Pain is Temporary. Effort is Eternal.

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August 5  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

This weekend, my wife Leslee and I will be racing in the Triathlon National Championships, a series of races that brings together the top triathletes from around the United States, all hoping to qualify to represent “Team USA” at the World Championships next summer in Mexico.

For many, months of training – coupled with outstanding performances at qualifying races in their regions – have sharpened their skills for this coming weekend. My wife Leslee is one of those top performers, who qualified for “Team USA” two years ago, representing our country in the World Championships last summer in Canada. In a word, my quiet and humble wife, is a “stud.”

For me, I’m just happy to be there: To compete, even if somewhere near the back of the pack; in essence, to make everyone else look good.

It reminds me that we all set different goals. For some, it is to win. For a lonely few, it is even to win at all costs. For others, it is simply to do our best. To overcome adversity. To set a goal and work to achieve it.

Whether it is a sporting event or any other stretch goal in our lives, what matters most is not just how we do, but what the experience makes us become. The relatively obscure sport of triathlon has made me more humble, more adaptable to unforeseen and often difficult circumstances, and more respectful of those out suffering and succeeding around me.

Of this I am sure. When I near the completion of the race; as I approach the finisher’s shoot; my focus will be not on the crowd, but on two little girls calling out the name I love to hear – That name is not “champion” or “winner.” It is a much richer name, called “daddy.”

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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What have you done for me lately?

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January 7  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “What have you done for me lately?”

The calendar has flipped from 2014 to 2015. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we closed out 2014 with several solid successes:

  • BART funding from the California Transportation Commission, which I Chair, was completed, for a total of $760 million. The extension is under-budget and a year ahead of schedule.
  • Our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, sponsored by Applied Materials, brought together 26,000 neighbors to celebrate Thanksgiving morning together – generating more than $900,000 to help needy local families.
  • The state water bond, Proposition 1, passed in November with the help of the Leadership Group, and incredible leadership by Governor Brown.

But life is about looking forward, not back.

This year, our goals are equally ambitious, and will be presented in a comprehensive way in the days ahead. But hear is a glimpse of what’s to come:

  • Housing and homelessness – the Leadership Group will step up its historic role.
  • Traffic relief – BART and Caltrain, along with other road improvements, are key.
  • Immigration, cyber, tax and patent reform – all federal priorities that must be tackled head-on.

Silicon Valley is an ambitious place, and we have many ambitious goals on our plate. Get on-board and join us. We have work to do.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Road

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August 27  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Your very important phone call forced my very important employee to crash his bike.

On Tuesday, a member of my staff was nearly hit by a car driver on Willow Street in Willow Glen.

Riding his bike to work – firmly in the bike lane – a careless driver was paying much more attention to her cell phone conversation than her driver’s ed training.

She nearly hit my colleague, which forced him into the curb where he flipped over onto the ground. The driver drove off and never even noticed. It must have been a pretty important phone call. My colleague ended up with a sore ankle and was badly shaken up. He also had to repair his front tire rim.

Let me acknowledge, many “car versus bike” crashes are the cyclists fault. Those of us on two-wheels need to be a lot more careful with our own habits.

With my colleague, however, this was not the case. She nearly hit him and she just kept on driving – never even noticing the accident she had caused.

Whether we travel primarily by four wheels or two wheels, we must all be more careful. Here’s an idea: Whether we are driving a car, or riding a bike, let’s travel as if someone’s life depended on it. On Tuesday, we were reminded just how true that is.

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Time to Refresh, Reflect, Renew

July 23  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . A period of rest is wise for a Valley that’s always on the run.
Silicon Valley is always on the go. Yet we can be even stronger if, on occasion, we force ourselves to stop.

Stop to rest, refresh and renew.

Here’s an old word with a new application – Sabbath. For a handful of Silicon Valley employers – venerable firms like Adobe and Intel – this concept is embraced by something called a sabbatical. A sabbatical is an extended time away from work, from stress, from our day-to-day grind. It means setting aside our 24-7-365 lifestyle, further magnified by a social network culture that may make communications more convenient, but also leads to a life that is always plugged in, always jacked up, always racing at full speed.

Five years ago, I initiated a sabbatical policy for my employees. After seven years of continuous full-time service, each employee – myself included – is eligible for a four-week, fully paid, sabbatical. Two weeks of accrued vacation time can be added on, for a total of six weeks.

After 18-plus years as CEO, it is my turn for time away. Five glorious weeks to stop, sit, relax, refresh, renew, reflect.

