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Leo Widrich

Leo Widrich

A collection of 186 posts

Self-ImprovementSep 7, 2018
Why We Have Our Best Ideas in the Shower: The Science of Creativity

“I’m not really a creative person”, always struck me as an odd sentence. Could it really be that some of us are born to be more creatively gifted than others? If so, I thought at first, that’s definitely a downer. In school, what was considered “being creative”, like writing or drawing nice pictures was never my strength. It bugged me for a while I have to say. For today, I finally decided to research and read up on the latest studies of creativity and the science behind it. The truth, which I

3 Breakthroughs and 2 Failures that Have Shaped Buffer

In Buffer’s past six years, we’ve experimented with product and culture and had some successes and some flops. And yet there have been some breakthroughs that evolved naturally, some intentionally. On the flip side, we’ve had some failures that have been outside our control and also fully within our control. Each up and down has shaped us as a company, as a product and me as an individual. Here are a few of those breakthroughs and failures. Breakthrough #1 – Living and working transparency

OpenSep 19, 2016
From Maker to Manager: The Most Challenging and Rewarding Transition of My 5-Year Startup Journey

January 3, 2011, was my first day at Buffer as sort of the social media intern. The introductory task that Joel and I came up with was fairly simple: Spend 30 minutes a day on Buffer’s Twitter account and help it grow . We had about 78 followers at the time, and the 100 follower mark was in sight. I had just turned 20 years old, was halfway through my second year in college and I was ready—for anything really. It di

OpenJun 29, 2016
What Our 3 Biggest Successes and 2 Biggest Failures Taught Us About Company Culture

At Buffer, our workplace environment looks a bit different: our “water cooler” is Slack, we utilize transparent emails, we offer free, unlimited Kindle books and host monthly book clubs via Zoom. Customers are starting to care more and more about the company behind the product. And at Buffer, it’s part of our vision to create the most fulfilling place to work. In the past five-and-a-half years, where we’ve gone from 0 to nearly 90 employees, we’ve experimented with many aspects of our company

OpenJun 2, 2016
These Are Buffer’s Top 10 Lessons from Growing to $10 Million ARR

In five-and-a-half years of Buffer (wow!), we’ve been fortunate to cross many milestones — 3 million registered users, 90+ team members, and most recently, $10 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). Along this journey, we’ve been grateful for the support of the community and for the chance to gather new learnings along each step of the way. Some of these lessons we gleaned easily — others we learned the hard way. We’ve discovered the value of masterminds, data, and customer research. We e

OpenFeb 29, 2016
Transparent Pricing 2016: Here’s Where Every Penny of Your Buffer Subscription Goes

Hi there! This is an older post that we’ve kept around for transparency but that means that sometimes the information is no longer accurate. Head to our homepage to view our most recent posts. I truly believe our value of transparency makes Buffer a better company than we might be otherwise. There wasn’t one specific reason why we began to share so openly about nearly everything we do, like: * Salaries of all team members * Revenues of Buffer’s combined paid plans, consisting of the Awesome

OpenFeb 2, 2016
7 Tough Lessons I’ve Learned on Giving and Receiving Feedback at our Startup

It’s one of the biggest pieces that will make or break us as we try to become a great company, and I only recently realized it. We’ve been back and forth a number of times about the topic of feedback, and it’s an area where we still have a lot of work to do to get right. People often say, “You have this value of positivity and no complaining [

Why We Support Teammates with Dependents (and Why it’s No Longer Part of our Salary Formula)

Hi there! This is an out of date post that we’ve kept around for transparency purposes. Go here to view the latest version of this post. One of the things we’ve always been interested in doing at Buffer is looking at compensation differently and transparently. In the latest update of our transparent salaries formula, one key change was that we began to pay teammates more money if they had dependents, or family members who depended on their income. The formula that we originally came up with o

Why We Have Paid, Paid Vacation and Give Teammates an Extra $1,000 to Take Time Off

Hi there! This is an out of date post that we’ve kept around for transparency purposes. Go here to view the latest version of this post. When I first started working on Buffer and learning on sites like TechCrunch about the kinds of amazing perks and benefits some startups provide, I thought unlimited vacation time sounded like such a great idea. Giving everyone the opportunity to unplug w

How We Explain Stock Options to Team Members & How Much Money They Would Make

A while back Danielle Morill asked this question on Twitter: How many startups provide a spreadsheet explaining exactly what would happen to your options given several possible outcomes for the company — Danielle Morrill (@DanielleMorrill) May 13, 2015 Explaining equity is something we try to do as best as we can at Buffer, which Joel shared in his reply. A big learning we’ve had as we’ve added team members is that understanding stock options and putting them into context is not very easy.

Content MarketingOct 29, 2015
Buffer’s Marketing Manifesto in 500 Words

Treat every piece of content—every tweet, every Facebook post, every CTA, every press outreach email—with the utmost care. There needs to be a bit of an internal struggle when we hit send or publish, if we don’t feel it, I don’t think it’ll be good enough. This shouldn’t be confused with perfectionism, we want to push things out with consistency and without lingering. This is about self-discipline to go through that struggle—even if it’s felt ever so slightly—every single time. We don’t want

Self-ImprovementSep 9, 2015
5 Acts of Generosity That Have Changed My Life

I like to think of myself as a “doer”—someone who can make things happen by himself. On occasion, I neglect the role that help from others has played and over-estimate the things I’ve achieved himself. Often, when I catch myself thinking like that, I’m a bit disappointed and I wish I was instead more connected to reality and the people around me. The most recent time I pondered on that topic, I decided to go through my life and re-collect the many incredible offers of generosity I was able to

OpenAug 17, 2015
When We Took Transparency Too Far: The Transparent Feedback Experiment

