Career Development

Yogababble: The Destroyer of Careers

Tell me, have you been in the audience at a presentation or read a colleague’s email and wondered, WTF are they talking about?

I think we all have.

If so, you have been the victim of Yogababble.

Right now I know you’re thinking, “What the hell is Yogababble?” Good question. Let’s unpack that.

Yogababble was first coined by Professor Scott Galloway in response to the S-1 document filed by WeWork founders Adam Neumann and Rebecca Neumann. Basically, it meant using lots of words that were meaningless and confused every reader.

Urban Dictionary: Spiritual-sounding language used by companies to sell products or make their brand more compelling on an emotional level.

Prof G (as he’s commonly known) uses this term in relation to the mission statements of organisations. For WeWork (for whatever reason) it was to “elevate the world’s consciousness”.

This was quite confusing considering they were supposed to be an office space company that was masquerading as a tech company. Were they saying desks would make us smarter and more connected? It’s a strange world.

Anyway, I digress!

You don’t need to be a startup founder with a Jesus complex to suffer from the perils of Yogababble. Many of us are struck down by it in emails, slack messages and daily conversations.

It still happens to me to this day. Mostly when negotiating with my wife on a new piece of furniture. P.S. She wins, always.

I see this crime committed daily in my own industry too.

From course pages to learning pathways. The Yogababble pandemic shows no mercy.

So, what can we do about that?

An example of yogababble

How to avoid Yogababble

In Friday’s conversation, I shared a bunch of tips to help improve your writing with the goal of clarifying your thinking too.

As a build to this, here’s a few more thoughts on how to avoid the Yogababble black hole in your own work.

If your presentation, email or general conversation sounds like:

  1. The Oxford English Dictionary on steroids
  2. The sales pages of a local cult leader
  3. The explanation of The Matrix from that old guy in the beat-up chair from the 2nd film

Then destroy what you’ve got and start again.

Instead, try:

  1. Being clear, not clever with your words
  2. Get to the key message first, not 400 slides later
  3. Speak human, not robot (that includes AI standard lingo)

Many great products, purposes and even people have been ruined by Yogababble.

Scott Galloway's Yogababble maturity model

The L&D industry is certainly full of it.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been ambushed by a vendor or sat in a briefing with other L&D pros where I’ve been completely bamboozled by their level of yogababbley BS.

“We’re going to build a blended learning experience with a dash of miro-learning that leverages human-centred design to take place in the metaverse”.

Like WTF! We just want to roll out an upskilling programme to improve team collaboration.

The C-suite team were equally confused.

Yogababble in L&D

One of my best exchanges came with a vendor.

They were adamant in their statement they were ‘The complete learning platform’. I don’t even know what that means. They proceeded to try enchanting me with their talk of algorithms, APIs and machine-learning capabilities that they thought I wouldn’t understand.

Little did they know my whole education was in technology, and my inner circle were all employees of big tech firms. It’s safe to say, they weren’t chosen to partner with my team.

If they had dropped the Yogababble and tried to be clear on what they do, would it have been a different outcome? Potentially.

The point is that the practice of Yogababble does not make you look smart.

There’s a reason some people connect with my work and others with what’s seen as more elite establishments.

As the great Nikki Sixx said, “Don’t aim to be popular, aim to be real”.

My love for memes, gifs and cutting through the noise words with the occasional F-bomb help me with this. Anyway, I’m digressing, again! Typical for me to make this all about me.

Break the curse

Yogababble often strikes when we are nervous or unsure of how to say what we want.

We make the mistake of being clever, not clear.

Every human suffers from it (even AI does). You can change that though. The worst feeling is when you write or say something that you feel hits the mark but turns your audience off about 30 seconds into your 10-minute speech.

Put yourself in the audience’s shoes, what is it they need to know?

Never forget, you’re a human. Not a corporate jargon cursed robot.

Experiment with these tips above to see if you can improve on your words.

Bruce Lee has a great quote which embodies this message: “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” 

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

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