It means getting off the daily grind, where the only grind in my day will be grinding a daily cup of fresh, French roast coffee for my wife.

It means pancake breakfasts with my two little girls.

It means casual bike rides as a family through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, floating on a raft and kayak down the Russian River, building sand castles at the beach in Santa Cruz and swimming lessons from a professional coach.

It means lazy days and long evenings with no set schedule.

Here’s my question – what would a sabbatical mean for you? Are you willing to step off the treadmill to take it? To my colleague CEOs – would your culture allow it?

Come on Silicon Valley – it is time we give ourselves a break.


Pain hurts. Quitting is worse.

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July 16  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Pain hurts. Quitting is worse.

I competed in a triathlon known as “Vineman” last week, a 70.3 Ironman-distance race in Sonoma County.

A half Ironman distance triathlon consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike race and a 13.1-mile half marathon. Having competed in the Vineman half Ironman for 12 of the past 14 years, it has become a favorite. But even our favorites can be unforgiving, and last Sunday proved to be a tough day for several reasons:

  • First, I fractured my right foot four months ago, and was only able to resume running four weeks ago – not enough time to earn back either the endurance nor speed needed for a half marathon run at the end of a half Ironman.
  • Second, half-way through the bike ride my bottle filled with my nutrition flew out of my bottle cage while cycling down a steep descent. No nutrition in a long race can make for an even longer day.
  • Finally, by the fifth mile on the 13.1-mile run, I could feel the blood blisters forming – and then popping – on both feet. Before long, my shoes were stained crimson-colored from the bloody wounds underneath.

Decision time . . . Competing against the other racers was long over, as I suffered along the course. The only competition left was between my mind and body, my head and my heart, as the demons within raged whether I should quit – or at least slow down and walk – or keep doing my best to fight and finish.

Mental check list completed with one question . . . “Am I risking my life or serious injury?” “No.” The pain hurt – lack of nutrition, dehydration, fractured foot and blistered feet – but quitting would hurt worse.

Five hours and 37 minutes later – a long half-hour past my normal time the past four years – and the finish line, and my family, were wonderfully in sight.

Finish what you start. It might not matter to anyone else. But it will always matter to you. Pain is temporary. What we gain though tough times is permanent.

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Pro-Someone vs. Anti-Anyone-Else

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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.”

Comcast Op-Ed Headline on Forbes.com Misleading

April 17  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

The headline on an op-ed I authored that appeared on Forbes.com on Tuesday was misleading because the views expressed were my personal opinion. The headline implied I was writing on behalf of the point of view of Silicon Valley CEOs. That was not the case

“The op-ed did not make any reference to a decision on the merger by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group or a reference to Silicon Valley CEO’s opinion on the subject,” Guardino said. “It was strictly my opinion and a request has been made to have the headline corrected.”

Downtown San Jose, Spur to Action

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March 19  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . When it comes to strengthening downtown San Jose, it is time we are spurred to action.

And thanks to a recent report by the civic group appropriately named SPUR, we have renewed reasons to focus on the future of downtown San Jose.

As the report shows, the key is to get more people into downtown San Jose to fill it with vibrancy and life. Downtown streets are packed episodically – for the Jazz Festival, our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot or Sharks games, for example – but on a day-to-day basis it still lacks the density of other downtowns, including regional neighbors like Oakland and San Francisco:

  • With roughly 36,000 jobs, downtown San Jose has less than half the employment of downtown Oakland – with more than 80,000 jobs – and less than one-eighth that of downtown San Francisco – with more than 300,000 jobs.
  • Downtown San Jose is home to less than 14,000 residents, just over half the number in downtown Oakland – with 23,000 residents – and about one-fourth of the residents in downtown San Francisco – with nearly 56,000 residents.

So what should we do about it?

  • First, focus on high-quality urban design and dense development of all kinds in downtown. This will not only result in a more connected, attractive place, it also encourages walking, biking and transit.
  • Second, maximize regional transit investments by holding sites adjacent to BART and Caltrain stations for job-generating uses. This is the best way to ensure high transit ridership and allow for the vibrancy and density downtown San Jose needs without causing gridlock.
  • Third, downtown San Jose is already the cultural, entertainment and creative urban center of the South Bay. Build on this strength by making it easier to start creative businesses and activate the streets and other public spaces.

Reports are great. Eliciting action is even better. Let’s use this report to spur action. Let’s build a downtown worthy of Silicon Valley.

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