Valerie’s A-Z of Bullshit

From Awesome to Zeitgeist, you’ll be blown away by this no-brainer A to Z of buzzwords, hype and cool stuff (originally written and posted in April 2016 for the April A-Z Blogging Challenge).

A is for Awesome

Please do not send me any more promotional emails that say:

“Hi there [user name]

I just want you to know you are AWESOME, and to thank you for your AWESOMENESS I’m giving you a gift that will AWESOMIFY your life and skyrocket it to the next level.”

Especially emails with the subject line AWESOMENESS ALERT.

Thank you.

B is for Bullshit Bingo

Aka buzzword bingo. The fun game that makes business meetings borderline tolerable. I thought it was a joke, but people really do play it – and not just in corporate environments. (A retired schoolteacher friend tells me they played an education-optimised version at staff meetings).

You can download bingo cards here.

C is for Click

Clicks and Bricks, Clicks and Mortar, Clickbait, Clicktivism. For truly impactive discourse, though, you need more of a mouthful. How about clickability metrics or enhanced click-to-cloud vectors? I just made those up, but that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

D is for Driven

Stick this handy all-purpose word onto any other buzzword and you’re rolling. Whether you’re target-driven, option-driven, assessment-driven, performance-driven, data-driven or customer-cloud-interface-driven, how very dynamic, proactive and fast-moving you are.

E is for Epic

An excellent option for those who have heeded the plea to refrain from across-the-board Awesomeification. No seriously epic bullshitter should be without this word.

F is for Functionalities

The wild card applications of this word are endless. Incentivize future-proof functionalities.  Repurpose robust functionalities. Synergize mission-critical functionalities. Functionalize synergistic initiatives. Now it’s your turn.

G for Going Forward

Can someone please tell me why we now have to say this instead of ‘from now on’? I once asked this on a Facebook thread and got a sanctimonious little lecture about how there was a distinction and what it was. Maybe they were being sarcastic: I would love to be enlightened. Please leave your explanations in the comments.

H is for Hack

Frankly unable to bear this word which now seems to mean – what? Tips? Tools? Methods? Processes? Solutions? As in Five Life Hacks or 50.000 Web Hacks. It has such horrible connotations – its very sound is violent. Brain hack, anyone? It’s, like, you know, smashing someone’s head open with a hatchet in order to get at the content (if any).

I is for Innovation

I have seen ‘innovation’ and ‘innovative’ obsessively bandied around enough times (solutions, platforms, applications, strategies…) to suspect it is pure bullshit, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. I mean Innovation is a Good Thing, isn’t it? But I was right (it’s not just me being #grumpyoldwoman). In The Myth of Innovation, designer Jim Unwin writes:  “I would like to call bullshit on everyone who uses “innovation” as a design goal.”  Well worth reading.

J is for Jargon

“Can I pick your brains?” says my friend who, poor thing, works in ‘communication’ and spends his days (plus nights and weekends) writing, editing and translating applications for funding for, well, bullshit.

“Pick away,” I reply affably.

My friend reads from his screen. “Going forward, innovation and disruption are the key features of our design-driven tech-optimised customer-focussed solution…”

What is this ‘solution’ and what is it supposed to do? What problem does it solve? How does it work? And, most importantly, what’s in it for the customer?

No one has the faintest idea – not even after trawling through dozens of densely packed pages.

Every profession has its jargon, its technical vocabulary, which is fine and necessary in its place, but this sort of convoluted corporate crap is all too often used as a substitute for the clear thinking that must precede clear communication.

Interestingly, the word ‘jargon’ dates from the mid-14c. meaning ‘unintelligible talk, gibberish; chattering, jabbering,’ and is from Old French ‘jargon’ meaning ‘a chattering’ (of birds). The French in turn is believed to derive from Latin ‘garrire’ meaning ‘to chatter’ (cf ‘garrulous’)

And guess what we can call a person who uses an excessive amount of jargon when speaking or writing: a jargonaut.

K is for Killer

How violent our language is. How aggressive we have to be to engage (rolls eyes) our clients. We have to write killer subject lines and sales pages, come up with killer offers that will kick our clients’ asses, hook them and blow them away. It’s all becoming so meaningless, we need ever stronger language.

‘Can anyone give some tips for writing bomb email/blog content?’ asked a plaintive voice on Facebook the other day.

No pain no gain, right? Even if it means nuking your prospects.

