Idioms of Top CEOS

Idioms of Top CEOs

English Idioms Every Executive MUST Know!

INTRODUCTION:

If you’re an adult English learner and aspire to be a global business executive you’ll need to think seriously about developing a POWERFUL vocabulary.

Why?Idioms of Top CEOS.jpg

Because top CEOS are master communicators, and they all have one thing in common…

They each possess a rich vocabulary; chock-full of business idioms they can deploy at the right moment, to articulate the right message to their staff, customers, or shareholders.

This GUIDE was created to give you an arsenal of the most up-to-date business idioms heard at the executive level today.

The idioms in this GUIDE are taught through captivating short stories about some of America’s most influential CEOs.

Best of all, ‘this’ GUIDE will teach ‘you’ how to remember these idioms in context effortlessly so you NEVER forget them!

As a bonus, there are 3 idiom quizzes included in this GUIDE; that you can try to prove ‘to’ yourself just how easily it is to MASTER these business English idioms.

See you in the C-Suite!

Let’s Get Started!

MARISSA MAYER – YAHOO

“STICKER SHOCK”

Warm up Question:

Do you use Yahoo?

About the CEO

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer did not let sticker shock prevent her company from buying Tumblr for 1.1 billion dollars in 2013. If she was scared or intimidated by what Tumblr cost to buy, she didn’t show it. Marissa believed that buying Tumblr would be expensive in the short term, but profitable in the long term.

Idiom Meaning

Sticker shock – To be scared, dismayed, or intimidated by seeing the cost of something you are considering buying. Having second thoughts when you realize exactly how much something is going to cost you.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Have you ever experienced sticker shock while shopping?
  2. What kinds of consumer products or services might give you sticker shock?
  3. Which products give your customers sticker shock?

 

JEFFREY WEINER – LINKEDIN

“LOW- HANGING FRUIT”

Warm up Question:

Do you have a LinkedIn profile?

About the CEO

As the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeffrey Weiner led the company when it made its first acquisition in 2010 of the startup mspoke. In doing so, Jeffrey didn’t just go after thelow-hanging fruit. mspoke was a very valuable company and not easy to acquire. This showed that Weiner didn’t just do the easy work first and was not afraid of a challenge.

Idiom Meaning

Low-hanging fruit – the easiest work or opportunities (that may be tackled or pursued first – perhaps putting off difficult work or opportunities for later).

Questions for Discussion

  1. Do you usually pick the low-hanging fruit at the office on Friday afternoons?
  2. Why is low-hanging fruit usually given to new employees?
  3. In what situations might you choose the low hanging fruit?

 

RICHARD EDELMAN – EDELMAN

“ROCK STAR”

Warm up Question:

Does your CEO have a blog?

About the CEO

As CEO of public relations company Edelman since 1996, Richard Edelman has been a very visible success. He was one of the first CEOs in public relations to understand how important social media would become. He invented the phrase “circle of cross-influence” and has kept his company independent and profitable. He was also one of the first CEOs to have his own blog, which is read today by people all over the public relations industry. In short, he’s a rock star performer.

Idiom Meaning

Rock Star – To be successful in a spectacular, visible way. To be able to draw attention and captivate others.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Who in your company would you say is a rock star?
  2. What do you need to do to become a rock star performer?
  3. Are any of your friends or family members, rock stars in their careers?

 

JOHN SCHLIFSKE – NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL

“GAME CHANGER”

Warm up Question:

Do you believe in having insurance?

About the CEO

The CEO of Northwestern Mutual, John Schlifske is the driving force behind the company’s planned new corporate office building. The tower will have 32 stories and be 550 feet tall when it is finished in 2017. It will be the second largest building in Milwaukee and make Northwestern Mutual more visible than it ever was before. Now that’s a game changer!

Idiom Meaning

Game changer – An event that changes everything. Some kind of upheaval that makes people re-evaluate how they are doing business.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What products or services does your company offer that could be game changers?
  2. What do you think will be the next big technological game changer?
  3. Can you think of a game changer, recent or otherwise, in your industry?

