Frank Lingua is president and CEO of Lingua Corporation, the America's leading purveyor of buzzwords, catch phrases, jargon, and clichés for busy business people.
Business Finance contributing editor Dan Dowman interviewed Lingua by telephone in his New York City office.
Dowman: Is being a jargon expert a full-time job?
Lingua: Bottom line is I have a full plate 24/7.
Dowman: Is it hard to keep up with the seemingly endless supply of clichés required by the business sector?
Lingua: It's a jungle out there. Some days, I just don't have the bandwidth. It's like drinking from a fire hydrant.
Dowman: So it's difficult?
Lingua: Talking net, it's harder than nailing Jell-O to the wall.
Dowman: Where do most clichés come from?
Lingua: Stakeholders push the envelope until it's outside the box.
Dowman: How do you track them once they've been coined?
Lingua: It's like herding cats.
Dowman: Can you predict whether a phrase is going to become a cliché?
Lingua: It's my job. I skate to where the puck's going to be. If you're not the lead dog, you're not providing a customer-centric proactive solution.
Dowman: What are the new buzzwords CEO's need to be using?
Lingua: "Transparency" and "Enronitis" could be next-generation players.
Dowman: Do people understand your role as a cliché expert?
Lingua: No, they can't get their arms around it. They aren't incented to.
Dowman: How do you convince people you're a cliché expert?
Lingua: I walk the walk and talk the talk.
Dowman: Does incomprehensibility come naturally to you?
Lingua: I wasn't wired that way, but it became mission-critical as I strategically focused on my go-forward plan.
Dowman: So what did you do to develop this talent?
Lingua: When you drill down to the granular level, it's just basic blocking and tackling. It's not rocket science. It's not brain surgery. It's just about leveling the playing field.
Dowman: How do you know if you're successful in your work?
Lingua: At the end of the day, it's all about robust, world-class language solutions and a lot of soul searching.
Dowman: How do you stay ahead of others in the buzzword industry?
Lingua: Net-net, my value proposition is based on maximizing synergies and being first to market with a leveraged, value-added deliverable. That's the opportunity space I've got to work with.
Dowman: Does everyone in business eventually descend into the sort of mindless drivel you spout?
Lingua: If you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, you're a duck, and, let's face it, in the end they all drink the Kool-Aid.
Dowman: Tell me, do you read "Dilbert" in the newspaper?
Lingua: My knowledge base is deselective of legacy fiber-based media.
Dowman: Does that mean "no"?
Lingua: The go-to-market model on that today is definitely a benchplay.
Dowman: DOES THAT MEAN "NO"?
Lingua: Let's take your issues offline.
Dowman: NO, WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE MY "ISSUES" OFFLINE.
Lingua: You have a back-loaded, result-driven mind-set that is not a strategic fit with my game plan.
Dowman: How can you live with yourself?
Lingua: I just eat my own dog food. My vision is to monetarise scalable supply chains.
Dowman: Don't you ever quit?
Lingua: At the end of the day we all have to dialogue the options if a green light exit strategy is available.
Dowman: I hate you.
Lingua: Hey, take it and run with it. Your call is very important to me.