Hello friends! You are listening to The Digital Transformation(ists) Podcast, where we get curious together about what technology is teaching us about human ingenuity, resilience, and the mysterious force that magnetizes us towards connection with one another. I'm Katie Thomas, and together with our host Christian Lane, founding partner of Praecipio Consulting, our co host G.Love, Grammy nominated artist, and our incredible guests, we embark on a journey to better understand technology's role in amplifying connection between us all. 

We'll hear from technologists, practitioners, revolutionaries, innovators, environmentalists, artists, and more, all sharing their experiences with technology and how it's affected their lives and industries. 

In this episode, we are thrilled and honored to welcome Carol Thompson, a trailblazing entrepreneur and iconic Austin tech personality that exemplifies the city's forward thinking and easygoing attitude. Carol has been witness to the city's impressive growth, being part of critical initiatives that have lured some of the world's top tech companies to open shop and make Austin their home. We talk about the nerd bird and Austin's ties to California, the role the University of Texas has had in attracting talent and ideas, mentoring as a way to stay relevant, and the hidden gems the city offers for those who veer off the beaten path.

Host: Christian Lane
Co-host: Garrett Dutton (aka G. Love)
Guest: Carol Thompson

carol_thompson

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

austin, people, california, mentor, companies, town, favorite, day, big, young women, moved, chamber, played, business, work, meet, hear, city, texas

SPEAKERS

Carol Thompson, Christian Lane, Katie Thomas, Garrett Dutton

Katie Thomas  

Welcome to The Digital Transformation(ists) Podcast where we get curious together about what technology is teaching us about human ingenuity, resilience, and the mysterious force that magnetizes us towards connection with one another. I'm Katie Thomas, and together with our host Christian Lane, founding partner of Praecipio Consulting, our co host G Love, Grammy nominated artist, and our incredible guests, we embark on a journey to better understand technology's role in amplifying connection between us all. We'll hear from technologists, practitioners, revolutionaries, innovators, environmentalists, artists, and more, all sharing their experiences with technology and how it's affected their lives and industries. 

In this episode, we're thrilled and honored to welcome Carol Thompson, a trailblazing entrepreneur and iconic Austin community and technology leader who exemplifies the city's forward thinking and easy going attitude. Carol has been witness to the city's expansive growth, and has been a part of critical initiatives that have encouraged some of the world's top technology companies to open shop and make Austin their home. We talk about the nerd bird, Austin's ties to California, the role the University of Texas has in attracting talent and ideas, mentoring as a way to stay up on the current approaches and trends and the hidden gems the city offers for those who veer off the beaten path.

 

Christian Lane  

Well, hey, G. Good to see ya! How have you been?

 

Garrett Dutton  

Hey, Christian, I'm doing good man. I'm enjoying the first days of summer, and trying to work as little as possible. I just, I just came off the beach. And I'm driving to Saratoga Springs tonight. So happy to get chance to connect with you and Carol today. Yeah. How you doing? Man?

 

Christian Lane  

I'm great. And congrats on your latest newborn? Four. Oh, yeah. Four total boys. Right?

 

Garrett Dutton  

Four total boys. Yeah. That's amazing. 19, 5, one and a half and four days?

 

Christian Lane  

Well, you're lucky to get sleep. I hear you're sleeping. Okay.

 

Garrett Dutton  

My wife's a rock star. She's crushing it. And yeah, so I owe her a debt of gratitude. 

 

Christian Lane  

Speaking of gratitude, we've had a guest today. But I feel like I owe a debt of gratitude to. Back in the mid, late 90s I was in college at UT. And a big goal for a lot of us in the business school was to somehow find a way of staying in Austin. And typically, we got recruited to Houston or Dallas, I got recruited to Dallas. So I like to tell people I did my time in Dallas, and I did everything I could to find a way to get back into Austin. You know, I finally did.  But it seems now at least these days, it's a lot easier to stay in Austin, you know, in the world of technology. And I think we owe some debt. I owe a debt of gratitude to Carol for that, and I'm looking forward to hearing her story. You've got some things you want to share about her and kind of her bio. You want to touch on some of these highlights? 

 

Garrett Dutton  

Sure! Okay. Carol, usually, you're not here when I say this, but let me just gush on you. While you're right there. Introducing Carol Thompson tech savvy entrepreneur, economic development strategists, mentor, business advisor, all around Trailblazer. Carol was a pivotal figure in expanding Austin's business landscape. As a leader on the first Austin Chamber of Commerce business recruiting trip to California in the late 80s. Carol and the chamber team laid the groundwork for a future influx of those companies into Austin. Carroll has been recognized by the Austin Business Journal, as one of Austin's five most powerful women, and named by the Austin American statesman as one of Austin's top 25 tech players to know ladies and gentlemen. Introducing the wonderful Carol Thompson.

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, thank you, thank you!

 

Christian Lane  

Austin is known as a college town in a lot of worlds and more so over the last few decades as a tech town, thanks to you. It's quite a cultural place to be as well. I think we love the outdoors and we have these beautiful lakes and rivers that are limestone and you know, get nice clean water. But, you know, tell us about your experience with Austin and how you've seen it develop over the past, you know, 30 years or so?

