Social networks are a great way to spread things around,
whether those things are political uprisings, movie recommendations, special
sales offers, or pictures of adorable kittens in teacups. Social networks also
act as accelerants by fanning the flames of fast-moving fads, fashions, and
funny sayings. As social networking permeates our business environment, it's
important to maintain the separation between pop culture and business
professionalism. In other words, keep "where's the beef" out of the boardroom!
I can remember only one time in my professional career when
using a faddish phrase was well-timed. I was in a meeting brainstorming about
possible slogans for a new product. It was the day after the young and
previously unknown Tiger Woods won his first U.S. Open golf championship. In a
just-long-enough pause I suggested (with a grin) we should consider adopting "I
am Tiger Woods" as our catch-phrase. Everyone laughed heartily, which gave us
the energy to come up with a slogan that worked.
If our meeting had been a single day later, my
tongue-in-cheek use of a cultural phenomenon would have fallen flat. My quip
would have earned me a few polite chuckles, several blank stares, and at least
one exasperated eye-roll.
Before you attempt to be cool by using a phrase like "stop
dissin' me" or referring to your team as your "posse," you need to internalize
this one, lasting truth. Pop culture, while amusing, moves far too quickly to
be leveraged by those of us with real jobs.
If you must, "get your street on" after work. Meetings,
emails and PowerPoint slides aren't places for easily misconstrued (and probably
out-of-date) slang words, lyrics, or urban-inspired power stances. Face it: you
have a job and therefore do not have time for live-chats with Lil' Kim or Lady
It's best if you become one with your real world un-hipness.
Create your own "cube farm cred" by slinging your own slang. "He went offsite"
could be the new way you jokingly describe your manager's mysterious absences
during which he says he's away at strategic meetings. Or you could say "I smell
boon" to express your belief that an upcoming marketing conference might be a
thinly disguised boondoggle.
You'll only be a fly in your work world, but that's okay.
It's better than being a dweeb in the real one.
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