The company we keep

If you run with a crowd of people who spout clichés, chances are good you’ll think clichés are cool. Think again, my friend. Clichés aren’t au courant; oh, no, clichés are passé. That’s what makes ’em clichés!

I thought I’d publish this list, which has been included in my editing books—all of my editing books—since 2015. Does the word puke resonate with any of you “thought leaders”?

Words and phrases whose time has come…and gone.

One of the things about being a leader is avoiding clichés. Here is a list of words and expressions that you might want to consider not using.

Thought leader


To take something “to the next level” or “to a different level”

To go up or down “a notch”

To “reach out”

To “go missing”

Glom (WTF?)

Awesome (God is “awesome.” Mother Nature is “awesome.” Anything else is just bull.)

You guys” (especially when addressing a woman older than, say, 50)

Deep dive (I got your “deep dive”!)

Scale, scalability



Best practices

Skill set

Tool box/tool set (toolset is worse)

Way better, way more

Connect the dots

Hacks (make me laugh!)

Buzz (make me laugh harder!)


Brain dump (is this the same as a brain fart?)





Majorly (as an adverb)


Drill down

Ahead of the curve

At the end of the day (Thank You to my author friend Jane V. Blanchard)

Craft (as a verb)


Double down

Dude (if anyone ever calls me a “dude,” I’m going to smack him or her upside the head)

Spend (as a noun)

Onboarding (as a verb)

Task (as a verb)


Stoke (used in anything other than “I stoked the fire” context)

Score (used in anything other than a sports context)


Up-level (are you kidding me?)

Rock, as in totally


I may very well be a little bitchy, but that’s a hell of a lot better than being unoriginal.