027: Combatting Workplace Jargon with James Sudakow

By June 22, 2016Podcasts

 

James Sudakow headshot and quote “When leaders [use jargon] it impacts their credibility, because people are laughing behind the scenes saying, 'I can't believe the way this guy talks'” from interview in episode 27 of the How to be Awesome At Your Job Podcast with Pete Mockaitis

Author and consultant James Sudakow takes a sledgehammer of silliness to corporate jargon to help boost your credibility and relatability in corporate communications.

You’ll learn:
1) Why do we do this jargon in the first place?
2) How the use of such jargon can actually damage our credibility and make people take us less seriously
3) Some key phrases to avoid right away–and what to use in their place

About James

James Sudakow is the author of Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit… and Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World (Purple Squirrel Media, February 2016). He serves as the principal of CH Consulting, Inc., a boutique management and organizational effectiveness consulting practice he founded in 2010. Sudakow specializes in helping companies manage organizational transformation, create talent management strategies and programs that maximize employee capabilities and improve business performance. Before starting his own consultancy, James held leadership roles in several global multibillion-dollar organizations across the technology and health care industries.

Items mentioned in the show:

James Sudakow interview transcript

Pete Mockaitis
James, thanks so much for peeling back the kimono, if you will, with us here at How To Be Awesome at Your Job.

James Sudakow
Great start.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, that one in particular I find troubling. It seems a little suggestive and uncomfortable.

James Sudakow
It’s horrible. Yeah, the kimono thing is … The visual imagery alone makes me never want to use it. It’s terrible.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. I think that might even maybe prompt a sexual harassment, HR issue.

James Sudakow
You know what’s interesting about that is? On a serious note, if you actually talk to some women in the workplace, they’re actually quite offended by it for that reason.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

James Sudakow
It’s a pretty interesting thing, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Well hey, right of the bat less than one minute in, we’ve got one quick tip about jargon. Don’t ever use that one.

James Sudakow
Pretty much.

Pete Mockaitis
Ahead of the game.
I was reading through your book, “Picking the Low Hanging Fruit: And Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World,” and it just made me laugh out loud several times.

James Sudakow
Oh, good.

Pete Mockaitis
Maybe could you give us the background for how did you get to have a particular interest on the topic of jargon in general?

James Sudakow
Yeah. No problem, and interest is an interesting way of putting it. I think I was inundated with it early in my career when I started working what was at the time the Big Eight, but I think it’s the Big Four consulting now. They just keep eating each other. At that point in time, consultants are notorious for this kind of corporate speak. They even came up with a language where … You’ve probably heard it. They called it “consultees,” or at least all our clients called it that. They’re like, “Oh, God. Here come these guys. They’re going to come use all these weird expressions. That’s kind of where it started.
At the time, I’m generally a pretty irreverent type, but I was at the very bottom of that totem pole when I started at the consulting firms. I kind of kept my mouth shut, but I wrote a lot of stuff down, because it became intriguing to me how frequently these terms were literally just lobbed around the place. I just wondered if anybody didn’t understand them or if it was just me. As I got a little further into things and got a little bit more confidence and started moving up the ranks, I decided to just go public with it basically.
In the book, I describe what I really did with what … I got promoted to manager. I’m not sure how they decided I was not irreverent enough to do that, but they put me in a manager position. I got into an office that actually had a white board. I decided to use it for my productive purposes, which was just to literally write down all of the ridiculous expressions I was hearing people use and hopefully not allow them to at least not say it in my office. That’s kind of how it started.
It kind of became a big joke. I was actually impressed with the sense of humor everybody had around it, although it didn’t stop them from using the expressions. At least they laughed a little bit about it.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, absolutely. I believe Deloitte actually produced a piece of software called The Bullfighter to reduce this.

James Sudakow
That is exactly right. Yeah, and you may have even heard there was for a while, and I think it’s still out there. You can probably download this online somewhere. There’s consultees BS bingo out there where you can literally play a game and see how many times people say all this ridiculous stuff. Deloitte did do The Bullfighter, which is really funny.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Were you directly involved with that, or they just took a page from your book and carried the baton further? Look at me! I’m doing it!

James Sudakow
Yeah. I think they realized just how profound the statement I was truly making was, and then they just took it for themselves. I think that’s what happened.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. They’ll give you credit. They’ll give you credit.

James Sudakow
Yeah, right.

Pete Mockaitis
I mean, in a way, it’s funny. There’s jargon. People say it, and sometimes it’s like, “Why are you saying that? That’s kind of goofy.” You suggest that this is actually problematic. There are negative consequences associated with the use of jargon. Could you lay those out for us?

