Guide to Skillshare’s Culture

We design our culture like we design our product. Deliberately.

At Skillshare, we take pride in our culture. We believe it’s a major differentiator and what allows us to bring on the world’s most talented people and empower them to drive impact.

Our Culture

Why is culture so important? A great culture provides the context for people to deliver their best work. It determines who gets hired, how people behave and how decisions are made.

Here are some of the beliefs that went into the design of our culture.

  • Long Term > Short Term
    We take a long-term approach. We prize investing into people and making strategic decisions that drive impact. We work hard, we know this work matters, and we build for our kids’ kids.
  • Meritocracy > Democracy
    Anyone can contribute ideas and ability to influence isn’t defined by a job title. All voices are heard at Skillshare, but when we make a decision, we’re all on board.
  • Decentralized > Hierarchical
    We believe we’ll get more done when every employee has ownership of the business. We share context, set the direction, and push decisions downward.

Trust, transparency, and a meritocracy of ideas are the foundations of our team and culture. This foundation allows us to have autonomy, and rigorous debates, while avoiding hierarchy.

Trust Battery

We think of trust as a battery. The trust battery monitors the current level of trust between people and teams. If the trust battery is fully charged, it allows decisions to be made quickly. Trust is what drives commitment, accountability, and results.

Everyone is encouraged to express their opinions, challenge ideas and assumptions, and move fast to execute once a decision has been made. It means that there will sometimes be tension but the end result will be a dynamic product and an open, transparent, and trusting team.

Culture Multipliers

While most companies hire for culture fit, we go above and beyond for those that are culture multipliers — team members that bring out the best in everyone. We hire them, promote them, and give them more latitude and responsibility.

Multipliers have a growth mindset — they look at every challenge as an opportunity and learning experience. They not only drive impact for the company, they live the core values day-to-day, and make everyone else around them better.

Hiring cultural multipliers is one of the most powerful things we can do as a company. They don’t maintain your culture: they build on it.

Core Values & Principles

One of the first things we did at Skillshare was create our value system. This value system determines who gets hired and how we work together.

Companies frequently consider a good culture fit around “someone you would consider a friend”. The problem with a test like this is that you’re subconsciously making decisions based on whether you want to be friends with a person. This doesn’t create a diverse range of viewpoints crucial for great work, and can lead to a sea of sameness.

Because the best cultures derive from actions people take, it’s imperative to define expectations around optimal behaviors, which set a foundation for a value system. At Skillshare, our value system is broken down into two parts:

  • Core Values — Determines who gets hired, promoted, or let go. These are behaviors and traits we value in individuals.
  • Principles — How we aspire to work together as a collective team. Imagine these as phrases that we can call upon in meetings.

Our Core Values

  • Self-Starter: Takes ownership and gets things done.
  • Humility: Self-aware and respectful.
  • Adaptability: Ability to learn quickly in new conditions.
  • Resourcefulness: Overcomes all challenges.
  • Passion for Excellence: High quality bar that drives impact.

Our core values are non-negotiable: no matter how smart someone is or how great their skillset, we don’t hire people who don’t embrace these values. We have an interview process dedicated to these core values, we’ve parted ways with people because of them, and have promoted people based on our core values and principles.

Our Principles

If the core values are meant to define behaviors on an individual level, principles are centered on the team. They distill our ideal way of working together down to a few easily rememberable phrases, which together help us multiply our ability to be impactful at work and fulfill our ambitious mission.

  • 👯 One Team — We’re working towards the same goal. When the company wins, we all do.
  • 💯 Drive Impact — We always ask: what impact does my work have on the company and mission?
  • 🙇 Own It — We believe ownership empowers people, creates trust, and contributes to the success of the company.
  • 💥 Be Bold — We encourage calculated risks, we learn from failure, and we drive results. We’re changing the status quo.

Diversity & Inclusion

It’s important to note that culture is not about creating a homogenous group. We believe a diverse team leads to better business decisions, better products, and frankly a better company overall (and one we’d want to be a part of!)

We take pride in having one of the most diverse startups out there. We think about diversity across a variety of vectors: age, gender, race/ethnicity, background, and diversity of thought.

Our recruiting, compensation, and promotion strategies are built around the concept of merit and actively fighting unconscious bias. Read more about our non-negotiation policy here.

Learning & Development

Our vision is to increase empowerment as we grow. We believe learning & development is driven and owned by individuals, but supported by the company.

Taking initiative is highly encouraged and rewarded and we hope that over time, team members will take on new projects and new roles — often ones that don’t currently exist.

To decentralize decision-making, we assign missions to empower team members. This creates more leverage by allowing us to send highly capable individuals on missions defined by an outcome, instead of dictating tactics.

We seek to develop team members by giving them opportunities to develop themselves, by surrounding themselves with great colleagues, and giving them big challenges and opportunities.

Our mission is to provide access to learning and opportunities. Today, we have over 16,000 classes and close to 3M members on the platform. But we’ve set our ambitions much higher: over ⅓ of the world still doesn’t have access to the Internet. We want to live in a world where we can create 100M different versions of Skillshare for 100M different members!

By teaching the skills needed in tomorrow’s world, we empower people to advance their careers, improve their lives, and pursue the work they love.

Sound like a mission you’d like to work on? Join our team.