Last week, the San Jose City Council voted 10 to 1 to move forward with an $82 million investment in Mineta San Jose International Airport, supporting Signature Flight Support’s winning proposal to enhance private jet service from globally-leading companies like Google.
In a Democracy, it is both common and appropriate to have differing points of view.
What is less appropriate is when a thoughtful debate on issues takes a back seat to ugly attacks on individuals.
At the hearing, a colleague took photos of hand-printed signs – held up high in the council chambers – with scrawled curse words disparaging and intimidating those who supported the winning bid by Signature Flight Support.
The First Amendment to our Constitution protects free speech, which is vital and valued. It is a shame when the first amendment is abused by those who are short on factual arguments and long on individual attacks.
Years ago, I spoke in favor of a proposed affordable home development in San Jose. As I departed the council chambers, a man who opposed my point of view followed me out to my car – in the dark of night – hurling insults in my direction. Free speech? Perhaps. Hateful speech? Absolutely.
While we cannot control the tone and temper of others, it can serve as a reminder how we should behave. A civil society operates best when we are engaged in our democracy, while treating others, even those with opposing points of view, with respect and dignity.
Recently, I was asked to speak on business ethics to a community organization here in Silicon Valley.
As always, I learn more by preparing for a speech than by hearing a speech. Here were my take-aways on ethical business practices:
* First, character counts: As Chrysalis Software CEO Debbie Diersch says, “In all you think, say or do, never make yourself right by making the other person wrong.”
* Second, community matters: My friend Darius Assemi, CEP of Granville Homes, often states, “Character is defined by how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”
* Third, colleagues come first: My mentor and friend David Wright, CEO of Clear-Edge Power, says “When you take care of your people, they will take care of business.”
* Fourth, course corrections are possible: Tigo Energy CEO Sam Arditi reminds me to “Never live in the shadows of our mistakes. Let them light your way.”
We are on Earth for only a short time. Learn from yesterday. Listen and humbly lead today. Look forward to tomorrow.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has the patience of Job. He has reached out, yet again, to Major League Baseball Commissioner and professional Hermit Bud Selig – the same Bud Selig who appointed a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” 4 years and one month ago to explore the proposed move of the A’s to downtown San Jose. Yes, four years ago. Or, in Silicon Valley’s innovation economy terms, four iPhones ago.
The objection, it seems, still comes from the San Francisco Giants, who have won World Championships twice in the past four years. They fear their “Territorial Rights” to San Jose – as if we were part of their fiefdom – which, ironically, the A’s willingly granted to the Giants back in 1992 when the Giants wanted to build a ballpark . . . here in San Jose. No good deed goes unpunished. Its funny – but not in a humorous way – that the Giants don’t mind competing on the baseball field, but seem to hate competition when it comes to the market-place. How anathema to the culture of Silicon Valley and the global innovation economy.
We applaud Mayor Reed for his fortitude and focus in once again reaching out to Commissioner Selig. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we have also written to the Commissioner – more than two years ago – signed by 100 CEOs. Like Mayor Reed, we are still waiting by our mailbox for the courtesy of a reply.
“Monopoly” is a great board game. When it comes to a business model, however, the Monopoly we call Major League Baseball elicits behavior like we are witnessing here in San Jose and Silicon Valley