How to Hijack a Metaphor

The notion of the career ladder is so embedded in American workplace culture that it’s..well…the yardstick for every other model of professional advancement.

I’d know: as the author of The Career Lattice, it seems that every interview starts with a variation on this question: “We all know about career ladders. What is a career lattice?” (Short answer:  taking strategic lateral moves to position yourself           for an upward move.)  In December, this is how I opened an hour-long radio interview with career coach Bonnie Marcus.

Of course, the title of my book resonates with the public specifically because it almost sounds like ‘ladder’…but isn’t. “Ladder” and ‘lattice’ look similar on the page, conjure up similar images, and sound similar. Riding the coattails of the ladder makes it easier for me to expand the message and brand of the lattice.

Keep an eye – and ear – out for similar metaphors for your key messages. What terms or images are embedded in the culture of your industry’s culture? Hijack one of those metaphors by tweaking it just enough to catch attention and surprise your audience with an image that starts familiar and ends fresh.