Frank Lingua, president of Dissembling Associates, is a leading purveyor of buzzwords, catchphrases and cliches for people too busy to speak in plain English. Business Finance Magazine contributing editor Dan Danbom interviewed Lingua in his New York office.
Danbom: Is being a cliche 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 cliches 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 cliches 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 cliche?
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 cliche 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 cliche 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 solutions.
D: How do you stay ahead of others in the buzzword industry?
L: Net-net, my value proposition is based on maximising 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 degenerate into speaking the sort of mindless drivel you spout?
L: If you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, you're a duck. They all drink the Kool-Aid.
D: Do you read Dilbert in the newspaper?
L: My knowledge base is deselective of fibre media.
D: Does that mean no?
D: Does THAT mean no?
L: Let's take your issues offline.
D: No, we are not going to take them offline.
L: You have a result-driven mind-set that isn't a strategic fit with my game plan.
D: I want to push your face in.
L: Your call is very important to me.
D: How can you live with yourself?
L: I eat my own dog food. My vision is to monetise scalable value chains.
D: When are you going to quit this?
L: I may eventually exit the business to pursue other career opportunities.
D: I hate you.
L: Take it and run with it.