It's been a few years since we founded Intempt, and during that time we've experienced the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. We’ve built a working business and we’re in the process of building another. As Jeff Bezos famously said, you should focus on what’s NOT going to change. There are five pillars guiding our culture that haven’t changed in 5 years. And they’re unlikely to change in the next 10. And that’s what we’d love to talk about.
When we founded Intempt, we set out to build an enduring company – one that could be a role model for a new type of work and reward environment.
Achieving this goal requires having the best team in place, and that means we need to be explicit about what we reward and what we don't.
Put simply, Intempt is not for everyone. People don't want to hear that. They want to hear about how we make it inclusive for everybody. But the truth is, no organization or societal group can be for everyone. They're going to be for a certain type of individual who may find themselves attracted to that team, that approach, that group and their VALUES. We shouldn’t hide from this fact. But we do need to be explicit about it. So here are the five pillars that shape Intempt’s culture.
Our Work Principles
Our principles were felt very early in our history – but we really struggled to put them to paper until we reached 15 employees with several misfits. Now we've used them in our hiring and training ever since. They help us guide promotions and how we talk about performance. And they’re central to everything we do.
0. Always start with a beginner’s mind: which is a concept that comes from Zen Buddhism — a beginner’s mind allows you to constantly see the world with fresh eyes. This mindset will help you declutter your mind, dispose of outdated assumptions, eliminate distractions, and allow yourself to focus on the what, why, and how of whatever you set out to do.
1. Put the customer at the center of everything you do: We make decisions to solve our customers’ problems. Period. Not to get the company short-term wins. Not to respond to a competitor. No matter your role, put the customer at the center of your decisions instead of yourself or your team. Spend time every day getting to know the customer a little bit better than you did yesterday.
2. Create a culture of respect and trust: We all do our part to maintain a culture of inclusion, respect, and trust. When a problem happens, we go to the person who can fix it instead of complaining about it to someone who can’t. We celebrate each other’s wins with excitement and enthusiasm. We respect different opinions and embrace the fact that we’re not all the same. By doing that, we create unity.
3. Practice extreme ownership: We take extreme ownership of our results, both the successes and the failures. We never point the finger or make excuses. We take it upon ourselves to understand the mission and believe in it. If you don’t understand the mission, it’s on you to get clear and ensure your plan supports it. Ask questions and speak up if you need clarification. We are all responsible for our own understanding.
4. Have a bias for action and deliver daily results: We ship daily, and we don’t just mean software. Across the entire company, everyone is taking action that drives results every single day. We make things happen before we make them perfect. We believe every project can be broken down into small, daily wins. Over time, those small wins help our customers take massive leaps forward.
5. Seek feedback, not consensus: We seek feedback to get to the best idea, not to create agreement or consensus. We believe consensus creates average ideas, average speed, and average results. We don’t vote on ideas or decisions. The best idea will never sound like the best idea to everyone, so we validate with the customer instead of committees. When a decision is made, we move forward (disagree and commit).
6. Push for high standards: Our standards should make us uncomfortable. When comfort creeps in, we acknowledge our goals aren’t big enough and we raise the bar. We apply high standards to everything—whether it’s a new feature, a new hire, or a campaign. No matter how big or small something seems, it contributes to the sum total of our brand. And we want to build a brand customers love. Despite always knowing that we can reach higher and do better, we take time to celebrate the wins that we have made along the way.
7. Stay scrappy: There is no entitlement here. We work like we have something to prove. We don’t always know how we’ll make something happen, but we do know we’ll figure it out. We’ll always be short of people, short of time, short of budget but we are not short of creativity and resourcefulness. It’s this quality that will help us topple any challenge we encounter, regardless of our means or circumstances.
8. Be a curious learning machine: We bring a spirit of learning to everything we do. We seek wisdom so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel whenever possible. We approach learning as both students and teachers, eager to share our discoveries with each other and our customers. We can’t stay comfortable or get stuck in our ways. Learning keeps us in motion.
