Where the Goats Eat the Grass!

Summary: “Communicate clearly using straightforward, simple words.”

Once upon a time long ago, I worked for the CEO (the Big Boss) of a very large corporation. One of my jobs was to develop presentations for him to deliver to employees, customers, investors and others interested in learning more about the company. One day, as he was reviewing a slide presentation, he turned to me with a rather disgusted look, pointed to the screen and said, “What’s that?”

“What is what?” I asked.

“What is that word?” he replied. Apparently, I had used a word he thought a bit too sophisticated. Big Boss said, “You been spending too much time in New York City with them (translated: those) eggheads. Quit puttin’ them kinda words in my presentations.”

You should know at this point, Big Boss was a very well educated, super-intelligent fellow. Although he was from south Alabama, he completed his graduate studies at a very prestigious university … above the Mason-Dixon Line. I suspect he was using slang for effect to make a lasting impact on an uppity fancy-word using subordinate. He then advised me, “When I’m talking to folks, I want to stay down where the goats eat the grass.”

In response, I began laughing hysterically!

Although I am also from a small Alabama town, I was neither familiar with the saying nor the eating habits of barnyard animals. Since Big Boss was very task oriented and detail-minded, he never hesitated to explain his ideas … in great detail. In the interest of time, I’ll summarize his observations related to consumption patterns of farm animals left unsupervised in a pasture.

  • “The cows will eat the grass down to here.” To illustrate, he held his hands about four inches apart.
  • “Sheep will eat the grass down to here.” He moved his hands closer, maybe two inches apart.
  • “But the goats, the goats eat the grass right down to the ground! He then slapped his hands together inches from my face to emphasize his point.

Big Boss rarely left it up to you to grasp the full meaning of his teachable moments. He continued his constructive feedback, “You need to get your head straight, keep your feet on the ground and keep your words on the ground when preparing my presentations. Do you understand?” I understood!

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris


2 thoughts on “Where the Goats Eat the Grass!

  1. Reply
    Barbara Hemphill - August 11, 2017

    As a farm girl from NE, I love that expression! Another example of “less is more!”

    1. Reply
      Chris - August 11, 2017

      Hey Barbara…less is indeed almost always more. One of my favorite quotes by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

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