Cult Of Personality: How Dan Lyons’ “Disrupted” Has Me Pondering Marketing Culture

Published: April 20, 2016

1lyons(Image Courtesy of Paul Vogelzang)

Like possibly many people in the B2B marketplace, I was excited when I received my copy of Dan Lyons’ book Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble. The look-behind-the-curtain of one of the biggest players in marketing technology was really intriguing to me; I also was eager to see what Lyons could possibly have to say that would cause two executives to do some allegedly illegal things to get an early gander at it.

The book does a great job describing — often in hilarious detail — what it’s like working at a tech start-up. While reading, I got into the habit of comparing my experiences to Lyons’, and I came away with a few key thoughts on company culture and how it’s impacting B2B start-ups today.

Check them out below, and let me know if you agree:

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1) Company Culture Can Get Weird

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It’s not that common nowadays to hear marketing managers and demand gen directors describe their job as the “typical nine-to-five.” Whether it’s having every Friday at 4:30pm slotted as “Beer-Thirty” on your Google Calendar, or creating your own corporate jargon and job titles to have employees feel entitled (ex. Company Evangelist or Social Marketing Superstar), there are quirky aspects of each company that attract — and repel — potential employees.

2) Weird Can Work

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But honestly, just because a company has an unorthodox approach to operating a business doesn’t make it wrong. HubSpot is a perfect example. Lyons talks about the candy walls, Nerf gun fights, company jargon and employees “graduating” from the company, but HubSpot raised $125 million when it went public in October 2014. The company has branded itself in a way that’s appealing to prospective buyers (and employees). If it isn’t broke, why fix it?

3) The Times They Are A’ Changin’


Marketing departments no longer look like a scene out of the TV show Mad Men. Lyons spends the first few chapters of the book analyzing the dotcom bubble of the 90s and comparing it to today’s tech bonanza. Ridiculous amounts of money are being invested into organizations that don’t even have something to sell yet — just an idea. Lyons begins his book with the above quote from Grampa Simpson, illustrating how many folks fear today’s rapid pace of change — in their personal and professional lives. However, Lyons continues, it’s more important than ever to adapt to changing work environments, buyer behaviors and employee expectations to find success.

Are you currently working in a startup environment? Tell us what you’ve experienced by tweeting us at @DG_Report on Twitter!

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