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May 16, 2013Why I’ve started talking bollocks

Recently, a friend of mine told me about his new favourite pastime: endorsing people for skills they don’t have on LinkedIn. So I decided to take it one step further and add a skill everyone could endorse me for, a skill that most LinkedIn users have in abundance but never tell anyone about.

I decided to tell everyone I was good at talking bollocks.

bollocks

Here’s why:

1. Because to get ahead in business you need to talk a lot of bollocks.

Everyone hates management speak. You know. “Low hanging fruit”. “Think outside the box”. “Actionable”. “Deliverable”. And heaven forbid, “solution”. But you’ll really need some blue sky thinking if you want to start picking that low hanging fruit. In other words, you’re going to need to start talking bollocks.

Why? Because despite being near universally despised by normal people, managers love talking bollocks. And managers are the people you need to impress if you want to get ahead.

Dave Trott explains it neatly in a recent blog post about “marketing speak”

“I asked Mike what he meant [when he said]: ‘You could increase stock-turn by optimising your on-shelf margins.’ Mike said: ‘It’s simple. It just means if they make everything cheaper then people will buy more.’ I asked Mike why he didn’t just say that to the client. Mike said we wouldn’t have got the account if he had. Mike said it sounded too trivial. It sounded like we didn’t know anything about marketing…”

Why do managers love management speak so much? It’s because they think it makes them look clever and knowledgeable.

Why do they want to look clever and knowledgeable? Because they’re secretly afraid that they’re not.

Ever heard of the Peter Principle? It’s a doctrine that states in large organisations, everyone eventually gets promoted to the level of their  incompetence.

You excel at your job, so you get promoted. But you’re not so good at  the next job you do, so you stay put. Instead of improving, you overcompensate. And that’s when you start talking bollocks.

Of course, everyone who isn’t a manager can see the bareness of the emperor’s new clothes. But to managers, saying simple things like “lower your prices” just makes you sound like you’re talking bollocks.

So learn to talk their language if you want to get ahead.

Speaking of which…

2. Talking bollocks is a transferable skill.

Everywhere you go, whatever industry you are in, you will find the most successful people talk a load of bollocks.

I’d like to make it perfectly clear that this isn’t a gripe about the advertising / marketing / digital / integrated / agency world, or any agency I’ve ever worked for. Although both Dave Trott and The Drum have pointed out that the disease is particularly endemic within the marketing industry, bollocks is everywhere you go. In fact, if you ever go client side, you’ll find that bollocks is the lingua franca there too.

In the 19th century, Max Weber spoke of the iron law of oligarchy, “he who says organisation says oligarchy”. Well here’s me in the twenty first century: “He who says management talks bollocks”. And that’s irrespective of the industry you’re in. From ad agencies to call centres, managers are all talking bollocks.

Why? Because management is everywhere, and managers primarily spend their time talking to — and selling their ideas to — other managers.

This has created an entirely new language of B2B speak, where the language of ordinary folks just won’t do. It’s a simple formula.

  • The more complex an idea sounds…
  • the more thought appeared to go into it…
  • therefore the better it is…
  • therefore the more likely it is to get bought.

Simplicity doesn’t cut it when your aim isn’t to explain your ideas in their clearest and most lucid form…

But when your aim is to bamboozle everyone else in the room with management-speak, making it seem like your ideas are better, talk more bollocks.

Because the more complex an idea is, the better it is. Right?

advicemallard

3. Talking bollocks will get you promoted.

It’s easy to be confident when you’re talking bollocks. Why? Because the more bollocks you talk, the more unsure you will make everyone else around you.

It’s easy to argue the merits and demerits of an idea like “lower your prices” but when you tell them to optimise their on shelf bollocks, they’re not so sure.

Naturally, management will quickly notice the complexity of your ideas and, again, assuming that the more complex the idea sounds the better it is, they will invite you in for a chat and perhaps a promotion.

So you don’t need to leave your current job to start talking bollocks. Just pick the person who talks the most bollocks and strike up a conversation.

Thanks to the Peter principle, chances are the more bollocks a person talks, the higher up in your organisation they are. So start talking bollocks to your boss.

For extra bonus points, take your conversation to the next level by continuing it after work down the pub. After a few beers you’ll find yourself spouting a whole new level of bollocks. I know I do.

4. Because the more bollocks you talk, the more people will believe you.

Don’t listen to me, listen to the powerpoint presentation I’ve put together…

Just kidding. As a a creative I’ve a powerful aversion to PowerPoint, which is why I’ll probably never get ahead.

Instead, watch this YouTube clip about death by PowerPoint. And promise me you’ll never use the infernal thing again.

As The Ad Contrarian points out,

“No matter how complex a marketing or advertising problem seems to be; no matter how much convoluted research has been done; no matter how many conflicting opinions there are; no matter how many “decks” have been written and Powerpoint presentations have been made, the correct answer, when found, is always simple.”

5. Oh, and one last reason… Because most LinkedIn profiles are 99% bollocks anyway.

Want to endorse me for talking bollocks? Add me on LinkedIn and endorse away.

Let’s touch base.

bollocks

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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2013 at 12:10 pm and is filed under Blog, Me and my business, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 comments

  1. Gemma W. says:

    There must be a lot of overinflated egos out there then(!)

  2. Janet Bebb says:

    Hi Alastaire,

    Love it! This took me back to my corporate & private sectors days with the ‘low hanging fruit’ ‘business assists’ & ‘client interventions’ – total bollocks!

    Thanks for writing it!

    Janet Bebb
    Social Progress Ltd
    http://www.socialprogress.co.uk

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