'We F---ed Up': A Year in Swearing CEOs

121 swear words uttered in conference calls in 2017
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2018 10:00 AM CST
2017 Was 'Sweariest' Year in Conference Calls
F-bombs were popular.   (Getty Images/lolostock)

More than any other year on record, quarterly earnings conference calls were profanity-laced in 2017, thanks to a CEO complaining his work is "stressful as s---" and another admitting "we f---ed up." Quartz searched transcripts of conference calls compiled by data provider Sentieo to determine just how many swear words were uttered during calls throughout the year. They found 2017 was the "sweariest" year of the last decade with 121 instances, including executives throwing out f-bombs freely. In March, for example, Samsonite CEO Ramesh Tainwala repeated his "what the f---" reaction to meeting his predecessor before apologizing that "my language is not so polite." In November, TransAct Technologies CEO Bart Shuldman got frustrated when a colleague was disconnected from a conference call, roaring, "I'm going to shoot this f---ing system."

"Hell" and "damn" were also heard, though "s---" seemed to be among the favorite swears. Seagate CEO Steve Luczo was the one who once used a metaphor to describe his work as "stressful as s---," while Ryanair's Michael O'Leary—who in September admitted the company "f---ed up" scheduling—used "bulls---" twice to refer to media coverage and competitors' promotional material. ScottsMiracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn was just as foulmouthed, telling analysts to "shut the f--- up" regarding company performance and remarking, after a bank analyst's question, that "somebody better write that s--- down, so like we can remember all that stuff that you g---amn said." As earnings were strong overall this year, the reasons for the uptick in swearing—topping 2016's 93 swears—aren't clear. (Research has linked profanity to integrity.)

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