 

CRAIG JELINEK – COSTCO

“ROCKET SCIENCE”

Warm up Question:

Do you shop at Costco?

About the CEO

Craig Jelinek is the CEO of Costco, a chain of supermarkets where customers load their own shopping carts. The customers appreciate the savings passed on to them as a result of doing this little bit of work themselves, because this isn’t rocket science! Costco also has a great reputation for keeping its employees happy by paying them well and offering plenty of vacation time.

Idiom Meaning

Rocket science – Something that isn’t especially difficult to do or understand. Some kind of work or task that isn’t complicated or technical in nature.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Do you think that speaking English is rocket science?
  2. What jobs in your company would you say are rocket science?
  3. Do you think that your job is rocket science?

 

ALAN MULALLY – FORD

“END OF THE DAY”

Warm up Question:

Do you drive a Ford?

About the CEO

Alan Mulally was the CEO of Ford Motor Company between 2006 and 2014. He accomplished a lot as CEO. Under his leadership Ford began to make a profit having been losing money, and was able to avoid being bailed out by the government. At the end of the day, Ford Motor Company could not have had a better CEO, during this turbulent economic period, than Mulally.

Idiom Meaning

At the end of the day – All things considered.

Questions for Discussion

  1. At the end of the day, we all just work to make money. Wouldn’t you agree?
  2. At the end of the day, do you think you’ll be fluent in English eventually?
  3. At the end of the day, are things improving in your country?

 

PAUL JACOBS – QUALCOMM

“BLEEDING EDGE”

Warm up Question:

Does your smartphone run on Qualcomm?

About the CEO

Under the leadership of Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm developed and introduced BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) as a proprietary cell phone application download solution. The company took a risk in introducing this new technology into the marketplace, but didn’t think it was bleeding edge technology. Jacobs, an engineer himself, understood the marketplace and newer technologies. He knew it would succeed.

Idiom Meaning

Bleeding edge technology – Technology that is so new that its developers are taking a risk if they choose to try to sell it. This risk could be because customers might not understand the new technology. Maybe it hasn’t been adequately tested, or the industry just isn’t ready for it for various reasons.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What bleeding edge technology have you heard of lately?
  2. What technology do you own that was bleeding edge a year ago, but now isn’t?
  3. Does your company produce bleeding edge technology?

 

BRAD SMITH – INTUIT

“FACE TIME”

Warm up Question:

Do you own Intuit software?

About the CEO

Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit, was the leader of the company’s small business division before he became the CEO. He managed products including QuickBooks, Quicken and Payroll. He would be a great person to talk to in person to get ideas from. I would love to talk to him about business. In fact, I wish I could call him up and say, “We need some face time together.”

Idiom Meaning

We need some face time together – We need to talk in person. “Face time” means you are actually with the person, and not just communicating over the phone or through email.

Questions for Discussion

  1. When was the last time you had some face time with your boss?
  2. Why is it important to have face time with your customers?
  3. Do you prefer to have regular face time with your English teacher, or would you prefer to study online?

 

LLOYD BLANKFEIN – GOLDMAN SACHS

“PUSH THE ENVELOPE”

Warm up Question:

Have you invested with Goldman Sachs?

About the CEO

If anyone has ever said to Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein,”Don’t push the envelope,” he didn’t listen. Blankflein has made a career out of pushing his company as far is it will go, and has even created some controversy and had to testify in front of congress. Blankflein goes as far as he can and it has worked for his company. Goldman Sachs was one of the few companies actually to profit from the collapse of the subprime mortgage industry.

Idiom Meaning

Don’t push the envelope – Don’t take things too far. Don’t take unnecessary risks. “Pushing the envelope” can be seen as a good or bad thing depending on the context.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Do salespeople sometimes push the envelope too far with prospects?
  2. In what situations might you need to push the envelope?
  3. What are the risks of pushing the envelope?

 

SHARON TURNEY – VICTORIA SECRET

“HIT THE GROUND RUNNING”

Warm up Question:

Have you heard of Victoria Secret?

