Dan Lyons’ book ‘Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Startup Bubble’, is the true story of a journalist that goes to work at Hubspot as a ‘marketing fellow’ after losing his job at Newsweek. He’s one of hundreds of Hubspot employees, he’s twice the average age of the other employees and seemingly the only one that recognizes the cult-like atmosphere at the company.
This rational man surrounded by true believers makes for hilarious reading (worth your time, if only for the chapter about Molly the teddy bear) while the subtext of a toxic atmosphere blanketed by a constant, almost manic, positivity makes it an important book about workplace culture.
I first read it after I had just started at Gain Compliance five years ago. His story resonated with me because it was similar to mine. I was a sales professional pushing middle age whose experience was with traditional goods and services and I found myself working at a SaaS startup.
Thankfully, our stories diverge from there. Mr Lyons arrives on his first day to find the guy who hired him wasn’t there to greet him, it would be months before he would even find out what the guy had planned for his new ‘marketing fellow’.
I arrived on the first day and the guy who hired me had me do an empathy exercise. He had me try to format the first few pages of the Notes to a Statutory Financial Statement. I’m not too proud to admit that I failed that exercise, but I learned something important in the process.
There were accountants spending all sorts of their time on this manual, time-consuming task. They were chained to it because they didn’t have a tool that allowed them to collaborate across departments like this reporting demanded. In short, their job sucked.
I represented a company that was not just looking to sell these people software, this company was looking to improve the overall experience around the Notes as well as all other parts of these statements. It became a cause for me, and as prospects became customers, and I heard firsthand the positive impact of working with us, I knew that cause was righteous.
When Hubspotters talked about changing people’s lives, it was in global terms, it was everyone. The sincere belief that made them think that was achievable is what likely made them so weird.
So while Gain World HQ doesn’t have all the ping-pong tables, beer fridges, ball chairs, SFTC teddy bears, candy walls and the rest of Hubspot HQ’s amenities in Boston, I’ll take our humble digs in Des Moines.