I'LL GIVE AUSTIN TWO, MAYBE THREE YEARS...
THAT’S WHAT I TOLD MYSELF WHEN I FIRST MOVED HERE… BACK IN SEPTEMBER OF ‘95.
If, on what turned out to be my last day living in Chicago, someone told me my career would revolve largely around the convenience of a coffee shop, access to the Internet (an obvious fad) and an endless supply of tacos, I would have laughed, ignored the comment, and went back to scraping the ice off my car windows. But, it’s been 22 years of living in the “Live Music Capital of the World” and I’m so glad I decided to stick around.
I think many of the folks whom migrated here in that timespan, as well as before, would say the same thing. Heck, I’ve known a few that got here, said they were here to stay and left some years later… Only to return.
What makes Austin so special that people were moving here in droves? What does Austin have that other towns around the country, or around Texas, don’t? When people have asked me over the years, I tend to answer with a few generalities around demographics such as high tech company growth, university population, state government, tacos (of course) and a strong mix of different cultures, races and whatnot.
But what I’ve come to love about Austin, over the past two decades has got to be the traffic. Truly. Everywhere you go, there are cars of all shapes and sizes, and endless lines of ‘em, and traffic jams. It is just simply awesome. You with me? To tell the truth, perhaps the only thing worse than the traffic here is the endless complaints about how bad the traffic is here. Shark. Jumped.
Most folks, before they visit Austin for the first time, seem to be expecting a town of rolling tumbleweeds and hitching posts out in front of every establishment where you can tie up your horse.
What they’re not expecting, by and large, is a very, very green space, with rolling hills, new towering, glass and steel skyscrapers (with more to come) and an overall city and surrounding area that is very outdoor-oriented.
And I think that’s what I’ve come to love so much about Austin. You never know what to expect, whether that be in technology, with the ups and downs of the Internet “bubble,” to the growth of this or that “hot startup” that are now established companies in their own right. The strong mix of demographics has helped mold Austin into an ultra-creative community of people, white and blue collar workers, educators and public service employees that mesh quite well together. Status quo is anything but here in Austin and that’s why, whether you’re a musician, graphic artist, community leader or technology marketer, the encouragement is always there to Keep Austin Weird, the city’s unofficial motto. It’s among this community that I feel the true development of my own creativity and its impact on my career has really taken shape.
I’ve had the opportunity to work for some really great companies and work with some truly talented individuals on projects abundant in original thinking since the day I arrived in Austin. The influence this town has had on those career decisions, for me, has been immeasurable. I’ve been able to participate in anything-goes brainstorm sessions, exotic locale photo/film shoots (from the Rio Grande Valley, here in Texas to Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, and on to Bristol Speedway in Tennessee… so maybe not all that exotic), hosting and speaking at numerous events across the U.S. and in the U.K. To each of these, I’ve been both influenced by Austin and its “tell it like it is” style and been inspired to bring that genuine spirit to bear for all of this. Without Austin “in my blood,” I’m certain there wouldn’t have been an inspiration for great marketing for large companies like Dell and AMD, nor small ones like Makos Advertising, Spiceworks, and now, A10 Strategies.
Today, all this influence continues to find an Austin ‘groove’ with assignments, big and small, for companies here in Texas, out in California, or anywhere folks are looking to make an impact, make a difference and tell their own, unique story.
So now, in 2017, and thanks to a pretty solid record of success here in Austin, I sit at a coffee shop, working wirelessly via that Internet thing and anxiously awaiting lunch at my favorite taco trailer. Send me a note and I’ll tell you about A10, over coffee, or tacos, or both.