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The Buffer Culture
Powered by Happiness

Version 0.4
Always a work in progress
• As with everything we do and ourselves,
this document is a continual work in
progress	


• Updated March 9th, 2014
Start with why

Culture: what gives Buffer the best chance
for progress of the product, happiness of
users and the team, and personal growth
while part of the journey?
The foundation of our
values
In the founding months, Joel & Leo read, reread and internalized Dale Carnegie’s famous
book, How To Win Friends and Influence
People. A lot of the Buffer values are derived
from his deeply impactful words.	

In January 2013, when Buffer was 7 people,
we discussed what words define the culture
we have, and put together this document.
The 10 Buffer Values
1. Always choose positivity and happiness	

2. Default to transparency	

3. Have a focus on self improvement	

4. Be a "no ego" doer	

5. Listen first, then listen more	

6. Have a bias towards clarity	

7. Make time to reflect	

8. Live smarter, not harder	

9. Show gratitude	

10. Do the right thing
Always choose positivity
and happiness
•
•
•
•

You always approach things in a positive and optimistic way	


•

You are deliberate about giving genuine appreciation

You never criticize or condemn team members or users	

You never complain	

You let the other person save face, even if they are clearly
wrong
Default to transparency
•

You take pride in opportunities to share our beliefs, failures,
strengths and decisions	


•
•

You use transparency as a tool to help others	


•

You share early in the decision process, to avoid “big
revelations”

You always state your thoughts immediately and with
honesty
Have a focus on self
improvement
•

You are conscious of your current level of productivity and
happiness, and make continual changes to grow	


•

You have a higher expectation of yourself, than Buffer does of
you	


•

You regularly and deliberately do things that make you feel
uncomfortable	


•

You practice activities and develop habits that will improve
your mind and your body
Be a "no ego" doer
•
•
•

You don't attach your personal self to ideas	


•
•

You are humble	


You let others have your best ideas	

You approach new ideas thinking “what can we do right
now?”	


You always ship code the moment it is better than what is
live on our site – no matter what
Listen first, then listen
more
•
•
•

You seek first to understand, then to be understood	


•

You are suggestive rather than instructive, replacing phrases
such as ‘certainly’, ‘undoubtedly’, etc. with ‘perhaps’, ‘I think’,
‘my intuition right now’

You focus on listening rather than responding	

You take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and
you could be wrong
Have a bias towards clarity
•

You talk, code, design and write in a clear way instead of
being clever	


•

You over-communicate, repeating things more times than you
would intuitively	


•

You use more words to explain, even if it feels obvious
already	


•

You don’t make assumptions, you instead ask that extra
question to have the full picture
Make time to reflect
• You deliberately find time for reflection, because that’s where
your life-changing adjustments come from	


• You have a calm approach to discussions and ponder points in
your own time	


• You find time to jump out of the trenches into the higher level
thinking that will move the needle	


• You understand the value of patience and treat it as a muscle
which needs practice to grow
Live smarter, not harder
•
•
•
•

You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour	


•

You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are
the happiest and most productive, and you are not afraid to
find out where that is

You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting	

You single task your way through the day	

You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding
capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual
energy
Show gratitude
•
•

You regularly stop and are grateful for your circumstances	


•

You approach customer conversations with humility and the
knowledge that it’s a privilege to serve these people	


•

You have gratitude for platforms, tools and open source that
laid the foundation for the possibility of the company: 

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of
giants” - Isaac Newton

You are grateful for the work co-workers do to push the
company forward and to help you move faster
Do the right thing
•

You choose what’s best for customers and the company in
the long-term	


•
•

You correct the mistake even when no one would notice	


•

You get excited about opportunities to help others

You strive to provide the best solution, even if that means
foregoing profit

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The Buffer Culture (with a new 10th value)

  • 1. The Buffer Culture Powered by Happiness Version 0.4
  • 2. Always a work in progress • As with everything we do and ourselves, this document is a continual work in progress • Updated March 9th, 2014
  • 3. Start with why Culture: what gives Buffer the best chance for progress of the product, happiness of users and the team, and personal growth while part of the journey?
  • 4. The foundation of our values In the founding months, Joel & Leo read, reread and internalized Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. A lot of the Buffer values are derived from his deeply impactful words. In January 2013, when Buffer was 7 people, we discussed what words define the culture we have, and put together this document.
  • 5. The 10 Buffer Values 1. Always choose positivity and happiness 2. Default to transparency 3. Have a focus on self improvement 4. Be a "no ego" doer 5. Listen first, then listen more 6. Have a bias towards clarity 7. Make time to reflect 8. Live smarter, not harder 9. Show gratitude 10. Do the right thing
  • 6. Always choose positivity and happiness • • • • You always approach things in a positive and optimistic way • You are deliberate about giving genuine appreciation You never criticize or condemn team members or users You never complain You let the other person save face, even if they are clearly wrong
  • 7. Default to transparency • You take pride in opportunities to share our beliefs, failures, strengths and decisions • • You use transparency as a tool to help others • You share early in the decision process, to avoid “big revelations” You always state your thoughts immediately and with honesty
  • 8. Have a focus on self improvement • You are conscious of your current level of productivity and happiness, and make continual changes to grow • You have a higher expectation of yourself, than Buffer does of you • You regularly and deliberately do things that make you feel uncomfortable • You practice activities and develop habits that will improve your mind and your body
  • 9. Be a "no ego" doer • • • You don't attach your personal self to ideas • • You are humble You let others have your best ideas You approach new ideas thinking “what can we do right now?” You always ship code the moment it is better than what is live on our site – no matter what
  • 10. Listen first, then listen more • • • You seek first to understand, then to be understood • You are suggestive rather than instructive, replacing phrases such as ‘certainly’, ‘undoubtedly’, etc. with ‘perhaps’, ‘I think’, ‘my intuition right now’ You focus on listening rather than responding You take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and you could be wrong
  • 11. Have a bias towards clarity • You talk, code, design and write in a clear way instead of being clever • You over-communicate, repeating things more times than you would intuitively • You use more words to explain, even if it feels obvious already • You don’t make assumptions, you instead ask that extra question to have the full picture
  • 12. Make time to reflect • You deliberately find time for reflection, because that’s where your life-changing adjustments come from • You have a calm approach to discussions and ponder points in your own time • You find time to jump out of the trenches into the higher level thinking that will move the needle • You understand the value of patience and treat it as a muscle which needs practice to grow
  • 13. Live smarter, not harder • • • • You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour • You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are the happiest and most productive, and you are not afraid to find out where that is You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting You single task your way through the day You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy
  • 14. Show gratitude • • You regularly stop and are grateful for your circumstances • You approach customer conversations with humility and the knowledge that it’s a privilege to serve these people • You have gratitude for platforms, tools and open source that laid the foundation for the possibility of the company: 
 “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” - Isaac Newton You are grateful for the work co-workers do to push the company forward and to help you move faster
  • 15. Do the right thing • You choose what’s best for customers and the company in the long-term • • You correct the mistake even when no one would notice • You get excited about opportunities to help others You strive to provide the best solution, even if that means foregoing profit