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Beyond Bullsh*t: Straight-Talk at Work Paperback – May 3, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"In this sober guide to understanding and moving past 'bullsh*t' at work, author and management professor Culbert (Don't Kill the Bosses!) explains the value of and strategy behind 'straight-talk relationships' in the office. Unlike others who have tackled the subject (most notably Harry Frankfurt), Culbert emphasizes bullsh*t's vital role in many situations."—Publishers Weekly

"Culbert, a professor of management, points out that 'telling the truth' can be just as one-sided and manipulative as the self-serving posturing he calls 'bullsh*t.' To send an honest message that actually reaches listeners, the teller requires a preestablished relationship of trust and a listener who is willing to improve. The teller needs to offer only the truth she sees and to frame the message according to the listener's perspectives and goals. If these conditions are not present to at least some degree, Culbert says, people are better off just posturing. Still, for those willing to make the effort, he adds that reciprocal straight talk can be immensely valuable for an organization and individuals' careers."—Harvard Business Review

"Great, enduring brands demand (and respond to) straight talk from their customers, employees and stakeholders. Sam Culberts book brings that message to life."—Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks

"Beyond Bullsh*t shows why the little moments in organizational life matter so much and how to make the most out of them. Culbert has written the wisest book that I've ever read about what it takes to build a humane and effective workplace. And, this little masterpiece is a joy to read because every page oozes with Culbert's own experience, straight talk, and charm."—Robert Sutton, Stanford University, author of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't

"I read this book by randomly sampling pages. Every sample was a treasure! This is a wise and wonderful book!" —Tom Peters, Chairman Tom Peters Company
"Beyond Bullsh*t is a wonderful book! Clever and clear, it's a tour d' force on how to circumvent bullsh*t and when to talk straight at work."—Walter Nord, Distinguished University Professor,University of South Florida
"Culbert nailed it. This book is a masterpiece and every word is so true. This is what he's been writing about and teaching his whole career. And, that's not bullsh*t. He's always stood for direct, valid, and candid human relationships. Those who took his straight-talk to heart flourished as a result. As Bennis says, in his foreword, it is indeed his 'master stroke.'"—Beverly Kaye, CEO/Founder Career Systems International and Co-Author of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

About the Author

Samuel A. Culbert is Professor of Management at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is author of Get Rid of the Performance Review! (2010). He is the recipient of the American Association of Publishers Best Management Book of the Year award and the Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Business Books (May 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804771774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804771771
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Samuel A. Culbert is an award winning author, researcher and full-time, tenured professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. His laboratory is the world of work where he puts conventional managerial assumptions under a microscope to uncover and replace dysfunctional practices. He holds a B.S. in Systems Engineering and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Culbert has developed a blunt yet sensitive way of framing situations that allows for all parties to engage in open, non-judgmental discussions. He believes that only by laying bare ALL the forces that drive people's opinions and actions -- including subjective, self-interested and political biases -- is it possible to have an explicit, honest, yet matter-of-fact conversation. He has spent a career perfecting the skills and style that illicit such straight-talk.

Widely recognized as a candid speaking expert and theoretician, he is author of the recently published Beyond Bullsh*t a probing inquiry that reveals how bullsh*t became the etiquette of choice in corporate communications, and how to develop the conditions required for straight-talk. SmartMoney Magazine named this book to its 2008 list of ten top reads. Dr. Culbert is winner of a McKinsey Award for an article published in the Harvard Business Review, is a frequent contributor to management journals and has authored numerous chapters in leading management-related books. More about this and some of the other books he has authored is available at the www.straighttalkatwork.com website. In press is a book titled Get Rid of the Performance Review: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing - and Focus on the Results That Really Matter. This book, written with Larry Rout, builds on his media grabbing Wall Street Journal article of the same name and is awaiting April 2010 publication. His other authored and co-authored books include The Organization Trap, The Invisible War: The Pursuit of Self-Interests at Work, Radical Management, Mind-Set Management and Don't Kill the Bosses!.

