PEPSI – Leadership

“The most powerful leadership tool is your personal example.” – John Wooden

PEPSI Leadership (PDF)
PEPSI Leadership Slides (Pictures)  (PDF)


1.
A: Who’s in charge here?
B: Marissa is our team leader. She calls the shots.

Answer

To be in charge of something/someone (i) – to be in control or responsible for something/someone.
To call the shots (i) – to make important decisions, to have the authority or power, to be in charge of.

2.
A: Did you watch the news? Stocks are tanking because of the crises on Wall Street.
B: I can’t believe it. Lehman brothers are filing for bankruptcy!
A: They cooked the books. They covered up their losses. They made it seem the company was doing much better than it really was.
B: It’s scary how much damage one bad apple can do to the financial system.

Answer

To tank (s)(v) – to fail completely, to crash.
To cook the books (i)(s) – to change facts or figures dishonestly or illegally (financial fraud) on the financial statements (balance sheet) of a company. To manipulate financial information.
To cover something up (pv) – to hide, conceal or disguise something.
A bad apple (i)(s) – a bad or corrupt person in a group who has a negative effect on everyone else in that group.

3.
A: We’re going out of business. We have been in the red for several years.
B: I know…We’ve been fighting a losing battle.
A: It’s a shot in the dark but we have to try and help turn the company around. It’s still too soon to throw in the towel.
B: I hope there’s a silver lining. Otherwise, we’ll be out of a job.

Answer

To go out of business (i) – when a company fails, goes bankrupt, and shuts down.
To be in the red (i) – to lose money. Antonym: To be in the black (i).
To fight a losing battle (i) – to try hard to do something when there is a very small chance of success.
A shot in the dark (i) – a random guess, or a hopeful attempt (small chance of success).
To turn something around (pv) – to change a negative situation to a positive situation.
To throw in the towel (i) – to give up, to admit defeat (boxing).
Every cloud has a silver lining (p) – there’s always hope, every negative situation has a positive aspect. Synonym: When one door closes, another door opens.
To be out of a job (i) – to be unemployed. Synonym: To be in between jobs, to be out of work.

4.
A: I really look up to our CEO. He built this company from scratch.
B: I heard he was flat broke when he started this business.
A: Yeah, he went from rags to riches. And now he’s set for life. He made a killing when he took the company public.

Answer

To look up to someone (pv) – to admire and respect someone.
To build/start something from scratch (i) – to start/build something from nothing, or the very beginning.
To be (flat) broke (s)(adj) – to have no money.
To go from rags to riches (i) – to start life poor and then become rich (or famous).
To be set for life (i)(adj) – to have enough money for a lifetime. To not have to work. because you have enough money to live for the rest of your life.
To make a killing (i) – to win or earn a large amount of money, usually in a short period of time.

5.
A: Benjamin will hang up his hat soon. We need to find someone to replace him.
B: That’s easier said than done. It will be like finding a needle in a haystack.
C: He’s got big shoes to fill. Are you sure he will retire? Is it set in stone?
A: I’m positive. The bottom line is that we need to think about the future. Any ideas?
B: How about Charlie Buffet? He’s running the operations in Europe.
C: What does he bring to the table?
B: He has a lot of international experience. He has a great reputation and most important of all, he’s a man of integrity and vision.

Answer

To hang up one’s hat (i) – to end one’s career, to retire.
Easier said than done (p) – it’s easier to talk about something but much more difficult to really do it.
Something/someone is like finding a needle in a haystack (i) – something/someone that is really difficult or impossible to find.
To have big shoes to fill (i) – to have big expectations to fulfil because the person that came before was very successful or did a great job. Usually when another person is taking over a position.
To be set in stone (i)(adj) – something that is certain, permanent. Therefore it cannot be changed.
The bottom line (i) – the conclusion, the final result, the ultimate decision, the main point.
To bring something/someone to the table (i) – to provide something that will be beneficial, to contribute something to the group.


PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. Do you prefer to call the shots or to follow other people’s decision? Does it depend on the situation? Explain.
  2. Thinking about recent news, has anything tanked? Stock prices, gas prices, markets, industries, country’s economy?
  3. Do you know any public companies that cooked the books? Did they try to cover it up? What happened?
  4. If you were a team leader, and you had a bad apple in your group, what would you do?
  5. Do you know any companies that are in the red but still successful? Think about startups or internet companies.
  6. What’s an inspirational story of someone who turned their lives or businesses around? A rags-to-riches story?
  7. Do you believe that every cloud has a silver lining? Have you experienced it before.
  8. Who do you look up to?
  9. Have you ever made a killing in an investment, a gamble or the stock market?
  10. If you were in a job interview for your dream position, and the interviewer asked you what you would bring to the table. How would you respond?

What are TEDTalks?
tedtalk-logo

Ideas that can change the world


What are TEDTalks?
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It’s a nonprofit organization that organizes conferences where speakers from all walks of life are invited to give a presentation. Since it’s inception in 1984, the topics of presentations have branched out into many other fields, including leadership, self-help, global issues, business, science and the list goes on. Many people who are invited to give these speeches are often accomplished within their own fields; some of them have written books and others are making real impactful changes in our world. Speakers such as Bill Gates, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Richard Dawkins and many more. The diversity of speakers and topics is staggering.

Over the years, TED has built a cult-like following. Hardcore fans who pay several thousand dollars to attend these conferences are called TEDsters. These conferences are held in different locations throughout the world. In addition, independently organized events called TEDx happen even more frequently. Whereas, the official TEDTalks focus more on global topics and issues. TEDx licensees focus mainly on local issues.

For the average person, TEDTalks can be freely viewed online; and subtitles in several languages exist as well. On top of that, most TEDTalks have an interactive transcript. It’s a phenomenal resource for educators and students alike.

Fun Facts

  • TEDTalk prices can range from $8500 (2015) – $17,000 (2016).
  • There are over 2,400 TEDTalks on their website. (2016)
  • The first event was invitation only and they lost money organizing it.
  • The second event wasn’t organized until 6 years later.
  • The TEDPrize is worth $1 million and awarded annually to a leader with a creative, bold wish to spark global change. (2013)
  • Each speaker is given 18 minutes to present their ideas.

Ideas Worth Spreading
Speakers often follow very particular formats when they are giving their speeches. Chip and Dan Heath in their book Made to Stick, explain how ideas spread. They identified 6 characteristics:

  • Simple: find the core of any idea.
  • Unexpected: grab people’s attention through surprise.
  • Concrete: easy to remember, use concrete words not jargon.
  • Credible: give an idea believability.
  • Emotional: emotions are the main driving force of human behavior and motivation, people are more interested in other people than facts and figures. What’s in it for me?
  • Story: narratives inspire people to take action.

