Josie Jakovac

The Big Business of Tacky Clichés

Because nothing in business is new, it seems that the tacky cliché is back in. We’re 110% serious. #BossBabes


Gazing down at your brown leather-banded Daniel Wellington watch, you let out an irritated sigh. Should’ve used UberEats. You’ve been waiting five minutes now for your smashed avo toast, matcha latte, and black sesame ice cream to be wheeled out of the kitchen on a bed of liquid nitrogen. Better be #InstaWorthy. A graying man slumps down on the lounge next to you. Panicked, you reach for your iPhone X, trying to avoid a conversation with the eager coffee shop patron. Scroll and double-tap. Scroll and double-tap. Your fingers settle into a rhythm, soothing your self-diagnosed anxiety.

Welcome to the not-so-wonderful world of millennial clichés. Although this is an extreme example, the vast majority of our generation (early 1981 – early 2001) can resonate with a love of minimalism, alternative music, photography, architecture, kale, chia, hybrid coffee, innovative ice creams, a general lack of patience, or an unexplainable attraction to smartphones and tablets.

Particularly in the commercial sphere, there are certain phrases popularized by us millennials that really “grind the gears” of business professionals or “thought leaders.” We ask, however, if over 38,000 LinkedIn profiles call themselves “thought leaders” are they really leaders? The Big Smoke breaks down some of the most cringe-worthy business clichés of the twenty-first century.

  • 110 Percent: There’s nothing wrong with going above and beyond your calling, however we know this standard is literally impossible. To save yourself potentially being branded a liar, perhaps 100% or “give it your all” is a much better substitute.
  • Ideation: We all know that one budding entrepreneurial-esque engineering student/professional who uses this word more than deodorant. Defined as the “creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas” this verb-that-isn’t-a-verb is on the rise this year.
  • Boss Babes/Girl Boss: Perhaps intending to be uplifting and empowering, these labels tend to achieve the opposite effect. You don’t see male CEOs calling themselves “Boss Hunks,” so why is this a movement?
  • Pivot: “Ah, this business model isn’t working. Quick, switch to plan B! But mistakes are embarrassing, so why not coin a fancy term that misleads the general public into thinking we have no hiccups in our operations.”
  • Snackable: Content readily consumable in bite-sized pieces. Are terms reminiscent of food really necessary in a board room meeting? They just seem to make the hours pass even slower.
  • Touch Base: One of my “guilty-pleasure phrases” – the love child of business and baseball. Although its aura of professionalism is attractive, we promise there are fresher, more individualized and ultimately more meaningful ways of renewing contact with somebody.
  • Growth Hacking: No, it’s just marketing.

There is a central irony to the best and brightest innovators in our society falling victim to tired, overused language to express their new ideas. To all these “influencers” who create “snackable” content that helps entrepreneurs “growth hack,” this message is for you: invest in a thesaurus.


Josie Jakovac

Josie Jakovac is an 18-year-old student studying B Commerce (Dalyell Scholars)/B Laws at the University of Sydney. With a big mouth, a passion for people, and a love for current affairs, she’s never one to shy away from a lively debate. When she’s not sipping coffee, mulling over textbooks, and rapidly typing up her next article, you’ll find her beach-hopping and making music.

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