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, it's a lot. You know, when we went to the on the first trip to California, people had to pull out a map to see where Austin was. And that was kind of like, that was an epiphany of sorts. But at that time, they already were challenged in California. Because if they weren't a volunteer in their children's school, they couldn't because they lived so far away from where they worked. And so some of them, some of them are already looking at us. And what were the reasons they look at us because 1500 square foot house, now take a deep breath, was about $75,000. And all right. And, you know, we had, as you've already said, schools of higher education here. Were the great outdoors then and now. And it was a sleepy college town. Like, the reason I'm here is, it was just that we're in California, it was smog. And you opened up the paper, and you saw a sleepy town, the state capitol, and the University of Texas and clean streets, and didn't know one soul.

 

Christian Lane  

So what sparked you, I guess, to kind of get involved and get this trip out there. Like what was that spark?

 

Carol Thompson  

The spark was, we realized we didn't have everything here. But we needed to work because we had TI, and IBM with early companies here. And then we also part of the trip because we didn't have any kind of convention center here. And so we visited their convention center. And then I don't know how to say this with a smile, smirk, you know, light rail, right? To be continued to be continued to do. So. We know those places. And then the companies that we are toward, out there with the likes of Applied Materials and Apple, yeah. And it was pretty exciting, really, the word of the community volunteers that and then learning about each other, the people that went on the trip from Boston to new, who were the good drivers and would almost turn around in the center of the road to go the other way, you know.

 

Christian Lane  

So the inside joke on the light rail is that it's, it's always been too late and has always been too expensive. That's always been the argument for 30 years now. So again, it's too late and too expensive. Today.

 

Carol Thompson  

It is. And, you know, now what are they talking about and putting a track underground in Austin. So we'll see where they get this done. But, you know, COVID,  one of the pluses of COVID was was no traffic, right? Sad plus, but you know, I live about 15 minutes away from downtown Austin. When I chaired the board, I had a set so I could be in my house and be in my seat in 13 to 15 minutes. And then one day, it was 20 minutes and 27.

 

Garrett Dutton  

I was reading  your interview and you said Well, every time you're sitting in traffic, you have you. You say, Well, I can only blame myself.

 

Carol Thompson  

Right, right. And of course, the other signs by the side of the road then said drive. friendly. Oh, yeah. And I thought Well, today we need those back again. Right?

 

Garrett Dutton  

How's your road rage? Carol?

 

Carol Thompson  

Yeah. Oh, mine. You know, I'm kind of calm. But I have had, you know, speedy cars. I have to tell you. My stay in Austin. But anyway.

 

Christian Lane  

So we've got a, I always tell people that we've been heavily influenced by California in terms of culture, you know? Yes. Yeah. I like to tell people, I'm, I'm excited to live on and be a part of this backbone between the Bay Area in California and Austin. Right. backbone is its technology, right? It's all this business and work between these two economies. And, and we've Yeah, we've been very influenced by California. There's a certain level of liberalism in this town of progressiveness. But then again, just technology and forward thinking, talk to us more about how these businesses and how this connection has influenced us here. And perhaps you know, why we're shaped the way we are, you know, through these relationships with companies in California.

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, first off, it's just why did they come to Austin anyway, right. And so what happened was, when you took Applied Materials, they didn't want to move their headquarters and we were very careful not to recruit headquarter companies, just if they were thinking of expanding, think about us. And so the housing, you know, reason they came, and I would say some of the CEOs came for golf. Right, it was just more important than you think. And some of them eventually became suppliers that they had in California moved to supply Austin companies, and quality of life and high levels of education. There you have it. 

 

Garrett Dutton  

What about the food?

 

Carol Thompson  

Yeah, yeah, the food. That's right, that little variety in the food, you know, seafood gets flown in now, I kind of laugh often at a sushi place thinking that they made the work right. Every day, and know the food. We have, you know, great restaurants. Sorry to say we've lost some of them during COVID. But I mean, we are all our favorite haunts in town, and some of them are still staying alive, you know, that we had South by Southwest. And in 1990, I think it started in 1988. So that was also more of a part of evolving with Austin, but that a lot of people think it may have gotten invented, you know, recently.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Yeah. Wait. 1988 was when South bar started? Yeah. Right. Well, yeah. Cuz I wanted to ask you about that. Because as a musician, of course, I've played a number of times, and it's such wow, just what a I mean, what a whirlwind weekend and I can only imagine how much that's done. For the city.

 

Carol Thompson  

Oh, how huge, huge thing. And, you know, it's funny, because I had a Computerland franchise at that time. And so in 1990, they said, Oh, you need to be down here, you need to come. So it was like a, what we would know is a card table with a few pamphlets on it from Apple Computer. And I was thinking, where can this place look for what's going to happen when something like this happens? And then now, you know, I've had kids with nowhere to stay in my house. Because they're just all excited to be in Austin, etc, etc, right? Yeah, it's big. It's big. And, you know, last year was the challenge of making a goal. But it was decent, but it wasn't the excitement of people being here. And yeah, crowding in the streets. Energy. Yeah, I know. I know. The police don't like it. But yeah, and so much. No, we get so many people internationally now. Austin, I mean, that kind of grew and popped. Which is often needed, because we still weren't much of an international student. In fact, we still need to work on that. Not today. 2021.

 

Christian Lane  

Yeah, we could use a few more direct flights. Yes. National more. Even if it is another big, really big cities would be nice. Yeah.

 

Carol Thompson  

Right. Right. You know, we moved out British Airways, which was big. Speaking of that, you know, early on in Austin. We didn't really have good flights in California. And so our governor and Richards convinced Bob Brando for American Airlines, that he ought to start a route here and you know, became more than most the nerd bird, right? ,

 

Christian Lane  

Yeah. You fly to San Jose, or San Francisco or Oakland out of Austin. It's the nerd bird. And it's funny. I flew that a lot for 12 years or so. I think every four to six weeks. I was on a flight to the Bay Area.

