Setting the Table to Spark Joy

Today’s post is written by David Lightburn, President & Co-founder Atlanta Tech Village.

At Atlanta Tech Village, culture and community drives everything we do. You don’t have to walk around very long to notice that our core values (Be Nice. Dream Big. Pay it Forward. Work Hard, Play Hard.) are everywhere – from the lanyards, to the walls, to even the wifi password (shhh…don’t tell anyone). We’re kinda fanatical about it.

While these core values do a great job of helping us attract the right type of founders and repel those who aren’t good fits, you might not know that the Tech Village team has a unique set of core values all our own. For the past few years we’ve had three:

  • Assume the best
  • Willingness to sweep the floors
  • Treat each other like family

These are the values that guide our decisions and actions as we serve over 300+ startups and 1,100+ members. 

On our team offsite in May 2019, we had a discussion about adding a 4th team value. We felt like something was missing that centered on hospitality and would give a name to our servant’s heart mentality. After lots of impassioned discussion, the team decided on our newest value:

Set the table to spark joy.

H/T to Danny Meyer and Marie Kondo for the inspiration.

Setting the table means being a great host. When you invite people over to your house you want them to have a great time. You want them to feel like they belong. You want them to feel known and cared for. It means being intentional with your actions and words and paying attention to the details that might be missed by most, but that you pursue anyway.

Sparking joy takes setting the table to the next level. We set the table to serve others, but sparking joy personalizes the experience for each member or guest to evoke an emotional response. There should be a level of customization and uniqueness to things we do that creates an undercurrent of positive energy.

By combining these two bits of pop culture, we infuse a sense of playfulness that’s part of the Village brand. Set the table…to spark joy. It’s a little cheeky…kinda like Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. See what we did there???

Here’s what “set the table to spark joy’ means to us:

  • We pay attention to the little things even when others may not see it or care. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.
  • We’re intentional in crafting a thoughtful experience for all members and guests.
  • We inject fun into everything we do.
  • We’re playful in our language and actions.
  • We strive to create an environment that’s positive, bright, and energetic.
  • Each member and guest experience should feel personalized and authentic. No cookie cutter emails, generic events, or stock photos.
  • We create indelible moments for members, guests, and event hosts.
  • We’re welcoming – a home away from home – a place where you feel at ease and can be yourself.
  • We greet visitors, guests, and members to show our appreciation – “We are so glad you’re here!”
  • We’re creative in solving problems and celebrating milestones.
  • We’re warm and inviting whether it’s your first day or your 5th Villageversary.
  • We aim for a high level of quality in all that we do.
  • We’re quick with an encouraging word, high five, or GIF.

We’re excited to finally give this core value a name. We believe the 4 Village community values (Be Nice, Dream Big, Pay it Forward, Work Hard Play Hard) are table stakes, but that every startup should have a set of core values unique to them. These are our 4. What are yours?