Podcast

Episode 78 • Numbers

78

Never in a million years...

Back to/at square one

Ballpark figure

Do the math

Quadruple

Story

Boss: Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming. Please, take a seat. So, like I said in my last email, this is a special meeting. Never in a million years did I think I would have to tell you this, but, as your boss, I want to be completely honest with you – the company is in trouble. You know how much I care about this company. This was my father’s company. And before that, it was my grandfather’s company. Over the past couple of years things seemed to be going well, but now… Now we’re back to square one. All the progress we’d made last year, gone.
I mean, look at this graph. Sales have gone down tremendously. I don’t have the exact numbers but, just to give you a ballpark figure, we’re talking about a one-million-dollar loss. This is unacceptable and things will have to change around here. I did the math and things are not looking great, which means we’re probably going to have to let some of you go. I know it’s not what you guys expected but-

Mike: Uhm, boss?

Boss: Yes, Mike.

Mike: Sorry to interrupt. But I think you’re looking at the graph wrong. It’s upside down. Sales have actually gone up, in fact, they have quadrupled this year…

Boss: Ehm… [Clears voice] Well, Mike… That is a very good observation… Well, in that case then, good job everyone, and keep up the good work! [laughs] I think we’re done here!

Questions

That must've been pretty embarrassing for the boss, but let me tell you that could have happened to me because I'm terrible with numbers; I'm terrible with graphs. Anything that has to do with math, I just stink at it.

Never in a million years...

'Never in a million years did I think I would have to tell you this'

• When you begin a sentence by saying ‘never in a million years’, are you talking about something that you think is possible or impossible?

When you begin a sentence by saying never in a million years, blah, blah, blah, it means you're about to say that you think something is impossible, that it will never happen or that you would have never imagined that he could happen.

• Can you think of something that happened to you that you thought never in a million years would happen to you?

Never in a million years would I have thought that I would move to Spain because it was such a last-minute decision; it was something that I hadn't planned at all so yes, never in a million years would I have imagined that.

Back to/at square one

'Now we’re back to square one.'

• If you are working on something but then you realize you are back to square one, have you made any progress?

No. Unfortunately, if you are back to square one, it means that all the progress that you had made up until that point, boom, it's lost, it's gone.

• How would someone who’s back to square one feel?

Imagine you've made all this progress and then something happens, you're back to square one, you've lost all that progress. You probably don't feel too great. You probably feel sad and demotivated. You feel a little hopeless even.

• When was the last time you thought ‘I’m back at square one’?

It's not that big a deal, but I think it was when I went back to Spain after spending six months in Asia and I moved into a different house, into a new house and I realized that I didn't have any winter clothes. All the winter clothes that I had and that I had spent so much money on, I'd either given it away, giving it to charity or thrown it away. I looked at the closet and I had nothing to wear and I thought, all right, here we go, I'm back to square one. Now I have to start rebuilding my wardrobe and I have to start buying all of these winter clothes once again. I feel like because I move a lot that happens to me pretty frequently.

Ballpark figure

'I don’t have the exact numbers but just to give you a ballpark figure, we’re talking about a one-million-dollar loss.'

• Is a ballpark figure an exact number or an approximate estimate?

A ballpark figure is an approximate estimate so I don't tell you the exact number, but more or less.

• By what kind of professionals are ballpark figures used?

It's very used in companies because a lot of the times you don't have the exact numbers. When you have to talk about sales and things like that, usually you give ballpark figures, estimates.

• How big will the world’s population be in 2050? Give me a ballpark figure.

What do you think? I have no idea. I know the world's population's growing. I don't even know how big it is right now. I think it's around 7 billion I want to say, but probably, I don't know. In 2050 that's in about 30 year's time, that's not a lot. I want to say 8 billion. There you go. That's my ballpark figure.

Do the math

'I did the math and things are not looking great...'

• If you do the math, do make calculations or do you analyze graphs?

If you do the math, you make calculations. Two plus two and three minus one, I guess there are bigger numbers than that.

• When was the last time you did the math and realized you could or could afford to buy something?

The last time I did the math was to make sure that I could afford to pay a professional to help me out with a new website because I got to a point where I knew there were few final things that I needed to get fixed and I couldn't do it by myself because I didn't have the knowledge to do it. I had to do the math and actually, I have my calculator because all of the calculations that I make, I make them using a calculator and I did the math and I realized that yes, I could afford it.

Quadruple

'Sales have actually gone up, in fact, they have quadrupled this year…'

• If a number quadruples, does it become four times bigger or four times smaller?

If a number quadruples, it means that it becomes four times bigger.

• Let’s do a quick math problem. Let’s say your company made $2000 last month, this month that number has quadrupled. How much did you company make?

If you're like me you're not going to like this one. Just kidding. It's simple. Let's say that your company made $2,000 last month. This month that number has quadrupled. How much did your company make? Feels like you're back in school, right? If you made $2,000 last month, then you quadruple that number you get a $8,000.

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