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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King’

10 Great Lines Rewritten For Today’s Manager

Thursday, November 19th, 2009


“I am the benchmark!”

Ever wondered why some quotes live on for decades?

The great ones use clear, vivid words. Words everyone can understand and relate to.

Just because you’re in management doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to greatness in what you say. Every jargon word you add dulls your message and acts as a barrier to understanding.

Just one can be enough to kill a sentence stone dead.

Let’s take 10 immortal lines and add a single phrase from the MBA phrasebook. You be the judge.

1. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant positive outcome for mankind.” Neil Armstrong

2. “Beware the Ides of Q3 going forward.” William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

3. “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can action for you - ask what you can action for your country” John F. Kennedy

4. “I may be drunk, Madam, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be attractiveness-challenged.” Winston Churchill

5. “I have a vision and value statement… that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.” Martin Luther King

6. “In this country, first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the persons.” Al Pacino, Scarface

7. “Government: of the stakeholders, by the stakeholders, for the stakeholders, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln

8. “You engagin’ with me? You engagin’ with me? Well, who the hell else are you engagin’ with?” Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver

9. “Imagination is more important than key learnings.” Albert Einstein

10.“You’re rightsized!” Donald Trump


“You want a robust dialogue? YOU CAN’T HANDLE A ROBUST DIALOGUE!”

Top 10 Qualifiers That Make Your Message Weak and Wimpy

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Pic courtesy Hamed Saber

I was at a launch of some new software that everyone in the audience was excited about. Then from the back of the room came one of the most popular questions of the 21st century.

“It looks great. But will it be available for the Mac as well as PC?”

The presenter paused, eyes darting from side to side, and replied:

“Potentially… yes.”

Or translated into English, “not in a million years.”

Last post we looked at words that attracted people’s attention. Today, it’s the opposite – qualifiers. Qualifiers are words that make you look evasive, or at best, weaken your message. They sneak into a perfectly good line and dilute its impact and meaning.

Tell them you either are or you aren’t. Not potentially might be, or could conceivably be. You will or you won’t, not probably going to in the fullness of time.

The classic offenders are

1.    Sort of
2.    Kind of
3.    Rather
4.    Sometimes
5.    Possibly
6.    Maybe
7.    Quite
8.    Potentially
9.    Probably
10.  Reasonably

Qualifiers suck the life out of all areas of communication, but particularly speeches. Part of the art of making a speech is looking decisive. You’re the expert, that’s why you’re standing out the front.

Let’s add some weaselly qualifiers to some great speeches and see if they would still turn the course of history.

1. We may find it necessary to fight them on the beaches!
Winston Churchill

2. We have few things to fear including fear itself.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. I think, therefore I sort of might be.
Rene Descartes

4. It is an ideal for which I am kind of prepared to die.
Nelson Mandela

5. Ask not what your country might consider doing for you - ask what you might sometimes do for your country.
John F. Kennedy

6. One of the things you need is love.
John Lennon

7. …a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that most men are created reasonably equal.
Abraham Lincoln

8. In most instances you aren’t able to handle the truth.
Jack Nicholson

9. Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are fairly free at last!
Martin Luther King

10. I am probably the greatest!
Muhammad Ali

As in most areas of presentation, less is more.