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Jargon makes you look stupid

This article also appeared in Finweek magazine in their 27-Sep-2012 print issue and online.

When I was still working in corporate as a clinical trial project manager, my manager sent an email to his boss describing how I’d beaten the targets on two of our research trials. Without thinking, he used lots of the lingo that everyone in our department understood, like FPV, LPV, ER and so on. When I got home that night, I gave the email to my husband to read. “Well, what do you think? Pretty cool, hey?” I asked, bursting with excitement.

However, after going through it three or four times, he looked at me blankly and said (as diplomatically as he could): “I can see you’re really excited about this, and it must be good news. But I’m really sorry. I don’t understand a word of this email. Can you tell me what it means?”

I learnt a fundamental lesson that day. It really brought home to me just how critical it is to communicate in a way that anyone can understand. It doesn’t matter if they are a child, a foreigner or someone outside your field. Continue reading

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Celebrating Failure

This article also appeared in Finweek magazine in their 6-Sep-2012 issue

The American author Theodor Geisel, who wrote under the pen name of Dr. Seuss, was rejected by 27 publishers when he submitted his first manuscript. When he finally found a publisher, his 46 books including “Cat in the Hat”, and “Green Eggs and Ham” went on to sell nearly half a billion books worldwide.

Renowned writer JK Rowling shares a similar story. Her first book “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was submitted to 12 publishing houses. All 12 rejected it. But then the number 13 turned out to be an incredibly lucky one for Rowling and the Bloomsbury publishing group. Rowling went from living on social security to being a self-made billionaire. In its 2011 world billionaires’ list, Forbes estimated Rowling’s net worth at US$1bn.

Looking at these phenomenal turnarounds, there are a number of critical lessons we can take away:

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