About the CEO

When Sharon Turney became the CEO of Victoria’s Secret in July of 2006, she hit the ground running and quickly began making money for the company. Under her leadership, the total sales revenue of the company has gone from 4.5 to over 6.1 billion dollars, making Victoria’s Secret the biggest seller of intimate ladies apparel in the United States.

Idiom Meaning

To Hit the ground running – To start doing something fast and well. Someone who “hits the ground running” doesn’t stand around and wait for someone to tell them what to do; they immediately get on with it.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Did you have to hit the ground running when you started your first job?
  2. In what other situations would you want to hit the ground running?
  3. Did your president have to hit the ground running after he/she was elected?

 

BUSINESS ENGLISH IDIOM QUIZ 1

1. I spoke with a maid with a reputation for doing good work. Iwanted to hire her to clean my office, but when she told me that she wanted fifty dollars per hour I experienced sticker______ and decided not to employ her.

Fear

Terror

Shock

Fright

2. If you want to succeed in sales, you have to try to sell to people that are harder to convince, not just those who you know will buy your product right away.(without your even making a good sales pitch). To do a great job in sales, you have to do more than just go after the low hanging_____.

Branches

Fruit

Plants

Leaves

3. The CEO earned a huge bonus last year. He turned the company around and made more dividends for shareholders and gave raises to employees. Everyone knows that he’s a _____ star.

Hot

Pop

Metal

Rock

4. When the subprime housing market collapsed in the United States in 2007 and 2008, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression began. United States banks had to be bailed out by the government and stock prices fell around the world. The housing market collapsed and many people were evicted from their homes. Unemployment was rampant. Economists were confused and in disagreement about how it had happened in the first place. It was a game _____!

Swapper

Changer

Yielder

Stopper

5. If you’re running a small business, you have to make sure that the floors are swept and that the showroom and warehouse are clean. A dirty business place makes customers less likely to spend money and makes employees less happy to be there. Make sure that you hire a good custodian to keep all areas neat and tidy. This isn’t rocket _____, but it’s critical.

Science

Wizardry

Engineering

Technique

6. There are many different ways to run a business. You can let your employees make some decisions or you can make them all yourself. You can borrow money to expand or wait until you can afford not to borrow. Yet, at the end of the _____, all that really matters is whether or not you can turn a profit.

Day

Hour

Week

Evening

7. The president refused to let his engineers release their new microchip as a product. “It’s _____ edge technology,” he said. The marketplace won’t be ready for it for twenty years.

Bleeding

Razor

Stealing

Saving

8. The boss called his manager and said, “We need to have a meeting together in my office. Come in next Wednesday at ten. I have something important to discuss concerning the new product launch and it can’t be over the telephone. Email won’t work either. We need some ______ time together.”

Day

Down

Break

Face

9. “We might be able to make money by attempting a hostile takeover of a smaller company,” said the consultant. “But it’s too much of a risk and we aren’t going to do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. We shouldn’t push the _____.”

Cart

Pillar

Paper Clip

Envelope

10. When Jenny started university as a freshman, she hit the ______ running, taking five business classes and two engineering classes her first semester and getting A’s in all of them. Since then, she hasn’t slowed down and is about to graduate a year early with a double major in Business Administration and Mechanical

Engineering.

Wall

Road

Floor

Ground

Answers to this QUIZ at the end of this Webpage

HOWARD SCHULTZ – STARBUCKS

“CIRCLE BACK”

Warm up Question:

How often do you visit Starbucks?

About the CEO

Howard Schultz is the CEO of Starbucks, a phenomenally successful company. But when Schultz started in the coffee business, he had trouble getting people to lend him money. He asked some people who had to think about it a while before giving him money. He probably heard “Can I circle back with you?” quite a bit in those days, but not anymore!

Idiom Meaning

Can I circle back with you? – Can I get back to you? When you say this to someone it usually means that you need more time to research an issue, or that you don’t want to commit to anything yet.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Who do you need to circle back with today or tomorrow?
  2. Why do people circle back with each other?
  3. In what work situations might you need to circle back with someone?

 

MARK ZUCHERBERG – FACEBOOK

“DEEP DIVE”

Warm up Question:

Do you have a Facebook account?

