This Company Believes Its Culture Is So Strong It Created a 128-Slide Deck for the World

HubSpot's cultural values infuse every aspect of the business.

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By Nina Zipkin


The company featured in this article is included in our Top Company Cultures list.

What makes a company's culture great? HubSpot is making every attempt to answer this question.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based inbound-marketing and sales platform's culture can be encapsulated in an acronym frequently used around the HubSpot offices: HEART (Humility, Effectiveness, Adaptability, Remarkable and Transparent). From hiring to employee development to customer service, HEART is at the foundation of the expanding company and a key element of founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan's mission to help business connect with customers in a more human manner.

Jim O'Neill, HubSpot's Chief People Officer, tell us their continued commitment to developing those cultural values in all aspects of the business has helped propel the company over the years. Founded in 2006, HubSpot went public in October 2014, has a staff of 1,009 globally and serves 15,000 people in more than 90 countries.

Related: 10 Examples of Companies With Fantastic Cultures

And the team is so confident about their culture that back in 2013, they shared the "HubSpot Culture Code," a comprehensive 128-slidedeck with the world. In it, the company touches on 11 main reasons their culture is successful, including "We'd rather be failing frequently than never trying" and "Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing." To date, it has been shared more than 1.9 million times.

Because of their strong culture, HubSpot made our Top Company Cultures list, a ranking of high-performing company cultures.

We spoke with O'Neil about HubSpot's culture and its wildly-popular slide deck. Read on for tips on how businesses can create a culture that contributes to both corporate longevity and genuine good will among employees.

Image Credit: HubSpot

Related: Why Company Culture Is More Important Than Ever

1. Transparency is key
When HubSpot filed to become public in 2014, every employee was given insider access to the financial information involved, a tactic that may not have gone over well with some businesses. But for HubSpot, it is part of the norm.

Minutes from strategic planning meetings, management team meetings and even board meetings are shared all across the company, so everyone can understand the goals HubSpot is trying to hit and the direction in which the business is headed.

O'Neill says the impetus behind that choice is to get everyone on the same page so they can go about their day to day with a confidence they are on the right track. "If there's anything that I think can help a modern company be successful, it's truly autonomy and the transparency to help people make those right decisions, and then get out of the way," he says.

Related: What Company Culture Is Really About

2. Invest in training and education
HubSpot believes that when employees can explore their passions and shake up the status quo, it only serves to make the company a more vibrant and effective place. To that end, the company is dedicated to helping their employees bolster the skills that are important to them in their professional development.

The company offers ongoing training to all -- everything from programs for management, mentorship and leadership training as well as monthly roundtable discussions about going concerns at the company.

O'Neill says that when an employee is interested in going back to school to get a degree or taking a course in a new area, the company is happy to chip in funds for the endeavor.

Related: 4 Ways to Create a Company Culture That Breeds Success

"The federal government and some of the states have the annual stipend that you can do for education with a certain tax limit," he says. "We kind of took all the rules for that and said use good judgment; spend the money on something that's related to your profession or your career."

HubSpot also has budget set aside for when employees want to attend conferences, shows, or meetups that relate to their work.

Related: How to Avoid a Cookie-Cutter Company Culture

3. Make sure there is a human element in hiring
When recruiting and hiring new employees, HubSpot looks at a candidate's aptitude and attitude and then whether their skills line up with what is on the job description. And while fit is important, O'Neill says, it is not defined how you think.

"We look at how well they'll mesh with the culture. And that does not mean from a sameness standpoint like 'oh, they look and talk like me,' it's a 'wow they're curious.' They want to learn more, they want to push us."

Most important is to see how the candidate's goals match up with the company's and in many cases, the roles that people ended up getting hired for aren't the ones that they applied for.

Related: How Does Company Culture Actually Lead to Success?

4. Always keep the customer in mind
That humility and adaptability extends to how HubSpot treats the most important people in their world: The customer. O'Neill explained that the questions most frequently put to the support team is how they would want to be dealt with if they were on the other end of the line.

"How would I feel if I got five emails today? I wouldn't feel great. How would I feel if I have an issue with the product and I call the support number and I'm put on hold or sent to some third party? I wouldn't feel great."

Related: 5 Ways to Foster Team Culture on a Startup Budget

For example, the support team is not measured and monitored by the number of calls or how fast they do the calls, but by how long a customer is put on hold or long the actual call is. The metric is whether the problem that was brought to them was solved in an effective way.

O'Neill says that every time the company goes to build new software or launch a new campaign the first question is, what the customer experience? They then consider the employee experience and then company experience last. "We always try to keep the customer first."

Related: 4 Things About Managing People I Wish I Knew When I Started

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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