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Hack Your Vocabulary: The New ABCs Of Business

Fake Dictionary, definition of the word Translation.
Fake Dictionary, definition of the word Translation.

What better way to start the back-to-school/back-to-work season?

The new economy has given rise to a whole new language. Just when we thought we'd mastered the lexicon of the Internet, the next wave of terms has us flummoxed and confounded.

AdTech: Broadly refers to different types of analytics and digital tools used in the context of advertising. Discussions about ad tech often revolve around the extensive and complex systems used to direct advertising to individuals and specific target audiences. Source: Techopedia

B Corps: For-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. 1,600 companies have been certified. Source:

Content Marketing: A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience -- and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Source: Content Marketing Institute

Disruption: Disruption takes a left turn by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day. It's not the same as innovation, according to Forbes. It is both destructive and creative.

Entrepreneurs: People who start businesses. But it may not be a real job. Here's why, according to Entrepreneur. (And who would know better?)

Funnel: Not to be confused with the carnival treat or a scary cloud, a sales funnel is the set of steps a customer needs to take before reaching the step of buying. Smart marketers manage their funnels analytically and systematically, often using content marketing to identify and sell through the funnel.

Globalization: Certainly not a new term, but a concept that's been accelerated as a result of technology and the easing of trade barriers. Here's how to globalize your networking style. My office is globalizing too, which enables me to find resources all over the world! WeWork just expanded to Mexico City and China.

Hacking (as in growth hacking, as opposed to breaking computer code or doing crappy work -- although some growth hackers may, in fact, do that). It now has a generally positive connotation: "A process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business." Here are 100 life hacks too.

Investor (see also VC): Investments used to mean CDs, stocks, and bonds. In the world of entrepreneurship and Shark Tank, investors are the people who bet on start-up businesses. Here are some current trends in Angel Investing. (Angels invest in early-stage start-ups in exchange for equity. Read more here.

Joint Venture: A strategic alliance between companies. They are on the rise -- up 15% over last year.

KPI: Not new...I just have been hearing it a lot more lately. Many small businesses might not know what it means. They are Key Performance Indicators, and they are basically how you meaure your business' patterns and success. Here are some basic ones. You need to be able to quantify in order to be able to track progress.

Leader: Not just the dude or woman in charge these days. The era of "command and control" is long over and successful leaders need to have a whole new set of skills. Business media and LinkedIn are overflowing with articles about "habits of successful leaders." Here are just five. But feel free to Google more. I got close to 23 million results when I did it. That's a lot of habits -- way beyond flossing.

Millennials: I could go on and on and on. They make up most of the population these days. Study up on their buying and work habits. M also stands for martech (as in marketing technology). But you'll be reading more about this in my upcoming series on Content Marketing.

N: many choices. I could be narcisstic, like so many marketers out there and just say it stands for Nancy. Or nunu (my publishing company) or nano (like the usual length of my blogs), but I'll let YOU choose your favorite from this never-ending list.

Open Book Management: Basically, this approach to leadership involves letting your employees into the previously-sacred inner sanctum of how your business is run. In effect, you're going open kimono (which always sounds a little dirty to me).

Persona: "Who is my customer?" we used to ask. We called them target segments, conducted research (via focus groups and phone surveys) and wrote exhaustive decks about their attributes. Here's a cheat sheet on how to create a persona. You will also hear a lot about buyer persona journeys. (That's how they travel through the funnel.) Technology and analytics now enable us to track and measure what specific groups of customers and prospects do, when they do it, and how they do it -- online and sometimes in-store. In short, people buy stuff. And the more we understand what's in their heads and how their fingers and eyeballs move, the more stuff we can sell them.

Quiet and Quality: What are those these days? Here's how to be silent and mighty if you're an introvert (in an increasingly noisy world). Because we're all so transportable thanks to technology we can choose where to live and work based on quality of life.

Raising Capital: Everyone seems to be doing it, given the amazing rate of start-ups! Here's how. Women have had a tough time doing it. See W for how that might be changing.

Startups: People who invented things in their homes used to be considered weirdos and lunatics. We now are 27 million strong. We may still be lunatics, but nearly 14% of the people in the U.S. are starting or running a new business. Here are the top 17 launched so far this year.

Troll: I remember those bizarre little collectible dolls that were all the rage in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. (A troll movie is coming out this fall too because everything old is new again.) But now a troll is also someone who posts inflammatory messages on social media with the primary purpose of stirring up controversy. Everyone is a journalist these days (sort of). Here's how to deal with them.

"It's like the Uber for X." The on-demand economy (which was a close second for the O-word) started with Uber and Airbnb and Netflix. We can get what we want...whenever we want. And that trend is growing. But "Uber for X" has morphed into a joke because it became the start of a few too many pitch decks. Here are some other business jargon-y words that have been used ad nauseum.

VC: I was watching an old war movie yesterday and realized that not so long ago, it stood for Viet Cong. In the world of entrepreneurship, it is "a type of private equity, a form of financing that is provided by firms or funds to small, early-stage, emerging firms that are deemed to have high growth potential, or which have demonstrated high growth (in terms of number of employees, annual revenue, or both)." Here are the top 100.

Women in Business: Yup. We own 36% of all businesses and the number is growing. We're learning how to raise capital too.

Xcellent Word to Xpand Your Vocabulary: OK. I admit I was at a loss here. Perhaps we should bring back some of these 40 words from Mental Floss. And these cool women (and me too, sometimes), sign select correspondence with xo.

YouTube Advertising: It's here to stay, comprising 38% of digital ad spend. No wonder...YouTube videos get 4 billion views a day. Here are more amazing YouTube facts.

Catching Z's (aka sleeping) is becoming cool again. In fact, getting enough sleep will make you a better leader (see L for Leader and his/her habits). The mattress industry has been disrupted this year with companies like Casper and Saatva and we now have a wide choice of sleep monitors and trackers.

Speaking of sleep, compiling this vocabulary list was fun but exhausting. So, if I do a second installment (because I missed so many on-trend words!) I'd love to crowdsource the business alphabet next time. Please feel free to comment below before September 21st with your favorite word. Can you spell "collaboration" and "virality?"

Haven't had enough business jargon yet? This video is very funny!

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