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(1). A term that compares stealing talent from another company to illegally hunting African rhinoceroses for their ivory.


“I have no problem poaching talent from Google.  I mean, it’s not like they are watching us or anything. **ring** **ring** Hmm, another unknown number.  Ya know it’s strange, every time I say that, my phone rings.  Weird.”



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(1).  To inform your boss (usually by voicemail) of an error or other issue before he receives the inevitable angry call from your client.


“Hi, Tom.  This is Gil.  Hope you’re enjoying your vacation.  Umm…just wanted to post you on an issue with the Pupier account.  Turns out it’s pronounced ‘pupi-ay’.”


Pound the Table

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(1).  To argue with (or complain to) management about something you feel passionate about (i.e. your comp).


“Look, Jerry … Pete’s just not going to sign off on a ten percent commission for this one.  You can pound the table all you want, but it’s not going to happen.”



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(1).  n.  A potential client which is currently being courted by a salesperson.  Prospects are generally treated as the most important person in the world during the marketing phase of the relationship.  However, once the prospect becomes an actual client, they will receive the same half-interested, annual-meetings-level of service as any of the salesperson’s other clients.


“I’ve got this huge prospect I’m working on right now, Jeff.  I don’t want to count chickens, but I’m feeling Bentley right now!”


(2).  v.  A gold-mining inspired term meaning to seek out new clients, either through direct marketing (i.e. cold calling) or networking (i.e. volunteering for a charity in hopes of meeting new clients).  As with gold mining, prospecting often leads to several dead ends, fool’s gold deposits (i.e. clients who lie about their net worth) and occasionally, a gem.


“Sup, Lo-Dawg.  I’m gonna need a couple hits for tonight.  Going out prospecting at the clubs, yo!”


Pull Out All The Stops

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(1). To take extraordinary measures to secure a prospective client.  “Pulling out all the stops” often includes fee concessions, though broker commissions are rarely part of the concession.



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(1).  Word incorrectly used to describe making a decision when the subject matter situation changes, affecting the original plan.  Should instead referred to as ‘calling an audible.’


“If that doesn’t work out, we’ll have to punt.”  (Facepalm)


Props to Cosgrove for the submission.


Push Back

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(1).  n.  A repeated attempt to obtain a different answer or result, often used while feigning guilt, and even more often resulting in something being escalated to management.


(2).  v.  To annoyingly attempt to obtain a different answer or result, often (depending on how pushy you are) resulting in some sort of successful outcome.


“Sorry for the push back, Andy, but I really think we should be able to get this done for twenty bips.  I’ll take this all the way up the chain of command, if I have to.”


Push It Out

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(1).  To dump a ton of work on someone else’s lap.


“I would love to go out for drinks tonight, but I have a ton of work to get done.  Let me see if I can push it out on the new associate and I’ll call you back.”


Put On Fee

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(1). In finance, to invest newly-received client assets in products offered by the firm.  The term is usually uttered by anxious stockbrokers (many of whom have already put down money on a pool or new car) when discussing, internally, clients who are reluctant to approve their investment recommendations.


Put on the Back Burner

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(1).  To refuse to allocate resources to a project or expenditure, often used by management to avoid telling their employees that the company is never, ever going to spring for new computers.


“I think color monitors are a great idea, Ken.  Unfortunately, we’re going to have to put that on the back burner for now.  We really need to focus on new company cars for the partners.”


Putting Out Fires

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(1).  An expression used to imply that you have been dealing with crises all day, in an attempt to (1) passive-aggressively complain about your job, (2) make yourself seem more important than you actually are, or (3) avoid taking on more work.


“Man, the bigger clients I almost exclusively work on are so demanding!  I’ve been putting out fires all afternoon.  I wish I worked on smaller, less meaningful clients like you, Jaime.  My life would be so much easier!”


Rattle Sabres

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(1).  To make empty threats to your opponent in a litigation in an attempt to get them to back down (and, hopefully, just settle already!).


“Don’t listen to those guys, Mitch.  They’re just rattling sabres trying to make you nervous.  Everyone knows you didn’t kill that prostitute in that motel room.  We DO all know that…right, Mitch?”


Reach Across The Aisle

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(1).  A successful spitball attack by Congressmen against members of the opposing party.  The current score for this session on Congress is tied.


“I have consistently reached across the aisle on important issues to get things done on Capitol Hill.  Why, just yesterday, I reached across the aisle to ask Paul Ryan if he knew where I could find the men’s room.”


Reach Out

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(1). To contact someone, meant to imply a personal or intimate relationship that usually does not exist.


(2). Adds a cheesy and phony new age element to any form of communication, whether E-mail or talk.


“I reached out to Bob this morning to let him know he was termed.”


Props to John D. for the submission!


Rearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

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(1).  To futilely attempt to stop the inevitable collapse of a business, project or career.


