often do you back up, for instance?
    • What are your back-up procedures? Do you store your back-ups in a different place than you store your computer? A safe deposit box?
    • What data is most important for you to safeguard?
  • More Baffling Business Buzzwords

                 from a blog about the use of buzzwords when doing global business

    A recent post addressed business vocabulary...but it looks as though the puzzlement about business jargon is being experienced by others, too. A returning professional experienced this after a work hiatus, and wrote about it in this week's New York Times. Here are some of the words she encountered, along with their definitions:

    • bilateral (as in: "You need to schedule a bilateral"): one-on-one meeting with the boss
    • reorganized: laid off
    • bandwidth (as in "Do you have bandwidth?"): Time to help a colleague
    • decks: PowerPoint presentations
    • channels: methods of communication
    • air cover: support for a colleague or underling in a risky or new endeavor
    • deep dive: exploring a subject in-depth
    • knowledge management: the logistics of information retrieval via IT and other resources
    • right shoring: out-sourcing--not necessarily to a foreign company, but rather to the BEST company (vs. off-shoring)
    • discuss off-line: talk about later

    How many of these terms have you heard or used?

    Source: "Baffled by Office Buzzwords," by Marilyn Katzman, the New York Times, July 5, 2015.

    Follow up

    • How does one play the "buzzword bingo" game alluded to in the article?
    • Take this: Language Quiz: Are you On Fleek?
    • Why is "air cover" (linked above) an important management skill?

  • Business Vocabulary 2015

                      image from insigniamquarterly.com

    Business has a language of its own--a language used to convey information as well as market products. Business language goes way beyond the cliche of Accounting being the "language of business." As new products are developed, and new media are available, new terms arise to describe what is happening. 

    Here are a few from the last several years, as well as some older terms that have new importance. Words and term definitions are linked:

    Businesspeople need to expand their vocabularies continuously throughout their careers. Taking opportunities to look up terms as they arise (rather than "faking it") helps. Also, surfing the net for vocabulary help can be productive. 

    A Useful Resource:

    Business Vocabulary In Use Intermediate--This book seems directed at those for whom English is a second language, but it may be useful to anyone wanting to learn the "language of business" that extends beyond financial reporting and accounting. 

    Modern Business "Slang"

    Sometimes a specialized area of business--even office culture--develops its own "jargon." Somewhat tongue-in-cheek "dictionaries" can be found online to introduce new businesspeople to these particular usages. But being on top of "what's new" in vocabulary can also be a confidence-builder.

    The following are a list of slang terms used in various business contexts in 2015. They may not be in wide usage...yet...but they have arisen because of emerging business trends. Some, however, may be too frivolous to catch on. The words are defined and sourced in the article linked below:

    • Remarketing
    • Chief Culture Officer
    • Momtrepreneur
    • Conversation Marketing
    • Goal Digger
    • H2H
    • It factor
    • Smarketing
    • Freemium
    • Newsjacking
    • Intuitive (as a noun)
    • mCommerce
    • Growth Hacking
    • Dashboard
    • Mydeation

    The most important thing might be to remember that when you hear a term that you don't know--it is almost always smart to ASK for clarification. Unintended consequences may arise from guessing or making an incorrect assumption about what was meant.  

    Source: "15 Business Buzzwords You'll Need to Know in 2015," by Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily, January 26, 2015.

    Follow up:

    • Define the words and phrases bulleted above by checking out the links or (for the "Modern Business Slang" list) by reading the explanations in the linked article.
    • What business terms NOT mentioned in this post do you have trouble understanding?  List and investigate them. 
    • Stay tuned to Cengage for a future, related, post--What acronyms are part of a culturally literate businessperson's vocabulary?

  • One woman on Board...

    In a follow-up to Elizabeth Dolan's shout-out in Fortune (exposing her exclusion from a critical Board of Directors vote at Quiksilver), Emily Peck of Huffington Post laid out some facts regarding the presence of women on corporate Boards of Directors. The chart above summarizes the findings, but here are some of the highlights with respect to Nasdaq 100 firms, which represent newer, growing companies, primarily in "hot" tech fields:

    • Eight of the Nasdaq 100 have ZERO women directors.
    • 37 of the Nasdaq 100 firms firms have only one woman director.
    • None of the Nasdaq 100 firms have 50% or more women directors. 

    A legitimate question might be: How many women in a decision-making body like a Board would make a difference? HuffPost quotes one influential observer:

    "As Harvard Business Review puts it, once there are at least three women in a group, they 'tend to be regarded by other board members not as 'female directors' but simply as directors, and they don’t report being isolated or ignored'."

    Meanwhile, Liz Dolan is open to serving as a board member at another company.  Is she a good candidate? Here's a thumbnail of her Linked In Profile:


    Sources: "One Woman In The Boardroom Isn't Enough. Here's Why," by Emily Peck, Huffington Post, July 2, 2015. 

    Cengage KnowNow Blog post, June 7, 2015.

    Follow up

    • Have you ever experienced being "the only one" in a group (the only young person, female person, gay person, Muslim person, person-of-a-different-ethnicity, differently-abled person)? Describe your experience. Did you feel any more or less likely to speak up? Did you feel as though you were "in the loop"? Did people say things that were offensive or awkward, walking on eggshells around your "difference"? 
    • Is diversity important on corporate boards of Fortune 500 businesses?  Why or why not?
    • What are the management issues that arise when "tokenism" is in play?
    • Do you understand the concept of "privilege"? Stay tuned for a future post on the topic...
  • Profiting from the mistakes of others

                  This clip illustrates an ethical dilemma experiment. What will the child do?

    This video illustrates an experiment publicized by the Japanese Red Cross. In it:

    • Children are positioned next to adult strangers.
    • Each nearby stranger drops their wallet. 
    • Researchers film the child's reaction.

    Will the children take the wallets? Give them back? Ignore the situation?  
    See the follow up questions below.

    To answer the questions, refer back to the "Judging" blogs over the past weeks, involving the Kohlberg stages for analyzing moral dilemmas.

    Also, think about an analagous situation. Let the adults represent big corporations, and let the children represent other corporations.
    Would the results be the same?

    Source: YouTube video linked above

    Follow up:  Answer all questions, which relate to the ethical dilemma faced by the child when he or she sees the wallet drop.

    1. List at least three courses of action that the child might take (alluded to above). What Kohlberg stage applies to each course of action identified?
    2. What conclusions might you draw from this experiment?
    3. Would the same results hold if this were a group of college students or adult strangers at a bus stop? Explain your reasoning.
    4. How might this play out if these were corporations rather than people? Explain your answer.