James Sudakow
Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. Clearly it’s not the end of the world, but what I have noticed, and my experience was partially related to it. What I’ve noticed even actually since I put the book out is people have come up to me and said, “I know that the book was meant to be mostly funny and just taking shots and having a good time with things,” but they said, “You know, there were at least 10 or 15 terms in there that I’ve been hearing for years, and I didn’t know what they meant.”
To get to your point, there’s probably two unintended consequences of this ridiculous language. I think the first is there are people out there that generally don’t know what some of this stuff means, especially people earlier in their careers. I know I didn’t. You’re sitting in a meeting, and people are lobbing the terms around, and at that point in your career, most of us don’t have enough courage to say, “I don’t know what that means,” because you’re not sure if you’re supposed to know what that means.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

James Sudakow
In some way or another, you could sitting there in a room with 10 people, and none of you really know what they’re saying, but nobody is going to ask either. In some ways, it kind of erodes a little bit of how effectively you can work and how efficiently now. We all figure it out, of course, but it does slow down progress if you will. That’s the first point.
I think the second point, which I see more with leaders than with staff employee levels, is the credibility issue. There’s a whole bunch of research out there, and you may have seen it, that says leaders that really can get people to follow them are relatable. They have common ground with the people that they’re leading. It’s not like they’re way up on high, and you can’t go talk to them. That’s not way leaders work these days anymore. The language that they use needs to feel relatable, and there needs to be common ground with the employees, and using stuff like “paradigm shift” and “open the kimono,” I don’t know anybody that talks that way. When leaders do it, it impacts their credibility, because people are laughing. They’re not going to laugh at them right then and there, but they’re certainly laughing behind the scenes saying, “I can’t believe the way this guy talks.”
That’s a little bit of some of the unintended, negative consequences of using the language that way.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. I remember there was … I had a good friend, and I’ll keep the names of the companies silent. There was a good friend at a major athletic apparel company who had … He was getting together with a group of folks, kind of cross-functional, interdisciplinary for an opening meeting. Then a person who is at a leading strategy consulting firm asks some question which was just filled with these jargony tidbits. My buddy just was able to quickly say, “Oh, yes. You must be the consultant.” She turned bright red, was like, “Yeah, that’s true. I am.”

James Sudakow
It’s that easy. Literally, recently I was working. I have a consulting practice, and so I was working with a client. They had a pretty big name consulting in there. There was a guy. He was actually a really smart guy, and he knew what he was talking about, but I would say within a five minute span, he must have dumped half the words in my book on the table. I looked at the room, because I like to study body language. People were not really paying attention to him. It was a bummer, because what he was saying, if you were able to cut through all the ridiculous language, was really intelligent, but nobody wanted to listen to him, because it sounded ridiculous.

Pete Mockaitis
Then what is it? What is it within us that leads people to do this? I mean, I don’t know if they’re deliberately thinking, “Oh, I’m really going to impress them with this jargon.” I don’t think it’s a conscious choice, but so how does this get in the mix? Why do we do it?

James Sudakow
You know, if I could solve that conundrum, I might write a better book than this first one. At the end of it all, I agree with you. I don’t think it’s that people are purposefully saying, “I’m going to throw all this crazy language at people so that I sound really smart.” Although, there’s probably a small subset of the population that does that. For me, what I noticed happening with me, and maybe I’m alike with a lot of people, when you’re surrounded by it all the time, it just starts to wear off.
One of the expressions in the book that I can’t stand is “bake people into the process.” I’ve always thought that was just ridiculous. I literally had a client meeting when I was a junior consultant, and the partner was a really cool guy. He said to the client, “Yeah, we’ll make sure to bake him into the process.” The client looked at him a little bit perplexed and a little bit annoyed and just said, “You mean include him?”
The reason I mention that story is just the other day I said “bake into the process.” I almost had this out-of-body experience with myself and said, “I hate that term. Why did I just say it?” It’s because everybody around you is saying it, and sometimes it just rubs off, and then it propagates itself throughout the system.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, that’s maybe a bigger message and takeaway just about the impact of our surroundings and people and what that does to you whether you like it or not.

James Sudakow
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
I could chew on that for a while. Instead, how about you say … Okay. You mention there are a few key phrases you would prioritize to absolutely nix from your vocabulary right away. Could you lay them out for us? One of them is “baking a person into a process.” That just means include them.

