This is the last time I’m ever going to use a four letter word in a business context. For me, this is quite a big deal because I get excited, and I swear. I usually don’t mean to, but I get passionate about certain topics and stories and sometimes, to emphasise a point, I drop in the occasional swear word to add more drama or weight to my story. It often gets a reaction and sometimes a laugh. I blame my Mancunian roots.

Two reasons why I’m going to stop swearing.


A couple of years ago I watched a superb fireside chat between Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, Chirs Rock and Jerry Seinfeld. Four of my favourite comedians. Part way though, they debate the need for working clean and using swear words in their set.

Despite the other three comics using profanity as a feature of their set, in the chat Jerry describes how he stopped swearing the moment he realized that he needed to swear in order to get the laugh. I’ve thought about that a few times since. Swearing adds impact. But it’s also lazy.


Fast forward to yesterday and I’m at Amplify in Las Vegas watching an interview with Will Smith. He described how when he was young he always wanted to be a rapper. And like all rappers, he had a notebook and carried it everywhere with him so he could write rhymes about whatever inspired him. Like all young rappers in the 80’s the people he looked up to swore a lot and as a result his lyrics were laced with swear words.


That all changed the day that Will’s grandmother found his notebook. She didn’t say a word or bring it up over dinner, she simply wrote him a message in the back of his notebook and left it for him to find later.

Dear Willard,

“Truly intelligent people don’t need to use four letter words to express themselves”.


Ever since then, Will(ard) never swore in his songs ~ despite the pressure he got from everyone in the industry, including many of his peers. I like that.

The marketing world swears a lot – sometimes for effect, sometimes because it’s trying to be cool. So it’s perhaps a silly thing, and as usual I often read too much into some of this stuff, but I think it’s become a “thing” so I’m going to stop doing it.

I’m not even writing this because I think anyone will care or read this post, I’m writing it for me. I need to get smarter in my thinking and speaking. It will also give my bosses less reason to fire me. Interested to know if anyone else feels like this, if so let me know on twitter @jeremywaite.

  • Gary Vaynernuck once told me that he won’t stop swearing because that’s what makes him “authentic“. He suggested that his audience might be 60% bigger if he toned down the profanity. I don’t believe that, but for GV that’s his thing. Gotta respect that too.
  • A friend challenged me that Tony Robbins, who I greatly admire, also uses swearing for effect and drama. But I’m not Tony Robbins. So there’s that.

Communications Designer @IBM • Climate Reality Leader • Lover of Old Business Books, Clever Technology and the NHS • Based in London, UK.

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