 

Carol Thompson  

Everybody knew everyone, right? Oh, yeah. 

 

Christian Lane  

You get on like, Okay, what logo is on the T shirt of the hat? Right. Right. Okay, guys. Well, you know, every now and again, the nerd bird goes to Las Vegas when it's every conference. 

 

Carol Thompson  

That's a good point. That's a good point,

 

Christian Lane  

but only temporarily. So with all this business between these two big markets, you know, tied to and driven by this technology backbone. I remember also, there was a period of time where we were a lot more resentful of Californians for you know, coming out here buying, you know, a piece of property sight unseen. 2030 over asking. It's still happening today. Oh, even. It's worse. But I think at least I think the resentments settled down, at least from what I can tell. I'm sure there's still some, but I think we've accepted that there are people coming and going back before that in California. We know people think more closely and intimately now. And it's kind of settled down. Do you have a similar take on that or anything? Yes. Pretty resentful about it.

 

Carol Thompson  

No, I think it has settled them because now you know, people from Applied Materials, state and county, the headquarter state in California and they have a huge group here. Yeah. So we've gotten used to it, I think, and you could collaborate rather than compete. Exactly. I mean, but you know, when you look at Austin, in the first quarter of this year 21, headquarters companies moved to Austin. Wow. You know, the other thing is,

 

Christian Lane  

there's a new migration,

 

Carol Thompson  

right? I mean, people don't realize, but the Chamber of Commerce has all those reports. Well, if you need them, I have

 

Christian Lane  

to see where the good real estate plays based on.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Right, keep buying.

 

Carol Thompson  

That's right, keep right if you find something to buy, like my house, you can get right right. My house is in the northwest hills, and it was 125,000. And the realtor that's the moving van said you could sell this for a million in California these days. You know, that was 79 Oh, no, guess what? You can do that in Austin. Even over that.

 

Garrett Dutton  

It's funny because like, just, you know, my whole life has been traveling around the world and all the big cities and, and all the little towns in the USA especially. And it's always like that, like there's always a music venue. And like I was just thinking before we got on the call, like the first place I played in Austin was called Liberty launch. Classic. Okay, so I was just thinking, like, wow, I should have bought the building next door to Liberty launch. When I played it back in 1994. You get a lot more now DMA

 

Christian Lane  

I can do with that piece of property now. Actually, I can't do it. Because it's already built out.

 

Garrett Dutton  

So there's so many things like that. And Austin is I mean, I love I love Austin. I love playing there. I love the food there. Love the people there. I love that they got the scooters. Now. I love everything about Austin. So it's one of those places where I've always been like, wow, would be so cool to get a place here. But you

 

Carol Thompson  

waited too long? Well, no,

 

Garrett Dutton  

I mean, you can only sleep in one bed at a time. But, you know, we always have that FOMO thing we're talking about, like the real estate markets. And, you know, like, Oh, I should have could have been, you know, it's like that anywhere. But I mean, yeah. So are you happy about it? Kind of, you know, I mean, you've been a big catalyst for the success, all these people come in, and the cities continue to blossom. I mean, the bad side of is is gentrification,

 

Carol Thompson  

right, we have

 

Garrett Dutton  

work to do in that regard. But it's also a positive that the cities on the whole are lifting up. So yeah, I mean, speak on that like that all positive?

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, you know, someone just needs to go online and Google Alan Graham with the homelessness, you know, the situation we have in Austin, but the flip side of that is to see what they're doing in the future, the plans they have. And they're pretty comprehensive. And he's gotten a lot of national, if not international press. He and he used to sell real estate in one of his early days. Yeah, I mean, the challenge is we have affordable real estate for the people that live here, right? And that's, it's tough, because if you sell your house, where are you going to go to stay? somewhere close to the city of love, it's very difficult, very difficult. But change happens, what I like, you know what we really need here, because we've got caught up with just a lot of money in Austin, to work on civic entrepreneurship, how are people giving back? And because I believe every single person needs to be involved with this, right? You know, Ty and I were talking earlier about, I said, you know, even to mentor one child in school, you can do that online, or you can also do it face to face. There's no excuse for not being able to do that. Yes, some people need to be trained how to be mentors, but you change kids lives and the statistics about kids learning to read are pretty bleak, huh? And we need them in the workforce here. Yeah, you know, just think about that here. I mean, there's just a way back when the University of Texas, I had a technician here one day fixing my refrigerator, and he was a music major at UT and he couldn't get a job that would pay his own wages to live here. And so there he was with the goop from the refrigerator, but I'm sure he's well employed now in the US. music scene in Austin.

 

Garrett Dutton  

But actually, I was gonna ask you about that, cuz um, because you know, like the awesome like, keep Austin weird, was the T shirt back in the day. And you know, Austin's been kind of built on a lot of the characters built on the creative, the musicians. And there's obviously a wonderful history to the blues there. And so just like New York or any other great or, you know, San Francisco or any other great breeding ground of our incubator, I should say of musicians and creatives, and now they're getting maybe priced out. Yeah, like that's, is that some of the heart and soul getting ripped out of the heart of Texas?

