Let’s ‘Double-Click’ on the Latest Cringeworthy Corporate Buzzword
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Let’s ‘Double-Click’ on the Latest Cringeworthy Corporate Buzzword

You may want to examine or delve into the phrase, which has become pervasive in conference calls and grates on many; ‘It’s almost like a joke’

By TE-PING CHEN
Thu, Jul 11, 2024 7:00amGrey Clock 4 min

Ruben Roy isn’t a guy who tends to beat himself up, but he’s still chagrined about what he said on an earnings call last month.

A managing director at Stifel Financial , Roy dialled in to hear the chief executive of a healthcare company discuss its latest results. During the Q&A, Roy asked the speaker to elaborate on his remarks about investment opportunities.

“I wanted to double-click a bit on some of the commentary you had,” Roy said, instantly cringing.

One of the fastest-spreading corporate buzzwords in recent years, “double-click” is both polarising and pervasive. Particularly on Wall Street, the figure of speech is now being used as a shorthand for examining something more fully, akin to double-clicking to see a computer folder’s contents. Some, like Roy, find the idiom obnoxious or twee. Double-click defenders say the phrase encourages deeper thinking.

Either way, it’s become a verbal tic du jour. Executives and analysts dropped double-click 644 times in corporate conference calls and events during the first half of the year, according to VIQ Solutions, up from 139 times in the same period of 2020.

“It’s almost like a joke. People are like, oh here we go with double-click,” says Roy, who’d been trying to avoid using the term when he accidentally let it slip. Colleagues, he says, haven’t let him forget it.

Annie Mosbacher, a Los Angeles-based marketer, recalls snapping to attention last year when she heard an executive use the phrase during a strategy meeting. Afterward, she and colleagues discussed it: “It was like, oh my gosh, double-click? I guess this is a thing now?”

The new jargon makes her roll her eyes. “Can’t we just say ‘this is an area we need to focus on?’” she says. “We regurgitate this sort of lingo as though it means something, and usually it’s about trying to be impressive more than anything else.”

Not so, says Ruben Linder, who’s owned a small audio and video production business in San Antonio for 25 years. These days, with the rise of technology and a more hectic corporate life, Linder says people need reminders to stop and examine what matters—to double-click, if you will.

“The term is simple, but it’s really profound,” he says. He tries to carve out time to go to a cafe twice monthly with a notebook and engage in reflection.

“I’ll double-click on my business, double-click on my life,” he says. “I double-click on everything now.”

Double-click lingo has leapfrogged beyond corporate America. While CEOs including Walmart’s Douglas McMillon and Nvidia ’s Jensen Huang have deployed the term, so, too, have congressional representatives, influencers and authors such as parenting guru Dr. Becky Kennedy.

The phrase is “innovative,” says Beth DelGiacco, a vice president of corporate communications at biotech company Argenx , who praises its efficiency.

“It’s only a few syllables. Everyone knows what you mean when you say it,” says DelGiacco, who regularly trots it out with peers.

Tech-inflected buzzwords are especially apt to gain traction—think “network,” “bandwidth” or “take offline”—because they can sound smart or cutting-edge, says Doug Guilbeault, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business who has studied corporate jargon.

The inventor of the literal double-click, former Apple designer Bill Atkinson, isn’t convinced. Reached while boating on a recent weekday, Atkinson, now retired, says he’s never heard anyone use double-click as a metaphor and would steer clear of such usage himself, preferring more straightforward language.

He adds that since inventing the function in 1979, he’s come to regret it. He now thinks an extra “Shift” button on the mouse would have been more user-friendly.

“The double-click was a mistake,” says Atkinson, who left tech in 1995 to pursue nature photography. Personally, he double-clicks less frequently these days, given the rise of mouseless devices like tablets and smartphones.

“I double-tap, or I tap,” he says. “I long-press.”

Buzzwords tend to come and go, says HR consultant Nancy Settle-Murphy, noting that other tech-inspired jargon, such as “RTFM”—or read the f—ing manual—are less commonly used today than they once were.

“There are fewer manuals now,” says Settle-Murphy, who recently installed a video doorbell at her home and notes it didn’t come with any pictures or diagrams.

Corporate jargon can be alienating. At a conference, Settle-Murphy was thrown when an audience member asked the speaker to double-click on a point they’d made.

“I thought, ‘these are slides, there’s no link, how can they double-click?’” she says, admitting she later searched online to find the new meaning.

Double-click has a long pedigree in the sales world. Matt Sunshine, head of the Center for Sales Strategy, which trains salespeople, says when he sold ad spots for a local radio station in Dallas in the 1990s, peers commonly used the term.

“Sales leaders would say, ‘Hey, you need to make sure you double-click on that’ with your prospects,” Sunshine says, meaning delve more deeply into any issues customers might raise, as in “Tell me more.”

While he doesn’t know exactly when it first took off, he says the phrase neatly encapsulates a core principle in effective sales strategy, in which salespeople seek to identify and address customers’ needs and concerns, instead of defaulting to one-size-fits-all pitches.

Double-clicking can help identify new business prospects, says Scott Bond, vice president of consumer services at Canadian real-estate company Rennie, which recently opened a U.S. location in Seattle.

Not long ago, Bond was on a Zoom call with his boss and some new business contacts based in southern California. The group hit it off, and afterward, Bond found himself mulling possibilities.

“I looked at my boss and said, hold on, I think we’re being presented with an opportunity here,” he says. “Why don’t we dive in and learn a little more?” His boss agreed, and the company is now planning to open its second American location in the Palm Springs area.

“We double-clicked,” he says.



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The latest edition of an annual UBS wealth report notes that while “the global economy is in the midst of a dramatic structural upheaval,” wealth is growing once again after a downturn through the pandemic.

UBS analyzed income and wealth data from 56 markets, representing “92% of the world’s wealth,” in its Global Wealth Report 2024, released Wednesday. The report’s overarching theme found that global wealth grew by 4.2% in 2023, offsetting a loss of 3% in 2022. Even in the face of continued inflation, adjusted global wealth grew by 8.4%.

However, overall global wealth growth is down, from an annual average of 7% between 2000 and 2010 to just over 4.5% between 2010 and 2023, the report said. This equates to a reduction in global wealth of almost one-third.

The remaining growth seems to be continuing on pace in the world’s most developed and already prosperous nations. In the U.S., average wealth per adult grew by nearly 2.5% and the country accounts for 38%, roughly 22 million, of all millionaires worldwide.

Mainland China came in second with just over 6 million millionaires, followed by 3 million  in the U.K.

The report also took a look at the growing issue of wealth transfer. Over the next 25 years, US$83.5 trillion of global wealth will be transferred to spouses and the next generation. UBS estimates 10% of that will be transferred by women and US$9 trillion will shift between spouses.

Wealth in the Asia-Pacific region grew the most—nearly 177%—since the report began tracking data 15 years ago. The Americas come in second, at nearly 146% growth. Surprisingly, Turkey has enjoyed the most wealth growth per adult of any individual nation in the last 15 years—more than 1,700% in local currency.

The world’s wealthiest class continues to be a small, tightly concentrated group. According to the report, only 12 people hold between US$50 billion and US$100 billion and just 14 people hold US$2 trillion of the world’s wealth. The U.S. and Canada are home to individuals holding 44% of this wealth, while another 25% is held by people in Western Europe.

UBS data suggests that global wealth will continue to grow most in emerging markets, with some countries experiencing millionaire growth of up to 50% over the next five years.

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