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Interview with Executive Vocabulary

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Greg Ragland is the cofounder of Executive Vocabulary — a communication training program that improves your career chances. We wanted to know more about the impact language can have on a person''s success in life.

Greg, words and their meanings play a major role in your life. Could you please tell us how and when you started to develop your passion for language?

Torsten, my passion for language and vocabulary began in high school when I wanted to be an attorney. I was always told that you need to have a robust vocabulary in order to be a successful attorney. I later decided that I no longer wanted to be an attorney, but my zeal for learning vocabulary continued. I went on to study accounting in college and thought that vocabulary would not be as important to my career in finance and accounting. I quickly learned, however, that even in accounting and finance, your success depends greatly on your vocabulary and your ability to articulate your ideas in a coherent and cogent manner. Ever since this realization, I have been closely listening to the words that business professionals and executives wield to effectively communicate their ideas.

So you developed the habit of absorbing new vocabulary and analyzing it. How have you been using this skill?

I incorporate new words into my communication everyday. I do business development in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. In order to win the confidence of executives in this industry, you have to sound intelligent. For over 10 years, I have been carefully documenting impressive words (Power Words) that I have heard people use in business. I write these words down in the back of my notebook and then I go back and enter the words into my vocabulary journal. I then make an effort to use these words so they become a permanent part of my active vocabulary. By amassing a vocabulary of Power Words I am able to communicate with greater precision. I am able to be more succinct and accurate in my communication, which enables me to win over the confidence of business professionals in my industry. If you are evaluating two people who both have similar qualities and experience, the person with the better vocabulary will almost always win over the other seemingly equal candidate.

Now I''m beginning to understand why you developed «Executive Vocabulary». How exactly did this idea emerge?

The idea began when I purchased an audio vocabulary program that I hoped would help expedite my vocabulary learning. I was really disappointed with the program, because I didn''t feel as if they selected strong, empowering words that could be used in business communication. I felt most of the words in the program were too obscure to use and I was afraid I would sound pretentious if I did try to use them in business. From my frustration, I decided that I could develop a better program and would have fun doing it. I found a communication expert/linguist, Joanna Milo, to partner with in creating this program. Since we wanted to position our program as the ideal vocabulary program for business professionals, we decided to name it Executive Vocabulary. Executive Vocabulary only teaches what we call Power Words — words that empower people to communicate at a higher level without sounding pretentious. We also tried to create «real-life» examples that would allow people to immediately feel comfortable using each word in the program. The key to success in learning new words is using them — the old rule: use it or lose it definitely applies to vocabulary learning.

I have been using Executive Vocabulary and must admit it an excellent system with a variety of useful features such as the vocabulary test at the end of each session. Also, the audio CD''s are accompanied with an exercise book. I take it you are using the Internet as the main marketing channel for your product?

Thank you very much Torsten, I greatly appreciate that endorsement of Executive Vocabulary. Honestly, nothing makes me more happy than when I hear people tell me that Executive Vocabulary has helped them to speak English at a higher level!

Regarding sales and marketing of Executive Vocabulary: yes, right now we are marketing and selling Executive Vocabulary exclusively over the Internet. If you do a search for vocabulary, business English and other key search terms, you will most likely find our site in the search results or in the pay-per-click advertisements. We have sold Executive Vocabulary all over the world.

Executive Vocabulary is a side-business for me. My partner Joanna is the one who manages the day-to-day business of selling and marketing Executive Vocabulary. As I noted earlier I am a marketing executive for a marketing firm that specializes in biotech and pharmaceutical marketing. Being out in business helps me to continue to amass a professional vocabulary, which I continue to exploit to gain greater success in business. I take pride in the fact that I am not simply a self-help expert that tells people how to achieve greater success in corporate America by improving their vocabulary. I actually use the words we teach in Executive Vocabulary everyday to achieve success in my business career. I know it works; and that''s why I''m confident that our program really is the best audio vocabulary program for professionals that want to gain an edge in business.

Are there any new projects you are working on?

Yes, I am glad you asked. We have been working on an exciting new project for over 18 months now. I am announcing this new program for the first time to you and exclusively to your site community at The new program is called the Power Vocabulary Builder. The Power Vocabulary Builder is a new software program that will teach close to 2,200 intermediate to advanced English vocabulary words that were carefully selected based on their prevalence in business, news media and standardized tests like the SAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, TOEIC exams. We are scheduled to launch this program in early September. I would like to offer you and your site community an opportunity to review the Beta version of the software in August. We will be allowing the first 50 site visitors (from who register for the Beta version an opportunity to evaluate the program before anyone else sees it. In exchange for evaluating the program and providing feedback, they will receive a complimentary version of Power Vocabulary Builder 1.0 (with upgrades). We really respect the community you have developed on your site and greatly value the opinions of your site visitors.

We are extremely excited about this new project. Software is a new direction for us and one that affords us a more expansive review of English vocabulary. With audio tapes /CD''s we are limited to a 100 words with lessons and tests per CD. With the audio program we have to keep our lessons succinct and to the point. Don''t get me wrong, I still think Executive Vocabulary is a great tool for learning new vocabulary words and one that is more geared toward busy executives and professionals. With Executive Vocabulary we had to be much more selective and focused when determining the words to include in the program. What gets me excited about software is that we can go into great depths when teaching new words. We are able to provide etymology (word history and the origination of a word), learning tips, memory tricks and usage examples that clearly show exactly how and when to use a new word. We are confident these lessons will help people to quickly assimilate new words into their active vocabularies, so they can speak English at a higher level and or score well on standardized exams (e.g. SAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, TOEIC).

Greg, many thanks for answering my questions. We are looking forward to working with you.

If you have any English grammar or vocabulary questions,
please post them on this English Grammar Forum.

Next:ESL Cafe: Interview with Ray Desouza

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