L is for Leverage

Seriously, can anyone hear this word now without rolling on the floor laughing? This time, instead of just sniggering from my moral high ground, I decided to find out what it really means and how to use it.

So I knew what a lever is and how it works. I also knew the famous quote from Archimedes, the ancient Greek mathematician: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

And that’s what leverage in its pristine state is. As business guru Stever Robbins explains, it’s about putting in the same force and getting a much bigger result.

“You leverage x to do y: You need a second verb for the construction to make sense,” he says. In addition, “When you leverage X to do Y, Y must be something you could do without X. And having X must make Y a whole lot easier. If having X doesn’t make Y easier, it’s not leverage.” For example,”You leverage small amounts of money to control a lot of money by borrowing with a small downpayment.”

So now you know.

But who cares about such subtleties when instead of boring old ‘use’ or ‘increase’ you can leverage your linguistic clout and enjoy feeling mightily puffed up with your own importance.

M is for Migrate

As in ‘migrate out’ meaning to fire, sack, kick out, ‘let go’. Of course it’s now a transitive verb: ‘migrate’ is something you do to someone else or have done to you. You’d better migrate that guy before you get migrated out yourself. I suppose you could migrate them laterally too. Or how about enabling a strategic cross-platform migration portal?

N is for Ninja

You see it all the time now: all those people out there who call themselves book / business / blogging ninjas or profess to teach you seven kick-ass ninja strategies for taking your business to the next level.

But what exactly is a ninja?

Apart from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (les Tortugues Ninja here in Catalonia) who were all the rage in the early 1990s when my sons were growing up, and a vague mental picture of Japanese warriors, I had no idea.

Live and learn.

According to, a ninja is a member of a feudal Japanese society of mercenary agents, highly trained in martial arts and stealth, who were hired for covert purposes ranging from espionage to sabotage and assassination.

How awesome.

The Urban Dictionary is a lot more fun. Apparently, amongst many other feats, Ninjas don’t sweat; can change clothes in less than one second, split planks vertically with their nose, and can hide in incense smoke.

And they do NOT wear Spandex.

O is for Options

Options – the illusion of choice. With most things now there are so many options you go dizzy and end up

(a) spending hours / days on consumer sites to find the Best Option


(b) realise that it’s all an illusion, a mirage, all smoke and mirrors and you can choose between 577 varieties of chemicals-laden crap. Or, between a couple of Big Players (monster corporations) that offer you exactly the same services and if you ever manage to read the small-print / do the math, you realise you’re paying through the nose for all of them and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

P is for Push the Envelope

To be honest, I got stuck with the letter P. Spoilt for choice: so many epic words to take the piss out of: portal, platform, process, paradigm, purposify, productize. How about an expression, I thought. Put out fires?

Or Push the Envelope. Meaning to innovate, to go beyond boundaries. But the more I thought about it, the more it made no sense. Push what envelope? How do you push the envelope? From inside or outside? Is there something pushable inside it?

This is what I found: the original envelope was the mathematical envelope defined as ‘the locus of the ultimate intersections of consecutive curves’. There’s more here.

It entered the mainstream from Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book about the space programme, The Right Stuff: ‘pushing the outside of the envelope’. Wolfe picked it up from aeronautics, where the flight envelope is the description of the upper and lower limits of the various factors that it is safe to fly at, that is, speed, engine power, manoeuvrability, wind speed, altitude etc. By ‘pushing the envelope’, that is, testing those limits, test pilots were able to determine just how far it was safe to go.

Q is for Quantum

Use this word to shift gazillions of self-help and personal development books, audios, workshops, webinars, systems, seminars, courses, toolboxes, practices, healings, activations, attunements, energy transmissions and master key programs.

R is for Rockstar

That is, that pinnacle of awesomeness: who you really are, in your relationships, your business and your life. You can use Rockstar like Quantum or Ninja to sell stuff. Turbocharge Your Inner Rockstar, for example, or Rockstar your Life in Seven Easy Steps.

S is for Storytelling

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin. Once upon a time there was a marketing strategist who had such an overblown idea of his own awesomeness that…

Now it’s your turn. Interactive is the new campfire-driven sustainable synergy, right?

In my opinion, Storytelling is one of the most insufferable bullshit words and ‘concepts’ ever to hit my screen. Most of the people spouting about Telling Compelling Stories about their brands have no idea what a story is and how stories work and by extension no idea how to write one. Stay tuned for my Story Power workshop. Seriously.

Meanwhile, this designer hits it on the head.

