I was working as a project manager is a small retail marketing company when an opportunity to climb the

corporate ladder seemed to present itself.  Being the young go getter I was at the time, I had to take the

leap and jump for the high bar.  Through the complicated and messy process that lead me to be working

there, the CFO had been tied to a failing customer service application and development project.  The

company had sunk close to a half million dollars into a software application with nothing to show for it.  

They had a disk that was supposed to contain a beta version of the software but the IT manager could not

get it loaded and running on any of their computers.  I had been brought in to help resolve this problem

and along the way my efforts inadvertently lead to the CFO being let go.  In hindsight, I realized that using

me to justify getting rid of the CFO was part of the owner’s original intentions.  In any case, the CFO was

out and an opportunity was in front of me.  I had just implemented a new software system for the

accounting department and although I was not an accountant I thought I was up to the position.  I spoke

with the accounting supervisor and first asked if he was going to throw his hat into the ring for

consideration.  He was the most likely candidate.  A good guy with all the knowledge and skills for the job.  

Had he said yes I’d of supported him completely.  However like many in the accounting field he was not

overly daring nor was he going to move quickly.  Time was of necessity as the owners would soon reach

outside the company for a new hand picked person.

I went to work.  I began talking to the various managers in an attempt to check the climate and encourage

support.  Although the owners would make the decision themselves a good word at the right moment, I

thought could make the difference.  In the end, my political jockeying actually worked against me in a game

that I had already lost as it was never open to be played.  But in the mist of my attempt, I was included in a

meeting with the owner overseeing this issue, the senior manager of the company, and the accounting

supervisor.  Though, I was included, my presence, I realized was not desired by the Owner who had

already made up his mind as to what he wanted to do and who he wanted to fill the position.

It should be noted that people in that sort of position don’t like to have to think of alternatives or change

their mind.  Most Owners falsely believe that they know best.  That’s why they are the owner.  So I sat

there for a little while as the Accountings supervisor walked through the business and status of the

situation in accounting and with the company finances.  I followed the lead of the general manger and

waited for the right moment(s) to make a good point and show my worth.  Oddly enough nothing I said

seemed to go over well.

I have always been good in meetings even ones where I had no clue about the topic of the meeting.  This

one however was different.  Every comment I made no matter how small even if I was just repeating or

agreeing with some else went over like a lead balloon.  Each one was a conversation killer to the point

where I realized that my very speaking was a problem.  I grew quit and settled back into the strategy of

simply asking question.  My thought was that by asking questions I could both glean knowledge and direct

the conversation until I could find my moment to make the wining comment and rejoin the discussion in the


Time went on and the term GAP come up.  To be frank about it, the term was not fresh on my mind.  It

sounded familiar but I could not lock it down.  The owner seemed pleased with my obvious lack of

confidence every time it was mentioned.  I played along with it until I could divine the meaning from the

context of the conversation but to no avail.  As the meeting went on I pretty much just shut up and said in

the back of the small office.  Again realizing the situation, I looked for the opportunity and at the first

chance lull in the conversation, I excused myself to attend to some urgent need.  

I was not one to give up and in any case I don’t just slide away with my tail between my legs like a

whimpering pup.  When I have won, I have won well with humility and in a similar fashion when I have lost

which I have done often and big; I stand up and take my hits like a man.  This was no different.  Some days

later after the company leadership had moved on and knew they had, I forced my hand and pressed about

the position.  I got called into a closed door meeting with the Owner I had met with before and he explained

that I was not going to get the position as they had already chosen another candidate.  I accepted it well

and agreed that it was for the best.  With the difficult part over for him and feeling confident that I was not

going to quit over the situation.  They still critically needed me in the position I was in.  He was feeling as if

he had put me back into my place.

He said, “Besides you can just tell when some knows what their talking about or if they don’t.  You can see

it in their eyes that they don’t know what’s going on.”

It was a direct reference to the meeting and my glossing over the term “GAP” which I had immediately

looked up when I left the office. Generally Accepted Practices… a business term more then an accounting

term and apparently designed with all pretensions to make those who use it feel superior to those who

speak in plan language.  I will admit when I am wrong or don’t know something, I have plenty of confidence

in my own knowledge but I will not be backed in to a corner.

So instead of putting my head down as if I admitted I was stupid I sounded up and confidently inquired,

“Are you referring to the GAP principle?  Are you kidding?  Are you trying to say that because you heard

about an acronym on some self help business video that you are smarter then me?”

I said, “You do realize that I write code for a living and that you pay me a pretty decent salary to do, not

what you don’t want to do, but to do what you can’t do?  Right!”

He was pretty much slapped back into reality at that point and there was little he could do.  He was just one

of six owners and I had already made a lot of progress turning there half million dollar loss in to a success.  

I felt safe in the knowledge that the other owners would not get rid of me because I had dared to speak

back to him.  At least they wouldn’t do it right away not until they felt they had gotten the software problem

fixed and gotten their money out of it.  Of course, I also knew that I was not long for that job and I had just

made a sever enemy.

The Point:

Knowledge is a dual edged blade that is most often used to stab and cause injury to someone.  We seek

education in order to gain a higher wage from employers.  We seek education to garner respect from co

workers and society in general.  We use knowledge to build ourselves up and tear others down.  In all

cases we use knowledge to create circles.  Circles we can then use to include or exclude others at our own

choosing.  This is especially true for industry.  Every industry has created an entire language unique to

what they do.  In some instances, it’s for clarification but I’ve found that in most casers it’s a way of

excluding those who have not yet learned the language.  Instead of calling a spade a spade you call a

spade a spanner and that way the new guy has no clue what your talking about.  When he has been

around enough and picked up the language then he can be included.  It also allows those in the know to

make stupid or at least less then the best decisions and no one else would know because their not in the

loop.  Most of the time this industry Jargon is a hindrance and not an asset.  But as they say, your either in

the know or not.   

The Lesson to Learn:

That the Jargon, acronyms, and various terms used in any given industry are generally used as a test of

your fitness to be included.  These pseudo languages will be used to test you on a daily basis.  Learn the

Jargon but don’t think too highly of yourself for it.  It does not make you or mean that you are smarter.

The Brutal Truth:

Knowledge is power and power is most often used in a detrimental way and not with beneficial intentions.  

In the corporate world knowledge or at least the appearance of knowledge is used to increase pay, gain

status, and secure a positions.  It is done sometimes through hard work and proper application but most

often through influence, perception, and duplicity.  It is the negative use of knowledge that cuts the