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The Jolly Contrarian’s Glossary

The snippy guide to financial services lingo.™


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One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.

—Bertrand Russell

A guilty pleasure. A window seat on the unfolding collective nervous breakdown of our times.

Being the sort of person[1] who likes Ed Wood movies[2] I love LinkedIn, despite its immutable hatefulness. Its sole virtue is the sparkling clarity with which it confirms every prejudice a cynic could possibly confect about the world of free enterprise and the men and women who inhabit it[3].

Whether modestly disclosing industry awards one has “won” for representing a prolific advertiser in the hosting organisation’s magazine, ejaculating words of insincere delight at disclosure of those awards from those in your network, virtue signalling your profound commitment to cosmopolitan equality and flexible working, brazenly brown-nosing LinkedIn “influencers” for their feeblest posts — those lionising Mohammad El-Erian's photos from his plane window of the sea, we’re looking at you — wondrously sharing moronic “inventions” dreamed up by CGI programmers, or merely articulating your own pat advice on job interview technique, posting recycled logical conundrums from Facebook that “only a genius” could solve or desperately hunting for candidates — any candidates — to fill a paralegal role in one of the Emirates (fluency in Arabic preferable!), none of the terabytes put out by denizens of LinkedIn has a tenth of the merit, interest or distraction value of other social networks — yet, yet, yet — somehow the sum of LinkedIn’s mealy-mouthed parts is strangely compelling.

After all, however idiotic LinkedIn is, the Jolly Contrarian still publishes some of its snitty ramblings there. Do as I say, not as I do, folks.

See also

LinkedIn job descriptions

A guide to those self-penned LinkedIn profile descriptions. We all know what they say, and let’s face it: you know what they mean.

Title What it means
Section A: Bullshit artists
Thought leader Git.
Digital prophet Thought leader.
Keynote speaker Thought leader.
Lateral Thinker Unable to follow a sustained argument or complex syllogism. Prone to random outbursts.
Futurist Dullard and liar (unless literally a medium or clairvoyant in which case this is market standard puffery)
Privileged to be leading customer-focused teams in an exciting network-centric IT services market Dead-set zero idea what this is even supposed to mean, but sounds disingenuous and obviously a git.
Speaker · Author · Mentor · Catalyst · Facilitator · Rebel The Thought leader’s Thought leader
Award-winning Executive Leader Focused on Streamlining Processes, Driving Revenues, And Leading High-Performing Teams. Currently open to job opportunities at vice president level. Reads a page of the dictionary before his tai chi and ice bath at dawn each day. Apparently hasn’t made it to “cognitive dissonance” yet.
Section B: Lifers from personnel
Director of talent acquisition In personnel.
Director of diversity and inclusion In personnel. Caucasian, often male, who can spot a bandwagon at 200 yards, is adept at virtue-signalling and spends most of day tweeting and posting shameless canonical corporate speak on LinkedIn.
Global Head of Client Experience, HR Business Partnering & Leadership, Learning, Talent and Culture, COO In personnel. See alsoThought leader”. AndCOO”, for that matter.
Section C: The temporarily employed, unemployed, and soon-to-be-unemployed
Intrapreneur Shortly to be embarking on a new career as an executive coach but hasn’t realised it yet.
Entrepreneur Used to be a managing director in sales, until the bottom of the barrel whacked her, literally, on the arse. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?
Serial entrepreneur Unemployable fantasist.
Angel investor Recently, belatedly, made redundant from an middle management role.
Experienced financial services professional Recently made redundant from an operations role. In process of resigning themselves to a life of contracting, but not quite cool with it yet.
Board-level legal advisor Recently laid off from a law firm after a long and defiant career in knowledge management. Still in denial about employment prospects but coming round to signing up for Axiom.
Founder and CEO Recently made redundant from an operations role. Now contracting.
Executive coach Recently made redundant from an operations role. Unable to find work contracting.
Digital Thought and Program Leader running large end-to-end digital programs across multiple geographies. Got laid off from a service-line role in operations at Fuji Bank. Now Founder and CEO of a Tech start-up.
Goals-driven executive with proven track record of success in programme management Fish-food aspirant. Probably in the digestive system of a carp somewhere. It is all for the best. It was a mercy killing.
Experienced senior operations director with proven track record Yet, here you are, “interested to hear of any opportunities. Will even consider contracting.”
Seeking new opportunities in ... Possessed of charming candour but no common sense at all. Never admit you are out of work.
Workstream lead Sounds glamorous; isn’t.

Firstly, “lead” in this context means “a thing you tie a misbehaving dog to” and not “what Moses did to the Children of Israel”. A workstream lead is one engaged, on a temporary basis, to prod unwilling employees along a manifestly pointless “business change” program whereby outwardly useful staff will be distracted from whatever they are doing and instructed to strip paint off a bucket, so the bucket can be given to another employee to paint properly, so a third one can strip paint from it again. And so on.

Requires experience organising all-hands conference calls, walking through action logs and compiling dashboards full of RAG statuses. Until your contract runs out.

Section D: Miscellaneous
Web developer Invented the Internet.
Derivatives onboarding specialist School leaver from Gdansk, seeking fortune in Krakow.
Social media advisor (1) obsessed with twitter/instagram to the point of believing it a bona-fide commercial utility.
(2) (Ergo) git.
Best-selling author of... Greetings dear kind sir/madam I self publish my book i sincerely pray it will change your [I mean my] life. [It won’t. (Either of them).] Please review it on Amazon. I salute you thanks you!!! (sic)
Passionate about supporting and developing people in a way that is meaningful for them. Available immediately. What. Just what. At a guess, underwear salesperson or photo lab assistant. Glass half-full type, anyways.


  1. the technical term is a “masochist
  2. Try Danny Glover and Vinnie Jones in Age of Dragons
  3. The horror. The horror