 

Carol Thompson  

We need to be working on that. But everybody's so stretched out, it seems these days. Yeah. Because we used to have, you know, the Chamber of Commerce used to have a committee working just solely on that. And if we want to make it happen, we need to be working on that. It's not just gonna fall out of the sky. And but when some people move here, you hear some Austinites complain about all people moving here from elsewhere? Well, for those of us who are here, you have to be welcoming to the Yeah, that's right. We didn't come from here. So to welcome them. And sure, plenty of places to be involved in Austin. This morning, somewhere Apple told me Austin now has 1000 nonprofits. Well, if you can't find yourself in one of those, you're not to be like, yes. So the new people in like, people in my neighborhood, some of them that could retire and go elsewhere can't find anywhere. So they're staying here with much more house than they need. And the question is, then, what, what, what is the price that you'd leave your house? And some of them have gotten pretty big prizes? Yeah.

 

Christian Lane  

So you mentioned selecting the community side and kind of doing good mentoring and those kinds of things and perhaps more civic minded, you know, entities and maybe organizations? Are there any that come to mind that you'd like to highlight or? Or share with the audience?

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, I, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about our fair one that started in my home and the early 90s. It's called Young Women's Alliance, because in my life, even chairing the board of the chamber, people would assume I was waiting for my husband at the table. And, you know, I was the third woman in 117 years to cheer and a Yankee and a Yankee to boot. So the first time What is this? Who is this? And they had a young men's business league in Austin, they've been around for years and years and years. But what about the girls? So we started actually, five different girls who didn't know each other graduated from school here. And their fathers said, You should talk to Carol Thompson. So I had five of them in my living room. And you know, some basic networking, how to walk people straight in the eye. And I think the handshakes are gonna come back after COVID, but I'm not quite sure. Right. And you know, your handshake and put your name tag on the right, because that's where your eyes go when you shake hands. And started with five and today? Yeah, I know, you're gonna do that. 

 

Carol Thompson  

I know. But you know, what I was sharing just briefly with a young woman today is that a couple guys will go look to the right. I mean, why are you putting your name tag on the right, and? Well, that's when you shake hands? Well, what if you weren't on the left? Well, you don't take it into the left hand, do you? So it was, you know, there's always one in the crowd. Right. Question. This was based on young leadership for women and volunteering to give back to the city and to coach and mentor other young girls in the schools here. And that group, even during COVID is increased Because see, young women were moved to town to hear about it. How do they connect because they're sitting alone in their apartment? And it's up to 375 young women, much more diverse than it used to be. We have to work on diversity in Austin, Texas a lot. And we have a

 

Christian Lane  

pretty harsh history there too.

 

Carol Thompson  

Yeah, we do. And so it's wonderful. And I still serve on the advisory board. And because I told them, You know, I am going to live to 103. So I just know that and I used to know it, right? Because I have a lot of ideas yet to be out there. Yeah. So much to do. That's right. You just have to find people who can keep up with you.

 

Christian Lane  

Where do you find all this energy?

 

Carol Thompson  

I think it's got a god given energy. It's like my father ran a machine shop in Gloucester, with the fishing boats where I was born. And he used to say, when I was very young, I can remember him peering in my eyes and saying, you know, girls can do anything, you know, when you hear that from the get go. And that was his, you know, like quite a few years ago, years ago, years ago. Yeah, it's just, well, kind of like, why not? Why can't I do that? Right. And so I also served on the Federal Reserve Board, and had dinner with Alan Greenspan. And you know, that night, I just closed my eyes and thought my parents could see it. Yeah, it's a moment. And so the chamber again, you know, if you're there, and some of it is right, in Austin years ago, apple, I remember asked, we move, we want to make sure that our people are connected. And someone asked me, well, how can we get connected at that time, honestly, was just raise your hand right here. Yeah. Right. Volunteer, volunteer. And so Austin, you know, as you know, has a great volunteer community. And so the growth and development of women has been wonderful. And we have an event called Austin under 40. There are the superstars for that. And most recently, one of the winners was an Indian physician. And he had an eight month old child, and this is a beautiful story. I think. He said, he was concerned that if something happened to me that him Excuse me, excuse me, what would happen to his eight month old son, he said, based on coming to the event this evening, Austin would take care of my eight month old son when you know, that, you know, here we are. In 2021. With someone making a comment like that, I mean, that's awesome. That's beautiful. Yeah, that is beautiful. That is beautiful. Um,

 

Garrett Dutton  

I see it from Gloucester. Actually the last gig I just played was in Hamilton, Mass.

 

Carol Thompson  

Oh. I lived on a lake in Hamilton. Oh, my heavens. Yeah,

 

Garrett Dutton  

We live in Cape Cod. And I don't want to make your home sick. But I had the whole belly clamp ladder. 

