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.

Why are we happy?

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

Dan Gilbert believes that, in our ardent, lifelong pursuit of happiness, most of us have the wrong map. In the same way that optical illusions fool our eyes – and fool everyone’s eyes in the same way – Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. And these quirks in our cognition make humans very poor predictors of our own bliss.

The premise of his current research — that our assumptions about what will make us happy are often wrong — is supported with clinical research drawn from psychology and neuroscience. But his delivery is what sets him apart. His engaging — and often hilarious — style pokes fun at typical human behavior and invokes pop-culture references everyone can relate to. This winning style translates also to Gilbert’s writing, which is lucid, approachable and laugh-out-loud funny. The immensely readable Stumbling on Happiness, published in 2006, became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages.

In fact, the title of his book could be drawn from his own life. At 19, he was a high school dropout with dreams of writing science fiction. When a creative writing class at his community college was full, he enrolled in the only available course: psychology. He found his passion there, earned a doctorate in social psychology in 1985 at Princeton, and has since won a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Phi Beta Kappa teaching prize for his work at Harvard. He has written essays and articles for The New York Times, Time and even Starbucks, while continuing his research into happiness at his Hedonic Psychology Laboratory.