What I Mean When I Say “Cool”

Something I’ve recently caught myself doing is calling features and benefits “cool” when talking to friends and customers.

For me, this is natural, and it’s the result of good intentions. Cool means everything wonderful and worthwhile. It’s actually a business term, as far as I’m concerned. Apple makes cool products. Google has a cool search engine. Net profits are cool.

But I’ve got to know my audience. I’m finding that there’s a disconnect when I talk to clients that are older than me. Apparently, way back when, “cool” was a silly term used by brainless teens commenting on shallow music they dug. And even further back in history, it was actually an adjective that meant “not hot” (or so I’ve heard).

So for anyone who’s confused: when I’m discussing a new product or technological marvel, I say it’s “cool” because to me, it’s shorthand for saying “it will make your life easier,” “it will save you money,” “it will make you more efficient,” or “it will reduce waste.” I always figured I could just insert my magical, one-syllable keyword into a sentence to say those things, but recently I’m finding out that’s not the case.

So if I’m meeting with you, and we’re talking about the latest iPhone and I tell you that you should get one because “it’s cool,” just remind me: “Hey! You’re doing it again!” and I’ll stop and correct myself. Or I may just argue with you and give you my whole explanation on why it’s a perfectly acceptable term. Cool?

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