Author Archives: Carl Guardino

Fight for Flights

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April 6  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … San Jose Airport is taking off.

Literally.

In the past three years, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has actively championed several international flights out of San Jose International Airport:

  • ANA to Tokyo began January 11, 2013
  • Hainan Airlines to Beijing began June 15, 2015
  • British Airways to London starts May 4, 2016
  • Air Canada to Vancouver starts May 9, 2016
  • Lufthansa to Frankfurt starts July 1, 2016

It’s time to look within the U.S. rather than just abroad. Our recent survey of 120 executives identified some of the top domestic destinations:

  • New York City
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Chicago
  • Boston
  • Seattle

If given a preference based on convenience or cost, 89 percent would prefer flights from San Jose Airport, 3 percent from San Francisco Airport. Now the hard part: trying to convince airlines to care about the choices and concerns of their customers – and making the business case for multi-billion dollar decisions.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group will fight for flights. Please join us.

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San Jose City Council Candidate Questionnaires

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March 30  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Kudos to candidates for revealing responses.

Each year, candidates for elected office are flooded with questionnaires. Interest groups subject would-be elected leaders with questions ranging from politics to policy to the incredibly personal, as they try to ascertain how each candidate will vote on important issues.

The candidate questionnaire to San Jose City Council candidates sent from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is different than most questionnaires in three ways:

First, “less is more.” The Leadership Group questionnaire contains only five questions. Our questions focus on issues of importance not only to executives in their board rooms, but also workers and their families in their living rooms. We call them “THEE Issues” – Traffic, Housing, Education and the Environment.

Second, we want to learn about the “horse,” not the “horse race.” The Leadership Group doesn’t ask candidates political questions, like how much money have you raised? Who’s your political consultant? How are you doing in the polls? There are enough folks who focus solely on the “horse race.” We believe San Jose voters would like to learn more about each candidate’s views on the policy issues that impact each of our lives and livelihoods.

Third, a little sunshine please. The Leadership Group questionnaire is made public. Both our questions, and each candidate’s unfiltered responses, are available on-line to anyone who would like to learn more. All too many candidate questionnaires are kept secret, jealously guarded by both the interest groups sending out the questionnaire and the candidates completing them. Transparency should trump secrecy. If a candidate is proud of their position on an issue, make it public. If an interest group wants to judge a candidate on a particular stance, let all of us know about it.

To read where 19 San Jose City Council candidates stand on “THEE Issues” facing San Jose and Silicon Valley, please visit our web site at svlg.org. Together, let’s make informed choices on June 7.

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Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project

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March 9  |  Education, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . There are two ways to weather a storm – buy umbrellas or build boats.

In Silicon Valley, to battle the economic storms of international competition, the better way – the most successful way – is to build boats that lift everyone in our Valley when the inevitable rainstorms occur.

That’s why we commission the “Silicon Valley Competitiveness & Innovation Project,” in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, comparing Silicon Valley with the other top five tech regions in the United States, as well as international regions like London, Seoul, Berlin and Beijing.

The findings – like our Valley – show that we have “high-highs” and some “low-lows.”

Our strengths are to be celebrated:
* Talent, risk-capitol and R&D, idea generation, commercialization and business innovation, labor productivity and jobs in innovation industries.

Our challenges are to be assessed and addressed:
* Cost of doing business, home and rental rates, traffic congestion, math proficiency in 8th grade, reading proficiency in 3rd grade and pre-school enrollment.

Take traffic – The average Silicon Valley commuter loses 75 minutes each week due to traffic congestion, above their normal commute time. As a region, we lose $5.4 billion annually due to congestion – in lost productivity, vehicle wear and tear and increased gas usage. During commute hours, our economy – literally – comes to a stand-still.

Concerned? Read more at SVCIP.com. Silicon Valley is still the innovation engine of the world, but resting on our laurels will move us from the driver’s seat to the back seat, which we cannot allow to happen.

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Deep Fried Fat

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March 2  |  Education, Health Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Deep Fried Fat.

When I was a kid, the three words I heard most often from my mom were “eat your veggies.” I was fortunate to grow up in a middle-class home that focused on healthy foods and had the income to provide them.

Sadly, in many of our poorest neighborhoods, healthy food choices are less common, and foods often offered in our school cafeterias emphasize less healthy fare. “Eat your veggies” is all too often replaced with “deep fried fat.”

With your help, we are changing the game.

Our Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation, in partnership with Lam Research, is providing our schools and students with better options, through our “Salad Bars for Schools” initiative, funded through our Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” run or walk.

