I recently celebrated my fourth ‘Bufferversary’ and couldn’t be happier to have spent the last four years with such a unique and inspiring team and company. This is the longest I’ve worked at one company and I’m very grateful to feel just as excited about Buffer as I was when I first started.

The Buffer values and culture are one of the top reasons I wanted to work at Buffer and over the years, they’ve continued to teach me lessons and help me grow as an individual. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from working at Buffer:

There is always more than one way to do things 

Once I made it through Buffer’s bootcamp, I had the choice between more salary or more equity, a discontinued practice where new teammates could choose an extra $10,000 added to their salary, or 30% more stock options. A friend I was talking to when making my decision told me to always go with more equity because a startup like Buffer would “definitely be acquired or IPO.” At the time, I was still paying off student loans so I wound up choosing salary to help me pay off my student debt more quickly.

Now, I know that my friend at the time was wrong, not because he told me to choose equity, but because Buffer will not “definitely be acquired or IPO.” But it was an honest mistake because being acquired or making an IPO is what a lot of companies aim to do. It’s just that Buffer is doing things differently, our CEO Joel often talks about ‘marching to the beat of our own drum’ and I’ve never felt that more than working at Buffer. In Buffer’s case, this means building a sustainable and profitable company instead of being hyper-focused on growth.

What others assume to be normal and expected, we do differently or not at all at Buffer.

Investors? We spent $3.3 Million buying them back
Offices? Don’t have any, we’re a fully remote team
Salaries? All transparent and we use a salary formula to calculate them.

Before joining Buffer I admired it by reading every blog post and tweet sent out from the Buffer team. I felt there was something special about the way this company was doing things. Now, I’m so grateful to be a part of this team that questions the way things are done and sticks to our own opinions and paths, not getting caught up in what everyone else is doing or what might be expected of us. It’s a unique and delightful thing to experience.

Taking time to reflect can yield huge results

When I applied to be on the Buffer team, one of the questions I was asked was:

Which of the Buffer cultural values do you feel will challenge you the most? Why?

At the time, I responded with “Take time to reflect,” which we’ve since renamed to “Practice reflection.” And it was true, I would move from one project to the next focused on achieving goals, getting things done, and then doing the next thing. 

I can’t say that I improved at reflection immediately at Buffer, but over the last year I’ve definitely solidified my practice of reflection and it’s incredible how powerful it is. I’ve been using a journal a lot more, that came with doing the Artist’s Way last year, and that’s when I’ve truly seen the benefits.

Now, when something tough pops up, I open a journal and write down all of my thoughts. I’ve also put together documents reflecting on projects and wondering if they need to change or evolve in the next iteration. 

This feels like a new superpower to me because it’s so incredibly simple and yields huge results.

Transparency creates more trust and better relationships 

One of the things that I and everyone else who knows about Buffer has long associated with the company is radical transparency. I remember seeing when the team first published salaries online in 2013, it was so cool and unique.

Joining the team, I was thrilled to be surrounded by people who were acting so transparently. I knew what they meant because they spoke with care, I knew what everyone was working on because of our transparent processes, and just the other day our VP of Marketing, Kevan Lee, tweeted out photos of what acquisition and reach look like for us right now.

Over the years, this transparency has become so core to the way that I do work and I can’t imagine working on a team without some level of transparency. I truly feel that being transparent has led me to have stronger relationships with my colleagues and that overall it builds more trust within an organization.

An added benefit for me as our communications person has been that I can always tell reporters anything they want to know. Want to know how much money we have in the bank? I can tell you that. I love being able to be so open and honest with the media and everyone I work with.

Reading and learning is so important for personal growth 

The perk I was most excited about when I started at Buffer was the free Kindle and unlimited Kindle books. I’d read all about it and I couldn’t wait to get started. 

Since working at Buffer, the number of books I read in a year has increased exponentially.

2014: 21 
2015: 9 
2016: 38  (joined Buffer) 
2017: 29 
2018: 127
2019: 81

Through reading, I’ve learned countless lessons that I’ve applied to my career and life and the more I read the more I want to keep reading.

I now realize that one of the factors holding me back from buying and reading anything I wanted was the cost of books and that was a shame. In retrospect, I should have set aside a budget for myself that I could use on books every month instead of thinking books or a kindle were too expensive and not buying them.

Ryan Holiday adds this sentence at the end of each of his reading newsletters: I promised myself a long time ago that if I saw a book that interested me I’d never let time or money or anything else prevent me from having it.

And although money is no longer a factor thanks to Buffer’s generous perks, I try to adhere to this advice when it comes to time as well.

This is a bit of a side note but to anyone who isn’t buying books right now because they feel too expensive, I totally understand, I have been there. Here are a few ways to read more without spending more money: 

  • Kindle Unlimited is $9.99 per month and gives you access to tons of great books. 
  • Do a book swap. With friends, family, neighbours, anyone who wants to participate. Bring books you are happy to swap and exchange them for others. 
  • Check thrift stores. I have found some of my favourite books at Goodwill. 
  • Little Free Libraries. This is an amazing initiative for free books in many places around the world.
  • Go to your local library. You might be put on a waiting list but eventually, you’ll be able to read the book you’d like to. 
  • Find books online. There are tons of places to read free books online, here’s one of them

Buffer has helped me put such an emphasis on learning and reading by allowing me to read anything I want and I’m so endlessly grateful for that. 

Keep up with what I’m reading right now by signing up to my newsletter and feel free to send me a tweet anytime to chat!: :)

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