4 Lessons Learned Working at HubSpot
After two great years, I left HubSpot last month.
I’m not sure what’s next, so don’t expect a forward looking just yet. Right now, I’m focused on taking stock of all the things that I learned from HubSpot, all the great folks with whom I collaborated and the new perspectives on the software business I gained. HubSpot is an incredible place — I learned a ton. Here, mostly for my own documentation, are a few of the key lessons that I either learned or were reinforced working at HubSpot.
1. Be unafraid to make aggressive changes
This is the thing I would emphasize more than any other. At HubSpot, things are generally going well. Its no secret the business is growing. I think one of the reasons it continues to grow is that leadership team is unafraid to tackle problems with big changes. They don’t save big changes for when the business is facing big, threatening problems. They are aggressive in solving the monthly/quarterly problems with bold change. It pays off.
2. Transparency empowers
I have never ever worked at a place as transparent and open as HubSpot. Virtually everything you’d want to know about the business is known and shared on the HubSpot wiki. To paraphrase Dharmesh, you need to have a really good reason to keep something a secret at HubSpot. With more people empowered with more information, better ideas are generated, millions of small decisions are better informed and the business just runs smoother. People trust each other with open transparency.
And this extended to our relationships with our customers. We were able to more effectively work through problems or changes with the product by being 100% honest with our customers at HubSpot. The more they were informed, the more our customers trusted our judgement and accepted changes to the HubSpot product.
I loathe the prospect of ever working somewhere that wasn’t as transparent and open as HubSpot.
3. The answer is always “ship it”
Hat tip to David Cancel here. As a product manager, you’re not always sure when to ship something or take the next big step. And the answer is almost always “ship it”. Should you wait for the next round of imminent improvements to the tool? Do you wait for another round of performance improvements? Do you wait for the next round of UI tweaks? Don’t wait. Ship it. Those improvements might end up being the least important thing you should be focusing on. Your priorities need to be customer focused. And if you are teetering on making something more widely available, just ship it. You’ll learn from your customers if your priorities are right.
4. Use good judgement
This one comes from observing Brian Halligan. Occasionally there would be some cultural question or some HR policy debate that would bubble up. And eventually, Brian would weigh in with his “ruling”. And it would almost always be “use good judgement”. Should you come into work when you’re sick? Use good judgement. Should you come in when its snowing? Use good judgement. How should you behave on social media? Use good judgement.
If you have adults at your company (and having aged a certain number of years doesn’t mean you are an adult — I forget where I stole this idea from), trusting them and empowering them to make their own decisions ensures happy employees, and usually the right outcomes.
(Ex-)Hubspotters, what did you learn?