The Universal Language

Love has been called the universal language. You wouldn’t know it from the headlines in the average newspaper; if you Google “universal language” the first page suggestions include Esperanto, English and, of all things, math.

“Huh?” you might say. And you might be right.

According to a November 8, 2013 article in the New York Times, researchers in the Netherlands have discovered similar versions of the word “Huh?” in use on five continents, suggesting that it might just be the universal word. Described as a “simple syllable with a low-front central vowel, glottal onset consonant, if any, and questioning intonation,” it exists in at least 10 languages including English, Dutch, Icelandic, Mandarin Chinese, the West African Siwu, and the Australian aboriginal Murrinh-Patha.

As a business advisor and strategist, I find “Huh?” and its sister “Huh!” (uttered in the solid affirmative) not only useful, but almost a philosophy. Not sure what someone means? Ask. Not sure how to approach a critical challenge? Acknowledge your lack of knowledge (Huh?), then dig in until you figure it out (Huh!).

Our key service lines are Planning and Feasibility, Interim/Outsource, Grants, and Special Projects. I jokingly define the latter as “Anything else we think we can figure out how to do,” and it has provided some of our most interesting projects. These have ranged from seeking acquisition targets for a large Japanese company, finding US agribusiness applications for supply chain management software designed for the Canadian forestry industry, putting in place a fixed asset tagging and tracking system for a processing facility with over 25 acres under roof, and an employee compensation and engagement study for a diversified multi-industry corporation. Two of our “we can figure it out” projects have mushroomed to other clients and are set to become our fifth and sixth service lines over the next six to 12 months. Stay tuned.

Never be afraid to say Huh? as long as you’re willing to dig in and follow-up. It just might lead to Huh!”

About the Author

+Brent Morrison is managing principal at Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Brent directly at bmorrison@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 202.

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