Yes on Props 1 and 2

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October 15  |  Environment, Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . California needs rain, and also needs to save for a rainy day.

On this November’s ballot, Californians will be voting on state Propositions 1 and 2. I personally support both, as does my organization, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Here’s why:

Proposition 1 is a thoughtful, bi-partisan water bond, to invest in $7.5 billion worth of improvements for additional storage, conservation, efficiency and water safety. The drought reminds us all as to why Proposition 1 is so important to the health of our state. It is equally important to the economic health of our state, including here in Silicon Valley.

I’m even more impressed that Governor Brown insisted on the Water Bond’s specific improvements not be cherry picked to curry political favor. Instead, the specific projects will be competitively selected to best meet the needs of our state.

Proposition 2 is equally important. If the Prop 1 Water Bond is about our need for rain, then Prop 2 is about our need to save for a rainy day.

Proposition 2 is also a bi-partisan solution to address our state’s habit to spend too much in the good times, without setting money aside for the bad times. Here in Silicon Valley, we know and appreciate the boom and bust cycles of our economy better than most. That means saving for a rainy day, which is precisely what Prop 2 requires our state Legislature to do.

Yes votes for Prop 1 and Prop 2 – the choice is clear. We need to pass both to protect our future. Visit www.yesonprops1and2.com for more information.

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Measure Q: Vote Yes for Open Space for Future Generations

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October 3  |  Environment  |   Carl Guardino

David Packard’s commitment to the environment was one of his biggest priorities. As the founder of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and co-founder and former CEO of HP, he organized a hike for fellow CEOs on the Leadership Group’s board of directors when residents in Santa Clara County started pushing for the creation of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority back in the 1980s. Packard was one of many people who helped lay the foundation for the Authority’s eventual creation.

Forward to today: The Authority has preserved more than 16,000 acres of open space, providing hiking trails, watershed protection and vital wildlife habitat within the Authority’s boundaries – Morgan Hill, San Jose, Campbell, Milpitas and Santa Clara, as well as unincorporated areas throughout the County.

We have an opportunity this election to expand the important work of the Open Space Authority by passing Measure Q, a modest parcel tax of $24 per year to help acquire and fund open space acquisition and access. The Leadership Group strongly supports this measure and encourages a yes vote.

In the spirit of David Packard’s call for citizen engagement, we also want to encourage you to do more than just vote yes on Measure Q. The Leadership Group, along with other organizations, are hosting phone banks to ensure Measure Q will gain the two-thirds vote required for passage. Visit the campaign website to find out more about volunteering.

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In Conversation with Senator Dianne Feinstein

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September 3  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino
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Here’s food for thought . . . Words are weapons; they can build people up or tear people down.

Recently, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group had the pleasure of hosting California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein – a leader I have long admired for bringing civility and bipartisanship to the United States Senate.

In our 55-minute, on-stage conversation before 315 CEOs and Silicon Valley leaders, the Senator shared her views on important economic issues ranging from cybersecurity, immigration reform, patent reform and BART to San Jose; as well as ominous global issues like the violence in Ukraine and the Middle East, with senseless slayings of American journalists and thousands of Christians and other minorities by the terrorist organization known as ISIS.

What was most inspiring about Senator Feinstein was much more than her deep grasp of a wide range of issues, or her solid advice on the politics of moving intricate policy items forward. Instead, it was her genuine warmth for everyone in the room. Whether a Fortune 500 company executive, a startup CEO or the interns who volunteer in our offices, the Senator was generous with her time and gracious with her comments.

The luncheon session ended with a question on what brings her hope. Her response: Citizens in our state and nation who care about our communities, and contribute with their time and talent.

For 55-minutes, the entire hall of Valley leaders was spellbound – listening and learning from a leader who has earned our respect and admiration. Rather than tearing others down, we once again witnessed a leader dedicated to lifting others up. Our country would be well-served by more leaders like her.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Road

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August 27  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Your very important phone call forced my very important employee to crash his bike.

On Tuesday, a member of my staff was nearly hit by a car driver on Willow Street in Willow Glen.

Riding his bike to work – firmly in the bike lane – a careless driver was paying much more attention to her cell phone conversation than her driver’s ed training.

She nearly hit my colleague, which forced him into the curb where he flipped over onto the ground. The driver drove off and never even noticed. It must have been a pretty important phone call. My colleague ended up with a sore ankle and was badly shaken up. He also had to repair his front tire rim.

Let me acknowledge, many “car versus bike” crashes are the cyclists fault. Those of us on two-wheels need to be a lot more careful with our own habits.

With my colleague, however, this was not the case. She nearly hit him and she just kept on driving – never even noticing the accident she had caused.

Whether we travel primarily by four wheels or two wheels, we must all be more careful. Here’s an idea: Whether we are driving a car, or riding a bike, let’s travel as if someone’s life depended on it. On Tuesday, we were reminded just how true that is.