Many TEDTalk speakers follow these guidelines. Most of them incorporate emotional stories in their talks, they often use props, humor and a lot of multimedia to get their message across. There’s a lot that can be learned about public speaking from watching these talks. Even the limit of 18 minutes per presentation is carefully chosen to align with an average person’s attention span when interested and focused.


PEPSI – Growth

Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.

PEPSI Growth & Teamwork (PDF)


1.
A: What do you think about being acquired by Google?
B: At first blush, I didn’t understand why we were bought out. I was on the fence about it and it was a bitter pill to swallow. I thought we got the short end of the stick.
A: I understand how you feel. I felt like we jumped from the frying pan into the fire. It really got under my skin.
B: However, now that we are on the same boat. I think Google runs a very tight ship. It’s a breath of fresh air and I think we’ve gotten a second wind.
A: You’re preaching to the choir!

Answer

At first blush (i): at first glimpse, upon first impression or consideration.
To buy someone out (pv): to purchase the ownership of a company.
To be on the fence about something (i): to be undecided about something.
A bitter pill to swallow (i): a unpleasant or painful situation to accept.
To get the short end of the stick (i): to suffer the bad effects of a situation, to get a bad deal.
To jump from the frying pan into the fire (i): to go from a bad situation to an even worse situation.
To get under someone’s skin (i): To bother, annoy or irritate someone intentionally, often used in sports.
To be on the same boat (i): to be in the same situation, more often used for unpleasant situations.
To run a tight ship (i): to run an organization in an orderly, disciplined and efficient manner.
A breath of fresh air (i): something or someone new and different, which makes it seem more exciting.
To get a second wind (i): to get a second burst of energy, to have increased energy after feeling tired or weak.
To preach to the choir (i): to make your case to a group of people who already agree with you.

2.
A: I will not sign off on this merger! It doesn’t sit right with me.
B: Look at the big picture. It’s a win-win situation. Joining forces will be mutually beneficial.
A: We have different visions for the future. We have completely different company cultures. We don’t build any kind of synergy. We’re not a good fit.
B: Our company is having a down year. We’ve tried cutting back on our expenses. We have to cut our losses and move on. At the end of the day, this is our only solution.
A: I understand that recently we’ve been in hot water, that we’ve been in a rut, that we’ve come under fire from shareholders. I understand all that. However, I’m sticking to my guns. With all due respect, this is idea does not hold water. The writing is on the wall.
B: Don’t make me pull rank.

Answer

To sign off on something (pv): to approve something formally by a signature.
To sit right with someone (i): to be acceptable, or understandable.
The big picture (i): a complete understanding or view of something, the entire perspective of a situation.
A win-win situation (i): mutual benefit between two or more parties.
A down year (i): an unsuccessful year.
To cut back on something (pv): to reduce the amount of something (expenses, spending, or food).
To cut one’s losses (i): to stop doing something that is already failing. To stop fighting a losing battle.
To move on (pv): to continue moving forwards.
At the end of the day (e): finally, ultimately, basically, essentially, in the end.
To be in hot water (i): in a lot of trouble.
To be in a rut (i): to be in a situation where no progress has been made, to have a lifestyle that doesn’t change.
To come under fire (i): to be criticized.
To stick to one’s guns (i): to stand up to one’s rights, convictions; to maintain one’s opinion or point of view.
With all due respect (e): to politely criticize or disagree with someone.
Something does not hold water (i): a statement does not appear to be correct or reasonable.
The writing is on the wall (i): there are clear signs that something unpleasant is going to happen.
To pull rank (i): to use the power that your position gives you to order someone around.

3.
A: Richard, I want you to take charge of the next project. Rallying the troops is your bread and butter.
B: Thank you so much for this opportunity.
A: But I do have one condition…I want to talk about the elephant in the room. I know you have a beef with Charles but he will be joining your team. He has the complementary skills to make this project successful.
B: Teaming up with him is out of the question. He’s a piece of work. If we work together, we’ll just wind up arguing all the time.
A: I need you to smooth things over with Charles. It’s time to bury the hatchet.
B: He rubs me the wrong way. Every time I try to talk to him, he gives me the cold shoulder.
A: When there’s a will, there’s a way.

Answer

To take charge of something (i): to assume control, to take responsibility.
To rally the troops (i): to unite a group of people towards a shared goal. To increase morale of a group.
One’s bread and butter (i): one’s livelihood, source of income or competency.
The elephant in the room (i): a sensitive issue that is obvious to everyone, but avoided or not talked about.
To have a beef with someone (s): to have a problem or a grudge with someone.
To team up with someone (pv): to join forces with someone or with a group, to form a team with.
Something is out of the question (e): something is impossible, or not allowed.
A piece of work (s)(n): a complicated, difficult person to get along with.
To wind up (pv)(s): to end up, to result in, to do something eventually.
To smooth/patch something over with someone (pv): to make problems, difficulties, or disagreements less serious, to make an unfriendly relationship friendlier. Usually, by talking to the other person.
To bury the hatchet (i): To make peace, to end a fight and become friends.
To rub someone the wrong way (i): to annoy or irritate someone, to make someone feel uncomfortable.
To give someone the cold shoulder (i): to purposely ignore someone, or to show no interest in someone.
When there’s a will, there’s a way (p): You can accomplish anything if you work hard or are motivated. ‘Will’ means strong motivation to do something.


PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. Recently on the news, have you heard about any companies buying out other companies?
  2. Tell me about a time you jumped from the frying pan and into the fire.
  3. Do you know any companies that are run like a tight ship?
  4. Are you skilled at looking at the big picture?
  5. Is there something that you have to cut back on? 
  6. Have you ever been in a rut financially, creatively, at work, or in your personal life?
  7. Have you ever come under fire for something you did or did not do?
  8. Are you someone who sticks to his or her guns, or do you often change your point of view?
  9. Do you like taking charge or do you prefer to stand back and support others?
  10. Which historical leaders were skilled at rallying the troops?
  11. What is your bread and butter? Your core competency?
  12. Have you ever had a beef with one of your co-workers, classmates or close friends? What happened?
  13. Tell me about someone who rubbed you the wrong way.
  14. Imagine you and your friend had a huge argument. Choose the topic with your partner. Role-play how you would smooth things over and bury the hatchet. How would you have this difficult conversation? What steps would you follow? .

