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How to talk like you know about tech, even if you don't.

20 words to make tech people think you're smart

If you're not a technologist - if you know nada about coding in Python, let alone C++ - you might be feeling a little insecure now. With good reason: Frederic de Sibert, the former head of EMEA IBD strats at Goldman Sachs, says 75% of entry-level investment banking analysts at Goldman Sachs knew a bit of Python two years ago; this year's analyst class is probably reaching full Python saturation. 

If you find yourself in a room full of tech types, however, all is not lost.  Even if you don't have time to actually learn how to code, you can always just employ the sorts of words technologists use when talking among themselves. Helpfully, therefore, Chris Anderson, a former editor of Wired Magazine and Berkeley-based founder of the Linux Foundation's Dronecode Project, is assembling an open source list of the self-aggrandizing mostly scientific words used by tech people. David Ha, the former Goldman Sachs trader now working for Google, says many are common parlance at the tech giant.  

These are 20 of the best words on Anderson's list. Use them judiciously around engineers, strats, and new analysts. 

1Apoptosize: Instead of die. ("This project needs to apopstize before I do.")

2. Activation energy: Instead of trigger. ("My activation energy for this project is low.")

3. Core dump: Instead of "summary." ("Ok, let's have a core dump of where we are now.")

4. Decouple/recouple: Instead of "tune in/tune out." ("Let's decouple from your issues for a moment.") 

5. Defrag: Instead of "optimize." ("Let's defrag this presentation.")

6. Dissonant: Instead of "wrong." ("I see some dissonance in your model.")

7. High-dimensional: Instead of "complicated." ("This is a very high dimensional deal.")

8. High order bit: Most important thing. ("Slide 65 is the highest order bit in the presentation.")

9. Impedance matched: Instead of "compatible." ("These companies are highly impedance matched.")

10. Invariant: Instead of "no change." ("This client has proven strangely invariant throughout the process.") 

11. Non-trivial: Instead of "hard." ("Delivering this for the deadline will be non-trivial.") 

12. Orthogonal: Instead of "unrelated." ("You seem to be making two orthogonal points.")

13. Over-index: Instead of "bias." ("I think you're over-indexing the change in consumer behavior.")

14. Parse: Instead of understand. ("Let me parse what you're saying here.")

15. Phase transition: Instead of a significant and sudden change in state. ("We're aiming for a phased transition back into the office.")

16. Re-baseline: To reframe a project (verb). ("I think we need to rebaseline this pitch.")

17. Resonate: Instead of "agree." ("This is really resonating with me.") 

18. Titrate: Instead of "adjust." ("Can you titrate the model please?")

19. Valence: Instead of "characteristic." ("This target has an interesting valence.")

20. Vector Instead of "send." ("I am vectoring the fixes") 

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Photo by Raoul Droog on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Pe
    Peter Principle
    22 September 2020

    I like the way you deliberately defined phase transition incorrectly so as to help us spot the fakers!

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