About the CEO

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is worth an estimated 3.1 billion. Let’s do a deep dive and see how that happened. First, he learned computer programming as a teenager. Then he went to Harvard and started Facebook for other Harvard students from his dorm room in 2004. Next, he expanded his social networking site to other universities. Finally, he moved to California with some business associates and expanded Facebook into a global phenomenon.

Idiom Meaning

Let’s do a deep dive – Let’s look at or explore something more deeply. A deep dive can be an analysis, investigation or presentation.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Have you ever done a deep dive into your customers’ needs?
  2. What can you learn from doing a deep dive in business?
  3. If you’re going to buy a home or vehicle would you do a deep dive?

 

LARRY PAGE – GOOGLE

“SPIN IT”

Warm up Question:

What Google applications do you use?

About the CEO

Larry Page, the CEO of Google, is the inventor of PageRank, which is the basis of Google’s search algorithm. Page was able to see the Internet in a new way: as a series of separate webpages that could be connected. At first when he explained his idea for what became the Google search engine, people didn’t understand. Later, he and his colleagues went on to explain in different ways until people did understand. Maybe he said to his colleagues “We need to spin it a different way until people get what we’re talking about.”

Idiom Meaning

We need to spin it a different way (idea, presentation, sales pitch) – We need to explain or present the same idea in a different way so that people will accept it.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What things do we have to spin in a different way so our children can understand?
  2. Do politicians spin bad news into good news?
  3. How do advertisers spin ideas to make money?

 

RICHARD DAVIS – BANCORP

“CRUNCH TIME”

Warm up Question:

Is Bancorp in your country?

About the CEO

Richard Davis is the CEO of Bancorp and has been involved in banking since he was eighteen years old. He is also known for his role in the lockout of musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2012 and 2013. He said during the lockout that the orchestra had to be financially responsible, even if that meant losing musicians. Basically, he was saying, “It’s crunch time.”

Idiom Meaning

It’s crunch time – It’s time to make hard decisions. It’s time to do what needs to be done. A time when the pressure is on. Crunch time in business is when you have to do what needs to be done to survive.

Questions for Discussion

  1. When is it exam crunch time for college students?
  2. When is number crunch time for accounting professionals?
  3. For sales professionals, when is it crunch time?

 

MARC BENIOFF – SALESFORCE

“IN THE WEEDS”

Warm up Question:

Does your company use Salesforce software?

About the CEO

Marc Benioff is the CEO of the cloud computing giant salesforce.com. He has revolutionized the industry by pioneering cloud computing, which he believes will one day make software obsolete. He works long hours. He’s active in philanthropy.

He serves on government commissions. Although he is involved in a lot of things at the same time, he’s never overwhelmed. You sure can’t say that he’s off in the weeds.

Idiom Meaning

Off in the weeds – overwhelmed or flustered because of trying to do more than you are able to do.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Have you ever got stuck in the weeds with a task?
  2. What should you do avoid staying in the weeds?
  3. Do most company managers try to stay out of the weeds?

 

JERRY KENNELLY – RIVERBED TECHNOLOGY

“PUSH BACK”

Warm up Question:

Have you heard of Riverbed Technology?

About the CEO

Jerry Kennelly is the CEO of Riverbed Technology and one of its founders. The company was established on May 23rd, 2002. Riverbed Technology is a company that helps other Information Technology companies use their network applications more efficiently. Another company recently offered 3.36 billion to acquire Riverbed Technology. That’s how valuable the company is today. If Kennelly wanted to meet with someone, they would never say, “Can we push back the meeting?”

Idiom Meaning

Can we push back the meeting – Can we do the meeting later than we planned. Someone would ask to do this if they needed more time to prepare for a meeting or if they were trying to avoid it.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Have you pushed back any work-related meetings recently?
  2. For what reasons might you push back a meeting or appointment?
  3. What personal things have you had to push back recently?

EDWARD JOHNSON – FIDELITY INVESTMENTS

“Speak Offline”

Warm up Question:

Do you own any Fidelity investments?

