December 23, 2022

How Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
The Story of How We Built Our Culture

By Payal Parmar, Senior Director - People & Talent

Every organization rests on four pillars: the problem it solves, its vision, its people, and its culture. We believe that culture eats strategy for breakfast – and this is exactly how we plan to attract the brightest, most talented people to Safe Security.

At a time when the ‘Big Three’ are conducting a Reduction In Force in response to the economic downturn, organizations need to take a step back and evaluate what they value the most and how to protect it. A culture of hire fast, fire fast is not sustainable, and it isn’t surprising that retaining the best people has become so critical for organizations.

But hiring rockstars comes with its own set of challenges. As every company strives to cherry-pick from a limited talent pool by going above and beyond, what sets Safe’s culture apart? If everyone is giving you x+2, what is the X-Factor?

We built our culture together from scratch.

“Autonomy and accountability”: these values have become our backbone. With an employee count of just over 200, we've built our culture from scratch. And that’s how we’ve built everything at Safe. Our product is a result of contributions from everyone in the company, regardless of their background, qualification, or experience. Our culture reflects who we are and who we want to be.

Step one: Learn from the greats.

We poured over the culture of the companies we look up to, such as HubSpot, Netflix, and Amazon, among others. We didn’t copy (although imitation is the best form of flattery), because we understand there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We found our north star and knew which direction to head in – but how?

Step two: Teamwork makes the dream work.

We took copious notes from countless meetings and weekly townhalls. No comment, critique, or observation was left unaddressed to ensure every voice was heard. As we undertook the mammoth task of creating our culture, we heard every SafeStar’s unique understanding of what our culture should be. And there we had it – the first form of the Culture we wanted to create. Some may ask, how did we build a culture which resonates with the whole team? It's so simple. Our culture rests on something so significant that it enables an individual to think, work, execute and implement without hindrance. While strategizing about the next steps required to build our culture, we came across two general terms for every work done here: Autonomy and Accountability. Every employee believes in our vision and mission (confirmed by our employee satisfaction surveys), which makes it easier for them to act in the company's best interest. With the freedom to think and act, along with taking complete ownership, our rockstars thrive.

Step three: Practice what you preach.

We wanted to ensure these words aren't just written on decks or walls but come into play in our daily lives. It did not require us to change a lot except to let people be. Today, multiple employees are running different projects helping us grow faster and more robust.

We have gradually built a solid team of Rockstars (our ‘SafeStars). How do we know if they're a Rockstar? We've codified this piece. The difference between an A and B Player is ~25x. These 25x players are whom we call "Rockstars." Today, for anyone who wants to join our team, we measure high talent density across 11 parameters: Judgment, Track Record, Communication, Passion, Humility, Curiosity, Courage, Team Player, Urgency, Inclusion, and Integrity. While these may seem like obvious parameters, they form the crux of a true Rockstar.

We don’t just want a person to be the right fit for our business, but we want to be the right fit for them, too. We know our culture will not resonate with everyone – not because they’re not Rockstars – but because they just don’t like rollercoasters. And this is okay. As such, we cannot be afraid to make tough decisions when it isn’t working out. We believe it’s wrong to ‘hire fast, and fire fast’. Instead, we ensure that the recruitment and interview process allows YOU to explore who we are and how we operate, so you can make your best judgment.

Enjoy rollercoasters? Come along for the ride!

There is a lot more to our culture and a lot more that can make you feel like you belong! We are a tribe: a living, breathing, collaborative tribe. We're building a very different company, and if you think you're crazy enough to be part of it, you must join us!