With clients in professional sports and the executive suite, Frank
Lingua, President and CEO of Dissembling Associates, is the nation's leading
purveyor of buzzwords, catchphrases and clichés for clients too busy to speak in
plain English. We interviewed him in his New York City office.
Q. Is it a full-time job being a cliché expert?
A. Bottom line is I have a full plate 24/7.
Q. Do you work by yourself?
A. There's no "i" in "team."
Q. How do you know if you're successful in your work?
A. At the end of the day, it's all about robust, world-class solutions.
Q. Where do most clichés come from?
A. Stakeholders push the envelope until it's outside the box.
Q. Is it hard to keep up with the seemingly endless supply of clichés that spew from business?
A. Some days, I don't have the bandwidth. It's like drinking from a fire hydrant.
Q. Do people notice that you're a cliché expert?
A. No, they can't get their arms around that. But they aren't incented to, and benchmarking the metrics is a challenge.
Q. Is it hard to keep up on all the new clichés?
A. Harder than nailing Jello to the wall.
Q. How do you keep track of all the clichés?
A. It's like herding cats. I walk the walk and talk the talk.
Q. Can you anticipate if a phrase is going to become a cliché?
A. Yes. I skate to where the puck's going to be. Because if you aren't the lead dog, you're not providing a customer-centric pro-active solution.
Q. Give us a new cliché that we'll be hearing ad nauseum.
A. Enronitis could be a next-generation player.
Q. Did incomprehensibility come naturally to you?
A. I wasn't wired that way, but it became mission-critical as I strategically focused on my go-forward plan.
Q. Is your work difficult?
A. It isn't rocket science. It isn't brain surgery. When you drill down to the granular level, it's basic blocking and tackling.
Q. How do you stay ahead of others in the buzzword industry?
A. Net-net, my value proposition is based on maximizing synergies and being first to market with a leveraged, value-added deliverable. That's the opportunity space on a level playing field.
Q. Does everyone in business eventually devolve into mouthing the sort of mindless drivel you spout?
A. If you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, you're a duck. They all drink the Kool-Aid.
Q. Do you read "Dilbert" in the newspaper?
A. My knowledge base is deselective of fiber media.
Q. Does that mean "no"?
Q. DOES THAT MEAN "NO"?
A. Let's take your issues offline.