“Mike, all of these personnel changes you’re making is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  No one buys our stuff anymore!  I mean, who the hell needs a beeper in 2012!”



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(1).  The act of indiscriminately moving some of your employees to another location to save a few shekels on rent.


“So, we just repotted all of our IRA call center guys to our new high value site in Topeka.  It’s going to save us a ton!”



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(1).  To pull people off unnecessary, endless projects to make them work on other unnecessary, endless projects.


“Okay, so I think in order to properly resource this effort, we are going to have to bring in some folks from the servicing team.  Unfortunately, they don’t have anyone to spare right now, so your project is going to happen … possibly ever.”



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(1).  Reduction In Force – to be laid off, in governnment or teaching parlance.


“The mayor of NYC is calling for thousands of teachers to be RIF-ed but the president of the UFT says it’s all B.S.”


Right the Ship

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(1).  A nautical term used by new managers or consultants when describing their plan for turning around a struggling business unit (or, in other words, layoffs).


“Team, Q3 results come out tomorrow and I don’t have to tell you all it’s not going to be pretty.  We need to right the ship or else all of us are going to be looking for new jobs.  Speaking of which…Jim, can I see you in my office after we wrap up here?”



Real Life Lingo


I am not sure why so many of these terms are derived from the sea.  Perhaps it’s because every manager believes they are the captain of some sort of seafaring vessel with a copy machine on deck.  Either way, a few years ago I worked at an upstart .com, and my boss loved to say we are going to right the ship every time things weren’t going too well.  Which pretty much was the entire year I worked there, so I heard that phrase a lot.


My advice to anyone would be two-fold, one, when you’re trying to make your band and musical dreams work, don’t just take the first job that says ok to hiring you, they may go out of business and never pay you.  And two, if your boss is constantly saying that you are going to right the ship in the next quarter, it’s probably time to start looking for a new job.


Fair seas matey!



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(1).  When the HR department says you can’t use the word “layoff” when referring to cutting staff positions, you say the organization is “rightsizing.”


“Listen Bill, I’m also trying to ‘rightsize’ my clothing, but it doesn’t have anything to do with my budget.”


Props to Kate V. for the submission.


Sausage Making

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(1).  The process of getting a law passed by Congress.  The law will ultimately include a multitude of irrelevant and contradictory provisions, ensuring lawyers and accountants will remain employed for years to come, which was likely the goal in the first place.


“What does this provision mean, anyway?  Can I veto it?  Why can’t I veto it?  I’m the President, for Christ’s sake!  Can’t we ever get something through Congress without all the sausage making?  Maybe I’ll just declare myself President for Life…can I do that?”


Scrape Them Off Your Shoes

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(1).  To completely forget/disregard the people who helped you advance in your career.


“Well, after John made partner, he basically scraped us off his shoes and never looked back.  So, no…I don’t think sending him your resume is worth it.”


Props to Tim P. for the submission.


Scrub The Funnel

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(1).  To bug, bother, and otherwise annoy customers who have already said their purchase decision is months away to see if you can squeeze a purchase order from them anyway.  Frequently used at month or quarter-end.


“Boy, Drew…you’ve been on the phone all day today.  Trying to scrub the funnel before comp day, eh?”


Props to Sean for the submission!



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(1).  (v) – The mysterious art of blending the right amount of keywords with the right amount of content so that Google will rank your website highly in the SERP’s.  It is truly the definition of tedium.


(2).  (n) – A very sad, misunderstood individual that Matt Cutts keeps picking on.


(3).  India’s chief export.


“Does anybody know what this SEO thing is?  All I got from that presentation was some crap about keywords, meta tags and Google.  And why did that guy keep saying, “Content is king”?”


Separate The Wheat From The Chaff

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(1).  To weed out the meat of a presentation (a.k.a. the quote) from all of the marketing fluff.


“This all looks great, Don.  But I’m having a little trouble separating the wheat from the chaff here.  Can you let me know where I can find the fee? … Oh, there it is – footnote 34 in Appendix K…got it.”


Sharpen Our Pencils

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(1).  To refine an analysis or proposal after a client tells you to try again.  The term is typically heard during an embarrassing tap dance after the materials your new analyst prepared for the meeting ended up being a total mess.  Next time, you might want to take a peek at the book before you walk into the the meeting, champ.


“I hear what you’re saying, Peter, and we’ll go back after we break up here, sharpen our pencils and get those new estimates to you ASAP … in the meantime, any updates on our last three invoices?  Just checking…”


Shift Gears

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(1).  A racing-inspired term for changing the subject during a meeting or conference call, usually used when the discussion has drifted into uncomfortable territory for one or more participants and they wish to bring it back to a more friendly or positive topic.