About the CEO

CEO Edward “Ned” Johnson III runs Fidelity Investments, which handles a large number of mutual funds and takes care of many other financial services for its clients. It’s one of the largest companies of its type in the world. The company deals with a lot of confidential financial information, so if someone asked Johnson in a meeting to discuss something he couldn’t talk about in the open, he might say, “Let’s speak offline” to the person.

Idiom Meaning

Let’s speak offline – Let’s talk about this privately, away from others. Someone would say this in a meeting if someone else brought up a topic that couldn’t be discussed openly. It’s a friendly way of indicating that you need to speak privately to someone.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Has your boss ever asked you during a meeting to speak offline about something?
  2. What kinds of discussion items are usually taken offline from formal meetings?
  3. Would you prefer to speak to your boss offline about a salary raise?

 

MICKEY DREXLER – J.CREW

“GATEKEEPER”

Warm up Question:

Have you shopped at J. Crew?

About the CEO

As CEO of J. Crew, Mickey Drexler has accomplished a lot. He took the over the CEO spot in 1989 after gaining management experience at Gap. Since 1989, he’s turned J. Crew from a casual mail order business into an upscale powerhouse that sells in “brick and mortar” stores. To get a meeting with an executive as powerful as Drexler, you’d have to ask, “Who’s the gatekeeper?”, to know who to talk to for an appointment.

Idiom Meaning

The gatekeeper is the person who controls access to the powerful person or boss who can make financial decisions. A “gatekeeper” is often a secretary or an assistant.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Does your company have a gatekeeper to the CEO?
  2. Have you ever had to get past a gatekeeper?
  3. If you wanted to speak to someone important, what strategies and tactics would you use to get past the gatekeeper?

 

TIM COOK – APPLE

“MADE A KILLNG”

Warm up Question:

What Apple products do you own?

About the CEO

Tim Cook has been the CEO of Apple since he took over from the legendary Steve Jobs in 2011. Since then, he’s made tremendous profits from the stock shares in the company he was awarded by the board of directors. He’s been with Apple since 1998 and has been successful in everything he’s done. He’s also on the boards of Nike Corporation and the National Football League. With all the money he’s acquired over the years, he’s really made a killing.

Idiom Meaning

Made a killing – Made a lot of money through some kind of business project or scheme.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Do you know anyone who made a killing in the real estate or stock market last year?
  2. Did your company make a killing last year in sales?
  3. What have you ever made a killing at personally?

 

BOB IGER – DISNEY

“HOT BUTTONS”

Warm up Question:

Have you been to Disneyworld?

About the CEO

When Bob Iger took over as CEO of Disney in 2005 from Michael Eisner, he had some big shoes to fill and some people doubted him. But when he led the acquisition of Pixar in 2006, he proved that he was able to ask and answer the question, “What are their hot buttons?” when it comes to figuring out what is truly important to film audiences.

Idiom Meaning

Hot buttons – What is it that people really want? For instance, if a man buys an expensive sports car, his hot button might not be the car itself; it might be the need to impress his peers.

Questions for Discussion

  1. If you were looking for a new car, what would be your hot buttons?
  2. What restaurants hit your kids’ hot buttons?
  3. What hot buttons does your company’s product push?

 

BUSINESS ENGLISH IDIOMS QUIZ 2

11. The owner of the construction company wasn’t ready to give a quote to the homeowner when she asked for one. “Can I _____ back with you?” he asked her. “I need to crunch the numbers first to figure out what I would charge you for remodeling your home and putting in a new swimming pool.”

Circle

Return

Move

Square

12. “I’m not sure if our company is ready to expand into the telecommunications market yet,” said the CEO of HIJ Corporation to his middle management team. “Before we decide, let’s do a deep _____ and research the situation. I want each of you to look into the pros and cons in depth and prepare a presentation for me to hear by Friday.”

Swim

Jump

Leap

Dive

13. “We need to _____ it a different way,” the businessman said to his partner after the bank refused to give them a loan. “Let’s try to present the same idea with different words and also create some new graphs to show people.”

Hit

Twirl

Spin

Knock

14. If you’re trying to get ahead in business and you have an important presentation the next day, you know that it’s _____ time. There are no second chances and you need to make sure you have everything in place so that you won’t mess up.

