Six Strings, Semiconductors and Sustainable Business Practices

We’re less than one week away from the kick-off of the AASCIF Annual Conference in Austin. By now, you probably know Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World. We’re home to more than 250 music venues, the world-famous “Austin City Limits” television show and the music festival of the same name.

But Austin is not exclusively defined by its live music scene. Here are a few other interesting tidbits about our city you should know before your arrival.  

  • Austin is the home of Samsung Semiconductor’s largest plant outside of South Korea, the second city in the U.S. to get Google Fiber, and host of the famed SXSW music, film and interactive festivals, to name a few.
  • Austin is the birthplace of Whole Foods Market, a chain that started selling granola on Austin’s Lamar Boulevard in the 1980s and that is now a global brand.
  • Each dusk between April and October, the world’s largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats emerges from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge to feast on insects that fly above the city. For viewing times and parking information, call the hotline at 512.416.5700, category 3636, or find information online. For more information, call Bat Conservation International at 512.327.9721.
  • There was a time when Austin was known primarily as the capital of Texas and home of The University of Texas at Austin. Those sectors remain a healthy and vital part of the Austin landscape – but over the last two decades, the community has developed a healthy balance of employment across a diverse range of industries. Chamber of commerce efforts are focused on strengthening the technology sector and recruiting such new industries as automotive suppliers, medical products, pharmaceuticals and wireless. 
  • The Texas state capitol building, in Austin, is the largest capitol building in the U.S. The state capitol opened May 16, 1888. The dome of the building stands seven feet higher than that of the nation’s capitol in Washington, DC. The Texas capitol building is made from Texas pink granite.
  • The Hook’em horns hand signal is, in fact, the official signal of The University of Texas Longhorns. The symbol is recognized worldwide, and you have most likely seen a few familiar faces flashing the famous sign, including The Bush Family and Matthew McConaughey, to name a couple. More importantly, it is a symbol of pride used by Longhorn fans nationwide. The well-known sign was created by head cheerleader Harley Clark Jr. in 1955.
  • Plastic bags can take hundreds of years to decompose. This year, Austin implemented a plastic bag ban. If you plan to shop, bring your own reusable bag.  

For more information about our fare city, revist our February post, “8 Things You Should Know About Austin.”


Austin: The Live Music Capitol of the World

A Chicago-based band came up with a unique way to raise money to get back home. Festival-goers could cut loose on their drummer's gear for a small donation toward the cause.In the late 1960s, a skinny teenager was working at a Dallas-area burger joint when he fell into a large grease receptacle. Just as he got out, another employee came to empty a fresh bucket of grease. Had the teen fallen into the receptacle a few minutes later, he might have been seriously burned.

“I decided then and there that I didn’t want to do this anymore. I wanted to play guitar, and that’s all I wanted to do,” he remembered.

So he packed his few belongings and followed his brother to Austin. You might know that skinny teen as Stevie Ray Vaughan, who earned a place among blues music’s greatest names before perishing in a helicopter accident in 1990.

When my family moved to Austin, Stevie was still a struggling musician crashing on pool tables and friends’ couches. My dad remembers going to see him at the legendary Rome Inn for a dollar. By the time Stevie passed, he had sold millions of records and taken the blues far beyond where he found it.

Stevie is one of many musical icons who have travelled the world but called Austin home. You can’t talk about the Austin music scene without mentioning country crooners like Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, songwriters like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Townes Van Zandt, and rockers like Spoon and Ghostland Observatory.

Austin is the Live Music Capitol of the World, so it makes sense that music will be a key ingredient during this year’s conference.

Ray Benson and Asleep the Wheel will entertain you during our Lone Star State of Mind Party. For the closing gala, we’ll take in a show at the Moody Theater, home of the world famous Austin City Limits television show. Our musical guest for the evening will be the legendary Beach Boys. We’re also brining in local musicians to play during breakfast, lunch and breaks throughout the conference.

And if don’t get your fill of music during our scheduled events, pick a copy of the Austin Chronicle to find out who’s playing. Or, ask your Texas Mutual hosts for recommendations.

With just over a month until your arrival in Austin, your friends at Texas Mutual are in “AASCIF conference overdrive.” We’re tying up loose ends and putting the finishing touches on what we hope will be the best conference to date. We look forward to seeing you this summer.

May Email Update


We’ve covered the agenda and the evening events in the last two issues. This month, we will highlight some of the activities that will make your time in Central Texas memorable.

These are just a few of the great activities we have planned. Click here for the full list.

Annual Golf Tournament – Barton Creek

The golf tournament is a traditional AASCIF favorite.  This year’s tournament will be held on Tuesday at the Barton Creek Golf Course. Barton Creek has been ranked as the #1 golf resort in Texas by Golf Digest and one of GolfWeek’s “Best Courses You Can Play” among other accolades.Registration for the tournament without clubs is $125. Registration with club rental is $200.  We will have a number of amenities on the course to ensure that you have an enjoyable time.  You can modify your registration through Cventif you’ve already registered for the conference but haven’t signed up for golf.

