Raise Yourself Up Without Tearing Others Down

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May 27  |  Community, Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … You can raise yourself up without tearing others down.

On the same day, I recently found in my mailbox two separate letters. One from a prominent Democrat member of Congress and one from a top-tier Republican presidential candidate.

Along with the expected appeal for money, both envelopes contained rather lengthy letters that seemed to spend as much ink tearing down the other political party as it invested in praising their own.

From the Republican presidential candidate, I read such red meat as the following:

“I know what the liberal Democrats are capable of, because I understand how desperately they crave power.”

And “Content with the status quo and willing to accept mediocrity, the Liberal Democrats are running our country into the ground.”

From the congressional Democrat, I read such lines as:

“We face a radical Republican Party with … a willingness to do or say whatever it takes to advance their far right-wing agenda and obstruct any and all of our progress.”

Oh my.

Instead of ripping into the purported evils of the other party, why not focus on the solutions your own party has to offer?

I seem to recall our Founders writing eloquently about the “United” States of America, not the divided and divisive parties that would burn bridges down rather than build them.

A note to leaders of both our major political parties: Give the American people credit. We are smarter than you might think. We crave solutions to our nation’s problems, not personal attacks and political ambition.

Candidates, please – run on your ideals and ideas. Lift us up, without tearing others down.

 

Whine or Win; It’s our Choice

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May 21  |  Education, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Whine or win; it’s our choice.

Are we here to whine about our problems, or work together for solutions?

On Friday, May 29, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and 24 incredibly diverse community partners will co-host our 4th Annual Regional Economic Forum, bringing together leaders from throughout the region.

The purpose of the forum will be to truly tackle what we call THEE issues.

The “T” is for Transportation & Traffic.

The “H” is for Housing & Homelessness.

The “E” is for Education & Workforce.

The second “E” is for Equity & Economic Opportunity.

Yes, we all know those issues are among the top challenges we face in Silicon Valley. But here’s the catch: No one at our Regional Economic Forum is allowed to whine about the problem, or re-state the challenge. Panelists and participants will only be allowed to discuss solutions – and preferably solutions that they will either personally lead or support.

When it comes to real solutions for transportation, housing, education and economic opportunity, it is past time we stopped whining, and focused on winning solutions to these seemingly intractable problems. We can continue to wring our hands together in discouragement, or join our hands together with encouragement.

If you agree, then come join us. Find out more at svlg.org/regional-economic-forum-2015.

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CEO Survey: When the Economy is Hot, the Quality of Life is Not

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May 13  |  Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Often, when our economy is hot, our quality of life is not.

This is certainly the case in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, where our regional unemployment rate is near an historic low of 4.2 percent.

In the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s just released “CEO Biz Climate Survey” of nearly 220 CEOs, nearly 2 of every 3 plan to add jobs – in the region – this year.

Amazingly, only 2 percent of the CEOs surveyed – or just five companies – anticipate making lay-offs here in the region in 2015.

That is a hot economy.

But with growth come growing pains, which we see every day on our highways and local streets and roads. Traffic congestion is the second highest concern of CEOs in the boardroom and of working families in their living rooms.

And speaking of living rooms, the high cost of housing is the highest concern – both of CEOs and our workers and their families.

So let’s celebrate the success of Silicon Valley’s innovation economy, but not for a moment must we stop working on the challenges that come with our success.

To learn more about this year’s CEO Survey, visit the Leadership Group at svlg.org/press/library.

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When Policy Gets Personal

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April 29  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino
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Women leaders and middle school girls at our 2015 Young Women’s Leadership Summit

Here’s food for thought . . . Often, the best policies are driven from personal experience.

On May 16, 2009, the call came. A brave 17-year-old Latina from a small town in Utah had given birth to a 5-pound, 6-ounce baby girl — her second child in two years. Without a job or high school diploma, she made the gut-wrenching decision to entrust her newborn into the hands of strangers …my wife, Leslee, and me.