Crunch

Hold

Squeeze

Push

15. Some salesmen try to follow up on so many leads that they forget whom they are talking to, lose information, and don’t have time to call their clients back. They get overwhelmed and flustered and not effective at their jobs because they’re trying to do so much at once. Their bosses will probably give some of their clients to other sales reps because they’re off in the _____.

Clouds

Weeds

Forest

Field

16. “Can we _____ back the meeting?” said the dealer to the manager. “I know it’s scheduled for tomorrow, but I need more time to prepare my presentation to you. I’m not trying to avoid you, but it would be better for me to have the meeting next week, or even the week after that. Does that work for you?”

Shove

Push

Kick

Head

17. When the CEO was asked a question by a stockholder in the annual meeting that he couldn’t answer in front of everyone else, he said, “Let’s speak _____ about that later.”

Offline

Through

Into

Up

18. It is important for salesmen always to ask themselves “Who’s the _____,” when trying to get through to the boss of an organization. In order to get an appointment or get face time with important people, you need to know who can help you get access to them, and not to ignore that person.

Doorman

Bouncer

Keeper

Gatekeeper

19. “We might lose some money if we expand our product line from just snow skis to snowboards,” said the CEO to his board of directors. “On the other hand, if customers accept the snowboards we might make a _____. It’s a risk, but one we have to take. There’s a possibility that taking this step could be extremely profitable.”

Shocking

Shelling

Killing

Trimming

20. “Before we start this advertising campaign,” said the executive to his staff, “we need to ask of our customers what are their hot _____? What is it that they really want? What emotional needs are they trying to satisfy when they buy our product? Once we determine that, coming up with an advertising theme will be much easier.”

Edges

Tickets

Wires

Buttons

QUIZ answers at the end of this webpage

FRED SMITH – FEDEX

“QUICK WINS”

Warm up Question:

Have you ever received a Fedex package?

About the CEO

Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx, started the company himself in the 1970s. It was the first overnight delivery service in the United States and is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. He used his four million dollar inheritance to start it. In its early days, the company had trouble meeting the fuel bills for its jets. Smith had to turn to shortterm solutions like winning money at blackjack to keeping the company going. He must have said to himself in those days, “We need some quick wins for now, but in the long term we are going to make a lot of money with this company.”

Idiom Meaning

We need some quick wins – We need some success right away. Generally, if you need some quick wins in business you are trying to get out of some kind of financial hole.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Has your team or department had any quick wins recently?
  2. What are some quick wins you’d like to achieve this year in your personal or professional life?
  3. What quick wins could a newly elected politician have, if any?

 

GLEN RENWICK – PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE

“TEST THE WATERS”

Warm up Question:

What types of insurance do you have?

About the CEO

When Progressive Insurance CEO Glen Renwick, made the decision to test the waters for a new advertising theme with a few ads with the character Flo, he never realized how successful the Flo ads would become. Flo, the friendly and fresh-faced girl who pushes Progressive services on television, is now an internationally recognized symbol of the company and the campaign has gone on for a number of years.

Idiom Meaning

Test the waters – To try something out to see if it works. In business, when you test the waters, you are exploring something a little bit before you commit to it all the way.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Have you tested the waters at any new restaurants?
  2. Should couples test the waters by living together before marriage?
  3. Is your company testing the waters with any new products or systems these days?

 

JOE TUCCI – EMC

“NOT ENOUGH BANDWITH”

Warm up Question:

What personal data can people track from their smart phones?

About the CEO

Since becoming CEO of EMC Corporation in 2001, Joe Tucci has supervised some enormous projects. The Human Face of Data Project is crowd-sourced and takes a revolutionary approach to how data is collected and analyzed. The project is meant to look at the amount of data humans are creating in its entirety. An executive like Tucci doesn’t make excuses for not getting a project done; he finds the time and the people one way or another. He doesn’t have the attitude that there’s not enough bandwidth.

Idiom Meaning

Not enough bandwidth – Not enough time, people or resources to get something done. In business, this phrase is used as an explanation for not doing something.

