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Radical Transperancy with Buffer at Box Jelly Oahu

I went to an interesting event tonight at Box Jelly—a co-working space where ALC Oahu currently resides. It was hosted by Buffer, a social media marketing app (which seems cool). There was sushi and cold beer and cool people.

After finishing up some work in the back room I prepared myself for the dreaded task of networking. I have a bit of social anxiety around big rooms of people who I feel obligated to approach and talk to, unfortunately for me I’m really good at it and it actually ends up being totally fine (and fun). So I let the knot in my chest pass through me and started gabbing with two people who turned out to be the entire engineering team behind HNL.io a Hawaii based event (and more!) web app.

I’ve been looking for ways to plug into the community and the first folks I spoke to literally built an app for that, wow!

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.53.38 AMSoon a member of the hacker/maker/community space HiCapacity joined our little group. I found out that I am living just a 10 minute walk away from them and they have a weekly hardware hacking night every Tuesday! I have had an intention to learn more about computer hardware, so that’s cool.

The lights dimmed and and the main event started (you can watch the whole thing here). Two of the founders of Buffer took the “stage” and Rechung Fujihira (founder of Box Jelly) started asking them questions. To my surprise Buffer is a super amazing company. I think that Agile Learning Centers could learn quite a lot from them!

Apparently the whole team is in Hawaii for a retreat, which sounds like ALF Summer without the 3 other full time functions stacked onto it.

After coming home and poking around I found some amazing blog posts about their radical transparency practices on their site: buffer.com/transparency

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 1.08.48 AMTheir open salaries policy makes public what each employee earns but also how that number is determined. It’s a formula that takes into account job, seniority, experience, location, and equity share. See this public spreadsheet. It appears to be a wonderful approach that ALC should steal when we actually start paying people (oh right, we do… the network is paying me to do web work! That’s for another blog post). They also talk about how equity works.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 1.40.11 AMBuffer’s open email policy is also a very interesting read. It appears that they based the idea (or share it) with Stripe which is where I first heard about the idea. It’s what has inspired me to structure the ALC emails. Currently we sort-of do this but not nearly enough in my opinion. I feel like we at ALC are missing out on some great opportunities to spam be transparent with our cohorts and close some information gaps in our system.

Diversity is something we talk a bit about in ALC, Buffer has a bit to say about their journey with the challenge of being more diverse. I’m really interested in their diversity dashboard where you can really dig into their data (the tool is open source too). Using a tool like this to visualize our networks demographic make up would be amazing. I’d love to see a breakdown of ALFs, students, parents, resource people, etc.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 1.38.48 AMI’m inspired and impressed with Buffer. I thought I’d be sitting through another talk about some web app for the 1%, so cynical!

After that I made a few more connections and ended up riding the bus home with someone who developed a cool app targeted at kids to help determine their household energy use (strangely enough something my dad was dreaming about working on for a while).

Now I’ve got a calendar full of events to go to and some interesting new contacts, I guess this is a lesson to be more open to networking!

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