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Culture Code: Creating A Lovable Company

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An inside peek at how we work and what we believe at HubSpot. …

An inside peek at how we work and what we believe at HubSpot.

This is part culture manifesto, part employee handbook and part diary of dreams.

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  • 1. CULTURE CODE THE Creating a company we love. v17.14.07.04
  • 2. WHAT’S CULTURE? A set of shared beliefs, values and practices.
  • 3. Our culture code is the operating system that powers our organization.
  • 4. WHY CARE ABOUT CULTURE?
  • 5. Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing. Customers are more easily attracted with a great product. Talent is more easily attracted with a great culture.
  • 6. Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing. Customers are more easily attracted with a great product. Talent is more easily attracted with a great culture. Click to tweet this quote.
  • 7. A great culture helps people deliver their best work.
  • 8. CULTURE HAPPENS. Whether planned or not, all companies have a culture. Why not create a culture we love?
  • 9. Lets make the company we always dreamed of. Lets create a company that will be a great place to be from. REED HASTINGS & PATTY MCCORD
  • 10. Now, an observation…
  • 11. PEOPLE HAVE DRAMATICALLY CHANGED HOW THEY LIVE AND WORK.
  • 12. THEN NOW FOCUS Pension Purpose NEED Good Boss Great Colleagues HOURS 9-5 Whenever WORKPLACE Office Wherever TENURE Whole Career Whatever
  • 13. And though people have dramatically changed…
  • 14. Many organizations operate as if they’re in time.
  • 15. They operate as if money is what matters most…
  • 16. … and amazing people are happy to just have a job.
  • 17. Paychecks matter, but purpose matters more. (as do the people we work with)
  • 18. We dare to be different.
  • 19. We are HubSpot.
  • 20. Our goal is not to maintain a startup culture. It’s to cultivate a culture that helps us achieve our ambitions.
  • 21. This document is part manifesto and part employee handbook. It’s part who we are and part who we aspire to be.
  • 22. This document is part manifesto and part employee handbook. It’s part who we are and part who we aspire to be. When something is aspirational (not yet true) we try to call that out.
  • 23. THE HUBSPOT CULTURE CODE 1. We are maniacal about our mission and our metrics. 2. We strive to Solve For The Customer. 3. We are radically transparent. 4. We believe in autonomy not autocracy. 5. We are unreasonably picky about our people. 6. We invest in individual mastery and market value. 7. We constantly question the status quo.
  • 24. We are maniacal about our mission and our metrics.
  • 25. “Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.” TIM O’REILLY. Note: The O’Reilly Library at HubSpot is named after Tim.
  • 26. OUR MISSION is to make the world INBOUND. We want to transform how organizations attract, engage and delight their customers.
  • 27. inbound is about empathy. It’s about creating an experience people love.
  • 28. WE BELIEVE OURS IS A NOBLE CAUSE. We help organizations grow.
  • 29. And, we reduce the amount of spam, junk mail and other interruptions and annoyances.
  • 30. Our commitment to our mission has earned us the love of many. Our commitment to our metrics has earned us the resources to further our mission. We are passionate about both.
  • 31. Balancing this dual personality of mission & metrics is challenging. But it’s also partly what makes us DIFFERENT.
  • 32. Balancing this dual personality of mission & metrics is challenging. But it’s also partly what makes us DIFFERENT. And sometimes dysfunctional.
  • 33. We Work To Solve For The Customer.
  • 34. SFTC.Solve for the customer Not just their delightion, but also their success.
  • 35. SFTC.Solve for the customer Not just their delightion, but also their success. Delightion is not a word, but it should be.
  • 36. IT’S BETTER TO OBSESS OVER CUSTOMERS THAN COMPETITORS.
  • 37. Have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. ANDREW MASON. FORMER CEO OF GROUPON IN HIS DEPARTURE EMAIL
  • 38. FOR EVERY DECISION WE SHOULD ASK OURSELVES: “Selves, what’s in it for the customer?”
  • 39. WAIT. Does “Solve For The Customer” mean just giving more away for free? Wouldn’t that delight customers? NO. To delight customers in the long-term, we have to survive in the short-term. Because…
  • 40. Bankrupt companies don’t delight their customers.
  • 41. We have a professional sales team. Does hitting our sales goals support our long-term mission?
  • 42. YES. Having delighted customers requires having customers (funny how that works). We’re on the right path as long as we sell to customers that we expect to delight.
  • 43. YES – WITH ONE CAVEAT. Having delighted customers requires having customers (funny how that works). We’re on the right path as long as we sell to customers that we expect to delight. This is the key. We shouldn’t sell customers we’re not justifiably confident we can delight.
  • 44. WE LOVE TO TEACH. We believe success comes through educating people, not exploiting them.
  • 45. We are radically and remarkably transparent.
  • 46. Today, power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.