 

Carol Thompson  

No, I just can't wait to go. Ah, yeah, yeah. Oh, it's a great place to be. But it was a blue collar town and now when you ask about your own hometown, there's 25,000 people then and now. But they'd like it like that. Right? Yeah. Right. The Portuguese and Italian. That's right, fishermen that you grew up with? When I go back to reunions, they can make up the football team at any given moment. Yeah, but it's good to go there. Because, you know, it's a centering thing. And we need those pounds. Hmm. They're working on the blue economy there for the ocean economy. So they have an institute working with UMass on that. And we need that too.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Hmm. Um, I was just wanting to kind of circle back. You know, just like, this past couple years, right. It's been a huge awakening in our country and around the world, with the sexual harassment cases in the workplace. And the me to movement times up movement. Right, right. And I know for me, you know, it's changed or just made me more self conscious in a positive way of how I interact with women that I work with, or even just interact socially. Do you find that things are changing on a ground level in the workplace for the positive? Is it getting it? Is there more equality? Are people more thoughtful And in their interactions with their female co-workers? And yeah, can you just talk about that? Like,

 

Carol Thompson  

Are we making progress? Making progress, but not fast enough? Right? Because, you know, when we talk about enlightened, who are the enlightened males and down, there's work to be done. I mean, some of them are still very difficult to work with and think it's all about them, and don't really understand it's a team that gets somewhere. And, you know, we have many young entrepreneurs in town. And what we need is work. How do you connect them with a seasoned entrepreneur that can teach them that? Because if no one, how are they going to learn? You know, some of them have wives that probably straighten them, all right? And, but it's a challenge. You can see it everywhere from going to the bars and having someone preempt you, you know, when you're going to get your drink, it's kind of like, excuse me. And, and at work, and at work. Women are being moved up and in companies, you know, more so than they have been in the past. But they can still tell you some stories,

 

Garrett Dutton  

I'm sure yeah.

 

Carol Thompson  

Right. Right. And, you know, teaching them that there is on one hand, they're responsible for themselves. And the former CEO of Pepsi, was just saying, one of her themes, one of her themes yesterday in a conference was, you know, know, the politics in the office, but don't be part of the politics in the office. Okay. I think that's pretty key because you can just be drawn in and think it's a power play if you're in the group, right? And then who else? Are you intimidating? And you have to think about, you know, how many introverts do you have that are working for you? And how are you mindful of how I had to learn that myself? Because, as you could tell, I'm, you know, big in your face when I have to be mindful of my own son's an introvert. Right? And it took a while for me to adjust.

 

Garrett Dutton  

So what? I'm sorry, I'm sorry, what are so go ahead, please.

 

Carol Thompson  

So I finished?

 

Garrett Dutton  

Well, I was just so like, so that's really just interesting to me, that thing you said earlier about the handshake and the name tag on the right side? I mean, are there when you're mentoring younger people? workers? Or what other kind of things like that? Are you teaching people that seem like such insignificant things, but actually probably make a big difference? in like, in, in, you know, in

 

Carol Thompson  

Skiing, right? Yeah. Well, it's, you know, thinking before you go about, what, who the audience is, right. So you have a couple of questions in your mind already. And the kids will ask our young people to ask, like, if the three of us were in conversation standing and they wanted to speak, how would they engage, right? And part of it is, you know, tapping one of the three of us on the shoulder and hoping that person gets it, looks around and includes them in the conversation. And then be asking people, you know, this is a generic, ask them where they're from and what brought them to Austin, Texas, many times that just expands the conversation. But for some, it's no, what's the largest, what's the biggest challenge when you got to Austin, Texas, because very small companies, you know, that they don't get the automatic, how many people do you have working for Praecipio Consulting?

 

Christian Lane  

50 something?

 

Carol Thompson  

Yeah. So you're already and with that many people, but some of the small startups, that was why having the Austin technology incubator, who, you know, we were the first one in the country in 1990. And so you meet people there, and realize there are other people to whom you could connect and like, I remember early on, lawyers from California would come here and sit in. And they were just amazed that, you know, if someone meets you downtown and said, we'll come up to this meeting, and, you know, entrepreneurs show up at the meeting, and there's no lawyer by their side, the California guys freak, like I never let my client go on the gathering like that. Well, that's part of, you know, who we were. And you know, the other program we had early on was by greater Austin because the big companies come here and purchase management. An easy thing is to call the supplier Joe or Jane on the East Coast or the west coast. But who's here in Austin who can service you? And that was a big part of expanding business here in Austin.

 

Christian Lane  

So you mentioned your dad was very inspirational and influential in your energy. Who do you look up to nowadays, who's a mentor, you know, who

 

Carol Thompson  

You're a lot younger than I am, okay, the mentors that I have, because I'm very selective at this point of the people on the ground. And I don't want to be around pitchers and motors, anyone bitching and moaning. So, you know. And so even some of my own friends just want me to entertain them. That's one side, you know, on, I keep trying to keep my energy for the productive things that I want to do. And so my mentors are, you know, some of the young women at young women's Alliance, asking them for advice. I also work at Denver, I serve on an engineering board, the University of Texas. So some of the young women, women in engineering, the statistics are pretty strong for how many women are women in engineering, we still, as an aside, need to work with more of those women to become entrepreneurs. Because somehow, they just don't see themselves. That way, as much as the guys go. I don't know what that's about. But we need to be working on that. And I keep up with people across the country that I've known all my life. And so like, I have a friend in Seattle, who's an entrepreneur, and he's just amazing stuff up there in Seattle and helped a lot of young people himself. But I keep up with my high school, my Gloucester high school class. And when I went back, one of them who graduated with me went on to work for Chief Justice Blackmun and helped with the Equal Rights Amendment. Right. And so it's exciting. When people go, Why do you still keep up with them? Well, it takes work because if you got to keep up, it's two sides to a relationship. Right. And, you know, how do you keep up? Well, now it's easier with this software? My birthday, I think I'm going to have group zoom calls.

 

Christian Lane  

Is that much more common? Right? Yeah. Yes. So you've been on, you know, a lot of boards just show on a lot of boards and the Thompson group, your firm, you've been running since 93. Tell us about some of the kind of work that you do there. Because of clients you're working with? Yeah, it gives more back on on your firm and what you do?