PEPSI – Startups
unicorn-startups

Unicorn = A startup with over $1 billion in valuation

PEPSI Startups
PEPSI Picture Slides

1.
A: Why are you all dressed up? You look very handsome.
B: I’m going to meet a very important angel. A friend of mine helped me set up the meeting.
A: I’m sure you’ll get funding. Your technology is way ahead of the curve. The sky is the limit.
B: Thanks for saying that. I’ve invested all my life savings into this venture. All my eggs are in this basket.
Answer

To dress up (pv): to wear smart and formal clothes.
To set up something (pv): (1) to organize or plan something such as a meeting. (2) to start something such as a business, or organization.
To be ahead of the curve (i): to be above average, to perform well, ahead of current thinking or trends.
The sky is the limit (e)(s): there is no limit to what someone/something can achieve.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (p): to make everything dependent on one thing, to place all your resources in one place (if the basket drops, you lose everything).

2.
A: Let me get this straight. You want me to invest $30 million dollars for 10% of your company? Are you nuts? You have no sales, no product, and no customers.
B: I know we have a tough road ahead of us. Just believe me.
A: This is the worst pitch I’ve ever heard. It’s a pipe dream! Your valuation of the company just doesn’t sit right with me. You absolutely bombed it. The ship has sailed.
B: If you could reconsider.
A: Listen, read the room. No one is interested. We have a lot on our plate and we have bigger fish to fry. We’re out.
Answer

Let me get this straight (e)(clarification): To understand, clarify or summarize. To check if something is right. Let me get all the facts.
Nuts (s)(adj): crazy, insane.
The road ahead (i): The future, the journey in front. Synonyms: A long/tough road ahead. A pipe dream (i): a fantasy, a dream with very little chance of happening, a hopeless dream.
To sit right | To sit well with someone (i): to be acceptable or understandable. Often used in the negative form, to no sit right/well with someone – difficult to agree/accept, to dislike an idea.
To bomb something (s)(v): to fail miserably, a fiasco (a complete failure)(Italian).
The ship has sailed (e): refer a missed opportunity, a situation that can no longer be changed, an opportunity has already past, it’s too late now.
Read the room (e): to interpret, detect and understand the mood, biases and tendencies of the people in the room. To feel the atmosphere.
To have a lot on one’s plate (i): to have a hectic schedule, to be very busy, to have many things going on in your life – work, career, family, health.
To have bigger fish to fry (i): To have more important things to do or think about.

3.
A: Did you get the funding? This was our last chance.
B: Unfortunately, we came up short.
A: What happened?
B: They wanted too much equity. For crying out loud, they asked for 50% of our company. They wanted to call all the shots. We turned them down. All our hard work went down the drain. Maybe, we should throw in the towel. There’s no future.

Answer

To come up short (i): to fail to meet expectations or standards, to fall short of reaching a goal.
For crying out loud (e)(s): used for emphasis, an exclamation of anger, exasperation, irritation, frustration, impatience. Synonym: For God’s sake, for heaven’s sake, Jesus Christ
To call the shots (i): To make the important decisions, to be in a position of power, to be in charge.
To turn someone/something down (pv): to reject or refuse someone/something.
To go down the drain (i): to be wasted, to fail or be destroyed.
To throw in the towel (i) (boxing): to quit, to give up.

4.
A: Do you remember those kids who pitched their idea about an apartment rental platform?
B: It doesn’t ring a bell.
A: I think they called it ‘Airbnb’.
B: Oh yes, I remember now. That was a few years ago. So what?
A: We missed a golden opportunity. They struck out on their own and now they’re worth billions of dollars.
B: You win some and you lose some. I guess, that’s life. I didn’t want to invest in them because I thought they would just burn through cash.
Answer

To ring a bell (i): to awaken a memory, to remember something, to seem familiar, to hear it before.
A golden opportunity (i)(n): a rare and excellent chance or opportunity.
To strike out on one’s own (i): to start to live, work or travel alone, to begin a new activity alone.
You win some, you lose some (p)(encouragement): you can’t always be successful, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. (use after you lose usually, to give encouragement)
That’s life (e): use to accept a difficult situation or misfortune. Synonym: c’est la vie, shit happens.
To burn through cash (i)(s): to spend money very quickly.

PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. What do you like to wear when you dress up? What kind of accessories do you add?
  2. How can companies stay ahead of the curve?
  3. When is it a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, when is it not? Should companies seek diversification?
  4. Tell me about a time you did something nuts.
  5. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the road ahead? What are your plans for the future?
  6. Have you ever bombed an important presentation?
  7. Tell me about a time when the ship sailed.
  8. Are you good at reading the room? Do you think it’s an important skill? How can we improve this skill?
  9. Do you have a lot on your plate right now? Tell me about a time you did.
  10. Do you like calling the shots? When?
  11. At what age should people strike out on their own? What kind of lessons can you learn when striking out on your own?
  12. Why do investors miss many golden opportunities when investing in startups?
  13. Why do startups burn through cash?

PEPSI – Human Resources
empower-the-people

Empower the People!

PEPSI Human Resources
PEPSI Picture Slides


1.
A: Charlie, knock it off. You’re out of line! You shouldn’t tell the employees what to do, or chew them out in front of their peers. That’s my job. You’re undermining my authority.
B: My sincerest apologies. I didn’t mean to overstep my bounds or disrespect you in any way.

Answer

Knock it off (e)(strong) – stop doing something.
To be out of line (i)(strong) – someone’s actions or words are improper, or inappropriate and should not have been done or said. Synonyms: to step out of line (i), arrogant, interfering, impolite, insolent.
To chew someone out (pv)(s) – to tell someone off, to reprimand, to scold. Synonym: to give someone an earful (i), to roast (v)(s), to give someone a piece of one’s mind.
To overstep one’s bounds (i) – to do more than you are allowed to do or should do. Often, when you’ve offended someone or spoken out of turn. Synonyms: to overstep one’s boundaries (i), to go too far (i).
My sincerest apologies (e) – I’m deeply sorry.

2.
A: Boss, do you have a minute?
B: I’m all ears.
A: I heard that the position of HR director is opening up.
B: I don’t like reading between the lines. Just tell me what’s on your mind.
A: Here’s the deal. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I deserve it. I always go the extra mile. I can wear many hats, I’m a people person, and I have an eye for talent and character. I’m more than qualified to lead that division.
B: Let me run it by management. I’ll put in a good word.

Answer

Do you have a minute? (e) – ask politely for someone’s time to interrupt them, and discuss something briefly. If busy, respond with: I really don’t have a minute right now. Can we talk later?
I’m all ears (e) – I’m listening. You have my full attention.
To open up (pv) – to become available.
To read between the lines (i) – to understand what someone implies, but doesn’t openly state, say or write.
Here’s the deal (e) – Here’s the situation. Here’s what is happening.
To toot one’s own horn (i) – to promote, to boast or brag about oneself.
To go the extra mile (i) – to do more than is required to reach a goal, to put in more effort.
To wear many hats (i) – to have a lot of roles or responsibilities.
A people person (s) – a person who has great communicative skills and enjoys interacting with other people.
To have an eye for something (i) – to have good taste, to have the ability to identify some quality.
To run something by someone (pv) – to tell someone something, to ask for approval or feedback.
To put in a good word for someone (e)(i) – to say positive things about someone, to recommend someone for something.

