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We Are What We Eat

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March 26  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s Food for Thought . . . We are what we eat.

Healthy bodies are fueled by healthy food; but there’s more – healthy food also produces healthier students with healthier minds, fueled to learn.

That’s why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation has teamed up with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Lam Research CEO Martin Anstice to support our “Salad Bars for Schools” initiative, funded through our Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” run.

Our three-year goal is to provide salad bars in 105 Silicon Valley schools; with our year-one “stretch goal” to fund 30 salad bars.

Well, with the help of our 5K community sponsors – the San Jose Silicon Valley Changer of Commerce, South Bay Labor Council and the Santa Clara County Office of Education, we blew that goal away, funding all 60 schools that applied for salad bars.

Does it matter? Consider the facts:

  • Currently, 3 of every 4 kids don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.
  • Salad bars significantly increase the percent of low-income kids that eat fruits and veggies.
  • Salad bars improve the diets of kids by consuming fewer calories, less fat and less cholesterol.

All kids deserve healthy school meals. Our Foundation’s goal is to place a salad bar in every interested school in Silicon Valley. If you have the appetite to help, watch for news soon about next year’s “Heart & Soles 5K” and join us.

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100 Percent

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February 19  |  Community, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Whether you are part of the “1 percent,” or the “99 percent,” why don’t we all focus on the “100 percent?”

For the past 17 years, it has been my pleasure to serve as CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group – a group of 385 progressive, proactive, problem-solving CEOs who focus on solutions to some of our region, state and nation’s most pressing problems. Perhaps it is simply the culture of our remarkable region, but we focus on issues that impact all of us – 100 percent:

  • Do homeless issues in San Jose and San Francisco, and every city in between, impact tech companies’ bottom-line? Not really. But from our vantage point, turning a blind eye to people in need is morally wrong; which is why working to help abate homelessness is a key goal in our work plan.
  • Does traffic congestion and a lack of transportation options effect our employers’ ability to recruit and retain top talent? Only tangentially, as other resilient regions like New York, Chicago, London and Tokyo have equally challenging traffic conditions. Yet we have led numerous successful efforts to provide traffic solutions; to bring BART to Silicon Valley, improve and electrify Caltrain, build Highways 85 and 237, and numerous other specific solutions. Yet, traffic is back, and so are our efforts for a new iteration of traffic solutions – to serve all of us – which will be our focus for the next three years.

Here’s a thought. If through hard-work, risk and an element of luck, you are part of the “1 percent,” never forget those who aren’t. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to help others.

If you are part of the hard-working “99 percent” of American citizens fighting each day to hold a job, pay for housing and feed your family, let’s count the blessings we do have, and continue to serve others with the time and treasure we can afford.

In Silicon Valley, let’s never allow sharp elbows to replace joined hands. Together – 100 percent – we can make positive change.

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Kids, Eat Your Veggies

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February 12  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “Kids, eat your veggies.”

How many times did each of us hear that admonishment as a child? In my house, it was often met with groans and grumbles.

Yet it worked. By making fruits and vegetables attractive and accessible, my parents engrained in me a love for healthy foods.

This should take place in every child’s house, as well as every “school house” – and through our “Salad Bars for Schools” campaign with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the Health Trust and title sponsor Lam Research, our Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation is doing just that.

Our ambitious 3-year goal is to place salad bars in 100 Silicon Valley K-8 schools. The research is clear and compelling: If kids have healthy choices, they actually eat them. Imagine that.

In year one of our 3-year goal, we are able to fund salad bars in 35 local schools through our inaugural Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” run. On February 8, on a soggy Saturday morning at San Jose’s Hellyer Park, nearly 900 hearty soles registered for our run. Along with the generous support of 20 Silicon Valley Leadership Group companies, thousands of school kids will eat better every school day.

Fruits and veggies. Salad bars in schools. Now that’s an effort that’s easy to swallow.

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Join the Conspiracy

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December 11  |  Community, Environment  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Christmas – That time of year when we spend money on people we don’t like, for things they don’t need, with funds we cannot afford.

Let’s reset. Join me in a conspiracy – an Advent Conspiracy – by cutting out even one gift and giving to someone truly in need.

Here’s perspective:
• In the U.S. alone, Americans will spend $450 billion during the holiday season.
• For $10 billion, we could ensure fresh, clean drinking water for every person on the planet.

