The Idiom — move the needle

Pip Reid
Pip Reid
Jul 30, 2016 · 7 min read

What does reading do for you?

I recently asked my younger GenY daughter via an sms txt the question “what does reading do for you?” Sometimes our GenY children take days to respond to a txt, other times their response is instant“how long is a piece of stringwas her reply. Then two more instant txts came through — repetitive txts to made her point perfectly clear — “Context” “Context”, one after the other. “Just interested” I replied, subtly pressing my daughter to put a finer point on the What, “I know what reading does for me— am just interested in what it does for you”. “To move the needle, personally” was her response. “Focal needle?” I txt’d with a questioning tone.

“Google the term “move the needle” was her final response, then txts fell silent.

Artist/Author — GenX

Being an accidental artist, firstly I see in images — the needle stuck in the groove of an LP (an oversized CD!), but entrepreneurial enough to envision — think faster — act bolder — take a leap of faith — a lightbulb moment (future Blog). Quite literally, if the needle stays in the one spot, it will scratch and therefore “ruin” the LP (there goes history!) and the music will cease OR it will repeat — repeat — and we will tire of the monotonity of the sound — and the music will cease.

(Note to self: can I take a diversion here? — “once upon a time” we would get up and “move the needle” if the music was that bad — today all we need do is press the button to skip the track).

Perceptions — will the scratched LP have a future in its present form? Artistic creativity suggests another form, a higher purpose for the blemished LP. I’ve done the test twice — 50% right brain / 50% left brain — considered unusual, as one is perceived to be weighted either to the left or right — a point of difference.

Colour outside the lines — more fun than colouring inside them — anything is possible when you are open to change — “The Open Mind”).

A parallel to “think outside the box”.

(Note to self: live the breadth of your life as well as the length — only then will you have truly lived).

Engineer/Baby Boomer

I asked the resident Engineer “what does move the needle mean to you?” Response: “Why does everything have to be a catchphrase these days?” — a bunch of useless words that don’t mean anything, that either people don’t understand the meaning of, or they’re so overused they lose their impact” — the needle is stuck in the groove. Protectively I responded “not everyone thinks like an Engineer”. I guess from the Engineer’s point of view, who wants to waste time walking into a room or an office, full of people speaking ‘in tongues’ and not understanding a word they’re saying. Having being complimented once by a boss that I am “ruthlessly efficient” I guess I can see the Engineer’s point.

So yes, I had heard the term “move the needle”, more in the context of startups — a parallel to the “.com era” — does history repeat itself?

(Note to self: Mati I need your wry smile at this moment)

So what are we actually trying to say?
How Clear is our Message?

A Message (Font: Webdings)
The Same Message (Font: AR Christy)


My dog speaks in tongues — he’s a TWEETER, after all he is a GenY — his ears prick up as soon as he hears the word “tweet” and he understands exactly what I’m saying!…yes, quite literally TWEET means — carrot — bone — doggy biscuit — dried pig’s ear — chicken. AND yes he is an ‘active listenter’ as soon as he hears the knife on the chopping block he is right at my feet and I have his undivided attention — he listens to every sound I make — follows without fault every move I make (my body language) — and waits for the idiom “carrot” — which means tweet. He also understands he can only eat his TWEET after being given a special command — a word — another idiom!

Maybe there are some tech-savy people out there who don’t understand the full gambit of meanings of TWEET. I was told mini schnauzers are smart dogs and ‘they’ were right — mini schnauzers are tech-savy too.

Each generation does speak in tongues and if we don’t keep up with the tech-savy world in which we live, we are lost — or are we? The record is stuck on the same track — repeat — repeat.

GenY and the overused word “like” — GenX and the overused word “ok”…well “ok” sounded ‘hip/cool’ at the time…actually I see ‘hip’ has gone full circle and is once again a ‘cool’ word — parallels of the BREXIT.

So in summation, I do understand in order to “move the needle” you do need to be an active listener. Listening is the most powerful way to connect with someone else AND hearing is not the same as listening — my dog may have a different view on that. I do understand if you don’t move the needle you can get stuck. AND I do understand the idiom “move the needle” is business jargon (a buzz word), but most importantly I see it as a positive action, and presumably, effect.

So what does reading do for me — how long is a piece of string? (Note to self: someone has stolen my line…the ultimate compliment)

In short:

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries. (AG Grayling)

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Owl Moon” is the most beautiful book I have ever read.

Jane Yolen you set the bar very high for me.

I don’t know how many times I read the story “Owl Moon” to my two daughters when they were younger. I still read the story — for me.

The imagery of the Jane Yolen’s words alone create a mystical atmosphere out of an ordinary experience and the reader experiences the’ whole’ adventure. Words like “…if you go owling you have to be quiet and make your own heat” and “we watched silently with heat in our mouths, the heat of all those words we had not spoken” and “when you go owling you don’t need words or warmth, or anything but hope, that’s what Pa said, the kind of hope that flies on silent wings under a shining owl moon”. AND THEN, from the accidental artist’s view “then we came to a clearing in the dark woods, the moon was high above us, it seemed to fit exactly over the centre of the clearing and the snow below it was whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl.”

Such stunning and beautiful poetic language.

Just like golf — one good shot brings you back for another go — “Owl Moon” is that great shot for me.

What’s an Idiom? — let’s not go there right now

a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual word


“If it’s important to you, you will find a way, if not, you will find an excuse”.

“You can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.”

In short — reading floats my boat.

What will it take to move YOUR needle?
How will YOU move YOUR needle?

Thank you for taking the time to read my Blog and for being part of my journey

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