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Time to Refresh, Reflect, Renew

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July 23  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . A period of rest is wise for a Valley that’s always on the run.
Silicon Valley is always on the go. Yet we can be even stronger if, on occasion, we force ourselves to stop.

Stop to rest, refresh and renew.

Here’s an old word with a new application – Sabbath. For a handful of Silicon Valley employers – venerable firms like Adobe and Intel – this concept is embraced by something called a sabbatical. A sabbatical is an extended time away from work, from stress, from our day-to-day grind. It means setting aside our 24-7-365 lifestyle, further magnified by a social network culture that may make communications more convenient, but also leads to a life that is always plugged in, always jacked up, always racing at full speed.

Five years ago, I initiated a sabbatical policy for my employees. After seven years of continuous full-time service, each employee – myself included – is eligible for a four-week, fully paid, sabbatical. Two weeks of accrued vacation time can be added on, for a total of six weeks.

After 18-plus years as CEO, it is my turn for time away. Five glorious weeks to stop, sit, relax, refresh, renew, reflect.

It means getting off the daily grind, where the only grind in my day will be grinding a daily cup of fresh, French roast coffee for my wife.

It means pancake breakfasts with my two little girls.

It means casual bike rides as a family through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, floating on a raft and kayak down the Russian River, building sand castles at the beach in Santa Cruz and swimming lessons from a professional coach.

It means lazy days and long evenings with no set schedule.

Here’s my question – what would a sabbatical mean for you? Are you willing to step off the treadmill to take it? To my colleague CEOs – would your culture allow it?

Come on Silicon Valley – it is time we give ourselves a break.

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Pain hurts. Quitting is worse.

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July 16  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Pain hurts. Quitting is worse.

I competed in a triathlon known as “Vineman” last week, a 70.3 Ironman-distance race in Sonoma County.

A half Ironman distance triathlon consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike race and a 13.1-mile half marathon. Having competed in the Vineman half Ironman for 12 of the past 14 years, it has become a favorite. But even our favorites can be unforgiving, and last Sunday proved to be a tough day for several reasons:

  • First, I fractured my right foot four months ago, and was only able to resume running four weeks ago – not enough time to earn back either the endurance nor speed needed for a half marathon run at the end of a half Ironman.
  • Second, half-way through the bike ride my bottle filled with my nutrition flew out of my bottle cage while cycling down a steep descent. No nutrition in a long race can make for an even longer day.
  • Finally, by the fifth mile on the 13.1-mile run, I could feel the blood blisters forming – and then popping – on both feet. Before long, my shoes were stained crimson-colored from the bloody wounds underneath.

Decision time . . . Competing against the other racers was long over, as I suffered along the course. The only competition left was between my mind and body, my head and my heart, as the demons within raged whether I should quit – or at least slow down and walk – or keep doing my best to fight and finish.

Mental check list completed with one question . . . “Am I risking my life or serious injury?” “No.” The pain hurt – lack of nutrition, dehydration, fractured foot and blistered feet – but quitting would hurt worse.

Five hours and 37 minutes later – a long half-hour past my normal time the past four years – and the finish line, and my family, were wonderfully in sight.

Finish what you start. It might not matter to anyone else. But it will always matter to you. Pain is temporary. What we gain though tough times is permanent.

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Anna and Zoe: Covering Silicon Valley from A to Z

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July 8  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . In Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley is covered “from A to Z.” Anna and Zoe, that is.

Last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group had the pleasure of hosting a small group CEO roundtable with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

The week prior, the Leadership Group held a similar roundtable with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

For nearly two decades, Silicon Valley – in fact, much of America’s innovation economy – has been fortunate to have these two key leaders represent our priorities in the halls of the United States Congress.

Just how do they add value? Let me count the ways . . .

Anna is a senior member of the important House Energy and Commerce Committee. Its jurisdiction oversees roughly one-fifth of the U.S. economy. She is our point person on numerous issues of importance to Silicon Valley’s success.

Zoe serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee that oversees immigration reform, and is our go-to leader on issues like patent reform and cybersecurity.

They are effective individually, work well together and with the rest of our Bay Area delegation. In fact, Zoe serves as the Chair of California’s Democrat Caucus, weekly pulling together 33 Congress members.

Anna is currently campaigning to become the Ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, a pivotal role which would make her even more influential in representing technology issues in Congress.

What makes them even more effective is their ability, and willingness, to often reach across the aisle to partner with members of the Republican Conference. Yes, smart politics also makes for sound policy. With Anna and Zoe, Silicon Valley gets both.

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Good Guys Finish First

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June 26  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “Good guys finish first.”

My friend and mentor Tom Werner, the successful CEO of SunPower Corporation, one of the largest solar companies in the world, lives by that mantra.

