Empower the People!

PEPSI Human Resources
PEPSI Picture Slides

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.


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.

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.


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.

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!


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.

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.


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.

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.


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?