  • 47. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” -LOUIS BRANDEIS
  • 48. WE SHARE (ALMOST) EVERYTHING. We make uncommon amounts of information available to everyone in the company. (there are now 700+ HubSpotters)
  • 49. We protect information only when: It is legally required. Example: Information covered under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) It is not completely ours to share. Example: Individual compensation data
  • 50. WE HAVE THE MOST INTERESTING WIKI ON THE PLANET.* Examples of things we share and discuss: • Financials (cash balance, burn-rate, P&L, etc.) • Board meeting deck • Management meeting deck • “Strategic” topics • HubSpot Lore & Mythology (the funniest page on the wiki) *Unverified claim
  • 51. FROM Notes: Mike Volpe: Our CMO (been here since the beginning) Ilya: An early customer GC: General Catalyst Partners (VC that led our Series A funding)
  • 52. We have open access to anyone in the company. It’s not an open door policy. It’s a no door policy.
  • 53. SEATING HACK. A large part of the company goes through a semi-random “seat shuffle” every 3 months. We’ve been doing this since the beginning. It reflects our “change is constant” credo. It also circumvents a lot of needless politics. (we hate politics with the heat of a thousand suns)
  • 54. The intent behind all this transparency is to support smarter behavior and better decisions. So…
  • 55. We give ourselves the autonomy to be awesome.
  • 56. 6 WE TRUST OURSELVES.
  • 57. Just because someone made a mistake years ago doesn’t mean we need a policy. WE DON’T PENALIZE THE MANY FOR THE MISTAKES OF THE FEW. We only protect against big stuff.
  • 58. We don’t have pages of policies and procedures.
  • 59. USE GOOD JUDGMENT. Instead we have a 3-word policy on just about everything:
  • 60. Social media policy. Travel policy. Sick day policy. Buy a round of drinks at an event policy. Work from home during a blizzard policy. Our policy on all of these (and most other) things: USE GOOD JUDGMENT.
  • 61. WHAT IS GOOD JUDGMENT? This book does not yet exist. But it should.
  • 62. customer > company > self Here’s the cheat sheet on good judgment:
  • 63. company > self Don’t solve for your personal interests at the expense of the company. Be a team player, not a politician.
  • 64. customer > company Don’t solve for the company’s interest at the expense of the customer . Solving for customers’ interest is in our long-term interest.
  • 65. Results matter more than the hours we work.
  • 66. Results matter more than where we produce them.
  • 67. Results matter more than how much vacation we take. (we don’t limit vacation time)
  • 68. WE LOVE DATA. We like for our decisions to be insight-driven and data-powered.
  • 69. DEBATES SHOULD BE WON BY BETTER DATA NOT BIGGER JOB TITLES. We disfavor pulling rank. It happens. But we don’t like it.
  • 70. INFLUENCE SHOULD BE INDEPENDENT OF HIERARCHY.
  • 71. CEO, VP of This, Manager of That. Doesn’t matter what your title is. EVERYBODY DOES REAL WORK AND GETS THEIR HANDS DIRTY.
  • 72. People want direction on where they are going… NOT micro-directions on how to get there. h/t Simon Sinek
  • 73. With this kind of transparency and trust we shouldn’t take chances when hiring. So…
  • 74. We are unreasonably picky about our people.
  • 75. peers >> beers Quality of peers is much more important than quantity of beers.
  • 76. What makes someone a great fit for HubSpot? What makes them awesome for us? What does it mean to be HUBSPOTTY?
  • 77. There are 5 attributes that we value in people.
  • 78. Self-aware and respectful. HUMBLE.
  • 79. Wait. Doesn’t being humble mean lacking confidence? No. The very best people are self-aware and self-critical – not arrogant. Examples: Bezos. Buffett. Berners-Lee. (and that’s just some of the Bs)
  • 80. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. C.S. LEWIS.
  • 81. When things go well, humble people tend to share the credit. When things go poorly, they tend to shoulder the responsibility.
  • 82. GSD (Gets stuff done) Measurably moves the needle. Immeasurably adds value. EFFECTIVE.
  • 83. EFFECTIVE PEOPLE: Predisposed to action. They just do things. Have a sense of ownership. Are resourceful and always looking for leverage.
  • 84. Curious and constantly changing. Life-long learner. ADAPTABLE.
  • 85. Has a super-power that makes them stand out in some way. Remarkably smart. Remarkably creative. Remarkably resourceful. *h/t to Seth Godin REMARK∙ABLE.worthy of being remarked upon*
  • 86. Open and honest with others and with themselves. TRANSPARENT.
  • 87. WAIT. Aren’t some people just private? This is not about sharing personal information. (What happened in Vegas should stay in Vegas) This is about sharing knowledge and data generously.
  • 88. HUMBLE EFFECTIVE ADAPTABLE REMARKABLE TRANSPARENT We like people with heart.
  • 89. HUMBLE EFFECTIVE ADAPTABLE REMARKABLE TRANSPARENT We like people with heart. Yes, “heart” is a bit cheesy. We’re a bit cheesy sometimes.
  • 90. We don’t just believe in these values, WE BET ON THEM. We recruit, reward and release people based on these values.
  • 91. Compromising on culture is mortgaging the future. It’s reasonable to want to hire for skills and experience when the need for help is painfully acute. It’s reasonable. But, it’s also wrong. The interest rate on culture debt is crushingly high.