3.
A: I know you’re trying to butter me up. Flattery won’t get you anywhere.
B: I’m not kissing up to you. I mean it when I say your leadership has turned this company around. You’re my hero!
A: Okay, Jane. That’s enough. Save your breath. What do you want?
B: You think I can leave earlier today? My husband is preparing a special dinner tonight!

Answer

To butter someone up (pv) | To kiss up to someone (pv)(s) – to flatter someone, to compliment, to be friendly or kind to someone in a higher rank to get some kind of benefit. Synonym: to kiss someone’s ass (s).
To turn something around (pv) – to change an unsuccessful business, plan or system into something that does become successful.
Save your breath (e) – stop wasting time talking, it’s no use, to refrain from futile effort.

4.
A: All right, I’ll cut to the chase. Either you make me a partner or I’ll walk. I’ve worked my fingers to the bone for this company. The ball is in your court.
B: I’m glad you didn’t beat around the bush. You really caught me off guard with this. I wasn’t expecting it. However, playing hardball won’t get you what you want.
A: Any professional worth his salt would ask for this.
B: You’re in over your head if you think you can bulldoze your way to a partner position.

Answer

To cut to the chase (i) – to say something directly, to focus on the essential. Synonym: to get to the point.
To walk (s)(v) – to walk away from an employment, abandon a job, or commitment.
To work one’s fingers to the bone (i) – to work extremely hard, especially for a long time.
The ball is in your court (e)(i)(tennis)it’s up to you to make the next move, offer or decision.
To beat around the bush (i) – to say something indirectly.
To catch someone off guard (i) – to surprise someone in a good or bad way.
To play hardball (i)(s)(baseball) – to act strong and aggressive about an issue, to behave in a unpleasant, even threatening way to get what you want.
Worth one’s salt (i) – to be competent, capable or deserving of one’s pay.
To be in over one’s head (i) – to be in situation that one is not prepared for (inexperience, unpreparedness).
To bulldoze (v)(s) – to intimidate, to bully or use violence or ultimatums to get what you want.

5.
A: The company has finally brought in some fresh blood.
B: They’re all fresh out of college. They haven’t been through the school of hard knocks. It’s going to be interesting watching their development.
A: It’s also going to take a while before they learn the ropes and the tricks of the trade. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Answer

To bring in some fresh blood (i) – to bring in new members to a group or organization to revitalize or stimulate its productivity through new ideas or energy. Synonym: new blood, young blood.
School of hard knocks (i) – knowledge and wisdom gained through failure and overcoming obstacles in life.
To learn the ropes (i) – to learn the basics of a job.
Tricks of the trade (i) – skills, technique used in a specific job that’s not known to outsiders.
Rome wasn’t built in a day (p) – success or skill acquisition doesn’t happen overnight.


PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. What situations would be considered overstepping your bounds in a business situation?
  2. Have you ever been chewed out for a mistake in your life? How did you feel?
  3. Are you good at reading between the lines?
  4. Do you often go the extra mile? Or are you satisfied with enough? Does it depend on what you’re doing?
  5. If you were to toot your own horn, what would you say about yourself?
  6. In your previous job, did you wear many hats? What kind of jobs require you to wear many hats?
  7. Are you a people person? Do you need to be a people person to work in HR?
  8. What do you have an eye for? Did you develop this skill or were you born with it?
  9. Do you know of any stories where a CEO turned a company around?
  10. Do you prefer to cut to the chase or beat around the bush?
  11. Have you ever worked your fingers to the bone?
  12. Is playing hardball a good negotiation tactic?
  13. Any person worth his or her salt in my profession, would/could/should be able to….
  14. Should a company continue to bring in fresh blood?
  15. What has the school of hard knocks taught you?
  16. How long did it take you to learn the ropes in your previous job?

PEPSI – Outsourcing
outsourcing

To outsource or not to outsource? That is the question.

PEPSI Outsourcing (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)


1.
A: Costs are going through the roof. We have to shut down the human resource department. The company is going to contract out the operations.
B: Will I be relocated to a different department?
A: It pains me to say this, but unfortunately, we’re going to have to let you go.
B: You’ve got to be kidding me! You’re laying me off?
A: It’s not personal, it’s just business.

Answer

To go through the roof (i)(s) – [for prices] to become very high.
To shut down (pv) – when a business or organization stops all or part of its operations. Synonyms: to close down.
To contract out (pv) – to assign a job or service to someone outside the organization, to outsource.
It pains me to say this, but … (e) – I hate to say this but … (deliver bad news)
You’ve got to be kidding me (e)(s) – seriously? It can’t be true. (disbelief, shock)
To lay someone off (pv) – to fire someone because of high costs or business reasons.
To let someone go (pv)(euphemism) – to fire someone.
It’s not personal, it’s business (e) – said when distancing oneself from the problem say it to make ourselves and others feel better, avoid messy human emotions. (deliver bad news)

2.
A: We had to bite the bullet and we’ve decided to outsource our tech support to Colombia. It was a difficult decision. We want you to go there and manage it.
B: No offense, but that’s so sudden. What if I say no?
A: Do you want to climb the corporate ladder? If you do this, we’re going to bump you up to a senior management position.

Answer

To bite the bullet (i) – to do or accept something difficult or unpleasant, usually an inevitable situation and move on. In WWII, doctors performing surgery without anesthesia were asked to bite a bullet.
No offense (e)(s) don’t be offended or angry, to make something negative sound more socially acceptable. E.g. No offense, but I think you’re mistaken. (follows a negative comment)
To climb the corporate ladder (i) a corporate ladder is a metaphor for a company’s employment hierarchy. To climb the ladder refers to moving up the hierarchy through promotions.
To bump someone up to (pv) – to move to a better position, to get a promotion.

3.
A: We’re in the hole. We will have to close our doors down the line if we don’t make any changes. We need to figure something out at all costs.
B: What about outsourcing the design department?
A: With all due respect, that’s a terrible idea. Design is our core competency. I think we should close down our R&D department instead. It’s burning through cash with very little results – it’s our Achilles heel.
B: I agree. It’s time for that department to bite the dust. Our investment hasn’t paid off.

