More Stupider

By Lyle Hill

Lately, I’ve been regularly receiving comments from a number of highly respected individuals in our industry stating that the level of intelligence being exhibited by the newcomers to our businesses has reached an all-time low. Or, as one of my long-time peers said, “the ‘newbies’ are getting more stupider every year. They are lacking in basic business fundamentals and their vocabularies are dreadful. They are really great at texting their friends at incredible speeds, but they are terrible communicators and can’t write an intelligent memo or letter to save their lives.”

I do not take these comments lightly. Indeed, these types of things trouble me greatly because I truly care about our industry and the people in it. However, because I have put three kids of my own through the public education system and currently have nine grandchildren plodding along in the same system, I fear that we, both as an industry and as a society, are, as my colleague stated, getting “more stupider every year.” Who is to blame for this could be the subject of great debate, but because I hate great debates, we will not go in that direction right now. Instead, I am going to attempt to help just a little bit to upgrade the general working knowledge of the “newbies” and, in particular, their business vocabularies, by offering some very basic definitions, which are extremely important for our everyday use. After all, without effective communication, which starts with a sound business vocabulary, we are doomed. So here we go:

Cash Flow … like the laws of gravity (what goes up must come down), but with cash flow it’s what comes in must go out (and often at an accelerated speed).

ROI (Return on Investment) … the biggest investment you will ever make in your working career is not money but time. If you are not getting a fair return on your investment of time, you need to start spending your time on something else … and usually somewhere else. You may have a chance at getting wasted or lost money back, but you have no chance of getting wasted or lost time back.

Fair Rate of Compensation (getting paid for what you produce) … I have long been convinced that about 20% of the nation’s workforce is far overpaid for what they produce while 80% are far underpaid for what they produce. Your goal should always be to crack that 20% group.

Accountants (the bean counters) … usually the kids that dressed a little funny and got pushed around and laughed at a lot in high school. Now they’re your accountants and they’re out to get even.

The IRS … a terrorist organization that somehow (while no one was watching) got legalized by the U.S. Government.

An Audit … similar to oral surgery only performed without anesthesia by an accountant who wanted to be a dentist but couldn’t afford dental school.

Bankers … ectoplasmic creatures who are your best friend as long as you are current with your loan payments. However, heaven cannot help you (and don’t count on your friends either) when you fall behind on your payments. They also usually have very nice lawns and dress well.

Sales Reps … great story tellers and rumor spreaders. On rare occasion, you may actually find one who not only knows what he is talking about, but is quite helpful as well. Adopt them if you can!

Consultants … usually a person who has had difficulty holding down a real job. Knows a little about a lot of things, but not too much about any one thing. As the old saying goes … “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, consult.”

Goodwill … that nice feeling you get when you have a lot of money in the bank or just took a sweet job away from one of your competitors. Not to be confused with good intentions, good deeds, good behavior or the common good.

Passion … an overused and wrongly used word that has gotten into the business vocabulary. Passion is not something that should be directed toward a job, a product or a business. Direct your passion at other human beings.

Profit … someone who can see into the future and give great advice about what to do with your life … oh, wait a minute! I think I spelled that wrong. I think I meant “prophet” and not “profit.” I really have no idea what the word “profit” means.

Cooking da Books … unless you want to get into real trouble with the feds (see IRS above), you never want to cook your books. Much better to massage them a bit or better yet, have someone else massage them for you.

Write-Offs … what every uninformed person in America who has never owned a business thinks business owners do with all those extra piles of money they accumulate to avoid paying taxes.

The “Perfect” Employee … does not exist.

The “Perfect” Employer … see answer above.

Okay. I hope this has helped you to be less stupider than you were before. Now get back to work!

Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also serves as president of, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at

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