  • 92. Don’t hire these people. Life is short, and it’s just not worth it.
  • 93. Does this mean we only accept those that match our values perfectly? No. Confucius has good advice here…
  • 94. “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” CONFUCIUS.
  • 95. We’re a team, not a family. We hire, develop and cut smartly so we have stars in every position. +1 We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, so we didn’t.
  • 96. Don’t just hire to delegate. It’s tempting to bring people in that you can push off work you don’t have time for. Hire to elevate. Bring people in that can teach you something. Continually seek to raise our average.
  • 97. Sometimes, amazing people graduate and leave HubSpot. We call them HubSpot Alumni. We expect them to go on to do more amazing things. We want them as friends and advocates forever. So…
  • 98. WE INVEST IN ALUMNI HAPPINESS. We hold regular meetings with our alumni. We review startup pitches. We try to help.
  • 99. WITH GREAT PEOPLE COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY. The goal is for a group of people to achieve their collective potential. So…
  • 100. We invest in individual mastery and market value.
  • 101. We want to be as proud of the people we build as we are of the company we build.
  • 102. We believe in investing to increase individual market value.
  • 103. How do we increase our individual market value? Ongoing learning. Big challenges. Broad exposure.
  • 104. We’re doing a few things already…
  • 105. HubTalks: Learning From Leaders Clay Christensen “Innovator’s Dilemma” Eric Ries “The Lean Startup” Sheila Marcelo CEO, care.com Colin Angle CEO, iRobot These are small informal talks given at HubSpot.
  • 106. Unlimited Free Books Program. Request a book – it magically shows up in your Amazon Kindle account. No muss, no fuss. No expense sheets.
  • 107. Compensation isn’t just a function of how many people you “manage”
  • 108. THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO PROGRESS AT HUBSPOT. 1. Gain mastery as an individual contributor and make magic. 2. Provide spectacular support to those who are doing #1. Reality: We have a lot of first-time managers at HubSpot. Need to invest more in developing them.
  • 109. IF YOU’RE JUST DOING YOUR JOB YOU’RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB.
  • 110. We constantly question the status quo.
  • 111. #inbound12 We’d rather be failing frequently than never trying new things.
  • 112. Why care so much about being different?
  • 113. Many companies start out being exceptional. As they grow, there is a dark, powerful force that pulls them towards the average. If we regress to the mean, we fail. It’s that simple.
  • 114. Remarkable outcomes rarely result from modest risk.
  • 115. 1 We believe simplicity is a competitive advantage.
  • 116. Things start simple…
  • 117. THEN COMPLEXITY QUIETLY CREEPS IN. ITS TOLL LIES BELOW THE SURFACE.
  • 118. WHY DOES COMPLEXITY CREEP IN? It is often the easy, seductive answer to short-term issues. Fighting for simplicity takes courage and commitment to the long game.
  • 119. COMPLEXITY AND THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS. Example: “I need to hit my goals this month, so I’m going to push for this exception to our standard contract.” Result: You may make your goal now, but we all pay the price of the complexity forever. Focus on the long game. Team > Self.
  • 120. You cannot add simplicity in. You have to take complexity out.
  • 121. 1 Like software… Organizations should be frequently refactored. Refactoring means to improve internal structure without changing external behavior.
  • 122. REFACTOR. • Pull out unused features. • Remove unnecessary rules. • Stop generating useless reports. • Automate manual processes. • Cancel unproductive meetings. • Prune extraneous process.
  • 123. Fight for simplicity. We want HubSpot to be: EASY TO BUY. EASY TO USE. EASY TO LOVE.
  • 124. So, to recap…
  • 125. THE HUBSPOT CULTURE CODE 1. We are maniacal about our mission and our metrics. 2. We strive to Solve For The Customer. 3. We are radically transparent. 4. We believe in autonomy not autocracy. 5. We are unreasonably picky about our people. 6. We invest in individual mastery and market value. 7. We constantly question the status quo.
  • 126. Though we’re working to build a company we love…
  • 127. Our culture is not perfect for everyone. We are not a utopian workplace.
  • 128. We have issues. Here are a few…
  • 129. There is tension between short-term goals vs. long-term ambitions We lean towards the long-term, but it’s not always easy.
  • 130. We are transparent. But, transparency is not the same as democracy. Decisions are not by popular vote. Not all decisions are popular but indecision is even less popular.
  • 131. Because things are moving fast and changing constantly, it can feel chaotic. It feels chaotic because often it is chaotic.
  • 132. We have our flaws. But, better imperfect than perfectly average.
  • 133. WE WERE INSPIRED BY • The Netflix Culture Deck (McCord & Hastings) • “Drive” (Daniel Pink) • The Valve Employee Handbook • “Rework” (Fried and Hansson) • Google’s People Ops Team ...and countless others on the web.
  • 134. Please email your rants, raves and love letters to: One of our founders will read every email. (please don’t spam us, that’s not cool)
  • 135. THANK YOU. Congrats for making it this far. Visit CultureCode.com to join the discussion. Yes, we’re hiring. Click the logo.