As we look at the trajectory of Latinas in Silicon Valley who graduate from high school, go to college, graduate with a STEM degree and work for one of our Valley’s innovation economy companies, the odds decrease to single digits.

This must change. Silicon Valley’s population is 27 percent Latino, a number that will grow to 40 percent by 2050. Already, kindergarten-aged students are close to 50 percent Latino, yet we are collectively not equipping those kids with the tools needed for 21st Century success.

It’s why yesterday, as one step in a long STEM pipeline, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted its 14th “Young Women’s Leadership Summit” in just the past six years. More than 3,500 middle school girls have been inspired – and inspired us – with their dreams and determination for a life better lived with a diploma in hand.

For the Leadership Group’s workplan, the pipeline for education success is long – early childhood education; transitional kindergarten; tutoring in reading, science and math; healthy school meals, summer fellowships for teachers in tech-companies and scholarships for Latino students studying STEM in college. Yet we know that making meaningful change in the life of a child is not limited to one day of inspiration. Rather, it is a lifetime of validation.

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Past Time to Reduce Water Use

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April 22  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Stand strong, Governor, and Silicon Valley will stand for you.

Recently, Governor Brown made the hard but necessary step to call for an average of 25 percent water use reduction throughout our state.

Numerous communities, and clusters of the economy, have expressed concern and have called for exemptions. I appreciate the concern, but candidly, our Governor is correct.

We are in the 4th year of a historic drought, and no one knows when or if Mother Nature will turn the spigot back on to make the Golden State green. In fact, many scientists believe our more recent weather conditions will be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

It is past time for bold and necessary steps, such as the steps our Governor has called for, to greatly reduce water use.

It is also a unique opportunity for Silicon Valley to step forward with creative and innovative ways where we can apply technological advancements to enhance the efficient use of water.

What we cannot do is ignore the seriousness of the conditions we face. For water-wise tips, contact the Santa Clara Valley Water District today. Silicon Valley can lead by example, and we can and should stand with the Governor to greatly reduce water use.

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Practice What You Preach

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April 15  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Practice what you preach.

More and more, we read and hear about the need for more ethnic and gender diversity in Silicon Valley.

And rightly so. Our companies are global, and it is in our own self-interest to foster a world-class workforce that reflects the diversity of our planet. This is smart for all employers, whether high-tech, low-tech or no-tech.

Yet it is a goal that I would liken to a unicorn . . . often discussed but rarely seen. We can do better.

I was recently challenged, in a positive way, to look internally before I speak externally. Is my own organization diverse? My workforce, my executive team, my Board of Directors, my foundation Board of Directors. Fair enough.

While far from perfect, today, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has a positive story to tell, but could still do better:

  • Of our 24 member staff, 14 are female and 10 are male. Of those 24 professionals, 14 are Caucasian, and 10 are non-white.
  • Of my executive staff, three are female and five are male, with five Caucasian and three non-white.
  • Our foundation Board, which is responsible for such community-based efforts as the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, Santa Run Silicon Valley, Heart & Soles 5K, and our “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” tutoring initiative, seven board members are female and seven are male, with our ethnic diversity currently with 11 Caucasian and three non-white.
  • Our Leadership Group Board of Directors needs more work, with seven female and 40 male, and our ethnic diversity showing 36 Caucasian and 11 non-white.

Our reasons for promoting diversity are simple. We know we will be more successful if we hear more points of view, and benefit from a wider range of experiences. There is a reason the term “Yes Men” is an insult . . . it is what you get when you only seek one point of view from one type of person. Growing a more diverse workforce here in Silicon Valley is not a box that we check, it is a business imperative that will only make our success more assured.

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The Visa Lottery

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April 1  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s good for thought … “The lottery.”

A random lottery is not how America should recruit for talent.

Yet a lottery system – the luck of the draw – is what the U.S. government believes is the best way for innovation economy companies to compete for top talent born around the globe.

Adding to the irony, April 1st – yes, April Fools’ Day – is the annual day the visa lottery for talent begins.

