As you develop your career in the corporate world, it’s important to understand what you’re hearing. People say stuff all the time and it isn’t always clear what they are thinking or meaning. So here is a quick guide to some stuff you’ll hear:

When the CEO says: “We’re going on the acquisition trial to inject growth back into this company”.

Real meaning: We will buy stuff that’s up for sale and get bigger, hopefully we will be able to cut costs later to build a bigger more profitable company (note no connection to strategy or semblance of a post-acquisition integration plan).

When the VP Production says: “I’ve no budget for what you want or what that salesman is selling you.”

Real meaning: Last year when I put my very average, ill conceived, financial plan to bed, I hadn’t considered the problem you’ve articulated. Now I’m stuck with budget items I don’t want to spend money on and no budget for items I need.

When the CFO says: “The demand for our products has softened causing a 10% adverse variance to the equivalent quarter last year”.

Real meaning: I can see our top line is down 10% but I’ve no idea the root cause, or which product line brought us down or what tactics we thought would work but didn’t.

When the CMO says: “Visitors to our web site have increased quarter over quarter but the benefits have not shown through in the top line”.

Real meaning: I know how to read Google analytics but I’m unclear what campaigns had an impact on the visitors numbers and how that was supposed to benefit the sales team.

When the CFO says: “We intend to achieve at least $10m of synergistic benefits from this acquisition”.

Real meaning: Hopefully no one will ask me, when, how and who will actually achieve these synergies because I’m not aware of anyone on our side accountable for delivering this number!

When the CEO of a highly rated start up says: “Using this new $50m injection of VC funding, we will continue to invest aggressively in sales and marketing talent and campaigns to accelerate our market share in this new and exciting space”.

Real meaning: Hopefully before anyone realizes we will never make any money from this idea, a large overseas acquirer who buys the dream, will overpay and I can move on to my next story.

If you even smell that’s the real meaning behind the comment, consider all your career options and call me.