San Antonio Day Trip

For those of you arriving early, we have a day trip planned to San Antonio on Sunday.  San Antonio offers a blend of charm, vibrancy and color with a unique culture:Tex-Mex meets Old West and the atmosphere is rich.

Our San Antonio adventure will start with a river boat tour and stroll along the city’s famous River Walk. Many of the city’s most famous attractions are a brief walk away. After the tour, you’ll have a chance to enjoy one of San Antonio’s many authentic dining options.


We will visit Schlitterbahn’s main waterpark in New Braunfels on Tuesday for a full day of fun in the water and sun (including lunch).

The park has received more international recognition than we can possibly list here. Schlitterbahn New Braunfels waterpark has been listed as the #1 waterpark in the world for 15 consecutive years. Not only is Schlitterbahn New Braunfels waterpark the most popular summertime waterpark in the United States, but it is also ranked as the #1 Kid-Friendly destination in the state of Texas.

Lake Travis Party

Conference attendees who aren’t playing golf on Tuesday are encouraged to join us at Lake Travis. We will start with lunch at The Oasis and follow it up with an afternoon full of fun on a Lake Travis party boat.

Guests (or those who want to start their Lake Travis experience in early) can start their adventure on Tuesday morning.  The guest tour will include a Zipline adventure followed by lunch at The Oasis and an afternoon on the party boat.

Weird is hip

In a previous post, I boasted about Austin’s passion for all things off the beaten path. We’re weird, and we want the world to know it. Hence the burgeoning market for bumper stickers, T-shirts and other paraphernalia emblazoned with our rallying cry,
Keep Austin Weird.”

Imagine my dismay when I found out Austin is not the only city where bucking the status quo is not only accepted but also encouraged.

“I see from the blog that you share a similar motto as Portland, Orgeon,” wrote one of our peers at SAIF. “You have Keep Austin Weird, and we have Keep Portland Weird.”

Now, I’ve been to Portland a couple of times. It’s a beautiful city that reminds me a lot of Austin, only with a better public transportation system. But with all due respect, there’s no way y’all are weirder than us.

Austin is the exception in Texas, an island of liberalism surrounded by an ocean of conservative sentiment. Need I remind you about the cross-dressing homeless man who almost became mayor of our fair city?

Weird is more than a vibe around here. It manifests itself in the O’Henry Pun-Off, the
Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5K, Bat Fest and other uniquely Austin traditions. Probably the longest-running of these events is Eeyore’s birthday party, which will take place this weekend.

For the past 50 years, Austinities have celebrated Winnie the Pooh’s sad-sack donkey companion, famous for self-deprecating observations like, “When stuck in the river, it is best to dive and swim to the bank yourself before someone drops a large stone on your chest in an attempt to hoosh you there.”

I haven’t attended the event in years, but from what I remember, it’s complete with costumes, drum circles, face painting and maypoles.

I attribute Austin’s eccentricity at least in part to the 1960’s, when hippies, cowboys, rockers and punks bonded over their common passion for music. That spirit of acceptance is engrained in our culture. Sure, Austin is home to corporate giants like Dell, Whole Foods, IBM and AMD. But we’ve also got our share of musicians, artists and writers. They harmoniously co-exist, just as they have for the past 40 years.

I guess the reality is that weird is hip in Austin, but so is normal and everything in between.

April Email Update

Early Bird Registration Closes April 15 

Texas Mutual is proud to host the 2013 AASCIF Annual Conference from July 14 to 17 in Austin, Texas.The early-bird registration fee is $500 for AASCIF members, $525 for Associate Members and $575 for non-members.  This special rate (discounted $150 from 2012 registration) is good through April 15.  The early bird rate will not be extended so click here to register today!

The Hyatt Regency Austin will serve as the host hotel for AASCIF.  The conference rate of $165 ($108 for government employees) will be available 3 days before and after the conference and will include complimentary in-room Internet access.  Click here to reserve your room.

Sunday – Welcome Reception

We will kick things off on Sunday night with a welcome reception at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. Enjoy live music, fine dining and drinks prepared by the University of Texas Club.  Famed Longhorn mascot Bevo will also be on hand for photographs.
Home to the University of Texas – Austin Longhorns football team since 1924, the stadium now sits 100,119 making it the sixth-largest stadium in the United States.

The event will run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Buses will circulate on a regular basis between the hotel and stadium.

Join AASCIF friends old and new for this exciting start to the Annual Conference!

Monday – Lone Star State of Mind

On Monday, we’ll head to The Salt Lick to eat their world-famous barbecue and listen to the western swing sounds of Asleep at the Wheel. The Salt Lick has been cooking up great barbecue since 1967 and has been featured on Man vs. Food, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and in countless magazine and newspaper articles.

We start the evening at The Salt Lick with Happy Hour, horse shoes, and line dancing lessons from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. You’ll also be treated to live armadillo races and 9-time Grammy Award winning “Asleep at the Wheel” performing at 8:00 p.m.

