Video Watch: An All-Nighter?


House of Lies is one of my favorite shows. It’s witty , funny and the cast is great.

I was watching this clip and found two expressions that are worth mentioning:

  1. to pull an all-nighter
  2. to narrow down

Let’s set it up before you watch the clip.

They are trying to find a person and one of the guys stayed up all night (i.e. without sleeping) to search for this person. He said “ I pulled an all-nighter” . So when you stay up all night to do something such as study, work, write or even party, you pull an all-nighter!

The same guy then says that while he was up all night, he narrowed down the list of jobs the mystery man in question could have had. To narrow down means to make smaller in amount or range. In this case, he started with a large number of possible jobs and he now has just a few. Narrow can also be an adjective that is the opposite of wide.

Watch it a few times…beeps are there because of cussing on their part.





Reason for Reading: Disney’s Cash Cow?





I came across this article that spoke about ESPN having some trouble these days.


Trouble Ahead for Disney’s Cash Cow? (full article)


“ESPN has been a cash cow for Disney . But the rising cost of sports programming is taking its toll. This week, ESPN announced it’s laying off 300-400 employees. What do the cuts mean for Disney?”


So, what’s a cash cow? It is a business or a part of a business that always makes a lot of profit. In this case, the article explains that rising costs are making ESPN suffer & consequently they have to let some people go.



My grandpa used to say :” if you milk the cash cow too much, it runs dry!” It’s an old proverb that warns people not to take advantage of a good thing.


Do you have a similar expression in your native language?


If you do, post it!




Clearly Confusing: If Only vs Not Only


If only I had thought of this sooner!

Not only would I have helped my learners but also the blog followers.


There they are. Double whammy!  I have used the two expressions we will be looking at today in context.

They actually came up in the same lesson that focused on e-mail writing. We were reviewing  linking expressions for correlation and conditions.

If only’ (i.e. Italian…se soltanto) is used in unreal conditions so 2nd and 3rd conditionals to be more precise.

2nd Conditional: In an unreal situation in the present or future , the condition is expressed using the past simple and the result with Would, Could or Might  + base verb. In the case of ‘If ony’, the result part can easily be omitted.  N.B. the past of can is could.

  • If only I had more free time. (I wish I had more time)
  • If only he were younger, I could date him.
  • If only they could read the book, it would be great.

3rd Conditional: In an unreal situation in the past, the condition is expressed using the past perfect and the result with Would, Could or Might  + have + past participle. In the case of ‘If only’, the result part can easily be omitted.

  • If only I had had more time. (i.e. I regret not having  had more time )
  • If only we had done the job better, they would not have complained.
  • If only she had called me, I might have accepted her apology.

‘Not only…but also’ (i.e. Italian…non solo, ma anche) when expressing a correlation.

In this case, the verb that comes after “Not only” is either inverted or used with an auxiliary.  It’s like placing the verb in the question form.  Here are a few examples.

  • Not only did we reach the result but we also finished on time.
  • Not only has he got a great voice, but he is also a good looking guy.
  • Not only are you tired, but you also seem hungry.

As usual, I tried to keep this simple.  It’s the quick and dirty version!

If you learned something useful then please share this post with a friend so they might learn something too.


p.s. many thanks to SDC for the inspiration


Understate vs Underestimate

Top Language








These are two powerful verbs.  They transmit important messages. They look very similar and most of my learners seem to be a little confused as to how they should be used .




Let’s put them in context:




  • She is understating the problem because she doesn’t want to worry anyone.  (i.e. she is deliberately making the problem seem smaller than what is it. )


  • She is underestimating the problem. If she doesn’t deal with it, the issue will become uncontrollable. (i.e. she is estimating or calculating that the problem is smaller than what it is)


Underestimating is like under-guessing something whereas understating is minimizing on purpose.




Here are a few more examples with different parts of speech:




  • To say that I didn’t like that candidate is an understatement. (i.e. I hated him.)


  • Jennifer has always been underestimated by her supervisor. (i.e.  she has not been given the right recognition)


  • Her appearance is always understated. (i.e. simple not gaudy nor heavily decorated)


If you like this post, share it with your friends.








p.s. EFL trainers, I used this as a warmer last week with a B1 learner. It actually got him talking about feeling underestimated at work…
























From the heart…intellectual capital & curiosity

I was having a conversation with a client and we were talking about how much we thought we knew about our fields.

