Ian MacKenzie

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

The In the News story at right is a stunning admission by the president of Toyota—a dozen words that describe his giant corporation being totally out of control:

Some people just got too big-headed and focused too excessively on profit.

Who are “some people"?

Let’s call them a cabal, which the OneLook Dictionary defines as “a clique (often secret) that seeks power, usually through intrigue.”

Since 1999, this cabal has been responsible for a reported:

  • 2,262 instances of unintended acceleration
  • 815 crashes
  • 52 deaths.

“We did realize that it was not good that pedals were not returning to their proper positions,” said Toyota’s quality control chief, Shinichi Sasaki, “but we took some time to consider whether we needed to take market action.”

Parse that. “We did realize ... but we took some time ..."

The message here to all businesspeople—from lone wolves to the CEOs of giant corporations:

For Pete’s sake, if you're CEO of anything, don't hide behind the words “we,” “us” and “our.” Don’t use them in copy. Don’t use them in speeches.

“We,” “us” and “our” are code for, “It wasn’t my decision alone, so I don’t have to take responsibility.”

Or, in the words of the late Freddie Prinze Sr., "Eez not mai yob."

When the Philippines fell to the invading Japanese armies in 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur didn't say something half-baked and corporate such as, “We shall return,” or “America shall return”—meaning if the Japanese won the war, it wasn’t his fault.

He electrified the world with three iconic words:

“I shall return.”

Why consumers are wary of 'we,' 'us' and 'our' May 18, 2006: Vol. 2, Issue No. 39 IN THE NEWS Health Concerns Prompt Recall of Contact Cleaner ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Bausch & Lomb Inc. has permanently withdrawn a new-formula contact lens cleaner viewed as the "potential root cause" of an outbreak of fungal eye infections. Its stock, hit hard recently, rose Monday nearly 13 percent. —Ben Dobbin, The Associated Press, May 16, 2006 Americans love to tinker with their God-given flesh cases. Facelifts, hair transplants, electrolysis, liposuction and tattoos are some of the procedures that are undergone by those who want to look

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