T is for Turbocharge

I knew that a turbine was something that turned (duh), but I was driven by my passion for etymology to do further research.

The word originally comes (via French) from the Latin turbo turbinis meaning “spinning top, eddy, whirlwind, that which whirls,” (cf turbid, turbulence, etc) and was originally applied to a wheel spinning on a vertical axis driven by falling water. (And related to the Greek tyrbe meaning wake or turbulence. How come I didn’t remember all this from my Classics days?) Early examples of turbines are windmills and waterwheels.

A turbocharger or turbo is a system that uses a turbine to make an engine more powerful. So obviously this is the bullshit word of choice when you mean enhance, promote, boost, strengthen, ramp up, power up… um… skyrocket…

U is for Unpack

I only became aware of this one recently and then found myself using it over and again. At my last writing workshop, for example. “So, that’s a few housekeeping issues knocked on the head. Here’s an overview of what we’re going to cover today. First we’ll look at the creative process and then we’re going to unpack the key tools and strategies…”
Oh my god.
These people have to come to me for creative writing and they’re looking at me like: why the hell are you spouting corporate bullshit? What’s wrong with explore, or break down, or analyze, or chunk down, or deconstruct?
Or is there a nuance I’m too stupid to grasp?
Please do tell me.

V is for Vector

Sorry, no idea what a vector is. Nor has anyone else (except, presumably, rockstar mathematicians and engineers.) Not to worry. It’s extremely versatile and sounds great. Just toss it in wherever you want,  but do make sure it’s vaguely connected with movement in one dimension or direction.  You can talk about vectorial-generating interfaces or cutting-edge vectorialization strategies and look very very smart in meetings.

W is for Wow

Bullshit aside, this is absolutely one of my favourite words in the whole of the English language: it’s versatile and expressive and energy-efficient, packing a big punch with just one easy-to-utter syllable.

‘Wow’ of course was originally an interjection expressing wonder, amazement, as in ‘Wow!’ (that Facebook emoji you can click on to ‘react’ to a post)

In English you can use it as a word – as almost any part of speech. It’s incredibly versatile.

You can:

  • Wow your clients
  • Wow your prospects into buying your product
  • Write books entitled The Wow Principles or How to Unleash the Elusive Wow Factor.
  • Be so blown away by your cutting-edge new doodad that words fail you – it’s quite simply ‘the ultimate wow’.

But there’s more: wow has astounding derivational possibilities. You can

  • Wowify your brand
  • Make your clients’ jaws drop in absolute wowification.
  • Ask your clients to rate the wowability of your products (on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 = no wowability at all and 10 = off-the-charts wowability).
  • Have – now we’re positively hyperventilating – wait for it – the greatest wowgasm of all time.

X is for X-Ray Specs

If this blog had a soundtrack, this song by punk band The Lillingtons would be it:

Cause I can see through your bullshit with my X-Ray specs.
Well I can see through your bullshit with my X-Ray specs.
I can see through your bullshit with my X-Ray specs.
I can see through your bullshit with my X-Ray specs, my X-Ray specs, my X-Ray specs,  yeah.

Y is for Yettie

You know who they are. They carry black computer bags and they are that particular irritant in airports, spouting into their phones non-stop all the way from baggage drop through boarding, and they can barely be assed to shut up on take-off. And they spout one long stream of bullshit.

The Young, Entrepreneurial, Tech-based Twenty-something.

The Yettie.

Y is also for Yawn.

Z is for Zeitgeist

This German word is one of my favourites and it means ‘spirit of the age’, which obviously doesn’t sound as streamlined as the German (which translates literally as time-spirit. For cognate lovers, Zeit = tide and Geist = ghost). I don’t personally think zeitgeist is a bullshit word (yet) but what else could we have here?

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this zeitgeist-optimized blog and that it has helped you to repurpose all the no-brainers you’ve always wanted to leverage but didn’t have the performance-driven hands-on competencies to implement.

© Valerie Collins

Posted from 1 to 30 April 2016 for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2016.

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12 Responses

  1. Valerie, I love your spirit. You caught me, the last version of my resume listed “Storyteller” as one of my top strengths. I think I’ll remove it.
    I can’t get enough of this line. “Interactive is the new campfire-driven sustainable synergy, right?” Had me smiling, fun but all too true.

  2. Hilarious. I now know all the buzzwords to use if I decide to do a promotional video for a system which solves all of one’s problems. This is one to keep and retire as needed.

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