Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is the bestselling author of books on business, entrepreneurship, skill acquisition, productivity, creativity, applied psychology, and practical wisdom. About Josh »

A Holistic Mission to Organically Downsize Buzzwords

Can we all please align on leveraging lean language? Proactively downsizing our words will save a ton of bandwidth and empower us all to achieve innovative breakthroughs, synergize our missions, and scale our impact.

[Edit: the previous paragraph is 100% irony. This paragraph didn’t appear in the first version of this post, and I received a lot of questions wondering whether or not I was being serious. Buzzword abuse is so pervasive many intelligent professionals can’t recognize over-the-top humor from actual usage.]

Buzzwords are fashionable words and phrases that make simple ideas sound more complicated or impressive. Here are a few top offenders:

When people talk about “learning the language of business," they often mean figuring out how to wade through verbal clutter in search of words that actually mean something. It’s a waste of time for everyone.

I’ve noticed myself becoming less and less tolerant of buzzwords. Say what you mean, make it clear, and don’t try to make something sound more impressive than it is.

Removing Verbal Clutter

Here’s an approach I find useful in removing buzzwords when I write and speak: whenever you’re tempted to use a word that sounds like a buzzword, taboo that word and try to explain what you mean in another way. Simple words are always best.

Here’s another useful rule of thumb: whenever someone consistently uses big important-sounding words for simple ideas, it’s safe to assume they don’t know what they’re talking about, and they’re trying to conceal that fact.

The faster business buzzword usage becomes a social signal for “I don’t know what I’m talking about," the better.

Read more essays by Josh Kaufman »

Books by Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

The First 20 Hours

How to Learn Anything… Fast!

A practitioner’s guide to rapid skill acquisition. Accelerate your learning by deconstructing complex skills, practicing the most important elements first, and removing barriers to deliberate practice. What do you want to learn?

How to Fight a Hydra

Face Your Fears, Pursue Your Ambitions, and Become the Hero You Are Destined to Be

A story about summoning the courage to face the beast, fight the good fight, & persist long enough in your efforts to secure a lasting victory.