How to build a great company culture in your startup

Culture is the soul of every organization. Whether you plan it or not, culture will happen. So as a startup CEO this is one of the core things you want to get right.

HubSpot has published a “culture code”. They published it partly as “manifesto” and partly as “employee handbook”. It is absolutely worth checking out.

Here are some of the highlights from the HubSpot Culture Code:

  1. Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing.
  2. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have a culture. Why not make it one you love?
  3. Solve For The Customer — not just their happiness, but also their success.
  4. Bankrupt companies don’t delight their customers.
  5. Success comes through educating customers, not exploiting them.
  6. Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.
  7. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
  8. You shouldn’t penalize the many for the mistakes of the few.
  9. We don’t have pages of policies and procedures.
  10. Results should matter more than when or where they are produced.
  11. Influence should be independent of hierarchy.
  12. Great people want direction on where they’re going — not directions on how to get there.
  13. Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.
  14. We’d rather be failing frequently than never trying.

How Being A Little Bit Weird Made Zappos A Fortune

After he graduated from Harvard with a degree in Computer Science, Tony Hsieh landed what seemed like a dream job at Oracle. But he quickly realized however that the corporate environment wasn’t for him and quit after just five months.

Hsieh and his roommate then teamed up and started an Internet advertising network called LinkExchange. Their business became a huge success and sold to Microsoft in 1999 for $265 million.

But by then the company’s culture had been destroyed, Tony says.

Shortly after the Microsoft deal, Tony discovered a company called Zappos, an online shoe and clothing store. He joined the company as an advisor and investor and eventually became CEO.

Last year, a decade after selling LinkExchange, Tony sold Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion.

Here, Tony tells us what has made Zappos one of the most successful online companies of the past decade–success that continues under Amazon’s ownership today.

“Employees should choose their own salary” – thoughts on corporate culture

On Friday, during likemind CGN, I had an interesting discussion with a couple of guys. We started off, talking about the future of recruiting and soon had a controversial debate on corporate culture and new styles of work. Both topics I find hugely interesting.

Not only have I worked as a management consultant with corporations on enterprise 2.0 and change management topics. As an entrepreneur I have a huge impact on the corporate culture at myself. We are a decentralized – almost virtual – company, thus making it essential to establish new working styles, rules of interaction and cultural values.

I will try to post more about these subjects in the next months. Some of my most controversial arguments were

  • fire (all) your managers
  • employees should select their boss (aka “leadership is defined by followership”)
  • employees should choose their own salary
  • job titles are toxic
Some more topics we didn’t have the chance to go into detail are
  • virtual teams are more productive (aka “why each employee should have his own room”)
  • trust is more important than control
  • the illusion of growth
  • planning is overrated (aka “nobody has a clue”)
  • hire lazy employees
  • perfection is the enemy (aka “good is good enough”)
  • money is not a good motivator
  • a business plan is worthless
I have to

see if I will write about these topics in German or English. I might even open up a new blog. Stay tuned…