Sometimes people ask us: “Do you think there are any downsides of being so transparent in the way that Buffer is?” Usually, I can only think of the amazing things that have happened to us through being transparent and open. Recently, however, there was one learning that taught us that transparency isn’t a blanket solution for absolutely everything. For a few months we experimented with completely transparent feedback—even for those things that might be potentially difficult to hear or say, as

OpenAug 5, 2015
What We Got Wrong About Self-Management: Embracing Natural Hierarchy at Work

When Buffer first moved to a self-management model, we moved to a completely flat structure. We just let loose and the message was “everyone go figure out what you want to do and work on, without too much guidance or leadership.” We talked about some of those challenges recently here. In short, to describe what “flattening” an organization means exactly, here is what we did: * Removed all managers that would help decide what someone would work on * Stopped all 1:1’s and mentorship sessions

OpenJul 20, 2015
The ‘No Complaining’ Rule: What it Really Means to Create a Company Culture of Positivity

Recently Joel and I were talking about the new Jawbone UP3. I had just gotten one for free as part of Buffer’s perks program, and I complained that I found the closing buckle a bit fiddly and let off some steam about how I struggled to charge it. At the end I remember saying something like “Oh, but it’s cool that I know my resting heart rate now, though.” It’s kind of ironic how much I focused on the small challenges and gave the fact that I could now track my health much more intelligently on

OpenMay 19, 2015
Why We Prioritize Hiring People Who Use Our Product

When we wrote previously about how we hire at Buffer , one key component was that everyone we hire have usage of and experience with the Buffer product. That’s still the case today. In the past we have asked folks to use the product for at least 2-3 months consistently before we would consider them for a role. This feels a bit limiting, and discounts the fresh perspective a newcomer to a product can bring. Today we are a bit more flexible with this r

Self-ImprovementMay 5, 2015
Rethinking Ambition: Why Less of it May be a Good Thing

A few days ago, I was in bed, getting ready to fall asleep. Often when I’m lying in bed, I listen to a talk by Thich Nhat Hanh on SoundCloud. I find his voice and insights very soothing and it helps me calm my thoughts down and go to sleep gently. That night again, I was listening to one of his talks called “The 4 Qualities of Happiness.” It started off with a great intro and ideas around how to live a happy life by grounding yourself and how to do it. It talked about what true freedom means,

Online MarketingApr 25, 2015
Why Facebook Is Blue: The Science of Colors in Marketing

Why is Facebook blue? According to The New Yorker, the reason is simple. It’s because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. This means that blue is the color Mark can see the best. In his own words Zuck says: “Blue is the richest color for me; I can see all of blue.” Not highly scientific right? Well, although in the case of Facebook, that isn’t the case, there are some amazing examples of how colors actually affect our purchasing decisions. After all, the visual sense is the strongest de

ReportsApr 21, 2015
Buffer in March: $5.9M Annual Revenue, Self-Managed Salaries & More

The change towards self-management at Buffer is our biggest and most fascinating challenge to work through right now. March found us evolving in quite a few areas including self-reviews, self-managed salaries and more—all while growing our user base and team throughout the month. Here is the latest update: The latest Buffer metrics in March * 2,171,877 total registered users (+4.5%) * 207,035 monthly active users (+9.4%) * 50,538 average daily active users (+5.4%) * $488,771.05 monthly r

OpenMar 26, 2015
Helping Your Whole Team Share Your Content on Social Media: Buffer for Teams

Hi there! This is an older post that we’ve kept around for transparency but that means that sometimes the information is no longer accurate. Head to our homepage to view our most recent posts. The short history of how social media developed is still nothing short of incredible. When Facebook started in 2004, strictly for colleges, and Twitter in 2006, mostly for techies in the Bay Area, it was all about individuals connecting with each other. About a decade later, a lot of that has shifted. Wh

OpenMar 4, 2015
A Simple Guide to Measuring the Product-Market Fit of Your Product or Feature

It’s amazing that there is a huge amount of discussion on the importance of hitting product market fit for what you are building. Interestingly, there isn’t as much about how to measure when you actually have product market fit for what you have built. The reason that’s the case, is because partially it’s a question that you shouldn’t have to ask: “If you have to ask whether you have Product/Market Fit, the answer is simple: you don’t.” – Eric Ries And I can see where Eric is coming from wit

StartupsMar 2, 2015
Mastering Organic Efficiency: What Startups Can Learn From Nature

In a forest, there is absolutely no waste. Every single element is reused in a continuous cycle. A tree produces leaves. The leaves fall to the ground and become compost. And the forest uses every last ounce of the compost and puts it back into its ecosystem. We have the exact same idea for Buffer’s organizational design as we move towards a self-managing company. Without any processes, save 4 essential ones, there is little to no occurrence of waste. As an example, we recently completed our f

We Changed Buffer’s Value of Happiness & Positivity by 1 Word: Here is Why

Just minutes ago, I went ahead and published a new version of Buffer’s culture-deck on Slideshare. It contains a tiny change that I and many on the Buffer team deemed a very important one. Here is the slide that changed before: and after: The essential change, as you can see, is the removal of the word “always,” which many of us felt made things slightly dogmatic and too one-sided. We’ve also changed the words “never” to something less one-sided, to be a better reflection of how we work as h

OpenFeb 17, 2015
The Power of Transcending Instead of Attacking

There’s something special about Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It makes me happy every time I read it on social media or elsewhere. What it implies for me, is that if you change yourself, and only yourself, you have the best chance of changing things around you too. This is a very non-violent and conflict-free approach. I believe this also extends to organizations as much as individuals. It’s something we try to apply at Buffer. One of Buffer’s core values, take