• 19 Jun 2017

    Joe Payton and the GeniusDen were early supporters of Global Chamber Dallas, after launching in Dallas in December, 2015.  The GeniusDen hosts several events for Global Chamber Dallas, and believes in the mission of helping businesses thrive.  Gardere attorney Kim Carlson, Global Chamber Dallas Advisory Board Member, sat down with Joe Payton, founder of GeniusDen, a Global Chamber collaborator. 

    Kim:                What is GeniusDen?

    Joe:                  GeniusDen is a business incubator.  We’ve created a new category with GeniusDen because a business incubator typically means it’s either a university “technology” incubator that has a bit of campus space and some technology that they want to develop and has some grad students and a professor and advisors and they want to incubate some ideas for their discovery.  Or, it means a rich guy who has some of his ideas in play, maybe some of the IP that he owns, and he pushes that out with the leaders; so he hires a smart woman, or hires a smart guy and they go pursue his ideas and make his dreams come to fruition.  This GeniusDen is new category in that it is more of a slower organic growth process.

                            GeniusDen is an executive suites/coworking space where members pay rent.  In addition to the space, however, they also get my full attention and the focused attention of our advisors and our resources that we bring to support their business growth.  They also get the community resources of other owners and these peers help one another a lot.

    Kim:                What inspires you?

    Joe:                  From birth, I have been around entrepreneurs with my family and I’m a big believer in the power of entrepreneurship to transform civilization, to civilize society.  It’s very easy.  To me, it’s mathematical.  An idea works in the real world or it doesn’t.  If it works, the market wants it.  If it doesn’t work, the market doesn’t want it.  And being a part of helping people grow personally to become better, more effective business leaders and running their company simply at a better profit, being a part of that process is personally gratifying, and I’m structuring it so that it is also financially successful.

    Kim:                What are some of the public facing services you offer?

    Joe:                  GeniusDen puts on social gatherings that get the art community engaged.  We bring in artists and musicians once a month - two artists and a number of musicians - to simply put their art out on the walls.  GeniusDen has a constant rotating show of new artists, so we have a space where we have new art and new ideas being shared on the edge of creativity.  Good business for them :supporting the arts and artists and selling art.  The benefit to our community at GeniusDen is that of curated conversation in a non-pressure, non-lecture environment. Folks come through and they end up, inevitably, meeting each other and connecting.  Before you know it, the investor guy that was there for the art show is hanging out with entrepreneur lady and they’re having this really cool non-structured, non-“networking”, human conversation that turns into a “let’s go meet.”  I’ll see them a week later in a conference room.  That’s one of the public facing things we do.

                            The second public facing thing we do is through our Professional Development Speaker Series. Again, about once a month key leaders, opinion leaders and subject matter experts come out to present on deliverable take-away, tactical-level advice, knowledge and skills.  It is all free.  They come in and put an event together.  They have the slide deck. They have the presentation. They convey the knowledge.  They do the handouts.  We record that, put that on YouTube, transcribe it, and put it out to our free library which people can watch and download later.  It’s a growing library of presentations at  and it’s available to everyone.

    Kim:                What is GeniusDen’s mission?

    Joe:               GeniusDen has a three-part mission:  To be a force multiplier; to bring the future into the present; and to interrupt cycles of poverty.  The cycles of poverty could be obvious or literal.  It could also be the cycle of poverty you find when you’re at the outer edge of your capacity.  You, for example, are a competent lawyer.  You met the requirements of that competency.  But if you started a law firm and now you’ve got to lead other lawyers, you’d be drawing on leadership skills that you might not have developed yet.  So how do we help you develop those skills so that you’re a better leader?  We emphasize the importance of having balance – we like to be grownups.

    Kim:                Does a typical start-up entrepreneur have a set personality that you see over and over again, or is it all across the board?

    Joe:                  The two traits that come to mind are tenacity and hard work; they are just willing to do the work.  Introverts, extroverts, sales-oriented and soft businesses all have great success and they all struggle with things they don’t know.  As they say, it’s not the things that you know and you don’t know that hurt you; it’s the things that you “know” that “aren’t so” that hurt you.  The humble learner is a successful entrepreneur: humble, hungry, curious and interested.  The minute you walk in and don’t have anything to learn, you’re in the wrong room and you need to not be there, or you need to change your attitude and you need to really be there fully, and present.  We want to encourage humble leadership.  That’s one of our values. 

    Kim:                What are some of GeniusDen’s other values?

    Joe:                  I touched on humble leadership, which implies integrity, decisiveness, strength, commitment, loyalty and generosity.  We like to hold onto a vision of prosperity verses abundance, so that means the universe is not going to make you a ham sandwich.  Our success channels through thrift, disciplined, meaningful and passionate work.  You’re going to carry your own bag.  You’re going to do this yourself.  We believe in self-reliance.  You’re responsible for getting what you need out of this experience.  Temper that with active gratitude.  We feel we’re blessed to be here and we’re looking for opportunities to be in service to others and to contribute to virtuous cycles.  We hold to an attitude of excellence.  That excellence comes from a disciplined, structured action around a plan.  Whatever we put together we want to continuously improve it.  We believe in continuous improvement.  We’re willing to change.  We’re committed to learning and we help one another figure out how to do it better.  We want to be engaged and active, but we want to hold a position of being happy.  Is this making us happy?  Is this keeping us happy?  What we’re doing … is it open? Is it positive? Is it inclusive? Is it healthy? Is it fun?  With all this, we want to build deep relationships.  Open, honest based on respect, accessibility, professionalism, trust, accountability, sensitivity, and cooperation.  Those add up to environments that bring the most contribution from all parties involved.

    Kim:                Love it.  Anything else you want to share with Global Chamber?

    Joe:                  We recently finished our expansion of GeniusDen.  In our space next door, we’ve added four large offices that office 10 people, two medium offices that office 8 people, and two smaller offices that office 4 people.  There is also a group work table with seats for 8 people and a great lounge with some really cool leather couches and chairs.  It’s very nicely laid out. So they’re selling out or leasing out, but we have available space.  We’d love to have folks come check it out if they have a team they’re looking to fill space with.  We have found some great success with established companies that are opening a Dallas office.  It’s a great environment for them because they find a community of their peers.   

                               Kim:                Thank you for your time today.  I’m sure members of the Chamber will benefit from your insights.

      Go to for GeniusDen leadership events.”