Saturday, March 16, 2013

Taking the Leap

What are social networks good for again?

Rumors abound, and LinkedIn stalking is at an all time high, so I figured I'd write a complementary post to the last one. 

Five years in Atlanta was enough to build my career and complete 13 years in the creative business. Now I can safely say I have some relative freedom to define my career as I choose. 

Southby - Geeks being herded into the keynote presentation.
Moving to Texas and witnessing the Austin startup ecosystem has made me acutely aware of the power of thought leaders and what attracts (and repels) the intellectual class. I'm not speaking of the monetarily wealthy, the privileged or the famous, but the minds among us who are defining the future, and the environment needed for those minds to thrive. 

These conditions have done their part in encouraging me to lawyer up, incorporate and start my own consultation practice, pursuing my creative passions independently. I'm doing things my way, both out of choice and out of necessity, given the changing marketplace for creative services. In the back of my mind are the words of an industry associate, entrepreneur and branding genius Barry Deck: "Agencies are dead. Nobody wants another agency."

I must say, the design consultation model has changed considerably since I've started in this business. With Adobe switching to a subscription service, entry costs are lower than ever for creatives to at least learn the tools of the trade. With a degree of entrepreneurial panache, a good eye and a strong knowledge of the digital medium, the sky's the limit. Given that I work virtually and share coworking space with other entrepreneurs, I can't imagine working at a traditional office anymore. I work remotely from each of the four Texas metro locations depending on my client needs.

It truly is the new Wild West out here. Houston with energy and health care, Austin with it's focus in technology. Dallas is the biggest city in Texas with something for everyone; San Antonio is arguably the most beautiful of the four with an equally diversified economy. The unforgettable San Antonio River Walk harkens back to my days with Volvo and Dan Criscenti, my good friend and former boss.

158 people a day are making their exodus to the city of Austin alone, many from Silicon Valley. The result of the brain exchange couldn't be more obvious than Austin's recent approval for Google's new fiber optic Internet service. A host of mind-blowing Texas startups both within and outside of Austin are making huge changes in how we live and work in the 21st century. I even managed to find the perfect client here in Houston, closer to my family, and haven't looked back since. I'm working on the things I've always wanted, in a way I could never have imagined. 

All four burgeoning Texas metros are within three to six hours of each other and I consider all of them "my city;" a self-contained economy seeking remarkably little from it's neighbors, while contributing in excess to the world's economy and cultural landscape. 

That's about all there is, really, behind my going independent. On a personal level, family had been my initial reason for returning to Texas. But friends quickly followed. I realized the distinct feeling that I was caught up in something bigger, something with its own magnetism, almost immediately after arriving. Between my new found friends and family, I find it quite a blessing to call Texas my home.