Catch Phrases (Issue 740)

In which we are reminded to interpret the data we present to clients and prospects in a headline or memorable catch-phrase so that they can remember our selling points.

A sunny early evening, out for a walk to wind down after a desk day. I hadn’t been out long when my mobile phone rang. Forgot to turn it off. A consultant friend in the communications business calling.Dominic  2014

“Hello,” I chirped and we clipped through the usual how are you, what’s been going ons.

“So,” I asked. “What’s the focus of your work at this point?”

“Obesity,” she replied.

“Seriously? Why would you and your firm be involved in that?”

“25 years ago, 12% of the population was considered obese. 10 years from now, 13 states, mostly in the Southeast, could have obesity rates in excess of 60%. The LOWEST level projected is 44.8% in Colorado.  The percentage of the population that is morbidly obese has doubled since the year 2000. Another study suggests 83 percent of men and 72% of women will be overweight or obese by 2020. ”

My head was spinning. “I’m having a hard time getting my arms around all that.”

“Ho, ho, everybody’s a comedian,” she sighed. “ Look, I’ll make this simple: If we have to draft people for the military in 10 years, we’ll be too fat to fight…. or work or do much of anything else.” **

Well, THAT was clear.

“Oh, my,” I said. I took a deep breath and sat down, thinking about the horrifying potential consequences – wheezing US soldiers overrun by trim, fit adversaries; significant portions of our population unable to work; escalating mountains of health care costs connected to weight-related conditions; our country sliding into oblivion in a sea of visceral and subcutaneous fat.

“Tell me more.” And off we went for another 45 minutes.

Likely, I won’t remember most of the statistics she shared about obesity, processed food, poverty levels, education, and exercise programs – 25, 12%, 13, 66%, 44.8%, 25%, 45%, 50%, 83%, 72%, as many and as troubling as they are. However, thanks to her catch phrase – “Too fat to fight” – I have a memorable starting point to recall the reasons the statistics are important and to develop a point of view.


**She borrowed this phrase from the title of a 2012 military readiness report with the title, “Still Too Fat to Fight.”

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