Jason Balangue is a designer for Comstock’s magazine. Jason grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Chico State. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and looking for his next favorite dish. On Twitter @j_balangue
The infomercial world is full of goods that will purportedly forever alter the way you mop, do your laundry, cook eggs, exercise and listen to music.
But are those products truly revolutionary? More importantly, can a product or service truly be revolutionary at all?
In the entrepreneurial realm, everyone wants to be a change agent. With disruptors like Elon Musk — who brought us Tesla and the concept of terraforming Mars — raising the stakes on the definition of the word, the startup landscape is overflowing with wannabe-visionaries claiming to change the world.
But, what does the term really mean?
In recent years, with the rise of social networking, the business world has embraced a modern form of evangelism, making the word synonymous with an entirely new brand of evangelist: the influencer.
A problem thought to be facing a person or group of people that entrepreneurs are looking to solve through goods and/or services.
The market conditions preceding a bubble, where prices are overvalued and driven up, thanks to unsustainable demand.
An ability to invest time and energy in systems that allow small businesses to grow while still handling increased demands.
The process of starting a business on a shoestring budget without external help or capital. Such startups fund the development of their company through internal cash flow.
A company, usually a tech start-up, without an established performance record, but with a stock market valuation estimated at more than $1 billion.
For this month’s column, I thought I’d reach out to people who made multi-tasking an artform and get them to explain how they so easily “pivot” from one task to another on a daily basis. But I found out that’s only one definition of pivot, and so I pivoted this column to another, more business-oriented version. (See what I did there?)
The word is overused, and overuse leads to misuse. (Misuse leads to annoyance, and then we’re at a place where no one even understands or cares what you mean.)
But “empower” is not just another piece of jargon to be casually tossed around:
In a tweet from March 2015, Forbes magazine called bandwidth a “geeky, pretentious shorthand for available manpower,” saying it was “a gentler brushoff than ‘We literally don’t have the energy to deal right now.’”
To be disruptive now means to change things, to get people to look at something in a new light. (I’d like to go back and convince my 6-year-old self that it’s actually a good trait that got me sent to the time-out chair.)
Like all jargon, “disruption” started out well-intentioned: Who doesn’t want to be the one with the fresh vision of how things could be — not how they are?
Generally speaking, an ecosystem describes how different, complex organisms work together. How could a deeply biological term have invaded the usually-technical jargon of business? According to Google Trends, searches for “business ecosystem” and “innovation ecosystem” first entered the lexicon in the late ’90s and hit a peak within the last year.
It happens every time: I’ll be at a business event and someone will inevitably say that we all need to “perfect our elevator pitches” and launch into a rote explanation (an elevator pitch of the elevator pitch, if you will). Cue the over-exaggerated rolling of my eyes.
To understand the definition of going viral, let’s borrow a phrase from former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart: You’ll know it when you see it
“If I have to use the word ‘funnel’ one more time today, I might die. #buzzwords” — @abhinemani
Posted on Twitter by Sacramento’s Chief Innovation Officer, Abhi Nemani, on Aug. 22, this was the tweet heard ‘round the Comstock’s office. It kicked off a lengthy debate among our staff about what “funnel” actually meant.
At its best, placemaking can bring attention to forgotten, underserved or otherwise blighted corners of a city, and build a communal aesthetic that empowers residents and visitors to celebrate a neighborhood. However, it can also go awry.