Answer

In the hole (i)(s) – in debt, losing money, in trouble. Synonym: in the red.
To close/shut one’s doors (i) – to end a situation, event or business.
Down the line/road (i) – in the future.
To figure something out (pv)(s) – to solve a problem, or understand something. Synonym: To work something out.
At all costs (i) – regardless of the price to be paid, how dangerous it is or effort needed, it must be done.
With (all due) respect (e) – a polite way to disagree or criticize someone or something, especially someone in a higher position (follows something negative).
To burn through cash/money (i) – to spend money very quickly.
Achilles heel (i) – a weakness or vulnerable point, a weak or soft spot.
To bite the dust (s) – to be killed, to break, to fail, to stop existing.
To pay off (pv) (many meanings)(1) to be successful, to have a good result (2) to pay back a debt or money you owe (3) to bribe someone.

4.
A: Which law firm should we choose?
B: Pearson Spector wined and dined us all week. They took us to some really fancy restaurants. On the other hand, Hardman Litt dug their own grave when they always showed up late to our appointments. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
A: They were also cheapskates. They took us to really average places for lunch. It’s settled then, we’ll go with Pearson Spector.

Answer

To wine and dine someone (i) – to treat someone to an expensive meal or entertain someone expensively, usually in order to impress and get something back.
On the one hand | On the other hand (i) – to present two opposing arguments.
To dig one’s own grave (i) – to do something unwise that will result in one’s own failure in the future.
To show up (pv) – to appear.
To leave a bad taste in one’s mouth (i) – to cause a bad memory, to feel disappointed or disgusted.
A cheapskate (n)(s) – ungenerous, unwilling to spend. Synonyms: stingy, penny-pincher, miser, Scrooge.
It’s settled (then) (e) – used when everyone agrees, or a decision has been made. To have decided or resolved the issue, or reach an agreement. Synonym: to be on the same page, to see eye to eye.


PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. Which products’ or services’ prices are going through the roof?
  2. What business functions or services are often contracted out?
  3. Have you ever been laid off? Have there been any recent layoffs in the news (find a piece of news online)?
  4. Do you think business should be more personal? In business, it’s recommended to separate business from emotions, do you think this is a good idea?
  5. Do you think about climbing the corporate ladder? Have you ever been bumped up to a higher position?
  6. Do you know any companies that are in the hole?
  7. What are your plans down the line? Marriage, buying a house, getting a job, getting a promotion, what else?
  8. What kind of food would you avoid at all costs?
  9. What kind of companies burn through cash? Why?
  10. What is your Achilles heel?
  11. Do you think hard work or effort pays off? Tell me about an example from your own life.
  12. Are you a cheapskate? Would you date someone stingy?

PEPSI – Decision Making
decision-making

Flip a coin?

PEPSI Decision Making (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)


1.
A: I’m thinking about moving on to greener pastures.
B: What are you getting at?
A: I got offered a new job. I’m torn between staying and leaving. On the one hand, I really love the company culture here. On the other hand, the other company has more diversity and I can meet people from all walks of life. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.
B: Sometimes the grass is always greener on the other side. I think you should talk to people who work there before you jump the gun. You should hold off on your decision until you are sure it pans out.
A: That’s great advice! I just don’t want to put this decision on the back burner. I’m pretty indecisive and tend to put things off.

Answer

To move on to greener pastures (i): to move to a better situation, job, or place.
What are you getting at? (e): What’s your point? What do you mean? What are you implying?
To be torn between (pv): uncertain whether to choose one or the other.
On the one hand | On the other hand (e): used when discussing two opposite points of view.
From all walks of life (i): from different backgrounds (job, ethnicity, nationality, education).
To be stuck/caught between a rock and a hard place (i): in choose between two difficult or unpleasant options.
The grass is always greener on the other side (p): people always think the other side is better. (envy)
To jump the gun (s): to make a decision prematurely, to act too soon.
To hold off on something (pv): to delay doing something, to postpone a decision.
To pan out (pv): to work out, to become successful.
To put something on the back burner (i): to postpone or delay, because it’s not a priority.
To put things off (pv): to procrastinate, especially because of laziness.

2.
A: The situation is quickly getting out of hand. We must make a decision now or everything is going to hit the fan.
B: I don’t like being put on the spot. I need time to weigh up my options. Maybe I should run it by the other partners first? Ask them to play the devil’s advocate.
A: We don’t have the luxury of doing that. Time is running out. Trust you gut!
B: I need to give it more thought. My career is on the line. I can’t just pull something out of a hat. Should we flip a coin? Why don’t you make the decision?
A: This is not my call. You call the shots. If you don’t make a decision now, our stock price will hit rock bottom. It’s do or die. Now is your time to step up your game. We’ve been together through thick and thin. I’ll back you up. There’s no time to think it over.

Answer

To get out of hand (i): out of control.
To hit the fan (i): when disaster happens, to have serious, messy negative consequences or effects. Synonym: the shit hit the fan (s), to go south, to go sideways, all hell broke loose, a shitstorm.
To be put someone on the spot (i): to make someone answer a difficult question or make a difficult decision under a lot of pressure or attention. Often causes the other person embarrassment or stress.
To weigh up something (pv): to consider the pros and cons of a situation.
To run something by/past someone (pv): to get someone to approve something, to tell someone about a plan and ask for his or her opinion, to check something.
To run out of something (pv): to use something until it is empty.
To play the devil’s advocate (i): to pretend to be against an idea in order to make people discuss or defend it.
Trust your gut (e): to trust your intuition, instinct. To trust your feelings, or sixth sense. Often sued advice to mean, listen to your inner voice. Synonym: a gut feeling, to go with one’s gut.
To give something some/more thought (i): to think carefully or more about something.
Something is on the line (i): at stake, risk of losing it.
To pull something out of hat (i): to do something unexpected that suddenly improves a bad situation, to perform magic. Synonym: to pull something out of one’s ass/out of thin air.
It’s (not) my call (e): it’s (not) my decision.
To call the shots (i): to be in charge, to make the important decisions.
To hit rock bottom (i): to reach the lowest possible situation, to be in the worst-case scenario.
It’s do or die (e): to continue fighting, even if you might die. Synonym: it’s sink or swim.
To step up something (pv): to increase, to take action, especially at an important time.
Through thick and thin (i): to go through good times and bad times.
To back someone up (pv): to support someone. Synonym: to have someone’s back.
To think something over (pv): to think about something carefully, to think about something again.

3.
A: I’m going to come clean. I hate working for the government. There is so much red tape. I can’t get anything done because of all the bureaucracy. Perhaps it’s time for me to step down as the mayor of this city.
B: Even if you want to cut ties with the public sector. Remember not to burn any bridges.
A: I’m on the fence right now but I’m thinking ahead. The last straw was when the city council rejected my proposal to increase our budget for education.
B: You should keep your options open. Before you make a decision, sleep on it for a bit.
A: I left no stone unturned with this proposal. I really thought they would approve it. I’m so pissed.

