11 things from Hubspot Culture Code

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) Power is now gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.
5) “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
6) You shouldn’t penalize the many for the mistakes of the few.
7) Results should matter more than when or where they are produced.
8) Influence should be independent of hierarchy.
9) Great people want direction on where they’re going — not directions on how to get there.
10) “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”
11) We’d rather be failing frequently than never trying.

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Velocity Conference – 2013

Was at Velocity conference @ Santa Clara last week was an absolute blast! Had a chance to attend all three days of the conference with a few of my colleagues from work and along with the Atlassian conference, this has to be one of the best out there. The speaker list had a good mix of some really good technical topics but mostly, the conversation centred around how fast technology is changing and how culture needs to change to ensure that we keep going in the right direction.

Below are a few of the interesting talks/presentations and material from the conference.

1. Avoiding Risk in Technology – by Johan Bergstorm

2.  Continuous Deployment with real-time diffsBy Brett Slatkin (Google)

3. If You don’t understand People, You don’t understand Ops – By Kate Matsudaira

Please take some time to listen to this talk. Culture is the most important and difficult thing to change when it comes to companies and Kate really boils it down to the how and the what!

4. How to run Post-Mortems with Humans(Not Robots) – By Dan Milstein

Check out Dan’s talk as well on the conference site; his presentation and engagement skills are top notch!

5. Gameday on Obama Campaign – By Dylan Richard 

Again, only at a conference like this will you get to listen to talks like this. The scale of the campaign tech spread is phenomenal.

5. How to win Computers and Influence Reality – By Adam Jacob (Co-Founder of Opscode)

Read the deck and internalize it. Adam’s a true visionary in understanding computers and trends around the world. Take his predictions and warning seriously!!

A few other highlights:

  • The DevOps panel discussion that had Gene Kim, Jez Humble and Jame Turnbull was really good. Gene and Jez were brilliant as usual and their take on DevOps as a field in IT was valuable
  • In the exhibitors area, came across a company called AppDynamics that had a really cool application to identify & monitor hardware with a simple agent mechanism. Do check them out.
  • Natalia’s Live Sketching at the conference
  • Great Coffee, Crappy Wifi.

All in all, great time!

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Joy of Coding [Right]

 10years back, when my journey of undergraduate studies began in the Computer Science program, my coursework in programming over 4 years was as follows:

  1. Introduction to C
  2. C & Data Structures
  3. Advanced C / C++
  4. Java
  5. Advanced Java.

I cannot thank how much C programming was useful to get to understand important concepts like inheritance, recursion etc., but at some stage, I just lot interest due to how unintuitive the tools were to code beautiful applications. As much as C/C++ and Java are critical for bill-paying jobs and projects, they were just not fluid enough to come home to challenge myself to cool things. Coding for some is a way to make money, for me it has been a way to solve problems and test my ability to understand a device a way to hack things.

And then came the phase where I totally gave up programming as business development and project delivery became very interesting.  But coming from a computer science background, not solving web technology challenges felt like I was running away from being who I was – a hacker at heart who had to tinker with code to make cool things. And not having a direction in the evenings after work was plain old boring.

Last year, I finally got out of the slacking rut and looked around for programming tools that would intuitively make sense. That’s why I found Ruby & Rails and the community that is out there making some really cool amazing apps. Combine that with MySQL, CouchDB, Heroku and you can solve any social, analytic, video, photo-sharing problems or challenges out there.


I will get into more details on each of the tools that I use in later post but here is what I will leave it for now – for any like-minded hackers out there who want to do something for themselves and are open to investing 3 months of their life to learn new technical skills, I highly recommend giving Ruby/Rails and good hard look. The amount of support available to get something working and live is amazing and if you have an idea that you want to implement, like let’s say mine which was movie selection tool, you can go from design to deploying a skeletal app in less than a week. And it’s all free.

Start by reading this and very soon, you will have a link to most of the tools above. Happy coding right!

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Stuff I am tinkering with!

Stuff I am working with these days.

