Monthly Archives: February 2013

March For Innovation

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February 27  |  Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . In a nation of immigrants, it is time we updated our nation’s broken immigration system.

In true Silicon Valley fashion, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is employing technology to reach out to Washington law-makers about the need for smart, thoughtful immigration reform.  Joining with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, VC Ron Conway and others, we have collectively launched  “March For Innovation,” engaging Americans to contact their representatives in Congress to ensure that immigration reform captures the innovators and entrepreneurs who have fueled so much of Silicon Valley’s success.

Consider the following:

* Every foreign-born advanced degree graduate from a U.S. university who stays and works in America creates – on average – nearly 3 additional American jobs.

* More than 40 percent of fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or child of an immigrant.

* Countries like Canada, England and Australia all provide visas to foreign-born entrepreneurs.  The U.S. often educates these entrepreneurs, then turns them away to compete against us.

Join us for our “Virtual March on Washington” to protect and grow Silicon Valley’s innovation economy.  Simply go to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group web site at svlg.org, or learn more at marchforinnovation.com.

Let’s not waste this opportunity. America’s time for immigration reform is now. Silicon Valley can and must lead the way.

Corporate Culture, the “Culture of Us”

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February 20  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Disneyland is no “Mickey Mouse operation.”

This week, I have the opportunity to take my wife and two young daughters to Disneyland; the happiest place on earth; the house that Mickey built.

Yes, I am actually looking forward to it.

Primarily, I don’t mind enduring the crowds in the park or the congestion driving from San José to L.A., because it’s quality time with our eight-year old Jessica and four-year old Siena.

I also look forward to it because – as a CEO – I remain incredibly impressed with the customer service of “Team Disney.” from the folks at the hotel, the restaurants in the park, the people who run the rides and those who provide the entertainment, the overarching theme is an ownership culture.  These are employees who believe in their company, because they own it.

The best Silicon Valley companies contain this culture.  It is what I call a “Culture of us,” rather than “Us versus them.”

It is a corporate culture based on each individual player knowing the importance of their specific contribution, yet also never losing sight about how their role fits into the bigger picture of success.

I see this culture permeate Silicon Valley’s best high-tech, med-tech and green-tech companies. I also see it outside of tech, in great airlines like Virgin America, ANA and Southwest.  I see it in construction companies like Webcor Builders, Suffolk Construction and Turner Construction. I see it in my own team at the Silicon Valley leadership group.

It’s the essential element that separates a good company from a great company.  It is like the pride of ownership we each feel when we purchase a home. It’s ours. It’s not a rental. It’s not temporary.  We own it.  And with pride, we invest in its success.

“Yes, If” Or “No, Because”

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February 13  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

I recently hosted a luncheon of executives to discuss our on-going efforts to bring more direct flights to San Jose international airport to better serve San Jose and Silicon Valley customers.

Two top executives of an airline were with us to discuss potential service.  Both were smart, capable and articulate. The difference was vast, however, in terms of leadership style.

The first executive responded with all the reasons why it would not work for his airline to offer direct service into and out of San Jose international.  His style is what I call “No, because.”

The second executive, while completely respectful to his colleague, responded with all the issues that would need to be addressed in order to make the direct service work for his airline to fly to San Jose.  His style is what I call “Yes, if.”

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I have the pleasure of working with 375 innovation economy CEOs.  From scrappy startups to global leaders, the common denominator for every successful CEO is a “Yes, if” attitude.  It is finding the win-win whenever possible – the art of the deal – getting to yes.

In your professional and your personal life, are you a “Yes, if” or a “No, because” kind of person? It is easy to say no – and sometimes it is the only response when common ground cannot be found.  But it is more rewarding – more fulfilling – to at least work to explore the possibilities of “Yes, if.”

State of the Union Address

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February 12  |  Education, Government Relations, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Silicon Valley hopes to hear these issues addressed in tonight’s State of the Union address:

  1. Immigration reform; passage of a comprehensive plan that includes high skilled workers with  bi-partisan, bicameral support.
  2. Comprehensive tax reform; ensuring U.S.  companies, domestic and international, can successfully compete and create jobs.
  3. Education reform;  so that kids born in America are equipped with the knowledge to compete with kids educated around the world.
  4. Cybersecurity; that addresses the safety of America and the economic strengths of American companies
  5. Infrastructure; investments to rebuild America’s transportation, energy and water systems to keep Americans and America’s economy moving.

These are the pressing issues facing our nation’s innovation economy today that Silicon Valley hopes to hear from President Obama tonight.

Startup CEO D.C. Trip

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February 5  |  Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . In life and in politics, both the message and the messenger matter.

Last week, we were in Washington D.C. with 12 CEOs, but this is not your typical group of Silicon Valley executives.

With the solid support of Silicon Valley bank and Virgin America, we brought to D.C. 12 CEOs and founders of Silicon Valley startups.

All in their 20s or early 30s, these CEOs are innovators and entrepreneurs that help fuel America’s innovation economy – in med-tech, clean-tech, high-tech and venture capital.

Most job creation in the United States comes from innovation economy startups.  It is no surprise that most of our innovation also comes from startups.

That’s why we invested the week meeting with key members in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Administration.  Focusing on immigration and education, these startups are adding their voices to the national dialogue on immigration reform.

Our twin goal is simple yet significant – we need an education system to grow the best and brightest from around our nation, and an immigration system to attract the best and brightest from around the world.

The message matters – as do the messengers.  We believe the voices of these young entrepreneurs will be heard.