There’s Nice…and Then There’s “Boise Nice”

Congrats to Tim Taylor, the CEO of America Succeeds. He convened his first EDventure seminar last week in Boise, Idaho. To begin, I want to give Tim kudos for putting together a set of conversations that were interspersed with all the best that Boise has to offer. Besides having two of the most talented legislators in the country—Colorado Sen. Mike Johnston and Georgia Rep. Alicia Thomas Morgan—Tim also gathered the likes of Tony Bennett, Steve Sisler, Kimball Musk and Peter Simms, and left the afternoon free for attendees to enjoy some of Boise’s finest outdoor opportunities (think rock climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing and bird watching like I’ve never seen in California). It was no surprise to me that Tim gathered thoughtful people who engage in stimulating conversations about the education sector. The real surprise to me was Boise itself.

In my world, there is now “nice” and then there is “Boise nice,” which is not something I’ve experienced before.  I travel to a lot of cities, and find cab drivers to be a mixed bag, but not in Boise. It’s a 10-minute, pleasant conversation from the Boise airport to downtown, and I have never met a nicer cab driver. He turned down the NPR show he was listening to on the radio in order to discuss all of the attributes of Boise, which included the Boise State Broncos, who play on that infamous “Smurf Turf” as seen on ESPN every Saturday night. Upping the ante on niceness was the hotel staff, who wore a smile for everyone waiting in line to register, and were quick to celebrate their city for all of us. “We’re ‘Boise proud,’ ” remarked the two hotel staffers checking us in. And why shouldn’t they be? The people are so nice that if they were a TV character, they’d make June Cleaver look like Judge Judy. The citizens care, they glow when they get a chance to talk to you about the Rocky Mountains that serve as a backdrop to the area, and they beam when they talk about the museum, the symphony, the cultural attractions, and the better-than-I-imagined cuisine scene. The only hint of controversy revolves around the NFL. By my best estimation, Boise is 60 percent a Denver Broncos city and 40 percent a Seattle Seahawks city. And for the moment, Boise’s Seahawks fans are smirking—but in a nice way.

I also want to call out how important Jamie MacMillan, Roger Quarles and their team at the Albertson Foundation are to both Boise and the entire state of Idaho. The Albertson Foundation helped bring America Succeeds to their state capital and they are a strong voice for uniting the business community and creating a vision for Idaho’s youth. They support education entrepreneurs, stand for quality school choice, and are always on the lookout for finding local innovators and matching them with the best programs they can find throughout the country.

It took me a long time to get to Boise, but it won’t be long before I’ll be going back. And next time I really will mountain bike and fly-fish…and I hope many of you will join me.