The other day we had a meeting with an economist from a leading investment bank. The meeting room was full with senior management people. He explained why global economy is going through a paradigm shift though with a goldilocks situation. He argued that US pension problem is acute due to baby boomers and can be punctuated by the “new normal” economy that will lead us to a low-return world. His back of envelop calculation shows that it will be difficult to generate inflation in US and therefore he is cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. He said that Obama and Janet Yellen should come up with some out of box thinking to wriggle out of the situation. He said that the good news is that there are solutions to problems while the bad news is that the leadership is not aware of it!
Jargons matter, whether you understand them or not! You got to be using some terms if you have to signal that you have finally arrived within the top management circles in your organization. The usage of these words/terms can be either in your presentation, oral arguments, or in your written notes. But they have to be there for people to take you seriously.
Let us run through them quickly!
- Paradigm Shift: Honestly, I know what a shift is. But why this use of paradigm all the time. In simple terms, it means things have changed for good. Hence don’t keep harping the old logic. In complicated terms paradigm means “A distinct set of concepts or thought pattern, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field”. Now, you know what I mean.
- Goldilocks: I initially thought that it refers to something related to gold. But the lock thing confused me a bit. The Goldilocks principle states that something must fall within certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes. From an economic perspective, it is defined as moderate growth with low inflation (not too hot or too cold). I still don’t get it.
- Baby boomers: Whenever I see this term, I used to think that they refer to “baby” related issues. On the contrary, it refers to all the old people born during the post-world war 2, precisely between years 1946 and 1964. (No, I am not a baby boomer).
- Devil’s advocate: You should use this term, if you want to oppose someone but do not want to offend him. You deliberately take an opposing view in order to give a critical balance to a debate or to explore the thought further. Unfortunately, compliance officers and risk managers always advocate for the devil.
- Outside the box: It means don’t give the same old crap. Think differently, say differently though you may act the same. People love crazy stuff and outside the box thinking is exactly what it is. If you have to say something completely different, but afraid of a backlash, simply take refuge behind this term and you will be alright.
- Multitasking: It means, you cannot get away by just doing one thing at a time. The boss will ask you several things and expects you to do all of them all at the same time. Sometimes, it may help to have more than 2 hands since you may have to type five letters at the same time. While recruiting someone, this can be a clincher.
- New Normal: This refers to anything that is not old normal but beyond that, we do not know what it means. It can mean that old things will never come back. Or it can mean that new things will stay forever from this point forward. Bad situation to someone who trusts and relies on past to make a living. (Did I mean equity research?)
- Back of envelop: It normally refers to estimates that are not backed by any logic or reasoning. Even though you have access to a large note book or ipad, you should still grab an envelope to write your stuff on its back, so that nobody holds anything against you. Sometimes, back of envelop calculation can also be right.
- Cautiously Optimistic: If you are a research analyst and you do not know this term, you better change your profession. This is a classic term to say and not mean anything. How about being “carelessly pessimistic”
- Good news/Bad news: Choosing to tell good news over bad news or vice versa is an excellent management jargon that make you appear very organized in your thought. Sometimes you can say a bad news as a good news and confuse the listener since his orientation is more on classifying what is good or bad rather than digesting the news itself. Helps a lot in ugly situations.