Answer

To come clean (i)(s): to be completely honest, to tell the truth.
Red tape (i): rules, regulations, and formalities.
To step down (pv): to resign or quit from an importation position.
To cut ties with someone or something (i): to end a relationship with someone.
To burn a bridge (i): to destroy one’s path, connections, reputation, and opportunities intentionally.
To be on the fence about something (i): to be undecided about something.
To think ahead (pv): to plan ahead, to think carefully about the future.
The last/final straw (i): the last part of a series of annoyances, incidents that leads to a final loss in patience, temper, hope, or trust. Proverb: It’s the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
To keep one’s options open (i): to wait before making a decision so you have more options the future.
To sleep on something (i): to postpone a decision by sleep.
To leave no stone unturned (i): to do everything to find something, or to try everything to reach a goal.
Pissed (off) (s)(adj): angry, furious, irate.

 


PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. If you could move on to greener pastures, where would you move to?
  2. Tell me about a time you were torn between two things. What do you do when you’re shopping, and you like both pieces of clothing? What about when you’re in a movie theater, or a restaurant?
  3. Why do people always think the grass is greener on the other side? Is it true?
  4. Do you often jump the gun? Any examples? How can we avoid jumping the gun?
  5. Do you tend to put things on the back burner? Talk about something you putt off recently.
  6. How do you feel when someone puts you on the spot? Tell me about a time you were put on the spot.
  7. Do you trust your own gut? Do you often follow or go with your gut? When do you use reason, when do use your gut feeling?
  8. Do you know of anyone who hit rock bottom but still ended up becoming successful? Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?
  9. What’s the difference between a true friend, a close friend and a friend? Is there anyone in your life who has stuck with you through thick and thin (besides your parents)?
  10. Why do large corporations and governments have so much red tape? How can they reduce it?
  11. Do you know of any story where the leader stepped down because of a scandal?
  12. Have you ever cut ties with someone? Do you agree that you should never burn bridges? Have you ever burned a bridge in a professional environment?
  13. What was the last straw that ended your previous relationship or your previous job?
  14. Do you often sleep on a big decision? Is it useful to sleep on big decisions? Why?

PEPSI – Ethics & Environment

People, Planet, Profit.

PEPSI Ethics & Environment (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)


1.
A: Forbes Magazine recently released an article calling some companies out for taking advantage of the corruption and cheap labor in underdeveloped countries. Many deals are being made under the table.
B: I read that article. Those countries – Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq – have very unstable governments. It’s unfortunate because corruption and conflict go hand in hand.
A: Corruption is running these countries into the ground. These companies have too much skin in the game to just leave. Anti-corruption agencies should really start cracking down and cleaning house.

Answer

To call someone out (pv) – to challenge someone, to draw attention to someone’s unacceptable behaviour, to criticize someone or ask them to explain their actions.
To do something under the table (i) – to do something secretly, often illegally.
To go hand in hand (i) – two things are related or go together, exist together. Often used as: A and B go hand in hand, OR, A goes hand in hand with B.
To run something into the ground (i) – to destroy or ruin something.
To have skin in the game (i) –to have something (money, reputation, ownership) to lose if something fails. To have a personal investment in the success of something.
To crack down (on something)(pv) – to enforce the law, to restrict illegal activities, to punish people.
To clean house (i) –to get rid of corruption, and unethical actions or behavior in an organization.

2.
A: I just want to clear the air and address the elephant in the room. I can’t believe you were passed over for that promotion. You were next in line!
B: It’s fine. Let’s not bring that up.
A: I can’t believe you’re sitting on the fence like this. She went behind your back and sabotaged you. She stabbed you in the back. You took her under your wings when she first started working here. It doesn’t sit right with me. I’ll always have your back.
B: Thank you for the support but it’s all just water under the bridge. You reap what you sow. She’ll have it coming one day.

Answer

To clear the air (i) – to get rid of doubts, bad feelings, emotional tension.
The elephant in the room (i) – a major problem or sensitive issue that is obviously present but avoided.
To be passed over (pv) – to skip, to fail to select someone.
To bring something up (pv) – to raise a matter for discussion, to mention something.
To sit on the fence (i) – to be neutral, undecided, uncertain, avoid making a decision, to stay quiet.
To go behind someone’s back (i) – to do or say something negative secretly.
To stab someone in the back (i) – to betray someone.
To take someone under one’s wings (i) – to help, protect, guide, and mentor someone, especially when he or she is younger and less experienced.
To (not) sit right with someone (i) – to be uncomfortable with a situation.
To have someone’s back (i) – to be prepared to support or defend someone.
It’s water under the bridge (e)(i) – something is in the past and therefore no longer important.
You reap what you sow (pv) – karma, you eventually have to face up to consequences of your actions. Related: What comes around goes around.
To have it coming (i)(s) – to deserve something as the consequence of his or her actions.

3.
A: Did you hear? It’s a jungle out there.
B: I only heard bits and pieces about management making big decisions behind closed doors. I don’t really have the full picture. Fill me in.
A: The people upstairs are forcing Jack to take the fall for the scandal. He’s their scapegoat. The cards are stacked against him.
B: Are you serious? They’re saying he cooked the books? He didn’t do anything. You think they paid him off? He’s going to face the music.
A: Maybe. Or they had him in their pocket and blackmailed him. The media has been on their back for the past few weeks. Management is pointing their finger at someone so they can start with a clean slate and keep their own involvement under wraps.
B: I’m sure everything will just blow over soon – knock on wood.
A: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. We’re not out of the woods yet.

Answer

It’s a jungle out there (e) – there’s a dangerous, chaotic world out there.
Bits and pieces (i) – small or random items, small parts of something.
To do something behind closed doors (i) – to do something secretly or without public knowledge.
To (not) have the full picture (i) – to (not) have a full understanding of a situation.
To fill someone in (pv) – to give someone all the details, to give them the full picture.
To take the fall for something or someone (i) – to take the blame or punishment for a failure or unethical act, voluntarily or involuntarily (a scapegoat). Synonym: a fall guy.
The cards are stacked against someone (i) – the luck is against you, there are obstacles in your way. Synonym: the odds are against someone.
To cook the books (i) – to manipulate financial data in a company. Books refer to financial documents.
To pay someone off (pv) – to bribe someone.
To face the music (i) – to accept responsibility and receive punishment for a wrongdoing, to accept the unpleasant results of one’s actions.
To have someone in one’s pocket (i) – to have complete control over someone, to own someone.
To be on someone’s back (i) – to repeatedly annoy, bother, criticize, harass, or nag someone.
To point one’s finger at someone (i) – to blame someone. Related: blamestorming.
To start with a clean slate (i) – to start fresh, to have a clean start, to forget the past and start over,
To keep something under wraps (i) – to conceal, or hide something. To not show or talk about it.
To blow over (pv) – to pass by or go away without serious consequences.
Knock on wood (e) – I hope my good luck continues. Knock on wood to avoid jinxing something.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch (p) – don’t celebrate prematurely.
To (not) be out of the woods (i) – to (not) be out of trouble, danger or difficult.