Our Working Principles are the guardrails that help keep us on the road and lay the foundation for every aspect of our culture.
At Intempt, we believe the way to become the best is by hiring the best – not just because you're hiring better people, but because you're leveling yourself and your team up each time you do.
Which is why we gave every Intempt employee Reed Hasting’s and Erin Meyer’s new book on Netflix’s culture: No Rules Rules. In it, Reed says:
"The best office perk is working with people you respect and can learn from every day. We are a team, not a family. We're like a pro sports team, and it's not a kids' recreational team. If we're going to be a championship team, then we want the best performer possible in every position. Team members are playing a stay on the team with every game. For people who value job security over winning championships, Netflix is not the right choice, and we try to be clear and nonjudgmental about that. But for those who value being on winning teams, our culture provides a great opportunity. Like any team successfully competing at the highest level, we'll form deep relationships and care about each other."
And this mentality is equally important for individuals to be successful at Intempt. You’ve got to earn your spot every month, every quarter, every year, and that means you've got to invest in yourself. You have to learn as much as possible and challenge yourself to do things you might not have done in a prior role.
Owning Your Career
At Intempt we believe in hiring adults, no matter the seniority. We define being a responsible adult this way:
- You're self-motivated.
- You act like a leader.
- You don't wait to be told what to do.
- You dive right in and are willing to roll up your sleeves.
- You carry the water and never think, “it's not my job.”
We emphasize owning your career. And this means that a career isn't always linear. It can move across departments and across teams. As an individual, you have to drive your own career – don't expect your manager to do it for you.
We have three main rituals at Intempt. They help us kick off and bookend the week together and help us come together as a team even when we can’t all be together. And these rituals have become increasingly important as we’ve made the move to digital first.
Every Monday we kickstart the week with Monday Metrics, Wednesday Check-in and then we finish the week with Friday Show & Tell.
Monday Metrics is when a leader from each part of the organization tells the team what’s on their radar for the week ahead. Because of Monday Metrics, there's no excuse for anyone across the organization, regardless of position, to not have a high-level understanding of the metrics/state of our company and its projects.
Friday Show & Tell is our favorite Intempt ritual. One person from each department talks about something they shipped that week, a problem they worked on, something they were challenged with, or how they offered a solution – all in service to our customers. And then there's a CTA for the entire company. We vote on a winner and they take home the Golden Mic for that week.
And lastly, we have all-company meetings. In the past, we’ve flown Intempt employees out to Texas to meet in person. This is no longer possible. But the meetings are no less important so we’ve done everything we can to bring the same production value and energy to these virtual events. If anything, they’ve become more valuable.
These three rituals are incredibly important, and we've doubled down on them moving to remote only. We think they've actually become better as a result. You have to work harder to create a culture and build energy remotely, but the work over the last year-plus has been well worth it.
Finally, the last pillar of the Intempt culture is equity. Intempt is part of a rare breed of software startups that don’t believe in Unicorn this or VC that whose core premise is around delaying profitability for growth all at costs in the hope of a massive exit when everyone (read VC’s and top executives) get filthy rich fuck-U money.
We have eschewed the big checks and big headlines that come with taking on venture capital partners. It has allowed us to set and manage our product and growth strategies without the kind of pressure that comes with investors that look for rapid growth or near-term liquidity events like a public stock offering or becoming an acquisition target.
Instead we take the responsibility of building a sustainable company seriously. Our expansion will be funded by the company’s own growth.
To ensure we all live good lives while working on a company and customers we love, we have pledged to present 49% of our profits back to our employees as profit-sharing and 1% of our profits, employee time and technology back to our communities.
This idea of employee-first also pushed us towards becoming a remote-only global company. We wanted everyone to be on a level playing field, and for no one to feel like a second class citizen because they didn’t live in a certain city or couldn’t come into the office/HQ every day.
So, if you liked what you read here and you’re curious, you're determined, you're a creator and a problem solver, then Intempt is for you. We’re hiring. You can see open positions and learn more