James Sudakow
Yeah, we definitely don’t like that one. We talked about it right at the beginning. I think never, ever should anybody ever open their kimonos. I think that just needs to be eliminated right now for a variety of reasons.
I think the other thing that I just think needs to go away is discussions around paradigm shifts. To me, that is such an esoteric, weird way of saying, “We’re going to try to make some big change.” I don’t know why we have to throw the term “paradigm shift” out there. As leaders, I hear a lot of leaders talking about it, because they’re actually many times brought on to make paradigm shifts, but nobody even understands what that is. I would say eliminate that one immediately if possible.
I think maybe number four I would say would be let’s stop calling projects “sexy projects.” I don’t know if you’ve ever heard anybody do that, but to me, it was almost like there are plenty of better uses for that word than to apply it to some sort of process improvement project. I don’t know how that jumped into the corporate world that we would call that a sexy project. In consulting, it’s used all the time.
I would say those four at least at first should go away right now. “Straw man” and “straw dogs” are ridiculous to me. Those basically just mean an outline. Again, I don’t know where that came from, but let’s just call it an outline. I think people know what that is. We’ve all been through a lot of school where people called them outlines, and they’re certainly not being taught to call it a straw dog in 6th grade.
Yeah, those would be my top five probably right off the bat.

Pete Mockaitis
I remember once, I’m a consultant, myself, and we were having a meeting. Someone mentioned that … You might like this. We had described something as a straw man, like, “Okay, you’ll make the straw man.” Someone said, “You know, that seems a little bit not so gender inclusive. Maybe we could call it a straw dog,” like that was better!

James Sudakow
Yeah, and they were probably making a serious contribution, right? Yeah, straw man, straw dogs. I think those all need to go.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, it’s funny, though. As you say this, it’s funny. I find myself agreeing with you at different levels. Okay, yeah, they could all be more clear for sure. Although, with paradigm shift, I guess I’m thinking that there is a precise meaning. Hear me out here. With paradigm shift, I’m thinking what I mean is you are thinking with one worldview in terms of priorities and how things work, and I want you to completely change that to a whole new thing.

James Sudakow
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s a little bit different than change of management, but I guess the challenge there is that with the precision that I am interpreting into this word or phrase, others aren’t. We’re just not connecting on the same page.

James Sudakow
No, no, and I agree with you. You’re right. It’s much bigger than a change management concept. It is exactly what you said. It’s my view of how things are. We’re trying to change our view of how things are.
To your point, there’s no clarity when someone talks about paradigm shifts, because we’re not really getting into the details of what is your worldview or what is my view. That’s the conversation that needs to happen, not merely talking at this level of, “Hey, let’s just make paradigm shifts,” and everybody walks away going, “Yeah, okay, we’re going to do that,” because we never really had the conversation that says, “What is the view that we’re trying to change, and what are we trying to change it to? How do we all get aligned and excited about that?” That was the real conversations that leaders are rightfully trying to drive, but I don’t think it gets executed very well when we just talk about paradigm shifts.

Pete Mockaitis
Along those lines when it comes to not connecting or misunderstanding, could you share, in your ample research and conversations with people … I’ll just give you that credit whether you’ve earned it or not. In those conversations, what are some of the most misunderstood phrases? Like, “Oh, I thought you meant that by that jargon, but you meant this totally different thing.” What are some examples of those?

James Sudakow
Well, you know, that’s a good one. I would say one of the things that I see, and this is not a super common one, but the tissue rejection concept is a really weird expression. I don’t think people have any clue what it even means. When I hear some leaders talk, and they’re trying to say, “Hey, look, this isn’t going to work. It’s going to get thrown out.” The concept of tissue rejection, when I hear leaders saying it, you definitely get a crink in the face. You see the legitimate crink in people’s faces where some of the other ones, they can remain a little bit more stoic. That one is really bad. I think that one is one where people just have no clue what that means.
I think a lot of the other ones people know, they just don’t like it or it doesn’t feel super good.

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hmm. A crink in the face, that’s exactly what happened to me as you said that. It’s also visceral. I’m imagining literally a person opened up on a surgery table.

James Sudakow
Yeah. I joke around in the book. I said, “Look, please don’t ever use this term, especially if you work in the healthcare industry.” Who knows what kind of negative connotations that’s going to throw around your company for throwing tissue rejection in the middle of a conversation where you’re not really talking about the scenario you just described.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah. I guess the alternative is just to speak plainly. Maybe, and this something that’s just struck me, maybe people don’t speak plainly because they’re a little bit scared, like what they’re saying is controversial. It may not be agreed upon as much. They could feel like they’re going out on a limb or sticking their neck. Oh, these metaphors. I can’t stop myself. To suggest the thing they’re suggesting, and they almost are taking a little bit of cover for protection inside a bit of the ambiguity that these phrases offer.

