As a barely passable engineer 🦫 who often gets caught up with printf(hello world!”) I still use far too much technical jargon.
It’s kinda sad actually, given how bad my programming is. (GOTO SENTENCE.LAST) 😁
-> Does this sort of thing happen to you too? Funny stories in comments below, please.
It’s become an even bigger problem working in a company that does data engineering, ETL, data warehousing, data architecture, neural networks, AI, ML, etc.
At first, when talking to clients I tried getting around this problem by blurting out all the things that we did, then backtracking to explain each discipline. This was completely a$$-backwards as it usually meant that I lost the client’s interest in the middle of the jargon.
So I adapted, and started creating clever analogies that would explain a complex technical concept. For example, AI and ML are really just fancy pattern matching. And data engineering is just another way of saying “data plumbing and piping” 🪠
But this approach was pretty limited too. And it just described how we do stuff, which I soon realized nobody really cared to know.
So I tried to get very industry-specific, with claims about how we helped companies improve “x” by “y”. This would be a slam-dunk 🏀 right? After all, everyone wants to improve.
But that fell flat too. I suspect it was a combination of either claims that seemed impossible (they weren’t) or trouble connecting the dots (a fail on my part).
Then one day, in a moment of inspiration (cue heavenly god rays of sunshine 🌤) I came up with a new approach.
When asked “what do you do?” I replied that we use data to help companies get insights. Then I highlighted a real problem that people often talked about, like “most companies have tons of data but they feel like they don’t really know what’s going on.”
And then the kicker. “So tell me, does this happen where you work?”
Almost always, without fail this leads to a long discussion about all sorts of issues that are driving the client crazy.
And guess what?
Now that we have alignment on real problems, it turns out that people are interested to talk about all sorts of technical jargon 🧑💻 if it’ll solve their problems.
It turned out that I just needed to listen a little more carefully to what people wanted to talk about.
-> Let me know if you’ve had a similar epiphany in the comments below. Particularly if you’re a failed engineer like me. 😬