It underscores his core belief that decency, ethics and genuine concern and care for your employees, their families and our community is a positive force for business success.

I believe it is also true for political success, which seemed to be the case a week ago when Congressman Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield was elected by his colleagues to the second most powerful role in Congress as majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

What makes McCarthy’s rise even more impressive is that he has only served in Congress for less than eight years. In a system that seems to reward seniority more than anything else, his ascent is unprecedented.

Yet his rise also underscores the maxim by Tom Werner that “good guys finish first.” You see, McCarthy leads – not by confrontation – but by collaboration. With his colleagues he has a simple three-part request, “vote your conscience, vote your district, don’t surprise me.”

One of McCarthy’s strongest traits is an inherent ability to first listen and learn, and then lead.

He has also taken a long-time, long-term interest in Silicon Valley’s innovation economy. While many politicians try to treat Silicon Valley like an ATM machine – only visiting long enough to make withdrawals of campaign cash, McCarthy is different. Rather than withdrawals, he has invested more than a decade making deposits of time and interest in the technologies and policies to help keep Silicon Valley competitive on a global scale. I often say about Congressman McCarthy – we may not always agree 100 percent of the time, but I know he listens 100 percent of the time.

In the rough and tumble of politics in D.C., it is encouraging that a decent guy, with small town roots and values, has risen to such an important position.

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Pro-Someone vs. Anti-Anyone-Else

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June 18  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

(This blog post reflects only the opinions of the author, Carl Guardino)

Here’s food for thought . . . In an election, it is actually possible to be “pro-someone” rather than “anti-anyone-else.”

In the June 3 primary election, I did something quite unusual for me. I became publicly engaged in a candidate campaign – something I have rarely done due to my fairly public role as CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

However, with the support of my executive board, I exercised my First Amendment right to personally campaign – on my own time as a private citizen – in support of San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo’s race for mayor of San Jose.

I have often been asked, after 18 years in my role as CEO, why? For me, it came down to issues, energy and ethics:

On issues, Sam Liccardo is a great choice for mayor of San Jose.

  • Concerned about traffic? Sam was a pivotal leader in our two successful campaigns to bring BART to San Jose, both in 2000 and 2008. The 10-mile BART extension to Berryessa is running $100 million under budget and a full year ahead of calendar.
  • Concerned about homes that working families can afford? Sam has championed numerous affordable home and market-rate developments that don’t just provide homes, but build better communities and neighborhoods, from high-rises in downtown San Jose to infill developments in appropriate pockets throughout the city.
  • Concerned about innovation and entrepreneurship? Sam partnered shoulder-to-shoulder with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and the Leadership Group to help secure the regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in San Jose, which will open in April of 2015.
  • Concerned about public schools? Sam stands for kids and parents, along with great teachers, in supporting public schools; both traditional and charter public schools, to make sure every child has access to a quality education.

On energy, I have met few leaders as dedicated, determined and disciplined in working tirelessly for the residents of San Jose. I first met Sam in the year 2000, when he walked in – literally off the street – to volunteer on our BART campaign. Four months of 90-hour weeks, setting his own successful law career aside, simply because he had a vision of what San Jose could be by connecting our city with BART.

On ethics, Sam is outstanding. A former deputy district attorney who prosecuted crimes against kids and our most vulnerable citizens, he and his wife Jessica Garcia Kohl have committed their lives to public service.

It is so refreshing to participate in an election in which we can enthusiastically support a candidate. All too often we hear of contests where people believe they are picking from “the lesser of two evils.” With Sam Liccardo, I can proudly say I am “pro-Sam,” not “anti-anyone-else.”

Timing is Everything

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June 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Timing is everything; especially in elections.

Let’s face it; Silicon Valley traffic is terrible, and the conditions of our roads in most of our cities are even worse.

We need to fix our road and transit networks, and we need to do it now.

Yet we live in a democracy, and a democracy that requires a two-thirds vote for local tax increases.

As private citizens, the members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have led four successful transportation sales tax campaigns in the past 30 years, generating more than $12 billion dollars in vital transportation improvements.

We are willing to help lead such an effort again – but this is where timing comes in. Based on the dismal voter turnout in the June 3 primary election, bringing out a record low number of voters, we now expect a very low turnout this November. Low turnouts do not bode well for transportation funding measures, so the Leadership Group Board has made the painful decision to wait – made more painful by the fact that our employees and families are waiting in traffic jams that need to be addressed. Our original goal was a potential measure in November of 2016, the next presidential election. That is once again our goal.

If you are as frustrated with traffic as we are – join us. Contact me at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Together, we have led measures that built Highway 85, improved Highways 237 and 101, are building the BART extension and funded key improvements for Caltrain Commuter Rail. We have a record of collective success, but much more work to do. Together, in 2016, we can do it.

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