Throughout his career Professor Culbert has creatively welded together three activities: consulting, teaching, and writing. Consulting is where he encounters work effectiveness problems in their contemporary forms, demystifies the basic elements, and formulates alternative modes of functioning. Teaching provides a forum for extrapolating from problems to issues requiring his investigation. Writing is where he packages his understanding for public consumption. His clients include a diverse representation of the private and public sectors: small companies and members of Fortune's 500, international and U.S. governmental agencies, privately funded and not-for-profit organizations. In short, Culbert has been around and gets what's happening. His unconventional views have received a good deal of press, both in the U.S. and overseas.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am an employment lawyer and there are few things more important than clear and honest workplace communication. More lawsuits, wasted time, and ruined careers result from it than anything else. Culbert hits the key issues: workplaces fixated on hierarchical approaches to relationships which result in people saying what the hot shots want to hear not what they need to know; failure to listen and divine the intent of the speaker before formulating a response; and when you do talk making sure that the other understands that you do not believe you have a corner on the truth by using "I - speak"---"I think" or "I belive" or "based on what I know". The book is a bit academic but nonetrheless practical especially when he talks about the outdated system we use for performance reviews which pit boss v. employee, which he woukld like to replace with a collaborative approach. I wish it was so but corporations are driven by fear (HR of lawsuits and hierarchy addicted jerks of losing their status) to change anytime soon. Give it a read.
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Format: Hardcover
Beyond Bullsh*t did well to explain and define the phenomenon of straight vs. BS-talk at companies.

Culbert starts off with definitions of the various degrees of BS and Straight-talk. Just defining them was useful as I've begun to notice the types of "talk"-relationships I have with others and what expectations might be in play. I thought the distinction between "truth-telling" vs. "straight-talk" was particularly insightful as it has helped me redefine several relationships on these terms.

Culbert also really hits home on explaining some of the characters that "claim" they want desire straight-talk, but actually return the favor with covert BS to simply further their own agenda. Again, what can I say, he calls 'em as he sees 'em, and I've definitely seen 'em myself.

After defining and explaining the phenomenon, Culbert goes into an applications section to talk about what you might expect to see when relating with people who communication in various levels of BS and straight-talk. This ties back to the beginning of the book where the role of BS in an organization was defined. I really enjoyed how Culbert acknowledges that BS *does* play a useful role in the workplace and treats it as simply yet another communication style.

An area I felt could use improvement, perhaps in a 2nd edition, would be making better use of the anecdotes at the beginning of each chapter. While they seemed somewhat relevant to the chapter, I felt in several cases they weren't really used beyond acting as a chapter kickoff. I think referring back to these in the chapter a little more or perhaps using some anecdotes as a "case study" to thoroughly explore a topic would have helped me better understand the concepts.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a must read book for anyone in an organization - even more so -- if you lead or aspire to lead in that organization!

Culbert's wise words and witty articulations help readers understand the organizational value of the straight-talk relationship and ways to frame discussion that can help foster more of "it".

His "I-speak" and the innovative performance "pre-view" process are a must read for any leader. Personally, I have found that I have been able to integrate and develop more substantially as an organizational and people leader since reading Culbert's book. It also helped me understand the mysteries of an organization that often felt frustrating.

Although new - this book is showing up in offices all over my organization and has already started to make a positive organizational impact: more straight-talk and trusting relationships and the dialogue to get there.
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Format: Hardcover
I was lucky enough to read a pre-publication version of Sam Culbert's book. I was taken with by the power of Sam's arguments and evidence for truth-telling in organizational life. I was equally taken with the power and charm of Sam's writing voice and personal experiences. I was delighted to endorse the book and encourage anyone who strives to become an effective and ethical leader or follower to read this lovely piece of work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First things first, I was lucky enough to be in a class taught by the author, so while I may appear biased- I'm no fool. Now, on to the review: Most people will have to really have an open mind in reading this. What it calls for us to do at work is the opposite of what so many of us are used to doing. Having an open heart and mind to really get to know those around you so that you can you can develop a proper working relationship is more work and can be awkward at first for many of us...BUT IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE. If you want to be able to tell your boss he/she's making a mistake or have your subordinates let you know before you make a blunder, then this is the book for you. It's amazing how much BS gets spouted at the office, and we all know it's more hurtful than harmful...yet we can't stop. Well, you can stop if you have the tools and techniques, which is exactly what you'll get from this book.
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