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Benign to Five: Cliche away

By Jonathan Rivett

 I had to give you just one piece of career advice (and I don't have to, because this is a weekly gig), it would be "never resort to cliche".

While I was working as the chief executive of a global mega-corporation dealing in consumer electronics, I was asked to launch one of our new products.

I said: "Can't we just get Trunk Matthews to do it as usual?" Trunk Matthews was the vice-president of brand dissemination and expulsion. He had a fat head and a loud voice, and that seemed to work for him.

Anyway, Trunk was away launching another pad or pod or pud and wasn't available.

I said: "What about Bute Wojang?" Bute Wojang was the executive director of consumer telling. He resembled a French bulldog and smelt like mineral turpentine, but he was a real crowd-pleaser. Bute had severe gastro at the time.

I said: "All right, I'll do the bloody launch, but I'm not wearing sneakers or a skivvy, or pacing a stage wearing a headset mike, or bursting a neck vein trying to stop the thing from making a beeping noise, or referring to PowerPoint slides, or exaggerating about some of the least-interesting features, or subtly intimating that I want to have sex with it, or mentioning any of the following words: innovative, awesome, revolutionary, values, learnings or iteration."

So Bute did it. He made a mess of the presentation and the stage. The device didn't sell very well. But the important thing was that I hadn't resorted to a consumer technology launch cliche.

I may no longer have the CEO role at that mega-corporation, but I do have my dignity.

Jonathan Rivett keeps a catalogue of Haught feelings at

Published: 27 October 2012

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