Joe Robert Thornton Professional Profile
I came from very humble beginnings. However, I believed at an early age that I could and would be successful, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I learned a lot about empathy at a very early age, due to my own life challenges, so I did believe that helping others was the right thing to do. Through this journey, I have learned not to look down on others unless you are helping them up. I also learned early in life to follow my passion. As I progressed through high school, into college, and in my working career, my passion became evident.
What I was passionate about then and throughout my career is- building better leaders, to build better businesses, to make the world that we live in better. I have seen too many situations where a lack of leadership led to a lack of success when all the other elements needed to be successful were in place. I am certain that the only path to success comes through true leadership, and that is a skill that I have worked on my entire career.
For me, the best way to share the gift of leadership is to start my own business, Vizzionnary Brands. Being a founder of a company is exciting, and I am not sure where the road will lead, but I am confident that this is my responsibility to change lives by sharing my stories, my vision, my experiences, while getting to learn from others along the way.
A little about my professional journey. I started out working in a fast food restaurant, Wendy’s, when I was 16 years old… and I loved it! I saw others complain about the pay, the customers, the working environment- I didn't see the negatives.
I then worked at a clothing store, Miller’s, for the next six years, through high school and college, and became a Store Manager on my 21st birthday. I loved that job too... until it went out of business. Miller’s did, however, create the opportunity for me to relocate as a Store Manager from a small town to the big city of Houston. That was key as it would lead to my next career.
Before my next career, though, I cashed out my 401K and took off six months… I was 23 years old! I thought at the time, this is great and I will do this again in my career. Well, that didn’t quite work out as often as I thought it would, but the time off allowed me to be thoughtful about what I would do next in my career. I thought about what industry I was passionate about, and that answer was easy… movies! Well, I was also passionate about basketball, but at 5'8, my dreams of the NBA were not a strong possibility. As it turned out, movies would do just fine.
So, what job would allow you to work with movies? Well, Blockbuster Video, of course! I started as a Store Manager during the high growth years. I quickly moved into a District Manager role at 25 years old, an HR Manager role at 26 years old- which was the most impactful role that I have had, and then my first Regional Director job at 30 years old.
Next, I made the huge leap to go work in a corporate office for the first time- Blockbuster Headquarters in downtown Dallas- everything was different moving into a corporate job. I took on a store re-engineering project working with external consultants. I then took over franchise operations as a Senior Director for the next two years- another role of significant learning, second only to the human resources role. After 14 years, it was time to go. I was offered a role by a good friend that changed my life.
I left Blockbuster Video for Starbucks Coffee Company. Starbucks felt like home immediately. Coffee became my new passion. I spent the next 11 years there as Regional Director, Regional Vice-President, and then Senior Vice-President.
A couple of years ago, I found myself faced with an offer to leave that I looked for a reason to say no to, but I couldn't find one. I trusted my instinct and took on the COO role at Jamba Juice. While it only lasted 19 months until the sale of the company, I learned a lot about business transformation, making organizational-level decisions and working in a more nimble and agile environment.
So, here I am. The opportunity and timing to launch Vizzionnary Brands now became very clear. I am ready to apply my many years of experience in different ways to help leaders and businesses.