The Swear Jar Podcast: Speaking Truth to Bullsh*t

Episode Summary

Author, consultant, speaker and CEO of the Pontefract Group, Dan Pontefract joins Andrew and Elizabeth to talk through the pervasively stinky issue of organizational bullshit and what communicators should be doing to call it out or at least stop stepping in it and tracking it all over the place.

Not all BS Is created equal: we like to examine it in terms of Intentionality and disruption. That is, is the BS knowingly and purposely being shared inside and outside the organization? And is it having any kind of disruptive impact, such as reducing trust, causing customers to flee and inviting rather more attention from regulators than one might like?

Communicators are in a tough spot when it comes to BS. On the one hand, we need to be very careful not to generate it ourselves and on the other, we need to be prepared to stand up to it in its many forms.

The tension between transparency and authenticity is also a space where BS breeds, and the hallmark of a good leader is one who uses authenticity in place of BS, such as Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, who has done a great job of communicating (sans BS) throughout the crippling pandemic. You can read his letter to employees here .


Key Topics


  • Key trends (1:15)
  • The two dimensions of BS (3:00)
  • Why BS creeps into organizations (4:25)
  • Change and bullshit (7:55)
  • Hamstrung communicators (9:53)
  • How organizations appease and motivate with BS (13:10)
  • The implications of BS (15:00)
  • How leaders normalize BS (18:15)
  • Turning the tide against BS (19:15)
  • Trust versus authenticity (23:04)
  • Summary (30:00)

What we’re liking (31:40)

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