Monthly Archives: June 2014

Good Guys Finish First

No Comments
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.

Tagged , , , ,

Pro-Someone vs. Anti-Anyone-Else

No Comments
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

No Comments
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.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Role Models Matter

No Comments
June 4  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Role models matter

Over the past four years, we have held 13 Women & Girls Summits at 13 underserved middle schools from San Jose to San Francisco, directly connecting with more than 3,000 girls and young women between the ages of 11 and 14.

Women tech leaders and elected officials have contributed time and treasure to these Summits to further ensure that middle school girls learn, first-hand, that women – often with similar life experiences growing up – have become successful both in their lives and livelihoods.

This fall, the Leadership Group will host our first “Young Men’s Leadership Summit” at an underserved middle school in the Franklin-McKinley School District in East San Jose.

The point is simple yet stunning – it is hard to overcome adversity. Too many low-income kids go to school hungry, have language barriers, are raised by single parents, are confronted by crime and may have inadequate or over-crowded housing.

Kids need – and deserve – to meet successful adults with shared experiences that they can emulate. They need you, and me, as role models and mentors.

Whether a one-day school-based Summit with young women and men, or tutoring opportunities with caring adults, our wealthy Valley can produce more healthy kids – often simply with the gift of time.

Tagged , , , ,