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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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GTTFP

Comments (40)

One of my favorite acronyms of all time is IHTFP. Its originated at MIT in the 1950s and has achieved widespread adoption. And yes, it does actually stand for I Hate This Fucking Place, which as any MIT alumni will tell you, is part of the beauty of the MIT experience.

Today, I was in a meeting helping a CEO work on an upcoming investor pitch and told him that his problem was that he wasn’t getting to the fucking point. I scribbled down GTTFP. I just looked it up and lo and behold a new FLA (the cousin of the famed TLA) has now entered my vocabulary. It’s got nice onomatopoeia if you say it just right.

I’m on the receiving end of people who can’t seem to GTTFP multiple times a day. It’s especially true when someone is trying to create false intimacy at the beginning of a conversation, is using ancient sales techniques like the endless rhetorical question to try to build agreement from me, or is simply in a “tell rather than show” mode where they figure that if they beat me over the head with words I’ll read the conclusion they are trying to beat me over the head with.

Now, GTTFP is different than bloviating. While I don’t think I actually bloviate, I’ll often suggest that someone has just been on the end of a rant or a space jam of mine, which I often refer to as a good bloviate on my part. However, my bloviating almost always is storytelling – where I’m trying to give an example, or a lot of examples, by “showing rather than telling” to make a point.

But GTTFP is just an avoidance of actually getting to the point. Or its a ramble that doesn’t focus on what is trying to be communicated. Or it’s an effort to build connection in advance of making a point, which often comes across as saccarine.

Enough – GTTFP. Which is to say, simply, GTTFP.

  • Leonard Kish

    So many books out there teach such crap about NGTTFP. Beauty of twitter, no choice but to GTTFP

  • Brian Kellner

    Nice. Now you just need to socialize the compliment form of this -
    RTTFP – right to the fucking point

    • Sameer Patil

      That is indeed a good one.. precisely RTTFP :D

  • StevenHB

    And I thought that it was “Institute for Hacks, Tom-Foolery, and Pranks.”

  • Charlie

    I enjoyed the prasing “please, arrive at the point” as delievered by Larry Summers to the Winklevii

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yes – that was a priceless moment in the movie.

  • mattblumberg

    Can’t you fix bloviating with Gas-X or Tums?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Bwahahaha. Actually, two chocolate shakes from the Shake Shack usually do the trick.

  • http://wmougayar.com/ William Mougayar

    That sounds like an ELLOA!
    (don’t scroll too quickly to find out what it means)
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    Extra Long List Of Acronyms

  • http://twitter.com/andyidsinga andyidsinga

    haha …space jam – that is awesome – modern equivalent of the bull session?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yup – and think long random jaunt in a Grateful Dead concert.

  • http://www.jonasbrandon.com Jonas

    I think there is a product lesson here as well. How often do users really want to suffer through 10 page tours before test driving the product? When in doubt, cut to the chase.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Or make it really easy and obvious how to cut to the chase with a big “End the Tour” button.

  • DaveJ

    How do you contrast this with the idea that most good salespeople start with context, audience leveling, etc? I find it infuriating but it turns out that diving right into the point, which is my natural approach, does not sell things. Most people didn’t go to MIT and need to be guided. Or so it seems.

    • http://friendlyhuman.com Daniel Roberts

      It’s because as engineers we don’t like to admit we’re human like everyone else. Great salespeople make you feel like a million bucks without you even realizing what they’re doing. That works no matter who you are. I think he’s really just complaining about people doing it poorly.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      There is a huge style point in this. I don’t agree with your assertion that GTTFP doesn’t sell things. However, GTTFP doesn’t mean “don’t create context when it is needed.” If someone calls me and I have no idea why they are calling, or it’s a first meeting, creating context is important. But hopefully they did some of this before we met for the first time. And then, in that first meeting, hopefully the context setting is short – and crisp. I don’t need the person to “audience level” by spending 15 minutes asking me questions about things that sort of lead me down a rhetorical path to the punch line of what the product or service does.

      In the presentation I was referring to, the first 10 minutes where a combination context setting and audience leveling in the complete absence of knowing what the product really was. Totally unnecessary and misplaced.

      • FAKE GRIMLOCK

        IF AUDIENCE WANTS POINT, GIVE IT TO THEM.

        IF AUDIENCE WANTS SONG AND DANCE ROUTINE FIRST, ME SAY DO THAT INSTEAD.

