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Posted: September 18, 2012

Simply too complicated

Simplify, and find solutions

David Sneed

I once told a woman there just weren’t words to describe how much I loved her. She told me: “There are; you just don’t know them yet.” 

It was at that moment I realized I had no chance with Ms. Grayson, my 7th grade English teacher.

I’ve since increased my vocabulary, and I’m pretty well set for words now. I think that, for the most part, we all are. But the other day I met a gal who said her job was to “expedite the onboarding of recently acquired associates.” Turns out she works in HR.

That lady knew too many words.

There are probably dozens of business sites on the increasingly popular “internet" by now, and most have at least one post railing against the over-use of jargon. That’s not what this one is about. I’m here to rail against the over-complication of everything else.

I firmly believe that everything is simpler than we make it out to be.

But ideas are described with language.  Afraid of seeming dumb, we use giant words and lengthy paragraphs to cover the fact that we have nothing new to say. That’s unfortunate because everyone else will spend time deciphering the meaning and crafting a response that sounds equally brilliant.

In the meantime, nothing is happening. No problems are being solved. No business is being conducted.

A doctor can tell me that I just had a myocardial infarction, but that’s because insurance is paying him $100,000 and for that kind of money “heart attack” just doesn’t seem worth it.

I have a book in which the author offers this advice: “…primary objective of investing during the target’s cyclical low in order to capitalize on increasing values in a rebounded market.” He wants me to buy low and sell high, I assume. But if he said it the easy way, I wouldn’t have bought the book, would I?

There aren’t many new ideas.

He made investing (for profit) sound hard, but it isn’t, is it? “Buy low, sell high.”  Exceptions aside, it isn’t rocket science. Marketing: same thing.

There are lots of ways to go about marketing, and there are helpful tools and research, but the idea itself is pretty simple: get people to buy your things. Marketing isn’t a field where bold new ideas form. Only the words change.

Others in your field might appreciate when you say: “The campaign failed to fully penetrate the target demographic.” But that just makes it complicated.  All I need to hear is: “Single moms still aren’t buying our chainsaws.” The meeting will be so much more real and we can then talk, like real humans, about how we can get these unwed mommies to cut more wood.

The greatest impediment to successful meetings is complication. I think if we find ways to make our topics as simple as possible, more minds will work on a solution instead of remaining silent to avoid seeming stupid.

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at

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Readers Respond

Thanks for the column. I love words. I make my living tossing them around and shaping ideas for clients. On the opposite end of the spectrum from complication is over-simplification or euphemizing. I still remember as a kid when I first heard the hydrogen bomb referred to as a nuclear "device." By Stephen Koenigsberg on 2012 09 18
David, I really enjoy your columns. Thanks for your grounded thoughts. By Becky on 2012 09 18
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