Questions for Discussion

  • Do you have enough bandwidth to get your work done every day?
  • What software could your company deploy to track employee bandwith?
  • What do you do if you don’t have enough bandwidth to do a project?

 

GLENN MURPHY – GAP

“TAKE THE SHOTGUN APPROACH”

Warm up Question:

What have you bought from The Gap?

About the CEO

Glenn Murphy, CEO of the Gap, can’t afford to take the shotgun approach to business decisions. Because the Gap is a huge company with a youth-oriented image and manufacturing plants worldwide, new product lines and marketing approaches need to be carefully considered before being implemented. Both the potential profits and losses of new strategies are enormous and many people are affected by whatever the company does, so research and consideration are crucial.

Idiom Meaning

Take the shotgun approach – To try lot’s of things rather than being selective. It’s based on a shotgun spread after being fired.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Has your company ever taken the shotgun approach to a business opportunity?
  2. Have you taken the shotgun approach to anything in your personal life?
  3. Does your marketing department take the shotgun approach when it comes to marketing products, or do they choose specific customers for certain products?

JEFF BEZOS – AMAZON

“LOOP ME IN”

Warm up Question:

Do you buy stuff from Amazon?

About the CEO

Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon.com, is one of the most successful business visionaries in the world. With Amazon he pioneered the concept of e-commerce; taking what was seen as a risky way of doing business and making it mainstream. The systems he developed for Amazon are considered the gold standard for the industry today and Amazon has expanded into a number of different areas. The Amazon Mechanical Turk concept may change the way work is done worldwide. I would be nice if Bezos would loop me us into his business secrets!

Idiom Meaning

Loop in (someone) – To let someone in on information or a discussion that they are not currently part of. This phrase is often used in emails, when two or more correspondents make the decision to cc or “loop in” more people.

Questions for Discussion

  1. If you plan a business meeting, which co-workers do you usually loop in?
  2. If you have to work late at the office, do you loop your wife in?

 

ARNE SORENSON – MARRIOTT

“BRING TO THE TABLE”

Warm up Question:

Have you stayed at the Marriott?

About the CEO

In any discussion of what it’s like to lead a giant company, Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson has a lot to bring to the table. Before he was the CEO of the giant hotel chain, he was a director at Walmart. Since 2007, he has been leading the company out of a troubled period in their financial history, and has traveled worldwide to inspect Marriot Hotels.

Idiom Meaning

Bring to the table – To bring knowledge, skills, or talent to an organization. The phrase is generally used in a positive way, as in “He has a lot to bring to the table.”

Questions for Discussion

  1. What does your company bring to the table for its customers?
  2. What work skills do you bring to the table at your company?
  3. If you were to start a business, what skills and experience would you bring to the table?

 

ALEX GORSKY – JOHNSON & JOHNSON

“REACH OUT TO SOMEONE”

Warm up Question:

What Johnson & Johnson products have you used?

About the CEO

If you ever wanted to reach out to someone for advice on putting new products on the market, you couldn’t do better than Johnson and Johnson CEO, Alex Gorsky. Before he was CEO of Johnson and Johnson, he was the CEO of Novartis, where he oversaw the launches of new drugs like Focalin XR and Enablex.

Idiom Meaning

Reach out to someone – To indicate to someone that you want to talk to him or her. When you reach out to someone, you are taking the initiative yourself to let someone know that talking to them is a priority for you and that you value what they have to say.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Who do you need to reach out to today?
  2. How often do you reach out to your high school / university friends?
  3. When was the last time you reached out to someone for advice?

 

BLAKE NORDSTROM – NORDSTROM

“PUT SKIN IN THE GAME”

Warm up Question:

Have you bought anything from Norstrom?

About the CEO

Nordstrom is a high-end American fashion retailer. The company started out selling shoes and branched out into clothing, handbags, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics and fragrances. As chairman of the family business, Blake Nordstom is not afraid to put skin in the game by risking his own money on the company’s future. How else would he have diversified into so many different products?