“Okay, why don’t we shift gears here and get back to the holiday promotion.  I don’t like where this ‘you guys don’t pay your bills’ conversation is going.”



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(1).  What people do at Best Buy now.


“I’m so sick of all these people showrooming our stuff and then going and buying it on Amazon!  Don’t they realize that our expertise in helping them select the right HDMI cables to buy is worth the 40% markup?!”



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(1).  To split your people into departments in order to operate more efficiently…and to get the weirdos on your staff as far away from clients as possible.


“I think we’re big enough now that we should consider silo-ing off some special functions.  Hey Sam, how would you like to run the new Copying and Printing Department?”


Smiling And Dialing

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(1). A term used by salesmen to make their job sound more pleasant when in fact they are just cold calling.  While usually used as a vote of confidence, it actually means they are nervous about hitting their numbers, and dying a little bit on the inside.


(2). The process of salesmen disturbing you at work during lunch, instead of at home during dinner.


“I’m just smiling and dialing until one hits…please dear god let one or two hit, I knew I shouldn’t have bought that boat, I live in Ohio, why did I buy a boat?!”


Socialize It

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(1). A term used as a backhanded, self-serving way to tell everyone in the company about your “great” idea.


(2). To ask around internally to get co-workers’ thoughts on a particular issue.


“Oh my god yes! Splash pages.  We need to get more splash pages up on the website…great idea I just came up with right?  Let’s socialize it and let’s see what everyone thinks.”


Speak To

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(1).  To talk about something, or give a reply.


“I’m going to speak to this bullet point.”


“I’d like to speak to your question.”


Props to J—- for the submission.



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(1).  To lead some project or effort in hopes it gets you some sliver of recognition.  It won’t.  It will help the career of the guy who assigned it to you, though.


“Team, we’re going to focus on updating our client contact information database this summer.  Fred here has graciously volunteered to spearhead the effort.  I’ll be happy to report progress to management, of course.  In the meantime, I’ll be sailing to the Virgin Islands, but should be available on BB if anyone needs me.”



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(1).  To spout nonsense in front of all of your co-workers on a topic you know nothing about.


“Now, I’m just spitballing here, but I think we should really consider a company mascot.  How about Cathy, the Catheter Manufacturing Stickbug.  Thoughts?”


Step Away For A Minute

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(1).  What your secretary tells people you don’t want to talk to on the phone.


“Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Williamson had to step away for a minute … can I take a message?  You’d like to hold?  Hmmm … perhaps I should just put you through to voicemail…”


Stop The Bleeding

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(1). To sell, stop operating or simply stop paying for an unprofitable company or business unit in order to conserve capital for other things.



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(1).  To retire or stop supporting due to age.  Usually referring to old programming or a product.


“It’s time to sunset that widget, there are much cooler ones on the market today.”


Props to Lisa M. for the submission.


Swivel Chair

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(1).  To immediately process and hand something off.


“The data will be swivel chaired into the ASYLUM management tool.  Boy, we really need to start coming up with better acronyms for our applications…”


Props to Kyle B. for the submission.



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(1). To put off a project or discussion topic for a later time, often to avoid work.


“Hey Tom, how about we just table this for the time being.  I know the deadline is today, but and I’m just not in the mood to discuss the company’s health benefit renewal. It’s just too damn nice outside.”


Take A Victory Lap

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(1). In finance, to sell investments that have appreciated quickly in an attempt to lock in profits.  The phrase is used by financial advisors when speaking with clients to provide them with a sense of accomplishment that will; 1 lead to their approval, and 2  allow the advisor to gloss over the poor performance of other investments in the portfolio.


Take It to the Next Level

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(1).  A common phrase used by sales managers to encourage their employees to work longer hours and more aggressively market their products.  The phrase is intended to imply that there is potentially more they could be doing to sell to new clients, when in reality, it is simply a ploy to make it appear management has a longer term plan for the company.


“Team, we really need to take it to the next level if we’re going to continue to claim to be the premier firm in the feral hog extermination industry.”


Take Ownership

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(1).  To very publicly assume responsibility for a certain project or assignment so that your bosses will notice (see go-getter) in the hope that it will lead to either a promotion, raise or both.


“Gil, we’re impressed at how you’ve really taken ownership of this project and made it your own.  Now, I’m not exactly thrilled that you’ve devoted so much of your work day to planning the office Christmas party, but…”


Tap Dance

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(1). To avoid answering a question you either don’t know the answer to or don’t want to answer by spouting a lot of irrelevant (yet intelligent-sounding) nonsense.


“So, the client asks Tom here why we went so over budget on his project and Tom starts doing his little tap dance about how we hit some unforeseen complications…they hired us to do it right…blah, blah, blah.  Classic.”


Team Up

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(1). A request or demand for a meeting (see pow wow) by an over-caffeinated middle manager to his much younger employees in a vain attempt to appear hip.