Given the hubbub that surrounded my joining HubSpot, I thought I’d share my observations after clocking a week on the mothership of inbound marketing. Dig it:
1. Lean forward meetings. CMO Mike Volpe was “kind enough” to load up my schedule with 25 meetings over my first few days. When I saw my calendar I feared it was going to be a brutal start: hours of sitting in semi-silence with semi-strangers. But that’s not how it played out. Meetings start on time, end a little early, and participants tend to lean forward, actively engaged throughout the session. Conversation is animated, regardless of the subject matter. There’s something very … very … “alive” even in meetings, which in most companies is where productivity goes to die.
2. Disorientingly empowered employees. I’m still sort of reeling from realizing how much authority individual contributors have over decision-making. Never once in the 25 tell-me-what-you-do-and-what-you-want-from-me meetings did anyone say, “I’ll have to check with [executive] to see if we can do that.” Not once. The authority to deliver an enthusiastic yes or a (data-supported) no extends to all levels — and all levels seem aware of their authority. I raised this point to a colleague who said something to the effect of, “We value evidence over eminence.” (This point is reinforced in the above image, which is a visualization of who influences whom at HubSpot.)
3. Rampant humility. I confess that I’ve always found HubSpot’s “we’re humble" boasts to be, by definition, ironic. (After all, isn’t boasting of humility itself a brag?) A large part of me feared I’d quickly discover the culture would be filled with cocky people who were smart enough to feign humility. Not the case. When the head of funnel says in a meeting, "I am concerned that too few people are complaining about me," you know that self-awareness, if not outright humility, has taken root.
4. Manners. “Thank you” is said … a lot. Walking from one meeting to the next, I counted three separate people thanking a colleague.
5. Logan’s Run. Walking past the massive clusters of desks and peeking in the rows of glass-walled conference rooms, I found myself reminded of Logan’s Run — a utopian society populated solely by people under 30 years old. CEO Brian Halligan wasn’t kidding when he talked to the New York Times about empowering young workers.