Four Phrases That Deserve to Be Retired

Recently my teenage daughter informed me the word “hip” is no longer hip. Now “cool” is what you want to be. In the interest of making you more cool at work, I’ve included four phrases that should never cross your lips in 2009.

“Pay for performance”
With trillions of dollars disappearing from stock markets and economies worldwide, it’s a gross understatement to call 2008 a bad year. It was a year that slashed our savings, threatened our jobs and rocked our confidence. Yet, at the very same time banks were “borrowing” billions of dollars from our nation’s treasury, their executives were also larding on themselves huge bonuses. Over $18 billion worth, according to President Obama. I think it is time to officially retire the phrase “pay for performance.” The phrase to use now is “pay in spite of performance,” because clearly for today’s corner office crowd this escalator only knows how to go up.

“Greed is good”
When Oliver Stone had Gordon Gekko share his feelings about greed in the movie Wall Street, it was meant as satire, not as a training film. Unfortunately, our current crop of folks at the top of the corporate food chain believed if greed is good, then a whole bunch must be even better. Corporate salaries shot into the stratosphere and even Alan Greenspan was struck by how the “self-regulating” market could go haywire when the guys at the top have an insatiable hunger for more, more, more.

“Free Market”
Okay, we’re not using that “N” word yet, nationalization. But with trillions of dollars doled out from Congress, the Fed and countries around the world, few people outside of Hannity and Rush actually believe that our markets are free any longer. Nope, the TARP bill’s first $350 billion dollar bailout marked the end of capitalism as we know it. Imagine that, most of us got a two-fer in our lifetime—we got to see the end of communism when the wall fell and the end of capitalism when Lehman Brothers imploded.

“Corporate Leadership”
It’s hard to turn on the radio or TV without hearing about the latest layoff. However, we’re hearing considerably less about CEOs who cut their bonuses, perks and even their salaries before a layoff. I’m sure there are a few out there that do, but they’re not speaking up. We need to hear these stories. Because out current crop of “leaders” needs to learn that a layoff is a form of failure that needs to be acknowledged by a sacrifice that always starts at the top. And don’t even get me started on the phrase, “corporate responsibility.” Hey Mr. CEO, let’s start treating corporations like they’re public trusts and not your personal piggy bank.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, award-winning journalist and contributor to On The Money. He has been called “Dilbert with a solution.” Check out the free resources available at You can contact Bob via

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.