Is “Fuck” Really Offensive in the Southeast US?

When I was a kid, whenever my mom said something like “Brad, you sure do have a mouth”, I’d usually respond with “You better fucking believe it.”  (which usually elicited a grimace from her, but I know she was laughing inside). 

I love giving talks, speeches, and being on panels (although I hate sitting in the audience listening).  I gave one in the fall at the 30th Annual Venture Capital Institute – a multi-day conference that’s one of the key “professional education” events for the VC industry. I always ask for feedback from event organizers after any talk I give or panel I’m on.  Sometimes it takes a while for the feedback to make its way to me – I finally got the VCI feedback the other day.  As I read through my talk specific feedback, I was rolling on the floor with laughter from the specific comments (I’ve italicized the ones that really got me) – they say more about the “style” of the VC industry than anything I could ever dream up.  So – rather than try to describe it, here they are.  Enjoy.

  • Just went a little bit too fast.
  • Although one of the best instructors of the program – with excellent delivery & content – I’d encourage the Institute to make it clear what is & is not appropriate language. I found Brad’s inferred style fantastic & nothing offensive – but some may, especially in the southeastern U.S.
  • Obviously a very dynamic speaker.
  • Dress is disrespectful.
  • OK.
  • Subject content may have been a bit too much of a “war story” recounting but brought valuable bits of info to light and addressed issues and options well.
  • A breath of fresh air with great experience to share.
  • Just a fabulous speaker – really enjoyed the “learnings” he shared from real deals.
  • Instruments used not really applicable to our market.
  • Very good.
  • Poor time management.
  • The best so far – actual cases very helpful.
  • More time or probably less slides.
  • I thought Brad’s teaching technique and personality was a great change.
  • Could have spent more time on term sheet.
  • Should have allocated more time to this topic.
  • Take time for IPO discussion.
  • This presentation was helpful, especially the examples of how exits occurred in his experience.
  • I would have liked this to be longer – it would have been nice to learn the rest of this presentation.
  • Entertaining speaker.
  • Case studies were excellent (and helpful).
  • Liberal use of the “F word” detracted from the presentation.
  • Knowledgeable speaker; would appreciate more examples of problematic exits & pitfalls.
  • Great candor in describing the industry. Perfect choice!
  • Nice T-shirt!
  • Some terms were beyond my knowledge level (liquidation preference – carve out…). I’m new in the business & will learn from my firm. A little crass and sloppy for my taste (in this setting). But clearly a very intelligent businessman with practical common sense – a guy I’d invest in & with.
  • Great!
  • Outstanding.
  • Bad language.
  • Try to stick to schedule. Useful format & detail. Slightly long-winded. Too much time spent on relatively easy concepts.
  • What happened to dress code? Too cute! Is this really the presentation VCI wanted? Language was offensive. Good material but inappropriate presentation.
  • Brad was terrific, all-around. Very concise, informative and honest.
  • Certainly unique but good, memorable presentation.
  • Great content. Having more detailed back up slides would be helpful as take-away’s.
  • Very practical/useful discussion.
  • Good job at describing very rich information. Very open and responsive.
  • Very graphic – held my attention.

Mom – you should be proud – you’ve raised a graphic kid (my mom’s an artist, so I’m sure she won’t miss the double entendre).  And – if Tom Peters says “fuck” in public, surely it’s acceptable in business at this point.

  • Brad,

    Personally I tend to be more reserved and use words like “flipping” instead. I did have a client in the Southeast at one point in construction space where I was working with field people and regional VPs to rollout new operations procedures post M&A activities. If I did not use the “f***” word with the client, it was like I was coming from Mars in trying to communicate and work with them.

    FWIW – wikipedia has an entry on the term. Maybe more than I ever wanted to know about the term (aside from this site). 🙂

  • John McCarthy

    This illustrates the diversity of personal/profesional style in the business and financial community. Some people liked your attire, others hated it. Some liked your language, others were offended. Thank goodness there is something for everyone and a place for all in the business world.

  • Everything is offensive in the southeast! You just got a little sample of how petty people can sometimes be generally in that part of the country. Hell, I am from that region and I could not wait to leave…and I was not alone. I would venture to be that most of the students from the so-call ‘better’ schools in the southeast (GT, Duke, Emory, Vandy) split the day they walk across the stage. Blue Laws anyone?!?!

  • I don’t have a problem with “fuck,” but I remember at MESG that at least one sr. manager found it offensive for the CEO to use that word at offsite meetings. If you’re doing a presentation like yours, probably no big deal. But if you’re managing people, it’s important to remember that some are more sensitive to things like this than others, so why risk alienating them?

  • Just how many f-bombs did you drop? I’m picturing something akin to Eddie Murphy Raw. “If y’all expected me to be up here with a [suit and tie] on, you’re in for a mother-fucking surprise.”

  • Actually, he said shit in public, not fuck. I think he said “F * * *”.

  • Jeff

    Plattner is famous for his colorful language, one year at SAPPHIRE he gave his usual keynote and on the subject of software performance he went on a rant about how all software is too slow and hardware is too slow… he summed it up with “speed is what we need, more fucking speed” to the audience of 12,000 customers, employees and partners in his animated German accented voice and mad scientest hair style. The handlers went white, the crowd went wild… people still talk about that speech.

  • beth

    My son ses this word all the time. He’s a “slow” 17 ear old and uses words like rhis all the time.

  • kip

    Wanted to figure out if there really was a post on this to warrant top searched words and there is.

    The comments are great and classic. If they find this offensive, try working on a trading desk for 10 minutes. We us language to convey our point with words that fit correctly with the intensity and ferocity needed.

    I love the attire comment as well. Been there done though was in the audience listening to a panel on my industry, Bunch of major NYC and Europe based clients where they praised my firm for being fantastic(I had no prior knowledge but the woo hoo ala Homer Simpson gave me away).

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