  • Ruby on Rails
  • jQuery
  • backbone.js
  • PostgreSQL
  • Redis
  • Heroku
  • Amazon Web Services (EC2, S3, SQS, RDS)
  • Facebook API
  • Continuous Integration & Delivery
  • Devops (Extension of work to home)
  • Technical writing (Extension from work to home)

Something I have learnt along the way: Having work that is not focussed on engineering with latest technologies definitely holds you back. But having work that you are passionate about and good at vs. coming home to work on stuff that interests you is definitely rewarding. You learn a lot about yourself.

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Slicehost – Startup Full Circle

What you hear mostly is the innovative idea, the superstar angels and VC’s, the mind-boggling valuations for yet-another-cloud-storage service. What you see are slick presentations, awesome websites and very technical blogs. What we see are the initial phases when the industry is betting on your success. What is don’t see is the full circle.

Trust 37signals to do just that – provide inspired entrepreneurs a 360-degree view of what a story of a successful startup is.

Part 1: The Scrappy startup

Part 2: Getting bought

Part 3: Colliding company cultures

Part 4: What’s next?

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Defining Scope

Knowing the scope of the product or project you want to execute is one of the challenging things most managers face right up front even before any work actually begins. Take this case for example:

1. I want an application that improves my output by 50% that in turn saves $100k.
2. I want an application that integrates seamlessly with all the other tools I use daily.
3. I want an application that moves data among all the applications that I use daily.
4. I want an application that helps me solve world hunger!

If the above needs sound familiar to you, then even before you begin, you are staring at a problem where what really needs to be solved is shadowed by how much is expected to be solved. Do you want to save $100K or do you want to improve efficiency by 50%? Do you really want such superb integration or is it just a “nice to have”? How do you handle data changes if your data moves across so many applications seamlessly? Some questions which take a lot of analysis to answer than to request them upfront.

Defining the scope of a Product/Project is generally overlooked with the good intention of delivering for a client or looking smart by solving a problem. As always, most of the end users are good at pointing to “something” and saying I want “that” in red/blue etc., as opposed to defining what they exactly what. It’s up to the product/delivery manager to identify what is truly needed.

Some of the fundamental questions you can begin asking when facing a problem are:

1. How many of your wants are must have’s vs. could have’s / nice-to have’s. If you cannot populate a matrix equally with these three column’s, then you are overloading your product. There are exceptions to rule’s but generally, this is true.

2. How can you break down your product into phases/releases (at least 2-3) without spending more than 6-8 months on phase 1? The thinking behind this is to allow for resources to leave the team, take a break and also add new talent without breaking the rhythm of the teams.

3. Can you define the scope of your phases/releases and deliver a functional product and not exceed the above set time-frame. [Think Apple iPhone 1 and their ear-phone jack! You really cannot & should not solve all the problems in the first release!]

The challenge in defining scope stems from the facts like:

1. The client wants it all.
2. You cannot visualize an incomplete product.
3. You don’t believe an incomplete product will have adoption.

The first 2 points above can be overcome by good management. The last one takes courage and guts to believe that a good product that solves the basic problem at hand, in the long run, will add value as opposed to an inferior product that solves the problem in its entirety.

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Blue Ocean Strategy

Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne, a teacher-student duo, write this fascinating management book that looks at industry disrupters that went after uncontested market spaces (blue oceans) rather than fighting with competitors (red oceans) to gain market share.

The thing about how Callaway Golf invented the big-head golf clubs to make it easier for normal people to enjoy golf while its competitors manufactured the same tiny head clubs that made the game so challenging for the general populace.Examples like this and many more that will get you thinking how to change market assumptions and legacy practices.

Moreover, its a really fun read!

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Competing for the Future

The Late CK Prahalad & Gary Hamels masterpiece from the 90’s is still a force to reckon with in the management space for a lot of industries especially technology when it comes to finding unique opportunities for growth. Today’s latest innovations seem right out of the pages of this book written a quarter of a century ago when take talk about cloud computing and smart phones becoming virtual necessities for fast-growing markets and how companies should align to use them for their advantage.

The books slashes the argument of dealing with downsizing and lay-off’s to retain profitability and asks probing questions on why successful companies become giant tortoises even with all the wealth and power while small nimble firms run away with the pie!

A must read for business managers looking to avoid making colossal blunders.

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