 


PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. Is it better to call someone out privately or publicly? Explain.
  2. What are two things that often go hand in hand?
  3. Do you think leaders of a company, a project should have skin in the game? How?
  4. Do you think people change their decisions, behavior or opinion if they had skin in the game? Why?
  5. Do you think there’s a lot of corruption in your country? Tell me about some recent corruption scandal in your country. How can we crack down on these activities?
  6. Tell me about a situation that would be described as the elephant in the room. 
  7. Tell me about a time someone went behind your back or stabbed you in the back.
  8.  Has anyone taken you under their wings? Have you taken anyone under your wings? What did you learn from this experience? If you could choose someone to take you under his or her wings, who would it be?
  9. If someone has wronged you, do you easily think it’s water under the bridge, you forgive and forget? Or do you hold grudges for a long time?
  10. Do you believe that you reap what you sow, or what comes around goes around? Can you give an example?
  11. If your son or daughter committed a serious crime, would you take the fall for him or her? And assuming that you did take the fall, he or she would stay out of jail for 3 years, and you would only have to serve community service for 300 days. Would you do it?
  12. Do you know about any company who cooked its books?
  13. Why do we often point the finger at someone else? Why don’t we take responsibility and accept the blame?
  14. Do you think criminals should start with a clean slate after they are released from prison? Or should they be labeled as ex-criminals, which we know makes it more difficult for them to find employment?

PEPSI – Customer Service

Smile!

PEPSI Customer Service (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)


1.
A: Good morning. I work for Travel.com. We’re offering a limited time deal for our most loyal customers: a trip to Hawaii for one week, everything included, for just $199!
B: That sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch?
A: There are no strings attached. This offer is the best bang for you buck and it won’t break the bank. It’s a no-brainer.
B: I’ve been around the block. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. There’s always a catch. It’s a rule in this world: give and take, quid pro quo. I take everything with a grain of salt.

Answer

What’s the catch? (e) – used to ask about the hidden disadvantage, drawback, or problem when something sounds too good to be true. Synonym: What’s the angle? What’s your angle?
No strings attached (e)(s) – no hidden conditions, without a catch, unconditionally.
Bang for one’s buck (i)(s) – to get the highest return on investment (ROI), a better value for the money spent, a good cost-to-benefit ratio. Bang in this case means excitement.
To break the bank (i) – to cost too much, too expensive, to use up all one’s money (gambling).
A no-brainer (s)(n) – an easy decision, conclusion, something that doesn’t need thinking.
To have been around (the block) (i) – to have had a lot of life experience.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch (TNSTAAFL)(p) – there’s nothing free in the world, if something is too good to be true, there’s always a catch.
Give and take (e) | Quid pro quo (e)(latin) – you help me, I help you.
To take something with a grain of salt (i) – to see something with scepticism, to not believe everything or to doubt the truth.

2.
A: What’s wrong? You seem upset.
B: I’m bummed. I need to blow off some steam. I was talking to a customer on the phone today and right off the bat she started yelling. It was like talking to a brick wall.
A: What happened exactly?
B: Well, she couldn’t understand why she had to pay extra for going over her data limit. She just snapped at me, she was completely out of her mind.
A: Did you give her a piece of your mind? She sounds nuts.
B: She was a real pain in the ass, and really snooty as well. I wanted to tell her off but I’m a professional. I’m not wet behind the ears. I had to explain to her that it wasn’t my call, and that I was just a cog in a well-oiled machine. She ended up giving in and she will have to pay her fees. I was so stressed out after the call.

Answer

Bummed (s)(adj) | to bum someone out (pv)(s) – annoyed, upset, or disappointed.
A bum (s)(n) – a lazy, useless, or homeless person.
To blow off some steam (i) – to get rid of extra energy or angry emotions.
To do something right off the bat (i) – immediately, at the very beginning, in a hurry.
Like talking to a brick wall (i) – to speak to someone who doesn’t listen, or is really stubborn or stupid.
To snap at someone (pv)(s) – to suddenly get angry or shout at someone.
To be out of one’s mind (i) – to be crazy, insane. Synonym: nuts (s)(adj)
A pain in the ass (i)(s) – an annoying, irritating or frustrating person.
Snooty (s)(adj) – someone who feels above others. Synonym: snotty, snobbish, condescending.
To give a piece of one’s mind (i) – to speak angrily to someone about something.
To tell someone off (pv)(s) – to scold, to attack someone verbally.
To be wet behind one’s ears (i) – young, immature, and/or inexperienced. Synonyms: to be green.
Something is (not) one’s call (i) – it’s not one’s decision.
A cog in a/the machine (i) – a small, insignificant member of a larger organization or system.
A welloiled machine (i)(n) – a system that operates in a proper and successful way.
To end up (pv) – finally, to become eventually, to turn out to be, to turn out.
To give in (pv) – to surrender, to yield, to stop fighting, to finally agree to something after first refusing.
To be stressed out (pv) – to be really stressed (strong feelings of worry or anxiety).

3.
A: Can I pick your brain? I have to do a presentation on company with great customer service, but I don’t have any ideas.
B: How about Zappos? They really go the extra mile. Just my two cents.
A: Oh yeah! I heard about that. They go out of their way to help you with anything, even if it’s not related to their business.
B: Exactly! You can really count on them. They will bend over backwards for you.
A: Many companies just do everything by the book. Companies say customer service is important but actions speak louder than words. Unlike other companies, Zappos actually walks the talk.

Answer

To pick someone’s brain (i) – to ask someone’s advice about a subject that the person has expertise in.
To go the extra mile (i) – to do more or work harder than what is expected.
Just my two cents (e) – in my (humble/honest) opinion.
To go out of one’s way (i) | To bend over backwards (i) – to make an extra effort and inconvenience yourself to help someone.
To count on someone (pv) – to rely on someone, to depend on someone, to trust them to do something.
To do something by the book (i) – to do something exactly as the rules tell you, strictly by the rules.
Actions speak louder than words (p) – more effective to act than to talk about it.
To walk the talk (i) – to do what you say you will do.


PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. When something sounds too good to be true, do you usually think about what the catch is? Do you believe that there are no strings attached?
  2. Which travel destinations give you the biggest bang for you buck? Have you been there?
  3. Are you a suspicious person? Do you usually take things with a grain of salt (for example when reading the news)?
  4. How do you blow off some steam?
  5. Have you met someone who you liked or didn’t like right off the bat? Why did you like/dislike them?
  6. What are some triggers that cause you to snap at people?
  7. Have you given anyone in a customer service role a piece of your mind?
  8. Do you often feel like a cog in a machine?
  9. How do you think you will end up in 5 years? 10 years? In 20 years?
  10. Have you been stressed out recently? Why? Tell me about the most stressful moment in your life. How do you manage your stress?
  11. If you could pick someone’s brain, who’s brain would you pick? Why?
  12. At work, do you often go the extra mile? Do you know anyone who always does?
  13. Who can you count on? If you’re in an accident (or some other bad situation) at 3am in the morning, who would you call besides your family?
  14. Does your boss or previous boss do things by the book? Do you think a manager should do things by the book?

PEPSI – Innovation
innovation-2

Think outside of the box!

PEPSI Innovation (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)


1.
A: I love watching TEDTalks. You should check it out.
B: Oh. I’ve watched them, but I find them a little boring. They’re not really my cup of tea.
A: What? They are really inspiring and eye-opening. There’s so much food for thought.

Answer

To check something out (pv): to see, to watch, to examine, to try.
Something/someone is not one’s cup of tea (i)(s): something or someone is not your style.
Eye-opening (adj): something that is fascinating, enlightening, or mind-blowing.
Food for thought (i): something to think about, mental food for thinking

2.
A: I’m beat, a little burnt out because I pulled an all-nighter. I came up with a great idea for the new story that we’re going to pitch to the producer.
B: Hit me! I’m psyched.
A: It’s a story about a girl who falls into a hole and wakes up in a magical land. She meets a rabbit, a smiling cat, and someone with a crazy hat…
B: Wait a minute. Aren’t you ripping off the story of Alice in Wonderland? That’s not going to fly. You really missed the mark.
A: I didn’t copy anything. It’s my original idea.
B: Face it. It’s the exact same story! What were you thinking? Let’s just call it a day and touch base tomorrow.

Answer

To be beat (s)(adj): to be tired, or exhausted.
To be/feel burnt out (i)(adj) | To burn oneself out (pv): to feel exhausted, to make oneself tired.
To pull (off) an all-nighter (s): to stay up all night to study or finish a project.
To come up with (pv): to think of an idea or a plan.
Hit me (e)(s): tell me.
To be psyched (s): to be excited. Synonym: to be pumped up.
To rip something off (pv)(s): to copy something.
To rip someone off (pv)(s): to cheat, steal money or overcharge someone.A rip off (n)(s): too expensive, and/or poor quality. An imitation product. Synonym: A knock-off.
Something is not going to fly (i)(s): when something won’t work, will not be successful.
To miss the mark (i): to fail the target, to reach the result that was expected
(Let’s) Face it (e): accept it, accept reality, we must accept the truth.
To call it a day (i): to stop doing something for the day, to go home, to retire.
To touch base (i): to connect with someone, to follow up, to make contact briefly

3.
A: I can’t take my mind off work. Our competitors just released a groundbreaking product. There’s so much at stake. What should we do?
B: Why don’t we make something similar? We should reverse-engineer the technology, change it a little, and brand it as a new product.
A: That’s not innovation. No, we need a different game plan. We need to think big if we want to gain the upper hand. I don’t want to just jump on the bandwagon.
B: There’s no time to lose. How about we consult Charlie on this? He’s a smart cookie, great at thinking on his feet. Plus, he can play the devil’s advocate.
A: I have mixed feelings about that. Don’t you remember? The board pushed him out a few years ago. I don’t think he’ll help us.
B: I know it’s a long shot, but we’ve hit a wall. It’s either him, or it’s back to square one. He’s phenomenal at thinking outside of the box.
A: Okay. We have no choice. Give him a call.

Answer

To take one’s mind off something (i): to cause you to stop thinking or stop worrying about something, to do something to help you forget about something.
At stake (i): at risk, in danger of being lost.
A game plan (s)(n)(sports): a strategy, especially in sports, politics, and business.
To think big (i): to be ambitious, to have plans to be very successful.
To gain/have the upper hand (i): to take control and have power over something, to be in the dominant position. Origin: playground games (baseball bat), poker, couples holding hands.
To jump on the bandwagon (i): to follow the crowd, to join a trend (bandwagon effect, herd behaviour).
There’s no time to lose (e): don’t waste time, something must be done immediately or as soon as possible.
A smart cookie (i): a smart person. Expression: You’re one smart cookie.
To think on one’s feet (i): to think and react quickly, and intelligently, especially when under pressure.
To play the devil’s advocate (i): to pretend to be against an idea in order to make people discuss or defend their argument. Origin: Devil’s Advocate was employed to argue against someone being made a Saint.
To have mixed feelings about something/someone (i): to feel positive about one aspect, and to feel negative about another aspects. To feel uncertain because of conflicting emotions.
To push someone out of somewhere (pv): to make someone leave a job, or stop being involved in an activity or project, to force someone out.
A long shot (i)(n)(sports): to do something with a low chance of success. Origin: ship guns were effective only at a close range.
To hit a (brick) wall (i)(s): to be forced to stop because of an obstacle, to be extremely physically tired.
To go back to square one (i): to go back to the beginning, to return to the starting point. Synonym: To go back to the drawing board. Origin: board games.
To think outside of the box (i): To think creatively, unconventionally, and/or differently.


PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. What’s not your cup of tea in terms of movies, music, food and people?
  2. Do you know any websites that offer a lot of food for thought?
  3. When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter? How long did it take you to recover from it?
  4. Have you ever been ripped off when you were traveling? Have you ever bought any rip-offs?
  5. What do you do when you want to take your mind off something or someone?
  6. Do you enjoy gambling? Tell me about a time when a lot of money was at stake (gambling, betting).
  7. Do you often think big? What are some ambitious goals you have in your life?
  8. Why do people jump on the bandwagon? Did you do or buy something because everyone else was also doing or buying it?
  9. Are you good at thinking on your feet? What jobs or business situations would require you to think on your feet?
  10. Who would you describe as a smart cookie?
  11. Imagine you had to make an important decision. Is it important to ask someone to play the devil’s advocate? Who would you ask to play the devil’s advocate? Why?
  12. Do you know anyone who was pushed out of a company they founded? What happened?
  13. Tell me about something or someone you have or have had mixed feelings about.
  14. Have you ever felt like you’ve hit a wall or gone back to square one? Explain.
  15. Are you good at thinking outside the box? What are some ways that help you think outside of the box?