I am a big fan of cussing. It is the unwritten 21st tip in my 20 Tips to Making Your PPT Presos Suck Less. I learned at my first concert (Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet Tour, Irvine Medows, April 22, 1989) that the crowd loves a little cussing. “How are you, Irivine?” got a much better response as, “How the fuck are you, Irvine?” And, “You guys rock!” was much better received as “You guys fucking rock!”
I have often wondered how “transitive” the power of cussing is. So, for example, would the passengers of a flight go nuts if the pilot got on the Com and said, “Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain, Frank Lazio. We know you have a choice when you fly, so fucking thanks for choosing United.” Probably not. Though I guess it is a bit circumstantial, as they might appreciate or at least understand, “Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain. You will not fucking believe this…our left engine just dropped off.” I might not cheer, but I would at least understand.
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So while I love to drop the occasional “bullshit” in a live preso, I really sanitize my written communique. Why? Because the transitive powers of cussing don’t seem to work with written word. It just doesn’t translate. Not too far off written cussing, is the old dude trying to talk like the young kids. Ouch. In general, when you pass the age of 30 and certainly when you hit 40, leave the “killers” and “rads” for the kids.
So, as I read Carol Bartz’s more recent memo I can’t help thinking they would be much better if she just toned them down a bit. She may be a very spry 60, I’ve never met her, but it just comes across as a bit too effected to read her “kick ass”es and her “killers”. You certainly get the sense that she is trying really hard…that’s nice, I guess.
Here are some samples from her recent memo:
“I’ve been gathering information on what it’s going to take to get Yahoo! to a great place as an organization — and one that brings you killer products.”
“Poeple here have impressed the hell out of me.”
“I’m singularly focused on providing you with awesome products. Period.”
“Look for this company’s brand to kick ass again.”
In person, all these may actually come across really well (maybe not). But in the memo format, for sure, they are fucking painful (whoops, it just slipped out). Furthermore, they are a bit misplaced. Take the whole, “Look for the company’s brand to kick ass again.” To be certain, the company’s brand was once very strong. It certainly never kicked ass, though. In fact, I don’t think there was ever any aggressiveness in the Yahoo! brand. Sure the font and “!” (bang, as they call it in Yahoo!) make it seem a bit irrepressible, but not ass kicking. Certainly not cross over to the other side of the street type of ass kicking. More, oh that Murray just never quits, rascalliness.
The Yahoo! brand at its height was the opposite. It was friendly, approachable with that little bit of loveable scamp quality (like Gilligan). Certainly not Jesse “the body” Ventura. More Jesse “the Govenor” Ventura.
Anyway, I am pulling for Yahoo! I still have a bit of purple in the blood. But I can’t help wanting to write an email to the CEO and tell her dial it all back a bit…it will actually make her seem more ernest and enthusiastic. Trust me.