He was really humble in his reply but he seemed to believe that the higher echelons of a company could not show curiosity unless they wanted to penalize their credibility.

I stopped him dead in his tracks (i.e.without going further) & asked what he meant by that.

He continued to explain that the executives in the company didn’t have a ” What can I learn today?” but an ” I know I know” approach to everything.

I asked if he felt this was productive for the company and he sighed and said “Of course not!   We want to move forward quickly but we always seem to have reticence and a wall to  climb over. This slows us down and makes us spend more energy on convincing upper management that there are a myriad of solutions as long as we keep an open mind. I just wish they were a little more….curious.”

CURIOUS!??!?I have been thinking of this word ‘curious’ ever since he said it. Wikipedia defines it as  a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning.

How do we gain a competitive edge through expanding company knowledge and business training thus strengthening Intellectual Capital if the people that are leading don’t feel like they have anything to learn? Doesn’t a great, not good, leader need to be the most curious of all?

Just ponder the thought and let your curiosity run wild…it will be worth it!




Video Watch: Keep It Up!





Here is a short video from the movie ‘Spiderman’. It shows a bunch of moments in Peter Parker’s life that are not all good. His University Professor walks past  him after class one day and says: “Good job ,Mr Parker. Keep it up!”


The song in the background is  “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” sung by BJ Thomas. It speaks about having a run of bad luck but still keeping a positive attitude.


This is an encouraging expression we can use with our direct reports, kids or anyone you care to pay a compliment to related to a positive action they’ve performed. If someone has done a good job, you can say ” Keep it up!” (i.e. continue doing that).




Spider-Man #1, later renamed "Peter Parke...

p.s. Thx Myriam for sharing the clip…it was the inspiration for this post


Reason for Reading: Millennials Are Different


About 1 year ago, I read a book called ‘The Trophy Kids Grow Up‘ by Ron Alsop. It was so insightful for a Gen-Xer like myself. It describes the Millennial Generation which has a totally different set of values and expectations when speaking about life and work.

I read an article today related to this same topic. Click here to read all about them. They are definitely far from being anything like my parents who grew up during the Industrial Revolution and pretty different from my generation that sort of surfed the baby boomer wave for all it was worth.

Companies, employers, supervisors, university professors and anyone who is in contact with these young minds need to explore who they have before them because they are very different.

I am personally psyched to learn from them, their mental processes and new approach to life and work.


Vocabulary Boost:

  • so-called: commonly named
  • entrepreneur: a persone who starts a business independently
  • otherwise: differently
  • to punch in: to enter
  • peel away: uncover
  • shoot for : aim at

The Great Gretzky



Wayne Gretzky, New York Rangers.

Wayne Gretzky, New York Rangers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


Wayne Gretzky


Wayne spoke about shots because that’s what a hockey player does but in life it equals to opportunity,


Don’t let them pass you by. You may be missing something great!





Business Class: Under Her Stewardship




Stewardship is a useful expression that explains the position or responsibility of a person that protects and oversees a team, project, organization or cause.

A steward is a person who helps, administers, supervise or attends to some event, persons or proceedings in an official capacity.

Here are a few examples in context:

  • The new changes will be under her stewardship. 
  • Under his stewardship, the procurement department has improved dramatically,



From the heart…



This is not an English tip, reading or vocabulary expansion activity.

It’s just Crissy (that’s me!) sharing something that has become important to her.

I have always followed English training on a corporate level. Business English, SOS courses for employees and presentation coaching  is what I do all day.

Recently, I started working with young adults and they have started to fascinate me. I love to see that I am from a totally different time even though our age difference is not that great. This motivates me to keep an open mind.

I can feel their frustration related to wanting to think outside the box yet being educated to stay in it. I perceive the wonderful drive and ambition they might have that is suppressed by the notions that everyone deserves a job & the government should guarantee that.

When I choose my articles for this blog, it is always geared towards inspiring and confirming that these young minds are instinctively right. They know what generation they live in unlike some people who are still stuck in the past.

Think outside the box! Adopt an ‘Above and Beyond’ attitude because this is the driver to success. Understand who you are and invest on your strength to develop that potential, Be kind to others as this will pay you back 10 fold…and remember that nothing is easy.

Success stories are not fairy tales…they are simply people who have understood the statements above & have put them to good use.

Believe in yourself…and it will all work out!