If logic prevailed, I would not have lived in San Antonio for the last 25 years. But there’s more to life than logic.
In 1987, we moved here from Dallas, with a one-year stint in Austin, by choice. I had this crazy idea that it really did not matter where I lived, as long as I did great work and had access to what would become a digital highway where I could create a new way to work and live.
Doing public relations work for technology and disruptive companies, I had an insight into the future, and figured that as long as I had a fax machine, access to an airport and FedEx, I could communicate with my clients, the national technology and business media, and I would be set. With email, blazing dial-up speeds of 56K, and access to this thing called the Internet, I could remain in place, travel as needed, and be based here as our children grew up.
After moving here, I landed new business with some of San Antonio’s local technology innovators like Datapoint, DocuCon, IntellogicTrace and DataRace. I was all set until the next wave of disruption came along and these companies went away.
It was then that I decided to shift the focus of my business to working with Israel’s technology economy. I had no clue what I was doing, but my instinct said that something special was going on there, and I wound up being part of some great companies that helped commercialize many of the technologies we take for granted today such as WiFi, firewalls, Internet television, and the tablet PC. I kept thinking forward because the clients I worked with were inventing the future.
When I was prospecting for business or when I was at trade shows with my foreign clients, they sort of assumed that I lived in Austin, because back then, we shared the 512 area code. Austin was considered cool, so it was OK that I was based “there.”
As time went on, and the 210 area code came into being, my next wave of overseas clients thought I was in New Jersey, confusing our area code with the 201 designator. It actually worked to my advantage because many perceived I could not do what I knew I could do – and do it in San Antonio. They all thought I was on the East Coast in close proximity to New York.
Here. There. And Everywhere.
I’ve probably made about 40 trips to Israel and have made the City of Tel Aviv my second home. I traveled there six times in 2011 through February of this year, and made tel Aviv my home for three months of that time.
I love San Antonio. But I also love Austin, San Francisco, LA, Portland, New York, London, and of course, Tel Aviv. I can’t afford to live in all these places, but what I can do, is have a nice home here in San Antonio, hang out with great friends, work, and travel and experience these other places in the context of working and collaborating with others.
When people talk about the fact that you can buy a home for much less here than elsewhere, I don’t buy that argument. Yes, a house costs less to buy or rent here, but then you are going to have to spend money to get to other places, so it sort of evens out. People live, and are willing to pay a premium to live in cool places, depending on what stage of life they may be. I am of the belief that living here, and investing – not spending – the difference in travel and experiencing life in different settings beats the heck out of living in one place.
I can be based here, and with a broadband connection and my Amazon Prime account, life can indeed be good. And I can head to the airport – one of the very few in the U.S., where you can leave your house at 9 a.m. and be out of your car, through security and settled into your airplane seat less than an hour later.
Have I lost or missed business because I chose to stay in San Antonio? I don’t know the answer to that, and frankly, it’s a question I don’t ask myself very often. I think more, looking back, about the good choice I made: San Antonio proved to be the right place to be for me and for my now-grown children.
It’s 2010, Time To Re-Tool Alan.
For a number of years I maintained an office and staff on Broadway, next to the Witte Museum. Three years ago I decide to blow things up and start over. I lived out my lease, and starting in September 2010, began working out of an office in the back of my house. Once again I found myself operating as a sole practitioner. I had a pool of writers, strategists, and media outreach support with whom I could contract. They allowed me to scale up when necessary. I also was doing tons of travel, so having a physical office, a place to hang my shingle, really stopped mattering to me.
The one thing I did miss was working with other people, be it staff or other collaborators. Something was missing. I had heard rumblings of various co-working or collaborative workspaces coming online, including a couple of floors at the downtown Weston Centre. Now I work there, with an office within Geekdom on the building’s 11th floor. Geekdom is only six months old, but already it’s attracted so many members and followers it’s spilling down to the 10th floor and still growing. Working there has connected me, yet left me free to operate on my own terms. I’m surrounded by creative, driven people, some my age, some half my age, so the synergy is terrific. Whenever necessary, people retreat into their own worlds and work alone.
On the other side of the planet in Tel Aviv, I set up a similar situation at TechLoft. It’s the same type of people – geeks, developers, and consultants who are creating and inventing what could be next. I can be in San Antonio or I can be in Tel Aviv. I’m inspired and surrounded by incredible smart people who are passionate about what they are doing in their lives to make the world ever so slightly better.
The Next 25 Years
I recently turned 59 and am now trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. My sense is that I will remain here, given what’s going on in terms of the renewed focus on downtown and the lower Broadway corridor.
I’m looking at the possibility of selling my home in a few years. If I find the right type of place, I’ll do the urban experience. I need a good live/work space, but also a place to play, literally. Play music. It has to be okay to make noise. I like to turn up my music really loud, to play my drums, and to jam with friends. If there is a developer out there reading this article, please make your developments soundproof, and please pay attention to my age group. It’s not just young hipsters that want to do this.
Going forward, I want to experience work and life in a magical place, the place San Antonio can become. I believe the city is on its way to becoming that place. The idea of “retirement” is sort of lame, and I can see myself, 80 years old, walking to my office at Geekdom, being more of a mentor to a younger generation of disruptors, and going to classes where I can learn all about coding, design, collaboration, and listening to great speakers who are sharing their knowledge and wisdom.
I may be hobbling up and down the River Walk, and sneaking in a few more ribs than I should at The County Line, but if I keep physically active, and continue to hang out with really smart people who keep my brain engaged, the next 25 years could, and should totally rock.
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Reach him on Twitter at @alanweinkrantz.