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What do you say to a large Texan who walks up to you and tells you that “you can’t teach a pig to sing”?

On a recent trip to visit Profiles International in Waco, Texas I was introduced to a whole new vocabulary.  One that somehow manages to make very succinct business points in absolutely clear and yet entertaining language.

The following guide to some of the more common phrases in this unique lexicon will give you a useful heads-up should you ever be lucky enough to travel to meet the great people of Texas.

Talking Texan

  •  “Even a blind hog’ll root up an ear o’ corn every now ‘n’ then!”.  Message: Everyone gets lucky occasionally.  I heard this one used at the end of a two-day intensive sales training session for new company representatives.  All of the trainees were so completely motivated to go out and be successful that the trainers knew that this “high” would carry them into a quick and early success.  What the trainers wanted to ensure was that the participants didn’t lose their heads and think that this was going to happen every day as easily – that they kept their efforts focused and consistent.  Luck in business is good unless you get it confused with success.
  • “That dog won’t hunt”.  Message: That idea /scheme / plan will never work, or “surely you don’t expect me to swallow that?!”.  Heard from a corporation president at the end of a presentation on a new product marketing initiative. He used it to say: “It’s not that I don’t like your dog, on the contrary, I think he’s fine.  It’s not that your dog’s not fit for many other things – I just don’t think he fits what we need right now”.
  •  “You can’t teach a pig to sing” (or can you?) . Followed closely by “- you’ll just irritate the pig”.  Message: Don’t try to be something you’re not, and don’t try to make someone else successful at something they patently are not cut out for (remember “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”?).   Look at everyone in terms of their strengths at and then put them somewhere they can play to those strengths.  None of us are happy as a square peg in a round hole.
  •  “Don’t spill your candy in the lobby”.  Message: Don’t use your best material until you find yourself in front of someone who can make a decision.  Overheard in use by a sales trainer talking about appointment setting.   We’ve all done it – sent a prospective client a detailed brochure that outlines exactly what we do, who we do it for, how well we do it, and how much it costs.  Then we call up to find that when we request a meeting with our hot prospect she declines.  Why? Because you’ve told her all she needs to know to “think it over for a while”, and at that point you know it’s all over.  You blew it. Save all of your good points, all of the killer reasons for doing business with you until you are certain you’re in front of someone who can do something for you.  Don’t spill your candy in the lobby – hold something back for the big picture.
  •  “You’re either green ‘n’ growing or you’re ripe ‘n’ rottin'”. Message: the day you stop coming up with brand new ideas; the moment you believe you’ve arrived, you’re dead.  There’s a more Harvard Business Review version of this one that goes “Innovate or Die”.  But, for me, ripe ‘n’ rotten gets the point across a little more directly.
  • “Let’s get our missiles in the air – and we’ll aim them later”.  Message: The time for talking is past, let’s take action.  This one was used when exhaustive discussion by the late Jim Sirbasku on a new Internet strategy had produced no consensus on a single best way forward.  Exasperated, Jim use this beauty to announce his decision to quit putting off a decision and to run with the best plan they had up to that point, on the basis that, if needed, they could always fine-tune their direction later on.

And, sorry, but I just couldn’t resist sharing my own personal favourite:

  •  “…just cut the horns off and wipe it’s a**”.  Message: I’d like my steak large and rare, please.

You all do well now, y’hear!

Any humorous or interesting business expressions where you come from?

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