This is my first month of writing the Absurdly Driven column.
I've already learned two things about Inc readers. They love alcohol and they're very concerned about their self-image.
I became aware of this second aspect with a column I wrote last week entitled: "The 6 Worst Things You Can Call Yourself On LinkedIn." In it, I bared my shivering spine at some of the things businesspeople write about themselves on their LinkedIn profiles. My Top 6 were Visionary, Inspirational Leader, Successful, Thought Leader, Conceptual Thinker and the sublime Purpose-Driven.
Some readers screamed with pain, other with recognition. Some, though, wanted to offer me their own choices of the terrible words and phrases people use to describe just how very wonderful they are.
I've continued to scour through CEO LinkedIn profiles (for the Top 6 all came from those) and have put together a new list of the next best (next worst).
7. Ninja. I remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were anthropomorphic. Which certainly describes one or two senior businesspeople I know. However, ninjas were experts in Ninjutsu, a specialized form of guerrilla warfare with 18 disciplines. Why anyone compares business to war escapes me. No one dies. If you're in banking, you don't even risk going to jail. But honestly, how many of these supposed business ninjas would be experts in, say, the discipline of Seishinteki kyy -- spiritual refinement? How many would have any idea of Kenjutsu -- sword techniques? The only one I can possible imagine any of these LinkedIn ninjas mastering is Bojutsu. This involves stick and staff techniques.
8. Guru. In its original Sanskrit, this words means "teacher" or "master." So it gives me pause -- and a certain level of bile movement -- when I see someone call themselves, for example, a Social Media Guru. A guru is supposed to possess transcendental knowledge. You might argue that a Social Media Guru might possess a transcendental level of bulldung. But that's about it, surely.
9. Maven. Can we blame Malcolm Gladwell? Can we, please? In "The Tipping Point," Gladwell used this word to describe those who were a bit deeper and more thorough with their knowledge. Naturally, businesspeople devoured this book like ravens over a trash can and said to themselves: "Aha! That's me! That's Me! I am a Maven! Watch me rise!" Or, more accurately: "I wonder if I can pretend I'm one of those too!"
10. Transformational Executive. One minute you are a Honda Civic. The next, you're a large metal man crushing everything that goes before him. Some might get the impression that a transformational executive is actually an alien robot. Which he might be. But this and its dizygotic twin -- transformation agent -- suggest nothing more than a senior level of windbaggery and as much hot air as it takes to keep the Snoopy One blimp on high. The only transformative impression a transformational executive offers is the one from "He sounds interesting" to "Please don't. You're affecting my digestion."
11. Results-Oriented. I confess to a fascination with this one for some time. I want to translate it as "Give Me The Job And I Promise Not To Piddle About." Or sometimes: "I Know How To Massage The Numbers To Keep The Shareholders Happy." But doesn't everyone know if they have a job, they might have to, you know, do something? Those who claim to be results-oriented think this will differentiate them as, what did they used to call them, go-getters. As I often do, though, I try and imagine the opposite. "Self-Pleasing Executive Wants You To Give Him Money For Nothing In Return But His Pleasure That You Are Giving Him Money For Nothing In Return." Which would surely be a result if you could get away with it. As quite a few CEOs I know do.
12. Pioneer. Every time I read this on LinkedIn, I hear "Pie In Ear." And that's what (and where) I suspect one or two readers might want to fling at someone who describes themselves as quite this great. Most of the time, true pioneers have no idea they are pioneering anything. They're just trying to make something, in their eyes, better. And if the results are truly pioneering, they're not going to claim it. Why bother, if you really are? It's like those dating profiles where people describe themselves as "The master of snappy and spontaneous comebacks." (They get a pie in their ear too.) Or LeBron James calling himself King James before he won anything significant.
Hyping yourself is a terribly tempting thing, especially if you're American. But do you walk into parties and declare: "I'm great!"?
Ah, that explains it then.