Grab your favorite dance partner and waltz across Texas!

Wednesday – Closing Gala

Catch a plane, catch a train, or catch a wave, but be sure to get to the Closing Gala at the Moody Theater on Wednesday night. The Moody Theater is a state-of-the-art, 2,700 + person capacity live music venue and home of the KLRU-TV produced PBS program “Austin City Limits“, the longest running music series in American television history.

This year’s Closing Gala will be the event of the summer! We’ll meet for an evening of live music, food, and fun at the downtown Austin City Limits (ACL) Moody Theater. Buses will begin leaving the hotel at 7:00 p.m. and will circle from the theater to the hotel all evening. The event ends at 10:30 p.m.

The main act for the Gala is yet to be announced, but we think you’ll have good vibrations the whole evening.

Rock n’ roll fantasies

I remember when it came time to pick an instrument in the fifth grade. I wanted to play the drums. My dad, an avid guitar player/songwriter, had other thoughts.

“Drummers are the first ones to get to the gig and the last ones to leave,” he cautioned. “You should play the saxophone. Remember, Clarence Clemens is a sax player.”

I had fancied myself a drummer all my life, but my dad got me with the Clarence Clemmons thing. I was and still am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan.

streetmusicAt any rate, I eventually picked up the drums, and I’ve been playing in bands around town for about 10 years. That’s why this week’s blog post is near and dear to my heart. Austin recently wrapped up the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival, and I was in the thick of it.

Now, I appreciate the interactive and film portions of the event, especially in today’s “wired” world. But I feel a special connection to my musical brethren.

SXSW isn't just for techies, film buffs and musicians.

Every year, thousands of them come from across the globe to the Live Musical Capitol of the World. Some are fortunate enough to sleep in hotels or stay with host families. Others crash in their vans.

All have a common goal: turn the ear of a record industry executive.

Success stories are few and far between , but their heroes are household names.

John Mayer, James Blunt, The Polyphonic Spree, The White Stripes and Norah Jones are just a few of the stars who owe at least part of their success to SXSW performances.

And remember that “boy band” called Hanson? Them, too.solo

But for me, SXSW’s appeal isn’t its potential for discovering diamonds in the ruff. It’s just the opposite, actually.

The majority of these talented musicians will never get record deals. Most will never be heard by anyone other than family and friends. But that doesn’t matter.

For a few days, they put on their “skinny jeans,” holy T-shirts and oversized sunglasses, turn up their amps and live their rock n’ roll fantasies.

goodbyejuneTo get a better feel for our festival, check out this blog on the misconceptions about Austin that SXSW inspires.

And don’t miss this overview of the eight types of people you meet during the festival. I initially scoffed at the SXSFreegan jab. Then I remembered that last year, I accidentally hooked up with some friends who knew where to get free food and SWAG. Of course, I connected with them again this year. But I do not have a liberal arts degree.

March Email Update

Register Today!

Texas Mutual is proud to host the 2013 AASCIF Annual Conference from July 14 to 17 in Austin, Texas.The early-bird registration fee is $500 for AASCIF members, $525 for Associate Members and $575 for non-members.  This special rate (discounted $150 from 2012 registration) is good through April 15.  Click here to register.

The Hyatt Regency Austin will serve as the host hotel for AASCIF.  The conference rate of $165 ($108 for government employees) will be available 3 days before and after the conference and will include complimentary in-room Internet access.  Click here to reserve your room.

Speaker Spotlight: Lee Cockerell

One of Lee’s major and lasting legacies was the creation of “Disney Great Leader Strategies,” which continues on as the primary resource for developing the 7,000 leaders at Walt Disney World.

Lee has held various executive positions in the hospitality and entertainment business with Hilton Hotels for eight years and the Marriott Corporation for 17 years before joining Disney in 1990 to open the Disneyland Paris project.

When you walk out, you will have learned something that will make you a better leader in all parts of your life. Learn how “you can create magic, too” in your organization by following The Customer Rules.

Speaker Spotlight: Erik Qualman  

Often called the Digital Dale Carnegie, Erik Qualman is the author of Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Socialnomics made Amazon’s #1 Best Selling List for the US, UK, Canada and Germany.

Qualman is a frequently requested International speaker and has been highlighted in numerous media outlets, including: BusinessWeek, The New York Times, WSJ, Mashable, USA Today, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, CBS Nightly News, and The Huffington Post.

Qualman holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MBA from The University of Texas.

Speaker Spotlight: Joe Navarro 

It’s estimated that as much as 80% of our interaction with others is through non-verbal communication, or body language. And the vast majority of the nonverbal cues we display are driven by our subconscious mind – they are important indications of how we are feeling and what we’re thinking.
Joe Navarro has been studying non-verbal behavior for the past 45 years. Twenty-five of these were spent in the FBI catching spies. Today Joe is an internationally recognized expert, consultant, author, and gifted lecturer in the interpretation of non-verbal behavior.