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, the firm, then, you know, we got up to about 30 something people want. Now I work with consultants, and then I'm kind of a key person. And so the work we did where people would come to town and didn't know how to get connected or have their people connected. And so you know, like St. Ed's board, I served on as a trustee at St. Edward's University. And that's a wonderful school if you haven't toured there, because many of those kids are the first child and family to go to college. And they're, you know, a different ilk. And they're more about, in my opinion, giving back and helping others. And so, but still working with them, how do you enter a room and know who you want to talk to? Because otherwise they stand outside the door? Right? wishing and hoping. And then some people have strategic companies that they want introductions to. And after a while, no one the CEOs of the companies I granted it to said I had put the proverbial leg up when you're really involved with the chamber and you meet the CEOs, but CEOs in town then we got the town was so busy, the CEOs didn't know each other. So I can remember an event that the CEO of AMD said, is that the head of IBM and Austin over there, and yes, haven't you met? No. So from that, we started a group with the chamber that had CEOs coming just to a meeting with themselves because they didn't want to be bothered, so to speak, with other people coming up because they really want to meet their kin, so to speak in Austin. Yeah. Now you can imagine what it's like now and someone comes to town. Well, you know, it has to be hard. We really need a checklist of what's going to happen with you, I think and your company, both for training and introductions because you want the younger people to grow into Also in it's hard in this rush, rush economy now and you talk about volunteering and balancing, you know, with your family, when they're working how many hours and like my son were at National Instruments that he talks all day. So, he's an introvert, right? So when he comes home to dinner, he doesn't want to talk..

 

Carol Thompson  

So, and so I made personal introductions, I made group introductions, I talked, I taught them how to network. I also would keep up on a lot of information that they needed to know in the community. And so it worked wonderfully for both sides.

 

Christian Lane  

Yeah, it sounds like it is a natural connector. Right? It's

 

Carol Thompson  

just I am. I am. I think of that. Well, but, you know, like getting the plane to Phoenix was the first trip I've taken out of town in two years. And it's so good at the airport, you're almost running. Get on the plane. Right. Right. And yeah. In the thrill of the deal, right. How long have you been waiting? For those young women beside me in line, and before we got on the plane, I found out she's getting her master's at the University of Texas. And it's in mental health for first responders to go. Why? Oh, I wouldn't even think of that. And then when you think about it, you think Well, sure. And so she emailed me yesterday, or text, Ginger said, so can we meet and go for a walk? So another new friend, I don't meet a stranger, and I talk to everybody on the walk, you know, through my walk every single day, minimum three miles a day. And you know, sometimes I figure for some people, I'm the only other person they're going to talk to that day, you know,

 

Garrett Dutton  

Good. So you have a different people you do walk in dates with and talk, right,

 

Carol Thompson  

Right? or walk okay, right. Right, right. And one has a company called linguistics and another one is an attorney in town and who worked for some big law firms. Now he works for some, and he chooses the routes we're going to walk every Friday morning. So I look forward to that. Hearing where we're going. Very cool. Yeah, it's good. And you know, another one from Apple, and then no heat. If he's not walking for one week, then his wife walks with me. And real through Bob. Yeah, so that's fun. And learning, you know, it's how are you going to learn every day? To be ahead of the game? And how are you gonna train yourself not to listen to negative news? Right, right. I will suck. It sucked.

 

Garrett Dutton  

That was what, that's what kept coming up. And when I was doing my research and reading your articles, it was the mentoring. And by being a mentor and finding a mentor, it seems to be the strategic thing in your life.

 

Carol Thompson  

Yes, it is. Yes. Because people will say, Well, I don't even know how to do that. Right. So there's basic training because some people even shake your hand. You know, how many of those wind pin shakes? And so you know what I do, especially with the younger students, how are they going to learn if I don't teach them? So if I meet them at an event, I'll just quietly say, just look me in the eye now, and I'm gonna, let's shake hands again. Yeah. Right, because then they apologized and said, Listen, there's no need to apologize. Who's going to teach all those kids on the east side? All these skills? Right? in Austin? Right? Yeah, I've got to figure out a way to do that. Because especially

 

Garrett Dutton  

Especially now because the younger generation is like man, they're just because of the way they've been raised either. You know, over supervised and yet too much screen time. And now with social media, being able to kind of say whatever they want online and then and not knowing how to act in person. I mean, this just younger joy to watch is so consumed.

 

Carol Thompson  

All my Samsung technicians on my refrigerator, yes, he told me this. What happens with the young kids is they just get together in a group if one of them has seven refrigerator problems. They are Instagram and all that and the Carolina Samsung was big, right? And all of a sudden Samsung the quiet companies, not user reading and seeing everything. That's Wrong. And he thinks he said, it's higher as a generational thing these kids just speak up, right?

 

Christian Lane  

Yeah, they have access to the technology that enables it. Right. Right. So I should ask you, like, you know, you talked about your kind of lifelong learning and whatnot, what have been some of your hardest lessons?

 

Carol Thompson  

Ah, slowing down is the hard lesson for me. And just being quiet when you know the answer, and I'm having some other people have an opportunity to stand and do that. And I don't, I have too many ideas in my head, like when I'm speaking with you, the challenge for me to focus is that I already have four or five ideas floating right out here. And that's just it's

 

Christian Lane  

All queued up ready to go.