After 9/11, an artificial annual cap of 65,000 was set for high-skill, high-wage, high-tech workers. The number is so artificially low that the applications exceed it in a single day. Then everyone waits to see if they win the global war for talent based solely on luck.

America can do better. Pass the U.S. Senate’s bi-partisan “I-Squared” bill. Help America better educate kids blessed to be born in the United States while also recruiting the best and brightest kids born around the world.

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D.C. by the Numbers

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March 25  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “D.C.” may actually stand for “Different Culture.”

Comparing Silicon Valley, the world’s “innovation capitol” with Washington, D.C., our “nation’s capitol” is like comparing the sun and the moon . . . both important, interesting, even intriguing, but very different.

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Silicon Valley Leadership Group Board Chair and Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker and new San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo meeting with Rep. Anna Eshoo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Zoe Lofgren during our Spring D.C. Advocacy Trip.

Last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo led a delegation of 55 CEOs, senior officers and local elected officials to our nation’s capitol.

Here are the results, by the numbers: The executives invested 48 hours in meetings with 85 House members, 19 Senators and 10 Administration officials, on seven core issues of importance to our innovation economy:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Immigration reform
  • Patent litigation reform
  • Funding for BART to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
  • Funding to further improve Caltrain Commuter Rail Service
  • Tax reform
  • Competitiveness

We have some traits in common – often smart, committed, passionate people working to make a difference. However, the pace of change is eons apart. In Silicon Valley, a product life cycle is as brief as six months. In D.C., even a minor piece of legislation can take years, decades, from inception to completion.

Democracy, especially in our nation’s capitol, is not for the faint of heart. Progress is measured in years, not days or weeks, so we will continue to build the bridges needed to bring together innovators with policy makers.

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Building Community by Building Bridges

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March 17  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . We can build community by building bridges.

It was at Independence High School in the heart of East San Jose that new San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo held his inaugural State of the City address.

Whether it was his comments about building all four BART Stations in San Jose, bringing all sides to the bargaining table to refine Measure B’s pension reforms, seeking summer jobs for at-risk youth or engaging caring adults in our “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” tutoring initiative, the Mayor’s messages were spot-on. We are best when we build – our Valley, our City, our communities and our neighbors.

No issue looms larger for San Jose than public safety. Even though the objective FBI data clearly show crime is down, we all know we are best served with more police officers patrolling our streets. That means thoughtful adjustments to pension reform. The most important step the Mayor and city unions can take is the step toward each other, at the negotiating table.

Yet reducing crime isn’t all about police protection, it is also, as the Mayor eloquently stated, about “replacing a rap sheet with a resume.” That’s why his summer jobs for at-risk youth program is an imperative, and why our “1,000 Hearts” tutoring initiative for K-8 students is essential.

We have a Mayor who is moving San Jose in a positive and productive direction. Engage with him. Great cities are made from the ground up – by good people taking the time to get involved. To build bridges that build a community.

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$2 Trillion for D.C. to Act On

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March 11  |  Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . $2 trillion.

Now that is a lot of money, even by Washington, D.C. standards.

Yet that is what might be available, thanks to innovative, creative, globally-competitive American employers who have successfully won in overseas markets around the world.

Here’s where Washington comes in – two Senators, one perceived to be on the far left; California’s own Barbara Boxer, and one perceived to be on the far right; Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, have forged a bipartisan proposal that would encourage employers to bring those hard-won dollars back to the United States, by offering a temporary tax rate of 6 percent and investing those tax dollars to rebuild America’s crumbling transportation system.

This could be a triple-win:

  • American workers, families, employers and our economy win by re-investing in our roads, highways, transit and bridges, which are currently crumbled and congested.
  • American employers and workers win by billions of dollars, earned overseas, coming back to the United States for investments in employees, facilities, equipment, Research & Development and shareholders.
  • Our federal government wins by proving it can work together in bi-partisan fashion to secure funds that would otherwise never come back to the United States, due to a broken tax system that penalizes American employers with the least-competitive tax rate in the world.

Are there sound reasons for our federal government to act? Yes, I can think of two trillion of them.

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