On Saturday morning, March 12th, at beautiful Lake Cunningham Park in East San Jose, please join me, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, State Assemblywoman Nora Campos, County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Vice Mayor Rose Herrera, City Councilman Ash Kalra, Lam Research CEO Martin Anstice, and County Office of Education Superintendent Jon Gundry for our 5K run or walk. Registration is easy here.

Context: In just the past two years, thanks to the generosity of our title sponsor Lam Research, The Health Trust and dozens of Leadership Group member company CEOs, we have already funded salad bars in 120 Silicon Valley schools, providing fresh fruits and vegetables every school day to 97,000 local students. This year, our ambitious goal is to provide salad bars to another 70 local schools, serving nearly 50,000 more kids.

Please join us. Bring family and friends. To meet our goal, we need at least 2,000 paid registrations for our 5K run or walk. Please register here today. If you cannot come, but want to contribute, you can do so at our “Heart & Soles 5K” website at heartandsoles5k.com.

Thanks for your support. I look forward to seeing you Saturday morning, March 12.

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I am now “High” on High-Speed Rail

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February 19  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . I’m now “high” on High-Speed Rail.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is poised to pivot, adjusting their work-plan to come first to San Jose and Silicon Valley, rather than building first toward Los Angeles.

Why does this matter? For Silicon Valley commuters, this is a convergence of commute alternatives in-tune with the innovation economy:

First, High-Speed Rail between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley, linking Fresno in 1 hour, Merced in 45 minutes and Gilroy in just 15.

Second, with our efforts to electrify Caltrain where High-Speed Rail and Caltrain will converge in Downtown San Jose, we will double the number of people who can use Caltrain on a daily basis, from 60,000 to 120,000 daily trips.

Third, the BART extension to downtown San Jose, connecting with High-Speed Rail and Caltrain, means rapid rail throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

For those balancing housing costs with horrific commutes, High-Speed Rail to San Jose is also a game changer. For that teacher, fire fighter or police officer working in an expensive Silicon Valley city, a home in Gilroy is suddenly a 15-minute commute. Merced? Just 45 minutes.

Silicon Valley is a land of opportunity for many. High-Speed Rail, linked with electrified Caltrain and BART to downtown San Jose, expands that opportunity for tens of thousands of citizens for quicker commutes and more affordable homes.

Let’s build.

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Pothole 1, Prius 0

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February 4  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Pothole and PriusHere’s food for thought . . . . Pothole 1, Prius 0.

On Wednesday morning, I had one of those “is this happening to me” moments, while traveling to Sacramento for meetings with some top legislative leaders – ironically, to discuss transportation funding for road maintenance and pothole repairs.

After descending the Altamont Pass, driving between two rather large trucks in the center lane, my back right tire literally blew up after hitting an especially bumpy patch of road. As my car pulled in one direction closer to the semi-truck to my right, I was able to get around the truck and over two lanes onto a very narrow shoulder before my car became inoperable.

AAA was/is awesome, but it was a 90-minute wait until the tow truck arrived, as it was hard to pinpoint precisely where I was – until technology stepped in by using Waze to better direct the tow truck driver to my location. Thanks Google!

I was lucky that I didn’t get into a serious accident. And I had a wonderful surprise when – after reading my tweet about the blow-out – East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwellasked if he or his staff could be of help. Now THAT is constituent service.

The incident with the pothole was a visceral reminder as to why California needs to get serious about better maintaining our 50,000 miles of state highways, 15,000 bridges and our extensive local street and road network. It also reinforces why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group believes any future local transportation ballot measure in November must include funds to repair and maintain our roads.

San Jose Mayor Liccardo jokes that potholes in San Jose have been “re-purposed” into “traffic calming devices,” and I often joke that with El Niño, our potholes can be used for neighborhood swimming pools. On Wednesday morning, the joke was on me – and my wallet – after shelling out $500 for new tires and roadside assistance.

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A Leader is a Leader is a Leader

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January 27  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . A leader is a leader is a leader.

My friend and mentor Aart de Geus, Co-Founder and CEO of Synopsys, often states this line. It’s meaning is simple: “True leaders are leaders in their companies, in their communities, and within their families.”

If a CEO is solely absorbed in his or her company, to the detriment of family or community, then he or she is not truly a leader.

So how about you and I?

Here’s an exercise I try to do annually: Count.

There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. Count. What are you doing with your time?

For the next week, track it:
* How many hours do you sleep each night? Count.
* How many hours do you work? Count.
* How many hours are you stuck in your commute?
* How many hours are you focused on your family?
* How many hours do you exercise, watch TV, read, volunteer?

When you are done counting the hours for an entire week – evaluate. Are there surprises? Are there adjustments to make? Are you carving out the time – quality and quantity – necessary to be a leader in your home, in your community, in your company?

