“To me, Texas is Austin, a bunch of cool people trying to make a difference”.
My Walk into the Future journey allowed me to venture to Austin, Texas in June to attend the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) annual conference.
I was nominated for an Excellence in Leadership award by my institution and my trip to Austin was needed to get recognized and receive the award. An expense paid trip to Austin was a welcomed addition to the Walk into the Future adventures.
I visited Austin multiple times when I lived in Texas during my time in the Air Force. My first assignment was at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth. I returned to Texas a few years later for an assignment at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. I always loved to explore and made multiple visits to Austin for football games, track meets and to just take in the music scene while stationed in Texas. Never imagined I would be back in the city for a leadership conference decades later but that’s the catalyst for this latest adventure.
I did not know much about NISOD but quickly discovered this is a huge organization within the 2-year college space. My institution has been a member for years and supports the overall mission of NISOD.
The annual conference is held at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin. This location put conference attendees in the middle of a great environment for culture, food, music, and sightseeing. Yes, I made a point to exploit each of these opportunities.
The hotel was within walking distance to the state capitol, The University of Texas, Congress Avenue Bridge, restaurants, and music. Austin is designed to be a walkable city and has an impressive bike/scooter street setup. A lot of the residents and visitors in downtown Austin jump on electric scooters to get around town. I did not jump on a scooter but leveraged walking to different Austin venues.
Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ was a frequent stop for me on this trip. I received recommendations prior to arriving for this BBQ joint and it was only steps away from the hotel. I made this my first stop in Austin and the food was as good as advertised. The setup is designed for customers to select their meat order which is sliced when ordered. You follow-up with premade side dishes (potato salad, green beans, etc.) and deserts as needed. Meat portions are huge and surprises most people when ordering. I tried multiple selections over my time in Austin but highly recommend the smoke sausage—very good.
Made a few trips over to the 6th Street music venues to listen to live music and experience the Austin music scene. Got a chance to hear a few local bands that were good. This Austin music scene is different than Nashville—there are multiple places to listen to music but it’s not as vast as what Nashville has to offer. The venues were a lot smaller too, so the atmosphere was more laid back as well.
The Texas State capitol was about a mile from the hotel and was easy to reach even with the high Texas temperatures. Decided to venture down to get a few pictures on the capitol grounds and experience the monuments. Explored the grounds and marveled at the architecture of the capitol building. Got a chance to view the monument dedicated to black Texas history and some of the important black pioneers.