Bullshift – family business masterclass

We attended a fantastic masterclass by Andrew Horabin of Bullshift, at the Family Business National Conference 2018. Hands down one of the most engaging workshops we have attended, it came as no surprise to learn that Andrew was formerly a stand up comedian. Andrew’s delivery was perfection, he had the crowd completely engaged as we laughed out loud through insightful content.

Bullshift is all about openness, honesty and straight talk in the workplace. Which sounds quite straightforward, but even though we come from a smaller team, and a great culture, there were plenty of pearls of wisdom we can share in our own business.


The ladder of relationships in a business have 4 levels starting at the lowest point as adversarial, moving to competitive, through to cooperative and lastly collaborative. For us the most interesting is the difference between a culture that is cooperative (nice, polite, appreciative, give and take to the point of being avoidant) and truly collaborative (question everything, feeling completely comfortable to be direct at all times, with feedback going up and across, not just down).

A collaborative culture thinks together, a cooperative culture often has a position and tries to persuade each other. There is no question we most often work in the collaborative space, but I am sure there are times when we slide into cooperative and understanding this distinction will help avoid that.


There was also a lot of discussion around ego, and all the unproductive tendencies it can foster (eg stewing, reacting, inflating, deflating, excluding, competing, judging…). Working from a place of consciousness means knowing in the moment what it is you are attached to, so you can try and detach to see the situation from a much clearer perspective. Being able to reflect and choose your response ‘normally I would react like X, but today I am choosing to react like Y’, rather than having your ego controlling you.


Some researchers say that when we communicate, the words can contribute as little as 7%, the remaining 93% is communicated through voice and body. That is huge! In workplaces we need to be conscious of the difference between text (what people say) and subtext (how people act). In meetings we need to draw out the text that matches the subtext so that everything is out on the table. If there is an elephant in the room you can’t truly collaborate.

We aren’t perfect, and the more we understand that, the more productive and collaborative we can be. Andrew says ‘You are an adult, own your own muntedness’. And if you need help with that I would highly recommend getting Andrew along to work with your business.

Bullshift Masterclass with Andrew Horabin

Jodie de Vries

Written by: Jodie de Vries
Published: September 17, 2018
Images by lisahatz.com.au for Family Business Australia

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