James Sudakow
You know, that’s an interesting perspective. I think you’re right. In some ways, it might be a nice way of not totally committing, because you’re able to speak in some ambiguous terms.
You know the other thing that I think might be going on is sometimes speaking in really common language sometimes, and I think we’re taught this actually through the years in school, you’re taught to write essays not necessarily using flowery words, but certainly not using really basic words. I think maybe through the years, that’s inculcated into us a little bit that speaking in really grounded, common language may not give us the credibility that we think we should have by using words like that. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.
I can talk to an experience of the opposite. There was this really great COO of a company that I used to work for before I started my consulting practice. He would literally get up there in front of … This is a global company of 20,000 employees, and they’d have these town halls, these quarterly town halls. He’d stand up there in front of everybody, and he would say, “You know what? Our goal is to make really good stuff, make it at a really good price, and make it really good quality, and then go sell a lot of that really good stuff.”
He was so seasoned that he didn’t care. Actually, people loved when he went up there and talked. Everybody walked away going, “All right, cool.” He probably took it way over to the other side of the pendulum, but he still came across as highly credible, because knew that, knew who he was, and they knew what his experiences were.
Sometimes, I think we make the mistake of thinking that speaking like he spoke degrades our credibility or the intelligence we’re going to convey to others. I don’t think it does.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great. I think if you just take it one step further along those lines. “Our goal is to make really good stuff, and we’ve been getting a lot of complaints about this issue. We’re falling short here.”

James Sudakow
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
As opposed to, “After running an analysis of the customer point of view experience research, we’ve driven some insights along the lines.” It’s like, okay, the stuff we’re making isn’t good, and so we have to fix it.

James Sudakow
Yeah, and he could have stood up there and said, “Let’s take a deep dive and really start to explore. We need to do some knowledge transfer from one team to the other.” Then he would have just lost everybody. To your point, if he just said, “Hey, we have some problems. We have to go fix it.” That’s the kind of language he used, and everybody walked away knowing exactly what the issues were and what we needed to do, right? It was actually really effective.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fun. Let’s see. I guess I’m convinced. You have me persuaded. Let’s do less jargon.
Tell me, is there anything else around this topic you want to make sure that we cover off when we’re thinking about jargon and speaking clearly and maintaining poise and professionalism?

James Sudakow
You know, I think the only thing I would say is how do you stop it, right? That becomes the bigger challenge here. I think everybody knows it’s out there. Most of us don’t like it, but yet somehow it keeps going.
For me, one of things that I always try to do, and do it as nicely as possible, is look at people who are using weird jargon, just to go up and say, “Hey, you may have lost that room. Maybe if you had said it a little bit like this, you might have gotten a little better focus, people might have paid more attention.” I’ve actually started doing that. I had that example of the guy who dropped half the expressions in that five minute period. I actually went up and talked to him afterwards to say, “Hey, you had some really good things to say. I think you lost the room. I think you did it because you didn’t come across as just speaking normal, basic language.” He was actually quite appreciative of it. I did see him in subsequent meetings where he was trying. He was trying to just be a little more basic. It was hard for him, because I think it was programmed into him so much.
My overall point is I think if we really want it go away, I think it requires all of us just to nicely prod people to use more normal language, and maybe it’ll start to go away a little bit over time, because it’s so ingrained in the corporate world to use all that stuff.

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. Okay. That was quick and fun and easy. I don’t know. While we’ve got you on the line, any other brilliant insights you’ve collected along the way of business and consulting and changing management and your work with that with regard to people, communication, language, and how it can be optimized?

