Boon + Gable’s company culture

We’ve been doing a lot of interviewing and the best candidates ask us — so what is your company culture like? Since we’re so small and the only people that actually know our company culture are our employees, I thought it’d be great for prospective candidates to get some insight before meeting our team. But of course there is always room to improve, and so I’d love to learn what other startups do to keep a healthy culture, especially when scaling.

We like each other.

Sounds funny to call out, right? But we all really like going to work and seeing each member of the team. We all work in the same office — we don’t have any remote employees. We share one big table and a few dedicated desks in a beautiful co-working space in the Westfield Mall in downtown San Francisco. We say hi to each other when we walk in. We grab lunch with each other. We go to the Nordstrom Espresso-bar with each other. We go on bubble tea, juice and froyo runs with each other.

Boon + Gable’s office in the Bespoke Co-working space in the Westfield Mall

We socialize at work.

We have Team Social Lunch each Monday and Thursday where we bring our lunch or buy it downstairs in the food court — did I mention our offices are in the Mall?!

We celebrate everyone’s birthday — but in a different way. We surprised Nicole with a slice of gluten-free chocolate cake and SoulCycle classes. Liz got a huge avocado with a candle in it and workout clothes. For Gil, key lime pie and a tour of the Anchor Steam Brewery. We also celebrate each employee’s one year anniversary in a similar fashion.

Liz so happy with her avocado and wine

We socialize outside of work, but we know you have a life too.

Every 2 months, we do a team social outing. We’ve Escaped the Room at the Palace of Fine Arts. We’ve had a pot luck pool party one Friday afternoon. We’ve taken a late night Soul Cycle class together. We’ve volunteered at the SF Food Bank and then grabbed Thai food and eat in City Beer Store. We celebrated the holidays by taking Indian cooking classes at Bi-Rite. And rumor has it our next outing will be karaoke…

Volunteering at the Food Bank, hair nets and all
Justine, Kiia and Alisha mastering lentils with just amount of spices

Gil, Diane (their daughter Joscelin) and Nicole grabbed burgers after marching in the Women’s March. Ashley and Justine went to an impromptu happy hour after work. Liz and Justine bought last minute tickets to Las Vegas one weekend, just because and we all saw it on Facebook after it happened!

Nicole, Diane, Joscelin and Gil enjoying burgers at milkshakes after the Women’s March in rainy San Francisco

We are transparent.

Everyone has access to the same metrics and dashboards. We host a Monday Morning metrics meeting where we talk through what’s on track and what’s not. Friday afternoons are when we have our Big Accomplishments (BA) meeting to share out the big projects we finished that week. We all take turns bringing snacks to the BA meeting — everything from cheese and salami to It’s-Its and wine!

We found that priorities change too often (for good reason) so quarterly planning isn’t the right cadence and weekly development priority meetings are too fine-grained, so we just recently switched to a 6-week product development cycle that we learned from Jason Fried at Basecamp and it’s working really well. We are naming each Cycle after celebrities, just like meteorologists do for hurricanes. :) Our first was Cycle Audrey, like Audrey Hepburn and our current one is Cycle Bette as in Bette Davis.

We care about each other’s personal and professional growth.

Each week you and your manager have a 1:1. It’s a dedicated time that you both have to talk about things that are going on that week. It’s a two-sided meeting, you and your manager share what is going on in your personal life as well as at work. And if you don’t have anything in particular to discuss, the meeting doesn’t get cancelled, because there is always something to talk about.

Every 3 months we do 333’s. These are one of my favorites times of the year. You and your manager write down your 3 accomplishments, 3 strengths and 3 area for improvement. And then during the meeting you share your 333’s about yourself as well as about your manager. And vice versa. It’s a great time to reflect and it feels great when both parties are aligned. Gil, Nicole and I have been doing these since the very beginning, when it was just the 3 of us and we were working out of my apartment.

We just recently started having career conversations thanks to a talk I heard at First Round’s CEO Summit last year by Russ Laraway. As a manager you have a huge responsibility to make sure your direct reports are constantly learning new things and staying curious.

And because diversity is important to us, we created a Paid Parental Leave Policy when we were only 7 people big. Companies don’t have to have formal policies on this until they are 50 people big, but we believed it was important — if we wanted to retain our talent — to give moms and dads time off with their newborns and still pay them so they’d be full rested and happy when they returned to work full time.

I’m sure we do other things we don’t even realize and like I said before, I’m sure there are plenty more things we can do especially as we grow the team. What ways does your startup keep company culture healthy? Leave notes in the comments so we can all learn from them!