GoodWork’s Amy King on Bringing Sustainability and Wellness to Coworking

Q+A: GoodWork’s Amy King on Bringing Sustainability and Wellness to Coworking
When Amy King first moved to Dallas, she saw a need for a welcoming, diverse space in the startup community. So she decided to create her own.

BY ALEX EDWARDS • FEB 14, 2019
Amy King defines coworking as both a shared workplace, and as a way for the solopreneur or remote worker to combat isolation. It’s about connections as much as it is about extra-caffeinated hospitality.

And that’s what she’s doing with her coworking business, GoodWork.

The Dallas-based flexible coworking space is specifically focused on supporting productivity, with amenities tailored to its ever-changing community of members. For a monthly membership fee, members have the opportunity to connect with mentors and resources and work at diverse desks, in green spaces, and in meeting rooms.

“GoodWork is the first coworking space in the nation focused on inclusive sustainability and wellness for entrepreneurs and innovators, powered by solar,” King, the co-founder, says. “We will also be the first coworking space in the world to be dually LEED and WELL certified.”

[Photo: Courtesy Amy King]

From bottomless gourmet organic coffee to free fiber WiFi, to ergonomic non-toxic furniture, GoodWork is setting out to create that work-life balance that allows for health before hustle. As coworking spread across the North Texas region, Dallas Innovates talked with Amy King to talk about launching a business in a fast-growing industry, what’s on the horizon for GoodWork, and being a female leader.

What problem are you solving with your product or business?
GoodWork is out to prove that a business can be profitable and replicable and at the same time, do right for people and the planet. We are offering affordable and inclusive workspace that has eliminated barriers to productivity and wellbeing that people didn’t know existed. Examples include the elimination of indoor pollutants that cause that 3pm headache, ample daylight, access to and views of green space, opportunities for movement and flexible fitness, and education on how to build and grow a responsible business. We believe that by building these principles and practices into our growing member businesses, we will collectively have more of a positive impact on the world for future generations. This is an imperfect pursuit, especially as a bootstrap business, but I’ve found that due to our singular commitment, we have attracted the right partners and members to help us move the needle in the right direction.

Is there a real world example you can give?
In terms of offering an inclusive, welcoming community for people of diverse perspectives and demographics, I simply sought out to offer what I thought was a need in the Dallas startup community. My experience when I first moved to Dallas was that I had a hard time connecting or relating to people in coworking spaces, as they were mostly comprised of 20-something tech-focused men. I’d also quit alcohol and most events were centered around drinking wine. So, when I launched GoodWork, it was important to me to cultivate relationships with women and people of color, and included them in our marketing imagery, so they could picture themselves in our space. I also have made a point to always offer at least one non-alcoholic option at our member events.

What are your real responsibilities day to day?
As a new co-founder, I like to call myself Chief Eternal Optimist, as well as Chief Cook & Bottle Washer, as I wear pretty much every hat as needed for the day-to-day operations, in tandem with my Community Director Chelsea Rosson.

I’m wearing a blended hat of CEO, COO, and CFO like most bootstrap Founders. At GoodWork, we practice radical hospitality, so the productivity and well-being of my members and team is always front and center. Sometimes I can be found pouring coffee or greeting members and guests, working happily in our green courtyard, or facilitating an Unstick problem solving session for members.

Having ADD and enjoying time with our members makes it super important that I spend at least one day a week offsite for focused strategic work. For year two, I’d like to start a podcast on the future of work and responsible business, along with offering more leadership development programming for our members.

How has your previous life experience or employment played a role in your success?
Every single job that I’ve had prepared me for owning a coworking business, due to the diversity of skill sets and perspectives needed. From the high school retail job at a women’s boutique and understanding the importance of customer service and presentation, to honing my skills as a human swiss army knife as a music video Production Manager, or working with challenging high-profile clients or celebrities, it’s all been helpful. Also, working for over five years with residents in New Orleans on rebuilding their communities sustainably, I learned how to truly listen and be of service and collaborate, instead of thinking that I knew all the answers as an outsider.

My epiphany about wanting to launch a coworking space came when I realized that I could meld together my green building, design thinking, and leadership/organizational development experience to help people grow and launch impactful businesses in a healthy workspace.

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What do you like about working in tech in Dallas?
Having already worked in what are considered America’s top cities (New York, LA, D.C.), I love that I moved to Dallas in a time of rapid growth and evolution. My gut tells me that I have the opportunity to affect change here in our startup and business community and we can support entrepreneurs to make more of a positive impact in their work. I like that entrepreneurs have a longer runway here and that our city is positioned to be a national leader in social enterprise and impactful business. I’d love to see Dallas-Fort Worth improve in its pursuit of collaboration, inclusion and social equity for the startup community—a rising tide lifts all boats.

Your first breakthrough moment?
My first breakthrough moment was the time I realized that I was a leader in storytelling and that story is the way that so many of us truly learn and grow.

In my advertising, branding, and marketing career, I’ve helped various clients from FDNY to female CEOs connect with their stakeholders through storytelling. Specifically, I’ve helped them see the strengths they didn’t know they had, and coached them on communicating their greatness to the world around them for a more impassioned and connective community.

Your latest breakthrough moment?
A brand-new member came up to me and said that being a part of this community is filling a void in her life that she didn’t know existed. Simply by surrounding ourselves with authentic, purposeful people, I’ve helped create a sense of belonging for close to 200 entrepreneurs so far and it feels amazing.

What have you tried and failed at?
Oh, do I have to pick one?

Putting myself out on a limb to affect change within a national non-profit while pressing my face against the glass ceiling. I had a big vision for a system-wide change for leadership development in the organization, but did not have an ally or mentor at the executive level. It was my fault that I did not find the courage to grab a seat at the table and proactively seek an executive mentor who would be my champion. I was humble and assumed that people would inherently support and understand my vision, without me being proactive or assertive. I didn’t succeed in striking the delicate balance between confident and assertive and being perceived as bitchy—it’s a fine line as a woman leader.

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What’s on the horizon for you and your company?
We are challenging the word sustainable with responsible. We are looking at what we believe every company should be required to give back dependent on how much they are consuming & we are starting by combing our own business with a fine-tooth comb. We want to walk our talk, and while we always have been moving forward successfully in this, we are now looking to be extra transparent to those around us with our findings to further empower them to do the same. It’s so hard to create processes for this, as many people don’t think about this until they’re knee deep in cash, but we want to be leaders in how to do this from the start.

Who’s inspiring you right now, and why?
All of the millennial American women who’ve stepped up and run for office in this last mid-term election! In both business and politics, I think it’s easy to think that someone else will step up to tackle a social problem or other challenge, or represent our perspective, but the reality of the situation is, if not us, who? If not now, when?

Tell us about a recent breakthrough or some cool tech that’s underway that you’re excited about.
I’m really excited about the Texas Central high-speed rail project currently in the works for the State of Texas. The Dallas station will be in my business’ neighborhood—The Cedars—and I love how surprising it will be to have America’s first bullet train in Texas, a state that heavily relies upon oil and gas for its economic security. And my hope is that it will also create more opportunities for collaboration between the startup communities of Dallas and Houston.

What advice do you have for someone who is trying to break through in tech right now?
Just because your business is tech doesn’t mean you’re not generating waste. How can you be critical and creative with your responsibility? I challenge everyone in the world of business, not just in the tech industry, to evaluate and look very deeply into how their work as a team and company is impacting the world around them. Business has the ultimate opportunity and responsibility to create a more sustainable world for future generations.