Why does fresh drinking water matter? Currently, one in nine people on the globe – 785 million people – lack access to fresh drinking water.

Fifty percent of the people on the planet have lower water quality than that enjoyed by citizens of Rome 2,000 years ago.

In Cambodia, three of every four deaths are the result of water-borne diseases.

Every 20 seconds a child dies due to lack of access to clean drinking water.

Just think – money saved on one less gift can save one additional life.

Join the conspiracy. Whether around the world or around your block, give to someone in need.

Happy Holidays!

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Do You Walk the Walk or Just Talk the Talk?

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July 26  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

While some just talk the talk, many walk the walk.

For seven straight years, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has partnered with the San Francisco 49ers for our annual Pasta Bowl charity fundraiser. This year’s sold-out community event was the best ever. It underscored, to me, that while some in society talk a good game about community engagement, there are still many that make amazing impact. Here is what sets this effort apart:

  • Leadership by example: The San Francisco 49ers are a class act. Under the leadership of the York family – John Denise and Jed York – an attitude of gratitude permeates throughout the team. Under the leadership of Coach Harbaugh, they are great competitors on the field and gracious people off the field.
  • Global CEOs leaving local legacies: The Pasta Bowl sells out each year, with more than 1,000 community leaders in attendance. Dozens of CEOs invest both time and treasure to participate; leaders like Tom Werner, Tom Fallon, Dan Gordon, Mike Fox, Kevin Murai and Sharon Matthews – fierce competitors in the marketplace, yet firmly committed to building a better community.
  • Service about self: The Pasta Bowl raises funds for two great non-profits helping disadvantaged kids in our community. As John York says, our mission is to ensure kids are safe, in school and on-track. Once again, we were able to support Fresh Lifelines for Youth and City Year San José/Silicon Valley. While 1,000 leaders enjoyed a great pasta meal, the kids and families served by these two great non-profits often wonder where there next meal will come from.

We are blessed. Let’s invest those blessings in service to others. Our Valley and ourselves will become better for having done so.

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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.

“Daily CEO Inspiration”

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January 9  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

As you start each work day, do you wake up inspired or tired?

We work hard in Silicon Valley, with many of us starting our days at “o-dark-thirty” and ending each day back in the dark again.

A word of inspiration certainly helps to kick-start our work day.

That’s why in 2013 the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has launched our “CEO Inspirational Quote” calendar.  Each work day – 253 in all – we will post an inspiring, original quote from a different senior officer working right here in Silicon Valley:

* Like eSilicon CEO Jack Harding, who says ” ‘Brilliant strategy’ is often just the folklore ascribed after being lucky.”

* Tropos CEO Tom Ayers who says “The real job of an entrepreneur doesn’t begin until someone says ‘no’.”

* Or Luxim CEO Tony McGettigan who says, “Better to build the future than bandaid the past.”

The voices we hear are choices we make; we can be lifted up or torn down. Follow us on facebook, tune in on twitter or simply go to our events calendar at svlg.org for a daily dose of inspiration.

Santa Run Silicon Valley

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December 5  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought…The best gifts are the ones you give.

San Jose is a great city. But great cities consist of great communities.

As long as I can remember, San Jose has built community each winter with “Downtown for the Holidays,” six weeks of festivities in front of the Fairmont Hotel featuring “Christmas in the Park” and “Holiday on Ice.”

Together, Downtown for the Holidays brings more than 500,000 people to downtown San Jose. To underwrite Downtown for the Holidays, our Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation – in partnership with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and downtown city councilman Sam Liccardo – are launching the inaugural “Santa Run Silicon Valley” Sunday afternoon, December 16.

Nearly sold out, Santa Run Silicon Valley is a 5-K Run or Walk, with all profits supporting Downtown for the Holidays.  In our inaugural year, we expect 2,500 participants, each dressed up like Santa Claus, running and walking the race.

We are also asking each Santa Run Silicon Valley Participant to bring an unwrapped children’s book to support needy children throughout Silicon Valley. Our goal – 1,000 books suitable for kids K –through- 6.

The best gifts this holiday season are the ones we give. Join us – support Downtown for the Holidays, our inaugural Santa Run, and children throughout the region with the gift a great book can provide – joy.