Startup Success: Does Yours Have a Fat Chance or Slim Chance? Hmmm…

Startup Success: Does Yours Have a Fat Chance or Slim Chance? Hmmm…

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

Good question, considering that most startups do fail.

We’ve been heads down working on the upcoming SOSapp, and as the team was aggregating the different disciplines/consultants/service providers that a startup may need, one thing that was glaringly missing from the list was writers – blog writers, copywriters, etc. Everyone can write. But can everyone effectively communicate?

Coincidentally, a friend sent along a piece that first appeared online in the Web 1.0 days – author unknown – delineating some of the vagaries of the English language. Since we’re in the waning days of summer and Yours Truly is still a bit under the weather due to Lyme disease, we thought we’d keep it light, share – and add a couple of points of our own:

English is a crazy language.

“There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; no apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.”

And if you can coddle an egg, why can’t you coddle a cod?

“We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig isn’t from New Guinea, nor is it a pig.

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, two geese.  So, one moose, two meese? One index, two indices?

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? And that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what would you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?  If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?  If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same thing, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike?  How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown?  Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable?

And where are all those people who are spring chickens or who would actually hurt a fly?” The latter are sadists, of course, but then again, pouring hot water over an egg and then throwing it into an ice bath is more or less a sadist’s definition of coddling.

Why is it that someone will give you a penny for your thoughts, and may not appreciate it when you offer your two cents? Makes no sense!

“You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

“English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn’t a race at all).  That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

“And did you know:

English is the official language of international aviation (i.e., the predominant language spoken between pilot and control tower throughout the world).

The Constitution of the nation of India, which specified that the official language of the nation is Hindi, was written in English.”

Words have power.

Use them well and make your message clear. They’re the first point of contact your potential customers (let’s stop calling them users) have when they hit your website or app, and when you send an investor your deck or executive summary. Be clear and make sure you have a business model, especially in this climate when the stock market and the tech stocks are making investors a bit jittery. Then again, some of the most successful companies were launched in a down market. Google and Facebook, to name just two.

We’ll close with one of our favorite exchanges in all of television, from How I Met Your Mother, when main character Ted broke up with his girlfriend (for the second time) by leaving her a message on her answering machine – on her birthday – then tried to explain why when she confronted him:

Ted: I can’t explain.

Natalie: Try!

Ted: Well, it’s just ineffable.

Natalie: Oh, so I’m not ‘F-able’?

Truth be told, anything is effable. The thing is, be clear: you only get one shot.

Don’t F- it up.

Onward and forward.


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