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The Buffer Culture (with a new 10th value)

This is the 4th evolution of the cultural values we try to live to at Buffer.

Read more about our values and approach to business at

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The Buffer Culture (with a new 10th value)

  1. The Buffer Culture Powered by Happiness Version 0.4
  2. Always a work in progress • As with everything we do and ourselves, this document is a continual work in progress • Updated March 9th, 2014
  3. Start with why Culture: what gives Buffer the best chance for progress of the product, happiness of users and the team, and personal growth while part of the journey?
  4. The foundation of our values In the founding months, Joel & Leo read, reread and internalized Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. A lot of the Buffer values are derived from his deeply impactful words. In January 2013, when Buffer was 7 people, we discussed what words define the culture we have, and put together this document.
  5. The 10 Buffer Values 1. Always choose positivity and happiness 2. Default to transparency 3. Have a focus on self improvement 4. Be a "no ego" doer 5. Listen first, then listen more 6. Have a bias towards clarity 7. Make time to reflect 8. Live smarter, not harder 9. Show gratitude 10. Do the right thing
  6. Always choose positivity and happiness • • • • You always approach things in a positive and optimistic way • You are deliberate about giving genuine appreciation You never criticize or condemn team members or users You never complain You let the other person save face, even if they are clearly wrong
  7. Default to transparency • You take pride in opportunities to share our beliefs, failures, strengths and decisions • • You use transparency as a tool to help others • You share early in the decision process, to avoid “big revelations” You always state your thoughts immediately and with honesty
  8. Have a focus on self improvement • You are conscious of your current level of productivity and happiness, and make continual changes to grow • You have a higher expectation of yourself, than Buffer does of you • You regularly and deliberately do things that make you feel uncomfortable • You practice activities and develop habits that will improve your mind and your body
  9. Be a "no ego" doer • • • You don't attach your personal self to ideas • • You are humble You let others have your best ideas You approach new ideas thinking “what can we do right now?” You always ship code the moment it is better than what is live on our site – no matter what
  10. Listen first, then listen more • • • You seek first to understand, then to be understood • You are suggestive rather than instructive, replacing phrases such as ‘certainly’, ‘undoubtedly’, etc. with ‘perhaps’, ‘I think’, ‘my intuition right now’ You focus on listening rather than responding You take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and you could be wrong
  11. Have a bias towards clarity • You talk, code, design and write in a clear way instead of being clever • You over-communicate, repeating things more times than you would intuitively • You use more words to explain, even if it feels obvious already • You don’t make assumptions, you instead ask that extra question to have the full picture
  12. Make time to reflect • You deliberately find time for reflection, because that’s where your life-changing adjustments come from • You have a calm approach to discussions and ponder points in your own time • You find time to jump out of the trenches into the higher level thinking that will move the needle • You understand the value of patience and treat it as a muscle which needs practice to grow
  13. Live smarter, not harder • • • • You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour • You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are the happiest and most productive, and you are not afraid to find out where that is You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting You single task your way through the day You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy
  14. Show gratitude • • You regularly stop and are grateful for your circumstances • You approach customer conversations with humility and the knowledge that it’s a privilege to serve these people • You have gratitude for platforms, tools and open source that laid the foundation for the possibility of the company: 
 “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” - Isaac Newton You are grateful for the work co-workers do to push the company forward and to help you move faster
  15. Do the right thing • You choose what’s best for customers and the company in the long-term • • You correct the mistake even when no one would notice • You get excited about opportunities to help others You strive to provide the best solution, even if that means foregoing profit