Former NBA Player Creates Denver Coworking Space for Optimal Productivity

As sunlight streams through the windows and splashes of orange-colored decor brighten the offices at The Process – a Denver coworking space – entrepreneurs, side hustlers and working professionals are diligently working to achieve specific goals. 

Today at The Process, a nutritionist is working on a podcast, a businessman is working on a book and a Denver neophyte is here to write, reflect and meet new people. The phone motel near the front desk encourages unplugged effort, should that further one’s goal and hot towels refresh motivation. Inspirational quotes decorate workspaces and chalkboards and a “You Did Good” sign greets all members on the way out.

Located in the Golden Triangle Creative District, on Bannock Street, within walking distance of the Denver Art Museum, The Process is a space where productivity—and plants—seem to thrive.

The process, denver coworking space

The Process, a Denver coworking space. Photo by Paul Shirley.

“Society’s taught people how to break things into bits with traditional work, but we never taught people how to make sense of these huge, open-ended projects,” says Paul Shirley, author, former NBA player, and founder of The Process. “We need to do the same for creative work. If you can do three things in 45 minutes, that’s what adds up,” he explains. “As opposed to telling someone, ‘OK, you have nine months to manifest this huge project.’”

Shirley’s perspective stems from basketball and writing, different pursuits with a key thing in common. A 6-foot-9-inch professional athlete, Shirley played for the Chicago Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns; plus a few lineups abroad in Greece and Russia. 

The lifestyle of a professional athlete, however, belied the public perception of glamor. In his book, “Can I Keep My Jersey?”Shirley writes about the realities of the professional sports world– a hyper-transactional, lonely and rather mercenary place. 

Writing for ESPN and Spain’s El Pais, Shirley had an epiphany. “The habits of basketball paralleled the habits of being a writer. At the gym, day after day, or at your desk at an appointed time—it’s all about showing up.”

And yet, the writing process can be isolating. While living and working in Los Angeles, Shirley started asking friends on writing dates, he says—“just go to a cafe, hunker down to write and then talk.” A friend loaned him his sandwich shop at night, and Shirley started to host social work sessions. “That first night, he says, there were 17 people at the door,” says Shirley. “I thought to myself, ‘There’s something to this.’”

The process, Denver coworking space

The Process is a collaborative workspace to help you achieve your goals. Photo by Paul Shirley.

The Process grew into a viable product, and then the Pandemic hit. Weathering the impacts on all things social, like many of us, Shirley was ready for a change of pace. With connections in Denver and a sense for the city, in April of 2022, he packed up a Sprinter van, crossed a few states, and opened up the co-working space on Bannock Street.  “I knew Denver people would get it from both an entrepreneurial and creative angle,” says Shirley. What started as a Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule has expanded to time slots seven days a week, and special events that attract both members and the general public on a steadily growing basis. 

Different from other Denver coworking spaces, The Process builds in time at the end of each session for processing the day’s efforts. When the soft music gives way to decidedly louder beats, it’s time to stop working and start community. Participants regroup for chocolate, maybe apples and caramel, and work through a list of questions that help digest the merits of the day’s efforts.“No matter your pursuit,” says Shirley, “if you follow the steps and put in the time, you’re doing it.” 

While many creatives fantasize about quitting their day job for the time and space to create, freedom of schedule plus freedom of action is a recipe for disaster, says Shirley. “To create something out of nothing and have all the time in the world to do it? You’re screwed.” Both traditional work and creative work need containers, he explains. “We need some constraints to build a community of practice,” says Shirley. 

At its core, The Process espouses small but steady chunks of productivity—from timed work sessions and group debriefs to special events like 3600 Comedy Night, named for the number of seconds in its finely calibrated hour of laughs. When a recent set coincided with a neighborhood blackout, the show went on. The candlelit stage and suddenly unplugged lineup built a unique experience, together. When the lights came back on and the last joke was told, comedians and crowd alike crossed the street to the Garage Bar, as the conversation continued. 

The process, Denver coworking space

Goal setting at The Process. Photo by Paul Shirley.

“We try to make The Process itself as enjoyable as possible,” he says, hence the chocolate, special events, and benchmark prizes for a certain number of visits. “It should be more fun than staying at home.” By overloading the pleasurable aspects, the hope is that people will fall in love with the doing

Structure. Accountability. Community. That’s the motto. “They come for the first two and seem to stick around for the third,” says Shirley, with a smile. “It’s this knitting together of people.” 

For Ryan Floyd, a podcast engineer and Process staff member, the interactive atmosphere is a big draw. “With social anxiety, being in a position where I have to talk to people every day is good for me,” he shares. “I used to have imposter syndrome when I thought I was going to be a life coach in this position. But turns out, I’m a cheerleader! 

“That’s more my skill set,” he says, with a laugh. “We give a lot of High 5s around here.”

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