Count. And when you’re done, make the necessary adjustments to ensure that others can count on you.

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Free Trade Strengthens America & America’s Workers

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January 20  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Free trade strengthens America and America’s workers.

President Obama has invested seven years negotiating a free trade agreement – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – with 11 Asia-Pacific countries and the United States, representing 40 percent of the world’s GDP.

To the president’s credit, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would reduce or eliminate 18,000 taxes or fees on American employers struggling to compete globally.

It is imperative that the United States Congress ratify the president’s Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2016. As President Obama has stated:

  • 40 million American jobs depend on trade.
  • On average, export-related jobs pay up to 18 percent more than non-export related jobs.
  • Every $1 billion in exports supports on average 5,800 American jobs.
  • Over the past five years alone, there has been an increase of 1.8 million jobs related to exports.

Kudos to the president for insisting on the strongest labor and environmental provisions of any U.S. trade deal in history, which is good for America and America’s workers, and vital to workers throughout the world.

Silicon Valley, it is time to step forward and support the president. Let’s encourage our own congressional delegation to do likewise.

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Our Beautiful Bay is At-Risk

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January 13  |  Environment  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Our beautiful Bay is at-risk

Crumbling infrastructure, rising sea levels and lack of natural barriers leave the Bay Area open to the risk of devastating floods. Compounding this danger, many critical elements of the Bay Area’s infrastructure, including airports, hospitals, water treatment plants and the headquarters of major employers, are built at or below sea level.

That means a severe storm or major flood could knock out huge parts of our regional economy, causing long-term damage to the Bay Area’s economic health.

Thankfully there are simple, relatively low-cost solutions that scientists and engineers confirm will protect our communities from flooding and our water from pollution, such as:

  • Building and repairing levees and other long outdated infrastructure.
  • Restoring wetlands, which naturally protect us from floods and filter pollution.

Failure to act is acting to fail: We must address potentially devastating consequences to the businesses and individuals that call the Bay Area home, as well as to California’s economy. Recognizing that business engagement is critical to the success of any plan to address these risks, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has been engaged in a years-long collaborative effort to develop a plan and secure the necessary funding to protect our region.

We are glad to learn that today the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority voted to place the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention, and Habitat Restoration Program, known as the “Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure,” on the June 2016 ballot in all nine Bay Area counties.

The measure would fund critical projects across the region that can secure the health of San Francisco Bay and protect our economy by reducing water pollution, expanding wildlife habitat, increasing bayside recreation opportunities, and protecting shoreline communities from flooding.

The measure is a critically important investment in our region’s future, which is why a broad coalition of labor, environmental and business groups, including Save the Bay, California Audubon, the Bay Area Council, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group support the measure and are actively engaged in the campaign.

You can visit Our Bay on the Brink for details about the threats facing the region and People for a Clean and Healthy Bay for more about the campaign to protect and secure our future.

Diversity is the Strength of Silicon Valley

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January 6  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Diversity is the strength of Silicon Valley. Yet we can and must be much stronger.

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the second highest priority in our 2016 work plan is to further diversify the STEM pipeline to meet the needs of our students, communities and companies.

This work is not for the faint of heart.

To diversify our high-tech workforce, our efforts must start at the cradle and extend through careers.

  • It’s why the Leadership Group was a founding partner for Educare Silicon Valley, providing early childhood education in East San Jose’s Santee Neighborhood for kids zero through four.
  • It’s why we helped champion the efforts of then state Senator Joe Simitian to offer all California school kids transitional kindergarten.
  • It’s why we partner with Mayor Sam Liccardo through our “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” tutoring initiative to match caring adults with K-8 kids in reading, science and math.
  • It’s why we have raised funds and placed 122 salad bars in 120 underserved schools, serving 98,000 Silicon Valley school children with more nutritious meal options.
  • It’s why we have hosted 15 Young Men’s and Young Women’s Leadership Summits, so that middle school students are aware that there are role models and mentors to keep them in school and on track.
  • It’s why we partner with Mayor Liccardo and Silicon Valley Education Foundation for “STEM with Mayor Sam” to motivate parents and students about careers in STEM.
  • It’s why our companies champion paid summer fellowships for teachers throughout the region through our partnership with IISME.
  • And it’s why we are now partnering with the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley to secure 500 scholarships for Latinos eager to major in STEM in colleges and universities.

Are these efforts worthwhile and important? Absolutely. Have we only scratched the surface? Absolutely. It’s also why we need you. If you are drawn to any of these initiatives, contact the Leadership Group today. Silicon Valley can further diversify our high-tech workforce. But it will happen sooner, and deeper, if we all work together.

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