Beware the ‘Mumbo-Jumbo’ service providers

Beware the ‘Mumbo-Jumbo’ service providers. People describing themselves as a ninja, thought leader, hustler, growth hacker, transformative consultant, innovation catalyst etc. I’m genuinely and deeply thoughtful and worried for the standards of our professions, the level of professionalism in our economies, and the next generation of Talent…

Beware the ‘Mumbo-Jumbo’ service providers

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the phrase mumbo-jumbo but I’m using it frequently. It is about confusing or meaningless language and generally communications that don’t add up. You know, product superficial claims, politicians’ promises and so on. In the corporate world, the phrase is often used as a humorous criticism of middle-management, or agency proposals.

Today I’ll devote it to a humorous blog post (below). For all employees, freelancers, agencies, consultants and startup teams and the solopreneurs in most of the service domains, who try to impress for nothing major.

Although I’m an Economy/Industry 4.0 enthusiast, I can’t let go the fact that the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ claims are creating to service recipients (small and legacy, global or local companies) exaggerated expectations, or …no understanding at all.

This post is devoted to people describing themselves as a ninja, thought leader, hustler, growth hacker, transformative consultant, innovation catalyst etc. (you know who they are…)

Big words that mean nothing

Across ages, people have been using euphemisms to freshen up things. You can call it “re-branding” or “re-purposing,” but basically it’s like putting an old photo to a new frame. If you have decided, or just thought, of what will you change in your business in Economy 4.0, then you are ready to select your partners.

But stay smart. Don’t buy into what “sounds-modern” titles. Growth Officer. Innovation catalyst. Serial entrepreneur. Change advocate. Strategy planner. Life & Transition & Inclusion coach. Risk consultant. Value disruptor (so, it destroys what was built?).

Reading such ‘mumbo-jumbo’ titles I sometimes think, if there is a magic (online economy) formula, that says “impress them to death, even if they don’t get what you actually do“! Or, as if we simply use the Google #keywords in our professional titles (so more people can find us in their search), that -by itself- will automatically secure awareness, understanding, consideration, first-exchange, and service experience to the prospect Customer.

The service business was, is, and will continue to be clear: I’m in [the business of X], offering [Y] service, to help you achieve [Z]. As simple as that. Single-minded, specific, positioning your service uniqueness (methodology, process, commercial policy etc).

Gets funnier in the Agencies world

I’ve seen an agency describe itself like this: “We design and orchestrate unique experiences (for whom? / why?) …We deliver a strategy for all customer connection touchpoints that meet any of your business goals.” Any goal? Even a company transformation project?! OK then, ‘Mumbo-Jumbo’.

Why don’t they say what they do? Are you a Consultancy? Do you design digital solutions? CX / UX? …or simply you manage FB pages and you need to stand-out of the agencies’ crowd? You can’t simply upsell your website development skills to “Digital experts“. Don’t you get that?

You see, the ‘successors’ of the old-Advertising agencies felt to differentiate and be seen as real ‘digital natives’. But what they did was simply a nice-to-have renaming exercise. With bold statements. Without direct, crisp “Why’s” and “What”.

I’ve seen this in a job listing: “Verbal Design is the practice of conceiving and crafting language to reflect and drive a connected brand experience.” …OK, copywriters!

We provide strategic creative and digital ideas helping clients to Lead the Change and to succeed in their own marketing transformation.” …?!?!

We might be ‘new-age’, but “We provide a full range of services”…

We provide a full range of services. But we’re specialized as well. Our area of expertise is virtual press office, strategic planning, media relations, digital & new media PR, event management, CSR, and international coordination.

Deep knowledge of the mass media landscape …Proven extended publicity generation for clients …Created XYZ websites …Managed XYZ FB pages …Flexibility and adaptability to clients’ needs Optimal utilization of clients’ budgets and resources

The title-game in IT-Tech

  • IT facilitator
  • Tech enthusiast
  • Master of edge computing
  • Cyber-analyst (not to mention hundreds of titles into security & privacy)
  • Quantum machine learning analyst
  • Augmented reality journey builder
  • (fill in the blank) Evangelist, or Wizard, or Gurus, Ninjas, and Rockstars
  • Innovation (fill in the blank)
  • Multi-awarded + something

The title-game in Marketing (it has changed, so do I…)

  • Multi-awarded + something
  • Digital Prophet
  • Digital Experience Director
  • Digital Marketing Superhero
  • Community manager (as if this person holds in hand the community)
  • Interactive + all words you can imagine in the Marketing profession
  • Social Media Junkie –> Social media (+ influencer, vlogger, blogger, creator, and more)
  • Chief Ninja (…Ninja goes well with growth, startup, SEO (here goes well the ‘rockstar’, solutions, touchpoints – you name it)
  • All kinds of developers (to the extent you don’t get what they do)
  • Growth Hacker (…now in court with Digital Marketing Managers)
  • Hacker (combined with words: data, marketing, communications, programming languages, UX/UI)
  • Digital tailor (…only pants)
  • Data (+ analyst, wrangler, expert, (Ninja again), priest, shaman)
  • (fill in the blank) Evangelist, or Wizard, or Gurus, Ninjas, and Rockstars
  • A designer of (experiences, platforms, touchpoints, links, flows, content)

AdAge presented back in 2015 the Coburg Banks’ “50 Weirdest List”

Here are some of the titles that made the list:

  • Tribes connector/specialist (coordinates something)
  • Dream Alchemist (meaning Head of Creative or Interactive)
  • Digital Overlord (meaning Website manager)
  • Associate to the Executive Manager of Marketing (meaning a Secretary/marketing assistant)
  • Conversation Architect (meaning the digital Marketing manager)
  • Brand Evangelist (the Brand and identity responsible)
  • Social Media Trailblazer (a junior executive working for social media)

The title-game in Communications

  • Author
  • Multi-awarded + something
  • The 30 under 30, The 40 under 40 (there the media lists stop – age racism? haha!)
  • Keynote speaker (yes, it has become a paid revenue business)
  • Storyteller (you can be from 22 years old)
  • Creator of magic reactions (!)
  • Account planner (it’s been here for ages)
  • Content creator (yes, the copywriter title is ‘old-age’)

…and thousands are certified each month

All the below marketed titles go well, combined with the words Speaker | Author | Connector | Coach

  • Personal, Life, Relationship, Confidence, Empowerment coaching
  • Leadership, Planning, Performance coaching
  • Executive, Communications, Sales coaching
  • Skills, Career, Transition coaching
  • Business, Team facilitation, Financial wellness coaching

I sometimes think that we now must have more coaches than the benefited/affected recipients of their service.


I’m not laughing all these. I know that in the transformation many people get redundant, or can’t find a job. I know that many do start something from scratch, or try to position in the new realms of digital ‘age’. I also totally respect the ‘passive economy’ era and the thousands of channels to promote, build, grow yourself.

But, I’m genuinely and deeply thoughtful and worried for the standards of our professions, the level of professionalism in our economies, and the next generation of Talent (which enters markets, by-default, unprepared for the challenge and the business evolution) that we prepare and influence.

I think we need more than ever to make clear how “We impact in this way and measurably by X your Y project/business.” That is a job.

That should be the approach for all of us.

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