    • http://troped.com/ R. E. Warner

      A good sales method that is empirically backed in psychology is repetition. But that doesn’t mean mindlessly chanting the name of the product. GTTFP means the very first thing you say in a pitch is “This is Product X. It does Y.” Then, I think a few rhetorical questions are okay, provided you answer them. With a little research you can make the statements very relevant. “Given that you’re in business A, I’m sure you’ve had problem B. Well, this is Product X. It does Y.” There’s no theatricality needed. Either the product is relevant to the person you’re selling to or it’s not; that’s up to them. Give them facts, then get out of their way so they can make a decision.

      The other thing about repetition that I see people get wrong (like in annoying thirty second ads) is that the repetition has to occur in different contexts. If someone is dealing with a problem or if you can get them thinking about a problem they didn’t know they have, then every new context in which your solution shows up will be treated by the brain as new empirical evidence, like, “Oh, I’m thinking about this problem in the background and coincidentally, there’s that solution again.” I’m totally oversimplifying cognitive science here, but the point is a short terse presentation, backed by repeated points of contact, is way more effective than bloated pitches and not GTTFP.

  • http://www.pointsandfigures.com pointsnfigures

    TANSTAAFL U Chicago-There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. I love IHTFP

    • StevenHB

      TANSTAAFL: Robert Heinlein used this one extensively in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (a great read).

  • Pierre Powell

    I flew fighter jets for 21 years, and my favorite acronym is YGTBSM; although I have seen it adopted in various places since. I kind of refers to that guy that just flew under a bridge… really?! YGTBSM…

  • BenBarreth

    How do I use it verbally in a sentence without offending someone? Something like: “Ok I got that. What’s your point?”

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      That works! I also often say “I understand. Can you be specific about what you want from me?”

      • FAKE GRIMLOCK

        “GET TO POINT. OR ME KILL YOU.”

        IT WORK FOR ME, GRIMLOCK.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          I will remind people of this!

  • Rick Brennan

    A similar approach shows up in the military where GTTFP issues are a reality because of the bureaucratic culture. Many of the senior leaders demand presentations start with the bottom line up front, or BLUF. Done right, it’s powerful.

  • http://www.itdatabase.com/ Travis Van

    GTTFP seems incredibly valuable to live by, but very dangerous to suggest to someone else. For example, @ wife while she’s talking about some dream she had, probably not going to generate excellent results.

  • laurayecies

    How about just GTTP – a bit more polite?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Sure that works also for polite society!

      • BenBarreth

        yeah like when speaking to the queen….

        Keep calm… and GTTFP

    • FAKE GRIMLOCK

      REALITY NOT NEED PRETTY WRAPPER.

  • Shurtleff

    thanks you took me back to the early days at DEC where fubar was part of everyday conversation, another fine 5 letter simplifier along with it’s cousin foo bar which also apparently has MIT roots https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foobar

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Fubar is one of my all time favorites.

      • http://wmougayar.com/ William Mougayar

        Or Snafu? it’s part of the same FU family :)

        • http://www.pointsandfigures.com/ pointsnfigures

          Came out of the same war. WW2. Fubar was a term used by Marines in the Pacific. Snafu might have also been coined by the Navy.

          • http://wmougayar.com/ William Mougayar

            Interesting tidbit. thx

  • FAKE GRIMLOCK

    STEP 1. OPEN MOUTH

    STEP 2. WHAT YOU WANT COMES OUT

    OR STEP 3 IS CONVERSATION OVER.

  • FivePointedTheStar

    It took me some time to find out what GTTFP meant. Before knowing what this was about, I was thinking “Is this is kind of new leet speak?” Nope! Turns out it’s an acronym for telling people to stop aiming around the bull’s eye and just hit the darned red circle in the center.

    I understand why some people do this. I do it, too. I do it because I am afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings. When a person gets upset, it’s more difficult for them to listen accurately. Not everyone is like this, but saying it doesn’t happen all of the time doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all. The likely possibility that I may get upset someone because of my poor choice of words is real.

    Considering this context: Your job. These people understand that saying the wrong thing could land them in a situation where they no longer have one. Especially if they are trying to talk to people who have the ability to take it away from them. Saying the wrong thing could also mean losing a customer. Or an investor.

    Don’t forget cultural context is important, too. United States culture is very direct, but In many eastern cultures doing the same thing is rude and/or it makes them uncomfortable.

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