Strictly Business

By Michael Cohn

Don't let anyone tell you that you need an M.B.A. to make it in the business world. You just have to learn to speak the lingo. For example:

GET EVERYONE ON BOARD. It doesn't matter if your idea is good or bad, as long as "everyone's on board." But when everyone's not on board, it's a bad thing. Some folks are busy getting their feet wet. Some are in hot water. Still others are in over their heads. These guys are probably not on board. Most often, people miss the boat all together.

WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE? You hear this a lot when a meeting has run over by ten minutes. People are too sophisticated to say, "Get to the point, Mike," or "Put a lid on it, Mike." Instead, they say, "What's the bottom line?" and then Mike and everybody else hurry off to the cafeteria before they stop serving frozen yogurt.

I HATE TO SAY, "I TOLD YOU SO." Means the same thing as "I told you so."

I'M JUST PLAYING DEVIL'S ADVOCATE. You're not supposed to argue with people and call them funny names. That's considered unprofessional. But if you first say, "Look, I'm just playing devil's advocate," then you can use any funny names you want - except on people who are bigger than you are.

THE BEST-CASE SCENARIO. People talk about this all the time - especially when they're trying to sell you something.

THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO. People talk about this all the time - especially after you've bought it.

LET'S TAKE THAT OFF-LINE. This is an important phrase if you want to get ahead. It comes in particularly handy when you've just come up with this great idea, and then told everyone about this great idea, and then someone brings up a point that makes you look like an idiot.