How HubSpot's Culture Code keeps them committed to greatness

HubSpot is a pioneer in inbound marketing and strategic content, but they're not just masters of outward communication—they've worked hard to rock their internal communication as well.

In March 2013, HubSpot publicly released The HubSpot Culture Code, a slidedeck they produced years prior, and—coinciding with their value of transparency—decided they wanted to share with the world.

The document—"part manifesto, part employee handbook"—outlines their current and aspired values, what they stand for, and unique elements of their culture. 

The deck has received over 2 million views and is a "work in progress," according to co-founder Dharmesh Shah. The team regularly updates the deck to reflect their most current values and cultural practices.

Here's a quick recap of the deck, if you don't have time to flip through the whole thing: 

HubSpot is deeply committed to their mission and metrics. "Our commitment to our mission will help us earn the love of many. Our commitment to our metrics will help us earn the resources to further our mission."

They aim to delight their customers, and only sell to customers they're confident they can delight. "For every decision we should ask ourselves: 'Selves, what's in it for the customer?'"

They value transparency. They even share financials, board and management meeting decks with the entire team. The only time they protect information is when it's legally required, or not completely theirs to share (like an individual employee's compensation).

HubSpot's Culture Code shares their values of humility, effectiveness, adaptability, remarkability, and transparency (HEART), all of which they say they recruit, reward, and release people on. Like many companies who strongly value culture, HubSpot believes cultural alignment is critical, even if someone is otherwise incredibly skilled.

"The interest rate on culture debt is crushingly high." 

They also believe in hiring to elevate their team (and the company), rather than hiring merely to delegate work. They "continually seek to raise [their] average." They also believe culture isn't set in stone, and that it evolves with the company (hence all their deck revisions). 

"Our best people don't just fit our culture, they further it."

To show their commitment to the development of their people—as well as their value of constant learning—they bring in thought leaders like Clay Christensen, Eric Ries, and Patty McCord to speak at HubTalks, and offer unlimited free books for their employees' Kindle accounts.

They also trust their people to use their best judgement. A great example is when it comes to expensing meals. If a teammate believes a lunch is worthwhile, and that valuable learning can come of it, they don't need to seek approval first.

As innovators, HubSpot's leaders believe in risk and experimentation.

"Remarkable outcomes are rarely the product of modest risk."

They also value simplicity and regular refactoring.

Finally, they recognize that life is short, and that work is a big part of life, therefore "work should also be fulfilling and fun." They do their best to encourage a healthy, happy culture, and supply their employees with things like standing desks, a fitness room, and healthy snacks to support their wellbeing. 

Shah recently gave a talk about his views on company culture at Stanford called Why Company Culture is Crucial. It's an hour long, but if you have time, it's worth a watch, and will give you deeper insight into the CEO's inspiring point of view.