patent reform

In Conversation with Senator Dianne Feinstein

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September 3  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino
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Here’s food for thought . . . Words are weapons; they can build people up or tear people down.

Recently, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group had the pleasure of hosting California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein – a leader I have long admired for bringing civility and bipartisanship to the United States Senate.

In our 55-minute, on-stage conversation before 315 CEOs and Silicon Valley leaders, the Senator shared her views on important economic issues ranging from cybersecurity, immigration reform, patent reform and BART to San Jose; as well as ominous global issues like the violence in Ukraine and the Middle East, with senseless slayings of American journalists and thousands of Christians and other minorities by the terrorist organization known as ISIS.

What was most inspiring about Senator Feinstein was much more than her deep grasp of a wide range of issues, or her solid advice on the politics of moving intricate policy items forward. Instead, it was her genuine warmth for everyone in the room. Whether a Fortune 500 company executive, a startup CEO or the interns who volunteer in our offices, the Senator was generous with her time and gracious with her comments.

The luncheon session ended with a question on what brings her hope. Her response: Citizens in our state and nation who care about our communities, and contribute with their time and talent.

For 55-minutes, the entire hall of Valley leaders was spellbound – listening and learning from a leader who has earned our respect and admiration. Rather than tearing others down, we once again witnessed a leader dedicated to lifting others up. Our country would be well-served by more leaders like her.

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CEOs in D.C.

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April 2  |  Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. – Separated by three time zones? Or the Twilight Zone?

Last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group took 50 CEOs and senior executives, along with several local elected leaders, to Washington, D.C. for three days.

It is never a small request to ask executives, running global companies, to set aside the demands of their businesses to travel to D.C.

In a Valley where product life cycles can last as little as six months, CEOs often scratch their heads as Congress takes years, sometimes decades, to tackle issues of great importance to America’s economy:

  • Immigration Reform: More than three decades have passed since major reforms were last enacted.
  • Tax Reform: Four decades.
  • Patent Reform: Before a partial overhaul in 2011, the last meaningful action was nearly 70 years ago.

So why do executives and local elected leaders still slog back to D.C.?

First, through patience and persistence, successes do happen: Consider our victory in securing the Regional Patent Office in San Jose, and $900 million in matching funds for our BART extension.

Second, relationships are strengthened. Silicon Valley is the earth’s epicenter of innovation. D.C. is the capitol of our democracy. Differences will remain, but we must focus on the bridges that must be built. Citizen engagement is good for America, good for our democracy, and good for the innovation that drives our country’s economy.

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