James Sudakow
Yeah. I’m not sure I have anything brilliant ever to say, but the one thing that I have learned these days, especially with how to corporate world is working, this is the landscape we have now, right? We have a landscape of people moving faster than they probably ever moved before.
People can be gotten ahold of in 50 different ways nowadays. There’s no hiding, not that anybody is trying to hide. There’s no downtime either, because the communication vehicles are so frequent, and there are so many of them that people are in constant communication with each other. They’re moving really fast, and most companies these days are cutting as many resources as they can to be “as lean as possible.” It’s just the new normal to use that expression.
Communication is really interesting in that environment. What I tend to notice a lot of is people running right by stuff and not getting the communication they need, because they’re inundated. It’s overdone. We think that maybe the best way is, “I’ll just keep sending an email to this guy,” and will keep telling him, “Hey, I need this,” or, “We need your input on this,” or, “Can you make a decision on this or that?” That guy is being inundated from all sorts of different directions.
I think, from a communications perspective, what I have found, as strange as it may seem, is the face-to-face thing and getting time to actually talk versus always using the technology is more important now than it ever was before that technology had ever existed to supposedly replace it. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I have found when I can’t get a response on text or the email, I’m just not getting anything back, I just pick up the phone and call the guy, or I walk over to his office and say, “Hey, do you have 5 minutes.”
I think our thought was at one point that the technology might replace that from a communications perspective and make us more “efficient.” I think in some ways it’s actually having the opposite effect. Going back to the old school face-to-face is really important, especially on really important initiatives. That’s one of the big things that I’ve seen, and that pertains to change initiatives in particular and just generally operating within the corporate world these days.

Pete Mockaitis
That really strikes a chord with me. I remember when I was a green consultant, and I was working with … I mean, I was inexperienced enough that we were talking about environmental issues. Just to be clear, you’ve already inspired me. I was new to the consulting biz, and I was having some trouble getting some data from a client. It was the miscommunication, a little back and forth, and then suddenly, ended up using some capital letters and some red font in the email. I was like, “Oh, my God. She’s furious!”

James Sudakow
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
We thought, “Okay, you know what? We’re just going to drop by there. We’re going to have a conversation about what we need from the data and how what she sent us wasn’t quite what we were looking for.” We were bracing ourselves. Okay, this is going to get a little nasty. We’re just going to be, “Hey, I’m sorry. We will be happy to help in any way we can. We could take something off your plate maybe.” We were nervous walking in there.
She was just the sweetest, most professional, kind woman. She was like, “Oh, okay. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks a lot for dropping by.” It was like, “Oh.”

James Sudakow
There you go.

Pete Mockaitis
It hit home. It left an impression like, “Okay, myself in-person makes a world of difference. Mix it up.”

James Sudakow
I think the “mix it up” is a great way to phrase it. It’s not that we have to do everything in person like it was when we didn’t have any of the technology that we have now, but I think over reliance on one of those technological vehicles actually creates problems, because even within emails and texts, as you know, you can’t read body language. You can’t read between the lines. You can’t have the nuanced conversation, because there’s just no space for it.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

James Sudakow
That stuff becomes really important, especially when you’re dealing with potentially sensitive issues. Those are face-to-face things, and I hope those never go away. I think that’s part of what makes it work effectively.

Pete Mockaitis
We’re human beings.

James Sudakow
Yeah, we’re people. Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, are you ready to shift gears and talk a little bit about some of your favorite things?

James Sudakow
Sure, sure.

Pete Mockaitis
Could we start us off by giving us a favorite quote, something that inspires you again and again?

James Sudakow
You know, I don’t even know who said this, but my dad must have repeated it to me thousands of times as I was growing up, and I think about it all the time. I use it with our kids. It basically says, “There’s two ways to do things. There’s the easy way and the right way. The easy way is rarely right, and the right way is rarely easy.” I just love that expression. I love the quote, because it’s something to think about. I’m always saying, “Am I taking the easy way or the right way here?” Most of the time, of course we want to take the easy way, but most of the time, that’s not the right way to do it. It’s a nice way to gut-check yourself and make sure you’re doing it right.
I love that one. I think it’s practical, and it’s actually quite insightful.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, good. Thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or piece of research?

James Sudakow
Oh, man. That’s a hard one. It’s interesting. I’ll confess to you I’m a bit of a science geek. When I’m not doing business consulting and writing books about funny expressions, I probably could not be more interested in the stuff that’s going on with the space exploration.
The whole thing where they found … I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but they found what they call the God Particle. I thought was fascinating, because first of all, it made the whole point of talking in jargon completely irrelevant and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Also, it was really interesting to see how much progress science is able to make with some of the technology that I was just saying we shouldn’t use as much in the corporate world, but it’s pretty amazing to me about how that stuff plays out.
Still not super relevant to the book, but it’s just something that, to me, is super interesting and what I spend a lot of time when I’m detoxing from the corporate world.

Pete Mockaitis
Very good. How about a favorite book?

