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Business Consulting

Creating Company Values in Week One

Establishing company values through a collaborative and structured process can lead to a stronger foundation. This is what I learned on creating them on day 3.

By Susan Rov

3 min read

Ever had a fresh-out-the-oven job that threw you into the fiery pits of Mordor within your first week? Well, say hello to my startup life at BRIL.LA. Three days in, and Kristen and I had to refine the company's values. No biggie, just the two newbies working on the fundamental principles that set the tone for the entire company.

Oh, and just to make it extra fun... Do you know the benchmark set by the OG BRIL.LA team? Netflix, the Usain Bolt of the corporate culture.

It will be fun, they said

Why this sudden DIY ethic? Apparently, they didn’t want to sell a kidney to hire a swanky HR consultant. I don’t blame them. The start-up budgets are tighter than my lycra leggings. But between you and me, I think they just wanted to keep us busy until they got the real to-do list ready.

To be fair to them, though, it wasn’t like we had to dive headfirst into the task without a warm-up. We had a head start. They gave us a draft of their values, a boring slide presentation, and enthusiastic rambling about the team. If I'd known there'd be a test, I would've paid more attention instead of daydreaming about lunch.

Netflix and no chill

With Netflix as our North Star and an underlying fear of screwing things up, we got to work. We studied their values, stole their formula like artists, and sprinkled it with our unique brand of magic.

Then, each of us examined BRIL.LA’s values individually. We fed in our own interpretations, beliefs, and observations. Afterward, Kristen and I compared notes, argued over semantics, and finally crafted something that looked like company values. Want to see what we came up with? Check out the final version here.

The unexpected perks

Depth of understanding:

Nothing like contemplating corporate values over breakfast, am I right? But I have to admit, it gave me a better understanding of what we were trying to build from day one. Well, day three, to be precise.


Our direct involvement made sure these values were more than just corporate speak. They were words we could rally behind, even before coffee.

Increased investment:

I felt more tied to the company than if I'd spent the week filling out HR forms.

Promoting company culture:

These values were like my personal guide to navigating the new adventure. If, at any point, I disagreed with them, I’m the one who made them up. So who’s to blame?


  • Have a complex task you want your new teammates or VA to understand? Explain the concept to them first, then get them to translate it back to you and make it better. If they don't get it, you know very early on.
Susan Rov

About Susan Rov

Susan traded cocktails and lattes for words that move. As a copywriter on a mission to end boring, she brightens brands and makes an impact. Number 463 on the list of fiction readers left standing, you'll find Susan at sunrise—running, writing, and wondering how to change the world next. That drive led her to become a founding team member of BRIL.LA.