 

Carol Thompson  

That's who I am. See, so that frustrates some people. Because, well, it frustrates me at times, because you can come across as a babbling person, but it's when you have all that going on all the time. You have to look at that as a gift that you have that other people can just have one idea, and maybe another. And I'm blessed, because I have five, right? Yeah, that works some days.

 

Christian Lane  

But what's up back there?

 

Carol Thompson  

Right. It's like, what's gonna happen next, Austin? And what do we have to do? We can't stop. Right. And so now, you know, the shutdown for COVID. We know, people coming out again, you know, how can we make, you know, keep Austin friendly? Huh. And I don't know if we're as friendly as we used to be. I don't know that. Yeah, obviously. Yeah. And by greater Austin, as I say, Austin in T shirts, right, by greater Austin. Keep Austin friendly. And, you know, what are we doing for the newcomers? How, what kind of sheet? What kind of, are we going to do to get them involved sooner rather than later? Because Lord knows what 1000 nonprofits opportunities to hear well, maybe

 

Garrett Dutton  

We need to get involved Austin to get

 

Carol Thompson  

involved. Right? Yes. And on the back, just have a list of how you do that. Right. There you go. And you know, my Well, it might walk by calmly. I'm in. I'm a purple Power Girl. So you know, I have the purple shirt, but I don't know what color it goes on here. When you go to UT, but I've been blessed by Austin, because I have this opportunity. I mean, who knew me sitting in the School of Engineering next to Rex Tillerson at Exxon at the time, we were on a panel together. And he says to me, you really have an interesting life. And I said, I really do have an interest. I felt like saying to him, we always know when you're in a meeting because the security is a little more detailed blinking on the corner. But I'm, you know, I love to help people. And my kids will go. You never met a stranger in the speed line at the checkout at the grocery store. Mom, it's, it's you know, that's again, my gift.

 

Garrett Dutton  

I love it. I love it.

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, you do a lot with your people. I mean, your reviews are great online. You know, you

 

Christian Lane  

We try hard and we set a high bar. And we just you know, I think it's part of our values. But thank you for noticing. I appreciate you making that. Oh, and I

 

Carol Thompson  

Read that about two of the people that you've had on and that I want to meet that you've already had.

 

Christian Lane  

Like a connection.

 

Carol Thompson  

Yeah, just cuz they were impressive. So, here I am. I'm gonna stay in your you're staying right. That's right. We have miles to go before we sleep. Right. And so I'll be back and you'll be back and we never know where we'll meet again.

 

Christian Lane  

This is true. This has been amazing. Oh,

 

Carol Thompson 

Grateful. I'm so grateful that you had me here.

 

Christian Lane  

Oh, it you're a treasure. Thank you. Thank you for your time and effort and just for visiting with us and sharing some of your knowledge and wisdom and so amazing.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Can we just ask you a couple the speed we have a speed round question. Right before we wrap. So these are just quick answers. I'll go to first: favorite neighborhood in Austin.

 

Carol Thompson  

Favorite neighborhood? Well, I enjoy the Duvall neighborhood just north As a university where you can, my son lives there where you can walk around and go to quacks and, and Julio is and you know, it's a people talk to each other there. Yeah, and that's where I was for Snowmageddon I lived over there.

 

Christian Lane  

That was a time favorite music venue.

 

Carol Thompson  

Ah, you know, you can't beat Willie. And I just because in the old days, it was john Denver, you know, the last time here at UT, just by himself playing nine different guitars. Through the whole thing, so,

 

Garrett Dutton  

Alright, favorite cafe.

 

Carol Thompson  

Favorite? Well, for a coffee cafe, it's, you know, the Park coffee place. It's an farwest here because they all know what I drink,

 

Garrett Dutton  

which is what

 

Carol Thompson  

is a latte with extra hot, no foam skim milk. Okay. And a large, right. So that's good. And you know, the restaurant that I love in town, that's they've made it through COVID. But Sharon Watkins here at chaise z. You know, 10 minutes from my home and they do a fabulous job and she's been a benefactor or giving food to so many people groups in town, you know, you get to be a volunteer extraordinary in that regard. But yeah, she does. Some of the restaurants you know, go and buy the bar, which is, which is saying Chris sushi, you know, who believe we have sushi here. And I love that too. Yeah. You know, you need that fish for your brain powers. Right, right. That's fine. That's why I'm as savvy as I am in some. Let's see. Favorite park? Wow, I like Zilker Park. I like sylco. Park. How about you spark is fun but

 

Garrett Dutton  

favorite music festival or festival? Any festivals?

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, I have to say South by Southwest festival, because it's just the international flavor. And you never, you just never know, there are so many surprises involved with that. And I've spoken, you know, a few times. One was one of the ones that was about retiring, you know, people moving here during retirement and how can they connect? Because, you know, again, you have the mirror and how do you integrate those people? And someone said, how would you do it? And I said, Well, you know, you go to Sun City. And you have a lot of retired CEOs, right? And you hire a bus to bring them down to be speakers or whatever to self buy or be part of so five, and then going home. You just have Margarita on the bus. Then we'll do it every year.

 

Christian Lane  

See, favorite gadget?

 

Carol Thompson  

Come on, my favorite gadget guy.

 

Christian Lane  

Okay, so over there a guy?

 

Carol Thompson  

Yeah, yeah, he's tried. Go. Listen, the best thing. One of the best things about us was meeting Chi at Starbucks 10 years ago. Oh, I

 

Christian Lane  

bet he's awesome.