Idiom Meaning

Put skin in the game – Risk your own money in a business venture. If a businessperson is willing to put skin in the game, you know that he or she truly believes in the venture, since they aren’t just risking other people’s money. Investor Warren Buffet coined this phrase.

Questions for Discussion

  1. If someone puts skin in the game, does it mean they are taking a risk?
  2. Do shareholders of a company have direct skin in the game?
  3. Have you, your friends or family members ever put skin in the stock market game?

 

CHRISTOPHER CONNOR – SHERWINWILLIAMS

“CORNER THE MARKET”

Warm up Question:

Have you ever painted anything, and why?

About the CEO

CEO Christopher Connor’s company Sherwin-Williams may never corner the market, but they are one of the largest paint manufacturing companies in the world. They have many brands of paint under their corporate umbrella. These brands include Easy Living and Weatherbeater, and are sold at Kmart and Sears stores. Sherwin-Williams also sells its products at hundreds of their own paint stores throughout the United States.

Idiom Meaning

Corner the market – To control so much of a product or commodity that you control the price. If you corner the market you basically have a monopoly.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Has your company cornered the market in your country?
  2. What will it take for your company to corner the market globally?
  3. Which companies in your country have cornered the market in electronics, retail, or automobiles?

 

BUSINESS ENGLISH IDIOM QUIZ 3

21. “We need some quick _____,” said the boss to his managers. “Does anyone have any ideas for making some cash for us fast?”

Gains

Bonuses

Wins

Figures

22. “Before we start selling espresso at all of our concession stands across the country,” said the marketing executive, “we should test the _____ by selling it at just a few. If the espresso sells, well we’ll know that the time is right to take it nationwide.”

Streams

Liquid

Waters

Colors

23. “Boss, I don’t think I can handle one hundred clients. There’s just not enough _____ for me to follow up on all of their needs,” said the frustrated salesman to his supervisor, after hearing that his client list had doubled.

Frequency

Bandwidth

Space

Territory

24. “You can’t take the _____ approach to sales;” the supervisor said to his trainees. “You have to build relationships over time, you can’t alienate potential customers by acting rashly or haphazardly. If you build a good relationship with a potential customer, eventually you will get the sale that you want.”

Shotgun

Backwards

Cannon

Sprayed

25. “Ted, if it’s fine with you, I’m going to _____ Sally in to our discussion of this account. I think she can help us if she knows what’s going on.”

Reign

Hook

Loop

Slide

26. “I encourage you to consider hiring this new college graduate,” the HR director said to the hiring manager. “He may be young, but he has a lot to bring to the _____.”

Lobby

Table

Room

Desk

27. The boss told his secretary, “I’m going to _____ out to Frank to schedule an appointment. He’s been avoiding our calls for some time and I don’t want to lose his business. If I make the call myself, instead of you doing it or by using email, he will see that he’s important to me.”

Grab

Run

Slide

Reach

28. “I am asking all of you to put _____ in the game and invest your own money in this startup corporation that we are putting together,” said the young businessman to his partners. “I have several reasons for asking you to do this. First, if you are investing your own money, you will work harder to make the company a success. Secondly, I want to know if you truly believe in this venture before we start.”

Skin

Steam

Sweat

Blood

29. The young trader was extremely ambitious. He wanted to _____ the market in silver in the United States. He knew that owning so much of the country’s silver was nearly impossible, but it was his

dream.

Round

Thread

Pluck

Corner

ANSWERS TO IDIOM QUIZZES

1. Shock

2. Fruit

3. Rock

4. Changer

5. Science

6. Day

7. Bleeding

8. Face

9. Envelope

10. Ground

11. Circle

12. Dive

13. Spin

14. Crunch

15. Weeds

16. Push

17. Offline

18. Gatekeeper

19. Killing

20. Buttons

21. Wins

22. Waters

23. Bandwidth

24. Shotgun

25. Loop

26. Table

27. Reach

28. Skin

29. Corner

I hope you enjoyed this IDIOM guide, remembered all the idioms, and scored well on the quiz.  Please leave a comment below or share it with students or teachers. All the best!

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any informational storage or retrieval system without express written, dated and signed permission from the author.

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