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Confess Your Password Sins: CultureLab Episode 7 with Clef

Jun 13, 2016 3 min readPodcasts
Photo of Courtney Seiter
Courtney Seiter

Former Director of People @ Buffer

The CEO and founder of Clef is trying to get rid of passwords forever.

But Brennen Byrne, better know simply as B, still found a few hundred extra hours to build Clef’s company handbook from scratch—even though the company is currently a team of 7.

brennan byrne

“We take building a company really seriously,” he told CultureLab. “Even as a small team, so much of what gets done at Clef isn’t me. It’s important to us to build a great company at the same time as a great product.”

Clef provides secure two-factor authentication without passwords or tokens—an area so crucial that the company got an impressive writeup in The New York Times.

We’re even more inspired by the kind of company culture Clef is creating! Check out their values:

Clef's values

In Episode 7 of CultureLab, I had a great chat with B about creating a nurturing, inclusive work culture from scratch. Plus, Carolyn and I chat about unlimited vacation policies and how they really work. Have a listen:

What you’ll learn from this episode:

  • How “unlimited vacation” can lead to no vacation
  • How we set goals at Buffer with OKRs
  • Vacation expectations around the world
  • Managing your energy, not your time
  • How good security is an accessibility issue
  • The future of passwords
  • How to create “values with teeth”
  • How “culture fit” can lead to bias and how to hire without it
  • How Clef made friends in a new city with lasagna
  • Why use a salary formula?
  • How negotiation can lead to inequality

Stuff we talk about in this episode:

Further reading

The Unexpected Challenge of Unlimited Vacation Time
How to Create a Secure Password You Can Remember Later: 4 Key Methods

Notable Moments

  • 1:00: That time when we didn’t take weekends at Buffer
  • 3:2o: What does unlimited vacation really mean?
  • Joel and Leo in Mexico!
  • 9:21: Carolyn’s last disconnected day
  • 12:30: B’s lowkey battle with Facebook
  • 13:00: If white = cool
  • 14:00: Confess your password sins!
  • 15:51: Passwords have 5 years left
  • 17:50: “When you get big, you can write your own”
  • 19:26:  “Startups run outside of policy”
  • 21:20: More than 300 companies use Clef’s handbook
  • 22:25: Raising the baseline
  • 24:00: “Trust is the currency we think is most important to build”
  • 31:00: “This is a little intense for me”
  • 35:20: Pirates!
  • 39:00 BATNA
  • 44:30 Writing in a way that comes true
  • 47:00 Shoutout to Carolyn’s dad!

Get in touch

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We welcome your feedback anytime on the podcast!

How much vacation time do you take? Do you develop your company culture in any ways that are similar to Clef’s? Let us know what you think about any of the stuff we discussed in this episode!

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