 

Carol Thompson  

He's a wonderful resource sourcing a kind patient today, a great human. Yeah, great human being right, you're fortunate to have him and vice versa. So indeed. You know, my favorite gadget is, I say a coffee machine, but it's just not my house. Okay, that's my favorite. That's my favorite. Because a lot of this technology, you know, was later coming in, you know, some kids, everybody else is kind of brought up with it. But it took a while to adjust to it. But you know, we had Apple. I had a computer store in Austin early, early, early on, and you know, where they stand in line on Saturday morning by their computer. And when that new Apple was coming out, you know, you had to keep a list of I forget the word like 90 people on the list. And what a day, right? I mean, it's amazing.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Okay, favorite software.

 

Carol Thompson  

My favorite software. My favorite software is going to be something involved with networking software, right, just to connect the universe. That's

 

Christian Lane  

and a favorite book.

 

Carol Thompson  

My favorite book Well, I'll tell you a book that everyone should be reading is this or have on your shelf is Silicon Valley handbook. Okay? because it tells about cities around the world. Okay? And here, here's another one of my favorite books. Oh, cool. Laundry gear life, right?

 

Christian Lane  

This should be 103 your life

 

Carol Thompson  

103 is gonna be my new version for that. That's another thing people don't read these days like they used to, and how and you have to read. You just do to serve civilization today or three. And you know, you could read to kids online you can read, so people have no excuse to say I can't get Crosstown the traffic's too bad. Well, let's make it easy for you. Right.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Okay, I'm gonna go ahead and buy that one. Your recommendation? 100 year life.

 

Carol Thompson  

Right. Another one since then. But you know, I mean, it's important.

 

Garrett Dutton  

I think I want to live to 150 is what I'm shooting for.

 

Carol Thompson  

I bet you are. I bet you are. So you just really have to have your watch on. Keep your miles up every day. Right? It's all about, you know, exercising and your mental health.

 

Christian Lane  

print out a heart whenever you need it to pretty soon.

 

Carol Thompson  

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Garrett Dutton  

So how can people that are listening and keep in touch with you on social media platforms, or wherever else?

 

Carol Thompson  

Well, I was just talking about that today. I have to figure out a way because I still have a lot to give, and a lot of people need to hear it. Yeah. So what am I going to devise whether it's an age thing, and then you know, I have ideas for diversity of how some of those people can get involved and how they are partnered up? I mean, I don't know if you'd met the head of Houston Tillotson University. I mean, she's a phenomenal human being. And she has an engineering degree. She's on the engineering board at Ohio State. Right. And she's got a big job over there. Right? How do you get them? And how do those kids get placed? And how do they get placed and then mentored to make sure they're a success at their job, so they don't, they're not discouraged. And, you know, the chambers, we have a Hispanic Chamber, we have a black chamber, we have an Asian chamber. And we have a gay chamber and Austin chamber, and that's another to hear those stories, you know, and even have a panel with some of them together. And right now, this very moment. Females head every one of those chambers of commerce, so that's cool. So um, so I have to ask you your favorite restaurants in town.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Mine: Well, you know, where I like to go after the show, and get the ball in the bowling days. Is that place Justine's? Oh, yeah. Ah. Daybreak David Great. Great food there as well as a nice Hank and and then well, geez, I'm not that I can't I don't know. Cuz that you know, I don't live there. But there's the max. What's the famous Mexican plays on what's it south south Congress

 

Christian Lane  

Burrows,

 

Garrett Dutton  

what is it grows

 

Christian Lane  

grow the big oak tree like area outside and

 

Garrett Dutton  

grows at the street. I'm thinking about South Congress that goes over the bridge and there's like the thrift stores or like the world's gross Yeah. Further down.

 

Christian Lane  

ranchos popular one, but yeah, gross. Must be that's great place.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Yeah, I mean, I'm sure it's got a torso like

 

Carol Thompson  

Magnolia, cafes, clothes. And so you know, those are things that people would stand by when you came to town. Oh, it's you know, supporting those restaurants getting back on their feet. You

 

Christian Lane  

did indeed. Well on the theme of connecting your The Great connector, but I got to thank Kye for connecting us. Thank you. Yes, such a great human. And we're so so awesome. He's on our team. And,

 

Carol Thompson  

and he loves working there. He loves working there. 

 

Christian Lane  

I hope to God. So. Awesome. Thank you so much. It's such a pleasure.

 

Carol Thompson  

You're so welcome. And if I can ever be of service to you, call me..

 

Christian Lane  

Thank you. All right. Yes, ma'am. Thank

 

Carol Thompson  

you. All right.

 

Garrett Dutton  

Thank you so much. It's great to meet you. Nice

 

Carol Thompson  

Meeting you. Bye bye.

 

Katie Thomas  

Thanks for listening to The Digital Transformation(ists) podcast, brought to you by Praecipio Consulting. Praecipio Consulting provides flexible, scalable expert level IT and business solutions to enhance productivity and decrease costs. Check out our other episodes, access show notes and links and listen to some great bonus content on our website at praecipio.com

Like what you heard? subscribe rate and leave us a review. Wherever you listen to podcasts and tell a friend we love making new friends. I'm executive producer Katie Thomas. Victor Vargas is our lead engineer, Alejandro Caballero is our editor,  Rodrigo Martinez and Stephanie Harrison are our writers. If you want to find out how we can help you with your organization's digital transformation, or if you just want to find out more about digital transformation, send us an email at contact@praecipio.com Thanks for tuning in.

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