James Sudakow
My current favorite book is … I suggest everybody read it. It’s probably the easiest read you’re ever going to get, but it’s quite hysterical. The book is called “F in Exams.” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this. It’s not probably going to be on the most useful business book section, but it is literally a compilation that some guy did of all of the worst and most ridiculous wrong answers people gave on tests. Some of them was they just didn’t know the answer, and some of it they were being a little bit snarky because they knew they didn’t know the right answer, so they took some creative liberty and had some fun with it. It’s a hysterical book.
I probably gravitate to it, because back in college, I had a couple of experiences where I wasn’t probably paying as much attention as I needed to and found myself in some tests where I knew nothing and could see myself in some of these answers. It was a really funny book. It’s a quick, easy read, but it’s quite hysterical.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, fun. Thank you. How about a favorite personal habit or practice of yours that’s helped boost your effectiveness?

James Sudakow
You know, one of the things that I do actually every morning, and I have it on my cell phone, ironically, is I tell myself to go slow. It goes a little bit around what I was saying about how fast the corporate world moves, but I think it’s easy to get sucked into the speed of it, and then you miss things. I literally wake up every morning, and the first thing I tell myself is, “Take it a little slow.”
That so as, first of all, from a work perspective, not to miss anything important for the work that I’m doing, but also just from a life perspective. Slow it down a little bit. It’s okay. Actually, sometimes when you slow it down, you get a better output, and you get a better experience. We work at such hyper speed all the time in the corporate world that you could literally just chase your tail around all day long.
Reminding myself to do that every day has actually been quite valuable, because there’s many times where I can feel myself getting into the hyper-speed mode, and I just slow myself down for a second and enjoy the meeting or enjoy the process of whatever I’m doing a lot more. I think I get better outputs from it, I hope.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, great. How about a favorite, I guess, tidbit you share when you’re consulting or speaking that you find really just gets people nodding their heads, taking notes, retweeting, highlighting in the Kindle book? What’s some of that nugget from yourself?

James Sudakow
Well, I think the one thing that I tell people almost all the time is, “Don’t try” … I’m going to use a bad corporate expression. “Don’t try to boil the ocean.” Be super practical and just take a couple of steps of what you can get toward something. Get it done. I think given what I described about my view of what the corporate world is like, people have very little time to actually think big, but they get consumed by all the big stuff they have to do.
Just chip away at it. I tell people all the time I have long lists of things that need to get done, and for me to feel like I’m making progress, I just make a list. I get one or two things done that day. You walk away feeling accomplished. You don’t have to get 35 things done to feel like you’re making progress. In fact, sometimes thinking about doing the 35, you don’t get any of them done. Just get one or two things done and feel good about the things you got done, and then you get one or two things done the next day, and that keeps the wheel moving and keeps you moving towards progress.

Pete Mockaitis
Great. How about the best way to find you?

James Sudakow
I’m available on my website. That’s jamessudakow.com. That’s usually the easiest way to go. There’s a contact email there. You can reach out and give me additional terms for volume two of the book or anything else you want to talk about related to the business world these days.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fun. Would you offer a parting challenge or a call to action for folks seeking to become more awesome at their jobs?

James Sudakow
Yeah. I would say take three of these words that you use and just write them down and carry them around with you and make it an effort to stop saying them. I leave it with an example. When I left the consulting practice and took my first internal role, I took a director of some organizational effectiveness role. I had a really small team. There was four of us. They were all life-long, internal … They had never been on the consulting side. They had laughed at consultants many times, but they had never been on the inside.
At that point, I was probably talking like a consultant quite a bit. My team told me about it. They told me about it in a fun way. Where I’m going with this is I actually got them involved in helping me stop use the words. We literally wrote them up there, and they called me out every time I said it.
My point is get others to help you, and make it a fun thing to start talking in normal language. It actually helped build some team building on our team. Unintentionally, we became a lot closer. It became a nice fun way. It made me human as opposed to some kind of consulting robot that was throwing out a bunch of terms. It helped us do better work at the end of it all.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, fantastic. James, this has been so much fun. Maybe we’ll circle back sometime as you have additional insights.

James Sudakow
Absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
I was trying not to joke about circling back.

James Sudakow
I was going to say, “Did you throw ‘circle back’ in there?”

Pete Mockaitis
I did.

James Sudakow
I was going to call you on it, but then I was quite sure of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it’s been a lot of fun, and thank you. I wish you tons of luck with the book and your consulting and more.

James Sudakow
Yeah, I really appreciate the time. It’s been a lot of fun talking to you. Hopefully we’ll get to do it again sometime.

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